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A simple soup brewing away over a gentle flame is a comforting thought. What better to have while nestled quietly next to the window while the winter turns steadily to spring. Still the air is a bit chilly and the brisk wind swept outdoors makes one even hungrier for soup.

Thoughts of early spring have me anticipating new life. I believe the garden landscape is intact from little to no blankets of snow. But, whatever becomes of spring, I know the plants will be happy to awaken and ready to delight our presence.

 

I do enjoy the garden most at this time; it’s the time when the alliums bloom. The plantings will first break ground, sleepy eyed and ready for new life; soon grow quickly as if by magic to fill the space into a lush oasis eager to be admired. And there I will be, watching at every moment.

 

For now, there are many decisions to make, what will be added, and what will be transplanted. It’s the constant state of movement a garden goes through, from humblest of beginnings to what it is to become. I have relaxed over the years to allow the garden to let me know what it wants to be. And in doing so, the garden has evolved into a place I cherish.

 

There is still time to enjoy comforting bowls or cups of soup as the weather takes us on a roller coaster ride. This soup is great with this out of the oven quick bread infused with fresh thyme leaves. What can be more perfect than bread and soup?

 

Sweetly fragrant thyme and nutty Gruyere. mmm…

 

Spring time can wait just a bit longer, I am still enjoying soup!

 

Have a great sunny weekend everyone!

 

Roasted Carrot Red Lentil Soup Recipe [Serves 4]

 

1 pound carrots, peeled & cut into 1” pieces

2 Tablespoons olive oil

 

1 medium onion, diced

1 small fresh bay leaf

1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

1-2 Tablespoons sherry [optional]

 

2/3 cup red lentils, picked over

5 cups chicken stock -or- vegetable stock

1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds

½ teaspoon regular -or- smoked paprika

1 large garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon turmeric

 

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Sea salt to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375°F.

 

1. Coat carrots in olive oil and place in a baking dish. Roast covered for 30 minutes.

2. Uncover carrots and continue to roast until they start to brown.

3. Meanwhile, sauté onions with bay leaf in remaining olive oil over medium heat until they are tender and starting to color.

4. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Deglaze with sherry if using.

5. Stir in spices, excluding whole cumin seeds, roasted carrots and lentils.

6. Give them a quick stir and add stock.

7. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until carrots are tender and lentil have fallen apart.

8. Puree soup until smooth and season with sea salt, adding more stock if necessary.

9. Pan roast cumin seeds until they start popping and are fragrant. Stir into soup.

Serve with or without cream.

 

 

Zucchini Gruyere Quick Bread Recipe [Makes 3 mini loaves]

 

1 ½ cups g/f baking mix*

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ – 1 teaspoon sea salt [depending on the saltiness of the cheese]

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

3 large eggs

½ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sunflower oil

 

1 cup grated zucchini, squeezed of moisture

½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated

 

Preheat oven to 350°F

Spray three mini loaf pans with oil [I used a coconut pan spray.]

 

1. Combine the dry ingredients with the fresh thyme in a bowl and set aside.

2. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk and oil until smooth.

3. Stir in cheese and zucchini.

4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until combined and there are no dry pockets.

5. Promptly divide the mixture amongst the loaf pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

6. Allow loaves to cool in their pans or enjoy right out of the oven.

I look forward to the one day J. and I can sit down for breakfast. I am usually up early, running around while sleepy sounds are heard far from the kitchen. What will it be this morning? Coffee and croissants? Eggs with braised lentils and vegetables?

Perhaps something on the sweeter side…

 

 

I feel great excitement during the summer when I can make my way out to the herb garden and pluck a few fresh herbs to work into breakfast. Fresh thyme or rosemary for the scones or a mixture of sweet herbs for the scrambled eggs.

Such decisions… so early in the morning…

 

 

After the clanking, mixing and cracking of eggs, we can sit down to enjoy breakfast for some unhurried conversation before the day takes off. Since I rarely sleep in on the weekend, this quick pace early in the morning energizes me after a long restful night and sets the mood for a good day to come.

 

 

As with most recipes that have gluten in them, the conversion is pretty simple for gluten-free. Sometimes there are ones that need a little tweaking to have them turn out properly. Various gluten-free flours all have different reactions, but can easily be overcome if any issues arise.  I like to think the gluten-free mix I make at home will work every time, but there are recipes I use this mix for poorly resemble the real thing. But not to worry, a few alterations and were back on track.

 

For these good morning muffins, I added just a bit more mix to have them looking and tasting like traditional muffins.

 

“Delicious,” J. replied as the final test muffins were inhaled.

Bingo! Mission accomplished.

 

 

If you are not going gluten free, I encourage you to give these muffins a try. I thank all of the wonderful creative gluten-free bakers out there who have paved the way for us to enjoy a better gluten free life!

Enjoy!

 

Coconut Apple Carrot Muffin Recipe [makes 12 small muffins]

 

1 ½ cups gluten-free baking mix*

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

½ cup dark brown sugar

2 large whole eggs

 

½ cup buttermilk

6 Tablespoons sunflower oil

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

 

1/3 cup flaked coconut

1/3 cup apples, diced

1/3 cup carrots, peeled & diced

1/3 cup currants

 

½ cup flaked coconut [optional topping]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

 

1. Whisk g/f mix, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt together. Set aside.

2. Mix together buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract together and set aside.

3. Whisk eggs and sugar together until pale and airy.

4. Mix wet ingredients and sugar mixture into the dry ingredient just until smooth.

5. Fold in coconut flakes, apples, carrots and currants.

6. Place one #20 scoop of batter in each baking cup.

7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until centers are done when tested with a toothpick.

*note: You can sprinkle the optional flaked coconut on the batter before baking or sprinkle a little sugar for a nice sugar crust.

 

Today I have a few recipes to post. I could not decide on which one so I thought I would share what has been made in the past week. The weather is finally feeling like January. Blustery cold winds and sunny skies. It is a shock to think just a few days ago it felt like early March, watching as the little snow we have had melt away. I don’t think much of us mind this mild winter weather from last years’ experience.

 

These recipes are the kind of foods that I make on an everyday basis. No need to get fancy here, no special imported food stuff to acquire, just a few quality ingredients and a good turn of the pepper mill can make all the difference. If you experiment with gluten-free recipes you should try this honey hazelnut cornbread. No one would ever guess it was gluten-free! Too bad I did not make any slow roasted ribs to go along with it, but I can guess as summer approaches, an outdoor rib roast will be in order.

Have a great rest of the week!

 

Carrot & Parsnip Soup Recipe

 

2 Tablespoons sunflower oil

2 whole cloves

1 small bay leaf

1/3 cup shallots, thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove

 

1 ½ cups carrots, peeled & chopped

1 cup parsnips, peeled & chopped

3 ½ cups chicken stock -or- vegetable stock

 

2 Tablespoons honey -or- to taste

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

Chopped pistachios [for garnishing]

Cream

 

1. Heat oil over medium heat and add whole cloves and bay leaf. Cook for a few minutes.

2. Add shallots and cook until translucent and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook for a minute.

3. Add carrots, parsnips and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook covered until vegetables are tender.

4. Puree soup in a blender and return to the pot.

5. Add honey and sea salt to taste and serve with pistachios and a bit of cream.

Serves 4.

 

Honey Hazelnut Cornbread Recipe

 

½ cup gluten-free baking mix

5 Tablespoons cornmeal [gluten-free source]

3 Tablespoons hazelnut meal

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

 

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup milled honey

1 large egg

½ cup buttermilk

 

1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped [for topping]*

2 Tablespoons hazelnut meal [optional topping]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

 

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.

2. Beat together butter and honey.

3. Incorporate egg and buttermilk. [Mixture will be lumpy.]

4. Add dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

5. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full or a buttered dish.

6. Sprinkle tops with hazelnuts and hazelnut meal if using.

7. Bake for 15-18 minutes for muffins and 25-30 minutes for a pan.

 

Makes 8-10 muffins -or- an 8 inch skillet.

 

*note: toast hazelnuts for 10 minutes and cool before chopping.

 

Braised White Bean Recipe

 

1 cup white navy beans

 

1 ham shank

½ small yellow onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 sprigs winter savory

1 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies

3 cups chicken stock, unsalted

 

soaking & precooking the beans:

1. Soak beans in cold water to cover generously overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Place drained beans in a pot and cover with water.

3. Bring to a simmer and cook for one hour. Drain and set aside.

 

cooking the beans:

1. In a medium pot sear the ham hock until browned and there is a little fat coating the pot, remove.

2. Sauté onions and garlic on medium heat until translucent and starting to brown.

3. Add drained beans, ham hock, savory, crushed chilies and stock to cover.

4. Bring to a gently simmer and cook until beans are tender.

Serves 4-6.

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