Chickpea and Root Vegetable Tagine

tagine_web

Tagine is a flexible North African stew that has many versions containing meat and vegetables. This recipe makes use of beans and winter roots, but feel free to add in or substitute cauliflower or other types of roots for carrots and potatoes. The spicing here is also flexible – if you don’t have an ingredient, just leave it out, and the stew won’t suffer. If you keep precooked beans around (I do in the freezer), or have cans, this stew can be incredibly easy. Chop some veggies, throw everything in a pot or slow cooker, and wait for a few hours while you do other things. I often chop up vegetables for a slow cooker stew the night before and leave the base in the fridge, then turn on the crockpot in the morning for a hot dinner when I get home from work. For a cold day, this was a wonderful warm stew of so many flavors!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 cup raw)
  • 2 potatoes
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1″ piece fresh ginger
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes and pulp
  • 1/4 cup olives
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 preserved lemon, diced very small
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander seed, smoked paprika to taste
  • cilantro and parsley to top

Instructions 

  • Cook the chickpeas. Soak them in a bowl of water overnight or cook straightaway, covered with water with a teaspoon of baking soda. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the chickpeas until tender, about 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes and carrots into large bite sized pieces. Add them to a casserole dish with a cover or a large dutch oven. Add the tomatoes (fresh or from a good brand of canned), olives, raisins, and lemon. Give everything a good sprinkle of salt and pepper, and add some spices – start with 1/4 teaspoon each of paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander seed. Wait to add more spice until you have added the stock in the next steps.
  • Peel the onion, ginger, and garlic and rinse the celery. Finely dice the onion, celery, garlic, and ginger, and combine in a frying pan with a little olive oil. Saute this base over medium heat until it is just starting to become translucent, then add to the casserole with the other vegetables.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F, or get out a slow cooker.
  • Drain the cooked chickpeas when they are done and add them to the casserole. Give all the vegetables a good stir until they are evenly distributed. Pour the stock over top to just cover the vegetables, and stir again. Taste and adjust the seasoning, but keep in mind not to add too much, as the spices will infuse more and become stronger when cooked into the broth.
  • Cover the casserole and bake for 2 hours, or turn on the slow cooker for 6 – 8 hours.
  • Right before the stew is done, chop some parsley and cilantro for a fresh topping. Serve the warm stew into bowls covered with herbs. You can also prepare some rice for the bowls or serve with a good bread!

Dill Pickle Soup

picklesoupbread_0099

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!

Hot Beef Borscht

beefborscht

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.

Tom Kha Gai

tomkhagai_0291
 
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! 

Tofu Pho Style Noodle Bowl

pho_0262

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!