Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ham, bean and kale stew

I have so much leftover protein from before/Christmas/after that it's not even funny. Not even a little bit.
In a quest to do something with it other than just eat it over and over for dinner (don't worry, we froze it -- no food poisoning going on here, I hope), I've been looking for ways to "repurpose" our leftovers.
With the leftover standing rib roast, I made vegetable beef barley soup. And after we ate that for dinner, I froze the leftover soup for lunches.
With some of the leftover ham, I made this stew. I froze it all, because no one wants to eat bean soup in the house but me. (they're no fun) And it made a mighty fine lunch today, if I do say so myself.

adapted slightly from Serious Eats

1 pound dried beans such as Great Northern, Cannellini, or Tarbais, soaked in water at room temperature overnight. (I used Navy beans, actually)
1 pound leftover smoked ham bones, scraps, and/or meat
3 quarts low-sodium chicken stock or water (I used a combo of the two)
1 large onion, split
1 large clove garlic
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt
1 large bunch picked kale leaves (about 2 quarts loosely packed)
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, because that's what I had in the house)

Combine beans, ham, stock or water, onion, garlic, and bay leaves in large Dutch oven. Add 1 teaspoon salt (or not, I didn't) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium low and simmer until beans are completely tender, about 45 minutes, adding water as necessary to keep beans covered at all times.. remove ham and set aside. Discard onion, garlic, and bay leaves.
When ham is cool enough to handle, shred meat into small pieces with fingers and return to pot with beans. Discard bones. Add kale to beans. Bring to a vigorous simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until some beans have broken down completely, liquid is reduced to thick stew-like consistency, and kale is completely tender, about 30 minutes longer.
Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper and serve immediately in shallow bowls, drizzling with plenty of extra-virgin olive oil (I omitted this) and a sprinkle of vinegar. Serve with crusty bread toasted with olive oil. (I did not have the bread, but I wish I did)

Cut out sugar cookies

It would have helped if I'd posted this recipe before Christmas, right? When you still had holiday baking to do and needed a quick, good sugar cookie recipe.
Consider this a jump start on next year's planning. These are good cookies, the dough is easy to work with, and they made the kids happy. All I need for a winning recipe.

from The Kitchn

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until golden. Add the cream cheese and again beat until well incorporated. Add the flavorings and lemon zest.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add, bit by bit, to the butter/sugar mixture until fully incorporated.
Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
Heat the oven to 350° F. Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies.
Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. The small, thinner ones started browning after about 8 minutes, and I didn't want these brown at all. The larger ones had a slight golden bottom after 11 minutes, which was perfect for my purposes.
Let cool before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

spicy gingerbread cookies

I need a break from Christmas, but give me a couple days and I'll need one last go 'round. SAK and I were hoping to bake cookies but we didn't fit it in yet, so we're going to make these. I hope she'll want to eat them, considering how spicy Smitten says they are...more for me with my daily pot of tea! (One cup of molasses people! It's winter and we need our iron!)


From Smitten Kitchen who says...
Barely adapted from Martha Stewart, who knows a thing or two about gingerbread

This gingerbread is spicy and dark, chewy but sturdy and only a little sweet. If you’re used to more tepid gingerbread men, it will surprise you. If you always found gingerbread a little boring, it will delight you.

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 1/2 pound) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

To decorate:
Royal icing
Various fine sanding sugars and sugar decorations

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Divide dough into thirds and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about one hour or up to two days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes of your choice, such as snowflakes* or gingerbread men. Spread two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until the cookies firm up again, about 15 minutes.

Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

When cool, you can decorate the cookies with icing and sprinkles. When you pipe designs, sprinkle the icing with sanding sugar and let it sit for five minutes before tapping off the excess sugar. Then let the icing set completely at room temperature, which will take an hour or so, depending on how thick it is.

Store cookies between layers of parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container for up to a week.

* By the way, I don’t recommend my snowflake cookie cutter set as you will grow gray hairs trying to get the cookie cutter back from the dough without pulling off some icicles. Look for a set with less intricate details.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Garlic butter roasted mushrooms

We had these with our Christmas dinner, and they were fantastic.

I didn't change a thing, other than to omit the salt, because my mom is on a low sodium diet.

So here, go to Smitten Kitchen and make these mushrooms.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Doneen's Baked Oatmeal

Ok, this recipe was originally from my mom's employee, Doneen. I've made it many times as is, but this morning I doctored it up a bit. I'll put my additions in italics.

1/4 C. oil or applesauce (I used homemade applesauce I had canned)
1/2 C. sugar (I used half white sugar and half brown sugar)
1 egg
1.5 C. quick oats (I used old fashioned oats)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. raisins, soaked first in hot water, then drained
dash of nutmeg
dash of allspice
dash of cinnamon
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced


Preheat oven to 350.

Cream oil (or applesauce), sugar and egg. Add oats, baking powder, salt, milk, raisins, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon; mix well.

Spray an 8" baking dish with non-stick spray, or grease with butter. Place diced apples in the baking dish. Pour oatmeal mixture over apples in the baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with milk.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf with Gouda and Mushrooms

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Foods.

I happened to catch an episode of Everyday Foods on PBS about a week ago and this was one of the dishes featured. Michael and I really liked it and very happily ate the leftovers for lunch for the next 2 days.

Serves 6.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 shallots or half of a small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cup shredded gouda cheese (4 ounces) (Martha used Fontina but I used what I had on hand)
1 slice day-old bread, cubed -or- 2 handfuls of panko
1 handful of rolled oats
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves (I used dried sage)
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (93 percent lean)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Return skillet to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add to bowl with mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and let cool.

Add cheese, bread, egg, oats and sage to bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in turkey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place mixture into a greased 9x5 bread tin and bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. I served it with a salad of mixed greens and roasted potatoes. Also good cold as a sandwich.

Candied Yams with Apples and Cranberries

Geoff and I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was a hit. Bonus #1: it's done in the crock pot, which frees up your oven. Bonus #2: it makes the house smell really good.

Source: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker: Recipes for Entertaining, by Beth Hensperger
Serves 6-8

Size of slow cooker: medium or large round or oval (Hensperger defines medium as 3-4.5 quarts and large as 5-7 quarts).
Setting and cook time: Low for 6-7 hours

* 2 pounds yams, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
* 2 medium-size tart cooking apples, such as Fuji or pippin, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
* one 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
* 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 cup unfiltered apple or pear juice (see note below)
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

1. Coat the inside of the crock with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Alternate slices of the yams and apples in the crock, in overlapping layers. Sprinkle with the cranberries. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl; sprinkle over the cranberries. Drizzle with the apple juice and dot with the butter.

2. Cover and cook on LOW until the yams are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 6 to 7 hours. Serve hot from the crock.

Note: We had to go to a couple of grocery stores in order to find unfiltered apple juice. I think you could substitute apple cider, or even water, and it'll turn out ok.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

winter pasta (with dark leafy greens)

We had so much kale and other miscellaneous dark leafy greens from our CSA, and this used them up delightfully. The taste certainly comes through, but it's tempered by the creamy goat cheese and the sharp lemon. Originally from 101 Cookbooks. (Kelly, I was wrong -- not Simply Recipes after all!)

Her notes: I used penne here, but you can substitute whatever pasta you like. Spinach can be substituted for the kale if you like as well.

My notes: I used some fancypants spinach egg noodles that I got for Chanukah. And I definitely will be using other random leafy greens the CSA chooses to throw at us.

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 small shallots, peeled [I used a regular white onion)
1 small bunch of kale - 1/2 lb / 8 oz, stalks removed, washed well [mine was two ziplocs full of curly and straight and who knows what kinds of kale]
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil [I just used a glug or so]
1/3 cup / 2 oz goat cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons + hot pasta water [oops, forgot this. there was plenty of water as I was blending the veggies]
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice - optional [I believe this is not optional]
12 oz / 340 g dried penne pasta
fresh thyme - and thyme flowers [that would have been cool but I did not have]

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another ten seconds. Don't overcook.

Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water. Use a food processor [I used my immersion blender] to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil and goat cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out if needed. Then season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste.

Depending on your goat cheese, you might need a little extra acidic oomph [yup] if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you're happy with it the sauce. Set aside.

Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce. Serve topped with a few pinches of fresh thyme, and more crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 10 min

Salmon with Soba Noodle and Edamame

Adapted from the Lake Austin Spa Resort recipe from Shape Magazine.

Serves approx. 6

12 oz. buckwheat noodles
1 C shelled edamame
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger, peeled
1/3 C hoisin sauce (I omitted b/c I was out and just added more of the other ingredients)
1/3 C mirin
1 T + 1 t brown sugar
2 t sesame oil
1-2 t chili sauce (I use Sambal Olek)
2 t fish sauce
2 T soy sauce or tamari
1 C grated carrot
1 C red and yellow peppers, julienned
1 C sliced water chestnuts
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 C fresh cilantro (omitted)
2 T black and white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1.25 lbs center-cut salmon fillet*

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add noodles and edamame. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until soba is al dente. Drain noodles and edamame and rinse under cool water; set aside.

In a food processor, add garlic thru soy sauce/tamari and whiz until blended. Pour noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add veg. Pour over sauce and sesame seeds and toss to combine. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Preheat grill or broiler to medium heat. Cut salmon into 6 equal pieces; cook salmon for 8-10 minutes depending on thickness and desired doneness achieved. Transfer to plate to cool slightly then remove skin. Serve with noodle salad.

*Without any sauce on the salmon or any marinade beforehand, the fish was a little boring. Also, while I enjoy the taste of grilled salmon, sometimes it's just easier to open a little can of salmon and toss with the salad which is how we ate it on subsequent days. I flaked the remaining fish and just tossed it all together before portioning out into containers. Makes a tasty lunch but be warned that you will want to munch on some Altoids later as it is a bit garlicky and onion-y.

**Would also be good with grilled tofu or other protein of choice.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Creamy Delicata Squash Soup

Adapted from: Allrecipes.com

I adapted this to make it healthier, and it still tasted great. I used Kelly's go-to substitute for heavy cream: a can of evaporated skim milk. It was still rich and creamy, minus all the fat. I also scooped out and baked the seeds from the squash, just like pumpkin seeds!

3 delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 cups vegetable broth, depending on how thick you want it
12 oz can of evaporated skim milk
1 tablespoon butter
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place the squash, cut sides down, in a baking dish. Bake 35-40 minutes or until tender. Cool.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until onion is softened but not brown.

Scrape the squash out of the flesh and add to onions. Add the stock and heavy evaporated milk. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Hoisin ginger pork

This is in the slow cooker right now. You can eat it over rice with some veggies (like we plan to do) or make some sort of lettuce wraps. Get some fresh rice paper at the Asian store and wrap it in that! I bet it's even good in a whole wheat tortilla.

1 giant pork roast -- mine was about 8 pounds, I think
ginger -- a lot. I used the stuff in the squeezy tube, because I had it and it was easy. If not, just get a huge piece and grate it up.
6-8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bottle hoisin sauce, 12-15 ounces -- again, get thee to an Asian market. Hoisin sauce is cheap there, and you can buy it in big bottles.

Plop that pork roast in the slow cooker. Put the grated ginger (or the squeezy ginger) on top. Throw in the garlic cloves. Pour the hoisin on top.
Cook for 10 hours, or until the pork is able to be shredded with 2 forks. (Freeze all the extras, and you've got a couple meals!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

Yum! Yuuuuuuummmmmmmmm! These were really super awesome good. Very easy, take no time at all to make, and your house will smell amazing.

Adapted from: Culinary in the Desert

1 cup granulated sugar (a little less would probably be fine, too)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
4 tablespoons Kahlua
4 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and Kahlua. Add pecans and stir well to combine.

Sprinkle half the sugar mixture on top - mix well. Pour the rest of the sugar on top and stir until completely combined. Scoop the mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with foil and coated with nonstick spray. Spread the pecans to an even single layer.

Bake until pecans are lightly toasted and browned, stirring every 10 minutes - about 20 to 25 minutes total. Remove from the oven and scoop the hot pecans onto wax or parchment paper to cool completely.

Chocolate Puddle Cookies

From: 101 Cookbooks

These cookies are like chocolate meringues full of walnuts. I made them to put into the holiday goodie box for my intern, who is gluten-intolerant. These aren't my favorite cookie overall, but they were a pretty good gluten-free choice.

3 cups / 11 oz / 310 g walnut halves, toasted & cooled
4 cups / 1 lb / 453 g confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons / 2 oz / 60 g unsweetened cocoa powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon real, good-quality vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 320F / 160C degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three (preferably rimmed) baking sheets with parchment paper. Or you can bake in batches with fewer pans.

Make sure your walnuts have cooled a bit, then chop coarsely and set aside. Sift together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Stir in the walnuts, then add the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until well combined.

Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons each, allowing for PLENTY of room between cookies. These cookies are like reverse Shrinky Dinks - they really expand. Don't try to get more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and try to avoid placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.

Bake until they puff up. The tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit - about 12 -15 minutes. Have faith, they look sad at first, then really blossom. You may want to rotate the pans top/bottom/back/front.

Slide the cookies still on parchment onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. They will keep in an airtight for a couple days.

Makes 18 large cookies.

Baked Brie with Apricot Topping

From: Taste of Home

I made this as one of the dishes for our Christmas party last night and it went over well. In the past I used to use a cranberry-apple chutney topping from TJ's, but they discontinued it this year, so I found this recipe to try instead. Everyone liked it, even though most people couldn't figure out what was in it. :)

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Dash salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 round Brie cheese (8 ounces)

In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, brown sugar, water, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in rosemary. Remove rind from top of cheese. Place in an ungreased ovenproof serving dish. Spread apricot mixture over cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is softened. Serve with crackers. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One point Asian soup

This is a Weight Watchers recipe, which I modified slightly from Veggie Venture. She says it's either one point or zero points, depending on how you choose to identify it.
I tasted it after it finished cooking, and it's really, really good. I'm going to stick it in the freezer for easy lunches for the next two weeks, when I'll need a break from all the holiday overindulgence.
(Plus, I'm going to be counting points for real in just a few weeks, so I'm going to need recipes like this in my back pocket!)

6 cups vegetable broth (I used 6 cups water and vegetable Better than Bouillon)

2 cups bok choy, chopped
2 cups Chinese/Napa cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced and julienned (they somehow didn't have ginger in the store when I went last week, so I bought this ginger puree in a tube. I just squirted some in)
4 oyster mushrooms, sliced thin (they didn't have any oyster mushrooms either. I threw in a whole container of white button mushrooms, washed and sliced for me)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
8 ounce can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 red pepper, halved, cored, each half cut into three sections lengthwise, each section sliced thin cross-wise (omitted, because I forgot this in the store)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this is spicy, cut down if you don't want it so spicy)
2 cups snow peas
Bean sprouts (I don't know how many, I used the whole bag)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
miso paste (optional -- I used this per a commentor's suggestion, but you don't have to)

Collect all the vegetables except the snow peas and bean sprouts in a cold large pot or Dutch oven. When those vegetables are prepped, add the hot water, cover and bring to a boil on medium high. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and snow peas, cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and 1 tsp. miso paste)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

orange soup

Based on this recipe for winter squash, red lentil and chickpea stew, but with fewer ingredients. It comes out very orange.

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 pound pumpkin or winter squash, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
plain nonfat yogurt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve squash and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with cayenne, salt and black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until squash is squashy. Scoop out squash and cut into chunks. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil and add onions and carrots and cook until beginning to soften. Stir in broth, lentils and all the spices. Bring to a boil, then throw in the squash and reduce heat.

Simmer until lentils are beginning to fall apart, about 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice, and ladle into bowls, topped with cilantro, yogurt and peanuts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vanilla Bean Caramels

adapted just slightly from: Annie's Eats

My first attempt at a recipe that requires a candy thermometer! These were actually very easy to make, and I am going to put them in the goody boxes that I give to my coworkers on Friday (along with a couple of kinds of cookies). I used fleur de sel from Williams-Sonoma, because I wasn't sure if the regular coarse sea salt that I already had in my cabinet would be too salty or not. I even had to substitute some of the sugar for turbinado, because I was inexplicably out of sugar. I ended up using about 1/2 regular and 1/2 turbinado, and it still turned out just fine.

Yield: 64 caramels

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
1¼ tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water

Directions:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, pods, and fleur de sel. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a light golden caramel color.

Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream mixture and carefully stir the cream mixture into the caramel – the mixture will bubble up, so pour slowly and stir constantly. Continue simmering the mixture until it registers 248˚ F on a candy thermometer (keep an eye on it so it doesn't bubble over or burn - I continued to stir it while it heated up to temp). Immediately remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan. Let cool for 15 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with additional fleur de sel. Continue to let sit until completely set and cooled. Cut into 1-inch pieces (a buttered pizza cutter works well). Wrap the individual caramels in small pieces of wax or parchment paper, about 4-inch squares.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

vegetable moussaka

This is so good that I just opted to eat it for lunch AND dinner, despite the fact that there is leftover Thai food in the fridge. I don't even recognize myself right now.

From a blog called An Edible Mosaic. I doubled the recipe, which made it fit in a 9x13 casserole dish, and I substituted some winter veggies from our CSA for the eggplant.

(Yield: 2 servings) [I got 6 out of doubling it somehow; didn't measure any of my vegetables]

Eggplant:
1 small (1/2 lb) eggplant, thinly sliced into about 1/4-inch rounds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

[I used two large leeks and a medium-sized acorn squash.]

Quinoa/Tomato Layer:
1/4 c quinoa
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c tomato sauce (store-bought or homemade…if you want to make homemade, roasted tomato sauce or thick marinara sauce would be nice)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried mint [I didn't have this and probably threw in about 2 t Italian seasoning]
Pinch allspice
Salt and pepper

Greek Béchamel:
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB all-purpose flour
3/4 c milk (low-fat or fat-free is fine)
1 egg yolk [I didn't have this and used another T Earth balance instead... worked fine]
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
1-2 TB grated Kefalotiri cheese (you can use Pecorino Romano cheese if you can’t find Kefalotiri) [I used about 2 T Romano and 4 T shredded gruyere instead]

16 oz gratin dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For eggplant: Preheat broiler. Arrange sliced eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet; brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for 3-8 minutes on each side, until the eggplant is tender and golden.

[I halved the acorn squash and roasted it, cut side up with a little olive oil, at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until I could peel and cut it easily.]

For quinoa/tomato layer: Soak quinoa in cold water for 15 minutes. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve, then thoroughly rinse it under cold running water.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a small/medium saucepan with a lid over medium to medium-low heat; add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. [I added the leeks in this step too.]

Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Transfer the rinsed quinoa, 1/2 c water, and a pinch of salt to the saucepan with the onion/garlic mixture.

Bring to a boil over medium heat with the lid off; once it boils, give it a stir, cover it, and turn heat down to a gentle simmer.

Cook 14 minutes, turn the heat off, and let it sit with the lid on for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Stir tomato sauce, oregano, mint, and a pinch of allspice into quinoa. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

For béchamel: Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat.

In a separate small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slowly whisk in warm milk and cook until smooth, about 1 minute; turn off heat and whisk in a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Slowly whisk 1/4 c of the béchamel sauce into the egg yolk, only adding a little at a time.

Add egg yolk mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the béchamel, turn the heat on low, and cook 1-2 minutes until thickened.

To assemble: Arrange half of the eggplant in the bottom of a 16 oz gratin dish; spread the quinoa/tomato mixture evenly on top of the eggplant. Arrange the remaining eggplant on top of the quinoa/tomato mixture; pour the béchamel on top and sprinkle on the grated cheese. Bake about 35 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Chana Punjabi

Last week we threw a baby shower for one of our interns who is due in a couple of weeks. She has been craving Indian food throughout her pregnancy, and is also gluten-intolerant. SO....we threw a gluten-free, vegetarian, Indian-food baby shower for her on Friday. Yum! Everything was so good and the office smelled amazing all afternoon.

Anyway, this was my contribution. I tripled the recipe, cooked it the night before, and then brought it to work in a crockpot and reheated it before the party. I think you could probably cook the whole thing in the crockpot if you wanted- just cook the sauce ingredients for awhile, puree, then add the chickpeas and cook longer. Served it with chopped cilantro on top. Adapted slightly from The Wednesday Chef.

Serves 2-4.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 small Thai bird chili, chopped or 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Cooked rice for serving (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil and add onion. Sauté until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chili, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover and cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

2. Purée mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pan and place over medium heat. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander, the garam masala, turmeric and lemon juice. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

3. Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and chickpeas are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir pan about every 10 minutes, adding water as needed (up to 1 1/2 cups) to prevent burning. When ready to serve, sauce should be thick. If necessary, uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency. Stir in cilantro, adjust salt as needed and serve with cooked rice, if desired.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles

You'd think all I do is bake bread and cookies, wouldn't you? I swear that I cook regular food, too. I made these to serve at our holiday open house tomorrow and they are quite tasty and festive. But not so festive that you couldn't serve them at another time of year. Or leave out the peppermint extract and sub in another. Add more espresso powder, sub a smidge of coffee liqueur and make them more coffee flavored. BTW, you'll want to give these a rest in the fridge before baking--at least 2 hours or overnight. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

Adapted from Cooking Light and Bakers Royale.

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 1/4 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate chips (good stuff like Ghiradelli not Nestle)
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules or instant coffee granules
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 large egg whites

For rolling:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine oil and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Add espresso granules to pan; stir until blended. Remove from heat. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl; cool 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, syrup, peppermint and vanilla. Add egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring gently just until combined. Cover; chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dredge balls in 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1/4 cup granulated sugar; place balls 2 inches apart on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until tops are cracked and almost set. Cool cookies on pan 2 minutes or until set; remove from pan. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

A few notes: this dough tends to get soft quickly so only take out maybe half the dough at a time. The warmer the dough is before baking the more the cookies spread and less crackled they look. Also, you don't make more balls that you can bake at a time b/c the cookies start absorbing the sugar (which is why you add some granulated sugar to help prevent this). They are a bit fussy to make but are so chocolately and pepperminty that it's worth the effort. Also a great recipe for a cookie exchange.

the ultimate apple crisp recipe

Created by my friend Ann and published by Joy the Baker. I made this last night and now I will never use another recipe.

I'm sure you could do some tinkering if you wanted -- and actually, now that I think about it, I did omit the nuts and use Earth Balance instead of butter. I also have a ridiculous surplus of apples from the first delivery of our CSA, so I just filled up a 9x13 glass dish with apples and left the amount of topping the same... and it was still perfect. Crunchy topping, ridiculously gooey and caramel-y inside.

Filling:
5 to 6 medium-size apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices. (About 7.5 cups) [mine was probably more like 10?]
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon

Topping:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, well-softened [I used Earth Balance]
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup quick oats [I used traditional]

Preheat the oven to 350. Generously grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter.

Place a layer of apple slices in the bottom of the pan and dust with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Continue layering apples and dusting with cinnamon/sugar until done. Toss the apple mixture until evenly coated in cinnamon sugar. The apples should be just about to the top of the pan (they will cook down).

For the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed. Take one full handful of the topping and toss it into the sugared apple mixture. Spread the rest of the topping evenly over the apples. (I usually end up with a dough-like topping that I just lay on top of the apples).

Bake the crisp in the dish on a baking sheet on the center oven rack until the topping is crunchy and the apples are bubbling, 55-60 minutes.

Serve hot; it’s excellent with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, November 29, 2010

post-Thanksgiving advice

I could use some expert counsel from my favorite expert cooking counselors. This year, we're going to DC for our annual friends-and-fun Thanksgiving meal (after the real holiday instead of before), and there are some unusual constraints:

1. Driving down on a Saturday for a wedding, staying overnight in a hotel, making the meal on Sunday. The hotel does not have a refrigerator. This means that the before-the-fact prep has to be pretty limited... I think we might buy and brine the turkey and bring it down in a cooler (in fact, last year we brined the turkey overnight in the trunk of my car anyway to keep it away from critters, so that's actually not unprecedented). But everything else is a little more of a challenge -- I don't have enough cooler space for dishes with dairy products, for example, and that would make me too nervous anyway. I obviously don't want the meal to end with a nice bout of food poisoning for all my favorite people.

2. We'll probably have six hours of prep time, max, on Sunday -- which means my usual slowcooker stuffing recipe is kind of out. It's possible that we'll have six hours only of shopping AND prep time, which is not a lot. Anyone have a good, quick, meat-free stuffing recipe?

3. I generally don't bake for this meal because people like to volunteer to bring desserts, and I think I actually can't bake desserts this year due to the aforementioned storage problem (although I am making cake poppers just because I love them). I do usually make stuffing and cranberry sauce and turkey. If the turkey's taken care of (oy, am just realizing... will six hours of roasting be enough? I hope?), will cranberry sauce be OK in my car overnight?

4. Maybe I should just suck it up and buy some stuff. (Like, uh, a pre-made turkey?) I also could suck it up and ask people to bring specific things, like pie, although that makes me feel like a jerk. We already have a volunteer for sweet potato casserole, and I'm assuming that one reader of this blog is bringing the world's most awesome corn thing, but many of the people on the guest list are either new parents or non-cooking city dwellers, and it's highly possible no one will volunteer for pie... and it can't be post-Thanksgiving without pie.

5. These numbers are really now just me thinking out loud. Ignore them. But I would love to hear your thoughts on these pressing issues.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beeramisu

Watch the Working Class Foodie video and tell me you're not a little bit in love with Rebecca.

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1.5 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
ladyfinger cookies
a delicious beer (I used a seasonal beer, but I think I'd use a darker, bolder tasting beer next time - porter or even stout)
cocoa powder for

Whip the cream with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with the balloon attachment. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the mascarpone, sugar, beaten egg yolks, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this mixture aside.

In a shallow bowl, dunk each ladyfinger in beer and then arrange them in a single layer in a glass casserole dish. Spread a layer of the mascarpone & whipped cream mixture over the ladyfingers. Dust with cocoa. Repeat this for the second layer. Cover and chill for several hours, overnight if possible before serving.

Serves 12

Friday, November 26, 2010

Easiest Whole Wheat Bread Ever

From King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking.

This recipe is one I use at home pretty regularly when I don't have time to fiddle with a regular yeast bread. Alissa, this should be just what you need to get started with baking bread from scratch.

1 1/4 C lukewarm filtered water (don't use tap--the chlorine can kill the yeast)
1/4 C orange juice
3 T molasses
3 C whole wheat flour or white whole wheat
1/4 C nonfat dry milk
1 1/4 t salt
2 t instant/rapid rise yeast
1 T vital wheat gluten (optional)

Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and set aside. Grease well or the bread will stick. You don't want to know what happens if you forget to grease the pan. Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat vigorously by hand if you're the sort to do that or use your KitchenAid like I do and use the paddle attachment. This dough is pretty wet and sticky so the paddle is what you need. Beat on med-high speed for 3 min. Scoop the batter into your prepared pan and set aside to rise for one hour. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and be sure to set the pan in a warm place. I start preheating my oven before I even put ingredients in a bowl. Note that the batter will remain flat and will not dome as it rises.

Uncover and bake bread for 20 minutes, then tent with foil and bake for another 25 min. The bread is done when it is golden brown on top and your intstant-read thermometer reads 190 degrees. I find that it takes about 55 min. total in my oven. Allow to rest for 5 min then loosen the edges and turn out onto a cooling rack. Brush with melted butter for a soft crust. Or do what I do and uncover one end of a stick of butter and rub it around on the bread until it looks good. Return stick of butter to fridge and keep on hand for other such applications. Cool bread 30 min before slicing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PW's Turkey Brine

From: Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
2 gallons Cold Water
4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1-½ cup Kosher Salt
2 cups Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
5 whole Bay Leaves
Peel Of Three Large Oranges

Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.

Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.

When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.

Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.

Alton Brown's Roast Turkey

I just finished up hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We did it early so that we can actually take a vacation next week while everyone else is stuffing themselves silly. I've never cooked a whole bird of any kind, so I did a bit of research first, and this is what I went with. I actually used PW's brine, which I will post next, but I used Alton's method for roasting the turkey. If you're going to use this method, I would recommend watching the YouTube video "Romancing the Bird" to watch how he does it, because the crucial "Turkey Triangle" is not mentioned in this post, but is required if following this method.

For the aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

Directions

Click here
to see how it's done.

2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Make your brine, using your favorite brine recipe. Cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. Fold a piece of aluminum foil into a large triangle. Put it on top of the turkey, covering the breast and leaving the legs and wings exposed. The point will down between the legs, with the larger part of the triangle covering the breast (watch the video for a better explanation). Press the foil down to conform to the shape of the bird. Then remove the foil carefully and set aside, leaving the shape intact.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. Reposition the aluminum foil on the bird and place back in the oven. Roast until the thermometer registers 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Caramelized Onion Quiche

From: Simply Recipes

Ingredients

1 pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 large red onions (about one pound total), thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
Pinch nutmeg
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)


Pre-Baking the Crust

1 On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-by-1 1/2-inch round tart pan, pressing dough into corners. Transfer to freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

2 Preheat oven to 350°. Line pastry with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil, pressing into the corners and edges. Fill at least two-thirds with baking weights - dried beans, rice, or aluminum pie weights. Bake first for 15 minutes, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pie pan with the tines of a fork and return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until lightly golden. (Fork holes are for any air to escape.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool while making filling.


Caramelizing the Onions

The onions will take about an hour to cook on the stovetop before they are ready to go into the quiche. So timing-wise, if you are making the entire quiche from scratch, it makes sense to get started on the onions once you've put the crust into the freezer to chill before pre-baking.

1 Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle a little salt over them. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened and are translucent. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for an additional 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are well browned. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 10 minutes more, until onions are completely caramelized. Remove from heat.

Place tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any run-off there might be. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread onions over the cheese and then top with remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, and eggs. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6-8.

American Chop Suey

There is nothing in this recipe that is even remotely related to chop suey or Chinese food in general. In fact, I have no idea why they call it chop suey. To me it's sort of like homemade hamburger helper. All I know is that it was quick, used one pot, was not expensive, and the kids gobbled it up. So that's a winner, in my book.

Adapted from Cheapy, Healthy, Good

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 3 lbs ground turkey
½ lb (2 c.) uncooked elbow macaroni
½ cup minced onion
½ cup chopped green pepper and/or celery (I used both, and probably used a little more than half a cup)
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teapsoon pepper
1-1 ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1In a large nonstick skillet or saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey, onions, and peppers/celery. Cook until browned, breaking it up with the back of a spoon as you go.
Add macaroni and cook another minute or so.
Add tomato sauce, water, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir everything and cover pan. Drop heat to medium-low and simmer about 20 or 25 minutes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick coq au vin

Quick is relative, because this still takes an hour to make. But it's quicker than doing it the traditional way, which takes for-ever.

Adapted (slightly) from The Kitchn

kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
6-8 large (about 3 pounds) chicken thighs, skin on
3/4 cup (about 1 ounce) dried wild mushrooms (I used way more than this -- I just used the whole package)
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) chopped bacon
1 large onion chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into large bite-size pieces
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups dry, fruity red wine (zinfandel, burgundy)
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 whole sprigs fresh thyme

Lightly sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour enough boiling water over to just cover. (I used a cup)
Over medium heat in a 4-6 quart (large enough to accommodate the chicken) deep skillet or dutch oven with a lid, brown the bacon, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onions and cook another minute, until onions begin to soften. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning the pieces as they brown on each side, about 10 minutes total. Drain off any excess fat.
Add the carrots, crushed garlic, tomato paste, wine, chicken stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Lower the heat, so that the liquid just barely simmers. Cover and cook about 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 160° F.
Remove the chicken pieces to a platter. Skim any excess fat off the top of the liquid. Remove the mushrooms from their liquid and add them to the pot. Pour the mushroom liquid through a fine sieve or cheese cloth into the pot. Turn the heat up to boil the mixture and cook until the sauce is reduced by a third to a half, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and thyme.
A few minutes before serving, put the chicken pieces back into the sauce to re-heat. Serve each chicken thigh topped with a ladleful of sauce

Saturday, November 13, 2010

pasta with butternut squash and sage

This is a Weight Watchers recipe that is surprisingly rich-tasting and delicious.

20 oz butternut squash, fresh, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
8 oz uncooked bow ties [I used whole wheat rotini; obviously the type of pasta doesn't matter much]
salt & pepper
1 cup(s) buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 4 tsp Parmigiano Reggiano, [I used romano]
3 Tbsp fresh sage, minced

Place squash on prepared baking sheet and roast until tender and starting to caramelize, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. After squash has been roasting for about 15 minutes, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

Add squash, buttermilk, salt and pepper to pot; toss over low heat to warm through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and sage; toss to mix and coat.

Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of pasta into each of 4 serving bowls; top each with 1 teaspoon of remaining Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

(7 points per serving; 5 if you use whole wheat pasta.)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Crab and corn slowcooker soup

I doubled this recipe, so that it would fill the slow cooker I've got. Also, Ernie said he would suggest adding some potato to it the next time, so bear that in mind. I didn't try it (I was eating clam chowder), but Gaby devoured hers.

from A Year of Slow Cooking

1 quart chicken broth (4 cups!)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped onion, or 1 tablespoon dried minced onion flakes
1 (32-ounce) package of frozen corn
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (6-ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained and picked throug
1 cup half and half or heavy cream (to add later)

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Pour the broth into your crockpot, and add butter and onion. Stir in frozen corn, garlic, butter, and the crabmeat (make sure you pick through canned crab---shells often occur!) Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, high for 4 hours, or until the onion is cooked through and translucent. If you'd like a thicker broth, pulse a few times with an immersible blender, or scoop out a cup or so and blend in a traditional stand blender, then stir it back in (carefully!).
Add half and half or cream.

New England Clam Chowder

I was craving clam chowder the other day after watching a food show where they were making clam chowder. So I went looking for recipes, and found this one, which wasn't hard at all. So, so good. If you don't like clams, though, go ahead and skip this because it's got lots of clam flavor.

Adapted from Epicurious


3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup all purpose flour
7 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, juices reserved from 6 of the cans
1 1/2 cups half and half

Bring bottled clam juice and potatoes to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add onions, garlic and bay leaf and sauté until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes (do not allow flour to brown). Gradually whisk in reserved juices from clams. Add potato mixture, clams, half and half and hot pepper sauce. Simmer chowder 5 minutes to blend flavors, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Baked pasta puttanesca

This is fantastically easy, and a one-dish meal. That's my sort of cooking.

adapted (slightly) from Serious Eats

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
salt and black ground pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 ounces rotelle (3 ¾ cups)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/3 to 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
handful of capers
1 cup shredded or minced part-skim mozzarella cheese

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, anchovies, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, rotelle, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until rotelle is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
Stir in wine, Parmesan, basil, capers and olives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over rotelle. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Broccoli Salad II

From: Use Real Butter

3 heads of broccoli, trimmed and divided into bite-size pieces
1 small red onion, small dice
4-6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup mayonnaise (or 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup plain yogurt)
2 tbsps sugar
4 tbsps vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)

Combine the broccoli, onion, bacon, cashews, and cranberries in a large mixing bowl. Mix the mayonnaise (and yogurt, if using), sugar, and vinegar together and pour over the vegetables. Toss together and refrigerate for a day for best flavor.

curried sweet potato soup & goat cheese biscuits

Warning: Do not attempt the following recipe(s) if you don't like goat cheese. Every part of them has goat cheese. And that is why they are delicious, especially the biscuits, which are hands down the best ones I've ever made (although I haven't ever tried the ones Kelly posted a little while ago).

Not really adapted in any substantial way from Joy the Baker/Mark Bittman/another guy.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onions

1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped ginger (I used powdered; why do I keep forgetting to buy fresh ginger)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I didn't have any and threw a whole pod in, which I kept in until I was ready to start blending. Not sure if it did anything or not; it's hard to tease that out from the rest of the spices)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric (in a lovely feat of grace, I dropped the entire bottle in and probably quadrupled this. it was fine! extra tumeric-y)

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

6 cups chicken broth, or slightly more as needed. (I used veg, and only about 4 cups)

salt and pepper to taste

6 to 8 teaspoons goat cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Add the sweet potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup, in batches in a blender or food processor. Season to taste. The soup can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Reheat over a low flame. If the soup is too thick, add a little more stock. (I threw in about 3/4 c water at this stage.)

(I also blended in about 1T of goat cheese in this step, and a tiny bit of leftover heavy cream. mm.)

Ladle into bowls and crumble goat cheese on top.


Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

makes about 9 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (Earth Balance, baby. am obsessed with the stuff.)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan (ditto)

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted to top the biscuits (I actually did use real butter for this step)

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup buttermilk

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With your fingers incorporate the butter and goat cheese until the flour resembles a coarse, pebbly mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. With a fork, mix together the buttermilk and flour until all of the dry flour disappears.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan or in the microwave. Set aside.

Remove the cast iron from the oven and place one tablespoon of butter in it. Work the pat of butter around, greasing the entire pan, including the sides.

Spoon the batter, by the 1/4-cup into the hot skillet. I used a big scooper to do the job. The biscuits will touch when baked… that’s ok.

Brush with melted butter.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, until slightly golden in color. Remove from the oven. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Roasted Cauliflower Sformato

Adapted from: Fine Cooking, by way of Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA blog

This was kind of like a souffle, I guess. I've never made a souffle. :) But I do know it was DE-licious. We both had seconds. I actually made this in 4 smaller ramekins and reduced the time a bit - just keep an eye on it and remove from oven when it is browned around the edges.

Serves 6-8

1 small cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil; more for the gratin dish
Kosher salt
1¾ ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3¾ cups milk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Core the cauliflower and separate it into florets. Cut the florets into ¼-inch-thick slices. Put the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with wo Tbsp olive oil. Spread in an even layer, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and roast until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool.

3. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Brush an 8x10-inch (2-quart) gratin dish with olive oil and evenly coat with about half of the Parmigiano. Set aside.

4. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just about to boil.

5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns light golden, 2 to 4 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring just to a boil and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to develop the flavor. Transfer to a large bowl.

6. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Roughly chop ½ cup of the cauliflower, and purée the rest in a food processor. Stir the chopped cauliflower, cauliflower purée, egg mixture, and the remaining Parmigiano into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared gratin dish and bake until the sformato is just set and browned around the edges, about 30 minutes. It should jiggle just a little when you remove it from the oven. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

It's that time of year...

Okay, Food Goodness Ladies, it's that time of year. Time for Paula Deen's pumpkin gooey butter cake. Whenever I ask Michael which dessert is his favorite he always says it's difficult to choose but he always, always names this one specifically. So, I was thinking that this year I would try to lighten it up a bit. I know, it's called gooey butter cake for a reason but last year when I made it I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I cut back on the butter and sugar just a bit.

Here's a link to Paula's website wherein her son has lightened up the original gooey butter cake. I don't know, am I being difficult about this? Should I just leave well enough alone or should I fiddle with it? What do you think?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maple Syrup Spice Cake

Do you ever find yourself saying "Hmm, I would love to make a lovely fall dessert but am all out of eggs and/or butter..."? Or "I just adore spice cake. I should make one right now!" Or "My vegan friend is coming for dinner, what shall I mae for dessert?" Then look no further. And this cake could not be easier to make.

Adapted from the Oct. 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times.

I made this cake 3 times before I adapted it the way I liked it. Recently I made it for my FIL's birthday b/c it seemed sturdy enough to ship. It fits quite well in the medium sized priority mail boxes offered by USPS. According to my MIL, it arrived intact and so delicious my FIL had eaten all of it within 2 days.

3.5 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese cin)
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t salt
1 C pure maple syrup
2/3 C canola oil
1 1/3 C water
2 T vanilla extract
1 T apple cider vinegar
1-2 t dark rum (or maple syrup extract if you have it)
10X sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray. You really do need to use a Bundt pan or tube pan for this or the middle will never fully cook. Believe me, I already tried. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in bowl. Whisk maple syrup, oil, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, rum/maple extract and 1 1/3 cups water in large separate bowl. Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes. Unmold onto rack, and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.* Serves 12.

*cake will absorb the sugar if you dust it too far in advance.

Friday, October 29, 2010

noodles with mushrooms and lemon-ginger dressing

I started having doubts that I should try this recipe only after I was past the point of no return, and realizing I didn't have two of the four ingredients in the title (mushrooms and ginger). I also was not sure I was liking it... the lemon and the sesame oil smelled weird together, and I was annoyed at having to get out the immersion blender.

Yeah, that was crazy. This is definitely a different taste than what I'm used to, but it's really good. Unusual and lemon-ly delicious.

Lemon Ginger Dressing

  • 3/4 teaspoon Asian chlli powder (or cayenne) [I threw in thai-garlic chili sauce]
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 inch section of ginger, peeled and grated [I used about 1 t dried]
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar [I didn't have this and just used a squirt of red-wine vinegar]
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

The Noodles

  • 9 ounces dried noodles (spaghetti, linguine, udon, soba) [I used some sort of unmarked Asian noodles that were delicious]
  • 7 ounces fresh mushrooms (enoki, shimeji, sliced button, sliced shitake) [I used chard instead, plus garlic]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter [omitted]
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (parsley, green onion, cilantro or basil) [I used parsley and green onion]
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds [I used Kelly's black and white ones!]

Method

1 Make the dressing by combining all ingredients, except for the sesame oil and olive oil in a food processor or hand blender. Run the blender for a few seconds, until all ingredients are combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

2 In a pot, cook the dried noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

3 Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add the butter and when the butter starts bubbling, add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms for 2 minutes. [Instead, in this step, I chopped the stems of the chard very fine and sliced the leaves into ribbons. I sauteed the stems with a ton of chopped garlic and olive oil for about 5 minutes, then added the leaves for another 5 minutes.]

4 In a large bowl, toss the cooked noodles with the mushrooms, fresh herbs, sesame seeds and some of the dressing (to taste.)

Serves 4.

pasta e fagioli a la bittman

We apparently have two other pasta e fagioli soup on this site, and it's interesting now not-similar both of those versions are to each other or to this one, which is from How to Cook Everything. It could definitely be modified in 8000 different ways.

5 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 t minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 t dried
3 c drained beans of any kind [I used one can of dark-red kidney and one can of cannelini]
2 c cored, peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes [Bittman says canned are fine and use the juice; I only had crused and used one big can, which made the soup have a tomato base, pretty much]
6 to 8 cups stock or water
1/2 lb tubettini or other small pasta
1/2 c minced fresh parsley
1/2 c Parmesan [however much you have is fine; this is just for on top]

Place 4 T of olive oil into a large, deep saucepan or casserole and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the onion and half the garlic [I threw it all in at this point]. Cok until the onion softens, stirring occaionsally, about 5 minutes.

Add the rosemary, beans and tomatoes and cook, stirring and mashing tomatoes with your spoon, until the mixture is warm and the tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes.

Add 6 cups of stock or water and a good amount of salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the pasta, along with additional stock or water if necessary [will probably be necessary]. Simmer until pasta is nearly tender, 10 minutes or so. Add half the parsley and the remaining garlic and cook another 5 minutes, until pasta is done but not mushy.

Sprinkle with remaining parsley and drizzle with the remaining olive oil [not sure why one would do this...]. Serve, passing the cheese at the table.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teriyaki Pork Chops

Adapted from: Annie's Eats

I'll be honest - I didn't measure anything. I just opened a zip-lock bag, poured in all of the ingredients, zipped it up and let it marinate all day while I was at work. I cooked the pork chops in a skillet on the stovetop, but the original recipe calls for grilling them. At any rate, the marinate is really good and Todd told me 3 times that we have to remember this marinade because it was so good.

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cloves chopped garlic
dash of ground ginger (use fresh ginger if you have it)
pork chops

Mix all ingredients together in a plastic bag. Add pork chops. Marinate in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Remove pork chops from marinade and cook with your preferred cooking method. If you want to, you can pour the marinade into a saucepan and boil it for a few minutes and then use this to baste the pork chops as they cook, or reduce to a sauce for the chops. Or not, if you don't want to risk food-borne illness from the raw pork juices. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Linguine with clam sauce

I'm working all kinds of whacky, stressful hours at The Job right now, preparing for a presentation that will hopefully earn me the promotion they've been talking about and a nice hefty raise to go along with it.
At night, when I get home, I'm mush. Total mush. Which makes it especially nice that Ernie cooks dinner and it's waiting for me when I get home, to shovel in my face so I can go play with the girls for a few minutes.
He tells me this was super easy and took no time at all. The hardest part, he said, was boiling the pasta. And you know how easy that is. All I can verify is that it was darn tasty and I had seconds, and those delicious carbs propelled me to a tickle war with both girls (which I won, thanks very much).

from Annie's Eats

12 oz. linguine pasta
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams, juices reserved
½ cup heavy cream (or half-and-half) -- We used half and half
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the reserved clam juice to the pan, bring to a simmer, and reduce by about half. With the heat on medium-low, stir in the clams and the heavy cream. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Portion the pasta into warmed serving bowls. Spoon some of the sauce over the pasta and top with grated Parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stuffed shells with meaty tomato sauce

Want to impress your family?
Make this. Seriously. When they come into the kitchen and see you painstakingly stuffing each pasta shell, it is really impressive.
And then your (older) kid will go to school and tell all her friends "my mom made these from scratch" and come home and tell you "all the kids were really impressed with your shells."
And the little one? She will just scowl at you, because she's almost 2, but will come home with an empty container from preschool.

So. You can make these as is, or you could substitute turkey sausage, or you could use your favorite marinara recipe. The real star is the pasta shells stuffed with all that lovely cheese.
Also, this makes a ton. So be prepared to have people over, or to eat a lot.

adapted slightly from Pioneer Woman

8 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
30 ounces, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 c. Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
½ cups Grated Romano Cheese
1 whole Egg
12 leaves Basil, Chiffonade
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ whole Medium Onion, Chopped
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 pound Italian Sausage
½ cups Red Wine
1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 whole 15-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Sugar
½ teaspoons Salt

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two.
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mushroom & Sausage Ragu with Polenta

Adapted from the latest issue of Cooking Light.

We had some friends over for dinner tonight and managed to throw this together along with a spinach salad with herbed goat cheese, apples and sugared walnuts and chocolate pudding cake for dessert. Did I mention that I made this in my electric pressure cooker b/c my stove blew up yesterday and threw sparks at me whilst blowing every fuse in our house. 3 times. Seriously. That aside, this was really good and I can hardly wait to have leftovers tomorrow.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces hot Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
S&P to taste
2 cups evaporated milk (or 2 cans plus a little water)
3 cups water
1 cup uncooked polenta
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove sausage from casings. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan. (Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat--only necessary if you use turkey sausage--pork sausage will render more than enough fat). Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add S&P to taste.

In a small bowl, add one cup cold water to one cup polenta and set aside. Bring water and remaining water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta and water mixtue, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and cheese. Serve with sausage mixture. Save room for dessert. Next time I plan to make a vegetarian version of this using eggplant in lieu of sausage. Soyrizo would be a reasonable substitute but I don't think it would be necessary here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Creamy Carrot Soup

Adapted from: Myrecipes.com

Use the freshest (and therefore most flavorful) carrots you can find for this. I used a mixture of regular carrots and purple carrots from our CSA, and ended up with an unattractive colored soup (paging Bridget Jones), but it still tasted yummy. :)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups Vidalia or other sweet onion, in large slices
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground ginger
2 cups water
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle oil over carrots and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in oven until tender and browned, about 25 minutes.

2. Add water and broth to stockpot or Dutch oven; bring to a boil. When carrots and onions are browned, add them to the stockpot. Add cream.

3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup mixture (or use a foo processor or blender if you don't have an immersion blender.) Return mixture to pan; cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stuffed squash

We're back from the land of overindulgence (Vegas), and I'm trying to bring balance back to my poor, abused body.
Happy body, eating at Mario Batali's restaurant and consuming mass quantities of cured pork products and excellent cheese. And truffles (the fungus kind). And the best chocolate creation I've ever put in my mouth in my entire life. With edible gold on it. And many, many bottles of tasty red wine.
But my body, it took a beating and now I'm sick in retaliation.
So it's back to green tea and water by the gallon, to flush out all the fat/salt/alcohol and vegetarian meals, except for dinner.

Last night I was exhausted (red eye flights seem like a good idea, but not when you have to transfer halfway through the flight), so whipped up this stuffing and stuck it in some carnival squash I bought a few weeks ago that were taking up room in my fridge.

2 carnival or acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out

1 cup rice -- I used a wild rice blend. You could use brown, too.
2 c. apple cider
1 apple, peeled and chopped
raw pumpkin seeds (this would work with pistachios or pine nuts, too)
nutmeg
cinnamon
salt

I cooked the rice in the apple cider, and just tossed in some nutmeg and cinnamon until it smelled good. Once the rice was cooked, I added the apple, as much pumpkin seeds as I thought looked good, and salted a little.
Then I stuffed the squash with the rice mixture, and put the halves in the slow cooker. Added about a cup of water to the bottom of the cooker (be careful, you don't want water in your squash), and cooked for 8 hours on low (while I slept very soundly).
This morning I drizzled all the halves with some maple syrup, and stuck one in tupperware to bring for my lunch today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

minty orzo, lentil & feta salad

This meets all my food-to-make-ahead-and-pack-for-lunch needs: healthy, has some protein, can be packed in a single container, easy to prepare, allows for adding a zillion leftover veggies. Also it is delicious.

It reminds me of Alissa's curry grain salad and Shannon's Greek orzo salad, both of which I often make for lunches, but this has a Middle Eastern sort of thing going on. A different FLAVOR PROFILE, if you will. Can you tell I've been watching Top Chef?

I changed the directions enough, mostly based on people's comments in the recipe, that I'll rewrite them; original directions here if you'd like to see them.

1 1/4 cups orzo pasta
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided [definitely do not need this much; I didn't measure but it was just a hefty splash]
3/4 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained [any color lentil would be fine]
1/3 cup red wine vinegar [I used more than this, probably about 2/3 cup]
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped [skipped. boo olives.]
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese [don't need quite this much]
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves [I used more than this]
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill [used less than this]
[I also added about half a bag of spinach, some leftover chopped scallions and a handful of diced grape tomatoes]
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Add the lentils and cook for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes are up, add the orzo and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste. If the pasta is al dente and the lentils are done, remove them from heat and drain; if not, keep cooking until they are.

Put the lentil/pasta mixture in a bowl
.

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and some ground black pepper in a small bowl and add the mixture to the lentils and pasta. Stir well.

Wait for it to cool for about half an hour. Then add the
feta, red onion, mint, and dill; stir until thoroughly blended. Season to taste.

Can be served hot or cold or in between.

cucumber raita

I make fake raita all the time by mixing lemon juice with yogurt and salt, but this is much better. It makes a ton, though -- I halved it and it still seems like a lot.

Original can be found here.

2 hot house cucumbers - peeled, seeded and thinly sliced [I didn't peel it]
2 cups Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Stir together the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, mint, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

charred tomatillo guacamole

I never know quite what to do with the tomatillos I scavenge from friends' gardens (unless there are enough to make tomatillo salsa, which is kind of a lot). This is delightful.

6 oz tomatillos (6 or 7), husked and rinsed
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 fresh serrano chiles, seeded [only if you want this to be very mild; we left some seeds in for some spiciness] and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large California avocados (1 lb total)

Preheat broiler.

Broil tomatillos in a flameproof shallow baking pan about 4 inches from heat until tops are charred, 7 to 10 minutes. Turn tomatillos over with tongs and broil until charred, about 5 minutes more.

Combine onion, chiles, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add tomatillos 2 at a time, mashing with a fork or pestle to form a coarse paste.

Pit and peel avocados. Add avocados to mixture and continue mashing until incorporated but still chunky.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sweet Potato-Pecan Pancakes

Adapted from Cooking Light.

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth but it sort of felt like it for a while there. I've spent the last 3 months doing a lot of quick dinners with fresh summer produce and didn't have the time to try very many new tasty recipes. This is one I tried a couple of weeks ago and is probably my new favorite pancake recipe. Would also make good waffles.

Note: I made this in the kitchen with Michael hollering out the ingredients to me from the living room. This was a mistake as the part about taking a 16 oz can of cut sweet potatoes, pureeing and then only using 3/4 C of puree was translated into 16 oz of sweet potato puree--hey, I only have a 15 oz can of puree so it'll have to do. Oops. But like most of my cooking mistakes, it turned out well and these pancakes are, dare I say it: moist (ick, that word sounds so gross) and truly delicious. So, feel free to add the whole damned can of puree, I say!

1 1/4 cups WW pastry flour (white whole wheat would be good or just regular AP)
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted and divided
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1/4 t each of ginger and cloves and 1/2 t cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C sweet potato puree (or use the whole 15 oz can!)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons pecans, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt in a large bowl. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (milk through eggs); add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Stir in sweet potatoes. Ladle out in 1/4 C measurements onto a hot and well-greased griddle. Serve with dollops of greek yogurt (FF Fage or Chobani are the best) and sprinkled with reserved pecans and a wee drizzle of maple syrup. Enjoy! Makes about 4-6 servings depending on how big you make your pancakes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Curried Sweet Potato and Rice Stew (or soup)

Adapted from: Everybody Likes Sandwiches

1 T olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 med onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 sweet potatoes (yellow fleshed) or yams (orange fleshed), diced
3/4 c rice (I used brown)
2 T curry paste (I used sweet curry powder)
pinch of salt & a good grind of black pepper
water or vegetable stock
1 t maple syrup (optional)

In a large pot, heat olive oil and add in carrots, onion and celery and saute until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the yam, sweet potato, rice and curry paste and let everything get coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour water or vegetable stock over everything so the liquid level is about 1-3 inches above the vegetables. Use less liquid if you want a stew, more liquid if you want soup. Turn down heat to a simmer, put on the pot lid and let it bubble away for 20-30 minutes. Does it need more liquid? Add it; otherwise it’s done when the vegetables are tender. Finish it off with a small glug of maple syrup, stirring it into the mixture before serving into bowls.

Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal

Hm. This is interesting. I have made baked oatmeal many times in the past, but my old recipe just has the standard apple-cinnamon-nutmeg flavor profile. This recipe, though it sounds similar, had a whole new flavor. Maybe it's the cardamom? I don't use cardamom often, so maybe that was it. Anyway, it smelled delicious while cooking, and did not disappoint out of the pan. I liked the combination of steel cut oats and old-fashioned. Adapted from Culinary in the Country.

1 cup apple cider (or juice, but cider is better)
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry steel-cut oats
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 medium apples, peeled, diced (try Granny Smith)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger (I didn't have it so added a bit of ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
extra milk, for serving, if desired

In a medium saucepan, add cider and water - bring to a boil, then pour into a large bowl. Stir in steel-cut oats and butter - cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add rolled oats, brown sugar, apple, dried cranberries, ginger, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg into the large bowl with steeped steel-cut oats.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk and vanilla. Pour into the large bowl, stirring until ingredients are well combined. Scoop mixture into an 8" baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.

Place pan into the oven and bake until the center is set, about 28 to 36 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before serving. Serve with additional milk poured over each serving, if desired.

Makes about 4 to 6 servings.