Black Bean-Brown Rice Veggie Loaf

I have recently started listening to podcasts while I cook each week. As I mentioned before, I am a slow adopter to technology, and have been pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to download a podcast to my phone, pop my phone into my pocket, pop my earbuds into my ears, and cook away while getting edu-muh-cated. So I’ve recently been listening to several episodes of the TED Radio Hour during my Sunday cook-up.

Since cooking is such a sensory experience — taste, smell, vision, and even hearing (sizzling butter, for example) — I thought The Five Senses sounded appealing. The blurb about the episode summarized: “… TED speakers explore how our brains make sense of sensation, and how our minds manufacture ‘reality.'”  I was particularly captivated by the segment “How Can Going Blind Give You Vision” by Isaac Lidsky, who gradually went blind at 25 due to a genetic disease that caused the cells in his retina to die-off. Here is an excerpt of his talk that I found especially insightful:

… What we see is not universal truth. It is not objective reality. What we see is a unique, personal, virtual reality that is masterfully constructed by our brain. … Sight is an illusion. For instance, a landmark appears farther away if you’re wearing a heavy backpack. … You create your own reality and you believe it. … Sight is just one way we shape our reality. We create our own realities in many other ways.

Let’s take fear as just one example. Your fears distort your reality. Psychologists have a great term for it: “awful-izing.” Fear replaces the unknown with the awful. … [Since I began confronting my fears], whenever I feel afraid, I ask myself, “What precisely is my problem? And what precisely can I do about it?”

… Going blind taught me to see. It’s a learned discipline. Choose what reality you want to live for yourself. Hold yourself accountable for every moment, thought, detail. See beyond your fears — they are your excuses, rationalizations, shortcuts, justifications. Your surrender. Choose to see through them. Choose to let them go. *You* are the creator of your reality. With that empowerment, comes great responsibility.

He concludes his talk by describing the reality he chose to build — rather than a life that was ruined by going blind, he “built a blessed life.” He describes how going blind helped him learn to see. And finished with Helen Keller’s quote, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision.”

As I listened, I reflected on times in my life I have felt fear. I’m not sure when I became so afraid of failing that I wouldn’t attempt anything new, but this fear presented itself frequently during my years in culinary school, and it was almost paralyzing for me. If I didn’t know how to do something (and there was a LOT I didn’t know how to do), I would convince myself I couldn’t, and would call for rescue before making any attempts. I’ll never forget the night in 2nd Year Dinners when I looked at the “to do” list I had been assigned, and hearing the familiar voices of doubt telling me, “You’ll never finish all of that.” Surprisingly, a new, little tiny voice peeped up and encouraged, “Why don’t you just try?” So I did. And what do you know, I finished the “to do” list. I overcame fear that night … and in the coming shifts throughout my career as a chef … and found a new reality of “I’m capable.”

I won’t lie — to this day, I still feel the initial hesitations of fear when starting unfamiliar tasks. I usually start my “to do” list with the things I don’t want to do (which are usually because I don’t know how). I find that I have the most energy at the beginning of the day, so I schedule the things I don’t want to do at the beginning, and I always hear that same little voice encourage, “OK … let’s just try to get this done and see what happens.” Once I start, I almost always finish the tasks, and they are almost never as hard as I fear they might be.  I think that’s why I resonated with the podcast — especially the “awful-izing” and the distortion to reality that fear can cause.

I recently read an article describing seven things people do who are effective at getting tasks accomplished.  The first tip is to start your day by “eating a frog.”  The article went on to explain the origin of the phrase: “Mark Twain famously said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Your frog is your worst task, and you should do it first thing in the morning.”

I never thought of it from that perspective, but that works as a motivator, too.  Speaking of eating … this week, rather than making veggie burgers, I tried a veggie loaf for Mr. Batch. Not too different from Black Bean-Brown Rice Veggie Burgers … just shaped and baked differently:

Black Bean-Brown Rice Veggie Loaf

6 portions

Cook the brown rice:

  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup salsa — I used Trader Joe’s brand “Salsa Autentica”

In 2-quart (or larger) high-sided pot, bring water, salt and salsa to a boil and add rinsed rice. Bring back to a boil, then down to a low simmer and cover pot.  Cook for 35 – 40 minutes. Taste-test for tenderness at end of cooking time — may need another 5 minutes of cooking.

Once tender, pull off heat but leave pot covered for 10 minutes. Then remove cover and fluff with a fork. Allow rice to cool.

Make the veggie loaf:

Preheat oven to 350-F

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup salsa — I used Trader Joe’s brand “Salsa Autentica”

Mix together beans and salsa in a large bowl. Push off to one side. Add cooled cooked brown rice.

  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen corn kernels that I thawed, but you could use drained, canned corn)
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stir ingredients together and taste — for seasoning of salt & pepper, as well as for salsa. If so desired, adding remaining 1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s brand “Salsa Autentica” so that you use-up the entire jar.

  • 2/3 cup coconut flour (if you are not eating gluten-free, you could substitute all-purpose flour)
  • 2 eggs

Add ingredients above to rice-bean-corn mixture in large bowl and stir to combine.

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, and press rice-bean-corn mixture to distribute evenly in pan. Bake at 350-F for 30-45 minutes. Loaf should be slightly browned and puffed just a bit.

I cut this into 6 portions, and served with a slice of ultra-thin sliced cheese on top, and slices of avocado and sliced green onions — and steamed brussels sprouts, carrots, and a bit more corn on the side. I froze one portion, and will let you know if it holds-up to freezing and thawing alright:

As the tagline says, “Make a lot. Freeze some. Now go play!”

We’re still hibernating a bit as Winter clings on, and Mr. Batch is teaching this semester which keeps him extremely busy. So I don’t have a lot of playing to report. But this week, I started a different type of volunteering with a nationwide program called Cooking Matters, which is administered locally by our regional food bank Foodlink. For six weeks, my team and I will go to a classroom of 3rd graders to teach them healthy recipes and cooking skills. I was a little leary of how to interact with kids since I am not a mother and don’t have a lot of experience with kids. I’m pleased to report it was a GREAT experience, and I look forward to coming weeks:

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers!

Continue Reading

Moroccan Meatloaf

My word for 2017 is “redesign.” Though this is hardly a new activity for me.  You may remember I wrote a “Reflection” devoted to how I’ve redesigned myself through several careers, picking up fantastic skills with each job, that my next employer has always benefited from.  I started changing careers back in the mid-90s before it was professionally acceptable. Consequently, through my years of interviewing, I’ve gotten a LOT of questions and criticism about switching jobs, and have even been labeled by a family member as “never satisfied.”  Sometimes my insecurities get the better of me, and I buy-in to those judgments. But on my best days, I don’t look at myself or my decisions through their lens. I prefer to think of myself as ever-evolving. Narrowing-in on what it is that makes my heart sing. My friend Cassie calls me “adventurous.” And I really like that version of my story! Curious. Willing. Open to trying something new, to see if it fits.

Earlier this year, I mentioned that I’m redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer.  I’ve fallen so in love with telling my stories here on BatchBitch.com, that I’m trying to make a “go” of telling more stories. Grant writing is all about story-telling … conveying the stories of nonprofit organizations to funders, to see if the missions of the nonprofits match the priorities of the funders. Grant writers are matchmakers, of sorts. Thus far, I like that aspect.  Trying to write a compelling story of why the funder ought to find the nonprofit attractive. And researching evidence to make the story even more intriguing.

It’s not without its struggles, though. Writing, and the creative process, has very high highs, and very low lows and the voices of my insecurities have been a bit louder these past few months than I’ve experienced in awhile. And nonprofit organizations don’t always have sustainable programs, which means that no matter how compelling the story, they aren’t always going to get funding.  Resulting in rejection, which can be a tough pill to swallow and has led me to question myself and my redesign.

And then along comes my friend Lynne, to encourage me to not to feel like I have to make a permanent decision. To approach grant writing and other professional endeavors with a sense of exploration, to see what they’re like and to see if I enjoy them.   Come to think of it, she, too, uses the word “adventure.”  And so does my friend Stacey, and my friends Rachel, Gloria and Erika.

I was reflecting on all of this as I cooked for our little family this week. Redesigning. Adventure. Exploring and trying something to see if it will work. And I’m pleased to report the results below with my recipe for Moroccan Meatloaf. I’m MORE pleased to be able to publicly thank my friends for their support. And validation. Bless the validation and encouragement of friends!  (To bring you a giggle, read this article about friends and validation.)

But back to cooking and recipes … If you haven’t tried it yet, wait no longer and make a batch of Smitten Kitchen‘s Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint. It is DELICIOUS and you will want to eat the entire batch:

I made it for our Veggie Snacks one week, and Mr. Batch and I liked it so much, that I redesigned it a bit, and incorporated it into this recipe:

Moroccan Meatloaf — a redesign of Smitten Kitchen‘s Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint

Serves 5

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add garlic and spices. Stir frequently and cook for about 3 minutes, until you begin to smell the seeds and spice toasting. Give thanks for your nose and sense of smell. 🙂

  • 3/4 teaspoon harissa (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Add harissa and lemon juice to pan, and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute more on low heat, stirring frequently.

  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and grated on a box grater (or in a food processor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to saute pan, stir to combine, and cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring periodically. You want the carrots to expel their natural water content, so as not to make the meatloaf “water-y” as it cooks.

Allow cooked carrot-mixture to cool.

  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • One 6-oz. container of crumbled feta
  • 1 pound of ground beef (or ground lamb, or a combination of the two)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • several grind of freshly cracked pepper

Combine these ingredients in a large bowl, and add cooked carrot-mixture. Shape into a meatloaf and bake at 350-F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut into meatloaf to make sure it is cooked throughout.

I ate this with boiled potatoes, roasted baby zucchini, roasted onions and steamed broccolini.  I kept 2 portions of the meatloaf refrigerated, and then froze the other 3 portions to thaw as I was ready for them:

 

To keep the dish vegetarian, you don’t need to cook the carrots, but you certainly could. I cooked 1/2 cup of dry quinoa and 3/4 cup brown rice, separately. Then combined the cooked grains, and added the rest of the ingredients above (minus the meat, of course) and got five very generous 1-cup portions for Mr. Batch’s lunches this week:

 

If you leave the feta out of each version, they become #dairy-free, and the meatloaf becomes #paleo.

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers!

Continue Reading

Lamb Biryani Meatballs

I’ve been learning new-to-me software recently: SalesForceIQ (formerly RelateIQ), Asana, Slack, Box and Dropbox. All powerful and fascinating for this Gen X-er, who also happens to be a slow-adopter (quit snickering, Mr. Batch!) All of it makes it possible for me to do Virtual Assistant work for a company based in San Francisco, which has been a wonderful addition since mid-February. So far, it’s part-time and short-term — I’ve got my fingers crossed that it might last awhile.  Interesting stuff having to do with digital currency and blockchain technology.

As I experience how effective and efficient this software helps me to be, I continue to marvel at it all … the interwebs … and how much I use internet technology in work and life. I was just giving thanks for FaceBook, Instagram and texting for their help facilitating connections. And thinking back on my years with computers.  My family was among the first, at least in our hometown, who bought a personal computer back in the 70s.  Like good frugal parents (see last post), they bought an Apple II Plus during a visit to see my grandmother in Delaware, a state with no sales tax. I didn’t “take” to it much, but my brother and father had hours and hours of fun programming it and playing command-driven “Adventure” games.  Those games offered NO graphics!  Hard to imagine/remember, isn’t it?

When I was a Senior in high school, I took a Computer Math class from a fantastic … that can’t be emphasized enough … FANTASTIC teacher. He patiently taught us to write programs to solve math problems on TRS80 computers. I think the language we used was called “Basic.” I loved that class, with its logical, sequential process documenting cause and effect. He taught us “If-Then” statements.  Such as, “If X = 5, then go to Line 10.” Those were seminal in shaping how I continue to organize and plan — both in work and personal life — to this day.

Like many, I felt insecure in high school … as if I didn’t really “fit in.” Sometimes I still feel that way, but that’s a blog post for another time … hahaha! I remember my Computer Math teacher saying to me once, “You know, when I give assignments, I receive 25 of the same answers, with the program laid-out in the exact same order. And then I get yours.  You get to the same answer, but you always write a different program, in a different order, than the rest.”  At the time, what I heard him confirming were my fears: “You’re weird.”

It wasn’t until years later when I was under the tutelage of my mentor that I told her this story, and she very kindly remarked, “No!  He wasn’t saying that at all!  He was saying ‘You’re creative!'” Ah!  What a relief to have a new framework for this story! And what a gift she was (and is!) for so many reasons, including that she was a *model* for creativity. She taught me to look at recipes and tweak them here and there … make substitutions … figure out where rules could be broken … or at least bent.  It is with this model that I post a reprise of my Lamb Biryani meatballs.

And I do so, using WordPress software, that I’ll use to post over the internet. How cool!

Lamb Biryani Meatballs

Yield: 34 – 38 meatballs

The herb-spice flavorings in this recipe were inspired by Food & Wine magazine’s recent recipe for Hyderabadi Lamb Biryani.

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground beef
    • you could certainly use 2 pounds of ground lamb, or 2 pounds of ground beef. This is what I had on-hand from our local farm that offers pesticide/fertilizer/hormone-free, pasture-raised meats, Aberdeen Hill.
  • grated & chopped zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 of the lemon (approximately 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 20 grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of mint (approximately 8 leaves), chopped
  • leaves from 20 stems of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • two inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, grated & chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, fine-diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

IMG_4694
Ingredients for Lamb Biryani Meatballs

In small pan, heat a tiny bit of oil and add a smidge of the mixture. Cook all the way through, and then eat, to taste for salt- and spice-content. If you would like these to be a bit more seasoned or a bit spicier, add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt or another 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and re-test and taste.  Adjust all seasonings to your liking.

Roll into large walnut-size meatballs and place on large, parchment-lined baking sheet.  I used the parchment to keep them from sticking to the pan, and for easier clean-up. I’m guessing you could easily omit the parchment, and bake them on an ungreased pan.

IMG_4695
Lamb Biryani Meatballs, ready to be baked

Bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 20  minutes.

I enjoyed these with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Oven-Braised Leeks, and a spinach salad that I ate with a little feta and sliced avocado. Leave off the feta and you have yourself  a Paleo meal!

As the tagline says: Make a lot!  Freeze some!  No go play!

I kept three portions in the refrigerator, and froze the rest to pull and enjoy another time:

It’s been cold and rainy here, so our fun has needed to be indoors. We watched the Oscars and are thrilled for Moonlight!!! And this weekend, I made bagels!  Not nearly as hard as I thought they’d be!  I used this recipe and am excited to make tweaks and try again!

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers!

 

 

Continue Reading

Paleo Pork “Katsu” Over Noodles with Gingered Bok Choy

We rarely ate-out when I was growing up. Going to McDonald’s was a BIG deal. And when we did, we always got the food “to go” and ate it at home. We already had drinks at home, my father reasoned. I remember asking for a milkshake during one trip to the golden arches, and my father turning me down, reminding me that he had already paid for the 2-liter of soda at home.

“I’ll pay the 42 cents for the milkshake,” I offered (aging myself with that price!)

“You’re missing the point,” my father replied.  And home we went, sans beverages provided by Ronald, the Hamburglar, Grimace and the rest.

It took me years to appreciate this practice of deliberation over dollars spent. Short-term refraining leading to long-term gaining. We were the family that stood-out as buying clothes from Sears during the era of The Official Preppy Handbook when the little alligator and the polo player were just everything. We kids learned to “drive stick” in our 1966 VW bug that my parents owned for 23 years.  This, while living in a neighborhood where Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes were commonplace. There was even a red Ferrari!

We used items until they broke or wore out. Our wardrobes were comprised of the same clothes for years, regardless of fashion-trends. As I dressed this morning, I was thinking about the purchase of my pants over five years ago from my favorite San Francisco store. That I still make decisions based on practicality and durability — my trusty black trousers … versatile, for dressy outings *and* more casual settings.  In fact, I frequently make the joke that my primary motivation for trying to maintain my weight has nothing to do with vanity — mine is financial.  If I put-on weight, I’d have to spend money on new clothes!

Mr. Batch and I are currently tightening our purse-strings as I redesign myself into a freelance grant writer, working pro bono at this point. We are deeply grateful to be able to survive on one income for the time-being, as I “trim the fat” in our budget. I’m making homemade yogurt, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar. Cooking dried beans versus buying canned legumes.  Turning down the heat and putting on layers + holding a hot water bottle. I reflect on how fortunate we’ve been to have a period where we didn’t need to save those few cents. And how grateful I am to my parents for raising me in an environment of budgeting and careful evaluation of pennies spent. Returning to my roots.

And …. appreciating delicious recipes that taste as good as if we had eaten out, when in fact, they are easy to make at home. Here’s how I made restaurant-quality Paleo Pork “Katsu” Over Noodles with Gingered Bok Choy:

Yield: 4 portions

To stretch our food dollar even farther, I bought half a pig from local McDonald Farm last Fall. The price per pound was $4.40 for this organic, pasture-raised, humanely treated pork — which is far from the $18/pound for just  a pork tenderloin from them.  Thus far, I’ve been very pleased with the decision to have a freezer full of various cuts of pork to thaw and cook-up. For this recipe, I stretched our food-expense even farther by slicing 2 thick-cut pork chops in half, resulting in four portions (better for my waistline, too!)

Then, I put the thick pork chops between two sheets of plastic-wrap and used my rolling pin to pound them thin.

I cracked an egg into a bowl, added 1 Tablespoon of Brita-filtered water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and whisked with a fork until it was foamy.

In a separate bowl, I mixed 1 cup of almond meal (I buy this at Trader Joe’s) with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of freshly cracked pepper. *If you are not following the Paleo diet, you could season some all-purpose flour or use Japanese panko breadcrumbs.

Then, I melted a small spoon-full of coconut oil in a non-stick saute pan.

Using one hand, I dipped a pork chop into the egg wash and then transferred it into the bowl of seasoned almond-meal. Then, using the other hand, I dredged the pork chop on all sides through the seasoned almond meal and then placed the pork chop in the hot oil in the pan. Using alternate hands keeps your finger-tips from getting clumped with egg-wash-dredging.

My pork chops were thin-enough to be able to cook entirely on the stovetop, but if yours are a bit thicker, you could finish cooking them in a hot oven.

 

Meanwhile, in my big ol’ wok, I made a batch of Steamed Baby Bok Choy. I modified this just slightly to add some minced fresh ginger, as well as about 1/4 cup of coconut aminos to the aromatic bath in which I steamed the baby bok choy. You could substitute soy sauce for the coconut aminos if you don’t follow the Paleo diet, or aren’t avoiding gluten.

 

And on a separate burner on the stove, I boiled a bag of Sweet Potato Glass Noodles in salted water. I found these in the Asian section of our local grocer for 99-cents/bag! The only ingredient is sweet potato starch, which makes them Paleo in my book!  Mr. Batch and I have loved discovering these for their flavor,  chewy texture, and price! Once these were done, I tossed them in about 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.

 

To serve: I had some sautéed mushrooms on-hand, so I added some of the Sweet Potato Glass Noodles to a bowl, topped them with sautéed mushrooms and cut-up Gingered Baby Bok Choy, and then poured some of the saved cooking liquid from the bok choy over the noodles.

I added another splash or two of coconut aminos, and then the sliced Pork “Katsu.”  DELISH!  Light, yet very filling.

As the Tagline says: Make a lot! Freeze some! Now go play! As this applies to the recipe above, the “breaded” and pan-fried pork chops could be made in many batches, and frozen, then thawed & reheated another time. Will they be as crispy?  No, but when you’re tired or in a hurry, you’ll be grateful to have them at the ready, and they could be “re-crisped” in a hot saute pan with just a smidge of oil after thawing.  🙂

I have no pictures of what Mr. Batch and I have been up to when we’ve recently played! He is teaching this semester, which means there isn’t a ton of time for playing. We have been going to see the Oscar-nominated movies on Friday evenings: La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester By the Sea, Hidden Figures, the Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts, and we’re hoping to see Lion this weekend!  Do you have a favorite?

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers!

Continue Reading

Carrot Ginger Soup

I once read a book called “Oh, Fudge!” by Lee Edwards Benning — an entertaining history of the old-fashioned favorite, complete with 18 master recipes AND an entire chapter devoted to “Fudge Failures and How to Remedy Them.” This chapter *even* includes recipes to incorporate your failed fudges, if they are unfixable … shall we pause for moment to bless Lee Edwards Benning’s heart?!?  She starts the chapter with this quote from John Keats:

“Don’t be discouraged by failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.”

Benning muses about failures: “On the one hand, failure need not mean flop. Instead, we may just end up with something other than what we expected.”

I had opportunity to employ this mindset on Super Bowl Sunday just recently. Headed to a party later that evening, I tried a new recipe for almond “thumbprint” cookies that I filled with some homemade sour cherry preserves I canned last summer, using cherries I picked with the Lovely Lisa.  I was shocked when I opened the oven to find the cookies had s-p-r-e-a-d like this:

(Note to self – more careful evaluation might be needed on the *best* times to try a new recipe!)

The cookies were *delicious* … just visually unappealing. I’ll salvage the recipe and adapt it to make chewy almond drop cookies, sans fruit filling — stay tuned. For the party that evening, I took a page from the “Oh, Fudge!” book and chopped up the cookies and folded them into softened, store-bought vanilla ice cream, that I served with a couple of extra spoons full of sour cherry preserves. I meant to make Almond Macaroon Ice Cream with Sour Cherries, dontchaknow!

This seems to be a recurring theme in my life these days. My endeavors frequently lead me to places I wasn’t expecting. I’m challenged to “go with the flow” almost daily, which doesn’t come naturally to the planner in me.  But I’m finding that if I pause for a few minutes / hours / days, that the outcomes aren’t bad … in fact, they are often good … just not what I expected. Here’s to making lemonade from lemons!

And a recipe for Carrot Ginger Soup, that could be vegan or Paleo, depending on the broth used.  This recipe is quite heavily inspired by John Ash’s “Carrot,  Orange, and Ginger Soup” from his book “Cooking One on One.”

I added celery for more fiber, and removed the aromatic spices. I also removed the exact measurements. I’m a fan of using a whole item such as a whole onion (versus 1 cup of onions). You’ll find that my recipes aren’t exact (unless they’re for baked goods) because they don’t rely on the chemistry of ingredient-interactions. Want the soup to be less onion-y? Add only half an onion … the soup will still be edible. Don’t want to add the celery?  By all means, leave it out … but adjust the amount of broth if you want to keep this a thick, pureed soup. I hope you’ll have fun with my recipes and others, and make them your own!

Carrot Ginger Soup

Yield: 8 servings — make a big batch, then freeze anything beyond what you would eat in 3 days — this freezes and thaws beautifully.

  • 1-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery hearts, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped

*Note that I don’t specify exact sizes. Chop these into as similar a size as you can, for even cooking. This soup ultimately gets pureed, so pretty shapes and exact precision aren’t required – yay!

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or ghee or coconut oil … whatever oil you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a deep pot and add the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle salt over vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes. The salt will draw-out the natural water content of the vegetables so that they “sweat.” Stir occasionally and continue cooking on medium-low for another 5-10 minutes, until vegetables look translucent.

While those vegetables are “sweating,” prep the following:

  • Minced zest & juice of 1 orange
  • 2 – 3″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Add ingredients to vegetables in pot and stir to combine. Cook for about 3 minutes on medium-low, stirring frequently. These ingredients cook quickly and you don’t want them to scorch.

Start by adding 6 cups of broth to the vegetables and raise the heat to simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes and then puree. I puree the soup using an immersion blender, but you could also transfer the soup to a standing blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning, and add more broth if you want to thin the consistency. I ended up adding all 8 cups, and mine is fairly thick:

Serving Suggestions: This soup has a ZING because of the ginger and garlic!  I like having this with pork chops and broccolini for a Paleo meal. Mr. Batch ate his with Autumnal Salad of mixed grains and broccolini. Great soup for Winter, but could be served chilled with a swirl of sour-cream-thinned-with-buttermilk in the Summer!

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers! 

Continue Reading

Arepas with Corn and Green Chiles

Mr. Batch and I moved to Rochester, NY from San Francisco almost 5 years ago, and we like living here very much! Even the snow!  We very much miss our friends who are still in San Francisco, and miss hiking in the Marin Headlands and several aspects of life on the Left Coast.  We REALLY miss good Mexican food. Tacquerias and good burritos — and baskets of hot corn chips, straight from the frier, served with freshly made salsa. Olé!

With that said, discovering local specialties to Rochester has been just great!  How fun to find out that Rochester was home to French’s Mustard and Ragu pasta sauce!  Nearby Le Roy, NY is the birthplace of Jell-O! Probably the most well-known Rochester dish is the “Garbage Plate,” a trademark of Nick Tahou Hots, that traditionally includes macaroni salad, home fries, and 2 hot dogs or cheeseburgers topped with mustard, onions, and their famous meat hot sauce. When we first moved here, I was asking a friend about “plates,” as they’re commonly referred to, and what they’re like. He started his description with, “Well first you have to choose your ‘unders’ and then your ‘overs.'” I snickered at those terms, but continued with my query of where he suggested we go for the best “plates.” He enthusiastically advised Bill Gray’s (a hamburger/hot dog joint that lays claim to having “The World’s Greatest Cheeseburger”). “They put *meat* in the meat sauce!” he exclaimed!  I almost fell out of my chair at this point, what with the “unders” and “overs” and the qualifier of meat in the meat sauce!  When we drove to get our first “plate,” we passed by one of the competitors to Bill Gray’s called Don’s Original, whose slogan is “Where quality predominates!”  Mr. Batch asked, “I wonder what else they considered?”

Speaking of “hots” (as mentioned above in Nick Tahou Hots), we’re still unclear on why Rochesterians refer to hot dogs as “hots.” We’ve also heard cheeseburgers and hamburgers referred to as “burgs” and “cheeseburgs” here, but neither of those terms is as commonly used as “hots.” One day, while enjoying some Abbott’s Frozen Custard (their plain vanilla is simply heavenly), a car decked out with advertisements for nearby suburb “Pennfield Hots” pulled up, so I gathered my courage to ask the driver, “What’s a hot?” He replied, “A hot dog.” “Why don’t people use the word ‘dog?'” I inquired. I never got my answer, but I did get a strange look from him, which made me laugh. 🙂  One food product that Rochester calls its own is the “white hot,” a type of hot dog composed of a combination of uncured and unsmoked pork, beef and veal. The lack of smoking or curing allows the meat to retain a naturally white color. When ordering, Rochesterians distinguish between a “white hot” and a “red hot.”

Sometimes Rochesterians don’t realize a dish is a local specialty, such as “Chicken French.” We heard waitstaff list “Chicken French” as a special in restaurants, and would hear our friends refer to making it. Feeling self-conscious that we were not “in the know,” Mr. Batch finally Googled the term and we were pleasantly surprised that Wikipedia has a page for it, and describes it as, “A chicken entree entree that uses a breaded, egg-dipped and sautéed chicken breast, with a sauce created from sherry, butter, chicken stock, and lemon. The dish is popular in the region surrounding Rochester, NY and is served in Italian restaurants.”  We laughed, “Of course, Chicken French is served in Italian restaurants! How did we not know?!?!”

My favorite local food story is about Salt Potatoes — another dish that most Rochesterians have no idea is regional. My friend Melissa mentioned that she would bring a batch of Salt Potatoes to a picnic. “What kind of potatoes?” I asked. “Salt Potatoes,” she replied. Still not understanding, I asked, “What’s that first word you’re saying before ‘Potatoes?'” “SALT,” she enunciated. “What’s a Salt Potato?!?!” I inquired. “They’re the first potatoes harvested — that you buy in a bag that also has the package of salt in the bag, and you boil them.”  Bewildered by this concept and that I had apparently been passing by this product, unaware of its existence, in our local grocery chain Wegmans, I asked, “Because you can’t be trusted to salt the cooking water according to your taste?!?!” Wiki to the rescue again: “As the potatoes cook, the salty water forms a crust on the skin and seals the potatoes so they never taste waterlogged, as ordinary boiled potatoes often do. The potatoes have a unique texture closer to fluffy baked potatoes, only creamier.The standard recipe calls for one pound of salt for every four pounds of potatoes.” She had no idea these were regional and that other people around the country had never eaten (nor heard of) Salt Potatoes. “When you kept questioning my words, I thought I was having a stroke or something,” she teased. “You DO eat turkey for Thanksgiving in your part of the country, right?!?” 🙂

So … back to the Mexican food we miss from San Francisco … as well as foods from Venezuela, El Salvador, Columbia, and more … I have gotten pretty good at making dishes with those flavors and ingredients at home since we have yet to find Rochester restaurants that replicate the many Latin cuisines we enjoyed while out West.  Mr. Batch’s lunches this week turned out to be pretty tasty, so I thought I’d share what I did:

Arepas with Corn and Green Chiles

Yield: 8 – 10 Arepas (cornmeal pancakes)

  • 2 cups Masarepa (dehydrated cooked cornmeal) — I found this in the Latin section of my grocery store
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Combine ingredients in medium-sized bowl.

  • 3 cups warm water

Add to cornmeal mixture and stir to combine.

  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons canned, diced green chiles
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used fresh corn kernels, but you could use frozen or canned, drained corn)

Add to cornmeal mixture and stir to combine. Allow mixture to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Heat electric griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add a scant Tablespoon of grapeseed oil or coconut oil (any oil that has a high smoke point) and swirl to distribute across cooking surface.

Shape cornmeal mixture into patties approximately 4-5″ across and 1/2″ thick and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Once browned, flip and cook 2-3 minutes on other side until browned. Transfer to parchment-lined pan to cool.

*If not vegan, can add 1 cup grated cheese.

*These are best fresh off the griddle, but can also be kept in the refrigerator or freezer and re-heated.

I served these with Black Beans, Cumin-Scented Roasted Vegetables, and Guacamole (all recipes below). I also added several Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, which I had made last summer and frozen.  

 

Black Beans (or you could certainly substitute canned, drained & rinsed Black Beans)

Yield: 5 servings

 

  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and inspected for any duds or small stones

Soak beans overnight in 4 cups of filtered water. The next day, drain and rinse the beans again and add them to a pot, along with:

  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 jalepeno, quartered (Mr. Batch likes spicy foods, so if you don’t, reduce the amount of jalepeno)
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon of tomato paste
  • several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups of filtered water

Bring to a boil on stovetop, and then down to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 2 hours. After an hour, taste beans for tenderness periodically. Mine weren’t completely tender until almost all of the liquid had evaporated or been absorbed. They were soft and the skin pulled away easily from the bean.

Remove onion, garlic and jalepeno.

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add, and stir into beans and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Then taste beans and adjust seasoning to your taste.  Drain any excess liquid.

 

Cumin-Scented Roasted Vegetables

I love roasted vegetables of all types!  I like how roasting concentrates their flavors, by reducing the natural water content. I love the mild caramelization that happens. Mostly, I love how easy the preparations are — throw trays of them in the oven and stir them periodically and … ta da … yumminess!

I roast my vegetables at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and usually do little more to them than roast on a sheet pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I start checking them after 15 minutes, give them a stir or a flip for even cooking, and either take them out at that point or leave them until they have cooked through and are lightly browned/caramelized because of the direct contact with the metal baking pan.

For these brussels sprouts, mushrooms and onions: I spread a hearty glug of olive oil over the sheet pan, spread my vegetables, flat-side down, and sprinkled them with salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin over each type of vegetable. I roasted for about 25 – 30 minutes, total.

 

Guacamole

Yield: 5 servings

 

  • 1 avocado — ripe & soft
  • 1/2 of a large jalapeño, minced (I scrape the seeds out of mine before mincing.  If you prefer more spicy-heat in your guacamole, keep the seeds before mincing — or half of the seeds)
  • leaves from 15 stems of cilantro, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 large green onions, white & green parts, sliced
  • salt, to taste

Combine ingredients in bowl, and use spoon to mash-up the avocado.  Taste and adjust all ingredients according to what tastes best to you.

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers! 

Continue Reading

Veggie Burgers with Farro, Mushrooms & Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I could use a laugh or two!  It’s grey here in Rochester, and the news is full of contention. I’ve been wanting to share some funny tales for awhile, but none of them are long enough to turn into stories. So I thought I would bring some cheer to you all, with little snippets of humor and fun. Hope they bring a grin to your face and sunshine to your day:

Before Mr. Batch got his current job, he was doing a lot of traveling while interviewing. He would text his final goodbyes from the airport gates as the airlines boarded his planes. “They’re starting to board,” he would write. “Elite members … first class … business class.”  Then he would continue, “Stupendous class … better-than-most class… I’m waiting for them to board my group: peasant class.” Years later, from a different airline that boarded by precious metal categories, he joked that, “We’re pewter class!”

Mr. Batch and I were eating lunch one day. As we were cleaning up the table, Mr. Batch picked up my can of soda — mistaking it to be empty, when it was still 1/2-full.  In surprise, he dropped the can and some of the tasty beverage poured out.
Mr. Batch: “Wow!  I’m so sorry!  THAT was a misjudgment of mass and momentum!”
Me: “Wow!  One of us obviously has a Ph.D. and the other one would’ve just said, ‘Sorry, I spilled!'”

When Mr. Batch and I started dating, I wrote an email to my family to tell them about him and the dates he had taken me on. I wrote, “Mostly we spend time biking around San Francisco, which is tons of fun. We also went hiking recently on Mt. Tamalpais and then, after sunset that evening, attended an astronomy lecture in an outdoor amphitheater under the stars led by a UC-Berkeley instructor.” To which my brother replied, “Oh man, I wanna do that stuff! If it doesn’t work out with you two, can I have his phone number?”

I was complaining to my friend Max that I had put-on weight after Mr. Batch and I started dating, to which Max replied, “Well, when you catch the bus, you stop running!”

This next one isn’t so much funny, as it is insightful. This same friend Max and I worked together for a short time. He would encourage me to take a break for lunch, which is not in my nature. He told a story: “There are two wood-cutters — one who chops more wood than the other. Do you know why?  Because he *stops* to sharpen his axe!”

Some “butcherings” of words throughout the years, that have made their way into my family’s vernacular: “Balsmatic” vinegar (instead of balsamic), as requested of me when I used to wait tables. “Dilapidated” woodpeckers (instead of pileated) and “Sasquatch” camellias (instead of sasanquas). Used in a sentence such as, “Hey Mom, is that one of those dilapidated woodpeckers in the tree near the Sasquatch camellia bush?”

A few years ago, Mr. Batch and I stopped to ask directions. As we started to follow the directions, I murmured, “OK … they told us to turn left here, and then …” To which I heard Mr. Batch reply, “I have to admit, ever since we started dating, I’ve stopped listening to instructions!”

And one last one to bring you a dash of joy: When Mr. Batch and I got engaged, we hired an artist to draw caricatures of us to use on our wedding invitations. On her first draft, the artist captured me perfectly, but we decided that Mr. Batch looked more like a mariachi band member than himself. The next morning when the alarm went off, Mr. Batch greeted me with “Ola, Señorita!” I replied, “You amaze me! How do you go from unconscious sleeping … to awake and instantly funny?!?!”

I hope this recipe for Veggie Burgers with Farro, Mushrooms & Cheese also brings you joy!  These are heavily inspired by the New York Times Cooking recipe for Farro with Mushrooms. Modified slightly, and then adapted to make into veggie burger patties:

Yield: 12 veggie burgers

  • 24-oz package of mushrooms (I used “baby bellas” — baby portobellos — but you could use crimini or white button … or a mixture)

Wash the mushrooms thoroughly, and remove the stems and set the stems aside. Slice the mushrooms and set aside to dry.

  • Reserved mushroom stems from above
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 or 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • several grinds of freshly cracked pepper

Combine ingredients in sauce pot and bring to a boil, and then down to a simmer. Simmer on low for 30 minutes, then taste, adjust seasoning, and strain.  **Alternatively, use store-bought vegetable stock. Or make, using veggie scraps from your bag of “ends-n-nubs” you are storing in the freezer from previous cooking sessions.

  • 2 cups of farro

While the vegetable stock is cooking, put farro in a bowl and pour enough hot water over the farro to cover by an inch. Set aside.

  • 3/4 cup dried mushrooms, rinsed
  • 2 cups boiling water

Place the dried mushrooms in a large Pyrex measuring cup or bowl, and pour in boiling water. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Clockwise from upper left corner: farro soaking; homemade vegetable stock using mushroom stems; dried mushrooms reconstituting in boiling water; “baby bella” mushrooms, to be sliced.

Drain the reconstituted dried mushrooms through a strainer set over a bowl and lined with a coffee filter, to catch the mushroom-flavored liquid without letting any grit/dirt pass through. Squeeze the mushrooms over the strainer, then add the mushroom-flavored liquid to the reserved vegetable stock from above. You should have 6 cups, total (add water if necessary). Place in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste.

Rinse the  reconstituted dried mushrooms in several changes of water to remove any additional grit. Chop coarsely and set aside.

  • tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • sliced mushrooms from above
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about three minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften and sweat. Add salt and pepper, to taste, the garlic and rosemary. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender, about five minutes.

  • Strained farro from above
  • Reconstituted dried mushrooms from above

Add the farro and reconstituted dried mushrooms to the mushroom mixture. Cook, stirring, until the grains of farro are separate and beginning to crackle, about two minutes.

  • 3/4 cup dry white wine

Stir in the wine and cook, stirring until the wine has been absorbed. Add all but about 1 cup of the vegetable-mushroom stock from above, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 50 minutes or until the farro is tender; some of the grains will be beginning to splay. Remove the lid, and stir vigorously from time to time. Taste and adjust seasoning. There should be some liquid remaining in the pot but not too much. If the farro is submerged in stock, raise the heat and cook until there is just enough to moisten the grains, like a sauce.

*For a vegan side dish or main course, you could stop here.

Allow mixture to cool.  Once cool, stir-in:

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (though we’re trying to avoid gluten, farro has gluten, so I chose all-purpose flour versus coconut flour for this recipe)

Using wet hands, shape into patties and place on parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake at 350-degrees F for 30 minutes, rotating pan 180-degrees after 15 minutes, for even cooking in case your oven has hot spots.

These patties have a chewy texture, because cooked faro is almost “spongey” in texture, plus the added cheese. Freezing them and then thawing them made them a tad bit chewier, just FYI.

Continue Reading

Chipotle Restaurant at home

One of many reasons I adore Mr. Batch is that he pushes himself to learn new things, and shares with me some of the things he learns. He has recently started watching  The School of Life videos which are “… devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture.” One of my favorites is called The Weakness of Strength and it’s a 4-minute video that I think you’ll enjoy watching.

The theory of The Weakness of Strength “dictates that we should strive to see people’s weaknesses as the inevitable downside to certain merits that first drew us to them. What we’re seeing are not people’s faults, but the ‘shadow-side’ of things that are genuinely good about them.”

You’ve probably guessed that this is the topic of today’s blog because I have been experiencing MY weakness of strength this week. My years of being a chef developed my skills in planning, which were further honed in my years as a tradeshow coordinator, conference planner, and then as an Executive Assistant. I thrive in a proactive role, forecasting what is needed, and anticipating things that might go wrong and planning accordingly. My weakness is in reacting — especially to anything I didn’t anticipate.

Incidentally, Mr. Batch accidentally (and innocently!) disrupts my plans so frequently, that he now suggests, “Just call me Monkey Wrech!”

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I am redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer, to leverage my love of writing and story-telling into helping non-profit organizations tell their stories to funding agencies.  I have been reading library books and skads of materials  online — all in preparation for a 3-week grant-writing class that was supposed to start on Monday. The instructor asked that we have proposals to work on, with her looking over our shoulders, so that at the conclusion we would have fairly good drafts ready to submit.  So I dutifully lined-up 5 organizations I am doing pro bono work for.

And THE CLASS GOT CANCELED. 🙁  🙁  🙁   Too few people registered! I found out when I showed up for the first session!  Somehow I fell through the cracks with their notification!

As I stood at the registration desk, eyes wide and mouth agape, I felt my lungs constrict with anxiety. My plans were unraveling.  I had really looked forward to having a *guide* … and to being spoon-fed the “how to.”  Not so much the how to write.  But the “how to” find funders!  And approach them.

On the drive home to Mr. Batch, to have a pity-party and boo hoo hoo on his shoulder of my plans gone amuck, I was reminded of an inspirational quote I’ve seen — that when your plans get wrecked, it might be because your plans were going to wreck you!  I’ve been around the sun enough times to know that sometimes when you’re lucky, there’s a silver lining.

I haven’t found that silver lining yet, but in the era of Google and You Tube, I AM making progress. Lots of comfort food eating … and lamas breathing … and sleeves pushed up … and sleuthing cap on, to try to figure all of this out on my own. Join me, won’t you, in sending a wish out to the grant-writing gods to watch over me?  🙂

Speaking of comfort food, we REALLY miss the amazing tacquerias of San Francisco. What we would give for some of those fish tacos, burritos, chips & salsa! In the absence of finding “our” place here in ROC City, we stop periodically at Chipotle®. To save a few pesos and be able to eat this comforting goodness in quantity, I made our favorites at home — Sofritas (below) and Carnitas (scroll to bottom):

Sofritas — heavily inspired by Yup It’s Vegan‘s Copycat Chipotle Sofritas

Yield: 8 servings

  • Two 16 oz. packages of firm tofu (the original recipe called for extra-firm, which is what I used, but it doesn’t shred easily. So I recommend just firm tofu — but not silken.)

Cut tofu into thick slabs and press between clean cloth towels, to squeeze-out excess moisture. Brush each side with olive or grape seed oil and bake on parchment-lined sheet pans at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping the slices half-way through.  Once cool, chop into small pieces.

  • 2 poblano peppers

Simultaneously, roast poblano peppers in a baking pan while tofu slices bake.

  • 2-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

While tofu is baking and poblano peppers are roasting, in a dry heavy-bottomed pot, toast the cumin, coriander and peppercorns. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes and remove from pan once fragrant.  Add to spice grinder or mortar & pestle and grind.

  • 1 Tablespoon oregano

Add to cumin-coriander-peppercorn mixture and grind. Set aside ground spice-mixture.

  • 1 large onion, small-diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive or grape seed oil

Heat olive oil in same heavy-bottomed pot you toasted spices in, and sauté onion and garlic with salt on medium-low heat, stirring periodically.

  • 4 Tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons additional sauce from can
  • 2 roasted poblano peppers from above, skinned and de-seeded
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce, if you are not avoiding gluten)
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 cup filtered water or vegetable stock
  • Ground cumin-coriander-peppercorn-oregano spice-mixture from above

Add to sauteed onion-garlic mixture and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes. Puree with immersion blender or in food-processor or blender.  Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings as you like, including adding more water/veg stock and tomato paste to make it saucy like Chipotle’s®.

Add pureed sauce back to pot and add chopped tofu. Allow to gently simmer on low another 10-15 minutes.

I made a batch of white rice and added chopped cilantro & olive oil to it, to try to truly emulate the Chipotle® experience. I served the Sofritas with cilantro rice, Guacamole and steamed broccolini.

***I kept four servings of the Sofritas in the refrigerator, and froze the rest in individual servings. Because this is meant to be saucy and shredded, the thawed Sofritas is OK … not too spongey from being frozen.***

Carnitas  — this is taken entirely from David Lebovitz’s Carnitas

Yield: 8 servings

The only thing I changed was not to do Step 9. For my taste, I would not add an entire cinnamon stick in the future — perhaps just 1/4 of a cinnamon stick for me.

  • 4-5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
  • water
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.
8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.
9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.

I served this, like I do the Nom Nom Paleo Kalua Pig — with slices of avocado, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and steamed borccolini. I kept three servings in the refrigerator, and froze the rest of the carnitas in individual portions:

 

As the tagline says: Make a lot!  Freeze some! Now go play!  This week, I volunteered with an organization called Loop Ministries, to help provide a meal and a bag of groceries for 60 people in need of emergency food. Loop collaborates with people with disabilities and cerebral palsy to set-up the tables, make the centerpieces, and serve the food. Their motto is “Renew. Restore.Rebuild.”  Wonderfully empowering for all involved:

And Mr. Batch and I went out with our close friends Lynne and Allen to celebrate all of the Winter birthdays in our little group. We tried a new-to-us restaurant called Atlas Eats that was featuring a prix fixe Turkish menu. Oh, my!  ROC City peeps, if you haven’t tried it yet, GO!  Hover over the images to reveal the captions.

Like what you’re reading?  Never miss a post!  Scroll up and to the right, and you’ll find a “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” box where you can enter your email, and you’ll get an email-notice to approve your subscription. Let’s get that number up to 100 regular readers! 

Continue Reading

Italian Veggie Burgers with White Beans and Pesto

“There are, it seems, two Muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, “It is yet more difficult than you thought.”  This is the muse of form. It may be, then, that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work; and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”  — Wendell Berry

Mr. Batch and I have been talking a lot about what we want for this new year 2017 —  what we think our real work is, and what makes our hearts sing. At the core is the intent to be kind. To heal things. To inspire with optimism. To rebel against meanness.  And most of all, to LOVE.

“Amor vincit omnia.”

Translated from Italian: “Love conquers all.”

Sending love out to you all!  And sending up my wish that we are all able to keep this phrase in our hearts today and in the coming days!

 

Italian Veggie Burgers with White Beans and Pesto

Yield: 9 burgers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Cook 1 cup of quinoa (Cook according to package directions. I brought 2 cups of salted water to a boil, added 1 cup of thoroughly rinsed quinoa, and simmered, covered, for 12 minutes. I tasted it to make sure it was tender, then drained any excess water. Then allowed it to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Then fluffed with a fork.)
  • 2 cans of white beans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 hearty Tablespoons of pesto (Mine was homemade last summer and frozen. I did not add any cheese before freezing.)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Stir all ingredients above together in a large bowl.

Remove 1/3 of mixture and puree in a cuisinart/food processor.  Add pureed portion back to large bowl and stir to combine.

*Taste the mixture at this point to see if you would like to add more pesto, cheese or salt. 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour (I use this to avoid gluten. If you are not avoiding gluten, you could use all-purpose flour. Perhaps try increasing the quantity to 1/2 cup — coconut flour is quite fibrous and absorbs a lot of moisture)

Add to the ingredients in the large bowl and stir to combine.

Shape into patties, and place on a parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet.  Tip: Wet hands will help with forming the patties.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, rotating pan 180-degrees after 15 minutes (for even-cooking in case there are hot spots in your oven).

I kept 5 of these in the refrigerator and froze the rest, for use another week.

I served these over a bed of vegetables that I roasted with olive oil and Italian herb mix (zucchini, yellow onion, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes). For even more fiber & nutrition, I steamed some brussels sprouts and added them to the mixture of veggies.

As the tagline says: Make a lot. Freeze some. Now go play!

Keeping in the spirit of delicious Italian foods, I made a tiramisu-inspired cake to celebrate Mr. Batch’s birthday!  The two recipes that I consulted are this one to make the cake, and this one to make the filling and frosting.  We loved indulging in some sugar-y, gluten-y goodness!

We enjoyed an Ethiopian dinner out at a new-to-us restaurant: Addis Ababa

And I got to see a friend of mine from my culinary school days, when she and her son came to look at R.I.T.  How do my friends have children old enough to go to college?!?!?  🙂  We had a lovely Cambodian lunch at The Soup Spoon:

Continue Reading

Warm Butternut Squash Salad

As y’all know, I send Mr. Batch to work each day with a homemade lunch. Usually a banana that he eats around 9am; a veggie burger made with mixed grains and placed on top of a bed of vegetables and starch; and a fruit snack and a veggie snack that he eats in the afternoon.

He has confessed to me that there are times when his lunch calls to him by 10:30am. And I confess to y’all that I completely understand!

So, he bought himself this Kitchen Safe!

He puts his containers of food inside, and as the website says: “Once the timer is set, and the button is pressed, the safe will remain locked until the timer reaches zero.  No overrides!”

Which worked well … until we switched to glass food containers, which no longer fit in the Kitchen Safe.  🙁

Never fear!  That uber-intelligent Mr. Batch figured out a work-around!  Now he locks the glass containers of food in his desk drawer.

And puts the KEY in the Kitchen Safe!!!

I heart that guy! So dadgum creative!  Swoon!

He claims he doesn’t care for roasted winter squash, so I gave some roasted butternut squash the red carpet treatment …. glammed it up … and  created Warm Butternut Squash Salad.

I love how the caramelized butternut squash tastes when paired with the salty feta, sour lemon, grassy parsley and cool mint. He’s been loving it, and I hope you will, too!

Yield: 6 servings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 -inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, olive oil and salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them in a baking dish for 30-40 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool slightly.

 

  • 1/2 of a large red onion, small diced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon (approx 1/8 cup)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

*Leave out the cheese, and it’s vegan and dairy-free! And Paleo!

Combine the squash, onion, chopped herbs, feta and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.  Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

For leftovers — this salad keeps beautifully in the fridge.  Reheat slightly, to serve warm. If you prefer, you can hold a little of the lemon juice on the side and then add when you reheat in the microwave.

I served this for myself with sliced Juiciest Baked Chicken Breasts and some cabbage that I sautéed with onion, fennel and a bit of grated fresh ginger. Trade out the chicken for some tofu, and you’ll please your primarily-vegetarian fans in your house!

 

Continue Reading