Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brunty Farms Field Trip

Sunday, June 27, 2010
Location: Brunty Farms

This month, Sunday Bites has hit the road! We traveled to Brunty Farms, located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The farmers work with the Countryside Conservancy to help revive historic farms in the area. These farmers are dedicated to raising animals in humane and organic ways. We started with a tour of the farm and were very impressed!

They sell a variety of chickens and even supply a number of restaurants in the greater Cleveland and Akron area. All of their chickens have free range and access to open pastures.

These chickens were happily roosting in the dirt, under the shade of some bushes. They had a great spot- it was HOT outside!

A flock of ducks wanders the property. They lay eggs all over the place and we happened to find a rogue egg along our tour. It was still warm!

These hogs are helping to clear the plot of land on which they live so that crops can be planted on them in the future. The animals are only half of the size that they will eventually be!

The pigs were very friendly and the farmers compared their temperament to dogs. Many people jumped in the pen to pet them and the pigs couldn't get enough!

The baby chickens are kept in a heated chicken coop and we saw chicks at all stages of development. The farmers explained that the chicks in this picture have lost their "baby feathers" and are growing in their more permanent "adult" feathers, which is why they look so scruffy.

Brunty Farms has recently expanded their operations to include lamb. Right now, they are working on building their herd so that they may someday be able to offer lamb to customers.

After our tour, we had a picnic lunch on the grounds. It was a fun change of pace from the usual Sunday Bites format and we learned so much about where our food comes from.

If you have the opportunity to tour a farm, Brunty or otherwise, go! It's a great experience and makes a deeper connection between what's on your plate and where it came from.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Saturday, June 5, 2010
Hosted by: Nicole & Jerel
Theme: South of the Border Fiesta

Sunday Bites may have decided to celebrate Cinco De Mayo a month late this year, but what a celebration it was! We broke out our favorite Mexican-inspired dishes, and of course, put our own twist on them.

We started off right- with a big bowl of homemade guacamole. It was hard to take a picture of it, as we scarfed it down within minutes of it being placed on the table....

What fiesta would be complete without a citrusy drink? These beverages were a simple combination of organic limeade and fresh limes.

The first side dish was a citrus black bean and corn salsa brought by Matt and Erin. It was a refreshing and colorful complement to the other citrus-inspired flavors of the rest of the meal.

Black Bean and Citrus Salsa

3 cups cooked black beans (two 15 ounce cans)
1 cup fresh, frozen or canned corn kernels
1 tomato cubed
½ cup chopped red onion (we used a sweet onion, which worked well)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 oranges, peeled, sectioned and cut into small pieces
1 grapefruit, peeled, sectioned and cut into small pieces
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup cooked rice (optional)
1 ripe hass avocado cubed
(to cube: slice around the avocado lengthwise, twist the halves apart and remove the pit. Carefully cut the flesh into cubes right in the skins and then scoop out with a spoon).


¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt

Rinse and drain the beans. Blanch the corn in boiling water to cover for 3 to 5 minutes, until just tender. Drain well. In a large bowl, toss together the beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, orange and grapefruit pieces, avocado cubes, cilantro, and rice, if using. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Toss the salad with the dressing.

Serve right away or refrigerate. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

From Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates

Brad and Sarah brought us a dish from the past- Tortilla Chip Casserole. It's oozy, cheesy goodness reminded us that sometimes, you just shouldn't question the culinary genius of the mid-century.

Tortilla Chip Casserole

1 package (6.25 oz) tortilla chips
1 large onion, chopped
2 T butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c small-curd cottage cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
dash of pepper
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies
3 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 3/4 lb)
1 c sour cream
1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/4 lb)
ripe jalapeno peppers, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Crust enough of the tortilla chips to make 1/2 cup; reserve. Saute onion in butter in small skillet until light brown, about 3 minutes. Combine eggs, cottage cheese, salt, cumin, and pepper in small bowl.

Place half of the remaining tortilla chips in buttered 12x8x1.75 inch baking dish; layer with half of the onion, half of the egg mixture, half of the chilies and half of the Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat layers. Bake covered 25 minutes.

Spread sour cream over casserole. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and reserve crushed tortilla chips. Bake uncovered 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Garnish with peppers.

From 1979 July-August issue of Cuisine

The main course was a fantastic taco bar, prepared by Nicole and Jerel. Spicy grilled shrimp provided the base, with homemade salsa, red cabbage slaw, and red rice, atop grilled tortilla shells.

The finished product- yum!

We capped off our night with a sweet and spicy treat. Toasted coconut and fresh whipped cream sat atop a scoop of Jeni's Ice Cream's Queen City Cayenne ice cream- chocolate ice cream with a hint of cayenne pepper that had us all saying "Oh!" in surprise and delight as it hit the back of our throats.

It was a festive occasion and by the end we were all satiated and happily full of delicious food. Even our honorary supper club members of the night, Leo and Vinny, were ready for a nap!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oompa! (Greek Night)

Sunday, April 25, 2010
Hosted by: Sarah & Brad
Theme: Greek Night

Alas, Sunday Bites was unable to make a field trip to Greece last month (this pic is from the archives), but we did experience some of the culinary delights of the Aegean. Brad and Erin were particularly excited for the evening's fare, having a great affinity for the history-laden country, and the meal did not disappoint!

We began with a simple and delicious hummus and pita appetizer, as well as sliced fresh cucumbers.

Our main course started with a colorful Greek salad composed of tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, and of course, feta. (The peppers and onions were omitted from our salad, with hearts of romaine added in)

Next, we enjoyed a traditional Spanokopita (spinach-feta pie), brought by Matt and Erin.

  • 1 pound frozen spinach
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1 c crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 4 sheets filo pastry

Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and chop.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square pan. In a skillet, heat oil, then add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Add drained spinach; cook, stirring 2 more minutes. Let cool slightly. Stir in cilantro, nutmeg, and cheese. Add beaten egg and mix well. Season. In a small pan, melt butter. Brush one sheet of dough with butter. Lay it in pan, pressing well down into corners. Let excess dough hang over edges of pan.

Brush a second sheet of dough with butter and lay it in pan at right angles to first sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Spoon spinach mixture into pan. Fold excess dough over filling to cover. Leave dough in slight folds. Brush with melted butter. Bake in oven 40 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp. Cut into 9 squares. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

From "The Book of Greek Cooking" by Lesley Mackley

The piece de resistance had to be the lamb roast, brought to us by Sarah and Brad. It was tender, juicy, and perfect for our gyros!

  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 bunches fresh oregano, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for searing
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 butterflied leg of lamb, about 4 pounds

Finely chop up 1/2 of the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Mash the garlic and salt together with the flat-side of a knife into a paste. Add the oregano and continue to mash until incorporated. Put the garlic-oregano paste in a small bowl, add the lemon juice and 1 cup of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Slice the remaining garlic into thin slivers.

Put the lamb on a large platter, and trim any excess fat. Cut the lamb in 1/2 lengthwise so you have 2 large pieces. Make slits all over the meat with a sharp knife, and push the garlic slivers inside. Rub 1/2 of the garlic-oregano paste all over the lamb and season the meat with salt and pepper. Roll up each piece of lamb lengthwise and tie with butcher's twine to hold the roasts together. Put the lamb on a large platter and slather with the remaining garlic-oregano paste. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Wipe off the excess paste from the lamb so it won't burn in the oven. Place a large roasting pan over 2 burners on medium-high flame and coat with a fair amount of olive oil. Put the lamb roasts in the roasting pan and sear to form a nice brown crust on all sides. Transfer the pan (and lamb) to the oven and roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours; it should be pink in the center and the internal temperature reads 130 degrees F. Allow the lamb to stand 10 minutes to let the juices settle before and slicing.

We ended our night on a sweet note, enjoying homemade baklava, presented by Nicole and Jerel. It was unanimously agreed that it was far and away the BEST we ever had!

Overseeing the evening was our special guest, Ace. His looks of longing at the lamb were somewhat alleviated by the showering of affection he received throughout the night. I swear, he barked at one point, and it sounded like he was saying... "Oompa!"

Next month, we will be having a belated Cinco de Mayo celebration, as our taste-buds head south of the border to Mexico!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Comfort Food

Saturday, March 20, 2010
Hosted by: Matt and Erin
Theme: Comfort foods.... with a twist

This month's theme centered around comfort foods.... but we twisted them up a bit. The results were delicious!

Our main dish was a twist on burgers. We made meat-free grain burgers, served on Boston lettuce leaves (a la a wrap), accompanied by a variety of homemade condiments.

Grain Burgers
Courtesy of: Erin and Matt

1/2 c uncooked brown rice
1/2 c uncooked bulgur
2 c water
2 c finely chopped fresh mushrooms
3/4 c old-fashioned oats
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c finely chopped onion
1/2 c cottage cheese
2-3 eggs (may vary to get proper consistency)
breadcrumbs, as needed
2 T minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • In a saucepan, combine the rice, bulgur, seasoning (we did a variety of oregano, basil, rosemary, etc. use whatever you like or have on hand!), and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from the heat; cool completely. Refrigerate.
  • In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, oats, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and onion. In a blender or food processor, process cottage cheese and eggs until smooth; add to the mushroom mixture. Stir in the parsley, salt, basil, and chilled rice mixture. Shape 1/2 cupfuls into patties. (We also added breadcrumbs to the mixture... you're going for a consistency that will stay together in patties. It may take a little experimenting to get it right.)
  • In a large nonstick skillet, cook four patties in 1 tsp. oil for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and crisp. Repeat with remaining patties and oil.
recipe courtesy of "A Taste of Home" Reader's Digest Cookbook (with alterations)

We also made a variety of sauces to top the burgers.... it was hard to choose our favorite!

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
Unfortunately, this one is a family secret.... but a delicious one!

Spicy Mustard

½ c tarragon or cider vinegar
½ c water
¼ c olive oil
2 T prepared horseradish
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 c ground mustard
½ c sugar
½ tsp. salt
  • In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients: cover and process for one minute. Scrape down the sides of container and process again for 30 seconds.
  • Transfer to a small saucepan and let stand for 10 minutes. Cook over low heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Cool completely. If a thinner mustard is desired add tablespoons of water to reach desired consistency.
  • Pour into small containers with tight fitting lids for refrigerator storage.
recipe courtesy of "A Taste of Home" Reader's Digest Cookbook

Cilantro Cream Sauce

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 c. sour cream
salt, to taste
fresh lime juice, to taste
  • Blend cilantro and garlic in a blender until smooth (do not use a food processor). Remove from blender and whisk into sour cream. When well blended, season with salt and lime juice. Keep cold until needed.
recipe courtesy of

Tomato Topper

1 16 oz can whole tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 hot or bell pepper, chopped
1 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the tomatoes, onion, and pepper until onion and pepper are tender. Add amount of sugar preferred. Cook until thick.
  • We blended ours in a food processor to make it smoother and more like a ketchup.
recipe courtesy of

Spring Vegetable Bundles

4 green onions
1 c water
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed
1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, julienned
2 medium carrots, julienned
12 thyme sprigs
1 and 1/3 c white wine
3 T butter
  • Trim both ends of the onions; cut the green tops into 7 in. lengths. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add onion tops; boil for 1 minute or until softened. Drain and immediately place onion tops in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Chop white portions of onions and set aside.
  • Divide asparagus, peppers, and carrots into 12 bundles. Top each with a thyme sprig. Tie each bundle with a blanched onion top.
  • In a large skillet, place wine, chopped onions, and vegetable bundles. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid is reduced by two-thirds. Carefully remove bundles with a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Add butter to skillet, cook, and stir until melted. Spoon over bundles.
recipe courtesy of

Spring Macaroni and Cheese
Courtesy of: Sarah and Brad

1 bunch (about 12 oz.) asparagus
2 leeks
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 ounces dried orecchiette pasta
3/4 cup frozen petite peas
2 slices sourdough bread
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
6 ounces fresh chèvre (goat cheese)
1 1/2 cups shredded romano cheese
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Snap tough ends off asparagus; cut spears into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut root ends and tough green tops from leeks; cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse well under running water, then thinly slice crosswise.
  • In a medium pan over medium-high heat, stir the asparagus with the leeks, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the asparagus is just tender, about 7 minutes, then remove from pan and set aside.
  • In a large pan over high heat, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions; stir in peas at the end. Drain and return to pan.
  • Meanwhile, tear bread into chunks and put in a food processor with 1/2 tablespoon butter. Whirl until crumbs form.
  • In the medium pan over medium-high heat, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Add the flour and thyme; stir until smooth and bubbling, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in milk and stir until boiling and thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add lemon peel, mustard, pepper, and remaining teaspoon salt. Remove from heat and add goat cheese and 1 cup romano; stir until smooth.
  • Pour sauce over drained pasta and peas. Add asparagus mixture and stir well. Scrape mixture into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish and spread level. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup romano and the bread crumbs. Bake until sauce is bubbling and bread crumbs are browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
recipe courtesy of

We concluded the night with a special treat- Guinness chocolate cupcakes! It was a perfect way to end the evening.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
Courtesy of: Nicole and Jerel

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Baileys Frosting

3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)
  • Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
recipe courtesy of SmittenKitchen

Next month we head to another Mediterranean country.... Greece!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Italian Night

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Hosted by: Nicole and Jerel
Theme: Italian

The chilly month of February seemed the perfect occasion to pretend that we were all somewhere slightly more exotic... and warmer. Thus, Italian night was created!

We started off the evening with a tantalizing antipasto platter, complete with homemade pepperoni bread. This bread gets an enthusiastic 12 thumbs up from the group!

Pepperoni Bread
Courtesy of: Sarah and Brad

1 lb. bread dough. (From your local bakery, homemade, or from the grocery store)
1 stick pepperoni (sliced)
16 oz. Part Skim Mozzarella (thinly sliced)
1 egg
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp oregano
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Crack egg into small dish and mix with a fork
  • Grease a cookie sheet
  • Roll out dough into a long rectangle and place on baking sheet
  • Spread minced garlic onto bread
  • Sprinkle with Oregano
  • Salt & pepper as you see fit
  • Cover with slices of cheese & pepperoni
  • Starting with one of the long sides of the rectangle, roll up the dough
  • Seal edge with egg wash
  • Brush the top of the bread with the egg wash
  • Cut a few diagonal slits in the top of the bread
  • Bake for 30 mins
  • Let cool, slice & serve
recipe courtesy of

The main event was a delicious lasagna, prepared by Nicole and Jerel, which included grass-fed beef from a local market. Mmm! Our side dishes were equally tasty.

Eggplant Parcels
Courtesy of: Erin and Matt

2 large, long eggplant
8 oz mozzarella cheese
2 plum tomatoes
16 large basil leaves
salt & ground black pepper
2 T olive oil

1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 T sun-dried tomato paste
1 T lemon juice

2 T toasted pine nuts
torn basil leaves
  • Remove the stems from the eggplant and cut the eggplant lengthwise into thin slices- the aim is to have a total of 16 slices, disregarding the first and last (each about 1/4 in. thick).
  • Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the eggplant slices for about 2 minutes, until just softened. Drain the sliced eggplant, then dry on paper towels.
  • Cut the mozzarella cheese into eight slices. Cut each tomato into eight slices, not counting the first and last slices.
  • Take two eggplant slices and place on an ovenproof baking sheet or dish in a cross. Place a slice of tomato in the center, season with salt and pepper, then add a basil leaf, followed by a slice of mozzarella, another basil leaf, a slice of tomato, and more seasoning.
  • Fold the ends of the eggplant slices around the filling to make a neat parcel. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to form eight parcels. Chill the parcels for about 20 minutes.
  • To make the tomato dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sun-dried tomato paste, and lemon juice. Season to taste.
  • Preheat the broiler. Brush the parcels with olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden. Serve hot, with the dressing, sprinkled with pine nuts and basil.
recipe from "Mediterranean: Food of the Sun" by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow

Zucchini Ribbons with Goat Cheese
Courtesy of: Sarah and Brad

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely minced shallot
1 clove garlic, finely minced, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 large zucchini, sliced into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler, discarding the seedy core
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
2 1/2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter melts; cook and stir the shallot until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until the garlic softens and releases its fragrance, about 3 more minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and zucchini ribbons, and cook, lightly stirring, until the chicken broth has come to a boil and the zucchini strips are cooked through but not mushy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with finely sliced basil leaves and crumbled goat cheese.

recipe courtesy of

For our final course, Nicole and Jerel served up a scrumptious lemon-olive oil cake. Topped with berries and homemade whipped cream, it was the perfect way to end the evening.

Lemon and Olive Oil Cake
Courtesy of: Nicole and Jerel

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup cake flour
5 egg yolks
4 egg whites
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, adjust rack to middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with oil, line the bottom with parchment paper and oil it.

Finely zest entire lemon and whisk zest together with flour. Halve and squeeze the lemon and reserve 3 tablespoons of juice.

With an electric mixer and large bowl, beat yolks and 1/2 cup sugar at high speed until pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add 3/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice, beating until combined (mixture may appear separated). Fold in flour mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined.

With an electric mixer, whisk egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt on medium high speed until foamy. Continue whisking and slowly add 1/4 cup sugar until egg whites hold soft peaks, about 2-3 minutes. Gently fold one third of whipped whited into yolk mixture to lighten, and then fold the remaining whites until just combined.

Pour batter into springform pan and release air bubbles by gently tapping pan against work surface. Evenly sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar over the top of the batter. Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Place on rack and cool in pan for 10 minutes, run a thin knife around edge of pan and release springform. Cool cake to room temperature, remove parchment and serve with fresh whipped cream and berries.

recipe courtesy of Sprinkle with Salt

Next month: Comfort food...with a twist!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Inaugural Sunday Bites Supper

Saturday, January 20, 2010
Hosted by: Sarah and Brad
Theme: Soup

This month, our theme was soup, which was perfect for the chilly weather we braved to gather for the first ever meeting of Sunday Bites. Upon entering the kitchen, warm and savory aromas met our noses. Three large pots of bubbling soups sat atop the stove while we anxiously waited for dinner to commence. After the finishing touches were added, we grabbed bowls and began!

Course #1: Curried Carrot Almond Soup

Courtesy of: Sarah & Brad

1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 teaspoons curry powder (preferably Madras)
1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups water
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
4 cilantro sprigs, leaves and stems reserved separately
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

•Cook onion in oil with 1/2 tsp salt in a 4-qt heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add curry powder, red-pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

•Add carrots, water, almond milk, cilantro stems, and 1/2 tsp salt and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

•Blend soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Season with salt.

•Serve sprinkled with cilantro leaves and toasted almonds.

recipe courtesy of

Course #2: Chicken and Bean Taco Soup

Courtesy of: Nicole & Jerel

Chicken Posole (or with beans, Taco Soup!)

8 cups chicken stock, canned or homemade
bouquet garni of 1 bay leaf, 5 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 3 sprigs fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp chili powder

2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1.5 lbs chicken
2 cans hominy ***

Any or all of the following garnishes:
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes
diced avocado
diced red onion
lime wedges
tortilla chips
radish, sliced thin

In a large pot or dutch oven, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the bouquet garni and minced garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and add the salt, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and chili powder.

Continue to simmer on the stove top until all of the other ingredients are ready. Taste for seasoning. If bitter, add another teaspoon of salt. If too concentrated, add a cup of water to dilute.

To prepare chicken, pat dry and season on both sides generously with salt and pepper. In a frying pan or stove-top grill pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes until the underside is crispy and golden brown. Flip the chicken and continue to cook another 4-5 minutes, until cooked through. Remove to cutting board and rest until cool enough to handle.

When the chicken is cooking and cooling, prepare the garnishes.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, dice it into bite sized cubes and add to the broth. Drain the hominy into a strainer and rinse under cold water. Add this to the broth.

Bring the soup to a boil and bring everything to the same temperature.

Serve in individual bowls and allow guests to garnish.

*** We used 1 cup of dried beans instead. I cooked them in a crockpot for 4 hours on high, along with some onion, garlic, fresh thyme, celery, and bay leaf. Add the cooked and drained beans to the soup at the same time you would have added the hominy.

Course #3: Moroccan Vegetable Soup

Courtesy of: Matt & Erin

(Note: We changed a few elements of the original recipe- I have written the original, with our substitutions noted in parentheses)

1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
8 oz carrots, chopped
8 oz parsnips, chopped
8 oz pumpkin (instead of pumpkin, we used half white sweet potato and half yam, chopped)
3 3/4 c vegetable or chicken stock
lemon juice, to taste
salt and ground black pepper

For the garnish:
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, mixed
a good pinch of paprika

1) Heat oil and butter in a large pan and fry the onion for about 3 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and parsnips, stir well, cover and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes.

2) Cut the pumpkin into chunks, discarding the skin and pith, and stir into the pan. (Here, we just cut up the potatoes/yams) Cover and cook for another 5 minutes (we cooked ours for about 10), then add the stock and seasoning (NOTE: we added in the cilantro, parsley, paprika, and garlic at this stage too, to let the flavors blend a little more and to give it a more intense flavor), and slowly bring to a boil. Cover and simmer very gently for 35-40 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender (we let ours cook for and hour or so).

3) Let the soup cool slightly, then puree in a food processor or blender until smooth, adding a little extra water if necessary. Pour back into a clean pan and reheat.

4) To make the garnish, heat the oil in a small pan and add the garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Fry over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the paprika and stir well.

5) Adjust the seasoning of the soup and stir in just enough lemon juice to taste.

6) Pour into warmed individual soup bowls. Spoon a little garnish on top and carefully swirl it into the soup. (Note: We threw some toasted almonds in there, left over from Brad & Sarah's soup, which was yummy!)

from "Mediterranean: Food of the Sun" by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow

For our final course, Sarah brought out a delicious fig and cherry dessert, which you can read about on their blog.

Next month, our theme will be Italian, so prepare yourself for continuing deliciousness!