Friday, May 10, 2013

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

This soup is not for the faint of heart vegan crowd.  It explodes with flavor with the addition of a ham hock.  Yes, you can go vegan with it if you want, but it is so worth adding the ham hock.  I picked mine up from Prather Ranch at the Thursday Civic Center Farmer's Market.  I saw them at Bel Campo too.  I'm betting Marin Sun Farms and Tara Firma have them available as well.  It is an inexpensive way to add so much good stuff to your already awesome-for-you soup.  If you do go with the ham hock, you can cook it off in the morning or the night before and save everything for when you are ready to make the soup.  The soup itself is definitely one you can make ahead and refrigerate (or freeze!) and just reheat gently when time to serve.

Sweet Potato Leek Soup

2 TBSP. Olive Oil
1 small or 1/2 of a large yellow onion chopped
3 leeks white parts only chopped
2 medium sweet potato chopped ( I used 1 Japanese yam, white flesh, and 1 Hannah yam, yellow flesh--I don't recommend using 2 orange/yellow flesh yams but you can use 2 Japanese yams if you want)
3-4 cups chicken stock if you buy this please buy organic free range and make sure it does not have added sugar (!)
1 ham hock
If not doing ham hock add:
1 TBSP grated ginger
1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

Cook ham hock for about 2 hours over low heat in a covered pot with water or stock covering about half way up.  You can turn it half way through cooking time if you want.  You want the meat tender and falling off the bone.  You can reserve the pan juice for the soup if you want.  Remove the hock, discard the big ring of fat and cut the meat into chunks and reserve.  Set the bone aside as well.

In large pot, sauté onions in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until lightly browned.  Add leeks, sweet potato and ham hock bone--add 3-4 cups of stock (or reserved pan juice),  enough to cover all the vegetables.  Bring to a boil then let simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender--about 20 min.  Remove the ham bone, and either using an immersion blender or regular blender (in batches) puree the vegetables until creamy.  Return everything back to the pot, put the ham bone back in, add the reserved meat (I ended up using maybe half the amount and saved the other half to snack on later--OMG!!!!) and let simmer for another 20 min.  I garnished mine with a little rosemary which added a nice touch, but it did not need any extra salt.

If skipping the ham bone part, just add the salt and ginger in with the leeks and potatoes then fresh lemon juice at the end before serving.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Lots of squash out there right now!  While I don't advocate this as the sole way to get a serving of vegetables into your diet, they sure are a fun way to add a little green to your treats.  I've adapted this recipe from this recipe from Silk.  While I didn't use any of their products for the recipe, I did follow most of the ingredient recommendations with a few substitutions.  I can't speak for their exact recipe, but this adaptation gave a wonderful option to bring to all the kids' classroom celebrations and/or upcoming picnics and potlucks this summer.  It's allergy friendly to boot!  No dairy, gluten, or nuts and you could sub in the Ener-G brand egg substitute if you need to go egg free.  Use the finest/organic ingredients you can on this one, it will be worth it. You will get 12 muffins from this recipe and I highly recommend waiting (if you can) until they are completely cool so the flavors have a chance to develop.  Or you could just do a taste analysis yourself, eat one warm, then have another one later :).  Let me know what you think...

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1 cup gluten free multi-purpose flour (this is usually some mix of rice, potato, and tapioca)
1 tsp. xanthan gum--I use this because I use it VERY infrequently.  Check this out for another opinion.
3/4 cup organic coconut sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder  + 1 TBSP.(I used Divine- Dagoba and Green and Black's are good too)
1 tsp organic cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together milk, vinegar, coconut oil, beaten egg and vanilla until combined.
  • Pour liquid mixture over dry cocoa mixture and stir by hand until all the flour is just incorporated. Stir in the zucchini followed by boiling water. The mixture will be thin.
  • Fill muffin liners 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle with chocolate chips and bake for 15-20 minutes until tops spring back and a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.