Katie: Fresh sweet corn is something that is only available for a limited time every summer and tastes so much better than frozen or canned corn. When I saw it being sold by local farmers on the side of the road, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity before it was too late! I had checked out the book The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook from the library and had already bookmarked a recipe for Corn Chowder with Roasted Poblanos. Since I couldn’t find poblano chiles at the store, I substituted jalapeno peppers. I also used smaller potatoes, left their skin on, and doubled the recipe to make more leftovers. This soup turned out really great! The fresh corn, red potatoes, peppers, and fresh herbs were a great combination of flavors. Shrimp would probably also make a good addition.
Corn and Red Potato Chowder (adapted from the New Mayo Clinic Cookbook)
- 2 lb small red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (unpeeled)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 – 3 jalapeno peppers, diced
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- fresh corn kernels from 8 ears of corn
- 4 cups of vegetable stock
- 2 cups of fat-free milk
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small bowl. With a potato masher, partially mash the potatoes and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, jalapeno pepper, and bell pepper and saute until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer. Stir in the roasted chilies and the partially mashed potatoes. Add the corn, vegetable stock, milk, pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer uncovered until the soup thickens, for about 25 minutes.
Ladle into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the cilantro and oregano. Enjoy!
Katie: While we had summer-like weather here last weekend, it has now cooled down to more typical spring weather. So while I had been considering making a recipe for Tequila Lime Shrimp, my thoughts on cooking shifted along with the temperature. Instead, I decided to try some fresh spring rolls. I’m not sure if I’d ever eaten them before, let alone made them, but I was inspired by the descriptions and pictures here and here.
I found rice paper at an Asian grocery store, along with some other interesting and inexpensive ingredients. I made small portions of three different sauces to accompany the spring rolls: an Asian peanut butter sauce, a soy sauce mixture, and a mango sauce. I prepared julliened carrots and sweets potatoes with fresh ginger, but left the rest of the vegetables raw. The process of making the spring rolls was kind of like a science experiment. The rice paper turns soft shortly after contacting water, so we could make them pretty quickly.
These turned out well and were fun to make! Spring rolls are usually described as an appetizer, but they can easily be served as a main course, depending on how many you make. This was a meal that I think would be fun to make with guests too. And since hardly any cooking is involved, they would be good for hot summer days too.
Fresh Spring Rolls (adapted from My New Roots and Green Kitchen Stories)
- rice paper (I found 1 pound for 1.50 Euros at an Asian food store)
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 2 small sweet potatoes, julienned
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 squeeze of fresh lemon
- an assortment of fresh vegetables of your choice, diced or julienned (I used a red bell pepper, a red cabbage, bean sprouts, a cucumber, and green onions)
- shrimp (optional; I used some small river crabs)
- sauces of your choice (I substituted peanut butter in this recipe for Almond Butter Dipping Sauce; combined soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds for a second sauce; and used my mango dressing for a third sauce)
- Prepare sauces and set aside.
- Put the olive oil, agave syrup, and ginger in a skillet over medium heat and cook just slightly. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix with sesame seeds and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Fill a shallow dish a little larger than the rice paper with warm water. (I used the my frying pan lid.)
- Place one wrap in the water until it becomes soft and pliable (about 3o seconds).
- Remove the wrap carefully and transfer to a clean working surface.
- Fill with vegetables. Fold top, then sides, then bottom to close.
- Top with sauce and enjoy!
Posted in Appetizers, Dinner, Lunch
Tagged Asian, bean sprouts, bell pepper, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, ginger, rice paper, soy sauce, sweet potatoes
Katie: When I saw mangoes featured at the store this week, I grabbed one, but wasn’t sure what I’d do with it. When I came across this recipe for Garbanzo Bean Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing, I was really intrigued. I would have never have thought of blended a mango, mixing it with spices, and using it as a creamy dressing to top a salad. I had to improvise a little, using what I had, but it turned out great! This might be the perfect way to bring a little bit of sunshine into your kitchen, even if the weather outside isn’t very spring-like yet. Here’s my version of the salad:
Chickpea Salad with Mango Dressing (slightly adapted from My New Roots)
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans), drained and rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 carrots
- other vegetables of your choice (e.g. jicama, bean sprouts, other beans)
- optional: salad greens
- 1 ripe mango
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 large green onions, with tops, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the sunflower seeds and roast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Set aside.
- Peel the mango, cut into large chunks, and place in a blender or food processor with all other dressing ingredients. Blend until uniform and creamy. Season with freshly ground black pepper or other spices to taste.
- In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the chickpeas and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad filling.
- Chop the remaining vegetables and add to the salad.
- Serve plain or over salad greens.
- Top with sunflower seeds before serving.
Katie: Along with blooming flowers and budding trees, another sign of spring here in Germany is the scent of grilled meat drifting through the streets. As soon as the temperatures begin to rise, many people are eager to fire up their grills, and Flori was no exception. Since our grocery store now carries ground turkey, I decided to try making turkey burgers. Since I liked the flavors of the meatballs I made, I decided to try to find a burger recipe that also included some good add-ins. I found this recipe for Turkey and Vegetable Burgers from the Recipes for Health column of the New York Times. It was just what I was looking for! I made it as written, which included sautéing onions, bell peppers, grated carrots, and garlic and mixing the vegetable mixture with ground turkey and a little ketchup and barbecue sauce. It was a good combination! Even though I didn’t prepare them enough in advance to chill the patties, they still held together on the grill. I roasted the remaining half of the bell pepper to top some of the burgers. It was a good start to this year’s grilling season!
Katie: I was looking for something different to try along with a baguette to accompany the delicious Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup that Flori made. Ever since I had smoked salmon in Denmark, I’ve been wanted to make something with it, so when I spotted this recipe for Salmon Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta, I knew I had to try them. I roasted the peppers first, and used this recipe for the ricotta and chive filling. Instead of using ricotta cheese, I used cottage cheese and pureed it with a hand blender before mixing in the fresh chives, lemon rind and juice, salt, and pepper. Once the peppers were cool and peeled, I layered a piece of salmon, a piece of roasted pepper, and a bit of the ricotta mixture, and then rolled them up. They were really good! This would make a good appetizer that could be prepared ahead of time. The ingredients would probably also work well layered on baguette slices.