CREAMY MISO KABOCHA SOUP WITH TURMERIC, LEMONGRASS & CRISPY LENTILS

It’s Winter.  There’s that bleakness in the air of people desperately craving Spring.  Although, we're closer to sunnier days than we were a couple weeks ago, we're still (unfortunately) in the thick of it.  Temperatures are unstable, snow storms & "frozen rain" have both been in the forecast this last week.  We’re all seeking a bit of comfort, in whatever way we can get it.  

I'm still calling it the beginning of the year even though it's practically (already) March.  Although it's passing quickly, the year so far has been an unprecedented one, in so...so many ways.  Not just “the world” / politically, but I’m personally feeling that “off-ness”.   When it’s time for change - transition - and it feels a little like growing pains.  Not really sure yet where to go with it all, so until then, I’m putting one foot in front of the other, and making soup.

CREAMY MISO KABOCHA SOUP WITH TURMERIC, LEMONGRASS & CRISPY LENTILS (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free) Serves 4-6

This soup is simple, delicious and the perfect warming bowl for these Winter months.  It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but in reality mostly requires a little chopping and adding things to the same saucepan.  If you don’t have fresh turmeric (or ginger) root, add about a teaspoons or so of the ground versions, taste it and decide whether you want more.  For the lemongrass, use the back of your knife to “bruise” the lemongrass - this helps bring out its flavor (don’t forget to remove before ou blend!).  Also, this would still be great without lemongrass, so feel free not to follow the recipe exactly ;)

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, divided
  • 2 medium carrots, medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks, medium dice
  • 1 bunch of scallions, roughly chopped
  • 2 in. piece of ginger root, minced
  • 4 in. piece of lemongrass, bruised then halved
  • 1.5 in. piece of turmeric root, diced
  • 6 cups of cubed kabocha (or about 1/2 a medium squash)
  • 1 (15oz.) can of coconut milk
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup miso
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • About 1/2 cup cooked lentils
  • Greens, to serve

In a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium high heat.  After a minute, swirl oil around in the pan to coat the bottom, then add carrots, celery, scallions, stirring often for about 5-7 minutes or until they begin to cook down and scallions have softened.  

Then, add ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and kabocha, cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes, then add coconut milk, water, miso and salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until squash is softened (very easily pricked with a fork).  Taste the broth, it should taste flavorful (if it doesn’t, let it go another 5-10 minutes).  *Don’t forget to fish out your two pieces of lemongrass, if you choose to blend.  Then, use an immersion blender to blend until smooth, or add to a vitamix to whirl up.  Add the juice of one lemon, and stir to combine.

For crispy lentils:  Add 3 tablespoons or so (enough to coat your pan well) coconut oil to a skillet over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot (hover your hand over the skillet to test), add cooked lentils in an even layer. (You might need to do batches for these, depending on your pan size, don’t overcrowd!)  Let them cook, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.  Add more oil if necessary, they should be “sizzling” in the oil to get them real crispy.  They will take about 2-3 minutes to get crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove and set over a paper towel-lined plate.  

To serve, top soup with freshly ground pepper, a handful of greens or herbs (cilantro or parsley would be great, I used baby arugula), and a small handful of crispy lentils per bowl.  It serves 4-6, depending on what you consider to be a “bowl” or if you’d like this as a meal, or starter.  Store the soup in a jar (beware, it will stain plastic) or tupperware, for up to a week (it hopefully won’t last that long).  The soup will thicken once refrigerated, feel free to use a few teaspoons of water when reheating, or keep it nice and thick.

BUCKWHEAT MUFFINS WITH ROYAL FIG JAM

Lately, I’ve been so into buckwheat flour.  It has the most warm, nutty flavor that I can’t get enough of.  After falling in love with this amazing fig jam, I decided to pair my two obsessions and it didn’t disappoint.  Secondly, I have to talk about this jam.  St. Dalfour is one of my favorite brands of preserves because they sweeten with fruit juice instead of sugar (#NOTSPONSORED, btw).  They are amazing jams across the board, but this fig one? I can't get enough.  A friend and I are now snapping each other our empty bottles because we're semi-repulsing ourselves.  It's addicting, and lovely - you should try it.

These muffins would work best with almost any fruit preserve, so try whatever seasonal flavor you have around (Quince preserves or apple butter would be perfect alternatives).  Don't forget to eat these babies warm & feel free to slather with more jam, too ;)

Buckwheat Muffins with Royal Fig Jam (Gluten-free, Dairy-free) Makes 20 muffins

  • 1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca or arrowroot flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, very soft or melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup hemp or almond milk
  • About 1 1/4 cup royal fig jam (or your favorite preserves)
  • 2-3 fresh figs (optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and sea salt.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and milk.  Stir in flour, a little at a time, into wet mixture until dough is *just* mixed.  

Line a standard muffin pan with muffin liners.  Add 1 tablespoon of batter into each liner and bake for exactly 6 minutes.  Then, remove pan from oven, add a heaping teaspoon of fig jam, then cover with another heaping tablespoon or so of batter (enough to cover the jam entirely).  If you’re adding figs to top, add slices overtop the batter.  Return to oven and bake for 7-9 minutes or until muffins are completely baked through.  

Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Store in an air-tight container for a few days on the counter, or a week or so in the fridge.

BRIGHT GREEN PEA & COCONUT SOUP

It’s beginning to be that dreary time of Winter where it feels like the beginning of the end.  After getting back from LA over the holidays, I arrived to 20-something degree weather, and the last few days couldn't have been more dreary.  It’s easy to feel like spending all day on the couch or eating a banana for dinner is not out of the realm of possibilities.  I’m fighting my “dreary” feelings by blasting myself with brightness, in food more than feelings, but I’m working on both.

This soup, from Anna Jones’ new book, is a fresh and vibrant recipe that is remarkably flavorful despite its few ingredients. I doctored it up just barely, but it was exactly what I needed.  It uses those frozen peas I always have in my fridge, and made me feel a little more “awake” after eating it.  Bright foods for fighting seasonal depression ? I’ll take it. 

Bright Green Pea & Coconut Soup (Gluten-free, Vegan) Serves 4-6

*Adapted from A Modern Way to Cook

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 bunch of green scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2lbs. frozen green peas
  • 1 (15oz.) can of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon white or yellow miso
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (stems, too!)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped (stems, too)
  • 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  • Freshly ground pepper, to serve
  • Microgreens, to serve (opt.)

In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium high heat.  Once pan is hot, add scallions, shallots and celery. Cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until ingredients have softened.

Then, add frozen peas, coconut milk, miso, salt and 3 cups of filtered water.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Stir in all herbs and the zest + juice of 1 lemon.  Transfer mixture to vitamix/blender and puree until smooth.  (*If you have an immersion blender, use it here and dirty one less dish.)  Once soup is smooth, divide amongst bowls.  Top with freshly ground pepper, micro greens and a drizzle of olive oil. 

WINTRY RADICCHIO SALAD + TOASTED HAZELNUTS, PARSLEY WITH GOLDEN RAISIN, SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE

Salads are what I subsist in.  Most nights, afternoons and even mornings, they’re what feed me.  For some reason that feels silly to admit, but most of my meals are assemblages of things (ie. salads) I have on hand.  This wintry salad is what I’m feeling these days.  It’s cold and definitely full Winter-mode here, but I’m craving lots of greens and vegetables (thanks, holidays).  The hearty greens and cabbages make this feel seasonal and not crazy to eat despite 30 degree temps.  If you can’t find spigarello,  any hearty winter green (kale, mustard or collard greens) will do.  Also, this dressing! You have to try.  Stay warm ;)

WINTRY RADICCHIO SALAD WITH TOASTED HAZELNUTS, PARSLEY & PARMESAN (Gluten-free, grain-free) Serves 2-4

  • 1 large radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 3 large handfuls spigarello, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sliced or shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 shallot, minced (reserve other half for dressing)
  • 1/2 lemon (reserve other half for dressing)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated

Golden Raisin, Lemon & Shallot Vinaigrette (Adapted from Purple Kale)

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, finely chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon whole grain mustard 
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine radicchio, spigarello, cabbage, parsley and shallot.  Squeeze the juice of a lemon overtop, season with a generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss together well.

To toast nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add hazelnuts to a sheet pan and roast for 6-10 minutes (watch carefully! they will burn quick).  Remove once they are golden brown and smell nutty.  Set aside to cool.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine raisin, shallots and vinegars.  Let steep for 10-15 minutes.  Then, mix in water, whole grain mustard, lemon and olive oil.  Add a pinch of flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper.  Then, whisk together really well until emulsified.

Once nuts are cooled, roughly chop hazelnuts and add to salad mix.  Top with grated cheese, and a few spoonfuls of dressing.  Toss together until combined & well coated.  Serve immediately!

ARUGULA BREAKFAST SALAD WITH TOASTED PISTACHIO, RADISH & SOFT EGGS

Happy New Year! I’ve been spending my mornings trying to reboot from what is always a busy, food-and-drink-filled holiday season.  This recipe is one I eat most mornings, when I’m busy and in need quick & clean sustenance.  It is technically a salad, but I find it to be more of a quick assemblage of ingredients I already have on hand.  No matter how simple, it never fails to be exactly one I need - no more and no less - for mornings when you need something lasting, but have little brain space for meal-making. 

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Arugula Breakfast Salad with Toasted Pistachio, Radish & Soft Eggs (serves 2) Gluten-free, DAIRY-FREE

This recipe gives you the foundation for pretty much any breakfast salad.  Feel free to use whatever green you have on hand - kale, tiny gem lettuces, rainbow chard, spinach, etc.  For the toppings, I always include an egg or two, something with crunch (I like a fresh crunch - radish, cucumber , fresh herbs - and a nut or seed) and whatever else you have on hand.  This is the perfect way to use leftover grains or veggies that aren’t enough for a whole meal, but need to be used somehow.  If you don’t stray from dairy, a shaved parmesan or pecorino would be amazing on this and as always, avocado makes everything better. 

  • 2-4 large eggs
  • 3 large handfuls wild arugula 
  • 2-3 radishes or 1 small watermelon radish, sliced in matchsticks
  • 1 small handful toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Leftover quinoa or any other grain, about 1/3 cup or a couple spoonfuls
  • 1 small lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Fill a saucepan with water (enough to cover a couple eggs) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly and slowly submerge eggs, one at a time.  (*I use 1-2 eggs per serving, depending on how hungry I am).  Cook at a roiling boil for exactly 6 1/2 minutes (less, if you like a softer egg, and more, if you like it harder).  In the meantime, prepare an ice bath.

In a medium serving bowl, add arugula, radishes, toasted pistachios and leftover quinoa (or whatever else you have on hand).  Squeeze the juice of about one lemon over top and a drizzle of olive oil.  Toss everything together until well combined.  Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Once eggs are done cooking, add to ice bath for a couple minutes.  Then, shell the eggs and halve them overtop the salad.  Divide into bowls and serve immediately.

STICKY DATE CAKE WITH SALTED TOFFEE SAUCE

I can't believe it's already Christmas and this year is coming to a close.  I'm spending time in rainy California with family, tons of christmas cookies and holiday music.  This sticky date cake will be a beloved new addition to our usual Christmas morning cinnamon rolls (gf, of course), hot chocolate and quiche.  These cakes couldn't be more festive if they tried, and I hope they bring some much needed cheer to your holiday gatherings.

STICKY DATE CAKE WITH SALTED TOFFEE SAUCE (Gluten-free) Makes 10 mini bundts

Date Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cup chopped medjool dates 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, liquified
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 mandarins, zested + 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut or brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Salted Toffee Sauce (Adapted from Nigella)

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3/4 stick butter, cubed
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a mini bundt pan with coconut oil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add chopped dates, baking soda and boiling water.  Let mixture sit for about 10 minutes to soften.

Once dates have soften, using a masher or fork, mash the mixture until dates have broken down and sauce is thick, smooth-ish paste.  Then, stir in coconut oil, vanilla, maple, and mandarin juice + zest.  

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together almond, oat, and arrowroot flour with sugar, spices and salt.  Then, mix flour mixture into wet ingredients, a little at a time, until all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Stir until well combined, then evenly divide among mini bundt cakes (filling until 3/4 full).  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges are firm and cake bounces ever-so-slightly back.  Set aside to fully cool in the pan before trying to remove.  

To make toffee sauce: Put sugar, maple, and butter in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil.  Once sugar and butter have dissolved, let simmer/bubble for 3-4 minutes, then whisk in the heavy cream (carefully, it will bubble up).  Mix in sea salt.  Then, cook mixture over medium heat until thick, glossy and golden brown.  Remove from heat.  Store in a clean mason jar.  

To serve: Top date cakes with warm toffee sauce.  Serve immediately!  Also, would be great with a dollop of creme fraiche or ice cream ;) 

 

BUCKWHEAT OAT BARS WITH SPICED CRANBERRY-APPLE COMPOTE

There’s nothing more healing than holiday baking.  When the weather starts to drop & the christmas lights come up -  It’s my favorite time of year.  These oat bars are my new favorite holiday treat, easily eaten for breakfast, dessert or anything in between.  The cranberries make this extra festive for Winter weather and holidays, but you can use any kind of fruit compote (or preserve!).  For your Christmas morning, holiday gatherings and beyond…

buckwheat oat bars with spiced cranberry apple compote (gluten-free) makes 16-18 bars

  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Cranberry Apple Compote:

  • 12 oz. cranberries
  • 1 green apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 vanilla bean, de-seeded
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make cranberry compote: add all ingredients to a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or cranberries have broken down and mixture is thick.  Remove from heat to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oats, flours, baking powder, salt, xanthum gum and spices. 

In another small mixing bowl, whisk together egg, coconut oil or butter, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. 

Mix wet ingredients into dry, mixing well until dough looks like oatmeal cookie dough. 

Add 3/4 of oat mixture to a greased 8x8 or round tart pan, using your hand to press batter evenly.  Add about 1 heaping cup of cranberry compote over top, using a silicon spatula to evenly disperse.  Then sprinkle the top with the last amount of oat mixture.  

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until oat topping is browned.  Set aside to cool, then serve warm or chill before cutting into squares.

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SAVORY TOMATO & PARMESAN CRUMBLE

It’s just beginning to feel real Wintry here in NYC.  It happens that way each year, where one day, it just gets cold and we begin to hunker down for the Winter ahead.  We roast squash and make soup and need to wear socks to bed.  It’s a new season and we learn how to submit to it.

In terms of cooking, the warmer and heartier the better. I’ve been making soups like crazy and roasting a whole kabocha squash each week.  Some people feel daunted by the produce limitations, but I’ve learned some things over the years to help inspire cold-weather cooking.  Besides beans, lentils, etc, I always have preserved tomatoes on hand: canned, chopped, fire-roasted or whatever you like.  It’s the simplest thing to keep around that can make cold, Winter nights a little better.  I use them in soups, make a quick tomato sauce, a savory braise - the options are endless.  We may not have fresh tomatoes, but we wouldn’t want to eat them this time of year anyway.  It’s time for baking, braising, roasting - all the warm things in life.

Savory Tomato & Parmesan Crumble (Gluten-free) Serves 8

-This recipe, at its base, is a simple crumble.  I used romesco and cannellinni beans, but you could use any veggies or herbs you have on hand and need to get rid of! A few notes, too: you can use all cornmeal instead of cornmeal/corn flour to keep it simple.

FILLING:

  • 26 oz. Pomi Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 teaspoon tamari
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 small romanesco, chopped into about 1 inch pieces
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of cannellinni beans, drained 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1/3 cup basil, sliced thin or chiffonade
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs marjoram

TOPPING:

  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal 
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 5 sprigs thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk chopped tomatoes together with cornstarch, lemon juice + zest, tamarin, sumac, salt and red pepper flakes.  Then, stir in romesco, beans, garlic, shallot and herbs until well combined.  Add to 9x9 or similar sized baking dish and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, stir together oats, almond meal, cornmeal and flour, parmesan, thyme and salt.  Mix until well combined, then add chilled butter cubes,  Using your hands, work together dough - breaking down butter - until mixture looks and feels like oatmeal cookie dough.  Add olive oil, and mix in well with your hands, making sure to get all the flour bits at the bottom.

Add crumble evenly over top tomato filling.  Bake for exactly 30 minutes or until tomato is bubbling up around the sides and topping is golden browned.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.


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