Cold Cucumber Buttermilk Soup

I’m growing these delightful pickling cucumbers, and boy do they grow fast! This is a quick refreshing soup for brunch, lunch, or dinner.

1 lb cucumbers*
2/3 Cup buttermilk
2 springs fresh tarragon
3 springs fresh dill
salt and pepper

*If you are using a thin skinned cucumber like small pickling cukes or fresh english cucumbers, you can leave the skin on. If you’re getting those thick, waxy skinned ones at the grocery store, peel them. Those skins just don’t have the right texture.

Put the cucumbers and herbs in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add buttermilk and salt and pepper to taste. Blend 2 pulses. Chill. Serve the same day.

You can serve this in a martini glass or other fun glass with chilled shrimp or lump crab or lobster on the side. Very fancy cocktail party food!

Sweet Potato Tostadas

Sweet potatoes are pretty much my favorite root. I like making savory dishes with them to help deconstruct the marshmallow casserole culture. I also like serving creamy foods over crunchy foods, which means we eat a lot of tostadas of different sorts. And they are pretty and fun to eat.

For the base:
You can either buy fried tostada shells or make your own from corn tortillas. I brushed a few soft corn tortillas with oil and baked them until crispy. You can brush them with flavor infused oil, like garlic oil or chili oil or use regular vegetable oil and sprinkle with cumin and chili powder. Bake at 375 F for about 10 minutes. ** Put them on parchment paper to prevent sticking and keep char off the tortilla and your pan.

For the sweet potatoes:
1 potato makes 3 tostadas. I bake all of mine when I pick them up from the CSA and keep them in the fridge to use throughout the week.

Mash the peeled sweet potatoes with taco seasoning. Heat through.

 

Pick some fun toppings:

salsa verde, crumbled queso blanco or white cheddar, avocado cubes, chorizo chunks, chopped cilantro, olives

Try it with a poached egg as a brunch tostada!

Green Curry Lentil Crepes with Yogurt Sauce

This is a fun entree or party food. The crepes are dryer and more sturdy than french crepes and can stand up to being a finger food.

For the Crepes:
1 C brown rice flour
1 C tapioca flour
4 eggs
1/2 C rice milk
plenty of pepper
1 tsp salt

Mix these in a blender. Scrape the sides of the blender pitcher and blend again to remove lumps and fully incorporate all the flour.

Heat crepe pan or skillet to medium high. Oil the skillet with a high temperature friendly oil like sesame, grape seed, or coconut oil. Pour about 1/3 C batter onto pan and rotate quickly to make a thin layer of batter over crepe pan. Flip when the crepe looks dry. If your crepes are thin enough, you do not need to cook them on both sides.

For the Curry Lentil Filling:
2 Cups cooked lentils, drained and rinse
2 TB green curry powder or paste
2 handfuls baby spinach

In a food processor, blend the lentils with the curry seasoning. Green curry is a blend of chili powder, green chili, ginger, garlic, cumin, lemongrass, and salt. You can make your own or buy a mix. There are many good green curry blends made from organic and fair trade spices.

Heat seasoned lentil mash over medium heat, stirring frequently. When it is heated through, remove from heat and stir in spinach. The spinach will wilt into the lentil mash. It may be easier to add the spinach in batches rather than all at once.

For the Yogurt Sauce:
I really cheated on this one. I just blended 1/3 C plain yogurt with a few squirts sriracha. You can use chili powder and salt to season your yogurt if you ran out of sriracha. But you should probably just go get more sriracha.

To Assemble:
Fill crepes with 3 TB lentil and spinach curry mix. Roll tight. Either cut into finger-food length and serve with yogurt on the side as a dipping sauce OR leave the crepes long and drizzle yogurt sauce over them for an entree presentation.

Nacho Greens and Pigeon Peas

In the South, we eat Collard Greens on January 1st to bring us wealth in the new year. I would prefer tacos. So I made collard greens into tacos. You can put it atop nacho chips, in taco shells, over Spanish rice, as pepper stuffing, rolled into a burrito or enchilada, and so much more.

1 bunch collard greens, washed very well
12 oz cook and drained pigeon peas (canned are easy to find in the Hispanic foods or Caribbean foods section of your market)
12 oz green chile and tomatillio salsa
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chile powder
3+ cloves minced garlic

I make green chile and tomatillo salsa with peppers from my garden. You can buy a prepared salsa verde or make a quick one by combining 1 cup each chopped green chiles, white onions, and tomatillos with 3 TB white vinegar, juice of 1 lime, and salt and pepper to taste.

For the nacho greens:
After collards are well washed, roll and chiffonade cut them so they are as thin as possible. Cut to the bottom of the leaf. The stalks are not used in this dish. Save them for a veggie pie or crudite. I give my collard stems to the dogs.

Place greens in a large skillet or wok with vinegar and citrus juice. Heat pan on medium. Put lid over the greens to help them wilt. They will cook down considerably.

Add salsa and seasonings. Stir fry to coat greens. Add pigeon peas and turn heat to low. Cover and let heat through 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

I like this served with avocado cubes and Jalepeno Tabasco sauce.

Herbed Mushroom and Potato Kebabs

If you can fight the pollen, get outside and cook! Veggies are more fun on a skewer. Try this simple side dish with your grass fed steaks.

1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, cleaned, halved, and parbolied
8 oz baby bella mushrooms
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1/4 Cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Parboil the potatoes to soften, about 7 minutes. They won’t grill very well unless they are mostly cooked. A knife should just go into them, not cause them to crumble apart. Drain them well and let cool.

Toss mushrooms, potatoes, herbs, oil, salt, and pepper to coat well. Skewer on either metal kebab skewers or soaked wooden skewers. Grill 3 minutes on each side until tasty grill marks form. Handle carefully with tongs.

Place skewers on a HOT grill for quick cooking to prevent dryness

Cooks Tip on Skewers: Soak wooden skewers 20+ minutes in cold water before adding food to them. This will reduce the chance they will catch on fire. However, they will still probably char significantly if you have flare-ups. Burning skewers tend to allow food to all through the grill. Not delicious.

Wild Mayan Nacho Sauce

This is a fabulous cheese-free nacho recipe that all cheese lovers will appreciate. Take some super yum baked sweet potato and turn it into “cheese” sauce. Here’s how!

I made a huge tray of Nachos!

1 baked sweet potato, skin removed
1 Cup nutritional yeast
2/3 Cup filtered water
hot sauce to taste

Whisk together over medium heat until smooth. Let come to a soft bubble. Pour hot nacho sauce over any Latin delight.

My fav combo is seasoned black beans, tomatillo salsa, Wild Mayan Sauce, and chopped avocado– pictured above. This is also a great topping for bake enchiladas, toastadas, or to use as a “cheese” dip. It goes so well with black beans and looks beautiful.

Split Lentil Crepes with Dijon Sauce

There are tons of ways to make crepes without using regular flour. Beans, legumes, and peas make a great protein source and bind crepes together splendidly. Add grilled chicken and asparagus for a perfect high-protein, high-fiber meal.

For the crepes:

1 1/2 Cups split lentils (any color will do, I like red lentils)
1 1/2 Cups filtered water
5 eggs
1/2 Cup rice flour
3 TB herbs (tarragon or herbs de provence are delicious with the mustard sauce)
1 tsp salt
1 TB black pepper

Soak lentils in water in your blender for about 30 minutes. Add eggs, flour, and herbs. Blend until smooth.

Heat crepe pan with olive oil or butter. Swirl batter through pan to thinly coat. Cook 3 minutes then flip and cook for 2 minutes. This batter will make about 12 crepes.

Crepes can be made ahead and frozen or refrigerated. Reheat in the oven covered.

Dijon Sauce

2 TB rice flour
2 TB olive oil
2/3 Cup water

4 TB Dijon mustard
3 TB red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon

Make a roux with the oil and flour. Add liquids and mustard. Whisk rapidly. Serve immediately.

Tandoori Style Chicken

This is another recipe I like to use dark meat for. Legs are easy to handle and are the perfect portion for little ones. Also, our farmer’s market recently introduced a new lower-waste packaging design for local legs and wings.

Served with Lentils and Cabbage Salad

Marinade for 4 pieces of chicken:

1/3 Cup plain yogurt
1 tsp each ground coriander, cumin, fresh grated ginger, chili powder, salt, black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Whisk marinade in a bowl large enough to hold chicken. Mix well. The salt is very important in this marinade. It helps the meat soak up the marinade much like when brining chicken.

Score chicken pieces with a sharp knife. Coat chicken in marinade and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Chicken can soak for up to 6 hours.

To Cook:

Set broiler to high. Heat cast iron skillet on stove top on high heat. Add a little olive or vegetable oil to the pan. Just before oil smokes, add chicken pieces. Do not shake off marinade.

Spoon marinade over chicken carefully to avoid popping or splashing. Let chicken cook without turning for 5 minutes. Transfer skillet full of chicken to broiler for 15 minutes or until pieces are cooked through. Use a middle rack and keep your broiler closed. This creates a very hot oven without putting the chicken too close to the heat source.

** Tandoori Chicken in an Indian restaurant is usually red. If you wish to add food coloring to the marinade, go for it.

7 Layer Dip

Everyone likes layer dip. It’s easy to make for any party. It’s great to make the day before and let rest in the fridge over night for more intense flavor.

We started eating it and forgot to photograph it... again!

1 Cup cooked pinto beans
3 TB taco seasoning (recipe follows)
4 oz chopped green chilies
2 avocados, sliced thin
lime juice
1/2 Cup chopped black olives
8 oz salsa
8 oz sour cream
8 oz shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack

Layer 1: Place pintos and taco seasoning in your food processor. Blend to creamy. If the mixture seems a little dry, add a little lime juice to thin it out.

Layer 2: Spread chopped green chilies over beans.

Layer 3: Arrange avocado slices over chilies. Sprinkle with salt and lime juice.

Layer 4: Add black olives over avocado.

Layer 5: Spread out salsa

Layer 6: Spread out sour cream

Layer 7: Sprinkle over shredded cheese

Serve with chips, crackers, veggies, or anything that will scoop this out. Like a spoon!

You can use store bought taco seasoning, but it may contain gluten, fillers, chemicals, or non-food ingredients. Weird!

Taco Seasoning

2 parts chili powder

1 part cumin

1 part oregano

1 part garlic powder

1 part onion powder

1 part paprika

1/2 part salt

(1/2 part cayenne for HOT taco mix)

Shake together in a jar and store in a cool, dry, and dark place. Seasonings keep for 4 months.

Sweet and Sour Chicken, Pork, or Tofu

Sweet and Sour is very very easy. Anything can be made with the method- any protein and any veggie. Also, a gluten-free tempura batter is simple and traditional. Gluten-free limits breaded and fried at most restaurants. Here is how to get the ultimate crisped meaty pieces with minimal effort.

Sweet n Sour Chicken over Brown Rice

For the chicken, pork, tofu, or tempura veggies:

Cut 1 lb of chicken, pork, or tofu into equal sized pieces. If using shrimp, medium shrimp are best. Having all the pieces the same size will give you an even cooking time and proper bite sizes. You can also batter and fry broccoli florets, sweet potato cubes, onion rings, zucchini chunks, or other veggies for a soy-free vegan version.

Make a tempura batter from

1/2 Cup corn starch

1/2 Cup rice flour

3/4 Cup filtered water

1/2 tsp salt

cayenne pepper to taste

This should coat at least 1 lb of meat or tofu. Veggies tend to hold batter in their crevasses– see broccoli florets– so you may want to do 50% more batter if you are tempura frying veggies. Also, since this is a very fun meal for guests, try doubling it to feed tons of people!

I fry in sesame oil or peanut oil. Sesame oil has a lower smoking temperature. A blend of the two will give you the best flavor. Sesame is fine to use by itself or with another veggie oil if peanut allergens are a concern. Heat about 1 inch of oil in your wok. Test the oil for readiness by putting a drop of batter into the oil. It should fry up crisp very quickly. Also, you can put the handle of a wooden spoon in your oil. Bubbles will form around it when the oil is hot enough.

Carefully add your battered meat or veg, about 6-8 pieces at a time depending on the size of your wok. Do not crowd the food. Let fry on one side for about 3 minutes until GBD (golden brown delicious). Flip food for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a towel to drain. Repeat until all battered meat and veggies are GBD.

For the sweet and sour:

2 bell peppers (I like red), sliced

1, 14 oz can of fair trade pineapple chunks, liquid drained and reserved

3/4 Cup rice vinegar

3 TB corn starch

soy sauce to taste

Mix rice vinegar, corn starch, and pineapple juice together. Set aside.

Drain off extra oil from wok. Toss in bell peppers and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add pineapple chunks. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add liquid mixture and stir fry for 3 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Toss in cooked tempura meat or veggies. Coat well. Serve over rice.

If the red color you see in restaurants is important to you, you can use a veggie based food coloring or beet juice to color your sauce.

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