December 31, 2010

Rosemary Brown Rice Fritters

Sweet brown rice is one of my favorite kinds of rice because it has pleasing texture, flavor and color. I have found one of the better ways to cook brown rice is to boil it in a pot full of water until almost done, drain it, return it to the pot, cover it and allow it to finish cooking on its own. The boiling method takes the same if not less time and results in a perfectly cooked grain every time. I found inspiration for these fritters while reading an article in Saveur magazine on brown rice grown in California. Rice fritters are delicious with mustard green soup and beer stewed pork.

Other herbs may be substituted for either parsley or rosemary. A mechanical ice cream scoop works the best because it helps the rice mixture compact and hold together.

2 c cooked sweet brown rice

½ c parmesan, grated

¼ c flour plus more for coating fritters

¼ c parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped

1 egg

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1. Thoroughly combine rice, flour, parmesan, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Place 2 tbsp flour on a plate for coating rice patties. Form rice mixture into 1" fritters using two spoons or a mechanical ice cream scoop. Coat both sides of fritters with flour and place on parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Gently transfer fritters to skillet with spatula. Brown fritters on each side, 3-4 minutes, adding olive oil to skillet as necessary. Once both sides have browned, remove fritters from heat.

3. Serve fritters warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

December 27, 2010

Chicken and Vegetable Tagine with Garlic Currant Couscous

I became interested in cooking tagines a few years ago, while making a northern African inspired meal for a belly-dancing event at the Feathered Pipe Ranch. Tagines are braised stews of spiced meats and vegetables found in Morocco. They receive their name from the clay pot they are cooked in, which consists of a wide shallow bottom dish and a conical cover. A close friend gave me a tagine a few years ago, but alas it is in storage so I made do with a Dutch oven. Beet and tangerine salad or arugula and orange salad are bright citrus additions to a tagine.

Larger golden beets will work as well; I would not use red beets, as they will dye the entire dish. Additional carrots, squash or turnips may be used instead of beets. Water could substitute for wine. If you are using a tagine pot, the braising portion of the recipe would happen in the oven after being readied on the range.

Chicken and Vegetable Tagine

1 lb chicken thighs, skinned and boned

1 medium yellow onion, trimmed and chopped

2 medium yukon potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ½ inch rounds

10 small golden beets, quartered

1 zucchini, trimmed, halved and sliced into ½ inch segments

½ green pepper, trimmed and finely diced

1 tart apple, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped

½ c white wine

1 c chicken stock

½ c water

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp honey

1 sprig of thyme

¼ c parsley, roughly chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Garlic Currant Couscous

2 c cooked couscous

½ c currants

½ red onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, pressed or chopped

¼ c parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Chicken and Vegetable Tagine

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken and brown both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken from Dutch oven, place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Working in separate batches, brown onions, apples, potatoes, carrots and beets in the Dutch oven over medium heat, placing browned vegetables aside with chicken and adding olive oil to Dutch oven as necessary.

3. Next, combine white wine, cinnamon, honey thyme and garlic to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, return browned chicken and vegetables to the Dutch oven and bring liquid back to a simmer. Once simmering again, add water and chicken stock, stir to combine. Cover Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Add zucchini and green pepper, cover and continue to simmer until tender, about 5 minutes, adding water ¼ c at a time as necessary to maintain cooking liquid.

5. Once all vegetables are tender, add parsley and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm over garlic currant couscous.

Garlic Currant Couscous

1. Heat olive oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until onions begin to brown slightly. Add currants and continue sautéing until currants are soft. Turn heat off, add parsley and garlic and sauté off heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Combine sautéed ingredients with cooked couscous in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 3-4

December 21, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Red Quinoa

I grew up eating quinoa, thanks to my whole food roots, and although I was not always fond of it as a child, I have been able to appreciate quinoa again as an adult. Quinoa, from the Andes, is not actually a grain but instead a chenopod, closely related to beets and spinach. Red quinoa is especially nice because it maintains its color after cooking and provides a good contrast to the yellow of the squash. Greens such as mustard green soup, orange pecan kale or walnut lemon chard compliment the sweet flavor of squash.

Other varieties of similarly sized squash could be used. Most fresh herbs may be used in addition to or as a substitute. Any type of quinoa may be used in place of red quinoa.

Dedicated to the lovely Samantha Wren, who joined my sister and I in eating these squash.

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded

1 c cooked red quinoa

1 medium carrot, trimmed and finely diced

½ white onion, trimmed and finely diced

1 stalk celery, trimmed and finely diced

5 button mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp sage, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil plus more for rubbing squash

salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Rub squash halves with olive oil and place in oven. Bake until tender and slightly browned, 30-45 minutes. Remove squash from oven when ready, set aside and leave oven on.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery, sautéing until the onion is translucent. Add mushrooms and continue sautéing vegetables until mushrooms are tender. Turn heat off; add herbs and sauté off heat for another minute or until the herbs are fragrant.

3. Combine cooked red quinoa with the sautéed vegetables in a medium mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Finally, stuff each squash half with red quinoa stuffing and place both stuffed halves in a baking dish. Return the squash to the oven and bake until the red quinoa begins to brown, 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 2-4

December 17, 2010

Orange Pecan Kale

When I went to make this kale salad, I thought I was going in an entirely different direction, with lemon and pine nuts, which I have made before and is also delicious but very different. I discovered I did not have pine nuts and so shifted my vision. Toasted pecans and oranges sounded like both a good combination and more seasonally appropriate. I do believe this is my new favorite way to prepare kale. I like kale with many things including fried sweet potatoes and feta roasted potatoes.

Any variety of kale will work. Walnuts may be substituted for pecans and tangerine may be substituted for orange. Rosemary, lavender or thyme could be used in addition to or in place of sage.

1 bunch kale, thinly sliced

¼ c pecans, roughly chopped

1 tbsp sage, finely chopped

1 tbsp finely diced shallot

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped

½ orange, juiced

¼ c parmesan, grated

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add kale to water and boil until brilliant green and tender, 2-3 minutes. Once tender, strain kale and place under cold running water to stop cooking process. Squeeze excess water from kale, wrap kale in a clean kitchen towel and set aside.

2. Next, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add pecans and sauté until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add shallots and continue sautéing until shallots are translucent. Turn heat off, add sage and garlic, sauté off heat until fragrant for about 1 minute and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, combine orange juice and brown sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved, add remaining olive oil and sautéed ingredients, stirring to combine.

4. Place kale in a large mixing bowl, add parmesan and dressing. Gently toss ingredients until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve room temperature.

Serves 2-3

December 13, 2010

Feta Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Potatoes are an excellent staple. They can be cooked in so many different ways with so many different ingredients, though cheese and herbs do suit them very well. I like to roast potatoes in higher heat because it creates a delicious combination of crispy exterior and creamy interior, of which I am very fond of eating. Feta, first recorded during the Byzantine Empire, is a good cheese to roast because it maintains its integrity when cooked, melting slightly and browning easily. Bacon braised chicken and winter wheat berry salad are both delicious with these feta roasted potatoes.

I like the combination of parsley and feta, but other herbs will be just as good including rosemary or thyme. Other new potatoes may be used instead of or in addition to fingerlings. More or less garlic can be added depending on preference.

Dedicated to my dearest Layli, who roasted many batches of potatoes with feta during our first year at college.

½ lbs fingerling potatoes, quartered

½ small white onion, finely diced

1 stalk celery, trimmed and finely diced

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped

¼ c parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp sage, finely chopped

¼ c crumbled feta

3 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat potatoes with 1 ½ tsp olive oil and spread potatoes onto the baking dish. Place potatoes in the oven and bake until golden brown and tender, 30-40 minutes. Once done, remove potatoes from the oven and set aside, leaving oven on.

2. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add remaining onions and celery and sauté until onions are translucent. Turn heat off, add garlic and herbs, stirring to combine.

3. Combine the sautéed ingredients and feta with potatoes in the roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the feta starts to brown slightly, 5-10 minutes. Once done, remove the potatoes from the oven.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

December 9, 2010

Brassicas Marinated with Fresh Herbs

Blanched brassicas may be my favorite way to eat them because they become milder, tender and brilliantly colored. Because they are members of the mustard family, brassica flavors tend to be similar and so compliment each other well. Brassicas are also known as crucifers or cross bearing due to their four-petaled flowers reminiscent of crosses. I first made this salad for a friend's birthday, to compliment an Italian inspired meal. Marinated brassicas can be served with any number of other side dishes including creamy polenta and mashed carrots.

Other combinations of herbs will work as well. I used baby spinach but arugula or mixed greens would be good too. More garlic may be used depending upon preference.

1 small bunch of broccoli, stemmed and cut into florets

1 medium head of cauliflower, stemmed and cut into florets

1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned

1 c radishes, sliced lengthwise into thin rounds

1 small red pepper, trimmed and diced

1 onion, trimmed and finely diced

1 clove of garlic, pressed or chopped

¼ c basil, finely chopped

¼ c parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 c baby greens

salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Working in individual batches, blanch cauliflower (1-2 minutes), broccoli (1-2 minutes), radishes (1-2 minutes) and carrots (2-3 minutes) until brightly colored and slightly tender. Once cooked, place each vegetable under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Gently towel dry and add to large mixing bowl. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the red pepper and continue sautéing until soft. Turn heat off, add garlic and herbs, stir to combine and allow to cook off heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add sautéed vegetables to the blanched brassicas and gently combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to marinate for a few hours at room temperature. Serve over baby greens.

Serves 3-4

December 6, 2010

Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is what I order the most when eating out because, aside from loving the flavors, it is a fairly standard salad and therefore less likely to be inedible, though not all Caesars are created equally. Though the true origins of the salad are debated, it likely arose in California during the early to mid-twentieth century. Caesar salads are easy to make on one's own and are best fresh with homemade dressing and croutons. Caesar salads are great with pizza and bacon braised chicken.

The anchovy may be increased or omitted depending upon preference. Fresh eggs are best. Other types of bread may be used as well. Traditionally the dressing is prepared in the salad bowl prior to adding the salad ingredients, which works very well, though I find blending the dressing ingredients most evenly distributes them in the final salad.

Dedicated to my dearest Heather, who requested a Caesar recipe for the holidays. Happy cooking in Washington.

½ c olive oil plus 1 tbsp for croutons

1 clove garlic

1 c French or sourdough bread, cut into ½ in cubes

1 egg

1 lemon, juiced and strained

1 tsp salt

1 anchovy

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp white wine vinegar

½ c grated parmesan

2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and roughly chopped

freshly ground pepper

1. Combine garlic and ½ c olive oil in a small bowl, infuse at room temperature for at least 24 hours.

2. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Gently combine bread and 1 tbsp olive oil, arrange in single layer on a baking sheet and place in oven. Allow croutons to bake until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Once golden brown, remove from oven and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, gently place the entire egg in the boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Once the egg has coddled, remove from heat and immerse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

4. Place olive oil, garlic, anchovy, lemon juice, salt, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and egg in a blender or food processor. Blend until ingredients are well combined, about 1 minute.

5. Combine lettuce, croutons and Parmesan in a large mixing bowl. Add dressing and gently toss ingredients until they are evenly coated. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 3-4

December 4, 2010

Celeriac Purée

Celeriac seems to be one of the more commonly overlooked root vegetables, which is a shame because it is one of the more delicious roots we eat. I find it to be nice to cook with because it has a creamy texture and a milder celery flavor, so it is an easy replacement for celery in many dishes. Although the exterior may be a bit intimidating, generally celeriac is fairly easy to trim with pairing knives and peelers. Celeriac is also known as celery root or turnip-celery root. Celeriac purée accompanies many other dishes well, including feta roasted potatoes and stuffed bell peppers, due to its rich and creamy celery flavor.

This purée can easily be made vegan by substituting the remaining steaming water and olive oil for the dairy. An immersion blender or regular blender will also work to purée the ingredients together.

1 lb celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped

½ lb carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tbsp butter

½ c whole milk

¼ fresh thyme

salt and pepper

1. Steam celeriac and carrots until soft, 20-30 minutes. Once vegetables are soft, remove from heat and place in a food processor.

2. Next, add butter and milk to the vegetables and purée until mixture is smooth. Add thyme and purée for a few seconds more until combined.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. May be served warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

December 1, 2010

Winter Wheat Berry Salad with Bacon, Corn and Arugula

I have found grain salads to be an excellent way to increase the use of whole grains in my cooking. There are many different grains to choose from and each one is unique in flavor, texture and appearance. Grains are easy to cook in boiling water, but generally take a few hours. I like to make grain salads throughout the year as they are versatile, a great addition to most any meal and delicious on their own. Wheat berry salad tastes good along side blue potatoes and fennel beet salad.

Other types of grain may be substituted for hard red winter wheat berries. Spinach would also work well, depending on availability and preference.

2 c cooked hard winter wheat berries

2 strips bacon, finely sliced

1 medium red onion, finely diced

1 c corn, fresh or frozen

2 c fresh arugula, roughly chopped

1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

salt and pepper

1. Place cooked wheat berries in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and brown, stirring occasionally. Once bacon has browned, add onions and cook until translucent. Add corn and rosemary, continue cooking until rosemary is fragrant and corn is cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Once ingredients are ready, remove the skillet from heat.

3. Next, add arugula to the skillet and stir to combine, allowing arugula to wilt slightly. Place all ingredients in the large mixing bowl with the wheat berries and gently combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

November 28, 2010

Beer Stewed Pork with Apples and Leeks

Warm pots of stewed foods seem especially fitting for fall and the combination of leeks, pork and apples only enhances the fittingness for fall. I made this dish earlier in November, before the snow arrived in Montana and picked the apples from a tree in the yard, which seemed an appropriate way to spend time while the leaves were changing. Now a blanket of snow has replaced the colorful leaves, and a pork and beer stew seems even more appealing for the colder weather. Stewed pork may be served with many different dishes including brown rice fritters and chickpea flatbread.

Any variety of tart firm apple lends itself well to the pork and beer. I used new purple potatoes again because I love their color, but other new waxy potatoes are just as good. A light to medium beer is best, as dark beer tends to mask the flavors of the other ingredients.

1 lb pork chops, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 leek, trimmed and roughly chopped

2 c apples, trimmed and quartered or halved depending on size of apple

½ red pepper, trimmed and finely diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced

2 stalks of celery, trimmed and finely diced

2 c new potatoes, quartered

¼ c parsley, finely chopped

½ c water

2 tbsp olive oil

1 12 oz beer, light or medium

salt and pepper

2 c cooked sweet brown rice

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove pork from pot and set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tbsp olive oil to pot. Add the potatoes and brown slightly, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once potatoes have browned, add carrot, celery and apple and stir to combine.

3. Return pork to pot, add beer and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add water, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add leek and red pepper, stir to combine and continue cooking until leek is soft, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat once all vegetables are tender and stir in parsley.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm over brown rice.

Serves 3-4


November 26, 2010

Sage and Sesame Fried Sweet Potatoes

I have participated in numerous sweet potato versus yam discussions with my friends and family recently, as sweet potatoes are both a common Thanksgiving side dish and often mislabeled as yams. The two plants are botanically distinct from each other; yams are starchy tubers from Africa and Asia, whereas sweet potatoes are distant relatives of potatoes from the Americas. African slaves referred to soft sweet potatoes, particularly orange fleshed, as yams to distinguish them from firm sweet potatoes with lighter flesh and because they slightly resemble true yams. Although yams can be found in specialties markets, in the States we tend to eat many different varieties of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes and leafy greens, such as orange pecan kale and walnut lemon chard, compliment each other in rich and hearty ways.

Any variety of sweet potato may be used. Other herbs will work well including rosemary, thyme or lavender.

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ cubes

1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

1 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped

2 tbsp vegetable oil

salt and pepper

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cubed sweet potatoes and fry until golden brown, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

2. Once sweet potatoes have browned, add sesame seeds and sage. Continue frying until sage is fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. May be served warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

November 22, 2010

Socca : Chickpea Flatbread

Socca is a southeastern French flatbread made from garbanzo bean flour, essentially a chickpea crepe baked in the oven. I first discovered socca when researching flatbreads of the world and have loved it ever since. Socca may be eaten on its own or with any number of toppings and fillings. It is an excellent gluten-free alternative to traditional wheat-based flatbreads. Braised chicken and stewed pork can be wrapped in socca making an excellent meal.

More or less water may be added to the flour, depending on desired thickness. A 500-degree oven will also work, with a slightly increased cooking time. I have also used flour made from both fava and garbanzo beans, which worked out very well.

1 c garbanzo bean flour

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

1 ½ c cold water

2 tbsp olive oil plus more to coat skillet

10 inch cast iron skillet

1. Place skillet in oven and preheat oven to 525 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, place garbanzo bean flour, salt, pepper, water and oil in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine into a batter.

3. Once oven is heated, carefully remove skillet from oven and place on safe surface. Coat skillet with olive oil, add ½ c of batter and spread evenly by rotating skillet around. Return skillet to oven and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes or until edges are golden brown and pulling away from sides of skillet. Using a spatula, loosen socca from skillet, place on flat surface and allow to cool.

4. Repeat step 3 until all batter has been used. May be served warm or room temperature.

Makes 4 ten inch flatbreads

November 20, 2010

Fresh Pickles

I love pickled vegetables, of all varieties, likely due to my northern European heritage. As I tend to err on the side of impatience, I prefer to make fresh pickles instead of actually canning because they are delicious, easy to make and last for a few months in the refrigerator. Making your own fresh pickles is a lovely way to eat more vegetables.

Different combinations of vinegars, vegetables and herbs may be used depending on preference and availability.
Beets with Thyme

4 medium beets, steamed until tender, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds

1 small yellow onion, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 large clove of garlic, smashed

1 long sprig of thyme

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 ½ tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1 c apple cider vinegar

1 c water

1 quart-liter size glass jar with lid

Cucumbers with Sage

1 large cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds

1 small yellow onion, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 large clove of garlic, smashed

1 long sprig of sage

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 ½ tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1 c rice wine vinegar

1 c water

1 quart-liter size glass jar with lid

Carrots with Rosemary

4 medium carrots, peeled, cut into rounds and steamed until tender

1 small yellow onion, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 large clove of garlic, smashed

1 long sprig of rosemary

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 ½ tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1 c apple cider vinegar

1 c water

1 quart-liter size glass jar with lid

1. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, onions and garlic in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Simmer until salt and sugar is dissolved and onions are tender, about 4-5 minutes, and then remove from heat.

2. Meanwhile, place herb sprig in jar. Next, layer the prepared vegetables with the cooked garlic and onions. Finally, pour the heated liquid over the ingredients in the jar, cover with lid and place in the refrigerator.

3. Allow to pickle for about one day. Fresh pickles will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 months.

Makes 2-3 cups of pickles


November 17, 2010

Sesame Rice with Tofu and Vegetables

Stir-fried vegetables and tofu over rice has been a standby meal for most of my life, both as a child and as an adult. It is quick, easy, fresh and delicious. Over the years, I have tried many different versions with roughly the same ingredients. I have come to discover the flavors meld and balance better when the rice is combined into the stir-fry, and I now prefer this method of preparation. Soups, such as mustard green or butternut squash, and salads, like green beans amandine and arugula with orange, make perfect additions to sesame rice.

I find fresh firm tofu packed in water to be the best option for frying. Soy sauce may be used instead of tamari.

2 c cooked sushi rice

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

5-6 small bok choy, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

1 red pepper, trimmed and diced

1 medium carrot, trimmed and diced

1 medium red potato, cut into ¼ inch cubes

1 c extra firm tofu, cut into ¼ inch cubes

1 stick burdock, peeled and thinly sliced

5-7 shitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated

¼ c mirin

¼ c tamari

3 tbsp vegetable oil

pepper

1. Place cooked rice in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add tofu, fry until golden brown, turning occasionally to prevent sticking. Once browned, add tofu to rice and set aside.

3. Clean skillet and heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, fry until golden brown and tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once browned, add potatoes to rice and set aside.

4. Clean skillet and heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add burdock and fry until slightly browned. Add carrots and mushrooms, continue to fry until both the carrots and burdock are tender. Finally, add red pepper, bok choy, garlic, ginger, mirin and tamari. Stir, cover and simmer for 1-2 minutes, until bok choy is brilliant green. Remove from heat and add to rice in mixing bowl.

5. Gently combine all the ingredients in the mixing bowl, add sesame seeds and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4

November 14, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Roasting is one of my favorite methods of preparation, especially when the weather is cooler as it both warms the house and smells deliciously of fall. I find roasting squash is an easy way to both prepare it, because little work is involved, and a good way to enhance the flavor of any given recipe, especially those that have few ingredients. I like to roast squash until it may easily be pierced with a knife, its skin separates from the flesh and its surface begins to caramelize. I like butternut squash soup with pasties or stuffed bell peppers.

Other squash varieties may be used instead of or in addition to butternut. Any fairly tart apple will work well. I topped my soup with sour cream, fried shallots and sautéed scallions.

1 1b butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded

2 tart apples, peeled, cored and roughly cut

1 medium yellow onion, trimmed and roughly cut

1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and roughly cut

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil plus additional to rub squash

water

salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425. Rub squash with some olive oil and place in oven face side up. Roast squash until tender and slightly browned, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove flesh from skin, place in mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add butter and olive oil, once melted add carrots, onions and apples. Stir occasionally, remove from heat when carrots are tender.

3. Purée squash with about ½ c water until smooth. Add squash to a large pot. Purée carrots, onions and apples with about ½ c water until smooth. Add to puréed squash.

4. Using a whisk, combine both purées and slowly add water until soup reaches desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, plain or with desired toppings.

Serves 3-4


November 10, 2010

Bacon Braised Chicken with Kidney Beans and Kale

Kale is a perfect fall green, beautifully hearty and readily available. A descendant of wild cabbage from Asia, the central leaves of kale do not form the head common to modern cabbages. Believed to have been brought to Europe around 600 BCE by the Celts, kale was subsequently brought to the United States by English settlers during the 17th century. The kidney beans I used for this recipe were grown by my dear friends in Maine on Six River Farm. Socca, brown rice fritters or creamy polenta make perfect grain sides for braised chicken.

I used lacinato or dinosaur kale for this dish, but any variety of kale may be used. Kidney beans add a nice rich color to the dish, but other types of bean such as white or pinto would work as well.

1 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

2 strips bacon, thinly sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

½ red pepper, trimmed and diced

1 large carrot, trimmed and cut into ¼ inch cubes

1 bunch kale, trimmed and thinly sliced widthwise

2 c cooked kidney beans

½ white wine

1 c chicken stock

¼ c parsley, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium skillet, add onions and cook, stirring often until caramelized to a deep golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Once caramelized remove from heat and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the bacon, stirring often until barely done. Add the chicken to the bacon and brown both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Bring the heat up to medium, add the white wine, garlic and carrot, stir to combine and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wine has been reduced to about half.

3. Next, add the red pepper, kidney beans, caramelized onions and chicken stock. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low, add the kale, stir to combine, cover and allow the kale to cook for 4-5 minutes. Once kale is tender remove from heat.

4. Gently stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Serves 3-4