Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet & Sour Barley

File this under simple & satisfying. It's not as strongly flavored as most dishes usually described as sweet & sour, but it's that kind of flavor profile. The purple cabbage is a great color.

You'll need:

1.5 cups quick barley
4 leeks, cleaned & sliced
1/4 of a red cabbage, sliced

Veggie Bullion
Rice Vinegar

Sautee the leeks and cabbage in butter and sugar in the bottom of a soup pot. Add 3 cups of water, a dollop of bullion, a heavy splash of rice vinegar, and cook till the barley has soaked it all up.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sweetly Spiced Socca

Socca is a new discovery, and an amazing one at that. Made from chickpea flour, it is typically crafted with olive oil, savory salts, peppers, and other herbs, cooked over a wood fire. Luckily the oven is a decent substitute (so says this expert and this expert) so this is basically the lazy celiac's dream. You can make it thin and crispy (think pizza), or soft and almost cake like.

Tonight I decided to do some flavor experimenting. Following the advice of these gluten free bloggers, I went with a cocoa cardamom socca. It probably violates a lot of rules about traditional socca, but it is amazingly tasty so I am choosing not to care.

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix 1 cup chickpea (garbanzo) bean flour with 1/4 cup dutch cocoa, 2 tsp. vanilla, and 1 and 1/2 cups water. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or coconut oil and pour into cake pan. Pour batter into oil and bake for 25 minutes.

There you have it! I served with some cherries for a subtly sweet and cakey nighttime snack. The possibilities are endless though--it could easily be dressed up as a brownie, baked in a skillet as a soft bread to pair with salad, turned with fresh basil in the batter and broiled with cheese on top to finish...oh yum!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest Post: Delicious Baked Onions

Another post from Kay, our favorite expat:

Delicious Baked Onions (or, "Nigel says...")

from Nigel Slater's "Tender Vol. 1"

I should probably start out by saying that I haven't actually EATEN this yet, but I've just taken it out of the oven and it looks so delicious that I'm not sure I'll be able to restrain myself until G gets home. They smell good, too. Nigel says to eat these baked onions with some grilled gammon steaks (gammon is English for ham) sprinkled with oregano, and possibly also some mashed potato or buttery rutabaga.

6 medium onions
About 2 Tbsp. butter (Nigel says 30g)
1 heaping Tbsp. flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup milk
3 bay leaves
salt & black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (Nigel says "a gentle grating")
2 tsp. whole-grain English mustard
chopped parsley (Nigel says "a small handful")

Preheat the oven to 350oF. Peel the onions, and then put them whole into a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 20 - 25 minutes until they're tender (Nigel says you should be able to poke them with the tip of a knife). Then dump them into a colander and let them cool down a bit while you do the next few steps. (Nigel says not to be tempted to use the oniony water for the sauce--it will be TOO oniony, apparently.)

Next, put the pot back on the stove and melt the butter in it. Add the flour to the butter, and cook for a few minutes, whisking so the mixture doesn't burn.

Now, at this stage, my mixture turned into about five big butter-colored lumps. Either, a) it's supposed to be that way and I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to making a white sauce, which is quite possibly the case, b) I used low-fat spread instead of butter in an attempt to be healthier, or c) I religiously weighed out a meager 30g of said low-fat spread and Nigel estimates the mass of his butter with an optimistic eye, which resulted in an anomalously low butter-to-flour ratio in my pot.

Either way, I didn't let the butter/flour mixture cook very long--I just got it all mixed into homogeneous lumps and then added the hot vegetable stock. At this point, worried that the sauce was going to turn out lumpy, I whisked frantically until my butter/flour lumps disappeared, and then added the milk. So, if you know how to make white sauce, do this part of the recipe as you see fit--otherwise, feel free to copy my amateur technique. Then add the bay leaves, the nutmeg, the mustard, and the salt and black pepper.

Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes or more, stirring frequently to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot. Meanwhile, slice the (hopefully cool) onions in half from top to bottom (stem to roots, that is, not around the middle) and put them face-down in an oven-proof dish. Stir the coarsely chopped parsley into the sauce and dump the lot over the onions. Their tops will probably be poking out, but Nigel says that is ok.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until the sauce is nice and bubbly. Nigel says you can leave the onions in the bottom of the oven while you broil up your gammon steaks. Yum!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pear & Sweet Potato Pizza

I'm at a complete loss re: how to introduce this pizza. So I'll just say it was amazing - funny how that happens when you just go pick out exactly the ingredients you want - and move on.

1 pizza dough (made ahead by you or by someone else.... in my case a whole foods employee - they do make a really good pizza crust....)

1 small sweet potato
1 pear
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 large, sweet white onion
1 small bunch spinach

Pizza sauce
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt, sugar, honey

1 hard white cheese (pecorino romano)
some good goat cheese

1. Roast toppings. Chop the sweet potato and pear into small dice. Toss them with the pine nuts, olive oil, balsamic, sea salt and honey in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 425 for 20 mins or so, till soft and browned where they touch the pan.

2. Caramelize onion. Chop roughly, heat some olive oil with salt, sugar and balsamic in a saucepan or deep frying pan, add the onion and stir to coat. Then let it sit there on med-low heat. After about 15-20 mins, when it's really gotten soft, add the cleaned & torn spinach on top to wilt it.

3. Prepare the dough & coat w/sauce.

4. When the onions & spinach are ready, layer those on. Then add the sweet potato mixture, then sprinkle with a light dose of both cheeses. Bake at 425 for about 20 mins.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christmas Tomato Soup

I kinda felt I'd posted enough variations on "roast squash and put it in soup," but Annalise requests the version we made together on Christmas, so here's my memory thereof:

1 small butternut squash
10 roma tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 small, juicy onion
1 head of garlic

+ Olive oil, broth, 1 small can tomato paste, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt & pepper, splash of cream

Roast the veggies & garlic with oil & salt until well and truly softened. Toss em in the broth (and other stuff), bring to a boil, and blend. Taste & adjust.

I probably tossed some other things in there, but I'm drawing a blank. I do remember it was a lovely orange-red and warmed the bones!

Winter Foods

In an attempt to inspire, sometimes with recipe links and sometimes without:

Always healthful, Heidi's savory protein muffins are amazing. I added sundried tomatoes, sauteed baby potatoes, and lots of fresh basil to this batch.

Another protein favorite, steak. Here, in a salad, with green chile salsa, avocado, shallots, and other delicious things.

Simply delicious, this tortilla soup from Simply Recipes is a new favorite.

Or this cabbage soup with spicy sausage, which I unfortunately didn't document and now can't recall how I made it. I know it had salt, pepper, fresh chorizo sausage from a local butcher (with no casing), cabbage, potatoes, maybe onions?

Or how about backyard local eggs?

Or homemade roasted tomato soup, served with a caramelized onion, Gruyere and fried sage polenta flatbread and massaged kale tossed with white beans, walnuts, and Parmesan?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

I feel badly that I don't have any idea how much of anything I added to this comforting salad. All I can say is trust your instinct and you want a really good brussels to pecans/shallots/garlic/feta ratio. Basically, just make sure you include enough of the good stuff!

So, here's what you'll need to have on hand:

Brussels sprouts (Sidebar: I never knew it was "brussels sprouts" and not "brussel sprouts" until writing this post!)
Rubbed Sage
Ground Rosemary (optional, I love Rosemary but it seems that it doesn't please everyone's palate)
Sea Salt
White Pepper
Olive Oil
Brown Sugar

Slice brussel sprouts into quarters. On a baking sheet or roasting pan, toss with a generous pour of olive oil, rubbed sage, sea salt, white pepper, and rosemary if using. Roast at 400 until starting to crisp. Meanwhile, saute a few shallots with minced garlic in sherry and just enough olive oil to keep from sticking. Cook until shallots are translucent. Toast a bag of halved pecans with some brown sugar, the tiniest splash of afore-mentioned sherry, and just a hint of salt. Toss all together with a large portion of feta, and enjoy warm!

I used sage and rosemary because this was for a holiday party and so those flavors felt appropriate, but it would also lend itself to many other profiles if you want to play around!