Recipe: Roasted Carrot Soup.

I haven’t posted a recipe in ages!  If you’re already stuffed full with holiday sweets and are actually craving something healthy for balance (!) or you have a cold storage room brimming with carrots (or both), here goes:

Roasted Carrot Soup

8 large carrots, peeled, sliced into 1″ medallions

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 medium onion, diced

1 tsp fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 cup milk, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cover a baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment.  Combine chopped carrots and olive oil in a small bowl and mix until the carrots are covered in the oil.  Spread the carrots out on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Place in hot oven and roast for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn the carrots; roast another 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and use in recipe.  (You can also cool the carrots, then refrigerate them until ready to use).

To make the soup:

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large saucepan.  Add onion and saute gently until onion is soft.  Add roasted carrots, gingerroot, garlic, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion blender to carefully puree the hot vegetables and broth.  Wear a welder’s helmet, apron, and arm guards if you’re not good with the blender, and be prepared to call a professional cleaning service that specializes in disaster restoration to deal with the carrot spray all over your kitchen tile.  (This safety recommendation comes from someone who has a tendency to make a gigantic mess in the kitchen – I remember when I was a kid and I’d “help” my Mum whip cream.  Four days after an “episode,” she’d still find whipped cream on the chandelier, in the boot closet, and on the door handle of the car parked in the driveway).

At any rate, to finish:

Place the soup back on the burner and add the milk, if using.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir and cook just until reheated, then ladle the soup into bowls.  Garnish with chopped parsley.  Yield: 2 large servings or 4 small ones.

Note:  If you are a big fan of the flavour of ginger, feel free to add a bit more to this recipe, as it can easily handle it.

Metric Conversion Tables.

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Embracing winter.

I’ve decided that “embracing” winter is silly when all it does is backhand you a good one every time you try to get near it.  Today’s blizzard (which started the very second I opened the door this morning to head out to work) is certain proof that I should just stay away.  Far, far away.  Somewhere with plenty of sun and sand.

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Is time-travel less expensive than a tropical vacation?  Maybe we can fast-forward to spring….

Some comfort food has definitely been in order lately, so I cooked up this insanely delicious Vegetable Navratan last night.  It took me nearly two hours and I even cheated by using frozen vegetables and reducing the amount of garlic  (no-no’s, I’m sure), but it was worth every second in the kitchen.  The leftovers were even better reheated tonight.  Warm belly food, for sure.  And if you want to make your own garam masala to use in the recipe, check out this DIY mix.     Yum!

To continue the theme of food and winter, this tidbit of weird news caught my eye – apparently the town of Williams Lake, British Columbia, is using beet juice to de-ice the roads.  I suspect the practice has my hubby’s vote of confidence, given that he doesn’t think beets are fit for human consumption:  “The only good beet is the one pureed under my truck tires,” or something to that effect.  Next thing I know, he’ll be boxing up the beets we receive in our CSA basket and mailing them out to Williams Lake.

And what about these absolutely horrific vintage recipes?  I just HAVE to share this link with everyone…after all, I was brought up to be polite and I simply wouldn’t feel right if I was the only one suffering from a queasy stomach.  I have to know, though:  if you grew up in the era of these culinary masterpieces, did you or someone you knew ever cook or eat these?  Or something just as…creative?  😉

I hope you have a fun week – no matter what the weather!

Bananas for breakfast.

I’m one of these people that needs to eat breakfast pretty much the second I’m up and out of bed.  Trouble is, lately I don’t know what breakfast is.  (Although, the past few days, it seems to be Christmas cookies – oops!).

I hate cold cereal (plus, I have nut allergies and have you noticed that just about every breakfast cereal you can buy has almonds or walnuts or pecans in it?) and while I do make various types of grain-based hot cereals, I don’t want to eat them everyday.  Same with all the versions of eggs – I don’t want to eat them all the time.  (Boredom is a big deal when you’re talking about food, don’t you find?).   Smoothies are no good – it doesn’t matter how green they are or how many different types of fruit, dairy products or grains I put in them, they’re not filling enough.  By the time I hit my coffee break at work, I’m…well…an exceedingly grumpier version of myself.  Ahem.  I’ve been eating toast or bagels but I really have to get back into making my own breads again in the new year – I’m just not a fan of supermarket bread products.  A co-worker has been bringing in day-olds from a good bakery to share and those have been a delight.  I ought to frequent the place she gets them from.

So, where does that leave me?  Muffins, perhaps, as long as they’re not sweet cupcakes thinly disguised as muffins (ie: I forgot to ice them!).  Or maybe fruit or veggie-based quick breads.  Early last week, I found a recipe for banana bread on the blog My Sister’s Pantry and I figured, why not?  This is definitely a different version of banana bread than I’m used to – for one, it has molasses in it, and while it has all the beautiful moist texture you associate with banana bread (particularly given the fact that it also has applesauce as an ingredient), it really doesn’t taste significantly banana-ey.  It’s dense and delicious and not very sweet – plus, I’m actually finding that it’s pretty filling.  It goes along really nicely with a bit of yogourt and my morning cup(s) of Earl Grey.

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Please scoot on over to My Sister’s Pantry for the recipe.  (They’ve got a pile of GF, DF, vegan, vegetarian, raw, and sugar-free recipes over there as well, plus some excellent nutritional tips).  I made a couple of changes because of my allergies, swapping out the nut butter for tahini and omitting the pecans.

What are your favourite breakfast dishes?  Do you regularly change up your morning meals?  Or do you even eat breakfast at all?

Parsnip cake.

We went straight from Zucchinipalooza to Carrotextravaganza around here this fall.  While I had only a modest harvest of carrots from my community garden plot this year, the farm that provides us with our CSA share baskets had a positive bumper crop, and so for quite awhile now, we’ve been pretty much swimming in carrots.  It’s not a bad problem to have – we’ve had various carrot breads, soups (click through to see my purple carrot soup), and a cake with cream cheese filling.  My hubby, the avowed Meatatarian, will actually eat carrots, so we’ll get through the rest of them with little trouble.

The parsnips are another story.

I didn’t grow parsnips this year (nor have I ever – they’re on my list of Crops to Plant One Day in the Nebulous Future).  But our CSA baskets have been FULL of them.  According to the owner of the farm, this is only the second year they’ve grown parsnips, but their success was “amazing.”

Of course, my hubby won’t touch them with a ten foot pole.  He won’t even eat them roasted, glazed with a bit of butter and brown sugar, which is really my favourite way to prepare them.

So I took a cue from the carrot madness we have going on and baked a cake.

Parsnip Cake

3/4 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (you could use agave syrup if you don’t have maple, but maple tastes best)

3 eggs (if you wish to substitute a flax gel* in place of 1 egg, you could)

2 cups all-purpose flour (you could sub out 1/4 cup of white flour for whole wheat, if you prefer.  I’m also thinking of experimenting with almond meal)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cardamom

3 cups parsnips, peeled and grated

1 apple, peeled and chopped finely

Juice of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease two loaf pans and line with parchment.

Melt butter and cool slightly.  Add sugar, maple syrup, and eggs, and mix thoroughly.   Add flour, baking powder, and spices and combine.  Fold in parsnips, apple, and orange juice and stir until evenly distributed throughout the batter.  Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

(*To “make” an egg out of flax, mix 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed in 3 tbsp. water and let sit until it gels, about 5 minutes).

Handy Conversion Calculator

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And that is how you get someone to eat their parsnips.  😉

Do you grow parsnips in your garden?  More importantly, do you EAT parsnips?  What are your favourite parsnip recipes?

Related posts – Parsnip Cake (From Sewing Room to Potting Shed)

Recipes: Rhubarb-Strawberry-Honey Lemonade and Rhubarb-Strawberry Cobbler.

Rhubarb

 

This is a good year for rhubarb here in Calgary:  we’ve gotten plenty of moisture and the temperatures have been relatively cool so far.  I don’t grow rhubarb myself, but there is a plant at the community garden where I rent a plot.  Because there are 27 plotholders, one rhubarb plant doesn’t go very far, so out of fairness, a system of rationing has been implemented.   Late last week I picked my allowance, and mulled over how best to use it.  My go-to rhubarb recipe has always been a rhubarb cake from the Purity Cookbook (you can see a modified version of this recipe on my blog Blooms and Spoons, over at Grit.com), but this time I was looking for something a little different.  I had a refreshing drink in mind, but I seem to have misplaced my recipe for Rhubarb Fizz, and the ones I’ve found (so far) on the Internet aren’t the same. The organic lemons and strawberries I had in the fridge finally clinched it for me.  Here is what I made:

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Honey Lemonade

4 stalks rhubarb, washed and chopped into 1″ chunks

1/3 cup honey

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and chopped  (I wish my alpine strawberries were ready to pick now – I will have to make this again once they are!)

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 3 lemons

Bring water, rhubarb, honey, water, and lemon zest to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add strawberries, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then strain liquid through a sieve into a glass pitcher.  Reserve fruit. *   Add lemon juice.  Serve chilled.  You can add a splash of carbonated water to this if you want it to be nice and fizzy!

*Rhubarb-Strawberry Cobbler

This is why you reserved the fruit from the Rhubarb-Strawberry-Honey Lemonade!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rhubarb-strawberry fruit mixture in a medium saucepan.  Add 1/4 cup water and 3 tbsp. sugar.  Simmer on medium heat for ten minutes.  In the meantime, make the batter.

Mix together:

1 cup white flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

3 tbsp. sugar

3 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

Add in:

1/3 cup margarine or butter

Stir until mixture is crumbly.

Combine with

1 egg

1/2 cup milk.

Stir thoroughly.  The batter will be very sticky.

Place the hot fruit into a 9″ square glass baking dish and top with spoonfuls of batter.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Enjoy warm, with cream or ice cream!

(Recipe adapted from the Purity Cookbook:  The Complete Guide to Canadian Cooking).

Rhubarb strawberry cobbler

Do you like the taste of rhubarb?  What are your favourite rhubarb recipes?

 

 

 

Recipe: Corn Shoot Smoothie.

What is your favourite quick breakfast?

I always say I’m going to bake a whole bunch of muffins to grab and go, but either the muffins don’t get baked, or they don’t make it to breakfast.  😉  I like granola and muesli but I can’t eat commercial brands due to my allergies…and for some reason, I never get around to whipping up a nut-free batch.  This is where fruit smoothies come in…and in particular, smoothies with added shoots and leaves.

My current favourites are smoothies containing corn shoots.  I’ve been growing batches of corn shoots on the windowsill, in full sunlight, as well as in the darkness of the closet (not sure if my hubby enjoys having corn growing on the floor below his freshly washed and hung shirts, but hey! he ought to be used to my weird experiments by now).  The blanched corn shoots are definitely sweeter in taste, but I must admit I almost prefer the “grassier” notes of the shoots grown in sunlight.  Either way, they are absolutely stellar in smoothies!

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Green

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Blanched

Here’s the recipe if you want to give them a try:

Corn Shoot Smoothie

1 frozen banana, roughly chopped

1 handful corn shoots, thoroughly washed

2 oranges (I like Cara Caras), peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

1 cup plain yogourt

Throw everything into a food processor and pulse until thoroughly blended.

This recipe can have a ton of add-ins and substitutions – the sky’s the limit!  If you don’t like (or grow) corn shoots, try sunflower shoots…or kale…or spinach.  If you wish to go dairy-free, use almond or cashew milk.  If you want a thicker smoothie, use Greek yogourt instead of regular.  If you’re substituting a less sweet green such as kale or spinach, you can add a bit of honey, agave syrup, or maple syrup.  I’m going to put in some coconut next time I make this – I haven’t seen fresh coconut in the grocery stores here just yet, but I think some finely shredded unsweetened baking coconut would give the whole thing a pina colada type of vibe.

Mmmm…pina coladas….

 Do you like breakfast smoothies?  What greens – if any – do you put in your smoothies?

Sprouting fenugreek.

Do you grow your own sprouts?

If I’m not sprouting some kind of seed or another, I’ve usually got a batch or two of microgreens on the go. I don’t have the space to go all out, so the amounts I’m growing are tiny – enough for a couple of sandwiches, perhaps, or to throw into a stir fry at the very end of cooking. I’m constantly resowing and trying new types of crops – it’s like year ’round seed trials on a miniature scale.

I’ve sprouted fenugreek seeds several times before, but I haven’t had a chance to write about them until now (partly because I keep eating them before photographing them – oops!). These guys are super-easy to sprout and pack a spicy-sweet punch that is perfect for so many dishes.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum, called “methi” in India) is a plant of Mediterranean origin, and is widely grown throughout Asia and Europe. It’s a common staple of Indian cooking, where the fresh or dried leaves and the whole seeds are used in a wide range of dishes. A member of the Fabaceae family, this annual reaches about 60 cm tall and prefers to be grown in fertile, slightly acidic soil. Apparently you have to sow fenugreek directly into the ground or containers, as plants do not like to be transplanted. It seems that many people opt to sprout the seeds or grow them as microgreens, as I do.

If you’ve never sprouted seeds before, there are some great resources online: try the information on this website for the Canadian company Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds. I’ve tried both the tray method and the jar method (and had more success with the latter with most crops), but really, the most important things to remember with sprouting is to always use organic, untreated seed, always rinse seeds with filtered water, and ensure your jars, trays, etc. are spotlessly clean. And, eat your sprouts as soon as possible! Most can only be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

(Speaking of eating, fenugreek sprouts are marvellous as an addition to Sweet Potato and Chickpea Hummus…and if you want the recipe for that, please check out my blog post for Grit.com.  YUM!).  🙂

Have you ever grown fenugreek (as a sprout or otherwise)?  What types of sprouts are your favourites to grow? 

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