Archive for December 2009

Roasted Carrot & Cauliflower Soup

December 31, 2009

I drove a friend to the airport and she had a bunch of food in her fridge that she needed to give away.  Included in the collection was a 2 lb. bag of carrots, just on the edge of sliminess, but still good.  I had some cauliflower and many onions from my food co-op.  After looking up a number of recipes, I went for roasting.

Roasted Carrot & Cauliflower Soup

2 lbs. carrots (if large/whole, peel & cut into 3 sections or so; I used baby carrots)
1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
1 large onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, smashed
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
4 c. vegetable stock
2 t. lemon juice
1-2 t. Sriracha/Rooster Sauce or other hot sauce

Preheat oven to 400 or 425.  I have an odd habit of roasting at 410 degrees.

In a large baking dish, pour about 2 T. olive oil across the bottom.  Add carrots, onions and 2 cloves of the garlic.  Drizzle 2-4 more Tablespoons oil and toss.  Sprinkle salt & pepper.   Do the same with the cauliflower in a smaller pan with less olive oil.

Every 15 mins, turn the veggies.  The cauliflower was done in about 35 mins; the carrots & onions in 45 mins. Cool the veggies.

Once cool, put all of the roasted vegtables in a food processor and add 1 c. of stock.  Whir on medium speed until blended.  Turn up to high speed and add stock a cup at a time so the soup doesn’t get sloshy. Process until smooth.  Add lemon juice and Sriracha, whir and taste.  Return to pot to re-heat.  Adjust salt, pepper, lemon juice & Sriracha to your liking.

Next time, I may try to make a creamy, protein-filled version with silken tofu.  Will report back!

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Red Mole-n-Margaritas

December 31, 2009

I have a tradition with my friends, John and Lesa Ellis.  I cook them their favorite foods for their birthdays and in exchange for John’s handy skills around my house.  A home repair can be had for a good beer and a good lunch, with both parties happy in the end.

John’s 50th birthday happened while they were away. When vacation came around, it was time for a good birthday dinner.  Mole is a frequent dish for these meals, anywhere from the jar stuff by Dona* Maria (benefit = all of my juice glasses are mole jars), to a semi-homemade version to the adventure of doing mole from scratch for this momentous birthday.  So, I googled “authentic mole recipe” and found:

Authentic Mole (a red mole) at sparkpeople.com.  Adjustments:  Based on chiles I could find, I used New Mexico, Guajillo, and Ancho/Pasilla chiles.  Currants instead of raisins.  Canned tomatoes instead of fresh, and no tortilla, just wheat bread.  Lesa has blood sugar issues, so I put some w/just a bit of agave nectar separate from the main pot, where I did about half the sugar – half agave nectar and half sugar. Oh, and I learned to only use a blender.  What a mess when I tried pureeing it in the food processor!

The kitchen smelled AMAZING.  I had a jar of Dona Maria mole verde on hand in case it was a complete disaster in taste.  No need. The mole I made was really good. I will be cliche to refer to the saying “yumm” about your own cooking from Julie & Julia – I said “yumm” many times. I served the mole on chicken thighs w/rice sauteed with onions, chile powder & cumin and small Black Bean Burgers (see other post)

We had all forgotten what the margarita proportions were so we figured it out again.  Part of John’s birthday present was that he would not need to squeeze limes one by one.  Thanks to America’s Test Kitchen’s recommendation, I got this juicer.  I agree with that recommendation.  It made easy work of all of the limes needed for the 6 margaritas.

Margaritas
1 part Tequila
1 part Lime Juice
3/4 part Orange Liquer – either Triple Sec or Orange Brandy

Shake it up with ice.  Salt those glass rims and go!  We used Trader Joe’s Distinqt Reposado 100% Agave Tequila I acquired on my last pilgrimage to the Trader Joe’s in Las Vegas.  This stuff needs a warning:  stealthily strong.  Great taste.  Caused “ginsomnia” and hangovers, but well worth it.  It was a fun night!

* – I’ll figure out how to do accents on here eventually.  There is an enyay in that word…

Black Bean Burgers

December 31, 2009

After having a really good black bean burger in an airport of all places (Chili’s Too at O’Hare), I wanted to work on mastering my own. These turned out quite well.  I combined elements from different recipes.

Black Bean Burgers

1 15 oz. can of black beans (or 1 c. cooked from dry)
1 medium onion, rough chopped
1 green bell pepper, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 sm. or 1/2 bigger chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (from canned – I freeze these 2 peppers apiece in snack baggies)
2 T. sunflower seeds
1 egg
1/3 c. quick oats
1/3 c. matzo meal
1 t. cumin
salt & pepper to taste

Process onion, pepper, garlic, chipotle, and sunflower seeds until minced into small pieces.  Important:  Drain water out of this mixture in paper towels surrounded by rags.

Mash the beans in a large bowl with a fork. Leave some beans whole.

Beat the egg slightly and add onion mixture, egg, oats, matzo meal & spices.  Mix well.  Let sit in the fridge for at least 15 mins.

Form into patties. Either bake on parchment or Silpat at 400 degrees until browned (probably 20-30 mins. depending on size of patties), or fry in a pan with a small layer of olive oil, about 3 mins. a side.

Chicken Salad / Navy Bean Soup

December 23, 2009

Yesterday, I remembered I had cooked chicken breast in the fridge that was still good.  So, Chicken Salad it was.  I’ll share two ways to do this.

Basic Curry Chicken Salad

2 cooked chicken breasts or the equivalent amount of meat – cut into cubes
1-2 rib(s) celery finely chopped
2-3 T. minced red onion
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 T. lemon juice
zest of 1/2 orange
juice of 1/2 orange
1-2 t. curry powder
1/2-1 t. salt
Black pepper to taste
(optional:  about 10 grapes, cut in half)

Whisk together: mayonnaise, lemon juice, orange juice, orange zest, curry powder, salt & pepper.
Add chicken, celery, onion, (and grapes).

Chicken Curry Salad From The Pantry
1 Costco can of chicken breast
1 can mandarin oranges in juice, drained
make dressing above – about 2/3 the amount – do not add grapes.  Add some unsweetened flaked coconut if you’ve got some.

I also remembered that I made a simple navy bean soup for a party last week.  This made a full pot of soup that fed about 10 people.

Navy Bean Soup

1 lb. navy beans, rinsed and picked over to remove non-beans and other scary looking pieces
Lots of water

2 medium onions, chopped
2 T. olive oil
1 T. canola margarine or unsalted butter
4 carrots, peeled and sliced (I find that peeling them prevents souring later)
5 celery ribs, chopped
1 1/2 t. thyme
1 1/2 t. marjoram
2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
4-5 cups vegetable stock

Soak the beans overnight.  Saute onions in olive oil & margarine or butter until transluscent.  Add thyme, marjoram, salt & pepper and saute another minute.

Add beans, carrots, celery, and onion mixture  to a slow cooker.  Add vegetable stock.  Cook 8 hours on low.  Ideally, refrigerate the soup a day ahead of serving.  Something really good happens to the flavors in that day.

Hello world!

December 22, 2009

Welcome to yet-another-food-blog!  I’m starting this because I almost always forget what I’ve cooked, especially when I make things up on the spot.  There are also times when I am so happy with the way an impromptu combination looks that I think maybe I should snap a photo and admire after it’s gone.  I have CRS – Can’t Remember Shit – and so, I hope this blog will be a place to collect recipes I’ve tried, recipes I’ve tweaked, and ways I’ve figured out how to make something tasty out of what’s in the fridge and pantry.  And when I CRS, I’ll come here and remember what I did.  I’ll also add some thoughts on food and cooking techniques.

So far this week, I’ve made Sufganiyot – yummy Hanukkah doughnuts – from Epicurious’s recipe.  I tried them two ways:  once with making two thinner disks and putting the jelly in the middle before frying.  They were, to quote quickly aging pop culture slang, “Aiiight,” but the jelly got too liquidy in the cooking.  My next batch was full-thickness doughnuts and I cut a slit into the cooked doughnut and then used a condiment squeeze bottle to get jelly (seedless strawberry and all-fruit black raspberry) into them.

Then, for a party, I made the scrumptious Mushroom and Nut Pate from Recipezaar.  Yu-um!  I used half almonds, half pecans for the nut portion. I also made Bea Goldman’s Vegetarian Chopped Liver from Cooking Jewish by Judy Bart Kancigor.
1 lb. green beans, cooked (I thawed frozen ones)
1/4 c. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted
2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
1 t. kosher salt
Black pepper to taste.

Dry the green beans.  Cook the onions on low heat 20-30 mins – about half-carmelized.  Cool the onions.  Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until just blended.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 3 days.

And finally, this evening, I remembered (*amazing*) that I still had some Patak’s curry paste in my fridge, so I’m cooking some chick peas and will mix with an onion, a can of diced tomatoes, and a good glop of the curry paste.  And salt.  Always salt.

UPDATE:  Not only do I have CRS, but I have a new disorder:  CWB – Cooking While Blogging.  While figuring out categories, I let some oil get too hot while getting ready to pressure-cook the rice for the chick peas.  This is a new challenge.  The timer will be my friend!