Why garnish? Though garnishes do make a dish prettier, it’s not all about looks. There are many different garnishes from the market that you can add to your meals, not only for color and flavor, but added nutrition.
Even though it’s not the only benefit, improving the appearance of your food is an important benefit of a garnish. Have you ever accidentally made an all white or beige meal, for instance, cauliflower, potatoes, and chicken? That’s not very appealing, visually, but add chopped herbs or other garnishes and that meal is redeemed. An all white meal may encourage you to overeat as well, another motivation to add some color. What garnish you choose can be based on appearance. If you have kids, you may find that yellow, orange, or red garnishes (such as carrot curls or thin slices of pepper) appeal to them, while adults are going to be the ones to appreciate green garnishes, or other colors.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Garnishes will also add nutritional value to your meal. Microgreens, for instance, have been found to have “from 3 to 39.4 times the nutritional content of the plant’s mature counterparts.” Herbs pack a different, but significant nutritional punch in the form of polyphenols: compounds that are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Vegetable ferments contain beneficial microbes that aid in digestion, as well as increased nutritional value of the vegetable they are made from.
Another reason to garnish is for the flavor. Some garnishes are pretty neutral, for instance parsley or some of the microgreens. Others add seasoning that the dish would otherwise be missing. Chives add a bit of onion or garlic flavor without being overpowering. Lemon thyme or balm add a lemony flavor without the citrus fruit. When deciding which garnish to use, think about whether or not your food needs a little something, or if it tastes great the way it is, and choose accordingly.
What kinds of garnishes will you find at market? One choice is herbs. In the spring several vendors have herb plants so you can grow your own and clip as desired. Through all but the coldest months many vendors will have herb bunches as well. I prefer to pop mine in a jar of water in the kitchen to keep them handy and to remind me to use them. Some herbs store well in the fridge, too, and may prefer it there in the summer if your kitchen is hot. Don’t put basil in the fridge, though! It will turn black there.
Edible flowers are another, and very pretty choice. Right now violas are in season and available at market, but there are others throughout the year. Don’t assume that a flower is edible, though. If there’s not a sign that tells you, ask before you eat!
Edible weeds show up at market as well. Many have pleasant or neutral flavors, but if you find one a bit strong or not to your liking for another reason, try it cut finely as a garnish.
Vegetable ferments, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, are another option for color and flavor. Harvest Roots Ferments of course makes quite a few options, but other vendors preserve their excess produce by fermenting it as well. I love Big Lil Ginger and its pink color in my lunch.
In the past year or so microgreens have appeared at market. They differ from sprouts as they are grown for a longer period of time and also are usually grown in soil. At market we have both soil-grown microgreens and those grown aquaponically. I’ll let you Google, sample, and decide which you prefer, but I’ll explain the differences in how to store them.
The soil grown microgreens are best kept in your kitchen near a light source. I keep my on the drainboard next to the sink, under a fluorescent light. Keep them moist, and put them on a plate or in Grandma’s Corningware to keep the dirt and water contained:
The aquaponic sprouts are grown on a hemp mat. They are best kept on the mat in the fridge, also on a plate. Don’t let them dry out, but don’t let them get too soggy, either:
For either type of microgreens cut as needed and use. When I’m done with the soil grown greens I compost the dirt with roots and so far have been saving the containers for my own plant starts. I’ve also been composting the hemp mats, but I read online that some are not meant for home composting, only commercial. I’m assuming that means they’ll take a long time to break down, but ask Steve with Downtown Aquaponics if you have any concerns.
Whatever garnish you choose will turn a good meal into something better!
Although many of the recipes I share are old favorites, I’m always on the lookout for something new to try. While my inspiration often comes from Pinterest, this week’s recipe source is old-school, from a magazine.
I was at Ladies of Charity and decided to give the magazine rack a glance. Bon Appétit “Healthy-ish” Recipes caught my eye. I laughed at their sense of humor and honesty and decided to give the magazine a try. I’m not a fan of plenty of “healthy” recipes, especially those that are anything but: low fat, fake food substitutes, or non-local subs for local food all fall into that category for me.
I had more hope for something billing itself healthy-ish. I was pleased upon reading the editor’s words on why the name was chosen, and also pleased to find a recipe that I wanted to try early on in the pages.
This recipe is a recreation of a trendy dish from New York City. Since the magazine is from 2017 I’m guessing that the dish may not be so hot in NYC anymore. However, I’m interested in good food, not trends, so no worries here! I suspect, though, that my changes are pretty trendy as well.
Part of cooking seasonally and locally is making do with what you have. Sometimes this means altering a recipe significantly, other times the changes are only minor. In this case I substituted one brassica for another. The original recipe calls for broccolini, curly kale, and Brussels sprouts. I had collard raab (or rabe), red Russian kale, and napa cabbage.
Have you heard of collard raab? Broccoli raab is more common, but other brassica raabs are showing up at market and in recipes online. As far as I can tell, while broccoli raab is a specific variety, the other raabs are simply the buds of the bolting plant. They are imbued with the characteristics of the particular brassica that they come from, but generally the remaining chill of spring keeps them tender and tasty, not overly bitter like I usually associate with bolting greens.
Collard raab is a stronger tasting green than broccolini but I found it to be a bit lemony as well, and not a harsh flavor. I used untoasted sesame oil for roasting it; that seemed a better oil for roasting, as well as going well with the sesame seeds. Sunflower oil would be another good choice.
Since I had kale on hand I decided to use it and not to stray any further from the recipe than necessary. I used red Russian kale and found it work well with the dressing I massaged into it.
I was sad not to have picked up any Brussels sprouts at market. I love them and wanted to try them in this recipe. However, I had the right amount of napa cabbage and decided to prep it in a similar size/shape to how the sprouts are described. It was a good choice! The white leaves also provide a nice color contrast to the green of the other brassicas.
I used salted sunflower seeds because that’s what we had. Even though I had unsalted sesame seeds I chose to use Gomashio, a mix of ground and whole toasted sesame seeds with salt. I was concerned that my salad might turn out too salty so I went easy on the salt. I ended up having to add a little more at the end, but we do like things salty!
Even though I followed the recipe suggestion to top my dish with chives, I decided to add a bit more brassicas as well in the form of microgreens. I don’t remember the exact mix but I do remember hearing some brassica names included in the list.
Surprisingly, a vegetable ferment was not included in the original recipe. I felt like something was missing without it. For this bowl I chose Harvest Roots Ferments' Big Lil' Ginger. Both the flavor and the color go well with the other ingredients.
It’s a beautiful salad!
Adapted from Bon Appétit’s Brassicas Bowl
4 large eggs
1 bunch collard raab, trimmed
1 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 small bunch red Russian kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
8 ounces baby napa cabbage, trimmed, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds, divided
1⁄2 cup hummus
1 avocado, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon Gomashio (toasted sesame seeds with salt)
Microgreens for garnish, preferably brassica (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.)
Fermented veggies (I used Harvest Roots Ferments' Big Lil Ginger) (for serving)
Options: in addition to my changes made in my version of the recipe above, see the blog post. Basically, you can change this up in many ways to suit you and the ingredients in season. Use any stalky brassica (broccoli, broccoli raab, cauliflower) in place of the collard rabe/broccolini. Cut broccoli and cauliflower florets on the small side. Use 2 different leafy brassicas in place of the kale and napa cabbage/Brussels sprouts. Scarlet kale is especially beautiful in a salad. Napa cabbage and Brussels sprouts are pretty similar to other cabbages so you could use another type of cabbage in their place. Use a fried or hard boiled egg, or a leftover meat that sounds good. Use another oil and vinegar dressing or another oil for roasting. Use other fresh herbs for garnish. Use other nuts or seeds as desired. Adjust the salt to your taste (the Gomashio and salted sunflower seeds add salt). Have fun and enjoy!
Printable version of the original recipe here. Printable of my adaptation here.
Spring is here and warm weather is coming, too. When you need a warm soup for one of the chilly evenings we have left try a vegetarian version of the classic French onion soup.
This week’s post comes courtesy of my husband, Jeffrey, who has perfected the recipe from making countless pots. I’ll let him explain:
I've made this soup for years. I've always called it "French Onion Soup" and only realized when reviewing the recipe for this post that the Moosewood recipe is simply called "Onion Soup". Well, I'm going to keep calling it "French" for what it's worth! I made this for quite a while pretty much according to the Moosewood recipe, with the main adjustments being that (1) more butter is better (we have the 15th anniversary cookbook from the low-fat 90s); and (2) we like more mustard and no white pepper. Besides the fact that I would never make it without making at least a double if not triple recipe - this soup only gets better with age!
The only thing about making a vegetarian French Onion Soup is that the quintessential ingredient in a traditional recipe is beef broth. I liked this soup very much, making it according to the recipe, but was it lacking something that could give it more depth? At some point in the past couple of decades I came up with an answer: miso! Miso is a "paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt". Maybe you've had a bowl of traditional miso soup at a sushi restaurant. There are several kinds of miso available in your local Whole Foods or maybe other stores. They may be hiding near the tofu, tempeh and veggie kielbasas in a forgotten corner of the produce department..!? For this recipe I have used both chickpea miso and traditional red miso. I think chickpea miso is my personal favorite, but perhaps the red miso, with its darker complexion, is the richer, more appropriate choice to replace the beef broth in onion soup.
Adding miso to this onion soup is very simple, but it gives the soup a significant flavor kick. The most important thing to note is that you do not want to boil the miso. Whereas the recipe calls for four cups of water, instead add just three cups of the water (or the correct proportional amount if you are making a larger recipe). Reserve the last cup of water in a bowl or liquid measure. Heat the water to boiling if it is not already. Then add 2-3 Tablespoons of miso paste. Stir it well with a spoon, pressing the paste against the side of the bowl to break it up. Add the miso mixture when the rest of the soup is done simmering, and turn the heat down to warm or off. Stir well and then let the soup rest for a few minutes before serving.
As for serving this soup with croutons... well that sounds great but making the homemade croutons seems like maybe more trouble than it's worth. Instead I like to make a batch of cheese toast in the toaster oven while the soup is resting. The diners can choose whether to serve soup over the cheese toast in bowls, dip the toast in the soup, or enjoy them separately. It's good no matter what!
From The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
Preparation time: 1 hour (mostly for simmering) Yield: 6 servings
2 Tbs butter
4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp dried mustard
A dash or two of thyme
4 cups water
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 to 3 Tbs dry white wine (optional)
A few dashes of white pepper
Thin slices of Swiss cheese
Do you have a package of black cod sitting in your freezer that you’re not sure what to do with? Try a Manhattan-style fish chowder one of these chilly evenings.
Black Cod, or sablefish, sounds exotic to me, and it is not one I’ve seen often in markets or restaurants, but it’s available at our market from Wild Alaskan Salmon. You can cook it like any other white fish. The taste is much better than any other white fish I’ve had, though! It has a high oil content, which is the reason for one of its nicknames: “butterfish.”
My family loved this fish in a fairly simple preparation, but one night I wanted a soup or stew. I first had Manhattan clam chowder as a kid and preferred it to New England style for years. I decided to try a Manhattan-style fish chowder.
The fish had plenty of flavor but did not overwhelm the other ingredients, either.
As is often true with my recipes, you can adjust the ingredients you use to your taste and what you have on hand. For instance, salmon would work in this recipe as well, though it will have a different flavor and texture. Also, you can use other vegetables, such as white or sweet potatoes, or different greens.
I used a vegetable stock in my chowder, but I wished I had taken a few minutes to make a fish stock from the fish bones in my freezer. I looked online for a fish stock recipe but was not happy with any I found. Mainly, they were all too complicated. A quick fish stock can be simply made by sautéing some vegetable scraps in your preferred fat, then adding fish scraps and water to cover. Here’s a recipe for a large quantity of fish broth. All you need for your chowder is a couple of cups, and you can make that from the few bones you might find in your fish, and perhaps the skin, if you prefer not to have it in your chowder.
This time of year, of course, tomatoes are not available. You can use whatever tomato product you have on hand. Add water to the thicker ones (such as paste), or use the thinner ones (such as juice) in place of some of the stock. Or use nomato sauce.
However you make it, enjoy!
Photo by Zachary Cross
Manhattan Style Fish Chowder
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 cups of stock
2 cups no-mato sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, or tomato sauce
1 cup white wine
Several handfuls of baby spinach
½ - 1 lb black cod, cut into bite-sized pieces
Herbs or microgreens for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
We’ve had a taste of spring but cold and rainy nights remain in our forecast. Try a creamy soup from market ingredients to chase away some of the chill.
This recipe began, as many do, with ingredients in my refrigerator needing to be used. I love potato leek soup and was interested in trying it out without the white potato. However, I also had some fabulous shiitake mushrooms from Sequatchie Cove Farm that I wanted to use. While poking around the internet I found a mushroom and leek soup, a cauliflower leek soup, a sweet potato leek soup, and a creamy salmon soup. In the interest of taste, and I confess, laziness, I decided to combine a little of all of them. The addition of salmon made this an all in one meal.
A few notes: I kept the mushrooms separate to keep their texture and also satisfy those at my table who do not eat mushrooms (more for me!). Also, I wrote down the quantities I used, but this recipe is flexible. I made it thinking about a traditional creamy potato leek soup, and the quantity of sweet potato and cauliflower I used was with that in mind. The thyme seemed a bit strong while I was first cooking the soup, but, once all the ingredients were added, it was just right. One recipe I looked at used dill in the soup and cilantro as a garnish. Try your favorite combination.
Serves ~ 6
Inspired by Meatified, The Emancipated Epicure, and Eat Drink Paleo
4 small leeks, well washed, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into half moons
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 small carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
Medium head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 cups stock
½ cup cream
½-1 cup milk
~ 1 pound salmon fillet, cut into bite sized pieces
Small bunch of shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter, sesame oil, or a combination
Salt and Pepper to taste
Something fresh and green for garnish such as fresh herbs or microgreens
Printable recipe here
Shepherd’s pie has plenty of variations. Try this one with roots and greens for a warm winter meal.
Although technically a shepherd’s pie is a lamb or mutton meat pie with a mashed potato topping, often one made with beef is called that as well. Technically, though, that is cottage pie. Interestingly, the cottage was originally a reference to the potato topping, affordable even to the poor cottage dweller. Also, the term cottage pie preceded shepherd’s pie by at least fifty years, and they were used interchangeably in the beginning. Now a distinction is made by some, but a hundred and fifty years ago, none was made.
I had ground lamb to use for mine, though I also have vegetarians to cook for. A vegetarian or vegan pie is sometimes called a shepherdess pie. I used homemade vegetarian taco meat in mine. Although I used white button mushrooms and cashews in what I made (I often like to follow a recipe exactly the first time), now that I’ve made it I can see it working well with shiitake mushrooms and pecans - both of which can be found locally.
I think of shepherd’s pie as being made with peas or green beans. Unless you have some preserved, though, neither is to be found in winter. Root vegetables are an excellent and hearty substitute, and fresh herbs and greens add a touch of color.
Although at first I thought adding bacon seemed a bit over the top, bacon’s flavor helped balance lamb’s strong flavor. Although I kept my pie pretty basic, stronger-flavored roots such as celeriac and fennel would go well with this dish.
Despite not eating white, “Irish” potatoes, I really wanted to make a shepherd’s pie! The internet came to my rescue again with various topping options including cauliflower, white sweet potato, turnip, and tropical roots such as yuca. Cheri Miller of Harvest Home, one source of lamb at the market, recommends parsnip as well. I wanted my topping to be a local option so the yuca was out. And, as much as I like mashed cauliflower, I wanted some starchiness. Sweet potato is too sweet, though, so I decided to do a mix of vegetables. It was a good option, though in the future I plan to cook them separately and play around with the mixture a little more to get the right balance of sweet (potato) and savory (turnip and/or cauli).
I’m happy that I’ve expanded my definition of what makes a shepherd’s pie so I can make one any time of the year.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Inspired by: Joy-Filled Nourishment; Gutsy by Nature; and Whole Life, Full Soul
2 thick cut or 4 thin cut slices bacon
1 lb ground lamb
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Small bunch of fresh thyme
A couple handfuls of arugula
Salt and pepper to taste
1 white sweet potato
1 small head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons butter, plus a little more, melted, for topping
Salt and pepper to taste
Printable recipe here
Sometimes in winter it seems like the market is bare. But there are plenty of roots! Use them to make a versatile soup one of these rainy nights.
This is another recipe from our old Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus. We’ve made this soup many ways over the years, taking our cues from Martha’s suggestions. The basic recipe, as the name suggests, has plenty of root vegetables in it: onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, potatoes, and turnips. Alternatives suggested are sweet potatoes, rutabaga, and winter squash (not a root veggie but a good winter vegetable). I used white sweet potato in this recipe recently for the first time. I left out the regular white potatoes and the sweet potatoes added some starch in their place. While white sweet potatoes can often be a bit too sweet, the other roots - turnips especially - counteracted the sweetness in the soup.
This recipe is listed in the spring section of the cookbook, but is appropriate in winter. If you are unable to find some of the vegetables, simply substitute others. Keep in mind their varying flavors - and strengths of their flavors - to keep the soup in balance. Potatoes and parsnips are fairly neutral, while sweet potatoes are very sweet, and turnips can have quite the strong flavor.
One disadvantage of making this in winter is the shortage of fresh herbs for garnish. There are plenty of microgreens at the market, though, and those can make tasty and attractive garnishes. I can imagine buckwheat or radish leaves arranged looking like little hearts floating on the soup.
I have not tried beet in this soup, and I think a whole beet could be too strong a flavor. A little red beet purée could make a nice pink color without too strong a flavor. Golden beet has a more mellow flavor and might be usable in a greater quantity than red. It would make a pretty yellow soup, too!
This recipe is easily made vegan by using olive oil or another substitute for the butter, and vegetable stock or water for the chicken stock. Before I started chopping veggies for this soup I browned veggie scraps from the freezer and simmered them in water. I had stock that was ready when the soup veggies were done sautéing.
The other suggested menu items are spring-themed: lamb chops with mint pesto and asparagus. I roasted chicken and Brussels sprouts instead for a hearty winter meal.
Photos by Zachary Cross
From Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Menus
Serves 4 to 6
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 leek, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced crosswise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
2 white turnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 ½ cups chicken stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprigs of fresh coriander (cilantro), parsley, chervil, or watercress
Printable recipe here
Have you wanted to try a honey- or maple syrup-sweetened frosting recipe but were not sure where to start? Try one made with sweet potatoes as well.
Photos by Zachary Cross
Even though I love orange sweet potatoes baked whole, roasted in cubes, in recipes, or by themselves, I am not a fan of plain cooked white or purple sweet potatoes. I’ve successfully used the white ones in place of noodles and Irish potatoes, but not for much else. When I saw this recipe from Beyond the Bite I knew I had to try it.
Why sweet potato frosting? There are several good reasons. First, it’s made with local ingredients. Depending on the options you choose, the main ingredients are sweet potato and honey or maple syrup. Other local options include milk and butter, as well as local foods used for color.
Next, it tastes good! I find most frostings too sweet - and fairly tasteless as well. This frosting is sweet enough without being cloying. Also, sweet potatoes lend a little of their taste to this frosting without being overpowering. Flavoring does not mask the sweet potato in some of the recipes, but does tone it down. In a couple of options I made (chocolate, pink with beet juice) the sweet potato was undetectable.
Last, the nutritional value of this frosting is much higher than traditional frostings. It’s still dessert but sweet potato frosting has, per serving, less sugar and more fiber than traditional buttercream frosting. Depending on the type of sweet potato it can even have approximately 25% of the RDA for Vitamin A. Bonus: purple and orange colors are naturally occuring. I easily created pink with beets as well.
I checked out a few other recipes online, but the basic idea is to take cooked, pureed sweet potato and emulsify it with some sweetening and other ingredients, such as, often, but not always, fat.
One of the things that I do not normally care for in purple and white sweet potatoes is what I consider a fruity flavor. It’s mild, but something that I do not want in many savory dishes. It’s perfect in a frosting, though! Zachary said he assumed the pink frosting had raspberries in it (an addition I’ve used in the past) in part because of the color, partly because of the flavor. It’s subtle, though, so it’s not for berry lovers only.
The consistency of this frosting is right for piping and it holds it shape well, with some cautions. First, make sure you blend the frosting long enough. It needs to fully emulsify and this takes several minutes. I found it worked better in my food processor than with beaters, but I think if I had been more patient with the beaters they would have worked as well. I wondered what was wrong with some of my frosting; it looked fine and then broke when I used it. Then I remembered Dana’s post about chocolate chip cookies and the importance of creaming the butter and sugar for a full three minutes. I can get impatient, so I do best if I time it. An unemulsified frosting can be pretty, such as this recipe, but it’s a pretty specific combination of ingredients, and the result is not a pipable frosting.
Next, keep your frosting cool. I thought I had read on one recipe that the frosting gets too hard when refrigerated, and will slide right off a cake when cut. So I kept my frosting room temperature. Well, then my kitchen got pretty hot, and the frosting got quite warm in the piping bags while I was handling it. Then it separated. Next time I’ll keep the frosting I’m working with in the fridge. A long time chilling might make the frosting hard, but I don’t think a short time in the fridge will. And I’m not sure it’s an issue anyway! I can’t find that reference that I thought I remembered. In the photographs you can see the pink and white frostings starting to separate. I was able to blend the pink again, but needed to chill it as well. The purple frosting looks much better, but I realized later I need to blend it a little longer as well. Again, make sure you blend it long enough!
The recipe from Beyond the Bite calls for lemon juice and zest as flavoring. I wanted a vanilla frosting so I chose milk and vanilla instead. There was still a sweet potato flavor and the color is not as white as I would like (I think perhaps the original recipe had some photo editing wizardry going on and my expectations were too high). When I changed up the recipe again, and used the water from cooking beets in place of the milk, as well as butter instead of shortening, the sweet potato flavor was gone, and the color was a nice pink. The purple sweet potato, with milk and vanilla again, was a lovely shade of lavender. I was disappointed that it was not as bright as these, but my potatoes did not start out that bright, either. That is an upside as well as a downside of natural colors: they vary unpredictably.
I did not make a vanilla frosting with orange sweet potatoes (that could be great for fall), but I did make a chocolate one. I’m still working on the right amount of honey and chocolate, though. Most recipes I found called for already sweetened chocolate and I wanted to work with unsweetened chocolate and honey or maple syrup.
There are also low fat versions of this recipe online. Here’s one for purple, and one for white. I assumed they would not hold up as well, but in the near future I plan to give them a try and see which I prefer. One advantage they could have is that they may not dilute the purple or orange of the sweet potatoes as much as the recipes with butter or shortening do.
Whichever option you choose, you have an interesting option for Valentine’s Day or any sweet occasion.
From Beyond the Bite Paleo
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening
1/2 cup puréed Japanese sweet potato
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
To make the sweet potato purée, peel, chop, and boil 1 medium sized Japanese sweet potato until fork tender, then place in a food processor, blending until smooth, and setting aside in a container for later use.
Back in the food processor, puree together 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening, 1/2 cup pre-pureed sweet potato, honey, sea salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest, until fully combined and creamy.
1.I used baked sweet potatoes. Make sure your potato is well drained if you boil it.
2. Be sure to blend the ingredients for several minutes. Don’t stop early, even if it looks good.
3. For a vanilla frosting use ¼ cup milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract in place of the lemon juice and zest. For pink, use the water from cooking beets in place of the lemon juice. Other fruit or vegetable waters or juices may work well. For purple/lavender frosting use purple potatoes.
Printable recipe here
Valentine’s Day is coming up. There are lots of red and chocolate goodies on store shelves, but how about a less-sweet treat made with market honey or maple syrup?
Photos by Zachary Cross
Baking with honey or maple syrup can be a challenge, or at least have a learning curve. The rewards, in addition to using a local food item, can be an increase in flavor, and some say, nutrition. But it can be a challenge to bake with honey or maple syrup because of the flavor; white sugar adds sweetness while honey and maple syrup have their own flavors to balance with other ingredients. A bigger challenge is the liquid they add to a recipe. Typically when converting a recipe that uses granulated sugar expect to use ¾ the amount of liquid sweetening.
I’ve been enjoying cooking with honey and maple syrup and wanted to expand that to a cut out cookie. Rolled and cut cookies are something I love and something that frustrates me, even with a standard sugar cookie recipe. They don’t always roll, cut out, or bake well, but they can be so pretty and fun. These days I am baking for someone who is gluten-free as well. Knowing that I had at least two factors to alter, I looked for a whole new recipe to try.
Once I found Vanilla Honey Cut-Out Cookies from Not Just Apples I realized what the key would be here: no eggs. I’ve made a similar recipe in the past: Oatmeal Cookies with a Purpose from The More With Less Cookbook. The lack of egg in these recipes makes the dough less sticky. This is especially helpful in a recipe using a liquid sweetener.
This recipe is also flexible as to the type of flour used. It calls for a combination of brown rice and buckwheat flours, but not specifying the ratio between them. I’m not a big fan of rice flour and ending up using ⅓ each cornmeal (another market ingredient!), rice flour, and buckwheat flour. The texture is a little crunchy but the flavor is a nice balance. I imagine whole wheat flour, oat flour, and other slightly coarse flours would all work well.
More important than type of flour is using the right amount. That is a little vague here, too. Use about a cup, then add more if you cannot form the dough into a ball. If you’re uncertain, start with a little less, bake one cookie, and add more flour if needed.
It’s important to chill the dough before rolling; roll small amounts at a time; and, if you want the cookies to keep their best shape, chill the cut cookies before baking. If you don’t mind the cookies spreading out a little go ahead and cook without chilling the cookies on the pan.
I used different spices than the recipe called for and made note of those changes below. I really like how the flavor combinations came out. One commenter describes this as “..a gluten-free digestive biscuit,” and it’s much like a thin shortbread. My older daughter says it would be good with a chocolate coating or frosting. While that sounds yummy, I plan to share a frosting recipe next week with a special ingredient.
from Not Just Apples
sugar free and gluten free, makes 20-24, inspired by recipes to nourish
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour (mix of buckwheat and brown rice flour)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch baking soda
1. preheat oven to 350°.
2. cream together the honey, vanilla and butter in a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand whisk or food processor.
3. stir in the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
4. using your hands, form into a ball, adding more flour if necessary.
5. place in the fridge to chill for 30 mins, if you have the time.
6. roll out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, until about 1/4 cm thick.
7. cut out with your favorite cookie cutter. place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
8. bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until starting to go golden around the edges.
9. remove from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes, then lift carefully from the paper and move to a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
10. enjoy with a cup of tea, or wrap in a pretty bag tied up with ribbon to give to someone special!
cook's notes: you can omit the cinnamon, salt and soda if you choose. or replace the cinnamon with your favorite spice, like nutmeg, clove, caraway or ginger. feel free to use your favorite flour in this recipe, ground oats or barley would work well.
Heather’s notes: I made one recipe with honey, one with maple syrup. They were each delicious in their own way. In the honey recipe I used vanilla extract and ground coriander (in place of the cinnamon). In the maple syrup recipe I used almond extract and ground cardamom. In each recipe I used baking powder in place of soda, to avoid a potential metallic flavor. The less flour you use the sweeter they will be, but the more they will spread. Frost or glaze as desired. Left out on a dry day these were crispy. I imagine humidity or storing tightly covered would make them soft.
Printable recipe here
The days have been sunny, but the nights are still chilly. Warm up with a dish made from market salmon and veggies.
Growing up, one of the cookbooks on our shelf was The Complete Family Cookbook. It’s a small binder, and probably a cookbook that came in sections in monthly installments: 15 sections in all. Its style screams late 60s/early 70s and many of its recipes do too. However, when I saw it at a swap I was overcome by nostalgia and brought it home.
I haven’t made many of the recipes in the book yet, but it’s one I turn to when I have ingredients but lack ideas for what to make for supper. On one such occasion I had salmon, and I found a recipe for Spanish salmon. I assumed it was Spanish in name only - much like Spanish rice - but the ingredients looked good, it was simple, and so I tried it. It was well received, a winner in our family.
When I decided to share this on the blog I did a little research on Spanish food. Although this recipe is Americanized, likely considering tastes and ingredient availability of the 60s, it keeps the key premises of Spanish cuisine, particularly Andalusian and Valencian.
To call a particular dish “Spanish” is a bit broad. Traditional dishes in Spain are highly regional and, as an article from The Spruce states, “Many times the only common ingredients are olive oil and garlic!” Olive oil is the one spot where this recipe really goes wrong: it calls for butter, though gives the option of “any melted fat.” As much as I love butter, olive oil is much more Spanish.
As I was reading up on Spanish cuisine I went on many tangents. For instance: Spain, of course, had lots of Muslim/Moroccan influence in its cuisine, due to its location and subsequent invasions/occupations. There are numerous itineraries and forums for Andalusian and Moroccan tours. All the reading about Andalucia reminded me of a hilarious movie: Spanish Affair. I had no idea that the regions of Spain were so distinct, culturally as well as gastronomically. Eventually I came back around to the faithfulness of the recipe.
To make the flavor of this dish more authentic, make a few changes. First, use olive oil instead of the butter. I’ve had some people comment that this recipe uses a lot of fat. The recipe is from the 60s, before obesity was epidemic nationally, so keep that in mind. Also, when you are cooking the onion and celery in the oil it seems about right. Cook it slowly to preserve the flavor of the oil. I’ve used a combination of butter and olive oil as well, especially on particularly cold, wet nights when some rich, hearty fare seems most appropriate.
Next, add more garlic, to taste, and leave the cloves in the finished dish. Think about how much you like in a recipe of similar quantities and go with that. Personally I would try three cloves to start. You can also add some heat, in the form of pepper flakes, or other forms of hot pepper. Or lean towards a milder pepper taste with paprika.
The herbs are correct for Spanish cuisine, though you could take a Moroccan bent with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and/or coriander. Go for fresh herbs and spices when you can. You may want to add more to taste as well.
In addition to making the dish more Spanish, there are some other flavor boosters. It’s nice to add some more green, besides just the parsley. I used spinach near the end of cooking, though most heartier greens would work well with the long simmering time. Keep in mind the flavor they might add to the dish and keep the quantity of stronger-tasting greens quite low.
Although I’ve made this dish many times with canned tomatoes, the last couple of times I’ve used nomato sauce. It’s not the same but still allows me to have the dish I want, without the tomatoes I cannot have right now. If you choose this option, be sure to add plenty of beet for good color contrast with the salmon.
Notes on the appearance: my photos show a recipe made with nomato sauce, spinach, and salmon cut in small pieces. Tomato sauce will be more red than orange, and a nice complement to the salmon. Also, I cut the salmon smaller than what I consider “serving size” pieces. I made mine more bite-sized, knowing that’s what my kids would prefer. It turns out that I like cooking them in larger pieces so I’ll go back to that next time and let the kids cut up their own. Also, I left the skin on my salmon. That’s how I prefer it, but feel free to cut the skin off.
I’ve included the recommended menu from the cookbook, as well as the recipe for yellow rice. I imagine the rice recipe is an approachable substitute for saffron rice. Turmeric is a great spice, though, and you may have some from market. A more authentic Valencian style rice is short grained, not long, and almonds are grown in Spain, not cashews - in case you’d like to make your dish more faithful to its origins.
However you make it (Spanish cuisine is, after all, highly regional and seasonal), enjoy its nourishing goodness on a chilly winter evening.
Photos by Zachary Cross
From The Complete Family Cookbook
Menu: Spanish Salmon
Marinated Green Bean Salad
2 pounds salmon steaks or fillets
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup butter other melted fat (I’ve used half or all olive oil)
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 crushed clove garlic
¼ tsp powdered thyme (or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves)
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp crushed oregano (or 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves)
2 tsp salt
3 cups canned tomatoes (or nomato sauce)
3 cups cooked rice (see Yellow Rice recipe)
Cut salmon in serving pieces. In a deep frying pan with a lid (I used a Dutch oven), cook onion and celery in fat until tender. Add all ingredients except fish and rice and simmer for ½ hour. Remove lemon, garlic, and bay leaf. Arrange fish in the sauce and simmer without stirring for ½ hour. Serve over cooked rice. Serves 6.
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 chicken bouillon cubes (I used stock in place of bouillon and water)
3 cups boiling water
1 ½ cups long-grain rice
2 tablespoons sugar (I did not use this)
1 teaspoon turmeric (or use 1 tablespoon grated fresh)
½ cup finely chopped cashews
½ teaspoon salt (this assumes salted bouillon and cashews, adjust as necessary)
⅛ teaspoon pepper
In a pot dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water. Blend in butter and rice. Bring to boil. Cover; reduce heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend in remaining ingredients. (I melted butter in the pot, added turmeric, pepper, and salt, then water and rice.) Recover; cook for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Serves 6.
Options, in addition to the notes in the salmon recipe:
Printable recipe here
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