Friday, October 27, 2017

Creamy Chickpea Soup with Coconut

These days I am back to cooking soups, such a good dish for fall, lots of vegetables, but warm. Currently, I prefer simple soups, like parsnip soup or chickpea soup. Nothing fancy with many, many ingredients, but a soup with one star: the main ingredient. Chickpea soup needs a bit more finesse than parsnip soup, which already has the distinct flavor and aroma of parsnips, but chickpeas can be more bland. The basic ingredients of this soup support the chickpeas and the turmeric and coconut milk give it a wonderful kick without overpowering the chickpeas. An elegant, everyday soup.


Creamy Chickpea Coconut Soup

(serves 3-4 as an appetizer)

  • 1/2 sweet onion, peeled, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium sized potato, peeled, cubed
  • a thin slice of celeriac, peeled and diced
  • about 2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed or 3 cups of cooked chickpeas (+ extra for texture)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • half can of coconut milk
  • 750ml of chicken bouillon
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TB nutritional yeast
  • dried thyme

Saute the onion, garlic, potato, celeriac until the onion is translucent (ca. 2-3min)

Add the chickpeas, bay  leaf, turmeric and the broth. Stir, close with a lid, and simmer for 30min.

Puree with an immersion blender.

Add ground pepper, nutritional yeast, thyme and the coconut milk. Stir again, and heat through.

Ass more cooked chickpeas for texture.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Parsnip Celeriac Soup

Where did October go? It gave us a first taste of cold temperatures and winter coats here in Maine, but mostly it was usually warm and overall sunny. The only sign that the seasons are changing are the red leaves on the trees and the pumpkins and Halloween decorations in front of many houses. Indian summer stretches all the way into October this year.

At the farmers market I bought parsnips, which are large and inexpensive this time of the year. I love them roasted, but this year I felt more like soup. I also picked up a large celeriac for those fall and winter soups to come. Celeriac looks like a large potato, dense and hard, and it’s taste is intense,  so less is more to flavor soups, but it saves me buying celery stalks. A few parsnips, a slice of celeriac, and a potato, and a perfect parsnips soup is easily ready.



Parsnip Celeriac Soup
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 medium sized potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 slices of celeriac, peeled, and cut into small cubes (ca. 3-4oz)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart of vegetable or chicken broth
  1.  Heat the butter in a medium sized pot, and melt it. Add the chopped onion, and saute under stirring until translucent. 
  2. Add the parsnip, potato, and celeriac, and saute under stirring for another 3 min.
  3. Add the broth, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, turn the heat low,  and simmer for 30min.
  4. Remove the bay leaf, and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
  5. Serve with crusty bread, parmesan cheese or some cream or sour cream.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The backroads of life

Summer was short this year, just July and August, but those months were perfect: hot sunny endless summer days. September decided to be much like fall already and I have to check the calendar to reassure myself “It is still summer for 10 days.” But what can you do with the weather? I bet this is also what most people in Florida say this weekend.

With fall comes one of my favorite times of the year: apple picking. I got there on the first day when self picking opened and a batch of Paulareds is waiting for apple cake, apple cider and and just apple eating. I debated if I should continue on to Belfast or New Balance, since New Balance had a 40% off sale. Left turn or right turn? not that I need anymore shoes.. I decided to the take the backroads of Maine, following my trusty, yet slightly outdated car navigation system to guide me to Skowhegan.

I find it fun to travel the backroads of Maine, far off the beaten path from tourist through roads, which are wider and with better pavement. The backroads are crooked, curvy and winding and remind me of streets in Europe. Beautiful farmhouses are hidden there along the backroads, wide grounds around the houses, manicured with tractor lawn mowers, definitely not push lawn mowers, people not wanting to be found and not caring to be public. I followed along the private roads, and ending up on a main road again, right into Skowhegan. I got some fantastically fitting running shoes, and called it good. I was hungry at this point, and for the first time, just stopped there, in Skowhegan, stepping in this peculiar bar that hangs right over the big towering dam like structure that seems to dominate Skowhegan. There must have been must industry once that needed so much power, but these days the only interesting thing seemed to be the New Balance Factory and outlet that brought me back.

I sat there, hanging precariously about 60 ft above the waters, with a crowd of other bar goers on a Saturday evening, and it was not half bad. The backroads can take you to interesting places, not just in Maine, in life, too.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Endless summer

The other day, my friend said “Summer JUST started”. I thought, wait, what, was it really June 21 last week, no, not really, hmm…. but I know what she meant: it is finally really hot, sweat-breaking hot, floating on a raft in the water hot. Your brain melts without air conditioning and it is time to take it to the beach hot. 
Summer.
There is a certain laziness to summer, which is mostly temperature induced. The brain devours light literature, the belly prefers cold water melon and ice cream, the skin cold water, and everything else is pretty much postponed. Til dinner time, when it cools down again. Days are endless, lazy, forgettable, wonderful.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Elderflower Syrup

We made it past July 4th, and that means we definitely enter summer territory. It’s been a wet and rather cold summer so far but the next two months might bring the endless sunshine and beach weather everyone has been waiting for.

The other day I finally found a recipe for elderflower syrup that has all the details right. It was just in the nick of time since my elderberry tree started to bloom.  I had tried my hands on elderflower syrup before but with less than convincing results. The syrup had no taste and was on the bitter side. I think I skimped on the citric acid and the massive amounts of sugar. This recipe, however, had the all important little detail of “cut off all the stems, really close to the flowers”. Yeah, no stems. Not even tiny ones. I also added the citric acid, which gives it a nice zing, plenty of sugar, since it is a syrup after all. The syrup is the best I’ve ever had. Elderflower Syrup Heaven!

Mixing a tablespoon of syrup with 100ml of Pinot Grigio and a can of Perrier makes for a very refreshing summer drink!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons food-grade citric acid
  • 15 big elderflower heads, just all blossom opened, and no brown edges yet

How to:

  1. Remove any insects or debris from the elderflower blossoms. Just shake them out. Do not wash them, as they will lose a lot of flavor.
  2. Combine sugar, water, and the citric acid in a saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. There is no need to bring it to a boil, it won’t even need to heat very much. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
  3. Trim the stems away from the elderflower blossoms and discard. Try to remove as much of the stems as you can.
  4. Add the blossoms to a large glass jar.
  5. Pour the cool syrup into the jar with the elderflower blossoms. Make sure that the blossoms are immersed in the syrup. Cover the jar with a lid and let it steep in the fridge for 48 hours, stirring the syrup once daily.
  6. Strain the syrup through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean jar or bottle. Store the syrup in a cool place for up to one year. Once opened, store the bottle in the fridge.
  7. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

There must be summer somewhere

It’s the Memorial day weekend, a usual jump off into summer, even here in Maine, but not this year. It seems like a flash back to winter, with a gray sky and chilly temperatures. The snow came late this winter, the winter cleared out at the end of April, and it seems like no surprise that summer is also taking its time.

I linger at home, and read. There is nothing this weekend that would be pulling me to a coastal town. Instead I watch the 3rd season of Bloodline with its wonderful Florida Keys beach scenery. With all the twist and turns only question remains: will they get away with it?

For all the BBQs that are rained out, and the campers wrapped in a down blankets in their beach chairs, drinking hot tea and eating charcoaled marshmallows, there must be sun somewhere this weekend.