Thursday, April 20, 2017

Whole Grain Pumpkin Waffles

Waffle irons, I fear, get a bad rap. People see them as the sort of item one asks for in a fit of alimentary idealism, only to leave them languishing, barely used, on a high and dusty shelf.

The problem, I've come to realize, is a lack of pumpkin. If you put pumpkin in the waffles, the iron doesn't languish, on account of the fact that there was pumpkin in your waffles and you cannot stop thinking about them.

Don't believe me? Try making these. You'll see. 

2 eggs, divided
Scant 1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 tbsp melted butter
3/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 pinches ground cloves
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 grain pancake and waffle mix
3/4 cups water
3-4 drops vanilla extract

Combine the egg yolks, pumpkin, melted butter, and spices in a large bowl. Add the waffle mix, mashing with a fork to distribute the wet ingredients equally. Slowly add 3/4 cups water, mashing as needed to get out any lumps. Stir in the vanilla.

Preheat your waffle iron to medium high (setting 4 on a Cuisinart Belgian Waffle Iron).

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites till stiff, then gently fold them into the batter.

Pour the batter according to waffle iron directions (I do just under 1 1/2 cups) and cook until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Serve hot, with maple syrup. Marvel at the crispy outside and fluffy inside. Try to share with your table mates. Plan your next waffle adventure, keeping in mind that lunch is a perfectly reasonable time for an encore.

Serves 2-3.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Best Ever Chicken Soup with Vegetables

I caught a cold last week and decided enough was enough—it was time to conquer chicken soup. Here's what resulted from a stubborn determination to make something unexpected enough to hold my foggy-brained, taste-dampened interest for an entire bowl of delicious.

6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, peeled and scored
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
Olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise and rinsed well
3-4 stalks celery
4 carrots
2 medium parsnips
1/2 bulb fennel (or 1-2 bulbs baby fennel)
3-4 thin slices fresh ginger, julienned
2/3 cups pink rice (or sub red or brown rice, or whole wheat orzo)
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the broth in a soup pot until it simmers. Add the garlic and chicken breasts and simmer 8 minutes (until tender and no longer pink). Remove pot from the heat, uncover, and let cool with the chicken sitting in the broth for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the leeks, halve the celery stalks lengthwise and slice thinly, slice the carrots, and cut the parsnips into similarly sized pieces. Slice up enough of the fennel bulb so that you have equal parts carrot, parsnip, and fennel.

Heat a wide, deep pan over medium heat. When hot, add a glug or two of olive oil, then add the leeks and a pinch or two of salt. Sauté the leeks, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, turning the heat down to low after the first couple of minutes. Add the celery, carrot, parsnip, fennel, and ginger, and turn the heat back up to medium. Continue sautéing another 7-10 minutes or until veggies are al dente, adding a bit more olive oil as needed.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the pot and place on a cutting board. Cover the pot and bring the broth back to a simmer, then add the rice and simmer for 20 minutes or however long it says on the package (brown rice will probably take 30 minutes).

While the rice is simmering, shred the chicken into pieces with a fork. Fish out the garlic cloves from the broth, mash them, and stir back in.

3 minutes before the rice is done, add the veggies, chicken, and about half of the parsley. Stir to combine and continue to simmer. Adjust salt to taste.

Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley and freshly ground pepper.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Roasted Beets and Radishes with Caramelized Fennel

This is an easy, gorgeous side dish that's full of delicious. The radishes and fennel balance out the sweetness of the beets. You can cut up the veggies into any size you want—just keep the pieces at approximately the same size so that they cook at about the same pace.

3-4 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2"-1" chunks
3-4 carrots, cut into similarly sized pieces
1 bunch radishes, scrubbed, trimmed, and halved
1 small bulb fennel, cut into pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil, then toss in the beets and carrots. Stir to coat evenly, then roast for 20 minutes.

Remove veggies from the oven, add radishes and fennel, and drizzle with a little more olive oil if the mixture seems at all dry. Toss everything gently, then replace in the oven for another 20 minutes. Stir once more, then roast again for 10-20 minutes or until the different veggies are tender when you pierce them with a fork.

Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Winter Watercress Salad with Mandarins and Pomegranate

Happy 2017, fellow foodies! Let's raise our virtual glasses to bringing people together around food and friendship in the new year.

Meanwhile, here's an easy yet delectable way to fancy up a wintry dinner plate that tastes as crisp and clean as fresh fallen snow. And some fresh fallen snow, for good measure.

1 bunch watercress
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and diced
1 pomegranate, seeded
Olive oil
Meyer lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together a couple glugs of olive oil, the zest and juice of half the Meyer lemon, a pinch of salt, and some black pepper to form a vinaigrette.

Cut the root part off the watercress if needed so that you're left with the leaves and stems. Rinse well and dry gently.

Lightly coat the watercress with vinaigrette (I do this by gently dunking half the watercress in the vinaigrette and then lifting it back out, and gently distributing the dressing through the whole bunch with my fingertips so that the watercress is still all laying in the same direction.)

Arrange the watercress onto plates, and top with oranges and plenty of pomegranate seeds.

Serves 2-4.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mulligatawny Soup

This hearty stew is the perfect complement to a wintry day. Don't let the length of the ingredients list fool you...this recipe is one of those dice-a-few-things, simmer-for-awhile affairs that's simple to throw together and easy to size up for company or leftovers.

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, pressed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 orange sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 ½ tbsp grated fresh ginger
½ can diced tomatoes (Muir Glen fire roasted if possible)
3/4 cups red lentils, picked through carefully for stones and rinsed
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp good-quality curry powder
½ tsp ground cumin + an extra dash
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp sweet paprika
¼ tsp ground cinnamon + an extra dash
¼ tsp dried thyme + an extra pinch
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsp coconut milk, plus extra for drizzling
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter with the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté about three minutes. Add the garlic, carrot, and sweet potato, and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, for about seven minutes more until the onion is browned here and there.

Stir in the apples, ginger, tomatoes, and all the spices and continue to cook for a couple minutes more. Add the lentils and broth, stir once, and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Check that the veggies are tender, stir in the peanut butter, and turn off the heat.

Use an immersion blender to purée about half the soup (or decant half into a blender and pour it back again) to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the coconut milk. It's fine if it sits for a bit at this point; reheat if necessary before serving.

Serve warm, drizzled with a spoonful of coconut milk and garnished with chopped cilantro.

Serves 4.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Apple Pancakes with Ginger and Lemon

Sometimes, the world needs more pancakes.

Here's my go-to recipe these days...the secret to amazing fluffiness seems to be butter + pumpkin puree (rather than oil) and beating the egg whites separately. Plus you can customize them to the season. Pumpkin and chocolate-chip, anyone?

Ingredients for Apple-Ginger Pancakes
2 eggs, divided
1 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp canned pumpkin purée
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 grain pancake mix
1 apple, diced
1 carrot, grated
2 pinches Meyer lemon zest
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

Summer Strawberry
2 eggs, divided
1.5 tbsp melted butter
1.5 tbsp smashed strawberry
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 grain pancake mix
1 cup diced strawberries
2 pinches Meyer lemon zest
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip
2 eggs, divided
4 tbsp canned pumpkin purée
1 tbsp melted butter
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 grain pancake mix
Dash or two of cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
2 tbsp chocolate chips
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the egg yolks, pumpkin (or mashed strawberry), and melted butter in a large bowl. Add pancake mix, mashing with a fork to distribute the wet ingredients equally. Slowly add 3/4 cups water, mashing as necessary to get out the lumps. Stir in the rest of the ingredients that follow on the list.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites till stiff, then gently fold them into the pancake batter.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. When hot, add a little pat of butter and move it around with a spatula to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add batter by the 1/4 cup. After a minute or two, the edges of the pancakes will start to look dry; that's usually a good sign that they are golden brown on the bottom and ready to flip. Cook until both sides are golden, then remove from the heat and place in a folded-over piece of aluminum foil to stay warm (you can also stick them in the oven, if you're doubling the recipe and cooking will take awhile).

Serve warm, with maple syrup for drizzling.

Serves 2-3.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Easy Cucumber Gazpacho

There were cucumbers again in my CSA box this week. At first, my heart sank. Cucumbers again? There are only so many Greek salads one can eat in a summer, after all. And who knows what else to do with a billion cucumbers. Cucumber sandwiches for a small army? Vegetable carving? Gazpacho?


This recipe was made by breeding this one with this one. The result is rather gorgeous: The avocado provides a subtle creaminess that elevates the whole thing from normal to dreamy.

Make it. It's insanely easy and insanely delicious, and how often do those two things go hand in hand?

3-4 scallions, white and light green parts, cut into pieces
1 small clove garlic, pressed
2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into a few pieces
(if you have oddly sized CSA box cucumbers, just estimate roughly about how many you'd need to make up an average-sized, supermarket cucumber)
5-6 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 red gypsy pepper or 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into a few pieces
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch cayenne if you'd like a bit of spice
Chives (optional) for garnish

Blend all the ingredients except the chives in a food processor until smooth. Adjust basil, salt, and pepper to taste (you want to be able to taste the basil without it being overpowering. If you can taste the basil but the soup still tastes a little bland, you can turn up the volume with a bit more salt).

Serve immediately or chill until you're ready for it. Just before serving, garnish with snipped chives and a drizzle of high quality olive oil.

Serves 2-4, depending on whether you're going for bowls or smaller cups.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Halibut with French Herbs

Tarragon, it turns out, is a game changer. Apparently you can chop it up with some parsley and chives and use it to make light-yet-buttery, simple-yet-flavorful, swooningly delicious french fare. Who knew? (Probably the French. But I didn't. You would think, in a fair world, that some people would get life-altering croissants and others would get tarragon, but no, the French got both. Until now. Or maybe it was years ago, when non-French people noticed tarragon but didn't tell me. Regardless, if you need me, I'll be over here, gazing adoringly at my new leafy green obsession.)

½ - ¾ lbs wild halibut (enough for two)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Stone ground whole wheat flour

2 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine
1 ½ tbsp butter
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

(Goes well over black Forbidden rice—sauté a little chopped shallot until soft, then add the rice and water and cook according to package directions.)

Sprinkle the halibut on both sides with kosher salt and a little freshly ground black pepper, then lightly flour on both sides. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and white wine in a small dish.

Heat a nonstick or ceramic pan over medium heat. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then add the fish to the pan and fry for a few minutes on each side, until just before the inside is cooked through (I always cut into the middle after it's lightly browned on both sides to get a sense of how much longer it has to cook...nobody will ever know if you serve it with the cut face down or with sauce over the top.) 

When the fish is almost but not quite cooked through, serve immediately over rice (it will keep cooking on the plate from the heat of the rice).

Immediately after serving the fish, replace the pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter, let it melt, then add the lemon-wine mixture. Wait 10 seconds for the alcohol to steam off, then add the capers and a pinch of salt, and turn off the heat. Add the herbs, stir a couple times, then spoon over the fish.

Serve immediately.

Serves 2. Pairs very well with sautéed leeks and baby kale and a French white.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mostly Plants for Happy Hour

Given the existence of a liqueur made from 130 herbs, plants, and flowers, it was surely only a matter of time before this blog incorporated a happy hour. Introducing Trip the Light Plantastic, a summer cocktail made of (what else?) mostly plants, including juniper (gin), green chartreuse (there's the 130 herbs, plants, and flowers), mint, lime, and cucumber. Or stone fruit. Or whatever else strikes your produce-happy muddling fancy. In addition to its pun-based name, it also answers to "ooh, yes please," "one more over here," and "what was that drinky thing you made with the cucumber?"

Note: If you like your drinks on the sweeter side, go for the berry version below at peak berry season when they're super sweet and ripe, and aim for more berries rather than fewer. If you're not a fan of sweet drinks, head for any of the other versions.

Ingredients per drink:
1 shot gin
1/2 shot green chartreuse
5 mint leaves, muddled
1/2 shot lime juice or a bit less
1.5 - 2 shots club soda
and then choose your own adventure:

Cool Cucumber:
   2 sliced cucumber, muddled
Summer Stone Fruit:
   1/2 an apricot or 1/4 nectarine, muddled
   1 peel of Meyer lemon zest (use a carrot peeler)
Berry Blend:
   2-4 strawberries and/or blackberries, muddled
   1 peel of Meyer lemon or orange zest (use a carrot peeler)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint and the cucumber or fruit together, then add the lime juice, gin, and chartreuse. Clink in 2-3 ice cubes and shake vigorously until icy.

Serve into cold glasses on the rocks (an oversized ice cube or scotch rock works particularly well, so that the drink doesn't get diluted as the ice melts). Add club soda to desired level of dilution...I like my drinks strong, so I tend to add 1 1/2 shots of club soda to each glass here, but feel free to up the club soda to taste.

Add garnish as desired—cucumber slices if you're doing the cucumber version, citrus zest if you are doing a fruit version—and serve immediately.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Chimichurri Sauce

Sometimes dinner should be simple. And recyclable throughout the week. And delicious. It is in these sorts of cases that one wishes for a magical sauce that could somehow manifest itself out of a handful of ingredients tossed in a blender, and complement just about anything.

Oh look, here's one now.

Serve this over grilled skirt steak, peppers, and summer squash. Or toss it with a farro and arugula salad with some summer cherry tomatoes. Or drizzle it over fancy tacos. Or scramble it into your eggs. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

2 small to medium cloves garlic
2 tbsp chopped shallot
1 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley or a bit more
1/3-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cups olive oil
1/3 cup sherry vinegar

Combine the garlic, shallot, parsley, and basil in a food processor; blend until finely chopped. Add the other ingredients and blend well.

Taste to make sure you can identify parsley, basil, and black pepper (if not, add a bit more of that ingredient and try again). If the sauce tastes bland right at the beginning, add a little more shallot and/or garlic. If you can taste everything but it feels like the taste is too muted, you can turn the volume up by adding another pinch or two of salt. (But don't worry too much—it's going to taste good no matter what you do at this point.)

Store in the fridge for up to a week. Makes about 1.25 cups (if you're making the recipe below, you'll probably want about an eighth of a cup per person).

For skirt steak and grilled veggies:
Sprinkle a skirt steak generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Slice zucchinis lengthwise into quarter-inch strips (err on the thicker rather than thinner side); cut bell peppers lengthwise into halves or thirds and scrape out the seeds. Brush the veggies with olive oil.

Grill veggies on a grill in the 350-450° range until nicely browned and tender. Grill skirt steak 6-9 minutes total or until just before desired doneness (it will cook a little more on the plate but not much, since it's so thin). Drizzle everything in chimichurri for maximum deliciousness. Pairs wonderfully with a Malbec or a Mourvedre. And if you're feeling fancy, you can add this salad.