Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I made your basic butternut squash, sweet potato+carrot soup

There are about a billion recipes out there for butternut squash soup, so I am not quite sure what struck me about this one, as I was Googling recipes a few weeks ago, except maybe for the fact that it contained coconut milk. (I love coconut milk so much. I love everything coconut actually. Coconut water, coconut sorbet, coconut-scented SOAP - I love it all.)

OH - another thing that I found appealing about this recipe was that it did not involve roasting anything. Roasting vegetables makes them taste really good, but it takes so much time, and I was hungry. So this recipe won over some of the other recipes that I saw which instructed me to roast squash for an hour or two.

I modified the recipe I found a bit, and here is what I came up with:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut in large cubes
1 liter vegetable or chicken broth
1 large can of coconut milk (you don't necessarily need the whole can)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
cinnamon to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
dash of maple syrup

pumpkin seeds
pita chips/bread crumbs/crackers
avocado cubes

Heat some olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and braise until soft. Add butternut squash, carrots and sweet potato and sautée for about 2-3 minutes.
Then add the stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until veggies are soft.
Then add some of the coconut milk and mix with a handheld mixer until you get a very smooth soup. Add more coconut milk if desired. Season with some salt and freshly ground pepper, cinnamon and cayenne to taste.

This made enough soup for about 5-6 servings. I tried allll the garnishes mentioned above, at different times. The soup is so smooth, so its nice to have some chunks of of other stuff in there to keep things interesting.

**Especially delicious.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Poor man's pea risotto.


I just walked in from work a few minutes ago ravenously famished. All I had in the fridge was a container of leftover brown rice (plain, too much of it, from a measurement oversight this past weekend), half a bag of frozen peas, and some grated parmaggiano cheese.

So, I threw a glob of butter into a medium sauce pan, splashed some extra virgin olive oil on top, and then a few spoonfuls of the brown rice (3/4 a cup maybe - already cooked that is). I added lots of salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes too, and let it all get sassy and loud on high heat. Then I lowered the heat, added the frozen peas, gave it a good stir, and covered it all. I left it alone for approximately 4 and a half minutes, or the length of this Alicia Keys song I was jamming to. When I returned, I turned the heat off, threw in maybe 1/4 cup of grated parm, gave it another good mix, and then threw it onto my plate.

The results were delicious, surprisingly creamy, and tasted very reminiscent of a good pea risotto. A happy, hungry accident indeed.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

I made an Autumn Millet's good for winter too!

With the start of the new year, I wanted to up my healthy food intake a bit. I also tend to fall into food themes (see last year's "Winter of Cabbage", and the previous year's "Experiments with root vegetables") and this year was no exception - I've suddenly become interested in whole grains. First up: Millet. Maybe you already know how good it is; I did not until just last week!

I found this recipe on 101 Cookbooks which is a blog with lots of healthy recipes, but it is actually a Mark Bittman recipe and is, unsurprisingly, very simple and delicious!

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish

3/4 cup millet
1 medium butternut or other winter squash or 1 small pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used butternut squash)
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried (I randomly had fresh in the house)
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (I used maple syrup - I'm not really a honey fan)
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts (I don't like pumpkin seeds and didn't have hazelnuts. I ended up adding scallions and chopped walnuts for some crunch)

Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes. Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all. Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 45 minutes.

Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (I added another quarter cup or so). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. (I skipped this part, and added my scallions and nuts after it was out of the oven) Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned, another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Perfect Peanutbutter Chocolate Brownies! (Hyperbolic, I know, but so so good)

I have been experimenting with peanut butter chocolate brownie recipes for a few months now and about two weeks ago I finally pieced together a bunch until they tasted exactly how I wanted. What's here is a long "from scratch" version of the recipe, but right after I will post my shortcut version of the recipe which tastes almost as good.


1 pound unsalted butter

1 pound semisweet chocolate chips

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate (if you can’t find baking chocolate, use those bitter German chocolate bars you can find in any grocery store or bodega– the fat purple squares, you know what I’m saying?)

6 extra-large eggs

2 tablespoons real vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sugar

½ cup Nutella (yes, Nutella!)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ cup creamy natural/unsweetened peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour your brownie pan (13x9, or bigger, whatever you have – you can just make according to thickness of the pan)

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly.

Stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Put the Nutella in the microwave for about 10 seconds to loosen it up a little bit, then stir it into the mixture (don’t overstir, but get it mixed in).

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Then, put your peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds until it is melted and liquidy. Pour the peanut butter as evenly as you can in 3 or 4 rows (depending on wide the pan is) across the width of the pan. Take a butter knife and run it straight down from top to bottom. Then do this again a few inches apart from bottom to top. Repeat until you have one of those pretty swirled arrow designs up and down. If you’re not sure what I mean, then you can also just glop the peanut butter all over the brownies, Jackson Pollock style. It doesn’t matter. It will be amazing no matter what. (It should look something like this.)

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the knife comes out clean enough (though in my oven these are sometimes ready in about 20 minutes, so just check a few times) . I say clean enough because it's better if they are a little underdone; they will continue cooking outside of the oven and you really want the chewy and fudgey and delicious. No one wants a dry brownie. At least I don't think...


Buy a box of Betty Crocker or Duncan Heins (whichever) fudgey brown mix. Make it as you always would, just replace apple sauce for the oil, add the Nutella into the batter before pouring it into the pan, and glop on/beautifully swirl the peanut butter as specified above. It's not AS good as the above recipe, but it takes a quarter of the time, saves you some money, and they taste really f-ing good.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I made a Daisy!

A few weeks ago I was browsing the food blogs, and a cocktail recipe jumped out at me from The Paupered Chef, mainly because it had whiskey and grenadine and sounded both tasty and doable. Nothing came of it until Z and I became the proud owners of a seltzer maker, headed over to the Coop for a pomegranate, and went to town. There are a few steps to the drink, but nothing too strenuous, and you get to juice a pomegranate (because grenadine is made of pomegranates and sugar, something I didn't know!). The drink was so tasty that it was the featured cocktail on New Year's Eve.

Here's the link to the recipe, which includes instructions on how to crack ice in your hand (satisfying but very cold -- the following time we just used cubes):

And here are the basics with my notes in bold:
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Press firmly down on the pomegranate with the palm of your hand and roll it around until it is soft. (This part is fun) Make a small slit with a knife along one side. Squeeze as much juice out as you can. (Be careful, the juice can spray) It will have about 2 ounces of juice. Pour the juice into a jar and add an equal amount sugar, which should be about 1/4 cup. Secure the lid on the jar and shake until the sugar dissolves.

  • 2 ounces Rye Whiskey (We used Maker's Mark since that's what we have in the house)
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon homemade grenadine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons simple sryup
  • club soda (or seltzer!)

Pour the whiskey, lemon juice, grenadine, and simply syrup into a shaker. (Sadly, we have no shaker, so we stirred it and it was fine). Add enough ice to come 3/4 of the way up the sides. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with cracked ice. Top with a bit of club soda. Enjoy!