Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Celery Root Soup

Celeriac, also known as celery root or knob celery, is a kind of celery grown as a root vegetable for its large hypocotyl rather than for its stem and leaves. Unlike other root vegetables, which store a large amount of starch, celery root is only about 5-6% starch by weight. Celeriac has a celery flavor and is often used in soups and stews. It can also be mashed or used in casseroles, gratins, or baked dishes. Try this recipe, adapted from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen. [Serves 6]
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium celery roots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 quarts broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup thick Cashew Cream* (see below)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, very finely diced (optional, for garnish)
Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.

Add the celery root, celery, and onion and sauté for 6-10 minutes, stirring often, until soft but not brown. Add the stock and bay leaf, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cashew cream and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, cover the lid with a towel (the hot liquid tends to erupt), and blend on high. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls. Place a spoonful of the diced apple in the center of each serving.

*To make 1 cup of Cashew Cream, place 2/3 cup whole raw cashews (not pieces, which are often dry), rinsed very well under cold water, in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. Cashew cream is a vegan-chef staple and can be stored 2-3 days in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 6 months (although after it's defrosted it can be a bit lumpy, so it's good to give it a spin in the blender to smooth it out before using it).

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yellow squash soup w/cinnamon & cloves

It not much of a recipe – mostly guesswork – but it came out pretty good:
    • Sautee garlic and onion w/butter, salt, cinnamon, rosemary in large pot or skillet
    • Add cubed squash, honey/brown sugar, cloves cook under a lid until tender
    • Add small amounts of water as needed
    • Remove cloves
    • Puree in blender

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Ridiculously simple broccoli (or broccoli stalk) soup

    Not sure what to do with your broccoli stems? Try this recipe - it's incredibly easy, and delicious!
    • Broccoli (florets and/or stems)
    • Salt & pepper
    • Olive oil
    • Garlic (optional)
    • Carrots (optional)
    • Goat cheese (optional)
    • Toasted almonds or walnuts (optional)
    Sautee chopped garlic and olive oil in a soup pot. Add water to pot, bring to boil, season w/salt and pepper. Add broccoli stalks and carrots. Cook until tender. Blend. Season again. Enjoy!

    Gordon Ramsey's version uses florets, goat cheese and walnuts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvc8Au4YO60

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Arugula and Spinach Stir-Fry (with a bonus lesson on herb-infused oils!)

    People are always looking for ways to use up spring and summer greens. This recipe, from one of our CSA members, is another great one to have on hand.

    But first, let me talk about one of the ingredients in this recipe: sweet-basil-infused olive oil. Infused olive oils can be very expensive and often found only at specialty stores. However, they can be made very easily and cheaply at home. I actually prefer to make it myself because you can control what types and how much of every flavor goes in. Plus, you can come up with your own herb combinations and get really creative! And an added bonus: bottles of your own herb-infused oils make wonderful gifts.

    Use about 1/4 cup of fresh herbs for every cup of olive oil. You can roughly chop the herbs to help release the flavor, or leave them whole (especially if you want to leave the herbs in the bottle for decoration). Heat the oil up to about 200 degrees F (I use a candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pan for this) with the herbs included. Cook at this temperature for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain herbs if desired, and pour into a sterilized glass bottle. I recommend not using a jar with a wide opening for easier pouring, and not using anything with a metal top - this might add a metallic taste to your oil. Use a bottle with a plastic or cork topper and make sure that the opening is completely sealed. Let sit for about 48 hours before using. If you add raw herbs to your oil as decoration after cooking, make sure to refrigerate - the water content of the herbs can promote bacterial growth in room temperature oil. If you do not add raw herbs, you can store your oil in the fridge or with your other oils at room temperature.

    Arugula and Spinach Stir-Fry

    Courtesy of Jed Fahey

    Use about two cups of spinach and two cups of arugula, coarsely chopped. Heat sweet-basil-infused oil in a wok, and add arugula and spinach, sauteing for about one minute. Add 1/4 cup amontillado sherry and 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, and then steam it down for another minute or two. Serve with couscous, quinoa, or any one of your favorite starches!

    Photos courtesy of Benjamin Chun, sweet mustache (respectively) - Flickr.com

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Corn and Radish Salad

    Adapted from Food Everyday: From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living (2007):

    Coarse salt
    4 ears corn (substitute with 2 cups frozen corn)
    6 radishes, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced (or finely chopped in a food processor)
    1 jalapeno chile, finely chopped (or substitute with hot sauce)
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    After cooking the corn in boiling salted water until tender, slice the kernels from the cobs (to yield about 2 cups). Toss with the radishes, jalapeno, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt. Serve chilled or a room temperature.

    When I tried this recipe, I used frozen corn instead of fresh corn. It was tasty, though the corn seemed a bit mushy. Once fresh corn is in season, I might try this with raw or undercooked corn to preserve some of the crispness.

    This is a great way to utilize a hefty bunch of radishes!

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Palak Paneer (spinach)

    I used two shares worth of spinach (I traded in my garlic scape for a 2nd spinach, via the handy new swap-box feature) to make Palak - minus the Paneer, since I didn't have any cheese. Delicious! Tonight, if I'm feeling adventurous, I may try the same recipe but with chard instead.

    From allrecipes.com: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Absolutely-Perfect-Palak-Paneer/Detail.aspx

    6 tablespoons olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
    2 dried red chile peppers
    1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    3/4 cup sour cream
    3 pounds fresh spinach, torn
    1 large tomato, quartered
    4 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves
    8 ounces ricotta cheese
    Salt to taste

    In a large saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of ginger, red chilies (optional ingredient) and onion until brown. Mix in the cumin, coriander, turmeric and sour cream (add more or less to achieve desired creaminess). Add the spinach, handfuls at a time until it is cooked down, about 15 minutes total. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

    Pour spinach mixture into a blender or food processor and add the tomato, the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of ginger, and cilantro (add more or less according to taste). Blend for 15 to 30 seconds, or until the spinach is finely chopped. Pour back into the saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

    In a medium frying pan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, and fry cheese until browned; drain and add to spinach. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Season with salt to taste.

    - Brent