Warm up to the fall with this delicious squash soup. My recipe is made with a little Midwestern twist. I added wild rice, a Midwestern staple but it can be served with some hearty bread like rye bread instead. I enjoy squashes in all shapes and forms. Many of us think of squash when we hear the word fall cooking so I will start off my fall recipe collection with a squash dish.
As the fall season is arriving, I feel like a little squirrel trying to get ready for the colder months: eating the great variety of fruits and vegetables, storing up foods, making last minute repairs and just mentally getting ready. By now we are aware that summer is gone and a new season is coming with all its beauty and challenges. It was the Autumnal Equinox a couple of days ago, when the days and nights are equal and from now on the days are going to get shorter and colder as well.
The warming sweet butternut squash is simmered with the white onion, garlic, potatoes and is balanced with the bitter celery root and the lovely pungent spices. At the end, it is topped with cream and the sweet almond slivers for a bit of crunchiness.
1 medium sized butternut squash- about 3 lbs
1 medium sized Russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 finally chopped large onion, white is the best
vegetable oil (sunflower)
2 slices of smoked bacon (optional)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, about 1 inch long
1 tsp paprika powder
1 smaller celery root, peeled and chopped up into 4 pieces
stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 thyme spring
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 cup of heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
red hot pepper to taste
1 cup of almond slivers
1 cup of uncooked wild rice or rye bread to serve
Preparing the squash. Peel and cut squash lengthwise, take out the seeds. Cut them into cubes. Warm up some oil on medium high heat and brown the cubes for a good 10-15 minutes.
Make the soup base. Have 1/2 cup of cold water ready. Warm up the oil. Sauté the onion, and the bacon(optional). When translucent and you can smell the aroma of the the onions and the bacon, add the chopped ginger for a few minutes, stir. Add the crushed garlic and 1 tsp paprika, stir for 30 seconds to activate. Add the little cold water that you had set aside earlier, stir.
Put the browned squash, potatoes, thyme spring, the freshly ground nutmeg and the celery root in the pot. Add the stock, enough to cover by about 1 inch above everything and cook for 30 minutes.
Cooking the wild rice (optional). Cook 1 cup of wild rice with 3 cups of water, partially covered for about 20 minutes or until the rice is soft and crunchy.
Roast the almond slivers. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and spread the almond pieces evenly on the sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. Serve on top of the soup.
When ready, let the soup cool for about 10-20 minutes. Add the cream and black pepper. Stir.
If you want the soup to be a little chunky, set aside about 20% of the cooked squash pieces. Use a hand held blender and puree the rest of the soup. Make sure you blend the celery chunks. Transfer the whole pieces back to the rest of the pureed soup. (If you prefer a smooth soup, just puree everything).
Check to see if more salt, black pepper, red hot pepper are needed.
Serve with wild rice/bread and the almond slivers.
I am excited to present my new recipe the Vegetarian moussaka. It is a vegetarian dish but is not only for vegetarians! I have to admit I was a bit nervous before I started experimenting but it was a fun challenge at the same time. I really like how nicely the soft polenta works with all the other ingredients.
We are going to venture into Europe again on our virtual journey. We think of Greece when we hear the word Moussaka but most likely it originated somewhere in the Middle East. It is a popular dish across all the Balkan countries and can be easily made in the Midwest of the United States. Well, I have to admit I have never been to Greece or the Middle East for that matter but have eaten traditional Moussaka before in Croatia… and it is mouth watering.
When we were in Croatia we happened upon this fabulous dish in Pula at the restaurant Konoba Bocaporta. It sounded really interesting so my husband and I both had to try it, while the kids ate something with seafood from the Mediterranean Sea. We don’t have the recipe but I tried to recreate it here at home. I still feel the flavors in my mouth, I hope you will like it as much as I did.
It is a complete vegetarian dish and all the ingredients seem to work well together. Often when meat is taken out of a dish, the substance and the flavors are removed as well, so when I created the recipe, I tried to make sure that the substance and the flavors were both kept. The meat is replaced with the lentils, mushrooms and the cheese. I replaced the potatoes with the polenta because they work well with the other ingredients. Mushrooms are traditionally used with polenta and they complement each other nicely … and everything is pulled together with the fragrant spices of the region.
This recipe can easily be made gluten free. Instead of the Béchamel sauce use the yoghurt sauce. This is a pretty authentic replacement as Croatians use a yoghurt sauce for the top. Béchamel sauce is not Greek but is in fact French. The Béchamel sauce was added to Moussaka by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis in the 1920’s when he was trying to Europeanize Greek cuisine. I actually use this yogurt sauce quite regularly to make simple lentil dishes but the Béchamel sauce is a nice treat for sure.
FUN FACT: One thing all the countries in the Balkan region agree on is that Moussaka is a fabulous dish.
I developed this recipe so if you would like to post it you will have to contact the author at twincitiesherbs.com.
Serves 4-6 people
high quality olive oil
1 medium size eggplant
lots of garlic
1 tomato- canned is fine
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp oregano
4-8 oz of mushrooms – Portobello mushrooms or any heavier, earthier tasting mushrooms but regular white button or crimini mushrooms would work nicely too
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups of hard cheeses: I used 1 cup gruyere and 1 cup parmesan
1/2 cup of polenta grits
1/2 cup water
1.5 cup of stock or you can use water with bullion of your choice. ( The chicken stock will give a nice flavor but if you don’t want to use meat, add some bullion).
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup of uncooked lentils
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup of butter ( 1 stick)
2 cups of milk
2 egg yolk
3 fresh springs of thyme
freshly ground black pepper
yoghurt (important part of the dish)
Quick overview of the ingredients as a group
Lentils: 1/2 cup of uncooked lentils, oil, 1 large tomato, 1 Tbsp of tomato paste, 1.5 cups of chicken stock or water, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp paprika, bay leaves, 2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp all spice, smaller stick of cinnamon (about 1 inch), 1 fresh thyme spring, 1 tsp salt and red pepper flakes (optional).
Polenta: 1/2 cup of polenta (corn grits), 1.5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock or water+bullion, + 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 thyme spring, 1 cup of hard cheese ( 1/2 cup of greyere, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese), 1 Tbsp butter and 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms or equivalent, oil, crushed garlic and 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.
Eggplants: 1 medium sized eggplants, 1/4 cup of tomatoes sauce, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp oregano, salt and black pepper.
Béchamel sauce: 1/4 cup of butter, 1 /2 cup of flour, 2 cups of warm milk, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp salt and ground pepper, 1 thyme spring.
Yoghurt sauce in place of Béchamel sauce: 1.5 cups of yoghurt, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 garlic clove, cucumber slices.
Wash the polenta removing any foreign particles. Soak in water for a few hours.
Wash 1/2 cup of lentils and soak for a few hours hours.
Cooking the lentils. Remove soaking liquid and add 1.5 cups cold water or stock. Cook for 1 hour or until lentils are soft. Take off heat and let lentils stay in covered pot for about 20-30 minutes so they can soak up more liquid. Add more liquid if needed. Drain before adding to the polenta. Set aside.
Prepare the sauce for the lentils. Chop up 1 large tomato. Warm up some oil, when warm sautee the onion for 5 minutes. Add 2 tsp oregano, fresh thyme springs, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp all spice and the crushed garlic. Stir well and quickly add the 1 chopped tomato and 1 Tbsp tomato paste. Cook until tomatoes become ‘saucy’. Add cinamon stick. Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium heat. Cook for 10 more mintes.
Drain the water off the lentils and add the cooked lentils to the tomato sauce. Take out all the larger spice pieces. Set aside.
Preparing the eggplant. Slice the eggplants and pan fry them. Please, check my previous recipe Eggplant Parmesan for directions. (You can also bake the eggplants in the oven if you prefer). Set aside.
Preparing the polenta. Pour water off the corn grits and add 1/2 water, stir. Bring 1.5 cups of liquid to a boil. Add the polentawith added water slowly while stirring constantly. Add 1 thyme spring and cook for about 20 minutes or until the polenta is creamy. Stir frequently because it can burn easily. When done add 1 Tbsp butter, 1tsp salt, cheese, thyme and stir. Set aside.
Preparing the mushrooms. Slice up mushrooms. Warm up some oil and sauté the mushrooms until soft. At the end, add a little crushed garlic, freshly ground pepper and 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Stir and turn off heat. Set aside.
Preparing the béchamel sauce. It is not too hard just follow the steps. I used a whisk. Warm up 1 stick of butter on low heat, when melted increase the heat to medium high and add the flour slowly, stirring continuously. Then start adding the milk very slowly, stirring after each addition and wait for a minute to let the flour mixture soak up the milk. When you start seeing bubbles, it is done. Take off heat. Grade some nutmeg. Add 1/4 cup of Gruyere cheese, thyme, salt and 2 egg yolks. Mix well. Set aside.
Yoghurt sauce in place of the Bechamel sauce. This recipe can easily be made gluten free if you you prefer. Instead of the Béchamel sauce use 3 cups of yogurt, 3 lightly beaten eggs, garlic, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2-1 cup cheese.
Mix the polenta and the lentils. I believe they will taste better together.
See if you need to add salt, red hot pepper and black pepper to any of the dishes.
From here, everything is easy! Preheat oven to 350 F. I used a 2QT size baking dish (8×11.5×2 in). Coat the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Start layering: polenta with the lentils, mushrooms, eggplants, the béchamel sauce or the gluten free yoghurt sauce and parmesan/Gruyere cheese on the top. Put the dish into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Wait for at least 1 hour to let the flavors melt into each other. The dish should not be runny so you might have to wait longer until it sets.
Serve hot with yogurt sauce, scallions, parsley.
Seasonings, seasoning and seasoning!!!! This dish needs a lot of seasoning and salt added. Don’t be alarmed when you see the amounts.
The smaller portobello mushrooms are nicer … they are easier to cook and will be tastier in the meal. The crimini mushrooms are very nice too.
Also I find the smaller/medium sized eggplants are easier to cut and are tastier in the dish as well.
This is not a quick dish, it takes a long time to make like any casserole dish but it is not difficult. It is usually made for occasions because of the complexity of the dish but you can treat yourself/family/friends to it anytime.
This is my version but please feel free to experiment and let me know what you did. If you post it, please reference this blog.
Plum gnocchis or plum dumplings bring back some very sweet childhood memories … delicious plums wrapped in soft, pillowy dough with a hint of bread crumbs spiced with a little sugary cinnamon. In Hungary, it is often served as a second dish after a heavier soup but can be a dessert as well. Late summer is the time when plums are ready so I’m so excited to have them again.
Plum dumplings can be found in many countries of central/southern part of Europe: in Italy (Gnocchi de susine), Hungary (szilvás gombóc), Croatia (Knedle sa sljivama), Austria (Zwetschkenknödel), Romania (Galuste cu prune), Slovenia (Slivovi cmoki), etc. Supposedly, it originated in the region of Trieste, Italy that has a colorful history being part of different counties. Gnocchi (pronounced nyow kee) is an Italian word that means knuckle or knots. Gnocchi is a mixture of flour and water and possibly many other ingredients including potatoes as well. So what nationality is Plum gnocchi? Today, people in any of those above mentioned countries would argue that it is theirs but please read on … If you know European history and how countries have changed, this recipe might reflect the ever changing times. Also, remember potatoes came from the new World …
It doesn’t matter who invented it, indeed it is a fabulous dish with its main ingredient the plum. Plums are slightly cooling with a sweet and sour flavor, so it will need the pungent cinnamon! Try to get the Italian or the Hungarian purple plums but other sweet, great tasting plums will work too. In addition to its vitamin and mineral content, plums are also a great source of fiber. So take a bite of this intriguing history …
Enjoy Palotás music while you’re eating this dish…
Makes about 9 balls plus the little gnocchi pieces
about 1 lb russet potatoes (4-5 potatoes
2 cup flour or more depending on the dough
1 Tbsp semolina flour (optional)
1 Tbsp butter
5-10 sweet plums – depending on the size of your plums
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp clove, 1/8 nutmeg, 1/8 tsp mace (I used 1 tsp Penzey’s apple pie seasoning- cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves)
Do add a little nutmeg … if you only add 1 thing to the cinnamon, nutmeg makes such a big difference. I would say 1/8 tsp but try get a feel for it. I don’t know how Bill, the owner at penzeys.com mix his apple pie seasoning but I can assure you he is right. These spices do wonders with the sour fruits.
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup of walnuts (finally chopped)
5 Tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon (I used Penzey’s apple pie seasoning)
3 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
Place the potatoes with the skin on in a large pot. I like to put them onto a metal steamer with ‘feet’ so the vitamins and minerals don’t boil into the water and so they don’t soak up too much water. If the potatoes are too wet, they will need more flour and will be harder. (Please see picture above). Add cold water to the pot with a little salt and bring it to a boil, cook them with lid on for about 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Peel them while they are still hot but you can handle.
Puree the potatoes while they are still warm, I was able to do it as soon as the peels were taken off. I used a potato ricer. I put the potatoes through the larger holes of the ricer, then the smaller ones. It is worth investing in a potato ricer if you want a nice and soft dough. I also read that smaller holes on a cheese grader could work- if you don’t have a ricer.
Let the dough cool completely. Mix in the flour, salt, egg, 1 Tbsp of butter, potatoes and start kneading the dough to make a ball. Do not over do it. Make sure your potatoes are at room temperature. If they are warm they will take up too much flour. You can use the fridge for 5 minutes.
Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the plums. Wash them, cut them in half and take out the pits.
Melt the butter on low heat and add the crumbs stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until the crumbs soak up the butter and become golden brown. Use lower heat so the butter doesn’t burn. Add the cinnamon, sugar and chopped walnuts. Mix. This will be used to coat the balls.
Also, mix the 3 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt for the stuffing.
Fill a 5 qt pot with about 3 qt water. Bring to a boil with a little a little salt.
You can even do the dishes while you are waiting for the dough, the one hour will go by really fast.
After 1 hour, place the dough on a flat, floured surface and start stretching it to 1 cm thickness until it is a squarish shape. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Cut out 9 squares. Don’t worry about getting the shape perfect because we will use the left overs for the mini gnocchis, in Hungarian nudlis.
Assemble the dumplings. Place one of the dough squares into your palm. Put a plum piece along with the cinnamon sugar in the dough. Fold corner by corner gently tucking the stuffing inside and then roll it to make a ball. Do this with each square. Coat them in flour.
You can take half of the left over dough and start rolling long strips with them. Cut short little pieces off, coat in flour. Do this with the other half as well. You will cook them with the balls. If you don’t want to make these, use this left over dough to make more balls. You can most likely get 2 or maybe 3 more balls.
When the water starts boiling, you can drop the dumplings in the water one by one with a slotted spoon. Also, add the little gnocchi strips in this water. Try to gently stir them to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
When the dumplings come to the surface, cook them for about another 5 minutes and remove them with a slotted spoon.
Put the dumplings into the coating mixture that you prepared earlier and roll them around until they are well coated.
Oh and you might want to double up the recipe or triple …
This is the vegetarian version of my previous recipe, the Turkish stuffed eggplants (karni yarik). I tried to keep the recipe’s Turkish authenticity but otherwise it is my creation. I replaced the meat with lentils, eggs and cheese and used oregano in the place of mint. I also used more tomatoes to keep the mixture moist. All these ingredients are used in Turkey and hope you will like it as much as I did.
I can’t help but notice the abundance of goods at the farmers’ market. The tables are filled with all kinds of fruits and vegetables. In fact, it is the time of the year when they have the most varieties available. For today’s post I picked eggplant.
We associate eggplants with the Middle East but it actually originated from India and has also been popular in other Asian countries for a long time. Today, it is used all over the world. In Europe, it was a staple until potatoes arrived from the New World. The Turkish have certainly created many recipes with it and believe that they have the best eggplant dishes. The Spanards had brought it over to the Americas in the 1600′. Eggplants have been used in the United States; however, earlier, people didn’t really know what to do with them. Many just used them for decorations only.
Eggplants come in all kinds of shapes and colors. Shapes can be round or more elongated and the colors can vary from white, green to purple. In the United States, the rounder, purple, more oblong eggplant is usually available in stores. For this recipe, try to buy these medium sized, fat, purple eggplants that I have pictures of. Also, make sure they are about the same size because different sizes will vary their cooking times. Also they should be nice and firm.
Eggplants belong to the night shade family along with tomatoes and potatoes. It is a cooling bitter plant that is highly nutritious with vitamins A, B, C, K1, E and minerals manganese, magnesium, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. An interesting fact is that we often believe that it is a vegetable but in fact it is a fruit. Also, it is thought to be aphrodisiac.
In addition to its nutritional values, people have been using eggplants for other health benefits too. Asians like to use them for their cooling property. It is good for digestion, particularly for stagnation and heat. It is beneficial in clearing heat that accumulates during the warmer months but it is still a valuable plant now, during the Indian summer as it can take out heat that may have been trapped in during the summer. In addition, its antioxidants can protect the liver from toxins.
It is also associated with fertility from its ability to unblock stagnation in the liver and the womb. In China, brides were supposed to posses 12 eggplant recipes before they got married. By the same token, pregnant women are advised to limit the consumption of eggplants because of the possibility of miscarriage.
6 fresh plum tomatoes or other tomatoes (canned is fine too)
1 cup of hard cheese + more for the top
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of flat leafed parsley
Soak the lentils for a few hours if you have time.
Prepare rice with bay leaves. Use 1/2 cup of rice with 1 cup of water.
Bake eggplants. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Wash eggplants and put them on an oiled baking sheet. Prick them with a fork in 6-8 places, half inch deep to prevent them from exploding in your oven. Coat them with some olive oil with a brush. Bake them for 45-60 minutes or until they are nice and soft, so you can put the blade of a knife through easily. You don’t want them to be hard but they shouldn’t collapse either. Once they start becoming soft, keep an eye on them. If you’re using larger eggplants, you will have to cut them in half lengthwise. Oil the top and proceed like you do with the smaller ones.
When ready take them out and let them cool..
Prepare the stuffing. Sauté the onion in the oil. When onions are soft but not brown, add the green pepper pieces and continue sautéing the for about 10-15 minutes. Add spices (oregano, cumin, paprika), crushed garlic and stir. Then add tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes or until tomatoes are well cooked and there is a nice sauce. Take off the heat.
Put mixture into a bowl. Add rice, lentils, eggs, salt, ground black pepper, hot pepper flakes and graded cheese (I used 1 cup). Mix.
Sautee mushrooms and add to the prvious mixture. Mix.
Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Gently cut a slit in the middle down from the top of a whole eggplant making sure you don’t cut through the skin on the bottom. Take out the seeds. You can use the seeds to make babaganoush or just simply discard them.
Just like its Turkish name, karni yarik, splitting belly suggests, stuff the inside of the eggplants, their bellies with the stuffing. You can put a little graded cheese and a thin slice of tomato on the top. Put eggplants in a baking dish. Pour boiling water into dish about 1 inch deep. Place dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Take them out when top is brown. Let them cool.
Cut off the ends before serving them.
Serve warm with cucumber yoghurt sauce.
1 1/2 cups of yoghurt
1 longer English, slicing cucumber
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp of vinegar
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 Tbsp of dried mint
Peel and slice the cucmber. Place the slices in a bowl, salt and let it sit for 15 minutes. Salting is optional. Strain, squeeze out and discard the liquid.
In a separate bowl mix together all the other ingredients, stir well. Put in the cucumbers and gently stir mix them in.
Garnish with fresh mint. Serve with the eggplants.
Some like it white, some like it red … others use flour, some others don’t … and could be served hot or cold … Well, I like it red with flour and served hot. This is one of my favorite recipes and I believe it would make a nice transition into the late summer days as well.
This dish is based on the Hungarian tökfözelék recipe. The sweet spaghetti squash definitely is the main ingredient. It is growing right now and I believe is perfect for the end of the summer. The other important ingredient that everybody uses regardless of other preferences is dill. Dill is a unique sweet plant that gives the zesty, tangy flavor with slightly bitter undertones. It helps digestion and calms the mind. I like to balance the sweet flavor with pungent flavors, in this case, the onions and the garlic will do that. Of course we also have the sour, acidic flavor from the vinegar and the Hungarian staple, sour cream. At the end, we add the salt to create this pleasant sweet and sour dish.
vegetable oil (sunflower)
1 larger onion, chopped, or graded
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cold water
1 smaller spaghetti squash (about 1 lb) (Not exactly what we use in Hungary but it is a perfect substitute).
water or meat stock
4 dill springs, (about a hand-full)
1/4 cup white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 red pepper flalkes
Prepare the spaghetti squash. Peel, and grate through the larger holes of your cheese grater.
Optional: Soak in 2 tsp salt for 20 minutes. Squeeze water out. This step will make the squash less watery.
Chop the onion fine or you can grate too.
Have a 1/2 cup of cold water ready.
Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt in a little oil until soft but not brown. When you can smell the aroma of the onion, add paprika powder and garlic, stir and after 30 second add the cold water quickly that you set aside earlier. Stir.
Cook the onion for 15 minutes.
Add the squash meat, stir in and cover with water or stock.
Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium heat and cook covered for 15-30 minutes.
Chop dill, only the leaves though, discard the stem. Add the dill to the pot.
Also mix 1 Tbsp of flour with cold little water and add a little hot liquid from the dish. Whisk well and add it to the dish.
Bring the dish to a quick boil, cook for a few minutes and turn heat off.
Add vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir. Take off heat.
Let the dish cool and but at least for 6 hours so the flavors can settle.
Serve with a dab of sour cream and some protein (egg or beef dishes would go well). I also serve mashed potatoes.
I served it with my Eggplant Parmesan dish. The bitter eggplants complemented this sweet and sour dish nicely.
Pesto is a unique and delicious sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy, around the 16th century. It is nice to serve on pasta on a hot summer day. We just spent some time in the Mediterranean region where it was very hot. We joined the locals and did not eat our main meal until 8 pm. Pesto was great to eat during the day just to satisfy our quick hunger. I really like how the fragrant basil can transform this meal with all its other ingredients olive oil, cheese, garlic, and pine nuts into a something so unique.
Originally, pesto was made in mortars and according to Genoese cooks pesto can only be made in mortars. In fact its name or its verb version ‘pestare’ means to pound and grind. Today, we have food processors that would be a fine replacement, just keep in mind that pesto is meant to be pounded and not so much chopped so in other words don’t over process it in the food processor and mix the cheese in at the end by hand.
4 cups of tightly packed fresh basil
1 cup of fresh, cold pressed olive oil
1/2 cup of chopped up pine nuts (walnuts are fine too)
4 garlic cloves
1 cup of freshly graded parmi-giano-reggiano cheese
4 Tbsp of graded romano cheese (optional)
1 pound of pasta (spaghetti or any pasta with a large surface area)
Take the leaves off of the stems and wash them well in cold water. Clip off the flowering tips and any brownish leaves if there are any. Put them in a colander and let the water drain off. By the time you have everything else ready the basil should be ready too.
Start boiling water for the pasta. Continue according to the package. Save a little cooking water for the pesto.
Measure out all the ingredients.
Chop up the garlic with the blade of a sharp knife.
I do not have a mortar but I have a small food processor. The following directions are for a food processor. Put the basil in the food processor and process until fully chopped. (You are chopping at this stage). Add olive oil, pine nuts, chopped garlic, salt and chop quickly, gently just until they are nicely blended.
Transfer this mixture into a clean bowl. You will continue mixing in the cheese with a spoon by hand. (Please see explanation above).
When adding the pesto to the pasta, add 2-4 Tbsp of the reserved pasta water.
Serve at room temperature with vegetables.
Marcella Hazan: Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking
When I was a little girl I used to go to the farmers’ market with my grandmother to sell her goods. I was in charge of the fruits. Whatever I was able to pick the day before, I could sell. I loved climbing up the tree and picking the fruits. We took the train to the nearest town where the market was. So of course I sold the cherries and the sour cherries too. I remember I used to wonder though why the heck people got so excited about sour cherries, why not just buy the delicious sweet cherries. Well, try this soup and you will understand too :).
Honestly, nothing tastes as good as a bowl of cold sour cherry soup on a hot day. Sour cherry soup originated in Hungary and is popular in many Central European countries. I added a small amount of ginger, cloves and cinnamon to offset the sweetness and sourness of the cherries and orange peel and salt to balance it out nicely. At the end, I thickened the soup with egg yolks. Oh and I added in a bit of alcohol, more exactly white wine and brandy (pálinka). The alcohol content will boil away so no worries, kids can have it too.
The main ingredient is the sour cheeries. If you have a tree growing in your back yard, it is the best source for picking for sure. I have seen it in health food stores, farmers’ markets and some specilty shops too but otherwise it will be most likely hard to get fresh. You can get frozen sour cherries, they will work well as long as they are tasty, of course. Also, you can use soft cherries too but the harder kind, the bing cherries will not work. I leave the pit in but take the stems off. In addition to the cherries, I like to add some goose berries to the soup, too.
1 lb of sour cherries or soft cherries (Please see note above).
1 cup of goose berries, optional
1/2-1 cup of sugar (depending on your taste)
1 lemon, sliced
1 Tbsp orange peel
1 Tbsp of fresh ginger (chopped)
1 whole cinnamon stick (avoid powdered cinnamon)
3-5 pieces of cloves
1-2 cup of white wine (Vermouth is fine) (optional)
2 Tbsp of brandy (cherry would be ideal but others are fine too)
1/8 tsp of salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
whipped cream for serving
Wash the cherries.
Put them into a medium sized pot along with the sugar, orange peel and lemon slices.
Cover with water. Water should be about about 1-2 inches above the cherries.
Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat without the lid. Bring to a boil and continue cooking as you add the cloves, cinnamon, ginger, wine, brandy and and cook for 5 more minutes on medium low heat with the lid on. We add the ginger, cinnamon and cloves in later because they only need 5 minutes of cooking.
Turn off the heat. Remember to wait for 5 minutes before adding the egg yolk mixture.
Mix the yolk with a little liquid from the soup. As I mentioned earlier, after 5 minutes, add the egg yolk mixture. Stir gently so it is mixed nicely in the soup.
Let the pot cool on the counter leaving the cinnamon and the cloves in.
Chill in the refrigerator overnight but atleast for a couple of hours.
Yes Kohlrabi soup! … a simple and tasty soup! I am vacationing at my parents’ house and rediscovering this interesting vegetable. My mom apparently used to make it when we were kids but looks like it didn’t get my attention back then. I do throw it into soups in the summer but have never thought of using it as a main ingredient. What an amazing soup with an interesting flavor. Honestly, when I heard she made kohlrabi soup, I can’t belive but I actually told her that the kids will not eat it. Well to my biggest surprise, my kids loved it and asked for seconds! So I think I can add, it is a kid friendly soup as well.
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea) is in the Brassica family as its Latin name also suggests and is related to cabbages, broccoli etc. Yes, they do look different but they are in the same family. Kohlrabi is popular in the Northern European countries. The word has a German origin and the Germans have brought it over to the US back in the 1800’s. It is a cross between wild cabbages (kohl) and turnips (rabi). There are several varieties and can be purplish and white greenish in color. I personally like the purple one for its beautiful vibrant color but there is no difference in flavor. They tend to be ready late spring and early summer. If they are left on the vine too long, they get too big and woody. Try to pick them on time to avoid this as it can effect the flavor and also buy the smaller or medium sized ones avoiding the larger ones. The meaty part above the ground is used in general but the leaves are edible, too. In fact, the leaves have even more vitamins and minerals than the meaty part. Kohlrabi has a distinct earthy, nutty flavor and is mildly sweet and pairs well with the sweet carrots.
oil (I used sunflower seed)
1/2 cup of water
2 medium sized kohlrabi or 4 smaller ones, shaved with a cheese grader
1 medium sized carrot cut into long or circular pieces
1 tsp curry powder or 1 tsp carraway seed and 1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika
chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup of millet or rice
croutons or twice baked bread pieces
parsley or lovage
salt to taste
Make the stock
Peel the kohlrabi and shave it on a grader, – this is my mom’s secret. She claims that the shaved pieces make this soup pleasant instead of cutting them into chunks. You can keep the leaves from the top and put them in the soup as well.
Peel the carrots and cut them into small pieces.
Satué the kohlrabi in a little oil for 5-10 minutes. Add the curry and the paprika in for about 20 seconds, stir and add a little cold water, stir. If you don’t use curry, you can add caraway seeds and marjoram here.
Add the carrots and the millet and cover well with the stock. Bring to a boil and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. The millet needs 20 minutes to cook.
Serve hot with the croutons, parsley and hot pepper.
We just celebrated the Summer Solstice and suitably sugar peas are ready! When I can make pea soup, I know summer is here. So why is pea soup so special? We can buy frozen peas all year long. Yes, it is true but we cannot make Hungarian pea soup with frozen peas alone, we need the fresh shells as well. This nourishing soup is mildly sweet and refreshing.
This soup brings back some very nice memories. My mother and my paternal grandmother also made it. We had it regularly in the summer. Unfortunately, these vegetables are becoming harder and harder to find. You will not be able to find them at supermarkets easily. However, they should be readily available at farmers’ markets and health food stores. Or just simply grow them in your garden. Again, the tastier your vegis, the better your soup will be!
Ingredients for the soup
2 lbs of sugar snap peas with the shells
about 3 Tbsp of oil (I like sunflower)
1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika
6 stalks of fresh carrots
1 tsp of salt or to taste
red hot pepper to taste (optional)
Ingredients for the dumplings (csipetke)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of flour, possibly more
1 tsp of oil
Start shelling the peas. Put the shells and the peas in separate bowls.
Wash the shells and put them into a larger pot. Add 3 stalks of carrots and 1 kohlrabi and enough water to cover all vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook on medium high heat for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings (csipetke). This can be a little tricky. Lightly whisk the egg, add the salt and the oil. Start slowly adding the flour, enough so it forms a ball. You don’t want it to fall apart in the soup but you also don’t want it to be hard as rock. Try to find something in-between. The amount of flour really depends on how much the egg takes up. Once you found the right consistency, keep kneading it for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rise for at least 15 minutes.
Have 1/2 cup of cold water ready for the soup.
You can start the soup by now. Heat up the oil in a medium sized pot with a heavier bottom. When ready, put in the peas and stir. You sauté the peas for 5-10 minutes in the oil (the younger ones for less, the older ones longer). Make sure there is enough oil for the flour. Add the flour and stir. This thickens the soup. Then in 1 minute you can add the paprika and stir. This activates the paprika. In 20-30seconds add the cold water and stir making sure there are no lumps in the soup.
Add the pea shell stock. Make sure the solids are strained from the liquid.
Clean and scrape the outside of the carrots. Cut them up into bite sizes.
Peel the kohlrabi and cut it into small, bite sizes.
Put the carrots and the kohlrabi in the soup.
Bring to a boil and cook on medium low heat for about 20-30 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, we will make the dumplings.
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil for the dumplings.
Meanwhile, cut the dough into 6 long pieces and roll each to finger thickness. Each will make about a 6 inch long dough. With your thumb and index finger you can pinch a little piece off the dough or you can use a knife for this too. ‘Csipet’ means ‘pinch of’ in Hungarian hence where the name csipetke for this dumpling came from. When the water starts boiling, you can start putting these small pieces of dumpling in the boiling water. They should be ready in a few minutes when they come up to the surface of the water. Sample one to make sure they are ready. Strain off water and serve in the soup. If the dumplings are too hard, no worries! You can put them in the soup for a short time and they will get softer as they soak up a little liquid.
Summer is here and burgers are great for grilling! The combination of black beans, wild rice and quinoa make a tasty American burger. Each one is native to the Americas and has a rich history. Usually I am not a big fan of food substitutes but I think this is very tasty. It seems like this burger even tricks my feisty, meat lover corgi too. Seriously, he just sits and stares at me, hoping to get a little.
I would like to add this recipe to my collection. The moist burgers are highly nutritious and easy to take on trips. Oh and those mushrooms are mouthwatering … Just remember, the beans and the quinoa need to be soaked ahead before you cook them.
There is always a pot of beans soaking in traditional Latin American homes, a pot waiting to be cooked for the next meal. As soon as a meal is finished, the preparation for the next one starts. And they eat beans for almost every meal.
Why should the beans be soaked? Wouldn’t cooking them for a longer time be enough? Beans and quinoa are nutritious but also have particles that actually can cause problems if not removed. These anti-nutrient particles such as phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors can be only removed by soaking. In addition to cost, this is also a good reason to make your own beans :). Remember to pour off the soaking liquid and add fresh cold water for cooking.
Black Bean Burger Recipe
Makes 8-10 burgers
The inspiration for this recipe came from Heid E. Erdrich’s Original Local cookbook.
1 cup of dried black beans (heirloom is the best if you can get it) or 1 can (14oz), rinsed and drained well.
1/2 cup of uncooked wild rice (preferably the hand harvested )
¼ cup of quinoa (or replace with 1/4 cup of wild rice)
1 tsp cumin
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper or to taste
1 Tbsp of oil (olive, sunflower)
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup of bread crumbs
1/4 tsp of dried hot pepper (optional)
oil for cooking the patties (sunflower, grape seed)
To garnish (all ingredients are optional)
1 onion thinly sliced and sautéed or raw
5-8 heads of crimini or white button mushrooms thinly sliced and sautéed or see recipe foe mushroom gravy below
1 head of portobello mushrooms grilled or cooked
sheeps’ milk cheese
Soak beans and quinoa (separate) overnight or at least for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, rinse water off of the beans. Place them in a bigger pot, cover well with water, bring to a boil and turn down the heat. Cook for 2 hour covered on low heat or you can use a pressure cooker.
Rinse quinoa, sauté on medium heat in a little oil for a few minutes and add 1/2 cup of water. Again bring it to a boil, turn down and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes.
Cook wild rice in 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/4 tsp of salt. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down and cook with cover half way covering the pot. Do not cover the pot completely.
In a large bowl, mash the 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans leaving it a bit chunky. This is a quick and easy process, I would not use a machine to do this step.
Add 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa, cooked 3/4 cup of wild rice and the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
Make 4 patties.
Heat a pan with some oil over medium heat.
Place patties in the pan and cook them 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Use a wide spatula for turning and taking the patties out.
Take the 2 outer layers of the onion off and slice it thinly. Sauté the onions for about 10-15 minutes over high medium heat until brown.
Slice the mushrooms thinly. Add them to the onions and continue sautéing for another 10 minutes or until mushrooms are soft or make Mushrooms sauce – see below.
Serve patties warm and garnish with condiments, vegetables of your choice.
Mushroom Sage Gravy Recipe (optional)
4 ounces of mushrooms
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp dried sage or 2 fresh leaves
1/4 tsp of dried rosemary crushed or 1 fresh spring
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup of stock
1/4 cup of creme
In a saucepan, warm oil over medium heat, add rosemary for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid and mushrooms are well browned. Stir frequently. Add thyme, sage and let cook for one minute. Add stock, stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes and reduce heat to low.
Transfer half of gravy to a blender and puree until completely smooth. Add pureed mushrooms back into mushroom mixture and stir. See if you like the consistency. If not thick enough, puree a little more of the mixture.