Lisa on December 22nd, 2014
Bacon Cornbread

Bacon Cornbread

Thinking about making stuffing to go with your holiday meal this week? You might want to try making bacon cornbread. Not only is it great stuffing material, it’s delicious as a fry bread — cut a slice and then cook it in a generous pat of butter until golden. I like to use tongs to turn the slice so that it can get buttery and golden on all six sides. And then I like to serve it with a poached egg on top. The bacon drippings give the cornbread so much bacon flavor that you’ll swear you’re having a strip of bacon with your eggs.

Of course, you need to make a batch of bacon (about 1/2 pound) to have enough drippings to make the bread, so you could enjoy that strip of bacon along with the bread and eggs. Or you could use the bacon in any number of dishes, from salad with bacon vinaigrette to roasted Brussels sprouts tossed with chopped bacon. “Having” to make bacon to make the bread is a bonus!

Bacon Cornbread
Makes an 8″x 8″ pan.

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (not degerminated — the most nutritious and tastiest part of cornmeal is the germ!)
1 cup raw buckwheat flour OR sorghum OR brown rice flour*
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cups milk or buttermilk, preferably from grass-fed cows
2 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1/4 cup + 2 T. bacon grease**

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. If the bacon grease is solid, heat it gently just until it melts, then whisk 1/4 cup into the milk and eggs. Pour the remaining 2 T. into the baking dish.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, scoop into the baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is turning golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack. The cornbread can be made into stuffing, served as-is, or sliced and fried in butter for a savory and crisp side dish or breakfast. Leftover cornbread can be refrigerated for a week.

Enjoy!

* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d like to make a wheat-based version, use 1 cup of kamut, spelt, or whole-wheat flour.

** To render bacon grease, place about 1/2 pound of bacon slices (preferably from pastured hogs) on a wire rack, trying not to overlap the slices. Set the wire rack into a rimmed baking pan and bake the bacon for 20 minutes at 375F. Remove from oven, then carefully lift the rack up and out of the baking pan. Pour the grease into a glass jar (wear oven mitts while handling the hot pan!) and either use immediately or refrigerate to use later.

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Lisa on December 18th, 2014
Rosemary & Juniper White Tea

Rosemary & Juniper White Tea

Thinking about making some edible gifts for the holidays? You can’t go wrong with tea. I’m not suggesting that you grow your own camellia sinensis — that’s the Latin name for the official tea plant — but you could start with black, green, or white tea leaves and then add spices and herbs to make your own blends. Or make herbal infusions with red tea, dried fruit, and “extras” like toasted nuts, nibs, or coconut flakes. (Note that only leaves from the camellia sinensis plant are considered true tea, and they all contain differing amounts of caffeine. Black tea leaves have the most, followed by green. White tea has the least amount of caffeine. Red “tea” is actually rooibos leaves and does not contain caffeine, nor is it true tea.)

It’s easy to find unadorned black, green, and white teas. English and Irish breakfast teas are blends of black tea leaves from various tea-growing areas in India (Assam, Ceylon) and Kenya. Earl Grey is a blend of black tea and bergamot, which is a citrus fruit that carries a refreshing zesty, floral scent and flavor. You could opt for Earl Grey if you want that citrus note — it would pair well with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves — but if you want straight black tea, look for English or Irish breakfast teas. Green and white teas are typically sold under those basic names.

You could gift your tea as loose tea and package it in a tin, or you could mix your blend in a bowl and then spoon it into individual single-serving tea bags and tie them shut with undyed cotton string. If you want to give the ultimate tea gift, opt for loose tea and pair it with a small teapot that comes outfitted with a strainer inside. Either way, be sure to label your teas so that your lucky friends and family can ask for more!

Ideas for Tea Blends

Wintery tea: white tea + dried rosemary + juniper berries

Classic chai tea: black tea + whole cloves + whole cardamom pods + whole cinnamon stick + whole black peppercorns + powdered ginger (or a piece of crystallized ginger root for a sweeter tea)

Citrus green tea: green tea + dried lemon or orange zest + powdered ginger

Holiday red tea: rooibos + whole vanilla bean + dried hibiscus petals + whole cinnamon stick + toasted cocoa nibs or toasted almonds (caffeine-free)

Summer infusion: dried basil + dried mint + dried lemon or orange zest + toasted coconut flakes (caffeine-free)

You get the idea —  play with your favorite spices and herbs and see what you concoct. Save a pot or two of tea for yourself, too. And enjoy!

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Lisa on December 15th, 2014
Upside-Down Cranberry Muffins

Upside-Down Cranberry Muffins

Get ‘em while you still can! Cranberries, I mean. They’re a decidedly winter fruit and are only in season from about November through January. Some stores carry them year-round in the frozen section, but since freezing cranberries is as easy as tossing the bag into the freezer, you might as well get fresh cranberries now at in-season (read: low) prices and freeze them yourself. Then you can make them into sauce, pie, ice cream, or these muffins. As long as you use parchment paper muffin cups, these upside-down muffins are a snap to make. (Traditional paper cups get so soggy from the buttery fruit that they can weaken and split.) You can make them with other berry combinations, too: blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, or mixed-and-matched berries. And you can use frozen berries if you like, so you can have summer berries in the winter months. But cranberries seem more holiday-spirited, don’t they? Especially paired with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. It’s fun to have holiday breakfasts!

Upside-Down Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins.

For the cranberry mix:
4 T. butter (1/2 stick), preferably from grass-fed cows
1/4 cup palm sugar OR coconut sugar OR sucanat (it will be sweeter with sucanat)
8 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon

For the muffin batter:
1 cup buckwheat OR sorghum OR brown rice flour*
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup palm sugar OR coconut sugar OR sucanat (it will be sweeter with sucanat)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 T. baking powder
Pinch sea salt
1 cup buttermilk, preferably from grass-fed cows**
2 eggs, preferably from pastured hens

Preheat oven to 375F and line a muffin tray with parchment paper muffin cups.

To make the cranberry mix, place all ingredients in a small pot and heat over low heat until the butter has melted. Stir to combine and set aside.

To make the batter, whisk together the flours, palm sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs.

Spoon the cranberry mix into the muffin cups, dividing it equally into the 12 cups. Whisk the buttermilk and egg mixture into the flour mixture until well-blended, then spoon into the waiting muffin cups. Move as quickly and neatly as you can — using baking soda means that the batter will start to react and rise as soon as you blend the wet and dry ingredients. Dawdling about will encourage your muffins to pop out before they get into the oven. In other words, dawdling = flat muffins.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (If you push the toothpick all the way to the bottom, it will come out cranberry-stained.) Let cool on a wire rack. Completely cooled muffins can be refrigerated for a week. And note that these muffins should be served upside-down! I like to cut mine into quarters, then warm them in a toaster oven with a pat of butter on each quarter.

Enjoy!

* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d prefer a wheat-based version, use 1 cup of kamut, spelt, or whole-wheat flour. But keep the almond flour for a lighter, more moist texture and less starch. (Grains are mostly starch; nuts are mostly fat and protein.)

** If you don’t have buttermilk, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a cup of whole milk.

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Lisa on December 11th, 2014
Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Squash Dip

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Squash Dip

One of my all-time favorite dishes at Zingerman’s (and there are many!) is their Moroccan-spiced carrot dip. They serve it alongside hummus and tapenade as a savory-dip trio. Not only is the carrot dip a great dip, it’s an ideal condiment for everything from sandwiches to soups. I’m sure it would make a great salad dressing, too, if you simply thinned it with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Or, to be truly Moroccan, argan oil, but that’s a bit tricky to find in the U.S.

I decided to see if I could make a similar dip using acorn squash. After all, winter squash is naturally sweet just like carrots are — especially if you roast the squash — and squash is nearly as orange as carrots are. Most importantly, I had squash and not carrots. (Practicality trumps all.) I used a dab of harissa in my dip to give it an extra kick of spice, but if you don’t have harissa on hand, add a dash of coriander and a smaller dash of cayenne pepper to your dip. Should you have roasted bell peppers on hand, you can blend in a few strips of that, too, but it’s not completely necessary since the squash provides natural sweetness. You do want good-quality olives, though. Use whichever variety is your favorite.

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Squash Dip
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a roasted acorn squash, flesh only*
10 large green olives, pitted
1 tsp. harissa OR dash of coriander plus a small dash of cayenne (see recipe header for more information)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. capers, drained
1 T. sweet paprika (or hot paprika if you like things hot)

Whole-grain flatbread, raw veggies, toasted 100% corn tortillas broken into chip-sized pieces, or whatever else you like for dipping

In a medium skillet, saute the onion with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat or until the onion is softened and turning translucent. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 or 3 minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant.

Transfer the onion and garlic to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients (except the dippees) plus another drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Process until well-blended. Taste to see if you’d like to make it saltier (add sea salt) or brighter (add more lemon juice).

Serve with your choice of dippees or use as a condiment in sandwiches, casseroles, soups, you name it. Or serve it as a decidedly non-traditional holiday appetizer.

Enjoy!

* To roast a winter squash like acorn, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, then bake it cut-side-up for about 45 minutes in a 350F oven. (You may also want to trim a little off the bottom to give the squash a flattened bottom and make it less prone to tipping over.) Particularly large or hard squash may take an hour or more to roast. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife. Allow squash to cool before scooping out the roasted flesh and discarding the outer skin.

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Lisa on December 8th, 2014
Chocolate-Covered Tangerine Segments

Chocolate-Covered Clementine

Thinking about making some easy DIY holiday gifts this year? You can’t get much simpler — or more elegant — than chocolate-covered clementine wedges. You can enrobe any kind of fruit in chocolate, but citrus wedges stay fresh longer than chocolate-covered berries or chocolate-covered pineapples and bananas do. (Pear and apple slices brown far too quickly to be good candidates.) But dried fruit also works well, plus you have the option of soaking the dried fruit in booze before dipping it in melted chocolate. In fact, rum-soaked dried figs dunked in chocolate are one of Spain’s specialty desserts.

If you go the citrus route, you can use any kind of citrus you like: clementines, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, etc. My favorite is clementine or tangerine because those are much easier to peel and segment and also because their segments are neatly bite-sized. (And let’s face it, the smaller the segment, the higher the chocolate-to-fruit ratio. Also key.) Once the chocolate is set, you can store the segments in a cool place for several days. For longer storage — up to a week — pop the segments into the fridge. It’s doubtful that they’ll be around that long, though.

Chocolate-Covered Clementines

Peel a clementine or tangerine and separate it into segments. Cover a plate with parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.

Snap your favorite dark chocolate bar — I used Valrhona 85% — into pieces and place in a small pot. Heat over the lowest heat setting, stirring often, just until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat while there are still a few small bumps and continue stirring to finish melting the chocolate. (You cannot un-scorch burnt chocolate, so it’s best to remove it from the heat earlier than later.) One 3.5-ounce bar will be enough to dip the segments from 2 clementines or tangerines. The higher the percentage, the better the chocolate will set — higher percentages contain more cocoa butter, and that’s what hardens when chilled. Use a bar that’s 75% or higher for best results.

Using either chopsticks or a long-tined fork, dip each clementine segment into the chocolate, tilting the pot slightly to encourage the chocolate to pool. Lay each enrobed segment on the covered plate. Once you’ve dipped them all, place the plate in the fridge for about an hour to allow the chocolate to harden. At that point, you’ll be able to easily peel the segment away from the parchment/wax paper. Note: this technique works with any kind of fruit, dried or fresh, booze-soaked or not-booze soaked. (Just allow the booze-soaked varieties to dry out a little before dipping them.)

Once hardened, chocolate-covered citrus can be stored in a tightly closed container at cool room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for a week. Ditto for chocolate-covered dried fruits. Any non-citrus chocolate-covered fresh fruit should be kept in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on December 4th, 2014
Maffé Chicken with Pasta

Maffé Chicken with Pasta

If you’ve never heard of maffé, you’re missing out! It’s West Africa’s answer to our ubiquitous tomato-based sauces like ketchup and marinara. Maffé generally contains tomatoes, too, but peanuts/peanut butter is the predominant ingredient. (Or, as they’re called in Africa, “groundnuts.” Europeans often refer to peanuts as groundnuts, too — Erdnuss, or “earth nut,” is the German word for peanut. After all, peanuts grow underground! That’s why you see the term “tree nut” on food packaging — all other nuts grow on trees. But we don’t get into the botanical aspects of peanuts not actually being nuts…) The peanutty aspect of maffé lends it a full, savory flavor that complements meat and veggie dishes alike.

You can make your own version of maffé, of course, but this time I opted for a delicious maffé I found at Zingerman’s. Kitchens of Africa is a North-Carolina-based company founded by a Gambian woman who found herself unable to return home but wanted to recreate her favorite dishes. Her maffé is one of the few pre-made sauces I love to use — it’s incredibly flavorful, with ingredients like lime, onion, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms along with the staple peanuts and tomatoes.

Since the maffé has some heat thanks to habaneros,  I often add cream to my maffé-inspired dishes. Maffé + cream turned out to be an excellent sauce for my leftover turkey! But really, that’s not surprising — maffé is often paired with chicken in West African cuisine. Bet it would be good with shrimp, too. I’m starting to think that nearly anything is delicious paired with maffé!

Maffé Chicken with Pasta

This is a ridiculously easy meal to make if you have some maffé and leftover chicken or turkey on hand. (Duck or goose would work, too.)

Prepare a pot of your favorite whole-grain pasta (be sure to use gluten-free pasta if you’re making a gluten-free dish). While it’s simmering, shred the cooked chicken/turkey and place it in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add a hearty dollop of maffé to the skillet, stir well, and simmer for a few minutes to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in a dash of cream before tossing with the drained pasta.

So much flavor!  And a great way to transform leftover roasted chicken or turkey into something completely different.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on December 1st, 2014
Mini Chocolate Loaves

Mini Chocolate Loaves

The holiday season is a great time to make treats to give to friends and family … and for yourself, too! That’s why I love bringing cupcakes, muffins, and mini loaves to parties — not only do smaller-sized baked goods rise better and therefore look prettier, one batch of batter goes a long way. (The reason that smaller-sized items rise better is because the batter is surrounded by more even heat per inch. A large loaf or cake, for example, has to nearly crisp the edges into burnt-ness in order to penetrate to the center of the loaf to cook it. Sometimes that’s good, but sometimes it’s not — think of savory loaves with browned crusts versus a chocolate cake that’s supposed to be tender throughout. And better-applied, faster-applied heat allows leavening such as baking powder to do its duty and cause some good rising action, while slower-applied heat means that the leavener has too much time to react and bubble out before the batter locks into place. Delayed locking = flatter baked goods.)

Hence the mini-loaf pan. My pan holds four 6″ x 3″ loaves, which collectively contain the same amount of batter that fills a standard 8″ x 4″ loaf pan or a standard 12-cup muffin tin. If you don’t have a mini-loaf pan, make this recipe in a muffin tin — then you’ll get the same pretty risen peaks. Of course, if any baked good ever comes out of the oven a tad flat, that doesn’t overly matter. It’ll still taste great! And you can always decorate the top with homemade ganache frosting, or do a quick-and-dirty cheat by stirring unsweetened cocoa powder and a drizzle of maple syrup into mascarpone cheese or plain whole-milk Greek yogurt. Either version makes a lovely frosting, albeit one that should be refrigerated. Just frost your cake or muffin right before serving it.

Mini Chocolate Loaves
Makes 4 mini loaves or 12 muffins.

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour, preferably raw buckwheat, OR brown rice flour*
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup teff flour OR sorghum flour*
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably un-Dutched or “natural”
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temp, preferably from grass-fed cows
1 1/2 cups coconut palm sugar OR sucanat**
4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1 T. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, preferably from grass-fed cows (or stir a drizzle of lemon juice into 1 cup whole milk)
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a mini loaf pan or line a muffin tin with parchment paper cups. (Parchment makes a baker’s life so much easier!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream the butter for a minute or two until fluffy. You’ll notice that butter from grass-fed cows will be soft enough to cream right out of the fridge, and it will be fluffier than conventional butter.

Beat the eggs into the butter one at a time, adding the vanilla with the last egg. Beat in half of the flour mixture, beat in the buttermilk, then beat in the remaining flour and then the water. Since this is a gluten-free recipe, you don’t have to worry about overbeating the gluten and making the batter too tough. If you’re making this with wheat flours, stir in the flours and then the liquids by hand, stirring just until the batter is blended.

Scoop batter into the waiting pan/muffin tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes for loaves or 20 to 25 minutes for muffins or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack. If you made loaves, the best way to get them out is to wriggle a flexible spatula around the edges. That should be enough to encourage the loaves to slide out.

Leftover completely cooled loaves can be stored at room temperature for 2 days or refrigerated for a week. Note that refrigeration will cause them to dry out slightly. Feel free to frost the finished loaves, drizzle them with an unrefined nut oil of your choice, or top them with freshly whipped cream.

Enjoy!

* Buckwheat has less of an impact on blood sugar levels than brown rice does, so it’s best to opt for buckwheat. To make this a wheat-based recipe, use 2 cups of kamut, spelt, or whole-wheat flour in place of the buckwheat and teff flours.

** If using sucanat, reduce amount to 1 1/4 cups since sucanat is sweeter.

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Lisa on November 26th, 2014
Cranberry & Orange Chutney

Cranberry & Orange Sauce

Looking to upgrade your cranberry sauce from the wiggling stuff that comes slurping out of a can? Whether you want cranberries to go with your fresh turkey on The Day or with your leftovers, this recipe is an easy crowd-pleaser. Also it’s a lot prettier than the ridged can-shaped cranberry stuff.

And making your own cranberry sauce means you won’t be drowning in sugar. Point of interest: jellied cranberry sauce from the can has 84 grams of sugar per cup. A cup of Coke has 24 grams. So cup for cup, canned jellied cranberry sauce is nearly four times as sugary as soda. Not a health food, folks, not a health food. But if you make your own fresh cranberry sauce, you can tone down the sugar content considerably. Example: to sweeten this, I used the juice and zest of an orange and also a single date and a single dried apricot. If that still isn’t sweet enough, you could stir in a small drizzle of maple syrup.

Cranberries always go on sale this time of year and they freeze beautifully, so stock up! Then you can make cranberry sauce whenever you like. Not only is it divine with any kind of meat (lamb and pork included), you can use the sauce as a base for salad dressing — just whisk in some extra-virgin olive oil to thin it. It’s a year-round condiment!

Cranberry & Orange Sauce
Makes about 1 cup.

1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pitted date, minced
1 dried apricot, minced
2 T. red wine OR apple cider vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Dash of cinnamon
4 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries

In a medium skillet, saute the onion with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until the onions are starting to turn translucent. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the dried fruit and vinegar and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes or until the vinegar has mostly evaporated.

Stir in the orange juice and zest and add the dash of cinnamon. Stir in the cranberries and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. By then the cranberries should have softened enough to allow you to easily mash them with a spatula. Mash them thoroughly to release their pectin and continue to cook for a final 3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. (The natural pectin will cause the sauce to thicken quickly.) Remove from heat to prevent the sauce from overcooking and drying out.

Serve the cranberry sauce with whatever you like, from freshly sliced turkey to turkey sandwiches to mashed potatoes. The sauce can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for a month.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on November 24th, 2014
Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie

If you’ve eaten at an Irish pub, you’ve probably seen Shepherd’s Pie on the menu. While the name of the dish is an authentic one, chances are the main ingredient isn’t: classically, Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb and Cottage Pie is made with beef. Stateside, though, Shepherd’s Pie is usually also made with beef. But whether the meat is lamb or beef, the dish is called a “pie” because of its mashed-potato crust.

For this rendition, I used purple sweet potatoes to lend the beef a hint of natural sweetness … and yes, I used beef rather than lamb, which is why I’m calling this Cottage Pie. But you could just as easily swap out the ground beef for ground lamb and make an authentic Shepherd’s Pie. (After all, shepherds herd sheep, not cattle.) This is a great dish to make for company — it’s deceptively simple, yet amazingly satisfying, plus it makes great leftovers. The ideal cold-weather dish!

Cottage Pie
Makes a deep 9″ round pie or an 8″x 8″ square pie.

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and ends trimmed, cut into 1” cubes
5 oz. pearl onions (if they’re frozen, thaw them first)
4 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped
4 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
4 oz. frozen peas, thawed
1 lb. ground beef
2 T. thyme
2 T. basil
2 tsp. sage
3/4 tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
2 T. brown rice flour
Plain whole-milk Greek yogurt for garnishing (optional)

Place a large sheet of foil on the lower oven rack. (This will prevent any juices from dripping onto the bottom of the oven as the pie cooks.) Preheat the oven to 375F and generously grease a deep glass 9” pie dish or an 8”x 8” glass pan with butter or coconut oil.

Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with the tip of a knife. Drain well, place back in the dry pot, and use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Stir in a tablespoon of coconut oil and set aside.

Melt a generous dollop of ghee or coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pearl onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the peas, beef, herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the beef is lightly browned. Stir in the broth and flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, or until the broth has thickened slightly.

Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared pie dish and top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on top. Serve piping hot. If you like, garnish the pie with yogurt and a sprinkling of thyme. Leftover pie can be refrigerated for 5 days.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on November 21st, 2014
Cream of Mushroom Soup with Wild Rice

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Wild Rice

One of the few good things about chilly days is warm soup, especially luxurious soup like cream of [fill in the blank]. Mushrooms are one of my favorite fall/winter veggies, so I like to feature them in this soup, but you could make cream of celery soup if you’d prefer, or cream of potato. Most veggies pair well with onions, cream, and herbs. (And for the record, mushrooms are grown year-round. They’re one of my favorite spring veggies, too.)

I particularly like the combination of mushrooms and wild rice since they both contribute a hearty texture along with full, almost-earthy flavors. And wild rice is in a separate and unique category despite “rice” being half of its name. (It looks like elongated grains of rice.) Wild rice is far less starchy than rice, so it doesn’t absorb liquid the way rice does. That means you can simmer wild rice into soups and stews without needing to add so much more liquid. True, wild rice takes about 50 minutes to soften and cook, but that’s okay — longer simmering results in a richer, more flavorful soup. Just add the cream at the very end to prevent it from curdling.

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Wild Rice
Makes 4 light lunches or 2 hearty servings.

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 lbs. cremini OR button mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 green onions, trimmed and minced
1 T. thyme
Dash of sea salt
2 cups vegetable broth*
1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup whole milk*, preferably from grass-fed cows
Drizzle of cream, preferably from grass-fed cows

Melt a generous knob of ghee or butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onions are starting to soften. Stir in the mushrooms and cook, again stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the mushrooms have shrunk to half their size. Stir in the garlic and green onions and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the thyme, salt, broth, and wild rice. Cover and let simmer for 40 minutes or until the rice is just shy of its desired tenderness. (If the simmer becomes a boil, reduce the heat to low.) Stir in the milk, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook another 5 minutes.

Stir in a drizzle of cream, heat through for 1 minute, and remove from heat. Serve immediately. Leftover soup can be refrigerated for 3 days.

Enjoy!

* If you want a more brothy and less creamy soup, use 3 cups of broth instead of 2 cups of broth and 1 cup of milk.

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