June 13, 2017 Green Harissa

Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chili sauce, commonly found in the cooking of the North African countries of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. The basic recipe calls for hot peppers, garlic, salt, olive oil and spices. This version from Vedge , a vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia, uses green jalapenos, onions, garlic, a generous amount of fresh cilantro, along with dried coriander and cumin. Cilantro haters can substitute parsley or half parsley and half fresh spinach. Some mint might be interesting in the mix.

The original recipe called for 2 jalapenos, one was enough for my palate, remember you can always add more heat, it’s harder to take it away. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when handling chilies. Chili oil on sensitive parts of your body (hands, lips, eyes etc.) will burn for a long time. Chili oil is not water soluble, it’s fat soluble. So if you get some on your hands, rub some cooking oil into your hands before washing with soap and water.

Serve green harissa as a sauce for grilled vegetables and fish, lamb burgers, an unconventional taco topping, the possibilities are endless.

Green Harissa

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 c loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 T or more olive oil
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t sugar
Cilantro in the greenhouse.

 

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth

June 11, 2017 Carrot Top Pesto

Spring is an ideal time for planting root vegetables like turnips, beets and carrots. They especially love the cooler temperatures that we have been blessed with this spring. We try to be frugal with seeds, so the ones that aren’t planted are saved from season to season. I catalog them alphabetically like a card file in clamshell plastic containers that in a previous life held spinach or lettuce from a big box store. I use 3×5 cards to separate them into specific categories, beets, cucumbers, fennel etc. This year I even did a little clean up, getting rid of all packets before 2013.

Last year a friend gave Joe quite a few packets of carrot seeds he purchased on sale. Some were planted but most went into storage in the fridge over the winter. He wasn’t certain how many of them would germinate this season so he planted them very densely. As luck would have it, every carrot seed germinated.  Now it was time for some serious thinning.

Thinning is a necessary step in vegetable gardening if you want to have mature healthy plants. This can be done in stages. Armed with my Cutco scissors, I did the first thinning when the plants were about four inches tall. Pulling out the unwanted seedlings can often pull out the ones you wanted to leave growing. I snipped the plants at the soil line. With a colander full of the lacy feathery tops I thought about how I could use them. I remembered that parsley and carrots are related so I tasted a few of them. They have an herbaceous flavor, that to me was reminiscent of parsley.

I have made pesto with basil and arugula, why not carrot tops? I used a basic formula that I have used to make other types of pesto, herbs or a green, in this case carrot tops, garlic, nuts, a hard cheese and olive oil. Baby carrot greens are more delicate in flavor and are a special reward for the gardener. Organically grown full-sized carrot greens can be used too, eliminating any thick stems. I used my pesto as a topping for roasted salmon. It would work with chicken breasts and of course, roasted carrots.

Time to thin the carrots.
The first thinning of carrot greens.

Carrot Top Pesto

Makes about a cup

Ingredients

  • 3 cups lightly packed carrot tops
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 T pine nuts
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil, more if needed to make a paste
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the carrot tops, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil until a paste forms. Add cheese and pulse several times to combine.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

June 4, 2017 Arugula and Snow Pea Shoot Salad

I am pleased to say that the weather this spring  has cooperated with Joe’s spring plantings. Many years spring  has brought just a little cool weather followed by a blast of 90 degree plus temperatures that we never recover from. We have had our share of rain, but only one heat wave ( 3 consecutive days of 90° heat)  in May.

The cool, occasionally rainy weather makes for plump healthy radishes, too much heat and they become tough, pithy and hot. This week I picked the first harvest of beautiful crimson red, pink, purple and white Easter Egg radishes. Joe does consecutive plantings of quick-growing crops like radishes, arugula and salad greens so that they aren’t all ready to harvest at once.

Peas are one of the first seeds we plant in the garden, not just for the edible pods, we also reserve one section to harvest for the shoots alone. The round leaves and wispy tips are reminiscent of a green butterfly. To harvest I pinch off the tender tips, the top several leaves and the tendril that ends the vine, in turn they will send out new growth for the next harvest in several days.

This salad combines the best of spring, spicy arugula, snow pea shoots, crunchy sweet radishes from our garden and kohlrabi from the local farmers market. I accented the salad with some toasted hazelnuts and creamy French feta. For this vinaigrette I combined champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallot, a touch of honey and extra virgin olive oil. When making a salad be sure to use a bowl that gives you plenty of room to toss your ingredients. I start by tossing the greens with dressing to coat them lightly, then I add some of the other ingredients and toss again. I leave the rest to top the salad with, this ensures that the last person who is served doesn’t get all the heavier ingredients that end up in the bottom of the bowl.

A cool spring makes for nice plump radishes.
Mature arugula
More arugula, but not as mature.
Snow pea shoots

Arugula and Snow Pea Shoot Salad

Serves two

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 4 c snow pea shoots
  • 4 c arugula
  • 4-5 medium radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 c kohlrabi, peeled and cut into matchstick julienne
  • ¼ c toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/3 c crumbled French feta

Ingredients for the Vinaigrette

  • 2 t champagne vinegar
  • ½ t honey (more to taste)
  • ¼ t Dijon mustard
  • ½ t finely chopped shallot
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Place the arugula and snow pea shoots in a large bowl and toss with some of the vinaigrette and taste. Add about half of the other ingredients, toss again, adding more of the dressing if necessary. Top the salad with the remaining ingredients. Season each portion to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

 

May 30, 2017 Baked Halibut with Bouillabaisse Sauce and Green Olive Tapenade

Fish is on the menu at our house three nights a week and though the method of cooking is usually the same, I am always looking for new ways to complement it. This recipe, Baked Cod Fillet with Bouillabaisse Sauce with Green Olive Tapenade from the April issue of Food and Wine seemed to fit that bill. It combines the classic flavors of bouillabaisse: fennel, garlic, saffron and tomatoes, to make a delicious sauce along with a quick briny olive tapenade.

The origins of bouillabaisse can be traced as far back as the ancient Greeks and was the humble fare of fishermen in Provence, specifically from the port city of Marseille. The best of the catch would be sold to restaurants while the less desirable bony rockfish and shellfish would become part of the fisherman’s dinner, a stew cooked with sea water and simmered over an open fire. Bouillabaisse has come a long way since then to become one of the most iconic French dishes.

The first step of the recipe is to chop the fennel, leek, onion and celery. This can be done by hand or a food processor makes quick work of this step. Just be certain that all pieces are relatively the same size to ensure even cooking. Sauté the vegetables over medium heat until softened then add the garlic and saffron. Saffron adds a subtle flavor and aroma and its beautiful golden color. At about forty dollars a bottle, Pernod is an ingredient I could not justify buying since I was only using a few tablespoons. It adds a subtle anise flavor so if you have some on hand, by all means use it. Add dry white wine and vermouth to the pot and reduce the liquid by half. Next into the pot are halved and smashed cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes are an acceptable substitute here.

The next step is to make fish stock. I am fortunate to have an outstanding fish market that supplies me with fish bones and heads needed for stock making. If making fish stock would stop you from making this recipe, substitute clam broth or  fish bouillon.  Always taste products like this first, since they can be salty. After the sauce cooks, cool slightly and carefully discard the fish bones if using. Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce then pass it through a food mill into a sauce pan. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

The green olive tapenade is very easy to do and adds a briny contrast to the rich sauce. Cook the fish according to your favorite method, we use the Canadian fisheries method with consistent results. The sauce and the tapenade can be made several days ahead making this an impressive recipe for entertaining.

Baked Halibut with Bouillabaisse Sauce and Green Olive Tapenade

Serves four

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1-1 lb fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 large leek, trimmed and finely chopped, white and light green parts only
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ t saffron threads
  • 2 T Pernod or pastis (optional)
  • ¾ c dry white wine
  • ¾ c dry vermouth
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved and smashed
  • ½ t smoked paprika
  • 2 lbs white fish bones, rinsed and dried
  • 2 t fresh lemon juice (plus more for drizzling)
  • Kosher salt
  • Four 6-oz. white fish fillets like cod, halibut, grouper

Directions for the sauce

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the fennel, leek, onion and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic and the saffron and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  3. Add the Pernod (if using) and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and vermouth and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and paprika and simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the fish bones and cook over medium high heat, turning once, about 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer the bones to the casserole and add two cups of water. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat for 30 minutes. Let the sauce cool slightly then discard the fish bones.
  6. Using an immersion blender puree the sauce, then strain through the fine mesh of a food mill into a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice, season with salt and keep warm.

Ingredients for the Green Olive Tapenade

  • ¼ c green pitted olives
  • 2 T rinsed and drained capers
  • 2 T flat leaved parsley
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ T fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions for the Green Olive Tapenade

  1.  Place the first five ingredients in the bowl of a mini food processor and pulse until combined and roughly chopped. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cooking the Fish

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Coat a shallow baking dish with non stick spray. Season the fish fillets with salt.
  3. Measure your fish fillets at the thickest point. Bake the fish for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.

Finishing the Dish

  1. Ladle the sauce into 4 shallow bowls and top each one with a cod fillet Spoon the tapenade over the fish. Drizzle with more olive oil and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

May 17, 2017 Spinach and Butternut Squash Salad

Spinach and butternut squash salad certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a spring dish, but right now it makes perfect sense to me. I still have a few squash to use from last fall’s harvest and spinach plants that still have some nice leaves to offer before they go to seed.

Begin the recipe with a medium-sized squash, 2 to 2 ½ lbs, using a sharp knife, cut off a half-inch piece at the stem and base ends. Cut the squash in half where the neck meets the bulb. I find it easiest to use my Kuhn Rikon peeler to remove not only the skin but also the white flesh and green fibers below the surface, the peeled squash should be completely orange. Scoop out the seeds, I like to toast mine for snacking and can also be used to garnish salads and soups. Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes, they will shrink during the roasting process. Toss the cubes with olive oil and spread them out evenly on a lined baking sheet and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

While the squash cubes are roasting, make the warm bacon dressing. Fry four slices of bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plated to drain. Pour off the bacon fat into a metal bowl, the hot oil might melt a plastic bowl.  In the residual fat that is left in the skillet, saute a medium chopped shallot until soft. Stir in the other dressing ingredients along with some of the warm bacon fat, keep over very low heat.

Place the spinach leaves in a large bowl and toss with the warm dressing. I prefer to place the other ingredients on top of the individual salads rather than tossed with the spinach, since they are heavier and inevitably sink to the bottom. Rather than the traditional fall version of this salad that would include dried cranberries or pomegranate arils, I added some thin strips of roasted pepper. I used toasted pecan halves, some creamy feta, and some of the bacon crumbled on top to complete the salad. Make it your own with toasted walnuts or butternut squash seeds and crumbled Roquefort instead of the feta.

 

Spinach and Butternut Squash Salad

Serves two

Ingredients for the Salad

  • 5-6 cups of spinach
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 T or more of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c toasted pecan halves
  • ¼ c roasted red pepper slivers
  • 1/3 c crumbled feta
Spinach that is going to seed but perfectly good enough for a salad.
Peeled whole butternut squash.

Ingredients for the Dressing

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 medium shallot
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 T or more honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions for the Salad and Dressing

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F convection or 425°F standard. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.
  2. Peel and seed the squash, cut it into 1 inch cubes. In a large bowl toss the squash with olive oil and place evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes, at the halfway point carefully move the cubes around on the sheet to ensure even browning. Set cubes aside to cool. You will have enough for several days worth of salads.
  3. In a large frying pan, cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and pour the bacon fat into a small metal bowl.
  4. Cook the shallot in the same pan until soft, 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar, mustard and honey and mix well. Whisk in two tablespoons of the bacon fat and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the spinach leaves in a large bowl and toss with the warm dressing. Divide the salad onto two plates. Top each with about a half cup of butternut squash cubes, pecan halves, pepper strips, feta and some of the crumbled bacon. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper.

May 11, 2017 Spring Salad

Saturday morning was the first local outdoor farmers market of the season and I was ready to seek out some old favorites, and gain a little inspiration for a salad to accompany that night’s dinner. Local for me is the Wrightstown Farmers Market, about three miles from our house. It is held every Saturday, rain or shine from the first Saturday in May to the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The hours are from 9 to 1 but there was already a sizable crowd when I pulled in at 8:45.
The favorites I was looking for, some drip ground coffee from The Coffee Scoop for Sunday morning, the Guatemalan variety is exceptionally smooth. It wouldn’t be a visit without a stop to visit The Dog Bone Guy. I have to load up on cookies for our furry boys.

I love to create salads and spring is a great time to take advantage of the garden’s first offerings. I saw signs this week for local asparagus as I was driving around our area. I located several vendors offering asparagus and chose a bunch of fat purple asparagus and a leaner green bunch. The other two purchases I made for the salad were a bunch of plump red radishes and some shiitake mushrooms. Fortified with an orange cranberry scone I was ready to see what I could find in our own garden.

We have a wonderful crop of salad greens, a mesclun mix and Lollo Rosso, thanks to Joe’s hard work. Along with greens, we have spinach and miner’s lettuce, staples of early spring salads. So I picked a combination and went to work.

In winter months I usually roast asparagus but I thought that steaming would bring out the sweetness of the newly picked stalks. Next, what to do with the shiitake mushrooms? I use shiitake, both dried and fresh quite often but never raw in a salad. Was it okay to use raw shiitakes in a salad? Some quick research revealed a condition, shiitake dermatitis, that manifests in dark red blistering welts.  A component in shiitakes, lentinan, breaks down with heat so this reaction only occurs when the mushrooms are raw or partially cooked. Not certain if  I wanted to find out if we were one of the nine in five hundred people who react, I chose to add them to my steamer basket. The last addition, a little leftover smoked salmon. The sweetness of the asparagus combines perfectly with the smoky, saltiness of the salmon.

I made a very basic vinaigrette with some fines herbes, the perfect addition to a spring salad and garnished with some chervil flowers.

Spring Salad

Serves two

Ingredients for the Salad

  • Assorted  greens, 5-6 cups I used lettuces, miner’s lettuce and spinach
  • 2 or 3 medium radishes
  • 3 large spears of asparagus
  • Fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • Smoked salmon

Ingredients for Vinaigrette

  • 2 T grapefruit balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T fines herbes (combination of parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives
  • Chervil flowers to garnish the salad
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Tear lettuces into bite sized pieces in a large bowl. Slice radishes thinly and add to the salad bowl.
  2. Cut asparagus into bite sized diagonal pieces. Discard the mushroom stems and cut the caps into thin slices. Steam the asparagus and mushrooms until tender. Mushroom caps will take about 3 minutes, thick asparagus pieces about 5-6 minutes. Pat dry  with paper towels and allow to cool. Add to the salad bowl
  3. Break the smoked salmon into bite sized chunks and add to the salad bowl.
  4. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl. Pour over the salad and toss lightly. Divide salad on two plates. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

 

May 7, 2017 Fines Herbes

Fines herbes (feen ZERB) translates from the French to, as you may have guessed, fine herbs. Its origins are found in classic French cuisine and often attributed to “the king of chefs and the chef of kings” Escoffier.  Fine herbes is a blend of equal parts chervil, tarragon, chives and parsley. Thyme is the next most typical inclusion and occasionally marjoram, savory and watercress. Three of the four, chervil, tarragon and chives, are spring herbs that are flourishing in the garden now, parsley won’t be planted until June. By then the warm days of summer will send the chervil to seed, the chives will be past their blossom but will still be fine to use and the tarragon will start to flower. There are dried versions of fines herbes sold by every major herb supplier, but dried chervil and parsley lose much of their flavor in comparison to when they are fresh.

Chervil is a shade loving annual with feathery leaves and lacy white flowers, like a pale dainty parsley. It doesn’t last long once it is cut. I have never seen it a market, farmers or otherwise so growing it is your best option. The good news is even though it is an annual, it easily self seeds. Our crop of chervil migrated on its own from the garden to a shady spot in the back of the house and shows up every spring.

Chives love the sun and are one of the first herbs to pop up in the garden. The beautiful lavender blossoms are a welcome addition of color to the early spring garden. Chinese chives, also called garlic chives, bloom in the fall with white flowers. Garlic chives self seed very easily and if you don’t want them to take over your garden, don’t let them go to seed.  For fines herbes I would recommend regular chives, their delicate onion flavor harmonizes well with the other herbs.

Parsley has a warm gentle flavor, green and piny, with just a touch of camphor. Parsley mellows the assertiveness of its partners in flavor while adding its own intensity. Our parsley plants are still in flats, waiting another month or so for the warmer days of summer. We grow both curly and flat leaved or Italian parsley. I prefer flat leaved parsley for this mix.

Tarragon has a robust anisey camphor flavor, the counterpoint to the milder parsley licorice flavor of chervil. Tarragon is an herb that usually stands alone  with the exception of this blend. The chervil, parsley and chives are not assertive enough to challenge the tarragon.

Fines herbes are always used as a finishing element to a dish, sprinkled in an omelet or scrambled eggs, in a simple vinaigrette, over some freshly steamed mussels, topping a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Make fine herbes in small quantities since it is best fresh.

Fines Herbes

Makes about a quarter cup

Ingredients

  • 1 T finely chopped tarragon
  • 1 T finely chopped chervil
  • 1 T finely chopped chives
  • 1 T finely chopped flat leaved parsley

Directions

  1. With a sharp chef’s knife, chop each of the herbs separately.
  2. Measure out a tablespoon of each and combine in a small bowl.
  3. Add fines herbes at the end of the cooking process to preserve the flavor of the herbs.

 

 

April 22, 2017 Butternut Squash Bread and Rolls

You might expect a recipe like this to be posted around Thanksgiving, but delicious homemade butternut squash rolls were the accompaniment to asparagus soup for Easter dinner. Usually the squash of choice in both sweet and savory breads is pumpkin, since I am still chipping away at my stash of butternut squash, it was an easy substitution.

I cut the squash in half lengthwise and baked it on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut side down at 375°F until it was very soft, about 45 minutes. I scooped out the squash then cooked it down a bit to get rid of any additional moisture to make a nice thick puree.

I slightly adapted a recipe from the King Arthur Flour site, with encouragement from a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars and 106 positive reviews. The only problem was that the ingredients were a bit too much for my Kitchen Aid mixer. Once the initial ingredients were mixed together I separated them into two smaller pieces so they could be kneaded in the mixer without taxing it too much. I cut back on the sugar called for in the original recipe, since I was not attempting to make a sweet bread recipe and unlike pumpkin, butternut squash puree has some natural sweetness.
The bread and rolls turned out great, I served the rolls with the soup, the bread is well wrapped, well labeled and frozen for future use. I’m thinking bread pudding sometime soon.

Butternut Squash Bread and Rolls

Makes two loaves or 1 loaf and a dozen rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 T active dry yeast
  • ½ c lukewarm milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ c butternut squash puree
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 6 ½ c unbleached all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • 2 ½ t salt
  • ½ t ground ginger
  • ½ t ground cardamom

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl of a stand mixer and combine ingredients using the flat beater. Alternately, this could be done by hand or in a bread machine.
  2. Once the ingredients are thoroughly combined, replace the flat beater with the dough hook and knead the dough until it is smooth and soft. I needed to do this in two batches.
  3. Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let dough rise until doubled, 60 to 75 minutes.
  4. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide it in half.
  5. Shape the dough into loaves or rolls. The loaves can be placed into lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pans or rolls placed on parchment lined baking sheets.
  6. Cover the pans/baking sheets and let loaves/rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes. The crust will be a deep golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F. Bake rolls for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Remove bread and rolls from oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Cool completely and store, well wrapped at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

April 19, 2017 Avocado and Cabbage Slaw

Suvir Saran’s first restaurant, Devi was awarded a coveted Michelin star for his critically acclaimed Indian cuisine. He closed Devi in 2012, and more recently opened Tapestry, in May of 2016. The cuisine at Tapestry had a more global focus interpreted with an Indian viewpoint. Unfortunately Tapestry closed in March of this year after being open for only ten months in spite of positive reviews. The problem according to Mr Saran was “high rents and low covers”. I never had the opportunity to visit the restaurant, but Food and Wine magazine provided a recipe from Tapestry for Avocado and Cabbage Slaw in their January issue.

What gives this slaw its unique flavor is the addition of chaat masala. It is a sand colored spice blend, predominately flavored with dried mango powder, also known as amchoor, black salt and asefetida. It is a traditional accompaniment to a fruit snack, often sold by street vendors, phal-ki-chaat, four or five fruit selections sprinkled with fresh lime juice and chaat masala.

The avocado and cabbage slaw is a reimagining of the traditional snack. This time, crunchy colorful cabbage, creamy avocados and juicy tomatoes take the place of the fruit. Chaat masala is part of the dressing that includes lime juice, honey, fresh ginger, fish sauce, spicy sriracha, cilantro and mint. You could make your own chaat masala, some of the ingredients, cumin and coriander seed are accessible in any supermarket, others, dried mango, asafoetida powder, would require an online trip to an Indian grocer. I purchased my chaat masala on Amazon. It has a very pleasant light spicy fragrance and includes thirteen spices.

We enjoyed the salad, the chaat masala made it unique but never having the original dish I think we were at a disadvantage. I will have to try the fruit salad to make a comparison.

Avocado and Cabbage Slaw

Serves six

Ingredients

  • 3 T fresh lime juice
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 t sriracha
  • 2 t Asian fish sauce
  • 1 t white wine vinegar
  • ¾ t chaat masala
  • ¼ t ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb green and/or red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 6 scallion, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ c cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • ¼ c mint leaves finely chopped
  • 2 Hass avocadoes-peeled, pitted, and diced, plus more for serving
  • 1 c roasted, salted cashews, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Microgreens for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large bowl whisk the first eight ingredients until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cabbage, scallions, tomatoes, chopped cilantro and mint, diced avocado and 1 cup of chopped cashews. Toss to coat. Garnish with avocado slices, chopped cashews and microgreens.

April 9, 2017 Butternut Squash, Bacon and Black Bean Chili

I am well aware that butternut squash is typically a sign that the cool crisp days of fall are approaching. But since I still have a large supply from last year’s garden, I will be looking for ways to use them into the summer. And why not, butternut squash has a sweet nutty  flavor and creamy texture that pairs well with many ingredients and is loaded with vitamin A, C, potassium and fiber. Joe’s opinion on the last variety I made, butternut squash soup with cannellini beans and sage pesto was,”I really like it, but bacon would make it even better”. Since there are many who would concur that bacon makes just about anything better, I was up for the challenge.

Butternut squash, bacon and black bean chili is a delicious, hearty and slightly spicy chili that’s great any time of the year. The sweetness of the butternut squash contrasts nicely against the salty bacon and the savory richness of the black beans.

It all begins with bacon, cooked over medium heat to render out the fat.  Restrain yourself from eating the bacon pieces, they will be added to the finished soup. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease. Pour the fat through a fine strainer into a metal bowl. Don’t use plastic, if the fat is hot, it could melt the container, I know from experience. Add 2 tablespoons of the strained bacon fat back to the pan and saute the chopped onion. The garlic, butternut squash and red pepper are added and cooked until soft. Chili powders, herbs, a can of tomatoes with chilis, and cook for one minute. Stir in the chicken broth and drained black beans and simmer until the butternut squash is tender.

I made this recipe with fridge and pantry ingredients. I think the chipotle chili powder adds a complexity with its smoky flavor. Other additions to the soup could include a finely chopped chili en adobo, cooked corn, avocado slices and tortilla strips. If desired, top with a dollop of sour cream.The flavors get even more complex over the course a few days and makes great leftovers and lunches.

 

 

Butternut Squash, Bacon and Black Bean Chili

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3-4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 4 c cubed butternut squash
  • 1 c minced red pepper
  • 1 t chili powder
  • ½ t chipotle chili powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1-15 oz can tomatoes with green chilis, I used Rotel
  • 1-15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 c chicken broth
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • cilantro leaves
  • sour cream

Directions

  1. Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Remove bacon pieces to a towel lined plate to drain, strain the fat into a metal bowl. Add about 2 T bacon fat back to the pan and add onion and cook until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, butternut squash and red pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender and the onion begins to brown, 12-15 minutes. Add more fat to the pan if needed.
  2. Add chili powders, herbs and tomatoes with green chilis and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and drained black beans. Simmer until the butternut squash is tender, 20 minutes or more. Add more broth as needed.
  3. Stir in the bacon pieces, serve with sour cream and cilantro leaves.