Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Soup's on!

It's that time of year again when I can't get enough soup. Nothing is better on a damp wintery (wintry?) night than a steaming bowl of hot homemade soup. I've already blogged about some of my favorite soups: Butternut, Tortellini so this year I am going to expand my horizons a bit. On my list of soups to make this year: cauliflower, potato leek, carrot ginger, tomato...what are your favorite soups?
One that I've always secretly loved is Tortilla Soup, but have never had a vegetarian version so I decided to craft my own. It's sort of a vegetarian blend of my favorite parts of tortilla soup (large chunks of veggies, shredded cheese, crunchy tortilla strips) and posole (hominy, lime), with the addition of chipotle flavors just because. You can make it as spicy as you'd like with the addition of more chipotles or hot sauce and it is vegan without the topping of cheese.

Tortilla Soup with Hominy and Chipotle (vegetarian)
Serves 4-6 as main course
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1 can hominy
3 carrots, chopped into ½ inch pieces
¼ of a small green cabbage, chopped into 1-2 inch strips
6 small corn tortillas
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Toppings: shredded cheese, avocado, lime, cilantro, diced tomatoes, sour cream, hot sauce

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, cumin, and chili powder and cook 5-10 minutes, until onions are tender. Add the tomatoes and chipotle peppers and stir to combine. Add broth/water, hominy, carrots and cabbage, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15-20 minutes.

2. While soup is simmering, prepare the tortilla strips. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut tortillas in half and then into ¼ inch thin strips. Toss in bowl with 1-2 tsp. oil, just until coated but not “soaked”. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring at least once so that the strips cook evenly. When strips are golden brown, remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.

3. Serve hot with small bowls of toppings.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Move over butternut!

Move over butternut, there’s a new squash in town! I love winter squash, in every shape and every form and my latest discovery is delicata squash – its delicious and sweet and small, which makes it easy to cut, clean and you can even eat the skin!

This dish integrates squash with one of my favorite cozy hearty combos – white beans and greens. I cooked the white beans in my pressure cooker but canned would work great. Feel free to change up the type of squash, too (any winter squash would work), and the greens (chard, spinach, collards). This dish is gluten free and vegetarian, and could be vegan by simply leaving out the parmesan cheese.

Delicata Squash Stuffed with White Beans and Kale
Serves 4-6 as main dish, depending on the size of the squash.
Takes about 50 minutes from start to finish

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onions, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch or 4 cups kale, chopped
2 cups white beans, canned or previously cooked
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1/2 tsp sage, dried
1/2 tsp thyme, dried

Preheat oven to 375. Carefully cut delicata in half lengthwise, season with S&P and place in deep baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup of water in dish and cover with tin foil. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes while preparing filling. In large saucepan saute chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil until soft. Add chopped kale and 1/4 cup of broth. Cover and cook until kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans and remaining 1/4 cup broth to kale mixture. Cook over low heat to warm the beans and stir to desired consistency (I like the beans to be broken up a bit). Add sage and thyme and season with S&P. Add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (optional) and stir to combine. Remove squash halves from oven, pile the kale and bean mixture in and top with a pinch of parmesan cheese. Return to oven (don't cover it this time) and cook stuffed squash for 10 more minutes, or until parmesan cheese is golden.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Roasted Tomatoes

I love fresh garden tomatoes, so it was hard for me to admit that we had more fresh tomatoes than we could eat fresh (although we have definitely eaten our share of salads, bruschetta, and salsa lately). I made 2 really big pots of sauce (which I then put in the freezer), but still had tomatoes left over, including lots of romas. I decided to roast them and was not sorry when I piled a pastry crust with tons of roasted tomatoes, a few onions, and some cheddar cheese. I don't have a photo, but believe me this dish was gorgeous and delish!

Roasted Tomatoes
Slice roma tomatoes in half lengthwise, then toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and thyme. Arrange on baking sheet and bake for 45 min to 1 hour at 400 degrees.

Roasting tomatoes dries them out a bit and really deepens the flavor. They are great on pizzas and tarts, tossed in salads or on a roasted veggie sandwich. These are some recipes using roasted tomatoes that I'm thinking of trying:
Corn Fritters with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic Aoili
White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes
Fussili Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and "Hidden" Zucchini
Slow-Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Glorious garden

Upon returning from a week away, MO and I were greeted with about 10 pounds of gorgeous garden tomatoes! In my opinion there is nothing more delicious than a fresh-picked garden tomato...

We also had 2 obscenely large zucchinis, about 10 cucumbers, 4 eggplants, and lots of green and purple string beans. So, needless to say, we've been eating a lot of veggies this week. We've made:
  • the beautiful caprese salad pictured above

  • fresh salsa with tomatoes, jalapeno, and cilantro from the garden

  • Spicy Summer Pasta Sauce (with fresh garden tomatoes instead of canned)

  • a Thai-style eggplant and tofu stir-fry

  • Zucchini-Walnut Muffins (I'm still perfecting the recipe, but will post it soon)

  • Dill Refrigerator Pickle Spears
I still have zucchini and eggplant to use up, so I'd better get cooking!

a whole lotta lobstah

MO and I just got back from a week vacationing and visiting friends in Boston and Bar Harbor. We went hiking, swimming, exploring, and of course, did a lot of EATING. Highlights included:

- that first iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts (I know it doesn't exactly fit with the rest of my gourmet tastes, but having spent 6 years in Boston I am a D&D girl at heart)

- tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House

- lots of lobster (steamed, lobster rolls, lobster sushi rolls, lobster salad)

- our two fabulous meals at The Burning Tree (yes, we ate there twice in 4 days)

Mid-August is such a great time to visit Maine - the weather is wonderful, the lake water is the perfect temperature, and fresh local produce appears on the menus of the best restaurants. Still feeling the glow of a great trip. Good times, good friends, good food.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tacolicious is abso-fab

I don't blog about restaurants very often, but I just have to mention how much I am in love with Tacolicious (thanks for the recommendation, Hols)!

Tacolicious is a fun trendy new restaurant in San Francisco's Marina neighborhood. It was packed when MO, my mother-in-law and I stopped in early Saturday evening. We squeezed into a high-top table near the giant altar-like painting of a bottle of Tapatio (which MO loved) and soon were enjoying chips and a salsa with a flavor that made me go "Hmmm" (I later found out that the mystery ingredient was mint). Between the 3 of us, we tried a variety of tacos, including the fish, veggie, filet, and chicken. The only disappointment to an otherwise fabulous experience was my drink. I had the house margarita which was underwhelming at $9. I'll probably try a different drink next time (they have lots of choices).

The food was really fresh and truly delicious, but my favorite part of the meal was the sauces. The minty salsa we started wuth was great, but even better was the beautiful trio of habenero (tangy and hot!), chipotle (smoky), and tomatillo (the best tomatillo salsa I've ever had).

Who wants to meet up for tacos???

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zucchini: Part 3 (I promise this will be the last zucchini post!)

Our zucchini plant is still going strong - very strong - so it's time to make zucchini fritters again. I first discovered this recipe in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and (after some adapting) it is my favorite way to eat zucchini.

Zucchini and Herb Fritters
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
Serves 4

2 pounds green zucchini (about 4 to 5 med-large), coarsely grated
2 eggs, beaten
2 scallions, including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced
1 cup dried bread crumbs (store-bought or homemade)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint (dill is also good in place of mint)
s & p
Olive oil

Lightly salt the zucchini and set it aside in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Mix the remaining ingredients together except the oil and pepper. Rinse the squash quickly and squeeze out the excess water, then stir it into the batter. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet. When hot, drop about 1/4 cup of batter and cook over medium heat until golden on the bottom. Flip and cook the second side. Great with a variety of dipping sauces (salsa, aioli, etc) but my favorite accompaniment for these is tzaziki - check out You Eat Now for a great recipe!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wonderful things to do with old bread

I love bread. It's as simple as that. I can't resist buying a great-looking loaf of fresh-baked bread when I see one. However, because it's just the two of us, we rarely finish a loaf of bread (except of course Fat Boy's breads) before it starts to get a little dry and crusty. Because I hate wasting food, here's what I do: simply chop bread into one-inch cubes and seal well in a ziplock bag and throw into the feezer. Use frozen bread within 2-3 months to make one of the following:

Homemade Croutons
What better way to dress up a simple salad than homemade croutons???
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss frozen bread chunks (no need to defrost) in a bowl with olive oil (you don't need a lot), garlic powder, salt, pepper, and any combination of dried herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes). Stir to coat and place on a large cookies sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Place frozen bread cubes in food processor and pulse until you reach desired consistency. Toast in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or in a pan on stovetop (don't forget to stir). When breadcrumbs are golden brown and crisp add salt and pepper to taste as well as any other flavorings you like (dried oregano, basil, parsley and garlic for italian-flavored). Use in any recipe calling for dry breadcrumbs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Zucchini: Part 2

Are you tired of zucchini yet? Not me! For Part 2, I wanted to make something sweet. I looked at a lot of recipes and combined a few to make this delicious very chocolatey cake that was actually pretty healthy, too.

Zucchini & Chocolate Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Navitas Naturals’ Raw Cacao Powder)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1-2 medium zucchinis
1 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks
Confectioner’s sugar

Serves 12

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch round 8 or 9-inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, combine together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and oil until fluffy. Add the yogurt, vanilla, coffee, and eggs, and mix well.

In another large bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much. Add remaining flour to batter. Mix until just combined (batter will be thick).

Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pan. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Zucchini: Part 1

Now that our summer garden is underway (and I'm not so crazy busy at work), I'll be posting more. I promise.

our monster zucchini plant

Zucchini is known as that vegetable that people can't give away in the middle of the summer, but I really love zucchini and I'm looking forward to finding the best ways to use lots of the green stuff. We grilled the first 4 or 5 zucchinis of the season. Grilled zucchini is wonderful, but not very exciting and it gets old fast. So last night I made stuffed zuchini. This recipe is simple, healthy and very adaptable (nearly all ingredients can be swapped out) and I've made something like this many times as a stuffing for peppers, summer squash and winer squash, too.

Suffed Zucchini
Serves 4 as main dish

2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked rice or other grain (I like brown rice because it has a cramy texture, but I had some interesting Bhutanese red rice so that's what I used this time)
3 large zucchinis
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1/2 cup other chopped vegetables (mushrooms, celery, peas would work)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 hot vegetable stock
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (leave this out to make it vegan)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
s & p to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare zucchinis: Slice lengthwise and use a large spoon to scoop out center of each half. Leave walls of zucchini at least 1/3 inch thick on all sides. Chop innards of zucchini and set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in large pot. Saute garlic and onion until soft and add other vegetables and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While vegetables are cooking, steam zucchini halves in a large pot or in microwave until tender but still firm. Place steamed halves into large baking dish.

Add cooked rice and stock to vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add parmesan cheese and s & p to taste. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Fill zucchini halves with rice stuffing mixture and sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Look what we grew!

Here's MO picking our first homegrown artichoke - which was promptly steamed and served with lemon and butter for dipping. Yum! What's your favorite artichoke preparation?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One more wintry meal

Trying to look on the bright side of this unseasonably cool and wet weather we're having...one last chance to make some of my favorite wintry meals. Last week I made Three Bean Chili with Quinoa Cornbread and on Sunday I made The Veggie Queen's Winter Squash Enchiladas. A healthy and really delicious dish from "Vegetables Get the Royal Treatment" by Northern California vegetarian chef Jill Nusinow ("The Veggie Queen"). I had a chance to meet Jill at the Gravenstein Apple Fair last Fall and this is probably my favorite dish from her book.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Quinoa Cornbread

Quinoa Cornbread

Quinoa adds protein and fiber as well as a toasty flavor and great crunchy texture to this cornbread. Great with chili or black bean soup.

2 cups cornmeal (I like Bob's Red Mill medium-grind)
1 cup cooked quinoa, divided (I use a blend of regular, red and black quinoa)
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 cups reduced fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl combine dry ingredients with ¾ cup quinoa. Mix liquids together and add to the dry ingredients, stirring until smooth. Turn into a greased 9x9 or cast iron pan and sprinkle remaining quinoa evenly on top. Bake 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and a knife entered in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Holiday (Food) Memories

I come from a long line of food people: my aunt is an owner-chef of a restaurant, my dad owns a bakery and both of my grandmothers are great cooks. So, it should be no surprise that when we gather for holidays food is a central theme. My favorite times are always cooking and eating with family and friends. Here are some of the many memorable "food and drink moments" from this holiday season:

learning to make kimchi (for holiday gifts) with CK's mom (who said I'd make a great Korean wife!)

making our own version of Cioppino on Christmas Day

lobster and champagne with the in-laws - what a treat!

pizza night with the family (granparents, cousins, aunts and uncles included!)

gumbo and cornbread for Sister's birthday on New Year's Eve
so many meals, so many memories...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventures in Leftover Land: Part 2

So I ended up freezing quite a few pounds of mashed potatoes after Thanksgiving (see
Adventures in Leftover Land: Mashed Potatoes). After thawing, mashed potatoes can be kind of runny and/or dry, but they worked perfectly in this soup.

Quick Potato Leek Soup
Serves 4

2 leeks, with green parts cut off, split down the middle
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock and/or milk, or a combination
S&P to taste

Soak the leeks in water to wash out any dirt. Remove from water; drain. Slice the leeks into 1/2-inch strips and sautee leeks and garlic in the butter over low-medium heat until soft. Add leftover potatoes then the stock/milk - until you get the consistency you like. Use imersion blender or blend in batches and return to pot to heat thouroughly. Add S&P to taste and serve with assorted toppings including chopped chives, scallions, cheddar cheese, crumbled veggie bacon, hot sauce, etc.