Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving for 1

Last year was a big feast, this year I felt like a low-key affair. Dinner for one, peace and quiet. Turkey legs are quite inexpensive, $3 for 2 since everyone wants the turkey breast, and I like dark meat better than white anyhow.  This is a simple, quick Thanksgiving meal with all the necessities; turkey, root vegetables, gravy, good smells, it is all done in pot and takes about 1 1/2 hours in the oven. Plenty good. And plenty of leftovers.


Thanksgiving for 1 (or 2) with beets, carrots and potatoes
  • 2 beets, peeled
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 2-3 regular sized russet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 turkey legs, unfrozen
  • salt, pepper, herbs des Provence
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 oven proof casserole
Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the vegetables in large chunks and distributed on the bottom of the casserole. Season with salt, pepper and herbs des Provence. Wash the turkey, put dry with paper towels and season with salt, pepper and herbs the Provence. Place in the oven with a lid (or cover with aluminum foil) for 20 min. Remove lid/cover and bake for 1h or until thermometer inserted at thick part of turkey leg reads 185F. --- Serve vegetables with slices of turkey.


Gobble, gobble --- today the Thanksgiving turkey is pardoned

Years ago I was invited to a friends’ Thanksgiving, it had one caveat, it would be a vegetarian thanksgiving. I secretly winced “how can this be Thanksgiving, no turkey!?” but it was one of the best Thanksgiving meals I’ve ever had. Instead of turkey we had a delicious nut roast, and  I encountered roasted parsnips for the first time, starting a parsnip love affair. After a meal of all kinds of other vegetarian deliciousness I felt like a sparrow, not like that stuffed turkey on another table..

Now, I have been a vegan for a few years, probably a Mark Bittman vegan (VB8 – vegan before 8pm, although I am more of a V6D, vegan for 6 days out of 7), and the thought of no turkey does not induce immediate regret and feelings of missing out. Just a tiny tinkle of a tear, missing more the whole show around it, the all day cooking, the smells and aromas of broiled turkey and herbs de provence, the cocktails while waiting, the big ahhs and ohhhs when dinner is finally served. But the turkey is pardoned this year.


Check here for vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving ideas:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Shaved Brussels sprouts with peas, beans and pomegranate molasses vinaigrette

In the  Mood for Love. Anyone seen this movie? I’ve watched it many, many times, drawing me into 1960s Hong Kong, tiny apartments, stylish clothes, unhappy people. But I am not in the mood for love, but thanksgiving! Today, I checked my freezer if I still have some frozen turkey legs and found a stash of expensive, local hand-made pasta, sold at Whole Foods. Sage pumpkin pasta became the heart of dinner. A side of roasted squash, and a shaved brussel sprout side with peas, beans, pomegrante molasses dressing and fresh pomegranate seeds. Feels like Thanksgiving already.


Shaved Brussels Sprouts with peas, beans and pomegranate molasses (1 serving)
  • ca 10 fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 TB cooked beans
  • 1/2 TB roasted pumpkin seed oil (or grapeseed oil)
  • salt to taste
  • fresh pomegranate seeds
For pomegranate molasses vinaigrette: (ca. 3 servings)
  • 2 TB pomegranate molasses
  • 1 TB maple syrup
  • 1/2 TB mustard
  • 1 TB olive oil
In a hot skillet heat the olive oil and shave the Brussels sprouts with a mandoline directly into the pan. Add the peas and beans, and stir until the Brussels sprouts are slightly browned and the peas and beans heated. Season with salt. Serve with fresh pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses vinaigrette.

Thanksgiving week

Things slow down this week, less work, more cozying up the house, laying low, saving the energy for the Thanksgiving feast and the black friday shopping bonanza. Last weekend was a late in the season trip to Belfast. Chase’s Daily still sells produce, mostly squash, potatoes, leeks, a few brussels, and flower bulbs. This time we added a beer tasting at the Marshall Wharf.













Sunday, November 24, 2013

Keeping heart and soul warm

The winter wind is blistering cold. I wrap my thickest down coat tightly around me and still shiver. This is the time to up the ante in indoor holiday decor to at least kept the heart and soul warm. Here are a few inspirations for me this season.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spanish wedding soup

When I saw photos of this soup…. I knew I had to make it --- a soup with pomegranate seeds (and meatballs)? Sign me up. Unfortunately, my photos looks less attractive than the originals so I give you both. The soup, however, very tasty as expected. A simple soup with leeks, rice, lentils, peas, baby spinach in broth with aromatic meatballs made with coriander and a dash of cinnamon. To let the meatballs flavor the soup, I plunged them in the soup directly instead of frying them ahead of time (frying them ahead of time, however, keeps the soup clear). I think both options work really well. The soup is a recipe from Spain; it resembles mostly what is in the US known as “Italian wedding soup”, but the original name is not Spanish wedding soup but Sopa de Granada…

Spanish Wedding Soup (make 4 servings)
For soup:
  • 1oo g fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 leek stalk, cleaned, green and white parts, sliced in thin rings
  • 1 small, white onion, peeled, and chopped
  • 50 g red or yellow lentils
  • 50 g white rice
  • 1 1/2 quarts water (or broth)
  • kernels of 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1/4 cup of pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • juice of 1 lemon or 1 bitter orange
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground fresh pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt
  • olive oil (for frying if you fry them)
Meatballs: mix the ground beef with cinnamon, coriander, pepper and a dash of salt and the egg (I used a fork to mix it up). Form small meatballs and either heat olive oil and fry them, or set them aside.
Soup: in a large heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil and fry the chopped onion until translucent. Add the rice, and water (or broth) and cook for 15min on medium heat. Now, add the lentils and leeks (and meatballs if you want to add them raw), cover with a lid and cook for another 10 min. Now, add the pomegranate juice, kernels, baby spinach and frozen peas, and cook another 3 minutes. Flavor soup with salt (if not using broth), and lemon or bitter orange juice.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The story about 'gut feeling'

.... gut feeling might have a different source than we think!

Check out this story on NPR!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spicy corn muffins with feta and smoked paprika (GF)

I am a big fan of savory muffins like the cherry tomato basil feta muffins or the butternut squash baby spinach feta muffins. This muffin recipe is a different type --- it is based on corn meal and the texture is similar to cornbread but the single serve portions of individual corn muffins with some smoked paprika, roasted corn kernels and feta cheese are perfect for the fall season, a side for chilis, or to bring for a  Thanksgiving dinner.

Ps. make sure to only use local, farmers market organic, non-GMO corn and corn meal.


Spicy corn muffins (makes 12 muffins): (glutenfree)
  • 1 1/2cup stone-ground or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup low fat kefir and 1/2 cup 1% milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, melted  (4oz)
  • 1 cup corn kernels, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 hot chili pepper, cut into very small pieces
  • handful of baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of feta, cut into dice (or use shredded cheddar)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin.  
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment or aluminum foil. Spread a cup of thawed frozen corn kernels on it. Roast in oven until browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while mixing batter.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. With a standmixer, mix only until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the roasted corn, feta, smoked paprika, feta and baby spinach. Stir to blend.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to fill each muffin cup to the top. Bake until perfectly risen and golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cool for a few minutes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

9 minus 1

It’s late fall. The bags of raked leaves have been picked up by the town so once I got down to business today raking some they ended up on my compost. It is still mild, the kale is holding on despite frost, the Swiss chard not so much anymore. No one really wonders what happens to all those gorgeous red, orange, golden leaves composing the New England foilage. It just makes for a lot of dry leaves to rake once it is over. Kitchn, the neighbor cat, caught a mouse and show his David Beckham/Michael Jordan moves. He also featured a large shaved hind leg with a long fresh scar. He has had adventures, too. 9 lives minus one.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Angel hair puttanesca

Puttanesca means… lady of the night in Italian, so angel hair(ed) puttanesca seems like a very special lady of the night (or street). Anyway, it was the perfect dinner for tonight: a cup of ready made tomato pasta sauce, some sliced (cocktail) olives, capers, fresh grated garlic, a dash of anchovy fish sauce and some fresh rosemary from the summer pot for good measure and the ultra fast cooking angel hair pasta. Done.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Turkey month

November is the month I get into serious mood for turkey. Not just Thanksgiving turkey, but turkey burgers, turkey breast, turkey gravy. Ah! Just to make sure I will get my share of Thanksgiving turkey. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, I am typically already over turkey.

I bought a package of fresh ground turkey meat, 93% lean, used about a 1/3 cup and mixed it up with bread crumbs, a peanut ginger bbq sauce, some hot sauce, salt and it was ready for frying. Turkey meat has a rather bland flavor and can easily be dry, but this combination was juicy, flavorful and a fabulous ‘burger’, with rice, baked parsnip fries and a tiny cauliflower.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

November Sunday Eats

Sunday in November, a good day to cook tasty food, waffles for brunch, or polenta and chilli, a vegan lasagna, bake an orange pound cake or make mulled wine (click on photos for recipe links).

Waffles --- chia or rye pumpernickel waffles

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Fall eats:  polenta with kale and mushrooms; turkey chili

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vegan lasagna and kale with berbere spiced lentisl

GF orange pound cake and cranberry saffron cake

quinoa_gugelhupf_thumb[2] cranberry_safforn_cake_

Or make some gluehwein (mulled wine).


Survival guide for Dark Times

This morning I woke up and… it snowed. The type of snow that won’t stick around for long but is a good reminder to remove the last garden chairs and maybe the hose that is still lying around in the lawn. The snow might be gone an hour after snowing but the day is still dark. You catch yourself watching Food TV again, early on a Sunday morning, because Rachel Ray cheerfully cooking meals for the week makes you feel fuzzy inside although you don’t really listen and watch. It is so dark that the lowest aperture on the expensive camera won’t be sufficient to create non-fuzzy photos. A blanket of a dark filter covering the sky, a definite mood damper, and you wake up with a sudden grump about life.

The winter times have begun.

How to survive it?

It is typically also the time to drink hot chocolate, eat soul warming chillis, drink wine, and eat more chocolate in a Bridget Jones kind of way. All good ways to fight the darkness, especially good if you also start wearing sweat pants permanently.

However, how do deal with it without gaining a life vest?

Here are my tips.
  1. Make a plan for the day. Since there is little to do besides booking a ticket to Florida or California to change the daylight impact, make a plan of things to get down over the course of the day. Things you need to get done anyhow (clean the digs, grocery shopping, some work), things you would like to do (a photo book, learn 1h of French). Just pick 3-4 things, and get busy doing them. The rewards comes in the rate of getting them done. It also prevents to fall into the bottomless pit of “I can’t motivate myself to do anything today”. The bottomless pit can be really deep, and watching TV all day (although it seems the most natural thing to do) will convert you into a super grump by nightfall.
  2. Get out of the house in the fresh air. I can’t stress this enough. Fresh air = instant mood enhancer. If you are a runner, run. If you are not, bundle up, go for a walk. Take your favorite friend/dog/cat with you. Load your ipod with an audiobook (something funny, something Jane Austen, music?), and walk for at least 30 min. I once read that people who live in areas so high up North they don’t see daylight for more than a few hours in the winter time never get winter depression. Why? Because they still spend a lot of time outdoors, kids play soccer with flood lights, ice skating, you name it. Get some fresh air.
  3. Get moving.  See point 2. If the weather is likely to bang some branches over your head or blow you away, at least open a window and walk on the treadmill for 2 Miles.
  4. Don’t protest the dark time, accept it, move on. One of the best ways to ruin one’s mood is to play “Poor me! Why why why is the weather shitty today?”. We typically finds many others  to complain with in unison, a group Poor-Me, however it also makes no one feel any better. At all. Move on. Wishing you’d live in Paris/California/South Pacific right now won’t change the weather, really. But it will create a wedge between yourself and the here and now, a good recipe to be unhappy. Accept, and move on. (No one said anything about liking it.)
  5. Appreciate the cozy aspects of life. Say “ah, the perfect weather to enjoy a Spa treatment, or soak in the tub with some candles and a good book, or set up some winter decor, bake some muffins or a bundt cake, invite some friends over and chat over hot tea.”  Knit a sweater! Think Swiss alpine hut with snow and hot mulled wine. Think Vermont barn yard with a wood stove.
  6. Define some joy points in your day. A joy point is something in the day to look forward to. What will be, could be the highlight of your day? For me it sometimes is to get out of town, eat at a really delicious restaurant, have a meet with friends over a glass of wine. Sometimes, there are no joy points in a day when you think about it in the morning, there are just a long list of obligations. Never mind, that is fine, too. Getting them done also makes you feel better in the evening. But always at least give it a thought, and when you find something joyous, be sure to do it.
  7. Hydrate. Makes sure to drink enough water. When it is cold outside we often feel less need to guzzle water, but hydration is still important in the darker times to keep energy up. Fresh juice. Vitamin C!
And with that, I am off to get going.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Roasted sweet potato, leek and celeriac soup

Yesterday I went back to the place I seem to go often: Chase’s Daily, for its excellent food. Roasted beet salad anyone? Since Chase’s dishes are seasonal, the soup has been sweet potato and leek for a few weeks.
This is a surprisingly elegant and flavorful, subtle soup. There are different possibilities to prepare this soup: roast the sweet potato first and use the leek raw in the soup (a perfect balance of sweet and tangy), use both sweet potato and leek raw (a more tangy, light soup), or roast both leeks and sweet potatoes first (a soup with a sweet depth). Leeks have a definite onion-y tang and balance out the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. Anyone who has bbq-ed leeks knows that they become vegetable candy sticks once they are roasted with a very mild onion tone.
For this soup, I roasted both the sweet potato and the leeks, and added a small piece of celeriac raw. The soup cooked for 20 min in home-made chicken stock and a cup of milk. The flavor was rounded out by salt, garlic and cumin. When  I had a similar soup at Chase’s Daily the other day, it was served with melted gruyere, which was fabulous.
Sweet potato, leek and celeriac soup
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut in large chunks
  • 2 leek stalk, half of the green parts discarded, rest washed and cut into 7 inch parts
  • 6 oz celeriac (root), peeled, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 TB butter
  • 1 shallot, peeled, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 TB bouillon
  • 1/2 TB cumin
Serve with melted grueyere.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place the sweet potatoes and leeks on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 min (or leeks slightly charred).
Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottom pot, melt the butter and saute the shallot until translucent. Add the celeriac root and slightly saute. Add the garlic and saute the mix until fragrant. Take off the stove.
Once the sweet potatoes and leeks are roasted, add them to the soup pot. Put back on medium heat, slightly saute, and add the chicken stock, milk, bouillon and cumin. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a soft simmer. Simmer for about 20min. With an immersion blender, bring the soup to a smooth consistency.
Add some fresh  grated garlic. Serve with grilled bread and melted Grueyere.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beatnik juice

After one week of eating grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, rice soups, and baked potatoes, I was ready to add fresh veggies back to my diet. I had started to feel that all that processed, squishy white bread was not making me feel any healthier/energized, and I decided although I am on a restricted diet I have to make a healthier version out of it: cook my own food, fresh, flavorful soups, simple ingredients, organic sources, and eat food that I can support again, philosophically. No more squishy white bread, not even when toasted with Sargento cheese. Today, I got the juicer out.

A few carrots, a beet that turned out to be an albino on the inside, a piece of ginger and 2 apples from the farmers market. Much better.