Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chopped Kale Turkey Salad with Pecans, Apples, and Curry Spiced Yogurt Dressing

A perfect Sunday lunch, especially after a Thanksgiving weekend with an abundance of rich food.

For the Salad
Kale, de-ribbed, roughly chopped
Pecan halves
Apple, chopped
Avocado, diced
Turkey, chopped and shredded
Cranberry Relish (optional)

For the Dressing
Greek Yogurt
Olive Oil
Curry Powder
Sea Salt

After de-ribbing and chopping your kale, massage with several squeeze of lemon and sea salt. Add chopped apple, turkey, and pecan pieces, and toss. Add avocado and gently toss again. I also stirred in just a few spoonfuls of leftover cranberry relish to brighten things up a bit.

In a separate bowl, mix several spoonfuls greek yogurt with a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Thin with several squeezes of lemon, and stir in a teaspoon or two of curry powder to taste, plus a few pinches sea salt. Drizzle over salad, toss again, and enjoy!

Food Allergies and Ethics

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mulled Wine Pear Pie

I developed this recipe several weeks ago, and ever since K has been on top of me to post it, as evidenced by the following note that she left in my draft:




So here it is, just in time for you to dash out and grab the ingredients to add another pie to your Thanksgiving menu (I'm being presumptuous, but I can almost guarantee that by this family's standards, you don't have enough pies planned for Thursday and that ought to be remedied.)

My new favorite equation is booze + fruit = pie, and this season needed a replacement for my ever beloved Bourbon Peach. As I considered exploring other fall flavors in place of the tragically overused pumpkin, I realized that pear and wine may be a perfect match, and a quick google search resulted in baking this Pear, Red Wine and Rosemary Pie.  That yielded a slightly disappointing result - I felt that the syrup was too fussy, and the taste was not nearly as flavorful as I'd hoped.  But a lightbulb went off in my head, and I set about making a mulled wine version of my own with a less involved syrup process, some soaking of the pears in the syrup, and more prominent spices.

This is one of those pies in which the baking process is just as lovely as the eating.  The pears turn a stunning, jewel-toned purple, and the smell of the spices and wine simmering into syrup is just the thing your home would like to be filled with in November.

for the syrup:
1 bottle (probably cheap) dry red wine
1 cup sugar
3 sticks cinnamon
6 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
(feel free to add your own spices, or even some orange zest, but don't go overboard - you'll add more spices later and my first round was far too heavy on the cloves)

Place all ingredients into a medium pot, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1/3 of original volume. Strain spices from syrup,  pour over sliced pears in a large bowl and allow to soak 2-3 hours (if anyone tries longer or shorter, let me know how it turns out!)

for the pie: 
1 double pie crust, unbaked
3 lbs of Bartlett or Anjou Pears, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
1 beaten egg
Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out one pie crust to fit a 9-inch pie pan, place in bottom of pie pan.  Toss flour and spices in the bowl with wine-soaked pears.  Place filling (syrup included, but use your eye to judge if you feel there's too much liquid and adjust accordingly) in pie crust and dot with butter pieces.  Roll out other crust and place on top.  Pinch edges of crusts together to seal, flute and decorate as desired. Cut slits to ventilate. Brush crust with a beaten egg and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375, then reduce oven to 350 and rotate pie.  Continue baking for 60-75 minutes or until crust is golden and juices are bubbling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Moonshine Hot Toddy

I've come down with a cold over the last few days, apparently because the high has dropped into only (!) the 70s 'round these parts.  Cue a round of concerned text messages from Mum, prescribing all manner of remedies beginning with steaming myself in the shower ("Gettin' might nippy down there! Steam yourself!") and of course including the ever-beloved ZICAM ("a different Zi cam nasal spray that supposedly shortens cold SHOULD have told u that when u were @ store").

Then came my personal favorite remedy that I had already been gladly utilizing: the hot toddy ("Eat honey & lemon if U have it.  Warm it up & add whiskey.  Do you have bourbon left from pie?  It would work too.")  The hot toddy has become my go-to comfort when sick - so never fear, Mum, this sick daughter's throat is well coated with toddy love.  Tonight I was inspired to do a fall twist on the classic version, which turned out better than I expected. So here you go, a rare same-night posting:

For 1:
Hot water
Cinnamon Apple Spice herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings (or similar)
Apple Pie Moonshine
1 quarter of an orange

Fill your mug slightly over half-full with hot water.  Add tea bag, the juice of the orange, honey and moonshine as desired.  Perfect for any cold evening, whether sickness or weather-related. Mum-recommended.

Previous Toddy Inspiration: 
by Kate: Italian Amaretto Cookies and Bourbon Hot Toddies
by Sarah: Apple Toddy

Friday, November 14, 2014

Classic Turkey Soup

Nothing's better than a simple turkey soup in November. Bookmark this for Thanksgiving leftovers now, or do like I did and get started early using turkey breasts cooked in a crockpot. 

2 turkey breasts, combining to about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of meat
2 ribs of celery
5-7 carrots
1 yellow or sweet onion
1 cup wild rice
8 cups veggie or turkey broth
Olive Oil

Cook the turkey breasts ahead of time in the crockpot with 3 cups of your broth (more if needed to completely cover the meat), sage, pepper, and salt. You could do this the day before or the day of, just make sure you get it in at least four hours prior to cooking. I usually cook on high the entire time, but if you notice the meat is done in advance or cooking quickly switch to low for the duration.

Cover the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil and place on burner turned to medium high heat. Add the full cup of wild rice and stir to coat with olive oil. While the rice and oil are heating, dice your onion finely. Add onion to heat and stir with rice.

Start chopping your carrots and celery. I like the celery chopped finely and the carrots with a little larger dice.

After the onions have softened a bit, add the broth that you left out of the crockpot, the celery, and the carrots. Bring to a low boil, then turn down just a bit. It typically takes the rice 30-40 minutes to cook through.

While soup is simmering, shred the turkey breasts using two forks. Add to the main soup pot along with the broth they cooked in, let simmer for another 10 minutes, and enjoy.

Depending on how your rice cooks, you may find you need a little more liquid: I added about 1/2 cup of water and that worked out fine. We ate this as a very hearty soup, almost a stew.

Food Allergies and Ethics
Gluten-free and dairy-free, just check your broth.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Perfect Oven-Fried Potatoes

Easy peasy perfect oven-fried potatoes. Picture says it all, right?

Yellow potatoes (4-5 good-sized, could also use a larger number of tiny fingerlings)
Butter (1-2 Tbsp)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Put somewhere between 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a glass baking pan and place on the top shelf of your oven so that the butter heats with the oven. (You can do more or less butter depending on the size of your potatoes and your personal butter preference.)

Puncture your potatoes with a fork and place them together on a plate, then microwave for 5ish minutes or until tender. The first time you do this, stop halfway through and check. Watch not to turn them to mush, you want them to be cooked through, soft, but holding their shape. Sometimes if I have bigger potatoes, I flip them halfway through, too.

Next, quarter the steaming potatoes with a sharp knife. You could oven-fry 'em whole or halved, too, but you'll get a better crisp if you quarter them.

Pull out the baking pan and add your potatoes to the sizzling butter. It's ok to do this even if the oven isn't at 425 yet, you'll just have to watch your baking time. Don't be alarmed if the butter has browned a bit, then you just have brown butter fried potatoes and what's not to love about that! Toss with salt and pepper. Add more butter if you need after you see how coated the potatoes are. I go for a nice coat but not dripping.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. I like to finish off with a quick broil to get them even crispier. Flip them halfway through if you want, though sometimes I'm too lazy and it's fine.

Obviously, you can do this with more than 4-5 potatoes, I have just found that to be a nice size to serve alongside breakfast or lunch for P and I and have some leftovers. These are also delightful with a little grated cheese and a glass of red wine. Which I think counts as a reasonable working gal's dinner.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Harissa Broth Vegetable Soup with Chickpeas + Swirled Feta

I made this gorgeous soup after seeing Heidi Swanson's recipe for Spicy Chickpea and Bulgur Soup. You really do want to have harissa on hand here. I also used some za'atar but that's certainly not necessary.

This soup received rave reviews from several guests with very diverse palates. The swirled feta takes it over the top and is well worth the bit of extra effort.

Ingredients for Soup
2 yellow onions
1 head garlic
1 anaheim chile pepper
2 red bell peppers
Large handful of kale
1 small butternut squash
4 yellow potatoes

1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
32 fl. oz. veggie broth

1 Lemon
2 T harissa
Za'atar if already in your cupboard
Olive Oil

Ingredients for Swirled Feta
Whole fat, plain greek yogurt
1/2 block feta
Fresh parsley
Several squeezes of lemon
Za'atar (again, if already in your cupboard)

Cover the bottom of your soup pot with a generous pour of olive oil and set on medium heat. At this point, I recommend also puncturing the skin on your butternut squash and microwaving it to soften. I also do this with the potatoes if I'm in a hurry and don't have time to wait for them to cook through all the way in the soup.

Dice your onions, chile pepper, and red bell peppers and add to the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and za'atar if using. While those soften, mince or crush your entire head of garlic. If you have one, place garlic in a mortar & pestle along with a big squeeze or two of lemon, two to three tablespoons harissa (depending on how hot your harissa is), and another pour of olive oil. Crush to form a paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, just stir this all together and be sure to really mince/crush your garlic.

Add your harissa paste to the soup pot and toss well with onions and peppers. When onions are translucent, add the vegetable broth.

While broth simmers with the onions, peppers, and harissa paste, pull out your softened butternut squash and softened potatoes. Chop and add to soup. Rinse your squash seeds and roast them like this if you'd like an extra soup topping.

Rinse your canned chickpeas and add to soup along with fire roasted tomatoes. As a last step, rinse and de-rib your kale, then toss in a few handfuls of that as well.

Finally, while the soup simmers, you can whip up this amazing swirl of feta, yogurt, and fresh herbs to top each bowl with. Put 1/2 block of feta into your food processor along with a big handful fresh parsley, some squeezes of your lemon, salt, pepper, and za'atar or more harissa if you want. Process. Depending on how wet your feta is, you may want to add a small bit of olive oil, too. After the first process, add tablespoons of plain whole greek yogurt until you have a nice creamy consistency. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop your parsley and mix by hand.

Taste and continue to season the soup as you like - I think I poured in a bit of the wine I was drinking at one point. Serve with a generous dollop of the feta cream on top and crusty bread on the side.

Food Allergies and Ethics: Vegetarian, vegan if you skip the swirled feta. Gluten free, but please check your veggie broth. I use Pacific brand.