Weekend Herb Blogging #112: the roundup
I have the honor of introducing you to this week's set of "informative posts featuring any herb, plant, vegetable, or flower," submitted by bloggers from around the world. With many thanks to Kalyn, the creator of this wonderful event, for making this happen, and to the 40 bloggers who participated this week, without further ado I will introduce the delicacies featured. For every submission, I will offer a small bite, designed as an invitation to visit the blog and read the complete post.
We start with Mona's B3 - Best Beef Borscht brought to you by Ramona of The Houndstooth Gourmet. "Nothing satisfies like a hearty soup," says she, and we agree. "I think soup ought to be a food group," says she as well, and we agree again. Winter winds in the Northern hemisphere have inspired Ramona and other bloggers to create heart-and-body warming soups, so you will soon hear about more.
After you've had your soup, be ready for some salad, Beet Orange Salad, to be precise, compliments of Kaykat of Cooking from A to Z. Kaykat was inspired by Alice Waters to combine Red and Golden Beets with Satsumas, Red Leaf Lettuce and Walnuts into a colorful and joyful composition, which is also an ode to her favorite restaurant, Chez Panisse.
More salad on your plate, A Fresh Green Salad from the Sea to be precise, brought to us by Gay of A Scientist in the Kitchen, together with very interesting information on nutritious and healthy seaweeds. I remember well the first time I ate a seaweed salad at a Japanese restaurant in the East Bay: it was love at first bite. And don't we all love it when something we really like is also good for us?
We now go back to a soup where the flavor of cauliflower is combined with the intense aroma of vanilla: "Bean there, done that," Rosa of Rosa Jackson says about her Cauliflower Soup with Vanilla. I hope some day I can say the same. For the joy of all the vanilla aficionados, a group of people that includes me, Rosa provides very interesting information about this beloved spice, together with the recipe for the soup.
Guess what? We are back to salad, with a special edition of the traditional tomato and basil salad, compliments of Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen. Her Crispy Goat’s Cheese, Tomato and Basil Salad made me dream of summer. One of the great things about WHB is that it reminds you of the changing of the seasons not only where you live, but also in the rest of the world.
We will leave for a while the alternating soup and salad motif to enter barley world with two recipes brought to us by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi. Out of A Bowlful of Barley, the two magicians have produced refreshing Lemon Barley Water and Barley with Spiced Yogurt. They also provided interesting information on this ancient grain.
Risotto is another heart-and-body warming food, and it is featured in this Winter Risotto compliments of Beth of The Expatriate's Kitchen. Beth served her Pork and Carrot Risotto with Parmesan in a half Acorn Squash to her daughter, who had been eating Chicken and Rice casserole at school, so that she would know "the real thing." The good news is that she liked it.
Christine of Christine Cooks invites us to Eat Your Curry - It's Good for You. She tells us about turmeric, which has been "used in India for centuries as a healing medicine and a culinary spice." Its active ingredient, curcumin, "has become an item of interest and research in western medicine for its strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties." Curry up, then!
A High Noted Dish known as Chicken Tetrazzini is offered by Pam of The Backyard Pizzeria. Luisa Tetrazzini, who "thrilled Americans at the turn of the last century with her wonderful voice," is the source of the high notes. Summer has arrived with a vengeance in Pam's side of the world, and she responds to the challenge with "an operatic version of chicken and mushroom pasta."
Syrie of Taste Buddies wondered a while about the title to give to of her post, then settled for Kale and Smoked Bacon Quiche, which I like because I find the combination of words and their meaning quite appealing. I also like "If Popeye was alive today, he'd choose Kale," because it reminds us that kale is nutritious and healthy. Syrie describes kale's texture as "somewhere in between English Spinach and Seaweed."
Don't you love the word calamansi? I do, and thanks to Pepy's of The Art and Science of Food offering, Calamansi and Grilled Ikan Tude with Dabu-Dabu, I also know what it means. "Calamansi/calamondin is believed native to China and thought to have been taken in early times to Indonesia and the Philippines. It became the most important Citrus juice source in the Philippine Islands and is widely grown in India and throughout southern Asia and Malaysia."
We are back in soup territory in the company of Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of the wonderful event I have the pleasure and honor of hosting this week. Kalyn proposes a recipe for Florida Butter Bean (or Lima Bean) Soup with Ham and Cabbage. If you are not familiar with this type of beans, Kalyn tells us that "Florida Butter Beans are a type of heirloom baby lima beans, also known as Calico Pole Beans."
We arrive at a dessert stop in our journey, compliments of Gattina of Kitchen Unplugged. Her Caramelized Pomegranate & Carrot Cake uses caramelized pomegranate arils to replace the traditional pineapple. The pomegranate arils are cooked with ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. With the lovely, colorful mini-carrots balanced over a dollop of yogurt, who is going to miss the frosting?
Mike of Mike's Table offers his version of Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which uses "a small amount of goat cheese to give a very subtle tang to the potatoes that you can’t quite put your finger on, but it just adds that little something extra." Fans of goat cheese, unite! The potatoes also have a distinct roasted garlic taste and notes of chives "that pair so wonderfully with potatoes."
Katie of Thyme for Cooking reminisces about a special Christmas PRESENT she received as a child and then gives us a great recipe for Red Cabbage. Then, after reminding us about the Cabbage Commitment, she also gives us a recipe that creatively reuses leftover red cabbage: Pasta with Smoked Sausage and Red Cabbage.
We cannot be away from soups too long and thanks to Lia of Swirling Notions we get a lentil soup that Lia's husband has nicknamed Amy's Lentil Goop. The recipe is preceded by some very interesting notes about comfort and writing: first food for thought, then food for the body.
Pomegranate seeds make another appearance thanks to Chris of We [heart] Food. Before we get the recipe for Chile-Marinated Pork with Black Bean Salsa, we are allowed to eavesdrop in Chris and Lisa's kitchen and hear a snippet of their conversation. In case you are wondering, the pork "marinates in a delicious combination of chipotle peppers, citrus juices, garlic, and onions."
Another double offering, this time from Laurie of Tastes Like Home: Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, who presents us Caper Tart and Capers and Eggs. She also gives us interesting information about capers, like the fact that "caper buds are preserved three different ways: pickled in brine (the most common way capers are sold in America), cured in salt, or dried in the sun."
I find amuse bouche to be a lovely expression, a promise of enjoyment to come. Erin of The Skinny Gourmet offers us a Heart of Palm Amuse Bouche with Grapefruit, Thyme, and Champagne Vinegar, a lovely combination of textures and flavors. For the Holiday season, Erin advises us to allow ourselves "lavish food that entrances you and demands that you pay attention to the experience of eating."
With all the soups and salads and other delectable dishes, we could use some bread, and thanks to Helen of News from my Kitchen we get a tasty and hearty Apple Spelt Bread, whose ingredients include also ground almonds and yogurt. Helen suggests a pairing of this bread with Westphalian bacon or smoked and cooked bacon.
We welcome first-time WHB'er Miri of Peppermill, who presents us some delicious Raw Banana Cutlets. Miri tells us that almost every part of the banana plant is used and goes on to detail such uses, which makes for a very interesting reading. Her descriptions of the wonderful banana plant reminded me of the time I spent under banana leaves taking photographs at the light that filtered through them.
Did you have a hectic week? Anh of Food Lover's Journey kindly offers us some weekend therapy named Corn Pancake with Slow-roasted Tomatoes and Salted Grapes. Simply pronouncing the name of this dish makes me feel more relaxed. Anh tells us that the dish "is not something quickly to assemble. But preparing it is not stressful, hence, perfect for a lazy Saturday."
Pomegranates (in the shape of pomegranate molasses) are featured again in the epigrammatic post penned by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. A sticker shock at the gourmet grocer inspired her creation of Olive Pomegranate Relish, which sounds like something we would definitely relish. The alliterative path from preparation to palate pleasure is as simple as "Crush, cook and consume."
Here is another hearty pasta dish, brought to you by Jeni of The Passionate Palate: Ravioli di Zucca or Butternut Squash Ravioli Served over Tomato Sauce and Topped with Browned Butter & Sage. This is another Slow Food dish or, in other words, a lot of work, but, as Jeni reassuringly says, "it is worth every minute. It is an addictive dish!" I can attest to that.
From Italy we go to Thailand to taste some Thai Shrimp Curry, compliments of Pam from Sidewalk Shoes. Her delicately colored, creamy curry is seasoned with cilantro, her herb of choice. Pam has recently received from her husband a gift of "lots of kaffir lime leaves, some galangal, and even a mortar and pestle." Her plan is to use the gift to make her own Thai curry paste.
If you are starting to wonder about how long it is going to be before the next soup course arrives, don't worry, help is on the way, brought to you by Kevin of Closet Cooking: his Carrot Soup with Dill Pesto looks and sounds delicious. He enjoyed it "with freshly made still warm sour cream and chive biscuits." Need I say more?
Another recipe featuring carrots is offered by Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar: her Carrot and Cardamom Mash belongs to the category of comfort foods, where soups can also be found. Cardamom's impressive resume in the medicinal use department makes Annemarie wonder "why we haven't all been munching on cardamom to help heal all our ills." Besides, it has a wonderful flavor.
If you don't know the story of auntie lentil, Burcu of Almost Turkish Recipe will fill you in. Wanting to make a traditional potato casserole, but lacking ground meat, Burcu "remembered auntie lentil saying over and over again that lentils are a perfect substitute for ground meat." From that memory, her Vegetarian Potato Casserole with Green Lentils was born, a satisfying dish that uses parsley, her favorite herb. Thanks to auntie lentil for inspiring this creation!
Gretchen of Canela & Comino invites us to meet caigua, also known as slipper’s gourd or stuffing cucumber, a nutritious and good-looking vegetable. The tradition is to stuff caigua and the result is Caihua Rellena (Stuffed Caigua). Gretchen warns us that "most have their personal preference for the stuffing of caigua, and this is mine." Her preference sounds good.
When eating something, we all hope for the Oh My God! (OMG) experience. It is precisely such a moment that Cate of Sweetnicks shares with us in her Scallops Bonne Femme (Good Woman) and Spinach with Crispy Prosciutto. As the sauce was simmering away on the stove, she had a quick taste and nearly swooned, it was that good. I would not mind a taste myself.
Sher of What Did You Eat? warns us that her Herb Roasted Pumpkin Seeds dusted with Mor-Sels are difficult to resist. Roasted pumpkin seeds are indeed inviting: small, savory and crunchy. She also lets us know that they "make fabulous gifts for people -- if you can bear to share them."
While in Italy, Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything at least once saw the locals buying balls of cooked spinach from the store and followed their example. She made risotto with them and for the final step, instead of the traditional butter and parmigiano, she used stracchino, "a soft and creamy cow's milk cheese with a rather mild flavour." Having eaten my fair share of stracchino, I can imagine the taste and texture of her Spinach Risotto with Stracchino and can only say: recommended.
If you live in a part of the world where now it is summer and therefore hot, you may wish to have something refreshing on your plate. Y of Lemonpi caters to such a wish with her Spring Onions and Soba Noodles. She tells us that we "can make it ahead and keep it chilled (further allowing the noodles to soak up the flavours of the sauce)" until mealtime. "Just the ticket, when it’s a hot day and the last thing you want to be doing is standing behind a hot stove."
In the words of their creator, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, "made with my favorite spicy Kozlik's Horseradish mustard and lots of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Naturally I couldn't help but name them Simon & Garfunkel Burgers, Turkey Burgers, to be precise, offered in two versions, with and without bun (but with mashed potatoes).
At the outset, Jerry of Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants! made my heart beat faster with a gorgeous image of Venice, my favorite city in the world. His food offering, however, comes from a different part of the world: Gkaeng Kiow Wahn Moo is, in fact, a Thai dish, a green pork curry replete with interesting ingredients, like pea eggplants (ma-keua puang) and round Thai eggplants (ma-keua bprawh).
We welcome another first-time WHB'er, Rachel of Cooking and Booking, who offers us a "not for the faint-of-heart" Triple Garlic Risotto. Garlic-lover Rachel admits that her creation may be the most garlicky thing she has ever eaten, "but trust me, every single bite was delicious."
After so much delicious food, we are ready for something to drink and therefore we welcome Gwen of Intoxicated Zodiac, who offers us some Hard to get (Flowering Quince Julep). The list of ingredients includes quince liqueur and quince infused bourbon. "Where apple is the forbidden fruit, quince is the misunderstood fruit," says Gwen, who goes on to warn us about the consequences of biting into a quince: "a raw quince will both break your tooth and taste something awful." As an ingredient, however, quince has a peculiar, very special flavor.
Brought to us by Peter of Kalofagas - Pursuit of Delicious Foods is a Salad of Broccoli and Cauliflower, which is "easy, suitable for winter, healthy, unusual and Greek!" It is also very colorful and inviting. Peter suggests that we "wait for the dressing to break down the vegetables a bit in the fridge" so that the salad will be more al dente than crunchy.
Another salad is offered by Jennifer of Like to Cook. This Salad of Lamb's Lettuce, Endive, Roquefort and Walnuts is actually her favorite winter salad. "The rich greens, crunchy nuts and earthy endive mix together to make a salad that has an amazing texture and flavor." I also like the color combination and find that it is very attuned to the Holidays.
I was about to write some parting thoughts, when I realized I was forgetting myself, that is, my contribution to this week's celebration of the vegetable kingdom. For the occasion, I made Zucca Ripiena or Stuffed Acorn Squash, containing a mellow medley of pears, scallions and chopped pecans seasoned with thyme. As the humble narrator of this story, I can only hope that you have enjoyed this journey in 40 dishes and that you will participate again in a (near) future edition of the Weekend Herb Blogging.