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Try this Fresh Herb Sauce

September 30, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: I recently got a steamer and have been cooking vegetables in it, which is fine. Is it OK to salt the vegetables before they cook, and to salt the water? I am diabetic, so I avoid carbs. So far I have tried a few vegetables. Can you steam anything? -- Frank in Kingsport

Dear Frank: You get the purest flavors by steaming, so you're going to enjoy what you can accomplish with your new steamer.

Yes, you can salt the vegetables as they go into the steamer. In fact, season them every which way you'd like -- from slivers of garlic and branches of herbs to citrus peel, whole or ground spices, pieces of fresh chile and onion slices. With these options, skip salting the water; it does next to nothing.

As for what you can steam, the list covers most of the produce department -- the entire cabbage family, from Brussels sprouts to cauliflower and broccoli, steams beautifully. So do asparagus, peas, green beans, all the root vegetables like turnips, rutabaga, carrots, sweet potatoes and so on. Squashes, especially cold-weather ones, steam well, too.

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You could steam greens like chard, spinach, lettuce and kale, but easier is cooking them in a tall pot in their own liquid. Wash them in a sink full of cold water and just lift them into the pot while they're still dripping. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, which will be a few minutes for spinach and longer for mustard and turnip greens.

You can eat steamed vegetables hot or at room temperature. The best part is that you can do fast, healthy sauces for them -- sauces that hold in the fridge for a couple of days. This one's a template to work from. Change the herbs, trade lemon juice for an interesting vinegar, or garlic for shallots, and add fruit if you'd like.

PROVENCE FRESH HERB SAUCE
FOR DIPPING AND SAUCING



o Makes about 1-1/2 cups, doubles easily and keeps in the fridge for 4 days.

Vegetables, meats, fish, pasta, grains and rice are all fair game for this sauce/dip. Roll hot corn on the cob in it, too.

2 large cloves garlic
Grated zest of 1/2 an orange
Juice of 1 large lemon, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
1/3 to 1/2 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
4 whole scallions
10 pitted black Nice olives, or 6 large pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, or whole salted almonds
1 cup tightly packed cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 tightly packed cup parsley leaves
1 tablespoon each of fresh rosemary leaves, thyme leaves and oregano leaves

Have the food processor running with the flat steel blade in place and drop in the garlic cloves, orange zest, lemon juice, salt, two peppers and the olive oil. Puree and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the rest of the list and puree. Taste for seasoning and for an acidic tingle, adding more lemon juice if you think the sauce needs it.

If there's time, let the sauce stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. After that, store it in the refrigerator.

Dear Lynne: My cakes don't come out of the cake pan. They stick and break up. What am I doing wrong? -- Georgie in Tuscaloosa

Dear Georgie: Two things occur to me. First, are you thoroughly buttering the pan(s), getting butter into every crease and corner and then flouring it? Second, are you trying to turn the cake out of the pan before it's cool enough?

Before releasing a cake from the pan, give it 15 to 20 minutes on a cake rack away from the oven heat. Once it's partially cooled, run a knife around the edge of the cake, put the rack on top of the cake and flip the assembly over (use an oven mitt on the hand that is under the cake pan).

Set the rack on the counter. With two hands, gently lift away the pan. If the cake doesn't release, let it sit 10 minutes. Then tap the bottom with the handle of a table knife and lift the pan again.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table," American Public Media's weekly national show for people who love eat, and is the co-author of "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions." Ask questions and find Lynne, recipes and station listings at www.splendidtable.org or 800-537-5252.

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