Peanut kale

18 Aug

Kale is super-plentiful right now, maybe in your backyard garden, in your friends’ gardens, or — if you must — in farm markets and supermarkets. This easy and tasty recipe can be served either as a side dish or as a salad, either warm or at room temperature. It’s adapted from a recipe by Kathy Patalsky that I found online when I was looking for something to do with a big bunch of kale.

Ingredients:

4 cups of kale, chopped, stems removed (1 large bunch)
1 Tbs. peanut butter
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. brown rice syrup, agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
Ground black pepper to taste
½ cup red or white sweet onion, thinly sliced|
Optional (but recommended):
½ tsp. chopped ginger
A few dashes cayenne pepper
½ tsp. chopped garlic

Directions:

 Put all ingredients except kale in a large pot and stir to combine. Add the kale, cover the pot, and heat over high flame for just a minute or two until the small amount of liquid starts to boil. Turn off the heat, and shake the pot a few times with the lid on. Wait a minute, then remove the lid and stir well (but gently). The steam will have wilted the kale enough to make it tender; stir just enough to make sure all of it has come in contact with the sauce.

Serve immediately or keep for a few hours and serve at room temperature.

Serves 2

A Sunday Twofer: Zucchini-Tomato Salad and Pesto

9 Aug

zucchini tomato pesto salad

A friend had given us a giant zucchini, one that will probably feed us for at least three meals, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. She had also given us some lovely tomatoes. And I had half an onion in the fridge. So I was really happy to see a recipe in the paper just a day or so ago for a zucchini, tomato and basil salad.

Problem was I had no fresh basil. Another friend had given us a big bag of basil a few weeks earlier, and I had already turned it into pesto! No worries; I decided to make the salad using pesto and a little red wine vinegar instead of the basil and vinaigrette. It worked great!

I also discovered I had already run the tomato, zucchini and basil salad recipe, or one very much like it, in 2013, the year I started this blog.

I figured if I’m now going to give you the variation using pesto, I should give you the pesto recipe as well, because it’s so easy. So the basil recipe follows the salad recipe. I usually make half a batch, using two cups of basil, and then freeze the pesto in small amounts (enough to make a nice pasta sauce for two to four people). Freeze it in an ice cube tray, if you have one, then save the frozen cubes in a plastic freezer bag.

Of course you can use store-bought pesto if you don’t want to make your own.

In 2013 I also wrote about what to do with too much basil. It was one of my earliest pieces for this blog. You can find it here.

Zucchini and Tomato Salad with Pesto

Ingredients:

2 – 3 small zucchini or an equivalent amount from a large zucchini, sliced or diced
3 plum tomatoes or an equivalent amount of cherry/grape tomatoes, chopped
½ small onion, sliced thin
1 Tbs. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried parsley
2 Tbs. pesto, homemade or jarred
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

Serves 4

Basic Pesto

Ingredients:

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
¾ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
6 cloves garlic, or more to taste
¼ cup olive oil
Warm water as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until smooth but not a paste. Adjust seasonings and pulse again to mix. Add a little bit of warm water if it seems too thick.

If you don’t want to serve it all at once, freeze it in small quantities (an ice cube tray is a great way to do this).

Serve either warm or at room temperature. You might want to thin the pesto with a little milk or cream before using it as a sauce.

Makes 2 cups (enough to serve 8 or more as a pasta sauce)

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

30 Jul

lentil soup spicy

Yes, loyal readers, I do sometimes make something other than lentil soup, even though I’ve posted many variations on this theme lately. Reasons abound: lentil soups are my husband’s favorites, they’re easy to make in whatever variation you choose, and lentils are really healthful. Most lentil soup recipes make a lot, so you can refrigerate or freeze leftovers and enjoy many meals (unless you’re making it for company).

This one is interesting because it uses bulgur in addition to lentils. The original recipe came from the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, but I varied it a bit. The original called for twice as much bulgur, which made the soup too thick — I had to add lots more water while it was cooking just to keep it liquid. It also suggested more chili flakes, which made it too spicy even for me, a spice-lover! A half-teaspoon is ample, but vary this according to your taste.

The soup gets very thick when you store leftovers in the fridge, but you shouldn’t need to add water; it loosens up when you reheat it.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½  chili flakes (or to taste)
3 Tbs. tomato paste (half a small can)
10 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups red lentils
1 cup bulgur
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili flakes, tomato paste and stock. Stir well and bring to a boil.

Add the lentils and bulgur and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. If it’s too thick, add some water.

Puree half the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender and return it to the saucepan. Stir well and cook another few minutes before serving.

Serves 8 to 12

Fried Rice

13 Jul

Fried rice

This is more a method than a recipe, so take the amounts given below a little loosely.

Basically this is a great way to use up leftover rice and vegetables — and also chicken or beef, though those are not essential.

In my house, there are usually only two of us for dinner and it’s hard to make some things in small amounts. Stir-fried vegetables is one of those things, since you need a decent variety of veggies, and by the time to slice up even a small amount of half-a-dozen kinds of vegetable,  you’ve got more than you need for two side-dish servings.

Ditto with rice. My go-to rice-making method calls for 1 cup of rice, which makes enough for 4 servings, so we almost always have leftovers.

The other day I served rice and stir-fried veggies and I intentionally prepared more vegetables than I’d need so that I’d have some to use the next day with the leftover rice in a dish of fried rice. I used a small onion (sliced vertically), a few strips of red pepper, a quarter-pound of sliced mushrooms, a small summer squash (sliced), about a cup and a half of snow peas and three stalks of bok choy (sliced).

I also used bean sprouts, but I didn’t add them in with the other vegetables because they cook so quickly and get overcooked easily. When the vegetables for the first night’s dinner were almost done, I took out and set aside half of them for use the next day in the fried rice. Then I added the bean sprouts to my dish of stir-fried veg. and cooked for just a minute or so more The next day, when I made the fried rice, I added some fresh bean sprouts (and also a sliced scallion) to the leftover stir-fried vegetables.

Use any combination of vegetables that appeals to you; good choices include onion, mushrooms, snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, sliced bok choy, zucchini, sliced celery, matchstick carrots. Chop the vegetables into small pices. Stir-fry the veggies according to how much cooking time they need; start with the onion, followed by mushrooms, then do broccoli, red pepper, snow peas, celery, bok choy, carrots, etc. If you use bean sprouts and scallion, add them last because they take next-to-no-time to cook.

Make a thin pancake out of a beaten egg and slice it into threads. Alternately, you can scramble the egg and chop the cooked egg into small pieces.

The fried rice comes together very quickly as you heat a little bit of oil then fry up the cooked rice, the cooked veggies and the egg shreds. Finish with a little soy sauce and you’ve got a great supper!

Ingredients

1 egg
1½ to 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
2 cups chopped mixed stir-fried vegetables
1 cup leftover chicken or thinly-sliced cooked beef (optional)
1-2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. soy sauce

Directions

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Whisk the egg, and when the pan is hot, add a few teaspoons of oil and heat for 10 seconds, then add the egg and swirl it into a pancake. When it is firm but not brown, flip it quickly to set the other side and then slide out onto a plate. Roll the flat sheet of egg into a tube and slice. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil and add the rice, stirring quickly to coat it with the oil. Add in the vegetables and the chicken or beef if you use it, and the egg slices and stir to heat everything evenly. Add the soy sauce and stir for another minute or so to coat everything in the pan, then serve.

Serves 2

 

Moroccan Carrot, Lentil and Prune Soup

14 Jun

lentil soup with prunes

This is a soup with an intriguing flavor that crosses Moroccan influences with the flavors of tzimmis, a slow-cooked European Jewish melange of sweet potatoes, carrots and prunes. If you like tzimmis you’ll love it! The recipe comes from the Sunsweet Prunes people.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground turmeric
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup dried lentils
½ cup pitted prunes, chopped
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 Tbs. chopped cilantro
Pinch salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, overed, for 5 to 7 minutes until onions are softened.

Increase heat to medium. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Add carrots, garlic and one-third cup water. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes; add a little water if the vegetables start to stick.

Add lentils and prunes and mix well. Stir in the tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Stir in stock and reduce heat. Simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables and lentils are tender.

Stir in lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper.

Ladle into warm soup bowls and serve immediately.

(Note: If you prefer a smoother texture, puree the soup with an immersion blender.)

Mushroom-Barley Soup

2 Jun

This is a quintesential comfort food, so it’s been a great panedemic recipe. Leftovers will keep for a week or more in the fridge.

The last time I made it I realized as I was getting started that I had no fresh mushrooms! That didn’t matter much — what’s really essential is the dried mushrooms. We once got a huge jar of them at Costco, and it lasted us about 10 years. Sadly, Costco no longer carries the product. You can find dried mushrooms in bulk food stores and some supermarkets. Or you can buy them online. Don’t freak out at the sky-high per-pound price; you need very little and they weigh next to nothing, so an ounce or two will last you a long time (and they don’t spoil).

If you have porcini mushroom caps, use 3 to 5 of them. If your dried mushrooms are in bits and flakes, measure out about 3 tablespoons of pieces.

Ingredients:

3 to 5 dried porcini mushrooms or 3 tbs. dried mushroom pieces
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
4 – 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
6 cups stock (vegetable, beef, chicken)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Great Northern or cannelini beans
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley or 1 Tbs. dried parsley
½ cup pearled barley
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water to cover for a half hour.

Heat the oil in a large pot and sautee the chopped onions for about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, another 3-5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until soft.

Add the stock and the canned tomatoes and stir.

Drain the dried mushrooms, slice them thin and add to the pot. (You can use the liquid that you drain off, but put it through a strainer first.)

Add the canned beans, bayleaf and parsley.

Bring the soup to the boil, then add the barley. Return to the boil, Reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes.

The soup is better if you make it at least several hours before you want to serve it and reheat.

Serves 8

Dr. Joe’s Everyday Bread

20 May

bread everyday

This started out as a very popular recipe from the New York Times for no-knead bread. It uses only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast (unless you modify it with other grains). My husband, Joe (the Dr. is for his PhD in English), adapted the New York Times recipe and now makes this bread regularly. It is indeed our “everyday bread” recipe.

You can vary the basic recipe by replacing a cup of the flour with whole wheat flour or raw oats or replacing half a cup of flour with oat bran, wheat bran or fine bulghur.

It’s easy to make a very tasty bread without a lot of effort, but you do need to plan ahead, because the dough needs to rise for 8 to12 hours. We mix the dough in the evening, cover it loosely and let it rise overnight, then shape and bake it in the morning.

You can use all the dough to make two to six loaves, depending on size. You can make traditional oblong loaves in loaf pans or round “boules” (three to six depending on size) on a flat baking sheet. The recipe below assumes you will be using all the dough at once.

But here’s another method, for making just one loaf at a time. After you’ve mixed up the dough, take out enough for one loaf (whatever size you like) and put the rest into a lidded container in the fridge. (The dough will keep rising for a few hours so make sure the container has plenty of headroom.) Follow the recipe below for your first loaf.

When you’re ready to make another loaf from the reserved dough, take out a lump of cold dough and shape it into an oblong loaf or ball. Put the oblong into a loaf pan or the ball on a piece of parchment paper on your counter. Cover the loaf with a slightly damp tea towel (or, for a ball, with a large inverted bowl). Let the dough warm up and rise for two or three hours before baking.

The dough will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Here’s a good method for making a single round “boule.” Take a lump of dough and form it into a sphere that will fit into a Dutch oven or similar heavy metal lidded pot. Let the dough rise on parchment paper on the counter for about an hour for just-mixed dough or for two to three hours for dough from the fridge.

When you turn the oven on to preheat, place the empty pot with its lid into the oven. Just before baking, slash the dough three or four times with a sharp knife and spray or brush it with water. Pick up the parchment paper and carefully place the dough ball inside the Dutch oven. Cover the pot and put it in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. (Be sure to use good oven mitts because the pot will be very hot!)

A couple of helpful tips: Joe loves his “Swedish dough hook” for mixing up the dough. You can find them online. (Amazon calls it a “Danish dough hook,”and the King Arthur flour folks call it a “dough whisk.”) And a shower cap is great for covering the bowl containing your rising dough because it will expand if the dough rises byond the top of the bowl.

Ingredients:

7 cups flour, preferably bread flour
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. granulated or instant yeast
3 cups water (room temperature)
1 additional cup flour

Directions:

Mix the 7 cups of flour, the salt and the yeast in a large, rigid bowl. Add the water and stir with the dough hook or a large wooden spoon, being careful to incorporate all of the flour mixture; don’t worry if the dough is a little lumpy.

Cover the bowl and leave it at room temperature overnight, or at least six hours (up to 18 hours).

After the dough has risen (usually the next morning), tip the dough onto a large board or a counter covered with flour; use a rigid spatula to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl.

Knead for about a minute, working in enough additional flour so the dough becomes elastic and is no longer sticky.

Use a large knife to cut the dough into the number of loaves you want. Line your loaf pans or flat baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape the dough into oblong loaves or round boules. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slash marks into the top of each.

Let the dough rest for an hour, covered loosely with a clean tea towel or a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Bake large loaves for 25 to 30 minutes; small loaves will take a little less time. The bread should be golden-brown on top and should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Cool on a wire rack.

 

 

Vegetarian chili

5 May

chili vegetarian

Here is a very good social isolation recipe, because it takes a long time to measure out the long list of ingredients and it makes a large amount, so you’ll have enough for several meals. It lasts a long time in the fridge, and it freezes well. So make sure you have everything on hand and start measuring! Once you’ve done that, the cooking is a snap.

You can control the heat mainly by the amount of cayenne pepper; the other spices add more flavor than heat.

The original recipe called for less zucchini and a small eggplant, but we didn’t really like the eggplant in it so we used more zuke. I also don’t care for green pepper so I use two red, yellow or orange peppers.

Ingredients:

2 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. dried cumin
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
4 small zucchini or yellow squash, or some of each (about 1 lb.), cut in 1-inch cubes
4 plum tomatoes, peeled (soak in boiling water for 1 minute; peels slip right off)
1 (14-oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or ½ tsp. dried)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Grated rind of half an orange or lemon
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. ketchup
⅓ cup oil
3 cans beans (any combination of kidney beans, cannelini beans, black beans, pinto beans, Great Northern beans, black-eyed peas), drained
¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 Tbs. dried)
Optional toppings: chopped red onion, sour cream, shredded Cheddar or Mexican Blend cheese

Directions:

Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, mustard, cayenne, and cumin in a small bowl. Combine the thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, rind, honey and ketchup in another bowl.

Heat the oil and fry the first group of spices for a few minutes. Add the onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the second group of seasonings, the zucchini, and the tomatoes and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the beans and parsley and cook for another 10 minutes or until the zucchini is soft.

Serve over brown rice to make a complete meal.

Top, if desired, with chopped red onion, sour cream and shredded cheese.

Serves at least 8

Greek Lentil & Spinach Soup with Lemon

23 Apr

Lentil soup Greek

Hi friends! I hope you haven’t given up on me although I’ve been MIA for several months. First we were getting ready to move, and then we moved, and then we got locked down. So now that we’re unpacked and as settled as we can be without going out to do any of the things we need to do, we have time to do some cooking. We just made this rather complex lentil soup (complex because of so many ingredients, which took us awhile to assemble), and it was deelish! It’s vegan, gluten-free and low fat too! Hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 lb. brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
10 cups vegetable broth or water
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1½ tsp. cumin seeds
2½ tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes ( 1¼ lb.), scrubbed and cut into ½-inch dice
10 oz. baby spinach, chopped
1 small butternut squash (1 lb.) peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt (or more to taste)
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
⅓ cup lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced

Directions:

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, stock or water, jalapeno, coriander, cumin, oregano and bay leaves. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, partly covered, about 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, re-cover and cook another 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and cook the onion, stirring, until it starts to soften, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup; deglaze the pan if necessary with a little of the soup liquid. Add the salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves.

Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup. Serve the soup hot, with a lemon slice floating atop each bowl.

Lemony garlicky cauliflower

8 Dec

cauliflower lemon & garlicI was preparing a company dinner and didn’t want to have to worry about getting yet another dish heated at the right time but not overcooked , so I pulled out this recipe I clipped from the New York Times a few weeks earlier.

It’s a very tasty marinated cauliflower salad that I served as a vegetable. Be aware that you need to prepare it a day ahead of time so the cauliflower can marinate and all the wonderful flavors can meld.

I didn’t have any whole cumin but I did have whole coriander seeds, so I mushed them up with a mortar and pestle. I threw in a little ground cumin too, just for the taste. The flavors were very good together. I didn’t have fresh basil or dill, and didn’t want to fork out the exorbitant cost to buy it, so I used dried basil, figuring that the ample liquid and long marinating time would soften it sufficiently. Fresh would probably be preferable! Fresh parsley is a must.

If you seed the jalapeno before chopping, it won’t be too hot. If you don’t like a little zing of heat, leave out the red pepper flakes, but I think they add a lot of flavor.

The original recipe called for three-quarters of a cup of olive oil, which I thought sounded like a lot. So I used a half-cup, maybe a little more, and it seemed to work fine. You might have to work a little harder to stir it up so that all the cauliflower florets get coated by the marinade, but you won’t waste as much oil.

Don’t worry if you have leftovers — this will keep for a good several days in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (about 8 cups)
1 lemon, plus more lemon juice to taste if necessary
1¼ tsp. fine sea salt, plus more to taste if necessary
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh dill or basil
½ cup chopped parsley leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves finely grated or minced
2 tsp. whole cumin or cracked coriander seeds
Large pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Finely grate the zest of the lemon into a large, heatproof bowl, then halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice. Add the salt and stir to dissolve.

Add the cauliflower florets, jalapeno, scallions, dill or basil and parsley and toss to combine.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil until it is hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and cumin or coriander and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and stir in red pepper flakes, if using.

Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and stir well. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours, to let the flavors mingle.

Toss well before serving, adding more salt and/or lemon juice if necessary. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.

Serves 8 to 10