Friday, November 28, 2014

Grandma Pearl's Perfect Vegetable Soup

My grandmother Pearl, of blessed memory, could transform any piece of produce into a cooked down masterpiece. Old wrinkly peaches? No problem, she cooked them up. Forgot about some apples in the back of the fruit drawer? She would make a scrumptious applesauce. And vegetables? Time after time she transformed veggies from within an inch of their lives into delicious soup. I remember enjoying so many bowls of soup at her house, and not a single one was the same. And for sure we never knew if the vegetables were fresh from the farm or rescued from the back of the refrigerator. This is a tradition I'm honored to carry on, and a tasty one at that.

The secret to her soup? It's so easy! Throw any vegetables you have in the pot. Give them a little cook, and then add water (I like to use broth when I have it). Cook it some more. Then eat it and enjoy! Try a few different types of vegetables to give it some texture. In today's batch I used some leftover green beans that I roasted for dinner a few nights ago, cauliflower remaining from yesterday's lunch, plus some leeks and red peppers and a sad little tomato on it's last leg. Oh, and I threw in some swiss chard for good measure. I could have done half as many veggies, or twice as many. I promise it really doesn't matter. A squeeze of lemon when serving brings out a great flavor (though I can assure you my beloved Grandma didn't do that step). Amounts below are estimated as a guide, but you basically want enough liquid to cover the vegetables.

So when you open your fridge and you see some wrinkled, sad looking veggies -- think of my wonderful Grandma Pearl (obm) and make some soup!

Perfectly Easy Vegetable Soup 
Grandma Pearl's Perfect Vegetable Soup 
Olive Oil
1/2 leek, thinly sliced (or you could use the white parts of 3 green onions, chop and save the green parts to sprinkle at the end; if you eat cooked onions I would chop half of a yellow or sweet onion and use that)
4 cups chopped vegetables (use your imagination -- broccoli, peppers, green beans, cauliflower, turnips, tomatoes, anything)
6 cups water or broth (I use Imagine Kosher Chicken Broth)
Salt and Pepper

Heat a bit of olive oil on medium low in your soup pot. Add the leek and soften gently. If you are using bell peppers, add them in and turn the heat up to medium. Season with salt and pepper and cook to soften the peppers.

Add any uncooked vegetables and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the rest of your vegetables and warm through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper

Add the water or broth. You can use more or less depending on how thick or thin you like your soup. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. It's absolutely fine to cook this longer, and the veggies will continue to soften beautifully.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze a lemon wedge into the soup before serving.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Easy Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I'm back with a bang, y'all! I know it's been awhile since I've posted a new recipe, and what better way to celebrate my return guessed it, a cauliflower recipe!! You probably can't believe I found something else delicious to do with our cruciferous friend.

This soup is so easy and the texture is divine. I do realize that this picture doesn't do it justice, but I never promised I was a food photo editor.

This soup has essentially 2 ingredients: green onion and cauliflower. The only other thing you need is a blender -- make sure you get this nice and smooth. You'll be rewarded with a dish that reminds you of a creamy potato soup. This is for a big batch, and you could easily half it. I just prefer to do this once and then enjoy throughout the week. Be sure to re-season -- I find this needs a healthy amount of salt for my tastes.

Let me know how it turns out for you!

Easy Creamy Cauliflower Soup

2 tbps olive oil
3 bunches green onion, chopped (white and green parts)
2 heads cauliflower, chopped into florets (you will puree, so looks do not matter)
8 cups water
Salt and pepper
Goya Adobo Seasoning, optional (no MSG)

Warm the olive oil on low in your pot. Add the chopped onions and cook for about 10 minutes until nice and soft but not brown.

Put in the cauliflower, some salt (~1/2 tsp to start) and 3/4 cup water. Turn heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. If you half the recipe, this may take only 15 minutes.

Add 7 cups water, bring to low simmer and cook for another 30 min (20 min if half recipe) uncovered until cauliflower is nicely softened.

Let the soup cool a bit and then work in batches to puree the soup to very smooth -- no lumps. You can use a blender (I love my vitamix) or stick blender. This step is key to success here, so be sure you get the creamy texture.

Season the soup with salt, pepper, and adobo (start with 1/2 tsp adobo). Remember that Adobo has salt in it, so taste as you go.

If you want to get fancy, sprinkle some chopped chives on when serving and/or drizzle with excellent olive oil.

Easy Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sweet and Sour Indian Spiced Red Cabbage

My kids love cabbage, which is a good thing because I serve it often. It cooks quickly, is full of great nutrition, and is wonderfully versatile. After I buy a head of green or red, I shred it up and keep it in the fridge to pull out whenever I want to make it. Throughout the week, I might make up some fresh cabbage salad, add some to chicken for a stir-fry, or just saute it with lemon and garlic for an easy side dish.

This week I had my bag of shredded red cabbage staring me in the face, and I ended up with an absolutely scrumptious indian spiced version with curry. It's a little sweet from the stevia, and a little sour from the vinegar. It was so delicious that we ate an entire head of cabbage in one meal, and my two year old did the most damage. To quote her, "Mmmmm, you put so many spices in my cabbage. It's so tasty---good job!"

The recipe is very simple, and will have your whole house smelling delish. My son came downstairs for lunch and asked with excitement if I had made curried red lentil soup! I feared he would be disappointed, but the four of us fought over every last bite. I can't wait to make it again.

Sweet and Sour Indian Spiced Red Cabbage

2 tsp cooking oil
3 tsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp mild curry powder (I used Vadouvan, which is our favorite) 
1 leek, white part sliced thinly
1/8 cup water
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 small chili of your preference (jalapeno or birds-eye, for ex) finely minced--this is 100% optional depending on how spicy you like your food. I didn't use this when I made it for my kids)
1 medium head red cabbage, cored and finely sliced
1/2 tsp stevia powder (to taste--start with less and add as desired)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a big pan over medium heat. Add in the mustard seeds and curry powder. This will make a bit of a paste. 

Mustard Seeds and Curry
When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the leeks and the water. Pop a lid on to help the leeks soften, and let that do its work for 3-4 minutes until the leeks are nice and soft. Add the garlic, ginger and chili (if using) and cook for an additional minute.

Now the leek are in the mix

Add in the cabbage. Side note: You may need to add in two sets depending on your pan size. This is no problem, fill the pan and then allow it to cook down a bit and add any remaining cabbage. 

After adding the cabbage (first batch), add in the stevia and the vinegar. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Cook covered for 15-20 minutes depending on your preference. Stir periodically to keep from sticking to pan. Taste and adjust the seasonings: add salt and pepper as needed, and add stevia for more sweetness or vinegar for added sourness.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Korean Style Bean Sprout Salad

Bean sprouts are oft overlooked as a veggie option, which is a real shame. I find them to be delicious and a welcome change of pace from the standard cauliflower and broccoli routine. This is a super simple recipe for a traditional Korean side dish. It should take you about 5 minutes to throw together, if that. If it's with dinner, you can even add some tofu or chicken for a delicious meal. 

It has a delightful sesame flavor that I adore. If you are on phase 1, you can drop that and add a little ginger (1 tsp minced) and soy sauce (2 tsp) for a lovely flavor profile without the sesame. I hope you enjoy!

Korean Bean Sprout Salad

1 lb. mung bean sprouts (you need to get fresh, and they don't keep long)
2 tsp minced scallion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp roasted sesame seeds (you can omit this on phase 1)
1 1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste) plus some to salt the water
1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil

Boil some water in a pot. Add a bit of salt, and then the bean sprouts. Parboil the sprouts for 2 minutes and then drain well. Run cold water on them to stop the cooking process. Then squeeze the excess water from the sprouts. 

Put the sprouts into a bowl. Toss with the other ingredients.

Serve (how easy was that!)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Marinated Cauliflower Perfection

My husband calls me the George Washington Carver of cauliflower. I'm not sure he means it as a compliment, but I'm going to take it as such. I always liked this lovely veggie, but I have learned to do many many different things with it (as you can see on the blog!). I've made sweet pancakes using cauliflower as flour, tabbouleh using cauliflower instead of bulgur wheat -- so many options!

This week the purple cauliflower in the garden was ready to be picked, and I wanted to do something different with this delicate version. I've tried roasting purple cauliflower before with poor results, and I just didn't want to waste the first harvest from my own garden.
Marinated Cauliflower Salad

So, this lovely marinated cauliflower salad was a perfect and very delicious fit! It's really easy -- lightly blanched cauliflower tossed with a nice vinaigrette and left to soak up the yum. Very refreshing and pretty, even if you only have white cauliflower. I used the purple one and then some extra white -- I had a sense I was going to gobble this up (which I did).

Note: some people do not use capers on ideal protein phase 1. If that's you, just leave them out and add a little extra salt. I've tried it both ways and it's good even without these little gems. 

This is based on Martha Stewart's recipe found here.  I cooked the veg a little longer than she did as it was still too hard for my tastes. I don't want it mushy, but I want it to be ever so slightly softened. I also dropped the oil way down for what I assume are obvious reasons. 

Marinated Cauliflower Salad
1 head cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green, red or vidalia onion (I like to mix them together)
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tbsp capers 
Course salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the cauliflower pieces and blanch for 4 minutes. Drain, then put in a bowl.

Whisk together all of the other ingredients. Toss with the cauliflower and refrigerate for up to a day to get those flavors absorbed. Recheck the salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Roasted Green Beans: OMG

This is my latest obsession. I realize that being obsessed with green beans is a touch, well, touched. But you say that because you have not had these: Roasted Green Beans.

It so happens that I like green beans, and I usually saute them up with chicken. Well, that has changed, my friends. One day I was a little short on asparagus but had some green beans prepped and ready, so I threw those in with the other veggies and popped them into the oven.

Let me tell you -- magic happened. The green beans transform into something amazing, a little nutty, a little salty. We are all fighting over them, and the kids may stab each other with their forks trying to get the last one. My own dear mother, who hates -- and I really mean hates -- green beans, loves these. If that doesn't get you, I don't know what will.

It's super easy: toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 for about 20 minutes until browned and delish.  Serve (add salt if you like, which I do) and step back to avoid the stampede. I warned you. Note: Try to keep the beans in one layer on the pan so that you don't overcrowd. That makes them steam and we want them roasty toasty.

My friend just made these after she got tired of me talking about roasted green beans. Her email to me: "Amazing…fantastic…YUM!!!" Now go -- make these!

Trimmed green beans all ready for the oven

Roasted green beans looking delicious!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Cauliflower Polenta with Sauteed Peppers

I love creating new tastes. I can truly say that this creation was one of those fluky things that was just magical. This recipe came out of a crazy series of events, including my dad combining two things I served -- mashed cauliflower and some sauteed peppers -- at a dinner I served. I wanted to get some extra flavor out of the cauliflower, so had roasted it. It turned out that getting it nice and crispy prior to mashing gave it a great texture. Then when dad mixed it up with the peppers on his plate -- our new favorite veggie dish was officially invented.

I often use red peppers, but any pepper would be great, including some with heat. In the pic below, I used yellow and red, plus a guallilo I had hanging around. Make this your own.

I always make a humongous batch of this because everyone loves it so much.  This usually involves 4 heads of cauliflower! It's perfect for company or family! So so so good, and very forgiving -- use whatever amounts and flavors you like. I've estimated seasonings here as this is definitely something you need to taste and reseason.

Cauliflower Polenta with Sauteed Peppers

Cauliflower Polenta with Sauteed Peppers
2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
chopped garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper
chicken or veggie broth
4 red peppers, cut into 1" dice

Heat the oven to 450. Spread the cauliflower on a sheet pan, and toss with fresh garlic (I use 3-4 cloves), a spritz of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring half way through. You want it to get brown and a little crispy. Be sure the cauli isn't crowded on the pan or it will steam. If you need to, and definitely if you are making a big batch, use 2 pans. Allow to cool.

While the cauli is roasting, you can saute up the peppers. Put a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a bit of olive oil, and then 1 tbsp garlic. Then add in the peppers and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and soft. I like these to get a bit blistered and black, personally. Taste and reseason as needed.

Working in batches with the food processor, pulse the cauliflower to puree to desired consistency. Add in a few tbsp of broth as you pulse to moisten and ease the process, and add salt and pepper with each round. I like it to be mealy so that it has some texture (vs. a mashed style), so I go easy on the broth but heavy on the salt and pepper. Do this with all of the cauliflower and put into a large serving bowl.

Add in the peppers and stir to combine. Taste, of course, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve! This reheats beautifully and keeps for several days.