Herby Garlic Soup

I’ve received more winter weather and wind chill advisories from my iphone weather app than I’d like to think about lately. Talking about the weather may be a little overdone, but seriously, this has been a harsh one. Oh, and I am running a half marathon on Saturday–a day for which the weather forecast keeps getting colder and colder and snowier and snowier. Good thing we have a trip to Puerto Rico coming up in just one week. In the mean time, garlic soup.

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This garlicky broth is not at all as harsh as it sounds. And for a 15-minute broth, this one packs a lot of flavor. In fact, I may ditch all my other vegetable broth recipes and just stick to this from now on.

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With lots of watercress and chives, this soup has nice herby, savory notes. The beans and carrots make it hearty, too. It’s just good.

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Herby Garlic Soup

1 head garlic
10-5 peppercorns

1-inch knob of ginger, sliced into 4 slices
2-3 bay leaves (optional)
4 cups water

1/2 cup cannellini beans, cooked
1/2 cup borlotti beans (or other heirloom bean), cooked
2 carrots, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 bunch watercress, chopped
chives, sliced (optional)
salt, to taste

In a saucepan, combine garlic, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After five minutes, remove the ginger and simmer another ten minutes. Strain out the garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves (set the garlic and peppercorns aside; discard the bay leaves).

Pour the broth back into the pot and add the beans, carrots, and zucchini. Bring it back to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. This should be just enough to take the raw edge off the vegetables but still keep them crisp.

Salt to taste, and garnish with chives and watercress.

As for the garlic and peppercorns, combine with a bit of water in a blender and grind until smooth. Use a spoonful here or there to make a vinaigrette, or mix it with tahini and more herbs to make a vegetable dip. The garlic will taste mellow and sweet, almost as if it’s been roasted.

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Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

I know I have already posted two other chili recipes on here, but something with this cold weather has me making yet more chili. Different chili. This time I wanted to add some greens and lots of beans. I pureed the chili using a hand blender just before adding the (cooked) beans and greens because I wanted a really smooth texture rather than a really chunky chili. I also discovered that I like garnishing chili with fresh tomatoes like these little golden cherry tomatoes. They’re pretty, but they also add some summery freshness, which may not exactly be seasonal, but it is a nice contrast.

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I still had frozen borlotti beans from when I made a bunch last time, but you could use any variety of beans you prefer. Kidney beans would be more traditional, but I can see pinto beans also tasting great. I have been making huge batches of beans the slow way (soaking overnight and then boiling the next day) and freezing them so I always have some on hand when I want them. I’ve also seen these quick-cooking beans at the grocery store in the refrigerated section of vegetables. I think they have already been soaked – they only take 15 minutes to cook. If you can find those, they work well also.

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Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

2 yellow onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
4 serrano peppers, minced
1 pound ground turkey
2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, whole (if hand blending) or diced
2 heaping tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons chile paste*
4 cups water
1 teaspoon shaved dark chocolate
1.5 cups black beans, cooked
1.5 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1.5 cups borlotti (or other) beans, cooked
1 bunch turnip greens, stems removed and finely chopped/shredded

Sauté the onions, garlic, and serrano peppers in a large pot (like a dutch oven) in olive oil or butter over medium high heat. When they begin to soften, add the ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the turkey is browned.

Add the tomatoes, spices, chile paste, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste-test not and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the shaved dark chocolate and allow it to melt into the chili.

Here you have the option of hand blending the chili to smooth out the texture. If you prefer a chunky chili and used diced tomatoes, you can leave it as is.

Lastly, add the beans and shredded turnip greens. Allow beans to warm through and serve.

*I almost always have a container of chile paste in the fridge from other recipes. I take a package (or packages) of dried chiles – check the Mexican aisle – like guajillos. I dry toast them in a pan, then soak them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft. Use a blender to purée the chiles by adding in water a little at a time. You can add this to soups, chili, or even make it into a hot sauce by thinning it out and adding vinegar, a touch of honey, and salt. If it is too much of a fuss to make simply for this, you can omit it, though it certainly adds another element to the chili.

Kale, Tofu, and Butternut Squash Salad with Miso-Soy Dressing

This post comes a little late. Or a lot late. I made this at least two months ago, and the early spring has us eating asparagus and ramps rather than squash now, but it’s still good so I figured I’d share.

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And speaking of sharing… did you know I am going to Africa this summer?! I accepted an internship position with an NGO that works in Kibera, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. I am really, really excited to test out the waters of working for an NGO and be confronted with new and probably life-changing challenges. Hopefully I will post more about my job at a later date and throughout my time in Kenya, though I cannot promise anything until I get a real sense of how I will be living over there.

In other exciting news, Eric and I will be traveling through Tanzania for 2.5 weeks prior to my start date in Kenya! I am still in research mode, which involves lots of spreadsheets, books, and websites, but rest assured, we will be visiting the Serengeti at least and checking out some awesome African wildlife. Other parts of the trip are currently unplanned, and they may remain that way until we hit African soil.

Kale, Tofu, and Butternut Squash Salad with Miso-Soy Dressing
inspired by 101 Cookbooks

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 16-ounce package extra firm tofu, cubed
1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil, like grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon white miso
juice of 1 lemon or 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
5 tablespoons water

Steam the squash until just fork tender or even just a little underdone. Also make sure the tofu has no moisture by patting it dry in a towel.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, miso, acid (lemon juice or rice wine vinegar), chile flakes, and water. Set aside.

In a pan, heat the neutral-flavored oil over medium-high heat. Place the tofu cubes in the pan in a single layer and let it sit for a few minutes, until the bottom becomes crispy brown. Toss the tofu around a bit to get the other sides browned (if you want to be meticulous here, you could brown each side of tofu, but after one side is browned, I usually just toss it around let it sit for a few more minutes – the lazy way). Add in the butternut squash (and a bit more oil, if needed), and stir it around with the tofu. Let this cook for a minute or two. Finally, add the kale and stir around until it gets soft – just a minute or two.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the dressing. Serve warm.

Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

Continuing with detox/salad week, I made this Jamie Oliver winter salad last Wednesday when we were snowed in. With 20 inches of snow outside, it was so nice to wear sweatpants all day long and turn on the oven. Not to mention that it was our first week back to work, and a “free” day in the middle of that week was very much welcomed.

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I went to the book store right when we arrived home from our trip; I wanted to find a Vietnamese cookbook. I found a great one – Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. I’d highly recommend it. The dangerous thing about being in a book store is seeing all the books! Hundreds! Thousands! And of course I can never get out with just one. So I came home with Nguyen’s book as well as Jamie Oliver’s jamie at home. Perfect.

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Eric and I both loved this salad. Really loved it. We couldn’t stop talking about it. In fact, I want to make it again immediately. The only thing I would change: Jamie (yes, we’re on a first name basis) recommends serving it with sour cream; I think a nice thick greek yogurt would be even better (and just that much healthier!).

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Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

from jamie at home

1 pound carrots and parsnips
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp dried chili flakes (Jamie recommends fresh chillies; I forgot to buy them at the store)
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
extra virgin olive oil (as Jamie would say, a few glugs)
red wine vinegar
1 orange
1 lemon
2 ripe avocados
greens – I used radicchio and arugula
sour cream or greek yogurt
mixed seeds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then pop in the carrots and parsnips for 5-10 minutes – just until their soft. Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle, combine the cumin seeds, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Then add the fresh thyme (picked from the stem) and garlic and keep smashing. Then add a glug of olive oil and a splash of vinegar. When the carrots and parsnips are done, rub this mixture of goodness all over them.

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Place the carrots and parsnips on a roasting pan along with the orange and lemon, halved. (I threw in a key lime for good measure, but it’s not necessary). Place in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden.

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While the carrots and parsnips are roasting, halve the avocados and slice them. When the carrots and parsnips are done, assemble the salad. If using radicchio, you can grill the leaves to remove some of the bitterness first. Then layer the greens, carrots, and avocados.

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Prepare a dressing by mixing the juice of the roasted orange and lemon with some olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and some salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, then top with a bit of greek yogurt or sour cream and some mixed seeds.

Kale Salad with Seeds, Nuts, and Roasted Garbanzo Beans

Whenever we get back from vacation, Eric and I have a sort of detox week. We eat salads, try to get back into the regular workout routine, and try to shake off the jet lag. Today, with snowpocalypse painting our windows white, we came home early from work for a night of wine, The Wire, and this kale salad. The candle is burning, the down blanket is on the couch, and we’re watching the storm – it’s nice to eat a healthy salad knowing we can’t brave the outdoors for a run.

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I had a similar salad at Prune in New York. It was a simple salad with pine nuts, parmesano reggiano, and a lemon olive oil vinaigrette. I added a few more nuts and seeds, and at the last minute, I decided to throw in warm garbanzo beans. It was a good choice. A poached egg would be excellent with this as well.

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Last night was the first night we could get groceries, so tonight was our first real night of home cooking, and I figured a healthy, nutrient-rich salad was in order. With all the news of the impending snow storm, grocery stores were packed to the brim last night. No parking spots, no carts, picked-bare shelves, and 30-minute waits to check out were the order of the night. I picked up the last bunch of lacinato kale and tried to round up the rest of what I needed. Paired with a bottle of wine, this dinner made for a nice, healthy, indoors kind of night.

Kale Salad with Seeds, Nuts, and Roasted Garbanzo Beans

inspired by the Kale Salad at Prune in NYC
measurements here are rough – vary the ingredients depending on how big your bunch of kale is.

for the salad:
1 bunch lacinato kale
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
teaspoon or so of raw sesame seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, and raw slivered almonds
1 teaspoon nice aged red wine vinegar
parmesano reggiano cheese, shaved
fresh ground pepper and salt

for the roasted garbanzo beans:
1 can garbanzo beans
extra virgin olive oil
mix of seasoning – I used a smoked hickory salt, cumin, and granulated garlic

Prepare the kale by removing the thick stems, then roll up the leaves and chiffonade the kale (aka, cut into thin strips). Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil and let it marinate while you prepare the garbanzo beans.

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Heat an oven to 450. Drain and rinse the beans, then dry them off, removing any husks that rub off in the process. Toss them with olive oil and the seasonings of your choice. Roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes – they’ll turn a dark, golden brown and will be crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside.

Toss the kale salad with the rest of the ingredients – vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cheese, and the nuts and seeds. Serve with the warm garbanzo beans.