Sunday, February 9, 2020

RECIPE: Chicken Salad Melt

It's been really cold lately, so I planned a comfort food dinner tonight: roasted tomato soup that I had canned last summer, and chicken salad melts - you know, like tuna melts but with chicken salad instead, because tuna is now an endangered species, and I'm pretty sure fish is no longer a 'healthy' option, either for us or for our oceans.

I used Chicken Salad with Pear and Rosemary this time, but Curried Chicken Salad would also work.

The recipe is written for one, so you can scale up and make as many as you need.  We prefer a high ratio of salad and cheese to bread so the recipe is written that way. 

Chicken Salad Melt
Makes 1

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 cup chicken salad
  • enough sliced melting cheese to cover the bread.  I used cheddar, Montasio would be another option

Preheat a small oven to 350F.  I make these in our toaster oven so I don't heat up the kitchen for a few small sandwiches.

Spread the chicken salad on the bread and cover it with cheese.   I don't use nonstick cookware so I slipped a Silpat mat underneath to facilitate cleanup. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts.  If you'd like it brown on top, run it under the broiler for a minute or two.

Serve immediately, with a bowl of soup!

RECIPE: Umami Broth for Vegetarian Recipes

When I'm cooking for vegetarians I need ingredients that add umami since I can't use bone broth.  This broth was so flavorful I will make a larger batch next time. It would make a delicious warm drink on cold winter mornings.

Vegetarian Umami Broth Stock
Makes 6 pints concentrated stock

  • 1 gallon broth from poaching onions*
  • Outer peel from 4 large onions rinsed of dirt (it's high in quercetin and adds color)
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 heads garlic halved crosswise and root-end removed
  • 4-6 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
  • Celery leaves from inner stalks of one small head
  • Small bunch parsley leaves and small stems (stems are more bitter than the leaves so go easy on them.)
  • 4 medium tomatoes,halved and seed sacs removed (too many seeds can make it bitter)
  • 1 small bell pepper, de-stemmed, de-seeded, de-ribbed, sliced (mine was 1/2 green, 1/2 red/yellow)
  • Parmesan rind
  • 1 bag frozen shiitake mushrooms (8 oz?)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 5-6 allspice berries
  • 1/4 t. roasted fennel seeds
  • 1/4 t. dry thyme leaves
  • 1 t. himalayan pink salt

Combine everything in a large stock pot (I use an 8-qt pot), bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1-4 hours until flavors meld.   Taste it periodically and stop when you like the flavor.  If you cook it too long, it can get bitter.

Strain.  I use a nut milk bag because it gets all but the tiniest bit of sediment.

Return broth to medium heat and reduce to 1/2 gallon.

You can store it in the fridge or freezer but I pressure can it because I'm space-challenged.

Pressure Can in pint and/or half- pint jars for 20 minutes at 10# pressure (adjust for your altitude).

*Before canning or freezing onions, I poach them for 5 minutes.  The poaching water is very flavorful so I never toss it.  I either can it as is, or I use it as a base for veggie broth.  I freeze sliced onions for use in fajitas, omelets, and burgers; and I can chopped onions for use in bolognese, chili, curry, meatloaf, etc...  The sliced onions can be chopped after defrosting.

RECIPE: The BEST Guacamole

I'm a little reluctant to post this recipe because avocados are not a politically correct crop:  they require a HUGE amount of water to grow, in drought-plagued California, and the ones grown in Mexico fund the drug cartels.  So...I limit our consumption.  When I do buy a few, this is what I make.

The BEST Chunky Guacamole
Makes 2 cups

  • 4 ripe (but not overipe) avocados
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 t. himalayan pink salt
  • 1 hot pepper, minced (use gloves for this!!)
  • juice of one lime, about 1 T.
  • 2 T. minced red onion
  • OPT: if you like cilantro, add 1 T minced leaves when you add the onion

Open the avocados to make sure all of them are good.  Adjust the proportions of the remaining ingredients if one or more isn't usable.  Please wear gloves when you chop the hot pepper!

Using a mortar and pestle grind the garlic with the salt until it's a puree.  Stir in the hot pepper and the lime juice.  Combining them this way distributes the flavors evenly without having to totally mash the avocado.

Make crosshatch cuts in the avocado flesh and use a spoon to transfer the pieces to a small mixing bowl.

Scrape every last bit of the garlic puree onto the avocado.  Add the red onion and the cilantro leaves if you're using them, and mix it up gently so that there are still chunks of avocado.

Adjust lime and salt if necessary and serve!

NOTE:  If I add tomatoes, I use only the flesh, not the seed bags because they will dilute the mixture.  If I'm using very ripe large tomatoes, I will remove the skin.  If I'm using cherry tomatoes, I quarter them lengthwise and remove the core which can be yellow and underripe.  Add them with the onion. 

RECIPE:15 Minute Beef Fajitas

During the summer, when our farm store is FULL of veggies, I preserve what I can so we'll be able to enjoy them over the winter.  This recipe uses the peppers I froze last August.

I used beef tenderloin because it's tender without marinating so I can throw this together in 15 minutes! If you use a cheaper cut, you'll need to tenderize it first.

Beef Tenderloin Fajitas
Serves 4-6

  • 1 pound beef tenderloin, sliced against the grain into 1/8" by 1" pieces
  • 2 cups multicolored bell peppers, sliced into 3/8" pieces
  • 1 c. poblano peppers sliced into 3/8" pieces
  • 2 hot peppers sliced PAPER thin, or 1 t. cayenne, or to taste
  • 2 large onions, sliced into 3/8" pieces
  • 1 t. garlic powder (I make my own)
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. mexican oregano (use marjoram if you don't have any)
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 2 t. himalayan pink salt or to taste
  • 2 T. ghee or lard 

For Serving:
  • tortillas
  • guacamole
  • sour cream
  • minced cilantro leaves

Please wear gloves when you slice the hot peppers! 

Combine the garlic powder with the herbs and spices and mix well.  Set aside 2 t. 

Sprinkle the remaining seasoning mixture over the meat, rubbing it gently to separate the slices and work the seasoning into the flesh.  Set aside while you cook the vegetables.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 T. ghee on med-high and saute the onions until they're brown on the edges.  They should not be soft yet - the high heat should just sear the edges.  Push the onions to the side and add the peppers.  Saute the peppers until they're brown on the edges, too.

Reduce heat to medium.  Mix the peppers with the onions, sprinkle the reserved 2 t. seasoning mixture over all, and saute until softened, about 5 min.  If you add the seasoning mixture too early, it might burn.

Meanwhile, mix the cilantro with the sour cream and set aside.

Push all the veggies to the side of the pan and add the meat to the middle. Stir the meat occasionally, until JUST barely cooked.  In the photo at the top you can see some of the meat is still a little pink. 

If the seasoning sticks, add 1 T water and scrape it up.

Mix the meat into the veggies and serve!

My husband made a GIANT sandwich!  I had them on a tortilla with guacamole and cilantro sour cream.

Friday, February 7, 2020

RECIPE: Cajun Meatloaf Gluten Free

This recipe originated with Paul Prudhomme, who had the best palate I've ever known, but who used waaaay too much MSG.  I took his recipe for Cajun Meatloaf, replaced all the unhealthy ingredients, like Worcester sauce and evaporated milk, and then used America's Test Kitchen advice to make it gluten free.  I usually make it with 3 pounds of meat but I've written the recipe for one pound so it can easily be scaled up. 

Remember, it's Cajun, so it's spicy!

Cajun Meatloaf (gluten free)
Serves 8-10

Seasoning Mix:
1/8 t. powdered bay leaves
1-1.5 t. himalayan pink salt
1 t. cayenne powder
1 t. jalapeno powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. nutmeg

2 eggs
1/4 c. chia seeds (preferably milled or ground) or 1/4 c. potato flakes

3 T. ghee
1 c. minced onion
1/2 c. minced celery
1/2 c. minced green and/or red bell peppers
1/4 c. minced green onion tops
1-1.5 t.minced garlic

2 T. ketchup or tomato paste
2-4 t. harissa
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 pound of ground meat (beef, veal, pork or a mixture - I generally use beef)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine the seasoning mix in a small bowl and set aside.

In another small bowl, beat the eggs until combined, then stir in the thickener and let it hydrate while you prepare the meat.

In a large saute pan, melt the ghee over med-high heat and saute the onions, celery, peppers, garlic, and seasoning mix, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom well, until it starts to stick excessively.

Remove from heat and stir in the ketchup, harissa, and cream.  Mix well and let it cool to room temperature.

Stir pannade into cooked vegetables then combine them with the meat mixing with your hands until it's homogeneous.  Fry up a small bit and adjust seasoning.

In an ungreased baking pan, form the mixture into a loaf that is 1.5" high and 6" wide. 

Bake uncovered at 350F for 25 minutes, then raise the heat to 400 and continue cooking until done, about another 35 minutes.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: I have also baked this in a shallow casserole, and I've made it into meatballs.  Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes at 350 and 15 minutes at 400.

Monday, February 3, 2020

RECIPE: Celeriac Soup with Cumin, Sumac, and Dill

The original recipe for this soup, made with cauliflower, is one of my favorite soups EVER!  When I was out of frozen farm cauliflower, but had  plenty of celeriac, I decided to see if it would make a good substitute and was thrilled that it DOES!

I used an immersion blender for this so it's not as creamy as the cauliflower version.

Original recipe: Cauliflower Soup

Celeriac Soup with Cumin, Sumac and Dill

Makes 8-10 cups


  • 4 medium celeriac, cleaned cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 4 T. ghee, melted, divided
  • salt and cayenne
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 t. ground turmeric
  • 1 t. ground sumac
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 2.5 t. ground paprika
  • 4 cups broth (I used oxtail, you can use vegetable, veal or chicken instead)
  • 1 c. cream or half-and-half
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T. chopped fresh dill (I used frozen dill)

Cook the celeriac in acidulated water to cover until tender.  Drain.
Heat 2 T ghee in a large saucepan and saute onion until translucent.

Push the onion to the side of the pan and add the celeriac to the center.  Saute until lightly browned.

Add garlic, turmeric, sumac, cumin and paprika.  Stir for a few seconds until fragrant.

Add broth.

Bring to a simmer on med-high heat.  Cover and cook until celeriac is fall-apart tender, 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool slightly.  At this point you can either use an immersion blender to create a chunky soup, or transfer to a food processor and create a creamy one.  If I were serving this to company I would use the food processor because it looks more appetizing, but since it was just for us, I used an immersion blender.

Return to heat and stir in cream or half-and-half and then lemon juice.

Serve topped with dill.

I froze this in quart jars and it reheated beautifully!

RECIPE: Celeriac Gratin (baked with cheese and onions)

We won't have celeriac in the farm store much longer so I've been taking advantage of the last few roots.  When I found some raclette cheese leftover from New Year's Eve I decided to make Celeriac Gratin.  My husband's reaction was that, "If you don't like celeriac, you could stomach this; if you like celeriac, you'll like this; and if you love celeriac you will LOVE this!"

It reheats well.

Celeriac Gratin
Serves 4 (can be scaled up)

  • 3 medium celeriac roots, cleaned and sliced 3/8" thick
  • 2 cups melting cheese, chopped or grated (Montasio would be a good replacement for raclette)
  • 1 small onion sliced very thin (I used white, you can use red for a little color)
  • salt and cayenne to taste

Preheat over to 350F. 

In a saute pan, cover the celeriac slices with water and simmer until soft.

In a small baking dish, make 3 layers, covering each layer with a few onion slices, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/3 of the cheese.

Bake at 350 until the cheese is browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

I reheated it the next day for 30 minutes at 300F and added additional cayenne.

RECIPE: How to Clean and Cook Celeriac (celery root)

I thought I had posted this information last winter but I can't find the post so I guess I didn't.  Sorry!

Celeriac is the root of a plant related to celery, but in which we eat the root, not the stalks.  It's harvested in the fall and we enjoy it until about the end of February.   

How to Prepare Celeriac 

It can be eaten raw or cooked and has a very mild flavor, sort of like celery and parsley combined.

You can 'feature' it, as I do when I serve it instead of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, or you can use it instead of celery in recipes like bolognese sauce, cabbage and kielbasa stewveal ragout , and meatballs.  I've also found it to be a good substitute for cauliflower, as in this delicious soup.

One classic preparation is Celeriac Remoulade, raw celeriac in a remoulade sauce.  There are many other cooking techniques explained HERE, or you can search the Recipes I Want To Try page on this blog for some that I've found on the internet.  I listed a few below:

Creamy 4-ingredient carrot soup (carrots, celeriac, onions, miso) 

I find celeriac especially useful for making meat broth/stock or veggie broth when there's no celery in the farm store.  I cut it into 1/2" cubes and freeze it to use over the summer. 

How To Clean Celeriac

The roots in our farm store are covered in dirt, which helps them to keep for as long as they do.  If I'm not going to use them immediately, I store them in the fridge WITH THEIR DIRT.  You can clean them first but they won't last as long.

There are two ways to clean them:

1) scrub vigorously with a stiff brush, washing all that beautiful dirt down the drain.  I don't usually do this because I want that beneficial dirt in my compost pile!  Scrubbed this way, they will keep in the fridge for a week or two.

Dirty root on the far left....clean root from all angles on the right
2) To save the dirt for our compost pile, I use a large knife to cut away the top and the root end and then toss those in my compost bucket.  

Dirt removed to save for compost
At this point, whether you scrubbed or sliced, you need to use a vegetable peeler to remove the remaining skin, which is tough and inedible.  Drop the peeled root into a bowl of acidulated water to prevent it from turning brown, and then cook it in acidulated water to prevent it from browning while cooking. 

Celeriac cleaned and sliced.

Once it's peeled, there are many different cooking techniques explained HERE.

When you slice it, if the center is a bit spongy, it's OK to eat.  I remove the hairs if they're brown.

How to Freeze Celeriac 

There are no approved recipes for canning celeriac, probably due to the dirty exterior, so I freeze it.  I cut it into 1/2" cubes and then vacuum seal.  I don't blanch because it's going directly into the stock pot and I don't care about texture.

In the photo below, the bag is all wrinkled because I wash and reuse the bags.

Celeriac vacuum sealed for freezer.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

RECIPE: Super Creamy Parsnip Hummus

This 'hummus' was unbelievably smooth!  By simmering the parsnips twice - once before and once after sauteing them - you end up with a dip that has the same appearance and creamy texture as chickpea hummus!  I used my blender because it makes a smoother puree.  If you don't have a blender, a food processor will work but it might not be quite as creamy.

The measurements below allow the parsnip flavor to peek through.  If you add additional tahini and garlic, it will taste closer to the chickpea version.

Super Creamy Parsnip Hummus
Makes 4 cups
  • 12" skillet
  • 8-10 small parsnips, enough to fit snugly in pan once sliced
  • 2 T. ghee
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled, green shoots removed and then chopped
  • water
  • 2 T. EVOO
  • 2-3 T tahini (I used a roasted variety)
  • 1 T. meyer lemon juice
  • salt

Cut the ends off the parsnips, peel and slice 3/8-1/2" thick. Melt ghee in pan over medium heat, and nestle parsnips snugly in one layer.  Add enough water to cover and simmer until water has boiled away.  Saute parsnips until lightly browned on both sides.
Simmer ......................... brown ......................... simmer again ...................... soft and glossy!

Again, add water to cover, add garlic, and simmer until most of the water has boiled away and the parsnips are very soft and glistening.  The garlic will not be cooked through - you just want to take the edge off its bite.  (If you add the garlic at the beginning, it will burn.  Don't do it!)

When you're done, they should look like this:

Let cool slightly.  Transfer to a blender, add EVOO, tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Puree.  If you need additional liquid (I did) add some to the pan and swirl in all the residual ghee and little brown bits.

Taste and adjust seasoning.  Add additional salt or tahini if necessary.  If you would like a stronger garlic taste, use powder.  Served with carrot coins I did need to add a little salt, but with plantain chips it was perfectly seasoned. 

We served it with carrot dippers, and plantain chips.