Tagged Autumn

Green Beans with Coconut-Mustard Sauce

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2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons butter, optional
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard (I used a raspberry whole-grain mustard that I’m trying to finish up, hence the pinkness)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds green beans, trimmed

Bring pot of water to boil. When boiling, add green beans and cook 5-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and shock in bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again.

While boiling water, toast mustard seeds in dry skillet over medium heat, about 30 minutes or until they start popping. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Add onion, vinegar, water and coconut milk to skillet and bring to a boil. When boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter if using, mustard seeds, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss green beans with coconut-mustard sauce, adjusting seasoning if necessary.

Serves 8.

Broccoli “Cream” Soup

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Really easy soup for the cooler weather. ๐Ÿ™‚

1 large onion or 2 leeks, chopped
2-3 small bunches broccoli or one large
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, or extra-virgin olive oil, or 1 tablespoon each
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I use the bone broth which is on 24/7 in the slow cooker)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional enrichment:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt if avoiding dairy)
juice of 1 lemon
handful chopped chives
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If using leeks, soak in some cold water in a bowl, swish around several times to get rid of any dirt clinging to the leaves, let sit until the dirt settles to the bottom, then scoop out with your fingers or a slotted spoon.

Peel broccoli stem and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Break apart head into florets.

Heat butter/oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion/leeks, and stir until soft, ~3 minutes. Add broccoli, garlic, and broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until broccoli is tender 10-15 minutes.

While broccoli is cooking, prepare Greek yogurt mixture in a small bowl by combining ingredients with a whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

When broccoli is tender, transfer to blender and puree until smooth, in batches if necessary. If using yogurt mixture, blend in half and reserve half for use at the table. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Serves 4.

Note: Any leftover yogurt mixture can be used as marinade for chicken breasts or pork chops, OR used as a sauce for grilled chicken breasts or pork chops. ๐Ÿ™‚

Roasted Sweet Potato and Honey-Roasted Onion Salad with Orange-Cumin Dressing

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For the sweet potatoes:

3 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme or about 1 teaspoon dried
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Peel, quarter and cut sweet potatoes crosswise into 1/3-inch thick slices. Toss with oil, thyme and salt. Spread evenly on rimmed baking sheet and roast 30 minutes. Turn pieces with spatula and roast another 30 minutes.

The Onion:

1 extra large onion, Walla-Walla or Vidalia or other sweet onion recommended, but regular yellow onions will do as well
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey (molasses, maple syrup, date syrup, or a combo of any of these will do as well)
salt to taste

Peel and cut onion into 1/2-inch slices. Whisk oil, vinegar, honey and salt in a small bowl, and transfer to oven-proof (cast iron if you have it) skillet. Add onion slices evenly and either bake along with the sweet potatoes, or cook slowly stovetop, turning once, until caramelized on both sides. The onions will become pleasantly chewy-crisp as it cools.

The Dressing:

2 small oranges or 1 large
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced thinly
salt to taste

Juice orange(s) and set aside. In dry skillet toast cumin seeds and pepper flakes for a few minutes or until fragrant. Grind in spice mill/coffee grinder or in a mortar and pestle. In the same skillet heat olive oil and cook garlic slices for a few minutes over medium heat, just until golden. Add orange juice, the ground spices, whisk/cook for 3-5 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in salt to taste.

To serve:

Salad greens (I used romaine because that’s what I had, but baby kale, baby spinach, mesclun, arugula, or whatever mixed greens you have will do as well)

Combine everything — sweet potato slices, onion slices, dressing, and greens — in a large bowl and toss.

Serves 4.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Fresh Figs

Was getting a bit tired of our usual veggie salads, and needed more vegetarian ideas, specifically those with more of a Mediterranean bent, so I got me Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. I cannot wait to try ALL the recipes. Okay, maybe 99%. I’m not a leg-o-lamb person. But hubby is, so maybe I’ll make that one for him. For now, I’m going page by page and just having fun discovering new flavor combinations. This one with the figs and sweet potato and reduced balsamic is excellent, though I wish I would have added some feta to up the salty element. (I don’t like goat’s cheese, which is in the original recipe. But maybe next time I make this I’ll add some just for the hubs, since he can eat that.)

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3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into wedges (I cut each in half lengthwise, then each half into quarters, then each quarter into 3 pieces, lengthwise)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss the above in a large mixing bowl, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast about 20 minutes until tender and browned in places.

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While sweet potatoes are roasting, reduce

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (doesn’t have to be fancy)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (superfine if you have it, but regular will do, what’s important is it gets dissolved well before you heat it up)

in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer a few minutes until thickened, but not too thick as to be unpourable or undrizzleable. ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, prepare

2 tablespoons olive oil
large bunch green onions, trimmed, cut into 2-inch thickish shreds
1 red hottish pepper, sliced thin
6 ripe figs, wiped or rinsed clean, quartered (if large) or halved (if small)
Maldon sea salt (or other coarse salt) and additional black pepper for seasoning

Heat olive oil in a saucepan or skillet. Add green onions and red pepper and cook over medium heat, for a few minutes or just until wilted and fragrant.

When sweet potatoes are done, arrange in a platter, along with the figs. Scatter the green onion-red pepper mixture all around, including the oil, and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Sprinkle Maldon sea salt and black pepper on top to finish and you’re done! Enjoy!

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Can be prepared for St. Albert of Jerusalem‘s Feast on September 25, though fresh figs may be tricky to find at that time. I wouldn’t hesitate to sub dried Calimyrna figs, which is available year-round, either stewed in a bit of wine, or soaked in the balsamic vinegar prior to use in the recipe, or used as is but chopped.

Vegetables in Coconut Milk and Shrimp Paste

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This is a very basic Filipino recipe. I fell in love with coconut milk stews sometime in high school, and I’m still in love. I remember calling my mom a couple of weeks after I got married and asked her how to prepare this, since I had found some lovely hyacinth beans at the Asian store. I could not believe how simple it was, and how delicious! Every newlywed should know how to make this, it’s a lifesaver. You can use it for just about any vegetable there is, and you can also add things like fish or shrimp. If you don’t know what bagoong is and don’t really want to learn, don’t worry. You can always use salt or fish sauce.

1 can coconut milk
2 inches gingerroot, peeled and crushed (or minced)
5 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled (minced if desired)
1-2 tablespoons shrimp paste, or 1/2 teaspoon salt, or 2 tablespoons fish sauce
Thai peppers if you like things hot — I sometimes prepare half the dish in one pot and half in another, and I put the hot peppers in MY POT :D. Serranos or jalapeรฑos will also work here.

Veggies, cut up — for instance:
1 pound green beans or yard long beans or other podded bean, cut into 2 inch pieces
1-2 pounds winter squash like butternut or acorn, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
okra or eggplant will work too
3 bunches spinach, kale, Swiss chard — all of these will work
Stuffed leaves (the aforementioned spinach, kale, or chard — with shrimp, or chicken, or a combo of pork and shrimp, or some smoked fish)

any or all of the above, in combo, will definitely work — if cooking large amounts you might want to double the coconut milk and other ingredients so you don’t end up with a dry stew. Although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In some regions in the Philippines that’s exactly what they do — let the whole thing dry up a bit and allow the fat from the coconut milk to be released. Yummy either way.

You can also add things like cut up cooked pork (or increase cooking time if using raw pork), or raw shrimp — peeled or unpeeled, doesn’t matter. Fish pieces will also work, just watch that they don’t overcook and break apart. And of course, you can make it an exclusively meat dish — pork cubes with some fat in them will work perfectly, as will chicken thighs, boneless or not. If you want extra tanginess sprinkle in a few tablespoons of vinegar or lime juice.

The method is fail-safe — dump everything into the pot, bring to a boil, bring down to a simmer immediately, cover and let cook until veggies (and/or meat) are done, stirring occasionally. If using a combo of meat and veggies, cook the meat first, then add the veggies the last 10 minutes or so, so they don’t get mushy.

If you’re using hot peppers but don’t want the final dish to be too spicy, you can add the peppers during the last 10 minutes or cooking, and taste every few minutes or so. Take out the peppers when you’ve reached the level of heat you want.

So delicious over hot rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro if you like.

Summer’s End Vegetable Soup

This is a lovely soup to have on hand those beginning autumn days when the air starts getting chilly, but you still have an abundance of veggies from the summer harvest. Of course, you can always change up the vegetables all through the year and use whatever’s in season.

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1 pound cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight then simmered with a few sage leaves, or konbu, in water to cover, until tender — drained

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth (more if soup is too thick for you at the end)
1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, or 2 bunches mature spinach, trimmed, washed thoroughly and chopped
1/2 head green cabbage
6 large tomatoes, chopped, or 2 15-oz or 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (I like the fire-roasted kind, but regular will do)
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A leftover cheese rind, if you have one (to make it creamier) — optional
Your favorite cheese, grated — I used Swiss Gruyere for this one, but Parmigiano or Pecorino will do just as well (optional for those avoiding dairy — I’d sub a small bowl of sea salt flakes like Maldon for serving, so people can help themselves)
More olive oil for serving, in a bowl with a spoon, or a pourer so people can help themselves

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until carrots are partly tender, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini pieces and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once it reaches the boil, bring down to simmer and cover 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard or kale, cabbage and tomatoes, and cover again. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. If soup looks too dry, add a bit more broth. When veggies are tender, add beans. Season with salt and pepper, and the cheese rind if using. Cook 15-30 more minutes, stirring every few minutes, until all veggies are tender and the entire mixture is creamy. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve hot!

Autumn Breakfast Quinoa

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Here’s a simple, flexible recipe for autumn-themed quinoa. I was out of breakfast ideas and saw pumpkin quinoa on Pinterest, and that was enough to set me experimenting on my own.

I’ve had horrible experiences with overcooked quinoa, so this was carefully watched.

Bring a pot

~4 cups water

to the boil over high heat.

When boiling, add

1 cup quinoa

and lower heat to medium. Let cook ~10 minutes or just until done.

While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

When done, drain well (a large sieve works well for me). Transfer to a large bowl and toss with

3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake 30 minutes, giving it a good stir every 10 minutes or so. Don’t press too much on the grains, you don’t want them all smooshed together as to become pasty. After the first 10 minutes, keep stirring/tossing, but leave them in small flattish clumps, with spaces in between, so that some edges get exposed to air and get nice and toasty. You’re shooting for a nice combo of soft and grainy but with a teeny bit of crunch. What you’re really doing is drying it, kinda like how you would make granola. (If you have more time, you can extend the baking time so the quinoa does get crunchier and drier.)

Remove from oven and serve hot. I topped mine with a sprinkling of brown sugar, chopped pecans (which would be really yummy made into a praline first, but who’s got time for that, right?), and raspberries, after which I drizzled a bit of almond milk all throughout.

Walnuts would work too, roasted 5-7 minutes first in a 350 degree F oven
Raisins
Cranberries
Fresh chopped apples, or apples cooked in a bit of butter or Earth Balance, lemon juice and cinnamon
Hemp seeds, YUM!!
Butter! (if you’re not avoiding dairy), or maybe a little cream
Any other autumny fruit or nut topping you like
Maple syrup would be sensational

Happy Fall!!!

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Quinoa is grown in the Andean region, so this dish would be suitable for celebrating the feast days of any of the following saints. A simple variation of toppings — for instance, strawberries for the spring or summer saints, or an Andean-grown fruit, like dried papaya — will work here.

St. Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran, August 30
St. Teresa of the Andes, July 13
St. Francis Solano, July 14
St. Laura Montoya, May 13
St. Martin de Porres, November 3
St. Rose of Lima, August 23

Hurricane Ike Pizza

We got the remnants of Hurricane Ike 2 weekends ago — strong winds (strong enough to break in half our basketball pole, luckily no one was hurt) but no rain. We didn’t have power for 24 hours. Luckily we just had Aisa’s grad party that Saturday, and on Sunday when we lost power we had gas (fortunately we had the foresight to switch the stove to gas when we moved here — it’s good to have two sources of fuel) and the grills. And 10+ bags of premade pizza dough from the party (we made almost ALL the dough recipes from Peter Reinhart’s American Pie).

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These were Neapolitan dough, I believe, but I grilled them on the gas Weber outside. Topped with my favorite toppings (sopressata — just the smell of this brings me back to Italy, mix of mozzarella-asiago-provolone, crushed tomato sauce, and sliced onions)… you know it’s good when your 9-yo proclaims it “better than Pizza Hut!” You bet.

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Asian Braised Eggplant

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Cut eggplant into strips (about 3 1/2 inches x 1/2 inch).

Heat canola oil in a wok over high heat. Add minced garlic and onions (sliced lengthwise) and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add eggplant slices and let sit 4 minutes or so, turning after 2 minutes, until blistered and brown in spots.

Add coconut milk, chili paste, fish sauce to taste and palm sugar (or brown sugar if you don’t have palm). Cover and braise over medium heat until eggplant is tender. Return to high heat, add scallions cut into 1-inch pieces, stir-fry 30 seconds, and serve hot.

Eggplant with Savory Crumb Topping

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Cut eggplant(s) lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Salt lightly and let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on baking sheet. Transfer eggplant slices to baking sheet, coating them with the oil on both sides. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from oven and lower heat to 400 degrees F. Top eggplant slices with feta cheese and sliced tomatoes. In a little bowl, mix together fresh (or dried if you don’t have fresh) bread crumbs, minced anchovies, minced capers, minced garlic and grated lemon zest. Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of tomatoes. Finish off with grindings of black pepper and a light drizzle or spray of more extra virgin olive oil. Bake 20 minutes more. Enjoy!

Note: Careful about the feta, capers and anchovies — dish could turn out very salty so use a light hand. Remember, less is more ๐Ÿ™‚