Monthly Archives: December 2012

Vegetarian Soup Sampler: French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup, Split Pea Soup, and Minestrone

It is 25 degrees out and snow is softly falling.  Christmas is over and New Year’s is just around the corner.  My fresh fraser fir is still up and decorated and Christmas music has given way to George Winston’s December and some great banjo tunes.  I’m thinking warm and cozy thoughts snuggled on the couch under an antique wool afghan.  Really no better time to share with you a sampler of the soups I made recently.

One day a few weeks ago, I decided my life needed some serious soup therapy.  There’s nothing I want more in cold Michigan weather than a hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread to dunk in it.  That day I set to it, chopping up mounds of carrots, celery, potato, onion, and garlic and creating three hearty vegetarian soups.  Oh, what a day!  With steam coming off of three big soup pots on my stove, the warmth in my kitchen and in my heart was tangible.

The great thing about making big pots of soup all at once (and getting the labor out of the way) is that you can freeze and enjoy the soups long after they are made.  Once the soups had cooled, I ladled some of each into quart-sized freezer bags and laid them flat in the freezer.  I’m looking forward to grabbing my choice of three soups to thaw and heat on a cold winter day in January or February.

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French Lentil and Wild Mushroom Soup

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups finely diced onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils (sort through for debris/rocks and rinse)
  • 1 cup of dried wild mushrooms with reconstituting water/mushroom stock
  • 1/2 cup of kale or collard greens, thinly sliced, optional
  • 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), optional
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Minced parsley for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until it browns slightly and softens somewhat, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste to the onion and stir to coat.  Add the garlic, celery, carrot, and parsley and cook for a few minutes.  Add the lentils, 1-2 cups of mushroom stock, 1 and 1/2 quarts of water, mushrooms and 1 and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in the collard greens and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mustard and vinegar.  Taste and add more if you prefer.  Garnish with parsley and serve with a salad and crusty bread.
  4. Serve 4 to 6.

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Split Pea Soup

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 3 cups dry split peas
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Saute on medium heat until vegetables are somewhat softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Lower heat slightly so vegetables do not continue to brown and cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. Place split peas, water, salt, and dry mustard in a Dutch oven if you have one.  Otherwise a stock pot works fine.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer with a lid to partially cover for about 40 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and potato.  Simmer gently for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables and peas are soft.  If soup is too thick, thin with some water or vegetable stock.
  4. Add pepper and vinegar to taste.  Serve with a good crusty rye bread.
  5. Serves 6-8

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Minestrone

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 stalks of celery, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash (1 inch diameter), diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 20-30 oz of canned tomato puree or strained tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, white beans, or garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup dry pasta (I use mini shells or ditalini but any small pasta will do)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic, and salt.  Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add celery, carrot, oregano, and basil.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water, tomato puree, and beans.  Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add pasta.  Cook pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Test the soup to see if the vegetables are tender.  Add pasta, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top and with a crusty sourdough or baguette.
  5. Serves 6-8
  6. NOTE:  If you are freezing some of your minestrone, do not add the pasta before freezing or it will come out all mushy.  Freeze the minestrone and when you are ready to thaw and enjoy it, cook up some pasta to add to the minestone–much better!

Aura’s Christmas Cookies

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Merry Christmas!  Okay, I’m a little late with this post but for those of you who are already thinking of what cookies you will make for next year’s treats, here is a basic sugar cookie and icing recipe.  I grew up decorating sugar cookies with my mom who spent hours perfecting her cookies.  Being the traditionalist that I am, I decorate my cookies close to exactly like my dear mom (though not quite as well) and look forward to many more years of trying to perfect the art of the sugar cookie.  I’ve added to my mom’s repertoire–the Michigan cookies are a big hit around these parts!

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I use a basic sugar cookie recipe and basic icing recipe from Martha Stewart for mine.  Note that these turn out quite crispy so if soft and chewy cookies are your thing, you won’t get that with these.  But if you are looking for a thin, crispy, buttery and sweet cookie–look no further!

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Sugar Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing (see recipe below)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.  With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined.  Divide dough in half; flatten into disks.  Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment.  Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes.  Roll out 1/8 thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed.  Cut shapes with cookie cutters.  Between each cutting, dip the cookie cutter in flour to prevent sticking.  Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets.  If dough gets soft, re-chill for ten minutes or so.  Reroll scraps; cut shapes until the dough is gone.
  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, anywhere from 10-15 minutes depending on the size.  Cool fully on wire racks before icing.

Basic Icing Recipe

  • 1 and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or water
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. Place sugar into a bowl and whisk the liquids into the sugar until smooth but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  If too thin, just add more sugar.  If too thick, just add more liquid.  Easy!  I place small amounts of icing into several bowls and use gel food coloring to make multiple colors and shades of each color.  Ice the cookies and let icing harden at least 20 minutes.  I let them sit overnight to harden fully so they hold up in boxes of treats.

Vegan Baked Oatmeal with Apricots, Walnuts, and Blueberries

I hope this day after Christmas finds everyone well.  For me, this cold and peaceful winter morning involved staying in bed late, drinking tea, and best of all, enjoying baked oatmeal.

Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts, Apricots, and Blueberries

I am a bona fide oatmeal lover.  I never ever thought I would be such a goody-two-shoes that I would eat oatmeal every morning.  But somehow this routine has a solid foothold now.  I have rolled oats, steel-cut oats, quick-cooking steel-cut oats, quick oats and oat bran on hand at all times.  When I travel for work, I have BetterOats packets on hand for snacking and mornings in the hotel.  So when I came across baked oatmeal after hearing people rave about it, I had to try it.  I had noticed a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday and went at it.

We have been trying our hand at baked oatmeal recipes over the last week and I can’t get enough of it.  Next week I’m throwing a brunch for my lovely former roommate and her out-of-town guests the day after her wedding.  Being that some guests are vegan, I tried my hand at making a vegan version of baked oatmeal, launching off from Heidi Swanson’s baked oatmeal recipe from Super Natural Every Day.  Her version includes eggs, butter, and milk (and her version is delicious, I can attest) but with a few tweaks, everyone can enjoy the miracle of baked oatmeal.  I replace the milk with non-dairy almond milk (you can use soy if you prefer but I prefer the lighter taste of almond milk), the butter is replaced with oil, and the egg is replaced with a half of a mashed banana.  If you like oatmeal you will love this version, which is like a mildly sweet dessert for breakfast.  Without the guilt.  And having tried a dairy version and my vegan version, I can honestly say I liked the vegan version even better.

Baked Oatmeal in Dish

Vegan Baked Oatmeal with Apricots and Blueberries; adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday

Serves 6 for Breakfast

  • 2 cups of rolled oats (use ‘old fashioned’ oats, not ‘quick’ oats)
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups almond milk, soy milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp canola or coconut oil (melted if hard)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into thin strips
  • Raspberries, to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° with a rack in the top third of the oven.  Oil the inside of an 8 inch square baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the non-dairy milk, 1/2 mashed banana, the oil, and the vanilla.
  4. Arrange the banana slices in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top.  Cover the fruit with the oat mixture.  Slowly drizzle the non-dairy milk mixture over the oats.  Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure the milk moves through the oats.  Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.   Cut into squares and serve in bowls.  Drizzle with maple syrup and pool some almond or soy milk on the bottom.  Serve with a few raspberries if you have ’em.

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

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Oh holidays…why do you always sneak up on me?  This Friday I frantically rolled 100 goat cheese truffles (while juggling making chocolate-peppermint popcorn, white-chocolate dipped pretzels, and putting the finishing touches on biscotti, decorating sugar cookies, and boxing it all up nice and pretty).  I have to say…I went a little crazy.

It happens to all of us, right?  But I may have crossed the line.  I actually went all grinchy and said “I’m not doing Christmas treats next year.”  Yowzas!  Strong words from such a little lady!

I’m happy to say that I got some cute elf help on my project and by the time 7pm rolled around, we were delivering boxes of goodies to some of the good little boys and girls beloved by me.  And the feeling of cheer, the smiles on faces, and oh! the hugs.  Let’s just say I’d do it all over again.  And again.  And again.

If you love goat cheese, you will love these truffles.  They have a moderate but not overbearing sweetness to them balanced with the tanginess of the goat cheese with a smooth finish.  Very satisfying.  These truffles have been a big hit around these parts lately.  Friday was actually batch three for this gal!

I really hope this recipe finds its way into your hearts and homes.  One regular sized-batch takes about 20 minutes hands on.  Worth every minute!

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 20–easily double or triple the batch for more!

  • 8 oz plain goat cheese (to change things up, you can use honey goat cheese, orange goat cheese…any flavor that is not savory); room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla, almond, or orange extract
  • 8 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Dutched cocoa, almond meal, or finely shredded coconut for rolling
  1. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat room temperature goat cheese with the powdered sugar; 1-2 minutes on medium.
  2. Add extract and beat until blended.
  3. Meanwhile, in a double boiler or a metal bowl over a pan with 1/2-1 inch of simmering water, melt the chocolate.
  4. When the chocolate is melted, mix with goat cheese blend until incorporated fully.
  5. Put mixture into the refrigerator for a couple of hours until firm but still scoopable.
  6. Scoop mixture into balls with a spoon or a melon baller.  Roll in between palms of hands to form a ball.
  7. Roll in dutched cocoa, almond meal, or coconut flakes.
  8. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before enjoying.

Shredded Sauteed Cabbage With Tomato and Ginger

Shredded Sauteed Cabbage with Ginger and Tomato

At the risk of being totally unoriginal, I am going to share a Martha Stewart recipe because it is my absolutely favorite way to eat cabbage.  I think I ate this for three days straight a couple of weeks ago and I could have kept on going but alas, the head of cabbage had to meet it’s end.

This was one of my go-to detox dishes and a surefire way to convince anyone to enjoy cabbage.  I served mine over my grain blend (with short-grained brown rice, farro, quinoa, and radish seeds).  Note that Martha’s recipe lists ginger as optional.  It is a must, in my opinion!

Keep this recipe in your back pocket for when you ‘get back on track’ in January.  Light and healthy, yet warming.  Great as a main dish or side–I’m planning on serving these with some perogies on the day after Christmas.  Mmmmm.

Shredded Sauteed Cabbage; from Martha Stewart

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  •  1 medium onion, sliced
  •  1 tomato, chopped
  •  1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (optional)
  •  1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  •  1 small head of green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 10 cups)
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for serving
  1.  Heat a 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and then add the oil and onion. Saute to soften the onion slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato, ginger if using, and red-pepper flakes. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Add the cabbage and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir to combine. Cover, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally as the cabbage begins to collapse. Add a little water, 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed if the cabbage becomes too dry. (This depends on the moisture level of the cabbage. You don’t want it too wet.) Cook for approximately 13 minutes, or until the cabbage is just tender. Salt to taste and serve.

Roasted Sweet Potato Puree With Coconut Milk

Have you guys heard of Bryant Terry?  If you haven’t, I’m thrilled to introduce you.  Although his Vegan Soul Kitchen cookbook is vegan (obviously), this wonderful chef belongs in any kitchen.  He offers “Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine” in this particular book along with a soundtrack for each recipe–how cool is that?  I love this book because not only are the recipes solid, his family stories are great and you get a big dose of culture as you cook.

The first recipe I tried was this Sweet Potato Puree With Coconut Milk. I am pretty daring so I decided to take a gamble the first time trying it and made a double batch for a huge potluck party.  I felt a little sheepish bringing in a big bowl of what looked like mashed sweet potatoes but that feeling soon disappeared when I had people seeking me out for the recipe.  In two months time this recipe has entered the “well loved” recipe pile and has made it to a few events.  This week, it will find itself onto another holiday table for Christmas–methinks it will become a tradition.

Somewhere in the process of this recipe, something magical happens.  It may be the extra step of roasting the sweet potatoes, or the agave sweetener (which I love), or the creaminess from one of my pantry favorites, coconut milk.  But I don’t want to know what does it–this dish is perfectly delicious.  So close your eyes and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Puree With Coconut Milk

Roasted Sweet Potato Puree with Coconut Milk; adapted from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 can coconut milk, warmed (use the full fat version for best results)
  • A few tablespoons of chopped pecans to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, agave nectar, coconut oil, and sea salt.  Toss well.
  3. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a parchment-lined baking dish or roasting pan and roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.
  5. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the sweet potatoes with warmed coconut milk.  Puree, adding a little hot water if needed (my sweet potatoes were dry and needed a little bit more liquid) and transfer to a serving dish.  Top with some pecans if using.

One Change: Walnut Cinnamon Biscotti

Walnut Cinnamon Biscotti

I just listened to a wonderful TEDx talk by Sarah Britton, the author of one of my very favorite food blogs, My New Roots.  The TEDx talk was called “One Change” and in it, Sarah talks us through the idea that one small change in the kitchen can have life changing consequences.  Food, she argues, is life sustaining and life changing.  What you reach for in the grocery store is an important choice with long term consequences.  ‘More than fuel, food can be a powerful medicine.’  Sarah reminds us that whole foods make us feel better and they simply taste better.  At the end of the talk, Sarah shows the audience how, in a matter of minutes and with the most basic of kitchen tools, you can make your own nut milk at home.  Not only is it cost-effective, it tastes better and it empowers you, both in the kitchen and in your life.

I must have nodded my head 98 times while I was listening to that talk.  I couldn’t agree more.  It is so fulfilling and empowering to me to make my own foods from scratch.  I get so much joy from experimenting in the kitchen and my successes are shared with friends and family as I make the rounds calling and urging them to please try this at home.

Coincidentally, I was listening to Sarah’s talk while making this week’s Food Matter’s Project recipe (chosen by the ever-adventurous and darling Margarita at Let’s Cook and Be Friends).  Coincidentally, it was my very first time making biscotti.  And perhaps not coincidentally, I plan to continue making my own biscotti for years to come.  One change.

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Biscotti rarely calls to me at a bakery.  Next to all of the more gooey, more creamy, more sweet sweets, biscotti fails to convince.  Maybe it was smelling the biscotti baking in my own kitchen, maybe it was discovering just how easy it is to make, or maybe it was simply the fact that I made it myself (!) that I find myself hooked.  Biscotti instantly found its way onto my list of food gifts to make for friends and family at the holidays.  Biscotti instantly found its way into my heart and into my Sunday morning coffee routine.

This recipe is great because there isn’t too much sugar (next time I will experiment with using agave or sucanat and see how that goes) but it still ends up being satisfying.  For my holiday gifting, I plan to dip some biscotti in dark chocolate to make it more enticing but for me, this simple version is the perfect starting point and perfect in itself.  Sitting in my window seat with my cup of pour-over coffee, I’m in a happy place.

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Please share with me any of your own cooking revelations.  Is there anything you always used to buy but now only make at home?  In the meantime, please try this at home!

To read about what other great biscotti ideas the Food Matter’s Project bloggers came up with, head here.  To get a quick visual scan of everyone’s creations, head on over to our Pinterest site.

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Walnut Biscotti; from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook

Makes 2 to 3 dozen; Time:  1 and 1/4 hours, mostly unattended

Even without eggs and butter, these biscotti aren’t too dry, and they maintain their pleasant texture for days.  Serve with coffee or tea.

  • 1 and 1/3 cups walnut halves
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 and 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Vegetable oil for greasing pan
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Put half the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining walnuts along with the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.  Add the honey and 3/4 cup water and mix until just incorporated, adding a little extra water if needed to bring the dough together.
  2. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets with a little oil and dust them with flour; invert the sheets and tap them to remove the excess flour.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 2-inch wide log.  Put each log on a baking sheet.  Bake until the loaves are golden and beginning to crack on top, 30 to 40 minutes; cool the logs on the sheets for a few minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 250°F.
  3. When the loaves are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to cut each on a diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Put the slices on the sheets, return them to the oven, and leave them there, turning once, until they dry out, 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Store in an airtight container for up to several days.

Homemade Kimchi

Ever since my big brother sent a gigantic Pickl-it jar to me for my birthday (with a card that said, “From the best brother in the world”) I’ve been in the mood to make and eat fermented foods.  I’ve always been a little nervous about fermenting things myself but this gadget takes the mystery (and fear) out.  I’ve got a big jar of sauerkraut going right now…can’t wait to try it out!

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The only bummers about this jar are that a) it is huge so I have to make A LOT of one thing at one time and b) I want others so I can pickle other foods simultaneously.  Recently, while lacto-fermenting a batch of mixed veggies (cauliflower, carrots, celery, and radishes, which turned the batch a nasty pink color…lesson learned) I had a hankering for Kimchi.  Much to my delight, I found a recipe that didn’t require any elaborate process, unless you call hanging out in the fridge for a week elaborate.

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This recipe, from Serious Eats, was exactly what I had in mind.  I wanted an authentic recipe and I wanted to know how to make it without shrimp paste, which I find to be a bit much for me.  This recipe shows you not only how to make it without shrimp paste, but how to make it vegetarian!  I’m fine with fish sauce so made my version with it but it was great to find out that you can use miso as a fine substitution, which I will surely try for next time.

I had some kimchi yesterday with my special grain blend for a snack.  To make my grain blend, cook wild rice and brown rice with water to cover for 25 minutes.  Add farro, black and/or white quinoa, and radish seeds.  Cook another 15-20 minutes covered on low heat.  Turn off and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing.  The radish seeds are my favorite part.  they pop in your mouth and are so fun to eat!

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Homemade Kimchi; from Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 large head napa cabbage, cored and separated into individual leaves, about 1 pound total
  • 1 small daikon radish (about 4 ounces)
  • 8 scallions, greens roughly chopped, whites reserved separately
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • One 2-inch knob ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup Korean chili powder (kochukaru)
  • 2 tablespoons white or red miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Place cabbage leaves, daikon, and scallion greens in a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Toss to combine, cover, then let sit at room temperature until cabbage is wilted, at least 1 hour and up to 12. It should release about 1/4 to 1/2 cup liquid.
  1. Meanwhile, combine scallion whites, garlic, ginger, chili powder, miso paste or fish sauce, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until rough paste is formed, about 30 seconds total, scraping down sides as necessary.
  2. Once cabbage is wilted, add chili mixture and turn to coat. Add 1 cup water to mixture. Taste liquid and add more salt as necessary (it should have the saltiness of sea water). Pack kimchi into mason jars, pressing down firmly to pack tightly and using a chopstick to release any air bubbles trapped in the bottom of the jar. Cover the kimchi with its liquid.
  3. Seal the jars tightly and allow them to sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator. Allow to ferment at least 1 week before eating (see note). Kimchi will last for up to 1 month after opening. Alternatively, place directly in fridge and taste daily starting after the first week until it’s as sour as you like it. Consume within 1 month.

Notes: This kimchi will get more and more sour as it ages. It can be eaten immediately, but is optimal at around 3 weeks. For a more traditional kimchi, replace the miso paste with 1/4 cup fish sauce or 2 tablespoons jarred brined tiny shrimp. It’s normal for the kimchi to produce lots of gas as it’s fermenting. Your jar’s lids may pop open when you open them and bubbles may appear in the liquid. Do not be alarmed.

As for the kochukaru—Korean dried chili powder, this is perhaps the only ingredient that can be a little tough to track down, but it’s absolutely essential. Korean chilis are a lot more about flavor than heat. You can pack a whole load of chili powder into your kimchi before you end up with a significant amount of heat. I haven’t found any other pepper with a similar flavor profile and heat/aroma ratio.

Creamy White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs

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Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  Today’s recipe choice, selected by Lexi at Lexi’s Kitchen, is something that will surely find its way onto my (healthier) holiday spread.  It is creamy, simple, delicious, and so much better than many of the creamy dips out there.  I’ll take this over Rondele any day!

White Bean and Celery Root Puree

This was also a great opportunity for me to pull out some of my pre-cooked beans to use.  I recently read something about cooking beans in Super Natural Every Day that inspired me.  Heidi suggested cooking beans and storing them in the freezer in freezer bags so they are quickly ready to use.  I had been storing my cooked beans in Pyrex but it always took so long to thaw out the block of beans so this new method was worth a shot!  I cooked up some garbanzo beans, mung beans, white beans, pinto beans, and black beans, all in separate large pots (I felt a little crazy with so many pots bubbling away but I knew that the result of my madness would pay off!).  I let each pot cool, drained the beans (let sit in the colander for a couple of minutes until all the liquid is gone), and scooped beans into sandwich, quart, and gallon freezer bags.  Now I have beans of all types for any size recipe: larger recipes (soup), medium recipes (like this bean dip), and single portion sizes for when I just want to add some beans to a stir fry or salad.  Genius!

I modified the original recipe to give it a little more oomph with some garlic and fresh lemon juice.  I also had a celery root hanging around and begging to be put to good use so I cooked that up and pureed it with everything.  If you love celery root as I do, it is a great addition but completely optional.  This dip is great without it too.

Check out what the other Food Matters Project participants came up with here.  They are a creative lot!  For visual inspiration, check out the FMP Pinterest board.

White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs

White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook

Note from Bittman:  This puree has a stunning green color from all of the fresh herbs and is the perfect dip-warm, cold, or at room temperature-for toasted bread or crudites.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 leek, white part and some of the green, trimmed, well rinsed, and chopped; or 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped mixed mild herbs, (I used parsley, cilantro, and mint but you can also try basil or chervil as options)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, tarragon, or thyme
  • 3 cups cooked or canned cannellini, navy, or other white beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 small celery root (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • About 1 cup bean-cooking liquid, stock or water, or more as needed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Crudites and crackers to serve
  1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and garlic and cook a minute or 2 more.
  2. In the meantime, add cubed celery root to a small pot with water to boil.  Boil for about 10 minutes or until very soft but not breaking apart.
  3. If you want a smooth dip, transfer the beans, leek/herb/garlic mixture, lemon juice, and celery root to a blender or food processor and process, adding as much liquid as you need to make a smooth but not watery puree. If you want a lumpier texture, mash the beans right in the pan with a fork or potato masher, adding liquid slowly to get them as soupy as you like.  Note:  I saved a couple of spoonfuls of the un-processed bean mixture to top the dip with.  I also added a sprinkling of pine-nuts.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; taste and add more if necessary. If you want your dip hot, heat and serve immediately or keep warm over low heat for up to an hour or so. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil if you like.  This dip also tastes quite good cold!  I served mine with carrots, cauliflower, radishes, and rye crackers.  Mmm!