Pittsburgh group contributes recipes to the book "A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas From the First Family for Your Family"


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Grow Pittsburgh is one of several community gardening groups around the country to contribute recipes to the new "A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas From the First Family for Your Family."

The $24.95 paperback is, as it notes up front, not sponsored by the White House but "an independent journalistic project" written by Boston food writer Clara Silverstein and published by Red Rock Press.

Author to Visit

Clara Silverstein will meet readers and sign copies of "A White House Garden Cookbook" at 2 p.m. July 17 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 510 S. 27th St., South Side. You also can sample Grow Pittsburgh vegetables.

Jumping on the produce wagon that Michelle Obama's home garden has helped inspire, Ms. Silverstein shares the best of the recipes she collected (along with photos) from gardening groups, along with recipes from White House past and present, which she tested and modernized and otherwise developed.

A recipe for White House Basic Boiled Greens, from "The White House Cookbook" of 1894, appears next to current White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford's recipe for No-Cream Creamed Spinach.

Grow Pittsburgh's Edible Schoolyard program got two recipes in the book: Spring Salad, and Chilled Melon and Tomato Salad, made for students by Six Penn Kitchen's chef Keith Fuller.

In between recipes, Ms. Silverstein writes about the White House garden, including its Thomas Jefferson Bed of vegetables he once grew, chronicling its first season in 2009.

And if it all inspires you to try gardening, too, she gives in the back a list of resources.

SPRING STIR-FRY

PG tested

This became a signature dish of San Francisco's Urban Sprouts program "because it comes together so quickly that nobody has to wait too long to eat!" You can substitute spinach for the kale. And you can add, at the end, separately stir-fried chicken, shrimp or tofu chunks.

For the sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine (optional)
For the vegetables
  • 2 to 3 onions, diced (2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 scallions, including the green stems
  • 8 leaves kale or other leafy greens
  • 1/2 pound broccoli
  • 1/2 pound snow peas
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon water
For the sauce

In small bowl, mix together all sauce ingredients. Set aside.

For the vegetables

Prepare the vegetables and line them up near the stove so you can quickly stir-fry. Dice the onion. You should have enough for 2 cups. Mince the garlic or run it through a garlic press. Wash and chop the scallions. Wash the kale, remove the tough stems, and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Separate the broccoli tops into small florets. Wash the snow peas and remove the tough stem ends and the stringy piece that runs up the center.

Place a wok or deep frying pan on stove over high heat. After 1 to 2 minutes, carefully add the oil and swirl it around. Add onions and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic, scallions and ginger, and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Add the greens, broccoli and snow peas, plus the sauce. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the water, cover the wok, and steam for 1 minute. Serve with rice.

-- Urban Sprouts of San Francisco in "A White House Garden Cookbook" by Clara Silverstein (Red Rock, 2010, $24.95)

BOURANEE BAUNJAN (Afghan Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce)

An Afghani mom contributed this recipe to the Garden of the World in Sioux Falls, S.D., which is tended mostly by children of immigrants. Serve it with pita bread.

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups lebany (extra-thick, strained yogurt) or plain yogurt, preferably Greek style
  • Crushed fresh mint

Cut stems from the eggplants and remove peel. Cut into round slices approximately 1/2-inch thick. Place slices in a colander set in a sink and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet. Add eggplant slices in a single layer and fry until lightly browned on each side, about 4 to 5 minutes. You may need to work in several batches, adding more oil to the skillet as it becomes dry. Set aside slices on a plate lined with paper towels. As an alternative to frying, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on 1 or 2 cookie sheets. Brush each slice with oil on both sides. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until eggplant is soft and brown. Remove from oven.

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Peel onions and cut into thin slices. If skillet looks dry, add more oil, coating the bottom. Add onions to skillet and saute until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.

Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick. In a large baking dish, place eggplant slices in a single layer. Top each with some sauteed onions, followed by a tomato slice.

To the skillet, add the water, tomato sauce, coriander, pepper, turmeric and salt to taste. Stir together and pour over the layered eggplants. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more. If the sauce still looks runny, let it bake 5 to 10 minutes more.

While eggplant is baking, peel and mince garlic cloves. In a bowl, combine the lebany or yogurt, garlic and salt to taste.

To serve, spread a little of the yogurt mixture on a plate. Use a spoon or spatula to carefully transfer one of the layered eggplants to the plate, placing it on top of the yogurt. Spoon a little more of the yogurt mixture on top and add a few crushed mint leaves.

Serves 6.

-- Garden of the World of Sioux Falls, S.D., in "A White House Garden Cookbook" by Clara Silverstein (Red Rock, 2010, $24.95)


Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1930.


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