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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Black-eyed peas smothered with leeks and tarragon

March 7, 2020 at 10:46 pm (101 cookbooks, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Fall recipes, French, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

I first tried this 101cookbooks recipe for black-eyed peas with leeks and tarragon a few years ago, but apparently I never blogged it. I make it probably once a year. Derek’s father loves tarragon, so I always make it when he’s here. It’s a lovely (albeit rich) way to serve black-eyed peas. You saute up a ton of thinly sliced leek until golden, then throw in the cooked black-eyes and the tarragon. If you have cooked black-eyed peas on hand, it’s a pretty fast recipe. Today I served it with the maple-mustard brussels sprouts I just blogged about and a side of wild rice.

The recipe calls for dried marjoram and tarragon, but I never have either on hand. Instead I just chop up lots of fresh tarragon and sprinkle it liberally into the dish. And I put more tarragon on the side for those who like it extra-tarragony.

Derek and I both really enjoy this dish, but Alma doesn’t like the tarragon flavor, and always asks for plain black-eyes instead.

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Simple parsnip puree

December 25, 2019 at 9:25 pm (A (4 stars, love), Fall recipes, French, Other, Root vegetables, Spring recipes, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan) ()

If I find nice parsnips at the store then about 90% of the time I roast them. I find that if you try to roast them directly them end up dry and burnt. They turn out the best if they are steamed first, then roasted. But occasionally I get a big bag of parsnips from my CSA and I’m not in the mood for roasted parsnips. Then what? I like to grate them and use them to make chard parsnip patties. I add them to soup, like lentil soup or matzoh ball soup. Occasionally I’ll serve them mashed with potatoes and topped with balsamic-roasted seitan. But sometimes I just want pure parsnip flavor, and then this is the recipe I turn to. I first made it last fall and since then I’ve made it at least four times.

This recipe makes a lot. If you’re not having company then I’d probably just make 1 pound of parsnips. Last time we made the whole recipe just for us we ended up throwing out half of it because everyone got sick of it.

Unlike mashed potatoes, parsnip puree reheats well. I’ve even brought it to a potluck before. The recipe is pretty easy, but somehow tastes much fancier than it actually is. This recipe is based on a recipe from the cookbook Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, but I’ve changed it to reduce the cleanup a bit. Moulton says she got the idea of reducing the cooking liquid from Julia Child.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick.
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter or 4 Tbs. cream
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Peel and slice the parsnips. (Save the stem ends and peelings for vegetable broth.) Note that the diameter of the disks isn’t as important as the thickness. The thinner they are the faster they will cook.
  2. Place the peeled and sliced parsnips in a large saucepan (3 to 4 quarts) and barely cover with boiling water. (The parsnips on top don’t have to be entirely submerged.) Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer (uncovered) until tender. If your top parsnips aren’t totally submerged, give them a stir about halfway through. Moulton says this step should take about 25 to 30 minutes, but I think it’s closer to 15 minutes? Max 20.
  3. Drain the parsnips, but reserve the cooking liquid! Leave the parsnips in the colander and return the liquid to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil rapidly until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Turn off the heat.
  4. Return the parsnips to the pan and add the butter or cream. Use a stick blender to puree the parsnips. (For a finer, perfectly smooth puree you can use a food processor, but I find that a stick blender works well enough and is much easier to clean.) Season with salt and pepper. If you need to, need to return the pan to very low heat to warm the puree up again before serving it.

This recipe makes about 3 cups, or about 4 very large servings, 6 normal servings, or 8 smaller servings.

What to eat it with: Tonight I made the parsnip puree and green beans (steamed from frozen). Derek had them with duck, and I had some chorizo veggie sausages. I really liked the combination of the spicy, salty veggie sausages with the sweet parsnip puree and slightly chewy, moist green beans.

Last year Alma would never eat this dish. (She doesn’t like mashed potatoes either—something about the texture I think.) But tonight (at almost 5 years old) she ate her entire (small) serving! We’ll have to see what she thinks next time, but for now I’m marking this recipe preschooler approved.

Update Sept 23, 2020: I made this dish tonight, but I think I cut my parsnips too thick, and they took a long time to fully soften. By the time they were really soft almost all of the cooking liquid had boiled away. So I skipped the draining / liquid reducing step and just pureed the parsnips right in the pan. I ended up adding a bit of milk to think them down a bit. They turned out great. No lumps at all. Even Alma, who at first said “yuck,” admitted they were really good. Derek said the meal tasted like something he would get at a fancy restaurant. 🙂 I also made a butternut squash puree. (I cooked it in the same pan as the parsnip, but it cooked much faster.) Alma said the butternut squash puree was fine, but she preferred the parsnip. Derek said he though the butternut squash puree would be better in a burrito. Maybe I put too much nutmeg in it.

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Oven-roasted Ratatouille

August 31, 2019 at 10:22 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cook's Illustrated, Italian, Summer recipes, Vegetable dishes, Yearly menu plan)

Before I got pregnant with Alma I hated eggplant. So I never tried making ratatouille. But since my pregnancy I’ve learned to like eggplant. And I got eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers from my CSA this week. It was time to try making ratatouille.

I chose the “Walkaway Ratatouille” recipe from Cook’s Illustrated to try.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil + 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 large onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ pounds eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped coarse (or one 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes that have been drained and chopped coarse)
  • 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Crush and peel your garlic and chop your onion.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat ⅓ cup oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and starting to soften, about 10 minutes. While the onions are cooking, cut up the eggplant.
  3. Add herbes de Provence, pepper flakes, and bay leaf and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Stir in eggplant and tomatoes. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and stir to combine. Transfer pot to oven and cook, uncovered, until vegetables are very tender and spotty brown, 40 to 45 minutes. While you’re waiting, cut up your zucchini and bell peppers.
  4. Remove pot from oven and, using potato masher or heavy wooden spoon, smash and stir eggplant mixture until broken down to sauce-like consistency. Stir in zucchini, bell peppers, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and return to oven. Cook, uncovered, until zucchini and bell peppers are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from oven, cover, and let stand until zucchini is translucent and easily pierced with tip of paring knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Using wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits from sides of pot and stir back into ratatouille. Discard bay leaf. Stir in 1 tablespoon basil, parsley, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to large platter, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil, and serve.

My notes:

I mostly followed the recipe except I used “only” 5 Tbs. olive oil total, halved the salt (since I was using fine salt not kosher), was a little bit short on eggplant, and didn’t have fresh parsley so used some extra basil. Also, I forgot to add the sherry vinegar at the end, which was particularly sad since we all made a special trip to France this morning to get it! (I can’t find sherry vinegar in my German grocery stores.). Also, I added a bit more herbes de provence then the recipe called for. I didn’t use my fresh CSA tomatoes (seemed a waste). Instead I used two German jars of whole tomatoes. I drained them and crushed them right into the pot. I also shorted all the cooking times a bit because I started cooking dinner too late and was in a rush.

Derek and I liked it. Alma ate a little of the ratatouille, but she found it a bit too spicy (even from just a 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes!).

I thought that the flavors were balanced with a nice mix of roasted and fresh flavors.  And the combination of texture was also nice, with the mashed eggplant and onions and tomatoes contrasting with the less cooked zucchini and bell peppers. I particularly liked that the bell peppers were almost still crisp, but our zucchini was a tad on the raw side. I think next time I’d cut the zucchini a bit smaller and the bell peppers a bit bigger. Since I halved the salt it was a little bit undersalted, but I served with an oversalted polenta (not sure how that happened), so it balanced out. I really liked the combination with the polenta, but Derek said he thought it would be better on pasta. When I looked online people recommended eating it on bread, or as a side with meat or fish. Derek added parmesan to his.

The recipe did take a while to make, but it felt pretty simple. And it only got one pot dirty, which is a big plus in my book! Most of the work is just roughly chopping some vegetables, and you can chop a lot of the veggies while the earlier veggies are cooking.

The recipe made a lot, but I actually wish it had made a bit more! I think next time I make this I will try using a little more of all the vegetables, but cut the oil down to 1/4 cup. And I won’t peel the eggplant. That was just depressing seeing the beautiful purple eggplants turn into wan white spongy fruits, sad and embarrassed in their undressed state. Finally, I will make it on a cooler day! Turning the oven on really heated up the kitchen.

I’m also kind of curious to compare this recipe to Alice Waters’s ratatouille.

If you don’t have any herbes de provence, you can make your own using equal parts of rosemary, thyme, and marjoram and 1/3 as much fennel seeds. If you want a floral blend, also add 1/3 as much dried lavender. So for this recipe, for example, you could use 1/2 tsp. of each of the herbs and 1/6 tsp. each of fennel (and lavender if you want).

Update October 2019: About six weeks after posting this I made a different roasted ratatouille recipe from a new cookbook I just got: River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Instead of roasting the veggies in a dutch oven, you do it on a cookie sheet. The regular version has you make a tomato sauce on the stovetop, but the variant I tried has you omit the tomato sauce and instead roast a bunch of tomatoes on a separate tray from the other veggies and then mix them all together at the end. Both Derek and I really liked the recipe. It was extremely rich, with tons of olive oil, but therefore also very satisfying. And it didn’t seem greasy. Derek thought he liked it more than the usual ratatouille because of the lack of tomato sauce. Alma wouldn’t eat it, as usual with ratatouille. I can’t really compare this recipe to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, since they were six weeks apart. But my best guess is that this one was simpler and tastier? But I did use all the oil, whereas I halved the CI oil, so maybe it’s not a fair comparison.

 

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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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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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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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Bean, barley, cabbage stew with bear garlic pesto

April 12, 2014 at 10:21 pm (101 cookbooks, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Beans and greens, Derek's faves, Grains, Miso, One pot wonders, soup, Vegetable dishes, Yearly menu plan)

I found some small red beans in the Turkish store near my house last week. I snapped them up, excited to add something a bit different to my usual rotation (black beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, various kinds of dals, chickpeas, and split mung beans). I cooked up a big pot of red beans, then had to figure out how to make a full dinner out of them. I searched all my cookbooks for recipes for red beans (with the convenient eatyourbooks.com website) and found this 101cookbooks recipe for a farro and bean stew. Amazingly, I had (almost) all the ingredients.

The recipe looked pretty plain. It’s just veggies and beans and grains without any spices or herbs, not even garlic—the only seasoning is salt. So I decided to use the Bärlauch I had in the fridge to make a Bärlauch pesto. I tried to look up what Bärlauch is called in the states, and found a number of translations. Wikipedia says “Allium ursinum – known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic – is a wild relative of chives native to Europe and Asia.” It’s a broad, bright green leaf that tastes strongly of garlic, and (as I discovered this week) lasts quite a long time in the fridge! I had it in a plastic bag in the fridge all week and it didn’t seem at all the worse for the waiting. Read the rest of this entry »

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Miso harissa delicata squash with kale and pepitas

December 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm (101 cookbooks, A (4 stars, love), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Root vegetables, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

Derek always loves what he calls “harissa pasta“, so I figured I should try out the one other harissa recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog. This recipe was originally called roasted delicata squash salad, but that’s pretty boring so I re-dubbed it with a more descriptive name.  The recipe has some problems, primarily that the ratio of vegetables to sauce seems way off.  It calls for a pretty small (3/4 pound) delicata squash, 1/2 pound of potatoes, and just 1.5 ounces of kale.  We prepped all the veggies and then just stared at them, amazed at how little food it was. So we added another 1/2 pound of potatoes and some more squash, a total of about 1 pound 2.5 ounces before removing the seeds.  The only other change we made was steaming the kale briefly, because our German kale was extremely tough and very unpleasant to eat raw.  Also, my harissa isn’t the best so I added some cumin to it.  The final dish was very rich and very tasty, with strong salty, acidic, umami, and spicy notes, but  all in perfect balance.  The squash even contributed some sweetness, so it was really hitting all six tastes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Smashed potato salad with escarole

July 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm (A (4 stars, love), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, Website / blog, Yearly menu plan)

I’m not a huge fan of mashed potatoes, but I like this recipe a lot. The escarole adds plenty of texture and bulk and the olive oil and lemon juice and zest make it very flavorful. It’s based on a Mark Bittman recipe. He says the olive oil takes mere potatoes and greens from “humble to sublime.” Bittman says to peel the potatoes, but don’t do it–the skins are the best part! Bittman says any bitter greens will work, and recommends trying it with radicchio, dandelion, endive, or chicory.  Usually I just make it with quite mild escarole, but I’d like to try it with some of the more bitter greens someday. This dish is good hot, but it’s also good as leftovers at room temperature. It would make a nice dish to bring to a picnic. I tend to make it whenever I get a big head of escarole in my CSA basket, and I happen to have some potatoes on hand. Otherwise I use the escarole to make escarole and beans with tomato sauce. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted winter squash and seitan with curry butter and apple cider

November 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm (A (4 stars, love), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan) ()

This recipe is from the autumn section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  It’s paired with a recipe for stuffed lettuce, kind of like cabbage rolls except with romaine lettuce leaves instead of cabbage.  I haven’t tried the stuffed lettuce yet, but I’ve made this squash recipe many times. It’s very easy and always a hit. I usually make it with red kuri squash, which has a nice flavor and texture and a thin skin that doesn’t need to be peeled. When I make it with red kuri squash, I call it curried kuriRead the rest of this entry »

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Chipotle roasted potatoes

November 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm (A (4 stars, love), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

This is the recipe that Peter Berley (in Fresh Food Fast) pairs with the baked escarole and eggs recipe that I blogged about yesterday.  The potatoes are steamed briefly (to speed up the roasting time) and then tossed with crushed cumin, garlic, salt, chipotles in adobo sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh thyme, and paprika.  Then the potatoes are baked on a cookie sheet at a very high temperature until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.  Berley warns in the headnotes that these are “some really spicy roasted potatoes,” but I chose small-ish chipotles, and our potatoes turned out spicy but not as fiery as I expected.  I liked the potatoes a lot, and Derek loved them.  There’s something about spicy, crispy roast potatoes that’s just very satisfying on a cold autumn day.  And the lemon juice and garlic add a little acidity and bite, which contrast nicely with the dark, roasted, smoky flavors of the cumin, paprika, and adobo sauce. Read the rest of this entry »

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Celery salad with green apples, walnuts, and mustard vinaigrette

March 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm (A (4 stars, love), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, French, Peter Berley, Salads, Spring recipes, Winter recipes, Yearly menu plan)

This recipe is in the winter section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while now.  Berley says that the salad is “all about the nuance of crunch. The green apple, celery, and walnut each have a different yet complementary toothsome quality in the mouth.”  It seemed like a great winter salad, but I was nervous about making this recipe because Derek normally isn’t too excited about celery.  I thought I might have to eat all four servings myself.  I shouldn’t have worried though — Derek loved it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grilled cheese with cheddar, jalapeno, lime, garlic, and sage

November 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, Derek's faves, My brain, Necessarily nonvegan, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Yearly menu plan)

I don’t remember the last time I made a grilled cheese sandwich.  But we finally found cheddar that we like here in Saarbruecken, and I decided to celebrate by making grilled cheese.  I didn’t want to make just a regular old boring grilled cheese, though, so I pulled out various flavorful additions I had in the fridge:  jalapeno, sage, garlic, and lime. Read the rest of this entry »

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Decadent brownies

June 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alice Medrich, Alma's faves, Brownies and bars, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Dessert, Necessarily nonvegan, Yearly menu plan)

This recipe happens to come from Alice Medrich’s low fat cookbook (Chocolate and the Art of Lowfat Desserts).  But to my taste it makes the perfect brownie: intense chocolate flavor and a little gooey in the middle but with a perfectly textured brownie top. Read the rest of this entry »

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Best ever tofu and spinach enchiladas

January 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm (A (4 stars, love), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Farm recipes, frozen tofu, Mexican & S. American, Mom’s recipes, Tofu, Vegetable dishes, Yearly menu plan)

Most tofu enchiladas are awful.  Normal tofu just doesn’t have the right texture for enchiladas.  My mom’s enchiladas are different, however.  They’re based on a recipe they used to make on the Farm, which uses frozen, marinated, and baked tofu that has a chewy texture and deep, umame flavor.  When I was a kid and my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner, I invariably requested tofu enchiladas. The enchiladas were simple, American-style enchiladas, made from flour tortillas filled with savory tofu chunks and then covered in a tomato, chili gravy and baked in the oven.    They were simple, but amazingly delicious.  More recently my mom has started adding vegetables to her enchiladas, and I’ve followed suit.   I usually add some combination of spinach, corn,  peppers, and onions, but I’m sure other veggies would also be good. (Last updated Jan 1, 2014.)

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Moroccan tempeh tagine with spring vegetables

June 4, 2009 at 1:59 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Grains, Middle East / N. Africa, Peter Berley, Spring recipes, Tempeh, Yearly menu plan)

I finally found tempeh in Saarbrücken.  I’m so excited!  It’s a beautiful tempeh too:  big and fat and covered in a soft white layer that looks almost like paper.  I tried to take it off at first before I realized it was part of the tempeh.  Rather than use the tempeh in one of our old tempeh recipes, we decide to try a new one from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.  We chose one of the spring menus:  charmoula baked tempeh with vegetable couscous.  Apparently charmoula is a spicy Moroccan marinade.  Derek was worried, as he claims not to like Moroccan food but I thought the combination of spices looked good. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chickpea and Spinach Curry

October 12, 2006 at 4:30 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Beans and greens, Derek's faves, Indian, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, Yearly menu plan) ()

After Derek returned from Australia he suggested I check out “Bill’s” cookbooks. Apparently he ate at Bill’s restaurants a number of times in Sydney, and really enjoyed the food. This recipe is from Bill’s Open Kitchen by Bill Granger.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 or 2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 14-oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 100 g (3 1/2 ounces) baby spinach leaves
  • Serve with: plain yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large deep frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic, ginger, chili and salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the chickpeas, 1/4 cup water, cumin, turmeric and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until the water evaporates.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes to soften. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Stir through the spinach and top with yogurt.

Derek really loved this dish, and I thought it wasn’t bad. It’s a relatively simple curry, but surprisingly tasty. It’s somehow more than the sum of it’s parts. This curry is very fast and easy to make if you use canned chickpeas and pre-washed spinach.

This recipe makes about 4.5 cups and I found that 1.33 cups with 2/3 cup of nonfat yogurt makes a filling dinner. Together with the yogurt, using 1 Tbs of oil, one servings has 412 calories (18% fat, 21% protein, 61% carbs), and also 47% of calcium, 33% of iron, 43% of vit A, 67% of vitamin C, and 15.4g of fiber.

After making it a few more times, I recommend using only one can of chickpeas and 1 Tbs. of oil, and decreasing the salt. Alternatively, use 2 cups of chickpeas but increase the seasoning. For example, with 2 cans of chickpeas I’d probably use 8 ounces of spinach, 2 green chilies with seeds, more garlic, and a full tablespoon or more of ginger. This makes about 4 main course servings.

Rose: B+
Derek: A-

Update 8/8/2007: I made this last night, using only 1 Tbs. olive oil, and regular mature spinach from my CSA. I didn’t have fresh tomatoes so used one 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. I was also out of ginger. Despite my deficiencies, the curry was pretty good–and it even with less oil it was certainly rich enough in my opinion. I though it could use more spinach, since it seemed to be mostly chickpeas. Also, I think the yogurt (or something creamy and bland) is essential to balance the flavors.

To try next time:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced (or minced for Alma)
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced (or minced for Alma)
  • 1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger (Alma doesn’t like ginger, so better to finely slice it so she can pick out the pieces from her dish)
  • 2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped (omit for Alma)
  • 1.25 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1.5 large jars of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 250 – 300g (9 – 10.5 ounces) spinach leaves
  • Serve with: plain yogurt

Update March 2010: I made this using 125 grams of baby spinach, 1 can of chickpeas, and 1 can of diced tomatoes.  Derek thought it needed more chickpeas.  He didn’t like it with canned tomatoes as much as he does with fresh cherry tomatoes.  He lowered his rating to a B+.  I thought it was pretty similar to the previous versions, but I liked it with fewer chickpeas.  My main beef with this recipe is that it just doesn’t taste like a curry to me.  It’s pretty fresh and healthy tasting, and very easy to make.  But I just don’t love it.

Update August 2010: I made this using 200 grams baby spinach, a large can of chickpeas (about 450 grams of cooked beans), 2 very large cloves of garlic, just a small nub of ginger minced (not grated), 1 medium red onion, 3/4 tsp. sea salt, 1 tsp. cumin,  3/4 tsp. cumin, 3 very hot Thai red chilies, 1 Tbs. olive oil, and about 300? grams of cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market.  At the end I stirred about 1 cup of nonfat yogurt directly into the skillet with the chickpeas and spinach.  The curry came out very spicy but quite tasty.  I just should have waited to stir in the yogurt, because the curry was too hot and my yogurt separated.  This time Derek rated it A- again, and I quite liked it quite a bit as well.  I think it’s much better with cherry tomatoes.  They really add a nice texture:  B+.

Update June 2019: I made this recipe once last fall and Derek and I quite enjoyed it, and Alma ate it, albeit somewhat grudgingly. But today (at almost 4.5 years) Alma took one bite and burst into tears. “I don’t like it! I want something from the freezer! I want frozen peas or corn! I want a smoothie bomb!” She was distraught. She didn’t like the cooked tomatoes. She didn’t like the ginger. She didn’t like the spinach. (She generally likes greens but spinach is generally her least favorite green.) She didn’t like that it was all mixed together. I’m sure it didn’t help that the main ingredient was chickpeas. Chickpeas used to be a safe bet, but she hasn’t eaten them the last n times I served them.  She said she was just going to eat plain yogurt for dinner, but eventually threw some plain chickpeas and raw tomatoes into the yogurt as well.

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Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

October 11, 2006 at 12:44 am (Alma's faves, AMA, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, Quick weeknight recipe, Yearly menu plan) ()

This is a great fall dessert. I make it at least once or twice each fall when I first see fresh cranberries in the stores. The pumpkin and cornmeal give this bread a great texture and the cranberries are marvelously tart. I made it last year for Thanksgiving and everyone liked it. This is based on a recipe in the AMA Family Health cookbook. I’ve decreased the sugar, doubled the number of cranberries, and swapped out half the flour for whole wheat flour. It was good to start with, and now I think it’s even better! The traditional look is to bake this in a loaf pan but I think it holds together better and has a better (crispier) texture when baked in a standard cake pan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chilaquiles

October 5, 2006 at 12:43 am (A (4 stars, love), breakfast, Derek's faves, Mexican & S. American, Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Yearly menu plan)

This was always one of my favorite dishes growing up, and now it’s one of Derek’s favorites too. Whenever I ask him “What should we make” his answer is invariably “chilaquiles.” They’re great for brunch, and along with a vegetable or salad make a great last-minute dinner. Even though my mom gave me her recipe, hers are still always better than mine. I’m hoping to someday learn her secret!

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