Smokey Roasted Cauliflower and mushroom Soup

 We have mushrooms and cauliflower, what’s for dinner?

In the refrigerator we had cauliflower and mushrooms and that was about it. I wanted to roast the cauliflower, but had no idea how I was going to add mushrooms and onions to come up with a satisfying dish. That’s when Gabe suggested I make a soup. With the cold weather and limited ingredients that sounded like a great idea.  Since we have an abundance of dried peppers, it’s no surprise that he also suggested that I add chile powder to the recipe.

cauliflower soup closeup

The four main ingredients listed below make a creamy, warming winter soup. Continue reading Smokey Roasted Cauliflower and mushroom Soup

Curds of Soy Milk…Yum?

You Say, “Tofu”,

I Say, “Curdled Soy Milk”

curdled soymilk
One of the last steps of making tofu involves using a slotted spoon to transfer soy milk curds to a tofu mold.

 

Tofu is made from the curds of soy milk. You got it, curdled soymilk. Not the bad kind of curdle, indicating spoilage, but the kind forced by a good chemical reaction. If you never really cared for tofu, that last bit of information probably just affirmed your dislike. It took me a while to come around to actually liking tofu. I found it to be bland and sometimes rubbery.  I had to explore the many methods of preparing and marinating before I started to enjoy it. If done right, fresh homemade tofu has a subtle flavor and a nice light and fluffy texture. Continue reading Curds of Soy Milk…Yum?

Lime and Coconut Yogurt Tempeh with Lemongrass Risotto

Lime coconut yogurt tempeh with lemongrass rissoto and baby kale
Lime and coconut yogurt tempeh with lemongrass risotto and baby kale.

Lemongrass is amazing! Not only is the plant a looker, it smells fabulous.

I have been watching videos on how to harvest, prepare, and propagate lemongrass. It’s time to use it in a recipe.

I cut a few of the fattest lemongrass shoots as close to the root as I could get. Then I removed some of the outer leaves revealing pink near the bottom of the stalk, turning to yellow and then green going up the shoot.
I cut a few of the fattest lemongrass shoots as close to the root as I could get. Then I removed some of the outer leaves revealing pink near the bottom of the stalk, turning to yellow and then green going up the shoot.
I thinly sliced the very bottom of the shoot up to where it started to turn green. Then I used a spice grinder to pulverize the sliced lemongrass.
I thinly sliced the very bottom of the shoot up to where it started to turn green. Then I used a spice grinder to mince the sliced lemongrass. I cooked the minced lemongrass with onions, garlic, and ginger as part of the risotto.
I sliced the green part of the shoot lengthwise and used the side of the knife to crush or bruise the shoot a little.
I sliced the green part of the shoot lengthwise and used the side of the knife to crush or bruise the shoot a little.
. I put the green part of the shoot in the vegetable broth at a slow rolling boil for about ten minutes. I then simmered the broth while I made the risotto.
I put the green part of the shoot in the vegetable broth at a slow rolling boil for about ten minutes.

The only method for cooking risotto that I have tried is the traditional method of adding a 1/2 cup of liquid at a time and letting that liquid reduce while stirring often. I don’t mind this method, but I have done some research and have found recipes that suggest less tedious methods.

Lemongrass risotto closeup
The pan fried tempeh made my mouth water!

To Gabe’s chagrin, I am not a huge fan of adding processed oils to our food. I know fats add flavor and are important in our diet, but when possible, I prefer to use fats from whole foods like avocado or nuts and seeds. That being said, this tempeh was awesome fried up in canola oil. It tasted so different from the marinated baked tempeh I usually prepare.

tempeh yogurt lime
Sliced tempeh, vegan coconut yogurt (plain), and fresh lime juice.

Vegan yogurt is something new to me. Recently I tried a plain soy yogurt and a plain “Greek style” coconut yogurt. I have to say I prefer the taste of the coconut yogurt. The soy yogurt brand I tried was quite sweet for a plain yogurt. I was hoping for more of the astringent qualities of plain dairy yogurt. I sliced the tempeh and added it to a marinade of coconut yogurt, lime juice and salt. I have prepared this ahead of time and placed it in the refrigerator, but I have also prepared it and cooked it right away.

Sliced tempeh coated with plain coconut yogurt, lime juice, and salt.
Sliced tempeh coated with plain coconut yogurt, lime juice, and salt.

Don’t forget the greens!!! When the risotto was finished cooking I added raw baby kale leaves, letting the heat from the risotto wilt them. Spinach would work as well.

lgrisottoplate3

Ingredients

For the Tempeh

½ cup of plain coconut yogurt

2 TBSP lime juice

¼ tsp. salt

1-8oz package of tempeh, slice into ¼” strips

1 TBSP Canola oil for frying tempeh

For the Risotto

1 TBSP canola oil

1 white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ TBSP fresh ginger, grated

1 TBSP fresh lemongrass, minced

2- 4” upper green part of lemongrass

1 cup Arborio rice

½ dry white wine

3-4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup whole baby kale leaves

Directions

For the tempeh
  1. In a bowl mix together coconut yogurt, lime and salt. Add tempeh slices to yogurt mixture, coating well.
  2. Working in two batched heat ½ TBSP oil in frying pan over medium high heat. Add half of the coated tempeh in a single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the remaining ½ TBSP of oil and remaining tempeh.
  3. Put tempeh on a plate, cover with foil and hold in a 200F oven while cooking risotto.
For the Risotto
  1. Slice the upper green part of the lemongrass lengthwise and bruise the shoot by pressing down on it with the side of a chef’s knife and the palm of your hand. Place the shoots in a pot with the vegetable broth and bring to a slow rolling boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  2. In a separate pot heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and minced lemongrass. Cook for one minute.
  3.  Add rice mixing it well with the aromatics and oil in the pot. After a few minutes rice will change color slightly and become pale, add white wine. Stir often until wine is completely absorbed.
  4. Add vegetable broth in ½ cup increments, avoiding the shoots which will be discarded at the end. With each ½ cup of broth stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Test rice after 15 minutes for doneness. Continue ½ cup cooking method until al dente.

 

 

 

 

 

Lettuce Start the Day

Lettuce Start the Day with a Salad

Gabe and I start each morning with a huge bowl of lettuce. We each eat about 4 or 5 heaping claw-fuls (shape hand into claw and pick up as much as you can) of chopped lettuce. The contents of our bowls are different, but we both stick with the same meal each morning because it creates a routine that is quick and easy to follow and I always know what I need to buy at the market.  Gabe opts for red and green leaf lettuce with sliced or cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, celery, and a tablespoon of vinegar. My bowl contains red and green leaf lettuce with one tablespoon of nutritional yeast and half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Sometimes we add nuts or seeds to the salad depending on whether we have a bagel or bread with coconut oil or nut butter. We have worked our way up to that amount and not everyone enjoys a big bowl of raw greens for breakfast, hence the increasingly popular green smoothie.

bowl of lettuce

One of the reasons I like to start the day with a ton of lettuce is that it fills me up and gets my digestion going. Lettuce is comprised of mostly water and is a good source of vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and chlorophyll. We have all heard that the darker the green, the better, and I say mix it up. Surprisingly Gabe’s favorite lettuce, iceberg, provides a good amount of choline. Lettuce barely has any fat or calories so we always add fat and protein to our breakfast to ensure we get enough fuel to get us through the morning. Our routine is green and red leaf in the morning, but we do add lots of other greens and lettuce during the day so that we eat a variety of the good stuff during the week. I plan meals around which greens and other produce looks the freshest at the market. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season is one way to do this. I must admit though, I like the variety that is available throughout the seasons these days.

We eat at least 8 heads of lettuce a week just for breakfast. For lunch or dinner on days when I am in a hurry or we feel like we need a lighter meal I will split a head of romaine lettuce between the two of us and make the Classic Vegan Caesar With Avocado & Chickpeas from the Post Punk Kitchen website by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or I will throw a cup of beans on top of the salad and make a dressing which usually contains blended avocado, tahini, or soaked and blended cashews.

Always having rinsed, spun, and chopped greens on hand makes it easy for me to come up with a meal on the fly. I prep lettuce and any other greens I have as soon as I can when I return from the market.

raomaine in waterThere are many methods for cleaning greens, find what works for you. Remove tough outer leaves and the base parts of the leaves as they can be bitter. To clean the greens I fill a large bowl with water and a little distilled vinegar and swish the greens around to remove any dirt or bugs.

romaine in spinnerI rinse them well in fresh water. Then I use a salad spinner to remove excess water from the greens. You could also use a clean lint free towel and lay the leaves out flat on the towel and gently roll the towel up from one end so that the towel absorbs the water.

loose leaf
If you don’t have a spinner, spread the leaves out flat on a lint-free towel and gently roll the towel up from one end so that the towel absorbs the water.

Removing as much water as possible will allow the cut greens to keep longer in the refrigerator. The more delicate the greens, like mustard greens and spinach, the drier you will want them to be before refrigerating them. I like to chop the lettuce or greens that have large or tough leaves (collard greens, kale, Swiss Chard, etc.) into bite size pieces. Then all I have to do is shovel some lettuce out of the container when I want a salad, sandwich, burrito, or wrap. Washed and cut collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard, and so on can be easily transferred from the fridge into a pot or pan if I want to sauté or steam them.

When we are traveling we will buy organic pre-washed greens. Our favorites being Organic Girl and Olivia’s Organics. When buying the packaged stuff make sure you take a good look at it from all sides. Choose a box that has dry, fresh looking greens throughout. Also smell it! If the plastic container allows air to pass through it, I smell it while gently squeezing the box. You will know if you smell rotting greens. Keeping them chilled will help keep them fresh.

Enjoy an assortment of greens any way you want throughout the week!

 

 

Raw Cucumber Soup

Raw Cucumber Soup

raw cucumber soup

I was filled with hope and pride when five cucumber plants sprouted from seed in our tiny garden. I had big plans. I was thinking about all the things I could do when I was inundated with a healthy harvest of cucumbers all at once. Recently, I acquired a bunch of cucumbers from a garden, but the garden wasn’t ours, which is perfectly fine. When we went away this summer we forgot to hook up the drip irrigation system for our planters resulting in the slow and painful (to watch) death of some of our plants. Our neighbor stopped by the other day with two bags of cucumbers and a cantaloupe so I still got that healthy harvest I was so focused upon. Thank you! Continue reading Raw Cucumber Soup

Split Double Green Pea Soup With Collard Greens

Split Double Green Pea Soup with Collard Greens

Split Double Pea Soup

It’s about that time of year when I need to go through the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to take inventory and regroup. I do this at the end of each season to keep the dried and raw stock such as legumes, grains, and seeds fresh. I store seeds and nuts in the refrigerator since they contain natural oil that can become rancid when exposed to light and heat. Continue reading Split Double Green Pea Soup With Collard Greens

Cooking Dry Beans While Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Cooking Dry Beans While Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: What I Learned from America’s Test Kitchen about Brining Beans

Dry Kidney Beans

A few benefits of cooking dried beans at home

  • Dried organic beans usually cost less than canned organic beans.
  • They don’t have any added salt or preservatives unless you add them.
  • When cooked correctly they have a much nicer taste and texture.

We eat lots of beans so of course I want the best value. Best value doesn’t just have to do with cost, taste and textures are also very important. My first few attempts at cooking dry beans were so inauspicious I just gave up. Bridget Lancaster form America’s Test Kitchen saved the day with this video.

brine tub with lid brightBrining beans is the way to go. I have cooked several batched of different kinds of brined beans and there is nothing like the taste and texture of these beans. Every time I test for doneness I am always shocked by the quality. The beans taste so good it’s hard to stop myself from going back for another spoonful.  I really want to share this information with you because I never thought I could get away from buying canned beans and be delighted with the results. This does take a little planning with the whole soaking overnight thing, but it is well worth it. To always have cooked beans on hand I cook about one-two pounds of dry beans (according to package instructions) and freeze them.  Continue reading Cooking Dry Beans While Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Chilled Roasted Corn Soup

A refreshing roasted corn-off-the cob chilled soup

Chilled Roasted Corn Soup

Corn on the cob is one of my favorite summertime foods. It’s such a fun food to eat. How many ways can you get around the cob? There’s the typewriter, which requires the sound effect, “Bing”, when you get to the end and then a roll back to the beginning of the next line. Then there is the traditional merry-go-round that requires merely rotating the cob clock-wise between fore fingers and thumbs, chomping all the while. And my new favorite passed down by my father-in-law this summer, the spiral. The name explains it all. Not only does the spiral look cool, it’s quite effective and has become part of my routine. So maybe I like corn on the cob so much because it is so fun to eat. Okay, Okay, I also like it because it is sweet! Continue reading Chilled Roasted Corn Soup