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Posts from the ‘Vegetables’ Category

a soup to carry you through winter

What’s to like about winter? A low-slung sun. A bluer sky than blue. The last golden leaves to cling. Grass  that crunches under foot. Children’s boots and mittens.  Hot cocoa. The glow of candles near your bath. Longer hugs. And soup.

This is winter’s version of pistou, a Provençal vegetable soup, and I believe it is very possibly the finest winter soup I’ve ever made. It is, in fact, so fine a soup I’m going to be adapting it to different  kitchens and circumstances. (Slow-cooker and pressure cooker versions will follow before winter’s done with us.) It’s gob-full of vegetables, heavenly hearty, and will warm you to your chilly toes.

This makes an enormous potful. We took half out to our mom and the half we have remaining is enough to feed a table full. There’s quite a bit of chopping involved, but sharpen your knife and trust me…it will be so worth your time.

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Provençal Vegetable Soup

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Extra-virgin Olive Oil – 5 Tablespoons

3 plump, moist Garlic cloves

Onions - 4 medium, cut in ½ – 1-inch pieces

Leeks - 3 medium, white & tender green parts only, rinsed, quartered & thinly sliced

Bouquet Garni: several fresh or dried bay leaves, fresh celery leaves, thyme sprigs & parsley - either tie together or put in a wire mesh tea strainer

sea salt

Carrots - 8 medium, scrubbed & cut into thin wheels

firm, yellow-fleshed Potatoes (Yukon Gold) – 1 lb. (500 g)  peeled & cubed

Celery ribs - 4 ribs with leaves, cut into thin pieces

Butternut Squash or raw Pumpkin – 2 lbs. (1 kg), peeled & cubed (yield: 1 qt. or 4 c.)

Farro or Spelt – or substitute Barley - 1 cup, rinsed & drained

can peeled Italian plum Tomatoes in their Juice - 28-ounce (750 g) can

Tomato Paste – 2 Tablespoons

small White Beans – such as navy or flageolet (see NOTE)

Cranberry Beans (such as Borlotti) (see NOTE)

mixture chopped Kale & Spinach *

freshly-ground coarse Pepper

freshly-grated Pecorino Romano cheese – ¾ cup

freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – ¾ cup

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NOTE: If using fresh beans, 1 pound of each in their shells. If using dried beans, 8 ounces (250 g) of each  – pick them over, making sure you have no little pebbles, rinse the beans, place in a large bowl & cover with boiling water;  allow to soak for 1 to 2 hours. Please note the different instructions – step 2 below – based on whether fresh or dried beans are used.

* – a bag of frozen chopped kale & spinach works great for this. Add as you’re ready to serve – each time you heat up a new potful of soup, add a handful or 2 of this mixture and you’ll have bright green in each bowl.

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1. In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, combine the oil, onions, leeks, bouquet garni and salt to taste,  then stir to coat. On low heat, sweat the onions & garlic mixture – cooking with the lid on for several minutes until what’s in the pot is softened and fragrant. Drop in the carrots, celery, squash, potatoes, farro (or spelt or barley), the tomatoes with their juice, along with the tomato paste. Add four quarts (4 liters) cold water. If you are using DRIED BEANS – add only 3 quarts cold water at this time. Cover the stock pot and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer for 30 minutes. Taste for salt & add as needed.

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what? another take on hummus?

We have this favorite little Japanese maple out back. This past week, its finely pointed leaves began to wave then drop in sweet clusters of beet red.

It was quite impossible to say no to the urge that hit me…so,  with that…Wegetable Vednesday makes a comeback!

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With the crimson and scarlet, burnt orange, rust and gingko gold of fall flying,  suddenly I craved the taste of color.

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I’m in school and everything I do in the  kitchen for months will need to be simple. So, for a while simple is all I have to offer you.

…and a hope and a toast to your very good health!

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(Though the following recipe calls for black beluga lentils, they may be somewhat difficult to find. You can order on line if you like, or substitute with small, dark green Puy Lentils. Both these varieties will make a more luxuriously textured and  dramatically colored hummus.)

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Red Beet & (Black Beluga) Lentil Hummus

 Black  Beluga Lentils, rinsed – ½ cup

2 medium Beets or 3 small – peeled and cut into chunks

garlic – 2 cloves, peeled

Tahini Paste – 2 Tablespoons

Olive Oil – 2 Tablespoons

Fresh Lemon Juice – 2 Tablespoons

Lemon Zest – 2 teaspoons grated (minimum)

sea salt – 1 teaspoon (to start)

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NOTE: Sometimes lentils off the shelf are rather old and will benefit from a little soaking. Nothing extravagant here, but it wouldn’t hurt to allow them to soak an hour or two before draining and cooking. If your package says no need to soak, then no need to soak.)

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Rinse the lentils and add to a medium size pot. Peel the beets and cut into chunks about 1½ inches in size. Add to the pot with the lentils and add 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and reduce temperature to simmer. The beets should be fork tender and the lentils soft when done.  (About 20 minutes or so.) Read more

don’t be turning your nose up so quick…kale salad

Kale is a Super-hero among vegetables, a phyto-chemical-antioxidant-rich green dragon, repairing DNA damage to cells, boosting immune systems, helping prevent macular degeneration, and even blocking the growth of cancer cells. It does all this weighing in at a measly 35 calories per raw cup!  Kale is a super-hero you’ll want to befriend.

Is all that enough reason to pal around with a vegetable hero that tastes nasty? No, not in my book. I could rave about this kale salad but I’m going to quietly step aside and let Dr. Andrew Weil do the talking. He and chef Sam Fox opened True Food Kitchen in Phoenix, Arizona, and that restaurant has since blossomed into five others across the country. (Their mission: to serve food that promotes the diner’s well-being while being uncompromisingly delicious.) This is their Signature dish. (shocking, no?) This is the dish on their menu, year-round, that nearly everyone asks for. This is the dish that so many people enjoyed and went on to duplicate in their own kitchens that farmers all across the Phoenix area started pulling out other crops and planting instead, Tuscan kale. (It goes by other names too: Lacinato, cavolo nero, Russian kale or dinosaur kale.)

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Here’s a story Dr. Weil tells:

Not long ago, a mother with a son and a daughter about seven and five came up to me in the Phoenix restaurant. ‘Tell Dr. Weil what your favorite thing to eat here is,’ she said to the girl, who was too shy to answer. Her brother spoke for her, ‘Kale salad! Kale salad!’ he said with great enthusiasm. {That made Andrew Weil very happy.} If folks in Arizona, which is hardly a bastion of veg-heads, can learn to love raw kale, it is only a matter of time before true love for it blooms across the land!

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This is one of those rare salads that gets better as it sits, better the next day than it was the day before. Any bitterness present in the kale is softened by the lemon and salt in the dressing. With a pinch of red chile flakes, a scattering of crunchy toasted bread crumbs and shavings of Pecorino Romano, this is a salad you are almost 100% guaranteed to love, and I mean love.

You can assemble this salad in minutes and enjoy it for two days. He says it serves 8…I say 4.  (Perhaps because it’s possibly twice as good as he says.)

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Kale Salad

Extra-virgin Olive Oil - ½ cup

Freshly-squeezed lemon juice -  ¼ cup

Garlic - 3 cloves mashed – 2 may be enough for you

salt - ½ teaspoon

Kale - 2 bunches – about 14 ounces, 400g.

Grano Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – ½ cup finely grated

Toasted Whole-wheat Bread Crumbs – 2 Tablespoons (or perhaps a bit more)

Grano Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese shavings – for garnish

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A NOTE on the quantities – I find that the amount of dressing is more than sufficient to dress these leaves. I hold about ¼ of it back and drizzle on steamed vegetables. But make the entire amount…it may be different for you.

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Remove the ribs from the washed and patted dry kale. Slice into ¼-inch shreds. Read more

butternut squash ravioli with toasted pecans & sage

Many of you are well-acquainted with the Italian gentleman whose handsome head pops up on many pages around this neighborhood. Always nattily dressed in dark suit and narrow tie, always raising his glass and leaving kind words to cheer us. He’s known to us as Chicago John. And he’s a legend in these parts.

You’ll find John cooking up a delicious Italian storm in the Bartolini Kitchen, every Wednesday.  The smells that rise from his oven and bubbling pots will make you hungry. They’ll make you wish you could pop into his kitchen and pull up a chair and spread your napkin and toast the cook and lift your fork and stay long into the night! They might make you wish you’d grown up Italian, with family recipes handed down, and down again to you. For sure they’ll make you wish you could cook like John does. And that’s where this little journey began for me…

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Only a handful of times in my life have I made pasta from scratch. I should be throttled for that! The man I married (who calls himself my grateful guinea pig and is such a good sport) is an enormous fan of pasta. Wrong word choice…he likes pasta, a Lot. So it was that when I spotted John’s series of posts on pasta – and then – Ravioli! – I knew I’d just discovered the Holy Grail – no question about it – this was D.i.n.n.e.r. – written in the Guinea Pig’s own Language of Love.

Now you understand, I’m not the one to learn pasta making from. No, no. I’d head over to John’s if I were you. Below is the recipe for the Bartolini’s pasta dough. It’s the one I used (Naturally!) I followed his expert guidance on how to roll and what dies to use as a novice raviol-ist. I prayed the rosary (ok, not exactly), asked John for one more encouraging word and then I dove right in. Fearless! (ok, not exactly.)

(You’ll be able to view this recipe better if you click on it.)

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It all went quite well, just like John said it would. I had mechanical issues with my pasta roller and I think I’m tossing it (but not til I’ve found a replacement.)

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I made a sweet & savory butternut squash filling…

(recipe follows)SquashRavioli-2

Closed those little pillowy parcels up…SquashRavioli-3

Gently boiled them in salted water, drained them and then slid them into a simple sauce of browned butter, garlic & sage, thyme & parsley & toasted pecans. G.P. will probably chime in here and tell you about it, but if he’s still tied up licking fingers, I’ll tell you…

it was pretty fine!

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Butternut Squash Ravioli with Toasted Pecans and Sage

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds

Vegetable Oil – just a wee bit for brushing squash

 Cayenne Pepper – a Dash

Freshly-grated Nutmeg – (about 5 passes over the grater – to taste)

Salt & Freshly-Ground Black Pepper

Freshly-Grated Parmesan –  ½ cup

dried bread crumbs - ½ cup

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Freshly-Made Pasta ala Bartolini (recipe above)

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Brown Butter with Pecans & Sage

Butter - 4 to 6 Tablespoons, melted

Garlic – 1 medium to large clove

Chopped Fresh Sage Leaves – 2 Tablespoons

Chopped Parsley – 2 Tablespoons (divided)

Chopped Fresh Thyme – 2 teaspoons

Toasted Pecans, ½ cup coarsely chopped

Freshly Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (I prefer the latter here)

Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) Slice the squash in two, from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut surface with vegetable oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Bake until soft – about 40 minutes (though begin checking at 30.) Scoop out the flesh and measure 2 cups full. Drop it into a food processor (or mash well with a fork) blending with 2 Tablespoons butter. Season with a dash of cayenne, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Season to your own tastes. (It will not need to be fully seasoned with salt since the cheese will bring some of its own.) If the squash seems a bit too liquid-y you can dry it out by dropping it into a skillet on high heat for a few moment. Add bread crumbs and cheese. Set aside.

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possibly the best spinach salad

As good as your pita may be, occasionally your pita will grow stale. Once you’ve tasted this salad, you’ll make sure that occurs regularly! Pita, past its prime (which happens quite quickly) makes delicious croutons!

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Today’s will be a very quick post, on an extraordinary salad. (Another recipe from chef Ottolenghi. Forgive me, I can’t help myself.) This ranks amongst the best salads I’ve eaten, anywhere, ever. In flavor and texture, perfectly balanced. Sweet, tart, spicy heat, soft and crunch. The onions, macerated in vinegar with the dates, now softened and sweetened. The pita & almonds, browned together until crispy, then scattered with spice. The spinach, crisp, green, fresh. Dressed simply in olive oil & lemon.

A salad greater even than the sum of its parts.

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NOTE on Sumac: If you don’t have Sumac (get some!) you can find it on line. It’s red like paprika or chili powder, tart like a lemon or cranberries. It sits on many Middle Eastern tables like salt and pepper do on ours. After you’ve made that depression in the middle of your hummus, and filled it with olive oil, sprinkle sumac! You’ll find other uses for it too…it brightens up so many dishes,  but if nothing other than to use in this salad, you’ll be happy you and sumac met!

baby spinach salad with dates & almonds & pita croutons

from Yotam Ottolengthi

serves 4 (or so) as a first course 

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1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

3.5 ounces (100 g) pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise

2 Tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons olive oil (separated)

1/2 cup (75 g) whole, unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons sumac (see NOTE)

½ teaspoon chili flakes

5 ounces (150 g) baby spinach leaves

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

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Into a small bowl measure the vinegar and drop in the onion and dates. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, then discard the vinegar and set aside the rest.

In the meantime, heat the butter and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, drop in the broken pieces of pita and the chopped almonds. Cook, stirring all the while, until the pita is golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the heat and scatter with the sumac and chili flakes. Stir and set aside to cool.

BabySpinachSaladOttolenghi-1When you’re ready to serve, toss the pita/almond mix and the spinach into a large bowl.

BabySpinachSaladOttolenghi-2Add the marinated dates and red onion, the last tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt.

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the guinea pig goes to college

The past two weeks have been quite out of the ordinary around here. It all started when the Guinea Pig went back to school…Stanford is training him how to be a business leader…I know…he’s really kind of somethin‘! I decided to use this time as a bit of a retreat of my own and do the sorts of things I don’t generally do when he’s around.

I set up a long table in front of the big window where I normally shoot my food photos. Outside that window are maybe half a dozen different sorts of bird feeders and a place for birds to drink. Nearby are the tall trees where they nest. For days and days, I sewed together squares of colorful flowers and polka dots for the little one who calls herself Lala. As my machine whirred, I watched the birds, literally by the hundreds, swoop in, grab their nuts or thistle, catch their wind and retreat to a nearby branch. I watched the fog rise and descend like a quilt’s airy batting, forming tiny glittering crystals on everything it touched. I watched a determined squirrel (already obese) hang upside-down, each sticky little paw clutching tight a different branch, as he filled his cheeks, trying hard to empty the bird feeder before again losing his balance.

These have been unusually cold days, with both a glorious sun and a freezing fog alternating through the day.   It’s been quiet and serene at this window and I’ve had a chance to contemplate the sorts of things I’d hoped to, love lots on my dogs, and sew a quilt for Lala. This all came at a good time, coinciding as it did with a new year.

I made a discovery early on…without the ever-grateful G.P. here to share the table, some of the joy of cooking has been absent. I’ve eaten very simply…which isn’t all bad. And I’ve eaten a lot of leftovers. This earthy warm tagine got me through several wintry nights…

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Served over couscous, this syrupy, caramel-y tagine makes a delicious vegetarian meal served with salad. But it would also go well paired with grilled or roasted meats. Substitute butternut squash or sweet potatoes for the yams, or small shallots for the pearl onions if you like.  You don’t need a tagine to prepare this dish – use a heavy-bottomed casserole dish if that’s what you have. (And if you don’t have preserved lemons…I suppose you could make it without…or…here’s a thought: you could make some!)

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a Tagine of Yam, Pearl Onions, Carrots, Prunes & Preserved Lemons

2 to 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil along with a pat of Butter

Fresh Ginger Root – 1½-inch piece about the thickness of your thumb, minced or grated

2 sticks Cinnamon (or 1½ to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)

10 ounces Pearl Onions* peeled (See NOTE below on how to peel)

2 pounds Yams or Sweet Potatoes, in bite-size chunks

2 medium Carrots, in bite-size chunks

¾ cup Pitted Prunes

2 teaspoons Maple Syrup

1¾ cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock

Preserved Lemon (rind only) from ½ lemon, small dice

small bunch Cilantro Leaves, roughly chopped

several Mint Leaves, chopped

salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

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*  (or 10 – 12 very small shallots)

In a heavy-bottomed casserole dish or a tagine, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the ginger and cinnamon sticks and stir for one minute. Toss in the peeled pearl onions and when they begin to color, toss in the yams or sweet potatoes, the carrots and the preserved lemon. Sauté for several minutes, then drop in the prunes and maple syrup. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, top with a lid and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes…until vegetables pierce easily with a fork. 

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creamy carrot soup & preserved lemons

On a winter’s afternoon, weeks still before Christmas, a good friend Carolyn and I came together in my kitchen. We’d amassed on the counter several bags of organic lemons, sea salt, a few herbs and spices, and a collection of pretty jars.  We washed, sliced and stuffed the lemons with salt. We packed them tight into their jars. Then tighter still. We dropped bay leaves and pink peppercorns and allspice berries in behind them, and then squeezed juice enough from other lemons to cover them. We talked about what we’d do with them and who we’d give them to as gifts for Christmas. In six weeks they’d be ready. Carolyn hadn’t tasted them before, so she could hardly wait.CarrotSoup-1Some time – too long ago – I posted on how to preserve lemons. I (kind of) promised that I’d share recipes that used these indescribably delectable “preserves”. (In all truth, though, you don’t really need a recipe in order to use them. You can strew them on a salad or in the salad’s vinaigrette; or in with roasted or steamed vegetables; make a simple sauce sort of extraordinary; add them to stews or soups; flavor grilled or poached fish with them. I reach for them several times a week, at least!) Over the next couple months I’ll share a good handful of really good recipes. One of them will be from my friend Carolyn who invented it on the spot (she does that sort of thing, and created herself a beautiful shrimp dinner in about 15 minutes.) She told me about it and I made it and we loved it. (Expect to see more from Ottolenghi too.)

This one today is from Mike – Mike, married to my daughter, is a good good cook. They received a jar of Preserved Lemons for Christmas. One day my girl and I were on an outing and she raved about the dinner Mike had made the other night. By that afternoon, I was texting Mike…

He generously shares his soup:

Creamy Carrot Soup with Preserved Lemons

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 -3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

 2 cloves of garlic, minced

1½ teaspoons finely minced ginger root

 2 cups chicken stock (or good vegetable stock)

2 Tablespoons dry sherry or white wine

8 to 10 medium carrots, sliced thinly

1 to 2 sections of preserved lemon, diced finely (See NOTE)

1 to 1¼ cups milk (from whole milk to 1% to your preferred milk alternative)

Salt & Pepper (white if you have it) to taste

NOTE on preserved lemons. By “sections” we mean quarters of lemon. After soaking in a briny liquid for 6 weeks, the flesh of the lemon has given over much of its juice to the jar. The rinds of the lemon have softened, and in a way quite impossible to describe, have mellowed, given up their acidic bite and become more roundly-flavored, very lemony still, but not mouth-puckeringly so. To use them, you remove the flesh (either discard it or toss it back in the jar) and use only the rind, which you rinse well first and then (generally) finely dice. If you cook with it, it will impart its lemony-ness to the dish but in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. If you use it fresh, without cooking first, you get little lemony bursts.

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If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can find them in many markets. That said, they’re easy and (we think) fun to make…especially with a friend.

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on sweet eats

Only once as a child was I made to strongly urged to eat my dessert. Our family of five,  plus my uncle and his new wife were gathered around our maple dining table. Each of our wintry faces was warmed and brightened by the candle’s winking light. Mom, in her fancy apron, her hair pulled back in a thick high ponytail, was beaming. She’d worked hard on this dessert.

Christmas pudding.

Sounds innocuous enough. To some it might even sound a tad romantic.  A dessert of a time past when people cooked in black pots placed on grates in large fireplaces, when people wiped their mouths with their sleeves or aprons, and hunting dogs curled around the legs of the table and caught the scraps that fell.  Everyone basked in the glow of candlelight back then. Christmas pudding….

Ahhh! Lovely, dear!

At first whiff I knew this was going to be nasty. I declined as politely as I could by pushing it away and making a face. “You haven’t even tried it.”   “But I don’t need to, I know I won’t like it!”   “Well, you’re going to try it.”   “See, I told you I wouldn’t like it!”   “Maybe you just need another bite to be sure.”

The story doesn’t end well. I had several bites that night, and then lost a good portion of the dinner I had liked. I had a very weak stomach back then, a nose that could sniff green pepper or alcohol a room away, and a very – discerning – palate for a seven-year-old.

(Don’t think a single dark thought about our Mom. She’s a sweetheart and a mighty fine cook, and I’ve got plenty of stories and recipes to prove it!)

Why are we here then, you ask. Certainly not to share in Mom’s recipe for Christmas Pudding!? (No, our smarter-than-average Mom never made that ghastly thing again.)

 I’m here (once more) to strongly urge you to eat your vegetables – AS your dessert this time! Fortune smiles!

AND you ‘re going to love it – at first bite! (So will seven-year-olds.)

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WHY will you love it? (Good of you to ask.) It’s aromatic, tender, light, flavorful, not-dry (I know some people despise the word moist), it’s soft in the mouth, sweet on the tongue – and what? good for you! Warmed for breakfast, packed in a kid’s lunch, a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, a light bit of sweet after dinner. This makes 2 loaves, and you only add ½ cup of sugar – yet it’s delicately sweet. (It does have some fruit butter which has a bit of its own sugar, but we’re not going to hold that against it.) We do like this – ever so much – around our house!

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Carrot-Parsnip-Zucchini Bread

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1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour (the white variety of whole wheat works best for tender baked goods like this but any will do)

2 Tablespoons hulled Hemp Seeds (Optional – but so packed nutritionally and with a delicious nutty flavor)

½ cup sugar

1½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground  cloves

1 medium carrot shredded

1 medium parsnip, shredded

1 small zucchini, shredded

3 large eggs

¾ cup apple butter or pumpkin butter (I’ve only made this with pumpkin butter, but either would be equally good)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (yes, that much)

2 Tablespoons pumpkins seeds for the top

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Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C) Either oil two 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pans with olive oil or line with parchment paper. (Loaves will lift right out of the pan, cleanly, with parchment paper.)

Wash, peel and grate your vegetables.

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about 2-1/2 cups total shredded vegetables will be perfect

In a large bowl, combine the flours, hemp seed, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine well. Add the shredded carrots, zucchini and parsnip. Stir to coat the shreds evenly.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, fruit butter of your choice, the olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined, but be careful not to over-mix which would toughen the loaves.

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so liberating to make a mess – as any seven-year-old knows – and it comes easier with practice

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curried cauliflower soup

Here’s a soup to warm the cockles of your heart.  No idea what I mean by “cockles”, but by soup I mean silky and warm, subtly complex, aromatic spoonfuls. If you think you’re not a fan of cauliflower, but are feeling up for a small culinary adventure, I think you’ll be surprised – the cauliflower just lends itself to the overall  creaminess of this soup and never brags about its starring role (which I respect in a vegetable.)  When we seek a warm refuge from winter’s chill, it’s nice to know we’ve got…..

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Curried Cauliflower Soup

(makes about 2 quarts)

3 Tablespoons coconut oil (see NOTE)

1 large yellow onion

2 teaspoon sugar

2 to 3 teaspoon green curry paste

 2 teaspoons (or more) garam masala (see NOTE 2)

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon cumin powder (or 1¼ t. seeds, dry roasted & ground)

Sea Salt as you go

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets 

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed

5 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock or broth

1 medium green apple, peeled, pared and chopped

1 can coconut milk

1 fresh lime

 Garnish: ¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt + 3 Tbl. chopped cilantro (+ lime wedges)

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Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) Wash the cauliflower and cut into florets. Melt 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, and drop into a medium-sized bowl along with the cauliflower and a good sprinkle of sea salt. Tumble onto a baking sheet or a roasting pan, sprinkle with a few pinches of the  garam masala and roast until tender and lightly browned.CurriedCauliflowerSoup-5

While the cauliflower is roasting, gently sauté the onion in 2 Tablespoons coconut oil until translucent. Add 2 teaspoons of green curry paste to start. Later you can add another teaspoon if you decide you like the warmth and want more. (I use 3 and don’t find it overly spicy at all.) Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining spices and continue sauteing for one minute. Add the cubed potatoes and chopped apple and stir over the heat for another couple minutes.

Add the broth and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. After 15 minutes, add the roasted cauliflower and continue cooking until the vegetables are very tender.

Remove the pan’s contents in several batches and puree in a blender until completely smooth. (Be careful not to overfill the blender, and put a folded towel on the top to ensure hot contents don’t sputter up.) Return pureed soup to the pot . Check for salt and add to taste. Stir in a can of coconut milk and reheat the soup.  Again check for salt. Squeeze in the juice of one-half lime, and cut the remainder in wedges for serving.

Mix together the yogurt and chopped cilantro. Ladle soup into bowls, put a dollop of the yogurt/cilantro mixture on top, a little sprinkle of cilantro bits for extra color and serve with lime.

{ to print the recipe, click }

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NOTE:  Coconut oil comes in a jar, usually in the vegetable oil section at your market. It’s solid at room temperature. It comes in either refined or unrefined form….the unrefined has  more of a coconut aroma and a somewhat lower smoking point than the refined. If you do the research, you’ll find that coconut oil and coconut milk have a variety of healthful properties  I keep both on hand, but like the unrefined for this and most dishes. Read more

spicy carrot pickle presents

A deep downy fog wrapped around our cold hill this morning. The firs that can usually be seen waving their skirts and climbing high into the sky were barely faint shadows in the white soup. The birds we feed dropped in by the hundreds, out of a dense snowy nowhere. Such a quiet fell on this place! I so love a good foggy morning! (Do you?)

The car wouldn’t leave its garage today. There’d be no stop and go, bumper-to-bumper for me. No crowded stores with pokey elbows. No waiting in long queues at the post office. It was the very day I’ve been hoping for, a day to stay at home, to stare out the window for some peaceful moments … and to pickle me some presents.

I could have done a better job of matching today’s recipe to the weather by making a good thick pea soup. But peas weren’t what I had. What I had were carrots. (I was going to give them to you yesterday, being Wednesday and the day I normally serve you up some veggies, but I got very distracted with choirs of little ones singing, and bells ringing on street corners and all the rest of it. You know.)  Anyway, back to the carrots.

SpicyCarrotPickles-1Instead of just EATing them, here today gone tomorrow, let’s make them last. And let’s help them take a little chill off of winter while we’re at it.

(And even if you’ve never canned before, these are NOT hard to do.)

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Spicy Carrot Pickles

(makes 4 pint jars)

2 pounds carrots, trimmed & scrubbed

5½ cups cider vinegar * (5% acidity – important)

1 Tablespoon pure kosher salt

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

3 bay leaves

8 dried hot chilies, stemmed

4 cloves garlic, sliced

4 sprigs thyme

1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (to suit your taste)

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

½ small white onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

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* I used an unfiltered apple cider vinegar.

Wash and (if desired) peel your carrots. (Here’s an opportunity to insert a Spreenkle 7.1 – Garbage disposals do NOT like your peelings. I heard it on authority…you know the guy, who’s asking for a belt for Christmas. I would have thought disposals would love them, eat them up, but noooo.  Your garden however, does love your peelings. And here’s a word from our Luke – “Those ends you’re trimming – now would be a nice time to toss your faithful Golden with the silvery muzzle a little something to show your appreciation for the many times he gets up in a day to follow you around and lie at your feet.”)

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Trim the carrots into 4-inch lengths, to fit upright in pint jars. Cut them so that they’re no thicker than ½-inch. Set aside in a bowl (or pitcher) of ice-water.

SpicyCarrotPickles-2Put your canning pot on the stove and fill with enough water to cover the jars by at least 1-inch. Bring the heat up. Wash the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot. Place the flat lids in a heat-proof bowl.

Gather your ingredients together and have them handy.

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