Stocking Up!

During the fall and winter there is nothing I enjoy more than a steaming bowl of soup. Commercial stocks are inexpensive, plentiful and convenient, but they will never replace homemade. I typically make 36 quarts of chicken, and 24 quarts of vegetable stock each season, and freeze it for future use. Not only does the house smell terrific while it simmers, it is the foundation for all sorts of delicious meals that include soups, stews and risotto. I find that vegetable stock in particular, benefits from a little love and attention to the ingredients.

If you roast or brown the vegetables before you assemble the stock, the caramelization improves the flavor profile. Adding dried porcini mushrooms and tomato paste will impart a savory or umami element that deepens the end result. Unlike chicken stock which is simmered up to 24 hours, vegetable stock is simmered no longer than 90 minutes. The addition of herbs and onion skins add flavor and color to the stock.

VEGETABLE STOCK

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped onion (save the skins)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 3 cups chopped carrot
  • 2 cups chopped parsnip
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed (can leave skins on)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 large handfuls spinach

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Rehydrate dried mushrooms. Place the dried mushrooms in a 4 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup and pour 4 cups boiling water over them. Set aside.
  2. Brown the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and fennel. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large stockpot. Add the chopped vegetables and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Cook over high heat for several minutes, stirring only occasionally. Be patient with the browning of the vegetables, as they have a high moisture content. It may take 10-15 minutes or longer to brown them.
  3. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomato paste begins to turn a rusty color.
  4. Add the mushrooms and their soaking water, the rosemary, thyme, onion skins, peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley and 4 additional quarts of water. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low. After 45 minutes add spinach. Continue to simmer for a total of 90 minutes.
  5. Strain the stock with a basket skimmer or slotted spoon, removing all the big pieces of vegetables and mushroom. Discard or compost. Set up a large bowl with a wire mesh strainer in it. Line strainer with a layer of cheesecloth. Using a ladle or 2 cup measuring cup, pour stock through strainer. When the liquid slows down, you may have to change the cheesecloth.
  6. Pour into jars, or 1 quart plastic deli containers and chill or freeze. Make sure you leave 1 1/2 inches of headspace if freezing.

Yields: 4-5 quarts

“The secret to change, is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –Socrates

Zuppa Cloverdale

Winter has definitely arrived in the small town of Cloverdale. After 12 inches of snow, and sub-zero temperatures, one tends to prefer steaming hot bowls of something savory. When looking in the pantry and freezer for inspiration, I decided on soaking some flageolet beans, and pulled out a package of sweet Italian sausage. I still had a decent looking cabbage, and wha-la! Something savory and wonderful was going to happen.

Cabbage seems to be an under used vegetable. Part of the brassica family, it is high in vitamins C and K. It will help improve your digestion, is low in calories and high in soluble fiber (and you thought kale was the darling)! I love cabbage in salads, soups, stews, stir fries, rolls and roasted in wedges. We grow three different varieties of cabbage; savoy, red and a beautiful variety called Dead-On, a red tinged savoy. The following soup uses your basic white cabbage, but during the growing season I encourage you to go to your local farmers market and branch out. You will be surprised how vibrant color and texture can inspire your creativity.

ZUPPA CLOVERDALE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup dried, soaked and cooked flageolets or cannellini beans (alternatively you can use 1 15-ounce can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans)
  • 12 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage (about 4 links) removed from casings.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock (homemade if possible)
  • 4 cups cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup shredded pecorino cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. If using dried beans, (which I highly recommend) cook these first. They should be soaked for 8 hours or overnight. Drain them and put in a heavy Dutch oven or pot and cover with cold water to about 1-2 inches above the beans. Place two cloves of garlic and a bay leaf in water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes or until tender. DO NOT SALT YOUR WATER!! Salt will prevent your beans from softening. When beans are done leave them in pot until ready to use; then drain and add them to your soup. Otherwise, simply drain your can of beans and leave in colander until ready to use.
  2. In a large, heavy pot on medium-high, place your sausage links (casing removed) into pot. Break larger pieces up with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and no longer pink. Add your onions and garlic; sauté until onions are soft.
  3. Add chopped cabbage, stock and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook until cabbage is soft, about 15-20 minutes. Add drained beans.
  4. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and/or freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
  5. Ladle into bowls and pass pecorino cheese if using.

Serves: 4-6

“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” –Aristotle

A Leg Up On Legumes

When it comes to food that is inexpensive, versatile, nutrient rich and a pantry staple, nothing can beat beans and legumes. They can be a base for anything from bowls, to entrees, to salads and soups. The two I use the most are chickpeas and lentils. They are cousins and their history dates back to 6000 B.C. Both chickpeas and lentils are still a staple in the Middle Eastern and Indian diets, and are featured in many cuisines throughout the world. They are considered a superfood as they are rich in protein, and are often used as a meat replacement in vegetarian diets. If paired with brown rice or a whole grain they are a complete protein.

Lentils come in a variety of colors, such as brown, green (lentils du Puy), gold, red and even black. Used in French bistro cuisine, they became a favored ingredient. Red lentils cook the fastest and break down quickly, while brown are typically used for soups. Green du Puy hold their shape and are favored for salads. Before using lentils, it is prudent to sort through them for unwanted pebbles or debris. I simply pour them onto a sheet pan and look them over, then transfer them to a wire colander and give them a rinse. The following recipe is beautifully earthy and comes together quickly, making it perfect for a week night. I usually make a large batch, since it freezes well. That way I can thaw a quart and have it on the table without much notice.

COUNTRY LENTIL SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound bag of brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible) or water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cup carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
  • 1 15.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (I like Muir Glenn)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add celery, carrots and onions to pot and sauté until onions are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add Italian seasoning and mix.
  2. Next add the rinsed lentils, and mix thoroughly. Add the vegetable stock or water and mix again. Bring to a boil, then cover slightly ajar and simmer on low for 40-50 minutes. Taste lentils to seen if they are soft. If not continue to simmer an additional 10-15 minutes or until done.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Mix, then heat about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Off heat, add red wine vinegar. Ladle into bowls.

Serves: 8-10

“Kindness is like snow—it beautifies everything it covers.” –Kahlil Gibran

Indian Roasted Potatoes

Since I’m on a mission to lose my Covid-19 weight, I’ve been eating a lot a vegetables; and I mean a lot of vegetables!! This is not a particular hardship, since I love them. I’ve been challenging myself to keep it interesting by coming up with creative ways to serve them. Visual appeal and taste are paramount. As I have mentioned in previous posts, adding spices and condiments really change things up. This week, we are going Indian with the use of Garam Masala, which is a spice blend that includes, but not limited to coriander, cumin, black pepper, cardamom and cinnamon. This side can be made ahead and served at room temperature. I am also using my continual go-to condiment cilantro-chili sauce. I just can’t get enough of it! It is easy to make and I find that I have been putting it on my hard-boiled eggs, as well as mixing it with Greek yogurt as a dressing for chicken, or grilled flank steak salads.

INDIAN ROASTED POTATOES WITH CILANTRO-CHILI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/2 inch
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Garam Masala
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, both leaves and tender stems
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped (I use jalapeño)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced and toasted blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 sliced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds or black sesame seeds (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Scrub and slice Yukon golds 1/2 inch (I use 1 medium potato per person). Place in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil; then toss with your hands. Place on parchment paper leaving 1 inch between slices. Sprinkle each slice with garam masala.
  3. Roast potato slices in oven for 40-50 minutes, turn slices over after the first 25 minutes. Potatoes are done when slightly golden and a knife slides easily through each slice.
  4. Meanwhile in a food processor, pulse to combine, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, the cilantro, chilies, garlic, almonds, lime juice, and a large pinch of salt, until it forms a chunky puree. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  5. In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Thinly slice green onions, both the white and the green.
  6. On a decorative platter, spoon yogurt on the bottom. Stack your potato slices so they make a pyramid. Place small spoonful’s of cilantro-chili sauce on potatoes. Sprinkle with green onions and nigella seeds.

Serves:2-4

“Every challenge, every adversity, contains within it the seeds for opportunity and growth.”

Roy Bennett

Elevating Breakfast

I absolutely love food! It is my passion, my vocation, my artform and my entertainment. Yet, my relationship to food has been out of balance for most of my life. I eat when I’m stressed, I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I’m bored. I eat when I’m happy. In other words, I am an emotional eater. This has caused me to lose the same 30-40 pounds over and over throughout my adult life. It has taken me a long time to be willing to come to terms with the fact that my relationship to food was what was out of balance.

I am by nature a generous person. Food is love to me. My ability to love myself, not so much. I became aware that the act of excessive eating, was how I filled myself up. Food substituted for love, and this realization was an amazing discovery. So what do I do with this information? Diets have never worked for me. I would lose the weight only to gain it back (and then some)! What I needed was a lifestyle change, not a diet. I needed to understand the why of my overeating, its triggers, and correct that distortion. In other words, I needed to create a life that was healthy and took into account my love of food. I discovered: Noom. I highly recommend it for not only helping you lose weight, but learning about the psychology of why we create unhealthy habits. If I as an elder can make changes, anyone can.

The following recipe is a good example of controlling food quantity, as well as being satisfied. I am a person who does not eat a lot of processed food. I find this not only delicious, but something created from items we usually have on hand. I usually prepare a entire can of artichoke hearts, so I can use it throughout the week.

ARTICHOKE & EGG TARTINE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1-2 leeks cleaned and rinsed, using white and light green parts, thinly sliced (you can also use 2-3 shallots)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 slice of toasted bread of choice per person
  • 1 large farm fresh egg per person
  • Hot sauce (optional) I like Chalula

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Drain artichokes, then place them between several layers of paper towels. Press firmly to absorb as much of the brine as possible; then chop coarsely.
  2. Slice leeks or shallots thinly; set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in 10-inch non-stick skillet on medium. Add leeks or shallots and sauté until soft. Add artichokes, oregano and pepper. Sauté until hot.
  4. Toast bread (you could also use 1/2 of an English muffin). Poach or fry eggs over-easy.
  5. Spoon artichoke mixture on toast; top with egg.
  6. Add a dash or two of hot sauce.

Serves up to 4

“Every woman who finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.” —Shannon L. Alder

Mi Casa es Su Casa

Needing to shed a few pounds, I’ve been busy creating dishes that although leaner are still interesting. Lately I’m finding many ways to use cauliflower rice. It’s so easy to make and so incredibly versatile. If you really want to cut corners, many grocery stores sell it prebagged for convenience in the produce section.

As I have pointed out in my recent cookbook, Twisted Basics: Laugh, Cook, Eat! vegetables do not have to be boring! There is no substitute for fresh veggies, when it comes to feeling healthy. When I make cauliflower rice, I like to use a large head so I will have additional meals at the ready. I simply vacuum seal it in 4 cup increments. One large head can produce enough for 3 meals! When I made this Mexican Cauliflower Rice dish today, my wife could not tell the difference between real rice and its faux counterpart.

MEXICAN CAULIFLOWER RICE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, riced (approx. 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 1 paste tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 teaspoons green tabasco

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. To make cauliflower rice, separate head into flowerettes and slice stalks into 1 inch pieces. Place in food processor and pulse 7-8 times or until course and resembles rice. Measure out 4 cups and set aside.
  2. Chop your veggies and prep ingredients. Combine spices in a small bowl and mix.
  3. Whisk together Greek yogurt and green tabasco. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat a 12 inch non-stick skillet on medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. Add onion, peppers, tomato, and garlic. Sauté for 5-8 minutes or until soft.
  6. Add the spice blend, stock, and tomato paste. Mix well and cook for 2 additional minutes.
  7. Add cauliflower rice and cook until desire texture is reached, folding ingredients until thoroughly incorporated, about 5-6 more minutes.
  8. Add minced jalapeño and mix.
  9. Plate and drizzle dressing over the top. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serves 4

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.” —George Bernard Shaq

Sweet and Spicy!

There are times when we just have to shake it up a bit! We all have our go-to rotations for meal planning, but it is interesting how a different condiment or sauce can really take a side to the next level (thank you Yotam Ottelenghi). I also appreciate a sauce that can go with many different things, from vegetables, to chicken, lamb or fish. This sauce has it all. Even the color contrast of this dish is striking. As I mentioned last week, using the addition of a flavored olive oil is really wonderful, in this case Persian Lime. It pairs nicely with the fresh lime juice. Skip it if you don’t have it. If you have people in your family that don’t like too much heat, the Greek yogurt that accompanies this side will easily tamp it down.

Sweet potatoes are a terrific vegetable for people watching their weight. They are high in vitamin A, they support digestive and heart health, and they are rich in dietary fiber, keeping you full longer. They also stabilize your blood-sugar, fuel your brain, and since they are loaded with beta-carotene they are terrific for your eyes. So what’s not to like?

SWEET POTATOES WITH YOGURT & CILANTRO-CHILI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil divided (Persian Lime if available)
  • 1/2 tablespoon local honey
  • Juice of 2 limes, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped (I use jalapenos)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, honey, juice from 1 lime, salt and pepper to taste, and potato wedges. Toss to coat. Spread in a even layer on baking sheet, bake until tender and lightly browned in spots, about 45-55- minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse to combine 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, the cilantro, chilies, garlic, almonds, juice from remaining lime, vinegar and a large pinch of salt, until it forms a chunky puree. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  4. Arrange sweet potatoes on a platter; spoon sauce in dollops over the potatoes, dollop with yogurt, drizzle with some olive oil, and serve with additional sauce and yogurt on the side.

Serve 4-6

“Our very survival depends on us staying awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant, and to face the challenge of change.” –Martin Luther King

Feel The Beet!

Wow, what a week we have had! There are times that writing a food blog under these circumstances is challenging, and seemingly unimportant. However I also recognize we all need something positive to hold on to when the world is unraveling around us. After the new year, I finally insisted I get on the scale, and wasn’t surprised with what stared back at me, but disappointed in myself. So I’m doing veggie/protein as a lifestyle. I have forgiven myself for the need to be endlessly in the kitchen as a survival strategy in 2020, but I know I can’t continue feeling out of control. To that end this side dish is probably one of my favorites for using beets.

Some of you remember my story about loathing beets most of my life, but it is worth repeating. Before I moved to a vegetable farm, there were only two vegetables I absolutely hated, okra and beets (I still hate okra!). I remember asking Val early on why she grew so many beets? Do people really like them? I have since learned that all root vegetables are directly affected by growing methods. They absorb the off taste of chemical fertilizers for example. Those chemicals will make both beets and carrots taste off, orslightly bitter. Most of us have experienced that off taste and have decided that we did not like that particular vegetable. Once I tasted clean tasting vegetables from our farm, I totally came around. Now, I positively love beets!

This recipe is a lovely side for most things grilled, or as a part of a Mezza spread. It is simple enough for weeknight’s and showy enough for company. The various contrasts of textures really add interest; but the real coup d’ etat is if you can get your hands on some blood orange olive oil. This ingredient will really put this recipe over the top! The other ingredient that will make a serious difference is a high quality balsamic vinegar. I was gifted with some incredible 18 year stuff that was wonderful!

ROASTED BEETS WITH YOGURT, PISTACHIOS & CORIANDER

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 small to medium beets (about 2 pounds total)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or that luscious blood orange stuff)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped roasted pistachios

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the beets, halve them vertically, then cut each half in 3 or 4 wedges. Toss the beets with 2 tablespoons regular extra-virgin olive oil and the ground coriander on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast tossing once halfway through for 30-45 minutes until almost fully tender, (the time will be determined on the size of your wedges).
  2. Meanwhile, toast the coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium, shaking the skillet, until golden and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Season the yogurt with salt and pepper and spread it on a platter. Add the remaining olive oil (this is where you would use your blood orange olive oil if you have it) and the balsamic vinegar to the roasted beets and toss to coat. Arrange the beets and their juices over the yogurt. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and toasted coriander seeds. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4

“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation.” –Bernie Siegel

A Pantry Darling

It is blustery and cold today at the farm. It has been a challenging year. A year marked by the pandemic, angry politics, frustration and despair for so many. It has caused us to rethink our lives going forward, and adjust our priorities. As 2020 starts to wind down, I am grateful for the love in my life, shelter from the howling wind outside, and our loving animals. But the one thing that has kept me going day after day is being in my kitchen to create something that not only feeds our bodies, but our souls. Nourishment. We require it as much as the air we breathe. I find this nourishment in the act of feeding others. It is an act of love.

When it comes to what we create in our kitchens, I find there are some ingredients that I return to again and again. I put up dozens and dozens of jars of tomatoes in all their various forms. They are truly a pantry staple. When I reflected on other ingredients, I had to acknowledge an item that has just as much versatility; the humble chickpea. Whether canned or dried this protein warrior is far more than your simple hummus. Everything from spreads, to soups, to salads and entries, the garbanzo bean has it all. Although I appreciate having canned chickpeas on hand, I can’t recommend enough cooking them from their dried state. Quite frankly, they are dirt cheap! But they are also surprisingly delicious made from scratch. When soaked overnight, they cook in about 40 minutes. I usually make a large batch and freeze some of them with their cooking liquid for additional options. Remember to add 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda to every 2 cups of dried chickpeas, in your soaking water. After draining them before cooking add the same amount to your cooking water. This helps soften them. Also, never add salt to your cooking water, as your beans will never get soft.

INDIAN BUTTER CHICKPEAS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes (I use a quart of homemade)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole coconut milk, stirred with whisk in separate bowl before adding
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained OR equivalent of 4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
  • 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
  • 1 lime cut in wedges, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat (you don’t want to burn the butter).
  2. Stir in the garlic and ginger, and cook another minute. Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot. Stir in whisked coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  4. Stir in chickpeas and cayenne if using, simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add 2 cups packed baby spinach of heat. It will wilt as you stir in in. Serve in bowls over rice, garnishing with cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Serves 4-6

“What the new year brings to you, will depend on what you bring to the new year.”

Riff It…Riff It Good!

Being vegetable farmers, we love all things vegetable; but no one pushes that envelope better than Yotam Ottolenghi. This man fascinates me with his amazing combinations. I love his cookbooks. They are a treasure trove of ideas and visual art. He encourages all of us to jump head first into the unusual. He is my mentor for true creativity in the kitchen. In his new cookbook Flavor, he introduces his philosophy of layering ingredients for optimal impact. He prefers plates and platters to bowls, and I have largely adopted that approach. By layering textures and flavors every ingredient has a chance to stand out on its own. He prepares condiments ahead of time, as flavor bombs. The simplest roasted vegetable takes on new life when topped with a sauce, relish or spice. The visual impact of food is also important, as we eat with our eyes; so color contrast takes on a whole new meaning. From the platter, to the color and texture of each layer, to the final garnishes, every element is crucial to the presentation of the dish.

In the spirit of trying a little used vegetable, we tried his celeriac steaks with Café De Paris sauce. This dish from Ottolenghi’s Flavor cookbook was so unusual, it was a literal treat for the tastebuds. After roasting the celeriac steaks, they were placed on top of a sauce of butter, shallot, garlic, anchovy, mustard and curry powder, capers, chives, tarragon and parsley. There are really no words to adequately describe this dish. Talk about a flavor bomb! Dishes like these can really get you thinking outside the box. So when I contemplated what vegetables we had on hand, and how I could use them creatively; I came up with the following recipe. You can make “steaks” out of many root vegetables, and we had an abundance of large turnips still in the ground. So I made turnip steaks. Then I needed another vegetable that would offer a color contrast to the turnip. I decided on carrots that I roasted and pureed with a little maple syrup and olive oil. I added a small amount of water; just enough to loosen it in my food processor without changing the flavor. The final decision was a dressing or sauce. I settled on a mustard vinaigrette, as both turnips and carrots would be enhanced by this addition. I garnished with chopped parsley and toasted breadcrumbs; but in hindsight thought a sprinkle of dukkah would have also worked well.

TURNIP STEAKS WITH CARROT PUREE & MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 large turnips (3 slices per person), peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 6 large carrots, peeled and sliced in 2-inch chunks
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoon toasted fresh breadcrumbs, or dukkah

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare two large sheet pans, one for the carrots, and one for the turnip steaks by lining them with parchment paper.
  2. Scatter the carrots on one sheet pan and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss with your hands. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, turning carrots halfway through, until lightly browned and soft when tested with a knife. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Place turnip steaks on sheet pan, leaving 1-inch between each slice. Baste both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, turning each slice over halfway through. They should look brown around the edges.
  4. In a food processor, place roasted carrots, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon maple syrup; pulse 3 or 4 times. You want to leave some texture; if too thick add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency. Place in bowl.
  5. Make vinaigrette, by combining both mustards, white balsamic vinegar, minced shallot, and 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a pint jar. Shake vigorously until combined.
  6. On a platter, place turnip steaks overlapping down the center. Spoon pureed carrots around the edge of platter. Drizzle dressing down the center of the turnips. Garnish with chopped parsley and breadcrumbs or dukkah.

Serves 4

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” — Paul Theroux