About Elaine Broughton

As a child I grew up eating a traditional American diet that was heavy on meat and potatoes(mostly fried). After three heart attacks I became acutely aware of the need to actively use my diet to heal the damage done to my body, which means eating a healthy, mostly plant based diet. I've always loved to cook and to garden, so I approached this change as a kind of culinary adventure in learning new ways to prepare foods that I was already familiar with, as well as trying new and different fruits and vegetables. As I used more and more fresh produce in season, I discovered that foods not only tasted better, but my grocery budget slimmed down along with my waistline. In addition, I noticed that the character of my kitchen changes with the seasons as I try to enjoy the foods that are freshest and most affordable. I've included traditional recipes (using meat, dairy and eggs) along with the vegetarian recipes. Hopefully, this will appeal to others hoping to bring a healthier way of eating to their family table. Please let me know what you think of the recipes and feel free to share your own versions of how to use the main ingredients. Elaine...in the Kitchen.

Rainy Day Mushroom Soup and Vegan Welsh Rarebit

It’s the first week in April and it’s snowing outside, not a lot, just enough to let you know you shouldn’t put your heavy coat away.  So, I’m going to make some warm, silky, autumn tasting cream of mushroom soup.  Mushroom anything is delicious, and a big pot of soup is just the beginning.  After today, I’ll make some of the leftover soup into a sauce for pasta, and the day after that I’ll smother a baked potato with it, and if anything is left just throw it in the freezer for your next casserole.  I guarantee that once you make this at home, you’ll never buy that disgusting canned stuff again.

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Creamy Mushroom Soup

  • 3 cups fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered
  • 1 cup reconstituted shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium large onion (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of stock, vegetable (mushroom is best)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom powder*
  • Add salt and pepper later to taste
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, or Braggs aminos (Worchestershire works too)
  • 3/4 cup cashew or coconut cream (use any milk or cream you prefer).
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream

You’ll need:

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Directions:

In a soup pot, gently sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms until they are soft.  Add the parsley, thyme and paprika. *I also add a blend of dried mushroom powder that I make.  It just adds some extra depth and yumminess but it’s not necessary.

Now add the stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

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Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in the cream or milk and stir until thoroughly combined.  Heat through.  Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Quick Vegan Coconut Cheese

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I’ve tried a fair number of vegan cheeses with varying success.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the process.  This isn’t exactly cheese as I think of it and I wouldn’t recommend it for a sandwich, but it’s delicious and definitely meltable.  It’s the perfect topping for vegan Welsh rarebit to accompany my big bowl of Creamy Mushroom Soup.

  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • juice of ½ lime or 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 can coconut cream (I think Savoy is best, no added ingredients)
  • 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch mixed in ¼ cup water to form slurry

Pour coconut cream into a saucepan and stir in agar agar.  Add salt, turmeric, paprika and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  Add lime juice or vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened.  Stir in the tapioca starch slurry and stir vigorously until silky smooth and thickened.  Pour into molds (I’ve found plastic works really well).  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

*Fermented Coconut Cheese:  Follow the directions above.  Let cook slightly and stir in the contents of 1-2 probiotic capsules.  Pour into molds and let ferment on the counter top for about 6 hours.  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

Vegan Welsh Rarebit

I’ve eaten this for breakfast, lunch, and late night snacks.  It’s a great accompaniment for soup or salad.

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Take one slice of Ezekiel bread (or some other hearty grain bread).  Spread some coconut oil on one side.  Put in a cast iron fry pan with the oil side down.  Put two 1/2 inch thick slices of vegan coconut cheese on the top and put under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes or until the cheese turns a nice dark brown on top.

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This made my gloomy day all better.  Try it and enjoy.

Nordic Nut Bread

Thanksgiving is over and I survived the mashed potatoes, the dressing and the gravy along with all the pies and sweet potato side dishes.  However, for those of us who appreciate the savory side of life here is an idea for  an addition to your next appetizer selection, traditional holiday smorgasbord, or just as a healthy late night snack while you binge on Vikings and wait for the next season to start.  This Nordic style nut bread would have been a familiar menu item on Ragnar Lothbrok’s table.

This is not bread in any ordinary sense, and it certainly isn’t the familiar sweet fruit and nut bread that we’re used to seeing on holiday tables, but it is an excellent delivery vehicle for a whole array of tasty toppings like paté, lingonberry jelly, a smear of brie cheese, onion jam or even peanut or almond butter.  Plain cream cheese is great too.  You could, of course, throw in some dried apricots, or raisins if you crave something sweeter, but my personal favorites are red onion jam and mushroom paté.  I’ll include quick versions of those condiments in this post.  This recipe is just unbelievably easy and very, very healthy.

NORDIC NUT BREAD

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Ingredients

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  • 3.5 oz  pumpkin seeds
  • 3.5 oz sunflower seeds
  • 3.5 oz almonds
  • 3.5 oz walnuts or pecans
  • 3.5 oz flax seeds
  • 3.5 oz sesame seeds
  • 3.5 oz poppy or chia  seeds or substitute 1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 3.4 oz  oil (I use grapeseed or avocado)
  • 3.5 oz water (optional)

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Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until it forms a thick mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

Press into generously oiled loaf pans (will make 3 small or 1 large).  Bake in a preheated 320 degree oven for 1 hour.   The look of the loaves will not change very much in appearance, just slightly brown around the edges.  Let the loaves cool completely before slicing.  The bread keeps for a week in the refrigerator, and freezes very well.

This is a perfect delivery system for all kinds of yummy toppings.  Here are some of my favorites.

DSCF2975You can use any combination of nuts or seeds that you prefer.  However, for every 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of additional seeds or nuts remember to add 1-2 extra eggs and water and oil as needed.

A good suggestion is to make a large batch of nuts/seeds, divide them into bags with enough to make the above recipe.  Store them in the freezer and take out a bag when you want to make the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

Red Onion Jam

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Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cups thinly sliced red onions (about 3 1/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 cups apples, peeled and chopped

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Ruby Port

1/4 cup red wine

1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and dried red pepper. Cover, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender.  Add brown sugar, vinegar, port, red wine and ginger. Cook uncovered over medium low heat until onions are very tender and mixture has a thick, jam like consistency.  Add the dried cherries and cook until mixture is very thick and dark, stirring frequently, about 20-25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool completely. Put in jars and refrigerate.  This stores very well and can be made well ahead.  I put this on all kinds of things and almost always have a jar on hand.

Mushroom Paté

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Ingredients

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1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

1/2 cup unsalted butter

¼ pound shitake mushrooms, chopped

¼ cup crimini mushrooms, chopped

¼ pound white button mushrooms, chopped

1/4 lb dried woodear mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped

1 tablespoon roasted garlic puree

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Toast the walnuts either in the oven for 10 minutes at 350° or in a dry frying pan on the stove top until fragrant and slightly browned.

In a large skillet or sauté pan cook the shallots in butter until translucent.  Add the chopped mushrooms, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Process the walnuts and olive oil in a blender or food processor until mixtures form a thick paste.  Spoon in the cooked mushroom mixture and process until the desired texture.  I like mine smooth and creamy.

Press the mixture into oiled ramekins or bowls.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.     ♥

Easy Cheesy Souffle

Cheese soufflé is one of my very favorite comfort foods, warm, fluffy, creamy and cheesy.   But, I’ve always been a little intimidated by the prospect of making a soufflé.  It’s French I thought, and probably complicated, and I’m afraid it will turn out like scorched scrambled eggs.  So I was surprised to find out that the secret to French cooking is that it’s really pretty simple.  So I researched cheese soufflé and this is the easiest, fastest, yummiest version I could come up with.  I’ve never had it fail, but having said that DON’T OPEN THE OVEN!

Easy Cheesy Soufflé

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Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (room temperature), separated
  • 2 ounces (half a stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (any kind)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind – for this recipe I used 1 cup grated cheddar, 3/4 cup grated pepper jack and about 1/4 cup brie)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

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Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.

Generously butter 4 ramekins and coat with bread crumbs.  Set aside.

Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside.  In a room temperature bowl beat the egg whites until a meringue forms with soft peaks.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, stir in flour and mix to form a roux.  Cook about 2 minutes.  Add half the milk and whisk until smooth.  Add the remainder of the milk and again whisk until smooth.

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Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring until thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and mustard, again, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the egg yolks and season with salt and pepper.
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If the egg and cheese mixture is still very warm, temper the meringue by adding a spoonful of the egg and cheese mixture.  Then fold half the meringue into the mixture.  Add the remaining meringue.
  1.                                                                                                    Spoon or pour the mixture into the ramekins.
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Place the ramekins on the preheated baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes.  (DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN) When the soufflés have risen and become golden brown, remove and serve immediately.
These creamy little clouds are just right served with a green salad for lunch or a light supper, or as a first course at dinner.   So, if you’ve never made soufflé, give it a try.  ♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All About That Base – Sofrito

 

Every cuisine starts with a base of seasonings, and in Latin cooking, from Puerto Rico to Mexico to Spain, it all starts with sofrito.  Forget mire poix or New Orleans trinity (it’s just a stripped down version of sofrito anyway).   Sofrito 001AI’ve found more and more ways to use this great flavor base and I try to always have a big batch in my freezer.  Being able to throw a disk of frozen sofrito into the pan is a great way to bypass all the chopping for a sauce, a fast supper or an eat-it-when-you-get-home crockpot meal.  I’ve used it as a base in dishes like chicken and yellow rice, and in homemade enchilada sauce, chili and black bean soup.  I’ve even put it in pasta sauce and split pea soup; anywhere you want to make an ordinary dish something special.  The great thing about sofrito is that it is so easy to make.

Every one’s mom or grandma has her own authentic sofrito recipe, but this is my version.  You’ll need a blender or food processor and a frying pan (cast iron is the best), and some basic ingredients.

Basic Sofrito

Ingredients

2 red bell peppers (you can also use the sweet red and yellow minis that come in a bag)

1 green bell pepper

2 poblano peppers

1 big sweet onion

8 cloves of garlic, peeled

2 bunches of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 bunch of culantro*

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon jalapeno powder (also called Texas gunpowder – I make my own)

Directions

Rough chop the vegetables and place in the blender or food processor.

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Process the mixture until it’s somewhat smooth but still has some chunkiness.  Sofrito 007AHeat your skillet and add 2 tablespoons of oil.  Pour the mixture into the skillet, add the cumin and jalapeno powder.  Notice I did not add any salt or pepper.  I add those seasonings when I use them to prepare a dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just let the mixture simmer until most of the moisture has cooked down (about 10 minutes).

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Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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What I like to do is pour 1/2 cup portions into my big muffin tin and freeze them.  Once frozen I put the disks in a zip lock and they’re ready to use when I need them.

Explore some new flavors.  Enjoy.