The first time I tried it, a couple of weeks ago, it was a revelation. The dark, sweet earthy flavor of the beets, the cool, creamy avocado, and those colors!! Wow.
I’m posting a recipe, but really the magic here is between the avocado and beets. Put them with any salad fixings, in a wrap or a sandwich, or just eat them by themselves. They lend themselves to all kinds of options.
Try it. It’s addictive.
1 bunch beets,4 medium
4oz goat cheese
4 handfuls baby arugula, or another strong flavored green
4tbsp white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Roast the beets. Just wrap them in tinfoil, and put them in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Set them aside to cool. Once they are cool, their skins will slip right off. Slice them and set them aside. Slice the Avocados and set them aside, too.
To assemble the salad, take 4 plates and put a generous handful of greens on each one. Top that with the slices of beet(one per plate) and avocado slices(half an avocado per plate), crumbled goat cheese and a few candied nuts. Drizzle each plate with 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, and top with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
If this is to be a main course salad, divide the ingredients over two plates instead of four.
I like to make things from scratch. Bread, jam, pickles, salsa, crackers. If I eat it, I want to make it at least once.
However, these things do not always work out.
First I made bread. I learned on whole grain flours(which took a while. I made a lot of bricks!), moved on to fresh ground and sprouted wheat. I even dabbled in gluten free baking for a while.
Then it was canning. Jams and jellies, pickles, salsa, tomato sauce. My basement is filled to the brim with delicious canned goodies.
My current challenge is cheese making. I got this book, and am working my way through it. I’ve made the soft cheeses, ricotta, paneer, mozzarella(yum!!), all with great success. Then I tried my first hard cheese, a 1 pound farmhouse cheddar. All was well. It was made and waxed and went in the basement(which is in the proper temperature range) to age for a month.
Time to see how it turned out! I cut the first slice and everything looked wonderful. I cut a slice and took a bite. Cheese! But also…not cheese. It was pretty close to inedible. I peeled the wax off the whole cheese to examine it more closely.
This is what I found. Totally disgusting, moldy cheese. Yuck. My first try at hard cheese was a total failure. On to the next try, then. I am determined to make a good hard cheese.
In the meantime, this cheese made my chickens very happy.
Have you had a pressed sandwich? Layers of ingredients on a loaf of bread, spread with tasty things and pressed for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. Delicious. Generally, they’re made with preserved meat(like salami or cappicola) and cheese. I’ve been making them with roasted vegetables for a while now, and I think this is my favourite combo by far.
This is an amazing thing to take on a picnic. Not only does it get better with age, if you want it hot you can just throw the whole thing on the grill-because it is pressed it will stay together just fine!
one loaf of bread, any rustic bakery type. I used an italian loaf fron my grocery store’s bakery
one sweet potato, peeled and sliced into slices approximately 1/4 inch
one zucchini, sliced
one onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
3 portobello mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
6 slices provolone cheese
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided use
1 tbsp prepared pesto
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Start by roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 450. Take two baking sheets, put the mushroom slices, zucchini and unpeeled garlic cloves on one, and the onion and sweet potatoes on the other. Drizzle them with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and salt and pepper them generously. Roast them in the oven-the mushrooms, garlic and zucchini will be done first, in about 10-15 minutes, and the onions and sweet potatoes 5-10 minutes later. Let the vegetables cool to room temperature.
Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Squeeze the cooled garlic cloves out of their skins and mash them with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. spread it on the top bread slice. Mix the pesto and remaining tbsp of olive oil and spread it on the bottom piece of bread.
Now layer on the vegetables. Layer the mushrooms on the bottom slice of bread, and the onions over that. Layer the cheese in next. Next layer is the sweet potatoes, then the tomatoes and the zucchini last. Top with the other piece of bread.
Wrap up the whole thing tightly in plastic wrap. Put a weight on top (I used a cast iron skillet) for an hour or so. Remove the weight, and serve within 24 hours.
It’s big, bright, full of veggies, it works equally well as a side or a main dish, and is tasty enough to keep everyone happy!
Feel free to substitute equal amounts of whatever vegetables and fresh herbs happen to be in season and easily available–it will be equally good. Green veggies start to lose their color after a bit-the vinegar saps it out of them-but they will still taste good.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white basalmic vinegar(red wine vinegar, or any good salad vinegar, is a fine substitute)
1/4 cup each fresh basil and parsley
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small red onion, minced
1 lb baby potatoes, halved, or regular(waxy, not russet type) potatoes in bite size pieces
1 lb baby carrots, halved
1 lb snow peas
1 lb asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
1lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. cook the potatoes until they’re tender-about 15 minutes- and fish them out with a slotted spoon. Put them in a large mixing bowl.
Now add the carrots to the boiling water-cook them until they are crisp-tender, about 7 minutes, and remove them with a slotted spoon to the bowl with the potatoes.
Next, add the asparagus, which will need to cook for 2-4 minutes. Remove that to the bowl and add the snow peas. They only need to blanch, so take them out after barely a minute. Dump the pot of boiling water, you’re done with it. And add the cherry tomatoes and the chickpeas to the vegetables in the bowl.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Allow it to marinate 2-24 hours, and serve.
Serves a crowd.
Potatoes and broccoli-a match made in heaven if there ever was one. Add some cheese and it’s pretty much the best thing ever! There’s not really much to say about this. It’s pretty straighforward. Broccoli and two cheeses, a few spices, and a bit of oven time and you have something delicious and healthy for dinner.
Leftovers are just as good. I had one for breakfast!!
6 large potatoes, scrubbed
1.5 C ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350. Bakr the potatoes for one hour.
While the potatoes are baking, chop the broccoli and blanch it in the microwave-put it in a bowl with 1/4 C water and a bit of salt and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 2-4 minutes(depending on your microwave), until they get a bright, cooked color but are still crisp and raw inside. Drain and place in a bowl.
Heat the tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the onion and garlic. Saute 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to become limp. Add to the bowl with the broccoli.
Add the mustard and ricotta to the broccoli and onions and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is your potato filling.
Once the potatoes are done, cut them in half and scoop out the centers, leaving a layer of potato flesh 1/4-ish inch thick(save the insides! Recipes for those coming later this week! ). Lay them on a baking sheet and fill them with the broccoli mixture and top with the cheddar. Bake in the oven which is conveniently already at 350 for 20-30 minutes-until the tops are bubbly and beginning to brown. Eat with enthusiasm!
Have you ever tried ramps? You should. If you’ve never heard of them, they’re a wild variety of onion, with a strong, fresh flavor. Little, thin roots and big, broad leaves. You can pick them wild, if you know your plants, but they’re also becoming common in farmer’s markets and even grocery stores. Both the leaves and stems are edible.
To me, their flavor just screams spring. Strong, oniony. A little bitter, a little grassy, completely delicious. They are wonderful tossed in any type of spring vegetable dish, though I prefer to use them in something where their flavor takes a starring role, like these potatoes.
I used tiny marble sized potatoes, but you can use big potatoes cut into bite size piece, just make sure they’re the waxy type. Russets will crumble when cooked like this.
2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
Slice the ramps crosswise, the leaves down to the roots.
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ramps and saute for a few moments, until the leaves wilt. Add the potatoes, and cook another few moments. Add the butter and parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve steaming hot.
With some steamed asparagus, this is the essence of spring.
I’ve been vegetarian since i was 6. I have no memory of what meat is like(apart from Arby’s roast beef sandwiches, for some reason), and I don’t have any desire to eat actual meat. However some meat dishes just sound so good that I really want to try them.
Like chicken salad-nuts, fruit, celery and nuggets of protein all in a creamy delicious dressing. Piled on lettuce or inside a ripe tomato, it’s a great substantial meal. This version is loaded with dried fruit and nuts, with a yogurt dressing and is a great sweet/savory combination meal.
I really try not to use processed meat substitutes for the most part, but i do keep Quorn “chikn” tenders in my freezer for quick fix meals. You could use any commercial chicken substitute, or tempeh or seitan or even firm tofu. Or real chicken, if you swing that way.
1 C cooked chicken substitute
1/3C assorted dried fruit(I used cranberries, golden raisins and diced apricots, but use whatever sounds good to you)
1/4 C chopped almonds
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 C greek yogurt
1/4 C sour cream
This is the simplest recipe ever-mix everything together and let it sit for half an hour to let the flavors marry. That’s it!
Serve on a roll, on a bed of lettuce, or (my favorite!) inside a hollowed out tomato.
Serves 2-4, depending on what you have with it
Seriously, you really, really want to try this cake. (Despite the awful picture!)
This is everything that is wonderful about cake and everything that is wonderful about dark chocolate turned into one fantastic dessert. All of the subtlety you want out of chocolate cake. And the frosting is really, well, the icing on the cake, in a literal sense. Heirloom frosting is my favorite frosting because it’s not too sweet or rich, but with real vanilla bean in there? Blew my mind.
Best of all, this is a cake of manageable size-a 9×9 square pan. And contains one stick of butter in the cake and frosting combined. Think it can’t get any better? It is simple as can be to throw together.
Yeah, this cake is awesome. Eat it.
Use the best cocoa powder you can for this cake, the darker the better. And don’t be afraid of the coffee-it’s undetectable in the finished cake, it is just there to help round out the chocolate flavor. I hate coffee, and I can’t even tell that it’s there!
4 tbsp(1/2 stick) butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup brewed coffee, or instant coffee dissolved in water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 and grease a 9×9 square pan. Set aside
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once it’s melted, stir in the cocoa powder and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the coffee, buttermilk and both sugars until they’re dissolved. Whisk in the egg and vanilla, and slowly stir in the flour mixture.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes(Do not overbake! This is crucial!) Remove it from the oven and let it cool.
1/2 C milk
3 tbsp flour
1/3 of a vanilla bean
4 tbsp(1/2 stick) butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
pinch of salt
In a pot, scald the milk. Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape out the insides. Add the pod and scrapings to the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Fish out the pod. Over medium heat, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick. remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Now cream the butter and sugar together til light and fluffy. Add the salt and the room temperature flour mixture(If the flour mixture is at all warm, it will melt the butter and ruin the frosting) and beat until it is fluffy.
Spread the frosting on top of the cooled cake, grab a slice, and enjoy!!
This is Eric’s favorite bread. I’ve always loved baking bread, and Eric isn’t a huge fan of bread in general, so I took it as a personal challenge to find and adapt a bread recipe he would love. He calls it “Saturday Bread” because it takes all day, so i usually only make it on weekends.
It is a fantastic bread. Light and soft and slightly chewy. Wonderful for serving alongside soups or making rustic sandwiches-it’s now my favorite bread, too! As an added bonus it’s one of the easiest breads I’ve made, very suitable for a first time bread baker.
It’s based on a method for french bread, letting dough sit around and stirring it every so often. As long as you’re around the house all day, it’s a very easy bread recipe. No
kneading involved. You do have to weigh the flour and water, though. I have tried converting it to cups and it never comes out right. You also must use bread flour. All purpose flour will not produce a very good bread with this recipe, though there are plenty of other bread recipes all purpose flour works great in.
500G bread flour
365G warm water(it’s the right temperature when you run it over your wrist and it doesn’t feel hot or cold)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry yeast
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. It won’t look like very good bread dough at this point, it will be lumpy and shaggy looking. That’s fine. Cover it and let it be for three hours.
Uncover and stir the dough, folding it over on itself each time. You want to get all the air bubbles out so the yeast have to start over again. Cover the bowl again and leave it for half an hour, then stir again. Repeat twice, until you have stirred the dough 4 times total.
Cut the dough in half and (with wet hands! The dough is soft and sticky, and will be difficult to handle with dry hands)shape each piece into an oval loaf. Put both loaves on a baking sheet that has been greased or lined with a silpat. Cover and let rise for an hour.
Half an hour into the rise, preheat the oven to 460. Once the bread has risen, uncover it. It may look a little flat. that’s OK. It’s a soft dough, it’s going to ooze sideways a bit. Once the bottom sets in the first few minutes of baking it will rise up some more. Put the baking sheet with the dough in the oven on a rack close to the middle, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are lovely and golden.
Take them out of the oven and let them rest 15-20 minutes before slicing. the crusts will come out rock hard, but soften as it cools. If you want a crisp, hard crust, put a pan of water in the oven before you turn it on, and leave it in while the bread it baking. The steam makes a crisper crust.
makes 2 loaves.
Let’s talk about salad dressing. But first, let’s talk about Crescent Dragonwagon.
My first cookbook was a Christmas present. Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. And so my obsession with cookbooks began. I love this cookbook. I’m even on my second copy, I used the first so much I wore it out.
It was my first introduction to the idea of salads beyond the buffet restaurant salad bar. Something intentional, where you combined things together purposefully, not just everything you liked? And making salad dressings? Oh my word! What a concept!
One of the first things I tried from this cookbook was a recipe she calls “The Salad”. In her incarnation, it is a variety of absolutely perfect greens, with a garlicky dressing made right on the salad. Love at first bite! But over the years, it has become something slightly different for me. Less perfect greens(they’re hard to come by in the seasons I’m not growing them myself), more other veggies. Sometimes I use red wine vinegar instead of lemon juice. It changes a little every time, but the basic makeup always stays the same, and it is always delicious.
So, without further ado, my Crescent Dragonwagon inspired recipe for salad-
6-8 cups of mixed greens and veggies(green beans, tomatoes, romaine hearts, arugula and spring mix is one of my favourite combinations, but use whatever you like that is available to you. The important thing is that all your veggies are dry, or the dressing won’t stick!)
3-4 tbsp olive oil
4-6 cloves of garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved, or 2-3 tsp red wine vinegar
dash of Worcestershire sauce
Put the olive oil in your salad bowl. peel your garlic cloves, and either press them directly into the oil, or mince them finely and put them in the oil, or mash them with a mortar and pestle and get them in the oil. Any way works, as long as you get pulverized garlic cloves into the olive oils! Add your vegetables and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper, a few sprinkles of lemon juice or vinegar and the Worcestershire sauce. Toss again. Taste it-does it need more of anything-salt, pepper, lemon/vinegar? Keep tasting and adding until your salad is perfect. Serve immediately, this salad does not wait around!
Serves 2 for a main course, 4-6 as a side
Once you taste this salad, you’ll see why Crescent Dragonwagon is one of my favorite cookbook authors, though my collection is now well over 100 cookbooks.