Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cheesy Rice with Chicken and Green Beans

This is easy comfort food, born of leftovers. Feel free to mix it up with other vegetables - cooked broccoli, cauliflower, or summer squash would be obvious substitutes for the green beans. You can, of course, make rice and chicken specifically for this dish if you like. It lends itself to having the ingredients made ahead.

2 Tbsp butter
2 large shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
6-7 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
3-4 cups cooked chicken
3-4 cups cooked green beans in 1-inch lengths
4 ounces shredded cheddar, or to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the shallot or onion and saute over medium high heat for a couple minutes. Add the rice and the chicken broth. Mix well to thoroughly combine and moisten the rice. Reduce heat to low-medium and cover the pan. Cook until the liquid is largely absorbed and the rice is quite tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the rice has absorbed most of the broth, stir in the chicken and green beans and continue to cook until heated through. Add the cheddar. You can sprinkle it over the top and let it melt or stir it in.

Serves about 6.

Vietnamese Kale and Tomatoes

Lots of kale - and tomatoes - coming in from the garden these days. Here's a quick and easy combination of the two that is a little different from the usual. And did you know that a few Valley farmers actually grow ginger here? I got some fresh Lionsville Farm recently.

Canola oil
3-4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
6-8 cups chopped kale leaves
1/2 - 1 tsp fish sauce

Heat a little canola oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and ginger and saute over medium high heat until fragrant, about a minute or so. Add the tomatoes and saute for another couple minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted. Add fish sauce to taste and serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Low and Slow Roasted Plum Tomatoes

There are many different approaches to making and using roasted tomatoes. Here's another one, optimal for plum tomatoes - small to medium sized and not excessively juicy. The result is excellent ground or pureed into a pasty sauce and applied to pasta, roasted meat, or vegetables. Alternatively, you can freeze the roasted tomatoes for later use.

4-6 cups plum tomatoes or similar
Good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper
Dried herbs: optional

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and core and seed. Spread them out cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. You may wish to line it with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Drizzle the tomatoes generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, generously but not to excess. If desired, you may also sprinkle with one or more dried herbs: basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, and/or thyme would all work well.

Roast the tomatoes for an hour, or a bit longer if they are on the large side. When they are done, they will have mostly collapsed and slightly caramelized; they will still be somewhat moist but not juicy,

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Thai Salad with Peanut Lime Dressing

This salad is a medley of shredded vegetables with a tangy, peanut-y dressing. Add any type of cooked meat, or broiled or fried tofu, to make it a main dish.  I used leftover pork, but chicken or steak - especially if grilled - would be great, too.

2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 medium summer squash, shredded
1 medium cucumber, shredded
2 medium carrots, shredded
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or Thai basil, or mint, or a combination)
3 cups cooked meat or tofu
1/2 cup toasted peanuts
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 tsp fish sauce
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp minced ginger
Water as needed

Cheesy Summer Squash with Bacon

This was an inspired variation on my standard Cheesy Summer Squash Saute on a night when I had lots of squash, and an open package of bacon, but no basil on hand. The addition of bacon, along with the cheese, makes this substantial enough to serve as a main dish if you like.

4-6 ounces uncooked bacon, chopped small
1 large onion, sliced
3-4 large summer squashes or zucchinis, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (or half or quarter rounds)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Cook the bacon most of the way in a large skillet. Pour off excess fat if there is a lot, leaving a generous amount for sauteing the onions and squash.

Add the onions and squash to the pan and saute over high heat for a few minutes, until they begin to brown on the bottom, then lower the heat to medium and saute, stirring periodically, until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from heat and top with cheese. Cover until the cheese melts. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Potato Salad with White Beans and Herbs

This is another simple salad where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It disappeared very quickly at the table. I used a mix of parsley and basil for the herbs, which worked well, but you could also try dill, mint, or oregano.

1 pint new potatoes (ideally small ones)
2-3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1-2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini (or one can)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces if needed (leave the skin on). Boil then in a pot of salted water until tender but not too soft. Drain.

Combine the vinegar and olive oil and carefully dress the potatoes, ensuring they are all well coated but not mashing them. Refrigerate until cool.

Combine the cooled potatoes with the beans and herbs and toss gently to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves about 4.

Chickpea Feta Salad with Dill

I got some great aged feta from Upinngil Farm that I used in this salad. Regular feta would work well, too, but I liked that the aged feta was firm enough to dice and had a slightly milder flavor. This salad is simple but hearty, satisfying, and delicious. It can form the basis for a good hot weather dinner when paired with one or more additional salads or alongside some bread, salami, and olives.

3 cups cooked chickpeas
4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small dice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, or more to taste
2-3 tsp lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Garlicky Chard with Eggs and Bacon

I had this giant batch of rainbow chard in my fridge than had been sitting there for multiple weeks begging to be used. This was delicious. You can use the stems or not, your choice. Feel free to swap in cooked sausage for the bacon (chorizo would be especially excellent). Do top with hot sauce if you can stand a bit of heat - it really makes the dish.

Canola oil, butter, or bacon fat for the pan
1/2 - 1 cup finely chopped scapes (or several garlic cloves)
1 large bunch chard (1 - 1 1/2 lbs) leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
1 Tbsp cider vinegar, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped cooked bacon
8 eggs
Hot sauce for topping

If you cook the bacon specifically for this dish, save a bit of the fat in the pan to saute with. Otherwise use a bit of oil or butter.

Saute the scapes in a large skillet or braising pan over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the chard and saute until wilted. Add the vinegar and continue to saute the chard until tender. Stir in salt and pepper to taste, then add the bacon.

Make wells in the chard for the eggs. Add a bit more oil, butter or fat to each well to help keep the egg from sticking. Crack an egg into each well. With the heat on medium, cover the pan and cook until the egg white are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Serve hot, scooping out an egg or two with plenty of chard for each diner. Add hot sauce at the table if you like heat.

Serves about 4.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Quick Pickled Radishes

With the heat, our radishes are bolting and turning spicy faster than we can use them fresh. I love the quick pickled radishes that the Brass Buckle uses on many of its dishes so I thought I'd try making some at home. These are not for canning, but they are quick to make and will keep in the refrigerator for some time. I made these with cider vinegar and they were good, but I want to try them another time with white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar. It would also be fun to try jazzing them up by adding herbs to the mixture. Try these in salads, on tacos, or alongside grilled meats. If you like these, try my Quick Pickled Red Onions as well.

Quick pickled radishes are a tasty addition to a green salad
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup vinegar (cider, white wine, or red wine)
3/4 cup hot water
2-3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a jar, making sure the radishes are well covered. Let sit on the counter until cool, then refrigerate.

Steak and Asparagus Scramble with Feta

I waited too long to post this, and asparagus season is over unless you froze some. Oh well, come back to it next year... This is a great vehicle for leftovers. If you don't have leftover cooked asparagus, give it a quick steam or blanch.

1-2 Tbsp butter
8 eggs, beaten
1-2 cups diced cooked asparagus
102 cups diced cooked steak
2-3 ounces crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Mix the eggs with the asparagus, steak, and feta. Add to the skillet and cook over low-medium heat, scrambling the eggs, until the eggs set up. Serve hot with salt and pepper. A nice salad and a loaf of fresh bread wouldn't go amiss.

Serves 4-5.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spring Garlic Butter

Spring garlic, aka green garlic, is what you get when you harvest garlic plants early, before the cloves and bulbs form. It's milder than its mature cousin, and tender enough to use a good portion of the stalk. Some people even use the leaves. Here I've used it for a spring version of classic garlic butter. Super simple, dangerously delicious, excellent over asparagus (or mixed grilled veggies, or steak, or...) Use melted, or let the butter firm up again and use it solid.

2 stalks green garlic, minced
3 Tbsp butter

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the minced green garlic and let it cook briefly in the butter, then remove from heat.

Garlic Roasted Asparagus and Shiitakes

Save this for when it cools down enough to run the oven for a few minutes. Or try it on the grill in a grill basket.

1 - 1 1/2 lbs asparagus, in 2-inch lengths
1/2 lb shiitakes, stemmed and halved if large
6-8 cloves garlic or 1-2 stalks green spring garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss asparagus, shiitakes, and garlic in a mixing bowl with a drizzle of olive oil.Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until veggies are done the way you like them.

Serves about 4.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Brown Rice, Ramp, and Feta Risotto with Spinach and Beans

My kids were so keen on my first brown rice risotto that I had to try another one. You can make just ramp feta risotto part of this as a side dish, or add the spinach, beans, and optional pine nuts for a meal - either served over the risotto or stirred in. This was inspired in by in-season ramps and spinach, plus a nice big block of feta from Upinngil Farm.

Olive oil
1 large shallot, minced (optional)
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, warm
1 bunch ramps, thinly sliced (stalks and leaves, about 2-3 cups total)
3-4 ounces crumbled feta
6-8 ounces spinach, stemmed and chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup pine nuts, lighted toasted (optional but good)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in the pressure cooker. Add the minced shallots, if using, and saute for about a minute. Add the rice and saute over medium heat for a minute or two, until partly translucent. Pour in the warm stock. Cover and lock the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Release pressure. Stir risotto. If needed, simmer for up to several additional minutes, stirring frequently, until the risotto reaches the desired consistency,

While the risotto cooks, heat a little more olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the ramps and saute for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Also while the risotto cooks, saute the spinach in olive oil and add the beans until heated through.

When the risotto is ready, stir in the ramps and feta. If desired, stir in the spinach and bean mixture; otherwise, serve mounts of risotto in bowls or plates and top with spinach and bean mixture. Sprinkle pine nuts on top.

Serves 4-5.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Creamy Gorgonzola Barley with Spinach

Spinach is pretty plentiful now that spring is here. This creamy side dish, which has a texture somewhat like risotto, is strongly flavored by the Gorgonzola. It would go well alongside a grilled steak. Alternatively, add some cooked beans and call it a main dish. A food processor makes quick work of finely chopped the spinach.

1 cup pearl barley
3 cups water
10 ounces spinach (or so), stemmed and chopped very fine
2-3 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or similar blue cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the barley and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, mostly covered, until the barley is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the Gorgonzola until it melts and is evenly distributed, then stir in the spinach. Finely chopped, it should wilt quickly in the heat of the barley. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Brown Rice Risotto with Chorizo, Kale, and Beans

Yes, you can make a passable risotto using brown rice, and doing it in the pressure cooker cuts the cooking time to make it quite reasonable. Feel free to substitute spinach or whatever local greens you can find this time of year.

2 Tbsp butter
2 medium shallot or 1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
3 1/2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock, warm
1 lb chorizo, sliced or crumbled
4-6 cups chopped kale
1 1/2 -2 cups cooked cannelini
 Salt and pepper to taste
3 ounces goat cheese

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the shallot or onion and saute over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and saute for another 2 minutes or so. Add the warm stock and stir. Cover and lock the pot and bring to pressure. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes, then release pressure. Stir the risotto. If needed, continue to simmer over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until any remaining liquid is absorbed and the rice reaches the desired consistency.

While the rice cooks, brown the chorizo in a large skillet. When cooked through, add the kale and saute until tender. Stir in the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

When the risotto is done, stir in the goat cheese. You then have a choice: either stir the chorizo, kale, and beans into the risotto, or serve over top of the rice.

Serves 4-5.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Steamed 'Hard Boiled' Eggs

I learned this trick a couple years ago. For some reason steaming rather than boiling makes the eggs easier to peel. I post it now because I'm about to cook a bunch of eggs for Easter coloring. This works best if you have a steamer basket.

Put about an inch of water in the bottom of a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Place the steamer basket in the pot, then add as many eggs as will fit (or as you want to cook) in a single layer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook for 12 minutes (if using small or very large eggs, you may need to adjust this time up or down).

Remove eggs from heat and cool immediately in ice water unless you want to serve them hot for some reason. Peeling under running water helps keep the job clean by washing away the little bits of shell.

Note: you can make 'soft boiled' eggs this way, too -- just cut the steaming time in half.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

I bought a bit bunch of leeks at the last farmers market. They make a delicious flavor base for this soup. Cock-a-leekie is a traditional Scottish soup, with many variations on the recipe; this is my take on it. You can cook this with bone-in chicken if you like, you just need to take the meat off the bones and discard them before serving. Despite the apparent simplicity of the recipe, this soup is rich in flavor and very warming.

2 Tbsp butter
5-6 fat leeks, thinly sliced
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs or leftover cooked chicken meat
1/2 cup pearl barley
10 prunes, chopped
Chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar (optional, but I like it)

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the sliced leeks and saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat until very tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken, barley, prunes, and enough stock to cover generously. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the barley is tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Scoop the chicken pieces out of the pot and break them up or shred them with a fork, then return to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the white wine vinegar if using.

Serves 4-6.

Chili Coconut Fried Parsnips

Coconut oil pairs really nicely with the parsnips' sweetness, and a bit of chili powder adds some kick.

2 1/2 - 3 lbs parsnips, peeled
3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp chili powder, or taste
Salt to taste

Slice the parsnips into sticks a couple inches long, cutting out the woody cores.

Bring a pot of water (a Dutch oven will do) to a boil and salt it. Boil the parsnips until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Drain.

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet. Add the parsnips and fry over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until nicely golden browned. Sprinkle with chili powder and salt and stir well to coat. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Slow Cooker Smoked Pork Shoulder

I picked up a smoked pork shoulder from Balky Farm on a whim at the last farmers market, and a fortuitous whim it was. This is an extremely simple treatment, but it was addictively delicious. And, of course, the leftovers - in the form of pulled pork - can be used for all kinds of things.

3 lb smoked pork shoulder (or larger)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

Do  not trim the pork before cooking, as the fat will help keep it moist and add flavor (trim after cooking).

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 7-8 hours (a bit longer would probably be fine; this is quite forgiving). Just before serving, remove the should from the slow cooker. Trim off the large pieces of fat and cut up the meat into chunks. Alternatively, shred it with a couple of forks to make pulled pork straightaway.

Serves 4-6.

Thai Peanut Slaw

Spring is here, but we're still eating storage crops. This recipe calls for carrots and celeriac alongside the cabbage, but you could sub in (or add) other root veggies like turnips or winter radishes if you like. Substitute thinly sliced red onion for the scallions if you don't have scallions on hand. And you could garnish with fresh cilantro if you have some.

1 small green cabbage, very thinly sliced
1 small celeriac root, peeled and shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 cup Peanut Sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar

Combine all veggies in a large bowl.

Combine peanut sauce and rice vinegar and stir well. Drizzle over the veggie mixture and toss until all veggies are coated. Refrigerate slaw for at least a few hours and up to a few days. Serve cold or room temperature..

Serves about 8.

Garlicky Coconut Soy Chard

I don't normally get excited about sauteed greens, but these were amazing! My husband and I polished them off and wished for more. You can use the chard stems or not, depending on your preference and their condition. As written, this recipe only serves two, so double or triple it if you are serving a larger group. Substitute kale if you like.

1 Tbsp coconut oil
6-8 cloves garlic
1 medium bunch Swiss chard (about 12 ounces), sliced into ribbons
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Melt the coconut oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic and saute over medium high heat for a minute or two. Add the chard and saute until tender. Drizzle the soy sauce over it and saute another 30 seconds to a minute. Serve hot.

Serves 2.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Maple Balsamic Roasted Squash Wedges

Sweet and tangy, these get a little caramelized on the outside with the maple syrup.

2-3 lbs smallish roundish winter squash
3-4 Tbsp Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds. Cut into wedges approximately 1 inch wide in the middle.

Arrange squash wedges on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure they have plenty of room and do not overlap. Brush liberally with the maple balsamic vinaigrette, both sides.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until squash is tender. Turn over once if desired (not required).

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Kimchi Beef Stew with Kale

With kimchi and leftover cooked pot roast in the fridge, this was so easy, and it was SO GOOD. (Not that my kids touched it, but my  husband and I were in heaven.) Asian Style Pot Roast would be ideal here, but any leftover shredded beef would work as long as the seasonings aren't too strong in another direction.

1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chopped kale leaves
3 cups cooked shredded beef
1 cup kimchi
2-3 cups beef stock
1 Tbsp soy sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper if desired

Heat the sesame oil in a Dutch oven. Add the garlic and kale and saute for 3-5 minutes, until the kale is fairly tender. Add the beef, kimchi, beef stock, and soy sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serves 3-4.

Sweet Potato Taco Bowls

If you liked the Sweet Potato Fajita Bowls, try these - it's a variation on a similar theme. They go together quickly, too, especially if you use a food processor to shred the sweet potatoes. I used leftover Slow Cooker Southwestern Beans in this, which was great, but you can also use plain black beans. And for this or any other purpose, if you happen to spot Sidehill Farm sour cream, buy some!! It is the best sour cream I've ever tasted.

Olive oil
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 lb ground beef
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3-4 cups cooked black beans, plain or seasoned with cumin and chili powder

Toppings (use what you like):
Shredded lettuce or other greens
Sour cream
Pickled red onions
Pickled chili peppers
Hot sauce
Shredded cheddar

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shredded sweet potatoes and saute over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until tender. Set aside.

Cook the beef in a medium skillet. Add cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the black beans. Reheat the sweet potatoes if needed.

To serve, place sweet potatoes in the bottom of each diner's bowl, then add spoonfuls of beef, beans, and toppings.

Serves about 4.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Quick Pickled Red Onions

I had a hankering for some pickled onions to go with tacos. Yum! Super easy, too.

2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced thin
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved (optional)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Place the onions and garlic in a quart jar. Press them down if needed to make them fit.

Combine the cider vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Carefully pour over the onions in the jar until they are covered. You may have some extra liquid, depending on the size of your onions and how tightly packed they are.

Cover the jar and let sit on the counter for an hour or two, then refrigerate. You can eat these immediately, but they'll be best after they've had some time to soak. They should keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Makes 1 quart jar of onions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spaghetti Squash "Noodles" with Peanut Sauce

Spaghetti squash is fun. Unlike other winter squashes, when you cook it you get noodle like strands of flesh. They retain a bit of crunch even when well roasted, and they don't shed a ton of liquid like zucchini or summer squash noodles. I served this as a side with grilled steak, but you could also grill or roast vegetables to add to it (peppers would be nice), or chicken.

1 medium spaghetti squash
Peanut Sauce or Spinach Peanut Sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the spaghetti squash open the long way and scoop out the seeds. Brush the flesh with olive or canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about an hour, until the flesh is tender and separates easily into strands with a fork.

Let the squash cool enough to handle, then use a fork to scrape out the flesh and separate it into its noodle-y strands.

Toss with enough Peanut Sauce or Spinach Peanut sauce to coat generously, and serve warm. You'll probably have leftover sauce to use for something else.

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

This recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Jean. It's simple and delicious. I especially like it on New England Spinach Salad.

Combine in equal parts:

Maple syrup
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Shake or stir vigorously to combine.

This will keep for a good long while in the pantry.

Mushroom Goat Cheese Quiche Muffins

If you can't find local mushrooms this time of year, re-hydrating dried ones is also an option. Eggs and cheese, of course, are great year-round locavore staples, as are storage crops like shallots and other alliums.

I bought some silicone reusable muffin cups, and they work like a dream for these quiche muffins - no sticking at all, super easy cleanup.

8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 lb shiitakes or other mushrooms, diced
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk and crumbled goat cheese and let sit at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.

Heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the shallots and mushrooms and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the mushroom mixture evenly between 16 standard muffin cups. Stir the egg mixture, then ladle into the cups over the mushrooms, making sure to get some goat cheese in each one.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the quiche muffins are cooked through. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

Makes 16 egg muffins. Serves 4-6.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Split Pea Vegetable Soup with Bacon

You can, of course, leave the bacon out of this for a vegetarian version. Or substitute sausage. But the bacon is really good.

2 1/2 cups dry split peas
1 bay leaf
1 tsp mustard seeds
5-6 cups water or stock (chicken or veggie)
2-3 tsp salt, or to taste
6 medium carrots, cut into coins
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped cooked bacon
2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the split peas, bay leaf, mustard seeds, stock or water, and salt in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until split peas are cooked through. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and cabbage and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Stir in bacon, vinegar, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 5-6.

Sweet Potato Fajita Bowls

These were a big success. I really like the bowl form factor - you get different combinations of flavors and textures in each bite, plus they look pretty. This one came together pretty quickly, too. A food processor makes quick work of shredding the sweet potatoes. It's a great use for leftover cooked beef or chicken, or you can cook some up specifically. Leftover Spicy Latin-Style Vinegar-Braised Beef would be especially excellent. Be sure to serve with at least some of the recommended toppings.

Olive oil
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or shred with the sweet potatoes)
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
2 large sweet peppers, cut into strips (2 inches or so is good)
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups cooked beef (steak, pot roast, etc) or chicken, diced or shredded and heated

Sour cream
Guacamole or diced avocado
Pickled hot peppers
Hot sauce
Lime wedges

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shredded sweet potatoes and garlic and saute over medium high heat until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the sweet potatoes from the pan.

Add a little more oil to the pan, then add the onions and peppers. Saute over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and both onions and peppers are nicely browned and a bit charred in places. Stir in the cumin and salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Make sure all elements of the bowls are hot before serving. To assemble the bowls, place a good serving of sweet potato in the bottom, then top with spoonfuls of peppers and onions and meat. Add desired toppings at the table. At least one creamy-textured topping (i.e. guacamole or sour cream) strongly recommended.

Serves about 4.

Garlic Roasted Green Beans

These were simple to prepare and they came out really delicious even though I made them with beans that had been frozen. If you're roasting something else for dinner (chicken legs, say, or fish), you can do these right on the same pan. Just add them about 20 minutes before the rest of the dinner needs to be removed from the oven.

5 cups cut green beans (thawed and well drained if frozen)
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, so that the beans are thoroughly coated with oil and the garlic is well distributed. Spread out in thin layer on a baking sheet (it's ok if it's not a single layer, but try not to pile them too much). Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring once, until the beans start to turn a bit golden in places.

Serves about 4.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Red Lentil Soup with Chorizo and Kale

Red lentils cook quickly, a blessing when you are in a bit of a hurry.

Olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
3 cups water or chicken stock
1 lb chorizo, casings removed
3 cups chopped kale
2 Tbsp dry sherry
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add paprika, salt, and lentils. Cover with water or stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 5-10 minutes.

While the lentils simmer, cook the sausage in a frying pan until nicely browned and cooked through. Break it up into crumbles as you go.

When the lentils are tender, add the chorizo and kale to the pot along with the sherry. Simmer until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.

Serves about 4.

Korean Beef Bowl with Kale

This made a nice change of pace from our usual dinners, and it went together very simply. By all means serve with kimchi if you can manage it. If not, provide hot sauce and perhaps some quick refrigerator-pickled veggies. If you want to gussy up the presentation a little more, cook and serve the kale separately from the beef. Feel free to substitute cabbage for the kale (it would probably be more authentic anyway). Some scallions wouldn't go amiss either. You can reheat leftover rice or make some fresh.

1 Tbsp sesame oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 large shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 lb kale, well chopped or sliced into thin ribbons
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice for 4
Kimchi for topping

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and shallots (or onion) and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef and cook through. Stir in the soy sauce and add the kale. Continue to saute over medium heat until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the bowls, place rice in the bottom of each bowl and top with beef and kale mixture (or separate servings of beef and kale if you cooked them separately). Add kimchi at the table.

Serves about 4.

Celeriac-White Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Kale

Another hearty soup relying on winter staples. If you decide to roast garlic in order to make this dish, be sure to do a few heads at once. The leftovers will keep for a good while in the fridge and you can add them to other dishes.

1-2 Tbsp butter
2-3 fat leeks, sliced
1 1/2 lbs celeriac, peeled and diced
Chicken or vegetable stock
1 head roasted garlic, cloves peeled
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
2 cups chopped kale
1-2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the leeks and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the celeriac and enough water or stock to cover it. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the celeriac is soft, 10-15 minutes.

Once the celeriac is quite soft, add the roasted garlic and beans to the pot. Puree with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Once the celeriac and bean mixture is pureed, add the kale. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato, Cabbage, and Roasted Red Peppers

Adding to my ever-growing collection of different lentil soup recipes. Always a good bet for a winter night. You can substitute standard brown lentils for the lentilles du puy if you like; they will just need a bit longer to cook. I make roasted red peppers in the early fall and stash some in my freezer - they make a great flavor boost to dishes like this throughout the winter. And of course sweet potatoes and cabbage are winter storage staples, readily available at farmers markets or in winter CSAs. This makes a large batch and freezes well.

3 cups lentilles du puy (the little green ones)
Several cups of water and/or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp salt, or to taste
1 bay leaf
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Olive oil
2 large shallots or a small onion, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chopped green cabbage
6 ounces roasted red peppers, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Place the lentils in a soup pot. Add water or stock to cover them by at least two inches. Add salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. After about 10 minutes, add the sweet potatoes and continue to simmer.

While the lentils and sweet potatoes cook, heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Add the shallots (or onion) and garlic and saute over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the cabbage and continue to saute until it is tender but retains a little crunch.

Add the cabbage mixture to the lentils in the pot along with the roasted red peppers. Add additional water or stock if needed to reach desired consistency. Stir in black pepper and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves 6-8.