Raw Onion Crackers

It has been forever. I haven’t been developing recipes. More just experimenting in the kitchen and enjoying the freedom of being in the moment with cooking.  Not taking notes or writing anything down.  But, it is back to recipe making for me.

Of late, I have been trying to eat more raw while at home. Out. It doesn’t matter. I feel like our bodies give us signs that we need to change our diet or our lifestyle. And for me it was my hair. It started to look dry and brittle. No longer any shine or luster. I wanted to make sure my diet had less of my favorites (bread, dairy, sugar, caffeine) and more whole foods. Thank goodness it is spring and I can barely keep up with the food that I am harvesting from the garden. Vegetables abound. Yet, this recipe does not happen to include any such vegetables. Instead, it is for onion crackers. Which are totally inspired by Matt Amsden’s Famous Onion Bread.  They do happen to pair quite well as a side to a fresh garden salad though.

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This makes a small batch. Just enough for snacking on over the week. However, it is easily doubled or even tripled for that matter.

I use my oven as it can be set at 100 degrees. However, you can also use a dehydrator tray lined with a Teflex sheet, but I don’t own one so I cannot verify the time and temperature.

Ingredients:

  •  1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbs sesame seed
  • 3 Tbs chia seed
  • 1 Tbs Nama Shoyu
  • 1Tbs olive oil, extra virgin cold-pressed
  • 3 Tbs water
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until you get a smooth puree. It will still have bits and chunks so don’t stress. Just until it is mixed and the onions seem chopped.

Spread the mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread it as thin as you can without being paper thin. Just think a cracker. Then sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. You can go ahead and lightly score them if you want perfectly square pieces. I never do. I just break them apart once they are done.

Dehydrate them on 100 for roughly 20 hours (depending on how thin you spread the mixture, it may take up to 24), flipping them halfway through. I usually put another piece of parchment paper on them and us it to easily flip the entire mass. If you are prescoring them, score the other side as well.

Enjoy!

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Turnip + Kale Bean Soup

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The perils of winter and its shortened days.  The cozy warm fire beckons one inside.  The cold crisp air, although intoxicating to some even in its sharpness, acts to deter even the most beloved of activities.  Farmers markets are forgone for the ease and convenience of the grocery store.  As shamefully hard as it is to admit, I don’t know the last time I stepped foot at the farmers market.  Whole Foods on the other hand, has become a frequented location.

On these bitter cold days, when all I seem to want is to warm my bones, and baths have become a nightly ritual, soup seems the best choice for dinner.  Soup made of hearty ingredients.  Soup that has one dreaming of spring and warmer days.

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This soup requires a “bouquet garni”, or a bundle of herbs tied together with string and used to prepare soup, stock, and various stews. The bouquet is cooked with the other ingredients, but is removed before serving.  If it were spring, or even summer or fall for that matter, I would walk barefoot out the doors of our home, to the garden and wander along the beds, choosing an assortment of fresh herbs.  However, with winter at hand, I was at the mercy of the grocery store.

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Turnip + Kale Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bouguet garni (with a sprig each of sage, oregano, rosemay, and tarragon)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 lb turnips, chopped
  • 6 cups water (or vegetable broth if you prefer, but the herbs bring enough flavor on their own)
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans (I much prefer to use dried beans and cook flavor into them myself, however, I did not have any one hand, nor did the store), drained and rinsed
  • 2 large handfuls of kale, chopped
  •  juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbs parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Gently heat oil in a large stock pot adding the onions and sauté until they begin to color and soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, bay leaves, and bouquet garni and cook for another minute or so, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the turnips and cook for just a moment (like 30 seconds) adding the water to the pot.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the turnips are soft but not breaking down.  Add the beans and kale and cook until they are heated through. Remove from heat as well as remove the herbs and bay leaves.  Add the lemon juice and parsley and stir to combine.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Colcannon…a Winter Staple

Well, maybe staple is too strong of a word. These days, nothing is really a staple.  I don’t know if I could even tell you the last five things I cooked.  Other than bread (which if we are being technical, I know, it is baking, but I am not into technicalities).  Bread has been my staple.  But I am trying to break that habit.  Thus far successful.  I have not baked a loaf of bread since Thanksgiving.

Colcannon.  My mother mentioned it the other day.  It is a word that creates instant craving.  A word that stays in my head until it has been satisfied.  Colcannon is one of those dishes I was introduced to later in life and was sold from the first bite. A simple dish of potatoes and cabbage, it is easy to cook. Rustic, basic, delicious. My only experience and knowledge with Colcannon is from Jane Brody’s “Good Food Book”. For me, that is all I know. Her’s is not the authentic (apparently, traditionally it is made sans the cheese and milk but I can’t imagine it without).  So, this recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation.  And with a French twist to an Irish classic.

Colcannon

serves 6

  • 1 3/4 lb russet potatoes, washed and left whole
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 c green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 c dinosaur kale, chopped (or similar hearty variety)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbs whole milk
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 5 oz gruyere, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by bringing a pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Add the bay leaves and whole, unpeeled potatoes.  Cook until they are tender and not overcooked and mushy.  Remove from water (but do not drain water) along with bay leaves,  setting aside potatoes to cool.  Discard the bay leaves.

Add the cabbage, kale, and onions to the potato water and boil for 5 minutes under tender.  Drain the vegetables.

Once the potatoes are cool and can be handled, peel of the skin.  Place in a bowl and add the milk and butter and mash until smooth.  (I actually don’t mind if they aren’t completely smooth…it adds a little texture.)

Add the cheese and nutmeg to the potatoes and mix until combined.  Add the vegetables and again mix.  Season with salt and pepper as desired and transfer to a casserole dish.

Heat in the oven at 375 until it begins to slightly brown on top and is heated through.

Basics: Yogurt

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Growing up I was teased (ever so gently mind you) by my sisters for being basic. I liked my food straightforward and simple. I didn’t like mixing flavors or ingredients. It wasn’t that I was picky about the items, I just did not want them melding together.

As I have grown older, I don’t mind the mixing (most definitely prefer it now), but some things still seem best left plain, simple, just as they are. One thing. Yogurt. I love plain yogurt. Now, don’t mistake me here. That doesn’t mean I don’t put all sorts of fruits, seeds, and nuts in it, because I do. But, I like to start with plain simple yogurt.

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Plain Yogurt

makes 4 cups, takes roughly 13 hours

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups good, local whole milk (I love to use Cruze Dairy Farm…makes it super rich and creamy…and the best part, gets a layer of cream on the top if you are lucky)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt with active live bacteria (try not to use skim…whole or at least 2%)

Supplies:

  • thermometer
  • pot with lid
  • towel
  • whisk
  • mason jars or containers for the yogurt
  • large covered casserole or Styrofoam container with lid (something water proof and heat safe)

Begin by heating your milk gently in a pot to 150 degrees.

While the milk begins to heat, I sterilize the jars for the yogurt.  Typically I use four 8 oz mason jars.  There is something so French about using glass for one’s yogurt.  Maybe because we have a collection of glass jars from the summer in France.  We ate yogurt just so we could have the jars.  Total side note.  Back to sterilizing glass.  Boil water and carefully pour the water into the jars and let sit while you finish making the yogurt.  One note.  I have never had the glass crack on me.  But add the water with care.  You can run hot tap water over the jars first, or heat the water, but not let it boil.

Back to the milk and the stove.  Remove from heat and cover the pot with a lid and a towel to keep nice and warm.  Hold for 30 minutes.  Remove the towel and lid and let cool down to 115-118 degrees.  Make sure the milk has lowered to under 120 degrees before adding the yogurt or you will kill the live bacteria.  Add the yogurt, stir and pour into sterilized jars (emptying the water prior).

Now, this is the key part.  The water bath.  Compliments of Dawn Raburn.  Whenever I have a question of life and health and homemaking, she is my go to resource (after my own mother of course).  She has seen and done it all and seems always ready with an answer.  So, carefully and gently put your glass jars, lids tightly secured, into your container and pour the hottest tap water possible or a mixture of tap water and a little boiled water around the jars, filling with water until just under the rims of the jars.  Now cover and let sit.  I usually put my yogurt in our oven.  Just someplace it won’t be disturbed and that is warm, away from any drafts.

You wait.  For 12 hours.  You can wait less.  8 hours if you like.  But I recommend 12.  Honestly, I forgot the yogurt one night and left it an additional 6.  I don’t recommend that.  It was okay.  Nothing bad happened.  I didn’t get sick and it tasted slightly more sour.  But still held the same smooth creamy consistency.  So, back to the yogurt at hand.  Remove from the water bath and put in the fridge.  That’s it.  You’re done.  Now, enjoy.  Eat and be glad.

 

 

 

Recipe: What I Am Eating Right Now

So, last year I said I wouldn’t plant so many tomatoes.  And I didn’t.  But I still planted a ton.  Everyday new ones have ripened and are just begging to be picked.  And pick I must.

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Oh, how I am loving them.  They are the basis for most of what I am making and eating right now…galettes, salad, pasta….Nights when I am exhausted, starving, and just want something quick, I end up making pasta (well, not the actual pasta…that is for when I have time and am not exhausted).  So, here it is.  Honestly, it is not even a recipe.  It is just a guide.

Fresh Tomatoes + Pasta:

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Serves 1 (but just multiply according to how many people you want to feed)

  • 1/2 Tbs butter
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced (I like garlic so I say the more the merrier, but adjust as to preference)
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • small handful of basil, julienned
  • appropriate serving of pasta (whatever you prefer…I like this on everything, but think ravioli is especially nice, particularly a sweet potato ravioli)
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • optional: parmesan, walnuts, freshly grated nutmeg

Start by cooking the pasta according to given directions.  While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter on medium low in a sauté pan and add the garlic.  Sauté until the garlic is golden and the butter begins to color.  If you want a brown butter sauce, by all means, go for it.  Just don’t add the garlic as the butter browns, otherwise it will become bitter.  Remove from heat.  Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain, reserving a slight amount of the pasta water.  Add the pasta and water to the pan with the butter and garlic and toss.  Plate the pasta and top with the fresh tomatoes and basil.  Season according to taste.

Note:  If adding walnuts, I think it is nice to lightly toast them in a separate pan until aromatic.

 

 

 

Recipe: Honey Buttermilk Ice Cream

This all started in the mountains of West Virginia while on vacation (or at least semi-vacation). A whole 9 days of no cell phone reception or air conditioning. Just hiking, reading, cooking, and relaxing (and catching up on some much neglected work). Some of the things I love most, with some of the people I love most.

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Before leaving Tennessee, I went through our fridge to see what to bring. We had tons of heavy cream and buttermilk. What to do with those? My first thought…buttermilk ice cream. I have no idea why my first thought was ice cream since it is not really my kind of dessert. I much prefer a good bread pudding or cake. Ice cream generally is too sweet and not creamy enough for me. It was not until my first taste of real gelato in Italy, the kind that leaves a film of cream in your mouth, that I realized the potential of ice cream, but that is a whole other story.  Well, ice cream was the first thought that entered my head, and when I get an idea, I have an awfully hard time dispelling it. So, ice cream it was!

Being in the mountains, with a limited pantry and a very limited kitchen, forced me to wing things.  But that is what I like.  Figuring it out and making it work.  I considered bringing an ice cream maker but thought that a little unnecessary.  Doing things old school, slow and natural, with the effort of my hands brings a certain satisfaction in the kitchen.

So, here is my ice cream recipe (the long version – if you don’t want to take hours to make this, use a machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions)…

Honey Buttermilk Ice Cream:

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Makes 1 quart roughly

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • optional:  ingredients such as thyme, vanilla bean, or lavender

Set up an ice bath for later use, by partially filling a large bowl with ice and cold water.

Heat the cream and the honey in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

While the cream mixture is heating, combine the egg yolks and salt in a separate bowl and whisk until the yolks begin to thicken.  Once the cream mixture has begun to simmer, remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg bowl while whisking constantly.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat, again stirring constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan, until the custard thickens enough to coat a spoon or spatula and registers 175 F on a thermometer. Roughly 5 minutes.  Do not let boil.

Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and place in the ice bath, allowing to cool completely.  Add the buttermilk and mix.  The buttermilk may curdle if the cream mixture is not properly cooled before it is added.

Transfer custard mixture into a freezer safe bowl or dish and put into freezer.  The more shallow the vessel, the quicker it will freeze.  After 30-45 minutes remove from freezer and stir vigorously, making sure to use a spatula to scrap down the sides of the bowl.  Return to the freezer.  The beauty and the curse of making ice cream.  You need it to begin to freeze, however, you do not want large ice crystals to form.  The more you blend the mixture and beat it to break up the ice crystals, the smaller they will stay, and the smoother the ice cream in the end.  And when I say beat, I mean you want to feel the burn in your triceps.

Continue to check the mixture every 30 minutes, stirring vigorously and scraping sides of the bowl, then returning the mixture to the freezer.  Continue to check and stir until ready (2-3 hours).  Once frozen, transfer the custard ice cream to a proper storage container until ready to serve.

*If you want to infuse any flavors into the ice cream, the time to do it is when initially heating the cream.  You can scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean or add herbs such as thyme or lavender to the cream.  If you decide to infuse a flavor, bring just the cream to a simmer as stated above with the flavor you want to infuse.  Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for an hour.  Then strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve and return to saucepan with the honey and heat to 175 F as directed above, continuing the recipe from there.

If you would like to add any ingredient such as chocolate chips or fresh herbs not infused into the cream, add when the mixture is almost frozen and mix throughout the custard mixture.