April 23rd, 2013
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I have a rolling pin in my kitchen that I suspect is older than I am. It belonged to my Mom, and when she passed, I wordlessly picked it up, a flood of childhood memories racing through me; winter afternoons in our kitchen, the laminate tabletop covered in flour and pie tins at the ready. My sisters and I, our eyes eager, would watch our Mom as she pressed, turned, rolled and spun that rolling pin over a disc of fragrant pie dough. The pin whizzed as she pushed, a thwack on the counter as it dropped back on the dough, amidst the crackle of wax paper and the gentle song of a heating oven.
Come in to my kitchen…
November 23rd, 2012
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Magic October is gone, the artist’s palette splashed vibrant and rich, in every direction we looked. The season of brown replaced it, and the darkness falls predictably, knocking us backwards in to quieter evenings, thicker clothes, retrospection. Thanksgiving came as early this year as it possibly could; beginning on a mild note in the morning with temperatures near 60 degrees. By afternoon, the wind had stripped the mild weather away, and as dusk fell across countless laden tables of bounty, snowflakes began dropping from the sky, making photos like this nothing but a memory.
I’ve been cooking quite a bit, but not jotting down recipes, or taking much beyond a quick iPhone photo for my Instagram page. Then, I’m not sharing those on Instagram Friday anymore, either. In struggling with the whys of this blog, and trying to figure out a method to jump-start my creativity again, I came across this post from Jacqui that sent my heart scurrying. If there could be truer words spoken about what is in my mind in the moment -although there’s far less about tacos than in Jacqui’s- I don’t know where I’d find it. In brief bullets, she knocked one out of the park, and has left me questioning even more which direction my little corner here is going.
And it’s now way deep in November. I’ve watched in previous years of my life how this 11th month has silently bound me to suffocation in a dark melancholy, but in recent years have seen a more forgiving approach to the slow decline of natural light. Have you ever read this essay from Jeanette Winterson? It’s all about embracing winter darkness and appreciating what happens after the sun goes down.
“We have all experienced negative darkness – those long stretches of the night when we can’t sleep, and worry about everything, and so we know that “dark time” can seem interminably long, compared with daytime. Yet this slowing of time can be the most relaxing and beautiful experience. Spending the evening in candlelight, and maybe by the fire – with no TV – talking, telling stories, letting the lit-up world go by without us, expands the hours, and alters the thoughts and conversations we have.”
Since finding it many years ago, there has been much more to discover about darkness; and I realize that fighting the cold, the brown and the ennui that November brings only tends to make those aspects of it more pronounced. This November has been very kind; it’s been mild, warm even, and there have been days of ample sunshine that the cats love to bask in. Really, there wasn’t much to complain about with this 11th month.
But I was pleased to see the snowflakes yesterday. Crazy as it sounds, I’ve been impatient for real cold. For my cross country skis and sweaters and candlelight twinkling against windows reflecting pale apparitions of white. I’m a girl of seasons, born deep in my blood and others may find Winter contentious and difficult, but it will arrive with it’s own fury and grace regardless, and welcoming the season without fight is far less tiresome.
And this blog? Well, I’ve got some ideas planned for the next six weeks or so, a fun giveaway for my readers and some good old fashioned Christmas treats to share. And then…. poof! The blog, as we know it, will be gone and once again a Phoenix will rise from the ashes, hopefully by the time the first month of 2013 ends. I’m churning with ideas and plans and am quite excited to see how it all comes out on the other end.
So…. how about a recipe? A perfect one for this time of year, these Sweet Potato Biscuits are wonderful to nibble on with morning coffee, or as an amazing addition to any holiday table (I can only imagine how delicious these would be with turkey and stuffing….) They’re a cinch to make too. Who doesn’t love that?
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Yield: 12 to 15 biscuits
One 3/4-pound red-skinned sweet potato (yam), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of cayenne pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup chilled buttermilk
Cook sweet potato in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cool, and mash.
Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Butter bottom and sides of 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet (or 8- or 9-inch round cake pan).
Whisk flour and next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Add cubed butter to flour mixture; toss to coat and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes and buttermilk in medium bowl. Add to flour mixture; toss with fork. Gather mixture in bowl, stirring gently until dough comes together. Using your fingers, press any remaining flour in to the dough, and gently turn it out in to the prepared pan, pressing it to fit. Score the biscuit dough in a pie wedge shape.
Brush tops with melted butter. Bake until puffed and golden on top and tester inserted into center biscuit comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn biscuits out and gently pull them apart.
from The Kitchen Sink Recipes (and from Bon Appetit)
July 8th, 2012
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Summer kind of smacked us around this past week in Minnesota. We’re a state that lives for Summer, for beach time and hours spent outdoors engaging in just about any activity that means we escape our houses and enjoy the weather, but then there are those Summer days that are so hot, so thickly humid and uncomfortable that we have no choice but to stay home, avoid the triple digits outdoors and attempt to entertain ourselves while the sun tries to burn holes in our roof.
I’ve experienced some hot Summers in my lifetime; 1988 was a blistering hot Summer that saw temperature records fall by the score, knocking out ones that had stood the test of time since the 1930′s. I was living in a third floor walk-up apartment with no A/C and I’ve never been so miserable in my life. One evening in July, as I sat out on the stoop with other exhausted and over-heated residents of our building, the night air at 10:30 was still hovering around 105°. Trying to sleep was impossible. At 3:30 that morning, I finally gave up and turned on the radio, only to hear that the current temperature was 88°. During that particular Summer, we saw a stretch of weather where the temperature did not fall below 85° for more than a week. At that point in time, central air-conditioning was still a novelty.
I don’t recall much about what I ate during that sweltering Summer, and having this cool, crunchy and fresh salad around might have made those awful days a bit more tolerable, but at that point in my life, my culinary exploits were just about non-existent. Thankfully, for our current heat wave, and after a quick and sweaty trip through the Farmers Market, we were stocked to the hilt with fresh greens and lettuces and crisp vegetables, making this dish a mainstay of those sticky days blessedly spent inside our comfortable, fully air-conditioned house.
Not familiar with millet? Most of us in the USA see it only in birdseed, and that’s a sad fate for us humans, but terrific for the birds. Millet is widely cultivated in the form of pearl millet in India and parts of Africa, and is popular there due to it’s high productivity and and short growing season. In the USA, the most widely cultivated form of millet is proso millet, grown and used as birdseed. Millet is an ancient grain, known for being the least allergenic and most digestible of the gluten-free ancient grains that are becoming more popular. Millet is high in fiber and all the B vitamins, iron, calcium and zinc. It cooks in less time than quinoa and has a pleasantly sweet and nutty flavor.
This salad, born of desperation and some choice nightmares over stressful memories of past sticky summers, made our stretch of housebound days feel a bit easier. Even in the cool comfort of home, with the heat and humidity kept at bay by closed shades, eating becomes almost an afterthought. There’s no comfort in foods that are heavy or rich; no desire for flame or heat, and when the mood strikes to eat something, it’s good to just reach in the refrigerator and pull out a bowl of summertime goodness. The crunch and snap of fresh vegetables, the headiness of herbs cut straight from the garden outside your door and a blind eye turned from the weather forecast was welcome relief as the calendar page turned to July.
This salad is endlessly versatile, and if Millet isn’t available, you can use just about any small grain you wish. With the wide variety of fresh vegetables in season, as well as delicious greens, putting your own personal thumbprint on this salad is a cinch. I loved the addition of the radish greens to the salad, offering their unique peppery bite, but if you use them, seek out organic radishes to insure that the greens aren’t laden with pesticide residue. And as always, with time in the refrigerator, this salad takes on a lot more flavor.
Now we’re all set for the next heat wave. Let’s just hope it’s not too soon.
Millet & Chickpea Salad
1/2 c. raw millet
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (remove the seeds if desired)
1 small bunch radishes and their greens, washed and sliced
1 c. fresh chopped herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme and parsley
1/4 c. good quality olive oil
2 T. white or red wine vinegar
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups of water to a boil. Rinse millet in a wire mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Add millet to boiling water with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Test the grains. They should still be firm, with a bit of softness, like rice. All the water might not be absorbed either. If tender, remove from heat and drain remaining water. Spread cooked millet on a parchment lined baking sheet to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled millet, chickpeas, cucumber, and radish, greens included. Whisk the oil and vinegar together in a small measuring cup, season with salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if you wish. Add half the herbs, toss together. Chill for about an hour. Taste before serving, adding more seasoning and herbs to boost flavor.
July 5th, 2012
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Cauliflower is so endlessly versatile, and to think up until a few years ago, I’d only eaten it raw or boiled. Boiled? Ugh. Steamed is a much better, albeit bland, option, but if you allow it to go too far in the steamer, it’s lack of inspiration becomes legendary. The epiphany, thankfully, was the pan of deeply roasted cauliflower that changed my mind about the stark white florets forever. I’ve tried it mashed like potatoes, and also pureed smooth with parmesan for a creamless alfredo sauce. But time and again, I placed a pan loaded with it in to a hot oven and devoured the results.
That was about it for that vegetable, and I was fine with it. I could eat cauliflower year-round, and I do, but now with a few new methods in my arsenal, I can enjoy this vegetable a whole lot more.
I came across this fried ‘rice’ recipe for Cauliflower on Shanna’s blog and knew that I had to get that going in my own kitchen. While I do love fried rice to the depths of my heart, it’s best when you have cold, cooked rice on hand and that’s not just something that materializes in this kitchen every day. But a head of cauliflower, ground in a few pulses in your food processor and mixed with the same type of seasonings in a hot wok can be a dynamite substitute, with a lot less calories and carbs.
And simple doesn’t even do this justice. It’s ridiculous how easy and quick this is. I spent more time prying the leaves from the core of cauliflower than any other aspect of putting this together, including chopping an onion. Given that you’re basically pulverizing the vegetable, you can use the core of it as well and no one would ever know the difference. In less than 10 minutes after heating up my wok, we sat down to steaming bowls of this fragrant meal.
Shanna has two options for this recipe on her blog, which is a wealth of beautiful writing (with a love story that’s almost as good as ours…..) and this base of ground cauliflower could really withstand just about any treatment to create your own version. I made a rich curry flavored dish, enhanced with ground pistachios for flavor and as I tossed and cooked it, inhaling the fragrance from the wok, I started thinking of all sorts of vegetables I could add to this to make it better and deeper in flavor, and in a second round of this simple meal, I added in some leftover vegetables from a coconut curry stir fry that Griffin had made, as well as a few handfuls of cold rice and the results were equally spectacular. This will be a new favorite in our house, you can bet on that.
Another mind-blowing option for Cauliflower that I’d been thinking about lately is to prepare it on the grill. I’ve seen methods of doing this by slicing through the head, creating a ‘steak’ and laying that on the grill. In my attempt to cut my Cauliflower though, my ‘steaks’ broke apart, leaving me with no other choice but to toss them on my grill plate to cook. Probably one of my best purchases for outdoor cooking, my cast iron grill plate lays directly on top of the grate and is perfect for cooking all manner of small foods; I can grill peppers and onions for fajitas, asparagus without losing any stalks, mushrooms, small fruit and a wide range of other foods, and it was perfect to create this smoky, sensational grilled cauliflower. I could barely contain myself from eating the entire bowl of it.
My most favorite marinade to use on grilled vegetables is a spicy mustard vinaigrette, brushed or tossed with the vegetable prior to being placed on the grate. It imparts terrific flavor, with just a bit of punch from the mustard. I’ve found that it works well on almost every vegetable I’ve ever grilled. Which, admittedly, has been A LOT. I love to grill just about anything.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
1 small head cauliflower, leaves removed and broken in to large chunks
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
Coconut oil for cooking
Soy sauce and sesame oil to finish
Place the cauliflower in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse to break it down. You want small pieces but not too deeply ground up. It happens fast too, and I need about 3-4 good pulses before it’s perfect.
Heat a small amount of coconut oil in your wok, or other large deep skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring continually, until it’s softened, maybe 5 minutes tops. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for several more minutes. Add the cauliflower and stir to mix everything up. At this point, once the cauliflower is warmed, you can be done. I cooked it through a bit so it wasn’t completely crunchy, retaining just enough bite to be toothsome. It’s entirely up to you.
Drizzle the cauliflower with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil, if desired, before serving.
RECIPE NOTES: This can be treated like any fried rice recipe, using vegetables to bulk up the finished product. The variations you can make are positively endless.
June 28th, 2012
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In moving past the continual consumption of meat with our meals, it brings to light an entirely new way of going out to eat, as I’m left wondering how up to date any restaurant will be with their meatless options. There are those places that soar, offering a wealth of meat-free entrees that dazzle, while others places rely on pasta dishes as their sole vegetarian fare.
Pasta isn’t bad, mind you. I do enjoy it. But these days, having just a pasta dish or two with vegetables as your meatless menu offering is pretty unimaginative for a restaurant.
But that being said, pasta has it’s virtues.
Hodgson Mills Pasta is running a recipe contest on Pinterest and I’m participating with this recipe. Are you on Pinterest? There’s a special page for Hodgson Mills that has all the recipe entries on it.
I’d appreciate a vote if you’re so inclined. There are some pretty nice prizes. You must go to the page linked above to vote. Pinning this recipe from my blog won’t count.
And Hodgson Mills was nice enough to offer $25 dollars of assorted pasta to one lucky winner from my blog. That’s a lot of pasta! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on my blog stating your favorite way to prepare pasta (US residents only, with a valid mailing address, please) You have until Thursday July 5th to leave a comment and be entered for the giveaway. I will choose one commenter through Random.Org and contact you via email, so be sure to leave that information. Hodgson Mills will ship directly to you.
Do you love your pasta rich and cheesy? How about chock full of rich tomato sauce and italian sausage? Plain with simple garlic and olive oil? I’ve been enjoying Hodgson Mills whole wheat pasta with summer fresh pesto and grilled vegetables, and creating this recipe was a deliciously fun way to use up a huge box of basil that I’d been given. Food gifts are the best, aren’t they?
Summer Pesto Pasta with Grilled Zucchini
1-lb Hodgson Mills Bow Tie Pasta
2 medium zucchini
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 t. prepared spicy mustard
1 c. prepared pesto (or make your own from scratch, method included)
Fresh Cherry tomatoes, optional
Heat gas grill on high for 10 minutes. Just prior to cooking, reduce heat to medium-low and brush grill grates with canola or other neutral oil. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and prepared mustard; set aside. Wash zucchini thoroughly and trim off root end. Slice zucchini the long way into three strips about 1/4″ thick. Brush with the mustard oil and place, oiled side down on prepared grill grates. Cook without moving for 5 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn zucchini over and continue to cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes more. Remove from grill and set aside to cool. Cut zucchini in to bite sized pieces.
For the Pesto:
4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/3 c. olive oil
2 T. shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for finished pasta.
2 T. pine nuts (optional)
1 T. kosher salt
1 t. fresh cracked black pepper
Place all ingredients in the work bowl of a 2-quart food processor. Process in pulses until thoroughly combined, adding more olive oil if needed and scraping down sides as necessary. Scrape prepared pesto in to a bowl and press plastic wrap over the surface to prevent discoloration.
In a 6-quart stockpot, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and salt, if desired. Cook pasta until just al dente. Reserve one cup of the cooking water, drain pasta and place back in the stock pot. Add half the pesto to the hot pasta. Drizzle in a little of the cooking water and stir to combine, adding in a bit more cooking water if needed. Add more pesto if needed, along with the cooking water until it’s to your preferred consistency. Stir in the grilled and chopped zucchini and more parmesan cheese, if desired. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Chill pasta for up to an hour before serving, or overnight if desired. Taste prior to serving to adjust for seasoning, and add sliced cherry tomatoes for garnish and color.
June 27th, 2012
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I’ve never liked peas. Never. But again, as always, I’d been exposed only to frozen cooked peas, often overdone and alarming in their color and consistency. Even the smell made me want to gag.
But then again, up until just last year, I’d never had peas fresh, raw and straight from the shell. I popped this raw pea in to my mouth in a moment of bravery and bit down. It was, obviously, a revelation, and the continuation of these eye-opening food experiences as an adult has been nothing short of wondrous, proving that it is never, ever to late to learn about new foods.
Still, I’d never decided to push myself in to making something with raw peas until this summer when the idea began forming in my head for this salad. Coupled with the opening day of the Shoreview Farmers Market near us (and a day off of work for me) I picked up two baskets of sugar snap peas and spent an ungodly amount of time shelling them. As I stood there, thumbs slipping through the shells, watching the peas tumble in to the water, I thought back over time to how many women had done this task before me, sitting on a breezy porch or back steps in the warmth of late Spring, a basket of peas in their lap listening to the ‘plup plup’ of tiny peas hitting the bowl. I love the nostalgia of food, how the simple means of connecting with our sustenance has been practiced for generations, going back in time when eating local wasn’t considered trendy because it was all anyone could ever do. Sometimes I long for that ability to connect, to be caught deeply in a season of plenty sitting right outside my kitchen door.
Maybe I was born in the wrong era.
I couldn’t begin to tell you where the urge for this salad came from; it arrived with the heat blasting Minnesota, wringing us out in humidity and a continual dance of thunderstorms bringing severe damage, flooding and devastation. I’ve been shocked and saddened every day as photos flit across my screen showing the aftermath of these storms. Amidst all the chaos and rain-soaked days, the idea shimmered like the waves of sunlight, boiling up in me and urging itself along. Peas. Jicama. Cucumber and especially the mint. For some reason in my head, it all worked so I shelled, chopped, mixed and crossed my fingers. A squeeze of fresh lime juice, a few shakes of cumin and salt and a spoon lifted to my mouth assured me that my mind was right, as right as heat in the summertime and peas that will always need shelling. Right in the ways of that only simple can be.
I’d be completely at home in the wide open country, on an open back porch under the sunshine and immensely fresh air. I know I would. But in my lifetime that’s unlikely to happen. I won’t be picking sugar snap peas in my garden, warm in the heat, listening to them fall in a bowl but rest assured, I will be making this salad again. From the first bite, to the next and finally a stolen spoonful the following day to remind myself of how good it was, how fresh and summery it tasted in my mouth, it was so perfect, so crunchy sweet and all mixed up with flavor and snap. Here’s to the joy of Summer time.
Raw Pea Salad with Jicama, Cucumber & Mint
3# shelled sugar snap peas
1 c. english cucumber, peeled and diced fine
1 c. jicama, peeled and diced fine
1/4 c. chopped mint
1/3 c. good quality olive oil
3 T. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 T. fresh lime zest
1/2 t. ground cumin
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine the peas, cucumber, jicama and mint. Whisk together the oil, lime juice and zest, cumin, salt and pepper. Adjust to taste and pour over salad. Stir to combine, adjust salt and pepper. Chill for an hour before serving; taste for seasoning.
This salad was excellent served atop a bed of fresh salad greens, too. The vinaigrette dresses the greens beautifully.
Once chilled, the olive oil will solidify slightly;
you can let the salad sit at room temperature for a few minutes if that doesn’t appeal to you.
June 19th, 2012
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I’ve been on a mostly plant-based eating plan for just over a year now and have no intention of ever going back to eating meat on a regular basis. I’m not against having a bit of it here and there if the mood suits me, but with a heightened awareness of how it deeply affected my health, I’m off of the stuff for the long term.
Trouble is, I’ve been searching for cooking inspiration and while I can find a great deal online in the blogs that I follow, I hadn’t come across a really good source until I serendipitously found Michael Natkin’s blog, Herbivoracious, and within a day’s time was invited to a local book signing with the author. Everyone who attended the event received a complimentary cookbook and several tantalizing bites from the simple and gorgeous recipes in the book.
I haven’t devoured a cookbook like this in a very long time. I’ve purchased a few promising vegetarian cookbooks through used book stores, but have come away from them feeling uninspired, or worse, dismayed at the boring recipes. In our current state of food, with a wealth of ingredients available to us, fresh produce everywhere and home cooks hitting up the internet with abandon to share their stories and recipes, we shouldn’t feel like pasta and vegetables make up the bulk of a vegetarians meals, but that was the message a lot of vegetarian cookbooks still seem to send. I wanted something that reflected the modern cuisine, full of a wide selection of fresh ingredients, unique spices, terrific grains and a grown-up mentality towards consumption of plant-based foods. Just a few pages in to Michael’s book and I knew I’d found what I was looking for, breathing an excited sigh of relief. I immediately started marking pages, rich with inspiration, my mouth already watering over what was to come.
One aspect of this book that I love is that it mirrors my own cooking philosophy, in that a recipe should be a guide, and not a cut and dried interpretation of the finished dish. Michael clearly discusses ways to change up his recipes, suggesting additional ingredients or substitutions and encouraging the reader to utilize what’s on hand. Every dish is simple, yet elegant, running the whole range of time needed for completing the recipes from about 10 minutes to pull together an easy salad to longer, in-depth recipes for those special occasions. The book is full of advice on sourcing ingredients, caring for your knives, planning your meals and making your prep easier to manage; he covers so many little details that it makes the book more than just a cookbook, but something akin to treasured kitchen advice. The cover page is gorgeous, but if it gets torn, stained or otherwise in your exploration, the actual cover itself still has it’s beautiful logo. I like that in a book.
Even while still at the book signing event, chatting excitedly with a few friends and paging through the book, I came across the Golden Beet Tartare recipe and knew that would be tops on my list. I adore gold beets and it sounded like a delicious summery salad for a hot, sticky day.
I wasn’t wrong at all about that. The heat is on, Minnesota. It’s time to stay cool, right?
Fresh and bright, this simple salad has crunch and texture galore, the rich earthy taste of beets and mellow cucumber and onion. The original recipe called for raw red onion which I don’t ever use as I dislike raw allium in anything, so I substituted grilled vidalia onions with just enough snap remaining. Once it was all pulled together I thought it still needed a bit more color to jazz up the visual aspect, so I finely chopped some kale leaves that gave it the perfect balance.
I can foresee this recipe becoming a regular in my kitchen, giving it repeated appearances and endangering my endless love of beets. With the upcoming beet season looming, and such pretty colors and patterns in this nutritious and healthy root vegetable, I vow to practice enough restraint to keep it fresh and desirable so we can continue to enjoy it’s benefits. Right now, I’m fighting off the urge to consume the entire container of this salad. A definite winner.
Please visit Michael’s site, for his complete recipe for Golden Beet Tartare. I’m going to give you my method, which, as Michael encourages, is my own take on the recipe.
Golden Beet Salad
3 medium beets, tops trimmed (save them and eat them if it’s your thing)
1/2 an English Cucumber, peeled and finely diced
1/2 medium Vidalia onion, grilled but still somewhat crunchy, finely diced
1 T. capers, drained and minced
1/2 c. kale leaves, finely minced
3 T. olive oil
1 t. fresh lemon zest
1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T. fresh chives, minced
2 T. fresh parsley, minced (I used flat leaf; curly would work just as well)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Heat oven to 400°. Place a square of foil in an 8×8 baking pan and put beets in the foil. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and fold the foil over the beets. Roast the beets until a knife inserted in them slips out easily. The time will depend on the size of your beets, but plan for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Allow the beets to cool, then peel and dice them.
In a bowl, add the beets, cucumber, onion, capers, kale, lemon zest and juice, chives and parsley. Drizzle in the oil, add a few shakes of sea salt and grinds of pepper. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Allowing the salad to sit for a few hours, or overnight before serving will deepen the flavors. Adjust seasonings before serving.
I received a complimentary copy of Herbivoracious from attending the book signing event.
All opinions and feedback about the book are strictly my own.
May 21st, 2012
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A really good bowl of perfect fried rice is one of my most favorite things to consume. Any restaurant with it on the menu sets it’s yardstick by how good their fried rice tastes, and with one bite I’m either over the moon or sadly disappointed. A matchless bowl will have the ultimate combination of firm grains of rice, a deep rich flavor from the wok and enough extras to make good flavor without sacrificing the overall taste of the dish.
I’ve made fried rice at home on occasion, and always with the caveat that my wok will never replicate that of a good restaurant. I enjoy it for what it is from my own kitchen and don’t expect perfection. Especially if I stray from a standard method and go off on my own path.
I’m like that as a cook, anyway. I’m not one to follow a crowd and stick to something tried and true. I like to push myself with my food and try many different means to fill my belly. My unconventional means to a steaming bowl of fried rice started with roasting a few pans of vegetables and ended up with a decent rendition for dinner that everyone enjoyed.
The best beginning to any fried rice is always cold, cooked rice. A few cups of that, along with any variety of vegetables and a hot pan and you’ve got what you need. My version had edamame, roasted cauliflower and carrots in it, plus the remains of some shredded lacinato kale that I had on hand. True proponents of fried rice likely would shake their heads at this combination, but that’s me, in a nutshell. Improvising is my strongest tool when it comes to cooking. There are many days that I stand, pantry doors open, fridge ajar, my mind churning with possibilities, and learning to utilize what’s on hand is a skill worthy of any home cook.
Plus? This was utterly delicious.
Roasted Vegetable Fried Rice
1 pkg frozen Edamame pods
1 head cauliflower, washed and cut to bite sized pieces
1/2# carrots, washed and sliced on a bias
1 c. shredded lacinato kale (or other greens, like spinach or chard)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 T. minced fresh ginger
4 c. cold cooked rice
2-3 T. sesame oil
Soy sauce to taste
Fresh squeezed lime juice (optional, but delicious!)
Sesame seeds for garnish (also optional, also delicious)
Peanut or coconut oil for frying. (You want an oil that will withstand the high heat needed in this dish. I don’t recommend using olive oil for fried rice as it breaks down at high heat.)
Cook Edamame according to package directions, cool and remove from the pods. Heat oven to 400°.
Roast cauliflower and carrots on separate baking sheets, as they will need different times to cook completely. Toss them in a bit of oil, salt and pepper prior to placing in the oven, and roast them to desired tenderness.
In a wok, or large skillet, heat a small amount of oil. When hot and shimmering, add the ginger and garlic and quickly stir for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to combine, breaking up the clumps. Stir and toss the rice until it’s nice and hot, the drizzle about a tablespoon of sesame oil around the edge of the pan and stir the rice with the oil. Add in the vegetables and stir to heat through. Drizzle with soy sauce and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice. (the zest is really nice too!) Add a bit more sesame oil and a few tablespoons of sesame seeds, if you have them. Stir together to combine until it’s all nice and hot. Serve topped with more sesame seeds.
January 14th, 2012
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The cuisine of India is one of my favorites, almost hands down. I love the vibrant flavors and colors, the spice and aroma and the endless variations. I love the lentils, the vegetables, the breads and condiments. All of it.
I’m not alone in my love for this aromatic and delicious foods, and recently a group of my closest friends and I decided to get together one evening for Curry Night. We’d spent a talkative morning over coffee chatting endlessly about food and hit upon the topic of Indian food, each sighing in joy, rolling our eyes and declaring it’s lofty place in our lives. Paired with an intense desire to get our husbands in the same room together, we planned, plotted and perfected our recipes, and on an unseasonably warm January night, we carried fragrant dishes to Amanda and Brian‘s beautiful brownstone apartment in St Paul and gathered, loudly, to enjoy this amazing food, and some well deserved face time. The holidays, with their obligations and frenetic pace had kept us apart far too long and we needed a night together of food, wine, chatter and fun. The entire evening was a wonderful and delicious, with much needed laughter and camaraderie.
Dhal Makhani is one of my most favorite lentil dishes to order when I go out for Indian food, but I’d never attempted it at home, mostly due to the absence of an easy place to buy the requisite black beluga lentils required. But when a shipment from Marx Foods landed on my doorstep, with 8 2-lb containers holding a rainbow of colored lentils, all I needed was a good recipe. And an excuse.
Thankfully, I found both.
Lentils, as a food, don’t win many beauty contests. What they are beyond their rather homely end result is a quick-cooking, nutritional little powerhouse. This dish was deliciously fragrant and hearty; black lentils hold their shape beautifully after cooking, and with the right amount of garlic, ginger and onion, along with the heady blend of spices that make up many Indian dishes, this recipe was glamorous with flavor and it smelled simply amazing. A thin drizzle of cream gives it a wonderful rich taste, and it evolves over time and a day in your fridge to gain in taste what it lacks in eye appeal.
This recipe can easily be made vegan by eliminating the heavy cream, substituting an alternate of choice. It has no meat in it at all.
1 cup black lentils, washed and picked over
2 large onions, minced
2 green chilies, sliced (remove seeds and inner membrane for less heat, if desired. I used jalapenos)
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
2″ piece of ginger, chopped
1 T. garlic, minced
2 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. red chili powder
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 T. cooking oil of choice (i use grapeseed)
2 T. ghee
1 t. cumin seeds
In a small bowl, mix ground coriander, ground cumin and chili powder together. Set aside.
Place rinsed lentils in a medium pot and cover with 3 cups of cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmering, and cook until lentils are tender, about 25-40 minutes. You can leave just a bit of bite to them, as they will cook more in the finished product.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat oil and add onions. Stir to coat and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are beginning to brown. Add green chiles, ginger, garlic and the ground spice mix and stir to coat completely. Continue to cook and stir until the vegetables are tender and deeply browned, about 20-25 minutes. Keep heat regulated to avoid burning them, and stir often.
When the lentils are tender, transfer them to the skillet, reserving some of the cooking water. Stir the lentils to mix with the vegetables, and add the cooking water, 1/3 cup at a time until a smooth gravy forms. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt. Cook for a few more minutes and taste for salt. Turn off heat and wait for the simmering to stop. Drizzle the heavy cream over the top and stir to incorporate.
For an authentic finish, heat ghee (or clarified butter) in a small skillet until very hot. Add the cumin seeds and quickly cover the pan. Shake the pan while the seeds pop, and when they stop, scrape the butter and seeds on to the Dhal Makhani and stir together. This mixture is very hot and will sputter so be careful.
December 7th, 2011
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I collect a lot of recipes. Papers overflow the corner of our counter where they tend to land; recipes of all types from desserts to main dishes. Trouble is, I rarely use them, verbatim anyway. They serve as a sort of spiritual guidance, infusing me with inspiration to cull what I need to make up a dish all on my own. I’m only home a few nights a week to cook these days. And although I could give any one of the recipes to my guys and they’d likely be able to pull it off, there’s no way I could hand them two or three, with all sorts of odd instructions such as ‘Take this part’ and ‘Do this but not this’ and expect it will come out the way I envision it. My brain works way differently than theirs when it comes to putting recipes together.
Still, even with all the inspiration at my fingertips (or these days, stuffed in a drawer) sometimes the meals I create are derived from a leap or two of inspiration that comes not from a printed source, but from a few wild ideas my brain churns out that I think sound good together.
I certainly had no doubt that we would enjoy this silky braised kale, infused with coconut milk and some fragrant curry powder, but I had no idea that it would swirl through my mouth with such immense flavors, causing me to think almost obsessively about it, plotting the exact next time I could simmer up a large pan of it for us to enjoy. Griffin won’t eat it, and that’s fine. He has tried a few bites of cooked greens that we consume but he’s just not there yet. Mike and I fell over ourselves in adoration for this dish, easily a complete meal. Alone with a large helping of kale, it’s perfect as is, but the second go-round I made of it, I added a large bunch of red chard, complete with the chopped stems and if it’s even possible, the dish was so much better, with richer, deeper flavor and much more balanced.
The best part about making this dish on one of the first bone-chillingly cold days of December, was placing my nose down among the wisps of steam that rose from the pan and breathing in the fresh green scent of kale and chard. It easily transported my mind back to late summer, the bounty of chard bunches to be had for a dollar apiece that I would bring home from the markets each week. Thankfully I can find inexpensive one pound bags of prepared kale, and chard is reasonable for the taking so I won’t be missing my greens all that much. I just won’t be shopping in a flippy skirt and tank top when I buy them.
Braised Kale and Chickpeas in Coconut Milk
1/2# prepared kale, tough stems removed, roughly chopped
1 15-oz can lite coconut milk (you can use full-fat as well)
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed well
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 t. prepared curry powder, or curry paste (both red or yellow would be perfect- adjust to taste)
In a large deep skillet with a lid, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil, and add garlic. Cook and stir for a few minutes until garlic becomes opaque. Add kale in handfuls, stirring continually, until it’s all in the pan. Continue to stir until it turns a very bright and dark green and has taken on the oil in the pan. Add about a half cup of water and cover the pan, allowing to simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, coconut milk and curry powder. Cover and allow to cook, slowly, anywhere from 5-15 minutes more, depending on how you like your kale to taste. Stir again, seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. If the kale seems a bit watery, remove the lid and allow some of the liquid to cook off.
Kate’s Notes: If you wish to use chard as well, you can add that after the kale has simmered for the first 10 minutes. Stir in the rough chopped chard and allow the heat to steam it tender. If using the stems too, chop them fine and add them with the garlic in the beginning.