Three recipes from River Cottage Veg

July 24, 2022 at 10:29 pm (Beans, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Quick weeknight recipe, River Cottage) ()

Years ago a friend invited Derek and I over to her house for dinner, and everything she made was absolutely delicious. That doesn’t happen very often! It turns out that most of the recipes she made came from the cookbook River Cottage Veg from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (whew, that’s a mouthful). I recently I saw the cookbook on sale on Kindle and I snapped it up. Over the past few weeks I’ve tried three recipes.

Our favorite of the three was for a very simple, vegan roasted cauliflower with lemon and smoked paprika. You basically toss a head of cauliflower florets with olive oil, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (he says hot but I used mild), and the juice of 1 lemon. The cauliflower is roasted at 220 C for 25 to 30 minutes. You also cut a second lemon into slices and roast it with the cauliflower. I’m not exactly sure why. It wasn’t clear to me if that actually added any flavor. He says to squeeze the juice from the roasted lemon segments over the cauliflower, but (1) they were hot! and (2) when I tried no juice came out. I actually started this meal by making my mom’s recipe for roasted chickpeas. While they were roasted I cut up and seasoned the cauliflower then dumped it on top of the chickpeas in the oven. Everyone liked it. We had neighbors over for dinner and they enjoyed it as well. They brought over a beet risotto, which at first I thought would be an odd combination, but the two dishes actually went really well together. We roast cauliflower pretty often. Normally I use curry-ish spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric,…) but I think I might start alternating that spice mix with this lemon/paprika combo.

I also tried a dish of roasted beets with walnuts and yogurt dressing. You’re supposed to roast baby beets in the oven with garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, but it was too hot to turn on the oven, and I had big beets. If baby beets take an hour to roast I was afraid of how long my big beets would take, so I just steamed them in the instant pot. The peeled beets are cut into pieces and then tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. You then toast walnuts and make a simple dressing out of yogurt, 2 Tbs. sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper. I always like beets with walnuts (and indeed we eat this combo often with beluga lentils and Annie’s dressing). I enjoyed the yogurt dressing as a change of pace, but Alma and Derek seemed less enthusiastic about it.

The last recipe we tried was a pretty simple recipe for garlicky minty mushy peas. You sauté shallots or onion in butter for 15 to 20 minutes until very soft, then add 3 or 4 garlic cloves. Cooked peas are then pureed with the shallots, garlic, chopped mint, and a bit of the pea cooking water. Our peas ended up extremely garlicky. Maybe Derek used 4 extremely large cloves of garlic? He loved the peas. He said they reminded him of escargot. Alma wasn’t a fan, and I found them a tad too garlicky.

 

 

 

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Oatmeal cottage cheese banana blueberry pancakes

October 24, 2021 at 10:53 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Other)

I often make the banana oat nut pancake recipe from Cookie and Kate, and I have another oatmeal walnut pancake recipe from the McCann’s oatmeal box. But today I was in the mood for something different. My friend Qi recommended this high-protein pancake recipe, which she got from her son’s preschool teacher. I like cottage cheese a lot, but Derek and Alma usually don’t. I thought maybe it’s a texture thing and if I grind it up they won’t mind it. I changed the recipe a bit, swapping the original 3/4 cup of whole what flour for 1 cup of rolled oats ground to a flour, and adding blueberries to one half of the batter and chopped walnuts to the other half. (Qi says she often adds chocolate chips, but I’m not sure I’d like that with the sourness of the cottage cheese.)

Both Derek and Alma liked these pancakes. In fact, Derek not only loved the “sour taste” but he preferred them with blueberries over walnuts! What has happened to my non-fruit lover?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rolled oats (I might even need a bit more? If the batter is too thin I add a bit of whole wheat flour, but maybe I should just up this amount.)
  • 3 medium eggs (150g? out of shell)
  • 400g cottage cheese? (originally 1 cup, which I think is a bit less than 400g)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. maple syrup or honey
  • the oat flour above (originally 3/4 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen or 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, or a mix
  • butter for the pan

Instructions:

  1. Grind rolled oats to a flour consistency.
  2. In a blender, blend together all the ingredients except for the blueberries in butter. Start with the liquid ingredients (eggs, banana, cottage cheese, and sweetener) then add the oat flour and spices/baking powder, and finish off with the vanilla.
  3. Once the batter is well blended gently stir in the blueberries and/or nuts (You may prefer to do this in a bowl rather than the blender.)
  4. Preheat a griddle or skillet to medium heat. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter onto the heated, buttered skillet. Cook until bubbles form, then flip. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

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Orange almond cream of wheat

May 13, 2021 at 12:34 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan)

Cream of wheat, or Grießbrei, is very popular here in Germany. It’s usually just a porridge made from finely ground semolina cooked with cow’s milk, which is tasty but I personally find to be a bit lacking in flavor/fiber/antioxidants. This version adds ground almonds for a bit more fiber and orange marmalade and/or orange zest for a bit more flavor/antioxidants. Alma and Derek both love this cream of wheat / semolina porridge recipe. The original recipe is more complicated (see below), but here’s how we’ve been making it lately. If you want something a bit fancier, make a sauce out of orange juice, Schmand and orange pieces and serve the cream of wheat with a dollop of sauce on top.

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Double chocolate peanut butter cookies

December 25, 2020 at 11:25 pm (Cookies, Derek's faves, Website / blog)

Over our winter break this year we decided to bake cookies. We decided that each of us would get to pick out which kind of cookies we wanted to make. Derek chose almond crescent cookies, and Alma chose double chocolate peanut butter cookies. We’ve made a vegan version in the past, but Derek wasn’t so excited about them, so he picked this Food 52 recipe to try instead.

The recipe is pretty easy, as it has you melt the butter and the peanut butter together in a pan, making it easy to incorporate the peanut butter into the batter. Other than that step it’s basically a one-bowl recipe.

It calls for black cocoa powder, but I couldn’t find it so I just used our regular dutched cocoa powder. The amount of sugar seemed quite high, presumably to compensate for the bitterness of the black cocoa powder. I cut it down a bit by not filling the 1/2 cup measuring cup with sugar all the way, but I didn’t measure that carefully. Maybe I used 80% of the sugar? When I went to add the chocolate chips, 8 ounces seemed like a huge amount. I still import my chocolate chips from the U.S., and I didn’t want to use up so many, so I cut it down slightly to 6 ounces.

The recipe says to use a 1.5 ounce scoop, and I used my large scoop, which is labeled 2.5 Tbs. I think. The technique is slightly odd. After you bake the cookies you are supposed to drop the pan onto the counter a few times to flatten them. But I guess it worked because the cookies came out well. Alma flattened her batch before putting them in the oven and they were dryer and not as good.

In general, I didn’t love the texture of these cookies. They had a slight stick-to-your-teeth quality. And they were definitely too sweet for me. Next time I’d try cutting the sugar further, maybe 2/3 of the original amount, and leaving the chocolate chips at 3/4 of the original amount.

Derek said they were absolutely great (probably because they are quite salty), and Alma said they were good not great.

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Chanukah Cabbage and Kohlrabi Salad

December 13, 2020 at 8:28 pm (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Ottolenghi, Salads)

I got a kohlrabi and a cabbage in my CSA box last week, and I was looking for something to make with them. I found this recipe in the cookbook Plenty. (It’s actually directly opposite the recipe for the Thai green curry that’s the last recipe I blogged.) Ottolenghi says it’s his favorite use of kohlrabi. It calls for alfalfa sprouts, which I can’t get here, so I soaked some seeds and sprouted them myself. When they were finally ready I made this salad out of my kohlrabi, cabbage, and sprouts, along with a large bunch of dill and a whole cup of dried sour cherries from my local Turkish store. The dressing is made out of a lot of lemon juice and olive oil, 1 garlic clove, the zest of 1 lemon, and lots of salt.

I made this salad on the first night of Hanukkah, and when Alma asked what I was making, I told her it was “Chanukah Salad.” We were on a Skype call with my family and everyone thought the idea of a Chanukah salad was very funny. But it does have a lot of olive oil, and you are supposed to eat a lot of oil on Chanukah, so I think it fits.

Alma didn’t like the salad at all. She took one bite and said “bäh“. I also wasn’t very excited by the combination. I felt like not only wasn’t it better than the sum of its parts–it was worse than the sum of its parts. But my big problem with the salad was that the dressing was so acidic it hurt my tongue badly. (I have geographic tongue syndrome, and certain acidic foods are highly problematic. Normally a little lemon juice doesn’t bother me, but I guess this was just too lemony.) Derek, however, loved the salad. He said it tasted like something he’d get in a 3-star Michelin restaurant in some nordic country.

If you choose to make this, I’d only add the sprouts to the portion you plan on eating in one sitting. After sitting overnight in the dressing they got rather limp and unappealing looking.

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Beet and potato gratin with rosemary and walnuts

September 20, 2020 at 11:29 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, French, Root vegetables, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

I first made this beet and potato gratin recipe back in 2010. I have since forgotten where the recipe originated. I’ve modified the recipe quite a bit in the intervening years. (The original recipe is at the end of this post if you want to see it.) Here is my current recipe. It has more cheese and less butter and cream than the original, and I’ve added walnuts and rosemary and omitted the breadcrumbs. The recipe is not really hard, but it is somewhat labor-intensive. I usually make it once a year, twice at most.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beets, unpeeled
  • 1.5 pounds potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 Tbs. butter (or however much you need to grease your pan)
  • 1 cup / 4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (or use another cheese like aged gouda)
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz. grated gruyere cheese (or use another cheese like comte or tete de moine)
  • 1 tsp. salt (I’m totally guessing on the amount. I just sprinkle a little salt on each layer.)
  • 1 tsp. pepper (ditto)
  • 3 to 4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 200g / 0.85 cups heavy cream
  • lots of walnuts, pretty finely chopped (I think I use about 3/4 cup chopped walnuts maybe?)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Steam the beets and potato until tender when pierced with a knife. Note that even though the gratin cooks for another 30 minutes in the oven, you need the veggies to be tender before they go in the oven. They don’t really soften up otherwise. You can steam the veggies on the stovetop, but beets take a while, so I usually steam my veggies in my Instant Pot. I put the beets in first and cook them until they are about 3/4 done. (The exact time depends on their diameter–tables are online.) Then I add the potatoes and finish cooking both. Ideally you should do this well in advance so the veggies have time to cool and you aren’t trying to peel or slice boiling hot beets!
  3. When the beets and potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the beets. Depending on your potatoes you might want to peel them after they are cooked, but I usually don’t bother.  Cut both the beets and potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, still keeping them separated.
  4. Choose a gratin dish large enough to hold four layers of the sliced vegetables. (I use a 9×13 inch pyrex pan.) Grease the dish.
  5. Build a gratin with 4 layers: beets, potatoes, beets, potatoes. After each vegetable layer sprinkle one quarter of the parmesan, gruyere cheese, salt, and pepper on top of the vegetable layer. After each layer sprinkle on 1/3 of the walnuts and rosemary. (I don’t put walnuts and rosemary on the top layer of potatoes because I’m afraid they will burn, but maybe it would work if you put them under the cheese?)
  6. When all four layers are assembled, pour the cream evenly over the top.
  7. Place in the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese on top is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and serve hot or warm, scooping out portions with a spoon.

Update Oct 11, 2021:

Alma has never liked this dish, but today she said it was “delectable” and ate thirds. I thought it came out really great as well. Derek said it was tasty but needed more cheese.

Notes from Sept 20, 2020:

I shattered my 9×9 inch pan a few months ago, so we used a 9×13 inch pyrex dish. It was bigger than necessary, but worked fine. I think next time maybe I’ll increase the amounts of veggies to make more gratin in the same pan. I forgot to measure my beets this time but I know I used almost 2 pounds of potatoes. I think maybe I used 5 medium/small beets (about 2.5 inches in diameter), so maybe only about 2 pounds?

I cooked the beets in the instant pot for 10 minutes under high pressure, left them for a bit, then did a quick pressure release and added the (medium-large) potatoes and cooked them for another 10 minutes under high pressure with a natural release. The beets came out perfectly–easy to peel but not mushy. But 10 minutes was too much time for the potatoes. They were way too soft. The skins were falling off and they were hard to slice. I couldn’t use the mandoline at all. They would have been great for mashed potatoes, but next time maybe I’ll try 15 minutes for the beets + QR and then only another 5 minutes extra once I add the potatoes.

This time we forgot to add walnuts but I definitely want to try adding them next time!

Definitely make sure your potatoes are on the top layer. They get nice and crispy, which doesn’t happen to the beets. And maybe reserve a bit more than 1/4 of the cheese for the topping?

I’ve made some version of this recipe a few times in the last couple of years, and Alma has never liked it. She will take a few bites of the cheesy top, but then rejects it. (She’s never liked non-crispy potatoes.) Tonight (at 5.5 years) she had a bit more than she has in the past, but we had challah on the table, so she mostly focused on that and wasn’t interested in the gratin.

My original notes from Nov 6, 2010:

Derek and I went to a local German restaurant a while back and I got a beet and potato gratin that had walnuts in it.  I really loved the beet and walnut combo, so I decided to try adding walnuts to this French recipe.  The recipe says to steam the beets and potatoes separately, then peel and slice them.  That was a huge pain.  I also don’t like peeling potatoes, as the skin is the best part.  The steaming instructions confused me because they say to steam until tender but then you bake the gratin for another 30 minutes or so.  I was worried that the veggies would get overcooked, so I didn’t let them get totally tender.  That was a mistake, as the beets in the final dish were just a tad undercooked.  Once the veggies are steamed you slice them and then make a layer of beets, a layer of potatoes, and a final layer of beets.  Between the layers you sprinkle salt and pepper, rosemary, small amounts of parmesan and gruyere cheese, and dotted butter.  You then pour a mixture of cream and milk over the whole thing, and top it with bread crumbs and 1 Tbs. dotted butter.  But 1 Tbs. of butter is not enough to cover a 9×13 pan, and the bread crumbs ended up just like dry, sandy breadcrumbs.  Derek said he liked the topping though, despite its dry, sandy quality. He liked the dish a lot, actually.  He kept saying how flavorful it was, and tried to eat all the leftovers for breakfast.  My guests seemed to like it too, and even asked for the recipe.

I used less butter and added walnuts.  I used a light cream not heavy cream, and lowfat milk.  If I made this again I would double the rosemary and try it without pre-cooking the vegetables.  Steaming the beets and potatoes separately is a pain.  I might also try adding more cheese and skipping the cream altogether–just using milk.

And here’s the original recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beets, unpeeled
  • 1.5 pounds potatoes, unpeeled
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup fine dried, bread crumbs, preferably homemade

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Steam the beets until tender when pierced with a knife, 20 to 30 minutes.  Set aside.  Steam the potatoes separately in teh same way;  they should also be tender in 20 to 30 minutes.  (You can also boil instead of steaming.)  When the beets and potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices, still keeping them separated.
  3. Select a gratin dish just large enough to hold three layers of the sliced vegetables.
    1. Layer 1:  Grease it with 1 Tbs. of the butter.  Arrange half of the beets in the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle with one third each of the parmesan and gruyere cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Dot with 1 Tbs. of the butter.
    2. Layer 2:  Arrange all of the potatoes in a layer atop the beets.  Sprinkle with half of the remaining cheeses, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Dot with 1 Tbs. of the butter.
    3. Layer 3:  Layer the remaining beet slices on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, salt, pepper and rosemary.
    4. Final topping:  In a vessel with a spout, combine the cream and milk and pour the mixture evenly over the top.  Strew the bread crumbs over the surface and dot with the remaining 1 Tbs. butter.
  4. Place in the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and serve hot or warm, scooping out portions with a spoon.

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Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

September 13, 2020 at 10:10 pm (Derek's faves, Pasta, Website / blog)

This Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty has been lighting up the internet for years now. Serious Eats loves it. 101cookbooks has blogged it. Epicurious has posted it. Several friends have personally raved to me about it. So back in 2018 I tried it.

I didn’t love it. The eggplant was greasy. The whole recipe seemed overwhelmingly sweet and not salty/acidic/spicy enough. I didn’t think the eggplant and mango really did much for each other. Don’t get me wrong, it was fine. It didn’t taste bad. But it was a lot of work for a recipe that was only meh. I told this to one of the friend’s who had recommended it and she thought maybe I had screwed something up. She came over a few weeks later and we made it together. It tasted about the same. Still meh. Derek again loved it, but it just wasn’t for me.

Then this weekend another friend invited us over for dinner and served it as our first course. It was definitely better than when I had made it. The eggplant was cooked much better—more uniformly cooked through and much less greasy. And the whole dish just looked more professional and refined. But my overall impression was the same—too sweet, not enough salt or punch. Derek said he thought there was plenty of acid in the dressing, but I couldn’t detect it. He normally adds salt to the food I cooked, but he thought the dish was plenty salty. For me the sugar overwhelmed all the other flavors. I really wanted more of a dressing like the one that goes in a Thai green papaya salad, where by the end smoke is coming out of your ears. Derek said this isn’t supposed to be that kind of a dish, and I know that’s not what was intended. But if I were going to make a noodle dish with eggplant and mango and chilies and cilantro and basil, that’s what I would want.

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Roasted Eggplant and Black Pepper Tofu

September 1, 2020 at 11:35 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Ottolenghi, Summer recipes, Tofu, Website / blog)

This is Smitten Kitchen’s riff on Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu recipe. You roast the eggplant and tofu in the oven, then toss them with a sauce made from shallots, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, lots of butter and black pepper. Smitten Kitchen reduced Ottolenghi’s original 11 tablespoons of butter down to what seemed a more reasonable 3 to 4 Tablespoons. Well, so I thought until I realized that the recipe calls for another 4 tablespoons of oil to cook the tofu and eggplant! It seemed way too rich for my taste, so I only used 1 tablespoon of butter to cook the onion in. (I was out of shallots.) I didn’t have any low-sodium soy sauce so I added 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce (instead of the 8 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce) and it tasted plenty salty to me. The tofu and eggplant cooked pretty well in the oven, but some of the smaller eggplant pieces ended up burnt and some of the tofu on the outside of the pan was a bit too dry.

I liked the dish, but even cutting down the butter I found it way too greasy. It tasted like restaurant food, which to Derek was a very good thing, but is not really what I want from home cooking. I think I will try to make this dish again, but I suspect that I can use just 2 Tbs. of oil to roast the eggplant and tofu in (1 for the pan and 1 to toss the eggplant with), and 1 Tbs. of butter for the sauce. The trick will be getting the eggplant nicely cooked without it burning or getting greasy. If anyone has any tips, let me know.

Even though I left the black pepper off, Alma didn’t like this dish at all (too much garlic and ginger and onions I guess). She ate some of the roasted eggplant and tofu plain without the sauce. Derek and I ended up adding a lot of black pepper to our own bowls. Yum.

 

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Arugula, chive, parsley pesto with farfalle and mixed vegetables

May 5, 2020 at 9:05 pm (Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Italian, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

Derek and Alma harvested a huge bag of arugula and random herbs from our CSA farm on Saturday, but they only brought one bag so everything got mixed up together. I’ve been trying to use up the herbs over the last couple of days. I pulled out all the scallions and added them to our spicy tofu dish on Sunday. Then I threw a couple big handfuls of arugula into a pan of escarole and beans. Yesterday I pulled out all the cilantro and used it in our simmered vegetable tacos last night. But I still had a pretty big bag of stuff left. I separated out the dill and used the rest of it to make a mixed herb pesto. I roughly followed this Bon Appetit recipe for parsley and chive pesto, but I think I used a couple cups of arugula, a big handful of parsley, and a small handful of chives, as well as some miscellaneous oregano, thyme, and cilantro leaves mixed in. I didn’t roast my almonds because I was in a rush, and I think in pesto you don’t normally roast the pine nuts. I didn’t measure the olive oil, just kept pouring it into the food processor until the pesto came together as a cohesive paste. The pesto wasn’t really saucy at that point, more of a thick spoonable paste. But it tasted good so I stopped and called it a day. I couldn’t really taste any of the individual herbs. I don’t think I could have told you that it was made from arugula, chives, or parsley. But it was bright green and very fresh tasting, with some underlying floral (oregano?) and peppery (arugula? chives?) notes. Yum.

Derek said it was way better than the storebought pesto we’ve been using since we ran out of homemade pesto made from our summer CSA basil and frozen. Alma said she preferred the storebought pesto, and had some from the freezer instead of my homemade version.

We served the pesto with whole wheat farfalle noodles and steamed vegetables: broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and red bell peppers. Last time I put in mushrooms but no one but me liked them all that much. This time I threw a few chickpeas and kohlrabi slices into my dish, and quite liked the crunch that the raw kohlrabi added. Both Derek and Alma were happy with the dinner, and we have a jar (maybe two?) full of pesto to freeze for a quick dinner some other week. I steam my veggies in the same pot I cook the pasta in it, so if the pesto is made it’s basically a one-pot supper.

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Simple spinach omelet with fresh herbs

April 19, 2020 at 11:10 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Menus, Monthly menu plan, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes)

Now that Covid has forced us to stay home for all meals, we are trying to simplify our cooking / menu planning so we don’t spend all of our day in the kitchen. We have a weekly breakfast menu, with one or two choices for each day of the week.

  • Monday: amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce or amaranth almond raspberry parfaits
  • Tuesday: almond chia pudding with sour cherries and granola for crunch
  • Wednesday: tempeh or scrambled tofu with mango or a smoothie
  • Thursday: homemade granola with chopped apple
  • Friday: oatmeal or millet porridge (with grapefruit or another fruit).
  • Saturday: müsli with mixed berries and yogurt
  • Sunday (brunch): banana oatmeal pancakes or spinach egg omelet on an English muffin

We don’t always stick to our plan, but at least it gives us some rough ideas / structure.

Normally Derek makes the omelet, but he was taking a nap so I had to improvise. I washed a bag of baby spinach and then sauteed it in a little olive oil in a nonstick skillet. I beat three eggs in a bowl with a little milk and salt and pepper. When the spinach was wilted I made sure it was distributed evenly around the pan and then poured the eggs on top of them and let the eggs sit a bit, then gave them a quick careful stir/fold and let them firm up on the other side. I sprinkled a little grated cheddar cheese on them when they were still hot and transferred it to a plate.

I decided to skip the English muffin since we were having a starchy dinner, but when I set the omelet on the table Alma wasn’t looking so excited about the lunch. I suggested making it a little more fun by doing a blind taste. I got a bunch of herbs out of the fridge. I happened to have a lot of fresh herbs at the moment. I pulled out basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro, dill, mint, chives, and scallions. I am embarrassed to admit that I mis-classified cilantro as parsley. Alma thought it was hilarious. We had a lot of fun doing our blind taste tests and rating various combinations. Alma decided her favorite combination by far was the dill. She thought the oregano and cilantro were terrible, and I agreed with her. She said mint was pretty good, and chives, scallions, parsley, and basil were all okay. I agreed with her that the dill was good, but I didn’t care for the mint. I liked the scallions and basil and chives, but the basil and chive were both extremely subtle–almost impossible to notice if you weren’t told there was an herb there. I thought the parsley was unobjectionable but uninteresting.

For lunch we have been trying to do leftovers, to avoid cooking too many times a day, but Alma is often anti-leftover. To try to appease her accomodate for reheated food while keeping my life easy, we have tried to come up with some alternative but very easy lunches she can have if she doesn’t want leftovers. So far we have six ideas: 1) bean tortillas (with any leftover cooked veggies like greens or mushrooms or squash, or with fresh veggies like avocado, sprouts, bell peppers, cucumbers,…), 1) tofu sandwiches with sprouts and pickles, 3) a bean bowl with corn, beans, avocado, and sprouts, 4) apple and peanut butter or ants on a log, 5) edamame and mixed berries from the freezer, and 6) avocado sardine toast. (Alma eats fish, but I don’t, so this one I make Derek fix for her.)

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Instant Pot Chana Masala

February 26, 2020 at 10:58 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Instant Pot, Website / blog)

Yes, I am on an Instant Pot kick. I bought the pot but still don’t use it for all that much other than cooking beans and (occasionally) breakfast porridge. I really would love to find more Instant Pot recipes that the whole family loves. So I printed out a bunch of recipes and we’ve been working our way through them.

This recipe for Instant Pot Chana Masala is from the blog Spice Cravings. It’s interesting in that it has you cook the dry (but pre-soaked!) chickpeas in just a little water along with the onions, tomatoes, and spices that becomes the gravy. I would have thought you’d need more liquid to cook the beans, and it would come out too soupy. But it worked.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I wasn’t sure what crushed ginger is. I used minced ginger. I only used 1 seeded green chili, so Alma would eat it. I used the paprika option instead of the Kashmiri red chili powder. I used jarred tomatoes instead of fresh, and maybe 4 or 5 since they were quite small. I didn’t have any fennel so I left that out. (It’s optional in any case.) Finally, I forgot to add the roasted cumin powder at the end. I was also surprised the author says to add the garam masala at the beginning of the cooking. All my other Indian recipes always have you add it at the very end? I decided to be conservative and added it after I opened the instant pot.

Derek and I both really liked this recipe. Derek said it tasted better than most restaurant Chana Masalas. He said it needed spice though, and added cayenne to his bowl.

Alma refused to try the dish. She ate plain chickpeas instead.

It only calls for 1 cup of chickpeas. Next time I’d definitely double the recipe. Derek and I were fighting over the leftovers.

(I’m giving this the same rating as the Tortilla Soup recipe I just blogged, but we actually liked it quite a bit more. But it seems wrong to give it 4 stars after just trying it once.)

Update Jan 17, 2022: I made this recipe again but I doubled it. It didn’t come out perfect but Derek still said he loved it. I quick-soaked the beans and cooked them under pressure for I think 50 minutes but then I forgot to release the pressure after 10 to 15 minutes of natural release, and the chickpeas ended up extremely soft. There was also a huge amount of sauce. (I think I doubled the 2.5 cups of water, but next time I will try just using 4 cups total? Or maybe I will use totally dry/unsoaked chickpeas with the full 5 cups of water and 60 minutes cooking time and see how that works? Doubling it made quite a lot. I wonder if I can freeze it. If not then maybe I should just make 1.5x next time.

I put the garam masala in early and also added ground fennel, but still didn’t have any fenugreek and I forgot the paprika this time, but the dish was plenty flavorful.

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How to make a stir fry

February 4, 2020 at 9:39 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cooking tips, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan, Other)

I’ve always been terrible at stir-frying. You can see many of my previous stir-fry posts for evidence. When I try to wing it, it just doesn’t taste right. And when I try to follow a recipe, most of the time the result is disastrous. I’ve tried many recipes for “stir-fry sauces” over the years and they are almost always terrible, or full of processed store-bought sauces with very strange unpronounceable ingredients. So when one of Derek’s students made us a pretty yummy stir-fry , I asked him to come over and show me how to make it. It was a while ago now, so I’ve probably forgotten part of what I learned, but I’m going to try to record my lessons here.

  1. Tofu: He had me boil the tofu briefly, and it made the texture spongier and more absorbent, a bit more like frozen tofu.  He also had me cut the tofu into huge cubes, but Derek said I should cut them smaller next time. I just pan-fried them in my cast iron skillet the same way I usually do.
  2. Seasoning: We minced a lot of garlic and added some thinly sliced shallots. We also chopped up some cilantro, although I got some grief for getting the wrong (apparently not so flavorful) kind. That was it for seasoning, other than salt and soy sauce. We started by heating my 12-inch stainless steel skillet on high (as high as my oven goes, on the largest burner). When quite hot, we added quite a small amount of oil (1 tsp?) to it, then immediately threw in most (but not all) of the garlic and scallions. After a few seconds we added the slowest cooking vegetable (in our case carrots).
  3. Amounts and timing: We had to make two batches to have enough for all four of us (3 adults + Alma). But I was surprised at how quick it was to make the second batch, especially since we used all the carrots (the slowest veggie) in the first batch. The second batch (with pre-steamed broccoli and other quick cooking vegetables) just took a couple of minutes to make. I think if I was just cooking for Derek and Alma and myself, I could make one batch for dinner and a second batch to have “leftovers” for lunch the next day.
  4. Carrots: We had to add water to the pan in small amounts to get the carrots to cook not burn. Whenever the pan started to brown a bit we added some water.
  5. Broccoli: He said broccoli is a bit tricky, so we steamed it first, until it was almost cooked, and then we added it once the carrots were almost done cooking. That worked well and the final texture came out pretty good.
  6. Mushrooms: He said that the criminis I got weren’t so good for stir-fry, and shiitakes would be better. I think we added the mushrooms too soon, as they ended up a tad overcooked. I think they actually take less time than bell peppers.
  7. Bell peppers: These we cut into quite large pieces and added around the same time as the broccoli.
  8. Salt and soy sauce: We seasoned a bit as we went. I thought the soy sauce would burn since the pan was so hot but it didn’t seem to. He wanted me to taste it as we went for seasoning, but I didn’t want to. I hate tasting food before it’s done. I know, bad, bad cook.
  9. Final seasoning: When all the veggies were just about cooked we threw in the cooked tofu and the rest of the garlic/scallion mixture, along with the chopped cilantro. I was surprised at how tasty it ended up given that there was almost no oil and essentially no sauce.
  10. Cashews: He said they never put cashews in stir-fry, but we like them so I threw a bunch in the oven on low before we started cooking. They were nicely browned by the time the stirfry was ready, and Derek and Alma and I all thought they made a very tasty addition.
  11. Ginger and chilies: There was no ginger in our stirfry, but I missed it. The next time I made a stirfy I julienned some ginger into very thin batons and added them with the garlic and scallions. That way Alma could pick them out. I also ate my stir-fry with some Sambal Olek. I missed some spice.

Other veggies to try: bok choy, bean sprouts, snow peas, green beans, ???

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Instant Pot Creamy Wild Rice Soup

December 9, 2019 at 9:27 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Instant Pot, soup, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I’m in a couple of vegetarian Instant Pot groups on Facebook, and I keep seeing people rave about a recipe for wild rice soup. I decided to try it, but when I went to look for the recipe I actually found 6 different recipes! Which to try? I asked the group and they voted as follows.

I went and compared the two recipes with the top number of votes, and they’re actually almost identical. Both call for carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms in addition to the wild rice, and make the soup creamy by adding a roux made with butter, flour, and milk after the soup is cooked in the Instant Pot. The only difference is that Pinch of Yum calls for slightly more vegetables and broth than the Belly Rules the Mind recipe, and poultry seasoning and thyme vs. Italian seasoning, but otherwise they are the same.

The Cooking Carnival recipe is vaguely similar—it also has you make a roux, but calls for coconut milk.

In contrast, the Cardamom and Coconut recipe uses triple the mushrooms, even more broth than Pinch of Yum, and instead of making a roux with flour and milk and 6 Tbs. butter it calls for sour cream and cornstarch to thicken it and only 1 Tbs. of butter. The only herb is thyme.

The Life is No Yoke recipe is the most different. It uses pureed cashews to make it creamy and calls for white beans.

I decided to try the Pinch of Yum recipe, because it got a lot of votes, I like poultry seasoning (and don’t have Italian seasoning) and more vegetables sounded good.

The soup came out pretty well, but was a tad goopy in texture, even though I added an extra cup of broth. I think I might make slightly less roux next time. And I would add more herbs, but that might just be because my poultry seasoning was very old. Overall I’d say a solid B.

Derek really liked it, rating it B+ or A-. He said he wouldn’t change anything.

Alma (at almost 5) ate about half a small bowl then said she didn’t want anymore. She preferred the roasted vegetables I served on the side, especially the Jerusalem artichokes.

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Zucchini scallion chickpea-flour pancakes

August 18, 2019 at 10:31 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Peter Berley, Summer recipes, Website / blog)

Below I give my current version of Dreena Burton’s zucchini scallion chickpea-flour pancakes, as well as some notes on Peter Berley’s curried chickpea pancakes with scallions and cilantro. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ravioli with chard, hazelnuts and caramelized onions

May 1, 2019 at 11:11 am (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Spring recipes)

I first made this 101cookbooks recipe for hazelnut & chard ravioli salad last fall, except I wasn’t sure how Alma would do with the raw chard so I cooked the chard lightly. Both Derek and I really liked the flavor combinations and the textural contrasts, but Alma wouldn’t touch it. She wouldn’t even eat the ravioli out of it.

Then this week I got a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard and decided to make it again. This time I chopped the onions finely, in case it was the stringiness that Alma hadn’t liked I also left the caramelized onions and lemon zest separate, since Alma is pretty finicky about onions. she will happily eat them if she doesn’t notice them, but if I give her a bite of cooked onion she always says “bäh.”

Alma actually ate the dish this time, with the lemon zest, but without the onions. I thought that it was kind of boring without the caramelized onions. It really needs the sweetness to contrast with the very slightly bitter hazelnuts and greens. But with the onions…yum. Derek also loved it.

Update July 5, 2020: I made this again but only roughly followed the recipe. I first sauteed the chard stems and then threw in a lot of chard. (I need to weigh it, as measuring chard by cups is a fruitless endeavor.) I added a little of the cooking water from the raviolis to the chard when they were getting to dry. I added the lemon zest and hazelnuts directly to the dish this time, with no complaints from Alma. I did leave the caramelized onions on the side, but convinced her to do a blind taste test with and without onions. She said the bite without onions was way, way better. What?? The onions make the dish. Derek and I were very happy.

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How to roast jerusalem artichokes

November 3, 2018 at 10:42 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan)

I’m adding a brief post here because I keep forgetting how I roast sunchokes, and then I have to do a search all over again.

I basically follow the directions from Brad Farmerie, chef at Public and Saxon + Parole in NYC. He says that there’s no need to peel them. You just need to rinse them and cut them into finger-sized pieces, then blanch them for four minutes in heavily salted water. Toss them in olive oil and roast them in a 450 F oven until they’re soft and gooey on the inside and roasted crisp on the outside.

I don’t quite understand why, but he says that blanching them actually makes them crispier? In any case, we’ve tried it this way, and always like it. And I agree that trying to peel jerusalem artichokes is torture.

Update Dec 2019: Derek and Alma (at almost 5 years old) both love jerusalem artichokes cooked this way. I made roasted vegetables this week with carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, and jerusalem artichokes, and the jerusalem artichokes were the first to go.

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Simple chard or turnip green quiche

October 8, 2018 at 10:52 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Monthly menu plan, Spring recipes, Website / blog) ()

This is the only quiche I make regularly. I probably make it once every couple months. In the fall I use chard and in the spring when I can get them I use turnip greens / turnip tops or other dark leafy greens. Both Alma and Derek like this recipe a lot.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Banana Oat Nut Pancakes

May 27, 2018 at 11:13 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

We have tried a lot of banana oat nut pancake recipes. This recipe from Cookie and Kate is currently one of our favorites. We probably make it once every couple months. I usually add pecans as well. It’s not really a light and fluffy pancake — more hearty and dense, especially if you add blueberries. Read the rest of this entry »

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Toddler-approved hummus

January 27, 2018 at 10:07 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Middle East / N. Africa, Quick weeknight recipe, Website / blog, Yearly menu plan) ()

Alma likes storebought hummus, but never likes my regular homemade hummus. So I decided to try a new recipe. I did a google search and picked this random recipe for “Better than Storebought” hummus from www.inspiredtaste.net  I chose it because it had over 700 reviews and an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Plus it’s a relatively simple recipe, with a slightly different technique than I usually use. It has you blend the tahini and lemon juice first, before adding the chickpeas.

I doubled the recipe:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or 3 cups (500 grams) cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons (60 to 90 ml) water
  • Dash of ground paprika, for serving

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more, until the tahini is whipped, smooth, and creamy.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, and salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
  3. Add half of the (drained) chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Keep adding bean cooking liquid 1 or 2 Tbsp. at a time, until the hummus is the desired consistency.

I think I followed the recipe pretty closely. I added a tad more than 3 cups of chickpeas (maybe 530g?) and a little more lemon, and used the bean cooking liquid to thin it out instead of water. I also put in only about half the cumin, just in case it would cause Alma to not like it.

The hummus came out well. Derek loved it. He said it was bright and creamy and perfect. Alma wouldn’t eat it on carrot sticks, but did deign to eat it on spelt crackers. And a few days later she ate it happily on cucumbers! I liked it. It doesn’t taste like storebought, but it was yummy. I’d make it again. I might use slightly more tahini and less olive oil.

Update as of Feb 25, 2018:

I cut out the olive oil and cumin, and added more tahini than last time. I made a double batch:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (122g)
  • 1 cup tahini (227g)
  • 4 garlic cloves (mine weighed around 7g, but I think 12g would be more average)
  • 1.25 tsp. salt
  • 4 cup salted chickpeas (should have been about 656g, but mine weighed 725g)
  • about 7 Tbs. bean juice (I used 111g)

I first added the lemon juice and tahini to the food processor until fluffy. Then added the garlic and salt, then the chickpeas, and finally the bean juice. I thought it wasn’t quite as tasty as my last batch, but I’m not sure what the difference is. Maybe a tad too thick? Needed a little bit more liquid maybe?

It made about 5.5 cups maybe? I left 2.5 cups in the fridge and froze 2 cups. It’s kind of a pain to clean the food processor, so if it freezes well I think next time I’ll make an even bigger batch. Maybe 6 cups of chickpeas.

How I cooked the chickpeas: I cooked 1 pound 12 ounces chickpeas in my instant pot. I hot-soaked them over the morning in about 70 C water, to fill to the 3 liter mark. I also added about 1 3/4 tsp. of salt. I left the instant pot on keep warm.  When they seemed fully hydrated I cooked them under pressure for 17 minutes. They ended up soft (maybe a tad too soft for chana masala) but not quite as soft as last time. Maybe next time do 16 minutes, take some out, then cook the rest for hummus another few minutes? I used the still very warm chickpeas in the hummus, because I heard that makes a creamier hummus.

To decide how much tahini to use, I compared a few recipes.  This nytimes Zahav-inspired recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and a full cup of tahini!, but no olive oil (except to garnish). That said, the nytimes version seems to be a bastardized version of the chef’s original recipe. The version of Zahav’s recipe on food52 calls for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and only 2/3 cup of tahini, and the technique is different. Odd. This Ottolenghi recipe calls for 3 cups of chickpeas and 13.5 Tbs. (.84 cups) of tahini .

For reference, the amount of tahini for 4 cups of chickpeas ranges from 10.67 (Better than storebought recipe), 14 Tbs. (Zahav), 18 tbs. (Ottolenghi), to 21.33 (NYT version of Zahav’s). Lemon juice ranges from 4 Tbs. (Ottolenghi), 7 Tbs. (Zahav), 10.67 Tbs. (Better than storebought). And salt ranges from 1.33 tsp. salt (Better than Storebought), to 1.5 tsp. salt (Ottolenghi).

Update as of April 14, 2018:

I cooked 1.5 pounds of dry (unsoaked) chickpeas with 1.5 tsp. of salt in my instant pot for 55 minutes, and then went out and they ended up sitting on keep warm for around 3 hours I think. They ended up quite soft. Next time maybe I should add a bit less salt, just 1.25 tsp for 1.5 pounds of chickpeas or 1.5 tsp. for 1.75 pounds of chickpeas.

I made an even larger batch of hummus than last time (4x the original recipe), but I think it was too much for my food processor motor to handle, and also probably a bit too much for the freezer. Next time I’ll probably go back to the 4-cup of chickpeas version. Or divide it and make it in two batches.

  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (183g)
  • 1.5 cups tahini (341g)
  • 6 garlic cloves (around 16g)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin (I didn’t add this at first, but it was quite bland. Was better with the cumin.)
  • 1.5 tsp. (but see note below on the bean juice)
  • 6 cup salted chickpeas (984g)
  • about 10-11 Tbs. bean juice (about 173g) [I ended up needing to add way more liquid, maybe double? That’s probably why I needed less salt, since the bean juice was salted]

Here’s the original “Better than Storebought” recipe x4, for comparison:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • 8 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or 6 cups (1kg) cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup to 1.5 cups of bean cooking liquid

Update as of March 23, 2018:

How I cooked the chickpeas: I soaked just shy of 1 pound of chickpeas with plenty of salt and kombu for about 24 hours, drained them, then put them in the instant pot with a bit over 2 cups of water, so they were just barely covered. I cooked them on high pressure for 14 minutes, plus natural release. They came out well—salty and soft but not falling apart soft. I maybe could have done one more minute for hummus-soft beans.

When the beans were still warm I made one batch of hummus, but I was a bit short on tahini so I cut down on the lemon juice a bit too. My beans and aquafaba were quite salty, so I cut back on salt in the hummus. The hummus came out well.

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (122g) [I used a bit less, maybe 105g?]
  • 1 cup tahini (227g) [I ran out, and only used about 170g]
  • 8 or 9g of garlic
  • about 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cup cooked salted chickpeas (should have been about 656g, but mine weighed about 700-something grams)
  • about 8 or 9 Tbs. bean juice (more than 111g)

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Baked Cauli-tots

May 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

There are a million recipes online for cauliflower “tots”. They’re a fun change of pace from simple roasted cauliflower, and they’re easy to make in advance when you need a quick breakfast. Serve the cauli-tots with some already cooked beans and some fresh fruit and they’ll make a great breakfast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Restaurant-style sesame noodles

April 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Chinese, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Sauce/dressing, Tofu, Website / blog) (, )

I already have two sesame noodle recipes on my blog. The first recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East cookbook, and uses tahini. The second recipe is from Nancie McDermott’s Quick and Easy Chinese cookbook, and uses peanut butter. But lately we haven’t been making either of these recipes. Instead we’ve been making a version of the takeout-style sesame noodles recipe from Sam Sifton on the New York Times website. It uses both tahini and peanut butter. It’s clearly the winner. We make a whole meal out of it by adding pan-fried tofu, steamed broccoli, toasted sesame seeds, and various raw veggies. The last few times we’ve made this for dinner, Alma has scarfed it up. We just have to be careful not to make the sauce too spicy for her.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade Progresso-style Lentil Soup

April 19, 2017 at 2:54 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Monthly menu plan, My brain, soup, Winter recipes) ()

The first food that Derek ever cooked for me was a bowl of lentil soup. He very carefully opened up a can of Progresso lentil soup, and then worked long and hard to “cook” it. And cook it he did, not in the microwave but in a real pot on the stove! It was piping hot and delicious.

Both of us still love Progresso vegetable classics lentil soup, but we can’t get it here in Germany. It’s probably for the best though, as I try not to buy canned foods, plus the sodium levels are through the roof. Still, we miss it, and so I decided to try to make it myself. I looked online for a copycat recipe, but couldn’t find anything that seemed promising. So I just took a look at the ingredient list and nutritional label and gave it a crack. I haven’t had the real thing in years, so I could be off, but to both Derek and I my soup tasted just like the real thing.

The first time I made it Alma wouldn’t touch it (too brown and goopy I guess), but at some point she finally tried it and really liked it. Then the next time I served it she again rejected it. I reminded her that last time she had scarfed it up and that she had even chastised me for finishing all the leftovers. She tried it again and again happily polished off her bowl. Now, however, at almost 5 years old, she isn’t so excited again.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegetarian Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancakes)

February 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Japanese, Monthly menu plan, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

I was looking for a green cabbage recipe that a toddler would like, and I came across this pretty simple (albeit quite Americanized) vegetarian Okonomiyaki recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog. Alma generally likes pancakes, so I decided to give it a try. Below is a doubled version of the original recipe, with a few modifications. Derek and I like them a lot, and it’s a relatively quick recipe, so suitable for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday lunch.

One thing I was concerned about in terms of making this recipe kid friendly is the name. Luckily Alma doesn’t know the word “yucky” yet (she’s only learned the German “bäh” at daycare so far). But if she did I’d be worried about her thinking the name was Okonomi-yukky. Maybe if you’re serving this to kids for the first time you should call it Okonomi-yummy instead.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Modern Succotash with Fennel and Scallions

November 12, 2016 at 8:49 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Quick weeknight recipe) ()

So far Alma does not like fennel. I was looking for a recipe for fennel that she might possibly like, and I found this Cook’s Illustrated recipe for a modern succotash with corn, white beans, and (a little) fennel. She loves corn and generally likes white beans, so I figured it was worth a shot.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Curried cabbage, potatoes, and peas

July 2, 2016 at 8:51 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Indian, Monthly menu plan, Other, Starches)

This is a relatively straightforward recipe from the cookbook “660 Curries”. Both Derek and I really enjoyed it. It tasted authentically Indian, without being overwhelmingly rich.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tassajara warm red cabbage salad with sunflower seeds and raisins

July 2, 2016 at 2:56 pm (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

I’m trying to get more “purple” in, and wanted to use red cabbage, but never know what to do with it. I tried this Tassajara warm red cabbage recipe by way of 101cookbooks. Heidi says her version is less cheesy, less fruity, and less rich, but it still tasted plenty cheesy, fruity, and rich to us. Both Derek and I enjoyed it. Now that Alma is two, she likes it too. It’s a pretty sweet-tasting (and hence toddler-friendly) dish, due to the use of the raisins and balsamic vinegar, plus all the natural sugars in the cabbage and onions.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Asian-style baked tofu, toddler approved

May 22, 2016 at 9:46 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Baked tofu, Chinese, Derek's faves, Tofu) ()

I finally got a chance to try an easier version of the crisp marinated and baked tofu. I skipped the pressing and the cornstarch dredging steps and simply poured the marinade directly onto the tofu and baked it. It was a hit, both with Derek and with Alma. And I didn’t miss the cornstarch or pressing steps at all. I think the texture turned out just fine. Read the rest of this entry »

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My mom’s toddler-approved chana dal

April 14, 2016 at 11:13 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, breakfast, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Indian, Mom’s recipes, Spring recipes, Winter recipes) ()

My mom visited us in January and made us her favorite chana dal recipe for dinner one night. It was a hit, but we ate it all up immediately. So before she left she made us a second, doubled batch and froze it. We defrosted it a few weeks later and again it was a hit with everyone, including my 1-year-old. Since then I’ve been making a quadrupled batch of chana dal every two weeks. We eat it for dinner, freeze some of it, and eat the rest for breakfast a few days later. Then we defrost the frozen portion and have it for a dinner and a breakfast the following week. Sometimes we serve it with yogurt, but often we don’t. My now 14-month-old always eats it happily. When we have it for breakfast, I try to serve it with a piece of vitamin C rich fruit, often a grapefruit, an orange or clementine, or a kiwi. The only problem with the recipe is that it doesn’t have any vegetables in it. I’m curious to try adding some vegetables — maybe a bit of spinach or carrots? In the meantime, if I have leftover roasted or curried cauliflower, I will serve that as a side dish.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Green bean, kohlrabi, and celery stirfry

September 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, My brain, One pot wonders, Quick weeknight recipe, Tofu, Vegetable dishes)

Tonight was a “use what’s in the fridge and be quick about it” dinner. I threw together this stirfry and Derek liked it so much that he asked me to write up what I did. I didn’t measure or time anything, so below is just a best guess. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sautéed Cabbage with Miso and Scallions

March 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Quick weeknight recipe)

Alma is six weeks old tomorrow, and I’m finally finding a tiny bit of time to do some cooking. Derek brought home a savoy cabbage and a bunch of scallions, and I decided to try this Cook’s Illustrated recipe, even though it calls for green cabbage, not savoy cabbage. The recipe recommends soaking the cabbage briefly to reduce bitterness / sulfurous and provide extra moisture to help the cabbage steam. I wasn’t sure if the savoy cabbage needed this step, but I did it anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za’atar

January 9, 2015 at 4:09 pm (A (4 stars, love), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Middle East / N. Africa, Ottolenghi, Vegetable dishes, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

I had a butternut squash that was starting to go bad, and I asked Derek to choose a recipe to use it up. He chose this Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar, which I was happy about, because it would allow me to use up some of the zaatar I bought to make the last Ottolenghi recipe we tried (this za’atar spiced beet dip). You can find more comments about the recipe (and a photo!) on this seriouseats page. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pumpkin risotto with sage and arugula

December 31, 2014 at 4:30 pm (Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Italian, Meyer & Romano, Necessarily nonvegan, Starches, unrated, Winter recipes)

I’m doing an end-of-the-year pantry cleaning, and wanted to use up some risotto rice. Derek and I looked at a couple of different recipes and finally decided on this pumpkin risotto recipe from the Union Square Cookbook. The recipe first has you make a pumpkin broth using standard vegetable broth ingredients (onion, leek, celery, carrots, etc.) as well as 2 cups canned pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Once the broth is made, you make the risotto, adding diced winter squash along with the rice, and then tossing in fresh sage, arugula, and mozzarella right before serving. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tangy lentil salad with a sherry, dijon vinaigrette

July 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, French, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads) ()

This recipe is based on one from the Cook’s Illustrated “The Best Light Recipe” cookbook. The original recipe is for a lentil salad with scallions, walnuts, and roasted red peppers.  But when Derek makes this dish he usually just makes the lentils, and doesn’t bother to add the other ingredients.  He’s perfectly happy with just the lentils and the über simple mustard-olive oil-sherry vinegar dressing.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Turnip gratin

May 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Necessarily nonvegan, Root vegetables, Spring recipes, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

It’s (still) turnip time! So on to new turnip recipe #2 for this year: a rich and satifying turnip gratin inspired by this photo recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog. Read the rest of this entry »

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Miso tahini soup with turnips and colorful veggies

May 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Japanese, Miso, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, soup, Spring recipes, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

It’s turnip time! My farmer’s market here in Saarbruecken is full of beautiful bunches of white turnip, with the greens still attached. The name for these turnips is Mairübchen, literally “little May root” or “May root-let.” But they’re not little. Each turnip is about 2 to 3.5 inches in diameter. I’ve been buying lots of turnips just so I can eat the greens, but I had to figure out what to do with the turnips themselves.

I’ve never been a huge turnip fan, and I don’t have so many go-to recipe. I like them raw in salads, in soup (with leeks, potatoes, and chard), and in stews (like this tagine or Thai curry).  But I had one last delicata squash from the fall that was turning soft and needed to get used up, and some leftover brown rice int the fridge, so rather than making an old recipe, I decided to try a new recipe for miso tahini soup from 101cookbooks. I love Peter Berley’s miso-based tortilla soup with avocados, so the addition of avocado didn’t seem that odd. But a miso soup with tahini and lemon? I could not imagine it. Read the rest of this entry »

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