Carrot-Ginger Soup

A few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend asking what I had been cooking over break. I immediately sent him a picture of this carrot-ginger soup, and got a recipe request in response along with the accusation that I had “staged” the photo. True, I did set up this picture on the floor of our kitchen near a full-length window, but nothing about this soup is fake–the flavor of carrots is as prominent as the orange color suggests, and the texture is perfectly silky without any milk or cream to deaden the spice from the ginger.

What makes this recipe so revolutionary is the addition of just one simple pantry ingredient. Cooks’ Illustrated came up with the recipe of course, seeing as the test cooks there remained unparalleled in their use of kitchen chemistry in recipes for the home cook’s advantage.  Just half a teaspoon of baking soda added to the simmering carrots raises the pH of the soup enough to break down the cell walls of the carrots in record time. It’s the same trick that I use to make stir-free polenta, tender braised green beans, and nutty broccoli pesto.  Twenty minutes later, the carrots get pureed into an unbelievably silky soup that is quickly brightened up with a splash of cider vinegar, which is added at the end of cooking to keep the pH in the basic range. The short cooking time has advantages beyond just saving time, too; having the soup simmer for less than half an hour prevents the flavor and heat from the ginger from fading into the background. No fussy straining or special techniques are needed, just sauté some aromatics in butter with ginger before adding the rest of the ingredients, then blend the soup quickly and serve, preferably with a grilled cheese sandwich made with good bread and sharp cheddar.

I made this when I was in the always-temperate Palo Alto, but I would love a bowl of this to combat the twenty degree weather in Massachusetts. No matter the weather outside your house, this soup is a simple, healthful meal that everyone will love.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Serves 6

Adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (If you need to make the soup vegan, use canola oil or another similarly neutral cooking oil, such as grapeseed.)

2 onions, diced fine

1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger (store your ginger in the freezer to make it easy to grate)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick

5 ½ cups water, divided

2 sprigs fresh thyme

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, fresh ginger, garlic, two teaspoons table salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to high, and add the carrots, 4 ¾ cups water, thyme sprigs, and baking soda. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered until carrots are very tender, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Discard thyme sprigs. Puree the soup in a blender in two batches until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Return soup to a clean pot and stir in remaining ¾ cup water and vinegar. Return to simmer over medium heat, then serve. Soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Coconut Almond Macaroons

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:


Aside from the occasional Passover macaroon I haven’t had many of the traditional coconut macaroons, instead falling for the delicate French macaroons with almonds and butter-cream filling. Then an occasion arose where I needed a gluten-free cookie, but didn’t want to spend all day finding sweet rice flour, oat flour, and xanthan gum. Oh, and I didn’t want to use any eggs either—they were needed for breakfast the next day. The situation could have been a real disaster, but after a little brainstorming I came up with the idea for a coconut macaroon bound with almond butter and scented with almond extract.

The result was a rich, chewy cookie with flavors of almond and coconut that complimented rather than competed with each other. Better yet, they held together and baked wonderfully to a light golden brown; something that is not easily said about gluten-free and vegan cookies. Now I know I won’t be waiting until the next Passover dinner I attend to have another macaroon.


Coconut Almond Macaroons

Makes about 32 macaroons

1/3 cup creamy almond butter

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons almond milk

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup almond meal

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the almond butter, oil, milk, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the almond meal, salt, and coconut and mix on low speed until fully combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Scoop 1 tablespoon-sized amounts of macaroon dough onto the prepared baking sheets, then bake in the preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool, then serve.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Panisses (Chickpea Fries) with Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

IMG_1851 The great pantry clean-out of 2014 is going pretty well; after a few batches of cookies and other baked goods all I’m left with is a jar of buckwheat flour and a little cornmeal. Today’s recipe utilized the strangest ingredient (chickpea flour) I had in the baking drawer, though it turned out so well I’m wondering why I was so hesitant to use it in the first place.

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Chickpea flour is commonly used in the Provencal street food called socca. With a nutty flavor and delicate texture, it’s difficult to make but a delicious snack when done correctly and served with olive oil. The less common use of chickpea flour in Provence is in a snack called panisses. For panisses, chickpea flour is cooked much like polenta into a thick batter, then poured into a mold and chilled until firm. Once it is cool enough to hold its shape, the batter is sliced into fry-like shapes and fried in olive oil and sprinkled in salt.

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What results is something that looks a bit like a French fry but under the golden brown, crisp crust reveals a creamy, slightly nutty interior that’s somehow light but filling. I knew I wanted to serve the panisses with a sort of dipping sauce–something to brighten up the more intense flavors of the chickpea flour–so I opened up The Flavor Bible to the “Chickpea” section (you think I’m joking, but there really is such a thing) and after a little research whipped up a red pepper dipping sauce with preserved lemon and walnuts that comes together in less than five minutes in the food processor. It provides the perfect contrast to the panisses, and makes for a nice accompaniment to roasted eggplant as well.

For those of you that love fries and ketchup, give this dish a try. It may look similar to the American classic, but the Mediterranean ingredients make this dish anything but traditional.

 

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Panisses

Recipe from David Lebovitz

Serves 6 as an appetizer

4 cups water

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 ¼ cups chickpea flour

About ¼ cup olive oil, plus a little for greasing the loaf pan

Sea salt, to finish

1. Lightly brush a loaf pan with olive oil and set aside.

2. Combine the water, sea salt, and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the chickpea flour and cook, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 8-10 minutes, until the chickpea mixture is very thick and holds its shape. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth into an even layer. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

4. Once the batter has chilled, unmold it from the pan onto a cutting board and cut into French-fry sized shapes.

5. Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add some of the panisses in a single layer, without crowding, then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining panisses, then serve immediately with the red pepper dipping sauce.

Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

Makes about 1 ½ cups

12 oz.  jar roasted red peppers, drained (or roast, peel, and seed 8 oz. of red peppers, and add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the recipe)

2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon

¼ cup walnuts, toasted

Pinch of cayenne

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Combine the red peppers, preserved lemon, walnuts, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. With machine running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth and emulsified. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. The flavor will improve once it sits for 20-30 minutes. Serve with the panisses.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Chocolate Coconut Shakes

In case you missed it: this week on Kinsey Cooks is all about no-cook, no-bake recipes for meals that don’t heat up the house. Check out the other no-cook recipes below:

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Strawberries with Burrata and Balsamic


If you’re looking for a cool summer dessert that doesn’t involve a pint of ice cream (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this is the recipe for you. This shake is going to be the best smoothie you’ve ever had: no fruit—specifically, no bananas—and no ingredients with alarming names (chlollera, anyone?), just creamy coconut milk, chocolate, and maple syrup blended up into a milkshake-like smooth with a swirl of whipped coconut cream on top for good measure. Aside from a little bit of advance chilling this comes together in less than five minutes, which is perfect for times when your interest in whipping, measuring, straining, and temperature checking is inversely proportional to your hunger.


With a small amount of added sugar and an abundance of healthy fats, this drink shouldn’t just be thought of as a dessert. You could enjoy it for breakfast or afternoon snack seeing as it’s nowhere near as sweet as some cereals or granola bars. No matter when you drink it you’re sure to enjoy it, because with one sip of this chocolaty shake with a hint of coconut you’ll already be planning your next batch.


Chocolate Coconut Shakes

Makes 2 large or 4 small shakes

1 13.5 oz. can of full-fat coconut milk

2 cups milk (use any variety that has fat: whole, 2%, soy, almond etc. Just don’t use skim.)

¾ cup ice

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate shavings, to garnish.

  1. Place the can of coconut milk, unopened, in the fridge. Divide the milk into two 1-cup portions and place each in a small Tupperware, then place in the freezer. Let the coconut milk chill in the fridge and the milk sit in the freezer for about 1 hour, until the milk in the freezer is just beginning to frost over.
  2. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop out 1/3 cup of the coconut cream—it will be the thick white layer on the top. Place it in a medium bowl, then whip with a handheld mixer until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside for later use garnishing the shakes.
  3. Place the remainder of the coconut milk with the milk from the freezer in a blender jar. Add the ice, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and vanilla then blend on high speed until smooth, which depending on your blender can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Pour the shakes into serving glasses, top with the whipped coconut cream and a few chocolate shavings, then serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Strawberries with Burrata and Balsamic

In case you missed it: this week on Kinsey Cooks is all about no-cook, no-bake recipes for meals that don’t heat up the house. Yesterday, I shared an Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts. Keep checking in this week for more heat-free recipes!

Someone asked me when I served this dish at our weekly Friday night pizza dinners if this is considered a dessert or savory food. It’s a really good question, because on top of a pile of sweet strawberries, there’s some salty, creamy cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. While I don’t know if this is dessert or dinner, I do know that this is a delicious dish. It’s not a dish to be pigeon-holed. It’s what you eat alongside a piece of pizza and a selection of the many salads that are brought to Friday pizza night (this is California, after all). Maybe you’ll enjoy it as an afternoon snack when it’s 4pm and the idea of waiting until seven for dinner sounds unbearable. You could serve it at the end of a meal of grilled vegetables and fresh bread.


If you haven’t had a chance to try burrata cheese yet, there’s no better time to try it than this summer. Store everywhere, from Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods have started selling these balls of mozzarella filled with shreds of mozzarella mixed with cream. Fresh mozzarella is to burrata as Kraft singles are to sharp English Cheddar. It’s just that much better. With a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic reduction and a pinch of cayenne to add some spice, you can have something truly delicious in fewer than ten minutes that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.


Strawberries with Burrata and Balsamic

Serves 8 as an appetizer

4 cups strawberries, trimmed and halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic reduction or glaze, divided

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 oz. burrata cheese, torn into bite-sized shreds

  1. Place the strawberries, olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour the strawberries out onto a serving platter, then top with the shreds of burrata. Drizzle the remaining teaspoon of balsamic across the top and serve.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Summer weather is really starting to heat up around here, which makes spending hours in a hot kitchen less than appealing. Now is not the time for lengthy braises; it’s time to embrace all of the wonderful summer produce in its freshest state. That’s why this week all the recipes I will be sharing will be heat-free. Anytime you visit this site from Monday to Friday, you will find recipes that can be made without turning on the stove, preheating the oven, turning on the grill, or starting the microwave because the last thing anyone wants to do right now is raise the temperature of his or her house a few degrees.

To start the week off, I made this simple avocado salad with nectarines and walnuts. I saw the two stone fruits sitting on the counter and imagined how good the creamy avocado would be against the sweet, juicy nectarine with a tangy lemon vinaigrette.

Despite how simple this is to put together, it ends up being a beautiful appetizer. The slices of the avocado and nectarine have a similar curvature that makes arranging them on a platter easy and elegant.

A good amount of sea salt enhances all the flavors while adding a nice textural finish.

Finally, a handful of crunchy chopped walnuts provide a slightly bitter finish to the dish to balance all of the sweetness from the fruits. I always like to pair avocados and walnuts together because I think that their flavor profiles echo one another, and after a little bit of research, I found that both of them contain quantities of the carbonyl hexanal that contribute to a walnut-like aroma, confirming my observations.

This salad makes for a nice appetizer as is, though if you wanted to create a slightly more substantial dish, you could serve it on top of a bed of lightly dressed arugula or a slice of artisan bread. Next time, you need some food in less than five minutes, turn to this dish.

Avocado Salad with Nectarines and Walnuts

Serves 4 as an appetizer

2 ripe avocados, pitted and sliced

3 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced

Flaky sea salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Arrange the fruit on a plate: alternate slices of avocado and nectarine either on a large serving platter or 4 individual plates. Season the tops of the fruit with 4 pinches of salt.
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Drizzle the dressing on top of the avocado and nectarines.
  3. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the salad, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Cultured Butter


Myth: Cultured butter is butter that has traveled abroad.

Fact: Cultured butter is butter made with cream that has been “cultured” with bacteria before being churned to yield a rich, tangy butter. It is most commonly served in the UK and France, though that is not the origins for its name.


It all starts with a bowl of crème fraiche, which normally will cost upwards of six dollars for a paltry amount at the store, but is incredibly easy to make at home. Just whisk a spoonful of yogurt into a bowl of cream and let it sit at room temperature for about a day until thick and tangy. If all you wanted was crème fraiche to serve on top of a bittersweet chocolate tart with a few flakes of sea salt (not a bad idea), stop here and store the crème fraiche in the fridge. Otherwise, continue on to churn the butter.


Churning butter is very straightforward: you have to agitate the fat molecules enough so that they clump up enough to leave any excess moisture behind. You may have done this already if you’ve ever over-whipped cream and were left with a chunky mess to serve on pie.


You can use either a jar to shake the crème fraiche until the butter forms, or you can use a handheld mixer until the butter forms.


This is what the churned butter in buttermilk looks like.


Pour off the buttermilk and save it to use in biscuits, cornbread, or dressings.


Now you’re left with pure butter. Pour a little cold water over it to rinse the butter, then pour off any remaining liquid and season the butter with sea salt to taste.


Spread the butter on toasted or warm bread, or toss some fresh pasta in the cultured butter with a handful of chopped herbs. The complex and tangy flavors of the butter make it best served with simple foods and fresh ingredients that will showcase each component of the dish.


Cultured Butter

Makes about 2/3-1 cup butter and an equal amount of buttermilk

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons yogurt with live-active cultures (Greek or regular both work)

A few pinches of sea salt

  1. Whisk together the heavy cream and yogurt in a metal bowl and cover with a dishtowel. Let sit at room temperature for 12-36 hours until the mixture is uniformly thick and smells tangy. If you stop at this step, you have crème fraiche. If you want to continue on to butter, continue to step 2.
  2. To churn the butter you have two options: use a handheld mixer to whip the crème fraiche thoroughly until the butter forms, about 2 minutes, or pour the crème into a jar and shake for 6-8 minutes until butter chunks form.
  3. Pour off the buttermilk into a separate container, leaving the butter behind. Pour some cold water (about 1 cup) over the butter and stir with a spoon to loosen any remaining buttermilk. Carefully pour off the water and press with a spoon to remove excess moisture.
  4. Add a few pinches of sea salt to taste, then spoon the butter into an air-tight container and store in the fridge. Use it for all of your toast and condiment ventures that would benefit from a smear of high-quality butter.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Double Chocolate Flourless Cookies

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:

I’ve done a lot of research on cookie recipes and variations, and amidst all of the butter and flour laden recipes that dominate cookbooks there are always a few unique recipes that pop up. Take this one, for example: it’s a chewy double chocolate cookie that derives its structure solely from sugar, egg whites, and cocoa powder. There is no creaming perfectly room temperature butter into sugar or baking soda vs. baking powder decision making to be had. Once the batter is whipped together (in less than two minutes) it resembles melted chocolate ice cream, but once the cookies emerge from the oven the unassuming batter has turned into round, shiny, and perfectly crackled cookies.

They’re chewy and absolutely packed with chocolate from the cocoa powder in the batter to the generous amount of chocolate chips folded into the loose batter. A small amount of espresso powder bumps up the chocolate flavor and gives these cookies a sophisticated taste that is perfect for the end of any meal. Without dairy or gluten, these cookies make excellent treats for anyone with allergies or special diets without making everyone else feel like they’re missing something. Next time you have some spare chocolate and a need for a fast dessert, give these cookies a try.

Double Chocolate Flourless Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Adapted from Food52 and Shutterbean

2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1/8 teaspoon table salt

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, salt, cocoa power, and espresso powder on medium speed. Add the egg whites and beat until fully combined.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the vanilla and chocolate chips until the chocolate is evenly distributed.
  4. To form the cookies, spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter onto the baking sheets per cookie, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are set and the tops have puffed. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove carefully with a thin spatula and let cool completely on wire cooling racks.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts


I always start to get excited around April for all the fresh produce that’s beginning to come in season. The farmers’ markets and produces aisles are now full with basil, asparagus, ramps, and green garlic, and in just a few short months we’ll be buying ripe peaches by the case.


Asparagus in particular is one of my favorite spring vegetables, and I find it to be very versatile, whether it’s tossed with pasta and goat cheese, grilled with some balsamic vinegar, or served raw in a salad. Before making this recipe, I hadn’t yet tried preparing a dish with raw asparagus, but I found that once it’s thinly sliced and tossed with a dressing of brown butter, shallots, white balsamic, it becomes a delicious springtime dish. A handful of roasted hazelnuts echo the nutty undertones in the brown butter and add some crunch to the salad. Try this salad for lunch, maybe alongside some farro or crusty bread, or serve it alongside a grilled entrée for a warm-weather dinner.


Thank you to Arjun Narayen for taking the above pictures! You can find more of his photography on his Facebook page, Arjun Narayen Photography.

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts

Serves 4

1 lb. asparagus

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, minced

Sea salt

2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

  1. Take one stalk of asparagus and hold it with two hands toward the bottom end. Bend the stalk and allow it to break at the natural breaking point, discarding the bottom 1-2 inches of woody asparagus and reserving the tender top. Place this trimmed piece of asparagus next to the remainder of the bundle and use its length as a guide to trim off the bottom portion of the rest of the stalks. Discard all of the woody ends.
  2. Cut the asparagus stalks in half crosswise, then using a sharp knife, thinly slice each half asparagus stalk into thin ribbons lengthwise. Place the sliced asparagus in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and once melted, continue to cook until golden brown in color. Add the shallots and 2-3 pinches of sea salt and continue to cook until the shallot has caramelized and the butter is a deep golden brown. Stir in the balsamic until emulsified. Pour the butter mixture over the asparagus and add the hazelnuts. Toss to combine, then adjust salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Note: If you would like to eat the asparagus in a cooked state. Place the salad in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and sauté for 5-6 minutes until the asparagus is warm and golden brown. This preparation is ideal when the asparagus is not particularly in fresh or in season. When it is peak asparagus season, however, the asparagus will be so fresh and green that cooking them is unnecessary.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

 

Cinnamon Pecan Granola

In elementary school, I read a book called Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath in which a young girl in a whaling town has to adjust living with her uncle after her parents are lost at sea. However, what I remember most distinctly from the novel is one chapter where a woman is in the process of selling her house, and in order to make her home smell more inviting, she bakes large quantities of cinnamon in her oven after reading that toasted spices will make her home smell wonderful. Now, I don’t think that a large pan of thoroughly toasted cinnamon sending an acrid bitterness through an open house would be all that comforting, but a small skillet of hot maple syrup and cinnamon that lightly coats a tray of rolled oats and pecans before being baked into granola? Now that would be a surefire way to get a few offers in just one weekend.

The minute the cinnamon blooms into hot maple syrup, the gentle spices in the mixture perfumes the air with the undeniable smell of comfort. After a quick bake in the oven, the oats crisp up and the pecans are toasted until their slightly bitter edge is tempered by the complex sweetness of maple syrup. Unlike commercial granolas that use evaporated cane juice for moisture and flavor, grade B maple syrup has a robust flavor that can stand up to hearty spices, nuts, and grains and is perfectly primed for healthful breakfasts. This granola couldn’t be easier to put together and is much more enticing than a jar of burnt cinnamon, whether or not you’re trying to sell your home.

Cinnamon Pecan Granola

Makes about 6 cups

4 cups rolled oats

2 cups raw pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup maple syrup

½ cup canola oil

1/8 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the oats and the pecans.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, bring the maple syrup, canola oil, and salt to a boil, then add the cinnamon and stir until well combined. Pour on the oat mixture and toss until every oat and pecan is coated. Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, stirring the granola at the halfway point. Let cool on the baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!