I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen LeBillon. I quite enjoyed the book, and—when it comes to preparing food for Alma—it gave me lots of “food” for thought. (Sorry!)
There are a number of interesting observations LeBillon makes in the book, but I’ll save them for another post. Today, I wanted to focus on the idea of starting dinner with a simple pureed vegetable soup. LeBillon says that the French start their meal with a soup several times a week. This soup is almost always a vegetable soup, and often a simple pureed vegetable soup. These soups supposedly make great starters for babies and toddlers, as they’re an easy way to introduce them to a lot of different vegetables. Also, it gives them a vegetable at the start of the meal, when they are most hungry. Finally, they’re really fast to make. Just saute some aromatics, throw in your veggies and broth, simmer briefly, and puree. All in all, that’s pretty easy, which is definitely a plus when it comes to cooking with a busy toddler underfoot. Finally, they freeze really well. You can freeze the soups in small jars and then defrost them quickly when needed—no need to scramble to put something healthy on the table at the last minute.
I thought I’d give it a try. I started with LeBillon’s simple French carrot soup with dill recipe. Although most toddlers seem to like carrots, Alma usually does not, I’m not sure why—maybe a texture issue? I thought pureeing them was worth a try. The first time I served it, Alma ate one very tiny bowl of it (a mise en place bowl), without too much complaint. She didn’t love it, but it helped that she’s just learned how to use a spoon, and so anything that requires a spoon is therefore very exciting. I had made quite a bit of soup, so I decided to take half of the leftovers and add in some roasted red bell pepper and jarred tomatoes, and pureed the soup again. I refrigerated a little bit of each soup, and froze the rest in small glass jars. The version with red bell pepper and tomato was definitely a bigger hit (with both Derek and Alma) than the straight carrot soup, but over the last several weeks Alma has eaten the plain carrot dill version several times, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so.
In the 70s and 80s many vegetarian restaurants offered some kind of brown rice bowl, which consisted of some combination of borwn rice, tofu, beans, veggies, and a sauce. In NYC in Angelica Kitchen they called it the Dragon Bowl. It’s simple, hearty, co-op food—nothing fancy, but tasty and filling. So when I asked Derek to pick a recipe for dinner last night, he picked this “brown rice supper” menu from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »
This is another recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. My mom picked it to make last week, as she had never tried celeriac before. I’ve mostly eaten celeriac pureed in soups or raw in salads, so I was also excited to try this recipe—the celery root is boiled but not pureed.
I say what we’ve been cooking instead of what I’ve been cooking, because with the new baby, Derek has been doing about as much cooking as I have, if not more. In the first few months he was mostly just making old standbys, but in the last week or two we’ve finally started to branch out and try some new recipes. I don’t have time to write full blog posts about each one, so I’ll write a short blurb here for each. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve seen this Yotam Ottolenghi beet dip recipe show up on several blogs lately, and although beets and goat cheese is a standard combination, I’ve never tried beets and goat cheese with Zaatar before. It sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try.
I used pre-cooked, pre-peeled beets, and so the recipe was pretty easy—just put everything but the garnishes in the food processor and blend. The puree tasted okay, but I could barely taste the za’atar, which was the reason I had picked the recipe in the first place. I ended up adding quite a bit more as a garnish on top of the puree. as well as more hazelnuts and goat cheese and scallions. (The garnishes seemed to disappear much faster than the beet dip.)
We ate the dip with pita bread, but it seemed to last an awful long time, given that it was only made from 6 beets. (Normally Derek and I could polish off 6 small beets in one or maybe two sittings.) Derek liked the dish more than me, but after we finally finished it I asked him if we should make it again, and he said no.
I think my main problem with the recipe is that it’s a dip. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t figure out what to dip into it other than pita bread, and I didn’t really want to eat a massive amount of pita bread. I think I would have liked it better as a salad with sliced beets.
My sister loves this recipe for a yam and peanut stew with kale, and has recommended it to me several times. She mentioned it again last week and coincidentally I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand (everything but the roasted and salted peanuts and the scallions). Hanaleah said that I could leave off both, since they’re just garnishes. So I decided to make it for dinner.
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 juice? I could not imagine it. Read the rest of this entry »
I was going to be home late on Tuesday, and so I asked Derek to bake some sweet potatoes, so that they’d be ready to eat when I got home. He asked me how and I said I didn’t remember exactly, but that they’re pretty forgiving. When I got home I found that he had rinsed them off, pricked the sweet potatoes with a knife in a few places, and put them on an (unlined) cookie sheet. He had been baking them at 375 for about an hour and they were not even close to being soft. I was surprised, as I feel like sweet potatoes are usually done after an hour in the oven. They were were quite large, but I think that even large sweet potatoes shouldn’t take much longer than an hour to get soft.
After 20 more minutes the potatoes were still hard. I poked the sweet potatoes a few more times and turned the oven up to 400. I also turned the sweet potatoes and added some water to the cookie sheet, to keep the skin from burning before the flesh got soft. After another 30 minutes or so they were finally done, but the cookie sheet was covered in burnt sweet potato juice. What a mess.
Clearly this wasn’t the optimal way to cook sweet potatoes. So what is? I did some quick internet research to try to figure it out. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve decided to go on an elimination diet for a month, to see if it helps my allergies. I chose the foods to eliminate based on how allergenic they seem to be in general, as well as the results of a skin-prick test I had years ago. I decided to eliminate the three big allergens—soy, dairy, and gluten—as well as a number of other foods.
Today was my first day of what I call my “allergy-free” diet and I got home from work quite late and found very little in the fridge, since we were out of town all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to do my normal Saturday morning shopping. Normally I would throw together a pasta dish or a stir-fry with veggies and tofu, but today I had to be a little more creative. I found some sweet potatoes and a jar of giant white beans in the pantry, and so I improvised what turned out to be a quite tasty dinner of sweet potato fries and white beans with leeks and dill and parsley. (I had chopped herbs in the freezer.) Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Jessica and I had a “fermenting afternoon” last week in which we made sauerkraut, kim chee, and these lacto-fermented ginger carrots. I was skeptical about the carrots for some reason, but ended up loving them. The carrots are not particularly sweet nor are they particularly gingery, but they add a nice crunch, a bit of salt, and a hit of brightness (both colorwise and flavorwise) to whatever you eat them with. They only ferment for three days, so they’re not particularly funky tasting, just very slightly acidic / vinegar-y / pickle-y. And they are quite versatile. They seem to go well with everything. Okay, maybe not oatmeal. But if it was a savory oatmeal made with miso and scallions and sesame seeds … Read the rest of this entry »
I love falafel, but I’ve never made them successfully myself. It doesn’t help that I detest deep frying. So I was quite curious about this baked sweet potato falafel posted on 101 cookbooks, originally from the Leon cookbook. Derek made these for dinner, and after “all that work” (okay, they weren’t really that much work) was quite disappointed with the final outcome. They weren’t totally bland, but the flavor didn’t excite us too much, nor did it remind us of falafel. And the soft, mushy texture was quite off-putting. We wouldn’t make the recipe again, even with major changes.
I wanted to title this post “Oven-baked autumn latkes with beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and fennel seeds,” but that seemed like a mouthful. In any case, these latkes are striking—they really show off the jewel tones of autumn. Plus, they’re tasty and satisfying. The sweet potato adds lots of natural sweetness and the beets contribute their great earthy depth. And I’m always a sucker for fennel. The original recipe is from Veganomicon, and is, as you would expect, vegan, but I un-veganified it because I generally think of latkes as having eggs in them. Read the rest of this entry »
My friend Jessica and I were trying to decide what to make for dinner. I wanted to use up some red cabbage, so she picked out this very seasonal recipe for tacos with roasted winter vegetables and red cabbage slaw. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe is from another cookbook that I “borrowed” from Spoons and Kathy: Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. When I returned home from California, my fridge contained (in addition to sauerkraut) a pack of eggs. And there were some soon-to-be-seeing potatoes in the pantry. So this recipe seemed like a good fit for a welcome home dinner. Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted to update my post on mixed roasted vegetables, but when I went to look for it I discovered there wasn’t one! I’ve been roasting vegetables for years, and I have never posted about it? Wow. Normally I roast vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet, but today I wanted to try to heal my cast iron dutch oven, and so I decided to roast the vegetables in it instead. I’ve always thought that a baking sheet (with its low sides) is better when it comes to roasting, because it lets the moisture escape and yields crispier edges. But my dutch oven roasted veggies turned out great. Better than normal, I would say. But I changed a few other things as well, so I can’t really make a direct comparison. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
I haven’t posted to this blog in a long time. Partly it’s because I’ve been traveling a lot, and partly because I’ve been cooking old, familiar recipes instead of trying new ones. But mostly it’s just that I’ve gotten behind. I have a stack of recipes that I’ve cooked and keep meaning to blog about, but never seem to get to. And the longer I wait the less I remember. But last night I made a new recipe that’s definitely worth blogging about. It’s a Moroccan-style tagine from the Angelica Home Kitchen cookbook by Leslie McEachern. Derek and I have tried vegetarian (or at least meatless) tagines at Moroccan restaurants before, and never really cared for them. The broth is always a bit boring and the vegetables bland and overcooked. And the couscous never really excites us. I decided to try this tagine recipe because it didn’t look like what we’ve gotten in restaurants! There are lots of spices and not much broth. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe from The Vegetarian Table: Italy (by Julia Della Croce) is for a Sardinian version of pasta e fagioli. It didn’t look too exciting to me. I like all the ingredients, but there didn’t seem to be anything to give it punch. But a friend told me it was one of his favorite recipes from the cookbook, so I figured I’d give it a try. It turned out it was delicious—much more than the sum of its parts. I have no idea why. Even Derek, who complained bitterly about me making soup again, liked it a lot. Read the rest of this entry »
This is another coconut curry with winter vegetables, but this one is from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, and I actually made it a few weeks before the recipe I just posted about. Unlike McDermott’s recipe, this one doesn’t call for curry paste. Instead you add the seasonings individually—garlic, jalapeno, ginger, ground coriander seeds, and turmeric. McDermott has you saute the curry paste and onion in some of the coconut milk, but Berley calls for 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Given that there’s a whole can of coconut milk in the recipe, I think I’d use McDermott’s method next time. The previous recipe called for mixed winter vegetables, but this one calls for only one large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks. Berley doesn’t give a weight for the sweet potato, but he does say that once cut it’s supposed to make 4 cups. That seems like a large sweet potato! Towards the end of cooking Berley’s recipe calls for 1 small bunch of collards greens cut into strips. I can’t get collards here, so I subbed in curly kale. The final step in the recipe is to garnish the stew with cilantro and lime juice.
The soup was paired with a recipe for crispy tempeh strips. The combination sounds good but I couldn’t get myself to deep-fry tempeh. It just seems like such a waste of oil!
Neither Derek nor I cared for this dish very much. There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se—it just tasted underseasoned. And unfortunately the kale wasn’t a good substitute for the collards. I guess kale just doesn’t go with these southeast Asian flavors. Although we didn’t like the dish that much, we had a guest over for dinner who quite enjoyed it. He said he doesn’t normally like coconut curries, but this one was excellent!
Back in Pittsburgh I used to make this recipe several times each winter. This dish has all four essential Thai tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. It tastes just like the curry you’d get in a restaurant, except the addition of vegetable broth results in a lighter dish that’s less overwhelmingly rich. The crunchy cashews make a nice textural contrast to the silky broth and creamy-soft vegetables. Based on a recipe from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai. Read the rest of this entry »
I had some chard and potatoes that needed to get eaten, and found this recipe in Georgeanne Brennan’s cookbook France: The Vegetarian Table. It looked pretty decadent (lots of butter plus cheese and a bit of heavy cream), but Derek liked how the picture looked and encouraged me to try it. Read the rest of this entry »
I was looking for a recipe that called for turnips, and came across this winter ragout in France: the Vegetarian Table by Georgeanne Brennan. It’s basically an oven-roasted stew full of big chunks of parnsips, turnips, rutabagas, and carrots. (I couldn’t find any rutabagas so I subbed in potatoes.) The stew also calls for ribbons of chard and caramelized shallots. At first glance I thought this recipe was for a French-style stew, but it’s seasoned with turmeric and raisins, and you’re supposed to serve it with yogurt and a mixture of dill, tarragon, mint, and chives. So there’s definitely a North African influence. Read the rest of this entry »
Beet and fennel salad is a standard combination. You’ll find hundreds of recipes for it on the internet. Some recipes call for roasting the beets and fennel, but I prefer the contrast of the crisp, raw fennel and the silky, smooth roasted beets. Many recipes omit the lettuce, but I think it helps bring the salad together, both literally and conceptually. Finally, I like to add hard-boiled eggs to this salad. It’s not traditional but I think beets and hard-boiled eggs just go great together. Traditionally this salad is dressed with a simple vinaigrette, sometimes made with the juice from the beets. But I like it with Annie’s Goddess dressing, of course. Even Derek, who groans whenever I say I’m making salad, really likes this salad. Read the rest of this entry »
I asked Derek to choose something to make for dinner, and he picked this menu out of the winter section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. It was a big undertaking! The menus in this book usually take under an hour, but I had to first make my own seitan. Even after the seitan was made, this menu took longer than an hour, mostly because peeling the shallots took forever. Luckily Derek liked the dish a lot, and I enjoyed it as well, so all that effort wasn’t wasted. Read the rest of this entry »
The lentils and potato in this stew create a hearty base, while the lemon, mint, and feta add brightness and lots of flavor. A bit of spinach adds more lovely green color, and more nutrients. Based on a recipe in the AMA cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe is quite simple but extremely tasty, and quite refreshing. The vibrant orange of the salad adds some loveliness brightness to our otherwise grey European winter days. The recipe is based on a recipe in Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, but I’ve modified it a bit to suit my own tastes. Here’s my in-progress version of the recipe. I’ve doubled the amount of carrots because carrot salad makes such nice leftovers, and I can eat it days on end without getting tired of it. If you don’t have a food processor and don’t feel like grating 2 pounds of carrots by hand, by all means cut the recipe back down. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek liked the Jamaican bean dish from AMA so much I decided to try another bean recipe from the same cookbook. This one looked somewhat similar to my black bean and sweet potato burritos, but much easier to put together. Read the rest of this entry »
I bought a bunch of carrots to make carrot halvah, but then Derek never got around to making it, so I decided to make carrot soup. I found this recipe for roasted carrot soup in Cook’s Illustrated “Best Light Recipe”. It calls for half chicken broth but I used all veg. broth. Read the rest of this entry »
I had leftover mashed potato/celery root, and Derek and although we really liked it when I first made it, we were both getting a bit sick of it. Then I came across a veggie burger recipe in the Rancho la Puerta cookbook that calls for mashed potatoes. I figured I could use up the rest of the mashed potato/ celery root in these burgers. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve never eaten at Northstar Cafe, but when I went looking for a veggie burger recipe I found tons of people raving about their veggie burgers, which are made with beets and black beans. A number of people have even tried to reconstruct the recipe. I decided to try the recipe from TheKitchn.com. Read the rest of this entry »
I bought a big celery root to make Locro last week, but I only used a small fraction of it. I decided to use the rest of it to make another recipe out of The Vegetarian Table: France by Georgeann Brennan. The recipe is titled “celery root and potato puree”, and for some reason I thought it was going to be a soup. But it turned out with a consistency more like mashed potatoes. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek and I are going to spend a few days in Paris next week–just in time for his 30th birthday! In anticipation of the trip, I recently bought the cookbook France: The Vegetarian Table, by Georgeann Brennan. The Vegetarian Table is a series of cookbooks written by different authors, one per country. In addition to the France cookbook, there is a cookbook for American, Japan, Indian, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, and North Africa. (When I lived in the co-op in college we had the Japan cookbook and I made excellent pickled ginger using their recipe._ One thing that I really like about the French cookbook is that it offers recipes using produce appropriate to every season. Mediterranean cookbooks so often rely almost entirely on vegetables that are local here only in the summer–peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc. But Brennan includes recipes that uses Spring vegetables, and ones that use vegetables that are available in the winter. Here in Saarbruecken we’re just starting to see the first of the Spring vegetables, but I’ve been stuffed up lately, and so I was craving hot soup rather than fresh Spring vegetables. I decided to try one of the winter recipes instead.
In my pantry I found a huge bottle of molasses with just 1 tablespoon of molasses still loitering at the bottom. I was trying to figure out how to use it up (freeing up pantry space), when I spied one last sweet potato leftover from a big winter sweet-potato push. I had a bunch of carrots that Derek bought yesterday at the Turkish market, and so I decided to make tsimmes. I was never a fan of tsimmes as a kid, so I didn’t want to follow a traditional recipe. Instead I created a more modern take, inspired by the orange-ginger sweet potatoes we made for passover and a honey and lemon glazed carrot recipe I used to make from the AMA cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »