Broccoli and cheddar, a match made in heaven

December 13, 2013

Broccoli Soup

This is one of those recipes that upon first making it, I was surprised it could be so good. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a disdain for almost every vegetable, and the thought of broccoli was at the tip top of the list. Maybe it’s because as I branched out and started eating broccoli, I leaned heavily on dairy products to make it palatable. So when I first looked at this soup, while it seemed simple enough, I wasn’t sure 1 cup of skim milk and a lot of vegetable stock was going to be enough to distract me from the fact that I was eating half a pound of broccoli in a single sitting. Okay, so maybe I load up a bit on the cheese at the end, but even without the cheese, this soup will warm you up and put a smile on your face with its subtle flavors and creamy consistency. (more…)

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Brussels sprouts, two ways

November 19, 2013

Salt Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Salt-roasted brussels sprouts

I remember the first time I tried a brussels sprout; I actually didn’t know what it was. I happened to be in Sonoma county, and my husband and I had settled in at the bar of a crowded restaurant for dinner. The bartender was telling us the specials, but he couldn’t remember what vegetables were served with one of the dishes. I’ve forgotten what the dish was, but it sounded so divine I didn’t care what the vegetable was that came alongside, so I ordered it. When the dish was served, the brussels sprouts were covered with the dish’s sauce, and I still wasn’t sure what they were. They looked like some small, alien life form to me, and while I wasn’t put off by them, I also wasn’t thrilled by them. I never did ask the bar tender what they were. I ate a few, and that was that.

Fast forward a couple of years and I stumbled across the recipe that morphed into my spuds and sprouts. Upon prepping the sprouts, I realized that this was what I had at the restaurant bar in Sonoma. Luckily, this time I was in love with their flavor, as a huge dose of salt really helps tame any bitterness, and a little sweetness never hurt anything (this recipe contained bacon and golden raisins). So with that in mind, I give you two very easy recipes to make brussels sprouts that most any person will love, even if they’re not a proclaimed fan. Not to mention, for a Thanksgiving side dish, you’ll love that these are fairly hands-off recipes. (more…)

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Perfect pumpkin: Pumpkin and green lentil tagine

November 6, 2013

Pumpkin Tagine

A couple of weeks ago when I walked by a huge pile of sugar pumpkins at the grocery, I couldn’t help myself. I picked one up. In the back of my mind I had this tagine on my mind – green lentils, chunks of pumpkin, spicy harissa paste. Luckily these little pumpkins keep for a while, so it was my sole Halloween decoration for a week or so, before I gutted it and made it dinner.

Sugar pumpkins have a similar texture to butternut squash, which would work just as well for this recipe. I expected the recipe to turn out super spicy due to the harissa, but when I started cooking I realized only a minuscule amount was called for. Of course, I fixed that! (more…)

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Indian delights: Sweet and sour toor dal

November 3, 2013

Sweet and Sour Toor Dal

Rounding out our Indian meal, we definitely cannot forget to include a dal, or lentil dish, on our plate. Dal is a staple at the South Indian table, bringing a good dose of digestible protein to the vegetarian cuisine. While I’m sure there are millions upon millions of recipes and variations for dal – just the types of lentils alone: toor dal, urid dal, moong dal, masoor dal, and I could go on and on and on, not to mention that every cook has their own unique spice blend – I decided to share this recipe for a sweet and sour toor dal because I found it to be rather unique. When I say sweet and sour, I don’t mean like your local Chinese joint’s chicken; it’s a much more subtle flavor. While I made a special trip to the Indian grocery to pick up kokum, an acidic, dried fruit, upon opening the package it immediately reminded me of pomegranate, which makes a nice substitute in this recipe if you don’t have a local Indian grocer to frequent.

And that’s how this South Indian meal becomes complete. A couple of vegetarian dishes like poriyal, bhindi masala, green bean bhaji, or some masala potatoes, basmati rice, a bit of dal, a little Indian pickle (which you can buy, or I might post my favorite mango pickle here soon) and maybe some raita or yogurt to cool things down, and you have a veritable feast! (more…)

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Indian delights: Green bean poriyal

October 27, 2013

Green Bean Poriyal

If you haven’t caught wind of the theme, this week it’s definitely all about the Indian food as we lead up to Diwali. Earlier this week I shared my all-time favorite Indian recipe, bhindi masala (spiced okra in English). Today, I’m sharing another vegetable dish, green bean poriyal. You may remember, I’m not a big fan of green beans. A couple of years back my local nursery gave me a couple of free green bean plants, and I decided to make a green bean bhaji, which really turned me on to green beans for the first time in …well, ever. Fast forward a couple of years and I’m still growing green beans, and I decided I needed to find a different way to prepare them. So I tried poriyal, which I’ve had at my mother-in-law’s house and really loved. So long as you have some help stringing your beans (something I hate to do), this recipe is really quick and easy. It doesn’t require you to hang around too long sauteing vegetables and doesn’t really have much to chop, other than the beans. (more…)

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