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Monday, February 25, 2013

Mushroom Hazelnut Soup with Farro

This week’s Menu:
February 24-March 2nd

Monday: Roasted Veggie Salad with Chickpeas and Cheesy Bread
Tuesday: Eggplant Lentil Chili Mole (from Appetite for Reduction)
Wednesday: Mushroom Soup with Hazelnuts and Farro (see below)
Friday: Lemon Pepper Salmon, Rice, and Kale Salad
(note: this is not the actual recipe for Saturday's meal, but it is pretty much the marinade recipe.  The whole thing is from Appetite for Reduction, the book I use to start each week's planning.)

(Here is that lovely kale salad again, that I just can't get enough of.  I think we've eaten it every week for over a month now!  This was the first time I made it, with some spicy baked tofu and quinoa.)

This is your new friend, farro.  It's having kind of a "whole grain" moment right now.  What I like about it is that it's kind of like a wheat version of brown rice, and it's got a little bit of a pop to it, like barley does when you bite into it.  And, although they say that it takes 40 minutes to cook, I've managed it in around 20 (especially with the "unpearled" kind- that's the better one, and it's grown in Washington!).

I am not really a mushroom fan.  Really.  I hated them for the first 30 years of my life.  Then someone brought a mushroom/wild rice soup to work for a potluck day, and it was delicious.  I had to make it.  It had butter and white wine, who can say no to that?   Then I found a recipe for a stew with portobellos, peppers, and tempeh, and that was great.  Now this; I totally adapted it from Sunset magazine, so it's really mine.  My trick is to chop up the mushrooms really finely if they're going to stay in pieces in a dish.  This one is blended, so it's really just the flavor, and I swear that flavor is not "dirt".  :)

Mushroom Soup with Hazelnuts and Farro
adapted from Sunset magazine

1 package button mushrooms
1-2 tsp. olive oil
2 carrots
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. dried chives
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
4-6 c. vegetable broth
1/4 c. hazelnuts

Other things from the original recipe that I would have added if they were in my house:
2 ribs celery
1/4 c. dry white wine
fresh chives instead of dried

Roughly chop up the veggies,  and saute them in your soup pot with the olive oil and garlic.  Add the beans  and the broth.  Meanwhile, cook 1 c. of farro as directed.  (Rinse and cover with water, boil until cooked, 20-40 minutes)  Simmer the soup until the veggies are tender, then blend with an immersion blender.  Make sure that it's really smooth.  Then add the cream and rosemary, and blend again.  Take your hazelnuts, and toast them at 400* for about 10 minutes.  After they cool, chop them up, and blow on them to remove the skins. Serve the soup over cooked farro, with hazelnuts on top as a garnish.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Garden Planning

Are you missing the days when your garden looked like this?  

 (Disclaimer: this has never been my garden.  This is from a front yard garden in Wallingford, a few blocks from Seattle Tilth, from a few years ago. It is really gorgeous though... and they had a gigantic grape arbor that went over the sidewalk... but I digress.)

I was inspired a few weeks ago by this blog, Northwest Edible Life, to come up with a well-laid out, graph-paper-using, completely garden-nerdy plan for this year's gardens.  Here's what I got:

It's color coded and everything!

She also sells a garden planner on her site, and there's also an extensive EXTENSIVE year round edible planting guide, specifically for here in the PNW.  I edited it down to only include the things that I like to grow, and now it's 2 pages.


Then, as I was still planning, I read this month's issue of Urban Farm magazine.  They had an article about crop rotation... and I know that this info is pretty much common knowledge among organic gardeners, but I never really got it before.  Basically, you grow one crop in a place, and then the next year, you grow something else there that will put back the nutrients that the previous one sucked out.  There's a whole cycle to it; this one was written specifically in Growing Local Food by Mary Lou Shaw.  UF had permission to print the article.  I don't, but I'm also pretty sure that no one will come after me with their lawyers for this.  Here's what I gathered from that:

Group #1: Leaf Plants (need high nitrogen): lettuce, salad greens, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi

Group #2: Cleaners and builders: corn, potatoes (cleaners); beans, peas (build up nitrogen)

Group #3: Root Plants: (need high potassium): onions, scallions, shallots, garlic, leeks, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes

Group #4: Fruiting plants (need high phosphorus): squash, cucumber, melon, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants

What does that mean? I get to start over again with some of my planning, since I was going to grow some leaf plants in the same spot where I grew them last year.  For most people, that would probably be annoying, but I'm pretty excited!  We're also getting some things to re-vamp my seed starting station today, so soon there will be new plants on the way!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

This week's Menu, and Kale Salad

I've wanted to start posting my weekly menus for a while now, so here is my first one! I've been cooking a lot from Sunset magazine lately (or adapting things from them)... the linked recipes are either from a previous blog post, or the Sunset recipes themselves.  And this delicious Kale Salad?  I've changed it so much, it is really only slightly like the original.

This week’s Menu:
February 17-22

Sunday: Yam, Kale, White Bean Soup, from Joy the Baker
Monday: Lemon Pepper Salmon, Rice, and Kale Salad (see below)
Tuesday: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Spinach
Friday: Roasted Veggie Salad with Chickpeas and Homemade Bread

Kale Salad:

1 bunch of curly kale, chopped up (not dinosaur/lacinato)
1 carrot, grated

Mix together in a bowl.

1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. rice vinegar
4 tsp. sesame oil OR lime juice (didn't have sesame oil the second time I made it, and the lime juice was still super delicious!)

3 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Whisk together the dressing ingredients, leaving out the sesame seeds.  (You can toast them in a small frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes.)  Toss to coat, then add the seeds and toss again.  Just that simple! (and now we love this salad so much, I make it every week or two!) 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Roasted Garlic Chickpeas and Broccoli with Mashed Potatoes

 Craving some comfort food for this cold weather? Enter, Roasted Garlic Chickpeas and Broccoli!
(adapted from Appetite for Reduction)

Main Dish:
1 large head of broccoli, cut into large pieces
10 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 can of chickpeas
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon zest
juice from half a lemon
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 c. vegetable broth
1/2 lb. asparagus, ends broken off and cut into 2" pieces

Mashed Potatoes: 
5-6 russet potatoes
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 400*.  In a large baking pan, mix together the broccoli, chickpeas, and garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, zest, and oregano.  Bake for about 30 minutes, then turn the broccoli a bit, and add the vegetable broth.  Add the asparagus, and bake for another 10 minutes or so.  

Meanwhile, make the mashed potatoes.  Cut up the potatoes into small chunks, leave the skins on,  and boil in a large pot of water until soft.  Drain.  Return to pot and mash with the butter, letting it melt.  Then add milk and/or vegetable broth to taste.  

Serve the roasted veggies and chickpeas over the mashed potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  You could also top it with a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese.