Monday, December 22, 2014

Dukkah-Spiced Carrot Latkes

A cozy season has arrived and we are blanketed in snow. Winter came roaring into the Valley unexpectedly a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Instead of the predicted rain, two feet of snow fell – heavy, wet and fast – and we had some adventures, including hiking in the dark up to our cabin when the car got stuck, a power outage and a tree falling over our road and blocking us in.  I woke the morning after to this view out our kitchen window.

I discovered that losing electricity in the winter is a little easier than the summer since we can melt snow for water and use a snowbank as a refrigerator if we don’t feel like pulling the generator out. I didn’t bake the pies I planned for Thanksgiving, but Sam made it home (hiking the last portion of the journey!) and we were all together, for which I was very thankful. Living here, I am continually learning to adapt and adjust my plans and expectations as I never know what will happen. So now in addition to snow tires and sandbags, we have headlamps and snowshoes in our cars and a chainsaw for fallen trees.  And we’ll keep shoveling!

The snow signaled the start of a festive season and December has quickly become a happy blur of busy days in the store, school concerts, gathering with friends and making holiday treats.  We are well into celebrating the eight days of Hanukkah and before the holiday ends I wanted to share some new latkes I made.

Latkes are small vegetable pancakes that are fried in oil and eaten during Hanukkah. Potatoes are the traditional vegetable to make them with but really, if you can grate it you can make a latke out of it, so zucchini, sweet potatoes, parsnips and even apples appear in latke form, too. With eight days of latke eating, it’s fun to try different varieties!

This year I made some with carrots and seasoned them with dukkah, the ingredient we are cooking with this month in our Tasting Jerusalem group. Dukkah is an Egyptian spice blend that is popular in the Middle East. The mixes may contain nuts, dried chickpeas, seeds and spices, and they all involve freshly roasting and pounding the ingredients. There are many variations and I’ve shared my own recipe here on Eating Rules, which includes almonds, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and salt.

After grating the carrots, I mixed in eggs, green onions, rice flour and a generous scoop of dukkah.  I heated oil (the main ingredient in Hanukkah cooking!) and fried small patties until they were golden and smelled fragrant.

I served with them with thick, plain yogurt and a pinch of dukkah and we devoured them. The latkes were crispy outside and soft inside, and the warm, earthy flavor of the dukkah blended nicely with the carrots and creamy yogurt.  A true Hanukkah treat!

Wishing you a very happy holiday season!

Dukkah-Spiced Carrot Latkes
Makes 8 latkes

1 pound carrots, scrubbed and grated (no need to peel them)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup green onions, finely diced
2 tablespoons rice flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons dukkah (recipe here)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying
Plain yogurt for serving

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, eggs, onions, flour and dukkah and gently stir. Add some salt and pepper and taste. If you use salt in your dukkah mix you may not need anymore.

Line a plate with paper towels to transfer your latkes to when they are fried.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and pour enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, add ¼ cup scoops of the latke mixture to the pan (I fried 4 at a time) and lightly press each to form small pancakes. Fry for a few minutes and when golden on the bottom and gently flip to fry the other side for a few minutes.

Remove the latkes from the pan and drain them on the paper towel lined plate (there won’t be a lot of oil, but you want to remove any excess so they don’t get soggy). Fry the remaining latkes and drain them.

Serve hot with dollops of thick yogurt.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pumpkin White Bean Soup for Alyssa’s Baby Celebration

We are celebrating with soup today! This is how much I love soup … I’m bringing it to a party, a party in honor of my friend, Alyssa. Alyssa is the creator of Everyday Maven and is welcoming her second baby in January. I am delighted to gather with a wonderful community of food bloggers to share recipes and good wishes for her.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Alyssa both in Seattle and here in the Valley. She is vibrant and beautiful and creates incredibly delicious, healthy food. My family has enjoyed quite a few of her recipes (I’ve made her chocolate mug cake more times than I can count!) and I appreciate her step-by-step instructions and attention to detail in every recipe.

Knowing that Alyssa will be a busy mom to two sweet boys soon, we all wanted to share dishes that are quick and easy to prepare and will nourish her family well. With the arrival of the snowy days here, I have been making more soups and they are marvelous lunches for me to bring in to the store - I fill a thermos with steaming soup and lunch is ready to go. With her baby arriving in January, I want Alyssa to be able to prepare a filling, warm lunch to sustain her and her family on those damp, chilly days of Seattle winter. Plus, she can make a double batch and pop some in the freezer.

This Pumpkin White Bean soup is one I have made often over the years. It is hearty and simple to make, especially since it uses pantry staples that are easily kept on hand. Beans, pumpkin puree and tomatoes form the base of the soup. The original recipe calls for using black beans, but one time I had only white beans and I found they worked even better since I prefer the color of the soup more.

Onions and garlic are softened in olive oil, and then the beans, pumpkin and tomatoes are added and simmered in chicken stock. I also include carrots sometimes for extra veggies and to enhance the orange hue. A quick puree with an immersion blender creates a smooth, luscious texture. Cumin seasons the soup while a splash of sherry vinegar brightens it. Earthy, creamy and warm, this soup is full of flavor and should help energize a lovely mom with two little ones. Congratulations to you, Alyssa!

A huge thank you to Faith of An Edible Mosaic and Liz of  The Lemon Bowl for hosting this celebration! Please be sure to check out all the talented cooks below celebrating Alyssa and her expanding family today.

Pumpkin White Bean Soup
Serves 6-8
Adapted from New Kosher Cuisine for All Seasons
by Ivy Feuerstadt and Melinda Strauss

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ pound carrots, sliced (you don’t have to peel)
1 28 ounce can tomato puree
1 28 ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 15 ounce cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
32 ounces chicken stock
2 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Fresh green herb for serving, such as parsley

In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium low heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, tomato puree, pumpkin puree, beans, chicken stock, red wine and cumin and stir. Increase the heat to high until the soup just starts to bubble, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes to infuse the flavors and soften the carrots.

Remove the soup from the heat and puree it with an immersion blender until smooth, being very careful not to splatter any hot soup. Stir in the sherry and salt and pepper the soup to your taste. Garnish with a sprinkle of green herbs when serving.

This soup easily doubles and freezes well.

Alyssa's Baby Celebration:


Spaghetti Squash Hash from Eats Well With Others


Hearty Garbanzo Soup from Sweet Life Bake
Pumpkin White Bean Soup from Blue Kale Road


Slow Cooker Red Wine Pot Roast from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Arugula from Virtually Homemade
Roast Chicken Ratatouille from An Edible Mosaic