Sunday, December 21, 2008

Daikon and carrot pickle (or, more fun with root vegetables)

3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2-3 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 dried red pepper
3 cloves garlic
enough sliced daikon and carrot to loosely fill a 1-quart jar

Combine first four ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring, just until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Put the remaining ingredients into a quart jar and pour vinegar mixture over.

Chill for at least 12 hours.

Bonus item: Annie, 3.5, was eating the sliced carrots almost as fast as I could cut them. I offered her a slice of daikon, but she said "It's too different for me."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another take on green salad in the winter

From left to right, that's julienned turnip, red storage radish, and carrot. The turnips are surprisingly crunchy, light, and sweet, when they're raw. Tossed in with lettuce and vinaigrette, it was quite lovely.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Root vegetable turnovers

So when I was talking on Facebook about having a surfeit of root vegetables, someone (Hi, Kris!) suggested pasties. She even sent me a pile of recipes . . . most involving lots of meat. Then I remembered I'd seen a recipe for vegetarian pasties in Sundays at Moosewood. But that wasn't quite right, either. S. helped me by mentioning the word turnover and reminding me to check Deborah Madison. At last, the pieces were coming together. Here's what I wound up with.

They are sinfully rich, thanks to the pastry -- but so satisfying on a cold dark December night . . .

The filling actually makes too much for this amount of pastry, I found. But fear not! I have at least two delicious suggestions for leftover filling.*

The filling:
2 medium onions, diced
2 cups cabbage, chopped pretty fine (1/4 inch pieces, maybe?)
2 medium-small rutabegas, diced
1 celeriac, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 T olive oil
about 2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat; add onions and a few pinches of salt. After they've softened (5-10 minutes), add the cabbage. Continue to saute for another 5 minutes, then add the root vegetables (in my case, I added them as they got chopped). Saute for another 10 minutes or so after they're all added, and then put a lid on it and let them steam till the root veggies are tender, but not mushy. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. I think basically any method or pastry would work -- this is what I did.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 T sugar
12 T butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Mix the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into little bitty pieces and add to the flour mixture. Work it together with your fingers until it resembles the proverbial "coarse meal." Sprinkle in enough water to help it cohere, then fridge it for about 30 minutes.

Now toss the cooled vegetables with the cheese and combine thoroughly.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces (or however many you want) and roll into "circles." Mine were, uh, rustic, to say the least. Calling them circles would be, how you say, generous. Notice I didn't take pictures of that stage -- though you can certainly tell from the finished product that they weren't quite circular.

Put a generous 1/3 cup of filling onto the circle, distribute the filling, and fold over and seal with a fork. Make 3 cuts on top of the turnover to allow steam to escape. Repeat with all remaining, and then bake for 30-35 minutes at 350. Let them cool for 5 or 10 minutes.

*Extra filling suggestions:
1. Make a pot of rice. When it's just done, and plenty hot, stir in a 1 1/2 cups of the root vegetable mixture, which you have left out for an hour so it's at room temp. The cheese will melt and it will be divine.

2. Now you have leftover rice with root vegetables and cheese. Never fear. Beat an egg or two, and stir in a cup or two of the rice-and-veggies mixture, as well as a splash of milk. Heat a little pan, and some olive oil, and make yourself a nifty little frittata.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Favorite winter salad

Drumlin Farm, god love them, has a fabulous greenhouse where they grow salad greens for the winter share. It's worth the price of all that squash, any day.

Green salad is different in the winter, though, for me. We put in dried cherries from Michigan (here -- yeah, I know, it's not local, but Jon's family used to own a cottage in that part of Michigan so it feels local, in a way), crumbled feta, and sunflower seeds, as well as our usual vinaigrette. Dried fruit and seeds or nuts just don't belong in a summer salad, but they're right at home in a winter one . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Roasted Kale

This is the only way Arij will eat kale. He says it reminds him of nori.

Wash it, tear it into smallish pieces, cutting out the big stems. Toss it with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and some salt, and spread it on a cookie sheet -- it doesn't need to be in a single layer, but it should be well-spread-out. Put it into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, then shake and/or stir the pan and put it back into the oven. Check it after 5 more minutes, and stir again, but it will probably need another 5 minutes or so again (a total of 20 minutes). Sometimes if it's not completely crisp, I'll turn off the oven and leave it there another 5 minutes or so.

Addictive for nibbling or garnishing soups or salads.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roasted butternut squash

My new favorite way to cook butternut squash is to slice it thinly and toss it with olive oil, then spread it in a single layer on a cookie sheet at roast in the oven, turning occasionally, until it's brown and caramelized. Seriously, folks, if you have the time and patience, the result is like candy. It even sticks to your teeth like caramel. I'm sure your dentist would not approve.

Although I have nibbled a ton of it plain in the past few days, I also have been eating it other ways -- mostly with cheese and a starch, as you might be able to tell.

The top picture is slices of polenta, browned in a pan and then spread with roasted squash and cheese and run under the broiler.

The other two are one of my usual fast foods -- cheese toast -- but with that roasted squash layered between the bread and cheese.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Molasses spice cookies

For one brief, shining moment, one of my fantasies was fulfilled today. Both my children were in the kitchen helping me make cookies. I'll pause a moment to let that sink in. It stands to reason, though, doesn't it? For someone who loves to cook as much as I do, the ultimate is sharing it with people I love.

Bonus: I caught it on film!

These cookies are fabulous. They were a fave at a book group I used to belong to back in the dark ages, made by a bakery called Dancing Deer. I cut the recipe out of the Boston Globe when Arij was a baby, and they never disappoint.

I'm never sure about the protocol regarding supplying a recipe when it really, clearly belongs to someone else.

Should I post it, or not?

2 1/4 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour and the remainder, all-purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine flour, soda, salt, and spices; stir well.

Combine oil, sugar, and molasses. Beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes (give or take). Add egg and beat for another minute.

Mix in the dry ingredients 1/4 at a time, combining thoroughly.

Form the dough into walnut-sized balls and flatten into disks. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. (I'd say, experiment and see if you like them better slightly chewy, or more crisp.) Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I haven't gone away, but am experiencing technical difficulties: a nasty respiratory virus as well as a camera with a mind of its own.

Hopefully both issues will be resolved soon and I'll be back again.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Oh, my goodness.

Usually I host Thanksgiving dinner (I know! Try to stifle your amazement!). It may be my favorite holiday -- one that hasn't been corrupted by rampant materialism, one that's all about food. True, the menu can be kind of limiting . . . but not this year.

Our wonderful friends the Hendersons hosted Turkey-day this year, and what fun it was. And we didn't collapse into food coma. We figured that was for two reasons. 1. we forgot to make mashed potatoes. Freaky, no? Maybe it was the Scotch whiskey we were all sipping that induced a little of that forgetfulness, or maybe it was all the other stuff we were busy making. 2. Morgan's mom is gluten-intolerant, so both the stuffing and the gravy were, I think, lighter than when they're made with wheat.

I forgot my camera, but Morgan came through with these photos.

They fried the turkey. If you eat meat, and you have never eaten fried turkey, I'm here to tell you, you are missing out. I could not stop nibbling the crispy bits. Absolutely phenomenal. (Plus, an 18-lb turkey cooked in an hour. Seriously.)

Morgan's dad, Bob, made the porcini mushroom gravy, and it was incredible (I believe he used a combination of rice and quinoa flours in the roux). Rich, silky -- everything you want in gravy. We had two kinds of cranberry sauce, one made by Morgan containing bourbon (here's the recipe) and one with port, walnuts, ginger, and citrus from the Hi-Rise Bread Company in Cambridge, where we had lunch last weekend while Christmas shopping. Bob also made the fantastic stuffing (pictured above with the sage leaves decorating the top).

I made butternut squash with caramelized onions and toasted pecans (pictured twice, I think), Greek-style green beans with about a cup of chopped garlic, and roasted parsnips, carrots, and red onions.

Desserts and appetizers were also amazing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Squash soup

Have you ever checked out 101 Cookbooks?

If not, you should.

(That makes me think of Dr. Seuss: "Have you ever flown a kite in bed?/Have you ever walked with 10 cats on your head?/Have you ever milked this kind of cow?/Well, we can do it. We know how./If you never did, you should./These things are fun and fun is good.")

Ahem. Where was I?

Oh, yes. If you have a plethora of winter squash right now, you should definitely try this different and yummy recipe. And did I mention easy? It has like four ingredients, and very little work.

Monday, November 24, 2008


A vegetarian version of cacciatore would probably strike most people as the height of oxymoron. (Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian.) Replacing the animal protein with a plant-based one means that no actual hunting went into the making of the dish. On the other hand, the chickens and rabbits that go into the traditional version are certainly domesticated . . . hm. I didn't think of that before. Maybe one ate cacciatore after one's hunting was unsuccessful?

I digress.

The point is that I love the rich flavor of cacciatore's sauce, but I don't particularly want chunks o' meat in there. So, what to do with that hankering?

I've made two versions in the past week, one with mushrooms and one with chickpeas, and both were delicious. I also want to try one with cannellini beans, but three inside of a week was undoubtedly too many, even for me.

I think the thing that distinguishes this sauce from "regular" red sauce is the red wine reduction.

2 T olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, diced small
6 or 8 oz mushrooms, quartered (optional)
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
splash of balsamic vinegar
2 cups cooked chickpeas or cannellini beans

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the onions and a few pinches of salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions get soft and a bit browned. Add the carrots and continue sauteing. The goal is to get the carrots to caramelize a little bit, too. Add the mushrooms (if using) and let them get a bit brown, too. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir well. Keep stirring until the liquid is basically gone. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and continue simmering for 20 minutes or so. Add the beans of choice and allow them to heat through.

Serve over pasta, polenta or garlic-rubbed toast.

Warming and delicious on a cold fall evening . . . and the leftovers rock.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How To Freeze Kale (for chichimama)

(I started to write this as a comment on the previous post after chichimama asked . . . then I realized it was really too long for a comment.)

Bring a big pot of water to a boil.

Wash and prep your kale -- I usually coarsely chop it.

Prepare a bowl full of cool water and dump in some ice cubes.

Line a large cookie sheet or try with an absorbent towel, and have another handy.

When the water boils, drop in the kale. Leave it in there for two minutes, regardless of when or whether it returns to a boil. It should turn a brighter green.

Drain thoroughly in a colander, then dump into the ice water to "shock" it. After it's thoroughly cool, drain it again, pressing the moisture out gently.

Spread it out on the cookie sheet, and press the other towel gently on top to wick out as much moisture as you can.

When it's dry, pack it into a ziplock freezer bag, pressing out as much air as you can. Fold over the top of the bag and then put it into another ziplock freezer bag, again pressing out air.

Label the bag, then put it in your freezer. (If you press the kale-filled bag sort of flat, it will make it more compact for storage.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

First CSA pickup, or, if you don't like squash, look away!

Crazy, no?
Already I've started freezing kale and baking pumpkins. Yummy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Really good one-day bread

I've reached a point where most lean breads -- those without added milk, butter, or other enrichments -- made in only one day, without any kind of starter, taste kinda flat. One-dimensional, even. It's kind of a bummer, because I don't always have a ripe starter in the fridge (keeping a ripe, ready-to-use sourdoubh/wild yeast starter in the fridge at all times requires a certain amount of flour waste I just can't live with). And sometimes I get the inspiration to make something for dinner that would go great with bread, but I didn't think to make a starter the night before.

This bread, though it does require the extra step of cooking potatoes, just might be the one to fill the gap.
5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 T salt
1 c well-mashed potatoes
2.5 c warmish water (include the water from boiling the potatoes!)
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
Combine all ingredients. Mix/knead till gluten is well-developed.
Let rise till doubled; gently deflate and, if you have time, let rise again (if you don't have time, go ahead and shape the breads now)
For shaping: divide the dough in half, and gently form into a round. Don't deflate it altogether -- handle it gently.
Let it rise (covered) on parchment paper while the oven preheats.
Heat oven to 400 with a pizza stone for 30-45 minutes. Slash the bread, and then slide it onto the hot stone.
Bake for 1 hour. I like to remove the parchment paper after about 20 minutes -- makes the bottom crust nicer.
(Oh, and to give credit where it's due: this is closely based on a recipe from James Beard's Beard on Bread.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Apple butter and applesauce

I've had so much fun making these and canning them in the past weeks.

I did have a little issue with the applesauce "siphoning" when I tried to can it -- somehow the seal failed and it oozed down the sides of the ostensibly sealed and processed jars. I took a little sauce out, used new lids, and reprocessed with no ill effects. Phew.

The apple butter is really wonderful -- made with cider, a little cinnamon, and some sugar -- spread on pumpkin bread, it is amazing.

I'm looking forward to giving it to friends for the holidays.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Three sisters stew

A classic I return to every fall/winter.

I cooked up a big pot of kidney beans. I didn't salt-soak them, but they turned out nice and tender. I get so frustrated with beans. I just don't know what I do that works or doesn't work from one time to the next. This time, I soaked them for about 5 hours, then brought to a boil on top of the stove. I threw in an onion and a carrot, boiled hard for 5 minutes, and then put them into a 250" oven (covered) for about an hour. I checked on them at that point, added a couple teaspoons of salt, and then I think I put them back in for 15 minutes.

Maybe it's the nice, even, consistent heat of the oven that made them turn out well this time. Or maybe this particular batch from the store was just fresher or whatever.

Anyway. I will keep experimenting, because I really love all the benefits of cooking my own beans.

1 onion, chopped
2cloves garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 heaping cups cooked kidney beans
1.5 cups kidney bean broth
1.5 cup frozen corn kernels
1 16-oz jar crushed tomatoes (yes, my own home-canned ones -- I am using them so fast! Next year, I'm SO doing more. Phantom, I'm looking at you!!)

Saute onions and a couple of pinches of salt till soft; add squash and corn and saute another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and spices and stir constantly for another minute. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Simmer gently, covered, till squash is tender, and then stir in the beans.

As with many bean dishes, this one's even better the next day.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Veggie burgers

This is my standard quickie veggie burger. It's fast, it's easy, and it's yummy. I usually make pitas to go with it, but sometimes I serve them on rolls. I love it with a yogurt sauce with crushed garlic (or minced scallions) and salt.

1 1/4 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
scant cup bulghur
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 tsp. cumin (or maybe a little more)
1 tsp. paprika
salt to taste
2 T. olive oil, plus more for frying the burgers

Cook the lentils in 3 cups of water seasoned with 1 tsp. of salt. (Bring to a boil, then simmer till the lentils are soft, about 20-25 minutes.) Add the bulghur, stir well, cover, and remove from the heat. Allow to stand for 20 minutes or so.

While the lentils are cooking, saute the onion in 2 T. olive oil with a couple of pinches of salt until soft and browned. Add the cumin, paprika and garlic and saute, stirring constantly, for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir into the lentil/bulghur mixture after it has sat long enough to absorb all the liquid. The mixture should be pretty stiff.
I find mixing with my hands is the easiest way to go.
I use pieces about 1/3 of a cup, fried in a couple of tablespoons of hot olive oil.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Polenta with mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of those things that I don't buy regularly. But I'm constantly reading recipes that sound delicious and I think, I should write this on my shopping list and plan to make this! But then I don't. On the other hand, when I do buy mushrooms, but don't have a specific plan for them, they tend to wind up in the compost a couple of weeks later. I took that risk earlier this week, though: I bought a package of baby bella 'shrooms without a plan.

Thursday is the night Jon has class, and so I usually throw together whatever for dinner for the kids and me . . . but this week I sort of forgot that he wasn't coming home for dinner that night, and had the brainwave to make creamy polenta with sauteed mushrooms on top. When I remembered that I'd be eating it solo (no way would my kids touch this), I thought, oh, so what. It's what I want to eat, so I'm going to make it anyway.

And then I sliced polenta and fried it up with eggs for breakfast for the next few days. Yum!


2 cups coarse cornmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
6 cups water (broth is excellent: think chickpea, or cannellini . . . darker bean broth will make it a little dingy-looking [though still delicious])
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (optional, but yummy)

Mix all in a 9 by 13 pan. Put in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Stir, then bake another 15 minutes. It's a miracle -- delicious, creamy, slow-simmered polenta with No Stirring.

Mushrooms were just sort of thrown together -- onions, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.

Pita chips

This is gratuitous -- just a picture (I think I posted instructions already!) But these were fantastic with hummus. The other night, that's what we ate for dinner, with a big pot of squash. Everyone ate it and was happy . . . that just might make a regular appearance on our dinner table . . .

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I love this granola mixed with plain yogurt! My kids prefer it plain. Adding the optional puffed cereal makes it lighter. I get mine in bags at Whole Foods.

Actually, this is a VERY forgiving recipe -- practically any of the ingredients can be left out or substituted. Other kinds of nuts or seeds, some nutmeg, oat bran for the wheat bran . . .

5 cups rolled oats
3 cups puffed rice or millet (optional)
1/4 cup wheat bran
1 cup walnuts
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2-3 T molasses

Preheat the oven to 350. Oil a large roasting pan or baking sheet (or a couple, if you're adding the puffed cereals.)

Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl and whisk together. Drizzle over the oat mixture, tossing well to coat it all.

Spread out the granola in the pan(s) and bake for 30 minutes, stirring at 10-minute intervals. Let it cool, and then pack up in airtight containers.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

lentils with onion and tomato sauce

This is adapted from a recipe in Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven. It's not a lot of work, but it does require attention every now and then for a couple of hours.

I've become somewhat particular about lentils, I must confess. I really don't like the supermarket green/brown lentils very much anymore, particularly in soup. They fall apart and the skins kind of bug me. I'd much rather eat those snooty "French" lentils, sometimes called lentils de puy, for soup or pretty much anything else. This is one recipe that works really well with the plain, ordinary (cheap!) brown lentils, though. I've never tried this with red lentils, though I bet it would be pretty good.

1 1/2 cups lentils, cooked in 4 cups water
3-4 good sized onions, chopped fairly fine
2 T olive oil (or a combination of olive oil and butter)
1 T (or maybe a little more) balsamic vinegar
2-4 T brown sugar
1-2 cups diced tomatoes (amount variable, also kind of tomatoes variable -- I've successfully used crushed tomatoes, sauce, leftover pizza sauce . . . )
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions and several pinches of salt. Stir every few minutes for 10-15 minutes, until they start to get brown around the edges. Then put a cover on the pot and turn the heat down to low. Stir only every 15 minutes or so until the onions are nice and brown. (When I take the lid off, I drain the condensed steam off the lid but not back into the pot. The onions will brown better with the liquid removed.)

Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Keep simmering, uncovered, until the tomatoes reduce and meld with the onions, making sort of a syrupy sauce. Then add the remaining ingredients, starting with the smaller amounts of vinegar and sugar. Don't be afraid to add more, though. Stir well. Taste for salt; it might need quite a bit.

This is not a particularly pretty dish, but it is delicious.

I served it with a rice and broccoli raab gratin: not terribly gorgeous, but warming and good comfort food.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chickpea minestrone

I'm not sure I can even re-create the elements of this soup, but it turned out really well, so I wanted to try.

2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, sliced into thin rounds
a spoonful of honey
1/2 bunch "dinosaur" kale*
several sprigs of thyme and one of parsley
1 cup cooked chickpeas, plus 2 or 3 cups of their broth
2 cups leftover pizza sauce **
cooked pasta, pepper and grated romano cheese on top when serving

*for the kale: wash it, chop it fine, and cook in a cup or so of lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Save the cooking water for the soup! The more finely it's chopped, the easier it is to eat the final soup. No "strands" dripping off your spoon and down your chin.

**my usual pizza sauce is adapted from Peter Reinhart's American Pie. This time, instead of using basil and oregano, I used some Penzeys "Pizza Seasoning," which they sent me a small jar of as a free sample in my last order. It has crushed tomatoes, a bit of red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, crushed garlic.

Saute onions with a pinch or two of salt for 10 minutes over medium heat (has anyone else noticed how often my recipes begin with more or less that same direction??); add carrots and saute for an additional 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and stir constantly for another minute or two, then add the pizza sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add chickpeas, broth, the kale and its cooking water. Simmer another 20 minutes or as long as you have.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wild yeast ("sourdough") rye

I made this straight out of Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb, but I have a few notes I want to make.

After trying coffee and cocoa powder to get a dark rye bread, and even attempting to make my own caramel color, I finally gave up and just ordered the little jar of powdered caramel color from King Arthur. But along the experimental way, I decided I really like the flavor and aroma that the cocoa powder delivers, even if it doesn't add the color I was looking for. So this time I used a scant tablespoon of cocoa powder as well as a scant tablespoon of powdered caramel color.
(My real purpose in buying the powdered stuff is to try to make marble rye bread, just because I think it's cool. This time I used it just for kicks, to see how dark it made the bread! I was very pleased.)

This recipe calls for making a rye starter from ripe wild-yeast starter one day, which I did, and then a secondary starter the day after, before finally making the finished dough on the third day. I baked the bread that same day I made the final dough, rather than shaping the loaves and then retarding them in the fridge overnight and baking them on the 4th day as Reinhart suggests. I have not yet found a good method for getting the breads into the fridge and keeping them well-covered so the edges don't dry out. He suggests a giant food-safe bag, but I haven't found a source for those.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chickpea stew with ginger and kale

When I put ginger on the grocery list, my husband bought the biggest piece at the store. Good grief. When I made this stew, I used a piece of ginger the size of an egg. What else to do with all of it?

1 bunch "dinosaur" kale, stemmed and chopped
3 T oil, divided
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3-4 cups cooked chickpeas, plus about a cup of their liquid
1 onion, chopped fine
4 or 5 cloves of garlic minced with several tablespoons of ginger
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander

Cook the kale: heat a couple teaspoons of oil and toss in the red pepper flakes. Add the kale and a few pinches of salt and stir to coat. Add a generous cup of water, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes. Let it get nice and soft.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and saute the onion with some more salt till lightly browned. Add ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander, and cook another minute or two, stirring constantly. Add chickpeas and their broth, as well as the cooked greens and their broth. Simmer to combine the flavors for at least 15 minutes.

I served this over brown rice, and it was good, if a little austere. I think it could have used some other vegetables, maybe some carrots and diced tomatoes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Raspberry leaf tea

Herb tea has never really done it for me.

I like black tea, and a few flavored black teas (say, Earl Grey?), but I'm pretty boring in my taste.

Some fruit-flavored herb teas are just awful. I like chamomile when I have an upset stomach, and sometimes when it's late in the day and I don't want a caffeine hit yet I do want something warm to drink, I suck it up and drink something -- red zinger, or honeybush, or whatever I might have bought thinking maybe this would be the one to convert me to the wide world of herb teas.

When I was pregnant with Annie, I read a lot about raspberry leaf tea: just dried raspberry leaves, steeped in hot water. I wasn't using caffeine at all, so I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. I was so happy to find something else I liked. I think it's the tannic acid -- it has a little of that same puckery bite to it that black tea has.
(Oh, I also happened to like nettle infusion, which I drank for the iron after Annie's birth, but I haven't seen nettle growing in my yard.)

The raspberries I planted last year yielded some berries -- enough for the kids and me to go on a daily quest for the few that we'd get -- but I was eyeing those leaves all summer. Last weekend, I clipped off about 8 or 9 branches, tied them into bunches, and hung them upside-down on the basement clothesline to dry. I wasn't sure how long it would take, but they certainly seemed dry enough inside of a week. Last night I pulled off the leaves and put them into a jar for storage.

Now I'm just waiting for an inevitable cool late-afternoon tea-drinking urge to see if it lives up to my memories . . .

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Red pepper jelly

We have friends whose usual pre-dinner snack is a chunk of cream cheese covered with spicy red pepper jelly, served with crackers and a knife for spreading. There's something sort of retro about it, but it is delectable, and addictive! I asked them where they get their jelly, and of course they make it. Well. I can do that.

So last week at the farmer's market, I bought a pile of red peppers, and I finally, after several days of admiring how pretty they looked in a basket, set out to make some of my own!

I trimmed them and cut out most of the seeds, but I wasn't religious about it. My fingertips stung for about the next 15 hours -- if ever I make a bigger batch, I'd better wear gloves! I think I wound up with about 9 oz. of coarsely chopped peppers. I pretty much followed the recipe in the Ball book I've used lately, but I used the weird "crunchy" brand of pectin Jon got me at Whole Foods.

As the jelly was coming to a boil on the stove, I was standing there studying the directions that came with the pectin, and trying to decide how much to use since it's not really a standard kind . . . and the jelly boiled over. That's what you get for turning your back on the stove. I actually coped pretty well, and managed to clean it up and even finish the batch and heat processed it and all without getting injured or bursting into tears. Lucky for me Jon had just gotten home and washed about a million dishes to ease me through the rest of the project. Thank goodness.

The other night I finally cracked it out (Phantom was visiting!) and we were quite pleased with the results. I think I'm going to check and see if there are more peppers at the market tomorrow . . .

(Oh, and do you remember the peach jam debacle? the one of the lost directions? I found the directions this week -- tucked inside Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb, of course. Where else? Sigh.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lentil soup, redux

I'm just posting the prep picture here -- let's just say that this pretty array of ingredients was the high point of this batch of soup. Sometimes things just don't come out as good as we were hoping . . .

Friday, October 3, 2008

Two soups (red lentil and broccoli cheese)

It was definitely soup weather this week.

Last year my mom gave me yet another Deborah Madison cookbook: Vegetarian Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. (I must say -- I finally returned the favor and gave Mom one of her books a few weeks ago!) I have spent many happy hours browsing in that cookbook, but I had not yet actually applied myself to to the task of making one of the recipes. This week, I fixed that oversight! And I must say, if either of these recipes are an indication, I could probably happily cook every recipe in this book and eat well for weeks/months to come.

Tonight I made the broccoli cheese recipe. I must say I'm reluctant to post recipes verbatim that I make more or less verbatim -- without any modifications to speak of, that is. And this one, I made pretty close to the recipe. I wish I'd taken pictures of the broccoli before I cooked it -- we got two ENORMOUS heads from Drumlin this week, totalling 1.75 lbs! I used it all, as well as about 0.75 lbs red potatoes. Oh, and I had no celery, so I left that out. The seasonings included marjoram, bay, thyme, cayennne, dijon mustard -- I pureed it but left a little texture.

The red lentil soup I didn't exactly follow the recipe for, and there were other modifications I wish I'd made. I think I wanted it to go in more of a curry direction: so should I post the recipe I should have made?

3 T butter
1 cup red lentils
1 cup leftover chickpeas and their broth
1 delicata squash, peeled and diced
3 carrots, cut into half moons
2 onions, diced
1 cup canned tomatoes (I used some of my own home-canned crushed tomatoes!!)
1/2 tsp cumin (should have used more)
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup basmati rice, cooked in 1.75 cups water and a 1/2 tsp salt

Melt the butter; add the onions and a tsp of salt. Cook at medium for 5 minutes or so, and then add the rest of the veggies. Saute another 10 minutes or so, then add tomato, lentils and 5.5 cups of water.

I wish I'd also added a healthy tablepoon or two EACH of minced ginger and garlic, added toward the end of the vegetables getting browned. She also called for scallions to be sizzled in butter at the end and added as a garnish -- personally I'd have liked scallions just sprinkled over the top of each bowl for a garnish, but I left them out.

I served this with rice in the bottom of each bowl.