Red Lentil curry soup (pressure cooker)

I was inspired by this slow cooker recipe and then followed my instincts for making curry. In the end this was a delicious mild curry soup-- I will definitely make this again, and especially when we are sick (it's a great vegan alternative to chicken soup as it is creamy and comforting, and it's got healing spices and fiber.

We gobbled this up before I got to take a pretty photo. Color turned out yellow-red with chunks of tomato.

Saute 1 diced onion in bottom of pressure cooker pan with 1 TB ghee or oil.  Now add and toast:
3 cloves garlic, diced
ginger, grated
3/4 tea mustard seeds

3/4 tea cumin seeds
3/4 tea turmeric
3/4 tea garam masala
1/2 tea coriander

Blend 1 C water with 1-3 chiles (remove seeds for less hot). Pour this water into pressure cooker pan along with another 1-2 C water.  Add 1 C red lentils/masoor dal, seal, bring up to pressure and cook for 10 minutes at 8 PSI (first red ring).

Be careful because lentils/legumes can make the standard type of pressure cooker bubble over, which is ok just a pain to clean up. My Kuhn Rikon didn't do this (yay!) but in the old types I would add another TB oil to help reduce foaming.  

Reduce pressure, open pot. Stir in: 
12-16 oz chopped tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes)

3/4 tea amchoor powder (or lime juice to taste)

salt to taste
Optional: spinach

Serve with steamed brown rice.


Mama Leone's Soup

I fell in love with this soup at Market of Choice in Eugene.  It is an Italian mix on traditional chicken soup and I love that it has tomatoes and spinach in it. I bet it tastes so good because the deli probably lets it sit for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors meld. I'm curious what we'll think of the leftovers tomorrow!

It is thicker than a broth/stock soup because of the flour. If you are using cream, that would add additional body/thickness. 

To make it gluten free, use 2 TB potato starch in place of the flour. 

In large pot, saute until translucent:
1 diced onion
3 stalks celery, diced
3 TB butter
2 TB olive oil

Now add and toast in the oils with the veggies:
4 cloves garlic, minced (approx 1 TB)
1 tea tarragon
1/2 tea thyme
1 tea oregano
2 tea paprika
3/4 tea ground black pepper

Add 1/2 C flour, and stir to combine.  Let cook for 30 seconds to toast the flour.

Now pour in 4-5 C chicken broth/stock, stir to combine and get chunks off the bottom of pan. Bring to a boil.

Stir in:
1/2 lb cooked diced chicken (either use leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken, or bake chicken breasts at 350 for 15-20 minutes)

12 -16 oz diced canned tomatoes (1 pint jar works great)
Optional: 1/2 - 3/4 C cream (don't substitute yogurt b/c the sour flavor just doesn't work)

Season to taste with 1/2 to 2 tea kosher/coarse salt.

Right before serving, turn off heat and stir 2 C spinach into hot soup until wilted. Serve.

Chicken Pot Pie (for freezer meals)

I grew up eating commercial varieties of chicken pot pie, and have recently had delicious homemade versions which opened my eyes to this hearty dish. So I sought out a few recipes to reference, including this and this. And then I did what I wanted.

Make pastry, or purchase puff pastry/phyllo dough
If making dough, use this recipe and roll into 1/8 inch thick and cut to fit the pan or use round cookie cutters.

Make filling:
Saute 1 diced yellow onion and 4 cloves diced garlic in butter or olive oil until softened.

Add 2 TB flour, 1/2 tea oregano, 1.5 tea tarragon, 1/2 tea black pepper and cook on medium low until the flour toasts a little in the oil (for the roux).

Now add 2-3 C liquid (chicken stock and pan drippings) and veggies:
diced or cubed carrot
diced or sliced celery
cubed potato
optional: other hard veggies

Cook the veggies in the liquid until softened (or pressure cook).

Now add soft veggies like frozen peas or mushrooms and cooked chicken pieces. Stir to combine and take off heat.  Season with salt if needed.  (Optional seasonings thyme, celery seed, parsley etc.)

Spoon filling into casserole dish, pie pan or individual ramekins. Top with pastry.

Bake at 350 F for 30-45 minutes or until golden on top and filling is bubbly (like photo at top).

To Freeze for later:
To make potpies ahead of time, let the filling cool, then freeze in muffin cups. Once frozen, remove to a freezer bag. Meanwhile, bake rounds of pastry in 350 F oven for approx 10-20 minutes or until crispy and golden.  When ready to eat, assemble and heat in microwave.

Millet Pilaf in Squash (vegan)

 I pretty much love millet. And I'm a fan of squash. So when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try something like it. Of course I didn't want to bake it so I translated it to the stove.

Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out seeds and compost or save for roasting later.  Place 1/2 C water in pressure cooker and place squash halves on steamer tray.  Pressure cook for 8 minutes.

In hot skillet with 1 TB olive oil, toast 1 C millet for aprox 5minutes until you can smell it but it's not burnt.  Now add 2.5 C water and 1/2 tea salt, cover and simmer on low until cooked (15-25 minutes)-- add more water if you need to.

In small saucepan, prepare the tadka.  Heat 2- 4 TB olive oil along with:
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced (or mild red onion)
1-2 TB minced fresh sage leaves
1/2 tea mustard seeds
1/2 to 3/4 tea salt
1/4 tea turmeric
1/4 tea cinnamon
1/8 tea pepper

Simmer until fragrant. Remove from heat.

Mix the scented oil with the toasted cooked millet and 1/4/ to 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

To server, you can either:
  • Fill squash halves with pilaf, serve on a plate.
  • Scoop squash flesh out and mix with pilaf, serve in a casserole dish or large bowl
The first option looks prettiest and is great for serving a main dish to each person. If you are doing a potluck and each person is going to take a smaller amount, then serve in a dish.


Hazelnuts straight from the farm

Living in Oregon, hazelnuts (or filberts) are big business (I read that Oregon produces 97% of the US crop!).  I grew up cracking hazelnuts with my grandmother (her friend had owned a farm and gave us the ones that went through the "cracker" machine unscathed for free).

I think the insides of the cracker machine include rollers set to a certain width/height.  This way they crack the shells of most hazelnuts without crushing the nuts. But it means some get through without a crack in the shell.

Roasting/Toasting Hazelnuts:
You can toast hazelnuts in the oven at 275 to 300 degrees, let them cool a little, then rub them in your hands to remove some of the skins. 

I then poured some into a host cast iron pan and roasted with olive oil and salt... although next time I might use an oil with a higher smoking point/temperature, like peanut oil or ghee.   I have had "Salt roasted" hazelnuts where the salt seems to be melted onto the nut-- not sure how they do that as I've read salt melts at over 1500 F!!  Next up I want to try roasting with some honey or sugar in addition to a pinch of salt for a sweet-salty effect.

In case you're curious about yields:
I purchased 5 pounds of hazelnuts in the shell for $2 a pound.  The farmer ran them through the crakcing machine for free.

I spent 30 minutes separating the shell pieces from the nuts and putting the uncracked nuts in a bowl (see above).

In the end, about half of the weight was shell.  Thus the price per pound of nut meat was less than $6.

And that doesn't include the 13 oz of un-cracked nuts I need to crack by hand (approx 15% of what I purchased was un-cracked by the cracking machine).  So once I get to those, I'd bet the final price is $5 per pound of nuts (better than the $9-10 per pound I see in stores).

You can use the left over shells in your garden as mulch. I've read that slugs don't like to crawl over the shells because of their sharp edges. 


Pressure-Steamed Sage-Scented Delicata Sqaush

I've been enjoying my new pressure cooker, especially now that we are into the hard vegetables (potato, squash, sweet potato, carrot etc.).

This cooks up fast and is simple yet beautiful. C who doesn't even like squash, decided he liked this. 

It has a heavenly scent and slight taste of sage infused in it from the pressure cooking.  Reminds me of macrobiotic or Japanese cooking as it is simple and has clean flavors.

The photo is nothing special- I nearly forgot to take a photo until I was on my last couple bites!

Serves 2-3

Cut a delicata squash in half, discarding top and end pieces and seeds.  Cut into 1/4" half-moon slices.

Layer delicata squash slices over steamer or trivet in pressure cooker filled with 1/2 C water.  Top with a bunch of sage leaves.

Close lid. bring up to pressure and cook under pressure for 3 minutes. Release pressure. Discard sage leaves.

Serve hot with a dab of cultured butter and a sprinkling of salt.

Spicy Carrot Soup

Found this in "Zuppe: Soups from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome". It's a whole compendium of soups, mostly with an Italian or Roman influence.  And they're good! Adapted this to be vegan and use the pressure cooker (much faster than the original stove-top method!).

Makes enough for probably 4 people.  Feel free to halve or double. 

Sweat 1 diced onion with 1 TB olive oil and a pinch of salt in the bottom of a pressure cooker pot.

Add 2 lbs chopped carrots (roughly 1" pieces), 1/2 C white wine and 3 C water. 

Pressure cook for 2.5 minutes at full pressure (second red ring on my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker). If you only have one pressure setting, try 3 minutes and increase if necessary.

Let pressure release naturally.  Then puree the soup.

In a small pan, dry toast 1/2 TB cumin seeds and 1/2 TB coriander seeds for approx 2 minutes or until fragrant but not burned.  Grind in mortar/pestle or spice grinder.  Add ground toasted spices to soup along with 1 tea red chili flakes and season with salt. Toasting the spices seems like a trivial extra step but it really does takes this soup from boring to wow!

When off the heat, add juice from 1/2 lemon.

Serve bowls of soup with crusty rolls, preferably one with nuts, seeds and dried cranberries. 

Purple Potato Parathas

This is a great end of summer recipe when potatoes and chiles are abundant at the farmer's market. 
I used my old recipe for potato-stuffed parathas, but used purple potatoes. Parathas are a stuffed whole wheat flat bread. And I adore them.

These are great plane food and if you felt like going to the trouble, would go over well at a party.  I like that they are more than just bread, but very contained and snackable. And nothing liquid-y so I imagine they'd be great going through air travel.

And obviously they'd be great scooping up dal or curry, or with chutney on top.

Couple notes on using paratha recipe:
  • Make a double batch of dough because I usually have more filling than dough left over.  For me this made 9 parathas (sizes from 5-8" diameter)
  • Use a heavy cast iron pan.  Even my heavy stainless steel pan didn't do a great job-- it had hot spots and started to burn the parathas.  The cast iron did it flawlessly, although you've got to let cast iron heat up for a while. 
  • Turn on the exhaust/fan right away. Since you're dry cooking these over high heat they will smoke a little. 
  • Use waxed paper between the wet parathas before cooking, otherwise they will stick to each other.
  • I made up the parathas and stuck them in the fridge and cooked them later in the day. This made it less of a chore.
  • Also had two pans going (really wish I had TWO cast iron pans lol!) which sped it up

Purple Potato Chips (oven baked)

My local farmer's market always has tons of purple potatoes.  I've done all sorts of things with the purple potatoes: potato salad, stuffed parathas, mashed etc. They don't fare so well in soups where their color muddies the soup color.  They are so pretty I hate losing the color by too much cooking or mixing with other colors. So I was thrilled when I saw someone make them into potato chips. Why didn't I think of that!? Now that I have a mandolin slicer, recipes like potato chips are more likely to turn out well.

Purple Potato Chips
(you could use any kind of potato)

Thinly and evenly slice 2-3 purple potatoes using mandolin slicer on thinnest setting.

Lay out in a single layer on baking pan.

Spray lightly with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt.

In 400 F oven, bake for 5-10 minutes on first side. Flip over (I found quick fingers were better than a spatula for this task).  Bake for 5-10 minutes on second side, or until crispy.  Use spatula to unstick chips from pan, let cool then store in a bag or container to keep them crisp.

Serve as a garnish for soups, sandwiches, salads... or give a bag of them as a gift.