Sweet Potato Stew

4 cups sweet potatoes (yellow, orange, or Okinawan or a combination), peeled and cubed
1 can (14-15 oz.) sweet corn
1 can (14-15 oz.) black beans or Great Northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14-15 oz.) diced tomatoes or fired roasted diced tomatoes
1 c. red onion diced
1 tsp. salt
2 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
4-5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2/3 c. uncooked quinoa or previously cooked Freekeh or any preferred grain
Optional adds:
garlic to taste, 2 fresh, minced, or dehydrated garlic (1/8 tsp. = 1 clove)
1 c. chopped kale or spinach
minced jalapeño,to taste
After cooking, add:
2 T. lime juice
Additional salt, to taste (I added 1/4 tsp.)

Instructions if you’re using a slow cooker:
The original recipe from Sweet Peas and Saffron specifies using a slow cooker. Place all ingredients in the base of a 5 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.

If you’re NOT using a slow cooker:
Toss the sweet potatoes in olive oil with a little salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until done but still slightly firm. Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened and aromatic. Then place all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Notes:
I’ve never made this using the slow cooker method.  I have served it as soon as it was done and it wa tasty. But for an enhanced flavor, make the stew early in the day or the day before and reheat before serving.

This is a dish that invites experimentation — add greens and garlic and jalapeño or not, use different types of beans or grains or not.

Fish in Foil with variations

2 firm fish fillets or steaks (5-6 oz. each) or 1 larger fillet (10-12 oz.), cut in half (ahi or salmon)
1 c. cooked rice
2 c. chopped mustard greens or bok choy or kale or a combination of these or other sturdy greens
2 scallions, chopped
1 T. vegetable oil (olive, peanut, or avocado)
1 tsp. or a little more grated fresh ginger
1 or more garlic cloves
2 T. shoyu
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
chili paste (optional and to taste)

Adapted from “Asian Fish in a Packet” from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Take two 12 x 24 inch sheets of aluminum foil and fold each sheet of foil over to make a double-thick square. Brush a little oil in the center part of each square. Rinse the fish in lukewarm water, paper towel dry, and prepare all of the ingredients.

Spread half of the rice on the center of each foil square and then layer greens, fish, and scallions on top of the rice. In a small bowl, combine the oil, ginger, garlic, shoyu, sesame oil, and the chili paste if you want some heat.

Pour half of the sauce over each serving. Fold the foil into airtight packets. Bake for 20 minutes — or less — depending on the thickness of fish and how cooked you want it.

Remove from foil and place on plates or in bowls.

Notes:
The photo above shows raw salmon before baking but I’ve just as often used ahi.  I’ve also used a variety of rice:  brown; white and brown combo; a blend of texmati, white, brown, wild, and red rices; and Seeds of Change brown rice and quinoa with garlic.

I prefer using bok choy since it a somewhat tender leafy green that requires a short cooking time.  But this recipe invites experimentation and allows you to use what you have on hand.

Although this recipe is the Asian version, Moosewood has other variations: Caribbean, French, and Greek. Recently, when my friend and her daughter were visiting, the daughter made a wonderful coconut and lemongrass sauce that you can find here.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Garlic and Rosemary

4 c. water
6 red potatoes (2 to 3 inches in diameter), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 c. mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and halved if large
10 or more garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. olive oil*
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (1/3 of this amount if using dried)*
salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T. wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar*

Source: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Bring the water to a rapid boil in a large saucepan. Boil the potato cubes for 5 minutes. Thoroughly drain the potatoes and in a bowl toss the cooked potatoes with the bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, and rosemary until the vegetables are well coated with the rosemary and oil. Spread the vegetables on a broiler pan, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and broil for 10 to 12 minutes,until slightly crisped and browned at the edges. Stir once or twice to ensure even cooking.
Return the roasted vegetables to the bowl and toss with the vinegar. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Caveats:
Although I used the specified amount of ingredients, this recipe made almost double of what I expected (making it great for a potluck). I wanted to make sure that the vegetables were evenly coated, so I tossed them in two parts — half the amount tossed with half the oil and so on. When I combined both batches, it looked like it needed more olive oil* so I added dribbled on more and stirred until all veggies were evenly coated.   Adding a bit more rosemary would have been a good idea.
For even broiling, I divided the batch onto two foiled-line pans.
When assembling for serving, I used the pan drippings (olive oil and water from veggies) from only one pan, so as not to have a soupy mess. I added a bit more than 2 T. of balsamic* to taste.
This dish did well at room temperature.
The next day I fried some of the veggies with some dill and topped them with an over-easy egg.

Cole Slaw Dressing

1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. plain, full fat yogurt or sour cream
2 T. sugar
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. and a little more dry mustard
1/8 tsp. celery seed

Whisk all ingredients together. Keeps well for a week or so.

Roasted Carrots with Mustard Butter Sauce

IMG_81971 pound baby carrots (about 2 bunches), peeled (optional), green stems trimmed to 1/2 inch, and wispy carrot tips remove
2 tsp. olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 T. unsalted butter
2 tsp. coarse-grained mustard
1 T. coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, flat-leaf parsley, chives, chervil, or tarragon (or 1/3 this amount if using a dried herb)

Adapted from Chowhound

Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle.  Toss the carrots with oil in bowl and season with salt and pepper. Spread carrots in a pan.  Roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until a knife easily pierces the carrots, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Smaller carrots will cook in less time.) Remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare the herbed mustard-butter.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan or wok over medium heat until foaming. Add the mustard and stir to combine. Add the roasted carrots and herbs and toss to coat the carrots in the butter mixture. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

This was one of the vegetable side dishes we prepared for G&E’s wedding at Anderson Lodge, Washington.  Eight pounds of carrots, as I recall, with the herb of choice, dill.  It’s an easy dish to make, tasty, holds up well as a leftover.

Fruited Rice Pilaf

fruited rice pilaf1 cup long-grain brown rice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups vegetable stock
2 T. butter
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup each raisins and coarsely chopped dried apricots and pitted dates

In a 2-quart pan, combine rice, salt, and vegetable stock. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed (about 45 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add nuts and cook until golden. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add raisins, apricots, and dates to pan and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

When rice is cooked, stir in dried fruits. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in nuts just before serving. Makes 6 servings.

from Sunset Magazine’s “Vegetarian Cooking”

Some things just don’t look as good as they taste:  such is the case with this pilaf.  If you’re a carnivore, this would make a great side dish for pork, turkey, or chicken.  For vegetarians, this pilaf is The Carb on the plate next to the salad and/or cooked vegetables.

Tomato Bisque, easy

IMG_80634 T. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 (or more to taste) garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 T. all-purpose flour
4 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth OR vegetable broth
Two 14 1/2-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
3 T. tomato paste
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper
1/2 cup garlic or cheese croutons and/or green onions, for garnish (if you like)
Adapted from Food & Wine

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir over low heat for 1 minute, or until the flour is fully incorporated. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook the soup over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer half of the soup to a blender* and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan, add the heavy cream and cook until the soup is just heated through. Season the soup with salt and white pepper and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Ladle the soup into bowls, add garnish(es).

*This photo was taken the first or second time I made the soup; I had pureed the whole batch.  Pureeing just half or even less makes for a more interesting soup for the eyes and the inside of your mouth.

Since late February 2018, I’ve been eating and cooking vegetarian with fish maybe once a week.  I didn’t think I could tolerate a vegetarian diet but after three weeks staying with my vegetarian son and daughter-in-law, I found it was easier than I thought.  I also discovered what is obvious:  there’s a lot more prep since you are working with raw foods that need washing, sometimes peeling, slicing or dicing, although it feels as if I spend less time “cooking.”  Switching to this kind of cooking,  I’ve had to think about meals differently.  With a carnivorous diet, I would build a meal around pork or beef or chicken or fish.  Now I make more soups or stews, experiment with stir fries, eat more tofu, have an omelet for dinner once in awhile, and look for ways to make a variety of carbs.  Look for more vegetarian recipes in the future.

 

Miso Chicken

4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. white miso
2 T. honey
1 T. rice vinegar (unseasoned type)
black pepper to taste
6 to 8 chicken thighs (approximately 2-1/2 to 3 lbs.), bone-in, skin-on

IMG_7197Adapted from a recipe at NYT Cooking

Combine butter, miso, honey, rice vinegar, and black pepper in a large bowl and mix with a spatula or spoon until it is well combined. Drop thighs into the miso-butter mixture and turn to make sure all sides are coated.

Place thighs and the leftover miso-butter  mixture in a plastic bag and refrigerate anywhere from a half hour to a couple hours before baking.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan and slide it into the oven. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over every 10 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and crisp, and the internal temperature of the meat is 160 to 165 degrees.

* I’ve tried this recipe with boneless, skinless thighs.  Don’t bother. You’ll want the beautiful crunchy skin, so use bone-in, skin-on thighs.

Garlic and Spinach Soup

1-½ quarts chicken stock, turkey stock, vegetable stock, or water.   (I used chicken stock.)
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf and a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced.   (I used 3 but would increase it to 4 or more next time.)
½ cup elbow macaroni.   (I used 1/4 cup quinoa.)
2 eggs
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, or 12 ounces of bunch spinach, stemmed, washed, dried and coarsely chopped.  (Because I’m lazy, I didn’t stem or chop the spinach.)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 ounce).  (I used what I had in the house:  gouda.)

Adapted from the New York Times Cooking.

img_6734Place the stock or water in a large saucepan or soup pot with the bouquet garni. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to a simmer and add the garlic. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer 5 minutes, until cooked al dente. Remove the bouquet garni.  Note:  if you use quinoa, you’ll need to simmer it a bit longer, maybe 7 minutes.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in 1/3 cup of stock, making sure that stock is lukewarm, and then add the cheese.

Stir the spinach into the stock and simmer for 1 minute. Drizzle in the egg mixture, scraping all of it in with a rubber spatula. Turn off the heat and stir very slowly with the spatula, paddling it back and forth until the eggs have been blended in.  Adjust seasoning.

Comments
Whenever I shop at Costco, I purchase a big amount of some kind of vegetable and then look for a soup recipe. I also recently purchased a food scale, so this recipe gave me an excuse to use it. Friends had also given me a packet of bouquet garni:  another reason for selecting this soup.

By substituting quinoa, the carbos are reduced, the protein is increased.

This soup has a nice mouth feel, creamy but not too creamy (similar to miso soup) with a slight quinoa crunch.  Because the spinach wasn’t chopped, I ate the spinach with chopsticks, which was nice.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

3 T. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. cleaned butternut squash into 2-inch cubes
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/8ths
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1/16 kosher salt
dash of pepper
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. plain yogurt (NOT non-fat)
3 T. fresh chopped chives
2 T. toasted sesame seeds

IMG_6471Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, toss together oil, squash, onions, cumin, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a flat roasting pan and roast 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden brown.

Transfer vegetables to a soup pot and cover with chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer soup 20-25 minutes. Puree soup and add yogurt. Adjust seasoning and serve hot, sprinkled with chives and toasted seeds or with fresh basil and a dash of cayenne pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

I’ve made this soup several times, but the most recent results allowed me to post this recipe with confidence.  What had I done differently?  Use garlic confit to roast the vegetables was one thing, but the defining difference — I believe — was purchasing a locally grown butternut squash.  It was sweeter than any I’d worked with before.  It was gloriously colorful (see photo!).  The moral of this is to buy fresh, buy local.