Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup

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Serves four:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin powder
750 ml/3 cups water
1 cube vegetable stock
1 tsp curry powder
1 medium cauliflower, raw, broken into florets
400 g chickpeas, cooked or canned, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp cilantro, fresh

Gently sauté the onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, turmeric and cumin powder and cook, stirring, for another minute or two.

Add the vegetable stock and curry powder and bring up to the boil. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Transfer half the soup to a bowl and blend the rest until smooth. Return what has not been blended to the pan and add the cilantro. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the soup is piping hot. Season to taste.

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Vegetable Cakes

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Being away from home is a good opportunity to eat new dishes. Here is a lovely and healthy recipe for vegetable cakes we ate last night.

500g courgettes
2 red peppers
4 tomatoes
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 eggs
100g grated cheese
4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chives
salt and pepper

Dice the courgettes and the peppers. Peel, seed and dice the tomatoes.

Sauté all the vegetables in a frying pan in the olive oil for 20 minutes. Season to taste. Drain if necessary.

Beat the eggs, add the milk and grated cheese. Season too. Add the vegetable mixture.

Pour into a muffin tray and bake at 200C for 20 minutes.

Chilled Carrot Soup

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500g / 1 lb carrots
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 tsp of cumin powder
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp ketchup
salt
1 generous pinch of red flakes

To garnish:
100g fresh goat cheese
1 tbsp milk

Peel or scrub the carrots. Chop them and put them in a saucepan. Add the vegetable cube, the cilantro stalks (keep the leaves for later), the cumin powder, garlic, ginger and salt. Cover with one liter (2 cups) of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently until the carrots are tender (about 20 minutes).

Remove the cilantro stalks. Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree the soup into a smooth consistency. Add the olive oil, vinegar, ketchup, red flakes and cilantro leaves. Puree again and chill for at least a couple of hours.

Before serving mix the cheese and milk so that it has a mousse-like consistency. Put a tbsp of cheese on top of each plate of soup before serving.

Beet Tzatziki

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– 2 middle-sized raw beet, peeled
– 1 Greek yogurt or even better a French Fjørd, sour cream is possible
– lemon juice
– a handful of cashew nuts or walnuts
– 2 tsp of olive oil
– 1 tbsp parsley or drill
– salt and pepper

Grate the beets coarsely. Drizzle with lemon juice. Add back pepper to taste, and adjust salt. Stir the yogurt into the beets along with the parsley or dill. Drizzle with olive oil and add the chopped cashew nuts (or walnuts).

Steamed Vegetables

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I made this simple dish on Friday wanting something light in anticipation of a heavier Shabbat dinner.

Ingredients (per person):
– 2 small leeks
– 1 parsnip
– coarse sea salt
– olive oil

Wash and peel the parsnip. Carefully wash the leeks. Slice all vegetables coarsely. Steam for five and a half minutes for one portion, seven if you have doubled the ingredients. Once the vegetables are cooked, wait for a couple of minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.

Nice on its own but also with baked salmon.

Thai Soup with Chickpeas

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Ingredients (serves about 4 people):
I red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 red pepper
1 parsley root, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp of red curry paste
lime juice
coconut milk
1/2 can of chickpeas

Gently sauté the onion, then add the garlic. Add the vegetables after about 5 minutes. Cover with water and add the curry paste. Cover and simmer for half an hour.

When the vegetables are cooked, purée the soup until it is very smooth. Add some coconut milk to taste, 2 or 3 tablespoons of lime juice and the chickpeas. Simmer gently for another 5 minutes. Season to taste – I added a splash of soya sauce – and serve.

Option: sprinkle with chopped cilantro just before serving.

My Latest Favorite

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The title of this post is a reference to a simple dish I have been making lately. We get a lot of winter vegetables in the CSA basket at the moment and unfortunately I have little time to cook because of evening class meetings. So fast, easy and tasty is what I am cooking.

I had left a little message on Facebook asking my friends for reading suggestions. Miriam Kresh suggested A Thousand Days in Venice. The Italy-lover in me wanted to read the book so I ordered it and was delighted to find a few recipes at the end of this autobiographical novel. One for a Gratin of Leeks caught my fancy.

I slightly adapted the recipe and make it with leeks or turnips; I believe it is also great with zucchini. Here are the ingredients for two people.

1 pound of vegetables, peeled, sliced and steamed for about 7 minutes
3/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tbsp grappa or vodka, I use vodka
1 pinch grated nutmeg
black pepper, freshly cracked
fine sea salt
1/2 cup grated cheese
Olive oil

Oil a baking dish. Mix together all other ingredients but only 2/3 of the cheese. Coat evenly the vegetables with the cream mixture. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.

Root Parsley Recipes

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When I got a whole kilo of root parsley in my CSA basket last Thursday, I was not sure what to do with it. I decided to try a variation on my Easy Potato Kumara Mash recipe (incidentally the most popular post on this blog) and then searched the web for more.

Easy Potato Root Parsley Mash:
– root parsley
– the same volume of potatoes
– garlic cloves
– salt and pepper

Peel and thickly slice the vegetables. Put them in a saucepan along with the garlic and cover with water. Boil for about 20 minutes. Drain, mash and season to taste. Add a bit of olive oil or a tbsp of fresh cream.

Fried Root Parsley with Ginger:
– 2 or 3 parsley roots
– Olive oil
– 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger
– 1 tbsp of honey
– 1 tbsp of soy sauce
– fresh ground pepper

Peel and slice the roots. Steam for 6-8 minutes. Drain well.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the parsley root slices with the ginger. When they start to brow, add the honey and mix well. Add the soy sauce and the pepper just before serving.

Vegetarian Pyttipanna

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Pyttipanna is a traditional Swedish dish consisting of potatoes, onions, sausage/meat leftovers from past meals. You finely chop all ingredients and fry them in a pan, served with fried eggs and pickled beetroot. Here is my own vegetarian version.

Ingredients (per person):
– 1/2 onion
– 1 carrot, cubed
– 2-3 smallish potatoes, cubed
– 1/2 middle-sized beetroot or a small one, cooked and cubed
– 1 egg

Fry the onion, potatoes and carrots until they start to brown. Cover with a lid and turn the heat down. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of your vegetables cubes and the freshness of the ingredients you use) or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the cubed beetroot and stir the mixture. Cover for another minute or so. Add the egg and cover again until the white is slightly set but the yolk is runny. Serve immediately.

Options:
– Use fresh mushrooms instead of beets.
– The egg can also be poached separately before being added to individual plates.

Finnish version with salmon

Panzanella (Italian Summer Salad)

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Panzanella is a salad of bread and tomatoes which is popular in Tuscany and the rest of central Italy.

2 cups bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (day-old Italian or French bread works best)
2 cups ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
10 basil leaves
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for topping
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the bread in a large salad bowl, add the tomatoes, and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, as the bread absorbs the juices from the tomatoes and softens.

Slice the basil leaves into thinly. Add the cucumbers, onions, and basil to the bowl, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently to mix.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. At the last minute, add in the vinegar and mix again. Drizzle with olive oil.

Optional: for extra flavor, rub the bowl with fresh garlic before you add the other ingredients.