Sunday, April 28, 2013

Things from my freezer: Spicy Ginger Syrup and More Soup Stock

I have come a long way from the first weird batch of stock I tried to make myself. I've realized that less is more: onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. Maybe parsley and dill (though you're limiting your options by adding these). But don't go crazy with other veggies--you can always add them later in the soup-making process. I also have another post forthcoming about more Asian-inspired soup stocks.

I also peel a lot of ginger, so I started saving the ginger peels in a separate bag in the freezer, along with a few pieces of serrano chili. When I had about a cup of the stuff, I took it out and made this fantastic syrup: I boiled the ginger and chilies in water until the water took on the flavor, then I drained the liquid of the solid stuff, put it back in the pot, and dissolved some sugar in it. The result: intensely spicy and delicious syrup, not too sweet. I have used it in stir fries and curries, but mostly in cocktails. Even just mixed with soda water, it makes a fantastic ginger ale.

Also, here is a soup I made with homemade stock:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nasturtium Soup

I love nasturtium leaves in pesto or a salad. But nasturtium soup? Ugh. Something about the bitterness of the leaves made the final soup really, really thick, and it was bitter without being interesting. I might be convinced to try this recipe again without any soymilk (just water and broth), but it's not on my short list.

Nasturtium and Potato Soup
(from, someone has a blog all about nasturtiums!)

2 TB earth balance
1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
25-30 nasturtium leaves, stems removed
4 c veg broth (I used "no-chicken" flavor)
1 1/4 c soymilk
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a stock pot. Add the onion and cook until soft but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and nasturtium leaves and continue cooking until the leaves are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and milk to the stock pot. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Serve garnished with fresh nasturtium blossoms. Makes 6 servings.

Sizzling Mint

Janet had me at "sizzling mint." This humble stew was enlivened by smoked paprika, lemon juice, and pan-fried mint leaves. Definitely a keeper. The only thing I'd change (unsurprisingly) is that I would add a serrano chili at the beginning for some of the other kind of sizzle!

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Stew with Sizzling Mint
(from taste space)


1 tbsp coconut or olive oil, divided
1 serrano chili, finely diced (optional)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked bittersweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika, divided
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup fine bulgur
1 cup tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 bunch spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped (300g prepped)
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp dried mint
3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste (juice from 1 medium lemon)


1. In a large saucepot over low heat, heat 1 tsp of the oil. Once hot, add the onion, chili, and carrot. Sprinkle with salt and saute for 5 minutes until softened. If things start to stick, add in some water or broth. Add the garlic, cumin, bittersweet paprika, 1 tsp of the sweet paprika and saute for 5-8 minutes more, until the onions are translucent and soft.

2. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for one minute, until slightly browned. Add the lentils and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in the bulgur and tomato and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach, in batches, allowing it to wilt. Cover and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice.

3. Meanwhile, in a small frypan heat the remainder of the oil (2 tsp) over medium heat. Add the mint and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika. Remove from heat and drizzle overtop soup.

4. Serve soup with additional slices of lemon, if needed.

Serves 4+.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pad Thai from Lotus and Artichoke

I've been cooking a lot from the new(ish) Lotus and the Artichoke cookbook. The Pad Thai recipe was really nice.

Pad Thai
(from The Lotus and the Artichoke) 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mushroom Wild Rice Salad

I'm back from Scotland and ready to catch up on some old posts! And also my actual work.

(Oh, and check out this post from bittersweet on famous dishes in literature!)

This wild rice salad was delicious. Zippy actually said it was one of her favorite things I had ever made. And I actually wrote down the measurements... only to lose them. Until the errant paper shows up again, here's the outline of what I did.

This recipe pairs chewy wild rice and mushrooms with crunchy bits of scallion and almond. I've made versions of it forever; I think it's actually based on a childhood version that had chicken and canned mandarin oranges. Orange juice is subtler here, and (along with some vinegar) adds a bit of the zing to balance out the meatiness of the rice and mushrooms. I cooked the mushrooms separately with garlic, to make sure they had the right taste and texture before adding them to the mix. The rest is mostly tweaking: a bit of acidity, a bit of oil, a bit of salt, etc., til it tastes right. And, undoubtedly, it will taste even better the following day.

Mushroom Wild Rice Salad

1 c wild rice
pinch salt
1 bay leaf
small handful dried mushrooms, reconstituted in water and drained, then chopped
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch salt

orange juice
white wine vinegar
olive oil
scallions, minced
black pepper
toasted sliced almonds

1. Cook rice with bay leaf and salt until tender. Set aside and cool.
2. Saute mushrooms in olive oil with garlic. Remove from heat and cool.
3. Combine remaining dressing ingredients.
4. Toss rice and mushrooms in a large bowl. Toss with dressing until coated but not soupy. Adjust seasonings to taste and add almonds.  Serves about 4.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

'Tuna' Noodle Salad

I am pretty in love with this salad. It brings back memories of visits to grandparents and picnics in parks.

But it is not bland. Oh no. Powdered nori gives the dish a slight oceany taste, and minced dill and horseradish mustard add as much of a punch as you'd like.

Neither is this salad drenched in (vegan) mayo--I used only as much as needed to give a slight creaminess to the salad (and the mustard did much of the work).

Tempeh "Tuna" Noodle Salad

1 sheet nori
3 servings ww elbows or shells
1 block tempeh, crumbled and steamed
1 carrot, minced and steamed
2 stalks celery, minced
5 tiny pickles, minced
4 scallions, minced
minced dill
1/3 c froz peas, thawed
1/3 c vegenaise
1/4 c dijon/yellow mustard
1/4 c horseradish mustard
black pepper

1. Toast the nori over gas stove (optional). Rip into pieces and put in a spice grinder, then grind until you have a coarse powder. Set aside.
2. Cook pasta and set aside.
3. Steam or blanch tempeh and carrots, drain, and set aside.
4. Combine everything! This is definitely all to taste. Add more or less vegenaise, mustard, pepper, lemon, salt, even dill and veggies as you please. Serves about 4.