Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roasted vegetable season!

Tis the season... to roast all veggies!
Well, maybe not always, but it is happening with astonishing regularity chez moi these days. It's easy, not requiring much attention once the veggies are in the oven, warm (crucial on these cold Seattle days) and delicious. I'll happily make a meal of roasted vegetables just by themselves, though they feature heavily as a side dish on my winter menu.
My newest vegetable roasting passion comes courtesy of Deb at Smitten Kitchen--It is so easy, I can't believe that I haven't been doing it all along! For the original recipe:

I follow the recipe pretty loosely, which is easy to do as things as simple as this will really come down to personal taste. I've made it with ground cumin and cumin seeds, and can vouch for its deliciousness either way but something about the seeds really did kick it up a notch, so I recommend investing in some cumin seeds if you don't already have them (try buying spices in bulk, as it is pretty inexpensive that way).

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head cauliflower1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Plain yogurt (I used nonfat)
Chopped fresh mint leaves, for serving (this would be delicious, but I skipped it because I didn't feel like buying mint)
Pomegranate seeds, for serving

Once you've assembled all of your ingredients, it is simple--cut the cauliflower into bite-sized or at least more manageable pieces, drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinke with salt, pepper, and cumin seeds, then roast at 425 for 20-30 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.

Serve with a big spoonful or two of yogurt and a liberal showering of pomegranate seeds for color and a bright burst of flavor. Enjoy. YUM.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Creamy Curried Celery Root Soup

This soup stood out from a myriad of soup recipes that I began considering with some regularity as fall closed in on me this year. The recipe is via Mark Bittman of the New York Times--his recipes often tickle my fancy and this one turned out as well as I imagined it would. The flavor of celery root is like fresh celery, but not quite. I like it better, myself, but I am also a fan of starches (yum).

Now, prepping the celery root to make this soup with was kind of a hassle. The roots are gnarled and alien-looking. Peeling away the tough exterior was accomplished slowly, with the aid of a knife, then a (sturdy) vegetable peeler. Eventually, you end up with the naked celery root, and the remainder of the recipe is a piece of cake.

Creamy Curried Celery Root Soup
(Mark Bittman)
Yield 4 servings

Time 45 minutes

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
1/2 to 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or milk, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

In a medium to large pot, melt the butter on medium high heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until they begin to soften, then add curry powder, cumin, and salt & pepper. I used yellow curry paste, rather than curry powder, and used 1 & 1/2 tbsp as well--it worked quite nicely. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about a minute.
Stir in your celery root chunks to coat them in spices, add stock, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a gentle simmer and allow to cook until celery root becomes soft (15-20 minutes).
Finally, allow the mixture to cool slightly, and blend until smooth, then add milk, cream, soymilk, or half & half and reheat if necessary before serving. I would recommend straining the soup once before serving, as there were a couple of fibrous bits in my finished product from the celery root. It didn't ruin it, but they were incongruous with the otherwise smooth & creamy soup.
I was so ravenous by the time my soup was done that I had already finished it--but you can see from this photo that the color is pretty blah. If I had brighter dishes, it wouldn't look as bland, I think. It definitely benefits from the pop of color that a little garnish gives it.
Also, The curry flavor becomes more pronounced overnight! It was even better the second day for lunch.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Miso soup with swiss chard and kabocha squash

A friend recently sent a link to a website listing a myriad of miso soup recipes to tantalize the palate of (in particular) Americans who are used to seeing the same miso soup nearly everywhere they go. I always keep some miso paste in my fridge as a pantry staple, as it is quite useful to have on hand. It can be added to other soups to add some body to the broth, and if you have (as I do) miso paste that is made with dashi (fish stock) already, then you are halfway to miso soup already, minus the tasty add-ins.
Check out this link, if you need to jump-start your miso soup creativity!

I bought a large kabocha squash at the store, roasted it whole in the oven (after stabbing it several times with a large knife to avoid catastrophic squash explosion), and used it in a variety of dishes this week, but I have already made this miso soup several times over and it is just delightful.
I tossed cubed firm tofu in whole wheat flour and gomashio, which is a japanese condiment that I bought at a local co-op but you could make it yourself easily. It is comprised of salt, toasted sesame seeds, and mine also has seaweed in it. I fried the tofu in vegetable oil and placed it on a paper towel to drain. I sliced some roasted kabocha squash into bite-sized pieces, and blanched several swiss chard leaves in a pot of boiling water, then sliced them lengthwise so they were also more bite-sized. The swiss chard, kabocha, and some wakame were then added to the miso soup broth, and served at last with the tofu added in just before serving. The kabocha added a little color to the broth and was perfect with the wakame and chard. This fried tofu, additionally, was probably the most satisfying fried tofu I've ever made--I'll definitely use the gomashio in the future!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Portland is delicious.

Forgive the brevity, but I wanted to at least share some of the deliciousness that I encountered on my (very brief) trip to Portland, Oregon.

Pix Patisserie -- americano, tawny port macaron, potato/caramelized onion/red pepper/goat cheese pastry

Piazza Italia -- pappardelle al cinghiale

Saint Cupcake -- coconut cupcake, chocolate cupcake with fudge topping

Bombay Chaat House -- lunch combo, samosas

Saint Cupcake -- carrot cake & red velvet cupcakes

Tasty N Sons -- assorted brunch deliciousness

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup)

I have been growing increasingly interested in recipes that will make use of leftover bread--I often find that the odd half-loaf sits for a couple of days, gets stale, and runs the risk of being wasted if I don't have a good use for it. Wasting bread makes me think of my great grandfather, who came to America from Ireland at the age of 9, and survived his first days here by picking bread out of a dumpster, cutting off the moldy bits, and eating it. That is perhaps a little dramatic of me, but an awful lot of food gets wasted in the world, and I want to be more efficient.
This soup recipe acomplished what I wanted, and added a delicious new soup to my repertoire. I am also more convinced than ever that I need a new bread knife soon.
There are many recipes out there to choose from; mine was found at and tweaked ever so slightly.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound stale bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
4 cups vegetable stock
a dash of cayenne pepper, if you want an added hint of spice

This recipe is deceptively easy. I looked at it several times as I was cooking, to be sure I hadn't missed out on some important detail... I am pleased, though, to have a recipe kicking around that takes very little time, is inexpensive to make, and involves very few ingredients!

Directions as follows:
Add your olive oil to a medium-sized pot on med/high heat. Add the bread and toast lightly in the olive oil for approximately 5 minutes. You'll want to stir the bread often, to evenly brown them. Add the minced garlic, pimentón, and a pinch of salt; stir well, and cook for 3 minutes.
Add vegetable stock, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Serve the soup topped with a poached egg, garnish with a dash of pimentón, and enjoy!
This isn't the prettiest soup I have ever made, and I am sure that future incarnations will get more attractive, but it was delicious and garlicky and is just the kind of soup you want to eat during cold season. It also takes a great deal less work to make than homemade chicken soup, should you live alone and occasionally get colds this time of year, as I do.