April 29, 2011

Apples and Spring in Northern Italy

While we here in Vermont are just noticing tiny hints of flowers like pansies, daffodils, spring beauties and trout lily leaves, my homeland of the Dolomites is in full bloom! There are cultivations of delicious apples, which line the hillsides above vineyards. They have the best view of the mountains!
I miss Italy.
Apples are a wonderful refreshing and cleansing food for Spring. They rejuvenate the lymphatic system, gently cleanse the intestines, and clear the palate to enjoy the fresh flavors of Spring. Our food coop still has local apples from this past season! Try Spartan and Empire.
Here are two ways to enjoy them:
>>fresh as a snack with tahini (roasted sesame seed butter) or cheese;
>>as an after-dinner dessert, cut in half, cored, and baked face down in a glass baking dish at #75 degrees for 20 minutes.

April 17, 2011

Recipes from LACE class

We had another successful cooking adventure in the LACE community kitchen this past Saturday. Here are the recipes for you to try. Enjoy!

Golden Rice and Carrot Casserole

Rinse ½ cup short grain brown rice.

Place in a bowl, fill with enough water to cover, and soak for 2 hours or so.

Drain and rinse rice.

Pour into a cooking pot with 1 ½ cups water.

Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.

Add ½ teaspoon turmeric.

Simmer, with pot lid slightly ajar on low heat for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop 1 large yellow onion into crescents.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and add onions.

Turn down the heat to medium low.

Add 1 teaspoon each: salt, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon

Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add a splash of white wine OR lemon juice. Allow to simmer for 10 more minutes.

Take 5 medium carrots, wash them, and cut them lengthwise into quarters.

Add to skillet with 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender (about 15 minutes).

Add more water if necessary.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a 9x13 rectangular glass baking dish.

Fill with alternating layers of the cooked rice and the carrot/onion sauté. Finish with a layer of carrots.

In a small glass measuring cup, whisk together:

¼ cup water

2 Tablespoons tahini (roasted sesame seed butter)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice concentrate

¼ cup dry-toasted walnut pieces

Pour this mixture over the rice and carrots.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

If you would like a crusty topping for your casserole, purée 1 cup of carrot/onion sauté in the blender, add an additional ¼ cup toasted walnut pieces, and spread over the top before baking.

Serve with the protein of your choice and fresh salad greens in the warmer or steamed kale in the colder months.

Pinto Beans with Spinach and Leeks

To soak dry beans, place ½ cup dry pinto beans in a large bowl and cover with 1 inch water.

Soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Pour beans through strainer and allow them to drain.

Rinse with water until liquid runs clear through strainer.

Pour into a stock pot with 3 cups water.

Cover pot and turn heat on high.

Bring to a boil, watching carefully to make sure that beans do not boil over. Once the pot has come to a boil, remove lid and reduce to medium heat.

Foam will form on top of the water. Use a spoon to skim off the foam. Repeat this step periodically as you notice more foam. Cook beans 1 hour or until tender.

Strain and rinse once more.

If using canned beans, choose ones with no salt added (Eden Organics). Rinse before using.

As beans are cooking, take two leeks, cut lengthwise and rinse well.

Place 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet and sauté the leeks for 5 minutes.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, wash and chop 1 large bunch spinach.

Add to the leeks and sauté for 5 more minutes, until spinach is well wilted.

Add cooked beans to skillet, mix together, serve and enjoy!

For protein, you can add toasted walnuts, baked tempeh or sautéed chicken sausage to the dish.

Almond Ginger Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In spice grinder, grind to make freshly milled flour:

½ cup almonds

1 cup rolled oats – look for local oats in the bulk section

Pour flours into bowl, add and mix well:

1 cup rice flour or barley flour

1 Tablespoon each: cinnamon, allspice & ginger root powder

Pinch salt

Make a well in the center of the flours and spices and add:

1 egg OR 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract AND 1 teaspoon almond extract

¼ cup olive oil

1/3 cup rice syrup OR ¼ cup maple syrup

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Oil a cookie sheet and drop dough onto it in spoonfuls.

Slide cookie sheet into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove, flatten each cookie gently with the back of a fork, and bake for 10 more minutes.

April 14, 2011

Cooking together at LACE

Here are the recipes from our cooking collaboration at the LACE community kitchen in Barre - www.lacevt.org

Potato Soup for Every Season

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 ½ lb. russet (baking) potatoes

1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium)
1 teaspoon each dried thyme and rosemary
2 ¼ tsp. salt
A few grinds black pepper
7 cups water

Fill a bowl with cold water. Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks, dropping them into the bowl of water to prevent discoloration.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in the bottom of a stock pot.

Add the onions and half of the potatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft (5 minutes).

Add the herbs, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the water, stir to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender (30 minutes).

Mash the potatoes into the broth using a hard spatula, immersion blender, or potato masher.

Remove the remaining potatoes from their bowl of water, drain, and add them to the pot. Simmer, partially covered, until they are tender (20 minutes more).

Taste for salt. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with roasted beets (winter/spring), freshly chopped scallions (spring/summer), diced tomatoes (summer), grated carrots (fall), caramelized onions (winter).

Oven-Roasted Beets

Choose 4 medium red beets for a 9x13 glass baking dish.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop beets in half, first length-wise then width-wise. Then, chop each section into cubes. Throw cubes into baking dish after they are chopped.

When the bottom of the dish is covered with one layer of diced beets, sprinkle over the top:

2 teaspoons salt

1 Tablespoon garam masala (Indian spice mix including some variation of pepper, cumin, coriander, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise – blend depends on region)

Pour ¼ cup olive oil over the top and toss with a spatula until beets are coated well.

Slide dish into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove dish from oven and toss with spatula.

Bake for 15 more minutes, cool and enjoy alone or as a soup garnish.

Millet Polenta

Polenta is a simple porridge typically made with ground cornmeal. Millet works wonderfully as polenta, because it sets after baking and can be easily sliced into rectangles and served with sauces and stews.

Soak 1 cup millet for 2 hours or so. Strain and rinse millet.

Pour into a cooking pot with 3 cups water.

Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.

Simmer until millet begins to thicken (20 minutes). Then, begin to stir occasionally, as though you were cooking oatmeal.

Add 3 Tablespoons olive oil.

Cook on low heat and stir occasionally until millet reaches thick consistency. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, grease a large glass baking dish (9x13 works well) with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour millet into the baking dish and flatten it evenly.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges turn golden.

You can add toppings or mix, half and half, with another leftover grain (rice, quinoa, kasha, or amaranth) to spice it up!

Hard-Boiled Egg Sauce

Place a dozen eggs in a stock pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, drain hot water, and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle.

Peel eggs and place in a blender.

Add to blender:

¼ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

½ Tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon powdered cumin

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.

Enjoy with grains or as garnish for simple soups.

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