Small Gatherings & New Recipes for the Week of January 9

by Julie

This past week, I realized once again how nice it is to host small, impromptu dinners with friends. No planning, no special cleaning ritual, no hasty rush to put together a batch of cookies. Just a quick phone call and, “Hello, we’re having dinner. Wanna come over?”

(nourishment = friends + tortilla soup)

Perhaps the desire to reconnect on an individual level came about due to the bigness, the grandeur and extravagance of numerous holiday gatherings. After so much muchness, I felt the need to return to small and simple.

At it’s most basic, food is about nourishment, but as anyone who spends a bit of time in the kitchen knows, there’s really nothing basic at all about the process of nourishing. Even sitting down to a meal by myself, I’m reminded of just how much I ask of food on a daily basis: To provide me with energy, to taste pleasant, to settle properly, to sustain me until the next time I am able to eat. That’s one level. On another level, I ask that it not only settle in my stomach, but settle in my self–calm my mind, slow my feet, and allow me to take pleasure in the moment.

I like watching food’s capturing power on others when they sit down at the table with me. Whether it’s over a plate of food or glass of wine, I observe a sort of opening, of relaxing into the tastes and textures and smells of the meal. It’s inspiring, and it’s a reminder of why I love to cook.

(kale salad)

With that in mind, enjoy this week’s recipes and, if you have time, check on the latest publication from Kinfolk, a journal all about celebrating and creating your own small gatherings.

And speaking of celebrating…who wants to come over and help Eric and me taste test the wine that just arrived last night? Any volunteers?

Monday, January 9: Vegan Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

I’ve been craving Pho lately, so here’s a recipe from thekitchen.com. If you’re tight on time, Pacific, the company that does a bunch of boxed soups and broths, now has Pho broth at the ready. And, to those in Tucson: the Co-op on 4th Ave. now carries it! (Psst…it’s on sale this month.)

Ingredients:

Broth
1 large onion, peeled and halved
2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and halved lengthwise
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 star anise 
2 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

Noodles
1/2 pound dried flat rice noodles (known as bánh phở; use 1/16″, 1/8″, or 1/4″ width depending on availability and preference)

Toppings (optional)
Baked tofu, or plain, extra-firm tofu
Mushrooms
Vegetables such as bok choy, napa cabbage, or broccoli

Garnishes
1/2 onion, very thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 chile pepper (Thai bird, serrano, or jalapeño), sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/2 cup bean sprouts
Large handful of herbs: cilantro, Thai basil, culantro/saw-leaf herb
Hoisin sauce, sriracha (optional)

Tuesday, January 10: Gluten-Free Pizza 

This is a recycled oldie, but goody. Who can ever become tired of pizza? (Especially when your partner makes the crust!)

Wednesday, January 11: Holiday Soup for the Soul (from ohsheglows)

Ingredients:

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup red quinoa, uncooked

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 vegetable bouillon cube 

6 cups water, boiled

One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

1.5-2 cups cooked black beans

1 teaspoon good-quality curry powder

Pinch or two of cinnamon

Pinch of ground nutmeg

2 cups baby spinach leaves, well rinsed and roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch of saffron threads (optional, but tasted amazing)

Thursday, January 12: Giant Black Bean Salad (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon agave or coconut nectar (original recipe calls for honey)
1/2 small jalapeño, seeded, deveined and chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 small garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 -3 big handfuls baby arugula (or other salad greens), well washed and dried
3 cups cooked black beans (or make 2 additional cups and store for tomorrow’s recipe)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Friday, January 13: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas (adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess)

Ingredients:
For Green Chile Sauce

1 cup light vegetable broth
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch, dissolved in a little cold water
1 generous cup chopped roasted green chiles–hot or mild
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin or chili powder, hot or mild, to taste

For the Filling

2 cups organic black beans, rinsed, drained (prepared ahead of time: see Thursday’s note)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh lime juice from 1 large lime
2 heaping cups cooked sweet potatoes, smashed a bit, but still chunky
1/2 cup chopped roasted green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or curry, mild or spicy, as you prefer
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

To Assemble:

2-4 tablespoons light olive oil or vegetable oil, as needed
8 white corn tortillas

Have a glorious week!

–J

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