Market Finds

Market Finds
Farmer's Market Bounty

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting Back To Your Roots

Last winter and fall, I was heavy into root vegetables.  Parsnips and turnips appeared in many of my dishes, from braises to soups and even raw as crudités.  Somehow, the carrot never quite made it onto a menu.  Perhaps, I have always miss-associated carrots with springtime and bunnies.  In doing this, I had missed a wonderful opportunity to use this sweet and beautifully hued vegetable in the seasons where it truly belongs. 

What better way to warm up your spirits and your belly as the weather starts to cool down, than with a bowl of my Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Cashew Soup.  Roasting the carrots, brings out the vegetable's natural sweetness and the warming spice of the ginger and red chili can be adjusted to your personal taste.  The recipe, as written below, is slightly spicy on the back end, and can be cooled down by using less chili pepper or by reducing the amount of ribs and seeds used. The cashews in this recipe provide a nice nutty undertone, but more importantly, serve as a thickening agent.  By using the nuts as a thickener rather than cream, the soup is completely vegan.

This recipe will serve 8-10 as appetizer portions or 4-6 as a main course.  Leftovers freeze beautifully and can be reheated for a quick meal on a busy weeknight.

I was very pleased with the outcome of this soup and have been enjoying it for lunch all week.  The flavor only intensifies over time, thus making it a great make-ahead dish as well.  I hope you will enjoy this soup as much as I do and remember to make every plate (or bowl), something to be passionate about.

Beautiful Raw Ingredients

Roasted Carrot, Ginger-Cashew Soup:


2 1/2 lbs. carrots, cut into one inch pieces
Non-stick cooking spray
1 teaspoon each sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup roasted cashews
2 red chilies, stems removed. Ribs and seeds removed from one pepper only
4 cloves garlic
2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 quarts vegetable broth
Optional Garnishes:
Chives, Greek Yogurt, Cilantro Leaves, Roasted Carrot "chips"

Step One:
Preheat Oven to 425 degrees.  Place carrots on a foil-lined baking sheet and coat liberally with non-stick spray and salt and pepper.  Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven until carrots are caramelized and softened.

Roasted Carrots

Step Two:
While carrots are roasting, add cashews to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not turned into a butter.  Remove from bowl and set aside.  Next pulse garlic, ginger and chilies in food processor until combined and finely minced.  Remove from bowl and set aside.

Minced Onion- Processed Ginger, Chilies and Garlic-Processed Cashews 

Make sure cashews are finely processed, but still powdery
Step Three:
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and spices and sauté till onion has softened, about three minutes.  Add the ginger mixture and continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 2-3 minutes.  Next, add cashews and stir to incorporate.

Veggies, Spices and Nuts getting friendly in the Dutch Oven
Step Four:
Add roasted carrots and vegetable stock to pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, then simmer for thirty minutes.

Ready for the vegetable stock
Step Five:
Turn off heat and carefully use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Now you are ready to garnish and serve.

Be patient and work the soup to a smooth consistency

Garnished, plated and ready for a close up!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

That Which Cooks:

One of the best parts of my job, is brainstorming with Chef Nancy over a cup of coffee, or better yet a glass of wine. When our creative juices start flowing and our ideas bounce off of one another at a furious pace, I scribble down notes at Nancy's request to "Write that down!". We come up with some of our best ideas for recipes, classes and marketing strategies and often joke that we could "save the world" during one of these sessions.  Last week we enjoyed a long overdue tete a tete at Starbucks while planning the menu for an Ayurvedic class at Cancer Wellness.  While we may not have solved all the world's problems that day, we did come up with some great recipes, based on the ancient Ayurvedic tradition.Although Ayurvedic healing has been around for thousands of years, it was indeed a new concept to me.  According to Wikipedia, Ayurvedic is an ancient Indian theory that asserts that each human possesses a unique combination of doshas (ones unique mind and body type), that define a persons temperament and characteristics. The three main doshas are as follows:

1) Vata: Space and Air, "that which move things"
2) Pitta: Fire and Water, "that which cooks"
3) Kapha: Earth and Water, "that which sticks"

Eat-Taste-Heal, by authors Yarema, Rhoda and Brannigan is a fantastic resource for aiding one in identifying his or her dosha.  Upon studying the definitions of the various doshas in this book, I have concluded that I am without a doubt a pitta.  Thus, the recipe for Cauliflower "Steak" topped with Pitta Pesto is the perfect Ayurvedic style food for my dosha. The pesto contains cooling herbs that will help to keep me balanced and  the cauliflower, as well contains properties that are beneficial to my particular dosha.

The concepts of Ayurvedic healing are indeed much more complex than the brief overview I have provided here. However, the bit of research I have done on the topic has been quite fascinating, and certainly reinforces the ideas of healthy and mindful eating that Chef Nancy and I preach to our clients on a daily basis.  To all of my fellow Pittas out there, enjoy some cooling Pitta Pesto, and remember to make every plate something to be passionate about!

Cauliflower "Steaks" with Pitta Pesto:

Cauliflower Steak Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Step one:
Remove outer leaves an tough stems from cauliflower, while leaving the vegetable intact.  Cut the head vertically from top through the stem into 1 1/2" thick "steaks". An average sized head should yield 4-5 pieces.

Step two:
Rub both sides of the cauliflower pieces evenly  with the olive oil and spices.  Place on a sheet pan coated with non-stick spray and bake at 425 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, until the vegetable is tender and nicely browned on the top.

Pitta Pesto Ingredients:
2 cups arugula
1 cup dill
1 cup cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts
Zest and juice of two lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnish: colorful assortment of sliced grape tomatoes, 2 cups

Step One:
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse once more, then serve on top of warm cauliflower steak. Garnish with an assortment of sliced grape tomatoes if desired.