Lemon-butter haricot verts over hominy with a poached egg.

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This dish comes together so beautifully that it looks like a dish that would be served at a cozy, upscale cafe. You know the ones you pass by while walking on the sidewalk of a popular city street. You peer through the big, open windows at the beautifully arranged tables and see plates of delicate meals being served to wide-eyed faces thinking you wouldn't ever be able to make that at home. Little surprise is that you can. It is lovely to go out and be served with inspiring creations and share laughs with friends but sometimes its just as sweet to surprise yourself at home. 

I love those delicate little french beans known as haricot verts. They have a sweeter flavor for green beans and seem less "stringy" to me. Usually they are cooked and served as a nice side to a meal but in this recipe they shine as the star. The "meat" of the dish, if you will. Hominy is corn grits, you can certainly use other types of grits or polenta but hominy, if you can find it, does great here. Hominy cooks up much creamier and smoother, without adding anything else to it. This is because the hominy (type of corn kernel) is soaked to remove the hard casting (that thing that gets stuck in your teeth while eating popcorn), it is then dried and ground. Its a nice contrast to the lemon juice and white wine vinegar flavors in the haricot verts. Then, of course, butter. Well I'm sure I don't have to convince you of how tasty butter makes this. 

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Recipe (Serves two brunch portions)

Eggs - 2

Haricot verts - About 1/2lb fresh, rinsed (you can either snap then ends or not - I don't)

Ground hominy - 1/4 cup

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon

Butter - 3.5Tb

White wine vinegar - 2tsp about

Apple cider vinegar - a splash or a generous capful

Salt/pepper - to taste, I used a generous amount of fresh black pepper

Heat a medium pot of water 2/3 full up to boil. Get a large bowl ready filled half way with cold water/ice and then place a colander in your sink. Add 1 cup of water with a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Once the water in the small saucepan is simmering add in your hominy and turn on low, stirring occasionally until cooked (about 15 minutes). Once the hominy is cooked add in about 1.5TB of butter and season with salt/pepper to taste. While things are heating mince up your garlic. Once the medium pot of water is boiling add in your haricot verts. Let them low boil for 3 minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and place in your bowl of ice water (keep the pot of water from your beans for your poached eggs).  Let the beans sit in the ice water for a minute until cool and then drain in the colander. Keep the water at a low boil and add in a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Melt the remaining 2TB of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add in the white wine vinegar and lemon juice, stir. Then add in the beans and sauté for about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Get out two plates and divide the hominy between the two and then the beans, pressing the beans into the hominy slightly.

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Get out a wooden spoon and have it ready, its time to poach your eggs. Crack an egg into a little ramekin or small bowl and slightly tilt it into the gently boiling water. Take the spoon and gently move the water around the egg towards the center of the egg with little "paddling" motions to keep the egg together. Let the water get back up to a low boil, not any hotter. Keep and eye on the time and remove the egg with a slotted spoon after about 3-4 minutes if you want mostly runny yolk. Keep the egg in longer if not. Place the egg on top of hominy/beans and drizzle with any sauce leftover from the bean skillet and sprinkle with more pepper. Repeat with the second egg and enjoy! 

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Banana, cherry, almond, walnut, & chia seed granola

Granola. 

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Granola. Pretty much all of us love it. Maybe that crunchy satisfying sound of munching on granola is in the same satisfaction family as intentionally stepping out of your way on the sidewalk to crunch fall leaves under your feet. I know you know what I am talking about. Whether you are a granola breakfast person, a granola snacker, a granola bar person, granola for hikes and after workouts, or a granola-omg-all-the-time-person. I use to make granola much more frequently at home than I do now, but I got a lot of granola-making obsession toasted out of my system when I had to make gianormous batches of granola at a time for a job. Also, in the colder months, I am a big lover of warm breakfasts but come nice warm weather I want granola, yogurt, museli, berries, and smoothies for the every-day breakfast. Homemade granola is one of the most flexible things to make that you really have to try making it, at least just once. No shame in store-bought granola, I do it all the time, its just satisfying to have a homemade granola occasionally, you'll see. You could substitute in all sorts of grains, nuts, dried fruit, sweeteners, oils, etc. Just play around with it add, subtract, substitute.... in the end it all comes down to that same happy crunch.

 

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Recipe (Makes a large batch, store in a air-tight container)

Oats - 4 cups

Bananas - 3

Walnut oil - 3TB (Or any oil) 

Dried cherries - 1/4 cups

Walnuts - 1/2 cup (crushed) 

Almonds slivered - 1/2 cup

Chia seeds - 1/4 cup

Cinnamon - 1tsp

Honey - 1/3 cup

Preheat the oven up to 400 degrees. Break the bananas into the blender with the oil and whip with the paddle attachment until the bananas are smooth and creamy. While the mixer is running, drizzle in the honey and add the 1tsp of cinnamon. Toss together the oats, cherries, walnuts, almonds, and chia seeds. Turn off the mixer and add in the oat/nut mixture, scraping with the spatula when needed.

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Spread the mixture out into an even layer on one baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes on one side. Flip over the granola and bake for about 10 minutes until it is slightly golden in coloring (you might need to adjust the cooking time slightly, I recommend check it a few times before it is done... ovens can be different and the ripeness of the bananas can change this a lot). Granola hardens up a lot once cooled. Break it up into pieces and enjoy!

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Potato salad with snap peas, yogurt, and dill

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Potato salad is another one of those classic dishes that gets ignored. Or else we tend to think its only place is at bbq's and picnics mounded onto a plastic plate with equal parts mayonnaise and mustard. This is a fresh take on potato salad that gives you all the satisfaction of picnic fare, but with a better ingredient list.

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Recipe (Serves 4 as a side)

Potatoes - 1lb (I used very small potatoes so I didn't have to cut them)

Snap peas - 1 cup with the ends trimmed off and sliced into 1/4" slivers

Red onion - 1/4 of a red onion, chopped finely.

Yogurt - 1 cup (Plain, whole, yogurt)

Dill - 1tsp (dried)

Salt/pepper - to taste

Fill a medium pot up with water to boil. Add in the potatoes and let them boil until cooked and are easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and rinse under cold water. You don't want the potatoes hot to the touch, you want them slightly cooled. Mix together the sliced snap peas, red onion, dill, and salt/pepper. Stir until combined and then add in potatoes. Mash/chop with a fork very slightly and stir until everything is coated. Eat alone or served on a bed of greens.

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Watercress, fennel, & potato soup

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This soup will make such a lovely shade of green if you have a good blender or immersion blender. My soup was printed with flecks of watercress green, but it was just as tasty. Originally, I had not planned on making this a creamy soup but the process just took me there and I am glad it did. Although, if you want to cut back on the dairy, this soup will still be just as good. You could double the bunch of watercress and it would be better yet.

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Recipe (Serves 4)

Watercress - 1 Bunch

Potatoes - 1LB Chopped into equal size for boiling

Yellow onion - 3/4 of a large yellow onion, slivered

Fennel - 3/4 of a fennel bulb, slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced

Butter - 3TB

Vegetable broth - 4 cups

White wine - 1/2 cup

Cream - 1/2cup

Parmesan - 1/4 cup finely grated

In a medium pot melt 3TB of butter on medium heat. Add your garlic, onions, and fennel. Cook no more than 5 minutes and let them soften. Add the vegetable broth and potatoes and heat up the broth to a low boil until the potatoes are cooked. Add in the watercress and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and put all the soup into a blender, blend until smooth. Add the soup ingredients into a pot, stir in the wine and parmesan and cook for just a few minutes on low heat. Run the soup through the blender again if need be. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Pour into bowls and slowly stir in a little extra cream on the top of each one and sprinkle with fresh black pepper.

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A simple cake of rosemary & apple

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I was listening to an This American Life (I start way too many conversations with "I was listen to The American life") rerun and there was a story about a retired man who wanted to start a cable channel from scratch in the early 90s. A channel called the puppy channel. Naturally, this is brilliance. A channel entirely donated to the cuteness and adorableness of puppies with nothing but soft instrumental music in the background. Now I don't want to hear any complaints "hey, what about kittens? Monkeys? Sloths?" All other cute animals aside, puppies alone are cute and entertaining. The man explained his inspiration came when he saw a diverse group of people in a parking lot all standing around and watching some puppies. People from all points and acts of life paused for a brief moment to smile at puppies. Why? Puppies make us feel better, they make us happy. I looked back in my car at my own fully grown puppies. They were chasing after the back windshield wipers. Yeah I have to agree, they do make us happy.

A cake can do the same thing. Especially one scented so sweetly with rosemary. Rosemary, it is like an old friend; warm and comforting. Mix that into a cake with apples? No doubt it makes you happy. This cake is perfect, moist, with the apple chunks soft and starting to infuse in the layers. It is the sort of cake I could eat everyday if you could healthfully eat cake every day. The rosemary warms up the batter and compliments the apples wonderfully. 

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Recipe (Fits in one, greased 8" springform pan.)

Whole wheat flour - 1 1/4 Cup

All purpose - 1 Cup

Sugar - 1 Cup

Heavy cream - 1/2 Cup

Baking powder - 1 1/2tsp

Baking soda - 1/2tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Eggs - 2

Butter - 1 stick room temperature

Rosemary - 1TB dried

Rosemary powder - heaped 1/2tsp

Apples - 2 chopped in small & medium chunks.

Confectioner's sugar to dust (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat up the heavy cream in a small pot in a low simmer with the 1TB of dried rosemary. Turn it off once warm and let it steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Once it is steeped, strain out the dried rosemary and whisk in the rosemary powder. Mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Add the butter and sugar into a mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrapping with a spatula half-way through. Add in the two eggs and mix until combined. Alternatively (3 batches each) add in the flour mixture and milk mixture. Scraping with a spatula when necessary. Last, dump in your apple chucks and stir in by hand, with the spatula. Pour the batter into the greased springform pan and tap the pan down on the counter to settle the batter. Place in the oven and bake 50-60 minutes or until a pick comes out clean and cake is puffed up. 

Let cool at least 15 minutes (if you can) and dust the top with confectioners sugar. I served mine with anise tea but served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or apple ice cream would be delicious. 

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Vegetarian ramen with homemade noodles

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I never really did the whole college ramen cuisine thing. Not because I didn't eat easy, packaged food, I did. I was just way too weight concerned (with incorrect nutritional knowledge) that I wouldn't make a habit of a whole meal out of carbs (still a good habit not to do). I missed the boat on the ramen train, admittedly, I'm a little sad about it. Recently, we took a weekend trip into DC. We went to the United States Botanical Gardens, The National Museum of the American Indian, did a lot of walking around, visiting memorials, flea market, Sigur rós show, ate at a great Indian restaurant, crêperie, and an El Salvadorian pupusaria. Although I have this image stuck in my head from a magazine about DC's 100 best restaurants. One of them being a restaurant that sold traditional Japanese ramen. Oh my stars it looked good. Ty glanced at it and responded, "I want that." Yes Ty, so do we all. 

This is my version of traditional Japanese ramen that is not so traditional. Traditional ramen varies in the type of broth, a fish broth, pork broth, soy sauce broth, or miso broth. There are some borrowed flavors from pho broth here, but also I combined the soy sauce and miso style broths into one. I also took my hand at making homemade noodles. They were very good and easy to make even though I do not have a pasta machine. Feel free to buy regular ramen noodles too!

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Recipe (Makes 4 bowls)

Veggie broth - Great time to use your own if you have, you want it tasty.

Lemon grass - two stalks, sliced

Star Anise - 3

Tofu - 1/2 brick sliced into squares

Kale - 1 bunch torn off the stem into pieces

Crimini mushrooms - 5 or 6 sliced mushrooms

Radish - 3 radishes slivered

Green onions - 2 or 3 slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves

Eggs - 2 soft boiled (5 minuets)

Sesame oil - 3TB 

Mirin - 1TB

Yellow miso - 1TB

Soy sauce - 2TB

Rice vinegar - 1TB + 1tsp

Sriracha - to top

For the Noodles

All Purpose Flour - 1 Cup

Egg yolk - 1

Baking soda - 1tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Water - 1/4 cup + a few TB

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Make the noodles. Mix together the flour, salt, & baking soda in a bowl. Make a well in the center and egg in the egg yolk. Pour in 1/4cup of water in the well. Using your fingers mash up the egg yolk with the water and stir into a slurry, slowly incorporating the flour. Adding in another tablespoon at a time until all the dough sticks together but before it sticks on your hands. Knead the dough with your hands for several minutes. If it gets too sticky, sprinkle in a little extra flour. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes at least but an hour would be better. Go on with the rest of the meal. When the dough is done roll out the dough into a long rectangle as thin as you can get it. Lightly flour the rectangle and fold it in half, hotdog style. Take a very sharp knife and slice into very thin noodles, mine were about 1/8" thick. Unfold the thin noodles and lay out flat to dry for a bit. 

Heat up the veggie broth with the lemongrass and star anise and let it simmer/ low-boil for 30 minutes at least. While the broth is simmering, prepare the rest. Heat up 2TB of sesame oil in a large skillet on high heat and then toss in the tofu. Toss and flip for 5 minutes or so until they turn golden. Add in 1TB of tofu and stir until combined. Dump out the tofu into a bowl and add in the last TB of oil. Add in the garlic and sliced mushrooms, cook for about five minutes until it colors a bit. Add kale (in two batches) cooking for a few minutes until wilted and all the kale can fit into the pan. Add in 1TB of mirin and stir until combined. Pour out into a bowl. Strain out the broth and place back into the pot and keep on low heat, do not let it boil at this point. Add in 1TB of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and miso. Whisk until combined. Heat up a medium salted pot of water to a low boil. Add in the noodles and the whole eggs and cook for 5 minutes after they get back up to a low boil until done. Run the eggs under cool water.

Distribute the noodles into four bowls and ladle over some broth. Top with some of the kale/mushroom mixture on one side, sliced radishes on the other, tofu cubes in the center, and then sprinkle over some scallions. Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice in half carefully, the yolk will still be runny. Place an egg half in each bowl and squeeze over some sriracha.

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Chickpea & dandelion green sauté + apples & parmesan.

Dandelion greens.

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Dandelion greens are one of the most basic foods you can forage for yourself, it is a great starter foraging plant. You probably won't have to search any further than your front yard. They are very healthful and tasty if you are a bitter greens kind of human. I am. I love bitter greens. I cannot get enough of them really. Winter for me is roots and bitter greens (since I have been spoiled by good winter-long seasons of fresh greens in ungodly warm Georgia) but spring also means greens, along with lots of other tasty veggie morsels like asparagus. Oh yes, asparagus pizza will make an appearance here soon. Dandelion greens are a good source of vitamins A, K, & C, calcium and a great food to support digestion. I'm also a liberal user of lemon. Lemon makes so many dishes pop, especially ones involving sautéing greens. Lemon and greens were meant for each other like Topanga and Cory.

Speaking of Topanga and Cory, I've been having reunions with TV shows that I loved as a kid. I was a huge fan of Xena and Hercules but by far Xena was my favorite. No shame. I'm learning how amazing the sound affects were in the early 90s by re-watching some of them (thanks netflix!). The graphics too, two of my favorites are the time Xena jet-propelled herself out of the water like a dolphin and the time xena shot a tiny dagger out from between her breasts like a blowhole. It is too hilarious, but don't take my word for it, check it out yourself. Still, no shame. As a kid I was giddy to learn that my name Kelly is Irish for warrior women. Perhaps that is where my Xena kinship began? So how does all this connect back to dandelion greens? Not sure. To force a connection Xena was showed foraging from time to time on the show. Try it out and pluck some of your own dandelion greens, making sure you are gathering in areas away from spraying and popular dog potty spots. Make sure what you have is in fact dandelion or purchase them in the store. Honestly I don't forage all the time, the ones in the store are just so large and lovely they are hard to pass up! Try foraging at least once though, it is fun and rewarding. 

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Recipe (Serves 4)

Chickpeas - 3 cups cooked.

Dandelion greens - 1 bunch

Red onion - 1/2 an onion slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves minced

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Apple - 1 chopped

Parmesan - 1/4 cup grated

Olive oil - 2TB

Salt and pepper - to taste

Place a medium pot of water filled halfway up with water over high heat until boiling. Chop your dandelion greens into 3. Dump the greens into boiling water and blanch for one minute. Dandelion greens can be especially bitter so this blanching helps take some of the bite away. Pour the greens out into a colander and set aside. Heat a large skillet up with 2 TB of olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for several minutes until softened. Add in the cooked chickpeas for a few minutes to heat through. Add in the dandelion greens and cook for a minute. Squeeze over the lemon juice and the season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Dump out into a bowl and then add in chopped apples and grated parmesan, stir until combined. 

Enjoy with an episode of Xena... or not. 

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Spring rolls with radish & ginger mushrooms + a cashew dipping sauce

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I made these spring rolls the day before the equinox for a potluck at my last herbalism class. I made them without tofu at first but we had a hankering for ones that we didn't have to share, so with my left-over rice wrappers, I made them again but this time with tofu. I thought spring rolls were the perfect thing for that potluck, calling in the new season with their bright ingredients and fresh crunch. Although, it seems spring hasn't quite made it here yet, we've had several snows since, a particularly good one Sunday night. I am really ready for spring, not just ready, I crave it to help me get my act together. The warmth to thaw everything out and provoke motivation and clarity. I think this weather is actually following in line with what I am feeling. Just as spring peeks out, my hopes get up and then the temperature drops and down flutters the snow. I feel like I am just on the edge of something and I keep dangling over the cliff, testing the plunge but then stumble back again. I know there is suppose to be balance and it is coming, I have to believe that it is coming. Something to scoop me up from the uncertainty I've been a prisoner too these past 3 months. It has made me feel worthless, the type of worthless we all feel sometimes. 

My heart is just yearning for the fun that awaits us this summer. We are going to Denver, a place I think will feel much more like home than Charlottesville has, but also all the things we will get to experience because of it. I haven't had the opportunity to explore on that side of the country. I am really yearning for the possibilites of what we will see, even if we don't get to see everything. The list is endless; salt lake city with a long soak in the great salt lake, the desert in Utah, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the redwoods, the tetons, skiing, California, the Rockies, elk, Yellowstone, mesa verde, hot springs, red rocks, sand dunes, hiking, hiking, and more hiking. I know that soon I will feel invigorated again but I just need to get over this personal wound I have right now and accept that balance will come soon. Spring will come soon, I'll take the plunge and with it comes clarity. Clarity to balance these past months and lead me on to something. Something that will begin with Denver. 

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Spring Rolls (Makes 8)

Rice wrapping papers - 8

Avocado - 1 cut into matchsticks

Fresh basil - 20-25 fresh leaves

Carrot - 2 large carrots cut into matchstick size

Radish - 4 radish cut into matchstick size

Royal trumpet mushrooms - (1 container) cut into matchsticks

(optional) Tofu - 1/2 a container - sliced into thin, long strips.

Coconut Oil - 2TB (Or olive oil)

Soy sauce - 1TB

Fresh spinach leaves

Red onion slivers

Ginger - a good nub minced. 

Cashew dipping sauce.

Cashew butter - 4TB

Sesame oil - 1TB

Soy sauce - 1.5TB

Rice vinegar - 2tsp

Lime - Juice of 1 lime

Sriracha sauce - a good squirt / to your taste

Heat up a kettle of water to boiling, at least 4 cups. Turn off the boiling water an set aside until you are ready to assemble the spring rolls.

Slice up all your veggies into match sticks save the spinach/basil and mince up your ginger. Heat up the 2TB of oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add in the minced ginger and slivered mushrooms and tofu. Let cook about 5-10 minutes until starting to brown. Pour in the 1TB of soy sauce and stir to coat. Turn off the heat and pour into a bowl.

Pour the hot water into a bowl and add in a few ice cubes to lower the temperature until it is just cool enough for you hands to handle touching it. But you want it to be as hot as you can handle. Arrange all your sliced veggies into piles along with a bowl of the tofu/mushrooms, the basil and spinach, and the stack of the rice wrappers. 

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Take one of your rice wrappers and dip into the bowl of hot water until it softens and turns clear. Take it out and lay out the wrapper on a cutting board, handeling carefully, it tears easy. Lay down three leaves of basil in the center of the wrapper and top with a few pieces of spinach. Top with some slivers of radishes on one side, red onion and carrot on the other, top the center with the gingered mushroom/tofu and slivers of avocado. Folding is tricky, do it the best way you find but here is how I did it. I folded the bottom half over the center filling while pressing and tucking under the filling with the bottom end of the wrapper. I then folded in the sides of the wrapper and grabbed the roll and rolled upwards until the top end of the wrapper is all rolled in. Repeat with the other 7. 

Make the dipping sauce. Add in the cashew butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce in a bowl. Take the back of a fork and mash against the sides of the bowl until it all becomes incorporated. Squirt in the sriracha and juice of the lime and stir. Check the consistency and add in more sesame oil, soy sauce, or water to adjust the flavor or to thin out the sauce.

Dip and enjoy. Welcome spring. Welcome clarity.

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Meyer lemon & mascarpone tart + hibiscus whipped cream

Meyer Lemon.

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I realized at the start of spring that I went the whole winter without doing anything with meyer lemons. I decided to take my chance at the last of the late season meyer lemons and make these tarts. Meyer lemons are so perfect in a tart because unlike other lemons, meyer lemons are more sweet. Adding in this hibiscus infused cream was the perfect topping to add some extra acidity to the somewhat mello lemons. Plus the pink on yellow is undeniable. The mascarpone cream gives the lemon curd a creamy (think lemon meringue pie) taste that will make you want to spoon up the curd all by itself. Which I did...

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Recipe (Makes 4 5" tarts and extra crust you can freeze, I got 4 mini tarts of extra crust)

Hibiscus infused whipping cream.

Heavy whipping cream - 1/2 Cup

Dried Hibiscus - 1TB

Sugar - 3TB

Heat up the whipping cream with the hibiscus in a small sauce pan over the stove until fumes rise and the cream starts to simmer very slightly. Watch carefully as you don't want the cream to boil. Turn off the heat after it simmers and let the hibiscus infuse in the cream until it turns a nice deep shade of pink, stirring every so often. Strain out the hibiscus and put the cream in the fridge to cool. 

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Tart Crust.

All-purpose flour - 1 1/4

Cups (you could used pastry flour if desired)

Sugar - 1/8 Cup

Salt - good pinch of salt

Butter (unsalted) - 1 stick frozen (or very cold at least)

Egg yolk - 1

Ice cold water - 1/4 cup (sometimes it take more or less so prep more just in case)

Shift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the frozen butter into small cubes and pulse the butter, egg yolk, and flour mixture together in to a food processor until it is a coarse meal. Add the very cold water to the food processor, 2TB at a time until the dough just holds together. It is ok if there is a bit of crumbly/dry spots. Press the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigeration and leave for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curd.

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Meyer lemon/mascarpone curd.

Eggs - 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk

Sugar - 2/3 cup

Juice of meyer lemons - 2/3 cups (took me about 8/9 lemons)

Butter - 4TB

Mascarpone - 2/3 a container

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl beat the eggs, yolk, sugar, and lemon juice together. Move the mixture into a small saucepan and place on the stove over low heat and add the butter cubes. Whisking while it melts/heats. Keep whipping/stirring until the mixture thickens and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep whisking and add the mascarpone by the spoonful until it melts and make sure it is still thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it isn't keep whisking over low heat until it is. 

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Take out your crust and cut into 4. Roll each quarter into a ball and then roll it out big enough to fit your tart pans. Grease the tart pans and then press in the crust on the bottom/sides. Repeat with the other 3. Place the crusts temporarily in the freezer and store the extra crust (if any) in the manner of your choosing. (You can store the leftover crust by freezing wrapped in a plastic wrap, in the fridge for a few days, or pressed into mini tart pans and frozen.) Let the curd cool for about 5 minutes and the tart crusts stay in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Take out the tarts and pour in the curd and distribute between the four tarts pans. Tap each tart down on the counter to settle the curd and then place into the oven. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until the crust turns golden and the curd puffs up and slightly colors. Let the tarts cool while you whip the cream.

Take out your hibiscus infused cream and place it into a mixer with the whisk attached. Turn on medium/low heat until the cream starts to foam/bubble and then increase the speed to a medium high/high speed. Start adding in the sugar slowly, 1TB at a time as the cream is whipping and thickens. Stop once the whipping cream has reached your desired thickness. Top onto the tarts and serve.

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Fava bean pan fry with jerusalem artichokes, greens, olives, lemon, & tarragon

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Some of the best meals come from using up everything you have in your fridge. We were going out of town to visit our family and friends for almost a week. I had some things that were already needing to be used so I decided to make them all together so I didn't have to throw anything out! Also known as "the day before grocery store day." I'm surprised everything I had left went together so simply in a one-pan recipe. We took all the leftovers with us the next day, so it travels well too! 

Jerusalem artichokes are delicious. If you have never tried them they taste a bit like water chestnuts when they are raw but more like potatoes after cooked. They grow natively to the eastern parts of the United States and are a tuber that produces a tall stalk with beautiful, yellowish, sunny flowers. Easy to grow in a garden, even if you just use it as an ornamental garden accent. Last summer we went camping at a place around the Alabama/Tennessee border called the Walls of Jericho. It is a unique geological formation with huge river gorge walls. To get to the camping spot we had to cross through a large a sea of jerusalem artichokes growing so thick you could get lost in it. They were growing taller than our heads, it really was quite beautiful. I thought it was fitting that these Jerusalem artichokes were growing prosperously at the entrance to the Walls of Jericho.

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Recipe (These makes a lot, enough for 4 large meals, or 6 smaller ones)

Fava beans - 1 cup dried and then soaked/cooked.

Potatoes - 2 red skinned potatoes, diced

Jerusalem Artichokes - a small bag full - diced

Red onion - 1/2 sliced

Black Olives - I used the rest of my container 1/3 Cup

Arugula - 1/2 bag

Garlic - 4 cloves minced

Tarragon - 1 small bunch minced (Fresh)

Parsley - Good handful (Fresh) chopped

Lemon - Juice from 1 lemon

Olive oil - 3-4TB

Salt/Pepper - to taste

Soak the fava beans for 8 hours or overnight and then boil until tender but not mushy. Drain. Prep all your ingredients by chopping everything up and getting it ready for use. Heat up 1-2TB of olive oil in a deep skillet on medium high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Let cook for several minutes until soft. Add in the fava beans and cook 5-10 minutes until starting to crisp and golden, adding in more olive oil if needed. Pour fava bean mixture into a bowl. Heat up another 1-2TB of olive oil and add in the potatoes and jerusalem artichokes. Let pan fry, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are tender about 10 minutes.  Add in the arugula and let cook for a minute until wilted. Pour back in your fava bean mixture and stir to distribute. Add in the tarragon and salt/pepper to taste. Cook a minute, until heated through and then add the parsley, lemon juice and olives. Stir and turn off the heat. Season Taste and adjust salt/pepper if needed. 

Enjoy!

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Spring equinox egg salad made with yogurt & fennel. + Watercress & black bread.

Spring.

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Happy Spring Equinox! March 20th was the equinox. A time for new beginnings, putting the past and the dreamtime of winter behind you. It is time to birth those creations you have been hibernating with all winter. I am really trying to kick my arse and be productive about this things I THINK I want to do. I'm letting go, leaving all the grief and uncertainty and questions winter leaves us stagnated with. Spring truly is about new beginnings and branching out into a new life. You can feel the soil thawing out from under you, it is a mindset of accepting this new season. Spiritually and physically. For me, this spring does mark a significant period of change, even this website is one of my new beginnings. My herbalism course ended on Tuesday and we went out under the moon that evening to give thanks for our experiences and honor the coming of spring. I am so thankful for having the experience of this herbalism course and the teachings I have received. Not to mention all the beautiful people I got to study with, it truly has made my beginning months in Charlottesville much better. They are kindred spirits whom I will be sad not to meet with every Tuesday from here on out. Ty and I made a recent trip down to GA & NC to visit friends and family. Being in Athens really rejuvenated me and filled me up with all the love that is there; something I think I have been lacking a bit of up here this winter.

I do have exciting things to look forward to and have finally been able to make a decision, at least a small one. Not one so grand as "what in the stars will I do with my life?" One battle at a time right? Ty got an internship (that will lead to a job once he finishes grad school) in Denver, CO. I've decided to hold off on working here in Charlottesville, VA and move to Denver with him for the summer. I'm extremely excited, I've never been to Denver but have always held the idea of Colorado in a very special spot in my heart. I'll be doing some work there this summer but I cannot wait to get into those mountains! Spring really is for new beginnings and for me this spring it's Colorado and all the changes that will unfold because of it. I'm just afraid we won't ever come back! 

I've always had a weird love for egg salad. A lot of people hate it and its a shame! My Mom said that when she was pregnant with me that she had mad cravings for egg salad sandwiches with chocolate milk. I really like both of those things... but not together. Though it might be why I have a peculiarly strong appreciate and cravings for egg salad. This recipe actually does combine chocolate and egg salad but in a very delicious, balanced manner. I chose to eat egg salad today though because it is the spring equinox. Spring is for new beginnings and what food better represents new beginnings than eggs? 

This black bread was slightly adapted from the beloved smitten kitchen blog. I love pumpernickel bread and have made it several ways but I love Deb's version.

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Russian Black Bread (suped-up) Two loaves.

Active Dry Yeast - 1.5TB or 2 packages

Sugar - good pinch

Warm water - heated between 105 & 115 degrees to create the right yeast environment.

Coffee - 2 cups of fresh brewed strong coffee.

Molasses - 1/4cup

Apple cider vinegar - 1/4 cup

Butter - 4TB unsalted

Cocoa powder - 1.5TB (unsweet)

Whole wheat flour - 1/2 Cup

Dark rye flour - 3 Cups

Bread flour - 3 Cups (unbleached)

Wheat germ - 1 Cup

Caraway seeds - 3TB (some people grind these, I like the whole seed texture)

Fennel Seed - 2tsp (some people grind these, I like the whole seed texture)

Salt - 1tsp

In a small bowl combine the 1/2 Cup of warm water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Dissolve and let sit aside for about 10 minutes until it gets foamy. This provides a nice warm environment and food (sugar) for the yeast so it can activate and begin to breed, eventually making lovely air pockets inside your bread.

Make your coffee (I made a french press) and, if the coffee is still hot, add it in a bowl with the butter and stir until butter melts (if not then heat up on a stove with the coffee until melted). Then add in and combine the molasses, vinegar, and cocoa powder. Set aside. 

Combine all your flours together in a bowl and whisk until evenly distributed. 

In a bowl fitted with a dough hook add in 2 cups of the flour mixture, the wheat germ, all the seeds, and the coffee mixture. Let stir until almost combined on a low setting. Then add in the yeast mixture and stir until almost combine. Keep adding the rest of the flour about a 1/2 cup at a time until the dough starts to come together. Increasing speed as needed. I had a scant 1/4 cup flour left which I reserved for later use. The dough should be tacky but firm. Sprinkle a counter with some of this flour and knead several minutes to help the gluten continue to develop. Form the dough into a round and place into a oiled bowl, flipping the dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Leave in a warm place covered with a cloth for 1.5-2 hours or until doubled in size. 

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Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Shape the two loaves into a desired shape. You can make a round, a loaf pan, or any shape you desire. I made two bâtard shapes which is basically shaping a round (a boule) but adding pressure while rolling towards the ends to elongate and taper off. I placed each loaf onto a lightly greased baking sheet. You could also try just baking them on bread or pizza stones if desired. Let sit and rise for 45 minutes or an hour. You want it almost doubled again. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I then brushed the tops of my loaves with olive oil and put the rest of the flour in a sieve and sprinkled to coat the tops of my bread. Then I took a bread knife and slashed the loaves with three angled lines. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes - 1 hours. It took me closer to an hour. The internal temperature should be around 200-210 degrees. The bread should be a dark color and a hollow thump when tapped on the bottom with a knuckle. 

*Nice thing about making two loaves? Stick one in the freezer for later. Having homemade bread twice with half the work!

Cool it and eat it! It is so good. Or make an egg salad sammie.

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Egg salad with yogurt, fennel, & watercress. (enough for 4 sammies)

8 eggs - Hard boiled, peeled, and chopped

Yogurt - 1/3 cup. Plain, whole milk.

Dijon mustard - Scant 2TB

Fennel - 1/4 a bulb finely diced

Celery - 1 stick, finely diced

Red onion - 1/4 an onion, finely diced

Dill - 1TB scant, dried.

Salt and Black pepper - to taste

Watercress - as a topping a small handful for each sandwich. 

Combine the yogurt, mustard, and dill together. Stir until well combined. Add the fennel, celery, red onion and stir to coat. Stir in egg and combine evenly. Taste and season with salt and pepper to desired taste. 

Assemble the sandwiches. Slice medium/thin slices of the black bread and toast. Lay down some watercress on one slice and then top with 1/4 of the egg salad mixture. Top with the other piece of bread. Enjoy! Mmmm egg salad, happy spring!

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Tofu, mushroom, mole tacos

Tacos. 

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We LOVE tacos. Let me go ahead and promise you, there will be a plenty more of taco recipes to come. You just can't beat them. You can make endless varieties and tacos are fit for a million different seasonal creations. Cumin squash and chickpea cilantro, grated zucchini with lime spiked black beans, tofu al pastor, mushroom tacos, and so many more. Plus, they are great for having people over, everybody can assemble their own - great for picky eaters. A good friend of mine told me once that pie is the perfect food (I mean you can make a big one, a small one, a sweet one, a savory one!) and I would agree if it weren't for tacos. These tacos take a bit longer to make than the usual tacos I prefer but they are worth it! The following recipe was adapted from this recipe, which I made once a long time ago. I added mushrooms in this one, which was so good that next time I will make it with just mushrooms. 

Tortillas, they never last a long time in our house. Used up in wraps, with hummus, or our favorite - huevos rancheros. Here I made corn tortillas which are tasty and easy, but flour are fine as well. (I won't lie, I love the standard international section flour tortillas.) Also, I should mention this is pretty spicy but I gave tips to make it less spicy if you need.

Please make these sometime - you'll thank me.  

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Recipe (This makes a ton! Eat as many tacos as you will, save for leftovers, or freeze. Tacos comin' out o yo ears!) 

Tofu extra firm - 2 packages (cut into cubes)

Mushrooms - I had 1/2 container of button mushrooms left. Quartered

Yellow onion - 1 large onion, chopped.

Olive oil - several TB. (2-3) 

Garlic - 4 cloves, minced.

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - (I used 7oz of La Morena brand) *see note

Cumin - 1TB

Coriander - 2tsp

Cinnamon - 1tsp

Cloves - 1/2tsp

Chile power - 2tsp

Unsweetened cocoa powder - 3TB

Molasses - 1TB

Peanut butter - 2TB

Tomato paste - 6oz can

Vegetable broth - 2 1/2 cups

Honey (or agave if vegan) - 1TB

Guacamole (I know everybody has their favorite but, just in case) 

Avocado - 2

Garlic - 3 cloves minced

Red onion - 1/4 of a large once, chopped small

Tomato - 1/2 chopped (if in season)

Cilantro - 1/2cup loosely packed, minced

Jalapeno - 1 minced (seeds removed if you don't like spicy) 

Limes - juice of two limes

Salt to taste - a few good pinches.  

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Corn tortillas (makes 12 6" tortillas) 

Masa Harina - 2 cups ( I used bob's red mill masa harina & recipe) 

Salt - 1/2tsp

Hot water - 1 1/2cups (you might want a little extra water too) 

 *Some chipotle pepper in adobo brands are much spicier than others, all of them being spicy. Taste the adobo sauce and tone this ingredient amount down if you think you need too. This recipe is fairly spicy but remember some of the spiciness will be cut with the chocolate, molasses, tomato paste, honey, and peanut butter. 

Preheat over to 475 degrees. Put a kettle of water on the stove or heat up 2 cups of water on the stove until just boiling. Get your tofu out and set it out to press (see technique in this post) . Mix together salt and masa harina. Once water is hot, slowly pour in 1 1/2cups of the hot water, stirring simultaneously with a wooden spoon until it forms a thick ball. A few dry bits are ok. Add a little extra water if you feel you need more, I didn't.  You don't want this too wet, kind of like the texture of corn grits that have been left out too long and are kind of hard. Leave it on the counter to sit while you do everything else.

Chop up all your mole ingredients, including the chipotles in the adobo, to have the on hand. Once tofu is pressed (it is also not the end of the world if the pressing step is skipped) then cut into 1/2 inch - 1 inch cubes. Toss with 1-2TB of olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes (on the longer side if unpressed) until golden. Flip every 15 minutes. 

Heat up large, deep skillet in 1-2TB of olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and onions. Let soften and get fragrant for several minutes. Add chipotle peppers and all the adobo sauce, along with all the spices. Cook for several more minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except tofu and mushrooms). Simmer for 20 minutes. Put in a blender and process until smooth. Pour back into a pan and add tofu. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add mushrooms. Simmer for another 10. 

While sauce is simmering, make the guacamole. Mash together the avocado and garlic. Stir in onion, jalapeno, tomato, and cilantro. Squeeze in lime juice and sprinkle with salt, stir and taste until happy! 

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Heat up a skillet on high heat on the stove top. Take out the masa harina "dough" ball and divide into 12 wedges. Roll each wedge into a ball. Place a piece of wax paper on the bottom of the tortilla press. On top of the wax paper, place a ball in the center of the press. Squeeze the press down to flatten. Add into the hot skillet. Let cook until just starting to golden a minute or two on each side. Repeat with all 12.

Assemble the tacos! Add spoonfuls of mole on the corn tortillas, top with guacamole, and sprinkle with extra cilantro and fresh squeeze of lime juice. Tastes better when served with a margarita. 

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Apple and mascarpone dumplings

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I had gathered the ingredients for this dish prior to the snow because, I had planned on making these during the snow. Something about snow always makes me want to have something sweet and warm. A pastry or a cookie but when I saw the mascarpone on sale, I knew it had to be. Unfortunately, we lost power from Wednesday - Saturday and I had no use of my oven. By the time we got it back, the snow was pretty well melted by then. No worries, these tasted just as good without snow.

I think you could play around with these a lot, try half and apple instead of a quarter, different spices & cheeses, and I'm looking forward to replacing the apple with a peach in the summer. Eat alone or top with another dollop of mascarpone and let the warm pastry melt it, a serving of ice cream or fresh cream would do as well.  

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Recipe (Makes 8 dumplings)

Apples - 2, I used a sweet small, pink-fleshed apple

Mascarpone - About 1/3 a container (5-6 TB) 

Sugar - scant 1/2 cup

Flour - 1TB

Cinnamon - 1tsp

Cloves - 1/4tsp

Vanilla extract - 3/4tsp

Anise extract - 1/2tsp (optional or try almond) 

Pastry ingredients

Flour - about 11/4cup (I used a heaped 1cup) (I used all purp but pastry might have been better) 

Sugar - a tablespoon or two - just a small fingerful

Salt - a small pinch

Butter - 1 stick very cold cold. If you can leave this is the freezer awhile, even better. 

Water - ice cold water in a two cup measuring pyrex

Egg wash - beat together an egg white mixed with a splash of cream or milk. 

Fill a two cup measuring pyrex (or do this in a bowl) with ice and water. We want this to sit, let the ice start to melt, to get very cold water. The key to good pastry is not letting the butter melt until it is in the oven. Shift together the flour, sugar, & salt for the pastry. Cut your butter into smallish cubes. Toss in the flower and work in with your finger tips. You want the mixture to look coarse but about the sizes of peas; work quickly. Now you will start adding in the ice water (strained from the ice). Add the water slowly, mixing the water/flour together as you go. You want to keep adding water until the mixture just comes together. You don't want it too wet and sticky. You should be able to press it into a ball - it is ok if there are some dry spots. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic. Place in your fridge for half an hour at least. It will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet. Toss together the sugar, 1TB flour, cinnamon, & cloves. Place your marscapone in a small bowl and beat in (with the back of a spoon) the extracts. Slice you apples into quarters. Hollowing out a little bowl in the center of each apple wedge, to hold the mascarpone. Toss each wedge into the sugar/spice mixture - flipping to coat. Then take a generous teaspoon of the mascarpone/extract mixture and place into the shallow bowl on the apple wedge. Adding more mascarpone if there is leftover after all 8 wedges. 

Take out your pastry dough and cut into 8 wedges. Working quickly, roll the wedge into a ball and roll into a disc on a floured surface. You want the size to be just big enough to wrap around an apple quarter. Mine were just a bit smaller than the size of my hand. Place a apple quarter with mascarpone on the dough disc, facing down. Sprinkling with more of the sugar/spice mixture and then wrap the pastry up, kind of like a burrito. Repeat with all 8. Place, spacing evenly, on a baking sheet. Brush on eggwash, top with more sugar/spice mixture or course sugar and bake until golden - about 30 minutes. 

Serve and top with more mascarpone, cream, or ice cream. 

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Celeriac & potato cakes, garlic spinach, & an over-easy egg

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We woke up to no power, 6" of snow with more falling, and really excited puppies! I was equally excited and we bundled up to go out and play. It was Rue's first time in inches of snow and it was deep enough to cover her legs and brush up against the underside of her belly. She was hopping around like a rabbit and sticking her face deep in the snow until her nose touched the frozen ground. She was adorable. Banjo was made for the snow. As soon as she gets out and sniffs the air, it fills her up with some sort of wild, primitive, wolf spirit and she starts running in circles, flailing her paws attacking the snow. We all licked up our fill of snow, made snowballs, played with the dogs and banjo uncovered a large, four pointed antler a deer had recently shed. Best dog treats ever, no joke. I was too distracted to take photos but I'd better include this puppy photo of banjo during her first snow in 2010 for good measure.

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After playing we were hungry for a hearty breakfast and fortunately we had use of our stove still, since it is gas. I made this delicious brunch dish from the leftover celeriac after the russian beet salad wrap. We enjoyed the rest of the snow day, Ty got out of classes and a mid-term, and we kept close to the wood stove reading books by candlelight. Now, some of the no-power charm has worn out, it is 3 days later and we are still without power, water, have spoiled groceries and sadly, no internet to keep you updated! So I find myself sipping on some tea at our local tea house, bumming the internet, light, and power outlets. This is one of the last meals we had made at the house since loosing power - it is just too difficult to keep washing dishes without water.  

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Recipe (We made 3 large cakes but could make 4 slightly smaller ones) 

Celeriac - 1/2 a mid-sized root, peeled and chopped into medium pieces

Red potatoes - 2 smallish ones, chopped into quarters

Red onion - 1/4 chopped small

Spinach - I used about 3 big handfuls, fresh

Butter - 2TB

Parmesan - 1/4cup finely grated

Gruyére - 1/4cup finely grated

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Tarragon - 1-2TB minced (fresh) (parsley, dill, or most fresh herbs would work)

Heavy cream or milk - 1-2TB

Salt/pepper - to taste

Polenta, grits, or corn meal to dust. 

Fill a medium pot with water 2/3 full and add a pinch of salt. Add in potatoes and celeriac and boil until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Add cooked potatoes/celeriac, red onion, parmesan, gruyére, tarragon, pinches of salt/pepper, tablespoon or two of heavy cream and mash until well mixed. Dust a clean surface with polenta and divide mixture into 3 or 4 balls. Shape into a patty about 1/4"-1/2" thick and coat with the polenta. 

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Heat up a large skillet with 1TB of butter on medium heat, add the minced garlic. Let infuse and get fragrant for a minute. Gettin' fragrant with garlic, mmm. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Dump out into a bowl and melt the other TB of butter in the skillet. Add the celeriac cakes and cook for several minutes on each side, until a thin, brown, crispy coat forms. Remove cakes and set onto a plate, top with spinach. Replace skillet to medium/high heat (add a small splash of olive oil) and crack in eggs, cooking one at a time if need be. Cook for a minute on one side and then flip. Cook for another minute or so until the white is set, but yolk runny if desired. Place an egg on top of the spinach/cakes. Top with fresh black pepper and serve. 

 

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Russian beet salad wrap

Beets. 

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I made this salad as a quick, simple dinner. We were getting a few things done and were excited for the snow that was to start falling in a few hours. It was suppose to be a heavy snow and those are rare down south but not up here in mountainy Virginia. I had been waiting all winter long for something substancial but up until now all we had were frequent dustings. Well, that definitely changed, but we'll talk a bit more about that later. 

I have to admit that I am fond of the idea of beets, the beautiful color of beets, the history of beets but they are not my favorite root to eat. (If you are more curious about the rich and magical qualities of beets, just click the magic word.) Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the sweetness of them and have a hard time eating a lot of it. To me, they are well suited to a juiced or to be baked. Yet I adore this salad, somehow the creaminess in the yogurt cuts the sweetness of the beet and the dill/celeriac/onion compliment it nicely. I believe russian beet salad usually contains celery but instead, I used raw celeriac (celery root) and I think the slight spiciness made a huge difference but feel free to substitute celery. 

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Recipe - (Will make 4 wraps)

Wraps - I used a whole wheat lavash wrap but use your favorite.  

Fresh spinach - a few handfuls to add to the wraps. 

Beets - 3 smallish red beets. Peeled and quartered.

Celeriac root - 1/2 a small/medium root. Peeled and diced.  

Eggs - 2 (hard boiled)

Red onion - 1/4 large red onion, chopped fine.

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Greek yogurt - 3/4cup I used whole/plain. 

Apple cider vinegar - 1/8cup generous

Honey - 2tsp

Fresh dill- 2-3TB

Salt - 1/4tsp

Pepper- a few good pinches

Set a medium pot 2/3 full of water on the stove to boil with your eggs, leave to boil until the eggs are hardboiled. Trim, peel, and chop all your vegetables. Remove the eggs once hardboiled (8 minutes or so) and add your beets to lightly boil until soft and can be pierced with a fork. Combine all your celeriac, onion, and diced hard boiled egg in a bowl. In a separate bowl make you "dressing" - mix together the yogurt, vinegar, minced garlic, honey, salt, pepper, and dill. Once the beets are done, run them under cool water, dice them up and add to the other veggies. Add your dressing to the veggies and stir until well combined. Set out 4 wraps, add a small handful or two of fresh spinach and then spoon in 1/4 (or desired amount) of beet salad. Wrap it up and enjoy, pink drippings and all! 

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Honey, orange, miso soba noodles + broccoli.

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The process of documenting recipes and cooking is more involved that I would have imagined. I have been cooking and baking for years, sometimes I would snap a photo with my phone and rarely my camera but there was nothing particularly special about the picture. All of these posts are new recipes - things I've made within the past two weeks because I have to get better at the documenting process. Usually, when I am done making a meal and place the food in a dish... I'm ready to eat it, but instead I find myself taking photos thinking, "Oh, is that lighting right? I don't know. Can I eat it yet?" Another thing is the right time to make food. To begin with there is only a certain amount of time in the day I have to make food and then to factor in lighting to that time window. My house has gorgeous natural light, it is one of the things that I love about living here but it only takes kindly to photos at certain times of the day. I have a decent camera, not a fancy one, no camera equipment, light reflectors, etc. So here I find myself, at odd times of day, eating meals. Or only equipped with indoor florescent lighting because the only time I had to make a meal was in the winter dark of dinner. Taking better photos is something I will work on, for you guys and for myself. For now, here is a honey, orange, miso bowl for anytime of the day and whatever odd schedule you may be on.

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Recipe (serves 4)

Soba noodles - two bunches (6oz)

Broccoli - two small heads, tops removed. 

Red onion - 1/4 a large red onion, sliced

Orange - Juice of one orange

Garlic - 3 cloves, minced

Miso - 1TB

Honey (or agave if vegan) - 1tsp

Sesame oil - 3.5TB

Rice vinegar - 2tsp

Sesame seeds - scant 1TB (I used black) 

Heat up your oven to 350 degrees. Get out a medium pot and fill it 2/3 full with water, bring to a boil. Once at a boil, add you noodles, turn down to a simmer and cook until tender (about 7-8 minutes). Meanwhile separate and chop you broccoli into desired sizes and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1TB sesame seeds and 2TB sesame oil. Toss to coat, lay on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. 

Prepare your sauce. Mince garlic and place it in a mortar with 1TB miso and mash with the pestle until a paste forms. (If you do not have a mortar and pestle do this with the back of a fork in a small bowl - mashing until well combined and garlic is in a rough paste). Place paste into a small bowl and whisk in orange juice, 1tsp honey, 2tsp rice vinegar, & 1TB sesame oil. Heat up the 1/2TB - 1TB of sesame oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add your sliced onion. Soften for several minutes. Once the broccoli is out of the oven, toss your broccoli in the skillet, stir to combine, and turn off heat.

Once the soba noodles are done I like to strain them in a colander and then run a little bit of cold water over the noodles but not much so they are still warm. This is just to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other as they cool. Combine the noodles, broccoli mixture, and dressing. Toss until well distributed and evenly coated. Serve into bowls and top with more sesame seeds. 

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A scented rutabaga soup for that last cold front.

Rutabagas. 

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I love soup. I really think I could have a cup of soup, a light salad, and a good crunchy piece of bread with a smear of butter for most meals. There will be plenty more soup recipes to come in our time together, hopefully it will be a long one, but as we are approaching warming months we have to temporarily part with beloved soup. I'm sorry soup, its not you, its me, but I am sure we'll have a fling or two this summer. Rutabagas are such an interesting vegetable. They are beautiful too... and I am a sucker for anything even the slightest bit purple. I've made this soup over and over, it is fantastic. I've adapted this recipe from a cookbook Lucid Food. The ingredients here are slightly different and I change the texture of the soup quite a bit, which I think makes all the difference, but she has beautiful recipes and this soup is brilliant. Star anise and rutabaga - who knew? 

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Recipe (serves 4) 

Rutabaga - 3 cups peeled and diced

Shiitakes - About 1 scant cup chopped

Tofu - 14oz pressed and cubed

Vegetable broth - 4 cups *see note*

Shallots - 2 small, minced

Scallions - 1 bunch

Garlic - 2 cloves minced

Ginger - 1 inch numb minced

Star anise - 4 stars

Soy Sauce - 4TB

Oil - 5TB (I used coconut here for the tofu and sesame in the soup)

White pepper - 1/2Tsp generous

Rice vinegar, scallion greens, and red pepper flakes for toppings

*This recipe would be a great time to pull out any homemade vegetable broth (mushroom or any broth you have). The flavor is pretty imparted on the soup here. I happen to have some broth in my freezer I had made with significant rutabaga peelings and other roots. I like to save all my vegetable trimmings from the week and make a vat of broth.

I like to press my tofu when I have the time, or when I am frying it. It gets out the extra water so that the tofu is crisper and takes less time to pan fry. Wrap your tofu in a kitchen towel, set on a cutting board our counter and place books on top. You can do this for several hours if needed - but at least 20 minutes. Move on to prepare your soup.

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Separate you scallion "meats" from the whites and slice each thinly into slivers. Mince up your garlic, mince your shallot, and peel/cube your rutabaga into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Toss in garlic, shallots and scallions whites, let infuse and soften for a minute. Add your rutabaga, white pepper, star anise, and 2TB of soy sauce. Cook for just a few minutes. Add the stock and let boil softly for 20 minutes or until the rutabaga is very tender. 

While rutabaga is boiling and tofu is pressing mince up your ginger and trim/cube your shiitakes. Once tofu is ready slice it into about 1/2inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of coconut, sesame, or olive oil in a skillet on medium-high/high heat. Add your tofu. Cook tofu, flipping occasionally, until crisp and golden, about 5-10 minutes. Turn down heat to medium and add in another TB of oil, your ginger, and shiitakes. Cook for about 5 minutes until aromatic and shiitakes are tender. Pour over about 2TB of soy sauce and stir until absorbed. 

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Back to the rutabaga. Remove the 4 star anise - they should be floating. Pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into the pot and taste, season with salt. I usually do not need any - soy sauce is pretty salty and you are adding the tofu/shiitakes, keep this in mind. Ladle soup into bowls and place spoonfuls of the tofu/shiitake mixture in the center. Top with scallion greens, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of rice vinegar. Yum!

Even wolf pups like rutabagas. 

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Butter roasted radishes & their greens + arugula and goat cheese in a farro grain bowl

spring. 

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Spring is on the tip of nature's tongue here. I am ready for it. I am just itching to break into the delicate spring produce. Yet every time I start to thaw out and accept spring another cold front knocks on my door saying, "you seriously thought that dress didn't need a coat today?" I almost stubbornly produce shop seasonally (with a few exceptions). I love breaking into a new mini era of cooking depending on the season. Fall is heavily drenched in warming spices and squash, winter is for roots and bitter greens, spring for asparagus, sugar snap peas, wild foraging, and crisp spring mixes, summer for all things tomato, fruit, eggplant and, most importantly, ice cream. This dish is a great compromise between winter and spring. The crunchy, colorful satisfaction of radish, the sweet, acidic pop of late season blood orange with the hearty grains of winter turned creamy by goat cheese. Need I say more? I know I had you at radishes cooked in butter. 

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Recipe (Serves 4) 

1 Bunch radishes with their greens

Arugula - a few handfuls (2-3) 

1 Blood orange

Farro - 1.5 cups uncooked

Goat cheese - 3-4TB

Butter - 2TB

Chervil - about 2tsp

Salt/pepper - to taste

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Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place farro and 3 cups water into a small pot on low heat. Let cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, divide radishes from their greens. Cop radishes into quarters and cop radish greens into coarse chunks. Take out oven-proof skillet and melt butter on medium heat. Toss in radishes and cook for a few minutes. Add in about a tsp of chervil and season with salt/pepper (about 1/2tsp). Toss in radish greens and stir around until coated, about 1 minute. Transfer the skillet into the oven and roast about 15-20 minutes (depending on radish size) until radishes are softened and a little colored. While radishes are roasting peel blood orange with a knife following the curve of the orange. Cut out the wedges from white membrane of the blood orange and chop. Disgard orange membrane. 

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Take out radishes out of oven and toss in a handful of arugula. Stir until just wilted from the heat of the pan. Toss radish mixture with the cooked, drained farro, blood orange, and another handful of fresh arugula. Crumble in 3-4TB of goat cheese and then stir to combine, the goat cheese will melt into the dish making it creamy. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, and another few pinches of chervil. Enjoy over thoughts of spring. 

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Roasted brussels sprout leaf salad with toasted walnuts & honey dijon vinaigrette

Salad. 

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A well-composed salad is an art. Sometimes I succeed in this art and other times not as much. Sadly, too many people overlook salads on menus or at home because a traditional iceberg lettuce drenched in ranch isn't something special... or even good for you but, it is what the typical idea of a salad is. I love this salad and of course, like any salad, it is open to adaptation. Throw in some dried fruit or other nuts, add more roasted veggies, maybe some chickpeas or french lentils, change up the dressing, etc. I wish I would have had more than a half bundle of brussels sprouts at my house so I could have made more! I'm sure this salad will keep quite well in the fridge - great for leftovers if eaten cold. 

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Recipe (makes two large salads or 4 small as an appetizer) 

1/2 bunch of brussels sprouts - rinsed and then the leaves peeled of from the head into "petals." 

Salad greens - A generous cup or two big handfuls of spring mix or herb blend

Red onion - 1/4 cut diced small

Walnuts - scant 1/2 cup toasted

Parmesan - 1/4cup grated

Dijon mustard - generous 1tsp

Honey - generous 1/2tsp

Apple cider vinegar - 1tsp

Olive oil - 2-3TB

Lemon - juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt and black pepper - about 1tsp each or to taste

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Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Toasted your walnuts (takes about 5 minutes) and set aside. Peel the leaves off of each brussels sprout and place in a bowl. Toss with 1-2TB olive oil and about a teaspoon each or to taste of salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and place into oven to roast for about 20 minutes. Flipping the brussels sprouts after 10 minutes. While this is roasting prepare your dressing and everything else.

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Dressing - whisk the Mustard, Honey, vinegar, 1TB olive oil together into a small bowl. Set aside until everything is ready. Once the brussels sprouts are roasted toss into a bowl and add the toasted walnuts, chopped red onion, salad greens, and parmesan toss. Drizzle over dressing and taste before adding all of it (in case you want to use less dressing - I used all of it). Toss. Squeeze over fresh lemon juice and toss until it is all incorporated. Enjoy and have a peaceful day. 

 

 

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