Vegan Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup

Photo Courtesy of www.podgardening.co.nz

Photo Courtesy of www.podgardening.co.nz

Vegan Creamy Roasted Parsnip Soup
courtesy of In Pursuit of More

1 large sweet onion, chopped
3-4 large whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
2-3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound parsnips, about 6 small parsnips, washed and chopped
4 cups chopped red potatoes, about 3 large potatoes
4 cups veggie stock
1/2 cup cashews
2 cups water
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Fresh pepper, parsley, and minced red pepper to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash and chop the parsnips, and combine with the onion and the whole unpeeled garlic cloves in a mixing bowl. Toss the veggies with the olive oil, cumin, and salt, and place in a large rimmed baking pan. Toss the pan in the oven and roast the veggies until fragrant and browning, about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roast in the oven, combine the vegetable stock and chopped potatoes in a soup pot. Heat to a gentle boil and cook gently until the potatoes are nice and soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off once the potatoes are soft and leave the pot until the rest of the ingredients are ready. Once the roasted veggies are done, remove them from the oven and carefully free the garlic cloves from the skins. When cool enough to handle, combine the roasted veggies and potato stock mixture in batches and blend each batch until smooth. Combine the blended batches into another large pot as you go. Keep going until all of the soup is pureed to a smooth consistency.

Turnip and Potato Puree

 

Photo Courtesy of www.inspired2cook.com

Photo Courtesy of www.inspired2cook.com

Turnip and Potato Purée

Makes 4-6 servings

1 ½ lbs turnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup milk
Kosher salt
Thyme
Butter (optional)

Cover the turnips, garlic and potatoes in a medium pot over high heat with the milk and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until veggies are tender. Drain and with an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. Alternatively, you could mash. Mix in thyme leaves to your liking and melted butter, if you choose. This reheats well in the oven.

Weekend Challenge: Homemade Fettuccine with Garlic Sauce

While we usually bring you quick and effortless cooking ideas and tips, sometimes there’s a special occasion to go the extra mile. Maybe you’re looking to impress for a birthday, gathering or date, perhaps. Experimenting with making your own fresh pasta, with local flour, will do just that. Or if nothing else, it’s a fun afternoon in the kitchen this time of year, when it’s not quite warm enough to spend all of your days out in the sun and ski season is nearing an end. Thanks to intern Lily Bradburn for contributing this informative pasta making post and process photos. When you get a chance, check out her blog A Taste of Real Food.
As I prepare to acquire all my own tools for cooking when I graduate, I have been given several culinary inspired gifts this year. Along with the cookbook Essential Pasta by Bay Books and some other assorted pasta-related gifts, I was given a hand-crank pasta machine.

So over the course of the last three months I experimented with different pastas. Here’s what I learned so far:

Do not rush it. Like with any new culinary skills it takes time, so set aside an afternoon to allow for mistakes and to assure you are not feeding everyone late at night (trust me, your family, friends, and/or dinner guests will thank you).

  1. Make just the pasta. As simple as fresh spaghetti may seem, it requires your full focus and attention. Which is why with this recipe I choose a simple garlic sauce, but a jar of store-bought or pre-made sauce works just as well.
  2. Most important, have fun. After making pasta a handful of times, I realize why so many chefs and home cooks make fresh pasta. Pasta can easily be a dish you make with multiple people, so invite friends and children to help and you’ll appreciate the extra pair of hands.

With those tips in mind, on to the ingredients. Keeping with the local, tan-oriented theme for March, simple options are just what are needed when making homemade pasta. While added flavor is important, you want a simple sauce so you can taste the pasta, even something as simple as olive oil will suffice.

So in shopping around for ingredients I purchased Nitty Gritty Grains whole-wheat flour (which unlike bleached as a tan hue to it), organic semolina wheat flour (the former and the latter purchased at the Rutland Area Co-op), and garlic from Evening Song Farm. While the base ingredients are more white than tan, their cooked products are both delicious and great colors for the month of March.

The following recipe was adapted from Essential Pasta for their homemade pasta dough recipe.

Ingredients (Serves ~5)

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Homemade Pasta Dough:

  • 1 ½ cups flour (or when working with semolina, ¾ cups semolina flour and ¾ cups flour)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • pinch of salt

Garlic Sauce:

  • 4 cloves of garlic*
  • ¼ cup oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ricotta cheese for garnish (or any other herbs and cheese you prefer)

*Be sure to not use too much garlic, judge how much you will get from each clove as size can vary and too much can overpower the dish

Once you’ve got your ingredients for the pasta dough, mix the semolina wheat and flour into a bowl. Then make a well in the center of the flour and add your eggs, salt, and oil.

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Next you want to beat the eggs, oil, and salt in the well using a fork. Try not to have too much spill over into the flour, but do not panic if you do, it’s not an exact science.

Next you want to beat the eggs, oil, and salt in the well using a fork. Try not to have too much spill over into the flour, but do not panic if you do, it’s not an exact science.

After the eggs are beat, use your fork to slowly mix the eggs into the flour, beginning in the center of the bowl and slowly working your way out as you mix the dry and wet ingredients together.

Once mixed, knead the dough. This you can do on a floured surface and not in the bowl.

Tip: If you notice that your dough is too dry add small drops of water and if too wet, a pinch of flour.

When just making the dough with flour you will knead for about 6 minutes, but with the semolina wheat it takes about 10 minutes.

After kneading, check that you have a pliable, dry to the touch, and shiny dough. Then form the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl and cover it up with a wet towel, or place the ball onto a flour surface and cover with your bowl, letting it sit for thirty minutes.

 

After the thirty minutes check for the characteristics mentioned before. Now you will begin the process of making the actual pasta. Like I mentioned before, I used a pasta machine for my fettuccine. However, there are plenty of recipes available on to make homemade pasta that does not require a machine (which can be on the more expensive side).

For the hand crank machine there are several parts to the process of making the fettuccine. First you should take only about 1/4 of your pasta dough to begin with, keeping the rest covered so it does not dry out. Then roll out the dough into a somewhat rectangular shape.

Next place your machine on the highest setting (for mine it was 7). This is the largest width to feed the dough through. You’ll want to run the dough through about three times on this width to make sure it is thin enough for the next setting. If after the third time you find the section of dough you have is too long (I made a section of dough that ran the length of my arm), then cut it in half and cover one half.

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Then you will run your dough through almost each setting.. From my research, on most machines you can only go from 7-3 before the width is too small and the dough can tear. For fettuccine you want about a 1/16 inch thickness.

Once the sheet is made thin enough, if you have an attachment for the pasta machine to make fettuccine (which most do), you can run the sheet through that, cranking slowly to ensure no tearing. This will give you a section of fettuccine, which you then slowly pull apart each individual strand. Because rolling out all the dough takings time, you need to leave the ready-to-cook fettuccine to dry.

While you can buy a small pasta drying rack, I went with my clothes drying rack instead, though a dry cutting board or even coat hangers will suffice. If you plan on saving the pasta for later at this point you can let it dry till it feels like store bought pasta and then it is ready for storing. Once in a sealed bag, it can be refrigerator for about three days, or, if stored in the freezer, for several months.

But for cooking immediately, drying the pasta slightly ensures it does not stick together again before cooking. Essentially, what you are looking for is pasta that will not turn into one giant ball of dough again when cooking it (while edible, as I learned, it’s not the most pleasing dish to look at).

Repeat the process for the rest of the dough.

Before beginning to cook the pasta, throw your garlic, oil, and any seasoning you prefer into a skillet to cook until slightly tan.

After all the pasta is rolled out and cut, and your pieces have dried slightly you can begin to cook. This is the simple part, throw the fresh pasta into a pot of boiling water and give it about 5 minutes to cook (depending on the thickness and preference). Because the pasta is fresh it takes only minutes to cook thoroughly.

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When cooked you can ladle the pasta right out of the water, serve on a plate with the garlic sauce, garnishes and enjoy your homemade pasta!

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Tomatillo Salsa

Here is another one of Randal Smathers’ ingenious VerMex menu items. Why do I say ingenious? Because when I was tying up and pruning my tomato plants the other week, a long overdue task at this point in the season, I knocked off a ton of unripe, green tomatoes in the process. Although this is a tomatillo recipe, like Randal suggests, I think the green tomatoes work just as well. I have never found a good use for green tomatoes  – more so at the end of the summer when the plants have seen the last of their days, and thanks to New England’s short tomato season, are left with fruit that never had enough time to ripen. But by growing tomatillos in a non-native region like Vermont, or utilizing the green tomatoes that some people might simply discard, I think  this salsa is the perfect combo of Vermont’s resourcefulness and Mexico’s flavors.

Tomatillo salsa

With the green tomatoes I found it necessary to greatly increase the honey to bring out their great, though not fully developed, flavor.

  • 1 pound tomatillos or green tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 poblano and/or Anaheim peppers or 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 tbsp. sugar or honey
  • ½ tbsp. salt
  • Oil
  • Bottled hot sauce (optional)
  • Optional thickening agent (1/4 cup flour or masa harina, 2 tbsp. corn starch, 1 small can tomato paste).

First prepare the peppers
If using reconstituted peppers, steep them in 1 cup boiling water until soft, discard seeds and stem and set aside in the boiling liquid. If using fresh peppers, char them over a gas burner, BBQ grill or under an oven broiler. Peel, discarding the charred outer skin, seeds and stems.

Next prepare the tomatillos (If using green tomatoes, simply chop and puree)
Remove the papery husks and rinse the tomatillos. Lightly score the tops, using a sharp knife to make an X. This will help keep the tomatillos from bursting and losing their seeds in the pot. Bring 2-3 quarts lightly salted water to a rolling boil, then add the tomatillos. Cook until soft, 5-10 minutes, then drain. Puree peppers, adding boiling liquid or water to get a sauce texture. Puree tomatillos. Do not puree them with the peppers, which take much longer to process. You want to leave the tomatillo seeds intact.

Chop the onion and herbs. Crush the garlic. Sweat the onion, herbs and garlic in the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until soft and translucent. Add the pureed tomatillos and peppers, honey and salt. Simmer gently. If it is too bitter, add a little more honey to taste. A little extra cilantro at the end will brighten the color. Can be thickened or used as is as a salsa or sauce with meat or vegetables.

Thai Beef Salad

photo (1)

We’re nearing the end of the July and that means we’re also wrapping up our salad for dinner theme. You’d think with a whole month dedicated just to salads that things would get boring fast. But, as I’ve said before in Six Steps to an Awesome Dinner Salad, the key is mixing up flavors and ingredients. And as I’ve played around with those notions in the kitchen this month, I’ve realized that at some point I almost forgot that what I’m making and eating actually are salads. Not convinced? Well, I’ve got another salad for you: Thai beef. Guest Chef Yvonne Brunot, of Right Mind Farm and I, worked our way through this simple recipe at one of our farm to workplace cooking demonstrations. If you’re unfamiliar with Thai food and have always thought it sounded a little too adventurous for your cooking abilities, here’s your chance to see how wrong you are. And you probably already have most of the ingredients that constitute this salad as Thai cuisine on hand.

THAI BEEF SALAD

Of course, as a salad, this dish highlights produce you can find growing locally right now – lettuce, cilantro, garlic and onions, for instance. Though, as always, change things up to your liking. I threw in peas instead of peppers, as you can see in the picture, and chicken or tofu would be great as well.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, or reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 head lettuce, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
  • 3/4 pound sirloin steak, trimmed of fat and thinly sliced
  • 3 jalapeno or serrano chili peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 orange, peeled and white pith removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts

Stir together fish or soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl. Arrange lettuce on individual plates. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Stir-fry beef, in batches, until browned on the outside and still pink inside, about 1 minute per batch. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan and cook chili peppers, onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the sauce-sugar  mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in orange and cilantro. Place the beef on top of the lettuce, spoon over the sauce, top with the peanuts and serve.

Spice Up Your February With Shakshuka!

During our fine Februaries, it is easy to tire of winter . . . and winter squash, potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips–those once-exciting storage crops that have been sustaining us since November. If you’re finding yourself positively bored with your usual winter flavors–with no sign of spring in sight–try this remarkably tasty and wonderfully easy recipe for dinner one night.  You won’t be disappointed.

Shakshuka adapted from Epicurious.com

This dish comes out great with jalepeños, but I’ve made it without in a pinch, and it’s tasty that way too.  Good quality local eggs and feta will really make a difference here.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked until tender, or 1 15 oz can
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes, or a 28 or 32 oz can, crushed or whole and crushed during cooking
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Warm pita bread
Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat*. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeños; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add crushed tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta evenly over sauce. Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 5–8 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Serve with pita for dipping.

*Since acidic tomato juices can damage the finish on your cast iron, try using an enameled cast iron pot or other ovenproof skillet for this dish.

The Topping On The Pizza

Thanks to the Domestic Diva for sharing her favorite pizza topping combinations with us!

Goat Cheese & Seasonal Greens Pizza

Seasoned oil

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Salt, to taste

Topping

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or blistered tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 8 oz. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
  • 4 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

 

Pear, Cheese and Walnut Pizza

  • 12 oz. bleu or gorganzola cheese (manchego or brinata work well too)
  • 2 pears (about), halved, cored, very thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces, coarsely broken
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

 

Pizza Margherita

2 cloves garlic- crushed into ¼ cup olive oil.  Drizzle on and spread olive oil over crust.  Reserve left over.

Cover with:

  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
  • 2  large tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • ½ bunch basil, chiffonade
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