Friday, October 28, 2011

Potato-Leek Soup with Chives

This is a quick and easy recipe to use up any leftover Roasted Garlic & Chive Mashed Potatoes.  If you don't have prepared mashed potatoes on hand then purchase two pounds of russet potatoes and cook and puree them before adding to the soup base.  Or you can cook the potatoes in the soup and puree all the ingredients together into a smooth puree.  I like cooking the potatoes separately because I like the texture of the sauteed leeks.  I served this soup with my homemade Whole Wheat Herb-Focaccia.


2 lbs left over garlic and chive mashed potatoes
1 leek, sliced into half moons, rinsed (white and light green parts only)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced thyme
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil on medium-low heat and add sliced leeks.  Cook until leeks are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add garlic, thyme and white wine and reduce until wine has evaporated.
  • Add mashed potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until thickened and for flavors to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper if needed and garnish with chopped chives.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Root Veggie Hash with Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette

Root vegetables get a bad rap.  Last year I volunteered for a food bank and we handed out bags of groceries and recipes that featured root vegetables, but I don't think the recipients were excited about some of the vegetables. They were grateful for the food, but the turnips, not so much. However, root vegetables are really good for you and they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and they're inexpensive too.

My favorite way to serve root vegetables is to roast them with a little olive oil, fresh thyme and salt and pepper.  Roasting enhances their natural sweetness and even mellows the sharp flavors of a turnip.  Root vegetables can also be used in soups/stews, pureed and used in place of mashed potatoes, or roasted and used in your favorite burrito or taco.  For this recipe, I roasted them and tossed them with a whole grain mustard-sherry vinaigrette, which works well with the sweetness of the vegetables.  This is also a great side dish to serve at Thanksgiving--perfect for autumn.


1 lb parsnips, peeled and diced
1 lb rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 lb turnips, peeled and diced
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and diced
1 lb fingerling potatoes or small yellow boiling potatoes, diced
2 tbsp minced fresh thyme
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp minced parsley for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Peel and dice vegetables (including sweet potato) about the same size (2" dice) so that they cook evenly.   Place in a bowl and toss with with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread out on two sheet trays and roast for about 15 minutes until tender and caramelized.  Toss once half way through the cooking process.
  • Roast the fingerling potatoes separately because they take longer to cook.  Place in a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp fresh thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread out on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes until tender and golden brown, tossing once half way through the cooking process.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the vinaigrette.
Whole Grain Mustard-Sherry Vinaigrette:

2/3 cup aged sherry vinegar, I like using Don Bruno Vinaigre De Jerez
1 tbsp whole yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp minced shallot
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp agave syrup
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • Add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to a small saute pan and heat on medium.  Add mustard seeds and cook for about a minute until they start to pop.  Immediately add sherry vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme, mustard and agave and stir to combine. 
  • Simmer vinegar mixture on medium-low heat until reduced by half and is thick and bubbly.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Set aside and keep warm--you should have about 1/2 cup of warm vinaigrette.
  • As soon as the vegetables/potatoes are finished roasting, remove from the oven and place in a large bowl.
  • Toss with warm vinaigrette, 1 tbsp minced parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with more parsley.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

I have never been to Morocco but we came really close in 1999 when my husband and I traveled to Spain and to Gilbraltar.  High atop the Rock of Gilbraltar you can see the coast of Africa and Morocco.  We discussed going but then we would of had to rearrange our itinerary and would of missed traveling to several cities in southern Spain.  Looking back, it's unfortunate that we didn't go since it was so close and would of been a short ferry ride or plane flight.  Oh well, hopefully one day we'll go back and make Morocco a definite stop on our itinerary. 

Until then, I love making and eating Moroccan cuisine (vegetable tagines/stews that are spicy, sweet and savory, and couscous flavored with nuts and dried fruits), but you can't make Moroccan cuisine without using preserved lemons.  I've purchased preserved lemons at Whole Foods or other specialty markets but they just don't taste the same as making your own.  And they're really easy to make.  You just need to plan accordingly because they take about a month to preserve but will last up to six months.

Preserved lemons are pickled in salt and they are one of the most common ingredients (condiment) used in Moroccan cooking.  Normally, only the peel of the preserved lemon is used in cooking and the pulp or flesh is discarded.  I always make a small batch using 3-4 lemons, which seems to work well for the amount of Moroccan dishes I make.


1 pint mason jar, sterilized
3-4 medium lemons, preferably organic, washed really well
1/3 cup coarse sea-salt
Juice of 4-6 lemons, enough juice to cover the lemons in the jar

  • Sterilize the mason jar and lid before using.
  • Wash and dry lemons and cut into quarters, but leave the lemon quarters attached at the stem.
  • Coat the inside of the lemons liberally with sea salt and press the lemon closed.
  • Press the lemons tightly together in the jar and and cover entirely with lemon juice.
  • Store in a cool, dry place shaking the jar every day for three-four weeks.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to six months.
  • To use, scoop out and discard pulp and rinse the lemon peel under water to remove any remaining salt.
  • Chop, dice or mince and use in your favorite Moroccan recipe.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Herb-Focaccia with Bistro Oil

Every year for Thanksgiving I serve a Herb-Focaccia & Roasted Chestnut Stuffing.  I usually purchase the focaccia already made, but this year I decided to make my own from scratch and wanted to test out a whole wheat version.  After two experimental tries the focaccia came out great and so I will definitely be using this recipe for my Thanksgiving Stuffing and will post the entire recipe next week.  In the meantime, I had to put the focaccia to good use and so I made a Bistro Oil for dipping...really delish!



1 medium russet potato, about 9 oz, boiled, peeled and grated
1 package of instant dry yeast
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup warm water (110 degrees), divided
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl
Note:  Because of the whole wheat four, this focaccia when cooked is not as thick as regular focaccia made with only white flour.  The dough will be about 3/4"-1" in thickness.  However, the texture and flavor is amazing.


1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp minced fresh sage leaves or 2 tsp dried sage
1 tbsp course sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Boil the potato in plenty of water until tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove potato and let cool slightly, peel and then grate on a box grater.  You should have 1 1/3 cups grated potato.  Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand up mixer, add 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees) and 1 pk of yeast.  Mix well and cover for 30 minutes while potato is cooking.
  • Add to the proofed yeast mixture the olive oil, the remaining 1/2 cup warm water, the grated potato, the remaining 1 cup of white flour, all the wheat flour and the kosher salt.
  • Using the paddle attachment, mix until combined and then switch to the dough hook.
  • Knead on medium speed for about 15-20 minutes until smooth.  Using whole wheat flour requires a longer kneading time and it will take some time for the dough to come together.
  • Remove dough, form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size about one hour.

  • Generously oil a 15x10 baking sheet will olive oil and press the dough evenly into the pan.  If the dough has a hard time going into the corners, let it rest (covered with plastic wrap) for a few minutes and then continue.
  • Lightly oil plastic wrap and drape lightly over the dough/baking sheet and let rise until doubled in volume and puffy, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees and position oven rack in the lower-middle position of the oven.
  • Using your fingers, create evenly spaced dimples in the dough.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and spread lightly with your fingertips.
  • Sprinkle with herbs and sea salt and bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, turning once half way through the cooking time until lightly golden brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly and then remove focaccia from baking tray and cut into desired shapes.
Bistro Oil:

1/4-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Note:  This recipe is just a guideline.  You can add whatever amounts of ingredients and switch up the herbs by adding fresh basil instead of rosemary.  Also, I like a more acidic dipping oil and so I add a little more balsamic, but you may like more olive oil. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted Garlic & Chive Mashed Potatoes

I can't tell you the last time that I made mashed potatoes.  For the past two or three years I've served potato gratins for Thanksgiving and so it has been awhile.  Growing up my mom was the expert on mashed potato making and my sister and I lived in fear of making lumpy mashed potatoes, seriously...:-)  According to my mom, there is a process for making creamy mashers and if you don't get the first several steps right you are doomed for failure.

Well, mom would be quite disappointed if she knew that my mashed potatoes were a little lumpy because I do not own a food mill, potato ricer, or even a potato masher, and I had to use a small pastry cutter to mash five pounds of potatoes!  Quite the chore...Of course, the flavor of the potatoes made up for the texture and I actually prefer a little texture anyways.  If mashed potatoes are too smooth it kind of reminds me of a school cafeteria and the scoops of potatoes they used to dish out...not a good memory!  


5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3" large chunks
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
2 large heads of garlic, roasted, pureed
2 cups cashew cream (more or less depending on desired consistency), heated
1 bunch fresh chives, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Mashed Potatoes 101:
  • Always use russet potatoes, never boiling potatoes, unless of course you are making "smashed potatoes".
  • Cut potatoes in even chunks so that they cook evenly.
  • Always start the potatoes in plenty of cold, salted water.
  • Never overcook the potatoes or they will become waterlogged.  You want them to be cooked through, but still be firm.  I cooked my potatoes about 25 minutes.  Test after 15-20 minutes of cooking time.
  • Drain potatoes really well and run through a food mill or potato ricer while still hot.
  • Once potatoes are completely smooth, stir in room temperature butter.
  • Next, add heated garlic cream mixture and then add the remaining cream a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Stir in herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately, or keep potatoes warm until ready to use by tenting with aluminum foil and placing over a pot of barely simmering water.
Cashew Cream:
  • Soak 1 cup of cashews for a minimum of four hours or overnight in filtered water.
  • Drain water and place cashews in a blender, along with 3 cups filtered water and blend until smooth, about four minutes on high.
  • If you have a high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix then you don't need to strain; otherwise, strain and set aside.  You will need about 2 and 1/4 cups for the recipe.
  • Note:  Cashew cream/milk works the best for mashed potatoes because of the high-fat content.  You can also use a full-fat plain soy, but I find that it gives a strange taste and color to the potatoes.  I do not recommend using almond or rice milk as a substitute.
Roasted Garlic:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the tops off of two large heads of garlic and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for one hour until soft.
  • Remove from oven and let cool before squeezing out tender cloves.
  • Place cloves in a blender with 1 cup of cashew cream/milk and blend until smooth.
  • Remove from blender and set aside.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roasted Mushroom Ragu with Garlic Mash

This is a super simple mushroom ragu that can be served with polenta, gnocchi, or tossed with your favorite pasta.  I served mine with Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes.  I made the potatoes for my Thanksgiving Series and I will post the recipe tomorrow.  Tonight though, I'm being super lazy with my post and so I'm just going to give you the recipe for the ragu.  For this dish, I did not make a protein (again--super lazy) but a herb-crusted sauteed tempeh, tofu or seitan would work really well. 

Just a quick note on ingredients.  Mushrooms pair really well with fortified wines such as Madeira or Marsala.  Madeira is from Portugal and Marsala is from Sicily, Italy.  Every kitchen pantry should be stocked with these fortified wines, as well as Ruby Port.  They are relatively inexpensive and add a lot of flavor to sauces, especially to earthy ingredients, such as mushrooms.

Ragu Ingredients:
(Serves 2)

8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced 
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp finely minced thyme
1/3 cup Marsala or Madeira wine
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp unbleached flour or cornstarch
1-2 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used cashew), veg stock or water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • Heat a large saute pan on medium heat, add olive oil and mushrooms and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Add onion, salt and pepper and cook until onion is soft and caramelized about 10 minutes more, stirring frequently.  Add garlic, thyme and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Deglaze with Madeira and reduce until almost all liquid is absorbed.
  • Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 50-60 minutes until liquid has reduced by half and is dark and rich in color and somewhat thickened.
  • In a small bowl whisk together flour or cornstarch and liquid until smooth and add to sauce.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes longer until thickened, stirring constantly and then re-season with salt and pepper to taste.  
  • If too thin, reduce longer, or if too thick then add additional vegetable stock.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Curried-Cauliflower Puree with Candied Almonds

This is my favorite soup to serve during the fall.  With cauliflower in season and paired with the warm spices of the curry powder, it truly hits the spot on a chilly autumn evening.  I garnished the soup with candied almonds (cauliflower and almonds are a perfect match) and drizzled it with Major Grey chutney.  The flavors and textures of this soup are amazing--spicy, sweet, velvety smooth and crunchy--and I know it will be one of your fall favorites as well.


1 large head cauliflower, cored and broken into florets of even size
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
2-3 tsp Madras Curry Powder, or other high quality brand
4-6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cashew milk (see below) or other non-dairy milk
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Major Grey chutney
Candied almonds
Parsley sprigs
Note:  Purchase a chutney that is smooth instead of chunky.  Spoon about 1/4 cup into a small sauce pan, add 1-2 tbsp water and heat until smooth and pourable.

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss cauliflower florets with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place on a sheet tray roast until lightly charred about 20 minutes, flipping cauliflower half way through the cooking time.
  • In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and saute onions with a little salt and pepper until soft about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme and deglaze with white wine and cook until almost all the wine is absorbed and onions are creamy.
  • Add 4-1/2 cups vegetable stock, and curry powder to taste.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Stir in cashew milk and heat through and place mixture in a blender and blend until smooth, adding additional stock if needed to get to the right pourable consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, drizzle with chutney and garnish with almonds and parsley.
Candied Almonds:

1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
3 tbsp agave syrup

  • Heat a small saute pan on medium-low.  Add almonds and agave and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly until syrup has coated the almonds and they are golden brown.  Remove almonds from the pan and spread out on a silpat or parchment paper to cool.  Once cool, break up large chunks and set aside.
Cashew Milk:

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 tsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Note:  To give a creamy texture to recipes, cashew milk is my number one choice because of the high-fat content.  You will have some milk left over--you can use it in your morning cereal, add to smoothies or freeze for another use. 

  • Soak cashews for four hours or over night in filtered water.
  • Drain water and place cashews in a blender and cover with 1 1/2 cups filtered water.
  • Blend on high until smooth.  If you have a high-speed blender, you do not need to strain; otherwise strain before using.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Tangerine Glazed Carrots with Fried Ginger

Here's another simple side dish for Thanksgiving and one of my all-time favorites.  The combination of sweet citrus and spicy ginger is amazing.  The tangerine glaze also works well with roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes.  I roasted my carrots in the oven, but if you're short on oven space, then caramelizing them on the stove and then steaming until tender works just as well. 
(Serves 6-8)

3-4 bunches of carrots, peeled and oblique-cut (see note below)
1 cup freshly squeezed tangerine or orange juice
2 tbsp agave syrup
1/4 cup peeled, julienned ginger root
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp finely minced parsley
Note:   I prefer purchasing carrots in bunches with the leafy carrot tops attached and removing them when I get home.  To oblique-cut the carrots, place a peeled carrot on a cutting board and holding the knife at a 45 degree angle, make the first cut.  Roll the carrot a half turn and make another cut.  The result is a wedge-shaped piece with two angled sides.

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • In a small sauce pan add orange juice and agave syrup.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until liquid has reduced to a 1/4 cup.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Peel and julienne the ginger root, avoid using the thick, fibrous center of the root when cutting.  Use thin slices from the outer sides.
  • In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil to medium heat and add ginger.  Cook until ginger is lightly golden brown and crispy, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  Using a fork, remove fried ginger and drain on a paper towel.  Season with kosher salt.  Reserve ginger infused olive oil.
  • Prep carrots and add to a large bowl.  Toss with ginger infused olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper and toss to coat.
  • Place on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, tossing half way through the cooking process, until lightly charred and tender.
  • Place roasted carrots back in the bowl and toss with hot tangerine glaze to coat.
  • Arrange carrots on a serving platter, drizzle with any remaining glaze, and garnish with minced parsley and fried ginger.    

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Knotted Dinner Rolls

These whole wheat dinner rolls are definitely going to be on my dinner table this Thanksgiving.  They're delish, fun to make and good for you too.  I made an assortment of flavors using poppy seeds, sesame seeds and a combo with poppy, sesame, garlic, onion and sea salt.  Serve them warm right out of the oven just as your guests sit down for dinner.  I guarantee that they'll be at hit and be gone in no time!


1/2 cup warm filtered water, heated to 105-110 degrees
1 tsp unfiltered sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 cup plain soy milk
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 tbsp full flavor molasses
1 3/4 cups unbleached white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp ground flax meal
1 1/2 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer, plus 2 tbsp filtered water
1 tbsp soy milk
Toppings of choice

  • In a small bowl mix together water, sugar and yeast.  Let sit for about 10 minutes for yeast to bloom.
  • In another small bowl, add soy milk, agave, molasses and butter and heat in the microwave for about 15 seconds until butter is melted.  Stir to combine and set aside.
  • In a bowl of a stand up mixer, add all of the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the white flour, along with kosher salt and ground flax.  Whisk to combine.
  • Form a well in the center of the flour and add yeast mixture along with soy mixture.  Mix well with a wooden spoon until combined and then attach the dough hook and knead on medium (adding the remaining flour, 1 tbsp at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides and bottom of the bowl).  Knead dough for about 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Remove dough from mixer and form into a ball and place in a medium sized bowl lightly coated with olive oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to double in size.
  • Cover two sheet trays with silpats or parchment paper and set aside.
  • Remove dough from the bowl and divide into 16 equal 1-1/2 oz portions and form into balls.  Keep balls covered with plastic wrap while forming dough into knots.
  • Working with one ball at a time, and using both hands, form dough by rolling into an 8" long strip.  Tie the strip of dough into a knot and fold the left and right ends under the knot, pressing lightly to adhere.  Place dough knot on a flat surface and lightly shape into a round circle.  
  • Place knots on the sheet tray (eight per tray, spaced far enough apart to give them enough room to rise).  Keep knots covered with plastic wrap, sprayed lightly with olive oil while you roll out the remaining balls.
  • Once finished, keep covered and let knots rise again for another hour before baking.
Final Assembly/Baking:
  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • In a small bowl whisk together Ener-g egg replacer, water and soy milk.
  • Brush each knot lightly with mixture and top with assorted topping of choice.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown, turning trays 180 degrees half way through cooking time.
  • Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Roasted Chanterelle Barley Pilaf

Do you ever get tired of serving the same side dishes on Thanksgiving--a tried and true recipe that always ends up on your table?  I'm not saying that this is a bad thing because Thanksgiving day is not a good time experiment with a recipe you've never tried before, especially when you have a houseful of hungry people.  So what I like doing is making the recipe a couple of weeks before to see if I want to serve it to my guests on the big day.  After you make a recipe once, you're then able to refine it, add your own personal touches, and make it your own.  It takes all the pressure off and makes your cooking experience much more enjoyable.     

I like this recipe because it's very easy to change up the ingredients.  If you are gluten intolerant then you can substitute brown basmati rice instead of hulled barley.  If you don't like radicchio then use another type of winter lettuce, cabbage, or leafy green.  And if you're not a big fan of hazelnuts then try adding roasted chestnuts or toasted walnuts.  Whatever you decide to do, this recipe will make a beautiful addition to your holiday table.

Pilaf Ingredients:
(Serves 6)

1 1/2 cups hulled barley, soaked overnight
8 oz chanterelle mushrooms, torn into 1/2" strips, roasted
8 oz oyster mushrooms, torn into 1/2" strips, roasted
2 tbsp finely minced thyme, divided
1 head radicchio, quartered, marinated, grilled and chopped (see below)
1 leek, white and light green parts only, quartered, washed
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp finely minced parsley, divided
Lemon wedges
Note:  I used a combination of chanterelle and oyster mushrooms to save money.  Chanterelle's are $15/pound and oyster's are $6/pound. 

  • Drain and rinse barley, place in a 5 quart sauce pan and cover with plenty of filtered water.  Add 1 tsp kosher salt, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about one hour until kernels are tender and have puffed open.  Drain and rinse really well under cool water.  Shake to remove excess liquid and set aside.
  • Cut radicchio into quarters or eighths leaving the core intact.  Place radicchio wedges in a casserole dish and drizzle with 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive, salt and pepper.  Turn to coat wedges on all sides and let marinate for about 15 minutes.
  • Heat a grill pan or saute pan medium-high and cook radicchio until lightly charred and caramelized.  Remove from pan, let cool, cut off core and chop into 1-2" pieces.  Set aside.  
  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Using a damp paper towel remove any dirt from mushrooms and shred into pieces.  
  • Toss mushrooms with 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Roast in the oven for about five minutes until soft and lightly golden brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Heat a large saute pan on medium-low heat, and add 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, leeks, minced garlic, thyme and salt and pepper.  Cook for about 4 minutes until leeks are soft, stirring to prevent garlic from burning.  
  • Deglaze with white wine and vegetable stock and cook until almost all liquid is reduced.
  • Add cooked barley, roasted mushrooms, grilled radicchio, 1 tbsp minced parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring to combine, until the ingredients are heated through and fully combined.
  • Just before serving toss in toasted hazelnuts and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  
  • Place in a serving bowl and garnish with fresh parsley.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin-Sage Soup with Apple Cider Cream

The first time I ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner on my own was for my soon to be in-laws in their tiny 9x7 kitchen with no counter space.  Saying that I was "stressed" was an understatement.  I think my husband used the term "manic".  I'm not certain if my personality shined and made a good impression on them that day, but thankfully my food did.  And every Thanksgiving since, my husband compares my cooking to the first time--his all-time favorite.      


The big hit of my Thanksgiving dinner was my pumpkin soup--the centerpiece of the table.  I think that they were all quite surprised when I placed a large pumpkin on the table and started ladling soup into their bowls.  For some reason, I haven't made pumpkin soup since for Thanksgiving, but plan to this year.  

We're planning on having a small gathering of only four people for Thanksgiving and so I plan to use individual roasted "sugar pie" pumpkins for bowls.  Now, I don't recommend using the individual pumpkins if you're having a large group of people because it would be very time consuming to carve out each pumpkin.  So go with either one large pumpkin, or skip the pumpkin altogether and ladle it into the soup bowls and garnish.  Regardless of how you serve it, this soup will be delicious and make a beautiful presentation for your guests.

Soup Ingredients:
(Serves 6-8)

2 14oz cans of organic pumpkin puree
1 medium/large yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
1 1/4 cup sparkling cider, I used Martinelli's
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock, I used Rapunzel Vegan Bouillon
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Note:  If you plan to use individual pumpkins, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Rub pumpkins with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-40 minutes until just tender.  Let cool, cut off top and scoop out seeds.

  • In a large dutch oven or pot, heat olive oil on medium-low heat.  Add sliced onions and garlic and cook until tender.
  • Deglaze with sparkling cider and cook until most liquid is absorbed and onions are sweet and creamy.
  • Add pumpkin puree, sage, 5-6 cups vegetable stock and salt and pepper to taste.  I prefer a thinner soup, but if you like it thicker, add less stock.  Also, as the soup cooks and sits, it will thicken on its own.
  • Stir to combine and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes for flavors to combine.
  • Place soup in a blender and blend on high until smooth, adding more stock if necessary to reach the desired consistency.
  • For additional sweetness add a little more apple cider if needed.
  • Ladle soup into prepared pumpkins or soup bowls and garnish with fried sage leaves, apple cider cream and minced sage.  Pass additional cider cream to your guests--it's totally yummy!
Apple Cider Cream:

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight
Sparkling cider to cover.

  • Drain cashews and place in a blender.  Cover with sparkling cider just to cover nuts and blend on high for about four minutes until creamy.  Strain and chill until ready to use.
For the fried sage leaves, heat a small amount of olive oil in a saute plan, add leaves and cook on both sides for about 1 minute or less.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Apple-Almond-Cranberry Crisp

I never know what to call this it a crisp, a crumble or a cobbler?  Whatever you want to call's really good.  I named mine a crisp because apples are crisp and so is autumn, but it could easily be called a crumble because of the crumbly topping.  Anyway, nothing could be easier to serve for dessert for Thanksgiving.  The topping can be prepped the day before and stored in a container and so all you need to do the morning of is slice your apples and assemble.  Later on while everyone is feasting on the main course, pop it in the oven and bake until bubbly and golden brown.  For a more elegant presentation you can portion out the recipe into individual ramekins.  You'll just need to adjust the cooking time though since the ramekins will cook much quicker.

I tried making this with agave and maple syrup to make it healthier, but it just doesn't have the same flavor as using sugar and brown sugar.  I also used whole wheat pastry crust for the topping, but I still prefer using unbleached white flour.  It's a good thing that Thanksgiving is celebrated only once a year--so enjoy it--just don't go back for seconds!

(Serves 8-10)

6 large organic Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup unfiltered sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup apple cider or sparkling apple cider

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Peel, core and slice apples about 1/4" thick (about 12 slices per apple).
  • Place in a small bowl and toss with sugar, brown sugar and spices.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes to macerate and then add dried cranberries.
  • Place in a large casserole dish and set aside.

Crisp Topping

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup raw almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unfiltered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 sticks Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, melted and slightly cooled

  • Toast almonds in the oven for about 5 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.  Let cool and coarsely chop.
  • Melt butter in the microwave or on the stove over low heat until just melted and set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl, add all ingredients (except for butter) and toss well to combine.
  • Using a fork, gradually stir in butter until crumbly, breaking up large pieces.  You may or may not use all of the butter.  You want the flour to be well-coated.
  • Add topping evenly over apples and bake in the oven until bubbly and golden brown.  Depending on your oven, bake 50-70 minutes, turning every 20 minutes.  You may need to cover the casserole dish with foil to prevent the top from browning too much.  If using small ramekins, fill them 3/4 full (about 1 cup), add 1 tbsp apple cider and top with 1/3 cup of topping and bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly.
  • Serve with your favorite non-dairy ice cream and a dusting of powdered sugar.