Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Savory Granola

My first experience with savory granola was at The Woodsman Tavern in Portland, OR. They used it to top a delicious and unexpected beet and plum salad. 

That dish inspired me when I was thinking about the menu for the recent pop-up restaurant I did. We served this savory granola atop a salad of dark leaf lettuce, dandelion greens, quick-pickled late season peaches, roasted delicata squash, watermelon radish, and aged gouda (pictured above). 

I love crunchy toppings and nuts and seeds on salads, and savory granola easily combines all of those elements. I wouldn't necessarily eat a bowl of the stuff with milk, but if you like plain yogurt, this could be nice topping and a good alternative to something sweet. It would also would go nicely with some ricotta or maybe atop some warm brie. I also like it as a garnish for a roasted squash soup. 

Like all granola, this is super easy to make and is endlessly changeable. You can swap out any of the nuts or seeds for ones that you prefer, and you can add different spices of flavorings depending on your palate. I love the fennel in this recipe, but if you're not into licorice notes, just omit it.

Savory Granola

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup raw pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon coriander
pinch of cayenne, or to taste
1 large egg white
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients in the order listed. 

Transfer to a parchment-lined baking shit. Spread the mixture out evenly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Stir the granola once after 15 minutes, and stir again after about 20-25 minutes of baking. Bake until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. The granola will crisp up as it cools.

Store in an airtight container. The granola will last for about 7-10 days. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Roasted Delicata Squash

Squash season is my favorite time of year, and in my book Delicata holds the title for "best squash."

Delicata has such a buttery soft texture when roasted, it is naturally sweet, and the skin is fairly thin and edible. Sometimes it's nice not to have to bother with peeling hard squash. 

The seeds are also edible. In fact, they're delicious. You can cut the squash into rings and leave the seeds in tact. They'll roast along with the squash, and they add a nutty crunchy element to your dish. My dear friend over at The Yellow Bungalow is also a big fan of this type of preparation.

I add rosemary and a splash of balsamic vinegar to the squash, salt and pepper to taste, and pop these guys in the oven. They cook fast. I like them slightly on the darker end of roasted, but feel free to leave them as long as you prefer.

I eat these as a side, on their own, or on top of a salad. 
Delicata is in the top righthand corner of this display

Roasted Rosemary Delicata Squash
Serves 2-4

One medium-sized Delicata squash
Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stem
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon) 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the squash into rings about 1/4-1/2 an inch thick depending on your preference. The thicker you cut the squash the longer it will take to roast.

Lay the rings out on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet (not 100% necessary, but makes for easier clean-up).

Drizzle the squash with olive oil. Season with rosemary, salt and pepper. Drizzle with balsamic.

Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the squash is browned and cooked through. Halfway through cooking, check the squash and carefully flip each side over so that the squash evenly browns on both sides.

Serve warm or at room temp. Drizzle with more balsamic if you prefer.

Roasted Delicata on top of a Kale, watermelon radish, cucumber salad dressed with a simple dijon and balsamic vinaigrette 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Miso Matzo Ball Soup

Let me start by saying I broke some rules making this dish (and not just the most obvious one). For one, I made a cheater's version of vegetarian dashi. For an authentic dashi recipe you can check out this or this. There are also some instant dashi mixes on the market. You can also find instant miso soup at many stores, and if that's your thing go for it. If you are still up for making miso soup from scratch I found this post helpful.

Aside from the lack of the dashi's authenticity, this soup is also a little disorienting from the matzo ball perspective. I'm highly accustomed to matzo balls floating around in chicken broth (or vegetarian chicken-tasting broth). When I took the first taste of this soup I wondered where all the familiar flavors had gone. 

Then I took a second bite. I quickly forgot about tradition and authenticity. This is the merger of two comfort foods from two different culinary cultures. The sweet umami salty miso broth is happy to host hearty matzo balls (in lieu of soft tofu or shellfish). The scallions add a refreshing bit of green and bite. I think you could even try out a little fresh dill (gasp!) in this soup. 

One note about matzo balls: I'm not a fan of leaden sinkers, but I do like some chew to my matzo balls. You can make your matzo balls however your bubbe made them. If you really don't want to make matzo balls from scratch you can buy matzo ball mixes at the store. 

There's a lot of room for controversy in this recipe. When you're making super traditional dishes everyone has a strong opinion about what is right and wrong. It's a little daring, but I was happy to throw out the rules and combine two things that aren't frequently brought together.

This recipe could happen in moments if you take all the cheats you want... or this recipe could take just a little longer and you could make every element authentically and from scratch. However you choose to make it, this merger is a happy one.

Miso Matzo Ball Soup
Serves 4 
Makes 10-12 matzo balls

for the matzo balls
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil (or schmaltz)
½ cup matzo meal
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
pepper to taste

for the miso soup
1 4-5 inch piece kombu, rinsed (can substitute with an extra sheet of nori)
1 sheet nori
5 cups water
4 tablespoons white miso
2 large scallions, sliced thin

for the matzo balls
In a bowl, beat the eggs and olive oil together. To the egg mixture, add the matzo meal, baking powder, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Mix together until combined. Your mixture should be sticky and wet. Let the matzo ball dough chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before using it.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the matzo ball dough has chilled and the water is boiling, form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Lower the heat to a simmer, and then carefully drop the balls into the simmering water. They will float and begin to expand. 

Place a lid on the pot, and simmer the matzo balls for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes turn off the heat, and serve the matzo balls, or let them cool in the liquid, and store them in the fridge until ready to use. Matzo balls can be made 1-2 days ahead of when you intend to serve them. While the matzo balls are cooking, make the soup.

for the soup
In a medium pot, add the kombu, nori and water. On medium heat, slowly bring the liquid to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes until the seaweed has imparted flavor to the liquid, and the nori is falling apart. Before the water has come up to a simmer, when it is warm and about 100°F, take a few tablespoons of the liquid and combine it in a small bowl with the miso. Stir until smooth and reserve.

After the broth has simmered for 10 minutes, remove the kombu and nori from the pot. The nori may fall apart a little and that's ok; the seaweed sediment adds flavor. On low heat, whisk the reserved miso mixture into the pot. Add the onions to the pot. Simmer the soup for another 2-3 minutes, but be careful not to boil the miso.

to assemble the dish
Ladle the miso soup into bowls. Serve 2-3 matzo balls per bowl.