Thank You, Blog World #10, or Hummus: Beyond Chickpeas

Another month has come and gone, and to be honest, I am not really sad to see February go… I am over winter. It’s been a fairly mild one here in VA, but I am tired of wearing sweaters and coats, and anxiously awaiting the return of spring produce.

above cracker dipped

Although I have been dreaming of asparagus and strawberries, I have been enjoying the root vegetables that continue to be available from our local farms. I recently purchased a “Virginia Bounty Box” from Relay Foods that featured apples, squash, potatoes, and turnips. LOTS of apples, squash, potatoes, and turnips.

Most of the box made its way into the oven–roasting root vegetables is, after all, my favorite way to prepare them. I enjoyed many a salad topped with roasted turnips, but I also decided to try something a little different…

Turnip Hummus.

hummus close

Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas, but add some tahini, garlic, and lemon juice to almost any starchy-vegetable-based spread, and you have a delicious alternative! I threw a pinch of a Tandoori spice blend I had on hand into my turnip hummus for a bold flavor.

Turnip Hummus

Yields about 2 cups hummus

Ingredients

  • 3 cups roasted turnips
  • Juice from 1/2 large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 generous Tablespoons tahini
  • pinch Tandoori spice blend
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with crackers, pita, or vegetables.

display 2

So I started to wonder – what other alternative hummus recipes might I like to try? Of course, the blog world was able to deliver.

All of the alternative hummus recipes I found include tahini, and most include lemon juice and garlic, but the “base” ranges from starchy vegetables to beans and even and nuts. Those that stick to the traditional chickpea add awesome flavors or toppings that take hummus to a whole new level.

As we do at the start of each month, I would like to say “Thank You” to my fellow bloggers for the inspiration they provide me on a daily basis. Here’s a round-up of a some of my current favorites blogs and their alternative hummus recipes:

cracker dipping

Have you ever made an “alternative hummus”?

You can check out our past 9 months of Thank You posts at these links:

-L

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg

Over the weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time with one of my dearest friends. It was so nice to sit with her in person and share the latest about love, friendship, family, and our mutual infatuation with Ashtanga yoga.

Brunch is served

Brunch is served

Driving home on Sunday after a terrific brunch at Green Pig Bistro, my friend’s favorite jaunt for brunch, dinner, or drinks, I felt absolutely full and nourished.

But I don’t mean full and nourished by the food.

Brunch was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I was filled and nourished by so much more…

Our friendship has reached a point of such ease and comfort, it amazes me. What’s mine is hers, and vice versa. So much has changed since we first met, on move-in day –our first day of college – 7.5 years ago. We have seen each other through the highs and lows of college life and the ups and downs of life in our 20s. Even though our visits are always too short, they leave me full of joy, and immensely thankful.

Weekend brunch is truly one of life’s greatest little pleasures. Whether it’s spent catching up with friends or doing crossword puzzles with my husband, I love lingering over a delicious meal with a cup of tea in hand. This recent brunch creation was a winner that will be repeated again soon.

Runny yolk, crispy kale, tomato sauce with a slight "kick"

Runny yolk, crispy kale, tomato sauce with a slight “kick”

Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ~3 kale leaves, torn into bite sized pieces
  • olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • marinara sauce
  • parmesan cheese

savory brunch closeup

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss kale with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake kale until crispy, about 10 minutes.

Bring vegetable broth and water to boil in a saucepan. Add garlic, salt and pepper; whisk in polenta until smooth. Add almond meal and whisk until mixture thickens; add butter and whisk until melted and combined.

Poach eggs, 1 or 2 at a time. Divide polenta among 4 bowls. Top with crispy kale, poaches egg, marinara sauce, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

egg porn

Gorgeous egg yolk, creamy polenta

The almond meal adds variety of texture and flavor, while the crispy kale perfectly contrasts the smooth and creamy polenta. I chose marinara sauce for flavor, but I imagine that other sauces (hollandaise, tahini, honey mustard, to name a few) would work well, too.

I hope this brunch nourishes you and your closest friends and family, as my brunches have nourished me.

-L

Mushroom-Shallot Quiche

According to Wikipedia, quiche is a savory, open-faced pastry crust dish with a filling of savory custard with cheese, meat, fish or vegetables.”  According to me, quiche is heaven on a plate.  Pastry, eggs, cheese… What’s not to like?!

Yummy quiche

Yummy quiche

When we were young, my sisters and I loved going to lunch with Mom at La Madeleine.  I would order a Caesar Salad or Tomato Basil Soup and a Quiche Lorraine.  The quiche was filled with ham, bacon, and Swiss cheese.  It was rich and delicious!  Mom would make healthier versions for us at home.  Broccoli and spinach were frequent fillings, but she would often just throw in whatever vegetables she had in the house.  It always turned out well.

I came across this recipe for Mushroom-Shallot Quiche on Epicurious.  Mushrooms and shallots of course sounded tasty, but the thyme in the recipe is what really intrigued me.  It sounded so good!  I made a few minor adjustments, based on the ingredients and tools I had available.  It took a few hours to make, but it was a fun process.

Mushrooms and Shallots

Mushrooms and Shallots

  Mushroom-Shallot Quiche

Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into 1/4 inch slices (I used Baby Bellas)
  • 5 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (use half and half to decrease fat content)
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Gruyere cheese
Thyme

Thyme

For crust:

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in food processor. Add butter and process until coarse meal forms, using on/off turns. In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg and 1 teaspoon cold water; add to flour mixture. Using on/off turns, process just until moist clumps form. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead gently until dough comes together, about 4 turns. Form into ball and flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour.

Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to pan, pressing onto bottom and up sides of pan; trim any excess dough and crimp edges. Chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a large square of foil and press, butter side down, onto crust. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights. Using fork, pierce bottom of crust all over (about 10 times). Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Brush lightly with egg white. Cool to room temperature.

For filling:

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until liquid is absorbed and mushrooms are tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 1/2 teaspoons thyme and cook 1 more minute. Transfer mixture to plate and allow to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cooled crust in pan on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons thyme. Scatter mushrooms over thyme, draining the mushrooms first, if necessary. In a medium bowl, whisk cream, eggs, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over mushrooms. Sprinkle with green onions and cheese.

Bake quiche until center is set, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sauteed mushroom mixture

Sauteed mushroom mixture

I like to pretend quiche is healthy.  I mean, eggs have a lot of protein, and vegetables are healthy, so it’s all good, right?  With this particular quiche, that is wrong.  There is butter… lots of butter.  And cream.  It’s delicious, but it is decadent.

If/when I make this again, I will decrease the amount of salt in the crust, use milk instead of cream, and probably add spinach.  The crust is delicious though!  It’s a wonderful, flaky texture.  I love the Gruyere flavor as well.

Quiche

Quiche

Do you share my quiche fascination?  If so, what’s your favorite kind?

Happy eating!

-C

Grown Up Comfort Food: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese, please!

Grilled Cheese, please!

Regardless of how long I am in the air, when I fly, my body gets really confused. I get hungry at odd hours, and despite an overwhelming feeling of lethargy, I have trouble sleeping. Today, I was determined to avoid this lull. I woke up with plenty of time to make a good breakfast before packing, had a nice salad right before my flight, and tried (without success, unfortunately) to sleep on the plane.

I felt abnormally good when I landed, but I randomly had a very strong craving for grilled cheese! I’ve always loved the combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup, so…

Taadaa!

Taadaa!

I halved a recipe for Roasted-Tomato Soup, with a few minor adjustments. I skipped the Parmesan Wafers, used a little extra oregano, and a little less sugar than called for.

Roasting the tomatoes and garlic

Roasting the tomatoes and garlic

The tomatoes had to roast for an hour, and later simmered in broth for 20 minutes, so it was not an especially quick meal to make. It was worth the wait though! The garlic flavor was pretty strong, but tasted wonderful with the tomato and oregano. The soup was strained after being pureed, so it was pretty thin. It was a great balance with the hearty sandwich.

Simmering the veggies and broth

Simmering the veggies and broth

For the sandwich, I placed Goat’s Brie and some fresh basil on multi-grain bread, and toasted it in a skillet for about 2 minutes per side. It was so good!

Grilled Brie Sandwich

Do you have any comfort foods? We’d love to hear about them!

Happy Eating!

-C

Massaged Kale Salad with Carrots, Raisins, and Walnuts

Back home in Charlottesville, but not yet back to work, I took advantage of my afternoon at home and planned a lovely lunch recipe to share.

Love my kale!

Love my kale!

This simple salad featured kale, carrots, walnuts, and raisins. The dressing included (among other things) turmeric and Himalayan pink sea salt. As part of my New Year’s resolution to really learn about the foods I eat, today I decided to focus on walnuts, turmeric, and salt.

I perused The New Food Lover’s Companion for basic information on each of these ingredients, and then turned to Google for additional information.

pink salt

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt contains 84 minerals and trace elements (including magnesium, calcium and potassium). “It is an unrefined, unprocessed “raw” salt that’s hand-mined from abundant salt caves that were formed 250 million years ago as ocean salt settled in certain geologic pockets around the earth.” (Source)

Ground Turmeric

Ground Turmeric

Turmeric comes from a tropical root that is similar to ginger. Ayurvedic science hails this spice for its natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and blood cleansing properties. It is used to give American-style mustard its distinctive yellow color.

Walnuts

Walnuts

Walnuts are the fruit of the walnut tree. Among all nuts, walnuts pack significantly higher amount omega-3 fatty acids, and are also rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants such as Vitamin E (Source). Black walnuts and American walnuts are the most common varieties. Once shelled, walnuts keep best in the refrigerator, for up to 6 months.

These ingredients gave my salad a lovely flavor, as well as added nutrition.

Yum!

Yum!

Massaged Kale Salad with Carrot, Raisins, and Walnuts

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • ~5 leaves of curly kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled into ribbons
  • 1 Tablespoon raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon agave
  • 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

Method

Combine kale and carrot in a large bowl; set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Massage about 3 Tablespoons of the dressing into the  kale and carrot, until the kale leaves soften and turn a darker green, about 2 minutes. Add more dressing if desired. Top with raisins and walnuts.

Lunch is served!

Lunch is served!

The tanginess of the dressing is off-set but the sweet raisins, and the walnuts provide a nice “crunch”. While I enjoyed this salad for lunch with some pita chips, it would also be great as a side dish for dinner, perhaps with some grilled chicken (I’m making myself hungry just imagining this meal…).

Enjoy!

-L