Monday, December 31, 2012

NYE Detox

The holidays are coming to a close...finally.  I have had my fill of cheese trays, cookies, roasted whatevers, and booze.

There was lots and lots of booze.

So as we head into the last night of decadence for the year, I thought I might do something for my liver, and beets fit the bill nicely.  A fabulous source of iron and antioxidants, beets help your liver function at its fullest capacity.

I love borscht, a soup popular in eastern Europe, but it's usually made with beef stock and sour cream.  I thought I might play around with this soup and see if I could make it more veggie friendly.  Here is what I can up with.

Roasted Borscht-ish

This bowl of purpley love is bright and satisfying.
This hearty soup is a smoother version than traditional borscht.  Try adding wilted beet greens or cabbage to the soup to increase its nutritional punch!

3 large beets
4 leeks
2 parsnips
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, whole
6 cups water
6 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 Tbl. olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Peel beets and cut into 3/4" chunks.  Remove dark green leaves of the leeks and slice in half lengthwise.  Rinse leeks under cool water to remove any grit and pat dry.  Transfer beets and leeks to a parchment lined baking sheet along with the garlic.  Drizzle with 1 Tbl olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.  Add thyme sprigs and roast in the oven until caramelized, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and discard thyme.

In a large stock pot, saute onions and parsnips in the remaining 1 Tbl olive oil until softened.  Add beets, leeks, and garlic.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Puree soup using an immersion blender or food processor.  Add lemon zest, juice, and dill.  Adjust seasoning. Garnish with dill (and, if'n you have a mind, a dollop of Greek yogurt).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Comfort and Joy

 I love a good hash.

It's quick, cheap, and comforting.  And, it's one of the ultimate improvisational foods as you can mix and match your favorite ingredients (or simply use up what is in your refrigerator).  Traditionally, it's a combination of meat, potatoes, and spices, but I find it's just as delicious without the meat.  Play around with different combinations of root vegetables like sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, and leeks.  Add hearty greens like collards or kale. Try different fresh herbs or spices.

Here's a spicy little dish that is a go to of mine.  I hope it brings you comfort and joy!

Chipotle and Rosemary Root Veggie Hash

Warm and incredibly hearty, this dish is perfect for brunch or as a satisfying night curled up in front of a movie.  I highly recommend drizzling a little bit of fruit preserves over it right before you serve it as the sweetness balances out the heat perfectly! (I like fig or blackberry)

1 sweet potato, cut into 3/4" cubes (about 2 cups)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
8 oz Brussels sprouts, shaved
1 cup black beans
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl olive oil
2 tsp chipotle powder
2 Tbl fresh rosemary, minced
2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
salt 'n pepper

In a large saute pan over medium heat, bloom chipotle powder in the olive oil for one minute.  Add onions and saute until tender, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute.  Add mushrooms and cook until nicely caramelized. Add the sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sprouts, and rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the veggies are tender but still have a little bite, about 10 minutes.  Add beans and deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gettin' Spicy

One of the things I love most about urban living is the bodega, that little corner store that has a just a little bit of everything in it.

There are about four within walking distance of my apartment, and each one has it's own distinct character.  There's the Italian grocery with oodles of pastas, grains, and pickled salads; the predominantly Eastern European store offering up strange cuts of meats and curious packages with lots of "K"s and "W"s on the labels.  And two Mexican bodegas with a host of fresh produce and spices galore.

Feeling adventurous, I trotted on over to the rack filled with dried chiles in cellophane bags with red, white, and green labels, and I grabbed two: chiles de árbol and cascabel chiles.  Chiles de árbol are basically a substitute for cayenne, small and spicy.  Cascabels are gorgeous, chocolate brown little bundles of smoky, lightly spicy love.  I figured the combination of the two would make for an amazing backbone for some hearty, winter dishes.

Here's what I came up with.

*You can find these chiles in most grocery stores.  Look for them in the produce section (on that strange rotating rack of bagged spices that you never look at) or near the end of the Mexican aisle!

Cascabel Spiced Eggplant and Zucchini with Wilted Kale

The warm, earthy notes of the cascabel chiles mixed with the slight heat of the chiles de árbol are perfect on a cold winter's night!

1 medium eggplant, diced into 3/4" cubes
2 zucchini, diced into 3/4" cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 cups kale, stemmed
1 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes, coarsely chopped
5 dried cascabel chiles
3 dried chiles de árbol
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup Roasted Veggie Stock
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
2 Tbl olive oil

Place cascabel and chiles de árbol in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

While the chiles steep, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, and cinnamon, stir to coat onions, and cook for 1 minute.  Add eggplant and zucchini, and saute until veggies begin to brown but still have some bite to them, about 7-10 minutes.

While veggies cook, drain the softened chiles reserving the liquid.  Place chiles in a food processor or blender with one half of the liquid.  Puree until smooth.

Once the veggies have browned a bit, stir in tomatoes, the chile puree, and the remainder of the steeping liquid.  Simmer for about 10-12 minutes, reducing the liquid.  Add kale and veggie stock, stirring until just wilted.

Serve over rice, grains, pasta, or large pieces of grilled bread rubbed with garlic.