Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spicy Broccoli Soup

Tom's garden bins raise gardening to new heights!!   Wow!  He picked the second crop of broccoli yesterday and there is still more coming.  Last year when he built them, I thought they looked like over-sized caskets in our back yard.  Now they are a verdant abundance of living produce! And I am totally convinced of their merits in terms of production as well as ease of caring for them. No more bending to plant, weed, or harvest.  And the depth of soil conserves water and heat and he has not needed to water the garden even once this summer.  The only problem they create is keeping up with the harvesting!  

Raised garden bins containing tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, & beans

View of the bins from our deck

This delectable and mildly spicy soup is my modification of a recipe in the Soup Bible (Penguin Books, 2007).  The coconut milk adds a creamy dimension and is surprisingly complimentary to the broccoli.  I enjoyed some for lunch, even on this wonderfully warm summer day!  The rest will be frozen for a winter treat.  

    1 Tablespoon coconut oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    1 Tablespoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
    1 cup lite coconut milk
    2 lbs broccoli, cut into small pieces  

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add chopped onion and minced garlic and cook gently for 4 -5 minutes until onion is soft. Add ground spices and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Pour in stock and coconut milk, and slowly bring to a boil. Add broccoli, reduce heat and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool a little.Puree to desired consistency. 

Garnish with cilantro or mango chutney also is a great compliment for it.  

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 8                        
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 80
Total Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg                  
Sodium: 158 mg
Total Carbs: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 4 g

Sunday, July 13, 2014

White Bean Sage Hummus

Why did I plant so much sage in my herb pots on the deck?  I have no clue.  And I usually associate sage with fall cooking, like with turkey, so I was a bit perplexed to figure out what to do with this beautiful abundance.  As I searched a bit on-line I was struck by the pairing of white beans with sage, especially in the form of a hummus.  So this is my adaptation of several recipes I found. I mixed some with a baked/mashed potato and thought it was delicious.  

Fresh sage in pot with parsley and rosemary

Most of the recipes I found used canned cannellini beans.  But Tom had just ordered and cooked some delicious corona beans, after listening to a show on The Splendid Table about these wonderful types of beans.  Corona beans are large white beans, also known as crown beans, and are a favorite in Italy's Piedmont region.  Tom ordered his through Purcell Mountain Farm.  He also ordered a few other types of dried beans from that source and I'll keep you posted if we find some other delectable ways to use them.  

    2 cups cooked beans (I used corona)
    3 Tablespoons tahini
    3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    6 - 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped to about 3 Tablespoons
    2 Tablespoons water

Puree it all together. ( I used my magic bullet when I made 1/2 batch.) Chill thoroughly before serving. 

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 16
Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
Calories: 45
Total Fat:  2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium:  88 mg
Total Carbs: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 2 g

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cold Tomato-Cilantro Soup

The weather forecast was for a couple of warm and sunny days in the midst of the persistent rain, fog and cool days we have been experiencing in Duluth.  Time to prepare for my quintessential summer day - eating lunch on the deck in the sunshine, while watching the hummingbirds and yellow finches dart among the flowers.  Finally, I would be able to try out this recipe that I found on the NY Times site for a tomato-cilantro soup.  The weather and the soup both delivered!  A wonderful lunch on the deck on a sunny summer day in Duluth, and I even used up a large portion of the abundant cilantro in the deck pots.

The only modification I made to the recipe that I found on the NY Times was to use coconut oil rather than olive oil, and to reduce the amount of water from 4 cups to 2 cups. Four cups seemed too much to my culinary instincts, and I was right - at least for the consistency of a cold soup that I like.  The soup also maintained a great consistency in the refrigerator for a few days, while I waited for another warm, sunny day to enjoy on the deck.  Fortunately, we have had a few more of those delightful days!

1 large or 2 small bunches fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, whole or diced, with liquid
2 cups water
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 lime

Pull off a small handful of cilantro leaves to use for garnish and set aside.  Tie remaining cilantro into a  bundle with kitchen twine.
Heat oil in a deep, medium-size heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring until softened and golden, about 8 minutes; reduce heat as needed to prevent browning.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute; then add tomato paste, cumin, paprika, and cayenne, and cook until tomato paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes more.
Add tomatoes with liquid, 2 cups water, and cilantro bundle, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes, covered.  Set aside until cool enough to blend, then remove cilantro bundle.  Using regular or hand-held blender, blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, squeeze in juice of half a lime, and add salt and pepper to taste; the soup should not be very salty.  If desired, squeeze in remaining lime juice.  Serve in small bowls or cups, garnished with a few whole cilantro leaves.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 5
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 95
Total Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 165 mg
Total Carbs: 9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 2 g

From The NYTimes
Published: March 24, 2009
Adapted from “Mediterranean Light,” by Martha Rose Shulman (Morrow, 2000)

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mexican Cold Cucumber Cilantro Soup

The cilantro in the pots on our deck have flourished in the past week.  I wish I could say that it was because of wonderfully warm weather, but that hasn't been the case here in Duluth.  Today our high was 50 degrees with rain, fog, and a strong wind from Lake Superior. Sometimes I think if I try hard enough warm weather will arrive.  So I try to induce warmer weather by wearing capris rather than polar fleece jackets.  I try by  bringing my lunch to the deck.  I try by making cool, refreshing soups.  Ah...Mother Nature will have none of my cajoling. So, I taste this wonderfully refreshing soup and decide if I eat it with a heated Amy's gluten-free, dairy-free burrito I can have a bite of summer with the warmth of comfort food. I have to say the combination was delightful!

If cilantro isn't your thing, (and I've heard that it is a genetic preference), then you might not like this.  Tom and I both thought it was refreshing and light. 

The original recipe was from and used skim milk.   I substituted goat yogurt, and was very delighted with the result.  I was also surprised that the soup was not too watery.  I think it was the goat yogurt that made it just the right consistency and it maintained its consistency for a couple of days in the refrigerator.  

What's your favorite way to use cilantro?  As you can see from the photos, I have an abundance of it and have some other ideas to try, but would love to hear from you. 

1 lb. cucumbers, (about 2 large cukes), peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup cilantro (firmly packed)
1/2 cup plain goat yogurt or plain dairy yogurt or skim milk. 
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice  

Puree all ingredients in blender. Cover and chill until very cold, at least 4 hours.   Serve and garnish with cilantro leaves, or the original recipe suggested chopped chives.

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 2
Serving Size: 1 3/4  cup
Calories: 61
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 3  mg
Sodium: 355  mg
Total Carbs: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 2
Protein: 4

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cucumber-Yogurt Raita

There are many variations of this raita, which is a cool cucumber-yogurt mixture often served with Indian food to cut the heat of the spicy dishes.  This is the original recipe I received from a friend whose husband is Mid-Eastern and it uses only cucumbers, garlic, mint, yogurt and salt. But I have seen several other versions that omit the salt and add cumin.  So feel free to use this as a template to adjust to your desired palate and Pzazz factor!   

In addition to serving this with foods such as the red lentil dal recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago, I like to put this sauce on a smashed baked potato.  In fact, that's what I ate for breakfast this morning along with my scrambled egg whites.  Yum!  More Pzazz!

mint leaves and garlic clove

1 large English cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely grated (about 1 cup grated)
1 clove garlic, mashed
4-6 fresh mint leaves, chopped (sometimes I add even more than this)
2 cups low-fat yogurt
(I used goat yogurt, but any type of yogurt could be used.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated cucumber

Put the grated cucumber in strainer and let it drain, then squeeze it dry a bit.  Mix together the yogurt, garlic, mint and salt. Add the drained cucumber, then puree all ingredients to desired consistency.  A regular blender works just fine for this puree.  Refrigerate for a few hours to meld the flavors well. 

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 6
Serving Size:1/2 cup
Calories: 58
Total Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg                                                        
Sodium: 253  mg
Total Carbs: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 11 g

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Red Lentil Dal

A few weeks ago when our son Dan said he and a friend would be here for dinner in a few hours, I made this dal because it was quick to make for their unplanned arrival, and it is delicious. When I started to serve it, Dan's friend commented that his mother, who is Lebanese, frequently makes dal.  I was suddenly concerned that mine would be paltry in comparison to her authentic creations. But Jack had high praise for my version and I knew his comments were genuine when he ate several servings.  

I was, however, a bit surprised that Lebanese cooking included dal.  I generally associate dal with the cooking of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and that general vicinity, but a little on-line research showed that those countries have influenced the Mid-Eastern cooking resulting in several renditions of dal.  When I asked my friend Tahirih about the origin of this particular recipe that she shared with me, she said she had received it from a Persian friend of hers. Another example of dal in the Mid-East!

If you are not familiar with dal (also spelled dhal, or daal), it is a thick soup made from any variety of lentils or split peas.  I have several versions, some given to me by friends from East India. 

The thickness of this dal can be varied depending on how much water you add.  If you make it very thick, let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days and then it is delicious served cold as a dip or spread. You'll see a photo at the bottom of it in this form.  

Lentils are great food for diabetes because of their low glycemic index. They also provide protein, and dal is precisely the type of texture and fiber that my digestive system needs.  Served with basmati rice and plain yogurt (cow, soy, or goat), it is delicious.  A raita salad (cucumber, yogurt and mint) is also a superb compliment.  I will post my pureed version of this salad someday. 

If you have a favorite dal recipe, let me know!

Dry red lentils
2 cups dry red lentils
1 cinnamon stick, 2 -3 inches long
1 bay leaf
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 slices of fresh ginger, about the size of quarters
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 of a whole lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want it

Wash the lentils and let them drain. In a large pot, combine the lentils, 4 -6 cups water (4 - 5 for dal consistency, 6 for soup consistency), cinnamon stick, bay leaf, garlic cloves, ginger slices and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

Slice the lemon into 5 or 6 rounds. Remove the seeds. Lift the cover of the pot and put in the lemon slices, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir. Cover and simmer another 10 - 15 minutes, until the lentils are completely soft.

Remove the bay leaf, lemon slices, garlic cloves, and ginger slices. Stir well and ladle into soup bowls.

Nutrition per serving:                                       
Servings per recipe: 5
Serving Size: 1 cup                                              
Calories:  280
Total Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 716 mg
Total Carbs: 46 g
Dietary Fiber: 11g
Protein: 21g

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Warm Cucumber Soup

The song "Stuck In The Middle With You", has been running through my brain all week, as a metaphor for the way Duluth is stuck between winter and spring. (Who cares that the rest of the lyrics have nothing to do with my weather-weary soul. In fact, I never knew what the lyrics were until I looked them up before I posted this.) We are tantalized by a beautiful sunny 50 degree day, followed by 5" of snowfall the next day.  So when I saw this recipe for Warm Cucumber Soup in a Rachael Ray magazine, it seemed apropos.  Spring-like cucumbers, yet warmth on a chilly, snowy day. 

I made a half recipe as I often do when trying new recipes, but after one taste, I wished I had made a triple batch instead! (The recipe below is for a full batch.) Of course, my modifications were to use coconut oil rather than olive oil to saute the onions and garlic, and to eliminate the additional olive oil pureed into the soup when it was finished.  I also eliminated the cheese toasts as a side....oh, it made me ache for a gluten/bread "fix".   But, alas, one of my blood tests that was done last month suggested that eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet has been beneficial for me. 

Fresh mint and cannellini beans are the surprise ingredients that make this soup so delicious and will add some Pzazz to your hopeful waiting for spring! And if you are lucky enough to have warm sunshine the next day, the soup is also delicious chilled.  Gotta love it!

1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2/3 cup chopped yellow onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups peeled, seeded, chopped cucumbers

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, gluten-free
1/2 cup cooked, drained cannellini beans
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Few fresh mint sprigs and diced fresh tomato for garnish

In a medium pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and chopped garlic and cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add the cucumber and lemon juice and cook until golden. Stir in broth, beans and chopped mint and cook for 8 - 10 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and cool.  Puree to desired consistency and THINK SPRING!

Servings per recipe: 4
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 75
Total Fat: 4  g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 322  mg
Total Carbs: 8  g
Dietary Fiber:2 g
Protein: 3 g