DSC03317Tofu, who woulda thunk? No one, not anyone, would ever guess tofu is the substitute for eggs and cream. If it weren’t for the generous addition of tangy goat cheese, this would be a vegan tart. In fact, next time I am going to make this tart with just tofu, seasoned with extra lemon juice and salt. I bet it works.DSC03314


½ cup cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2teaspoon Real Salt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons water


5 leeks, white parts and about one inch into the green part

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup water

12 ounces silken tofu, the kind that comes in the aseptic package

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces soft goat cheese

1 tablespoons thyme leaves., optional

Make the Crust:

Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.

Stir the cornmeal, flour and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the oil and water until it is thick and creamy. Pour over the flour, all at once. Mix with your fingers until blended and the wet part picks up any dry parts in the bowl.

Lightly oil a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan, pressing up the sides and evenly into the corner and top of the fluted edge.

Line the dough with a sheet of parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or rice. Bake the crust for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the paper with the beans.

Make the Filling:

Slice the leeks very thinly. Heat the olive oil over medium flame in a skillet. Add the leeks and cook and stir, helping to break up the leek rings with a wooden spoon. When they are soft, reduce the flame to low, add the water and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or so, adding water if needed to keep the leeks fairly moist.

In a blender place the tofu, lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Puree until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides or to help everything break up so the blender does its job.

Raise the oven heat to 375° F. Remove the lid from the leeks. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the leeks are very soft.

Scrape into the pre-baked crust. Sprinkle with 3 ounces of the cheese, about a third.

Pour the tofu filling over the cheese and spread to the edges. Distribute the remaining cheese over and to the edges of the tart. Sprinkle with the thyme, if using.

Bake until the tart is set, the filling has risen just a bit and the top has hints of golden color.

Cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.

Makes one 9-inch tart—about 8 servings.DSCN9553


DSC03307Farro, the Italian word for ancient hulled wheat, is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. You see it on restaurants menus, sold as farro “risotto”, or as well-seasoned accompaniment for meats and seafood. It’s a grain that looks a lot like wheat or rye berries or spelt. But it’s not any of those—we are talking about a different grain here–farro.

Ginger, friend and owner of Orchard House Catering in Hood River Oregon, introduced me to farro a few summers ago; she serves it family style, alongside bowls of cannellini beans and roasted vegetables, and platters of grilled wild salmon and local beef.

DSC03302This farro came under my radar again that same summer. Another girlfriend lives in the same valley where Bluebird Farms Emmer Farro grows, the Methow Valley in Washington State. She and I, and husband Robbie love farro, its nutty chewiness. You can order organic Emmer Farro from Bluebird Farms.

DSC03300You will want to use your largest cooking pot for farro as it foams up in the water. That is, unless you employ the pressure cooker, which I do–what happens inside that pot stays in the pot.

DSC03301Or try pearl farro, which cooks in a lot less time, and is now readily available in upscale grocery stores . At any rate, join the party—ancient farro is this year’s kale. Maybe that’s why kale marries so well with it.

Fantastic Farro and Mozzarella Stew

1½ cups whole grain Emmer Farro

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on heat tolerance

6 cups water

1 to 2 cups cooked white beans (navy or cannelloni or Great Northern)

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch kale (or parsley) stems removed

Real Salt

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

Rinse farro (and pick out any rogue pieces that are not farro). Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion; cook and stir until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the drained farro. Cook, stirring often, until the farro has a nutty smell and is just starting to brown.

Transfer to a large pot, cover and simmer about one hour, until the farro is tender to the bite. Or use a pressure cooker: bring to pressure and cook 20 minutes, then release the pressure by running cold water over the top. Either way, be sure the farro is tender to the tongue—al dente.

While the farro is cooking, blanch the kale, if using; bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and when cool, chop into 1-inch pieces.

When the farro is done, drain, reserving the liquid. Pour about 2 cups of the farro cooking liquid back into the pot along with the farro.

Stir in the cooked white beans, the tomatoes and cooked kale, or parsley leaves. Bring back to a simmer, adding more reserved liquid if needed for a stew-like consistency.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Just before serving, drop the mozzarella cubes into the pot.

Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with parsley leaves, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.DSC03307

IMG_0931Verdant green cilantro we found last week in our Ranui Gardens CSA box. As always, we trimmed the bottoms a wee bit, stuck the bunch in a container of water and left it in the fridge, complete with a plastic bag cover.IMG_0930

So when a gal-friend from Heber beat the frost to her garden and picked a bag of tomatillos, I became the happy recipient who blended up a batch of green salsa. Yield: two full pint jars for stash and two eight-ounce jars for giveaways. I popped them in the freezer since I was too lazy to boil them in a water bath for 25 minutes, which is about the time it takes to stave off room temperature spoilage.IMG_0932

This is a recipe straight from Oaxaca Mexico. When I took a cooking class there, we blackened tomatillos, chiles, onion and garlic over high heat on a comal, a round metal or clay dish place directly over the flame.DSCN9527

Here in my kitchen, because this was a rather large batch, I broiled the tomatillos and chiles in the oven, though if it had not been so cold, I would have used the Weber grill on the back deck.

DSCN9523 I own a small cast iron comal and used that to char the garlic and onions. You can use a cast iron skillet instead. Roasting brings out the sweetness in the tomatillos and chiles, and the char adds mysterious depth of flavor.

DSCN9528A faster option is to boil everything and blend—the salsa will be thinner, runnier. Keep the seeds and veins in the chiles. I thought the result was perfectly picante, though Robbie swore he couldn’t feel any chile heat on his tongue. (He likes it hot and as a rule tolerates a lot more picante heat than I.)

DSCN9531Green salsa is fabulous poured over corn tortillas filled with cheese—green enchiladas.

Salsa Verde (Green Salsa)

2 3/4 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed

2 serrano and 1 jalapeño chiles

1 large onion

7 or 8 cloves garlic, peeled but kept whole

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons Real Salt

Line a baking sheet with foil. Roast the tomatillos and chiles on that pan, close to the broiler flame, until slightly blackened on all sides. You will need to move things around to get them evenly charred.

Peel the onion and cut in half. Slice each side into half-rings ¼-inch thick, keeping the halves fairly intact. On a stovetop, heat the comal or cast iron skillet on high flame. Toast the garlic on all sides, and the onions, cut side down until nicely charred.

Fill the blender ¾ full with tomatillos. Puree. As the tomatillos break down, add the remaining tomatillos along with the chiles, onion and garlic. When all is broken down, add the cilantro and salt; blend just until there are bits of cilantro throughout the salsa. Your blender will be full.

Pour into jars and freeze or give away, cautioning your giftees to either freeze or enjoy within the week.

DSC03287DSC03290Here are photos of John G., our Ranui Garden’s Farmer, at the SLC Farmer’s Market last Saturday. I thought he didn’t know I was there, but after a minute he called out something like, “Alright already with the picture taking.”  Last night I shot some great photos of this dish, but I’ll be darned if I can’t find them. They were good ones too. I’ll just have to make this again this week–it is so delicious and comforting that Robbie (and I) just about ate the whole thing.DSCN9540

There really are no rules for which vegetables you roast. Choose any variety of potatoes and then something orange for color—such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes or the carrots. The tempeh is to add protein—and because it is a great way to introduce soy to the wary. I keep tempeh in the freezer. If it is frozen when you put in with the water and tamari, cook it an extra 5 minutes. This step of “plumping” allows the tempeh to thaw, absorb liquid and soften.

If the potatoes are organic, there is no need to peel them—merely scrub well.  A purple potato’s wild color is more vibrant without the skin, organic or not, therefore I peel.

DSCN9542Roasted Purple Majesty Potatoes and Tempeh

3 purple potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 carrots, washed and or peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 heads garlic, peeled but left whole (that’s 12 to 18 cloves)

Extra virgin olive oil

12 ounces tempeh, Five grain or other

2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

About 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning mix or about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as sage, oregano, marjoram, thyme etc.

Kosher Real Salt

Fresh ground black pepper, coarse grind

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Sprinkle in the herbs, kosher salt and the pepper. Toss again so the vegetables are evenly coated with olive oil. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch casserole pan. Spread the vegetables in the pan. Bake, covered with a baking sheet or aluminum foil, for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the tempeh in a saucepan. Add water so it covers the tempeh by about ½ inch. Add the tamari. Cook the tempeh about 5 minutes to “plump”. Remove from water and allow to cool a minute or so. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Increase the heat to 400 degrees. Remove cover from the vegetables. Mix in the tempeh. Bake another 15 to 25 minutes or until  everything shows golden brown color around the edges. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, if using, and bake a few minutes more.

Makes 4 to 8 servings, depending on appetites and if this is the main course or a side dish.

DSCN9521Some people just don’t like beets. “They taste like dirt.” “They leave red stains on everything.”

How do they know it tastes like dirt? I bet they’ve never sat down to eat a bowl of dirt.

What the aching heck? They are plain old missing out. Just like I missed out when my sisters and I wouldn’t eat the hearts of artichoke and my mother had to “suffer” and eat ours, dripping in warm butter.  I confess now that I grew up with two huge avocado trees in my back yard and guess what, I didn’t know enough to like avocado.

I like “earthy” beets. I like them roasted, boiled, raw and thinly sliced or shredded, in chocolate cake, dressed or undressed. Maybe a beet hater should try this salad of sexy dressed beets, completely bejeweled with pecans and cheese.

DSCN9519And not just any cheese, but Cambozola, a creamy Italian blue, which you might describe as a cross between brie and a mild blue cheese.

You know what a honeymoon salad is? Lettuce alone with no dressing.

Beets in this salad are all dressed, but with sexy ingredients. At least if you believe avocado oil or walnut oil is sexy. Brown rice vinegar is exotic enough to be sexy too. Tried on beets, it could make one utter a different kind of dirty.

Blistered Beets with Sexy Dressing, Cambozola and Toasted Pecans

Mixed greens (baby red and green lettuce, baby bok choy, baby chard etc.)

1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 or 3 roasted beets, peels removed and cut in quarters

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar, or good quality red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (if you have it)

3 tablespoon avocado oil or walnut oil

Real Salt or Murray River flake salt, or another quality salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup or so toasted pecans

2 ounces Cambozola cheese, broken into small pieces

Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a sauté pan until the olive oil evenly coats the pan. Toss in the quartered beets. On high flame, cook and stir until a few sides of each beet are blistered, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. (I got this idea from Deborah Madison; when you finish beets like this you will know what she means by “blistered”, a definite color change, caramelization if you will.DSC03280

DSC03277Make a sexy dressing. Mix the vinegar, garlic, thyme, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the avocado oil in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put a couple of tablespoons of the dressing in a bowl. Toss in 4 large handfuls of the lettuce mix and mix just to coat the lettuce lightly. Arrange on 4 plates.

Add the blistered beets to the same bowl. Toss with more dressing. Divide the beets around on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle each plate with some toasted pecans and pieces of Cambozola cheese.

Makes 4 servings.DSCN9521

DSC03263When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring.

In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.

When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,

And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.

John drops garlic in our CSA box regularly, so this soup contains an entire bulb, with the knowledge that cooking turns raw garlic’s sharp bite into gentle, mild flavor. This is hardneck garlic we’re talking about, Ranui Garden’s specialty, finest quality.

DSC03257This recipe was born because our fridge was holding leeks and yet more parsley. I used a combination of Yukon Golds and the reds we got a few weeks ago. Robbie cleaned them and trimmed the eyes before cutting the potatoes into chunks. The benefit? We know about the vitamins contained in potato skin, and here I learned that cooked skins resist blender blades and add pleasing texture. For supper, we enjoyed an egg, over easy on top of each bowlful of soup!

DSC03258This week we’re getting some more purple potatoes, but I don’t recommend the use of purple majesty potatoes in this soup—who knows what color you’d have with purple and green competing for the brightest hue in the blend. Better to go to the root cellar, or in our case in a basket in the cupboard, where I’ve been stashing the less daring various weekly potatoes.DSC03259

My Dad was full-blood Irish. I am pretty sure this soup would have made his eyes smile and steal his heart.

 Hearty Potato Soup with Leeks, Garlic and Fresh Parsley

3 leeks

1 whole bulb garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 medium potatoes, well scrubbed and trimmed of blemishes

6 cups vegetable broth

½ cup lightly packed parsley leaves

Eggs, cooked over easy, optional

Trim the root and all but one inch of the green from the leeks. Cut them in half lengthwise, and wash out any lingering dirt. Slice the leeks thinly, about 1/8-inch thick.

Separate the cloves of garlic. Hit each with the side of a knife, just enough to smash a wee bit, so the paper is easily removed. Mince or press through a garlic press.

Cut the potatoes in chunks, about ¾ -inch.

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker or soup pot. Add the leeks and sauté on medium flame about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; cook and stir a few more minutes.

Pour the vegetable broth over the garlic and leeks. Add the potatoes and parsley.

For pressure cooking, bring to pressure and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally for another 5 minutes. Then release the remaining pressure by running under cold water.

Without a pressure cooker, cover the soup and cook at least ½ hour, until the potatoes are very soft.

Puree with an immersion blender or carefully in batches in the blender. (Beware hot liquids in a blender have the urge to get out and burn the nearest victim, so only fill the blender half full each batch.) Return the blended soup to a pot.

Serve hot, garnished with parsley. Float an egg, fried over easy, in each bowl of soup, if desired.

Makes about 6 servings.

DSC03286I spent most of my day working on the new blog–lettyskitchen.com.  Farmer John texted me this morning with the pick list, but when Robbie arrived home with our CSA loot, I hadn’t attempted anything close to a recipe for you all. No photos, no content, nada. So I dug into the archives. (The photo above I added one week later. We enjoyed this meal again–more arugula and parsley this week!)

DSC03281This pasta dish is a great showcase for the arugula and huge beautiful heirloom tomatoes. Plus, the parsley we’d put in a pint jar with water, loosely covered with a plastic bag, was still fresh. It had lasted for a week, (or was it two weeks?), perfectly preserved in the fridge. Here’s our chance to use up some parsley as well. Please attribute the recipe to Deborah Madison, for this is merely my adaption of hers.

8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (like they have at pizza parlors)

6 cups arugula, stems painstakingly removed, coarsely chopped

1 large or 2 smaller heirloom tomatoes

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the tomato(es) in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water. Stir in the pasta. Return to a simmer and cook the pasta until it is just tender to the tooth. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Set aside.

While the pasta cooks, peel the blanched tomato. Dice into chunks, about 1/2 inch.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for several minutes, but do not let the garlic turn brown. Toss in the arugula leaves, sprinkle with a bit of salt and cook and stir until wilted. Stir in the tomatoes and parsley and the reserved pasta.  Mix in the toasted walnuts. Serve garnished with the grated cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.