Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

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Spelt Focaccia with Rosemary

This focaccia is light and delicately flavored with olive oil and rosemary.  Spelt flour gives it a softly sweet, earthy flavor and packs in more nutritional value than conventional flour.  It is perfect alongside a bowl of  soup or a salad, as a snack, or as a base for countless toppings of vegetables, meat, and cheese.

Focaccia, an oven-baked Italian flatbread, is similar to pizza dough.  It is like a blank slate on which you can add a variety of toppings.  In this recipe, the focaccia is simply topped with olive oil, coarse sea salt, and fresh rosemary.  I based my recipe on one by Paul Kahan, which I found on the Food & Wine website.  His recipe calls for topping the focaccia with kale, squash, and pecorino cheese, which sounds absolutely delicious.  However, the other day, I was just looking for a simple, flavorful bread to use as a side with our dinner of leftover soups, so I left off the vegetable toppings in this case, since we already had a lot of vegetables in the soups, and I wanted just bread.

spelt focacciaThis bread is lovely.  It is easy to make.  Maybe a little time-consuming, yes, because it has to rise twice.  But the actual hands-on time is not much.  It’s good to make on a day when you will be home for about three hours, but the good part is you can do lots of things around the house while the dough is rising and baking.

Spelt flour comes from an ancient whole grain, and though it does contain gluten, its gluten is more fragile and water soluble, so it is easier to digest than conventional wheat flours.  Spelt also has more iron, fiber, and B vitamins than conventional flours.  I am not about to give up wheat flours, but it is really nice to add some variety to our diet, and I really like the slightly nutty, slightly earthy taste of spelt flour.

spelt focacciaThe spelt flour does not need to be kneaded as much as conventional wheat flour, and tends to create a stickier dough.  This surprised me a bit the first time I worked with it.  But don’t worry, even if it feels sticky when you are forming the dough on the baking sheet, it bakes beautifully.  And if your dough gets too sticky to work with, you can add a bit of all-purpose flour as well.  I love the flexibility of bread-making, because you can always add a bit of flour or a bit of water or olive oil, and things usually work out!  I also love the flexibility of focaccia, and I expect I will be making it again soon, either with spelt flour, conventional flour, or a combination, and maybe next time topped with some vegetables.

My fingers are soft from the olive oil and they smell wonderful, like rosemary.  As I was making this spelt focaccia with rosemary, I was once again struck by the primal comfort I feel when working with dough.  There must be something deep within my genetic makeup that calls me to the kitchen to bake.  It is deeply rewarding and comforting to me.  And everyone in my family enjoyed this bread–that is a bonus!

The other day, I came across a quote that struck a chord with me.  I was waiting for our car to be repaired, reading an online article on bonappetit.com.   The article is written by Jenny Rosenstrach and Andy Ward, known for the great blog, Dinner: A Love Story.  If you are ever tired, discouraged, or frustrated about making dinner for others, remember this quote from that article: “Don’t ever let someone convince you that cooking a meal for your kids–or anyone else for that matter–is one more thing to check off the to-do list.  Every time you feed someone, you’re offering love, security, comfort, therapy, and memories shrouded in happiness and warmth.  It’s no small thing.”

I just love that quote, and I agree wholeheartedly with it.  We all have our unique ways of cooking and putting meals on the table, and it’s not always easy, but never forget how important it is.  I hope you all have a great weekend!  It’s March! It came in like a lion, but hopefully spring will be here soon!spelt focaccia doughspelt focacciaNow it’s time to head over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Angie and Laura @ Feast Wisely.

Spelt Focaccia with Rosemary

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 3 hours total, about 15 minutes of hands-on time
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of spelt flour
  • 1 envelope of dry active yeast
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling at baking time
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spelt flour, yeast, warm (make sure your water is luke-warm and not hot) water, honey, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt.  Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, not more than a minute.  If the dough is too sticky, you can add some more spelt flour or a couple tablespoons of all-purpose flour to make it easier to work with.

Clean out the mixing bowl or get another one and oil it lightly with olive oil.  Place the dough in the oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, or until it about doubles in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Punch the dough down and then transfer it to the baking sheet.  Gently press it into a 12 x 8 inch oval shape.  If it is too sticky, put some flour on your hands to make it easier to shape the dough.  Then brush about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of olive oil over the dough.  Press small indentations all over the dough with your finger and then sprinkle evenly with the coarse sea salt and rosemary.  Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake the focaccia for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Enjoy as a side for a bowl of soup or a salad, or as a snack!

This recipe is adapted from Paul Kahan’s recipe on the Food & Wine website.

White Bean Soup with Leeks and Greens

Nourishing and wonderfully fragrant, this  white bean soup with leeks and greens will chase away any chills in the air.  Sauteed onions, leeks, and garlic, plus white beans, dark leafy greens and a splash of lemon juice make up this very simple, healthy, and flavorful soup.

In the winter, I love a good soup full of greens to fill me up with powerful vitamins and minerals.  There are a lot of germs flying around this area right now (including in my own house!) and I want to make our immune systems as strong as possible.  This soup is a delicious step in that direction.  The purifying properties of dark leafy greens make me feel like I am taking good care of my body.  This delicious soup is also a light soup, so it is perfect if you want a lighter meal, yet still want lots of protein and iron.  It goes well with a nice piece of rustic bread too.

soup in potThe onions, leeks, and garlic are gently sauteed till they are nice and soft and fragrant, and then the broth, beans, greens and lemon juice come in.  The soup only takes about forty minutes to make, so it makes a great weeknight meal or a warm, cozy lunch, and it tastes even better the next day.  For me, the lemon juice is what really makes this soup.  The bright citrus flavor balances the earthy flavors of the other ingredients.

The weather has been unseasonably warm here the past few days, and all the sunshine has gotten me longing for the green of spring.  That is probably another reason I had a craving to make a soup with lots of greens in it.  We are a long way from spring here in Michigan, and it is actually supposed to snow here tomorrow, but this recent warm-up has been refreshing and energizing.  It’s amazing what a few days of sunshine will do for a person!

white bean green soupGetting outdoors has been so pleasant this past week.  It’s too early to start working in the garden (though my husband did churn up the soil last weekend), so we did lots of walking/biking on trails along a river near us.  Being around water is so soothing and inspiring to me.  The river water level is really high right now because of all the rain we got earlier in the winter, so the water is moving quickly, making lots of currents and carrying sticks and leaves along with it.  As I was watching the water flow so smoothly and naturally, I felt like I should try to be more like the river.  Flowing naturally toward my destination.  Not fighting my own inner nature, but going with it.  Navigating the rocks and bends in the earth with such natural grace.

This white bean soup with leeks and greens is in that same vein, in that it is natural and pure and nourishing.  I hope you all have a great weekend! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Anugya @ Indian Curry Shack and Margy @ La Petite Casserole.white bean green soupwhite bean green soup

White Bean Soup With Leeks And Greens

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (or about 1/2 cup), finely diced
  • 2 leeks, washed thoroughly and finely chopped (I used just the white bulb parts, not the leafy parts)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  •  1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (or to taste)
  • 4 cups of your favorite vegetable broth
  • 1 can (14 ounces) of cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
  • a couple of big handfuls of dark leafy greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, leeks, bay leaf, and salt and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until very soft.  About a minute before the onions and leeks are soft, add the minced garlic.

Then add the vegetable broth and beans to the pot.  Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, until everything is soft and the flavors are all nice and blended.  Discard the bay leaf.  With a wooden spoon, carefully smash some of the beans against the side of the pot to give the soup a thicker texture.  Add the greens and the lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat until the greens are just wilted, about 3 minutes.  Add some black pepper if desired and adjust the salt and lemon juice, if desired.  If it is too salty, add some water.  Serve warm with some rustic bread, if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

Mango Pound Cake

Moist and delicious with the added flavor and deep golden color of pureed fresh mango, this cheerful mango pound cake will brighten up any table!

I like to cook and bake with foods that are in season as much as I can.  But in the middle of February in Michigan, sometimes I need to just let that go and bake something with tropical fruit!  Sometimes we just need that burst of flavor and color, and thank goodness tropical fruits are available to us in February if we want them.  (My local grocery store even has mangoes on sale right now!) The sweet bright flavor of mango adds a burst of joy to this beautiful mango pound cake.

mango pound cakeCooking shows are some of my favorite things to watch on TV.  We don’t watch a lot of TV in my household, but when we are home and want to relax in the evenings, my husband and I sometimes turn on PBS and look for cooking shows and travel shows.  That is how I found the inspiration for this delicious mango pound cake.  We were watching Pati’s Mexican Table recently, and Pati made this beautiful, yet quite easy, mango pound cake while her main dish was cooking.

I love her show.  Her enthusiasm for food is inspiring, and I love the way she embraces food as a way to bring family and friends together.  And this mango pound cake is right up my alley because it can be made fairly quickly, yet the mango makes it special and fun.  I found the recipe on her website and tried it.  The cake turned out great–moist and flavorful, and I will definitely make it again.

The weather here is supposed to be quite warm (for winter time, anyway) and sunny this weekend.  After a pretty gray few weeks, I am looking forward to getting out into the sun! It has been a strange winter here, with lots of rain and not much snow.  We have not been able to do our usual winter outdoor activities.  I think a lot of us are a bit deprived of the benefits of sunlight.  But this morning, this sunrise was just beautiful.

february sunrise 2And it looks like we will have at least a couple days more of sunshine! I hope you all have a great weekend, and hope you get a chance to get out in the sun.  I think that is why I was drawn to this mango pound cake–mangoes taste like sunshine to me.  I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s virtual potluck Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Zeba @ Food For The Soul and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cookmango pound cake

Mango Pound Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: about 20 minutes of prep time and about 30 minutes of baking time
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little more for greasing the pan
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of course sea salt
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of diced fresh mango (about 2 mangoes) or thawed from frozen
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  •  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting the top (optional)
  • fresh berries for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and lightly dust it with flour.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until soft, for about 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and continue to beat for about 5 more minutes, until the mixture is soft and creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and creamy, about 2 more minutes.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Place the diced mango, buttermilk, vanilla extract and almond extract in a blender.  Puree until very smooth.

In four additions, add the flour mixture and the mango mixture, little by little, to the bowl with the butter mixture, beating after each addition, and alternating adding the wet and dry ingredients. Mix just until everything is completely combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden brown on top, springs back when touched, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

Allow the cake to cool.  When it is cool, flip it upside down on a board and then turn it right side up onto a platter.  Dust the top generously with confectioners’ sugar. Or, just leave it in the pan and cut slices from the pan, if desired. Enjoy!

 

This recipe is adapted from Pati Jinich @ patijinich.com.

 

Chocolate Honey Cake

Deep, rich, and moist, this chocolate honey cake is naturally sweetened with honey and topped with a strawberry jam glaze. Supremely decadent, yet at the same time full of whole food ingredients, this cake is a beautiful treat.

chocolate honey cakeWith Valentine’s Day around the corner, I have had chocolate and strawberries on my mind.  Also, my husband and I will celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow!  So I wanted to make something special for us. Plus, I always like to bake something sweet for the kids for Valentine’s Day. This cake is the solution for all those things!

The recipe, like many recipes, is a combination of different sources.  I adapted the cake recipe from an old favorite cookbook of mine, Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. (My husband and I went to her restaurant, the Moosewood Restaurant, when we lived in Ithaca, New York! Very delicious!).  When I made the cake this time, I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder instead of classic cocoa powder, and it turned out great. For the glaze, I got inspiration from the blog dessert for two The glaze is super-easy to make (just whisk strawberry jam, powdered sugar and milk together), and it adds so much flavor and is such a pretty pink color!  We have some of my mom’s delicious homemade strawberry freezer jam in the refrigerator, so the glaze is packed with intense strawberry flavor that goes with the deep flavor of the chocolate beautifully. To be honest, it was hard to finish photographing this cake because I wanted to take a bite so badly!

chocolate honey cakeIn addition to our anniversary and Valentine’s Day coming up, it has been an intense week. We have all been working really hard. We all need chocolate from time to time (some of us need it more often than others 🙂 ), and we have earned this treat. Maybe chocolate cannot save the world, but it can definitely do a lot of good for the heart and soul!  I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm! I will be joining the virtual potluck Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Ai @ Ai Make It For You and Petra @ Food Eat Love.chocolate honey cake

Chocolate Honey Cake

  • Servings: 6 to 8 servings
  • Time: about 15 minutes of prep time and about 30 minutes of baking time
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for the cake:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (plus a little more for greasing the pan), at room tempterature
  • 1 ounce (1 square) of bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder)
  • 1 cup of unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

for the glaze:

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of strawberry jam
  • 4-6 tablespoons of milk (adjust depending on the consistency you want)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat until just melted.

Pour the honey into a medium-sized mixing bowl. With an electric mixer or a hand mixer, beat the honey for about two minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then stir in the vanilla extract.

In another medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.  Stir well with a fork.

Beat the melted butter/chocolate mixture into the honey/egg mixture. Then fold in the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine well.  When everything is incorporated, spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

While the cake is baking, you can prepare the glaze.  In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, strawberry jam, and milk. Whisk the ingredients together vigorously until a glaze forms. Adjust the consistency if you wish by adding more milk or powdered sugar. When you are ready to serve the cake, spoon or pour the desired amount of glaze over each piece of cake. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Butternut Squash-Black Bean Tacos

The bright, beautiful colors in this meal reflect the wide variety of  its nutrients and the vitality of its flavors.  Roasted butternut squash, lightly spiced black beans, red cabbage, spinach, and feta cheese make up these healthy, easy, and tasty tacos.  With this recipe, you can have a delicious lunch or dinner on the table in a little over a half an hour, and have all your nutritional bases covered.  And you get to use that squash that you’ve been meaning to use for a few days!

butternut bean tacosAt least that is how it often is with me when I bring home a squash.  Sometimes it sits on the counter for a few days before I decide what to do with it. (Good thing they keep well!)  But when I use it, I am always glad I did.  And that is definitely the case with these butternut squash and black bean tacos.  The delicately sweet flavor of the roasted squash goes so nicely with the black beans, cumin, and feta cheese, and the cabbage and spinach give it extra nutrition, color and texture.

What I also like about this recipe is that it is very simple and doesn’t require a big time commitment to make.  While the squash is roasting, you can prepare everything else. It is a light, yet extremely nourishing meal.  And if you want to add more filling elements, some shredded chicken or other meat would taste good in there, and some cooked rice would work too.  And of course, I always like my tacos with tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole on the side too!

butternut bean tacosIt seems like it has been winter for a long time now, and this brightly colored meal is just what I need to boost my energy levels.  This past week, I am finding it a challenge to find the balance between being informed about what is going on in the United States and not getting worn down from too much news.  It seems like every hour there is another news item to digest and try to understand.  Our country is going through a difficult and strange time, and sometimes I have to get my mind away from current events to focus on the duties, challenges, and joys of daily life.  And food!  We have to eat, no matter what is happening, and the better we eat, the better we are able to live our lives, act on what we believe in, and impact the world for the good.

So I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm!  It is cold out there today, but at least the sun is shining, and that is a very welcome sight!  I  will leave you with a quote I came across today–“Be as a bird, who, halting in her flight on a limb too slight, feels it give way beneath her, yet sings knowing she has wings.” ~by Victor Hugo.

I will be taking a plate of these tacos over to Angie’s virtual Fiesta Friday potluck, co-hosted this week by Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living. 

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos

  • Servings: about 4
  • Time: about 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • one medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups when diced)
  • one 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • one teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 8 medium sized four tortilla shells
  • 2 cups of red cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • feta cheese for sprinkling on top
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional things for the side:

  • tortilla chips
  • salsa
  • guacamole
  • cooked rice

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Carefully peel and dice the butternut squash.  (A good sharp knife is really helpful for this part, and be careful peeling!)  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the diced squash with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  When the squash pieces are lightly and evenly coated with the oil, roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, until tender, opening the oven about halfway through to flip the pieces over.

While the squash is roasting, get out a large mixing bowl.  In the bowl, stir together the beans, one tablespoon of olive oil, and the cumin.  Wash and chop the cabbage and the spinach and crumble the Feta.  Wrap your tortilla shells in foil.  about 10 minutes before the squash is done, place the foil-wrapped tortillas in the oven to warm them.  Then about five minutes before the squash is done, pull out the baking sheet and add the bean mixture, stirring to combine.  Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the squash is tender and the beans are warmed through.  Adjust the seasonings to taste after squash is done.

When everything is done, place a tortilla on a plate.  Spoon the squash/bean mixture onto the tortilla.  Top with the chopped cabbage and spinach. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.  Enjoy!

 

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