Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Did you Know Barley in Spanish is Cebada?

Risotto Style Barley with Winter Squash.

Local ingredients used: barley, winter squash, goat cheese - which are really the main ingredients in the dish.

I think barley may be my favorite grain, I really like the texture. I usually describe it as "meaty" which I guess my discourage vegetarians, but it shouldn't. Chewy is another possible adjective. Risotto style barley is not a typical or authentic risotto by any means. And I am not really even sure if this should qualify as risotto style, since you don't have to slowly add the liquid as it is absorbed which I feel is key to risotto. But you do add wine, and it is fairly creamy.

I don't actually remember what type of squash I used. It was probably butternut, but I can't be sure. Neither do I know how many types of winter squash are out there, but there are tons! I was talking with a farmer the other day who said that they personally grow about 25 varieties. I haven't found one I like significantly more than butternut though.

You could do this with pretty much any vegetable instead of squash, I have made it with mushrooms several times. I topped the "risotto" with goat cheese and walnuts. Goat cheese because it is delicious and walnuts because they are delicious, but also because this dish could be considered mushy and the walnuts add a really nice crunch.

Risotto Style Barley:
4 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken etc. I use the little cubes)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Other good "winter" seasonings include rosemary, thyme, or sage - I might add 1/2 to 1 tsp of each, or none
2 tsp. butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup pearled barley
1 winter squash chopped and seeded (I wash my winter squashes but I DO NOT peel them, the skin gets tender and with butternut squash in particular I think tastes delicious, plus many nutrients are in the skin)
1/2 cup white wine
Toppings: toasted walnuts, goat cheese

Start boiling the cubed and seeded winter squash in enough water to cover it
Heat butter in a large sauce pan and add onions. Cook until translucent. Add any seasonings and cook 1 or 2 more minutes. Add barley and saute another minute or two. Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes or until broth is absorbed.

Meanwhile, when the squash is tender - about 30 minutes later - mash it up.

When the barley has absorbed the broth, add the wine and stir. Now add the mashed up squash. Now you are done. Each person can put their own toppings on, or you could, it doesn't really matter.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crisp Leaves and Root Cellar Foods

The Farmers Market has closed for the season hear in Minneapolis. Which means we are moving towards winter and eating lots of root vegetables! It is sad to bed farewell to all of the tomatoes and peppers that I have been eating, but I do love root vegetables.

One pleasant and simple fall meal that partner and I enjoyed recently was creamy parsnip soup with yoghurt and herb muffins spread with goat cheese. For some reason I didn't eat parsnips very often growing up, but I now really enjoy their slightly sweet, earthy taste. They look like white carrots.

The soup is Curried Parsnip Soup with shredded apples from Epicurious.com:

While the soup is simmering you can make the muffins. I used the recipe for Yogurt and Herb Bread from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen who wrote all of the Moosewood Cookbooks, except I made them as muffins

  • 1 cup unbleached white hlour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tep baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp each - oregano, thyme, basil, tarragon
Mix all ingredients well and pour into a greased muffin pan. Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oh Boy, Organ Meat

I guess you could consider this a Halloween post...

Lamb liver was on super special at the Farmers Market ($0.50/lb!), and if I want to eat local, on a budget, it's hard to pass up a good deal, right?

Waste is also bad, so if I am going to eat meat I should try new cuts. By the way, I have never had liver before. I don't think I am alone in not eating much organ meat, at least not in the US. I think it is interesting that we consume a fairly large amount of meat, but certain cuts, and even certain animals (like I mentioned this was LAMB liver) have almost gone out of fashion. When I was looking up recipes one website said that lamb was very popular in the US until WWII and then the army bought very large quantities and served a lot of poorly prepared lamb to soldiers. When they came home they told their wives and mothers that they didn't like lamb- and just like that, the entire country switched primarily to beef. Sheep tend to be lighter on the land than cattle, so I am trying to build my skill preparing less common cuts of meat.

This is a pretty standard liver and onions with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Pretty  much everything was purchased at the Farmers Market except spices, oils, and butter. Here are the ingredients:

For Two Servings
  • 2 onions, chopped or sliced
  • 2 small liver steaks
  • about 5 smallish potatoes, washed and cut into small pieces
  • maybe 1/2 lb of green beans, washed
  • Oil, butter, vegetable broth, salt and pepper
Put potatoes in a small sauce pan, cover with water and/or vegetable broth (I add a vegetable broth bullion cube) boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. When they are tender drain, add about a tablespoon of butter plus salt and pepper to taste and mash with a fork. If you like creamier mashed potatoes you can add a couple of tablespoons of milk and just keep adding small amounts until the potatoes are at the desired consistency

Meanwhile... while the potatoes are cooking - Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large pan and add onions. Saute until tender and beginning to caramelize - about 10 minutes, but the longer the better.

Meanwhile 2... once the onions are sauteing - Put green beans in a pan (I use a saute pan so that they can remain long) with a little bit of water. You can also use a steamer but I don't have one. (Side note: one of the benefits of a steamer is that you don't lose as many of the nutrients in the water. I save the water I cook vegetables in and drink it like tea, this way I get most of the nutrients) Cook green beans for about 8 minutes.

When everything is about done, move the onions to the side of the dish and add the liver cooking 1-1/2 minutes on each side. Apparently the "secret" to good liver is that it is just barely done. Serve immediately.

OK, full disclosure. It turns out I don't really like liver. I liked the texture, it is like a very very tender steak. But there was something in the flavor that I felt was distinctive. But my partner really liked it and didn't taste whatever the flavor note that I was picking up on was. And if you have enough caramelized onions it's hard to notice the flavor. Liver is also very high in iron, and like I said, affordable... so... I am glad I tried it and will probably continue to prepare it on occasion (if only because we kind of stocked up when it was on sale)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Brunch

One of my favorite things is to sleep late and then spend the morning making an elaborate breakfast. I think this picture captures that sentiment, especially with the cat lounging in the background. Fresh Oregon strawberries help make this breakfast healthier, and I like to add a little bit of yoghurt instead of whipping cream. If I have plenty of strawberries I don't even need syrup!

This post is probably a little late, unless of course you thought to buy or gather up all of the strawberries you could get your hand on about a month ago and stick them in your freezer (which I, unfortunately, did not). But, this was still a lovely brunch and there is always next summer.

These are buttermilk whole wheat waffles from the Bob's Red Mill Baking Book

For 4 waffles:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup regular milk and 1/2 tsp vinegar)
1 tbsp butter melted and cooled (or 1 tbsp vegetable oil)

Mix all ingredients and cook in a pre-heated waffle iron until golden brown - I usually leave them in about 3 minutes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Turkish Flat Bread

 Turkish Flat-bread

This recipe came from the Bob's Red Mill Baking Book by John Ettinger. It has tons of great baking recipes - breads, cookies, cakes etc. As well as information about the variety of different grains that Bob's Red Mill offers. Barley, for example, has been eaten by humans for millennium, or millet is so old it could have been eaten by dinosaurs.

So, overall, my current goal is to make healthy food featuring whole local ingredients. Ideally, quickly. But there is something about making bread (or trying to) that I find really satisfying. It helps me feel connected to the past. Bread making is not quick. I haven't dedicated myself to it as much as I would like to, but goals are for making progress towards, not for achieving instantaneously.

The basic idea for this recipe is to make a flat bread dough, spread a filling meat, vegetables and herbs, over the top, and then supposedly bake it and role it up. I am not sure if I failed to role the dough out thin enough, or if I baked it too long, but I was not able to role it up. It was tasty regardless.

Even though it is now mid July (the height of being able to actually get local produce - the Farmers Market is open) I actually made this meal sometime back in February. For this reason the only local ingredient is the hamburger. The meat came from PD Farms in Elgin, OR. It is grass fed and sustainably raised. Grass fed meat has so many benefits I am not going to list them. But you can read about them here

For 8 Flat-breads
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 cups flour (I use whole wheat but I am sure unbleached or a mix would also be good)
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For Topping
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. ground lamb or beef (ideally grass fed :))
2 garlic cloves (I actually got these from PD Farms as well)
dash red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
I also added a can of chopped tomatoes so that there are more vegetables - but this is optional

To make flat breads - Mix water, yeast, and a dash of honey or other sweetener and let stand about five minutes until the yeast looks foamy.  Add all other ingredients. Add the flour slowly mixing it in until you have a stiff dough. Knead Dough for about 10 minutes. I've read that you should knead until it's about the texture of an earlobe.

Let sit for one hour

While the dough is sitting you can make the filling 

Heat oil in a fairly large pan. Add the meat and onions and saute until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent. I unusually remove some of the grease with a spoon at this point. Add all other ingredients and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Done  

OK back to the flat-bread Punch dough down and divide into four equal pieces. Roll each piece out thin and let rest for 10 minutes. Brush olive oil on dough and spread filling over the top. Place in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

What do you think? Could you get them to roll up?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tomato Soup + Grilled Cheese

I'll give you the punchline quick: the key to any good creamy soup is... cream cheese! This applies to tomato soup, but I have also had great success with cauliflower soup, broccoli soup and many others. I think cream cheese, even low fat cream cheese, gives soup a really nice creamy texture when compared to milk.

This is more or less an original recipe if you can really call it a recipe. In terms of the goals of this blog: cheap, quick, and local (and healthy) this meal does fairly well. It's definitely fast, and I would say healthy, you could use local tomatoes (I didn't). I did use organic tomatoes and I am pretty sure it still comes out fairly inexpensive.

Garlic infused olive oil from PD Farms!

Tomato Soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cans tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup cream cheese

Saute onion in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional 30 seconds. Add tomatoes an other ingredients (except for cream cheese) and simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust flavors if necessary. I don't usually add salt because there is quite a bit in most canned tomatoes, but if you used no "salt added" tomatoes you might want to.
About this much basil

Puree soup. I use an immersion blender which I highly recommend, but any blender works. Add cream cheese and heat until cream cheese is melted.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

mmmm cheese and roasted peppers
Again, not sure if this constitute a recipe, but there is something about a good sandwich, especially a good grilled cheese sandwich. For this one I used whole grain bread, extra sharp cheddar and roasted red peppers. I really like roasted red peppers on grilled cheese.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tortellini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce + Garlic Green Beans

Tortellini with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

The big thing in this meal, in terms of cooking skill, is the creamy mushroom sauce. One of my New Years resolutions this year was to get better at making sauces, and this was one of my attempts. This is kind of the only News Years Resolutions I have actually made progress on, others include making monthly budgets, working out 30 minutes a day, and not leaving dishes in the sink over night. But I still have 8 months to start making moves. Anyway, in terms of my goals of making food that is quick, cheap, and local (and good) this meal was definitely quick and fairly inexpensive, the green beans and milk were organic, and I used local/organic garlic from PD Farms. While cream sauce can be pretty (very) rich this one is lighter then most because it uses 2% milk instead of cream.

The inspiration for the mushroom sauce came from the Breitenbush Cookbook. Breitenbush is a hot spring resort in the Cascades and it is one of my favorite places in the world! They have a great vegetarian and vegan buffets and if you are camping near by you can just pay for lunch, or dinner or whatever. I've been happy with the recipes I've tried so far but I have noticed that they tend to make quantities sufficient for 10 or so people (even when they say 6 to 8). Good if you are running a retreat center, not as good when you are cooking for two. They recommend serving this sauce over herb biscuits, when making biscuits and gravy, which I tried and would also recommend.

The original recipe calls for 1 -1/2 cups of half and half plus 1/4 cup sour cream which I am sure would be delicious but is a little rich for me so I lightened it a bit. Here's my version:

Creamy Mushroom Sauce;
2 tbs butter
1/2 lb mushrooms (I always have trouble with weights since I don't have a scale, I used about two cups)
2 tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1- 1/2 cup milk (any kind, but I usually use 2%)
1 tbs wine
1/4 cup yogurt (I almost always substitute yogurt for sour cream, but at least the nonfat has a tendency to separate and look a little watery - it still tastes good)
1 to 2 tbs herbs depending on taste - I like rosemary and thyme

Chop mushrooms, you can either slice them or chop them more finely depending on the texture you are going for. Heat butter in large skillet and saute mushrooms until tender. Mushrooms release a lot of water when cooked so wait until most of this liquid has cooked off unless you want a really watery sauce. Add flour and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or so (cooking flour and fat such as butter is called making a roux and is the basis of pretty much all sauces). Add milk, salt, pepper, wine and herbs and cook on low stirring regularly. Cook until the sauce has thickened. This is usually a minute or two after it starts boiling. Add yogurt and remove from heat. You can also add pretty much any type of cheese such as Parmesan or cheddar at this stage to make a variety of sauces.

Cook tortellini, or pasta of your choice according to package instructions. Add sauce. Mmmmm

Garlic Green Beans:

OK, this isn't really a recipe. Wash green beans. Heat garlic olive oil or regular olive oil. Add chopped garlic if using regular oil and saute for 30 seconds. Add green beans and saute until tender - about 5 minutes. Done!

Smacznego! (I think that's bon appetite in Polish, but I just googled it and don't speak Polish so I could be wrong)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spinach Roulade

Spinach Roulade
I know, you might be thinking why another food blog? I don't really have an answer other then that I think mine is a little different than others I've seen.  I have read a lot of "foodie" blogs and also blogs about affordable, healthy eating. But not nearly as many that try to do both (though I am sure they are out there) Anyway, on with the recipe! For my first blog post I am writing about Spinach Roulade.  I got the recipe for Spinach Roulade from The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two by Anna Thomas. For those of you familiar with Anna Thomas most of her recipes are not what I would consider quick, they are however delicious.  I made this on a Saturday when I knew I would have plenty of time. I think the whole thing took about two hours, but only about one hour of active time and I was stopping to take pictures periodically. In terms of accomplishing my other goals, I would consider this healthy (lots of whole ingredients and vegetables maybe a little higher in fat) and the ingredients are pretty affordable. The potatoes, garlic, and onions were organic and local from PD Farms and Val's Veggies (all great people).

This is the description from the cookbook: This is like a giant rolled dumpling, with a spinach filling. A potato dough reminiscent of gnocchi is rolled up around the filling, then the whole thing is wrapped n cheesecloth boiled in salted water, and served hot, in spiral patterned slices.

Serves 6

Vegetarian Epicure Page 254


2 lbs. fresh spinach
3 tbs. butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp oregano
pinch nutmeg

2 lbs potatoes
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
dash nutmeg
2 - 2 1/2 cups flour

Garnish with melted butter and grated Parmesan cheese.

Translucent Onions
For filling saute onions and garlic until translucent, add spinach and continue sauteing until wilted, add seasonings

Filling (sorry, a little blurry, but I was trying to cook)

Pasta Dough
 For dough cut potatoes into small cubes and boil until tender (about 20 minutes) mash slightly, add other ingredients except flour and mash completely. It should look like mashed potatoes.

Form mushy dough into ball and transfer to a work surface such as a counter and begin working in flour until you have a stiff dough. Roll dough into rectangle approximately 11 x 13 inches. Spread filling over rectangle and carefully begin rolling dough starting on the long edge (like a jelly roll).

Dough with Spinach Filling
Wrap jelly roll in cheese cloth and place in a pot full of salted water and boil for about 50 minutes. Remove from pot (I actually found this to be the hardest part, possibly because my pot wasn't big enough or there wasn't enough water I don't know, if you have any ideas let me know) Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes and then slice. I did not let mine stand. I was really hungry so I sliced it right away which I think contributed to it losing its shape and not forming nice spirals like it was supposed to. When I ate it for lunch the next day it was much easier to cut and you could actually see the spirals. Anna Thomas suggests serving it with melted butter, I just topped it with Parmesan. I think marinara could also be tasty and adds vegetables.  As you can see I served it with a salad.  Even though it doesn't look that pretty it was really tasty.

Note: these are my abridged versions of the directions. The ones found in Vegetarian Epicure are more detailed and include some extra steps, which I skipped.
Final Plate
OK, thanks for reading, let me know what you think! Oh, and because if I say it "out loud" I am more likely to do it, I plan to post once per week.

Bon Appetit!