Brown Soda Bread

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Ireland is not a country known for its food, which is remarkably unfair. I was reading a novel a few weeks ago in which a man casually mentioned that his father was Italian and his mother was Irish — and thank God his father did the cooking.

(It was not a great book, overall. But I digress.)

Maybe it’s because it’s perceived as boring. People think Ireland and they think potatoes, corned beef, cabbage, and Bailey’s. Or they think England, which to many Americans means bland food with names like “Spotted Dick” and “mushy peas.”

The reality is a little more complex. Ireland, at least contemporary Ireland, has amazing salmon, lamb, and mollusks. I didn’t eat corned beef once while I was there. And when you’re in an Irish port city, it’s easy to see European influence (Spanish, French, a little Italian) on the cuisine as well.

But my favorite thing was the soda bread, a quintessentially Irish staple. Continue reading

Greek Summer Salad

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Vegetables can be a struggle for me. I know, I run a healthy food blog — coming up with creative ways to use veggies and seasonal produce should be second nature to me, right?

Wrong. The vegetables we actually eat in my house are pretty repetitive. Brussels sprouts, sometimes with bacon. Kale. A salad. Sometimes chard, if my garden is going gangbusters. Zucchini on the grill, if my husband feels like taking that on. Asparagus.

I got sick of salads the other day and needed to find something new. A quick flip through my Gourmet cookbook was disappointing. Really? No vegetables section? But a more detailed look revealed that a lot of the “Salad” recipes were not just lettuce at all, but a variety of vegetables thrown in a bowl with dressing, which was exactly what I was looking for.  Continue reading

Perfect Hardboiled Eggs

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It shouldn’t be so difficult to hard-boil eggs.

I have never been able to do it. The yolk always, always, gets hard and weird and chalky. And while that’s not awful if you’re just throwing a hardboiled egg into a potato salad or an egg salad, it’s not great for things like Cobb salad or simply snacking on, when the texture really shows.

Other people must have the same problem, judging by the number of people on Pintrest resorting to “boiling” their eggs in the oven. In case you, too, struggle with Overcooked Egg Syndrome, I have found a foolproof method for hardboiling that will give you exactly what you want every time.  Continue reading

Asparagus with Butter, Lemon, and Chives

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Nothing says spring like asparagus. Pasta primavera, tender spears wrapped in prosciutto and oven-roasted, asparagus served with eggs Benedict for a Mother’s Day brunch…yes. Asparagus is the first taste of spring.

I didn’t realize it until I worked with the Idaho Department of Agriculture on an ad last month, but asparagus grows like a weed here in Idaho. Old-timers can remember picking it from where it grew in irrigation ditches alongside the highway, cutting big bundles of the stuff and then eating their fill.

Today, it doesn’t grow wild so much, but it does grow well in southern Idaho. Continue reading

Small things and asparagus pizza


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I was listening to NPR the other day when a familiar voice came on. It was the voice of Melissa Arnot, one of the most amazing mountain climbers in the world. She was speaking with Robin Young from a satellite phone at the base of Everest, preparing to summit yet again. She’s already hit the top several times, but now she’s attempting to be the only American woman ever to do it without supplemental oxygen and without the help of a team of sherpas assisting her with gear. She’s doing this in part to raise awareness of the dangerous conditions sherpas endure on a daily basis and to raise money for the families of six sherpas who died in an avalanche last year. Continue reading

Peanut Veggie Stir-fry

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I knew my upcoming trip to Austin was going to involve meat, fried things, queso, and more meat. I wanted to eat salads for a week or so to preemptively make up for the damage I was about to do to my body. But…it’s March. In Idaho. Even though it has been sunny and the snowpack has melted off, it’s not the kind of warm yet when you’ll have a carrot for dinner and call it good.

Plus, I have a husband to feed. And despite my best efforts, “vegan” is a four-letter word to him. He will balk at any dinner that too blatantly seems to be made entirely of vegetables and microwave a frozen lasagna instead, which makes me feel like a total failure and like trying to make a nutritious meal is a waste of time. So. I try to stave this off.

It immediately became clear that stir-fry was the only option. Continue reading

Grainless Lemon Scones and Cherry Jam

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These amazingly moist, grain-free, gluten-free lemon scones were a long time coming, and relied on a major evolution of forces in order to be made at all.

It started with the cherries, thoughtfully pitted and frozen by me last summer and promptly forgotten until we moved last month. A coworker and I chatted for a while a few weeks ago about what I could possibly do with these cherries, and she immediately suggested jam, to be served with lemon scones. Of course! What else?

gluten-free lemon scones 2And then, in one of those lovely coincidences that seem to only happen with the oldest of friends, my best friend from high school sent a housewarming gift that included a bag of light muscovado sugar. With its rich molasses notes, I knew this was just the thing to temper the tartness of the lemon juice, deepen the sweetness and warm the flavors up to something a little more appropriate for March, rather than June.

Further coincidence? It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and scones are still to this day one of the things I miss most about Ireland. I know it’s essentially a biscuit. I still miss them. And I’m pretty sure, anyway, that you can’t do better than this recipe for a gluten-free scone.

Grainless Lemon Scones
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Yummy grain-free scones, infused with muscovado sugar and lemon juice
Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter
  • ½ cup muscovado sugar
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk of your choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.
  2. Combine almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add butter and work with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest and whisk until very fragrant and well-combined. Whisk into the other ingredients.
  4. Add lemon juice and milk, and stir with a spatula until very well combined. The mixture may be crumbly, but you’ll see it will come together when pressed.
  5. Dump dough onto the baking sheet and press into a ball. Flatten ball until the dough circle is about one inch high. Split with a knife into eight equal segments, wiggling the knife to create a solid separation between the wedges.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the outside is golden and the inside is still moist. Cool on a wire rack; serve with plenty of butter, margarine and/or tea.
 

 

[yumprint-recipe id=’112′]

Beet Salad with Fennel and Blue Cheese



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I’m really trying, you guys. I know you want vegetables. Maybe even need them, at this point in the winter, when the idea of eating another bowl of soup is enough to make you want to head for the tropics. I feel you. 

Which is why I think this salad is so perfect. First, vegetables. Second, they’re not delicate spring veggies that won’t fill you up. No, this is a combination of sturdy baby greens, red lettuce and beets, the root vegetable to end all root vegetables. 

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With the additions of fennel, which adds an unexpected warmth, apple, walnuts and blue cheese, this is a salad that eats like a meal. It will fill you up with fiber and good fats and so many antioxidants you won’t even know what to do with yourself.

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Oh, and did I mention there’s horseradish cream? I know it sounds a little weird, but trust me, it’s delicious. Use a good quality mayo (I used Sir Kensington’s and no, despite their really widespread blogger ad campaign, they didn’t pay me to write that) and, if the sauce seems a little thick, add just a touch of white vinegar.

(Lastly, I forgot the walnuts in that photo. I’m sorry. It was taken on a fast lunch break from work and the walnuts flew out of my mind. Pretend they’re there. Thanks.)

Beet Salad with Fennel and Blue Cheese
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Serves: 1
A perfect, big late-winter salad for when you just need some veggies…but also blue cheese.
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 beet, spiraled with a spiralizer or a regular vegetable peeler
  • 2 cups greens (including arugula, spinach and lettuce)
  • 1/4 cup diced apple
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fennel
  • 2 Tbsp blue cheese
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp good mayo
Instructions
  1. First, take your walnuts and honey and toss them in a small bowl until the walnuts are fully coated. Toast in a toaster oven on the “medium” setting or in a 350 degree oven until lightly toasted. Remove and let cool.
  2. Layer greens, fennel, beets, apple, and blue cheese on a plate. In a small bowl, whisk together horseradish and mayo. Spoon onto salad. Top with candied walnuts. Yeah, buddy.
 

 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup (and roasted chickpeas)

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Guys. I promised you a vegetable. Here it is. 

I know, it’s not green. It doesn’t even look like a vegetable, really. What it looks like is what it is — an incredibly decadent, velvety, tummy-warming combination of butternut squash, spices and a little crispy surprise on top. 

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But…it’s all vegetables. I mean, there’s some stock in there, but that can be vegetable, too, if you want. There’s no dairy or gluten at all in this. In fact, it’s even Paleo if you leave off the chickpeas and replace it with, oh, shrimp instead. Which would be awesome, no kidding.

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This huge pot of soup also took me about 45 minutes and $8 to make. That’s like $1 a serving, which is amazing when you consider you’d probably pay $6 a cup for this little number at your favorite local restaurant. Good food on a budget? I am totally in. 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup (and roasted chickpeas)
 
Author: Kate Wutz
A velvety dairy-free and gluten-free soup with vegan and paleo options. Totally the solution to that cold front you’re about to get hit with.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 cups good-quality stock (bone broth, beef stock, or vegetable stock)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp oil of your choice
  • pinch salt, pepper, cayenne
  • red pepper flakes for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, curry, salt, turmeric, paprika and coriander and cook until onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add butternut squash, carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash mushes easily. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain and rinse your chickpeas, then dump them between two tea towels and gently rub until dry. Toss with oil, salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper, then spread onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy, tossing halfway through so they cook evenly.
  3. Once the chickpeas are done, use an immersion blender (or a regular blender, in batches) to puree the soup. I left a few chunks in mine because I find perfectly pureed soups boring…some people like them. It’s up to to you.
  4. Ladle into individual serving bowls. Top with chickpeas and a smattering of chili flakes. Serve.
 
Notes
To make it paleo, omit chickpeas and substitute cooked shrimp.

 

Black Beans and Cheesy Polenta

DSC_0048You know how I said that sometimes food is just about love? That’s true. And sometimes, it’s just about slapping something on the table and making sure everyone is fed.

I cried the other night about dinner. And not welling up, not just a single delicate tear tracing across my perfect cheekbone. An ugly, horrible, can’t-breathe, burying-my-face-in-the-dog’s-tummy-while-she-cleans-my-face kind of cry. There was heaving, sobbing and mucus. It was awful.

Ostensibly, I was crying because I was supposed to make dinner, but a series of miscommunications sent my husband storming off in search of a burger as I sobbed and threw a spinach omelet in the trash. But at its heart, the sobbing spell had everything to do with being on week eight of the most stressful period we’ve had in our entire relationship — buying a house and trying to move at a time when both of our jobs have heated up.  

These are good things, and we’re very lucky. It’s also been incredibly overwhelming, and the cumulative effects of weeks of miscommunication and frustration and exhaustion and selfishness on both of our parts welled up and spilled over when I couldn’t do something as simple as get dinner on the table.

I could have staved off that crying jag by throwing this meal on the stove, and in 30 minutes, all of my problems (well, most of them) could have been solved. Both of us could have been sitting down to a delicious, gluten-free meal that is good for the soul. Everything looks better once you’ve eaten.

This meal has its roots in a story I read in one of my favorite books on food, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. One writer describes how he’d make black beans every night, simmering them with garlic and then serving them over homemade cornbread.

It sounded great, but I am not one of those people who just randomly has cornbread sitting around, nor am I the type to throw together a batch on a weeknight. So I tried it with polenta (infused with cheese, of course) and lo! This 30-minute meal was born.  You can skip the cheese for a yummy vegan option.

Black Beans and Cheesy Polenta
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • salt to taste
  • 1 can black beans and juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp Frank’s Red Hot
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • cilantro, sour cream, any other garnishes for serving
Instructions
  1. First, put the polenta and broth on to simmer. Stir very frequently and cook, uncovered, until thick and the general consistency of grits (this will take about 30 minutes). Stir in butter and cheese, allow to melt, then taste and add salt as necessary. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the beans and their juices over medium heat until they start to boil. Lower heat slightly, add garlic, cumin, cayenne and Frank’s and simmer, uncovered, until the polenta is done.The juices should thicken into a sauce. Stir in lime juice and remove from heat.
  3. Spoon polenta onto serving plates; top with beans and whatever accoutrements you desire.