July – Raw Beet Dip or ‘Making Do’

July – Raw Beet Dip or ‘Making Do’

I think we are all ‘making do’ right now. It might not be as bad as rationing during the last great wars, but it feels like we are under attack just the same. I feel fortunate to have a large garden and belong to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm where I get a box of fresh produce each week. But, unlike my own garden, I don’t get to choose the contents of the box. Turnips…sorry I just can’t get behind them, even pickled. And, although I love beets and chard, enough is enough. Thankfully they don’t include zucchini, of which I have a plethora. But, I have become creative with other items of abundance in the box.

Kale and chard are easily quickly blanched and frozen in one cup portions for soups this winter. Once cooked a huge bunch of either becomes manageable. Kale also makes an amazing raw kale pesto (see a future post for the recipe). And, I have heard it is excellent in green smoothies. Just a rumor.

Beets are delicious roasted and marinated in a simple oil and vinegar dressing. A jar of them in the fridge will make a fantastic addition to a salad with blue cheese and toasted walnuts. They are also excellent pickled, I understand they are a classic on a hamburger in Australia.

And, they are also beautiful and flavorful in this raw beet dip. Okay, I get it, you have your doubts. But believe me this dip was received with raves at a recent outdoor appropriately socially distanced cocktail hour.

How are you making do?

Butchered and shaggy hair has become a symbol of the age of Covid (our salons are closed yet again) in the same way that many of us are sporting the Covid-10 on our waist and hips. My grey roots betray my age as well as how long it has been since I have seen my favorite professional stylist. I can count the months since a professional pedicure in the polish slowly moving down the length of my big toe’s nail. I choose to wear these signs proudly as a sign of adherence to the rules.

Gone are skinny jeans, instead I wear loose fitting boyfriend jeans and an oversized T-shirt. In addition I sport a boyfriend (or husband) haircut, both of us having had a turn with the scissors. He hasn’t done such a bad job actually although I am glad I can’t see the back except with some effort. Could raggedy and un-dyed hair be a new sign of nobility and and frugality? Will the age of Covid result in a whole new standard and definition of beauty? Will I no longer want or need my quarterly routine of three hours of cut and color at a cost of $250?

Will we all wear our manes with an ownership of our own natural beauty…curly or straight, unencumbered by an outgrown standard of comeliness defined by the commercial artistry of an industry?

Anyway, food for thought.

And meanwhile we have this lovely ruby red raw beet dip to keep us happy.

Raw Beet Dip

Raw Beet Dip

You don’t need to cook the beets for this dip. Nor, if you have young and tender ones, do you need to peel them. My own was on the large side, so I did peel it. I used walnuts, but almonds are fine. In the original recipe there was a smear of labneh or Greek yogurt on the base of the dish, I didn’t have either available and we didn’t miss them. Serve this with sliced pita or pita chips or cucumber spears or even potato chips. If you only have one lemon on hand, zest it before juicing, and set the zest aside for garnishing later.

To start, get out your food processor or blender.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. of beets (2-3 small or 1-2 larger ones) ends trimmed and roughly chopped
    • I peeled my large beet but it probably wouldn’t be necessary with smaller ones
  • 1 1/4 cup of walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet on low heat or a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. 1 cup can be whole, chop the additional 1/4 cup for garnish.
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice, plus the zest for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, plus more to taste
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil plus more to garnish
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Optional – 1 cup of labneh or Greek yogurt for serving

Method:

  1. Put the beets, 1 cup of walnuts, 3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, pomegranate molasses, red pepper flakes, garlic, and salt into a food processor or blender.
  2. Puree on high until the beets and nuts are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides and blend again until the mixture is as smooth as possible.
  3. Add the olive oil in a steady stream and blend again. You want a mostly smooth puree.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. You may need more molasses, or lemon juice, or salt.
  5. If desired and available, spoon the labneh or Greek yogurt into a small bowl, smoothing it with the back of a spoon. Spread the beet dip over the top, smoothing again. Top with the 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, the lemon zest, and a generous drizzle of olive oil

Serve with cucumber spears and chips for dipping.

Dip will keep for a week in the fridge, covered.

Raw Beet Dip

Raw Beet Dip

What are you doing to ‘make do’?

This recipe came to me via Alexandra Stafford who writes the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen, she in turn found it in the New York Times by Tejal Rao. We have both made some modifications and adaptations.

I wonder how the folks at Fiesta Friday are making do??? It’s a virtual blogging party hosted by Angie, this week it’s #338 on the Fiesta week list cohosted by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

Please come by to sample all the yummy recipes, and get craft and decorating ideas. And please consider adding your own post to the party if you are a blogger. We would love to read what’s going on in your life and kitchen, how you are making do in this crazy time.

June – Two Amazing Nut Based Spreads

June – Two Amazing Nut Based Spreads

I hesitate to call these two spreads or dips hummus as there is not a single chickpea in sight. However, use them both like hummus. They are a wonderful spread for pita or crackers, equally good as a dip with raw or blanched vegetables on a crudite platter.

Crudites

The first doesn’t have any beans. If you are avoiding carbs, this is the one for you. Add some water to Almond-Sesame Dip to thin it and use it as a sauce for a rice bowl or salad. It is a versatile sauce.

Almond Sesame Sauce

Cashew-White Bean Dip uses white beans instead of chickpeas (feel free to substitute if your pantry is out of white beans). Creamy and rich, it was my special treat to enjoy the few tablespoons left in the blender after it was spooned into a serving bowl. Definitely consider using this in a wrap or sandwich.

Cashew Hummus

Both of these are filled with healthy fat and protein from nuts. And they are quick to make, simply throw the ingredients in y0ur food processor or blender, process or blend away to a smooth sauce. Both are vegan, dairy and gluten free as well.

Almond-Sesame Dip

  • 5 tablespoons raw unsalted almond butter
  • 5 tablespoons sesame tahini paste
  • 5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water, as needed
  1. Combine the almond butter, tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the water to thin to your desired consistency.
  2. Serve with raw vegetables, use as a spread or sauce.

Cashew-White Bean Hummus

  • 1 can of cannellini beans or white beans
  • 1 cup of raw cashews (I used dry roasted and salted, it turned out beautifully)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, depending on how much you love garlic (I used 3)
  • 1/3 cup of cashew milk
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (amount from about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 large teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, a few really good grinds
  1. In a blender container, combine all the ingredients listed above. Blend until very smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and serve with pita or crudites. Or store in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #173. It is hosted by Angie and cohosted by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Suzanne @ A Pug in the Kitchen. 

Click on the Fiesta Friday link to see all the wonderful dishes that are coming to share at the virtual party. And, please if you are a blogger, consider adding your link.

School is out or almost out, welcome to summer vacation!

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

When is hummus not really hummus? For the sake of total accuracy, when should you no longer call it hummus?

Here is the official definition in the dictionary:

noun:
Middle Eastern Cookery. a paste or dip made of chickpeas mashed with oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini and usually eaten with pita.
Origin of hummus:
From the dialectal Arabic word ḥummuṣ, ḥəmmoṣ chickpeas
 
So, technically speaking, if it doesn’t contain chickpeas, it should not be called hummus. But recipes without chickpeas and still calling themselves hummus are everywhere. And they are delicious even though they are incorrectly named. I especially adore the ones made with roasted vegetables such as the one on the Chef Mimi Blog for Roasted Carrot Hummus or the delightful variety on the blog Foodbod by Elaine. Sometimes vegetables are also added to a regular hummus (made with chickpeas) to increase the nutritional value and flavor (I guess those can be officially called hummus). Including cooked mashed sweet potatoes or winter squash is a wonderful and colorful idea during the holidays. Keep a bowl of these vegetable spreads in your fridge for snacking or adding to sandwiches. A hummus and avocado sandwich with thinly sliced onion and cucumber on whole grain bread is a quick powerhouse lunch.
So, I am going to defy technical and other accuracies and call this rendition with roasted cauliflower hummus. After all, it is a wonderful dip for pita bread or raw veggies, and it looks like hummus. It contains all the other ingredients of hummus, but no chickpeas. Instead you use one of my favorite vegetables, roasted cauliflower. I recently served this at my bookclub when it was my turn to host, no one was able to identify the secret ingredient. The guessing game was great fun.

The recipe comes from the cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, the subtitle says it all, simple recipes for cooking through the seasons. This is a cookbook that will see regular use, becoming stained with grease spots and filled with notations. The book is filled with healthy and delicious recipes, simple but often with a clever twist. It is mostly vegetarian but not entirely. Ms. Bemis and her husband own and run tumblewood farm in Oregon and the book features seasonal produce from their fields. I found this book inspirational even for a “farm” that consists of a few raised beds. I wish I lived close enough to Portland to join their CSA group.

Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

Here is the recipe for the mystery ingredient.
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower head, broken into small florets
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peels left on
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, toasted if you have time (the recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon but I love cumin)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. Toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out in one layer on the sheet.
  3. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and brown on the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Let the vegetables cool slightly, then gently squeeze the garlic from their skins into the bowl of a food processor.
  5. Into the same bowl, combine the cauliflower, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne and the garlic cloves squeezed from the skin.
  6. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides and push the mixture back down as needed. Add warm tap water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin for a creamier texture.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper. Repulse to mix.

This will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. It is nice to give it a few hours of chilling time for the flavors to mellow.

When I make it next time I will probably add a little more garlic and olive oil to the processor.

When chilled spread on crisp crackers or pita bread,

or my favorite, sliced cucumber.

October – Yum or Odd Flavor Sauce

October – Yum or Odd Flavor Sauce

Have you heard of Lucky Peach? It’s a quarterly journal of food and writing. Each issue focuses on a single theme, and explores that theme through essays, art photography, and recipes. They are scheduled to release their first cookbook on October 27th.

The cookbook Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes contains a lot of tempting and unusual recipes (such as miso clam chowder and fish sauce spareribs), I found one of the most intriguing a sauce they call Odd Flavor Sauce. I’ve renamed it Yum Sauce because it is delicious and I don’t think the flavors are odd at all. I wanted a savory sauce for a simple bowl of rice with roast vegetables and a rice porridge. Yum sauce looked like the perfect counterpoint to jazz things up. The ingredients aren’t really that odd: soy sauce, tahini or peanut butter, black or regular red wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and salt. A few other ingredients—chopped scallion, ginger,  garlic, chili flakes, and Sichuan peppercorns—briefly hit a hot skillet before mixing it all together.

There is a lot of flavor packed into a spoonful of this sauce. There is heat from the chiles, punch from the peppercorns, tartness from the vinegar, umami from the soy sauce, and nuttiness from the peanut butter and sesame oil. The combination is perfect!

Yum Sauce

Yum Sauce

Yum Sauce (makes about 1/2 cup)

  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon black Chinese vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil (dark, roasted)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (1 teaspoon if using nut butter with sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil (canola or other vegetable)
  • 1 small scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed Sichuan peppercorns
  1. Combine the soy sauce, tahini or other nut butter, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and salt in a small heatproof bowl and mix until emulsified and the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat, add the oil. When shimmering add the scallions, garlic, ginger, chili flakes, and crushed peppercorns.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir for 10 seconds. Pour the contents of the skillet into the bowl with the liquid seasonings and whisk until blended.
  4. Once cool, refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for about two days.

Use to add flavor to a rice bowl, soup, or any other bland dish.

Jook with Yum Sauce

Jook with Yum Sauce

Rice bowl with a fried egg and Yum sauce

Rice bowl with a fried egg and Yum sauce

This sauce has many uses, I recently purchased some baby lobster tails at Costco, it made a wonderful sauce to brush on them before roasting. Brush the lobster tails with about 1 tablespoon of sauce, wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil, bake at 450 degeees for 22 minutes.

IMG_3758

September in the Kitchen – Carrot Habanero Sauce

September in the Kitchen – Carrot Habanero Sauce

‘Tis the season for peppers…sweet peppers, hot peppers, small peppers, large ones, and all colors…green, red, yellow, purple and orange.

Sweet peppers

Sweet peppers

But the season is short, much too short here in Northern California. This bright orange hot sauce using habaneros will bring back the taste (and heat) of summer on a dull winter day. What’s the best part? You can save a bit of summer in a jar and it is easy to make even for a beginner.

Habaneros

Habaneros

Use the sauce on grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, or scrambled eggs…anywhere you need a touch of spicy heat. The carrots add sweetness and a lovely orange color. Plus it’s a wonderful hostess or Christmas gift.

I recommend using small (4-ounce) jars. This sauce is potent and a little goes a long way. If you prefer less heat, use more Serrano chilies or jalapeños and less habaneros. The habaneros are one of the hottest of the chilies.

Use a hot water canner if you have one, or a large pot if you don’t. Please refer to a good book on canning for more detailed instructions if you are not familiar with the basic techniques.

Carrot Habanero Sauce

  • 1 1/2 pounds of carrots (orange), peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds. A food processor will make short work of this.

    Carrots

    Carrots

  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers (red if you can find them), seeded and chopped
  • 5 cups white vinegar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  1. Combine the carrots, onion, water, lemon juice, salt, garlic and ginger in a medium non-reactive pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until the carrots are very soft. This could take 30 minutes. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
  2. Once the carrots are soft, add the peppers and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, lime juice and zest.
  3. Either blend the mixture with an immersion blender or transfer in batches to a standing blender or food processor. (I prefer the smoother texture you get with a blender, you might like more texture.) Blend until smooth.
  4. Optional (I don’t do this as I prefer the color and texture of the unstrained sauce. Your yield will also be higher): Strain the sauce through a strainer, using a rubber spatula to press the liquid through. Discard any chunky bits.
  5. Pour into a large container and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors blend.
  6. The following day, blend the sauce again. Return it to the pot and bring it to a simmer, cook for about 25-30 minutes until it is thick and glossy.
  7. Ladle the sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Check for air bubbles, wipe the rim, and seal. Process for 10 minutes.

This recipe makes approximately 6 pints of sauce. I use 4 oz. jars, so you will have plenty for both your own use and gift giving.

Carrot Habanero Sauce

Carrot Habanero Sauce

Recipe adapted from Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler.

And what is my personal favorite way to use it? Grilled cheese with a sharp Canadian white cheddar. I was recently in Seattle where grilled cheese is big business, here you see a food truck parked in from of Tesla. “Gourmet Grilled Cheese”… I think this could hang in there with their offerings.

Grilled Cheese is Big Business

Grilled Cheese is Big Business

Grilled cheese on Focaccia with Carrot Habanero

Grilled cheese on Focaccia with Carrot Habanero