Cabbage, Onion, and Farro Soup


Last week I got a new cookbook,
Six Seasons—a New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg. It’s a heavy, hard-covered, almost 400-page tome that has tons of beautiful food photos, with recipes broken down into seasons, and summer gets three divisions (early, mid, and late), thus the  title.

Because I love cooking seasonally, of course the first recipe I made was from the Winter section. They all sounded wonderful, but something about this hearty soup got my attention. The cabbage and onion are caramelized and result in a sweet richness that was unexpected. And truth be told, it really doesn’t taste like cabbage. The farro makes this a full-meal-in-a-bowl and the flavor combination is warm and comforting just like a winter soup should be.

As with most soups, it is even better the next day, or next three days of work lunches this batch provided. Each day at lunch I kept saying to myself, “This is so good, this is so good!” Any recipe that makes me do that just has to be shared! Prepare to be amazed at the flavors you create. Enjoy!



Cabbage, Onion and Farro Soup

Ever so slightly adapted from Six Seasons—a New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg.

Notes: If you want to go vegan, just omit the cheese; it’s still outstanding as I found out the third day when I forgot the Parmigiano-Reggiano. And if you don’t have farro, barley would be a good substitute or brown rice for a gluten-free version.

1-pound cabbage, savoy or green (I used green—couldn’t find savoy)

¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided, and more for drizzling

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 healthy sprig rosemary or thyme (I used thyme)

1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar (I used red)

2/3 cup uncooked farro

About 4 cups vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought (I used Edward & Sons Not-Beef Bouillon cubes)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cut out the cabbage core and finely chop it. Cut the cabbage leaves into fine shreds.

Heat ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the cabbage core and onion, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften and becomes fragrant, but not at all browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes until the garlic is soft too.

Add the shredded cabbage leaves and rosemary or thyme. Cover the pot and let it steam for a bit to soften the leaves, then toss the cabbage to help it wilt and soften more.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the cabbage is very tender and sweet, about 20-30 minutes. When the cabbage is ready, stir in the vinegar. Taste and adjust with more salt & pepper, if necessary.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the farro and cook, stirring constantly, until the farro is lightly toasted and fragrant, 5-8 minutes.

Stir the farro into the cabbage mixture and add broth. Adjust the heat to a lazy simmer and simmer until the farro is tender and all the flavors are married, 25 to 35 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice. The soup should be very thick, but if it seems like it needs more liquid, add another ½ cup water or broth (I added about ½ cup more broth). Taste and adjust with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. Remove the rosemary or thyme sprig.

Serve soup in shallow bowls, with a shower of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil (I skipped the olive oil drizzle). Makes 4 generous servings.

 

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Tofu Bulgogi


Bulgogi, a Korean dish typically made with beef or pork, is super easy to veganize. Switching out the meat for tofu, which easily absorbs the delicious marinade, makes for a dish with all the bold flavors and textures minus the meat.

Several years ago, my sister-in-law Jeannie shared this recipe on Facebook and it sounded so good, I made it immediately. Pete and I both loved it, but for some dumb reason, I didn’t make it again.

Recently Jeannie made a beef bulgogi for a family get-together and I was instantly reminded of that wonderful tofu version—making it again was a high priority and I knew I needed to share it as a blog post.

As with many traditional dishes, there are almost as many different recipes as there are cooks, but this one is definitely a winner. Vegetarian or not, your taste buds and tummy will be happy you made it. Enjoy!

EZ Tofu Press




Tofu Bulgogi

Slightly adapted from this Allyson Kramer recipe

Recipe note: Mirin is a Japanese rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content. It can be found in Asian markets, the Asian section of well-stocked grocery stores, and on Amazon.com. If you can’t find it, a sweet marsala wine will work as a substitute.

One 16-ounce block organic extra-firm tofu (water-packed, not vacuumed packed)

4 green onions, chopped, both white and green parts

3 cloves garlic, minced

Half a large onion, sliced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root

2/3 cup reduced sodium wheat-free tamari or use soy sauce if gluten-free isn’t important

4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

¼ cup organic sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons mirin (see recipe note above)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Half of a medium pear, shredded on a box grater (include skin—no need to peel)

Peanut oil for pan frying (or other neutral oil)

Cooked brown or white rice

Toasted sesame seeds

To remove excess moisture from the tofu, place the tofu block between a couple layers of paper towels and set on a cutting board. Top with another cutting board and weigh it down with a large can of tomatoes or a couple cookbooks. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Alternately, use a tofu press for the same amount of time.

Meanwhile, make marinade: In a medium bowl, mix tamari, sesame oil, sugar, black pepper, red pepper flakes, mirin, and rice vinegar. Stir in shredded pear.

Cut drained tofu block in half and then slice into thin strips. Layer strips in a deep container and top with green onions, garlic, onion and ginger. Pour marinade over tofu and vegetables. Cover and marinade in refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

When ready to start to cooking, drain marinade off into a measuring cup for easy pouring. Spoon vegetables off tofu into a bowl.

Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium to medium-high heat. Add about a tablespoon of peanut oil or other neutral oil. Once oil is hot, add some of the tofu strips to pan in a single layer (you’ll have to do this in batches). Top with some of the veggies and pour a little marinade over tofu and veggies to just barely cover tofu. Cook until most of the marinade has cooked off and bottom of tofu is nicely browned. Flip tofu slices and cook a few more minutes until the underside is browed.

Serve tofu and vegetables over steamed brown rice. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Makes about 4 servings.

Bourbon Cranberry Sauce


Even though it’s been years since turkey has been on my Thanksgiving table, I still love many of the dishes that traditionally go with it. Cranberry sauce is one of them. I used to make an Ocean Spray version that was more of a relish, uncooked and made in the food processor with orange. It was good, but this year I was craving a cooked sauce.

I came across a recipe with bourbon and thought that sounded swell—almost cocktail-like. Works for me! Alas, that recipe called for a pound of sugar, which seems like it would sweeten any tartness right out of those cranberries, taking away their best quality.

After a little more looking, I found this one; much less sugar and still has the bourbon. Plus, it incorporates orange, like that old tried and true relish. I could tell this was a winner while cooking it (I just may have licked the spoon after stirring, and yes, more than once). Where has bourbon in cranberry sauce been all my life?!? Enjoy!



Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from this Savory Sweet Life recipe

One 12-oz bag fresh cranberries

¾ cup orange juice

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 ounces bourbon

Zest of half an orange, for garnish

Place all ingredients, except for the orange zest, in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook on medium-high for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring occasionally. Cranberries will burst open. I had to turn the heat down after about 5 minutes or it would have boiled over. Just lower it to a heat that keeps it bubbling, but not boiling over.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Mixture will thicken as it cools. May be served chilled or at room temperature. Sprinkle with orange zest just before serving. Serves about 6.

Pumpkin Butter


Similar to jams and jellies, fruit butters (and in this case vegetable butter) are slow-cooked to evaporate moisture and caramelize sugars. When finished, they’re dense and smooth with the spreadable texture of room temperature butter, thus, the name.

The result has a concentrated flavor of the fruit or vegetable that’s deep and luscious in a way that jams and jellies aren’t. I’ve made peach butter a couple times and love it on toasted English muffins, as an ice-cream topping, and even as a sandwich spread to give a sweet edge to a savory lunch. Makes me look forward to peach season!

This time of year, pumpkin is perfect for the butter treatment. Going light on the added sugars lets the natural sweetness of the pumpkin shine through and the apple cider and spices give it that cozy, fall warmth that is so welcome when the temperatures start to drop.

Limited only by your imagination, the uses for this magical elixir are endless: Spread on warm biscuits, swirled into plain yogurt, mixed into cream cheese and slathered on bagels, as a pancake topping, an oatmeal mix-in, or ice-cream topping. And because this doesn’t hit you with first with sweetness, it can be used in savory dishes like maybe mixed into browned butter, sage, shallots, and crushed red pepper for a delicious seasonal pasta sauce. The thought has my mouth watering!

One of my favorite things about using whole pumpkin or squash, as opposed to canned, is the seeds. I almost never discard them. Once cleaned, tossed with a little neutral oil, sprinkled with salt, and roasted until crisp and golden, they are an addictive snack (instructions included at the end of the recipe).

Whatever uses you come up with for this fall treat, you’ll be happy you made it. Enjoy!



Pumpkin Butter

  • Servings: 1 1/2 pints
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Adapted slightly from this Food & Wine Magazine recipe

1 (approximately 3 pound) sugar or pie pumpkin, stemmed, halved lengthwise, and seeded*

1 tablespoon neutral oil (grapeseed, canola, vegetable)

¼ cup apple cider

1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon kosher salt (if using a fine salt, reduce to ¼ teaspoon)

¼ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush cut sides of pumpkin halves with the oil. Place pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a large, rimmed baking sheet (less mess if you line the sheet with parchment paper, but not essential). Bake until very tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, 10-15 minutes.

Scoop flesh from cooled pumpkin halves and transfer to bowl of a food processor. Discard pumpkin shell. To food processor, add apple cider and process until smooth, about one minute, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl when necessary. Add brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, scrape down sides, and give it one more pulse.

Transfer pumpkin mixture to a deep saucepan, cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, keep cover on, but vented (it sputters and spatters), and cook, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula so that bottom of saucepan doesn’t scorch. Cook until mixture is reduced by about one-third and turns slightly darker in color, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Transfer to jars and refrigerate. Keeps in the refrigerator 2-3 weeks and can be frozen for several months. Makes about 1 ½ pints.

*Don’t toss out those seeds! Roasted, they make a delicious and nutritious snack. Simply clean the pumpkin flesh out of the seeds, toss them with a little neutral oil (a couple teaspoons to a tablespoon, depending on the amount of seeds), and sprinkle with salt. Cook at 400 degrees F. in a single layer on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice for even browning. If you don’t eat them all right away, store in a zip-lock bag or other air-tight container.

Hungarian Mushroom Barley Soup

A number of years ago my mother-in-law Ginny, who is a wonderful cook, gave me a copy of a soup recipe clipped from the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The name of the soup was missing from the clipping, and on it, Ginny had written “Mushroom Soup.” With her recommendation, I knew it would be good.

A simple soup with uncomplicated ingredients, it surprises you with nuanced flavors and way above run-of-the-mill deliciousness. Each time I’m a bit taken aback by such great results from something this quick and easy—a perfect example of a dish that is so much more than the sum of its parts!

As we’ve been teased with a tinge of fall weather, I decided it was time to share a good soup recipe. After a quick google search for the actual name and origin, I found it was featured in the Pioneer Press in 2011 and is called Hungarian Mushroom Barley Soup. Apparently there was a popular downtown Minneapolis skyway restaurant back in the day called Café Metro and this came from their cookbook. With the large amount of paprika, no wonder it’s got Hungarian in the name!

The only tweaks I made to this super healthy soup were to decrease the broth from 10 to 8 cups, used fresh herbs instead of  dried, and included a combination of smoked and regular paprika. With the finishing touches of fresh lemon juice and dill, the depth of flavor will satisfy and I’ll bet it’ll be on your table more than once this soup season. Enjoy!


Hungarian Mushroom Barley Soup

Adapted from the St. Paul Pioneer Press

1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups green pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 3/4 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

2 3/4 teaspoons paprika (I used a mixture of smoked and regular)

4 cups mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (either cremini or button work well)

1/4 cup tomato paste

8 cups vegetable broth

2/3 cup uncooked barley

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 ½ tablespoons fresh dill or 3/4 teaspoon dried dill

In a large stockpot, sauté the onion in olive oil until soft. Add green pepper, carrots, thyme and paprika. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Add barley. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the barley is tender. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice and dill. Ladle into soup bowls. Makes about 10 servings.

Chive Mint Pesto


There’s a patch of chives in front of our cabin that grows like crazy; not sure why it’s so prolific—could be it’s just as happy to be there as we are. I try and remember to cut some to bring home every time we’re there, but it seems like half the time I forget.

This time I remembered, and I brought home a lot! It’s especially nice if the chives are flowering their light purple blooms, so pretty and edible too—a mild onion flavor that works beautifully as a garnish on whatever you’ve used the chives in.


With this volume of chives, the first thing that came to mind was making pesto. I’ve made a
rustic chive pesto in the past, but this time I decided to do the more conventional pesto method, in the food processor. And with my mint and basil plants needing a trim, I opted to include a good amount of mint and a little basil.

Following the basic pesto recipe I’ve used for years, but subbing in chives and mint in place of basil and throwing in a shallot for good measure, the result was wonderful! On pasta, as a marinade for grilled vegetables, on pizza, in mashed potatoes, eggs, sandwiches, the uses are endless.

As in other pesto recipes I’ve shared in the past, there’s no cheese, which is not typical for pesto, but with the olive oil, it seems rich enough in my mind already, so I do without. Feel free to include some parmesan if you’d like.

This recipe makes a big batch that would be hard to use between Pete and me in the week or so it lasts in the fridge, so I froze half. Pesto freezes well and it’s nice to have on hand for whipping up yummy recipes at a moment’s notice (a quick defrost in the microwave and your frozen pesto is ready to use).

The bonus is I have enough chives left over to make a couple loaves of buttermilk chive bread—I can’t wait!

Chive Mint Pesto

  • Servings: makes 3 cups
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2 cups firmly packed fresh chives

1 cup fresh mint leaves, or a combination of mint and basil, firmly packed

1 cup chopped walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or a combination, toasted

¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients, except olive oil, in bowl of a food processor. Process until combined. Scrape down sides of food processor bowl.

With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until mixture is completely blended. Scrape down sides again and give it a final pulse or two. Taste, and add more salt or lemon juice if necessary.

Keeps in the fridge for a week or so, in the freezer for a couple months. Makes about 3 cups.

Cauliflower Taco Meat


The humble cauliflower. That funny looking vegetable I hated as a child, continues to surprise me. First there was cauliflower pizza crust, then Buffalo cauliflower, cauliflower steaks, and now, wait for it…cauliflower taco meat!

Replacing the spicy ground beef in traditional tacos, this mixture of cauliflower, mushrooms, walnuts and bold seasonings amps up the deliciousness and it’s a healthy mix of superfoods to boot! What’s not to love? And I swear, even if you think you don’t like cauliflower, mushrooms, or walnuts, if you like tacos, you will like this.

I stumbled upon the recipe at Pinch of Yum, one of my favorite food blogs (and their photography is amazing!). Intrigued, I knew what I was going to make with that head of cauliflower in the fridge. The only thing that made me hesitate was the two cups of walnuts the recipe called for. I know walnuts are super healthy, full of good fats, omega 3s, and loaded with antioxidants, but they also pack a wallop of calories, which I certainly don’t need. Since mushrooms are so meaty, especially cremini mushrooms, I decided to replace half the walnuts with them. The result wowed us!

And don’t limit this yummy mixture to tacos; it would make a great filling for burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, frittatas, taco salad and on and on. My mind is now working on a way to make this, with different seasonings, into a mixture for Italian recipes, lasagna, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, and stuffed peppers. And sloppy joes! I bet that would be wonderful!

The taco “meat” ingredients involve just a quick series of pulses in the food processor and then a half hour of baking, followed by a couple minute broil, then a sprinkling of fresh lime juice. While it’s in the oven, you can prep your taco accompaniments, so this is very doable on a weeknight after work. Plus, it reheats really well, and leftovers will not go to waste. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Taco Meat

Adapted from this Pinch of Yum recipe

3 cups cauliflower florets

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1/4 cup tomato sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh squeezed lime juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Place all ingredients except lime juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse on and off until the texture of cooked ground beef. I found it easier to get the right texture by doing this in two batches, half of each ingredient in each batch. The first time I made it I did it all at once and half of it was almost like a paste—still tasted great, but just not the right texture. Transfer mixture to the baking sheet and spread it out in an even layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once at the half-way point. After the 30 minutes, turn oven to broil and broil 8-12 inches from broiler for a minute or two. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of lime juice and toss to distribute it.

That’s it. The “meat” is ready to use in tacos, burritos, taco salads, enchiladas, quesadillas, or whatever your heart desires. Reheats well and keeps several days in the fridge. Makes about 4 servings.