Thursday, March 23, 2006

Vegetable Meme

Tankeduptaco tagged me for this vegetable meme, so here goes

Do you like vegetables?

Love vegetables & in my early 20’s I even had a couple of vegetarian years until I had an unbelievable craving for steak & never looked back after giving in, now I take my veggies alongside my meat though I do usually cook at least one vegetarian meal a week

Do you have a favourite vegetable?

This is a very difficult question as I love pretty much all veggies. I would have to say that strictly speaking the humble potato, probably the most boring though very versatile of veggies is my fave. As mentioned due to my peasant Polish/Lithuanian roots a lot of my favourite foods growing up were potato based, 2 of my all time favourites being potato pierogi served with sour cream (made by my Polish gran) & ‘meatballs’ (this was a dish my Lithuanian Nan used to cook up & I have no idea of the traditional name & have never seen or heard of it anywhere else & sadly don’t have the recipe, basically the filling was some sort of mince & was covered in a very fine potato mash mixture then boiled & served with a sauce of bacon cooked in cream- how bad can you get in the fat stakes?), would love to hear from any Lithuanians out there if they have eaten this or similar & if they have the recipe

Is there any vegetable that you think (or know) most people don't like, but you find great?



I don’t necessarily think most people don’t like it just a lot of people, think it may be the strong aniseed flavour that scares some people away. I on the other hand love it & have used it for many dishes including a lovely roast pork & a really simple bouillabaisse that I whip up often in winter, promise to make again soon & post

Is there any vegetable that you think (or know) most people find great, but you don't love that much.


What experiences did you have with it?

I used to have to make millions of them into little flowers for garnish in a pub bistro I worked in when I was still in my teens which was very, very boring. I haven’t had a bad experience with them, I just don’t get it, to me they are tasteless so what’s the point?What kind of vegetables are unusual to you?Daikon & Rhubarb, they seem to be everywhere yet I have never laid my hands on them, though I have eaten rhubarb out. Plan to try them out in my kitchen one of these days. Also Okra, have never cooked with or eaten this mysterious vegetable, in fact I don’t even know what it looks like, may have to try tankeduptaco’s recipe!

Name a couple of vegetables that you cook and eat.

Tomatoes – so versatile, one favourite way is cherry tomatoes (or any small tomatoes, grape, mini roma, etc), roasted in the oven with olive oil, garlic & basil & then thrown in salads. Or a simple Salad caprese with home grown tomatoes & basil is always a winner too.

Roasted veg, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, parsnip, garlic, onions, carrots, etc all with some Rosemary thrown in – yum,

Any veggies in soups, ie a combo of squash, mushies, capsicum, onion, carrots, stock & some cous cous thrown in to thicken up or simple pumpkin soup – great winter warmers

Which vegetables do you want to know more about and bring into your kitchen?

Globe Artichokes & Rhubarb, 2 ingredients that for some reason I am not sure of the prep so always shy away from, plan to change that soonSome thoughts about vegetables.What can I say about veggies, well I think vegetables are fantastic either very simply cooked, ie bbq corn on the cob or dressed up to impress. The fact that they are good for you too is excellent as you can eat as much as you like unless of course cooked with loads of butter, cheese, etc in which case still eat loads & ignore the guilty feelings served up alongside, life is too short!

Name a great cookbook.

I don’t have any purely veggie cookbooks apart from a very old Women’s Weekly vegetarian book from my meat free days in my 20’s. Does have a few good recipes though including a great red lentil soup that I make many huge batches of every winter

Lastly I will tag The Apprentice Patissier, Sarah & Niki, again only if they have the time or inclination to share their thoughts


Belinda said...

I only discovered fennel recently - or was brave enough to get over the aniseed flavour. My friend put some in a salad and I was hooked!

Anthony said...

Daikon is really nice as a salad, just make long ribbons woth a peeler and make a soy and sesame dressing. You can also grate it very finely and mix it with a little chilli powder to have it cold on top of steak.

The radish flowers made me smile.

Pamela said...

Thanks for sharing! I love these meme's!

Ange said...

Anthony - thks for the Daikon tips, love soy & sesame dressing so anything that goes well with that must be good!

neil said...

Great meme ange. I had the same thoughts about globe artichokes, but one day just got stuck in, I think the fear people have is how much to trim, the answer is a lot, it doesn't really matter if there is a tough bit or two left in. There always seems so much leftover, maybe that's why they are such a treat.

My wife D is with you on potatoes, she has them with EVERY meal, must be a Polish/Lithuanian thing.

Duonyte said...

The Lithuanian potato thingie with mince is a "cepelinas" (zeppelin) (its traditional name) or a "didzkukulis" or "big dumpling", in the language police version. Here is a recipe:
This recipe is intended to walk a novice through...I apologise to the veterians!


Cepelinai are served as a complete meal.

There are 3 key 'secrets' in this recipe
1. Getting the meat mixture to remain soft
2. Keeping the potato dough white
3. Getting the potato dough to stay together during boiling

Meat Mixture
2 lbs of ground meat, use a combination of beef, pork, veal or just beef, or any combination thereof
Add your choice of seasoning - I use seasoning salt, pepper and a bit of parsley
Add some cooked chopped onion (Irene, the 'Cepelinai Guru', says to cook the onion in butter or margarine. She says the texture is not right if done in oil. I can't see why it would make a difference, but that's what the expert says.)
Add some beef bullion base - at least a tablespoons full
Add water. This is an absolute must to keep the meat mixture soft. Any where from 1/2 cup to a full cup. As long as the meat easily absorbs the water.
Do NOT add eggs or any filler to the meat!

Potato Dough
When peeling the potatoes, keep them in water with some fruit keeper crystals, or a few tablets of vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) (If using vitamin C -500mg, use about 10 tablets dissolved in water before you start peeling. Add some of this to your peeled potatoes in water and reserve the rest for later.)

You can do the grating in a food processor. To get a sense for the texture, grate a potato with a hand grater and use as a reference - add a few drops of vitamin C water so the potato stays white.
What follows is for 10 lbs of potatoes. (Irene usually makes 15 lbs. which yields about 30 cepelinai. Most people will easily eat two. The men will have 3+ )

Use Idaho or Russet potatoes.

Boil 4 potatoes and mash - no milk or anything else.

Process the raw potatoes and keep adding some fruit crystals or vitamin C water as you go. You can process to a texture that is a bit finer than the hand grated potato, but definitely not more coarsely.

When you empty the processor put the potatoes in a pot or container with a lid. You want to minimize the potatoes' exposure to the air. If the potatoes start to discolor at all, add ascorbic acid.

When all the potatoes have been processed, add some ascorbic acid for good measure.

Then find a linen or cotton tea towel, definitely not terry cloth.
Then put 2 or 2 1/2 soup ladles full of potato into the middle of the towel. (You'll soon figure out the amount you need - a lot depends on the size of your hands and the strength of your hands. I have small hands and use only 1 1/2 ladles.) Gather up the towel, and start to squeeze the juice out of the potatoes until it is hard to get any more juice out. Your towel needs to be in good shape or it will split. If need be, go out and buy one to be used for this process. Cheese cloth does not cut it. It is too loosely woven.

Reserve the liquid.

Add the mashed potato to the squeezed potatoes. Also add one package of potato dumpling mix (sold in deli. I think the brand name is PANNI, although there may also be others. This is used to help hold the potato dough together. Probably, potato flour or starch would also work, but have no idea on the amounts.) Add 3 eggs (again these are for their gluing properties, rather than for taste.)

Return to your reserved potato juice. The starch should have settled to the bottom. Carefully pour off the juice into another container - you only need to save about a cup. Add the starch to the squeezed potatoes. Kneed your potato dough only to mix all ingredients. (Irene adds
some salt. I don't because it causes the Canadian potatoes, i.e. not Idaho, to discolor. You judge.)

Now take out about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of the potato dough. Shape it into a patty in your hand. Work it around in your hand a bit. If it starts to crumble as you work it, you have squeezed the potatoes too dry. Put some of the potato juice back in. The patty should be workable. Now that you have shaped a patty, put 2 to 3 tablespoons of the meat mixture in the center of the patty. Work the potato around the meat.

Use a water moistened finger to help seal the potato edges around the meat. These guys
are about 4 to 4 1/2 inches long and measure roughly 2 to 2 1/2 inches at their widest part. They are shaped like a miniature blimp or zeppelin. Put them on a platter or whatever and cover with a damp towel (I dampen the towel with ascorbic acid water.)

You will need a large pot or two of boiling salted water about 2 tablespoons. Better to use two pots. If there are too many in a pot they don't cook properly and start to fall apart.

Add cepelinai to boiling water one at a time. Let the water return to boiling before you add the next one. Boil for about 30 minutes.

Serving Time

Cut up bacon into little pieces and fry until almost crisp. At some point add some chopped onion to the bacon, or cook separately and then combine with the bacon. On 10 lbs of potatoes, I'd say about 3/4 of a pound, or go all hog, and do the whole pound.

Spoon some bacon, onion and drippings (spirgutciai) over the cepelinai. Most people like to split the ceplinai and then pour on the 'spirgutciai' - that's most, I don't split mine. THEN, put a dollop of sour cream on your plate as well. If you did not have enough salt, people can add their own at this point.

Enjoy!! Need to jog 10 miles the next day.

By the way, these are wonderful as leftovers. Simply slice them up, throw into the frying pan with butter, or bacon drippings, or boring oil. Serve with sour cream. In fact some people prefer them the next day! As far as I'm concerned, there is never enough left over.

Additional Notes
Squeezing the potato mixture: Place the grated potato in the tea towel, gather up the tea towel and twist the potato ball tighter and tighter in the towel. This is why the towel may split if it is not in good shape.

When you remove the potato from the towel, test it for consistency, it should be somewhat workable and not be falling apart too easily.

Meat Mixture Amount: about the size of a small egg

Potato Amount: Enough to comfortably surround the meat. There will be 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch around the meat.

Left Overs: Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Let them get a bit brown.

Additional Notes II

Cut up the potatoes and fill processor to top of the post. Process for 75 seconds (we timed them) or until the consistency is as close as you can get to the hand grated potato. The processed potato has a grittier feel than the hand grated version.

When juice is squeezed out, the 'dough' is similar to the texture of bread dough but without the elastic feel.

Add about a 1/4 teaspoon ascorbic acid per processor full and then add some more when placing the grated potatoes into my roasting pan with lid. Keep them out of the air as much as possible When ever you start to see any discoloration, sock in the ascorbic acid!

Use about 2 tablespoons of salt in the water. Let the water return to a rolling boil after each addition. Do not crowd, or they will be likely to fall apart or stick to the bottom.

Make sure the meat is covered evenly around the potatoes. If the potato is thin in spots and they will open up during cooking.

Be sure to rinse or soak your tea towels when finished or they will became badly stained. Regular washing does not remove the stains.

Posted on Jun 4, 1999, 5:51 PM

This is from:

My own comments: a veggie juicer does a great job of "grating" the potatoes for you - just save the liquid, take out the starch that settles and stir that into the potatoes; have all the ingredients done and ready to go before you peel and grate the potatoes - they turn black very quickly; you can also make cheese filling, which I actually like better, with farmers cheese, chopped sauted onion and bacon bits, all mixed together.

Ange said...

Excellent, now I can try & make them myself & keep alive an old family recipe - thks