Elaine in the Kitchen has Lots of News!

Sometimes you have to celebrate your own accomplishments, so I’m proud to announce that my book,Pantry Magic – Making and Using Fruit and Vegetable Powders is now available in paperback on Amazon and I hope to have the Kindle edition up soon. (See the Amazon Icon on the sidebar).I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope that all of you will check it out and, of course, buy a copy. (How’s that for blatant self promotion)!  Seriously, I’d love to get your feedback.

But there’s more. Last summer I opened an online store at Etsy.com, and I’m happy to say that I’m getting lots of interest in my Fruit and Vegetable Powders. https://www.etsy.com/shop/ElaineintheKitchen?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Sales have been particularly good since the Holidays and I’m looking forward to adding some new items: Meyer Lemon Zest, Roasted Red Bell Pepper, and Sweet Orange Zest.

I’m sure some of you have noticed that I’ve been doing some rehab work on Elaine in the Kitchen’s Facebook page as well as the website.  I’ve also got some great recipe ideas for future posts and I should have a new one starting next week.  Thanks to all of you who have been checking in on Elaine in the Kitchen in the meantime.

Whew!  I think I’ll have some tea and lemon cookies.

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.

Chai Concentrate: Instant Comfort in a Cup

After a hard day sometimes you just need some good old fashioned comfort, and you need it NOW.  Problem is, comfort usually takes time and on days like that I’m not into delayed gratification.  So what I need is a little kitchen magic and some make-ahead planning.

My crock pot is the closest thing I have to a magic cauldron.  I can make the most wonderful concoctions in it with almost no effort and I use it often, especially for that heavenly elixir, chai tea.  Frankly, I’m too cheap to buy the stuff in a box or bottle, and I tried the homemade instant mix but I don’t like the idea of coffee creamer (I mean what IS that stuff anyway?).   For me, it’s not just about how a dish looks, it’s also about how it’s made and what kind of ingredients go into making it yummy.  Now, I love chai, hot, cold, with or without milk.  It’s delicious, comforting and a special way to unwind after a busy day.  The trouble is I want my comfort now and not half an hour from now after I’ve assembled all the ingredients, found that I’m completely out of cinnamon sticks, gone to the store, come back, steeped the tea and spices and poured out that first cup.  No, I want it fast, easy and ready to use.  With a little research and a few of my own contributions, here is my version of Chai Tea Concentrate.   There are no actual rules here, so use the spices you like.  So drag out that slow cooker and let’s make some comfort in a cup.

Chai Tea Concentrate

Makes slightly less than 2 quarts

 Ingredients:

  • 8 cups water
  • 8 individual tea bags (black or green)
  • 1 cup sugar or 3/4 cup honey or brown rice syrup (I use half regular sugar and half light brown sugar) – you can always add more to taste
  • 6 slices (rounds) fresh ginger
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 8 cardamom seeds (they’re tiny but strong)
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 1 nutmeg, or 1 1/2 teaspoons of grated nutmeg
  • Peel from one fresh orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel powder (you could substitute additional fresh orange peel or orange zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel powder (you could substitute 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chai Concentrate Ingredients 1

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

Pour the water into the crock pot, add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Once the sugar is dissolved, add the tea bags, and all of the remaining ingredients except the vanilla.

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Set the crock pot to hi and let it simmer for 2-4 hours.  It will have reduced slightly and is very strong, so if you’re sensitive to caffeine you should use decaffeinated or your favorite herb tea.  MON 006

Turn off the heat and let cool slightly, then add the vanilla.

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When the concentrate is completely cooled, strain and store in the refrigerator in a glass container.

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Magic in a cup.  Enjoy!    Wed Chai 003

 

 

 

 

 

Sunshine Soup and Lettuce Wraps

I recall that on May 1st last year there was snow on my lawn.  This year spring seems to have started in earnest, the trees are almost in leaf and my allergies are going crazy.  No regrets.  Mayday, or Beltane, or whatever name you choose too give this date, is one of my favorite celebrations.  It’s time for one of my sunshine soups, and this year, in honor of the wonderful weather I’m making Summer Sun Soup and juicy, crunchy lettuce wraps.   Summer Sun Soup is one of my favorite spring/summer soups because you can eat it warm, or you can enjoy it cold.  You’ll love the color, the velvety texture and the slightly spicy, deliciously tangy flavors.

Summer Sun Soup

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs yellow summer squash (about 3-4 medium)
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch dried orange peel
  • Pinch dried lemon peel
  • Pinch dried celery
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Cut the squash in half and then into 1/2-inch dice (about 8 cups); cut the bell pepper into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups); cut the carrots in 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cup); cut the potatoes in 1/2 inch dice (scant 1 cup).

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Medium chop the onion (about 1 cup).

Onions

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.  Add the squash, pepper, carrots and potatoes to the saucepan along with the vegetable or chicken stock; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, 10 minutes.
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Add the lemon juice and zest.  Add in the turmeric, ginger. dried orange peel, dried lemon peel, dried celery powder or celery salt and salt and pepper to taste.  Use a food processor or blender to puree the soup.

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Reheat or serve cold with a swirl of plain yogurt.

Lettuce Wraps

  • 6 leaves of butter lettuce
  • Cole slaw with diced granny smith apple

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Photo by E. Broughton

Photos by E. Broughton

Happy May 1st and Enjoy!