Caraway Carrot Sticks

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Preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a plastic bag, toss 1 TBSP of corn starch, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tsp of caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 pound of baby carrots. Shake until they are completely covered. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes.

I served on a bed of baby spinach and spring mix lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar. I liked the way the caraway, the little olive oil, the salt worked with the salad. Makes two large servings.

Wow,  caraway and carrot is delicious. The caraway balances the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of roasted carrot perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Melts by Fern Green, a cookbook I am currently reading. I used baby carrots and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and served on a salad. Otherwise the recipe is the same. She served it as a side with a sandwich melt…but I am out of bread. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea.

Vegan Yam and Pear Soup

 

Put 3 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot on a medium low burner. Add 1 TBSP of cinnamon, 1 tsp of allspice, salt, pepper and heat until the aroma rises. Add 2 TBSP of chopped ginger, and I know that is a lot, but ginger is what we need to make this a savory soup, not a dessert soup. Ginger and onions, which come next. Add 1 yellow onion, chopped coarsely. It’s all going to be pureed in the end, so don’t bother chopping fine. Sauté until onions are soft and transparent.

Peel 8 small yams and cut into uniformly sized chunks, about 2 inches square. Toss into the pot with 32 oz. of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of your chunks. Test with a fork.

Peel 4 pears, remove the stem, and chop into pieces and add to the pot. Cook for 15 more minutes. Add 32 oz. of unsweetened coconut beverage. Let cool and puree using a Magic Bullet, blender, or immersion blender.

I used 5 slices of fresh pear (one sunk) and a couple baby spinach leaves to garnish. I was going for the artistically pleasing Rule of Five, but one did not cooperate. I suppose if I were a super arty food blogger, I would make another bowl, but that seems silly for this blog.

This makes a smooth soup that is about the consistency of a canned tomato soup, but the similarities end there. It is so good, it is not the least bit sweet, but tastes of yam and pear and these deep aromatic spices with a little bit of heat that lingers from the ginger. It is not the least bit sweet despite the pears. The ginger and allspice are important in grounding the flavor on the savory side. If you don’t have allspice, you could use nutmeg or cardamom. It’s also kind of addictive and from spoon-licking from when I served it up to reheat, I can tell you, it’s actually pretty good cold, too. It was tasty last night, but today’s its flavor is richer. This is no single-serving. It makes 4 quarts of soup, which was nice to send some home with friends and to save for lunches this week.

The unsweetened coconut beverage is in a white unlabelled box with the ingredients stamped on it for Oregon Food Bank. This product from Pacific Foods matches the ingredients in type and order of quantity.

Everything but the olive oil and spices came from the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share program. Harvest Share is a program that provides fresh produce to low-income Portlanders through the Oregon Food Bank. This is a big contrast with regular food bank products which are dependent on donations and tend to focus on nonperishable carbs like rice, pasta, beans, bread, and crackers. It’s a fabulous program that I wish were available across the country because fresh produce is expensive and many food banks simply do not get enough donated, and what is donated is often well past its prime.

 

 

Breakfast Tostada with Kale, Eggs, and Lemon

This took less than five minutes to make. I heated two pans on the stove, one set at about 4/10 and the other at 6/10 on the heat dial, a low and a high medium. In the low medium, I added no oil at all. I put about 1/4 of a small onion cut in thin slices and about 1 cup of chopped kale, chopped up. I added a bit of salt and pepper and a few red pepper flakes. I squeezed the juice from half a lemon on it and let it cook. I did not want it to get overly cooked, just warmed.

When the kale was about half done, I melted 1/4 tsp of butter in the other pan and cracked an egg in the melted butter. I added salt and pepper, and let it cook for a minute.

I put the tostada on a plate, spooned the kale and onions on the tostada, then I flipped the egg for a few seconds and placed the egg on top of the kale. When eating, I broke the yolk right away so it blended with the kale and onions. The kale alone tastes too strongly of the lemon juice until you mix the egg yolk…and then it’s a perfect lemony sauce .

This is a pleasant mix of textures, soft creamy eggs, crunchy tostada and soft, but still toothsome veggies. The egg yolk and lemon are a light and creamy sauce for the salty tostada and the sharp onions and slightly bitter kale. It’s fast, easy, and delicious.

Southwest Cole Slaw

Salad

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 1 small head of red cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 10 carrots, in ¼ in strips
  • 8 tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced fine and chopped

Dressing: Drop everything in a blender or magic bullet and blend

  • 6 limes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce

The cabbage should be chopped first and left in a colander, salted to bring out the liquid so the slaw does not turn watery. Wring the cabbage out after it has sat for 30-45 minutes. Then add the carrots, onions, and tomatillos. Mix. Add dressing and shake to distribute dressing over the entire slaw. Do not serve for at least 30 minutes so the flavors begin to marry.

This is a very light, fresh cole slaw. Despite the Sriracha and the ginger, it is not that hot. It just has a bit of zing. The tomatillos add a tartness that is fabulous and there is the layer of lime that is right there, adding that citrusy note but it not bitter. I chopped everything very small to make it work well on sandwiches or even dropped into a bowl of chili or soup. There is just enough dressing to coat the veggies and soak in a bit, but not enough to leave a layer of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, so it does not saturate the bread and when you sauté it with some pasta or rice, it does not add a lot of oil.

This is a big batch. It made 4 quarts of cole slaw and I gave half to my best friend who went with me to Harvest Share. However, the thing with cole slaw that does not have a creamy dressing, that has no buttermilk, yogurt, mayo, or sour cream, is that it will last for several days…which means it is there for several meals and there is nothing more versatile.

 

Shakshouka with Tomatillos

Yesterday I got about 5 pounds of tomatillos from Harvest Share. I had eaten them before but never cooked with them. Last night I made a quick stir fry with them that was tasty. Seeing how they cooked, I wondered if they might work for a shakshouka. No harm in trying, right? Well, I tried it. I liked it. I will make it again. Shakshouka made with tomatillos is very different, but still very good.

To make the shakshouka, I heated my pan to medium, added 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of red chili flakes to my dry cast iron man and let them toast for a couple minutes, just long enough to make the air fragrant. I then added 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, and 2 cloves of garlic and sautéed until the onions were tender and turning transparent.

While they cooked, I chopped up 6 small tomatillos. I added the chopped tomatillos and let everything simmer until the tomatillos cooked down. I squeezed juice from one lime to make it zing. After about 10 minutes, I added 1 cup of water and stirred.

When the tomatillos were broken down into a sauce, I cracked four eggs on top to let them poach. To be on the safe side, you can crack your eggs into a small bowl and slide them into the liquid to avoid breakage. I find that if I crack them on a flat surface, I don’t break the yolks and I don’t get shells falling into the dish either. Add some salt and pepper to the eggs.

I let them poach for a few minutes, covering them for the last minute to make sure they cook thoroughly, though not so the yolks get hard.

So this made four servings, or two with 2 eggs. There is a delicious tartness to this shakshouka. There’s gentle heat from the pepper flakes and some delicious umami from the the eggs. It was delicious and I will definitely make it again.

Carrot Salad

I made a sandwich using a delicious carrot salad. The sandwich is definitely not vegan, but the salad is. I ate it both as a salad and as a sandwich slaw. It worked great for both.

4 carrots, peeled and sliced using the peeler into lots of thin strips

8 green onions, chopped into small pieces.

Mix together with 1 TBSP of olive oil and 2 TBSP of rice vinegar,

Add salt, pepper, and a tsp of red pepper flakes. Cover and shake. Store in the fridge overnight for the flavors to soak into the carrots.

It’s a bright and tart salad. Carrots are sweet, so they balance the heat of the red pepper flakes and the tart vinegar and the bite of the onions beautifully. They add a nice bit of crunch and freshness to this sandwich.

Grits with Red Chard & Egg

So, you can make grits ahead of time if you like and even make a big batch of grits in advance, or you can make a single batch for just this dish.

Today, I made one serving, so I brought 1 cup of water with a dash of salt to a boil and added 1/4 cup of corn grits. Stir the grits in the boiling water for a couple minutes and then cover, turning heat down low for 15 minutes. If your pan is thin, check on it and stir frequently. If you have a big thick pot, you can just leave it and it will be cooked to perfection without sticking.

About 10 minutes before serving, heat a tsp of olive oil in a small pan. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of anise and warm in the oil, add salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup chopped onions and sauté until tender. Chop 1 cup of red chard, add when the onions are tender. Sauté lightly for
a minute or two then add 1 TBSP of rice vinegar. Let cook.

Poach an egg. You can either drop it in boiling water that you swirl to make centrifugal force keep it together or you can poach it in a microwave. Add about 1/2 cup of water to a bowl. Crack you egg into the bowl. It must be submerged under the water, but to be on the save kid, prick it with a toothpick or the tip of a knife anyway so it does not explode. . Cover the bowl with a plate. Microwave for about a minute. Keep an eye on it, sometimes it will be done in 40 seconds, sometimes a minute. I have poached dozens of eggs in the microwave and each egg seems to need their own time somewhere between 40 and 80 seconds.

Spoon the grits in the bottom of a bowl. Add the cooked chard, Place the egg on top. The yolk mixes with the vinegar and oil of the veggies into the luscious creamy, tangy dressing with the perfect blend of heat and bright tang.

English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches

One of my favorite things about English Muffins is that they are the perfect size to hold one egg in a sandwich. An easy breakfast can be made by toasting an English Muffin and cooking an egg your favorite way. For me, I like a fried egg best, so that’s what I make. But what about adding a little extra to your sandwich. In the sandwich I made yesterday, I put some butter down on a medium cast iron skillet. I cooked my egg in the center, on one side, I cooked a small handful of spinach. On the other side, I toasted the English muffin, melting some thinly sliced Havarti cheese on it. Put the muffins on first, then the egg, then the spinach. To keep the egg from spreading out too far, I put it in a metal one cup measuring cup and  flip it on the griddle, leaving the cup in place. It holds the egg in place pretty well. You can also cut both ends off a can of tuna or cat food, and use it as a shaper to keep the size right.  The creamy Havarti is a perfect complement to the umami of the spinach.

This morning I made another sandwich. I started with the tomatoes first. I put 8 grape tomatoes in a small pan on medium. I did not add oil at first because I wanted a bit of char….it deepens the flavor and I always like a little char anyway. Meanwhile I heated my skillet for the egg, melting some butter in the center where I would cook it. When the first tomato burst, I put the egg on to cook with a dash of salt and pepper, put the English muffin in the toaster. Then I started to finish the tomato sauce. I added 2 tsp of olive oil, 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and then zested some lemon on top. When the muffin was done, I flipped the egg to cook the other side slightly, put it on the muffin. I then squeezed about 1 TBSP of lemon juice on the tomatoes and stirred. I spooned the cooked tomatoes on the other side of the muffin. It was delicious. The tomato sauce is rich in flavor, sweet with some heat and tartness and of course, the over easy egg added a creamy richness. Yum!

Roasted Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash and peel 1 pound of fresh, raw carrots. Cut into approximately 2 inch long pieces. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast about 30 minutes, turning once so they brown a bit on both sides.

About 15 minutes before the carrots are done, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until transparent, about five minutes.

Crush two garlic cloves and toss in to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add one can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and  4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Remove the carrots from the oven and add to the soup. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool and puree in a blender, Magic Bullet, or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drain 2 cans of cooked black beans. Strain and rinse the beans with water. Add to the soup and stir in gently. Cook on low heat about five minutes, until beans are done.

Serve. You could top with parsley, if you have it. Cilantro or pumpkin seeds would be delicious, too. Some red pepper flakes would heat it up if you dare. You could also add a dollop of sour cream, but then it would not be vegan. Makes 10 cups of soup.

This is a delicious blend of heat from the tomatoes and chiles and the rich, deep sweetness of the carrots with a bit of smokiness from the roasting. It’s delicious.

Smoky Split Pea Soup

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So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.