Autumn Red Curry Stew

Often I am accused of being a person who doesn’t like to take risks, heights and motorcycles being at the top of the list. But when it comes to the kitchen, something inside me takes over and there is a brashness that even I sometimes find surprising. Which is why when we had friends over for dinner one evening, I decided to make a dish I had created in my head, but had never made before. On a wing and a prayer, I had my fingers crossed this would be successful, and after three helpings, I think it was!

For our vegetarian guests, this was perfect. To boot, I took it one step further (because you just never know), it’s also gluten-free and vegan. Every season has its veggies and this time of year it’s cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and carrots, among others. I saw the most gorgeous orange cauliflower at the co-op last week and just had to have it. Unfortunately, it was $2.99 a pound, not a head, as I had thought the sign said, but it was worth the money. The carrots and sweet potato rounded out the orange-colored vegetables.

Carrots and sweet potatoes await.

The carrots and sweet potatoes await.

Helpful Kitchen Tip: Instead of ordinary white or brown rice, serve this over basmati or jasmine rice for some extra flavor–or make coconut rice! I just add a little bit of coconut milk to the water when the rice starts to get plump and a couple of tablespoons of shredded coconut when it is done cooking. If you have fresh ginger on hand, a teaspoon or so minced would be fabulous! 

I love Thai food, so I thought making a mixture of red curry paste and coconut milk would meld well with the veggies, beans, and tomatoes. The warmth of the curry and the slight sweetness of the potatoes complemented each other in a comforting mixture. Served over coconut rice, this was a perfect early fall dish that satisfied veggie and meat eaters alike!

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Autumn Curry Stew
I wanted this to be a bit more of a stew, but found the tomatoes didn’t add as much liquid as I had thought. If you want a little more liquid, add a little bit of water until you get the consistency you like. Also, I found this terribly bland; adding some salt to taste made a big difference.

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot chopped–or about ¼-½ cup onion (preferably red)
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 14.5 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can coconut milk
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
3 teaspoons red curry paste (or 2 teaspoons if you want to take the heat down a notch)
Salt, to taste

1. In a Dutch oven, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute the garlic and onions until soft, about 3 minutes or so.

2. Add the sweet potatoes and carrots. Cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes. They should be starting to get somewhat soft, but not mushy.

3. Stir in the cauliflower. Add the beans and tomatoes and bring the pot to a low simmer. If need be, add some water if the stew looks dry.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, soy sauce, and curry paste. Add to the stew and mix.

5. Dinner is ready when the veggies are soft, but still firm. This took about 30 minutes from start to finsih. Serve over rice.

Farmer’s Market Vegetable Soup

"Red sky in morning, sailors take warning."

“Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

It’s been ages since I’ve brought you, and even made, a soup. But the weather is turning to fall and getting cooler, so last weekend it was time to pull out my pot and make a delicious soup of just local vegetables!

Zucchini and summer squash are still plentiful this time of year as are delicious tomatoes. This was one of those chop, add, and stir soups. It doesn’t take a lot of time and is very healthy–and gluten-free for those readers who need it to be!

Helpful Kitchen Tip: I just diced my tomatoes and added to the pot, but doing this, you’ll sometimes get some tomato skin in the soup. I don’t mind that, but if you want to remove the skins before adding them to the soup, just take a sauce pan, fill it with water, and bring it to a boil. With a paring knife, cut out the core and make an “X” on the bottom of the tomato. Add the tomato to the boiling water for less than a minute. Remove it  from the water with a slotted spoon and set on a plate. Take your paring knife and the skins should just slide off. If you want to freeze fresh tomatoes, this is the method to use!

I added a little bit of quinoa to my soup and I thought if want it more on the heartier side, beans and/or leftover chicken would be great additions. While I only used one cup of water because the squash and tomatoes lent some additional liquid, add extra if you need it; I prefer my soups to be less on the “brothy” side.

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This soup is incredibly versatile; you can use all zucchini or all summer squash if that’s what you have on hand. If you don’t have kale, use spinach or Swiss chard, or leave it out. This made four big servings for lunch.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 zucchini, diced
1 summer squash, diced
1 large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup of water or chicken broth
4-5 kale or Swiss chard leaves, chopped (or substitute a cup or two of chopped spinach)
½ cup of quinoa (or beans or chicken or all three, if you prefer)
Parmesan or Romano cheese for sprinkling on top (optional)

1. In a soup pot, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft.

2. Add the zucchini, summer squash, and tomato. Stir and cook. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer.  Add the kale or spinach leaves. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes on low heat. If needed, add more liquid.

3.  Stir in the quinoa.

4. Add the cheese right before serving, if using.

Portobello “Pizza”

One day on my walk I can’t see because it’s so humid outside the sweat is dripping off my brow into my eyes. The next I’m contemplating turning the heat on because it’s so chilly. Welcome to September in Vermont, one day you can’t breath it’s so hot, and the next you’re digging around for a sweater and turning on the oven to warm the kitchen!

In full admission, this recipe is a total knockoff of something I saw in the vegetable section of the supermarket one night after work. Big portobello mushrooms made into pizzas! I thought what a smart idea, then decided to make my own healthier version one chilly night.

Helpful Kitchen Tip: I made my sauce from a low-salt tomato sauce because I wanted something a bit lighter than regular spaghetti sauce (I also didn’t have any at home). But if you have that on hand, by all means use it and ignore the instructions to make the sauce. 

These are so easy, and a gluten- and carb-free way of making pizza. And it’s perfect on those nights you want a light dinner. I served it with some sautéed Swiss chard and a salad, but thought some grilled polenta on the side would be equally perfect.

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Portobello “Pizza”
While I added onions to this, play around with whatever toppings you like on your own pizza!

1 8 oz. can low-salt tomato sauce
Dried oregano
Dried basil
Salt and pepper
4 portobello mushrooms
Finely chopped onion
Mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, add the tomato sauce, and oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to taste.

3. Take each mushroom, remove the stem, and with a small spoon, carefully scrape the gills to remove and place them in a baking dish, bottom side facing up.

4. Spoon a little bit of tomato sauce on to each mushroom. Add a little bit of the chopped onion or your toppings of choice. Top with cheese and sprinkle some additional oregano and/or crushed red pepper on top. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

A Potluck Savior

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Hello, September.

Even though I love to cook, that doesn’t mean time is always on my side. And just because we’re past Labor Day weekend doesn’t mean you won’t be invited to a potluck supper or tailgate football party in the near future. When I am invited to a gathering and asked to bring a dish but I don’t have time to delve into my cookbooks to find that special something, I fall back on my potluck savior, Deviled Eggs. Almost everyone likes them and I guarantee you will go home with just your plate!

I usually think of these eggs as a summer dish, but you honestly can make them year-round for any get together–and I have. And making these are easy and includes three main ingredients: eggs, mustard, and mayonnaise, with a dash of salt and pepper and some paprika on top. The most time-consuming part is the boiling of the eggs!

Helpful Kitchen Tip: If you want to be a bit more upscale with your eggs, add a couple dashes of curry powder or some snipped chives to the filling. And if you want them to look extra special, place the mixed yolks into the corner of a plastic bag, snip off the end so you have a make-shift piping bag (like one used for frosting), and add the yolks to the egg whites in a fancy rosette!

Instructions:

Step 1. Take a Dutch oven and fill it with water. Put in as many fresh eggs as you would like, I usually make a dozen, and make sure all the eggs are covered with water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook at a simmer for about 15 minutes. When done, drain the eggs in a colander, place them back in the pot, and continue to flush with fresh, cold water until the eggs are cooled. From here, you can either make the eggs or set them in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready for Step 2.

Step 2: Carefully peel the shell off of each egg and place them in a bowl. With a sharp paring knife, slice each egg in half vertically, placing the egg white on a platter and the egg yolk in a separate bowl.

Step 3: Take a fork and mash the egg yolks until all are broken. Add a little bit of mayonnaise to the yolks, mix, then add a little bit of mustard (Dijon or yellow). I keep alternating these bit by bit until I have the right consistency as well as the right flavor. (I always use more mustard than mayonnaise.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4: With a teaspoon or with the plastic bag method noted above, fill each egg white with a bit of the yolk and continue until they are all equally divided. Sprinkle some paprika powder (I like the hot Hungarian for some heat) over the egg yolks and voilà! Your appetizer is ready for company!

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