September 2008


It was a big surprise for me to see butternut squashes at the farmers market this weekend. I had to buy one as it had been since February since I’d enjoyed the sweet vegetable. I concocted (with the help of “The New Basics” cookbook) a great recipe that might just become my new staple for guests. It looks fancy because it is presented in little ramekins, but its super easy and fast too!


Serves 4

Note: A timbale is a large thimble or cone-shaped mold used for various sorts of food. In our case, we’re using 5-ounce ramekins. If you don’t have ramekins, you can use coffee mugs filled half-way.


½ butternut squash
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped scallions
¼ cup dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Ground black pepper to taste

Spray the ramekins with Pam or cooking spray so that the butternut mixture doesn’t stick.

Peel, seed and shred the squash. I used my food processor but you can easily use a box grater – it just might take longer.

Combine the squash with all the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Divide the mixture among the four ramekins.

Cook at full power in the microwave (yes, microwave) about 6 minutes. If the tops don’t feel firm to the touch, add an additional 30 seconds. Let the timbales sit for 1 minute. Run a knife around the edge and unmold.

Bon appetit!


Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings



I’ve you’ve been reading my blog (and my Facebook status), you’ll know that I’ve been devouring heirloom tomatoes the last few weeks. I’ve been picking them up at our local farmers markets, and I must say, despite spending almost $5.00 (yes, $5.00) on just one of them, they are probably the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted!

I think they are best eaten in a salad, completely raw, so you can taste how sweet and fresh they are. Mostly, I’ve been simply dressing them with salt, pepper, EVOO and fresh basil from my garden, but there are TONS of heirloom tomato recipes out there to choose from. Below is one of my favorites.



2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups trimmed arugula
Wedge Parmesan, for shaving

Drain the tomatoes in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add the croutons and toss well.

Divide tomato mixture among 4 plates. Top each serving with an equal amount of the arugula. With a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve immediately.

Bon appetit!


Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings

I love this simple, yet elegant and easy weeknight entree. I served it with roasted green beans, sweet potato french fries and an heirloom tomato salad.

1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread, torn
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor; add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until finely chopped.

Sprinkle salmon with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Top fillets evenly with breadcrumb mixture; press gently to adhere. Place fillets on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with lemon wedges.

This one took a lot of work, but not because it was difficult, but because it required a LOT of steps. It is definitely worth it though!

Serves 8
1/3 cup Thai fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh lemongrass
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
32 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 cup fresh lime juice (about 9 medium limes)
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Thai fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red Thai chiles, seeded and minced

Shallot oil:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots

Remaining ingredients:
8 ounces rice vermicelli (banh hoai or bun giang tay)
3 1/2 cups shredded Boston lettuce, divided
2 cups fresh bean sprouts, divided
1 3/4 cups shredded carrot, divided
1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, finely chopped


To prepare shrimp, combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove shrimp from bag; discard marinade.

To prepare sauce, combine the lime juice and next 5 ingredients (through chiles), stirring with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

To prepare shallot oil, heat 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 5 minutes or until golden brown. Strain the shallot mixture through a sieve over a bowl. Reserve oil. Set fried shallots aside.

To prepare remaining ingredients, place rice vermicelli in a large bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes. Drain. Combine the noodles, shallot oil, 1 3/4 cups lettuce, 1 cup sprouts, 1 cup carrot, and 3/4 cup cucumber, tossing well.

To cook shrimp, prepare the grill to medium-high heat.

Place shrimp on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Place 3/4 cup noodle mixture in each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 4 shrimp, about 3 tablespoons of sauce, and about 1 tablespoon fried shallots. Serve with remaining lettuce, bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber, mint, and peanuts.

This recipe called for store-bought salsa, but I made my own by simply putting some tomatillos, garlic, onion, lime juice, salt and pepper into a food processor and pulsing to a consistency I liked. You can just as easily buy a jar of tomatillo salsa at your local grocery store.

Put together a rub consisting of:
1.5 tbs. chili powder
1.5 tsp. ground turmeric
1.5 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. garlic powder

Rub over olive oil over 4 chicken breasts, then rub them with the spice rub. Grill 4 minutes on each side, or until done.

Serve with tomatillo salsa.


Lately, I’ve been sampling the produce at my local farmers market and I’ve been increasingly interested in (and craving) big, juicy heirloom tomatoes. They’re going to be out of season soon, so I’ve been buying a few each week. They are perfect with salt, pepper a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and basil!

Below is some information on heirlooms, in case you were interested. They come in all kinds of shapes, colors and sizes.

An heirloom tomato (also called heritage tomato in the UK) is an heirloom plant, an open-pollinated (non-hybrid) cultivar of tomato. Heirloom tomatoes have become increasingly popular and more readily available in recent years.

The different kinds:
Big Rainbow – One of dozens of large fruited yellow tomatoes with red swirls, having a mild, sweet flavor. Hillbilly, below, is another. According to some sources, tomatoes of this color were never sold by American seed companies; their origin is not known.
Blaby Special – A red fruited cultivar grown in the village of Blaby in Leicestershire until just after World War II. It was the main tomato cultivar supplied through England during the war. The cultivar ceased to be cultivated when the Shoult’s Tomato Farm was closed after the war. The cultivar was brought back into cultivation in 2006 as a result of a campaign by Russell Sharp of Lancaster University. It may have resulted from either a mutation or cross-breed of an older cultivar known as Anwell.
Black Krim – A dark red to brown cultivar often cited in seed catalogs as being from the “island of Krim” in the Black Sea, better known as the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine (Crimea is known in Ukrainian as Krim).
Brandywine – The tomato listed as simply “Brandywine” is one of the tomato varieties responsible for the ascendance of the popularity of heirloom varieties due to its excellent flavor and somewhat clouded history. A large fruited pink (red flesh, clear skin) variety produced on vigorous potato leaf foliage plants, Brandywine was passed on from the Sudduth family to an Ohio tomato enthusiast named Ben Quisenberry. Many seed savers traded seeds with Ben, and Brandywine eventually became widely available. Though a variety named “Brandywine” was offered in the late 1800s by the Stokes and Johnson seed company, that appeared to be a red fruited variety with regular leaf foliage. More likely is that Brandywine is a descendant of two similar (if not identical) varieties offered in the 1880’s – Mikado (Henderson seed company) or Turner’s Hybrid (Burpee Seed Company). Though several other tomatoes (Red Brandywine, Yellow Brandywine, and Black Brandywine) carry the name of “Brandywine” in part, any true relation between them is pure conjecture. In fact, Yellow Brandywine most closely resembles an old Henderson variety only fleetingly available in the 1890’s named “Shah”. Black Brandywine is a recent introduction of the Tomato Growers Supply Company as a purple fruited result of a cross. Upon release, it was not yet stable, as both potato leaf and regular leaf seedlings appeared from the purchased seed.
Cherokee Purple – One of the very first known “black”, or deep dusky rose colored cultivars that are becoming so popular. Named in 1990 by Craig LeHoullier, who received seeds of an unnamed cultivar in the mail from J. D. Green of Tennessee. Mr. Green indicated that the “purple” tomato cultivar was given by the Cherokee Indians to his neighbor “100 years ago”. Related to Cherokee Purple are Cherokee Chocolate (which resulted from a clear to yellow skin color single plant mutation of Cherokee Purple in Craig’s garden in 1995) and Cherokee Green (which emerged from Cherokee Chocolate, also in Craig’s garden, in 1997, and appears to be a flesh color mutation). Both are equally fine flavored, high yielding varieties, but are not strictly heirlooms.
Green Zebra – Often called an heirloom, it is not. It is an open-pollinated cultivar bred from four heirloom varieties and released by Tom Wagner of Lancaster, Kansas in 1983.
Hillbilly – See Big Rainbow, above. It is known in regular leaf and potato leaf forms.
Jubilee – A heavy yielding, golden fruit. Released by Burpee Seed Co. in 1943.
Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom – This wonderful, unique variety was collected some years ago by Lillian Bruce of Tennessee. Lillian passed the seed on to Robert Richardson, after which it found its way into the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook and became widely traded, and is now commercially available from a number of seed companies. One of the few bright yellow fruited varieties, and the only one with potato leaf foliage, this is a delicious, full flavored tomato that is very meaty, with few seeds. It tends to be a late season variety.
Mortgage Lifter – One of the more famous heirlooms due to its fanciful history, described in great detail in the catalog of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange company. The enormous pink tomatoes are sweet and tasty.
Traveler, syn. Arkansas Traveler – An open pollinated pink tomato in the 6 ounce range. Another cultivar commonly referred to as an heirloom, although by most definitions it is technically not. Released by the University of Arkansas in 1970.

This recipe called for bean thread noodles, but I used rice stick noodles – the same ones you use for pad thai. It was so surprised with how flavorful the salmon tasted with this amazing glaze on it!

Serves 2

1/2 package rice noodles
2 6-oz. pieces of salmon, no skin
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
5 tbs. soy sauce, divided
3 tbs. honey, divided
3 tbs. asian sesame oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (I used parsley instead)
2 tbs. sesame seeds (white or black)

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat

In a large bowl, soak the noodles as directed on the package, in warm water for 40 minutes. Then place in a hot skillet with 1/4 cup water and steam the noodles until they are transparent and somewhat sticky. (Should only take a few minutes)

Bruch the salmon on both sides with EVOO and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. To make the glaze, combine 1 tbs. soy, 2 tbs. honey and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix thoroughly.

To make the dressing for the noodles, combine the remaining 4 tbs. soy sauce and 1tbs. honey, the sesame oil and lemon juice, mixing well.

Toss the dressing with the noodles. Add the chopped cilantro (or parsley) and sesame seeds.

(I added some roasted asparagus to these noodles, but they would be perfect without it as well)

Put the salmon on the grill. Brush the glaze on top. After three minutes, turn the salmon over and brush the top with the glaze. Grill 3-4 minutes longer.

Serve the salmon over the noodles. Enjoy!

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