Tofu Chile Verde

When I left the restaurant industry and chef profession, I was fortunate enough to score a job with a British manufacturer of china dinnerware, made exclusively for  use in hotels, restaurants and catering companies. I had worked with the product when I was a pastry chef in a private dining club, and found it to be as wonderful as it advertised: “Tough as steel, but impressively lightweight.” Their beautiful patterns and innovative shapes and colors made the product a delight to work with, as it truly enhanced the dining experience and contributed to the trend in “eater-tainment.” My primary job was to plan their tradeshows — a natural extension of the skills I had honed as a chef planning banquets. I got to travel to the biggest shows to help set-up the displays and help staff the booth, working side-by-side with the passionate and super-fun salesforce. A unique opportunity to incorporate my background in speech communications as well as provide testimony, since I’d used the product when I was a chef.

During the first tradeshow I attended, I met one of the company pattern-designers, who had traveled from the UK for the show, and who would soon be relocating to the US headquarters where I worked. There was an instant connection with us. In no time, we were talking and laughing and sharing stories as if we’d known each other for years. Our friendship only got stronger once she moved to the states. I can’t begin to recount how much fun we had sharing a tiny office, and traveling to those tradeshows together. We whooped it up and giggled our way through Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, sharing hotel rooms in each of the cities, and staying up till all hours like kids at a slumber party. (Hover over images below to reveal captions)

That was back in 1999 and here we are, still BFFs after almost 20 years. There truly are few words to convey how fortunate I feel to have met her! We’ve been there for each other through dating and then weddings, career-changes, moves, welcoming her munchkins into the world, stressors and celebrations and the mundane … each chapter of life only strengthens our friendship and brings us closer. What hurts her hurts me and vice versa. Only she can make me laugh when I don’t even want to smile — she brings out the best in me. We aggressively defend each other and believe in each other, and we each think the other deserves the world. There has never been any jealousy between us, and only complete honesty. She is the sister of my soul, and a trusted caretaker of my heart. Befriending her is far and away one of the best things that has ever happened in my life!

Our paths have criss-crossed North America in a surprisingly parallel fashion, and she lives just two hours and one border-crossing away from Rochester now. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but I recently got to see her for a dinner, and a nonstoptalkandlaughfest that lasted way into the wee morning hours, just like old times. Oh! The comfort of being able to be transparent with your bestie! And the joy of getting to see her munchkins grow up! And to hang with her ultra-cool hubby!

I mention all of this not only to laud her amazingness and my good fortune to have her as my soul-sistuh. But also because we hosted a dinner party for 6 people the night after my return! One of the  guests was someone I was REALLY trying to impress — a colleague of Mr. Batch’s from his postdoc days, who is now a professor at Harvard!!!

How did I do this, you ask? And especially when I needed to find a menu suitable for 5 carnivores and a vegetarian?!?! Well, here we go:

The day before departing town, I did my grocery shopping. I froze my tofu slices (see recipe below). I also made Loaded Cornbread Muffins and froze them.

Before departing town, I thawed the tofu slices, first thing. Then cubed the pork for the Pork Chile Verde, and added the dry rub. Once the tofu slices were thawed, I squeezed the excess water from them, and then brushed them with olive oil and added the dry rub.

🎉   🥂 Then, I went out of town and PLAYED WITH MY BFF!!!!!!  💃 😎

Upon returning to town the next day, I finished making the Pork Chile Verde, and made the Tofu Chile Verde (recipe below). Both of these taste better the day after they’re made, so it behooves them to make them the day before. (Mr. Batch always says to me “I know how you like the behooving!” 🙂 ) Last, I made a batch of Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

The day of the party: I’m an early bird, and made a batch of Lemon Souffle Pudding cakes before work. But you could also make these the day before, if you are not a morning person! I thawed the Loaded Cornbread Muffins. Then, I set the table, and tidied-up the guest bathroom and went to work.

That evening, an hour before the guests arrived, I started reheating the Pork Chile Verde and Tofu Chile Verde (recipe below) on very low on the stovetop. I put my appetizers out: brie & crackers; a bowl of pistachios; a bowl of dried apricots & dates; and hummus and plantain chips. I pulled some butter and put it on the dining room table on a pretty plate, and lit the votives. Once my guests arrived, I popped the Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Loaded Cornbread Muffins into a very low oven.

Once we’d finished visiting over appetizers, I tossed salad greens with some Red Wine Vinaigrette that I always have on-hand in the fridge, and put the salad on the table for guests to serve themselves. Then, put the Loaded Cornbread Muffins into a cloth-lined basket on the table, to be passed. And finally, plated the Pork Chile Verde and Tofu Chile Verde over Roasted Sweet Potatoes, (with a dollop of sour cream for those who wanted it) and served all of that with a lovely Rioja red wine.

Following dinner, I passed my Lemon Souffle Pudding cakes, topped with a sprig of mint and some candied orange zest. And we continued to talk and laugh until the votives burned through all of their wax and it was time to go home.

I can’t recommend this dinner party menu enough. Much can be done in advance, which allows you to have fun with your guests. And the food only gets better while it warms lightly on the stove and in the oven! Unlike my first dinner party experience where everything got bone-dry and over-cooked! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Tofu Chile Verde – serves 4

Many years ago, a friend gave me the book Perfect Pairings by Evan Goldstein and his wife Joyce Goldstein.  She brought my attention to the recipe for Pork Chile Verde and I am ever-grateful that she did.  I have now adapted the recipe to make Tofu Chile Verde, for you vegetarians and vegans out there!

  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, sliced into four thick slabs

Line a baking pan with parchment, add thick slices of tofu, and then freeze for at least 1 hour.  Yes — you read that correctly — freeze.

While tofu slices freeze, make dry-rub:

  • 1 teaspoons oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (you can omit these for anyone sensitive to spicy-heat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine the spices and set aside.

Once each slice is completely frozen, pull pan and allow to thaw completely — about 1 hour.

Move tofu slices to clean kitchen towel (I find that a thin “tea-towel” works best). Working with one slice at a time, completely cover with dry section of towel, and press firmly on tofu to squeeze-out water. Once excess water has been removed, move tofu slices to a very lightly-oiled baking pan.

Continue until all slices have been pressed and excess water has been removed.

Brush each slice with a little olive oil or other preferred oil, then season with salt and pepper and sprinkle each side with a pinch of the dry rub. Return to very lightly-oiled baking pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours, or up to 48 hours.

Make Chile Verde Sauce

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 4-ounce can diced roasted green chiles
  • Half of a 14-ounce can plum or fire-roasted tomatoes (freeze the other half to make vegetable broth or for use in another recipe)
  • 1 10-ounce can Mexican green tomatillos. drained
  • 1/8cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

In a stew pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté the onion with a little salt until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Add the green chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, cilantro and veg broth. Bring to a gentle boil.

Insert immersion blender — or transfer everything to a blender — and puree.

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red vinegar (optional — but highly recommended)

Add salt, pepper, and vinegar (if desired) to taste.

Grill (or bake) Tofu:

I have a grill pan that I like to use when I think a somewhat-charred flavor will benefit a dish. So I used it for this dish and grilled the tofu slices. Then cubed, and added to the chile verde sauce.

To serve: put Roasted Sweet Potatoes in bowl, ladle Tofu Chile Verde over top. Sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

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Beet and Orange Salad

I lived in Portland, OR back in the early 90’s when it was still somewhat undiscovered. What an exceedingly cool, authentically funky, artsy, eclectic town … with lots to explore, providing wonderful stomping grounds for me during my mid-20’s.  Some of my happiest years are my years in Portland, and this was due in large part to the city, itself, and its amazingness. But also to my bosses/mentors and the staff at Higgins Restaurant. And to my fantastic roommates, with whom I lived in our adorable bungalow on SE 32nd & Stark, near Laurelhurst Park. Great, GREAT neighborhood, and many a good time with that crew.

Some of my favorite memories from that time are from the potluck dinners we hosted. My roommates’ friends became my friends, and we all enjoyed cooking and experimenting with cuisines, so the “Cultural Supper Club” was born. We would choose a country, then complete our research at nearby Powell’s Books for Cooks, and then indulge in delicious foods, wines and cocktails from around the world. Participants signed-up for appetizers, entrees, beverages and desserts, and over time we expanded the roles to include researching and making a presentation about the country and its customs — especially if they influenced the ingredients and dishes. As our group grew larger, we added the role of investigating and bringing music from the region. Each gathering was a wonderfully well-rounded, cultural immersion. Convivial, scrumptious and educational!

I’m thrilled to have found a group of friends interested in starting this tradition here in Rochester! Our group originally dined out, and enjoyed getting to know each other while exploring restaurants new to us, and letting others do the cooking. Knowing that we all enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes, we decided to get together for a potluck dinner one evening. Our host suggested we pick a theme, which turned out to be Indian foods, so we enjoyed lassis, biryani, dahl, coconut custards, and more. At the conclusion of our meal together, I asked if they would be interested in resurrecting the “Cultural Supper Club.” They were excited about the idea!!

Our first official gathering featured foods of Spain — YUM!!! We included the spouses who could make it, and had a rip-roaringly fun meal together! Jaws and bellies ached from laughing so much! Below are the pictures of each course, and a few of the gorgeous home of our hosts — a lovely restored farmhouse out in Honeoye Falls. They served everything using beautiful china, crystal and silver … and we were greeted at the door by our friend holding a large pitcher of sangria:

Tapas for our first course: Patatas Brava (Potatoes with Aioli), Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Stuffed with Bleu Cheese, Spanish-style Shrimp with Garlic and Pan De Horno (Spanish crusty bread) to use to sop-up the sauce!

For our main courses, we devoured Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken) and Paella, accompanied by my Beet and Orange Salad (recipe below):

We concluded the meal with a Spanish cheesecake Quesada Pasiega, served with strawberry jam, enjoyed with a lovely Spanish brandy Gran Duque de Alba. How lucky that one of our group had made a recent trip to Spain and brought the bottle back for our gathering!

Stay tuned for recipes and pictures from our next get-together, featuring a proper English Sunday Lunch, followed by an afternoon stroll! If you and your friends like cooking and experimenting, I highly recommend starting your own “Cultural Supper Club” — so fun!!! And please read to the end, for mention of another activity that I recommend for cooking and learning about food called Cooking Matters.

Without further ado, the recipe I created using Spanish flavors to make a Beet and Orange Salad. True to form, I doubled this to make a huge batch since I was sure Mr. Batch and I would like it well enough to enjoy for our Veggie Snacks the following week:

Beet and Orange Salad

6 servings


  • 1 pound of whole beets

Preheat oven to 375-F.

Coat beets lightly with oil. Wrap beets in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until cooked through, approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, and then peel and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.


While beets are roasting, make vinaigrette. You want flavors to “marry” before dressing the salad.

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar

Whisk together ingredients above in a medium size bowl.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Stream oil slowly into vinegar-spice mixture, whisking constantly to make emulsion. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Vinaigrette should be on the tart-side.

Assemble salad:

  • 1.5 pounds oranges. I used Cara Cara Oranges from Trader Joes, but I think a mixture of Valencia Oranges and Blood Oranges would be lovely, as well.

Peel oranges, removing all white pith, and slice into rounds.

“Shingle” alternating slices of beets and oranges on serving platter, and drizzle 1/4 of the vinaigrette over. Eyeball this measurement — you want a fair amount of dressing glistening on the slices of beets and oranges:


  • 1/2  bulb fennel, shaved on a mandolin or sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 small red onion, shaved on a mandolin or sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves (from approximately 1/2 a bunch)
  • 12 Spanish green olives stuffed with pimentos, sliced

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, and add 1/3 of the remaining vinaigrette. Taste a spoonful that includes all components, and add salt and pepper, if needed. Add more vinaigrette, if desired.**

Mound salad in center of beets and oranges, and sprinkle a few more cilantro leaves, as garnish:

*For a less glamorous presentation, you can combine ingredients in small tupperware containers, and shake to distribute all flavors. Enjoy as a Veggie/Fruit Snack.

**Leftover vinaigrette keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks. I had it over shredded carrots, cubed avocado and thinly sliced red onion … and licked the bowl clean! 🙂

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

Well, this isn’t really a freezable dish, but here is what I’ve been up to for play! This week marked the last class in a 6-week program I volunteered with called Cooking Matters, created by Share Our Strength and sponsored by our regional food hub Foodlink, to teach kids about healthy meals on a budget, and to impart skills that will make them self-sufficient in the kitchen. Some of our kids had never opened a can — some had never even peeled a banana. It was humbling and heart-warming to help empower these children to eat more healthfully. If you like to cook and have the time to volunteer, I highly recommend signing up for the Cooking Matters course wherever you live:

And Mr. Batch and I have been out in our garden! Still hard for this Southerner to embrace a Spring that never really starts till late April! I’ve decided to join Mr. Batch this year, to help plant and weed. Here is some of what is blooming in our neighborhood and just a couple of shots from our yard:

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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!

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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.



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.

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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.

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Cabbage Salad with Mint and Avocado

How many of you remember the TV Show “Sesame Street” being “sponsored” by a letter and a number?  The show would conclude with, “Sesame Street has been brought to you by the letter P and the number 5.” Remember?!?!  Childhood memories flooding back to you?  🙂

In that spirit, today’s blog post is brought to you today by the letter “W” and the number “1.”  “W” is for “willingness.” I was inspired to write about willingness by a question/comment I received recently about prepping several days’ worth of food in advance — wondering how the pre-portioned containers of food stay fresh?

I gave that a lot of thought, and the word that came up for me was “willingness.” Food cooked daily … and fruits and veggies peeled and cut daily … are fantastically fresh, natch. In an ideal world, I would have that much time, energy … and probably most importantly interest … in cooking daily. But a good “Plan B” for me is to cook and prep in quantity — sacrificing optimal freshness, yet *still* preparing deliciously tasty food (in my husband’s and my opinion … grin!)

The compromise for optimal freshness I’m willing to make is to have food “at the ready” for me to grab and go. Otherwise, I am likely to make less healthy choices. And more expensive ones. If I can easily grab a peeled tangerine — even one peeled a few days ago and put into a sealed container, which is still plenty juicy and tasty — I am more likely to do so when faced with the choice between that and a free cookie at work.  But if the tangerine needs to be peeled and then I have to wash my hands, I’ll choose the cookie every time.

Likewise with cooking after work. I get up at 5am almost daily. This routine is leftover from my days as a professional pastry chef when my workday started at 5am, which meant my alarm went off at 4am! I take care of several tasks and “to do’s” prior to departing for work, and then, like all of us, work a full day. By the time 5:30/6pm rolls around, all I want to do is eat. So if I have to chop, stir-fry, bake and steam foods in order to do so, I bet I’ll choose to stop at Chipotle and let them handle it.

Thus, I cook about 5 days’ worth of different types of veggies on a Sunday and mix and match them into lunches and dinners. I cook between 5-10 portions of various meat and vegetarian proteins, but only leave 2 or 3 portions in the refrigerator and freeze the rest. I find it just as easy to cook 10 chicken thighs as it is 3 or 4.  My engineering father reminds me that this is “economy of scale cooking.”

When I cook this way, I stack the odds in my favor that I’ll eat *these* foods, versus indulgent treats at work and/or frequent meals out. But trust me, by the weekend, I’m more than ready for someone else to cook — and clean-up! So … I get a break, and we eat out.  And we feel very fortunate to be able to do so!

Which brings me to our sponsored number of “1.”  You guessed it.  One time I am willing to cook … in big batches … per week.  With the intent of having leftovers to pull from the freezer on weeks when I am uninspired, which has been the case this week!  Some people say they can taste when food has been frozen, even if it is for a brief period of time. We’re lucky that we don’t fall in that camp, so this week I’ve been mixing and matching previously-frozen veggie burgers for Mr. Batch’s lunches, and mixing and matching previously-frozen Juiciest Baked Chicken Breasts and baked pork chops with various starches, veggies and sauces. As the tagline says, I made a lot. Froze some. And this week I’m just playing!

Would love to hear areas where you’re willing to compromise!

I created this Cabbage Salad with Mint and Avocado to use-up some odds and ends of veggies and herbs I had in our veggie drawer. And I really like how it turned out!  We’ve eaten this as our Veggie Snack each day, but you could make one recipe of this and take it to a potluck or picnic.

Yield: 10 servings

  • 1/2 head of cabbage (mine was originally a large green head of cabbage), sliced thin
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
  • 12 colorful mini bell peppers, seeded and sliced thin (alternatively, 1 thinly sliced red or orange bell pepper)
  • 1/2 of a red onion, small diced
  • 20 leaves of mint, chopped
  • 20 leaves of parsley, chopped

Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, to combine.

Make ahead: pre-portion into 10 containers with covers. Each day, add 1/8 of an avocado to each container and a splash of apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar (or coconut vinegar, or lemon or lime juice … whatever you like), as well as a little salt and pepper.  Stir to combine. We find that just the vinegar is flavorful enough for us, but if you prefer a vinaigrette with oil, by all means add that, instead.

Make and serve immediately: add 2 avocados, cubed, to the cabbage-mixture and stir to combine. Add a few splashes of apple cider or white balsamic vinegar (or coconut vinegar, or the juice of a lemon or lime … whatever you like), and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and several grinds of freshly cracked pepper.  Stir to combine, and taste and adjust seasoning as you like.

In case you’ve been missing seeing what else I’ve been cooking in big batches, here are some shots from this week. Hover over the images to reveal the captions:

I leave you with a sign I saw recently and loved. Addresses another area of willingness! SMOOCH!


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“Peanut” (No Peanut) Sauce

Where have I been with my weekly posts of big batch cooking, you ask?  You’ve missed seeing my recipes and pictures of vegetarian food I make for Mr. Batch, and Paleo-inspired foods I make for myself, you say?  What have we been up to after I’ve Made a Lot / Frozen Some / and then Gone and Played?!?  I’ve missed y’all too! (insert Southern twang)

Here’s what’s been keeping me busy! I’m redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer, technical writer and blog contributor!  I’ve fallen so in love with telling my stories here on, that I’m going to make a “go” of telling more stories! My grant writing will help convey the stories of nonprofit organizations to funders. My technical writing will tell companies’ stories of “how to.” And, among other topics, my blog contributions will tell the stories of what we’re loving about living in Rochester, NY. Stay tuned!

I have also been volunteering with two organizations close to my heart for their missions to help with food insecurity: Foodlink and the Rochester Public Market‘s Market Token Program for SNAP Benefit Recipients.  More about the Public Market in forthcoming posts.

Modified slightly from their website: Foodlink is a regional food hub and the Feeding America food bank serving 10 counties in the Rochester area. Their operations target the root causes of hunger.  They do this by distributing food to a network of human service agencies, serving meals through their commercial kitchen, and offering more than 30 food-related programs. Read more about them here. Their motto is “Abundance Shared.”  (Swoon!)

I have been helping on their Curbside Market trucks, and in their warehouse sorting donations. The Curbside Market brings fresh, affordable produce to areas in Rochester where fresh fruits and vegetables are not easily accessible. It’s been inspiring to hitch my wagon (pun intended) to these efforts to empower and improve the lives of Rochesterians, and I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to help!

Which brings me to helping bring deliciousness to you all! New this year, I’m going to shorten my blog posts to one recipe at a time. I think having recipes and tips in smaller bites (man, I’m punny today!) might be easier to digest. (groan!)  Would love to know what you think!

Without further ado, I present “Peanut” (No Peanut) Sauce — a sauce made with almond butter versus peanut butter, for those avoiding peanuts. If you’re a peanut lover, substitute peanut butter!  You can also substitute any other nut butter, including sunflower seed butter:

Yield: 6 servings

Combine the following in a blender or food processor and puree:

  • 3 Tablespoons grated ginger (one 3″ piece)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (approx 30 stems), coarsely chopped
  • 8 green onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime (approx 1/8 cup)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (mine was creamy & included salt, but you can sub chunky and/or unsalted)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce, if you aren’t avoiding gluten)
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable broth, chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Taste, and adjust seasoning.  Add sriracha or other hot sauce if you want it spicier. Adjust consistency with more broth or water, or even a teaspoon or more of sesame oil, which might also enhance the flavor. Play around with it and make it your own! <smooch!>

This was created because I wanted noodles and peanut sauce — but I can’t keep peanut butter or peanuts in the house for the temptation to gorge. I’ve got much more self-control around almond butter and almonds … and I tend toward Paleo which doesn’t include peanuts … and a lot of you out there can’t have peanuts … so this recipe was born!

Mr. Batch ate it over rice noodles with tofu, edamame and shrimp — pescatarian, but leave out the shrimp and it’s a vegan meal. I ate mine over sweet potato noodles with chicken and spicy sausage. We sprinkled chopped, toasted almonds for added texture:

The veggies I included were sliced onion, carrots & zucchini that I sautéed with grated fresh ginger and garlic:

Another use for this recipe would be as a dipping sauce for a veggie plate. How else might you use yours?

As the tagline says: Make A Lot. Freeze Some. Now Go Play!

Mr. Batch and I have both been recuperating from the severe cold we caught while in NYC over the holidays. So my report is of the marvelous movies we’ve watched:

Two food documentaries — both delicious! The Search for General Tso and DeliMan.

And we went with a Daniel Day-Lewis theme and watched My Left Foot and In The Name of the Father.  Both powerful!

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Asian Pesto to add to Soup, Two Ways; Paleo Korma; Vegan Dhal; Apple Butterscotch Blondies

I absolutely LOVED eating so much delicious food in San Francisco and Portland as I mentioned in my last post … and I absolutely LOVED getting back into the kitchen again this past Sunday!  This week’s cooking included batches of:

(not pictured) I began my cooking session by slicing a block of Trader Joe’s Extra Firm Tofu into thick slabs, and freezing it for a batch of Crispy Baked Tofu.

Next on my list: using my big ol’ wok to cook some vegetables. I started by cooking a batch of broccolini and then rinsed the pan to use again to sauté some sliced baby portobello mushrooms, followed by sautéing some onions. When I was finished sautéing the mushrooms and onions, I added some Asian Pesto (pictured in the upper right corner of the photo with the whole ‘shrooms, below):

I thawed the frozen tofu slices and squeezed excess water from them. I brushed them with sesame oil and sprinkled salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides, and popped them in the oven to roast, using the method in my recipe for Crispy Baked Tofu:

Frozen-then-thawed tofu slices, squeezing out excess water to make Crispy Baked Tofu

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Indonesian Marinade for Broiled Tofu andBaked Chicken; Guacamole; Steamed Baby Bok Choy; Roasted Leg of Lamb; Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake

In case you missed the “Reflection” I published this week and you need a good laugh, check out all of the mishaps from our civil ceremony in Mr. Batch and I Get Married.  🙂

This week’s cooking included batches of:

I started by making two batches of Indonesian Marinade — one for marinating and then broiling some tofu for Mr. Batch; and one for marinating and then baking some chicken breasts for myself:

Many of the same ingredients from the marinade go into Guacamole, so while those proteins marinated, I made some Guacamole for Mr. Batch’s Vegetarian Sandwiches and for dipping veggie snacks into:

Next, I roasted a batch of delicata squash slices. These squash are usually only available briefly because of their delicate skins, which is one reason why I love them — the skins are so delicate (hence, the name) that you can eat them!  I scrubbed the squashes, sliced them in half and removed the seeds, and then brushed them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with salt & pepper, and baked them on a sheet pan at 400-degrees F for approximately 35 – 45 minutes (flipping them over, half-way through the roasting):

While those roasted, I prepped this week’s “Frittata,” which included a chunk of previously frozen wilted greens + Slow Roasted Tomatoes (from my September 14th post) and 1/3 of a pound of previously cooked and frozen breakfast sausage. This combination is one of my favorites for my weekly  “Frittata.”  Once the delicata squash slices were out of the oven, I lowered the temperature and baked my  “Frittata.”

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Southeast Asian Meatballs; Lentils with Roasted Eggplant, Pine Nuts & a Lemon-Tahini Sauce; Comforting Chicken Soup; Apple Pecan Cake

It’s officially Fall here in Western New York, which means time for roasted hard squashes; simmering soups; apples, nuts and pomegranates; and zesty warming foods with spices and ginger.  To that effect, this week’s cooking included batches of:

I started by using some of my freshly picked Hurd Orchards apples (pix below) to bake an ApplePecan Cake for Mr. Batch’s group meeting:

While that baked, I worked on a Poached Chicken, using most of the bag from the freezer of veggie ends-n-nubs I collect each week when cooking (ends-n-nubs of carrots, onion, celery, fennel, tomato, ginger, and parsley and thyme stems) and a chicken that I had bought locally from McDonald Farm:

(not pictured) Once the Poached Chicken was finished, I removed the chicken from the broth and let it cool in the refrigerator; and then strained the broth and discarded the vegetables.  Once the chicken was cool enough to handle, I removed the meat and saved the bones in the freezer for a future batch of Bone Broth. I stored 2 portions of the picked chicken in the refrigerator, and stored the rest of the portions of chicken in the freezer. I used most of the broth for the Comforting Chicken Soup (below), and froze the rest.

Then I prepped the next round of items that would go into the oven once the cake was out: this week’s “Frittata” with 1/3 of a pound of cooked breakfast sausage, leftover roasted butternut squash from the freezer, and some of the farm stand broccoli that I had blanched (cooked just briefly & then cooled) and then frozen earlier this Summer:

And prepped an acorn squash from my friend Hiram’s garden, to be roasted simultaneously while baking the “Frittata”:

Acorn squash from my friend Hiram’s garden, to be roasted

And prepped a batch of Southeast Asian Meatballs, to be baked at the same time as the items above. I used ground lamb and ground beef that I bought from the fabulous McDonald Farm:

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