Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sweet Potato & Apple Soup

Hello, spider.

A Halloween surprise on my porch.

It's October, month of spiders, ghost stories, mysterious moons. Mysterious rocks, too, found in the crotches of trees:

"Mommy, WHAT THE."

Fear. Mystery. The unknown, stony heart. October.

Also, October gives us chilly mornings, chilly evenings. So I start to think: apples. And: soup.

I came up with this recipe when I realized that 1) it was chilly enough for soup; and 2) roasted apples and sweet potatoes were good together, so I bet they would be good pureed together.

I was right. 

This soup is very simple: chop and roast some onion, sweet potato, and apple, then puree the roasted stuff with some water. You don't even need that much seasoning. And if you roast everything in advance, you can make this soup in under 10 minutes

Sweet Potato & Apple Soup

You can add a squeeze of lime at the end if you like, but the simplicity of these flavors is also amazing all on its own. 

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium-to-large apple, peeled and diced (local is best!)
1 small onion, peeled and diced
A few glugs of olive oil
some salt and pepper
some water
dash of cayenne

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

On a large baking sheet or roasting pan, combine the diced sweet potatoes, apple, and onion with a few glugs of olive oil, making sure everything is thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until tender and beginning to caramelize. Remove from the oven, and turn the oven off. 

Put the roasted mixture in a stockpot, and add just enough water to cover (I used about 2 1/2 cups). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add a dash or two of cayenne. 

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Take it to work.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Three Sisters Skillet

Fall is my favorite cooking season. Apples, pears, squash, chestnuts. Plus, well into the season, leftover summer harvests of corn and beans and tomatoes and greens.

Beans, corn, and squash are known in the Americas as the "three sisters." I've always liked the combination, and I love the name. I come from a family of three sisters. Whenever I make three-sisters anything, I think about my own sisters, how we are so unique and different and very much ourselves, and yet we go well together.

Don't ask me if Rebecca or Christina is the butternut squash, if I am the spicy corn, or who is a bean.

Point is, you should make this skillet, especially if, like me, you love the gorgeous colors of fall, the flavors of fall, the autumnal smells and sounds and scurrying squirrels.

Three Sisters Skillet.

Three Sisters Skillet

I had some leftover Spicy Corn, so that's what I used. If what you have is plain-old corn, I'd suggest adding some diced chiles, a bit of minced garlic, and some extra seasoning to this skillet. 

Make this in a deep, wide skillet with high sides. It's kind of like a skillet-stew. And feel free to add complementary flavors, such as diced apple, onion, red bell pepper. 

1 large butternut squash, peeled, chopped and roasted*
1 1/2 cups cooked red kidney beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
2 cups Spicy Corn (or 2 cups of plain corn kernels, plus some diced chile and S&P)
salt & pepper to taste
Cooked white rice

*To roast the squash: coat the chopped squash with a good amount of olive oil, I'd say at least 1/4 cup, plus some salt and pepper. Roast on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until tender and golden brown. 

Put everything except the rice into the skillet, and heat over medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until steaming and flavorful. Add small amounts of water if things start looking dried-out like autumn leaves. 

Serve over rice. That's all! 

Look, mom, the leaves are beginning to turn!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spicy Corn

The best decision I made this year, food-wise, was to plant fresh chiles.

Refreshing chiles in ice water. 

I harvested so many last week that I have been giving them away. I harvested so many that I have been using them in and on everything I eat. I harvested so many that I had to refresh them in ice water this evening, before using a bunch in this spicy corn and then roasting the rest.

I warn you, people: you probably want to step off. I have been eating jalapeno-stuffed olives, stirring diced fresh chiles into hummus, sprinkling them on everything, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My mouth is constantly on fire, which is how I like it. 

You do not want to get near this. 

If you grow and harvest and eat fresh chiles, be prepared for dragon breath. If your lover picks on you for it, dump 'em. They don't love you.*

Diced fresh chiles.

Tonight, I decided to finely dice a bunch of mixed chiles--four or five jalapenos-and-whatever-the-other-long-skinny-chile-is--and make some spicy corn.

Corn cut fresh off the cob. 

I cut the kernels off of five ears, tossed them with the diced mixed chiles, added salt and pepper and a few good glugs of olive oil, and stuck it all under the broiler.

Fresh corn & chiles: a perfect couple. 

I broiled the corn-and-chile mixture for 10 or 15 minutes, stirring often. When I decided it was done, it was pocked with brown spots and smelled like heat. Spicy heat. My eyes stung. My lungs burned.

Step off. 

I then squeezed the juice of a fresh lime over everything, sprinkled it with sliced scallion, and stuck it all on a few tostadas with some black beans and salsa verde (yes, more heat). 

I was going to call this "salsa," or "salad," or "side dish." But it's really all of those things, or none of them. It's whatever. This is simple summer food, from the garden and the farmers' market, that sets your mouth afire and makes your tummy happy. 

*Disclaimer: this is not a blog that purports to give relationship advice--wise or otherwise--except sometimes about you and your dog.

Hot dog. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Two Pizzas

Pizza is something I miss being able to order and have delivered right to my doorstep for dinner.

There are gluten-free frozen pizzas you can buy, but they are expensive, tiny, and undelicious. 

Do you miss pizza? people ask me. Duh. Of course! 


But I have ways of dealing with the loss. I am not sobbing into my sheets every day. I have learned some things in this life. 

Polenta pizza with fresh mozzarella.

Such as: traditional cuisine has many gluten-free flatbread options: socca, polenta, dosas. They are delicious, and what is pizza if not flatbread topped with stuff?

Socca topped with mixed tomatoes and olives. 

Here are two pizza recipes, one with a polenta crust and fresh mozzarella, the other vegan, with a socca crust topped with mixed tomatoes and olives.

Polenta Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella

Dress this baby up any way you want: with or without the cheese; with sauteed mushrooms; with fresh basil and huge heirloom tomato slices. It's your pizza. 

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup coarsely ground gluten-free cornmeal
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more to grease the pan
salt & pepper
pizza sauce, marinara sauce, or a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
fresh mozzarella
fresh or dried herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, etc.

Bring the water to a boil, with a pinch of salt, in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, being sure to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens into a batter-like consistency. Turn the heat to low, and cook, stirring very often, for about 15 minutes, until thickened but still stirrable. (Is that a word?) Stir in the olive oil. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet (with sides!) or pizza pan with parchment paper, and drizzle olive oil over the parchment. Pour the cooked polenta into the prepared pan. When it has cooled, cover the top with more parchment paper and spread it out with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick all around. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Top with sauce, fresh mozz, and herbs. Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned and crispy. 

Socca with Mixed Olives and Tomatoes

You can add parmaggiano-reggiano cheese to this, too, if you're not vegan. 

1 cup chickpea flour (also called besan)
1 1/4 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp for the skillet, plus more for drizzling
salt & pepper (LOTS OF PEPPER)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried and crushed in a mortar & pestle
mixed tomatoes and mixed olives, chopped

Whisk the chickpea flour with the water and olive oil until blended. Whisk very well to avoid lumps. You may also wish to sift the chickpea flour into the water using a fine-meshed sieve; this will help you avoid the lumpiness. Add a bunch of salt and pepper (lots of pepper, folks!), whisk again, and let this mixture sit at room temperature for at least an hour. 

When ready to make the socca, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and make sure it covers the whole bottom. Whisk the rosemary into the socca mixture, then pour it into the prepared skillet. Drizzle with more olive oil! More! More!

(Note: you can add the chopped olives right into the batter, too. But not the tomatoes.)

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until browning and crispy around the edges. Remove from the oven, drizzle with more olive oil, and top with the mixed tomatoes and olives. 

This won't taste like chain-delivery pizza, but it will taste delicious. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Julie Scramble

Perhaps the only bright side to a friend moving across the country is that she will give you many bottles of wine, houseplants, and sweet potatoes before she goes.

This scramble is named for such a friend. 

The Julie Scramble. (SOUNDS LIKE A DANCE MOVE)

I diced up one of Julie's sweet potatoes, roasted it in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and added it to a tofu scramble that includes a bunch of Swiss chard just picked from my garden and a handful of locally grown tomatoes. 

I did not drink any of the wine with it, because BREAKFAST. But when I eat the leftovers for dinner, I will pair them with Shiraz. (Maybe you will drink the Shiraz at breakfast. Who am I to judge?)

I like to make tofu scrambles in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. The tofu will brown on high heat, and you scrape up the browned bits from the bottom for great flavor. This is harder to do--both the browning and the scraping--with a stainless-steel or nonstick pan. 

Cast iron is your friend. Not as cool a friend as Julie, but still: a friend. 

The Julie Scramble

It has been nice and cool here, so I didn't mind turning on the oven to roast the sweet potatoes. But you could also pan-roast them if you'd rather. 

1 medium sweet potato, from a friend or not, diced
1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 small to medium onion, diced
1 block extra-firm tofu (be sure it's gluten-free), squeezed dry in a clean towel
1 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper
1 bunch Swiss chard, from your garden or not, coarsely chopped
1 handful cherry or grape tomatoes

First, roast the sweet potatoes. Combine the diced sweet potatoes with the oil and S&P, and roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until tender.

Next, make the scramble. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute for about 7 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Crumble the tofu right into the skillet with your hands (squishy!), then add the roasted sweet potatoes, turmeric, and S&P, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once in a while to scrape the browned bits of tofu from the bottom of the pan. When the scramble is golden brown and smelling delicious, add the chard and tomatoes, stir well, and cook for another minute or two, just until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes are warm. Taste and add more S&P (or even hot sauce) if you like. 

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Enjoy! Oh, and Willa would like to say "see you soon!" to her hiking buddy. (She doesn't believe in goodbyes.)

See you soon, Julie!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Blueberry-Lime Compote

This is my very favorite expression of Willa's. (These are all from the same hike. She checks on me often.)

C'mon, mom!

You there?

Still there?

This is my very favorite bowl. It's a family heirloom from my mom. I have several of these little ones, and one gigantic one too. 

Beautiful blueberry bowl.

Blueberries are my very favorite fruit. Usually I just eat them plain, but I had a pint that was a few days old (berries don't last long!), so I decided to make a compote. 

Compote = stewed fruit. 

Compote is delicious on gluten-free pancakes, oatmeal, toast, or crackers. It's also yum inside a rice-flour crepe, dusted with cinnamon. Or on ice cream.

Blueberry-Lime Compote

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup water 
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
juice of one lime (or to taste)
1 tsp cornstarch

Put the blueberries, water, and sugar in a small pot or skillet. Turn the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer. When simmering, add the lime juice and sprinkle the cornstarch evenly overtop everything. Mix well, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened to your preferred consistency. 

That's it! Enjoy berry season!

You might just eat it right from the bowl.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Paprika-Pepita Potato Salad

I made this up in the spur of the moment, after two days of stripping wallpaper, which left me both unable to do my normal grocery shopping and very, very hungry. I had some potatoes. Some smoked paprika. Some pepitas. So.

Here you go.

Vegan picnic food won't spoil in the sun. 'Cuz it's tough like that. 

Paprika-Pepita Potato Salad

serves 1 or 2

Boil 1 pound of baby yukon gold potatoes for about 15 minutes, until fork-tender but not mushy. Cool. 

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, chop them and put them in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup diced onion, 1 diced carrot (I have no celery! WTF!), 1/3 cup Vegannaise, 1 tbsp gluten-free dijon mustard (or less if you're not as weird as me), and 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika, and mix everything up. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve topped with more smoked paprika and a sprinkling of pepitas.

(Of course, if you have celery like a normal person, you should add some! Also pickles, red pepper, capers, olives. I have no olives! WTF!)

No celery? No olives? Ha ha ha!