Peace Café will be remembered for local, organic, homemade
By Eileen Persike, Editor, with Debbie Jircik
“We have always emphasized using locally grown – from our own gardens or area farmers – and organic food and the menu has been vegetarian,” said founder Debbie Jircik. “Each month the café would serve soup along with fresh baked bread.”
Jircik says it’s her hope to one day create a book chronicling the six years of the Peace Café, complete with a retrospective look at the featured speakers, photos of the garden and of course, recipes.
“It is my intention to do that,” she said. “What form it will eventually take is unknown but I am very interested in writing something in keeping with Peace Café’s mission.”
Consider this a very brief preview. The recipes Debbie Jircik is sharing are adaptations from favorite cookbooks.
The starting point for vegetarian soups, a always a homemade stock. Jircik says a vegetarian stock needn’t cook a long time for it to be flavorful; 30 to 45 minutes is enough time.
“The ingredients vary but usually our stocks start with leeks, shallots or chopped onion and garlic sautéed in a little olive oil. We usually use bay leaf, thyme, salt, black pepper corns, carrots, and celeriac, along with parsley. The ingredients vary slightly based often on what we have from the garden or winter stored vegetables like potatoes or during tomato season we might add a tomato or two.”
The following recipe has been a favorite at the Peace Café, as well as the much requested cornbread recipe.
Chickpea-Tomato Soup with Fresh Rosemary
This is a quick soup to make, a nice way to use fresh or home preserved tomatoes, or ones that you’ve roasted and froze during the summer for winter use. The pureed chickpeas create a creamy texture.
(Adapted from “Once Upon A Tart” by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau with Carolynn Carreno, published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2003) Makes six servings.
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas or 2 cups dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 3-inch rosemary sprigs, needles removed from stems, finely chopped
4 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled seeded and diced fine or 2 20 ounce cans of diced plum tomatoes
(Note: we often substitute roasted plum tomatoes from the summer harvest that we have frozen for part of the tomatoes)
Pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
1.Drain canned chickpeas in a colander, rinse well.
Or for dry chickpeas, place in four cups cold unsalted water, bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for an hour or until tender. Drain and rinse.
2.Sautee garlic and rosemary in a large soup pot for 1-2 minutes. Do not brown the garlic.
3.Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, chickpeas, and the stock.
4.Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.
5.Remove soup to puree until smooth. Use an immersion blender or wait for the soup to cool and use a food processor or blender to puree the soup in batches.
6.Variation: Add a bunch of spinach toward the end of cooking so that the spinach cooks but stays bright green. Puree the soup.
Cornbread (adapted from Moosewood New Classics)
1 cup organic corn meal
1 cup organic corn flour
3 tablespoons organic evaporated cane juice crystals or brown sugar
¼ cup grape seed oil
2 teaspoons Baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup organic buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Oil an 8”x8” baking pan.
1.Combine dry ingredients except sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
2.In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil, and sugar.
3.Pour wet ingredients into dry, until just blended, being careful not to over mix.
4.Spread batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.
5.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.