Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Tagine with Ras el Hanout

Bowl of Sweet Potato Pomegranate Tagine
Mid-Winter Lift

Recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times

I can’t imagine a better pairing than winter and tagines. These highly spiced North African stews perk up both body and spirit. Though traditionally tagines are curried meat dishes, vegetables respond equally well to the combination of spices. Sweet cinnamon and ginger, hot peppers, bitter turmeric, exotic cardamom and saffron, and other spices combine to make the heady blend called ras el hanout—which means “head of the shop” or roughly “top rated” in Arabic. In this recipe you’ll make your own spice blend, creating a supply for other tagine experiments this winter.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Immune Boost: Mushroom and Barley Soup

Closeup of bowl of mushroom barley soup
Immune Boosting Deliciousness

Recipe Adapted from Unidentified Clipping

It’s January. I don’t know about you, but it seems like everyone around me is sick, getting sick, or getting over being sick. From people at work to kids in the library to shoppers in the mall, why don’t these people just stay home? But since they won’t, we healthy folks need to tend to our immune systems. Extra vitamin C, extra rest, extra hot lemon tea, extra greens, extra whatever it is that makes us feel healthier. And mushroom soup. I was pleasantly surprised that instead of tasting thin and medicinal, this soup is hearty and delicious, more like a stew. Even my mushroom-soup-wary husband likes it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cranberry Orange Honey Muffins

Two Muffins on Plate
Epiphany Muffins for Two

Recipe Adapted from 250 Best Muffin Recipes

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, Three Kings Day, and the Twelfth Day of Christmas. The word Epiphany comes from Greek and means to reveal or show. It celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem, and symbolizes the revealing of Jesus to the world. These days, Twelfth Night cake is served at big parties. It contains a dry bean or trinket, and whoever receives this in their slice is designated king or queen of the party. At my house, we’re short on trinkets and revelers, but still well-stocked with cranberries. Celebrating with cranberry muffins seems perfect.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Vanilla Maple Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Casserole Dish of Vanilla Maple Yams
Up-cycled Leftovers

Recipe adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

Leftover yams can be a problem. As delicious as they were when they came out of the oven, hot and plump and bursting with flavor, they’re typically deflated and soggy after refrigeration. This is another recipe by Molly Katzen, creator and chef of the Moosewood Restaurant, one of the first and most famous vegetarian restaurants in the US. Molly describes this recipe as subtle, but its slight vanilla flavor is pleasingly pervasive. Originally written for freshly cooked yams, I’ve adapted the recipe to include use with holiday leftovers. This dish would also serve well at winter dinners and potlucks, appealing to diners who enjoy yams but dislike wrestling with the skins.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cranberry Apple Crisp with Gluten Free Option

Plate of Cranberry Apple Crisp
With Optional Pecans and Cream

Recipe adapted from Simply in Season


Crisps are a perfect destination for not-perfect fruit. This year our tree produced many apples, as usual, but due to drought they were small, hard, dry, and a bit sour. Not pleasant for snacks, but cut up and mixed with traditional green baking apples and seasonal cranberries, they cooked up into a blog-worthy dessert. Crisps have three other benefits: they’re relatively healthy, they’re easily adaptable to accommodate gluten-free guests and on-hand topping ingredients, and they’re simple to make. Plus, everyone seems to love them.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Savory Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Bowl of garnished soup
With Green Onions and Yogurt

Recipe by Melinda

My friend and work colleague Melinda is a fabulous cook. Not that I’ve tasted anything that she’s prepared, but we do exchange recipes. After enjoying her amazing Moroccan Butternut Soup, I was excited to try her pumpkin soup. One key to its deliciousness is, like Zach’s Butternut Sage Soup, the squash (pumpkin) is roasted rather than boiled. Celery and onion provide classic aromatic flavors, and a touch of tomato paste zests up the soup in a unique way. Half and half adds creaminess. Finally, a touch of honey, salt, and pepper, to enhance the flavor of your particular pumpkin.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate

Plate of Roasted Butternut Squash with Pomegranate abd Pumpkin Seeds
Bright and Beautiful, Plus Nutritious

Recipe Adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

Butternut squash is a popular autumn vegetable, yet most recipes are more or less the same. The squash roasted or steamed till soft, then combined with sweet and/or savory spices, or perhaps nuts or seeds. Or it’s made into soup. This recipe is completely unique because the butternut is cooked crisp-tender. This takes less than 10 minutes in the oven. The texture can surprise people, especially when served at room temperature. At a recent potluck, one person thought it was persimmon, and another marveled at this new use for cantaloupe. This easy side dish is an unusual addition to the Thanksgiving table. It’s colorful and gluten-, meat-, and dairy-free. Substitute another oil for walnut, and it’s also nut-free.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tomato Basil Catsup or Jam

Tomato Basil Catsup on Burger
The Ultimate Burger Condiment

Recipe Adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

At last it’s getting colder in Santa Cruz, after a couple of too-warm winters. Our garden tomato and basil crops are winding down, and there are only a few over- or under-ripe varieties left at the Farmers’ Markets. These tomatoes might not be flavorful enough for salads. But any sort of tomato, even green, can be preserved in a catsup-like jam, according to author and Moosewood restaurant chef Mollie Katzen. I tried it with both over-ripe paste tomatoes and old pithy heirlooms. I might try it again with my green tomatoes, if the frost comes before they ripen. The sweetness (or tartness) of the tomato variety will dictate the sweetness/tartness ratio of the end product. You can alter this somewhat by varying the amount of honey and cider vinegar added to the mix.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Butternut Sage Soup

Closeup of soup with hazelnuts and sage leaves
Closeup of Soup with Toppings
Recipe by Zach

Back in March, I attended a music workshop in chilly (to Californians) Whidbey Island. Not only did Ruzivo teach us 3 songs for 8-piece marimba ensembles in less than 48 hours, each band member was also responsible for feeding us a delicious meal. This warming soup hit the spot on a rainy afternoon. We pretty much insisted that Zach, who’s been playing marimba professionally since age 11, give us the recipe. He said that though the soup is supposed to be pureed, he pureed just half—creating an agreeable texture. Cooler weather, impending frost on the garden sage, and Farmers’ Market butternut inspired me to recreate this soup.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lemon Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Lemon Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Bacon Makes it Better

Recipe adapted from Jamie Deen

This month I’ve been on a Brussels sprouts kick. The autumn crop is still fresh, and they’re still available on the stalk—at Trader Joe’s as well as the farmers’ market. Whether purchased on or off the stalk, smaller sprouts are tender and can be served whole or halved, with mustard-, maple-, or balsamic-based sauces. The real challenge is how to make large, tough sprouts from the top of the stalk into something tender and delicious. Halving and thinly slicing these large toughies makes them amenable to any sort of cooking treatment you’d use for cabbage, including this lemony sauté seasoned with brown sugar and bacon.