August – Salad Soup

August – Salad Soup

This hot, muggy, humid, uncomfortable month in parts of the U.S. has birthed a number of recipes for Greek salad. All of them are delicious and cooling, taking advantage of perfect seasonal tomatoes and cucumbers. This soup is a version of gazpacho, but very similar to a Greek salad. It uses many of the same ingredients and is a light, cold lunch on a hot day. Even better, it is easy…very easy. And, you can modify the recipe to use what you have on hand.

I call this recipe Greek or Mexican (you decide) salad in a soupy bowl of goodness, but without the dressing (only a drizzle of olive oil at the end, which is completely optional). It has healthy vitamins from all those vegetables, and healthy fat from the addition of avocado. You could up the protein by adding a sprinkling of feta or fresh goat cheese, or pour it over a scoop of cottage cheese. Make it spicy, or not. Got some leftover salsa in the fridge? Go for it. What about some crispy tortilla chips sprinkled on top (my husband’s favorite). It would then be a Mexican Salad Soup…you could even add a handful of corn kernels. Leftover grilled corn, you are on! And if you are adding tortilla chips a dollop of sour cream would be yummy. The options are endless.

Greek Salad Soup

This soup is even better the second day, and even better the day after that. It is my idea of a perfect lunch on a warm day. The vegetables give it a satisfying crunch and mouth appeal, the avocado is a touch of richness to fill you up. This season I keep a large bowl in the fridge to snack on or for a quick meal. Serve it instead of a salad with your dinner, it would make an appetite wetting first course with some crisp bread or flatbread.

To save time, I used V-8 juice as the base. It’s an idea my cousin in Tennessee introduced me to when we visited last June. Because I am a fan of spicy food, I added a small can of spicy V-8 to about 3 cups of regular V-8. But it is completely up to you and your own taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of V-8 juice
  • 1 small can of spicy V-8 juice (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 green or orange pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, halved and diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (for Greek Soup) or cilantro (for Mexican)
  • salt to taste (I found it didn’t need any)
  • drizzle of olive oil to serve (optional)

Avocado ready to add

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients and chill for at least 2 hours (better overnight).

That is all, can you believe it! It couldn’t be easier.

Salad Soup

This is a light, healthy, and quick lunch.

Salad Soup

You could serve it instead of a salad, maybe as a first course for dinner. What about small cups for folks to eat while they wait for you to grill dinner outside? It’s could easily be a walk-around the garden soup.

Salad Soup

Even better, it is vegetarian and vegan and gluten free. You won’t have to worry about dietary restrictions.

I think the folks in the midwest and south, where it is sweltering at the end of summer, will enjoy this refreshing soup. I’m taking it to share on Fiesta Friday #237 hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Come on over to read about the other delicious things going on around the world. Please add your own link after reading the guidelines. Hope you are enjoying the weekend.

 

 

 

May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

May – Lentils and Roast Cauliflower with Almonds and Dates

This is a wonderful vegetarian or vegan main dish, or a side dish for a large party. It’s perfect when you have folks with different dietary needs, also being gluten and dairy free. And because it is served at room temperature, you can make it several hours ahead. It will only get more flavorful as the lentils absorb the tahini sauce. What more can you ask for? On one platter you have your greens, roasted vegetable and starch/protein. The dates add a sweet note while the almonds add crunch and even more protein.

I served this to a large gathering, the leftovers the next day were still yummy (and didn’t last long).

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Lentils with Roast Cauliflower, Chopped Dates, and Almonds

The original recipe came from Food and Wine, but it came to me about a year ago via one of the members of my book club. It’s been hanging out just waiting for the right time to make it.

I have given two measurements for the spices. The original recipe used the smaller amount but I found it was not sufficiently spiced for my taste. Cauliflower is quite mild and can absorb a lot of flavor.

This recipe serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup beluga or green lentils, rinsed and checked for small stones
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, briefly toasted in a dry frying pan
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups loosely packed arugula or baby spinach

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a pie plate or sheet pan and toast for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. When cool, coarsely chop.
  2. Increase the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and add the lentils. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
  4. Prepare the cauliflower. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the cauliflower florets with 1/4 cup of olive oil, the spices (cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper. Roast until tender and slightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. When cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and cool.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the tahini with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until smooth. Add the lemon juice, honey or maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water.  Mix well.
  6. Add the lentils to the bowl and toss to coat.
  7. On a large platter lay a bed of the lentils, top with the roasted cauliflower, dates, almonds, and sliced onion. Sprinkle the arugula or baby spinach on top and serve.

 

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January – Overnight Oatmeal – Sous Vide or Slow Cooker

January – Overnight Oatmeal – Sous Vide or Slow Cooker

Have you ever cooked your oatmeal in your slow cooker? If so, you know what a cleanup mess it is. Ta da! Here is the solution…cook it in individual serving jars or larger jars for 2 servings or cook it sous vide overnight. Why didn’t I think of that? This helpful tip came from a neighbor and friend. Thank you Josh and Juliette.

There is a backstory to this recipe. We locked ourselves out of the house a few mornings ago, seriously we had just installed a fancy new front door lock and not gotten around to hiding a key. Dumb eh? Thank goodness our neighbor was up, had coffee ready as well as good conversation which turned to sous vide oatmeal. We had an hour to wait until someone with a key showed up. I can talk about food anytime and the two of them are definitely foodies. You might ask, what were we doing out in the yard in our pajamas (without our cell phones) in the early morning? Well, if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that we are getting ready to sell our Oakland house. This has been difficult for us all but even harder on Casey and Quinn, or dogs. Quinn is a bit of a nervous nelly anyway and she started drinking huge amounts of water. We feared the worst and spent many hundreds of dollars in tests at the vet, which were all negative. But, the last test for diabetes required a first morning urine sample. Yep, that is what we were doing out in the yard while it was still dark, collecting pee. What we do for our furry friends! The lock out seemed symbolic in a way, the house saying “You want to leave me? Then I will kick you out!”.

Warm and friendly neighbors with coffee and cell phones are priceless.

I digress, back to food. This recipe will work on a slow cooker set on low, or with your sous vide machine. You will need to add water to the slow cooker – just up to an inch below the rim of the jars. Then set it on low for overnight.

My sous vide maker decided to give up the ghost and I had to order a new one from Amazon. Sorry that this has delayed the posting of the recipe. I will make these in single (1 cup) serving sizes, each in a pint canning jar. That way there is room for you to stir in milk, butter, or some other flavorings after it is cooked. I found all that was needed was a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

This is a life changer as far as oatmeal is concerned. The oats come out creamy but with a tiny bite of texture in the middle, much as you would want in a great risotto. The freeze dried fruit melted in and gave a slight hint of sweetness and flavor, the oats were the star however.

The directions below are written for steel cut oats. You can certainly use rolled oats (I will try them next and let you know) or another type, check the package directions for the oatmeal to liquid ratio before beginning, it could be different from those given below.

Sous Vide Overnight Oatmeal with Strawberries

Overnight Sous Vide or Slow Cooker Oatmeal

For each 1 cup serving:

  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup water, oat milk or rice milk or regular milk or even half and half
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • optional – freeze dried fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries)
  1. Set up the sous vide machine, fill a pan with water to what will be an inch below the rim of the canning jars. Make sure that the water is above the minimum of your sous vide machine.
  2. Or, add water to your slow cooker to the same line. You want the water to be higher than the oatmeal but about an inch below the rim of the jars.
  3. Preheat your sous vide machine to 155 degrees F.
  4. Set you slow cooker to low.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of steel cut oats to each jar (add any optional freeze dried fruit)
  6. Add 1/2 cup water, oat milk or rice milk to the jar.
  7. Add another 1/2 cup of water on top.
  8. Add the pinch of salt and stir. Screw on the jar lids and settle the jars in the water.
  9. Cook for at least 8 hours or overnight (mine cooked for about 10).

Note: You can make a larger portion in a gallon freezer bag if you have a lot of mouths to feed, it will work in both the slow cooker and sous vide. Make sure the bag’s top stays above the water level.

Sous vide water bath set up with 2 canning jars

Sous Vide Overnight Oatmeal

I am telling you, I am not a huge oatmeal fan but these were a game changer. Just the right consistency, creamy but not heavy.

2 phase 1 breakfasts already cooked. I will reheat the other tomorrow morning.

Update: I did an experiment last night with cooking other types of oatmeal sous vide, and varying amounts of liquid. I found that the overnight cooking did not require a change in the package recommended oats to liquid ratio. And, I much prefer the steel cup oats to regular rolled oats (even the more expensive organic type). Another recommendation is to try and find unsweetened oat milk and replace half the recommended liquid with oat milk. Of course you could also use regular milk or half and half (rice milk didn’t do much) or coconut milk…oh my the possibilities. But in phase 1 stick to oat milk. This time I didn’t add any fruit. The freeze dried fruit is definitely the best choice. If using any other type (including raisins) add them after the oatmeal is cooked. The possible exception would be apples which will dissolve into an apply saucy oatmeal mix.

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.

May in the Kitchen – Roast Spicy Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

May in the Kitchen – Roast Spicy Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

I know, what is cinnamon doing on my cover picture when the title says cauliflower? It’s because this post is about the Oaktown Spice Shop, and roast cauliflower, and the spice Urfa Biber. You get three in one post this time.

Urfa Biber is a purple ripened chile from the Urfa region in SE Turkey, it’s also sometimes called isot chile. It’s carefully dried to retain its oils and has a deep, rich beefy flavor and low but complex heat. I found it to have a unique flavor that combines raisin, tobacco and hints of chocolate. So far I’ve used it in a rub for chicken (with cumin and honey) as well as in a simple dish of roast cauliflower.

Roasting vegetables brings out the most amazing sweetness in them, the charred crispy bits are carmelized and the center becomes meltingly soft. My favorites to roast (and those where I find the biggest change) include Brussels sprouts, potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, and cauliflower. Before I start with this very simple recipe, I want you to come along with me for a short walk through the Oaktown Spice Shop. It’s worth a visit if you come to the SF bay area.

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Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

Simple Roast Cauliflower

  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon of Urfa Biber
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place the cauliflower in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil, toss with the Urfa Biber and sea salt.
  4. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through. The cauliflower should be toasty and crusty brown in places but soft in the middle.
Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber