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Monday, September 22, 2008

garlicky, mustardy red wine vinaigrette

This dressing is one that I make a lot of at once, and then keep in the refrigerator to use all the time. It keeps really well, is yummy and creamy without any eggs or cream in it (mustard is the emulsifying agent), and is great on salad greens. It’s also fantastic on broccoli, or green beans, or other veggies. Top the veggies with toasted green pumpkin seeds or other nuts if you like. The dressing is based on a recipe from Annie Somerville’s Everyday Greens.

I’ve added the recipe to my blog because last night I made a salad with the oven-roasted carrot slices—I dumped a pile of these bright little coins into a salad of green lettuce, this vinaigrette, and chopped pistachios. Oooh, it was awfully good!

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1-2 tablespoons honey
———————————————
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Slowly pour in oil to make a creamy emulsion. Taste and season with more salt or honey if it needs it.

 


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oven-roasted carrot slices

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brain candy

Lately I’ve loved several books about eating locally. Topping my list is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. What a beautiful story about family, friends, and food…  taking care, living mindfully, and enjoying the pleasures of home. Right up my alley! 

Admittedly not that recently (I read it two summers ago) I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, and it changed the way I thought about food and eating. I started it, stopped long enough to strong-arm my bookclub into reading it with me (we’re not allowed to assign books we’ve already read) and then plowed ravenously through it. I came out the other side with a commitment to try and distance myself from the corporate food industry, supporting local food growers as much as possible. 

Pollan’s followup book, In Defense of Food, was also a pleasure to read. While his books are thought-provoking and informative, his voice is never shrill, and I really enjoy his sense of humor. Plus, he loves to cook and eat!

I enjoyed Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon, but not enough to recommend it highly. But I really enjoyed Mike Madison’s essays about farming and farmers’ markets: Blithe Tomato (Mike Madison is the brother of Deborah Madison, one of my very favorite cookbook authors!). I sell my whole-grain sourdough bread every week at our local farmers’ market, and it’s fun to read about someone else’s wacky market experiences. My market days are always interesting—and some are stranger than others.

M.F.K. Fisher’s essays are always so wonderful, too… I’ve just read an assortment of her short works called A Stew or a Story that made me laugh and think and, best of all, realize that I’m not alone in my preoccupation with cooking and eating great food… 

But I crave more of these books! I’m sad when I finish them. I love the day-to-day stories of people’s finding, cooking, and eating food. Especially with the added challenge of searching out local sources!! Reading these books is like brain candy! But wait! It’s not really like candy—it’s more healthy that that! It’s more like snacky, delicious roasted carrots for the brain, browned and crispy and redolent with their own caramelized sugars, eaten right off the baking sheet before I can even get them to the table.

So, there you have it—the perfect fall dish to snack on while curled up with a book about local food. Nothing more local, or sweet and flavorful, than Alaskan carrots in September! Yum.

Can you help me find more great books about cooking and eating great local food? Have you read any that you’d recommend? What about blogs about eating locally that you’d like to share? Please add your suggestions to the “comments” field!! 

oven-roasted carrot slices

I love roasting carrots like this. The sugars in the carrots caramelize, and because they are cut into small pieces, there is a lot of surface area to brown and get yummy and toasty. They cook quickly, too. They are wonderful for snacking on, serving as part of an array of party snacks, eating as a side dish, or tossing into a salad. Last night I dumped a pile of these bright little coins into a salad with green lettuce, my mustardy garlicky red-wine vinaigrette, and chopped pistachios. Oooh, it was awfully good!

I love having a container in the ‘fridge so I can munch on them when I get hungry. If you want, you can add a teaspoon of chopped thyme when you toss the carrots with their olive oil and salt.

1 pound of Alaskan carrots—the biggest you can find.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2. If the peels seem tough, peel the carrots, but in the summertime you don’t have to peel Alaskan carrots. Just wash them well.
3. Slice the carrots into 1/4” slices (a Cuisinart is nice for this—just cut the stem end off and shoot them, one at a time, down the narrow feed tube, pushing them with the pusher cup to ensure even slices).
4. Coat a large baking sheet with non-stick spray or oil. (This makes clean-up a lot easier.)
5. Toss the carrot slices with olive oil and salt.
6. Spread the carrots out in a single layer on the baking sheets. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until they start to get brown and they are cooked and tender when you stab them with a fork. Check the underside to make sure they aren’t getting too dark on the bottom. You want them golden-brown in spots, but not too dark.

 

 


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Sunday, September 21, 2008

roasted broccoli with garlic

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A few weeks ago, my friend Arthur called. He’s my farmers’ market manager, and we work together on all kinds of projects. My main responsibility, though, is to write email newsletters to remind people to come to the market, and to help them cook their fresh produce by sending them recipes tailored to the week’s harvest. I’ve also written a farmers’ market cookbook, featuring all those great vegetables. The goal is to get people to eat their vegetables without sounding like a nagging mother.

Arthur loves my food, but only recently has he started cooking regularly for his family—and I’m thrilled that he’s using recipes out of my cookbook! Even so, I’m unprepared for his phone call. He’s just made my garlic-roasted broccoli, Arthur tells me, and they love it! He continues,“This recipe has changed the way I think about vegetables! I love our broccoli!  It’s SO GOOD!” I reply, pretending to be annoyed: “Arthur, I’ve been telling you that for three years.” I’m grinning from ear to ear, so happy he’s excited. Then he tells me how Wade, his six-year-old vegetable-phobic son, reacted.

The piping-hot pans of crispy broccoli come out of the oven, redolent with garlic. Arthur and Michelle are snacking away, eating the broccoli right off the tray, and Wade appears. Wade, while not a connoisseur of vegetables, does like money, and Arthur makes him a deal. “OK, Wade. I’ll give you a dollar if you eat just one piece of this broccoli. But… if you eat ANOTHER piece of broccoli, you have to give me the dollar back.” Wade thinks this through, then agrees. He takes his dollar and his floret, and slowly nibbles the dreaded vegetable. Completely poker-faced, he sits quietly for a couple of minutes, then finally slouches up to Arthur. He doesn’t say a word, but tilts his head to the side, looks sideways up at his dad, and returns the dollar to Arthur. Those trays of broccoli never make it to the dinner table.

Give this recipe a try! If you haven’t roasted broccoli yet, this will definitely change your attitude about broccoli, and it may just change your life.

roasted broccoli with garlic

This is a really easy recipe, but it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s yummier than French fries! The broccoli makes such a nice side dish, a great snack, a fantastic pizza topping… that is, if you can resist eating the whole batch straight off the baking sheet. I’ve been known to roast six baking sheets of broccoli in an evening, eat it for dinner one day, lunch the next, and then make pizza with it the following day.

I find that it’s easy to eat lots of vegetables and resist snacking on unhealthy food as long as I have plenty of ready-to-eat vegetable dishes like this hanging around in the refrigerator.

2 pounds broccoli
4 (or more) cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. If the skins are tough, peel the broccoli stalks, starting from the bottom, using a paring knife—the thick skin will peel away from the stalk. Then slice the stalks into coins less than ¼” thick. Keep them separate from the florets. Cut the florets into bite-sized pieces.
3. Coat 1 or 2 large baking sheets with non-stick spray or oil. (This makes clean-up a lot easier.)
4. Toss the broccoli stalks with half the oil, garlic and salt in a bowl until evenly coated with oil. Spread the broccoli stalks out into a single layer. Roast until the stalks are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
5. Toss the broccoli florets with the remaining oil, garlic and salt, and roast them like the broccoli stalks until tender and beginning to brown. That will take less time—more like 12-15 minutes. Eat and enjoy!


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

toast with almond butter and peaches

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I admit, I have a weakness for peaches. Born and raised here in Anchorage, I grew up eating a fairly limited selection of fruit: apples, bananas, and oranges. The annual grapefruit in the toe of my stocking at Christmas was cause for celebration.

I’ve only lived near peach country once in my life, when I spent four years in graduate school at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Toward the end of my degree, I was disillusioned and depressed; I no longer wanted to be a college professor (the reason I’d gone to Ph.D. school for Geography in the first place), and I was sick to death of academia.

However, there were two things I knew to be positive beyond doubt that came out of the grinding, belittling experience that was Ph.D. school. First, I met my one true love: my husband Dan, who had escaped from his own academic hell (his was in biochemistry in New York City). Second, I ate a LOT of peaches.

Not owning a car then, I would ride my bike to my local King Soopers and load a huge paper bag with enough Colorado peaches to fill the middle section of my backpack. My other groceries stashed as best they could beneath and atop my motherlode of the fragrant stone fruits, the full extension of my ski pack towered over my head as I wobbled up the hill toward home. I would eat peaches for every meal, plus snacks. Consuming six peaches a day was not unusual.

Now that I’m back in Anchorage, I’m far from those Colorado peaches, but I do have access to some remarkably good ones at Costco. Maybe they aren’t tree-ripened (they certainly aren’t local), but they taste pretty dang good to me. I can never understand my friends who lament “I just can’t get through a Costco case of peaches!” I buy two cases at a time, and let them finish ripening while I’m busy consuming the previous two cases.

How can I eat so many peaches? Usually I have two slices of almond-buttered, peach-piled toast for breakfast on summer mornings. The photograph isn’t completely accurate, because I pile the peaches on higher, and then eat them alongside, as well…  So before 9am I’ve already pounded two peaches. Then I might eat a peach for a snack, and for dessert? Well, let’s just say I don’t always stop at one.

toast with almond butter and peaches

This is hardly a recipe… it’s just a description of the finest breakfast known to humankind. Also it’s a fabulous snack, if you need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. Of course we always use our Rise & Shine bakery whole grain sourdough pan loaves for the toast, but any full-flavored, whole-grain bread will be fine.

And here’s my deal with almond butter. I love roasted almond butter (not raw), and I like it a little bit salty, like peanut butter. Most almond butters don’t come salted—but it’s easy to mix in salt when you’re stirring in the separated oil when you first open the jar.  I scrape the whole mess into a mixing bowl, add salt (I use about ½ teaspoon sea salt for a 16-ounce jar), and whisk it all together. It makes a couple more dishes to wash, but it’s WAY easier and much less messy than trying to stir it up in the jar without getting oil everywhere.

If you don’t prefer almond butter, you could use peanut butter, but almonds are extraordinarily good with peaches. You might want to give it a try!

slices of whole wheat sourdough bread (thick or thin, as you prefer)
almond butter (I prefer roasted and salted)
perfectly ripe peaches, washed, pitted, and sliced

Toast the bread, and spread it with almond butter. Cover the nut butter with peach slices. Eat more peach slices alongside your toast. Sip tea or coffee between bites. Enjoy pure bliss.

 


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Thursday, September 18, 2008

bubble & squeak, deconstructed (savory sauteed cabbage with roasted potatoes)

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my competitive nature

So my friend sends me the link to this foodie blog with luscious photos of her recipes, veganyumyum.com and says “check out the bubble & squeak cakes recipe! Have you tried it? It looks interesting!” (Bubble & squeak is a British dish of mashed potatoes and leftover cooked cabbage, fried up in a pan until browned.) Now that my own blog is up and running, I have a whole new attitude, checking out veganyumyum—kind of a competitive edge there, I have to admit. OK, so she’s won awards and stuff, and god knows her photos are beautiful. It’s very nicely done.

But a lot of her recipes are a little more involved than I’m willing to consider. You know, cute little individual-sized portions of desserts, stacked and layered appetizers, recipes that require a pastry bag and such things. I’m into delicious, super healthy, and EFFICIENT vegetable cookery. Yeah, maybe you have to soak beans overnight for some of my recipes, but it’s not like you have to monitor them while they’re rehydrating. You know what I mean—give me a big bang for my buck. I want great flavor for time spent prepping and firing those veggies.

I email my friend back and tell her to try my Savoy cabbage and potatoes with pesto recipe. That doesn’t involve mashing potatoes, shaping anything into patties, coating them with flour, or pan-frying them in margarine (isn’t this a non-food item?). “Yeah, yeah…” she says. I can tell, she’s not convinced. She’s still drawn inexorably toward the allure of the little browned patties in the (admittedly lovely) photos. I’d like to tell her about the spattering grease all over her kitchen, and that shaping those patties may not be as fun as it looks in the photo. But I resist. She’s a big girl; she can make her own decisions.

So then I go out for my afternoon run and I’m slogging along the muddy trail in the pouring-down-freezing-cold-rain, thinking about what to make for dinner tonight. From the farmers’ market, I have cabbage, onions and new potatoes. And I picked up a carton of those baby portabella mushrooms from Costco last week, intending to make cabbage & mushrooms with dill on toast. But then I remembered that I had forgotten to thaw out a loaf of our sourdough bread for the toast. And then I thought—BUBBLE & SQUEAK, DECONSTRUCTED! YES! I’ll cook the cabbage, onions & mushrooms as intended, and serve it up with garlic-roasted potatoes instead of toast! And this recipe was born. I hope my friend likes it. I sure do! 

I wonder what vegan yum-yum will think of it? 

bubble & squeak, deconstructed

“Bubble & squeak” is a British dish made of mashed potatoes and leftover cabbage, fried in a skillet until browned.  Here’s my version, using different cooking methods for each of the two components, to bring out the best qualities of each vegetable. My version, though, is easier than pan-frying the original recipe! I made it with local onions, local cabbage, and local new potatoes! I think the cabbage part of this dish tastes even better the day after you make it (but of course the potatoes are never as good as they are right out of the oven!).

The cabbage part of the recipe is based on a galette filling recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. You can double the recipe if you have a big enough skillet—the cabbage mixture keeps really well in the fridge or freezer. Also, you can take or leave the mushrooms. It adds depth of flavor, but if you don’t happen to have them hanging around, make this dish anyway! If you happen to have fresh thyme or fresh dill, use them, but just double the amounts of the dried herb.

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4-8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (optional—fine if you don’t have them)
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried dill
6-8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (Savoy or regular green cabbage)
¼ cup chopped parsley
———————————————————-
garlic-roasted potatoes (recipe below)

1. Chop all your vegetables for the cabbage while you’re preheating the oven for the potatoes. Then dice the potatoes and get them into the oven (as per instructions, below).
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Then add the mushrooms, garlic, and herbs and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the cabbage, another ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ cup water. Cover and cook slowly until the cabbage is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning it occasionally. Add more liquid as necessary. When tender, uncover and raise the heat to evaporate some excess moisture, but it’s OK if it’s a little soupy.
4. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
5. Serve alongside the roasted potatoes!

garlic-roasted potatoes

2 pounds waxy potatoes (such as Butterball, Yukon Gold, or Purple Viking)
garlic oil (recipe follows, in Step 1.)
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Make garlic oil: Mash or mince 3 or 4 garlic cloves and cover with ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil. Let steep for 30 minutes if you have time. Strain out the garlic and store the oil in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes into small bite-sized pieces. Toss them in a bowl with a few spoonfuls of garlic oil, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and toss well.
3. Lightly oil a large baking dish or sheet pan, and transfer the potatoes onto it, making sure that a cut side of each potato is touching the pan. (The side touching the pan will brown nicely). Roast the potatoes until tender and browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Scrape and toss the potatoes after 25 minutes or so to brown more than one side.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

broccoli with golden raisins

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air-fresh Alaskan broccoli

We’ve had broccoli on the brain these days, at the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market. You just can’t beat Alaska-grown for sweet and tender broccoli! And there’s so much of it! To try and create a bigger market for that proverbial powerhouse of nutrition, I started promoting it in earnest! 

First I loaded a bunch of new broccoli recipes and photos on our website. Then Dan helped me make a YouTube video about processing broccoli for the winter. And just a couple of weeks ago, we had a special event at the farmers’ market where you could clip a coupon for three heads of FREE broccoli. Meanwhile, I’ve been promoting the broccoli mania in my weekly South Anchorage Farmers’ Market email newsletter.

But my newsletter doesn’t just go to folks here in Anchorage. I have plenty of subscribers all around Alaska, including my friend Roselynn, in Fairbanks. Recently, she emailed to tell me that she’s coming to town for a work trip, and she can spend the night with us! Now, many of my friends from Fairbanks head straight for Nordstrom when they come to the big city. But not Roselynn! She’s caught the broccoli bug, and she wants to head straight to the Wednesday Farmers’ Market to fill her bags with big heads of bargain broccoli to freeze for the winter!

She’s bringing her biggest suitcase, and we’ll see how much broccoli we can stuff into her Samsonite for the trip back to Fairbanks!

broccoli with golden raisins

I love this broccoli recipe—it’s great hot on toast, or warm or at room temperature as a salad, or as a side dish to almost anything! I love it as a snack. It’s loosely based on a recipe in Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, one of my favorite cookbooks for vegetables. For a fun and colorful meal, serve this on toast with a pile of raw red pepper spears and a dish of hummus on the side.

1 ½ pounds broccoli, tops cut into bite-sized florets, and stems sliced into ¼” slices (peel the stems first if the skin is tough)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ cup golden raisins
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt or kosher salt
optional toast:
4 slices thick whole-wheat bread
extra olive oil for the toast

1. Put about an inch of water in the bottom of a pot that you can put a steamer basket in. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils, put the golden raisins in the steamer basket and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the raisins, but keep the water in the steamer.
2. Put the broccoli stems into the steamer basket, and steam for 4-6 minutes until barely tender. Check them every minute after 4 minutes, poking with a sharp paring knife. Remove the stems, drain them, and immediately spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet spread with a dishtowel. (This cools the broccoli quickly and allows it to dry out.)
3. Put the florets in the steamer, and steam for 3-5 minutes until barely tender, keeping a close eye on them. Remove the florets and spread them out on a dishtowel as with the stems. When they are cool enough to handle, chop the florets and stems a bit finer with a large chef’s knife.
4. In a large skillet over high heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, stems, raisins, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the broccoli is quite tender, and the flavors are nicely combined—about 5 minutes. Season with plenty of salt—it will need quite a bit.
5. If you want to serve the broccoli on toast, toast the slices of bread until golden, and drizzle with olive oil. Pile the broccoli on top.


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Monday, September 15, 2008

beet salad with horseradish dressing

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lunch with taughnee

I brought lunch to Taughnee today, my amazing friend and web designer, while she finished up the details on my blog! We even made a vlog while we ate lunch! (A vlog, I learned, is a video-blog!) I didn’t talk with my mouth full, though, promise. I brought this great beet salad, which is guaranteed to keep the vampires away all day (love that garlic breath!).

Taughnee has designed two amazing websites for me already—this one, and the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market website, and we’re working on finishing my bread bakery website. I just love her work, and I love working with her! Somehow, she just knows what I want even before I know what I want.  This world of the internet is pretty new to me, and she’s held my hand and led me into the world of Twitter, Flickr, and blogging. Next I’ll be exploring Digg and Mixx and and and…

“Must… blog!!  Must… tweet!!”  I’d better keep eating my vegetables to keep my strength up! 

Motto for today: Eat beet salad with people you love so they won’t mind kissing you later.

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beet salad with horseradish dressing

If you’re thinking “Horseradish? With beets?” I don’t blame you. It may sound a bit strange, but I’m not kidding you, this recipe is great. The red wine vinegar and the sharp horseradish contrast really well with the sweet, earthy taste of beets. This recipe is adapted from one in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. It’s great as a side dish with white beans, and with other vegetable dishes like oven-roasted carrot slices (recipe coming soon).

12 ounces beets, washed
8 ounces beet greens, chard, or other greens
—————————————
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
¼ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
1 garlic clove, crushed in a garlic press or finely minced

1. Put whole, unpeeled beets in a baking dish or dutch oven and put ¼” of water in the dish. Cover tightly with foil or the lid of the dutch oven and bake them until tender when stabbed with a paring knife. Usually they take 40 minutes or longer, but young beets might be quicker, depending on their size. In the fall, when the beets are bigger, they may take much longer—up to an hour and a half.
2. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
3. While the beets are roasting and then cooling, wash the greens and cut the stems off the greens. If the stems look good (and are edible—for example, beet greens and chard stems are edible, but collard stems are not), chop the stems into ½” pieces. Steam the chopped stems in a steamer until they are tender. Remove them from the steamer and then steam the greens until tender. Drain the greens and chop them up a bit.
4. When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip their skins off. Cut in halves lengthwise and then crosswise into ¼”-thick slices, or in wedges—as you prefer. Put them in a bowl with the greens and stems.
5. Mix up the remaining ingredients, pour the dressing over the beets and greens, and toss. Adjust the seasonings with more vinegar, salt, and/or horseradish. Serve warm or at room temperature.  


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Friday, September 12, 2008

red lentil & cauliflower curry with golden raisins

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one herbivore’s teeth

Last week I went to the dentist for a crown prep. For those of you whose dental health exceeds my own, I’ll explain what that means. Yes, yes, go ahead, gloat a little—your dental advantage does entitle you to a certain moral superiority. Anyway, a crown prep is where they drill out a deteriorating filling and make way for putting a cap on the tooth. Unfortunately, that’s par for the course for this nighttime tooth-grinder. I’m on crown number three—the last of my fillings.

After the crown prep, I went home, but after the anesthetic wore off, the root was angry. The hastily-prescribed antibiotics didn’t help, and I endured four days of more or less agonizing toothache, ameliorated by frequent and massive doses of Advil. At that point, my dentist kindly squeezed me in for an emergency appointment—giving up his lunch so that I would be able to eat mine! Some people dread dental work—for myself, I was thrilled with the anticipation of that lunchtime root canal. What blessed relief!

Nothing like having a hot tooth for a week to really make you appreciate—I mean really consider carefully—the role of your teeth. Especially those massive molars that do the main masticating. I love vegetables—love them cooked, raw, roasted, and steamed; sauteed, grilled, braised, and broiled. Love to cook them, love to eat them. And they do take a lot of chewing. Now, a week after the root canal, I have a whole new sense of gratitude for my chompers. When in tip-top condition, they enable me to eat all those wonderful plants—complete with all their multifarious fibers, seeds, stems and skins—not just their tender leaves, fruits, roots and shoots. Thanks, teeth! (Will I think twice before skipping that evening flossing?)

So—in honor of my teeth, I’m posting the recipe that I made for dinner after my root canal. I needed something soothing, soft and easy to eat, but also really delicious, to perk me up! Plus I had a HUGE (six-pound) cauliflower in the ‘fridge that I couldn’t resist at the farmers’ market the other day.

 

red lentil & cauliflower curry with golden raisins

It’s a beautiful yellow dish, inspired quite loosely by a recipe out of Veganomicon. I used golden raisins to continue the golden color theme, but you could use regular raisins to make a speckledy contrast, if you’d rather! Also, just because I traded some light yellow carrots for some chocolate-cherry bread the other Saturday at the farmers’ market, I used them them instead of regular orange ones.

The combination of the golden raisins and lime juice is what really sparkles this dish up—I thought of it because the stew was a bit bland at first, and needed perking up (like I did), and I thought a splash of chutney would do the trick. But since I had made a small bathtub-full of the soup (remember the six-pound cauliflower?), I didn’t want to use actual chutney. So I just added the flavors of a chutney to the stew! Those sweet and tart flavors are really delicious with the nutty cauliflower.

You can serve it with rice, if you want (try the brown basmati recipe) or just slurp it straight, in giant bowls-full, like I did. This is one of those mild-mannered cauliflower dishes that sneaks up on you—the first bite is good, but after a few more bites, you realize it’s just getting yummier and more addictive with every spoonful!

If you have a big pot, make a double batch of this—as with all bean/lentil soups, it’s great the next day for leftovers! You’ll probably have to add a bit more lime, though, to spark it up again, the next day—I did.

And about the other ingredients: I love to get whole spices and grind them myself in a coffee grinder (different from the one my husband uses to grind his coffee beans). I buy my spices, usually whole, at Summit Spice & Tea here in Anchorage. I usually have fresh ginger hanging around, but can’t always count on having a fresh jalepeno pepper. So those canned green chiles from the Mexican section of the grocery store work great in a pinch!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
sea salt or kosher salt
3 large carrots, peeled if the skins are tough, and sliced thinly
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalepeno pepper, halved, seeded with a spoon, and diced, OR 1 small can diced green chiles
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted until fragrant in a skillet
1 ½ cups red lentils
4-6 cups water
1 ½ to 2 pounds cauliflower (a medium-sized head), trimmed and cut into small florets
½ cup golden raisins
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1. Chop and measure out all the ingredients. (In other words, do your mise en place.)
2. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions with ½ teaspoon salt until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes, and then add the carrots. Sauté for another 4 or 5 minutes until the onion is getting golden-brown.
3. Add the ginger and garlic and green chile, and sauté for a minute or so. Add the spices and stir-fry for 30 seconds or a minute, and before things start to burn, add 4 cups of water and the lentils.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil, give it a stir, and cover the pot and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the lentils blow up. They will probably take up most of the water. Add more water at this point to your taste. I like it soupy, so I would add 2 more cups, but perhaps you’d prefer a thicker dish and wouldn’t add so much.
5. Add the cauliflower florets and the golden raisins, stirring to coat with the lentils. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender. The soupier you’ve made the lentils, the quicker this will be. It will probably take from 10 to 15 minutes.
6. Remove the dish from the heat and stir in lime juice and plenty of salt to taste. Add the lime juice carefully—you don’t want to make the soup sour, but you want it to sparkle!

 

 


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