Vegetable Tempura

Bunch carrots, bagged carrots, green onions, red onions, gold beets, red beets at farmer's market

Raw veggies are absolutely lovely, but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up with tempura for a special occasion.

Serves four to six as an appetizer.

Dipping Sauce
2 scallions, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup dark sesame oil

5 cups seasonal fresh veggies, such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, etc.

For the dipping sauce, combine the scallions, soy sauce, water, vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic, and mustard in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors blend.

For the batter, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add the cold water and sesame oil all at once and whisk until the consistency of pancake batter and very smooth. Refrigerate until ready to prepare the tempura.

Blot the vegetables dry, season with salt and pepper and dip into the batter. Coat them evenly.

Pour the oil into a tall pot to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat until around 350 degrees F. Work in batches to avoid crowding. Slip the batter-coated vegetables into the hot oil, deep-frying until the batter is a golden brown and puffy, 3-4 minutes. Turn the veggies so they cook evenly. Remove from the pot with tongs. Drain on an absorbent towel. Serve with dipping sauce.

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Chilled Sugar Snap Pea Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped leeks
Salt to taste
4 cups chicken broth
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
A pinch cayenne
1 pound cleaned sugar snap peas, ends and strings removed
2 mint leaves

Put olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the leek. Add salt to taste and cook, stirring, until leeks are soft. Add chicken broth, black pepper, and cayenne, and bring to a boil.

Stir in sugar snap peas and mint leaves. Cook until peas have softened slightly.

With a slotted spoon, move the veggies to a blender and then add some of the cooking liquid. Blend on high to puree, adding liquid as needed. At the end, add all the liquid and liquefy until smooth. If you want, pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and press until only the fibrous material is left behind. Either way, cool it to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Season to taste. Serve with a swirl of crème fraiche and mint leaves in each bowl.

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Quinoa Sunchoke Pilaf


The mild, nutty flavor of sunchokes complements quinoa nicely.

1/2 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/4 cup vegetable (or chicken) broth
3/4 cup chickpeas or field peas, cooked
1 cup peeled, chopped sunchokes
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place quinoa in a large bowl and fill with cold water. Pour into a strainer, then return the quinoa to the bowl and rinse 4 times more. Drain well.

Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rinsed quinoa and cook, stirring, until it cracks and pops, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft.
Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the chickpeas, sunchokes, peas, and pepper, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

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