Roasted Cabbage with Ginger Peanut Vinaigrette Recipe

recipe roasted cabbage Asian vinaigrette ginger peanut

This winter cabbage made frequent appearances in my vegetable CSA (community supported agriculture) box.  Green cabbage, red cabbage, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, they all took turns.  I had to become resourceful and find ways to prepare cabbage other than slaw in order to not waste it.  It doesn’t actually take a lot of cabbage to make coleslaw, so one head of cabbage goes a long way in a household of two.

red cabbage in quarters

One day I decided to try roasting the cabbage.  I roast pretty much any and every vegetable, so why not cabbage?  I knew one could grill romaine hearts, so the leap to roasting cabbage seemed pretty reasonable.  I am soooo glad I roasted this vegetable.  The roasting softens the flavour (especially for red cabbage) and makes it sweeter.  The darker, crispy bits give a bit of smoky flavour.  Roasted cabbage tastes very different than raw cabbage, but retains some crunch.  Roasted cabbage is definitely a keeper in my vegetable repertoire.

A quarter of a cabbage is a pretty big vegetable portion, so even though we eat a lot of vegetables, I don’t usually serve other veggies with this.  To make it more like a wedge salad, I decided it needed some vinaigrette.  I went with Asian inspired flavours for the vinaigrette, and developed a ginger peanut sauce.  The sauce is a great complement to the roasted cabbage.

Roasted vegetables Roasted cabbage with ginger peanut sauce

A note about the oils used in this recipe.  I use light olive oil on the cabbage as it has a high smoke point (even higher than canola oil) and works well for roasting vegetables at high heat.  Don’t use extra virgin olive oil, which has a low smoke point.  If you don’t have light olive oil, canola oil works too.

Canola oil works for the vinaigrette, as it has a neutral taste that won’t clash with the Asian inspired flavours of the sauce.

The sesame oil is used in small quantity as it has a strong flavour.  It’s distinct flavour adds depth to the vinaigrette, so I highly recommend using it.  You will find many uses for it in Asian flavour inspired dishes.

If you find yourself with cabbage in the fridge, and just don’t know what to do with it but don’t want to waste it, try roasting it (or grilling it) and serving it with this vinaigrette.  It’s a quick way to eat a cabbage, and it’s pretty tasty too.

 

Recipe: Roasted Cabbage with Ginger Peanut Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Recipe ginger peanut sauce on roasted cabbage

Ingredients:

  • 1 cabbage (any type), quartered
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 F (400 F if convection oven).
  2. Place quartered cabbage on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Liberally coat each quarter cabbage with light olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Roast cabbage for 15 to 18 minutes, flipping cabbage once halfway through cook time.
  3. While cabbage is roasting, make ginger peanut vinaigrette. Place fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter and sesame oil into small bowl and whisk until peanut butter is blended.  Gradually pour in canola oil while still whisking, and whisk until well blended and creamy.  Alternately, you can use an immersion blender to mix the vinaigrette, but in this case, place all ingredients in a tall container and blend until vinaigrette has a smooth consistency.
  4. To serve cabbage, place on plates, drizzle each quarter with about 1 ½ tablespoon of ginger peanut vinaigrette, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

 

Leek Potato Soup Recipe

Leek Potato Soup Recipe

On a rainy day like today, I crave a bowl of soup.  Soup is so warm and comforting; it’s just what I need on a cool, gray, rainy Monday.  Leek potato soup is Greg’s favorite. A batch of it goes quickly in our house.

Leek potato soup is a classic for a reason.  The mild onion flavour of leeks boosts the taste of potatoes, and the potato brings a smooth, velvety texture to the soup.  Add some garlic and thyme to enhance the flavours and a great bowl of soup can be savoured.

I like to use bacon when making leek potato soup.  It adds a depth to the flavour and some texture to an otherwise smooth soup.

leeks, onions, red potatoes

Any type of potato can be used in the soup, but I prefer red potatoes.  They are a bit less starchy than white or yellow potatoes and give a smoother texture to the soup, without it being too thick.  I use whatever type of onion I have on hand, but my favorite kind to use is a sweet white onion.

Recipe:  Leek Potato Soup

Makes 5 servings

 

Recipe Leek Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and finely chopped into half-moons (about 2 ½ to 3 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ½ cups (900 mL) no salt added chicken broth
  • 2 medium red potatoes (about 2 cups chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large pot on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. When bacon cooked, remove from pot and set aside.  Keep bacon drippings in pot.
  2. Add onion and a bit of salt to pot and sauté. If there are not enough bacon drippings in pot to keep onion from burning, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Cook onion for about 10 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown.  Add thyme and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add leek and one tablespoon olive oil to pot. Sauté leek about 5 minutes, until translucent and soft.  Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or two.
  4. Add first ½ cup of broth to pot to deglaze it. Scrape up browned bits, as they will add flavour to the soup.  Add remainder of broth, salt and potatoes to the pot, cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, decrease heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from heat, uncover and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Use immersion blender directly in the soup pot to blend soup and create a smooth texture.
  6. Break bacon reserved from step 1 into medium size pieces and sprinkle into each bowl of soup.

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Coconut and Chocolate Chips

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with coconut and chocolate chips

Banana muffins are my favorite muffins.  They have been for a long time.  Maybe it’s because they are so versatile.  Or maybe it’s because they are the perfect way to transform overly ripe bananas into a delicious snack. Either way, I really love banana muffins.

I’ve shared my basic banana muffin recipe in the past.  So maybe you wonder why I am posting another banana muffin recipe.  The reason?  I want to help out those who think that making good whole wheat muffins is difficult, or that whole wheat muffins are always really dense.  They aren’t.  Whole wheat banana muffins can be as light and fluffy as their white flour counterparts.

So how does one make light, fluffy whole wheat muffins?  The trick is in the mixing technique.   It’s important to really beat the wet ingredients so that lots of air gets added to the mixture.

I combine the egg, honey, canola oil and vanilla in a bowl and vigorously whisk the ingredients, until the mix turns from a thick dark golden yellow to a pale yellow liquid that looks airy.  This takes a few minutes when whisking by hand.

Before mixing (900x506)

Egg, honey, canola oil and vanilla before whisking.  This is not ready to use yet if you want light fluffy muffins. 

Light yellow mix (900x506)

After whisking for several minutes. See the pale yellow colour? Now the mix is airy and you can add the mashed bananas.

Now it’s time to add the mashed bananas and whisk again for another minute. What you get is a very light and airy mixture that almost resembles pancake batter.

Wet mixture (900x506)

Wet mixture after bananas are added and it is whisked a bit. Note how it resembles pancake batter and has lots of bubbles.

At this point, the wet mix is ready to be added to the dry mix.  Once the wet and dry ingredients are together, only stir the batter enough to moisten it.  Over stirring can cause the muffins to be tough.

The other reason I wanted to share another whole wheat banana muffin recipe is to introduce you to a great flavour combo.  Coconut and banana are tropical flavours that work really well together.  Add a bit of chocolate, and it’s a party in your mouth.  The coconut also gives the muffins a bit more texture and makes them a little heartier.

Recipe Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with coconut & chocolate chips

The other important thing when making banana muffins is using very ripe bananas.  That’s the source of the sweet banana flavour you love in muffins.  Green or just yellow bananas can’t bring that to muffins.  It requires bananas with lots of brown spots.  Which is great if, like me, sometimes you just don’t eat all your bananas quickly enough, and you find yourself with overly ripe bananas that aren’t appealing to eat as-is.  Whip them up into some muffins, and you will be a hero at your house.

 

Recipe:  Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Coconut and Chocolate Chips

makes 12 muffins

banana muffins recipe with coconut and chocolate chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup (120 mL) honey
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups mashed very ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine flour, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, thoroughly beat egg, honey, canola oil and vanilla until mixture appears light and fluffy. Add mashed banana and beat again.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Over mixing can result in muffins that are tough.
  5. Add coconut and chocolate chips and lightly fold into batter.
  6. Add liners to 12 muffin cups and pour batter into cups until ¾ full.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the muffins springs back when lightly touched.

 

Kale Soup with Bacon Recipe

kale soup with bacon recipe

Even though it’s early April, there has been a return to below freezing temperatures and even colder wind in my neck of the woods, so a pot of soup seemed like the right dish for lunch today.

Kale is a green that grows in cool temperatures, so it is abundant in grocery stores (and farmer’s markets if they are open in your area) right now and will continue to be so until late spring.

I started making this soup recipe last fall, as a way of dealing with the abundance of kale I was getting in my CSA box. We had gone apple picking and I had some lovely sweet Cortland apples, which I knew would be perfect in this soup.  The sweetness of the apples mellows the taste of the kale.  I used a Cortland apple for my soup, but any sweet apple should suit.  I wouldn’t use a tart apple like a McIntosh or a Granny Smith, as it would not soften the bitter taste kale often has the way a sweet apple does.

curly kale and Courtland apple

Adding bacon to kale is something I started doing years ago, in order to bribe Greg into eating kale. It’s true, I’m not above bribery to get him to eat vegetables.  Bacon and kale go well together.  The saltiness of the bacon complements the bitterness of the kale.  If you have bacon that has lots of fat on it, this is the dish to use it in.  Cooking the onion in the bacon drippings adds lots of rich flavour to the soup.  If your bacon is too lean and doesn’t leave enough drippings to cook the onion, add some canola oil to the pot.

I use no salt added broth as I like to control the amount of salt that goes into my dish. If you use regular or even sodium reduced broth, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.  The bacon adds saltiness too, so not a lot of salt is needed in this soup.

I usually use my immersion blender for soups, but I found that mine isn’t able to handle the kale.  Even cooked, the kale is too tough for it, and I can’t get a smooth texture.  My regular blender does the job well, but it’s important to use caution when blending hot liquids.  Let the soup cool a bit before blending, and don’t fill the blender jar more than half way.  The heat builds up the pressure in the jar and can cause the lid to blow off.  You don’t want to get sprayed with boiling hot liquid, as that would be incredibly painful.

I like adding a dollop of sour cream into my bowl of soup just before eating it. The sour cream adds a bit more richness and creaminess to the soup, but it’s an optional ingredient.

 

Recipe – Kale Soup with Bacon makes 4 servings

recipe Kale soup with bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale, about 9 to 10 ounces (250 to 280 g)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 medium white onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 3 ½ cups (900 mL) no salt added chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons light sour cream, optional

 

Directions:

  1. Wash kale, remove stems, and coarsely chop.
  2. Place bacon in large pot, and cook on medium heat until bacon is a bit crispy. Remove bacon from pot and set aside.
  3. Keep bacon drippings in pot, and add chopped onion to it. If there aren’t enough bacon drippings in the pot to prevent onion from burning, add canola oil. Add a bit of salt, and cook for about five minutes, until onion start to become translucent. At this point, add the thyme, and cook for another minute or two, until the onion starts to brown.
  4. Add apple to pot, and continue cooking on medium heat until apple starts to soften, about three minutes.
  5. Add chopped kale, and cook until kale wilted, about three to five minutes.
  6. Once kale is wilted, pour a small amount of the broth into the pot, and deglaze bottom of pot, scrapping up the browned bits from bottom. These will add flavour to the soup. Pour rest of broth into pot, add rest of salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. In last minute of simmering, add bacon that was set aside at beginning.
  7. Take pot off heat, remove lid and let cool for at least five minutes.
  8. Transfer half of mixture into blender jar and blend on medium-high power for about 25 to 30 seconds, until soup has a smooth texture. Pour soup from jar into a large container, and then repeat with second half of mixture from the pot. Once smooth, pour into container with first half of soup, and mix together.
  9. Serve soup in bowls, add a teaspoon of sour cream if desired, and enjoy.

 

Winter Slaw with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Winter Slaw Title

Salads are not strictly a warm weather dish for me.  I enjoy eating them year round.  The salads I make in winter are different than the summer ones though.  In part it’s because I have access to different produce in winter, in part it’s because I crave different food during the long cold winter months.

I made a large pot of chili (recipe here) and wanted some salad to go with it.  Although I had some fresh leafy greens on hand, I knew a colourful, crunchy slaw would be the right accompaniment to the chili.  Fortunately, I had some cabbage in the fridge as it’s been making a regular appearance in my csa box this winter.

winter slaw labeled 4

When I make slaw I like to finely chop the cabbage instead of grating it.  Chopped cabbage gives the slaw some structure and keeps it crunchy.  Shredded cabbage is so much smaller and has such a soft texture that I feel it gets lost with the other vegetables in the mix.  However, shredding the carrots and the beets works well as it seems to help release their natural sweetness.  I used Chioggia beets (aka candy cane beets) because they have a lovely deep pink colour when shredded but they don’t bleed.  They also have a mild, sweet flavour when raw.  Any type of beet will do though.

Winter Slaw Labeled 2

I like using citrus in winter salads.  It adds bright, clean favour to it.  This winter vegetable slaw is no exception.  I used the juice of fresh limes in the vinaigrette.

The crunch of the cabbage, sweetness of the carrots and beets, and the fresh flavour provided by the lime and cilantro complement the spicy flavours and soft texture of chili as I had hoped.  Chili and winter slaw really do make for comfort food on a cold winter day.

 

Recipe – Winter Slaw with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

Winter Slaw Labeled 3

Ingredients:

Slaw

  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped cabbage (about 1/8 of a large cabbage)
  • ¾ cup shredded carrot (about 2 large carrots)
  • ½ cup shredded beet (about 1 medium beet)

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Wash cabbage. Chop in half, then in quarters. Finely chop one of the quarters until have 1 ½ cups.
  2. Wash and scrub carrots. Peeling is optional, depending on condition of skin.  Shred carrots using box grater or shredding disc on food processor.
  3. Wash and peel beet. Shred using grater or shredding disc on food processor.
  4. In medium mixing bowl, add cabbage, carrot and beets.
  5. In small mixing bowl, add cilantro and lime juice. Whisk in olive oil and stir until blended.
  6. Add vinaigrette to vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
  7. Add salt to taste.

 

Family Friendly Chili Recipe

Chili labeled 1

There is something so comforting about curling up with a warm bowl of chili on a cold winter day. Fortunately, it’s also an easy meal, as chili is incredibly well suited to being made in a slow cooker.  Prep it in the morning, put it in the crock pot, and let the slow simmer meld all the wonderful chili flavours together.

The spicy smell and heartiness of chili evoke memories of childhood.

There are many different styles of chili.  For me, it has ground beef and kidney beans, the way my mom made when I was a kid.  This version incorporates my childhood memories of chili.  It has lots of chili flavour, but not heat, which makes it a family friendly meal.

Chili labeled 4

When we were kids, mom served toast with our chili.  Nowadays I prefer to have some vegetables with mine, so I made a winter slaw to accompany this hearty dish.  The crispness of the vegetables and the tangy flavour of the dressing are a nice contrast to the warmth of the chili and its sauciness.  The slaw recipe is available here.

Chili labeled 2

If you have children or other family members that don’t like much heat in their food, go ahead and make the recipe as written below.

If on the other hand you want some heat, add one more tablespoon of chili powder, up to a half teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper and a jalapeno pepper.

 

Recipe – Family Friendly Meat and Bean Chili

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Chili labeled 3

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups onion, medium dice (about 1 large onion)
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cans (796 mL, 28 oz) no salt added whole tomatoes
  • 1 can (540 mL, 19 oz) no salt added red kidney beans
  • 1 can (540 mL, 19 oz) no salt added white kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ground chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in large frying pan on medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove onions from pan, and place in crock pot.
  2. Add ground beef to pan and cook through until no pink remains.  Drain fat if necessary.  Add cooked beef to crock pot.
  3. Open tomato cans and use immersion blender to break down tomatoes.
  4. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, sugar, oregano, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika and salt to crock pot.  Give everything a good stir and cover.
  5. Cook chili in crock pot on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.
  6. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top.

Recipe Note:  For a chili with heat, add one extra tablespoon of chili pepper, up to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a jalapeno pepper to crock pot at same time as other spices.

 

Dessert Recipe – Apricot Coconut Crisp

I think I have a new favorite dessert.  It’s this apricot coconut crisp.  Yes, it’s that good.

Apricot Coconut Crisp

My favorite dessert has always been apple crisp.  My mother makes the best apple crisp.  She still makes it for me when I visit.  Apple crisp is all about familiarity and comfort.

This apricot coconut crisp, on the other hand, is a bit exotic and tropical.  The apricots provide this dessert with vibrant colour.  The coconut gives the crisp topping a different type of crunch and pairs beautifully with the filling made from fresh apricots.  Apricot and coconut should be a classic combination, they go that well together.

Apricot Coconut Crisp

The inspiration for this crisp comes from these apricot coconut muffins from Flavour the Moments.  As I was savoring the muffins I made using that recipe, I just knew I needed to use apricots in a crisp and use coconut in the topping.  It’s definitely not my usual topping for a crisp, but it’s the right one for a crisp made with fresh apricots.

My original plan was to use unsweetened coconut in the topping.  I was out of unsweetened as I had used the last of it for the muffins, so I used some sweetened shredded coconut I had on hand.  As a result, I cut back pretty dramatically on the brown sugar in the topping; otherwise it would have been way too sweet.  The result was just right.  A nice amount of sweetness, great crunch, and flavour I love, love, love. If you use unsweetened coconut, you might choose to add more brown sugar.

My apricots were not as ripe as I would have liked.  I should have left them out on the counter for a couple of days before making the crisp.  As they weren’t very sweet, I opted to add some maple syrup to the filling.  If your apricots are very ripe and sweet, you might want to adjust for that and cut back a bit on the sweetener.

I’ve been baking a lot of crisps lately, like this strawberry rhubarb crisp and this apple rhubarb crisp.  Crisps are such a great way to use summer fruit.  In the past I thought of crisp as a fall and winter dessert, but I have changed my mind.  Crisps should be enjoyed all year.

Recipe:  Apricot Coconut Crisp

Apricot Coconut Crisp

Ingredients

Crisp Topping:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats
  • ¼ cup softened butter

Apricot Filling:

  • 3 ½ cups peeled, sliced fresh apricots (about 14 apricots)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Make crisp topping – In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, sugar, coconut and oats. Stir in butter and mix until crumbly. Set topping aside.
  3. In a 1.5 quart (1.4 L) oven safe dish, add apricots. Stir in maple syrup. Sprinkle cornstarch and stir fruit to distribute evenly.
  4. Spread crisp topping over fruit, distributing it evenly.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is golden and crisp. Let cool a bit, but serve warm.