Wellcome spring (recipes)

“She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor:

“Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne – When We Were Very Young.

Spring is my favorite time of the year, not only we start getting more fruits and vegetables but also it is so uplifting to experience nature coming alive and bursting with energy, to hear the birds chirping and seeing animals active again. Please check out my posts from last year on Spring eating (post) and other early spring recipes. Recipes: Hot and sour burdock soup (recipe), Spinach lasagna (recipe) and Sorrel/nettle stew (recipe). enjoy!

Source of the poem/Picture

https://purplerays.wordpress.com/2021/03/20/she-turned-to-the-sunlight/

Jan van der Kooi: Seeking beauty

Tofu with thai red curry sauce (vegan)

This is an amazing Thai inspired dish that uses coconut milk and Thai red curry paste as a base. I usually don’t add ready-made seasongs but this is a tasty and easy short cut, you won’t even notice. I chose bok choy and mushrooms for the vegetables, this combination is often used in traditional thai cooking and I really like how they taste together. I also threw in some bamboo shoots to balance out the dish. If you want you can add some broccoli in place of the bok choy but this is really a personal preference. Oh and it is done in 30 minutes! Enjoy!

RECIPE

Serves 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 block of tofu (1 lb) (500gr)
  • sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, finally chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • (26 floz) 2 cans coconut milk (1 liter)
  • 4 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • handfull (4-8oz) shitake mushrooms, cut up
  • 1 lb baby bock choy (I like half bok choy and half broccoli)
  • 1 bunch scalions, sliced
  • little fish sauce to taste (I shake the bottle a few times) (1 tsp)
  • 1 can of bamboo shoots (140g), drained
  • soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 lime
  • cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp red flakes or to taste
  • 1 pkg noodles (Thai, ramen)

INSTRUCTIONS

Boil water and prepare the noodles according to its directions.

Drain water off the tofu and pat dry. Cut the the tofu in 1 inch cubes and fry in a little oil. When done, sprinkle a little soy sauce on the cubes.

Heat a pan with oil.

Add the broccoli if used and stir fry for about 10 minutes on medium heat until tender.

Add the ginger and garlic, stir for 1 minute. Stir.

Add the 2 cans of coconut milk and the Thai red curry paste, stir. Continue adding bamboo shoots, red chilli flakes (optional) and fish sauce, bok choy and mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes. I would like also mention that if you add the bok choy and the mushrooms more at the last 5 minutes, they will keep their shape better and will not get soggy.

Serve with the noodles and the tofu preapared earlier. Add cilantro, scallions and lime juice.

enjoy!

Popovers

When you are on vacation, everything tastes beter … and when the food is fabulous you are going to remember it forever. This is what happened to us when we visited the Arcadia National Park in Maine. We ate lunch at the park’s restaurant where they served popovers with every meal … the smell and the taste of these lovely rolls and of course the breathtaking view will stay with us forever.

Popovers are the American version of Yorkshire pudding, a British speciality. These souffle-like rolls are airy and custardy. They are made with an egg batter and baked in a muffin pan. The inside is hollow and the outside has a nice crust with a savory flavor. I like to serve it with jam and butter. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Makes 12 popovers.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Method

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  • In a seperate bowl, wisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Add to the flour mixture and mix well until no lumps remain.
  • Butter a muffin pan.
  • Evenly distribute the batter among the cups in the pan. Fill each cup until they are about two-third full. Put some water in cups that don’t have any batter.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 450F.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the outside is crusty and brown. Do not open the oven door until the last 5 minutes to prevenr the popovers from deflating.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Take popovers out of the pan.
  • Serve warm.

enjoy!

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Homemade buttermilk

This must be one of the best life hacks …

I am a big fan of buttermilk. I use it often in many of my recipes from pancakes to muffins … it makes food soft and gives an interesting tart flavor. The acid in the buttermilk will help rise the quick breads as the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and the baking powder. It also breaks down the gluten in the flour making it is easier to digest so it is an important ingredient in the kitchen. I used to get buttermilk often from the store but since I learnt this simple little trick, I haven’t bought any.

So why make your own? Well for one it is cheaper. Also, it is likely you have milk at home and really all you have to do is add some acid to curdle the milk. I like to use apple cider vinegar but other acids will work like regular white vinegar or lemon … and that is it. Seriously, will you ever buy buttermilk at a store again?

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of milk minus 2 Tbsp milk (almond milk works nice too)
  • 2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or lemon juice

Methods

  • To make 1 cup of buttermilk, measure out 1 cup milk and remove 2 Tbsp of it.
  • Pour into a small dish.
  • Add 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes and then it is done.

Photo and text by twincitiesherbs.com

Moist buttermilk cornbread

This is a basic recipe that I have been using and enjoying for years. It is moist, a bit crunchy with a little hint of sweetness. Of course, coarsely ground corn flour is a must! The butter gives it a nice flavor and a bit of crunchyness, the buttermilk makes it soft and the eggs pull it all together … oh and I add a little sugar just enough to make it sweet. Feel free to serve it with a hearty soup or just have it as it is with some jam.

Please check out my recipe for my white chilli soup (recipe).

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup corn meal, coarse ground
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick (110g) of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Mix the dry ingredients.
  • Mix the wet ingredients.
  • Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Do not overbeat.
  • Pour into a lightly greased pan. I like to let the mixture sit for a couple of hours so it is easier to digest.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let the bread cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

enjoy!

Recipe, text and photos by twincitiesherbs.com.

French Onion Soup (soupe à l’oignon)

I have always loved French onion soup. It is made with of course lots of onions … and these charamelized onions give the soup its rich color and flavor. But there is a little more to it than just throwing all the ingredients together … follow this recipe and you can make a perfect onion soup. Oh and when you serve it, play some nice French music with it. Last time I ate French onion soup, we were at the restaurant called Naniboujou by Grand Marais, Minnesota after canuing in the Boundary Waters and they happened to play the Cd from the movie Amolié… ah total bliss…

Today, we often see this soup in fancy restaurants; however, it traditionally started out as a peasant food made with the simple ingredients: onions, beef broth and cheese. It is the perfect soup for the winter. The secret is in the preparation. It takes a long time to slowly charamelize those onions but it is so worth it! You get this wonderfully savory flavor with a little hint of sweetness. Oh and of course the ingredients. Your soup will be as good as the ingredients you use. I prefer making the beef stock at home and let’s not forget the cheese! Try to get the best cheese you can buy! I like using gruyere cheese, but you can try other rich flavored cheese as well.

RECIPE

Serves 8 people

Ingredients

  • 6 larger onions (1kg) onions
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 Tbsp brandy or cognac
  • 2 Qt beef stock
  • 2 bayleaves
  • few fresh thyme springs
  • toasted sliced French bread (about 2 slices per serving)
  • cheese (1/4 cup per serving)

Method

Peel the onions, cut them in halves (Make sure you remove the first 2 tougher layers of the onions). Cut them into very thin slices.

In a large pot melt the butter. Add the onions and the sugar, stir. Cook on medium high heat for about 15 minutes until onions are translucent. Stir occationally.

Turn heat down a notch and continue cooking the onions for 40-45 more minutes or until they are nice and brown but not burnt. Stir occationally. Do not cover the pot.

Stir in the flour and mix. Let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add the wine and the brandy. Mix. Cook for 3 mintes. Don’t skip this step, it gives that interesting bite to the soup.

Add the stock, bayleaves and thyme springs and cook for 25-30 minutes partially covered.

When ready, salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve the soup in individual bowls if you wish. Add the toasted bread and 1/4 cup of cheese per bowl on top. Broil on high for 5 minutes. Or you can serve the soup in a big pot and just let people serve themselves.

Serve immediately maybe with some French wine. I used Famille Bogrier Vouvre Chenin Blanc white wine, a very lovely wine from France.

enjoy!

Russian sauerkraut Mushroom Soup (Щи) – vegan

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a very lovely Christmas and were able to indulge in as many Christmas dishes as you could … but now many of us tend to gravitate towards lighter yet nourishing foods. In general, to tune in with the seasons, winter is more about dormancy and resting, giving our body a break especially after all the feasting and partying of Christmas.

Sauerkraut Mushroom soup is a hugely popular winter dish in Russia that will nourish your body and soul. It is special for the Russian Orthodox Christans because this is what they serve during the long fast from the end of November until January 7th. In accordance with the strict rules no meat, bacon, animal fat, butter, eggs or milk may be eaten during this time period. This tradition was particularly hard for the farmers who had to work outside and needed heavier foods to survive. The cooks had to be creative and came up with this delicious, hearty soup … that today would fit the vegan definition.

This is a lovely soup that has three simple main ingredients: sauerkraut, mushrooms and the barley. Mushrooms are a nice substitution for meat so use as much as you desire. In Eastern Europe, it is customary in the fall to go out in the woods and pick mushrooms. People then dry them to use during the cold months. If you don’t have access to wild mushrooms, buy stronger flavored mushrooms like morrel, oyster, shitaki or even crimini mushrooms could work. The sauerkraut of course gives it the nice sour flavor and has immense health benefits. The crunchy barley adds the robust part to the soup.

PLEASE READ !!! I use cep mushrooms but if you don’t know how to find edible mushrooms in the wild, definitely go to the stores and purchase them there. Mushrooms are very valuable but there can be some poisonous ones. Stores sell some fine mushrooms that are dried and are worth using. Just soak them in water and then they are ready to be used. Last time I used shitaki mushrooms and I thoght was a nice substitution.

The soup will need a good home-made stock. Both a meat based or a vegetable based stock would work great. You can use beef bones but the vegatarian version is great too. For the vegetarian stock I added onions, garlic, 2 bay leaf, 1 heaping Tbsp black peppercorn, handfull of mushrooms, 1 celery root, couple of carrots and parsley root. Honestly, we could not taste much difference. Don’t forget to put celery root in the stock it surely adds something special to the flavor.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sourkraut
  • 80 gr (3oz) dried mushrooms or about 6 oz fresh mushrooms (Please see above for more info on safety).
  • 1 cup dry pearled barley
  • 1-2 qt (1-2L) of vegetable or beef stock (please see above)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • few thyme springs
  • vegetable oil
  • shallots or small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • black peppercorn

Method

  • If using dried mushrooms, soak in water for a couple hours or maybe even overnight if needed.
  • Make the stock. Please see above for more info.
  • Make the barley. Boil 3 cups of water and put barley in the boiling water. Turn down and let cook for 1 hour without cover.
  • In a medium saucepan, sautee the shallots in a little oil for a few minutes.
  • Add the garlic on low heat. Mix.
  • Add drained sauerkraut, thyme spring, caraway seeds, bay leaves. Cover with stock. Cook for 1 hour.
  • For the last 10 minutes, add the mushrooms slices.
  • Take out the larger thyme pieces and bay leaf.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with hardier bread.

enjoy!

Text and photo by twincitiesherbs.com.

Christmas cookies (gift giving)

Often when you ask children what their favorite holiday is they say … Christmas! And then you ask why … because they get presents. I’m sure that is how I would have answered those questions back when I was a little girl. This is a very magical holiday for sure … but as we get older, we start thinking about giving too.

Many people enjoy giving treats at Christmas time. But where did the idea of Christmas gift giving come from? … and what about Santa and his rein deer?

Let’s go back in time. It is believed that it came from an old Pagan tradition. Giving gifts can strengthen the ‘family and well-being of others’, an important theme during this time of the year. This custom was part of the tradition of exchanging mushrooms as a gift at the time in the Northern part of Siberia. Mushrooms were special because of their connection to longevity. People delivered the wrapped carefully prepared dried mushrooms to people’s houses for celebrating the winter solstice. There was so much snow that they could not open the doors and the packages had to be dropped off through the holes on top of the yurts where the smoke could escape. Also, these people used rein deer for transportation in the snow. Even more check this out … I need to mention that their traditional clothing is red and white … hence comes the story of Santa dressed in red and white, delivering presents through the chimney down the fire place with the help of some rein deer…


After so many years we are still exchanging gifts. Giving home-made foods can be meaningful for both the giver and the receiver. If you are not sure what to give this year, maybe consider giving cookies. I’m presenting two different cookie recipes that can be gifted during the holidays. They are ‘Christmas’-y and mouth watering.

Wishing evereyone a very merry Christmas!

COOKIE RECIPES

Please check out the following links for the recipes.

For the coffee lover: Chocolate espresso crinkle

For the gluten free or the nut lover person: Pecan meringue cookies

Source

https://www.shamanicevolution.org/writings/shaman-claus-the-shamanic-origins-of-christmas

Art, photos, text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Chocolate espresso crinkle cookies

You can surely impress your guests with these rich chocolate cookies or maybe you can just use this recipe for a last minute gift for your neighbors… The crunchy outside is coupled with the melt-in-your-mouth soft inside and is elevated to another level with the espresso flavor. Enjoy!

Recipe

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 4 tsp instant espresso 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp milk 
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating

Preparations

Start melting the chocolate. I used a double boiler.

In a larger bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and salt. Make sure you use some kind of a sifter, tea strainer as the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder need to be without knots. Set aside.

In a seperate bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the egg and mix until incorpoated.

Mix in the melted chocolate and the milk.

Add the flour mixture from earlier until you get a ball shaped dough. Put in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter a cookie sheet. Form 2 inch balls.

Pour 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a medium sized bowl. In batches, roll the balls in the sugar and let the balls sit for a minute in the sugar. Repeat one more time.

Place the balls about 1 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. They should be soft but not fall apart. Let the cookies stay on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool.

Transfer them on a wire rack for 15 minutes. They will harden.

enjoy!

Photos and text by twincitiesherbs.com.

Pecan meringue cookie recipe

Meringue cookies have been one of my favorite Holiday desserts since my childhood … maybe because I don’t care much for the heavier desserts that much but still enjoy a bit of sweetness during Christmas time. These beautiful cookies are delicious and airy with just the right amount of texture with the nuts and the almond essence. They would be a great gift for those friends and family members who like something sweet with a little bit of crunchiness or eat gluten free foods. Of course, this is a great recipe to have on hand so you can use up all those left over egg whites. Enjoy!

RECIPE

Ingredients

(makes about 2-3 dozens)

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar (regular sugar pulsed for about 10 seconds in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup of finally chopped walnuts or pecans or almonds
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tatar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Line a baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a larger sized bowl, on medium high speed quickly beat (few minutes) the egg whites until they are frothy but not hard. Do not over beat.

Add the sugar gradually on high speed. It is important to add the sugar 1 Tbsp at a time to make sure they get incorporated nicely. I had a family member who did this. On a low setting beat in the vanilla, cream of tartar, almond extract and salt. Gently fold in the nuts with a spatula.

Drop a tablespoon-full of the eggwhite mixture onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. I used a piping bag with a large nozzle to get a more uniform shapes.

Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cookies should not be damp. Leave them in the oven for another hour while the oven is cooling.

Repeat with the rest of the eggwhite mixture.

enjoy!

Happy Holidays!