Inklings: Seasonal recipes: hot and cold
One sure way to get a good recipe is to ask a good cook. Thus I spoke to Joanna Mendrzycki, whose culinary fare I’ve been fortunate enough to sample. “What are some of your favorites,” I queried, “things that you fix often and the family loves?”
As is her wont, Joanna immediately said she’d contact her daughter Michele “She is the really good cook in the family,” Joanna always tells me. So I got a bonus: two recipes from two good cooks. Michele lives in Illinois, is the mother of two and says her kids absolutely devour the Roasted Veggie Platter, which is especially good in the summertime with all the fresh vegetables available. It’s cooked in the oven, but for only 20 minutes and you can make plenty and have it again. Joanna’s contribution is one of her husband Joe’s favorites, Cauliflower Salad. She has been fixing this for years and although she’s seen many versions of it, this is the one everybody always asks for. Joanna and Joe have been in Summerville for two dozen years, coming from Rockport, Illinois for his job. They were looking in other areas for housing when one morning in her hotel room she saw an advertisement for a Summerville neighborhood. She asked to be brought here and was told, “Oh you don’t want to go there, that’s not a very up and coming town!” But Joanna insisted. As they drove into our Flowertown in the middle of 1987’s azalea season she looked around and said – the same thing many of us have said before – “This is for me!”
The retired couple has two daughters and three grandchildren none of whom live here. They both stay busy. Joe, a former marathoner, walks and plays golf, and Joanna is involved with church work when she’s not whipping up some delectable concoctions, such as the ones below.
MICHELE’S ROASTED VEGGIE PLATTER
1 sweet red pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
1 yellow squash, cut into ½” slices
½ pound fresh mushrooms
¼ pound fresh green beans, trimmed
½ cup Italian salad dressing
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
Place vegetables in a greased 15x10x1” baking pan. Mix salad dressing and herbs together. Drizzle vegetables with dressing and herbs. Bake, uncovered at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Good hot or cold.
Healthier Take: use a low fat, low sugar dressing.
JOANNA’S CAULIFLOWER SALAD
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 lb bacon
1 medium jar mayonnaise
1 head cauliflower
1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
Fry bacon and set aside to drain and cool. Break into bite size pieces. Break cauliflower, using flowerets only. Break up lettuce. Layer in large bowl: lettuce, onion, cauliflower and bacon (in this order). Spread mayonnaise over top. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese (heavily). Let set in refrigerator overnight for better flavor absorption. Mix well before serving. (It’s even better the second day!)
Short Cut Tip: try using two 2.8 oz jars of Real Bacon Pieces (I chose Hormel for a test.) This eliminates frying bacon and for a Healthier Take, it also eliminates half the fat. Substitute low fat mayonnaise for even fewer calories.