Dill Pickle Soup

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I make a lot of dill pickles, but they don’t always turn out perfectly – sometimes they aren’t as crisp as I’d like when grown out of season, and so I have to find ways to repurpose them! While I do love a good bloody mary, pickle soup is another fantastic solution for ways to use any pickles! Make this soup on a cold winter night, it contains lots of flavor and hearty vegetables to warm you up.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 small russet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Quart sized jar brined dill pickles and their juice
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Spices including dill, Old Bay, smoked paprika, ground black pepper, and salt to taste
  • grated cheese, celery leaves, and green onions for garnish

Instructions

Roughly chop the onion.  In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the onions and butter. Cook over medium heat until the onions are starting to become translucent, about five minutes. Peel, rinse, and chop the potatoes. Peel and mince the garlic, then add the potatoes and garlic to the pot. Stir for about two minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and potatoes are just starting to soften.

Pour in the stock, as well as approximately 2 cups of pickle juice. If you are using a full quart of brine pickles, pour in all of the juice in the jar. Bring to a low boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. Turn off the heat, and using an immersion blender or working in batches in a blender, puree the soup until smooth. Turn the heat back on to low and bring the soup to a simmer. Now, whisk in the sour cream.

While the potatoes cook, dice the carrots, celery, and pickle spears to whatever size you’d like to eat. Add these to the soup after it has been pureed.

Taste the broth and add spices to your liking – if you are using brine pickles it’s unlikely you’ll need any more salt! I added 1/2 tsp Old Bay, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, and a few shakes of black pepper.

Garnish with celery leaves, green onion slices, and cheddar cheese (optional) and serve with a big wedge of good bread!

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Ratatouille

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I love Ratatouille! It is a very tasty meal that takes a bit to cook but not too long to prepare the vegetables – a great dinner to set up, walk away, and come back to. I like to prepare it this way because the vegetables here are not overcooked, but instead retain just enough of their own flavor and character to work wonderfully together. Here, there are not specific measurements of vegetable ingredients – simply work with what you have and how much food you think you would like. You can easily add more vegetables to this recipe as well.

Serves 3 – 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 large globe eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper or 3 – 4 mini bell peppers
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp herb d’provence or italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  •  parmesan to top
  • olive oil

Instructions

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Lightly sprinkle each slice with salt on one side, leave all of the slices in a colander to sweat some of their water while you prepare other ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers, and tomatoes into about a 1/4″ dice. It doesn’t matter what size your slices are – I like it if they are all roughly the same size, about 2″ square. To cut the bell pepper, slice across the whole pepper so thaty you have rings of pepper rather than thin slices. Remove the seed tissue. Slice the onions – cut off the ends of the onion, then cut the onion in half, perhaps even quarters depending on your preference, and peel away layers of the onion to create different pieces. Combine all the vegetable slices in a mixing bowl, mix in about a tsp of salt, a few good shakes of pepper, the herbs d’provence, and about 1 tbsp of olive oil – mix to combine and cover the vegetables in a thin coat of oil. You can add more of these to taste.

Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel, then combine it in the bowl.

In a Dutch oven or a square baking dish, pour half of the tomato sauce and spread it over the bottom of the pan. Peel and slice the garlic and sprinkle it over this sauce. Now, you can either add the ingredients all at once and spread them out evenly, or I like to layer them in so that each type of vegetable alternates into a spiral. This is a little more work, but when I have time I like to do it because it reminds me of the movie Ratatouille! Now, pour the rest of the tomato sauce evenly over the vegetables.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about five minutes, then top with parmesan cheese and the parsley (you can give it a rough chop if you like). Serve with a crusty bread or an olive bread to soak up the juices!

Hot Beef Borscht

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I am in love with beets as they are is easy to prepare and pair well with sweet and savory dishes. I have worked hard to create a borscht recipe that is perfectly balanced. Borscht is really a term for an array of eastern European dishes that are made differently in many countries. I like to think of borscht as a way for both Jake and I to connect with our heritage – it is considered both a Jewish dish and a Catholic holiday dish – as well as a way to feel a human connection with other parts of the world, namely Ukraine, that deserve my thoughts. While borscht can also be a vegetarian dish, in this particular recipe I chose to include beef for an added level of flavor. Don’t be tempted to omit the pickled beets or sauerkraut either – you can find these canned at the grocery store, and they add a layer of complexity that takes this soup from a simple dish to a fantastic meal!

Serves 4 – 5 as a main course.

Ingredients 

  • 3 large beets
  • 1 1/2 pound beef with shin bone in
  • 1/2 cup beet greens (if attached)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup rutabaga (substitute potato)
  • 1/2 cup pickled beet
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 1 bay leaf and 1/2 tbsp fresh sage leaves, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or substitute 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Garnish with croutons, fresh dill and sour cream

Instructions 

Cut the beef into 2 inch wide strips. In a 5 quart Dutch oven or pot, combine the beef with the stock and water and bring to a boil. Peel and dice the onion (I like a medium dice) and saute the onions with the butter and a pinch of salt until slightly browned. Wash, peel, and chop the carrots and add the onions and the carrots to the broth. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients.

On a baking sheet, wrap the beets in foil and roast beets for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove, unwrap using oven mitts, and cut the beets in half. Let them cool for about ten minutes, then peel and grate on a box grater. Set aside. Peel and finely dice rutabaga. Drain and dice pickled beets. Add beets and rutabaga with the pickled beet, bay leaf, sage leaves, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Quickly toast the coriander and fennel in a dry skillet for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then add to the soup. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook for an additonal 1 1/2 hours (for a total of 3 hours).

Remove the bones of the beef, then take the beef out, roughly chop, and add back into the soup, stirring to mix. Serve into bowls and garnish with rye croutons, sour cream or yogurt, and roughly chopped fresh dill.

Ricotta Manicotti with White Beans in Marinara Sauce

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Last night I was in the mood for some savory Italian flavors, so I broke out the ricotta and the manicotti shells and got to work. This manicotti is not as cheesy as most recipes – I was in the mood for something that was cheesy and good but also made me feel good afterwards! If you like, you can substitute the zucchini for mozzarella cheese and an extra whipped egg to make this manicotti very cheesy, if so, bake for 35 minutes. In any event, this was a delicious mixture of beans, artichokes, tomatoes, garlic, and cheese – plenty tasty for me!

Serves 4 – 5.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked cannelini or white beans or one can of precooked beans
  • 1 tomato, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup artichokes, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, copped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • one package of manicotti shells (12 – 14)
  • 1 1/2 cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • salt and black pepper
  • grated Parmesan for serving

Instructions

If you are using dried beans, cover beans in water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add about 1/2 tsp of salt and boil until soft.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Add onions, celery, zucchini, and garlic to a skillet with about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables have begun to lose their water and become translucent. Combine the vegetables (trying to omit their liquid) with the ricotta, nutmeg, sage, rosemary, and oregano. Temper in the egg, then taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Precook the manicotti shells in the boiling water until they are al dente, according to package directions. Drain, then fill each shell with the ricotta mixture. This may be easier if you use a wide fitted pastry bag or a large plastic bag (freezer or gallon sized) with the tip of the bag cut off, filling with the cheese and pushing it out into shells. Oil a large baking dish, then layer in the filled shells.

Combine drained beans, parsley, artichokes, and diced tomato. Add a pinch of salt and a few shake of black pepper. Spoon this mixture over the shells. Then top with the marinara sauce, evenly spread.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until you are satisfied with how hot the dish is or how much the egg has set. Top with parmesan cheese and serve!

Mushroom Pot Pie

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Enjoy a crustless, meat free version of a savory pot pie on a cold night! The leftovers can last for days, or you can share the whole pie.

Serves 4 – 6.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound mushrooms, caps cleaned and stems removed, sliced
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into a 1/4″ dice
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 celery stick cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 2 tbsp parsley roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 tomato, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked lentils or kidney beans (optional: cook the beans in vegetable, mushroom, or chicken stock instead of in boiling water)
  • 1/4 cup gravy* (optional)
  • 2 russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

*To make this recipe gluten free, omit the gravy, or make your own using a non-gluten flour or starch as a binder. I will write more on this later. You can use a meat or vegetable gravy, whichever you prefer.

Instructions

If you are cooking the beans, soak them overnight in a bowl, covered in cold water. The next day, as you start to cook, drain and recover the beans with water or stock if you are using it. Bring to a boil and boil the beans or lentils until they are soft, between 30 – 40 minutes. Drain and set aside. If you are using lentils, you can leave them to simmer until they start to break down and most of the liquid has evaporated – this will make a better consistency for later.

Clean and slice mushrooms. Don’t rinse the mushrooms to clean, rather, remove their stems and use a paper towel to wipe clean. If you want, reserve the stems to make a mushroom stock for storage. In a skillet over medium heat, combine mushrooms, red wine vinegar, sage, a pinch of salt, and enough olive oil to coat the pan. Simmer until the mushrooms have just lost their water, stirring occasionally, until they look slightly browned and wilted but still have a little structure. Remove the mushrooms from the pan into a medium mixing bowl, reserving the liquid left behind by the mushrooms.

In the skillet, add the tomato to the reserved mushroom juice. Cook over medium high heat until the tomato breaks down. Add the beans, peas, and gravy, stirring until the mixture has a gravy like texture and has lost most of its extra water. Remove from heat.

Over medium high heat sauté onions, celery, carrots with about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add garlic when onions become translucent and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and white pepper and remove from heat. Combine all of the vegetables, beans, and mushrooms, adding parsley and stirring all ingredients together. Add to a pie dish.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a pot, combine potatoes and milk. Bring to a simmer, just below a boil, stirring until potatoes are soft, about ten to fifteen minutes. Drain potatoes, reserving 1/4 cup of the milk. Mash potatoes with 1/2 tsp of salt, reserved milk, sour cream, and horseradish. Spread potatoes across surface of the pie dish over vegetables. Top with the cheddar cheese and bake for 20 minutes until cheese has started to brown.

Remove from the oven, let cool for about 5 minutes, then serve with rustic bread!

Pork Braised with Sauerkraut

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We have had some pork shoulder in the freezer for a while, and decided it was time to make a delicious dish out of it. This recipe was inspired by Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, although we made a few changes here, mostly by adding the pork to a slow cooker, so that we could have a lazy, low maintenance dinner that was really fine cuisine!

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients 

Pork Salt Rub

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Slow Cooker Ingredients

  • 1 cup sauerkraut
  • 2 carrots, scraped and shredded on a box grater
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 macintosh apple
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cups brown stock (chicken is okay)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Sage
  • 1/4 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. Parsley
  • 1/8 tsp. Clove
  • 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 Bay Leaf

Instructions 

Mix together the salt, spices, and garlic to make a spice rub. Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the pork. Close the pork in a bag and refrigerate for at least an hour (up to several days).

Brown the pork in a skillet with about 1 tbsp. oil over high heat until the pork is a nice crispy brown color on every side. Place the browned meat into a slow cooker. Add all of the sauerkraut to the slow cooker along with 1 cup of red wine and 2 cups of stock. The liquid should cover about 1/2 – 3/4 of the meat.

In the same pan used to brown the pork, add in onion, apples, and carrots. Saute over medium low heat until the onions are slightly caramelized. Then, add the crushed garlic and cook until it is fragrant but not burnt. Add 1/2 cup of wine to the pan and cook until the wine is fully reduced. Add the mixture to the slow cooker.

Add all of the spices to the slow cooker. Salt and pepper the liquid to taste. Cook the pork on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

Slice off pieces of the pork and spoon out the vegetables. Serve with a bowl of the braising liquid and French bread.

*If you do not own a slow cooker, bake in a covered oven-safe casserole at 325 degrees for about 2 hours or until the pork is done.

Tom Kha Gai

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For a few months I lived in London, UK, and on dark fall nights I decided that I needed a pick me up and a cooking project! I was interested in Thai food and had access to a market, so I started to research dishes that I might be interested in making. I came across this recipe for Tom Kha Gai by Leela Punyaratabandhu on her fantastic blog SheSimmers, from which my recipe is adapted. There are no large differences, this is just the way I have come to prefer preparing this meal. This soup is a fantastic array of flavors that are balanced perfectly into a delectable bowl of soup. It is a little salty, sweet, spicy, savory, and sour- a little bit of everything!
 
Serves 2 – 3. 
 
Ingredients
 
  • 3 cups sodium-free chicken stock 
  • 2 chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite size pieces across the grain
  • 8 ounces fresh or canned straw mushrooms (drained)
  • 1 cup snap peas 
  • Two stalks of lemongrass
  • 2-3 fresh bird’s eye chilies (more or less depending on your heat preference
  • 2-inch piece of fresh galangal (you can substitute ginger, but use 1 – 1 1/2 inch)
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) coconut milk
  • 4-5 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 limes
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (can substitute Thai basil)
Instructions

Combine the stock and coconut water (not coconut cream on the top of the can) in a large pan. Begin to heat to a simmering temperature.

Cut the tender bottom half of the lemongrass stalks into 1-inch pieces. Peel the galangal and slice it very thinly, I used a mandoline to create thin slices. Place the lemongrass and half of the galangal into a strainer or tea ball and add these to the simmering liquid. Put the other half of the galangal directly in the liquid instead of the strainer, you can eat it directly as part of your soup after it has simmered a bit.  

Add the coconut cream to the liquid and bring almost to a simmer. You don’t want to boil the liquid because the coconut cream will begin to form a skin. Don’t worry – it’s very hot and your chicken will cook! 

Halve the straw mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. You can use other meaty mushrooms like oyster or cremini mushrooms, but stay away from portobello – while delicious, they don’t work well with this soup and turn it an odd gray color. Add the mushrooms, snap peas, palm sugar, and chicken to the broth and stir occasionally until the chicken is cooked. This will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces, just keep an eye on your pot and check the chicken when it looks completely white and cooked through. If you need more liquid to cover the ingredients add a bit of water. 

Remove the stems and the tough veins that run through the middle from the kaffir lime leaves, and tear them up into small pieces. Tear some cilantro leaves from their stems or the Thai basil. Cut the chilies into thin slices. Set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the pot from heat and season with fish sauce. Add a few dashes first, then taste the soup and see if you would like to add more fish sauce to make the soup saltier. Then, stir in the lime leaves. Serve the soup into bowls. 

Top the bowls with cilantro or basil, juice of at least 1/2 lime, and however many chili slices you would like to add to your heat level. You can also serve your bowl over hot jasmine rice! 

Slow Cooker Falafel

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Last night was a late night for me, but I had some time in the morning to make a slow cooker dinner for later! I am absolutely in love with my slow cooker- it’s a great tool to make great food when my schedule is a bit out of whack with dinner. This falafel is fairly simple, and works fantastically well in the slow cooker, turning out crispy on the outside while soft on the inside. You can even make the mix ahead of time, store in the fridge for up to two days, and pop the falafel balls into the slow cooker on the day you are ready!

Serves 3. 

Ingredients

  • about 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour (can substitute with regular flour)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot or small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 

Optional sides to serve with falafel:

  • Diced tomatoes, cucumber, and radish tossed with lemon juice
  • Grated carrot
  • Dill pickles and sauerkraut
  • Hummus
  • Warm pita bread 
  • Yogurt with cucumber, combine:  
    • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced; 1 cup Greek yogurt; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1/2 tbsp dried or fresh dill, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp white pepper

Instructions

Boil the chickpeas with the baking soda for about one hour  or until they are tender. Drain. 

Toast the fenugreek and coriander for about 30 seconds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Grind in a small mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Combine all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. You may have to do this in batches, using a spatula to push mix that rises to the top of the food processor back down towards the blades periodically. Mixture shouldn’t be too wet, but moist enough to form and hold small balls. 

With the mixture, form balls that are about 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter. Put these in your slow cooker on the bottom, do not pile them on top of each other but it is ok if they touch on the sides. Fill the slow cooker with olive oil until it is a little more than 1/4″ deep around the falafel balls. Give the balls a flip so that the bottom that was coated with oil is now on top.

Put the lid on, and cook on the lowest setting for about 8 hours. If you have a delay setting, you can cook them on low heat for 6 hours instead. Come home from work and enjoy with yogurt, pita, and some simple chopped vegetables and pickles!

Tofu Pho Style Noodle Bowl

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Last night was a damp and rainy night in the neighborhood, and I decided that I wanted a steamy bowl of soup! This noodle bowl is based on Pho noodle bowls, but using ingredients that I had on hand. While I do love going out for a hot bowl of Pho, one of the things that I really enjoy about learning to cook for myself is that I can treat myself to my favorite dishes as homemade meals. If you don’t have all the ingredients for this recipe, or you would like to change it, I encourage you to switch and swap away! The heart of any bowl of Pho is close attention to the broth, where the roasted onion and ginger are essential. Otherwise, you can trade spices for powdered versions, and the soup won’t suffer if you are out of a few of the seasonings. You can also substitute and mushrooms, broccoli, or lotus root into the vegetables, as well as replace the tofu with tempeh. I enjoy this mostly vegetarian version, but if you are interested in a more traditional beef or chicken Pho, Andrea Nguyen is a masterful guide through Vietnamese cuisine. 

Serves 2 as a main course. 

Ingredients 

For the Broth and Soup

  • 6 cups beef stock**
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1 cup large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, skin left on 
  • 4″ ginger, skin left on  
  • 1 package tofu, thinly sliced into long strips 
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tender bottoms cut into 1″ pieces and bruised with the butt of your knife
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 pound small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh rice noodles (rice sticks)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp salt plus more to taste 

Optional Garnishes, Arranged on a Plate for the Table

  • Pickled mustard greens
  • Fresh Thai basil
  • Fresh Cilantro or culantro
  • Fresh mint leaves 
  • Green onion
  • Bean sprouts
  • Jalepeno or Thai bird’s eye chilies 
  • Lime juice 
  • Dash of fish sauce in each bowl  (optional)

Dipping Sauces in Small Bowls for the Table: 

  • Sweet chili garlic paste
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Soy sauce mixed with oyster sauce at a 1:1 ratio (about 1 tbsp each)

**Cook’s note: If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can easily adapt this dish. Substitute mushroom stock for the beef stock and add in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to achieve similar umami flavors. You can also omit the fish sauce and oyster sauce, instead mixing a teaspoon of miso paste with the soy sauce for a dipping sauce. 

Instructions

Char onion and ginger. Roast the onion and ginger on broil in your toaster oven or stove for about 15 minutes, turning once, until the skin is slightly blackened. Let coo and remove charred onion skin; trim and discard blackened parts of root or stem ends. If ginger skin is puckered and blistered, smash ginger with flat side of knife to loosen flesh from skin. Otherwise, use sharp paring knife to remove skin, running ginger under warm water to wash off blackened bits. Slice the onion into thin slices. Set both aside.

Add the broth, salt, sugar, onion, and ginger to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Toast the coriander seed and peppercorns for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Repeat with the garlic. Add these to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind into a paste and add to the broth. Combine lemongrass, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a tea ball, strainer, or bouquet garni and add to the broth. Simmer all together for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 hour. Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, fish sauce and yellow rock sugar. The pho broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. 

Before you blanch the noodles, add your vegetables to the broth and continue to simmer. 

Heat a skillet over medium high heat with the sesame oil. Add the tofu and fry slowly, flipping once, while you blanch the noodles. Don’t be tempted to stir the tofu too much, just let it slowly fry until lightly golden brown. 

Blanch the noodles. Fill 3- or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. For each bowl, use long-handle strainer to blanch a portion of noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water, letting water drain back into saucepan. Empty noodles into bowls. Noodles should occupy 1/4 to 1/3 of bowl.

Remove the bouquet garni and ginger, then bring the broth to a boil. Ladle broth, vegetables, and tofu equally into each bowl. Serve your pho with the garnish plate, adding the fresh garnishes to the top of your bowl. Dip your vegetables, noodles, and tofu into whatever sauces you like most! 

Root Vegetable Latkes

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Traditionally, latkes are made using potatoes and parsnips. While I have often made latkes with those ingredients, today I decided to do something different! I had some root vegetables from the farmer’s market that I was looking to use, as well as some home grown zucchini that would work well in latkes as well as fritters. These latke style fritters ended up tasting fantastic as a new flavor twist on one of my favorite staple meals. If you’d like to stick to the classic latke formula, substitute russet potatoes for the celery root and turnip and parsnip for the zucchini. Either way, you’re in for a tasty treat!

Serves 2 as a main course. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peeled and shredded celery root
  • 1 1/2 cup peeled and shredded turnip 
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 tbsp salt plus more to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, about 1 tsp, to taste 
  • 1 white or yellow onion, about 1 cup, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch 
  • cold water
  • olive oil for frying
  • applesauce, sour cream, diced tomatoes, spicy mustard, or sauerkraut to top

Instructions

Using a box grater, shred celery root and turnip. Combine in a large bowl with 1 tbsp salt and cover with cold water, leave to soak for about 20 minutes. If you are using potatoes and parsnips, treat them the same as the celery root and turnip. Meanwhile, grate the zucchini and combine in a separate bowl with an additional 1 tbsp salt. Leave to soak until you check the roots. Don’t be tempted to food process the roots– this creates small chunks rather than shreds, and your latkes won’t be well formed. 

Drain all of the shredded vegetables in a colander. Using paper towels, try to push as much moisture out of the mixture as you can. You won’t get all of it, but give it a few paper towels worth to soak up some of the extra water. Push the paper towels down on top of the mixture to soak water up. 

Combine about 1 tsp (or more to taste) salt, the pepper, cornstarch, eggs, and parsley with the vegetables and mix together evenly. 

Heat about 3 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Form latkes as balls in your hand of about 1/4 cup, pressing the balls into flat patties. Place in the skillet and fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping once. You can fry these in batches of about three or four latkes at a time, for about 5 minutes per batch. 

Remove and pat dry with paper towels to remove a little excess oil. Serve hot with whatever garnishes you like–applesauce is always a winner!