Archive for the ‘vegetables’ Category

Summer Wrap Up

So here we are, summer is fading slowly and autumn is on our doorstep.  I want to take a pause before the warm afternoons slip away and share a few pictures and recipes that remind me of the summer that passed by so quickly (don’t they all do that?).  Please excuse my laziness at not writing out recipes, most are posted here as links and if not, I will post in the future!


I had a lot of great adventures this summer.  There was all that much needed time at my family’s place in Maine.


There were several visits with Madeline Rose, my favorite new niece.

There was a celebration to honor the 2nd anniversary of our book club, The Fabulous Ladies.  We also marked members’ birthdays and tearfully say goodbye to some members leaving NYC.

There was my five year college reunion, where I enjoyed the company of great friends.


There was a second round of goodbyes to Heather, leaving this time for Uganda and the Peace Corps.

There were goodbyes to our dear Rochambeau community in order to say hello to our new place in BK.


And along the way, there was good food (of course).

I made chocolate chip zucchini cookies for a coworker and his wife who have a new baby.


I made a beautiful, refreshing bulgar wheat lentil salad with feta and delicious zucchini pancakes I made last summer, mmmm.


I made a really yummy zucchini dish I’ve made before, courtesy of 101cookbooks (zucchini, feta, onions, dill, nuts–so easy and good!).

I made this roasted heirloom tomato sauce.

How beautiful are these tomatoes?

I’ve said it before, but there is nothing that says summer to me like a gorgeous tomato, thick and full from the summer sun.  Make this recipe while you can still find local heirlooms, it is so so very much worth the time and effort.  Your kitchen will smell amazing and I guarantee you have never tasted anything quite like it.  Satisfaction guaranteed.


I also made iced tea with fresh mint and candied ginger.  You should try that–just stick whole stalks of mint right in there and you can find candied ginger with dried fruit.  It’s really tasty.


And finally, there was the galette I made for my mom’s birthday.  According to wikipedia, the term “galette” is used in French to refer to any kind of free flaky cake.   I’d made it last summer, but I was still nervous about the undertaking.  It’s not the most intricate dessert I’ve ever made, but it does involve a homemade crust.  I also wanted my mom to love it since it was one of her birthday gifts.  Luckily, it turned out wonderfully (and tasted quite good too).

It’s raspberries and peaches and nectarines.  It’s heavenly, I promise to post the recipe soon in case you want to experience it for yourself.


Well isn’t it fun to take a little trip back to the summer gone by?  Wrapping up here, I feel a twinge of sadness at the thought of the summer produce, the vacations, the hot sun on my face, the lightness of my being, of all of that slipping by.  But a something else that is just as lovely is here to fill summer’s void–autumn’s colors and crisp air and happy traditions.  I hope your summer was relaxing and filled you up with enough memories to keep you warm through the winter.


Fiery colors begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds. 

Fall is the artist.

~Takayuki Ikkaku


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What are you waiting for?  Sometimes I feel as though I’m constantly waiting for something.  I think as humans we are programmed to be forward thinking, always concerned with the future.  Maybe it’s what keeps us going, keeps us excited about life, all the good things to come.

Recently, I have been waiting for spring, and Mother Nature has kept all of us New Yorkers in suspense.  Hot then cold, sunny then rainy, but now it seems like it (might be) here!  In fact, I spent a good portion of my day out in a neighborhood park, attempting to read but mostly just sunbathing.

And now I am waiting impatiently, along with my entire family, for my sister’s baby to come along.  No one is more anxious for this event than my sister, as she has been on bed rest for a few weeks now.  The waiting is so difficult but as my sister has reported to me, an excellent exercise in patience.

How can we make peace with waiting, with the fact that we simply cannot control everything and often must wait for life to unfold as it should?  Maybe the key is to enjoy the waiting itself.  After all it is part of living, and if we never had to wait or work for the beautiful things in life, I doubt they be as sweet upon arrival.  Enjoying the waiting, certainly easier said than done!  But perhaps somewhat less painful when we are surrounded by good company and good food.  And that has been the case with my sister as she has luckily had many visitors, often bringing food and treats, by her side during this time.

When I was last visiting, I made one of my favorite springtime soups for my sister and her husband.  I love making soups and stews and have discovered that they are not just for winter.  In the spring, I switch to lighter soups, clear broths, and enjoy incorporating springtime vegetables.  Now is the time for truly fresh, local asparagus, peas, and broccolini (a cross between the broccoli we all grew up with and a type of Chinese broccoli, it is sweet and tender and delicious).

This recipe is honestly one of the top 5 most delicious (and easiest!) soups I have ever made.  Seriously.  That is a pretty big deal considering how many soups I’ve made!  Here you go:

-8-10 spears of fresh asparagus sliced on the diagonal OR the same amount of broccolini
-1 cup snow peas
-1/2 cup frozen or fresh green peas
-3 medium carrots sliced thinly
-3/4 c. uncooked brown rice (Heidi called for brown basmati, but all I had was regular so you can go with either)
-6 cups of vegetable broth
-2 shallots chopped (or 1 medium-sized yellow onion)
-3 cloves of garlic
-ground black pepper
-dash of red pepper
-parmesan cheese to taste (if you like)

Chop up the onions or shallots.  In a soup pot, heat olive oil or clarified butter over medium heat.  Toss in the onions and garlic and once it is soft and smelling beautifully, toss in the rice and stir for a minute.  Add in the broth and bring to a boil then turn the burner low and cover.  Cook rice as you normally would–depending on which kind you use it will take about 35-40 minutes.  You want the rice to be tender but not too tender since you will cook it a bit longer once you add the vegetables.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the other veggies….the asparagus or broccolini should be cut on a diagonal into about 1 inch pieces.  Cut the the snow peas in half.  Carrots should be sliced in half or thirds and then sliced very thinly.

Once the rice is tender (but not too soft!)  add in the asparagus (or broccolini) and the carrots, 2 minutes later add in the frozen peas and snow peas.  Stay by the stove and let it simmer for about 3-4 more minutes.  The important trick here is that you do NOT want the vegetables to get too soft.  They are yummiest and have the most nutrients in them when they are still somewhat crunchy.  The asparagus or broccolini will turn bright green and you’ll know you can turn the burner off.  I enjoy this soup with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, but you can dress it up as you like.

A great dish for any springtime table and an especially lovely dish to enjoy while wasting the waiting time away. Enjoy!

(Also, I must wish a big Happy Mother’s day to everyone who is a Mom, or a mother to be, or plays a loving, maternal role in someone’s life.  I am at once all of my Mother’s experiences and my own, my Mother helped me grow my wings and let me fly and I thank her for that.)

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Hi folks!  Here in New York spring is starting to make an appearance.  On Saturday, I was with my running group in Central Park and everywhere there were signs of her–little hints and glimpses that were just enough to make my whole being feel lighter.  The sun seemed warmer, people and dogs were out in full force, and the snow had given way to green grass.  I even seen the tops of spring flowers poking their heads through the soil.  All this is to say, it looks like the season of hearty soups is winding down to a close.  It seems like just the other day, a chill in the autumn air had me all excited to dust off the big soup pot in preparation for a lovely lentil and veggie stew.  I think the following recipe might actually be the last lentil soup I make of the season!

Although I am such a soup fan that a piece of me is sad to see soup weather go, I am definitely welcoming the spring with arms open wide.  Also, I am starting to drool over the thought of a FRESH tomato!  Ok, ok, I might be getting a little ahead of myself here, given that in the Northeast we won’t be getting our hands on any locally grown tomatoes for quite a few weeks.  But fresh spring veggies are lovely too–I’m really looking forward to mixed salad greens, garlic scapes, and oooooh fresh asparagus!  Come on, you know that asparagus grown overseas during winter just doesn’t taste right!  I’m already planning two spring time soups–garlic scape and potato soup and springtime minestrone (in which lovely in-season asparagus plays a starring role).

But let’s jump back to the present.  Every time I make a new lentil soup, I feel as though I’ve broken the mold, hit the jackpot.  I’m so certain that I’ve found my favorite recipe that I pretty much never want to try a new one.  And then, I do…..and I realize that each is more spectacular than the rest!  That’s because the lentil is delicious, filling, versatile, and (luckily) very nutritious.  This recipe is based off of one my mother gave me.  She found it in a low glycemic index cookbook.  It is a good platform for you to express yourself since it is somewhat bare bones.  I took the outline and ran with it.  It’s yummy, spicy, and best of all, super easy.  Here goes:

olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 medium carrots, chopped

3 medium potatoes, whatever kind you have laying around

lots of garlic minced (say about 4-6 cloves)

1/2 tsp tumeric

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cumin

cayenne pepper to taste

6 cups water

1 1/2 cups veggie stock

1 cup red lentils

1/2 cup pearl barley

1 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes, undrained

salt and pepper to taste

Chop all the veggies, warm the oil in your soup pan.  Add onion and cook for about 10 min, until they brown slightly.  Add the garlic, carrots, potatoes, and spices.  Stir up and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the water, stock, lentils, barley, tomatoes and salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 45 minutes until everything is tender and looks good enough to eat.

Note:  red lentils are different from their other lentil cousins–they break down a lot.  Don’t be worried if they look mushy or even disappear.  That’s what happens but the texture ends up being a lovely partner to the denseness of the barley.

I hope you can make this warming, fragrant soup on a damp winter-spring-in-between day.


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I just got back from spending 5 days in San Fransisco with some lovely friends.  What a rejuvenating time but how difficult to come back to cold, snowy New York.  I’d love to share more about my trip but I’ll save that for later.

Right now, I’m making some roasted root vegetables but I’m so very hungry I just can’t wait for them to be done.  Luckily, a few weeks ago I made some nice soup that I froze and am presently enjoying to tide me over until my veggies are done!  This is not just any soup, this is the first recipe I’ve tried out of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I got the cookbook for Christmas.  Not this Christmas, but last Christmas!  I don’t know why I never got around to making any of the recipes I had dog-eared during my first read through of the book.  There are so many yummy recipes and despite what you might think after seeing Julie and Julia, several are simple and require few ingredients.

Perhaps I was inspired to finally make a recipe from the cookbook after my Mom and I watched Julie and Julia for the second time over the holidays.  It is a sweet movie but the books it is based upon are much much better (isn’t that how it always works though?).  What an incredible thing Julie Powell did, cooking her way through the whole book.  I’m not sure I would survive that task, given how much meat is in the book and how long the book is, so I truly admire her feat.

When I arrived back in the Bronx, I remembered we had some leeks from our CSA that were languishing away in the vegetable drawer.  All I had to do was pick up some potatoes since luckily the recipe only calls for a few ingredients and I had the others on hand.  This soup freezes pretty nicely although it does separate a little bit when it thaws–just add a little extra milk or butter and heat it up, it tastes great!

This is an easy recipe that really any cook of any skill level can complete.

-2 large russet potatoes

-3 cups chopped leeks (both white and green parts), about 2 medium leeks

-3 small shallots or onions, chopped

-4 carrots diced***

-2 quarts of water

-salt and pepper, to taste

-rosemary, to taste**

-3 TBSP butter or 1/3 c. heavy cream

***I added this to the recipe as per Julia’s suggestion.  She includes several variations on the basic recipe, this is something I just love about her cookbook.  Aren’t all of us cooks always adding our own twist and experimenting?   It is one of the joys of cooking!  Check out her book to see this and other variations on the potato leek soup.

1.     Chop all the veggies and put them in a big soup pot with the water and some salt and pepper and a few pinches of rosemary.

2.     Simmer partially covered for about 45 minutes or until they pass what I call “the fork test”—are they soft when you stick a fork in each type of veggie?  The carrots take the longest.

3.     Using a blender or food processor, blend everything until smooth and return back to the pot (this is where an immersion blender would come in handy!).

4.     Add in the butter or cream (or milk if you’d like) and adjust seasonings.  (I added butter.  You have to know that Julia LOVED real butter, remember when I posted about how much I love it to?  Mmm!)

What could be more simple than that?!  You don’t really need to stand over the pot watching it so you can set the veggies to boil while you do other things around the house.  I hope you can make this recipe or run out and buy Julia Child’s first cookbook.  It is worth the cost—the illustrations are gloriously detailed and the manner in which the recipe flows is helpful and clear.  The soup is a delight and even better when you have a cold.


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As I said in my last post, I recently traveled to Chicago, but before I was there I spent some time camping on Long Island.  Due to those trips, I was away from my garden for a while.  Luckily, my garden partner Tiffany can usually pick up the slack when I’m away (and vice versa).  On Saturday I made my way over to our garden, knowing Tiffany had been there while I was away.  As it was about 95 degrees here in New York, I was hoping to make a quick trip and then head back home and sit in front of the fan.  No such luck!  But then again, can you ever make just a quick trip to the garden?  There is always something else you can do, if you make the time.

While I was in Chicago, I read an email in which Tiffany gave me a garden update–things looked good, however, she had had to leave before she could get to everything and, in her words, “the cucumbers need some love”.  Boy was that the truth!  I’ve never grown these plants until now and I’m learning that they are a little tricky.  The last time I had seen our cucs, they were litke little toddlers, slowly sprouting up and starting to climb the supports we had put in place for them.  When I saw them on Saturday, they were like full blown teenagers–tall, gangly, and unruly!  The plants are strong-willed and independent, branching out for whatever they can wind their tendrils around, however, they are also fragile and impressionable.  Cucumbers need your guidance, no matter how much they think they know the best way to grow, they need your help. 

Here is an example for you–the cucumber vine started growing up the nearby grapevine, the grapevine is in the middle, you can see the light green, tightly wound cucumber tendrils toward the bottom:

So Saturday, with my water bottle by my side and my big floppy sunhat on my head, I spent a good two hours tending to my teenaged cucumbers.  I made a lattice out of string, a stick, and the nearby swing set so our plants can grow a little bit wider instead of just growing up up up.  Here you see the fruits of my labor


Since we started our plot on the late side, we don’t have any full grow cucs to enjoy quite yet.  My neighbors Nick and Michelle have a very large cucumber plant and told me to take any that were full size since they haven’t been around.  I took a couple beautiful fruits and I decided to make my very very favorite cucumber treat, tzatziki sauce!!  This is a pretty standard recipe that you’ll see everywhere, I just do it by sight and taste so if you need something more exact, you can easily find one in a cookbook or online.

3 medium cucumbers, peeled, sliced, cored and chopped
3 cups plain greek yogurt (or use whatever plain yogurt you have and strain it)
dill (fresh or dried, fresh is best)
big spoonful of chopped garlic
salt and pepper

 First, you need to prepare the cucumbers.  MAKE SURE TO SEED THEM!!! It’s really easy, just run a spoon and scoop out the seeds.  This is a must-do because they make the sauce watery and kinda gross.  I’ve been lazy before and left them in and it really does make a difference.

Next, you can either put them in a food processor or chop them up.  Some people prefer the sauce with superfine cucumbers, but I like the chucks so I just do it by hand.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and leave the chopped veggies in a strainer for about a half hour and from time to time press them down to get more of the water out.

Finally, mix the cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and dill.  Add in a little more salt and pepper.  As for amounts, I’d say maybe two pinches of dried dill and about 4 pinches fresh….but just taste it and see.  Once you put it in the fridge for at least an hour, the flavors will be stronger so you can always taste and add more later on.

I hope you can make it with fresh cucumbers, it is a simple pleasure of summer to make recipes from fresh food.  Enjoy on grilled meats, fish, or veggies.  If you are anything like me, you will eat it on it’s own with a spoon!!

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Carrot Ginger Soup

Here I am!  It’s been far too long since I’ve posted but I blame that on the absurdly warm weather New York has been having and my recent birthday festivities.  I’ve still been here, cooking and reading and crafting. 

The temperatures here have finally fallen back within the normal springtime range and it seems like a perfect time for a carrot soup.  Ok, I sort of made that up–I don’t really go around figuring out the perfect time for carrot soup ( I think I’ve only had it once before).  The thing is, our latest CSA delivery has left us with oodles and oodles of carrots in our vegetable drawer.  I checked out a carrot bread, carrot cake, and carrot curry recipe but none of them required more than 4 or 5 carrots per recipe.  I needed to use a lot of carrots, not just a few…..I’m talking about pounds and pounds of carrots here!  Mollie Katzen to the rescue (as always!).  Although I wouldn’t say this was my favorite recipe, it is very healthy and quite filling.  Interestingly, it comes out less of a soup and more of a velvety sauce, it sort of looks like a curry.  I ate it with rice and tempeh that I marinated and baked. My roommate ate it with corn tortillas.

  • 2 lbs. carrots (I used about 6 cups of sliced carrots)
  • 4 cups water (you’ll need to add more later)
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger (peeled, chopped, and pureed)
  • 1/4 tsp of: dried mint, cumin, cinnamon, and crushed fennel seed
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 cup of cashews, lightly toasted 

1. Chop up all those carrots and put in a big pot with the water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender (about 10-15 min).
2. Chop up the onions and throw them in with the carrots.  Add the garlic and ginger, simmer another 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the spices and the lemon, let simmer for another 5-7 minutes, meanwhile toast the cashews lightly.
4. Blend everything together in a blender or food processor–it might be necessary to do this in batches.
5. Serve with some sort of carb on the side.

My notes about this recipe: I think this is a good side dish.  We attempted to eat it as dinner and I think it was a little over powering.   But it was still yummy and filling and a nice way to us up all our carrots!!  Oh and it made me covet one of those immersion blenders.  That would be so much easier than using a blender, but there’s always next time!!

Here are a few photos:

 For those of you who don’t know tempeh, you should!  It is a soy product, sort of a cousin of tofu.  Now I know not every loves tofu, but tempeh is tofu’s smarter, better looking cousin!  It’s texture is much more palatable to those who don’t like tofu–it’s sort of the consistency of sausage.  Also, it comes in lots of varieties (this one is 5 grain) AND it doesn’t have some of the negative qualities linked to other soy products.  Now I’m no scientist, but I’ve read a lot about how soy mimics estrogen in people’s bodies and can make your body react negatively because it thinks that you are getting a surge of hormones.  Don’t quote me on this (since I’m not an expert) but I’ve read that tempeh doesn’t have those qualities….something about how it is produced differently than other soy products.   Like tofu, tempeh is highly amenable to marinades–mine was oil, soy sauce, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and a little sugar.  Bake it in the oven at 400 for 10-15 minutes and you’re all set.


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Saturday was the first official day of Spring!  Here in New York we’ve already had a healthy dose of sunshine and blue skies over the past week, but it is nice to make it official.  Alas, my daffodils have died, but I did notice some beautiful purple and yellow crocus popping up in the neighborhood.

Since I starting writing in the Fall, I’ve mostly been writing about cold weather recipes–hot foods that fill you up and stick to your bones.  Today I am pleased to present my first Springtime recipe (although it was technically winter when I made it).  The other day, I was doing a quick shopping at Whole Foods and I was trying to think up something delicious and fast.  As I thought over our pantry at home I came up with a few things I knew I had–quinoa, sliced almonds, dried cranberries.  Then, I remembered a quinoa salad that my roommate had made a while back.  To my cart I added red onion, scallions, and apples and I made my way home.

This salad is so refreshing!!  I just know you will love it.  Make it on a warm spring day as a main dish or even a side dish.  If you haven’t cooked with quinoa yet, what are you waiting for?!  It’s very versatile–you can use it as a substitute for rice or any other grain.  I even have a recipe for quinoa muffins that are very very good.  Quinoa is actually easier and faster to make than rice and many other grains and it is so good for you.

I didn’t use measurements, so you’re going to have to get creative and do some taste-testing along the way.

-chopped red onion (about 1/4 c.)
-3 scallions/green onions chopped
-dried cranberries
-quinoa (I used 1/2 c. dried which equals 1 c. cooked)
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-dijon mustard

1. Prepare the quinoa according to package directions (make sure to rinse it first!)
2. Mix quinoa with the first four ingredients.
3. Add in the other ingredients for the dressing–adjust to taste.  I probably did 2 parts olive oil, 1/2 part lemon juice, and 1 part dijon mustard.  Don’t forget lots of salt and pepper.
4. Refridgerate for about a half hour.  Taste it again and adjust the seasonings.

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