Posts Tagged ‘greens’

h1

Not missing a pig. (VEGETARIAN SOPA VERDE)

February 17, 2015

HLE_sopaverde1
As the chill seeps through the crack under the door, our heaviest defense is in our soup pot. I am a soup person. In addition to being the perfect immune-boost, to me it is the best comfort food. And though it is quaint to work all day on a home cooked meal, I would secretly trade slow cooking for fast any day of the week. This shouldn’t mean that your food isn’t awesome. There are plenty of express meals that will keep the whole family happy, satisfied and fit, and come flying out of the kitchen in under 20 minutes.

Soups are especially good for this. It’s the ultimate one-pot meal. My auto correct wanted to write ‘unlimited’ instead of ‘ultimate’ and it is that too. A soup can be as decadent or as lean as the cook wishes. Many classic soups have a base of salt pork, hock, belly or some other flavorful cut that appreciates in taste with a long cooking time. I definitely support this style but when you want to get dinner out a bit faster or cook a little leaner, the pig can easily be
omitted from any recipe. The trick is to make up for that missing savoriness by building flavors as you go. Starting with garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes or onions with a little extra caramelization and finishing with a touch vinegar, olive oil or sea salt can really bring a soup to the next level. The recipe below features smoked paprika, or pimenton de la vera. It has a deep smokey spice akin to chorizo, without the fat and calories.

In this recipe, a take on a Sopa Verde, the ingredients are really flexible. The greens can be swapped out for any hearty leaf like chard, turnip greens, escarole, mustard greens or spinach (which will wilt straight into the finished soup –no cooking required*). You can also use any kind of broth or even water. Another way to get a little extra flavor if using plain water is a splash of white wine or beer.

 

VEGETARIAN SOPA VERDE

6 main course-sized servings

3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups stock/water
1 pound white or sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups kale and collards, washed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 cans (15oz, each) white beans (great northern or cannellini)
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
a few dashes hot sauce (optional)
Kosher salt
Black pepper to taste

cilantro leaves for garnish

• Warm the oil and butter (if using) in a large saucepan. Add the
onions with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sauté on low heat until soft and
translucent, about 5 minutes.
• Stir in smoked paprika and garlic.
• Pour in the 8 cups of liquid, raise heat.
• When it begins to simmer, add sweet potatoes.
• Bring the soup up to a boil and add the greens (except if using
spinach*). Boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to simmer, add beans.
• When the sweet potatoes are cooked through and greens are tender, remove from heat. (If using spinach add at this stage, stir until wilted*)
• Add another tablespoon of salt, mix well. Add 1 tablespoon of red
wine vinegar.
•Taste!
• Adjust the flavor to your liking with another spoon of vinegar,
salt, black pepper and/or hot sauce, if using.
• Serve the soup warm with fresh cilantro leaves and a few slices of
jalapeño if you love heat.

Like most soups and stews, the taste gets better as it sits, especially the next day! MMMMmmmm…leftovers!

HLE_pimenton

 

HLE_greens

 

HLE_sweetpotato

This is a great base recipe with plenty of possibilities. Personalizations can be beans, croutons, pumpkin seeds, dried chilies, mushrooms, tortilla strips and on and on.

h1

A little lesson. (FARMERS MISO SOUP)

September 19, 2013

ucc_miso

I am a miso lover. I need to have miso soup at least once a week, usually as the precursor to some sushi even though that feels like the lazy way out. Miso paste in general has so much more potential than a few cubes of tofu and some lonely sails of seaweed. By learning a few different (easy!) ways to use it, miso can be a staple in your fridge forever and ever. You, as the owner of a high-quality tub of miso, can reap the many health benefits for just as long.

Since it’s a fermented food, it is important is to avoid boiling miso. High heat will harm the living enzymes that make this a genuine superfood as it will also dull the unique flavors. Use miso to ‘finish’ dishes that you have created rather than adding it when there is still cooking to be done.

Miso to-do list:

-Mix into softened butter to make ‘miso butter’, the best topping for seafood ever.

-Mix with minced garlic and chili paste as a condiment for grilled meat.

-Whisk into salad dressing or marinades.

-Just miso solo in a bit of simple broth.

-I’ve seen people use it in pesto as a substitute for parmesan but…

Below is a hearty soup recipe that uses a bunch of fantastic end-of-summer vegetables, but any mixture of veg would work. Once the soup is off of the stove, dunk a measuring cup into the broth, scooping out about one cup of hot liquid. Drop a few spoonfuls of miso into measuring cup and whisk/stir until it is dissolved. Pour the miso mixture back into the soup pot and adjust to taste. You can simply repeat this process until you have reached the desired amount of umami.

Try potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, cabbage, spinach and/or noodles. This recipe can be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like, the main thing is hot (not boiling) liquid*, dissolve miso, enjoy.

FARMERS MISO SOUP

(serves 4-6)

2 quarts stock or water

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 kohlrabi, peeled and cubed into small chunks

1 celery rib, thinly sliced crosswise

1 cup chopped kale leaves

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 pound tofu, cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 splash of rice vinegar

a few red pepper flakes

1/4 cup wakame seaweed, soaked in cold water until softened

1/4 cup miso paste (any color)

1/2 carrot

1 inch ginger

chopped chives to garnish

  • Place the stock in a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Add onion, kohlrabi and celery. Simmer about 10 minutes. 
  • Add kale, garlic and tofu. Cook until all vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar and red pepper to season. Taste and adjust. Add wakame.
  • Take one cup of stock out of the pot and place in a bowl or measuring cup. Whisk miso into the hot broth and pour it back into the soup. Taste and adjust.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and using a fine grater (preferably a microplane), grate some carrot and ginger into each soup and sprinkle with chives to garnish.
  • When reheating the soup, warm it but don’t boil. I’ll say it again.

*Make your own stock! I love stock making.

https://upchefcreek.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/elaborations-veggie-dashi/

https://upchefcreek.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/balancing-it-out-alkalizing-broth-2/

h1

Balancing it out. (ALKALIZING BROTH)

April 19, 2013

broth_quarts

Remember the science lesson about acids and bases in the form of a number line? Seven is neutral, like water, right in the middle of both states. Anything over 7 is a base (alkaline) and anything under is acidic. Our blood, which our body maintains at a pH of 7.35-7.45, is therefore slightly alkaline. The thing is, many of the foods we eat are acid-causing, even some pretty healthy ones.

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, most grains and legumes in excess and without balancing are not the only things that have the power to make us acidic. Some of our experiences like stress, lack of activity and poor diet choices in general can also be culprits of this undesirable condition. And though we need both acid and alkaline to be in balance, when too much acid is present, the body works overtime to keep the blood in its proper state. Foods that are alkaline*, most fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, seaweed, miso, olive oil, for example, are not only important for daily functions, but when ingested regularly will more readily balance out the less than perfect moments in our lives.

All that to say, hey! eat your veggies!

Lately I have been making extra effort to do just that by keeping the fridge stocked with beautiful organic produce and cooking lots of healthy dinners. Also trying to keep my fridge from being a graveyard of dead leftovers or, even worse, perfectly good uncooked stuff going to seed. One of the ways I like to stretch my organic grocery bucks to the fullest is by making stock. All of the lovely and delicately aromatic things that make for a good, clear stock (carrot, celery, onion, leek, fennel, thyme) go into freezer bags until I have stockpiled enough to be dumped into a big pot with some water, simmered until a lightly golden stock is born.

A few months ago, while doing a cleanse, I learned about alkalizing vegetable broth. It broke every classic culinary rule for stock-making which advises no leafy greens, no cabbage, no squash, no root vegetables, no radish. Each one of these things said to make the stock cloudy, sulfuric, bitter, etc. but the recipe included all of these things. The product was delicious, had none of the qualities Escoffier warned about. Now I am happily breaking the rules and adding all of this stuff to the freezer bag to create broths that can double as alkalizing tonic. The broth is dark and rich and can stand alone warmed  with a little extra sea salt (also alkalizing). The recommendation is to drink it several times daily. That is a great theory and I enjoyed it when I was eating strictly, but I am more often using the stuff in soups, stews, curries and risotto in lieu of more boring stocks, giving a nutritional boost and extra flavor.

ALKALIZING BROTH

You can really be creative with the vegetables you put in there, this is just a guideline:

1 onion, quartered

(plus shallot, onion, leek or scallion trimmings)

3 carrots

3 celery stalks

2 fennel tops

4 cloves garlic

2 cups green leafy vegetables (kale, chard, collard, beet greens, etc.)

1/4 head of cabbage + the core

peels, trimmings (no seeds) of one (organic) butternut squash

1 sweet potato, large dice

1/2 cup seaweed (I like kombu)

2 cups mushroom stems (or 1 cup dried mushrooms)

1/2 bunch of parsley or cilantro stems with or without leaves

1 cup of radish (with or without tops) -optional

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

4-5 quarts of water (enough to cover all of the ingredients by a few inches)

  • Place all ingredients in a large pot.
  • Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  • Immediately turn down to a gentle simmer. Cook about 1.5 hours.
  • Strain out the vegetables and save the stock in containers.
  • Freeze what you are not using. Defrost as needed.

stock_bag

Scrap bag! Red cabbage, mushroom, leek, scallion, celery, sometimes chicken bones too.

In culinary school after  pastry classes when we were ingesting sugar all day long, we were told to go home and alkalize with a hot miso soup. Yea! I give it to my kid too, after parties and stuff.

*A proper alkalizing food chart lives here. These sistas are serious!

h1

From the box. (FISH KEBABS WITH COLLARD GREENS)

June 11, 2012

This season we joined a CSA coming from Pennsylvania’s Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and hosted by a dedicated gal who works with the sandwich professionals, Saltie. Sure we pick up our weekly share dangerously close to Saltie’s perfect food (I’m talking about you, Little Chef) but with a bit of restraint I go home and sort out what I will make from the bountiful box instead.

A full share offers up to a dozen different items, plus eggs and fruit which are additional options. The produce is so inspiring to cook with, meals have been extra fun to come up with lately. A challenge to use as much as possible before another box comes in! Potatoes, kale and collards, delicate lettuces (leafy greens galore), radishes, herbs and kohlrabi too, it seems like my fridge always has something to give.

While cruising through the farmers market for some interesting protein to go with all that gorgeous Lancaster veg, I came upon a fishmonger from Pura Vida, a Hamptons-based fishery. I asked for something good to grill and she gave me a pound of a thick filet, glistening with washes of red and purple grey . I am not sure if she called the fish ‘sand shark’ or if I just made that up… but I went home saying, ‘we’re having sand shark kebabs!’ Upon further research I came to the conclusion that either I am living on another planet (very possible) or she called it by some fisherman’s nickname or something, as most folks do not eat actual sand shark.

Whatever it was, it was killer. I haven’t been back to the market to inquire about the fish again. And with no luck getting in touch with the Pura Vida people I have decided, with the help of this website: longislandexchange.com, that I was eating tautog. It’s a hearty and sneaky (local) fish that might fit the description of what I got. Anyway it would make a fine substitution for whatever deliciousness I did happen to encounter so no harm done in the translation. In fact any sturdy fish filet or steak would work.

The meal that came together consisted of a whole bunch of  CSA goodies. The cubed mystery fish was left to sit for an hour or so in oil, lemon zest, mint, scallion, garlic, salt and pepper. The collards were lightly oiled, seasoned and folded up before skewering. (We have been grilling all different greens this year, kale, mustard, endive, etc. with lots of success.) Onions were the referee between the two. (see photo) After we took kebabs from the grill, a little squeeze of fresh lemon and a drizzle of olive oil finished them off. With accompaniments of foil-packet grilled potatoes and green-leaf lettuce dressed with garlic scape vinaigrette, at least six items from the box were used. Such high-quality ingredients and a good brainstorm equals a simple weeknight cook out with superior results.

I never soak the skewers. Quel rebel

h1

WAYS TO START. (PEA SHOOTS)

April 19, 2012

Eat them now or  forever wait til next year. Healthy, fascinating pea shoots are the young leaves and tendrils of a pea plant. Though available all over the place in spring/early summer, they are supposedly dead simple to grow, as in, buy a box of dried peas from the store and put them in some good dirt. Water them, give sun and you’re grazing! They do well in pots and the dirt doesn’t have to be deep. Easy things. And because they are so tasty, nutritious and versatile, I just might put number one green thumb, MG, on the task of home production.

Give a little green love to whatever dish you come up with, raw or cooked. Here are some ideas.

BELUGA LENTILS WITH WILTED PEA SHOOTS

(serves 4-5)

1 cup small lentils, rinsed

1 tablespoon oil

1 carrot, small dice

2 celery ribs, small dice

1/2 onion, small dice

2 cloves garlic minced + 2 whole

pinch red pepper flakes

1 jalapeno, halved

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons vinegar (any one will do)

2 handfuls of pea shoots

salt and pepper

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized pot. Saute the carrot, celery and onion over high heat until lightly browned.
  • Stir in the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, some salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Delgaze the pan with 2 1/2 cups water and add lentils, two whole garlic cloves (smash them!) and 1/2 of the jalapeno. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes but timing could vary.
  • Once tender, drain the lentils and discard the garlic and jalapeno. Return to pot.
  • While the lentils are still hot, stir in the sauteed vegetables, lemon juice, evoo, vinegar, and season generously with salt and pepper. Next, stir in the pea shoots and let the residual heat of the lentils wilt the leaves.
  • Chop up remaining 1/2 of jalapeno to garnish, if desired.

TANGLED PEA SHOOTS IN BROWN GARLIC BUTTER

(serves 2 as an accompaniment)

1 tablespoon butter

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

1 large handful pea shoots

salt and pepper

  • Drop butter into a hot skillet (especially one that has just cooked two steaks).
  • Add garlic slices and cook until butter and garlic are both brown.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add shoots and stir constantly until wilted and coated in sauce. Transfer to plate.

PEA SHOOT SALAD WITH ENDIVE, SCALLION, SHAVED APPLE AND GROUND ALMONDS

2 handfuls pea shoots

1 head endive, core removed, sliced lengthwise

3 scallions, chopped

1/2 apple, shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler

1/4 cup almonds, ground

cider vinaigrette (recipe follows)

  • Layer vegetables together and drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss gently. Top with almonds.

QUICK CIDER VINAIGRETTE

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 scant tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dijon vinegar

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk together until combined. Or place ingredients into a lidded container and shake to combine. Check for seasoning. Adjust.
h1

YOU GOT VERJUICE NOW, MAN. (VERJUS)

April 13, 2012
Used Grapes. Gouache and pencil on paper bag
(This is a reprinted article I wrote a while back (6/16/08) for a site called cookingdistrict.com, formerly gigachef.com. I edited a bit of the blahblah but it’s still good stuff.)
    Verjuice is the slightly sweet, slightly tart juice of unripened wine grapes. It is bottled like vinegar or wine but it is neither fermented nor does it have an alcoholic content. The word verjuice or verjus is derived from the French word pairing ‘vert jus’ translated ‘green juice’ meaning the liquid pressed from unripened wine grapes. It will last for several years unopened, deepening in fruitiness and color while it ages. Once uncorked, it has only a few months to last in the refrigerator since it is an unfermented product and does not have the same stability as a fermented one. Its applications are wide and open to creativity.
    When used to deglaze the pan after roasting or sauteing meat or vegetables, the natural sugars in the young grapes help caramelize the leftover bits beautifully. In salad dressings, verjuice will not compete with wine being served, unlike vinegar or lemon which infamously sour the palate. The touch of acidity brightens soups, sauces and in my recipe-tweaking opinion,  goes swimmingly well with seafood. Dishes that normally call for white wine benefit from verjuice’s fruity, roundness without having to ‘cook out’ any of the alcoholic essence. Seemingly it shines in pared down recipes where the goal is to use just a few ingredients that are unique and/or possess some special quality that takes a simple dish to the next level.
    I like to splash some into the pan when wilting greens or as a part of a marinade. Not only a real winner* for savory courses, it can be used to poach or macerate fresh fruit or make a mean glaze when buddied up with some sugar.
    Verjuice is not a new ingredient. Its appearance in cooking dates back to the 1300’s. Now it is making a comeback for its merits of playing nicely with wine as well as the many above-mentioned uses. Though historically it appears in European and Middle Eastern cooking, an Australian chef, Maggie Beer, is credited with bringing it back to modern kitchens. She bottles and sells verjuice from her country’s Barossa Valley but most wine producing regions have their versions too: California, France, Italy (where it is called agresto), South Africa and locally here in New York on Long Island (Wolffer Estate), my personal favorite. Like everything, verjuice can be purchased online but also look out for it in wine shops and gourmet groceries.
Oh, and sometimes it is used for drinking straight up… or maybe on the rocks.
* I vaguely remember enjoying heavy use of the phrase ‘a real winner’ back in ’08.

h1

DRESSING UP. (SOY GARLIC OR PEANUT NOODLES)

March 31, 2012

As the weather warms it is natural to lighten up one’s cooking style. Cravings change and colors make a comeback as the Earth wakes from her dark slumber. One of the things that helps me bang out dinners that are quick (and acceptable for pre-bikini season eating) is having a few jars of salad dressing type things waiting for me in the fridge.

A good dressing is easy to whip up and can make proud almost any flavor profile. Perfect when tossed with leafy lettuces, these concoctions get even more use in my kitchen over grains, noodles, beans, grilled meats/veg and steamed tofu. From a spicy smooth peanut sauce to a chunky sundried tomato and fresh herb dressing, they are an indispensable part of the hustling spring/summer repertoire.

Pictured above is a throw-together dinner that was good! Glass noodles were tossed with fresh herbs and sliced jalapeños and topped with some leftover roasted fish and carrot-daikon pickles made using the basic brine in the last post. A drizzle of this powerfully savory Soy Garlic dressing ties all the stuff together. The recipe which is listed below is versatile, it works as a dressing, dipping sauce or marinade. It would also be super-duper for seasoning the broth of a gingered chicken soup or a kale soup or something similar which would be delicious right now as, even though spring keeps trying to rise, lady Earth just kinda wants to sleep in like a hungover teenager.

SOY GARLIC DRESSING

(makes about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons sugar

1-2 small red chiles, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons lime juice

6 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup oil

drizzle of sesame oil (optional)

black pepper

• Place all ingredients a lidded jar or container, stir to dissolve the sugar.

• Replace lid and shake vigorously to combine.

• Check for seasoning. Adjust.

Here is the world’s quickest peanut sauce since I mentioned it… Good for everything.

PEANUT SAUCE

(makes about 2 cups)

1/2 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 limes, juiced or more to taste

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 drizzle toasted sesame oil

cayenne pepper and/or hot sauce to taste, don’t be shy

  • Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl. 
  • Whisk until thoroughly combined and season to taste. 
  • Thin with water if needed.     
I love it when a meal comes together.