Roasted Beet Salad with Fennel, Orange, & Ricotta
*sigh* all I want to do is make ricotta cheese from scratch, but I cannot, for the life of me, find cheesecloth.
I’ve concluded that it doesn’t exist in Belgium. I spent all day last Saturday going to different stores to look for it, until the end of the day when I found myself in a pharmacy purchasing medical bandages, which is as close as we’re going to get.
Now, I had already purchased a range of other ingredients, assuming that it would be no problem to make the ricotta, so I wound up just buying ricotta and making this salad anyway. I WILL repeat with my own ricotta. Mark. My. Words.
- 5 medium-large red beets
- 1 small head of fennel (fronds reserved)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon balsamic syrup
- 2 navel oranges, segmented
- 1/2 cup fresh whole fat ricotta
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Roast the beets: Preheat the oven to 400f. Rinse and scrub the beets well under cold water. Place the beets in a large bowl and toss with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place on a large baking sheet. Roast the beets for 50 minutes to 1 hour (or longer, depending on the size of your beets) or until the beets can be easily pierced all the way through with a sharp knife. Once the beets are cooked through, set them aside on a plate (keep them wrapped in foil) until they are cool enough to handle. Trim the ends, peel, and cut into quarter segments. Place in a medium mixing bowl.
- Trim the tops and bottom of the fennel bulb, and slice the bulb in half lengthwise. Remove the core of the fennel bulb with a sharp knife, and slice each cored half crosswise into thin slices (roughly 1/8-inch thick). Place the sliced fennel in the mixing bowl with the quartered beets. Add the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, balsamic syrup, salt, and pepper and toss gently to combine. Season to taste and set aside.
- Prepare the whipped ricotta: Combine the ricotta, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a mini food processor. Pulse until very smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- Distribute the tossed beets and fennel evenly, garnish with orange segments, fennel fronds, and a large spoonful of whipped ricotta cheese. Drizzle lightly with balsamic syrup and serve.
Lentil & Chestnut Soup
This was developed because I inherited some vacuum packed chestnuts. I confess, about 2 years ago. But I was confident that they were still good, and dying to get them out of the fridge.
A quick Google revealed some online remnants of a Nigella recipe, so I took the baton and ran with it- this is what came out!
It’s very hearty, a little sweet, and perfect for dinner on a cold night.
- 1 cup brown/blonde lentils
- 1 package vacuum packed chestnuts (or a can if you can find that)
- Sprinkle of dried thyme
- 1 small onion
- 1 leek
- 1 carrot
- A large glug of olive oil
- 2 1/2 liters stock (your choice what kind
- A splash of cream (optional)
- Chop the onion, leek, carrot and celery. Soften in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan with a large glug of olive oil.
- Add the lentils (rinsed and picked through) and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes until the lentils are very soft.
- In a separate bowl, add the chestnuts, and a few ladlefuls of hot broth. Puree with a hand blender until it's mostly creamy (there can be some chunks, that's fine too!)
- Add the chestnut mixture into the soup and simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt, pepper, and dried thyme.
- You can add a splash of cream and a bit of chopped parsley as garnish at the table.
Dill & Onion Bread
I’m onto phase 3 of my bread making journey. We’ve moved from no-knead bread, to knead bread, and now a bread cooked in a loaf pan.
This bread is great, but it’s better if you have some attention to detail & patience (I have neither), and chop the onion quite finely.
It’s pretty foolproof otherwise.
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 1 tablespoon dried dill or dill seeds
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 1 tablespoon wheat germ, toasted if you can find it, I used raw
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup large-curd cottage cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- Combine yeast and water in a small bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about five minutes.
- Combine flour, onions, dill, sugar or honey, wheat germ and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast along with the cottage cheese and egg. Mix by hand until the dough comes together. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Gently press the dough down, form into a loaf and place seam side down in the pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°f. Brush the top of loaf with the melted butter, and then sprinkle with the additional salt.
- Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
Breakfast Apple Juice Bowl
Everyone has granola with milk in the morning. BOOOOoooooRING.
Granola with apple juice is tangy, sweet, and refreshing. It transforms your regular granola or cereals into an entirely different meal.
Add a fruity assortment, and you’re off to a good start.
This recipe was brought to us by my favorite German chef.
- 2 Kiwis
- 1 Mango
- Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
- A large shake of granola
- A glug of apple juice (get the high quality stuff, cloudy apple juice is the absolute best)
- A handful of almonds (slices or whole, we like the crunch of whole)
- Mix all ingredients except the apple juice.
- Stir in the apple juice (the amount depends on how liquid-y you like this dish), prepare it in whatever ratio you like!
Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic
This recipe is somehow avgolemono meets spanish saffron vibes, together with a moroccan chickpea touch.
Yum. It also made it into Food52’s Genius Recipes book, so that says something doesn’t it.
It’s easy, it’s comforting, it’s healthy, it’s fast, and you get that creamy feeling without the heavy cream- it’s just thickened with yogurt and egg yolks.
- A glug of olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- A few carrots, washed and finely chopped
- Fine-grain sea salt
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup cooked wild rice
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (2 modest pinches)
- 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 cup plain yogurt (regular or greek)
- Sweet paprika
- Small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a medium-large pot over medium-high heat, combine the olive oil, onion, and a couple of big pinches of salt. Cook until the onions soften up a bit, a few minutes. Add the carrots and cook for a few more minutes.
- Stir in the chickpeas, and then add the vegetable broth and garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots are tender. Remove from heat.
- Add in the cup of cooked wild rice.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the saffron and egg yolks, then whisk in the yogurt. Slowly add a big ladleful of the hot broth to the yogurt mixture, stirring constantly.
- Very slowly whisk this mixture back into the pot of soup. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring continuously for another 5 minutes or so, until the broth thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, never quite allowing broth to simmer.
- Serve topped with a sprinkle of paprika and a handful of fresh chopped coriander/cilantro.
Bread Without a Timetable
This is a recipe from Laurie Colwin’s book Home Cooking. I’ve taken the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which conveniently includes pictures. Deb is a bread pro, and let’s be honest I need all the help I can get, visually… before embarking on bread related projects.
The beauty of this loaf is that it’s pretty unbreakable. There is a lot of flexibility built into the recipe, and I’m interested to take the challenge of stretching the limits of what will impact the final product.
Anyways, here goes!
- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 1 1/2 cups wheat flour
- 3/4 cups coarse ground whole wheat flour (I used buckwheat flour, you can also just use wheat flour)
- Heaping teaspoon of salt
- Half teaspoon of sugar
- 1/2 scant teaspoon of active dry yeast. (if you are leaving it overnight use 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 1/2 cups of liquid (half milk, half water, more or less of one or the other, whatever you like).
- 1. Into a large bread bowl, mix the white flour, wheat flour and coarse ground whole wheat flour , the salt, and the sugar.
- 2. In a separate bowl, mix the yeast with your liquid.
- 3. Pour the liquid into the flour and stir it up. The dough should be neither dry nor sticky, but should tend more toward to the stick than the dry. If too sticky, add a little more flour.
- 4. Knead the dough well, roll it in flour, put it in a warm bowl (although a cold bowl isn't the end of the world). Cover with plastic wrap leave it in a cool, draft-free place and go do something for a few hours, or longer (could be overnight).
- 5. Whenever you happen to get home, punch down the dough, knead it well and forget about it until convenient.
- 6. Sometime later (with a long first rise, a short second rise is fine, but a long one is fine, too) punch the dough down, give it a final kneading, shape into a baguette, slash the top with four diagonal cuts, brush wtih water and let proof for a few minutes (up to 30 minutes is fine). However, if you haven’t the time, it can go straight into the oven.
- 7. You can preheat the oven or put it in a cold oven, it doesn't matters. Bake at 450° f for half an hour. Turn the oven to 425 ° and bake for another 5-20 minutes. (My oven is quite hot, so it came out after 5, but you may need to check yours regularly. Take it out when it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom, and the top is golden brown.)
Spicy Korean Beef & Vegetable Soup (Yukgaejang)
I love Maangchi!
This soup is delicious, although I’ve adapted it a bit from Maangchi’s original recipe. Mainly because one key ingredient is missing in my version- a mountain vegetable called Fernbrake. It is missing because first of all I can’t find it, and second of all it makes me think of the thing I hate most in the world.
You should watch Maangchi’s original video for this, it’s so good.
I totally love the beef and vegetable combination, and the spicy heartiness of the soup. I inhaled it over the course of 2 days.
- 1 pound beef brisket, cut into several pieces along the grain 3 inch long, soaked in cold water for 10 to 20 minutes, washed, and drained
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 medium onion, cut in half and peeled
- Roughly 3 cups mung bean sprouts, washed and strained
- 14-16 green onions, cut into 2½ inch long pieces
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 table spoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or any cooking oil)
- In a large pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil. Add the beef along with the dried shiitake mushrooms and the onion.
- Cook for 1 hour over medium high heat. (If you have a slow cooker you can of course do this over slower heat for a longer period of time- this would be ideal.)
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix it well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Put the mung bean sprouts, green onions, and garlic in a large bowl.
- After an hour, check the beef to be sure it's tender by ripping a piece with your fingers. When it’s done, remove the beef, onion, and mushrooms with a slotted strainer. Let the beef and mushrooms cool down and discard the cooked onion.
- Mix the vegetables with the seasoning sauce by hand until well incorporated. Add to the boiling stock.
- Cover and cook 20 minutes over medium high heat until the vegetables are cooked through and tender, but not mushy.
- Slice the mushrooms and pull the beef apart into strips. Add to the boiling soup and cook another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and serve with rice.
Healthy Chocolate Pudding
Don’t hate on this until you’ve tried it. If you are making it for a dinner party wait until everyone has eaten it and then confess that the secret ingredient is tofu.
The only reason I made this in the first place is that I accidentally purchased silken tofu. I couldn’t think of anything to do with it so I just started googling.
This isn’t a sugary pudding. It’s a very chocolatey and very rich pudding with an absolutely perfect texture.
The only downside, if you are used to the kind of pudding that you heat, is that there is no film that gathers on top. Everyone loves that. Tough, this one is good, and good for you!!
- 14 ounces soft silken tofu
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
- Puree tofu, cocoa, agave and vanilla in blender.
- Pour into serving dishes.
- If you aren't satisfied yet, top with berries and nuts.
Miso Tahini Soup
This soup is so special. It’s got a nutty flavor from the tahini, combined with an unusual salty and deep flavor from the miso.
Then we layer onto this the surprisingly complementary combination of sweet squash and bitter turnips.
And the fixins make it really exciting. So many combinations. Everyone can personalize their bowl!
If you don’t already own a nori or seaweed sprinkle, invest in one now.
- 1 small-medium delicate or kabocha squash, or in a pinch you can use a pumpkin (seeded and sliced into small chunks)
- 3 small turnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 4 cups water
- 4 tablespoons white miso, or to taste
- 1/4 cup tahini
- zest of one lemon
- 3 cups of cooked brown rice
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 bunch of chives, minced
- Nori sprinkles
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Add the squash and turnips to a large pot, cover with the water, and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool just slightly.
- Pour a few tablespoons of the hot water into a small bowl and whisk in the miso. Stir the thinned miso back into the pot along with the tahini, and lemon zest. Taste, and adjust the broth to your liking.
- To serve, place a scoop of rice in each bowl along with some of the squash and turnips. Ladle broth over the vegetables, and finish with a few slices of avocado, a sprinkling of chives, toasted nori, and sesame seeds.
- If you have leftovers and need to reheat the soup, do so gently over low heat, to preserve the nutritional qualities of the miso. It is a valuable fermented food so you need to treat it delicately!
Fennel, Carrot & Red Bean Salad
This was made during an amazing surprise weekend visit from one of my best friends from Sweden.
She is a genius in the kitchen and makes a few simple ingredients into the tastiest meal.
This would obviously be better with fresh cooked beans, rather than canned, but canned are obviously easier. Use whichever you prefer.
- 1/2 Large Fennel, washed and sliced as finely as you can manage
- 3 Carrots, washed and sliced as finely as you can manage
- 1 Bunch of Cilantro/Coriander
- 1 Can Red Kidney Beans (or cooked yourself if you find the time!)
- A Squeeze of lemon juice
- Olive Oil
- A Sprinkle of Cumin
- Salt & Pepper
- Mix all the ingredients together, toss, taste, and adjust the seasonings as you wish.