Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back-to-School Lunches with PB&J

Sometimes its hard to come up with ideas of what to pack yourself (or your kid or spouse) for lunch but bringing your own lunch is a great way to to care for yourself, family and our earth: decreased packaging & waste, increased nutrition & love, and where ever you might buy your lunch I'm pretty sure they're not using much in the way of local and organic ingredients.  When I was little, it was the highlight of my day when I found "I love you" written on the napkin my mom tucked into my lunch box.

So there's the obvious choices:
  • fresh or dried fruit
  • fresh cut veggies
  • nuts
  • thermos of soup
  • sandwich or wrap
  • crackers or baguette with cheese or avocado
  • leftovers (might require kitchen access it heat stuff up)
  • salad (green, pasta, potato, etc)
Or you could pack any number of combos of bruschettas, dips, spreads, or salsas with veggies, crackers, pita, or baguette.

Here's a twist on a brown bag classic:

Roots' PB&J
On Sadie Rose multigrain bread, spread freshly ground peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter) and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Add a layer of sliced banana (but bananas are have a short season locally and are very unsustainable otherwise so try sliced apples instead). Sprinkle with a generous tablespoon of chopped toasted walnuts from Terra Bella Farm and drizzle with local honey. Spread the other slice of bread with Jackie's BRB Jam (or another local seasonal goodie - there are lots to try these days at the farmers markets)

Enjoy gooey deliciousness!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ode to Julia: Leek & Potato Soup

This recipe is based on Julia Child's. It's one of my very favorite soup recipes and was very popular at Roots. It's simple, hearty, comforting, delicious, cheap, and easy to put your own spin on...

3 cups leeks, julienned
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
3 cups gold or red potatoes, well scrubbed & chopped (I leave the peel on for a more rustic soup but you can peel it if you prefer)
4 cups vegetable stock
sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil or butter over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the leeks and onions; cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil; let simmer for 20 minutes. You can leave the soup chunky, or just blend half, but I prefer to blend (with an immersion blender) until mostly smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish options
sour cream or crème fraîche, grated cheese, crumbled blue cheese or cherve, fresh chopped parsley, chives or green onion, buttered croutons, blue cheese crostini…

  • add in other vegetables (in with the potato or diced, sauteed, and added as a garnish): carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabga, cauliflower, winter squash, sorrel, spinach, kale…
  • sweet potato & leek soup: use sweet potatoes instead of gold or red, garnish with grated gruyere cheese and fresh minced rosemary
  • broccoli potato soup with cheddar: add a bunch of broccoli (rough chop florets; peel and shred stalks) to the last 5 minutes of simmering. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.

Kitchen Tip
Julienned Leeks
With a paring knife, remove the tough, dark green parts of leaves (save for stock). Starting at the root base, insert the knife through the leek and draw up through the top. Repeat, cutting leek lengthwise into thin strips. Cut into 1½ inch sections, removing root base. Place julienned leeks in a bowl of water and swish vigorously to rinse away all dirt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Trio of Hummus (& other variations)

Yes, the plural of hummus is hummus (but I had to look it up).  Anyways...
Hummus is a very easy recipe to riff on and I'm kinda into serving trios of things, so let's start with the "mother" recipe:

4 large cloves garlic (I like garlic, but if you don't you can skip or use less)
1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked from scratch (yummy) or canned
1/4 - 1/3 cup tahini
pinch of ground cayenne
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3-5 tablespoons garbanzo broth (if you cooked them from scratch) or water, more if you like a thinner hummus

In a food processor, buzz the garlic until minced.  Add the garbanzo beans, tahini & cayenne.  In a separate container, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and broth/water.  Turn on the food processor and slowly pour in the liquid.  Blend until very smooth (a few minutes).

Makes about 1&1/2 cups. Top with a drizzle of your favorite olive oil and sprinkle with za'atar (a middle eastern spice mix).  Serve with fresh pita and crudités.

A few suggestions for variations:
Fresh herbs - I served a cilantro hummus at Roots, if you'd like to duplicate it...add 1/2 bunch of cilantro (stems & leaves) (or parsley or basil - leaves only) and buzz with the garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Roasted garlic - roast a full head of garlic and add the caramelized cloves in before adding the liquid.

Sun-dried tomato -  I didn't like these until I tried them from Terra Bella Farm & Sage Mountain Farm and they taste amazing. Add a handful and buzz with the garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients

Roasted red pepper - or try roasting any of the beautiful peppers from Suzie's Farm.  Add 1-2 roasted, skinned, seeded peppers in with the garlic and blend until pureed before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Baba ganoush - roast a smallish eggplant and scoop out the flesh to replace the garbanzo beans (and hold off on the water)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garlicky Cesar Salad Pasta

My spouse made this for me on our first date and it's been one of my very favorite meals ever since.  This recipe is based on a traditional Cesar Salad (from TJ) but I skip the anchovies.

Croutons (yes, of course, make your own)
1/3 loaf of stale ciabatta, baguette, multigrain or whatever is handy (Sadie Rose and Bread & Cie are my favorites, until I learn to make awesome bread), cut into 1/2" cubes
olive oil
sea salt or garlic salt

Heat a large pan on medium-low.  Add the bread cubes and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Add a few pinches of salt.  Toss to coat well and toss every now and again to allow the croutons to brown evenly.  Toast until golden. 

6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (from Calivirgin or Good Faith)
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
juice from ½ small lemon (off my tree)
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed (from Sage Mountain Farm)
1&1/2 teaspoon dijon or stone ground mustard (try SoNo until you learn to make it yourself)
a goodly pinch of sea salt
2 goodly pinches of fresh cracked black pepper

Mix well or blend dressing ingredients together (I just make this in a jar, screw the lid on and shake).

1 big head romaine lettuce, cut or torn into bite sized pieces (JR Organics has amazing lettuce!)
½ cup parmesano reggiano cheese, microplaned 
1/4 pound angel hair pasta (I get mine in bulk at OB Peoples Co-op)
sea salt

Heat a couple quarts of water to a boil, add a couple teaspoons of salt, return water to a boil and add pasta, stirring occasionally.  Angel hair cooks real fast and I hate over cooked pasta so taste it after 3 minutes and see if it's al dente.  As soon as it's done, drain it (do not rinse!) and give it a light coating of the dressing so it doesn't stick together.

In a separate large bowl, toss the romaine and dressing, then add the parm and toss to combine. 

Plate a handful of angelhair, top with a big helping of salad and garnish with croutons.

Serves 2-4

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hippie Bars!!!

another Roots favorite...(a long list of ingredients but you can get all them at OB Peoples Co-op)

1 cup butter, room temp
2/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 cup rapadura sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (toast raw wheat germ in a pan on low heat until it smells toasted)
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup raw hemp seed (no, these won't get you high)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1&1/2 cups chocolate chips (fair trade, of course; let's not support slavery for African children)

Beat butter and sugars until well-combined.  Add eggs, pb & vanilla and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together flours, wheat germ, oats, hemp seed, baking soda & salt.  Then mix into the wet ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Press dough into a buttered 13"x9" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 28 minutes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Best Chocolate Cake

I looove chocolate cake and i've spent years seeking out, taste testing (well, somebody has to!) and perfecting these recipes...

The Cake
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1½ cups evaporated cane (or your favorite) sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 egg + 1 yolk
1/3 cup oil (I like safflower or sunflower)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 inch of vanilla bean seeds, scraped)
¾ cup buttermilk, yogurt, whey or milk with 1 T sour cream
¾ cup water (or ½ cup water and ¼ cup coffee)

Combine the dry ingredients in a stand up mixer. Mix in the vanilla, water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs to combine (do not over mix).

24 cupcakes: Fill paper-lined cupcake pans full of batter. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes, rotate pans (if needed) and bake another 12 minutes.

8” round layer cake: Pour batter into a greased and floured cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes (20 in a convection oven).

13”x9” cake: Pour batter into a greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 350° for about 55 minutes.

and of course...

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup (which is 1/4 lb) butter (from Spring Hill - that's the secret to the best frosting), room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 1/2 inch of vanilla bean seeds, scraped)
3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup milk (or a mix of coffee and milk), more or less to desired consistency

Blend all ingredients until smooth in a food processor.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two bowls of Chili

Black Bean Chili  a Roots favorite...
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped (from Schaner Farm via the Little Italy Farmers Market)
½ cup mild chile (such anaheim or pasilla - lots of options from Suzie's Farm),  chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (dry your own from Schaner or Suzie's Farm)
cayenne to taste (start with a pinch, if you're wimpy; up to 1/2 teaspoon if you like it spicy)
1½ teaspoon paprika
3 large cloves garlic, minced (from Schaner or Sage Mt Farm)
¾ cup tomato, fresh chopped or crushed canned in glass
juice of ½ an orange (from the Schaners)
3 cups cooked black beans
salt to taste

Sauté the onion, chile, and spices in the oil with a few pinches of salt in a pan on medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring (do not brown). Add garlic and tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Add orange juice and beans with their liquid and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Salt to taste.

Garnish Options: crema, cheddar or jack cheese (from Spring Hill), avocado, cilantro, green onions

Simple Vegan Chili
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ cup yellow onion, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups diced tomato (fresh or canned)
3 cloves garlic, minced 
3 cups cooked kidney beans, drained or with liquid if you want it soupier
salt to taste if using fresh tomato and cooking your own beans.

In a large pot, saute onions and celery in oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until onions just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Great served next to corn bread.

Add other ingredients: corn, greens, or sauteed carrots or zucchini.
Add or sub other beans: black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans… 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Salsa Fresca

The tomatoes are so beautiful and bountiful right now. I made a very straight up, simple salsa last night (to put on top of a chile relleño casserole; more on that later):

4 tomatoes, medium sized, diced (whatever you've grown or is your favorite, 2 if they are big ones)
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
¼ cup onion (red, yellow, or green), finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ bunch cilantro chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½-1 minced fresh chile, such as a jalepeño, serano or habinero

Combine all ingredients.  Makes about 2 cups.

Blend ingredients for a smooth salsa
Add other ingredients: black beans, corn kernels, diced avocado…
Diced canned tomatoes can be used when fresh tomatoes are out of season

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mexican Mocha Brownies

It's been quite a while since I've made these because they are so rich pero muy delicioso!

1 stick butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely ground fair trade mexican coffee beans
a pinch of cayenne, optional

Melt butter and chocolate together over a water bath and stir to combine.  Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well.  Stir in remaining ingredients until combined.  Spread mixture into 8x8 pan lined with buttered parchment paper.  Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes until set.  Cool slightly before removing.  Cool completely in fridge.  Cut into 1½” (or so) squares.

Mexican Mocha Glaze
¼ pound powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons kahlúa, heated
milk and/or coffee to thin
whole coffee beans

Blend all ingredients (except milk) until smooth in a food processor.  Add milk as needed to thin glaze enough that it will pour.  Pour glaze over brownies to coat completely and top each one with a coffee bean.

Makes about 20 little brownies.