Category Archives: Winter

A New Favorite- Chick Pea Salad

Chick Pea SaladI had something like this chick pea salad at ‘wichcraft, a lunch spot in San Francisco at Mission and 5th Streets downtown. I was bewitched. Here’s my version- it’s my new lunch obsession.

Garbanzo Beans

Serves 2.

Ingredients:
olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 shallots or 1 small red onion, chopped finely
1 large garlic clove, minced
2-3 celery sticks, cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced
2-3 shakes ground coriander (~1/2 teaspoon)
2-3 shakes ground cumin (~1/2 teaspoon)
1 pint cooked garbanzo beans, about two cups (or 1 – 14oz can chick peas, drained & thoroughly rinsed)
juice of one meyer lemon
kosher salt & pepper
2 (generous) Tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro or parsley (I use both.)

Saute chick peas with shallots and celeryDirections:
1) Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in small saucepan. Add pinch of cayenne pepper.
2) On medium heat, saute the shallots & celery for 1-2 minutes or so until slightly softened.
3) Add the garlic and stir, cooking for another minute or so. Add the cumin and coriander. Stir and add a touch more olive oil.
4) Stir in the chick peas and mix thoroughly.
5) Mix in fresh juice of 1/2 lemon. Generously sprinkle with kosher salt. Taste. Stir and repeat with second half of lemon or adjust to taste.
6) Add a bit of freshly ground pepper if desired. Stir in chopped cilantro & parsley and serve immediately, slightly warm.

This chick pea salad is great on its own as a side or I often serve it on top of a tossed salad. See below.

Chick Peas with Mixed Greens SaladGarbanzo Beans salad for lunchIngredients:
Mixed greens or arugula (2-3 cups), cleaned and dry
Crumbled goat cheese (feta would work too)
One green onion, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
for dressing: kosher salt, olive oil, & red wine vinegar

Directions:
1) Place greens in a bowl. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and then drizzle a bit of olive oil over the leaves. Add a splash of red wine vinegar and toss to coat evenly.
2) Add goat cheese, green onion, avocado and a mound of chick pea salad on top.
3) Lunchtime!

Note: I prefer to use dried garbanzo beans. After soaking & cooking the chick peas, I put them in pint mason jars and stash them in the freezer to use as needed.

Chick Peas on Arugula Salad

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Great Crumb – Celebration Cake!

I was looking for a simple yet festive cake to bake for my mom’s 70th birthday. I stumbled upon this recipe from Nigel Slater’s cookbook, Appetite, and I knew this was what I wanted to make. The author adapted this recipe from Tamasin Day-Lewis’s wholewheat chocolate cake, which apparently she adopted from her cousin. This cake gets around. Her recipe called for muscovado sugar, which Nigel didn’t have on hand so he used Demerara. I was headed to Minnesota from San Francisco to celebrate my mom’s birthday, so I figured I’d better bring my fancy sugar with me. I could’ve bought either type sugar at Canyon Market, my local Glen Park neighborhood store- they had quite an amazing array of sugars given the small size of their “corner market”- but I went with demerara out of an allegiance to Nigel. I thought I was going to be arrested going through airport security with this sugar. They were very, very suspicious of this sugar. Why was I traveling with sugar for chrissakes! the security’s face read. I was equally upset. Why wouldn’t I be traveling with ingredients for my mother’s cake. Please. Luckily I made it through security (they allowed my wrapped present to pass through too- whew!!), and it was all worth it because the cake was delicious. So good that I’m looking forward to making it for Christmas day. I think it’d be best if served warm with a little homemade whipped cream or ice cream.

PS. I’ve really bonded with the digital scale my boyfriend bought for ~$25. Baking via weight is highly satisfying and- as far as I know in my limited baking experience- it is recommended by the experts out there as more accurate (aka. will give you superior results).  Given my penchant for eyeballing ingredients in savory dishes (aka. I’m not a known baker despite my surname), I may not be the best one to advise on this front. Still- I’m just saying- you might want to investigate… I didn’t have a scale at my mom’s place, so I had to convert Nigel’s measurements. My conversions are included below. Happy Baking!

Serves 12 or a generous 8.

Ingredients:
butter – 250g (a generous cup // ~ 17.6 Tablespoons // ~ 2 1/4 sticks)
demerara sugar – 250g (~one heaping cup)
eggs – 4 large free range
espresso coffee a small one, or about 3 tablespoons
unbleached flour – 250g (~one heaping cup)
baking powder – 2 gently heaping teaspoons
skinned hazelnuts (filberts)- 200g, coarsely ground (~ generous 3/4 cup) ***
fine, dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli ~65%+) = 250g, coarsely chopped (like gravel)

Directions:
1) Line a 23 cm (9-10 inch spring form pan) with greaseproof paper or parchment paper regardless if you have a nonstick pan.

2) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (~355 degrees). Beat the butter and sugar until they are fluffy and pale. (Electric beater is best if you have one.) Add the eggs one at a time, beating lightly between each addition. You may find the mixture curdles a little but don’t worry, it will come good in the end. Stir in the coffee.

3) Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold them in, then fold in most of the hazelnuts and the chopped chocolate, keeping a little back for the top of the cake. The mixture should be quite firm; you may have to slide it off the spoon with your finger. Put it into the lined cake tin and gently smooth the top, scattering over the last of the chocolate and nuts.

4) Bake for an hour and twenty minutes or until the cake is springy (I think I only cooked an hour or so), testing for doneness by spearing the center with a toothpick. It should come out clean without any raw cake mixture on it. Leave the cake for half an hour or so before cutting.

***The most time-consuming part of this recipe is de-skinning the hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are a pain to skin. Don’t get caught up in perfection. I recommend toasting the nuts for 10-15 minutes in a toaster oven and then wrapping in a kitchen towel to let steam for ~1 minute. Rub nuts in the towel to remove loose skins and cool completely. Another site recommended shaking the nuts in a sieve after toasting at 350 degrees for the same effect. [Or substitute for almonds of walnuts (lightly toasted).]

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Apples, Sage and Celery

Stuffed and Roasted Acorn Squash

This recipe is a delicious combination of flavors, it’s filling and comforting yet healthy and a a great way to utilize wintertime squash. The recipe calls for wild rice- I actually used a blend of wild rices that I threw in my rice cooker w/ the chicken stock. (Wild rices usually cook at a ratio of rice to water of 1:3.) I decided to use toasted pecans and fresh thyme in place of walnuts and sage since that’s what I had on hand. The trick with this recipe is to be sure to roast the acorn squash until it is basically fully cooked. Then stuff with the rice, bake another 10 minutes or so, and serve hot. I usually end up with extra rice, which makes a tasty lunch served on top of a bed of mixed lettuce or arugula the next day.

roasted acorn squash stuffed with wild rice

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Apples, Sage, and Celery

2 acorn squash, halved top to bottom, seeds and strings removed
1 1/2 cups wild rice, rinsed
4 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 small apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1 onion, chopped small
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
Small handful of chopped fresh sage leaves
Olive oil to brush or drizzle lightly on squash &/or to saute the vegetables
1 to 1 1/2 cup walnut halves or 3/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 tablespoon butter, divided
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
salt, pepper

Directions:
1. Bring stock to a boil.  Add uncooked wild rice, reduce heat and simmer about 50-60 minutes or until tender. Let sit.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Score the insides of the squash several times. Put the squash cut side up on a baking pan and drizzle olive oil lightly on top OR coat the inside with 1/2 Tbsp butter and drizzle with a touch of maple syrup. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for about 1 hour until soft and the tops are browning.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, melt two tablespoons of butter (or olive oil), and saute the onions and celery until becoming soft, around 7 minutes. Add the apples, sage, and walnuts or pine nuts. After about five minutes, add the brown sugar and toss to coat. Continue to saute until the celery and apples begin to soften. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

4. Mix the skillet contents with the wild rice in a big bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings.

5. Pull the acorn squash out of the oven when it’s ready. Fill the squash with rice stuffing, drizzle each with olive oil or butter and salt, if needed.  Return to oven for 10 minutes or until a knife goes easily into the flesh of the squash along the top. (If any rice mix is left you can bake it in a separate bowl or heat it in a skillet and serve alongside.)

7. Pull the squash out the oven.  Serve when cool enough to eat.

8. You can make the rice stuffing beforehand or even pre-bake the squash in advance leaving the final 10-15 minute bake before serving.

roasted acorn squashServe this heart-shaped acorn squash on Valentine’s Day! ;)

acorn squash

Serve leftovers with lightly dressed arugula for lunch.

Tomato Soup with Two Fennels

Tomato soup with fennelMy sister gave me a lovely book called “The Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg, who created a food blog called Orangette awhile back. The book is written in the style of a blog and recipes are included with every chapter. The author seems particularly fond of fennel, and this recipe stood out to me as an interesting twist on tomato soup. I decided to give it a try as I was curious to find out if one can make a decent soup from canned tomatoes as the recipe calls for. Besides…then I could use my new Le Creuset Dutch oven again! (No, I’m not being paid to use their name, although I can see why you might wonder.)

A Homemade LifeMolly mentions in the text of the book that when trying a recipe for the first time, it should be followed exactly and then after that, it’s do-what-you-will. I prescribe to this philosophy as well, except that I’m not capable of living by it. I simply cannot cook from a recipe without making some immediate modifications. I’ve honestly tried, but inevitably, I have something in my fridge I’d like to use up or I just have to add another vegetable or spice or maybe I should try increasing the temperature by another 25 degrees?

Actually, I think the only modification I made here was to use a bit of homemade chicken stock with the water. Also, I canned tomatoes myself this fall, so used four pints of home-canned chopped tomatoes. I really enjoyed the recipe. My boyfriend thought it was “very strange” and wasn’t sure he liked “tomato soup that tastes like licorice.” Still, that didn’t seem to stop him from finishing the bowl. Serve with thick slices of toasted wheat levain with fresh avocado spread like butter. The flavors do meld over time, so enjoy a day or two later as it makes a fair bit. I also saved a pint in the freezer for lunch another day.

Tomato Soup with Two Fennels Recipe

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 medium fennel bulbs (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed, quartered from root to stalk, and thinky sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
Two 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
Water
3/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Sugar, to taste
Red wine vinegar, to taste

Directions:
1. In a large (5-quart) pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for another minute or so. Add the thyme and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, stirring, about 2 minutes.
2. Using your hand to hold back the tomatoes, pour the liquid from the tomato cans into the pot. Stir well. Crush the tomatoes in thier cans, using your hands or a potato masher to tear and mash them into small chunks. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Then fill 1 empty tomato can with cold water and pour it in, too. Bring to a boil. Then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.
3. The soup is ready when the fennel is very tender and a spoonful of the tomatoey broth tastes like a good, full-bodied soup. (If it hasn’t cooked long enough, i twill taste watery and raw, like tomatoes straight from the can.) Add the salt. Taste and adjust as needed. If the tomatoes need a little sweetness, add a pinch or two of sugar. If the soup tastes a little bland, add a small splash of vinegar. I often add a bit of both. Serve hot.

winter tomato stew

Lamb & Flageolets Stew with Cilantro Relish from “Heirloom Beans”

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m enamored with the cookbook, Heirloom Beans. In perusing the recipes, I had to resist bookmarking every other page. Given the cold winter days we’re experiencing in San Francisco right now, somehow a lamb stew seemed to make the most sense, and I knew this meant I could break out the new Le Creuset. I’m embarrassed to admit, however, after all my excitement for cooking with heirloom beans I ended up using cannellini beans that I already had in my pantry. (Hey, I’m trying  to honor my recent vow to use up the stores I already have.) So, I can’t really vouch for the wonder of flageolet beans, although I swear the next time around I will use the beans according to the recipe. After all, what’s better than an excuse to head down to Bi-Rite? (Even more ridiculous is I bought the lamb at Bi-Rite, but didn’t realize they sold Rancho Gordo beans there at the time. Argh!)

Steve Sando has made me reconsider the non-soaking methods of cooking beans. He is a strong proponent of soaking the beans for even an hour before cooking, but recommends 2-6 hours of soaking. Apparently this helps the beans keep their shape, and I figure this guy knows his stuff. I soaked the beans for 5 hours and was very happy with the results. I recommend making this recipe on a weekend snowy/rainy day. First thing in the morning, throw the beans in cold water to soak, catch up on the news and your laundry, start the simmering in the early afternoon, and you’ll be eating a fabulous early dinner.

I usually associate lamb with rosemary or mint, but I was looking forward to trying this recipe since it calls for a cilantro & lemon relish. Intriguing! I wasn’t disappointed. I also sauteed some chopped Swiss chard with shallot and garlic to serve on the side, but ended up adding it right in along with everything else. Since I normally squeeze a touch of lemon on sauteed chard anyway, the flavor profile fit right in with the relish.

Prather Ranch Spring Lamb with Flageolets and Fay’s Relish
Serves 6.

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
2 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder steaks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 pound flageolet beans, rinsed thoroughly and soaked 2-6 hours (can also substitute with cellini or runner cannellini beans)

Directions:
1. In large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, add the lamb to the pot and cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from plate.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add more oil if the vegetables stick and splash of water to help release the browned bits.

3. Add the beans and their soaking water to the pot. bring to a boil, skimming off any impurities that rise the top, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly until the beans and lamb are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Fay’s Relish Ingredients:
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 medium shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

To make the relish: In a small bowl, stir together the cilantro, shallot, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil.

Remove the lamb from the pot and cut into bite-sized pieces, trimming off excess fat and removing the bones. If you prefer a thicker stew, transfer 1 cup of beans and broth to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth and return to the pot. Return the lamb to the pot, stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and adjust the seasonings.

Serve in warmed shallow bowls and garnish with the relish.

For the sauteed Swiss chard:
1 bunch Swiss chard, thoroughly cleaned, de-stemmed and leaves cut into small pieces
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons water
Salt and pepper
Splash of fresh lemon juice

Directions: Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallot and garlic briefly, 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in the chard well into the oil and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the water, cover, and cook for 6-8 minutes until softened, but still bright, dark green. When cooked, remove from heat and push chard to the side, squeezing and pouring out excess water. Season well with salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice. Serve on the side or mix into serving bowls of stew.

Prather Ranch Spring Lamb with Flageolet Beans

Prather Ranch Lamb with Flageolet Heirloom Beans

Turkey, Farro and White Bean Soup

Turkey, farro and cannellini bean soupIt’s post turkey-time, and we all know what that means. Turkey soup! I decided to use up some of the sneakily and steadily growing grain stockpiles in my pantry by adding farro into the mix. What with the cannellini beans in the fridge, the soup practically made itself. Soup is the perfect way to use left-over ingredients from all the Thanksgiving shenanigans. Yet one more thing to give thanks for.

Serves 6-8.
Preparation time: ~20 minutes.
Cooking time: ~30 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 cup farro, thoroughly rinsed
2 quarts homemade turkey or chicken stock
1 Tablespoon olive oil
A few dashes cayenne pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (or one 15 oz can, beans rinsed)
1 zucchini sliced or diced
2-3 cups bite-size cooked turkey bits
Leaves of one large sprig of thyme
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Freshly chopped chives for garnish

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in large sauce pan over medium-high heat along with the cayenne pepper. Add onions and saute about 5 minutes. Add celery and saute another 5 minutes or so, until the onion is translucent and the celery is softening.

2. Add garlic and saute briefly until garlic smells fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and keep stirring until well integrated with the vegetables.

3. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add farro and reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir in sliced carrots, and add the bay leaf and thyme. If using freshly made cannellini beans, add now as well. (If using canned, wait until step 5.) Add a dash of salt.

4. Cook at low simmer, partially covered 25 minutes, or until farro is cooked through.

5. Remove bay leaf and parsley sprigs. Add zucchini and turkey and heat until zucchini is just cooked and the turkey is warm, about 6 minutes.

6. Add salt if needed, and add generous fresh cracked pepper. Serve with chopped chives along with slices of toasted rye bread.

Turkey with Farro and Cannellini Beans Soup

Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew

White Bean and Sausage Stew

I decided to try this recipe I found on the NY Times website. It’s a very hearty and comforting stew. The recipe doesn’t require soaking the beans in advance- you can throw the dried beans directly in the mix, and they’re flavored by the vegetables and broth- a nice plus. I made a few modifications, such as using 4 cups homemade chicken stock and 4 cups water (as opposed to 8 cups water) and opted for spicy Italian sausage. I used cannellini beans because I didn’t have Great Northerns on hand. Cannellini beans are a bit larger, so the cooking time was slightly longer than 2 hours. I also threw in some coarsely chopped spinach at the last minute to add a little green to the mix. The suggestion to serve the stew with a splash of olive oil and balsamic  is a great touch. I also added a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top, which brought it all together.

Time: ~ 2 1/2 hours (mostly unattended)
Serves 4.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 thyme sprigs
1 large rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste.

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

2. Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

3. When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil [and grated parmesan cheese.]

Original recipe here.