Sunday, February 22, 2015

Healthy Ranch Dip

I decided that I wanted to make my kids baked chicken fingers with ranch dip.  Not the greasy, cholesterol-heavy version you find in a restaurant (as my son says, "Mommy!  We do NOT like Old MacDonald's."  I'll let you determine what he actually means...)  Anyway, we don't drive through, not ever.  My kids don't crave that kind of food, and I don't want them too.  That doesn't mean baked chicken fingers with ranch dip aren't delicious when done right.

Given that I am not a fan of mayo, and given that I have boxes and boxes of silken tofu in my pantry, I thought I would see if I could create a healthy alternative to the traditional ranch dip.  It came out great.

1 box silken tofu
3 T. buttermilk
juice of 1 large lemon
2 tsp. fermented garlic paste (or 1-2 garlic cloved, mashed)
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. dried chives
1 1/2 tsp. dried onion
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Blend together however you wish and refrigerate to let the flavors meld.  I used an immersion blender in a blender cup.

NOTE:  I did not set out to make this vegan, obviously, given the use of buttermilk.  I'm sure it would be just as tasty veganized.

ANOTHER NOTE:  I used dried herbs in this version due to the astronomical cost and middling quality of herbs in the dead of winter.  I'll try this again in the summer when I can pick the herbs fresh from the garden.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Celery Soup with Cornbread Croutons

I love soup.  I especially love soup when the windchill hits -20F and below...I also love celery, the much maligned veg that it is.  Add that together with my somewhat insane commitment to trying to use up all of the food in my house before it spoils (therefore making the most of my Costco membership, potager, etc.) and creating as little waste as we can, and this soup came out.  It tastes exactly like celery, so of course, I love it.

For the record, my list of #useitallup for this recipe was celery, buttermilk, and cornbread.

1 large bunch of celery, cleaned of dirt and any soft spots, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp fermented garlic paste (or 1 tsp minced garlic)
1/2 tsp celery seed
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
2-3 T. olive oil
1 c. buttermilk, well shaken
3 T. heavy cream

Combine celery through olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, adjusting salt and pepper to taste.  Saute over medium heat until the veg starts to brown just a bit.

Stir in 3 c. water and continue cooking over medium heat for about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree.  (I used an immersion blender, but you can also use any blender you wish.)

Return to the pan (if necessary), and stir in buttermilk.  Bring soup up to temperature, and puree again if you aren't satisfied with the consistency.

Remove from heat again and stir in cream.  Top with croutons.

Cornbread Croutons

Start with a really tasty cornbread recipe.  I like no-sugar-added cornbread, but you can use whatever you like.  Cut 12 1" cubes out of the cornbread and allow to dry on the counter if the cornbread is fresh.  The goal here is to have stale cornbread cubes.  You can also dry them out in a low oven, around 300F for a few minutes if you wish.

Melt 2 T. butter in a saute pan and then add the cornbread cubes.  Toss and turn, so that all sides are coated in butter.

Saute until golden brown, flip over, and repeat.