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big, easy bites

5 easy pieces, part 2: roasted potatoes and turnips

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By foodorleans · November 28, 2012 · 0 Comments ·
There's nothing easier than roasting vegetables, and this is a great combination that yields crispy red-skinned potatoes, caramelized sweet potatoes, and robust little baby turnips whose tops become crunchy after a long baking time.  I love to cook vegetables this way; it's an easy side dish that will go with just about anything, needs hardly any seasoning at all, and will look after itself for most of its oven time.  Sometimes I'll pop a pan of veggies in the oven and THEN decide what the main course will be for dinner, while they're baking.  

You can season roasted roots however you want: salt and pepper, fresh or dried herbs, spices such as curry powder or paprika.  There are no rules! I've never tried a roasted vegetable I didn't like.  Lagniappe: Make a really big batch, then puree the leftovers the next day with chicken stock for roasted vegetable soup!

roasted potatoes and turnips

  • 3 medium red skinned potatoes, cut in 1" chunks
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, cut in 1" chunks
  • 1 pound baby turnips, tops trimmed (or regular turnips, cut in 1" chunks)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (plus any herbs and/or spices you like)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. In a large, shallow baking pan, combine the potatoes and turnips.  Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat and distribute the oil evenly, spreading everything out into a single layer.  Add more seasoning if necessary.
  3. Roast for 40 to 60 minutes, until browned and tender, stirring once or twice throughout the cooking process. 

serves 3 as a side dish

See part 1 of 5 Easy Pieces: smoked salmon breakfast pizza

5 easy pieces: smoked salmon breakfast pizza

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By foodorleans · November 27, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Folks, I've got a backlog of food photos I took near summer's end, and even though I don't have time to scratch out full-fledged posts for them, they're still worth sharing. So this week, a stretch of 5 easy recipes to make--so easy they barely warrant a recipe at all, but I'll include one anyway. Check back every day through Saturday for a new post!

This super-easy tortilla pizza is a spin on a quick snack we make often around here, usually with pepperoni and mozzarella, but it makes a tasty breakfast when you've got some lox to rock out.  To make a pepperoni or other kind of pizza, use the tortilla-crisping method described here, then return to the oven after topping the pizza until the cheese melts and everything's hot.

smoked salmon breakfast pizza

  • 1 large (10") flour tortilla
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • goat cheese, about 1/4 cup, softened
  • a few slices of gravlax or other smoked salmon
  • capers
  • green or red onion slices

  1. Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove baking sheet and lay the tortilla on it. Brush lightly with olive oil, then return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until it's crisped and toasty (it may get some air bubbles in it but you can flatten these with your hand).
  3. Spread tortilla with goat cheese and layer with salmon, capers, and onion slices. That's it!

serves 1 to 2

the secrets of the old: pasta with breadcrumbs and sweet onions

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By foodorleans · January 13, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Yesterday I read a great article on alternet.org that my friend Meredith highlighted on her blog, The Boiled Down Juice: it's called Compost Cuisine, and it's full of really interesting ways that a few chefs in California are using "whole vegetables" in the same way other chefs use whole animals, or in other words, using all parts of the animal, from head to tail.  They're doing things like stuffing squash stems and slow-cooking kale stems until they're soft like pasta, and reducing lemon and carrot peels into flavor-packed "ash" in the oven.  I don't know if I'm up to ashing my vegetable peelings, but it's fun to see what possibilities there are in cooking things that we would otherwise throw out, or if we're more sustainability-minded, throw in the compost pail.  It's good to find creative, delicious ways to use up what's old.

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on a roll: blackened shrimp and bacon po-boy

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By foodorleans · December 2, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

I guess you could say I'm a bit obsessed with po-boys lately.  In the weeks leading up to the po-boy festival, I visited a couple of my favorite po-boy spots to reminisce, to remember how good the basics can be.  I had fried shrimp at Parkway and shrimp and oyster at Crabby Jack's, and then those wonderful little odd po-boys at the fest.  I thought I'd had my fill for a while, until Paul told me he'd overhead someone talking about a blackened shrimp po-boy.  My interest was piqued.  Then, he said, "It'd be good with a little bacon sprinkled on it."  Yes, it would.  Then, "And maybe some goat cheese?" I almost fainted.  Yes, blackened shrimp with bacon and goat cheese would be good--very, very good. If it sounds bizarre or even blasphemous to load a seafood po-boy down with extras like bacon and cheese, consider the Peacemaker, that ultra-delicious po-boy of fried oysters, bacon, and American cheese. Sounds crazy, but it's fantastic.  If American cheese can't hurt a po-boy, then for sure goat cheese couldn't.

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the leftover's leftovers, or the cajun frittata

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By foodorleans · November 28, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

We didn't even cook a Thanksgiving dinner at our house, and we still have mountains of leftover bits and pieces in the fridge! Part of the reason is turkey gumbo, or what I like to call the best leftover turkey invention EVER (here's Paul's recipe from my hibernating soup blog).  But after the gumbo's been cooked, eaten, and frozen in Tupperware, there's a good chance you still have some veggies and sausage (or turkey or ham) lying around, looking forlorn.  It's frittata time.

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little crispy bits: salad with fried okra croutons and buttermilk dressing

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By foodorleans · August 8, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

I love little fried bits of things--shrimp, hushpuppies, onion rings, green tomatoes--but I've found a new favorite thing to satisfy that crunch-crunch, home-fried crispy urge.  It's fried okra.  Growing up, I never used to go for it, while the rest of my family inhaled it by the handful, especially when it came from my Southern-cooking grandma's kitchen.  I think okra had too much of a deep, earthen,  brown taste...it was bitter, like Brussels sprouts. It seemed, to my palate accustomed to raspberry Zingers and spaghettios, almost burnt.  Of course now I can't seem to get enough, and I think it's the oddness of okra that I find so wonderful.  There's really nothing else quite like it.

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classics (a.k.a. food you can make without thinking)

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By foodorleans · September 19, 2008 · 0 Comments ·



I used to make this dish, which is basically pasta with shrimp and feta, about once a week. Sadly, this was several years ago, when I lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the shrimp could only be as fresh as their drivers. I'm lucky now to have plump, fresh, affordable gulf shrimp to play around with.

Around 2002/03, when I started making this often, everybody was buzzing about feta cheese and its ideal companions, shrimp and tomatoes. Just seemed natural to toss it with pasta, I guess. Food magazines all weighed in with their own variations (olives. pine nuts. basil. etc.) for a good three years. I can pull any of my old Cooking Light cookbooks from that time period and I'll bet you a stock pot there are at least three recipes in each index.

Of course, tastes change. Feta cheese is so early 2k. Toss those shrimp with some flax seed if you want to be up-to-date. Sometimes I just like to feel dated.

Pasta with Shrimp and Feta

  • 2 or 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • one onion, halved & sliced thin
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 or 3 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (or basil)
  • 2 or 3 diced ripe tomatoes, or canned diced tomatoes (add extra tomatoes if you like sauce really tomato-ey)
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth, or a few tablespoons of wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or one minced fresh jalapeno pepper)
  • raw shrimp, peeled & deveined, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 pound pasta, like angel hair or penne
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (plain or garlic & herb)
  1. Put a big pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Salt it generously.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and saute 2 minutes, stirring.
  3. Add tomatoes (with their juices) and wine. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Cover the saute pan and simmer over low heat while you cook the pasta.
  5. When the pasta has about 4 more minutes to go, add the shrimp to the saute pan. Raise heat to medium, cover, and let shrimp cook in the sauce (about 4 minutes or so).
  6. Drain pasta and return to its cooking pot. Check sauce for seasoning. Good things to add for flavor are pesto, tabasco, or extra vinegar.
  7. Add the sauce to the pot with the pasta and toss (the pot gives you enough room to get everything really mixed together). Top each serving with a good bit of feta.

Serves 3 with a little left over.

Tagged with: feta, easy, pasta, classic, shrimp


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