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Monday, March 30, 2015

Check It Out: Eat Raw, Eat Well

Spring is sprunging! theory that is...but that means fresh garden produce is just around the corner. Can't wait.

And that idea brings me to a new cookbook I have to share with you. Eat Raw, Eat Well: 400 Raw, Vegan & Gluten-Free Recipes. I've had friends who have taken the raw diet path, if even for a short spell, and I've always been intrigued by it. There are so many vegetables that lose something in the cooking process so I definitely understand the benefits, but wasn't sure if there were really that many decent recipes that you could survive off of...come to find out, there are at least 400.

Some of the recipes that caught my eye were the Kale Waldorf Salad, Mango and Pineapple Gelato, Red Beet Ravioli, Sweet Potato and Zucchini Mac'n'Cheese, but the one the parents and I decided to experiment with was the Fruit Gazpacho. YUM! (Recipe to follow soon.)

The book does a nice intro to navigating a raw good diet and equipping your raw food kitchen. If you are going to commit to an all raw diet, investing in a good food dehydrator is key. At least half of the recipes called for use of one, but there were still a LOT of recipes that did not.

So if you want to branch out and try something new, Eat Raw, Eat Well will be a great guide to discovery.

Eat Raw, Eat Well: 400 Raw, Vegan & Gluten-Free Recipes
Douglas McNish
Robert Rose Inc. 2012
ISBN 978-0-7788-0295-2 ($24.95)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cooper's Super Soup -- Sausage and Winter Root Vegetable

FACT  my friend Cooper makes super soups. He and I and another work friend used to do soup exchanges in the winter. Always looked forward to seeing what he would come in with next because they were always D-licious. Then I left for another job and the soup exchange was no more (insert sad face here). So when Cooper approached me about doing a guest post and featuring one of his soup recipes I was totally on board. So now I present for you culinary enjoyment, a super soup.

Cooper’s Super Soup
Sausage and Winter Root Vegetable

1 lb. Italian turkey sausage (spicy!)
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. fennel seed
~ 1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
3/4 cup white wine
2 large carrots
2 small-medium turnips
1 large or 2 small parsnips
1 medium celery root
1 large sweet potato
Salt n pepa (push it to taste)
4 Roma tomatoes, 1/4" dice
~1 tbsp. dried basil
~2 tsp. dried oregano
8 cups vegetable stock

Wash and peel all root vegetables. Cut all into 1/4-1/2" cubes. Set aside for later (see note).

In 2 gallon stockpot/Dutch oven, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Remove turkey sausage from casing and brown. Stir to break up chunks. Once browned, remove to paper towel-lined plate with slotted spoon to drain.

Add remaining butter to pot and melt. Add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until translucent.

Add fennel seed and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir until strongly aromatic, then deglaze with a splash of wine.

Add root vegetables, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until root vegetables until all take up the reddish tint from the sausage grease, and let cook for 5-10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, remaining wine, basil and oregano. Add sausage and stock, mix and bring to boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until veggies are tender. Remove lid and simmer for up to an additional 15 minutes to reduce stock if necessary.

Cooper Notes

As far as stock goes, this is a free veggie stock soup.  All scraps can be frozen for a future vegetable stock, and the variety of root veggies should make for a broth no one can quite put their finger on.

From my raw taste test, the leaves from the celery root are delicious yet potent, but the stems are very bitter (including the base of the leaf). I think the leaves would make for a very nice addition to a stock (or a garnish) with discretion as they are strongly flavored, but the stems are compost.

On the topic of stock, I used 4 cups of homemade spicy chicken stock (from a white bean chicken chili I had made) and 4 cups boxed veggie stock for my first batch. The homemade stock definitely added to the soup, but boxed chicken/beef broth (and extra hot peppers) might achieve the same flavor.

On preparing the root vegetables – this recipe calls for a lot of washing, peeling, and chopping tough roots. If you don't have a razor sharp peeler/knife or a good sous chef, it can take some time. With my limited cooking space and unfamiliarity with some ingredients, it took me about 40 minutes to prep all the roots.

To keep them from changing color/oxidizing, I had a large mixing bowl with vinegar-water mixture on the side for the roots to soak in (~1 tbsp vinegar with water to cover). From what I've read, any acidic water will do the trick. Just toss in a colander to strain before adding to stockpot.

K2 Note

Thank you, Cooper!  Very much appreciate the share and look forward to more good stuff from your kitchen.