Tuesday, December 20, 2016

East African Bean Soup (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

Beans have never been one of my favorite foods. They've always been okay to me, but never anything to get excited about.  This recipe for East African Bean Soup has changed that: I love this soup, and so does the rest of my family.  This recipe has combines beans and vegetables with a flavor boost from coconut milk and curry powder. The result is amazingly delicious and, thanks to the coconut milk, this recipe is quite hearty and filling.

This recipe was inspired a recipe in Best of Regional African Cooking.

East African Bean Soup
Serves 8
  1. In a large bowl, cover the beans with plenty of filtered water and the baking soda. The beans will soak up quite a bit of water, so be sure to add plenty. Cover and allow to soak overnight. This important step reduces the phytic acid antinutrient in the beans.
  2. About 3-4 hours before mealtime, chop the onions. 
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a 4- or 6-quart pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a small sprinkle of salt. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are translucent and have taken on a bit of brown, caramelized color.
  4. In the meantime, drain and rinse the beans in a colander.
  5. Add the beans to the pot with the onions. Pour in just enough filtered water to cover the beans; since the beans have already absorbed so much water during the long soaking process they won't absorb much more while cooking. In my pot, it takes about 4 cups of water to cover the beans.
  6. Bring the beans to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Salt the cooking liquid; I find that 4 tsp salt is a good amount for my family's taste preferences. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.
  7. Allow the beans to simmer 2-3 hours, until they are fully cooked and soft.
  8. Remove and discard one cup of liquid from the pot of beans. Shake the can of coconut milk well before opening it. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, curry powder, and green peppers to the beans. Stir the pot to mix all the ingredients together well.
  9. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, and then simmer the soup for 20-30 minutes, until the peppers are cooked to your preference. Taste the broth and adjust the salt as needed.
  10. Ladle into bowls, serve, and enjoy!
*Madras curry powder really is the best curry powder. It has such a fantastic flavor and aroma compared to other curry powders.

What is your favorite bean recipe?

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies

My family enjoys delivering cookies to our neighbors in the days leading up to Christmas.  Since we live on an acreage, we don't often see our neighbors unless we intentionally visit them. The holidays are a good time to make those visits a priority, and we like to bring cookies along.

Looking for a change from my usual Christmas cookies, I created this recipe for Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies. These cookies are mildly sweet, beautiful, and tasty. The subtle orange flavor plays nicely off the chocolate flavor. These cookies are made with Einkorn flour, which is an ancient variety of wheat that is naturally higher in protein and lower in gluten than modern wheat. The nutrient-content of these shortbread cookies is increased through the use of nutrient-dense butter and sucanat.

Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together the butter, sucanat, and sugar using a mixer or stand-mixer, until a bit fluffy and slightly lighter in color. (I love to use my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer anytime I am making cookies.) 
  3. Mix in the vanilla extract. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  5. Zest the tangerines (or orange). A microplane zester works fantastically to zest any citrus.
  6. Whisk the zest into the flour mixture, making sure to break up any clumps.
  7. Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well-mixed. Since this recipe contains gluten, make sure not to overmix the cookie batter.
  8. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with silpats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon.
  9. Flatten the cookies a bit with your fingers.
  10. Bake for ~15-20 minutes, until the edges are a nice golden-brown color. If you are baking more than one cookie sheet at a time, you may need to swap the position of the cookie sheets for the last ~5 minutes to achieve even cooking of both sheets. 
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  12. Melt the chocolate chips in a small pot over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Don't rush this process, as you don't want to burn the chocolate. 
  13. Once the chocolate is melted, use a fork to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. I found that a relatively rapid back-and-forth motion of my hand worked well to make the chocolate drizzles look pretty.
  14. Allow the chocolate to fully cool to room temperature and harden. 
  15. Serve and enjoy!

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Beef Stroganoff Meatballs (gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

My family was surprised by how much we all enjoyed the food from Russia during our homeschool world trip. One of our favorite Russian-inspired dishes was Beef Stroganoff Meatballs. I was pleased to learn that Beef Stroganoff is often served over mashed potatoes in Russia, and my family really enjoyed eating this dish over buttery Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. My husband also gives this meal a thumbs-up as a frozen meal that he can re-heat for lunch at work.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Olga's Flavor Factory but I've made quite a few changes to make this recipe work better for my own family.

Beef Stroganoff Meatballs
Serves 6-8

  • Meatballs:
    • 1 large white or yellow onion, minced
    • 2 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 1&1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 1 egg, preferably from pastured hens
    • 1&1/2 Tb white rice flour
    • 1&1/2 Tb sour cream
    • 1&1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
    • 2 Tb refined coconut oil plus 1 Tb butter
  • Stroganoff Gravy:
    • 2 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 1 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 scallion, minced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 Tb white rice flour
    • 3 Tb dry vermouth* or dry white wine
    • 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade 
    • 1 tsp celtic sea salt 
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 3 Tb sour cream
    • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  1. In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in 2 Tb butter for about 15 minutes.  Adding a small sprinkle of salt will help the onion cook faster, since it causes the onion to release its moisture. Let the onion develop a bit of brown, caramelized color.  Turn off heat and allow to cool off a bit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, sour cream, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine. Then add the caramelized onion and sprinkle with 1&1/2 Tb white rice flour. Stir until everything is well mixed.
  3. Form the meatball mixture into small meatballs. I like to use a 1 Tb scoop to easily make the meatballs uniformly-sized. 
  4. Heat a very large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2Tb refined coconut oil and 1 Tb butter, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the meatballs and cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes.  (If you don't have a very large skillet, the meatballs will need to be cooked in two batches.) Turn the meatballs and cook another 3-4 minutes. It is okay if the meatballs are not fully cooked during this step, as they will continue cooking in the gravy. Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside. 
  5. Melt 2 Tb butter in the very large, heavy-bottomed skillet.  Add the sliced mushrooms and scallion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 8 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and cooked down.  
  6. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute, just until fragrant.
  7. Stir in 4 Tb rice flour to coat the mushroom and scallions.
  8. Whisk in the broth and vermouth. The vermouth can be omitted if desired, but it really does add good flavor to the recipe. The alcohol evaporates out of the recipe very quickly while it cooks.
  9. Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, until it has thickened nicely. Taste the sauce and add salt to taste.
  10. Whisk in the heavy cream, sour cream, and dill. Add the meatballs to the gravy and simmer for 5 more minutes.Turn off heat and serve. This recipe makes plenty of gravy so it is excellent when served over mashed potatoes.

*I love to use vermouth instead of wine, as it doesn't go bad like unused wine. Vermouth is shelf stable, can be used in place of dry white wine in cooking, and can be stored at room temperature indefinitely.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Marinated Cabbage Salad

Once a month, I attend a book club with a few friends where we share a meal together and discuss the month's book. Recently, my friend Nora hosted bookclub and she made a recipe I just had to re-create in my own kitchen: Claremont Salad, which I am calling Marinated Cabbage Salad. Nora modified the recipe from the original, and her salad was so perfect that I haven't made any changes to her recipe. (That is saying quite a lot, as I almost never follow recipes without fiddling with the ingredients somewhat.)

This Marinated Cabbage Salad is crispy, sour, and a tad bit sweet. It makes a perfect accompaniment to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it is a tasty addition to sandwiches. Marinated Cabbage Salad gets better over time, so although I eat it on the same day it is made, it is even better by day 3, and even better than that on day 5! This recipe will be a staple in our kitchen from now on.

Marinated Cabbage Salad
Makes 9-11 cups of salad

  • 1 medium-large head of green cabbage
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 3 medium-large carrots
  • Marinade:
  1. Chop the cabbage into quarters. Remove the and discard core. Chop the cabbage and place in a very large bowl.
  2. Cut the onion in half and remove the papery onion skin. Thinly slice the onion and sprinkle into the bowl with the cabbage.
  3. Peel the carrots and slice them thinly. Add them to the bowl with the other veggies.
  4. Combine the marinade ingredients. I like to measure and mix up the marinade in a glass Pyrex measuring cup, which allows for easy measuring and cleanup. Whisk the marinade well to combine.
  5. Pour the marinade over the veggies and fold/stir to combine.
  6. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for several hours before serving.  I like to transfer this salad into a large glass bowl with a lid.  This salad will be even better as it continues to marinate over the next few days. Consume within about a week. This salad makes a tasty addition to sandwiches!

Do you have a favorite salad during the winter months?

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Russian Korean Carrot Salad

This recipe for Russian Korean Carrot Salad is the first of many internationally-inspired recipes that I will be sharing in the coming months. During our recent homeschool world trip, we discovered many new foods that my family enjoyed, and I'll be sharing the best of them with you.

Given that I've never been to most of the countries we "visited" on our homeschool world trip, I would not claim that these recipes are truly authentic to the recipes of those countries. Rather, I would say that these recipes are inspired by the recipes from the different countries we visited.  I find it almost impossible to follow recipes without adding my own tweaks and refinements, so I modified almost all of the recipes I used for our world trip, often combining several different recipes or making adjustments to make the recipes better suit the tastes of my family.

Russian Korean Carrot Salad has a strange name, and there is no real agreement as to where its name originated. Nonetheless, apparently this type of salad is enjoyed in Russia and was often listed as a typical side dish for Russia. Russian Korean Carrot Salad is super tasty, and is especially enjoyed by myself and my daughter. It can be eaten within an hour after it is made, but it is even better the 2nd or 3rd day.  Enjoy this as a yummy side dish any time of day, or it also makes a great addition to sandwiches and liver paté on toast.  

Russian Korean Carrot Salad
Serves 5-7
  1. Chop the onion finely. Heat the sunflower oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and a sprinkle of salt. Sauté the onion for 10-15 minutes, until well done and caramelized to release its natural sweetness. I like to use my bamboo spatula to sauté the onion.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, spices, and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. Peel the carrots. Grate the carrots using a box grater and place them in a large bowl. I like to use a glass bowl with a lid for easy storage.
  4. Once the onion is done, turn off heat and quickly stir in the vinegar/spice mixture. 
  5. Stir the warm onion mixture into the grated carrots.
  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serve and enjoy! This salad is even better on the 2nd or 3rd day after being made, and makes a great addition to sandwiches. 

More Russian-inspired recipes will be coming soon! Do you have any favorite Russian-inspired recipes?


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