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  • Potato skin-bacon fat chips Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 16 minutes Serves 4 The slight bitterness of the skins is matched by an assertive brown sugar-spice mix and the smokiness of the bacon. You can tell these chips are done when the bacon aroma becomes unmistakable. Make ahead: Raw potato peelings should be held in water to keep them from turning brown. Drain and dry as much as possible before baking. Adapted from “Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable,” by Tara Duggan.

    INGREDIENTS Skin peelings from 4 medium russet potatoes (with a thin layer of flesh) 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat, liquefied and warm (may substitute olive oil, which does not have to be warm) 1 to 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (may substitute 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme) INSTRUCTIONS

    Place a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Line a serving plate with a few layers of paper towels.

    Place the peelings in a mixing bowl. Drizzle the bacon fat over them and toss to coat.

    Combine the sugar (to taste), salt, paprika, pepper and thyme (to taste) in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the peelings and toss to coat. Spread the peelings on the hot baking sheet in a single layer, skin side down. Sprinkle with the remaining spice mixture; roast for about 12 minutes, until the skins start to get crisp and browned. Use a spatula to stir them around to promote even crisping, then roast for 3 to 6 minutes.

    Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate. Serve right away.

    Per serving: 90 calories, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar
  • Beet greens strata Prep time: 25 minutes, plus overnight soak time and cooling time Cook time: 52 minutes Serves 4 This savory bread pudding recipe calls for the greens from one bunch of beets. We tested it with the optional 1 cup of cooked, crumbled sausage. But you can certainly leave it out to make the dish vegetarian. Be sure to soak the beet greens in a large bowl of water, gently swishing them at the start to dislodge any grit. Make ahead: The strata should be assembled and refrigerated overnight. Adapted from “Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable,” by Tara Duggan. INGREDIENTS 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for greasing the baking dish Greens from 1 bunch beets, washed (see note above) 1/2 cup finely minced onion, leek or scallions (for the latter, use white and light-green parts) Water Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 cup whole or low-fat milk 3 large eggs 3 cups walnut bread, artisan whole-wheat bread or country bread, preferably day-old or stale, cut into 1-inch cubes 1 cup cooked, crumbled sausage (of your choice; optional) 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese INSTRUCTIONS

    Use a little oil to grease an 8-inch square baking dish or a casserole of equivalent volume (about 6 cups).

    Cut the beet leaves from the coarse stems. Cut stems crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and cut the leaves into 1/2-inch ribbons. You should have at least 1 cup of sliced stems and 4 cups of sliced leaves. If you have a little more, that’s OK.

    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and beet stems; cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often, until stems are barely tender.

    Add the leaves a few handfuls at a time; cook until they have all wilted. Add a splash of water, cover skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. The stems should be tender. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and cool slightly.

    Whisk together the milk, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and several grindings of pepper in a liquid measuring cup to form a smooth custard. Add the bread cubes, the sausage, if using, and half of the cheese to the onion-beet greens mixture. Toss gently to incorporate, then transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Slowly, evenly pour the custard over the top, nestling in bread cubes so they are able to soak up the custard. Scatter the remaining cheese evenly over the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

    When ready to bake, transfer the strata to a countertop, unwrap it and let it come close to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until custard is set and the strata is bubbly; you should not be able to see any liquid when you press gently. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

    Per serving (using low-fat milk): 310 calories, 20 g protein, 22 g carb.s, 16 g fat (7 g sat.), 195 mg chol., 480 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar
  • Shaved broccoli stalk salad with lime and cotija Prep time: 25 minutes Serves 2 Good ideas here: The silky leaves and sweet, mild stems make a beautiful, quick salad with a counterpoint of the crumbly, salty Mexican cheese. A Y-shaped peeler will work best for this recipe. Adapted from “Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable,” by Tara Duggan. INGREDIENTS Leaves and thick stalks from 1 bunch broccoli, stalks cut into batons (about 3 stalks or 10 to 12 ounces; see NOTE) 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or to taste Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1/ cup (about 1 ounce) crumbled cotija cheese (may substitute feta) INSTRUCTION

    Place the broccoli stalk batons on a cutting board. Use a vegetable peeler to shave them into paper-thin strips, transferring them to a serving bowl as you work.

    Tear any large leaves into bite-size pieces; add the leaves to the bowl, along with the oil and lime juice.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste; toss to coat evenly, then gently fold in the cheese.

    Serve right away.

    Note: To make broccoli batons, first remove the stalks at the base of the florets, then trim off the tough exterior of the stalks. Trim each stalk, rolling it on a flat side, to form a long, rectangular piece.

    Per serving: 150 calories, 8 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar

What’s Cooking: Make the most of kitchen scraps

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am

Raccoons and composters could become mighty grumpy, depending on how much buzz is generated about “Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable” (Ten Speed Press, $22, 208 pages). San Francisco Chronicle food writer Tara Duggan has one-upped other kitchen-scraps cookbooks with ideas that will intrigue even the most wasteful among us.

The timing seems right to learn that carrot-top greens sub nicely for the parsley in tabbouleh. The tough, dark-green parts of leeks work well in stir-fries and in pot sticker filling. Fennel stalks – produce weight you pay for and seldom employ – offer a twofer: an infused simple syrup that takes less than 10 minutes to make and thin, chewy slices of candied fennel that could be the antidote to the ho-hum dried cranberries strewn in salads. Apple peels, along with a few cloves, a stick of cinnamon and a week’s time, may turn you into a craft bourboneer.

Duggan and her family tend their organic farm on the weekends, so I suspect that her testing and recipes were developed over time and not in a crush of mad-science experiments. Two thumbs up for the scrap storage information included at the end of most recipes. However, it left me wishing that the data had been compiled in a chart at the back of the book for future at-a-glance reference.

The usual statistics about what’s at stake, wastewise, are in the introduction, yet the author’s take remains realistic. “Preventing herbs from turning to sludge in your refrigerator drawer will not end world hunger,” she writes, “but it can save you a dollar or two each time – adding up to thousands of dollars per year for a family of four – and it will contribute overall to reducing food waste.”

Read more articles by Bonnie S. Benwick

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