Sunday, October 4, 2015

Homely Celeriac Becomes Beauitful Co-Star in Beet Salad

Trimmed but not yet pared celeriac from the garden

Robert grew a patch of celeriac (also called celery-root) in the garden this year.  A 2006 NPR story by vegetable expert Jack Staub calls celeriac "the unsung frog prince of winter vegetables." It is not a pretty root--but it can be a delicious addition to fall and winter fare and it is remarkably versatile. Staub describes its flavor as a cross between celery and parsley, which is apt.  Celeriac can be boiled or roasted--essentially treated like you would any root vegetable.  But unlike most root vegetables and winter squash (potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc.) it's also great raw, which is how I used it in this salad with another root crop: beets. 

The original recipe comes from a 2004 Gourmet Magazine article, available at Epicurious. Some reviewers of the recipe claim this salad made beet lovers out of beet haters.  A few reviewers also complain that the recipe is a lot of work. The beets are roasted for about an hour and there is a fair amount of chopping involved.  The result of that effort, though, is a unique and tasty salad that's also good for you!  Since we have a bunch of celeriac still growing in the garden, I'll be looking for more ways to use it as fall unfolds. Stay tuned!

To save time, you may be tempted to skip roasting fresh beets and instead use canned.  I think that would result in a just fine salad, but the roasting takes the flavor to another level.  You might also be tempted not to cut the vegetables into matchsticks, opting for a rougher, if quicker, chop of some kind.  That might also work, but I think the time spent on cutting into matchsticks makes these two root vegetables great co-stars and is worth the few minutes it takes.  A sharp knife (thanks, Robert!) is very helpful for this recipe!

I, of course, added honey to the dressing--and humbly suggest that the honey should earn a best supporting ingredient award. Scroll past the salad photo for the recipe!

Raw celeriac turns a lovely pink when paired with roasted beets in this salad.
Celeriac & Beet Salad
4 medium beets, top greens trimmed off and beets well-washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound celeriac, trimmed and peeled 
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley 
Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place beets on a piece of foil large enough to enclose beets entirely.  Drizzle the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over beets, sprinkle with salt and wrap the foil around the beets.  Place package in a pan in case the packet leaks and roast the beets for about an hour--or until they're completely tender.  Remove the beets from the oven and let them steam in the package until they're cool enough to handle.

While the beets roast, slice the celeriac into matchsticks about 1/8 inch thick and 1 or 1 1/2 inches long.  You can save time by cutting the celeriac into thin slices, stacking the slices and then making the matchsticks.  Place the cut celeriac and chopped onions into a bowl &  drizzle the honey over them.  Toss with your hands so that the honey coats the matchsticks.  This will prevent the celeriac from browning too much while you wait for the beets to cool. Place the lemon juice, oil, salt & pepper in a jar, secure the lid tightly, and shake the bejeebers out of it to emulsify the dressing. (You could also do this in a small food processor.)  Pour the dressing over the celeriac and toss to coat.  Cover the bowl while you wait for the beets to cool.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip the peels off and cut them into matchsticks. Place them in the bowl with the dressed celeriac.  Toss and watch the celeriac turn into a lovely pink color.  If you're serving right away, taste for seasoning (may need more lemon juice or salt or pepper--or honey!) and then sprinkle the parsley on top.  I think this salad benefits from sitting around a day to let the flavors meld.  Can be served cold or at room temperature.

If you want to guild the lily--or make a bigger salad--you could add an apple also sliced into matchsticks.  A tablespoon or so of grated ginger would also be nice.  Other variations could include orange juice instead of lemon juice with a teaspoon or so of grated orange peel to boost the flavor.

This recipe makes 8 servings. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Deconstructed Spring Roll Salad

I'm a big fan of the fresh spring rolls that you can get at Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. They aren't as hard to make as they look (though mine are not the works of art that the professionals make). I had some left over spring roll ingredients recently and decided to turn them into a salad to pack in my lunch.  I could hardly wait to dig into it!  
Deconstructed Spring Roll Salad 

1/3 package of bean thread noodles (I used Dynasty, comes in a 5.29 oz package), soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, drained and chopped.
1 whole carrot, grated
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1/8 cup chopped basil
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup baby spinach (or flat leaf torn in bite-size pieces)
1/8 cup chopped peanuts
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Toss the soaked and chopped bean threads with the grated carrot, cucumber, basil, cilantro and spinach.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.  Taste and correct seasoning.  It may need a bit more soy sauce, a drizzle of honey, some more vinegar.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. If you make in the morning by lunch time, the spinach will wilt a bit.  Makes one very generous serving.

You can play around with the ingredients--add some avocado, bean sprouts or chopped zucchini would be nice; lettuce could replace the spinach; sunflower seeds instead of peanuts; tofu or other protein would also be great!

Friday, September 18, 2015

I came out of blog retirement to make this apple kuchen with honey!

David Tanis's (New York Times) Apple Kutchen with Honey
Dearest Blog Readers (all three of you! Thanks Mom & Dad and Jarrett!),
I know it's been ages since I've posted to this blog.  Work and life got busy and the blog got put on a back burner.  I hope that this post is the start of more in the future.  I'm an ardent follower of the New York Times food page and heartily recommend their Cooking website, which is often the first place I search when looking for a recipe.  They recently added the option of commenting on the recipes and you can even link their recipes in Evernote as a way ot keep all recipes organized.

In any event, a recent recipe by David Tanis for Apple Kuchen with Honey is what drew me out of blog slacking.  We had friends from out of town and I wanted to make something that would be nice for dessert but could also fill in for breakfast, too.  This one did the trick!  It looks fancy, but isn't that difficult to make.  I will say, though, that the cooking time in the original recipe is way underestimated.  I baked this nearly twice as long as the original recipe called for.  I used some lovely and large apples McConnell's Farm and only needed two (though the original recipe calls for three).  It keeps for several days if you wrap it well!

Apple Kuchen with Honey 

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (plus a tablespoon for sprinkling on top)
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs, room temperature 
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) chopped crystallized (candied) ginger (optional)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 large apples, peeled, cored and quartered

For the glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (this lower temperature insures that the honey won't burn).  Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan (if you have a spring form pan, that's even better!).

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and suger together until light and fluffy.  Add the honey and whip for 1 minute.  Stir in the gingers and lemon peel.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together then add to the bowl, mixing quickly.  The batter will be stiff.  Spread into the prepared pan.

With a sharp knife, make 1/8th inch slices in the apples--but don't go all the way through so that they hold their shape. Arrange the quarters on top of the batter in a nice, pleasing circle, with one quarter in the center.  If using a spring form pan, place it on a cookie sheet to catch any drips and put in the oven.  Though the recipe claims it should bake for 45 minutes, mine took about an hour and twenty minutes--but check after 45 minutes and keep checking until a knife or toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.  (If it looks like the cake is browning too much and still isn't done, you can tent it with aluminum foil to stop the browning.) Cool on a rack.

For the glaze:  Put the sugar, honey and lemon juice in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until it bubbles and the sugar melts--about two minutes.  Brush (or spoon) over the cooled cake. It's ready to serve after glazing, but keeps for several days if well wrapped.  The honey actually helps to preserve it!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats


These couldn't be simpler--or more delicious!  There are lots of ways you can play around with them, too. The original recipe came from the Vegetarian Times.  I followed it pretty closely, adding just a sprinkle of kosher salt when I mixed in the rice cereal.  Next time, I might add an extra cup of cereal and, perhaps, a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract to bump up the flavor.  I also put the dish in the fridge for awhile to harden a bit.  The recipe calls for almond butter, which I think makes them very special.  Peanut butter or another nut butter would work as well.

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats
1/2 cup almond butter
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 cups crispy rice cereal (I used brown rice cereal--and next time I'll add at least 4 cups)
pinch of salt

Grease an 8x8 square baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large pan, combine the almond butter, honey and chocolate chips over medium low flame, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted--about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the cereal and a pinch of salt and stir to thoroughly combine the cereal with the chocolate mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares. (I found it helped to refrigerate them for about 30 minutes after they cooled.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Savory Honey Beer Bread

Our favorite beekeeper, Steve Repasky joined us for dinner on Saturday.  Steve is a Master Beekeeper, the owner of Meadow Sweet Apiaries and the President of Burgh Bees (check out their new and improved website!).  Steve is also working on his first book, Swarm Essentials, which should be out soon--or at least in time for the next swarm season!  I'll be sure to let everyone know when it's out.

Steve is also a beer lover, which is why I tried this recipe out for his visit.  The recipe comes from a New York Times article about wheat berries.  The article stresses that sifting the flour makes for a much lighter loaf.  We had only a little whole wheat flour on hand, so I fiddled with the original recipe a bit. The rosemary adds a lovely aroma to the bread but doesn't overpower it. There's a slight hint of sweetness, but this is very much a quick, savory bread.  

Savory Honey Beer Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon (yes! tablespoon!) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces beer (lager)
Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Stir the honey and melted butter together and add them to the flour with the beer. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan, tap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air holes and bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean--about 50 minutes.  Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  It's great toasted the next day, too!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zucchini Honey Cupcakes with Honey-Cream Cheese Icing

I can't quite claim that these cupcakes are health food--but it's safe to say that these cupcakes are at least better for you  most other cupcakes.  They're made with olive oil and honey and they're delicious!  Delicate, not-too-sweet, and  very satisfying.  The original recipe comes from a July 2006 issue of Gourmet Magazine, now available here on Epicurious.

I will confess that initially, Robert was not ecstatic about these cupcakes.  That might have something to do with the fact that he grabbed one before it had time to cool and ate it without any frosting. They were a little greasy when they first came out of the oven, but once they cooled (and even after after two days!) they were moist and delicious.  Lots of baked goods made with honey taste better the next day--and the honey helps to keep baked goods fresh. 

Zucchini Honey Cupcakes 
1/3 cup crystallized ginger (about 1 3/4 oz.), coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon (or orange) zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (I used 1 medium-sized zucchini that seemed to be perfect)
3/4 cup mild olive oil
3/4 cup mild honey
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with liners.  In a food processor, pulse the crystallized ginger until it's finely ground.  Add flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt, baking soda and baking powder to bowl of food processor and pulse to combine.  In a medium bowl, whisk the zucchini, oil, honey, eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined--don't over mix.  Spoon the batter in the muffin cups, filling no more than 1/2 full so that they don't burst over the sides.  You should have enough for 18 regular-sized cupcakes.  Bake for about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting with Honey-Cream Cheese Icing.  Don't frost if you're not eating them right away.

Honey-Cream Cheese Icing
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened 
2-4 tablespoons honey (according to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
Beat the cream cheese until very smooth.  Add 2 tablespoons of the honey and the vanilla and beat until well blended.  Taste.  Add some more honey if you'd like the icing to be sweeter.  Should make enough for 18 cupcakes.   


Friday, September 27, 2013

Quinoa "Tabouleh"

This lovely salad is a riff on the Middle Eastern dish, tabouleh, which is traditionally made with bulgur, a cereal made from wheat groats. Instead of bulgur, I used quinoa in this recipe. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed that can be used like rice (or bulgur!).  Quinoa has been gaining in popularity because it is high in protein and quite tasty.  You can find white, black and red quinoa on most grocery store shelves these days.  I used red in this dish.  Looking for more quinoa recipes?  Check out these previous posts: Quinoa Pilaf and Quinoa, Red Pepper and Black Bean Salad.

Quinoa "Tabouleh"
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup fresh flat parsley leaves, chopped
3 celery ribs, 1/4 inch diced
3-4 green onions, 1/4 inch slices (include green parts!)
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (optional, but nice! I used dried cherries. Apricots or mangoes would also be nice)
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup roasted chopped almonds (unsalted)--walnuts, sunflower seeds or cashews would also work.

If it hasn't been pre-rinsed, then place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse with water for a minute or so.  In a sauce pan, combine water and quinoa with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover pan, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until water is absorbed.  You'll know the quinoa is done when the white spiral-like germ of the seed becomes visible. Spoon into a bowl, fluff and let cool to room temperature.  When the quinoa is cool, add the parsley, celery, onions and dried fruit and toss to combine.  In a small bowl or jar, whisk (or shake) the lemon juice, oil, honey, salt & pepper until well-combined.  Pour over the quinoa and toss to combine.  Sprinkle top with nuts (or stir in if you prefer).  Makes about 8 servings as a side dish.