Archive for the ‘Ingredient of the Month’ Category

Broccoli is one of those amazing cruciferous superfoods that dwells in the same botanical family as the dark leafy greens kale and collards.   In fact, it has been described as the most super of all vegetable foods.  It’s packed full of vitamin C and beta carotene, contains folic acid and selenium and is a fantastic source of non-dairy calcium.  This cruciferous powerhouse also contains phytochemicals that have been shown to, among other things, actively stimulate our own enzymes to fight cancer-causing agents.   It’s full of fiber, both soluble and non-soluble so you get double the benefit from one source. 

When I look for broccoli in the produce section I always look for dark green verging upon purple, tightly-packed crowns and an abundant stalk.  It bothers me to no end when I can only find tightly cropped broccoli crowns.  As wonderful as the delicate florets are, once peeled of it’s fibrous exterior, the stalk is an amazing part of the vegetable and can be eaten raw or cooked.   Think how wonderful an artichoke heart is.  Now you’re getting the idea!

When cooking broccoli solo, I always steam it, and never for more than 4-5 minutes or until the stalk is just fork-tender.  The broccoli will be a vibrantly-colored bright green.  Just squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over it and dive in.  It’s one of our favorite vegetables and I look forward to using it liberally this month. 


Note:   If your broccoli has become an army tent green in color and crumbles off a fork?  You’ve overcooked it and please do future generations a favor and never feed this version to a child because they will forever hate broccoli, specifically, and most other vegetables if you do.   

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So, it has been occurring to me lately that there are so many things we, H and I,  buy commercially that I could easily make from scratch.  Not only would they taste better and be more nutritious but I’d know exactly what I put into them.  Imagine that.  I get weary of having to look at microscopic fonts that are printed upon reflective plastic and tucked behind the flap on a wrapper to see what’s actually in a product.  Seriously, I don’t want my foods full of industrial chemicals and preservatives because a company wants its product to sit pretty upon a shelf for years.

There are so many foods that we consume on a  regular basis that can easily be made at home.  For me, the major epiphany was tofu, but pasta, jams and jellies, bread and crackers are in the lists.  Guess what?  I’m in the kitchen and I’m experimenting.  It’s hella fun.

I modified a recipe posted on the Food Network.  The first cracker is slightly modified; the other two strayed well off the beaten path.

Seven Seed Flatbread Crackers


5 oz 10-grain flour [Bob’s Red Mill]

4-3/4 oz unbleached flour

2/3 cup seeds  [I used 1/3 cup black and white sesame seeds and then 1/3 cup of mixed poppy, flax, chia, millet and dill seeds]

1.5 tsp sea salt

1.5 tsp aluminium-free baking powder

3 T olive oil

6.5 oz water


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients then add oil and mix well.  Slowly drizzle in the water and knead a few times on a floured surface.  Cut into 8 equal sections and let rest for 15 minutes.  Using a pasta machine, roll out to a 1/8-inch thickness for a thicker flatbread-style cracker.  Roll through a higher setting for a thinner cracker.  Bake until slightly browned, turning once during cooking.

Dilled Yease and Flax Seed Flatbread Cracker

I wanted a savory cracker with a slight cheesy flavor.  This one worked out nicely.


2/3 cup nutritional yeast

5 oz 10-grain flour

4-3/4 oz unbleached flour

1 T Bill’s Chik’Nish vegetarian seasoning

1.5 tsp aluminium-free baking powder

1 T dill weed

1 T dill seed

1 T flax seed

1 T turmeric

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1.5 tsp sea salt

1.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 T walnut oil

6.5 oz water


Same as above.

Carrot, Roasted Garlic and Walnut Crackers

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make a variety using our vegetable of the month.  I’m jazzed that I found a use for the carrot pulp left behind from making fresh carrot juice.  [A thinly-rolled version is pictured above.]


5 oz 10-grain flour

2-3/4 oz garbanzo flour

2 oz  unbleached flour

one head roasted garlic

1/3 cup ground walnuts

2 T ground flax seeds

1.5 tsp aluminium-free baking powder

1 T caraway seeds

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 cup carrot pulp [from freshly juiced carrots]

3 T walnut oil

3 oz fresh carrot juice


Same as first cracker recipe.

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Carrot and Sage Tagliatelle with Roasted Garlic and Walnuts

I made a fresh homemade carrot tagliatelle pasta for this dish but any wide eggless noodle would do.  This dish was seriously lush.


1 head roasted garlic

1 cup fresh carrot juice

1 -2 cups No-Chicken broth

10 fresh sage leaves

fried sage leaves for garnish


olive oil

1 T AP flour

salt and pepper


Add carrot juice and roasted garlic to a pot.  Toss in the sage leaves and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.  In a separate pot add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and an equal amount of AP flour.  Stir with a whisk for a few minutes until the flour has cooked and you have a roux. 

Remove the sage leaves from the first pot and add the contents to the roux while whisking.  Bring to a boil.  Adjust thickness with the No-Chicken broth until you have a sauce that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.   Season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer lightly for about 10 minutes. 

Cook your pasta until nearly done, strain and transfer the pasta into the pot with the sauce.  Add in walnuts and finish cooking the pasta with the sauce.  [Remember, you can always add some pasta water to extend the amount of sauce if more is needed to sauce the pasta].  Garnish with fried sage leaves.

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Gingered Carrot and Red Beet Soup

If you like the earthiness of beets, this soup is for you.  It’s  nice served either warm or chilled.  Garnish with crystallized ginger for a sweet and spicy surprise.


1 large beet, large dice

3 carrots, large dice

1/2 onion, sliced

1/2 green apple, diced

2 inches ginger, peeled and sliced

3 cups vegetable stock

canola oil

salt and pepper to taste


Sauté onion and apple in a drizzle of canola oil until the onions have softened.  Add carrot, apple and ginger and cook for a few minutes.  Add vegetable stock and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes or until the beets and carrots are fork tender.  Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve warmed or chill to serve later.

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Carrot-Spiced Silken Tofu with Vegetables

For the Tofu:

1-2 blocks firm silken tofu, halved length-wise [depending upon how many you wish to serve]

1.5 cups carrot juice

1 cup No-Chicken Broth

2 kaffir lime leaves

zest of half a lemon

1 star anise

10 black peppercorns

Bring all components except the tofu to a simmer and then remove from heat.  Allow to cool then add to a container with the tofu.  Marinate overnight.  Right before the meal, remove the tofu and steam for 10-15 minutes to heat through.  Gently move the tofu to a plate and mound some vegetables on top, finish with a drizzle of the carrot and miso sauce.

Garnish with sesame seeds, cilantro, spring onion slices or carrot tops.

For the Carrot and Miso Sauce:

[I think some fresh ginger would go really nicely flavor-wise with the carrot in this sauce.  I did not add any since H doesn’t like its flavor.]

1/4 cup fresh carrot juice

1/4 cup sake

2 T  rice wine vinegar

1 T canola oil

1 tsp garlic chili sauce [or more/less depending upon your heat preference] 

2 tsp light miso

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

For the Vegetables:

The vegetables you choose to use are entirely up to you.  I used asparagus, cucumber, carrots, bok choy, kale and celery because I had them on hand.  The amount is also up to you.  Stir-fry in a drizzle of canola oil until cooked yet still crisp in texture.   Plate over the tofu or udon noodles [pictured below] and drizzle with the carrot and miso sauce.  Garnish with black or white sesame seeds.

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Carrot and Black Bean Posole


340 gram package dried posole [4 cups], soaked overnight

1 large russet potato, cut into a bite-sized dice

3 carrots, sliced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 

1 poblano pepper, skin removed and subsequently diced

8 dried guajillo peppers

4 roma tomatoes

2 large yellow onion [One is for the sauce, one is to be chopped for the stew.]

6 cloves garlic [2 cloves for the sauce, 4 minced for the stew.]

1 box vegetable stock

1 jalapeno, diced

2 dried bay leaves

1 T dried oregano


Place poblano pepper under the broiler to blister and blacken the skin. Place pepper into a plastic bag and seal. When cooled, the skin peels off easily. Cut the tops from the dried guajillo peppers and remove the seeds. Toast the guajillos in a skillet until slightly browned. Place in a bowl with a few cups of hot water to rehydrate. Reserve this liquid for the sauce.

Cut an onion in half and place in a skillet cut sides down along with the roma tomatoes and blacken. [This char adds great flavor in the final sauce.] Add the blackened onion and tomatoes along with the rehydrated guajillos and 2 cloves of garlic to a blender. Add a bit of the guajillo soaking liquid to blend. Blend the mixture until homogenous. Add the remaining guajillo soaking liquid. Blitz a few times and set aside.

Drizzle a bit of oil into a soup pot and sauté the chopped onion and jalapeno until the onions have softened. Add minced garlic, oregano, black beans, poblano pepper and posole. After a couple minutes toss in the bay leaves and guajillo pepper sauce. Cook at a low simmer for an hour and a half. [If the soup needs more liquid add in vegetable broth. The consistency is really up to you and your tastes. H prefers soups on the heartier side with less broth so I made this posole more stew-like.]

Add the potatoes and carrots and continue cooking at a low simmer for another 90 minutes or until the posole is tender. Adjust the volume and consistency of the soup/stew with broth and taste to season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with whatever wonderfully fresh ingredients you can imagine. Shredded cabbage, radishes, freshly-squeezed lime juice, creamy avocado, tomatillo salsa, pepitas and cilantro are only a few ideas. It’s entirely up to your tastes.

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Silken Joy



Dilled Carrot and Potato Soup with Pistachio Cream

If you want a more savory soup replace the carrot juice with vegetable stock.


1 large Russet potato, large dice  [The one I used yielded 4 cups.]

6 carrots, cut into similar sized pieces as the potato [Also about 4 cups worth.]

1 onion, sliced

1/2 cup celery, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine for easy removal later

2 dried bay leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine [I used a Sauvignon Blanc.]

2 cups carrot juice

vegetable stock  [The amount will vary according to the thickness of soup you desire.]

1 T dill seeds

salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a soup pot and add onions and celery.  Cook till the onions have softened and add in the potatoes and carrots.  Let these cook till the vegetables have browned edges. [Browned bits are where the flavor is at.] Add in the garlic, dill and thyme and mix well.  Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the wine and allow a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate off.  Add in the carrot juice and one cup of vegetable stock.   Cover and cook for half an hour or so, until the vegetables are fork tender. 

Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems.  Transfer the soup to a blender and blitz till smooth.  [Remember that hot liquids will expand when blended so do not fill the blender more than half-way and cover the top with a kitchen towel while holding down the lid.]  Adjust the consistency with vegetable stock and taste to see if salt and pepper are needed.

Spoon some of the sweet pistachio cream and tart creamy dill sauce over the soup and garnish with chopped pistachios for a nice crunchy contrast to the silky soup.

Dilled Tofu Sauce

You can adjust the tartness of this sauce by adding either more of less vinegar.  The vinegar I used has a very distinct flavor though as a common substitute I would likely choose an apple cider vinegar.


1/2 package firm silken tofu

1 cup fresh dill

2 T fresh lemon juice

2 tsp pear vinegar 

1 tsp dill seeds

salt and pepper to taste


Simply blend all ingredients in a food processor. 

Creamed Pistachio Sauce


1/4 cup pistachios

1/4 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Creamer


Toss into a processor and blend.

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Despite the fact that the British Air Ministry deceived more than the Germans during WWII, thus searing the myth that carrots were good for your eyesight onto the collective retina, carrots are good for you.  They’re packed full of fiber, phytonutrients and anti-oxidants [lutein, lycopene, alpha, beta and gamma carotenes, zeaxanthin and xanthophyll], vitamins [pro-vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6] and minerals [biotin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, organic sodium and other trace minerals].  That’s just the stuff we know about.  The carrot, as a whole, is a great food and that is why this month we shall include many recipes that focus on this incredibly versatile and ubiquitous vegetable.

If you can find carrots with the tops attached, buy them!  I remember as a teenager I worked at a local market and the checkout clerks would offer to remove the carrot tops for their customers.  Then, I thought it was a great service, now…you’d have to pry them out of my cold dead hands.  Carrot tops are marvelous to cook with.  They have the brightness of parsley and a slightly carrot  flavored taste to them.   Which leads me to the first carrot recipe this month…

Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top and Pepita Pesto


1 bunch carrots with tops

 ¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

 ¼ cup pepitas, pan toasted

 1 tsp lemon zest

 1 T walnut oil

 1 clove garlic


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut carrots into bite-sized pieces and spray lightly with olive oil.  Toss to coat well and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender. 

Wash and dry the carrot tops.  Give them a rough chop and place ½ cup into a food processor.  Add the parsley, lemon zest, 2 T pepitas, walnut oil and the garlic clove.   [Do not process it so much that you get a homogenous paste.  You want some rustic texture.]   Transfer the pesto to a bowl and add in the remaining pepitas.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simply spoon the pesto over the roasted carrots and serve.  

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I’ve been slacking on collard green recipes lately and have had this recipe kicking around in my head for a while now.  Today it expressed itself and they turned out really well.  They’re sweet and spicy hot and would go great with some savory black beans.


1 bunch collard greens, washed, destemmed and cut into a 1/4-inch chiffonade

1/2 onion, diced

2 clove garlic, minced

2 T currants

1/3 cup orange marmalade

minced chili pepper [To your tastes, I used a single Thai chili, for something   milder use the whole or part of a ribbed and seeded jalapeño.  A pinch of red pepper flakes would also work.]

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

zest of half an orange

canola oil


Sauté the onions, garlic and chili pepper in a drizzle of canola oil until the onions begin to soften.  Add in the collard greens and currants and mix well.  Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes.  [If the collard greens weren’t still wet from having been rinsed, add in a splash of water to help steam them.]  Once wilted, but still bright green, add in the marmalade, orange zest and grate in the nutmeg.  Stir to combine and set aside off the heat.  Once cooled, place on a cutting board and chop the filling so that no long strands of collards remain.

Masa Harina Dough:

1-3/4 cup vegetable stock

1/2 cup canola oil

3 cup masa harina

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp sea salt

dash of cinnamon


Add the dry ingredients to a mixer and then add the wet.  Mix slowly until the dry ingredients are damp and then turn up the mixer to a medium speed.  Mix for 5 minutes.


Spread a golfball-sized amount of dough over the middle area of a softened corn husk.  [ You can certainly make larger tamales that cover most of the husk area, I just prefer sweet tamales to be petite.]  Place a tablespoon of the filling down the center in a line.  Roll the cornhusk over while rolling the dough over the filling.  Once rolled, use a strip from another corn husk to tie around the center and secure the tamale into shape.  Steam vertically for 30 minutes.

Serve fresh from the steamer.

[ETA:  Fixed a massive spelling error]

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I was in the mood for something spicy and needed to use up some tortillas that have been lurking in our fridge for a while now.  Our fridge is also still over-run with collard greens. Imagine that.  I went a bit overboard at the store the other day and bought a few too many bunches, heh.  To resolve these issues, I decided to make a slaw to go along with some potato tacos for dinner.


Mix together the sour cream and lime juice first to loosen up the sour cream,  then simply toss it all together.

1 cup shredded red cabbage

1 cup raw collard greens,  cut in a chiffonade

1/4 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

1/2 papaya, diced

1/2 lime, juiced

1 tbsp. Tofutti sour cream

1 tsp. adobo sauce [or more if you want it spicier]

1 tsp. cumin

dashes of garlic and onion powder

Mmmm, it scratched all my itches, though my mouth is still on fire. [Not always a bad thing, heh.]

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