Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ribollita and Quinoa Cookies

It's been awhile. Mostly because I've been out of town to celebrate the nuptials of this lovely lady:
My kitchen wasn't any less busy, though. Last weekend, despite the hot and humid temperatures, I made my first pot of Ribollita, a rustic peasant dish meant to use up day old bread. About a week ago I had bought a bag of french rolls from the farmers market. Unfortunately, I was out and about most every night that week and the rolls went practically untouched. Before I knew it they were on the verge of going stale. Not being one to waste good food I threw them all into the freezer and googled recipes for day old bread. And voilá, ribollita! I browsed through about five or six recipes to get the gist of this soup dish and finally ended up with the recipe below. I can't say it's from any one recipe in particular, but I did use this one as my base, if you will, and made the adjustments noted below. I'm a lover of soup, so it doesn't phase me to eat hot dishes like this when it's 85 degrees out. However, the heartiness of the dish as a whole with the flavor bursts from the olives would make this a great pick-me-up heart warmer in the dead of winter. Goes even better with a glass of semi-dry red wine. Mmmmm.

Next up were Quinoa Cookies. For these I adapted recipe from, who adapted a recipe from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce, a cookbook devoted to using whole grains in baked goods. If you're like me and are curious about when the heck you are supposed to use things like teff flour then you'd probably dig this cookbook, too. I actually bought this book as a hostess gift for a friend of mine and have been debating getting a copy for myself ever since. Kim (understandably - considering she's a Pastry Chef) is heavy on the whole fat dairy products, including butter, making this cookbook very much un-vegan. Therefore, I'm borrowing a copy from my library (I say it all the time - one of the best things taxes have ever paid for) to see if I'm able to adapt enough recipes to make it worth the countertop space. This is the 2nd recipe I've tasted out of the cookbook, 1st one I've made myself - both good. This one is a spin on the classic chocolate chip cookie using quinoa flour (made from the same grain I talked about here) and rolling out the dough to make cookie cutter shapes. Being my first dive into quinoa flour it definitely came as a surprise how much different these cookies tasted straight from the oven vs. day 2. You taste the grain a lot more on day 2 and the cookies take on a very prominent earthy/nutty taste. I want to make these again, but next time I plan on starting from Kim's original recipe, adjusting for veganness, then adding some finely chopped walnuts or pistachios to the mix to harmonize with the flour a little more. The chocolate isn't a bad add-in, but the flavors felt like they were competing too much after day 1. I'll post this recipe after I test out the above changes.

Last up isn't a recipe, just an ingredient lying in wait for me. Strawberries. Lots of them. What you see here is roughly 1/3 of the plunder I took when I went strawberry picking on Thursday. I got away with 8 1/2 lbs in all that afternoon (not including the pound I think I ate right off the bushes). The ones you see here have been cleaned, de-stemmed and frozen so that I can use them in my oatmeal over the winter. I'm debating about going back to pick another 5 lbs or so this week and try my hand at canning jam. It will all depend on if I can find a strawberry jam recipe that doesn't add in sugar, but instead uses juice and juice concentrates. I know it's been done, I just have to figure out how. And find a very, very large pot. I'll keep you posted.




Olive Oil (3-4 glugs, or enough to cook all the mirepoix, aka celery, onion and carrot)
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme (or substitute Herbs de Provence if you have it)
1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
1 bunch kale, stems trimmed off and leaves chopped to 1" pieces
3 cups cooked white beans (I used navy beans) + 1 cup cooked white beans hand mashed
8 cups vegetable broth (you can substitute water in a pinch but more broth = more flavor)
~1/2 pound bread/4 dinner rolls/1/2 loaf, torn into big, but bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
good black olives - the kind you get from an olive bar, not a can - pitted and chopped

Combine olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion in large stock pot and let sweat over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. If you're starting to brown/saute your veggies the heat is too high. Add in the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and herbs and simmer for another 10 minutes. Then add in the kale, 3 cups beans and broth and turn up heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer and continue cooking until the kale is tender (10-15 minutes). Next, stir in the 1 cup of beans and torn bread. Continue to let the soup simmer for 20-30 minutes so that the bread can break down and the soup will start to thicken up. Before serving, while still on the burner, stir in the lemon juice and salt (if needed - depends on if you used broth and fresh or canned beans). Pull the soup off the burner and let sit for another 10-15 minutes to allow the soup time to thicken up a little more (and cool). Dish out into bowls and top with chopped olives.

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