herbs

Leek & Dill Soup

From the start, I have to state that this is my Romanian Aunt Anca's recipe and I fell in love with it from first taste. It's low in fat, full of fiber and vegetables, surprisingly sweet and savory at the same time, and absolutley delicious. This also fits really well in the "easy peasy" department as you don't have to babysit it much and it practically makes itself.

2 leeks, white part and a little of green, cleaned and chopped fine

1/2 zucchini, cubed (optional)

handful of peas

water to cover

1/4 cup chopped dill, saved for the end

Combine leeks, zucchini and peas and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. You can blend 1/2 of it with an immersion blender until smooth, or leave it as is, chunky. Add in the dill, and season to taste with salt & pepper. 

You can easily add anything else to this soup you'd like: a potato, carrots, celery, etc. Enjoy and experiment. 

Home-Made Chicory Herbal Coffee

I’ve got to say this has been one of the coolest projects I’ve done in a long time. I’ve always loved herbalism and delving into creative DYI projects {like when we decided to paint the outside of our house ourselves, build a fence, take out the wall to wall carpeting}, and inside the kitchen {like raw chocolate, making our own bouillon, nut milks}. This one tops all of them, mainly due to the amount of time it takes, but if you have the courage, I highly recommend it.

I stand by my "Dandy Blend" herbal coffee, tall and proud, and call it my daily necessity {I’m on a chocolate break and somehow, this herbal coffee helps satisfy that craving}. But what if I could make my own herbal coffee?

Chicory is this glorious beautiful plant {definitely look it up before using it!} with edible blue flowers, and you can often find it on the side of the highway {although I don’t recommend eating it, since it probably picks up toxins so close to exhaust and what not}. I did order some seeds about 2 years ago and let the plant do their thing, and this year it multiplied and topped to about 6 feet. We did amend the soil with horse poo, leaves and compost, but I never thought it would grow so tall; maybe it’s time to harvest.

The roots are what I’m after, which we’ll wash, dehydrate, roast and grind, all in that order. Pulling on the plants gently, the roots came out happily, although I think some remained in the ground. It’s good for me, since I’d like to have them come back next year.

1.     Wash & chop: The hardest and most consuming time is actually washing. You want to get these very clean, so I used a potato brush and brushed and brushed and brushed. I pulled out quite a few roots, but you can do this to however many you like. Cut these roots into same-sized pieces, about ½ inch is fine.

2.     Dehydrate & Roast: I dehydrated them overnight at 110 degrees to dry them out {some circles don’t do this}, and then popped them into the oven at around 300 degrees for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. You sort of have to baby sit them to make sure they don’t burn. You can even do a lower temperature for a longer time, like 250 for 90 minutes also. This is the best part, since your house smells amazing while this is happening!

.     Grind: once cooled, grind these in a coffee grinder as fine as possible. There will be some bits that just don’t break down, and that’s ok. Use about 1 heaping teaspoon per cup of boiling water, brew, strain, enjoy. I added stevia to mine. Store in an airtight container.

Yes, it’s a process and a project, but I do hope you get to make it. The taste is very much like burnt caramel, earthy, rooty, dark and rich, and tastes delicious. Well worth the adventure & my coffee cup thanks me. 

Herbed Raw Boursin

 

This probiotic-rich fermented cheese tastes very much like Boursin cheese, although it's completely dairy free and actually good for you! It goes really well with flax crackers and crudites, and although it is a 3-step process, it's actually very easy to make. 

2 cups soaked cashews (at least 4 hours), drained

1/3 cup hemp seeds

1 cup warm water with 1-2 teaspoons probiotic powder

Chopped dill, chives, peppercorns

 

Step 1: In a vitamix or high-speed blender (with tamper preferably), blend soaked cashews, hemp seeds, and the water with probiotic powder until smooth*.  Remove the mixture into a nut milk bag and let ripen over a colander in a bowl, covered and with a small weight, for about 15-24 hours, or per your taste.  To speed the process, you can also place it for 1 or 2 hours on top of a dehydrator to absorb some of the heat. 

Step 2: Scoop out the mixture into a bowl, and add 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill and 3 good sized chives, minced small.   Season with a little salt and taste, and adjust the seasoning if you need to.  

Step 3: Line a mold of your choice (ramekin, a 4 inch mold with a pop-out bottom, etc.) with wax paper or plastic wrap and pour the cheese mixture in.  This recipe should be enough for 3 or 4 ramekins or two 4-inch molds. Cover with more wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight to set well.  

Step 4: Flip over, remove the wrapping and decorate with crushed herbs/pink peppercorns. Keep refrigerated and enjoy!  

I love this cheese best sprinkled with herbes de provence, at the very end. It takes it to a whole new level! 

NOTE: I tend to like my cheese tart and a little more ripe, so I add about 1.5 teaspoons. Also, the longer you let it sit (or if you put it on the top of your dehydrator to absorb some of the heat that comes out) it will ripen faster.