When reflecting on past gardens, I can’t help but be grateful for the fact that I was able to have an inground garden this summer. In years past, I’ve always moved in August and had failed attempts with transplanting tomato plants and herbs. This means that the last time I had a real garden was when I was little and my parent’s let me pick out what I wanted to grow. And that was gourds – I remember distintcly only wanting to grow gourds and my parents thinking that was a little funny (although I wouldn’t understand why until many years later… when I realized they are really not very useful in the kitchen).
But anyhow, this year… this year I was able to go all out. No more of that half assing tomato and basil plant in a few pots. Nope, Nope. This year I wanted a garden both in the back and side yard (one for full sun and one for part). We planted tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, scallions, lemongrass, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapeños, rosemary, sage, and so on. Some of them flourished (lemongrass, scallions, kale, tamotoes) and some of them never quite got off the ground (potatoes, cucumbers…). But whether they grew to monstorous portions or stayed micro size, we tried to harvest and enjoy them. We harvested everything in September but the swiss chard and lemongrass.
I’m not sure what I was waiting for with the swiss chard but I knew I was ignoring it until a sign occured. Whether that sign was a must-try recipe or the first frost biting at it’s leaves, I knew I needed a sign. Perhaps it was because the leaves were coming in so beautifully with the colored veins speckled through out them. Whatever it was, I knew I didn’t want to waste these greens by burying them at the bottom of a recipe.
Soup?! Really? But it’s SPRING. Soup season is over. Or so I thought. This past rainy and chilly Saturday sparked my desire for one last soup for the season. My stepfather and Ma had dropped off a 10 pound bag of onions from Shriners earlier in the week week. TEN pounds. Do you know how many onions that is for two people? A lot. I racked my brain trying to think of recipes that used more than 1 onion in it…stuffed onions with couscous and goat cheese? Or Pickled onions with beets and coriander? And then Wyatt suggested onion soup. Of course!
I’ve only made quick french onion soup but the rain challenged me to spend the afternoon in the kitchen caramelizing the onions. And don’t get me wrong – the quick method is delicious but it’s not even comparable to traditional french onion soup. This method leaves you with melt-in-your mouth, sweet slices of onion amaziness. I wish I had caramelized all ten pounds of onions to throw onto of everything (pizza, pasta, salads, …ice cream?).
Try this method of making french onion the next time you are stuck inside because of the weather or come home after a long day and need some serious cooking therapy.
Melt the butter and oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepans. Add the sliced onion and toss until coated with butter / oil. Cover, lower heat to low, and let cook for 15 minutes untouched (go play with your puppy, eat some almond butter, read a magazine, etc).
Uncover, turn the heat back up to medium-low and add in the sugar and a dash of salt. Cook for about an hour and stir frequently. Cook until the onions have become a deep brown and are irrisistable sweet.
Add the flour and cook for a minute. Next, add in the wine, broth, and thyme springs. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and use a spoon to scoop out the thyme stems.
Transfer soup into your desired amount of ovenproof soup bowls. Top each with a thick slice of baguette and grated cheese. Stick under the broiler until the cheese has melted and is just started to brown.
A few weeks back I was spending my days soaking up the sun on the beach and my afternoons checking out hidden restaurant gems in Delray Beach. One of the places we stumbled upon was an all natural, organic cafe that had both healthy and intriguing flavor combinations. At the time, the idea of consuming a big bowl of hot soup after sitting on the beach for 4 hours was not appealing to me. But when I returned back to the Midwest and snow was covering everything, I couldn’t help but have my mind wonder to that menu and this soup.
This soup is pretty sweet so I recommend pairing it with a tangy grilled cheese or some hearty toast. You can also fancy it up by substituting the greek yogurt for crème fraîche or roasting the pumpkin seeds in spices. It also makes wonderful leftovers and can be reheated for weekday lunches.
Oh…and did I mention that it’s chocked full of protein and vitamins (specifically B6 and C)? How can you go wrong?
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook until translucent (about five minutes). Next, add in the sweet potatoes and maple syrup. Let cook for 15 minutes or until everything has browned. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are soft (time will vary depending on the size you cut your sweet potatoes).
Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. If the soup is too thick then return back to stove and add a little more broth (about 1/4 cup at a time). Cook over low until a desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the greek yogurt and all spice in a bowl. Garnish the soup with it and some toasted pumpkin seeds.
The fascination with my Tangine has really morphed my cooking this past month. I didn’t even use the tagine for this recipe but was drawn to it since the recipe is so similar to the other Tunisian dishes I’ve been playing around with. Who knew 2013 would be the year of preserved lemons, harissa paste, and spicy stews? Well, the first few months of 2013 at least. Can’t predict past that.
I am sooo in love the contrast that is created when you mix spicy harissa paste with sweet honey and lather it all over vegetables / beans. Oh my goodness! Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, you should. And here is a perfect starter recipe for it. Harissa paste is super easy to make (check out the recipe here) or you should be able to find it at any international market store. As for preserved lemons? It took me a long time to come around to them and I would recommend slicing them VERY thin until you get use to their intense flavor. But with that said, they really do add a depth of flavor that could not be achieved by this simple stew without them.
Simmer the chickpeas in the vegetable broth until heated through. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, cumin salt, and harissa paste in a small bowl. Fold in the capers, lemon, and red pepper to the dressing.
Tear the bread into large chunks and divide between two bowls. Spoon the chickpeas and broth over the bread and top with dressing / lemon mixture. Serve right away so the bread doesn’t get soggy.
Did you have a wonderful New Year?! Did you get to kiss that special someone at midnight and maybe drink a little too much bubbly? Yeah, me too. Ah well. How about we start off the new year right with this super healthy and delicious lentil soup?
I usually make dinner for Wyatt pretty much every night and this has been going on for well over a year now. However, I just recently found out his favorite soup is lentil soup. That means all this time I’ve been making these elaborate and time consuming (and delicious… see Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons and Rosemary Soup with Rustic Bread) when I could have just made this simple lentil stew. Go figure!
This soup is not only easy but it’s packed full of vegetables and protein. Not bad, eh? And this recipe made enough for us to enjoy for two meals plus some for me to freeze for later! It’s dairy free so it freezes super well and will go perfect with a big salad or crusty bread or grilled cheese.
Morning, Morning. Can you believe it is already December? It sure does not feel like it. I don’t know about where you live but I’m located in the Midwest and we are suppose to have some 70 degree weather today (such a weird introduction to winter…). Not that I’m complaining but I would have considered making something a little more…light and refreshing had I known it was going to be so warm. Ah well, this chili is oh so delicious regardless of the temperature.
I’m not going to lie. I am really proud of this recipe. It’s packed with so much nutrients I can hardly wrap my head around it. We are talking loads of protein, fiber, vitamin C, iron, potassium, vitamin A, etc etc etc. The list goes on and if you make the beans from scratch… this chili is packed full of fresh and non-processed foods as well. I’ve never felt soooo good about gobbling down a bowl of food. And not to mention, it is absolutely delicious. The wheat berries give it slight chewy texture while the cocoa powder (learned that trick thanks to a very good friend of mine) bring a new complexity to the flavor.
Oh and don’t worry! If my over zealous attitude towards super healthy eating is freaking you out – I made some oh so irresistible Corn Cheddar biscuits to go with packed full of two sticks of butter and loads of gooey cheese [recipe on that to follow tomorrow!]
This recipe is vegan (unless you add cheese and sour cream) and makes about six serving. You could even double the recipe and plan to have leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.
Heat olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add in the onion, carrots, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes or until all the vegetables has softened. Next, add in the tomatoes, broth, black beans, and cocoa powder. Bring the chili to a bowl, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add wheat berries and let cook for another two minutes.
Remove from heat and squeeze in lime juice. Serve with garnish options (avocado, sour cream cilantro, plain yogurt, etc).
*To cook 1 1/2 cups of Wheatberries: Rinse 3/4 cup of berries and letting them simmer for 45 minutes or until softened.
Well, I think I’ve finally accepted that winter is here and we won’t be experiencing any more 70 degree days. Ah, this a very bittersweet realization. On one hand, it means endless cups of chai tea, lazy mornings under the covers with favorite novels, all day bake-a-thons, and soup soup soup. On the other hand, this means six more months before lake adventures, cross country road trips, and waterfall picnics.
And with this new acceptance comes a soup recipe! I’ve already made a few soups this season (see: curried butternut squash soup) but the weather had me craving a hardly soup packed full of starchy potatoes and earthy flavorings. This soup did the trick! Along with some simple (and delicious) rustic bread, this soup filled us up and will be making leftover appearances for the next two days!
As for the rustic bread…so simple and soft with a crisp outer crust. I’ve discovered (after trying it for the first time with my Muesli Bread) is the trick to REALLY delicious bread baking is to have a pot of steaming water under the bread while it’s cooking. This helps keep the bread soft and full of moisture. Oh so delicious! Perfect side to this soup. And let’s be honest, the only reason we even make soup is for an excuse to make homemade bread to go with it. Right? Or is that just me?
So what I am are trying to say is you should embrace that the cold and darkness is forcing you to stay inside and spend a few hours in your kitchen…perhaps whipping up this comforting and hardy dish?
For the bread:
For the soup:
Start with the bread: In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and let sit for five minutes (this will give it some time to start foaming and activating). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the water/yeast mixture. Mix until combined (the batter will be VERY sticky – don’t worry! It’s suppose to be like this). Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour. [Start on the soup while this is rising]
Once it has doubled in size, knead the dough a few times and move to an oiled baking sheet. Let rise on this sheet for a half an hour. Sprinkle with flour and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron skillet or pan on the bottom rack of the oven and let it heat during the preheating process. Once the oven is ready, place the dough (on the baking sheet) on the top shelf of the oven and pour a cup of warm water in the skillet below (it will steam and this is exactly what we want to happen). Let cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
To make the soup: Heat the olive in a large stockpot over medium. Add in the onions and cook for about five minutes (or until translucent). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add cubed potatoes and celery and then season with salt / pepper. Next, combine in the tomatoes, rosemary (throw them in whole and then take out the twigs at the end), white wine, water, and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a bowl, cover, and lower to a simmer. Let simmer for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Once ready to serve, chop the kale and add at the last moment (this keeps the kale a little crispy) and season again with salt/pepper.
Serve warm with fresh bread!
So I should start by letting you know that I’m a produce addict. Between our weekly CSA box, Farmer’s market, and local co-op, we probably spend more money monthly on organic vegetables than we do on all our utility bills combined. This means that we end up with a garbage full of scraps almost every week. The “right” thing to do would be to start composting but for many [including us] this does not seem like an option. For 1, we rent so the idea of starting a compost for 9 months and then leaving the remains for the next tenant to deal with is just rude (could you imagine having to deal with a compost pile if you didn’t know what you were doing?). And secondly, we don’t have a proper place for it. Our backyard is fenced in but that is Tuko//Taco//Teekee territory and even if we got a bin for it, our little puppy is a nosy creature and would find ways to munch down on composting parts (which would not be the healthiest for the little guy).
Anyhow, I feel bad about not being able to compost. The amount of scraps we create is discouraging and I do believe that there is a lot of nutrition tossed away with those onion ends, zucchini peels, and herbs that have sat out for just too long. Luckily, I discovered that you can use those scraps to ma
ke vegetable broth. It’s quite simple: you just throw your scraps into a zip lock bag in the freezer and whip up some broth when it’s full. This is a truly great time to do this with soup season approaching!
A few reasons why we think you should make your own broth:
1. It’s a way to use up all those vegetable scraps and not waste those ‘on-the-verge’ of spoiling vegetables (just throw them in the freezer when they are too far gone to eat raw but not yet moldy)
2. You know exactly what is in your broth and don’t have to worry about preservatives or other chemicals sneaking into your food
3. It makes using vegetable broth so easy! You don’t have to worry about using up only half a can of because you have a stock pile in the freezer that allows you to only take out what you need
4. The broth will stay good in the freezer for several months (I’ve read different things about the exactly length of time but I’ve heard anywhere between 3 and 5 months. If you are unsure if it’s still good, use your nose! It’s the best judge)
Well, there ya go. Are you convinced yet? I mean, come on! I know you are planning to make loads of soup in the next couple of months…why not have fresh vegetable stock easily accessible for you? I’ve done a lot of research on what you can/can’t freeze and everyone seems to have a different opinion so here is a general list that I use (feel free to just google it if there is a specific vegetable that you aren’t sure about):
Got it? Easy. Now just start a small stash in your freezer and make some broth when you’ve accumulated around 4 cups. It literally takes the same amount of time it would take to boil some dried beans (you DO make your chickpeas//black beans from dried, don’t you? Maybe I should do a post on that topic as well soon). I usually prep my food for the week every Sunday afternoon and made the broth along side cooking some black beans. So easy and only takes about an hour.
PS- I should note that you don’t need to use frozen vegetables by any means! If you just want to make some broth (not out of leftover scraps), just pick up 4 cups worth of organic produce at your local co-op and follow the same directions below.
Place all ingredients in a large pot and cover with cold water (just enough so all the veggies are covered). Bring water to a boil and let simmer for an hour (don’t let it simmer for much more or it starts to lose flavor.
Strain the vegetable mixture and discard the scraps. Let cool completely and either use right away or freeze/refrigerate in quantities that will suit you best (I froze them in ice trays and just made note that 6 broth cubes = half a cup).
Store in fridge for up to 5 days and in freezer for up to 3 months.
And here I am again with more butternut squash in my life (as if that amazing Galette was not enough!). What can I say? Eating in season has been so easy since our bodies were made to adjust to the seasons. All I’ve been craving for the past two weeks have been soups loaded with winter squash and apple-coated everything.
And I am excited to share with you goat cheese croutons! Have you ever had croutons made out of cheese? OH MY GOD. I cannot believe it took 23 years on this planet to discover these little things! They bring shame to that stale old bread that you use to call “croutons”. For real, image this: gooey, breaded chunks of cheese hidden in your bowl of already delicious soup. It’s like a cheese stick in your soup! But even better because it’s homemade and filled with GOAT CHEESE. Not so bad…am I right? I’m excited to experiment with this more as the winter progresses….perhaps try other cheeses? They will need to low in fat content so that they don’t melt in the cooking process. Hmmm…perhaps feta or Parmesan chunks ? Or maybe even find a better technique for sealing the cheese in the breadcrumbs and branch out to Gruyere or brie. Oh man, the options are endless!
Anyhow, regardless of the croutons, this soup is really yummy. Flavored with curry powder and roasted butternut squash, this recipe is a keeper! I recommend roasting the squash ahead of time since it takes an hour and then you can prep the rest in 20 minutes.
Lastly, you should know that I adapted this recipe from SpoonForkBacon. It’s one of my new favorite food blogs and although I don’t eat bacon (thank goodness that I don’t have to worry about that bacon shortage coming!), I do find the food photography incredibly inspiring and highly suggest that you all hop on over and check it out!
For the croutons:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet with the cut sides up. Stick 1 tablespoon of the butter and brown sugar in the cavity of each side. Roast for 1 hour or until the flesh has softened all the way through. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle. Remove skin and discard.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the onions and saute for about five minutes or until softened. Add in the chives, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and squash. Stir until combined.
Next, pour in the broth and let simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and use an immersion blender (or let cool enough to stick in the regular blender) and puree. Return to the stove top and simmer over medium low for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk.
To make the croutons:
Leave oven preheated at 375 degrees.
Make 12 (or 15 if you want them smaller) balls of goat cheese. Place the flour, breadcrumbs, and egg all in separate bowls. Roll the balls into the flour, egg, and then the breadcrumbs. Place onto a greased baking sheet and cook for about 15 minutes (flipping halfway through). Make sure to keep your eye on them and remove when browned (some will take more or less time depending on how big your croutons are).
Serve the soup with croutons or crispy bread.