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Month: September 2016

Fall Root Vegetable Salad

Fall Root Vegetable Salad

I’d be the first to admit that I’ve become a little obsessed with fall root vegetables this season.  Easy access to various types of late summer radishes has been so much fun.  This week felt like a soup and salad kind of week, so I decided to do a fall root vegetable salad to enjoy radishes and beets.  I threw in some lettuce as the base.  If I ever get an avocado to ripen up, I might also toss one into this salad later this week.

Root vegetables can be very tasty raw, especially when sliced paper-thin.  I don’t have a mandolin, so just slice very, very carefully. Radishes lend themselves to a dressing with rice-wine vinegar, so I combined this with sesame oil and soy sauce.  I found myself checking the time every hour on Monday to see if we were any where close to lunch time.

This roasted root vegetable salad complements the roasted cauliflower soup from Monday.  This would also pair well with a simple vegetarian sandwich or wrap.


Fall Root Vegetable Salad
Serves 4

Sesame Oil Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a jar and cover securely.  Shake to combine

Fall Root Vegetable Salad
1 watermelon radish
2 black radishes
3 small beets
1 head lettuce
Sesame Oil Dressing
Fresh black pepper to taste

Slice each of the root vegetables into paper-thin slices.  Tear the lettuce into bite size pieces.  Toss root vegetables slices and lettuce to combine.  Dress with Sesame Oil Dressing and grind a little fresh pepper over the top.  Enjoy!


Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

I’m looking forward to a cooler week ahead, so made roasted cauliflower soup today to welcome fall.  I’ve been intrigued by a recipe I’ve heard a lot about on several cooking podcasts: roasting a whole cauliflower head.  I experimented with roasted cauliflower earlier this season, which led to a cauliflower and pasta dish (you can find it here).  Roasting gives cauliflower a nutty flavor, so I figured a whole roasted head would be tasty, especially if it was blended into soup.

Soup and salad are one of my favorite combinations for lunch at my desk.  Soup is so comforting and a salad on the side makes it feel like a complete meal.  I enjoy cooler weather for that reason alone – it’s soup making time.

The recipe I used for the roasted cauliflower head came from Bon Appetit.  It calls for poaching the cauliflower first, which takes a little extra time, but it is well worth it.  The cauliflower lends itself to a creamy roasted cauliflower soup and requires so few ingredients – it’s simplicity itself.  Since I often fix lunch for several days in advance, any recipe that freezes well makes me happy, and this freezes exceptionally well.

That, and a fully roasted head of cauliflower is so, so very pretty!


Of course, so is the finished soup.


Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Serves 4

1 head of cauliflower, roasted using this recipe
1 cup reserved poaching liquid from poaching the cauliflower
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup half and half
1 teaspoon salt

After poaching and roasting the cauliflower, combine the roasted cauliflower, poaching liquid, stock, half and half, and salt in a large saucepan.  Use an immersion blender or regular blender to blend until smooth.  Adjust salt to taste.  Enjoy!

Overnight Oats Santa Fe Style

Overnight Oats Santa Fe Style

These overnight oats are an homage to the four years that I lived in New Mexico and spent a great deal of time traveling to Santa Fe on vacation and on the way to Denver.  I think it must be the changing weather – the days are getting shorter and there are a few moments of late afternoon sunshine that are reminiscent of fall in New Mexico.  All that I need to make the illusion complete would be the smell of roasting chilies at every grocery store in town (and how I miss that smell).

One of my favorite treats when we would go to Santa Fe was chocolate chip cookies with pine nuts.  It’s such a simple addition – but not one that I would have ever thought of on my own.  The pine nuts add a bite to the cookies and, for me, taste like nights spent in hotels with kiva fireplaces and stone floors.

I’ve been meaning to make chocolate chip cookies with pine nuts.  This is a recipe that still might make it to the blog, but in the meantime, my craving for chocolate chips and pine nuts has been strong, and I’ve had limited time to do much about it.  These overnight oats are my response.  They are quick and easy, filling, and take me back to New Mexico in a few bites.




Overnight Oats Santa Fe Style
Serves 2

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened, vanilla flavored almond milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/8 cup pine nuts

Combine all ingredients in a pint jar or similar container that can be covered.  You can also divide the ingredients between two 1/2 pint jars. Leave in the refrigerator overnight and then serve.  Enjoy!


Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich

This week, I aimed for simple for lunch and came up with this recipe for a vegetarian muffuletta sandwich.  You might ask, why the search for simplicity this week?  My answer – I worked for over twelve hours over two days trying to tame blackberry bushes, passion flower vines, trumpet vines, and bamboo, all of which were happily taking over our house in Southern Oregon that we are trying to sell.  I’m rapidly learning, however, that no one wants to buy a house that looks like Sleeping Beauty might be in residence underneath all the thorny bushes.

I actually started out the weekend with a full six days of vacation time (including the weekend and Labor Day).  I had lovely plans – outings in Portland most of which would have revolved around food: a full day hanging out at Fubon (one of the many Asian markets in Southeast Portland), eating my way through the Pearl District, food cart pods…  And then adulthood set in and we realized that this was a great weekend to spend chopping down bushes and pulling weeds.

After three days of fast food and restaurant food, I was ready to get home, make a salad for dinner, and create something relatively healthy to enjoy for lunch.  The vegetarian muffuletta sandwich was perfect for this, especially accompanied by a quick spinach salad with a few radishes sliced on top.  I was also even finally at a place today where I could lift my arms to eat my sandwich without everything hurting.  (Have I mentioned that blackberry bushes fight back?).

Meaty eggplant is the star in this sandwich and takes the place of the meats that would usually be in this sandwich.  A traditional muffuletta is served on a specific kind of bread, which I didn’t have access to, so ciabatta bread had to do.  I made my own olive salad and used capers to bring out some of the pickled tanginess.  I also made use of some canned red peppers from last year’s canning season to add a little more vinegar and some texture.  The ciabatta held its shape, even after the sandwich sat all night in the fridge, making this a great make-ahead lunch.

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich2

Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich
Serves 4

Olive Salad
1 can pitted black olives
1 can pitted green olives
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil

1 eggplant, sliced into ½ inch thick slices
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 roasted red peppers
4 slices provolone cheese
1 loaf ciabatta bread or similar

Preparing the Olive Salad
Chop the olives into a fine dice.  Put them in a bowl and mix in the capers, parsley and olive oil.  Set aside.

Preparing the Eggplant
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle each with about ½ teaspoon olive oil.  Sprinkle each slice with a bit of salt (1/4 teaspoon at the most per slice).  Roast for 10 minutes and then flip the eggplant.  Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes or until the eggplant is very wrinkled and slightly brown.

Assemble the Sandwiches
Slice the ciabatta into four sections.  Slice each section in half.  Divide the olive salad over each slice of bread.  Layer the eggplant, provolone cheese, and roasted red pepper.  Enjoy

Blood Orange Soda Mimosas

Blood Orange Soda Mimosas

Labor Day is, literally, just around the corner, making it the perfect time to enjoy these blood orange soda mimosas.  September is the transition month here in the PNW between what’s left of the fleeting summer and the rainy season.  It’s the time when I scramble to get in just a few more activities outside and try to spend as many weekend afternoons as possible outside, stretched out on the grass with a good book and a cocktail in hand. 

The mimosa with blood orange soda recipe came about because of a brunch fail several weekends ago.  As I may have mentioned before, brunching in the Vancouver/Portland area sometimes feels like more effort that it’s worth.  Every place that’s fairly well rated has a line out the door.  Sometimes, I look at a menu and think – do I really want to wait for an hour or more to eat that?  And then when you do find a place that doesn’t have much of a line, there’s always the danger that it will take longer to get a cup of coffee than it would have been to wait in the line at the other place.  All of this to say that Clay and I went to two possible breakfast spots on a Sunday morning several weeks ago, only to finally give up and go to a gourmet hot dog place instead for an early lunch.  Through such serendipity, we stumbled on a best kept secret for brunch: a place that serves chicken apple sausage with a fried egg and tater tots smothered in bacon and gorgonzola sauce.  It was here that the waitress tempted me into also getting a mimosa with a raspberry soda pop Popsicle.  I have to make this at home, I thought to myself. 

Here’s my version.  It’s a simple mimosa with a frozen blood orange soda cube, as I wasn’t able to find popsicle sticks this late in the season (ok, I confess, I didn’t try that hard to find them).  It’s a perfect laze-around-on-a-warm-fall-afternoon drink.  It’s super easy.  If you can’t find blood orange soda, try a different soda or try juice.  I would imagine this would work equally well to do a more traditional orange juice mimosa, with the frozen cube being made of orange juice. 

mimosa with blood orange soda

Mimosas with Blood Orange Soda
Serves 4

Blood Orange Italian Soda or similar
1 bottle of champagne, prosecco, or other sparkling wine

Freeze the soda in a Popsicle mold or large ice cube tray

Once the soda is frozen, place one cube in a wide mouth wine glass.  Pour the champagne or sparkling wine over the cube.  Enjoy!