Ingredient: salt

Not Too Sweet Granola

Not Too Sweet Granola

I have a salt tooth. Even as a little kid, I was on the fence about candy. Sure, I’ll eat a little dessert here and there, but it’s not a driving force. At one of my first jobs out of college my office mates wanted to throw me a birthday party. I kindly requested that they didn’t buy a cake, but instead encouraged them to get a round of brie and pop a few candles on top. They did and it was perfect! Today I’m mostly “planty,” (my husband’s new perfect descriptor versus the rather dull “plant-based”) so I’d skip the brie, but maybe instead ask for a container of cashew cheese. Most granolas on the market are way too sweet for me, so I came up with this recipe that I think is just about perfect. Sometimes I have all the nuts and seeds listed below, but sometimes not — it’s a very flexible recipe. Often I’ll swap out some for things like ground chia (if you don’t grind the chia, the pesky little seeds embed themselves in your teeth) or hemp seeds. However, if you like things a little sweeter, just add more honey. Or if you prefer a richer, denser version, increase the oil. By the way, nuts and seeds go rancid pretty quickly, so I keep a small amount of the granola in a glass jar on my counter, but freeze the rest to keep it fresh.

Leftover Sourdough Starter Crackers

Leftover Sourdough Starter Crackers

This is a fabulous recipe for using up your extra sourdough starter. I don’t tend to make a ton of bread because we have so many excellent artisan bakeries in town, but I like to keep my sourdough starter fresh which means I either throw out the majority of my old starter or try to find ways to incorporate it into other recipes. I’m not a huge fan of the usual suspects – sourdough pancakes or waffles – so I’ve been making variations on a theme of these crackers for over a year now. Sometimes I use rosemary, sometimes thyme or even a pinch of smoked paprika. I brush with a little water prior to baking or sometimes a little olive oil and sprinkle on top a little more herb, salt or cracked pepper. The recipe below is really a base for your imagination and taste buds!

Luscious Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Luscious Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This deeply satisfying soup is super simple to make. Please use the full-fat coconut milk — don’t use the “light/lite” unless you want this to taste meh. I also love this recipe because I nearly always have every ingredient on hand, especially in the fall when the butternut squash are in season. The curry powder is from Savory Spice — it’s called Mild Curry Powder (link below). But I call it the “Hippy Curry Powder” because it tastes like every curry I ever had from “vegetarian restaurants” versus actual Indian restaurants. It’s just pretty much a generic, run of the mill Americanized curry powder.

Putting Up Tomatoes

Putting Up Tomatoes

When I was really young my mom would spend hours every August blanching, peeling, de-seeding and then canning mountains of tomatoes in our oh-so humid Missouri home. Her unruly curly hair would be pinned back with multiple bobby pins as she carefully lowered the tomatoes into the massive black tin stock pot water with the Ball canning jar insert. Not sure what happened, but after a few years she stopped canning and started just putting whole tomatoes in panty hose in the freezer. Each tomato was knotted off from the other, sausage link style, to apparently prevent bruising. It was always a little alarming to open the freezer to see the frozen red globes bound by old pairs of L’eggs pantyhose, but it worked for her. In 1994 I got Marcella Hazan’s, Essentials of Italian Cooking and started making her to-die-for classic sauce Tomato Sauce and Onion and Butter in batches to freeze. After one mid-winter visit where we served my mom the sauce three different ways: over pasta, as tomato soup and the base for our grilled pizzas, she never went back to her old ways of preserving tomatoes.

I generally have two ways I put up tomatoes for the winter: whole cherry tomatoes and pureed sauce. I don’t believe in taking the skin off or de-seeding, as I think it adds to the overall flavor.

Cashew Dill Cheesy Spread

Cashew Dill Cheesy Spread

I’ve messed around with making a variety of alternative cheeses, but I’m just not a fan of ingredients like tapioca flour or agar agar powder, etc. This recipe is my latest obsession because it’s so simple and incredibly delicious. Adding a bit of brine from your favorite fermented vegetable gives it a dose of healthy probiotics, too. To get the super creamy texture, however, you will need a bad ass blender like BlendTec or a VitaMix. If you try making it in a food processor or a normal blender, the result will still be tasty, but the texture will be a bit grainy.

Super Simple Romesco Sauce

Super Simple Romesco Sauce

I’ve been making variations of this succulent sauce since 1997. Romesco sauce is from Catalonia and is usually served over fish or other meat. It is frequently made with both almonds and hazelnuts as well as stale bread crumbs. My version is slightly different, but still hits those same taste notes. I usually serve it over grilled veggies, spread on tortillas topped with avocado and salad greens, dolloped on top of slices of baguette, thinned out and drizzled over orzo, etc.
I nearly always have everything for this in my kitchen, which means that even though we’ve been pretty homebound these last few months, I can usually make this without a trip to the store. In my freezer I always have almonds (if you don’t already, do store your nuts in the freezer to prevent them going rancid) and bags of red bell peppers that I roasted and froze the previous summer. If you don’t have sherry vinegar, substitute a light balsamic. If you don’t have smoked paprika, just use regular paprika.