pumpkin ale bread

there are currently bread crumbs and pepita seeds strewn about my kitchen. the countertops are filled with ingredients in various stages as i prepare for a dinner party. my camera and props are blocking the path from the kitchen to the living room. i'm taking a moment away from the mess and the dinner prep to write a halloween inspired blog post before our guests come over. i've been hearing a funny whining sound from the dish washer, which i regretfully ignored for a solid half hour while i fiddled with photos ... that sounds? the sound of gallons of foam bubbling out the bottom of the dishwasher. how do these have a way of happening right before dinner parties? i am the idiot who poorly read the dish soap label. i suppose i should go deal with that mess. but first, i have got to share this recipe with the world! 

beer bread was a frequent occurrence growing up. i remember my dad letting me try a sip of beer long ago as a kid. i thought it was less than tasty. but i loved love loved when he made us beer bread. it's stupidly simple to make, and i feel ashamed i don't make it more often. i did however think to make it for a client this week. the aroma made me so jealous i hadn't made some for myself. so today, inspired by halloween i whipped up a pumpkin ale bread that i am quite thrilled to serve with dinner tonight! this particular recipe is the offspring of my dad's old beer bread recipe and a recipe from the fabulous spoon fork bacon blog. it is a savory loaf with sweet spices. it would be fantastic with a hearty black bean and pumpkin soup, or with sautéed greens and fried eggs for breakfast. 

happy halloween! 

pumpkin ale bread ~ serves 6

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
12 oz pumpkin ale
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (homemade, or unseasoned canned purée)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/2 cup grated parmesan or sharp cheddar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup raw pepita seeds

preheat oven to 375. line a 9"x5" bread pan with two overlapping strips of parchment paper (or grease with butter or oil). combine dry ingredients and cheese in a mixing bowl. add pumpkin ale, egg and pumpkin purée and fold to combine. do not over-mix. pour batter into prepared bread pan, sprinkle with pepita seeds and bake for 75 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean. let cool out of bread pan for 30 minutes before slicing.

puréed roasted cauliflower soup with dukkah

soup season! finally! i seem to never tire of soup during the cooler months. they are simple, nourishing, comforting and the best left-over meal imaginable. i roast whole chickens on a regular basis, just so that i can make batches of homemade chicken stock... and enjoy the tasty chicken too. but the stock! oh my word! i've been saving every scrap of vegetable - carrot tops, celery stems butts, onion skins (which are highly concentrated with bionutrients!!) - and storing them in the freezer until the next batch of stock. it's a wonderful way to use the whole of every plant, and adds depth to your homemade stock. oh and don't throw away the rinds to parmesan cheese. save them in the freezer until your next batch of vegetable or chicken stock! 

eating on the wild side ... and a bowl of homemade spiced lentil soup inspired by sprouted kitchen 

this past week, i was fending off a cold. which for the first time in my life, i think i actually successfully fended off a cold. usually there is a valiant effort of resistance against getting sick, and then one day it takes hold and you are inevitably sick. not this time! this time, i saw the signs, and fought back with vegetables. seriously. i've been reading this wonderful book 'eating on the wild side' all week. it is fascinating and packed with valuable information about how to choose/store/prepare vegetables to retain the most nutritional and medicinal benefits. you think you know something about nutrition, and then this book blows your mind. 

for example, i learned that if you crush or chop garlic and then let it rest for 10 minutes before exposing it to heat, you will retain more valuable antibacterial and antioxidant properties. the book explains why smaller yellow onions have higher concentrations of nutrients and antioxidants than larger or sweeter onions. i learned about all the sexy cancer-fighting benefits of cauliflower, and that even white cauliflower is packed with nutrients (although other colors still rank higher)... so i put this all into practice when i noticed a stuffy nose and ate a lot of alliums, mushrooms and miso soup, and this delightful soup, and magically did not fall sick. instead, i went and kicked some butt at my first real climbing competition. plant powered and strong. 

puréed roasted cauliflower & parsnip soup with dukkah ~ serves 10
2 heads white or yellow cauliflower (about 2 1/2 lbs)
2 lbs parsnips
1 lb small yellow onions
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil, split
6 cloves garlic
3 quarts homemade or store bought stock of choice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
dukkah (see recipe below) 
chopped parsley for garnish
parsley oil for garnish (optional) 

note: this made a rather large batch, but the soup freezes well for wonderful leftovers. you could easily halve this recipe if you prefer

preheat oven to 425. cut cauliflower into evenly sized florets, and chop stems into 1 inch cubes. toss cauliflower in a large mixing bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. toss to coat and then spread cauliflower out onto two large baking sheets. spread out so the cauliflower is not mounded and there is space for them to roast, not steam. roast for 20-30 minutes until bottoms are browned. let cool. 

in the mean time, crush garlic and let rest in a bowl for 10 minutes. chop onions and sauté in 3 tablespoons of oil in a large soup pot for about 5 minutes, until soft. clean but do not peel the parsnips (the skin has tons of nutrients!) chop parsnips into small cubes and add parsnips, garlic, salt and cumin to the pot and sauté for a few additional minutes. add just enough stock to completely submerge the parsnips. simmer covered, for about 15 minutes until parsnips are fork tender. add the roasted cauliflower (saving a few florets for garnishing soups) and add more broth to just submerge the cauliflower. return to a simmer, covered, and cook until cauliflower stars to fall apart - about 10 minutes. 

you could use a immersion blender, however i couldn't get quite the smooth consistency i was looking for with my immersion blender, so i processed the soup in smaller batches in my blender. return blended soup to pot and stir in additional broth if the consistency feels to thick for your liking. 

serve bowls of soup with a good tablespoon of dukkah sprinkled on top, the reserved roasted cauliflower florets, parsley and/or parsley oil. 

parsley oil ~ makes about 1 cup
1 bunch or 2 cups loosely packed parsley, stems removed
1 cup organic olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed

wash and dry parsley, then remove stems. place parsley into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped - alternatively you can hand chop parsley, it just takes longer than 5 seconds. place chopped parsley in a medium sauté pan with 1 clove crushed garlic and 1 cup olive oil. sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes until parsley is a rich, deep green color and not fried brown. remove from heat and let sit for at least one hour. up to 8. use a fine-mesh cheesecloth to strain the parsley from the oil. squeeze out all the oil and store in an air tight jar or chef squeeze bottle. store in cool dark place with other oils. drizzle parsley oil over soups, salad, eggs, or mix into vinaigrettes or simple marinades. it adds beautiful color to any artful plating. 

dukkah egyptian nut & spice blend ~ makes about 1 cup 
recipe adapted from 'my new roots

1 cup raw hazelnuts
½ cup raw sesame seeds
1 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt

in a dry skillet over medium heat, roast coriander and cumin seeds together until fragrant, stirring often (about 2 minutes). place seeds in mortar (or spice grinder) along with the black peppercorns. return skillet to medium heat and roast hazelnuts until fragrant, stirring often (about 10 minutes). let hazelnuts cool on a plate. finally, toast sesame seeds over medium heat until fragrant, stirring often (3-5 minutes) then let cool. 
grind spices finely and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. rub hazelnuts together or in a cloth to remove skins. hand-chop or pulse hazelnuts in food processor until they resemble coarse bread crumbs. transfer hazelnuts to bowl with spice mixture. add salt and toasted sesame seeds. stir to combine. let cool completely then store in airtight jar for up to one month. serve dukkah over soups, salads, roasted vegetables, sautéed greens, fried eggs, or traditionally as a dip with bread and olive oil.

fava bean fūl

there is something about fall that makes me crave simplicity. simple joys like walking down our street and looking up at the remaining colorful leaves in the trees or biting into a first-of-the-season washington apple. there are so many wonderful seasonal flavors to enjoy during the fall! lingering heirloom tomatoes and chili peppers from the farmers market. the arrival of fall squash and pumpkin. bountiful leafy greens... all things i love to enjoy simply prepared.

tomorrow i am teaching a private cooking lesson with a focus on mediterranean cuisine. i am quite excited! we'll be sampling flavors and dishes from morocco, egypt, cyprus and turkey... four countries i've spent collectively about half a year living/traveling in. i had quite a bit of fun designing this cooking lesson and day dreaming about past adventures. while putting together my menu and recipes, i realized how simple mediterranean food can be. when you have delicious seasonal ingredients, you don't need a lot of frill or flair. you just need a bit of intuition and a few basic cooking skills in order to craft a delicious and nourishing meal. i suppose the ability to artfully plate a pile of wilted greens and smushed beans only adds to the enjoyment of simple foods. 

a bit about this dish... fūl, or ful medames, is a traditional egyptian dish served often for breakfast or lunch. cooked fava beans are blended with simple spices, oil and lemon juice (almost like a warm hummus) topped with diced vegetables, herbs or boiled eggs. there are tons of different versions, this is just my favorite pairing. fava beans and chard! 

fava bean fūl serves 2-4

2 cups cooked fava beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup chopped tomatoes for garnish (optional)
¼ cup parsley for garnish (optional)

1 large bunch rainbow chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon aleppo pepper
salt to taste

gently mash fava beans with a fork. heat olive oil in a sauté pan over low heat. warm the fava beans and add the remaining ingredients. cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes and continue to mash until smooth.

sauté garlic in olive oil and add chard and water and sauté over medium heat until water is evaporated and greens are tender. season to taste. to plate, spread fava bean mixture onto a platter and top with sautéed chard. garnish with aleppo pepper, chopped tomatoes, chillies, parsley, hard boiled eggs or chopped red onion.