Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More is sometimes less

So today I started keeping a food diary to see not only my daily caloric intake, but to figure out if I am getting enough protein and dietary fiber (the answers are maybe and no, by the way). To make sure I looked good on my first day I made a recipe for stuffed peppers I had been eyeing for a while in my old fav Moosewood Low Fat Cookbook. It turned out really well, but what amazed me what the sheer quantity of food you get in so few calories. It was spicy and sweet and when served on a bed of mixed greens and rice is shockingly low in calories. I had one half of a bell pepper served over 1/2 cup of brown rice and a handful of mixed greens, and topped with a very simple tomato sauce and the end balance was a mere 296 calories with 5.5 g of fat, 10.5 g of protein and 5.75 g of dietary fiber.  Jay doubled his (which is the suggested serving size, fyi) and still the meal was only 594 calories. The recipe uses frozen tofu (that has been thawed) to imitate meat.  This worked well but if you are a meat eater you could easily substitute cooked lean ground turkey for about the same calories. My only other recommendation would be to add pine nuts to the mix. I didn't do this, but think it really would have made the dish better and would only add 30 calories per serving (one whole bell pepper).

Tofu-Stuffed Peppers

Serves 6 

2 tsp canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup carrots, diced
dash of salt
1 cup diced tomatoes
12 oz tofu, frozen then thawed and grated or crumbled (substitute cooked lean ground turkey)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup couscous
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup currant or raisins (I used dried cranberries)
6 medium bell peppers
1 cup red wine

In a saute pan heat oil over medium heat and cook onions, garlic, cinnamon and red pepper flakes for 3 minutes until just soft.  Add carrots and a dash of salt and cover.  Cook for 3 more minutes.  Add tomatoes and heat through. Stir in tofu (or ground turkey), soy sauce, dill, lemon juice, couscous and water and cook on medium low for 2 minutes or so.  Take off the heat and cover and allow to sit 5 minutes.  Add dried fruit and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside
Preheat your over to 375 degrees. Cut the peppers in half making sure to cut through the stem. Remove the seeds but leave the stems (they will keep your peppers together. Fill each half with 1/2 cup of the filling and place in a baking dish. Pour wine in the bottom of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes or until the peppers are soft but not falling apart.  Serve alone or topped with tomato sauce.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brings me back

I love peanut butter. Maybe a little too much. Jay often catches me sneaking a spoonful around 9 pm when most people are seeking out ice cream or cookies. This is pretty much a way to have your spoonful of peanut butter at 9 pm in a more socially acceptable way. It is a recipe from my childhood from some stained and worn unnamed cookbook. They are remarkably simple to prepare, don't require any cooking, and freeze very well. You can find many similar recipes out there - some of which add some sort of cereal product for crunch. You can add pretty much whatever you like to the recipe: dried fruit, rice krispies, chocolate chips - but below is the purists' recipe, adjust as you like:

Peanut Butter "Fudge"

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (more may be required to achieve proper consistency)
turbinado sugar or coconut

Combine peanut butter, honey and dry milk in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Dough should be dense and not at all sticky. Roll into balls, roll into sugar (or coconut if you prefer) and place on wax paper. Freeze until hard. Store in a sealed container in the freezer. Thaw for 10-20 minutes prior to eating.

Meat on a stick

Food on a stick is generally a good thing. I actually struggle to think of something served on a stick that I don't like. Perhaps the best example is satay. Whether its pork, beef, or chicken, meat on a stick is a pretty easy to prepare and a great vehicle for good sauce. I made this recipe last night to bring to a party and spent quite a bit of time finding a recipe for peanut sauce. I actually made one version of it on Friday and was very disappointed by the results. I threw it out on Saturday morning and started over. The second time I decided to adjust a recipe I had made before from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest that is used for a Broccoli and Tofu Stir Fry (I highly recommend - both the cookbook and the recipe) to suit a dipping sauce. It worked beautifully.

Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

4 - 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 in fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp honey
16 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

In a bowl combine soy sauce, ginger, honey and water. Slice chicken breasts into 4 slices each. Place in a sealable Tupperware and add marinade. Cover and let sit, refrigerated, for 1 hour up to a day. Brush a roasting pan with oil and preheat broiler. Skewer chicken strips, moving the skewer front and back to assure that chicken stays attached. Lay on the roasting pan and broil about 2-3 minutes each side or until the chicken is cooked through.

Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

3/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
6 tbsp rice or cider vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 - 1/4 cup light coconut milk (adjust for consistency)

Blend all the ingredients using a food processor or blender. Let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving to allow flavors to meld.

The Last (soup) Supper

A few months ago, after I had been laid off, my friend Margaret brought by an unemployment "care package". This basically consisted of a few snacks, a couple of bottles of wine, and two packets of Top Ramen. I don't actually think I can remember the last time I had Ramen and I thought it would be a brilliant way to end my 31 days without having to actually cook anything. Jay more or less refused to eat it, but I heated up a bowl for myself (Jay got himself some leftovers) and we sat down with a side salad for our last soup supper. As we ate I reviewed the ingredients of the Ramen and it occurred to me how simple it would be to to prepare without need of msg and corn protien and pondered if it would be better or not (lets face it, Ramen is good, it just feels wrong to eat 910 mg of sodium in one meal). I popped up mid meal to take on the challenge and quickly threw together a competing soup. Jay and I both thought it was much better and just as easy:

Blue Ribbon Ramen

1 serving

2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp dark soy sauce
4 oz somen noodles
5 frozen broccoli florets
salt to taste

Boil broth and soy sauce over high heat. Add noodles and broccoli and cook for 3 minutes until noodles are soft. Salt to taste.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lets be honest, its cheese soup...

We are getting really close to the end of my 31 days of soup now and I knew before I reached the end I HAD to pay homage to that fancy restaurant staple, Soupe a l'Oignon au Fromage. I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of French Onion Soup. Don't get me wrong, I like onions and love cheese, but somehow I think I never could get that satisfied by such a simple yet rich soup. Something about the emptiness of the calories tends to make me sick to the stomach before I get full which is really never a good combination. That said I didn't try to alter the recipe to make it lighter or to make it more satisfying. I have never made it before and it's such a classic I felt like I didn't have adequate knowledge to start messing with a (generally acknowledged) good thing. I do have to admit that I made one (rather large) substitution. Classic French Onion soup is really simple: butter, onions, garlic, beef stock, salt, pepper. However given that Jay hasn't eaten beef in 10 years I didn't think it was a good idea to introduce it to his digestive system - too big of a risk to my night's sleep. Substituting chicken stock for beef stock REALLY alters the flavor but it had to be done. If you are a beef eater and want to make this recipe, I suggest using it. Otherwise I tried to use a selection of onions which I think made the soup sweeter. If that sounds good to you, go for it:

French Onion Soup

1/4 cup butter
3 large onions, sliced
2 large shallots, sliced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken broth (or beef broth if you have the enzymes)
1 tsp Dijon mustard

12 slices french bread, toasted
1 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, sliced

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, shallots and garlic and and saute until very tender and brown, about 45 minutes. Add wine and simmer 3-4 minutes. Add chicken broth and mustard and simmer for 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls. Top each with toast and cheese. Broil until cheese melts and bubbles.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Rub with Love

    More catching up to do. A while back, sometime last summer, I was cut down to 32 hours a week (precursor to the approaching lay-off). I had more time on my hands and started preparing menus for the week - mostly in order to try new recipes. For whatever reason, none of them made it onto the blog. This was more out of laziness or distraction than lack of success because looking back I found a lot of winners. The following recipe for Fennel and Dill Rubbed Salmon, I found on Epicurious and have now tried three times. The first time I followed the recipe precisely, on a grill outdoors (it was September which is still summer here in Seattle). The second time it was fully fall so I moved the dish indoors and utilized a broiler. In a lot of ways this was easier (didn't involve the flipping) and since its still winter (technically) I will go ahead and post it that way. If you would like to attempt the grill method (which worked well!) see the Epicurious post. The third time I prepared it, I substituted a plain white fish for the salmon which i would NOT recommend. Something about the density of the salmon holds up really well and is not matched by a flaky white fish. The recipe calls for using fennel seeds and grinding them, but it really does work just as well using already ground fennel. If you have a spice grinder, or LOVE using your mortar and pestle, go ahead. The original recipe also makes a big deal about using Spanish smoked paprika... I have to admit, I used a bright red sweet Hungarian paprika. Regardless, this recipe is really one of my favorites. I served it at a small dinner party with some sauteed Brussels sprouts and it was a total hit.

    Fennel and Dill Rubbed Grilled Salmon
    Serves 8-10

    1 tbsp ground fennel
    1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    3 tbsp paprika
    1 tbsp salt
    2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    2 tsp dried dill weed
    3 lbs sockeye salmon with skin
    Olive oil
    Mix first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Preheat your oven's broiler.

    Brush the salmon with olive oil and rub spice mixture generously over flesh side of salmon. Place salmon, skin side down on a lined deep dish baking dish. Place about 6 inches below the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until the sugar of the rub has fully caramelized. Remove the fish from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Heat oven to 400 degrees and return the fish to the oven. Cook until the fish is flaky and fully cooked.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Celeriac? There's a pill for that...

    Getting close, aren't we. This evening I wanted something with a very simple flavor to follow the complexity of yesterday's gumbo. My friend Heather, on one of our weekly walks around Greenlake a few weeks back, mentioned making celery root bisque the night prior and my interest was piqued. She sent along the recipe and I have been waiting for just the right night to prepare it. Tonight was the night. Celery Root, sometimes called celeriac (which sounds like either a infectious disease or the cure for one), is one of those bizarre vegetables 98% of us walk by without noticing it. Sitting innocently by the turnips and beets it somewhat resembles a hairy hand with the digits cut off. Yeah, it's ugly, really ugly. It has a mild celery smell and flavor, and is a little sweeter than celery. It is actually not the root of the celery we make ants on a log out of, instead it is a different kind of celery cultivated for the root. Unlike other root vegetables (potatoes, beets) celery root is relatively low in starch. You can eat it raw (like jicama) but also make soups and gratins out of it. I had never had it before tonight, and I was very pleased with the subtle smell that the cooking produced. The soup was very light, I would recommend it as a first course or along side a substantial side (we had garlic bread, yumm!).

    Celery Root Bisque

    2 tbsp butter
    2 leeks, sliced and well rinsed
    3 celery stalks, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 1/4 lb celery root (celeriac), peeled and cubed
    3 small light skinned potatoes, cubed
    splash of lemon juice
    5 cup vegetable stock
    1/2 cup lowfat milk
    salt & pepper to taste
    2 tbsp scallions, finely chopped

    Place celery root and potatoes in cold water with a few drops of lemon juice. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add leeks, celery stalks, and garlic. Cook until leeks are soft, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock, celery root andpotatoes (draining soaking liquid). Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat & simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Puree and bring the soup back up to heat. Add milk and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with scallions

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Feeling FAT

    It's Fat Tuesday (Marti Gras!) and you know what that means: indulgence! Seemed like the perfect excuse to try making gumbo - that Creole (or Cajun) classic. I have never had gumbo and was excited to give it a whirl. After a few days of research I set forth to prepare a "light" gumbo. What basically makes a gumbo light or heavy is the amount of fat you use in your roux. Roux, apparently the essence of a good gumbo, basically consists of fat and flour, cooked slowly to a nutty brown. Apparently the more fat in your roux the easier it is to cook. The more roux in the gumbo, the thicker the stew. There are other ways to thicken your gumbo. Okra thickens a gumbo, so I decided to include okra and try to cut down on the roux a little. Additionally, a gumbo can be either Creole or Cajun style: a Creole style gumbo is made with a lighter roux and includes tomatoes, whereas Cajun gumbo (Cajun being of French Canadian descent rather than the European Creoles) uses a darker roux and no tomatoes. The last variation in gumbo is of course the meat. Traditionally gumbo includes a combination of shellfish and sausage or chicken. Seemed to me that, like minestrone or tortilla soup, it pretty much can be whatever you have on hand. So, (sigh) given all the options I opted for a gumbo with okra, Creole style, with shrimp and chicken. I generally followed this lowfat gumbo recipe from the New York Times' Mark Bittman with a little help from Paula Deen (of course). I opted for a simple 1 to 1 ratio for my roux, but tried to keep the oil content as low as possible. Because I am a meat cooking novice I went ahead and cooked the meat before hand. The chicken I bought whole and roasted (plan to use the carcass for chicken broth for French Onion soup later this week), and the shrimp I bought fresh and sauteed in a non stick skillet and cut into thirds (they were jumbo prawns). You can use the chicken fat to cook the roux, and cook the shrimp in the gumbo itself, but I opted for a more straightforward cooking method that assured thoroughly cooked meat.


    2 cups shredded cooked chicken
    1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked
    1/4 cup canola oil
    2 tbsp butter
    1/2 cup flour
    1 onion, diced
    3 celery stalks, diced
    2 bell peppers (I used 1 green and 1 orange), diced
    4 scallions, whiles and greens, diced and separated
    1 tsp dried thyme
    1 tsp dried oregano
    2 tsp red pepper flakes
    2 bay leaves
    1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
    4 cups vegetable broth (chicken would work well too)
    1/4 bunch parsley, chopped
    salt and pepper to taste

    In a cast iron skillet heat canola oil and butter over medium low heat until butter melts. Add flour and stir thoroughly. Cook over medium low heat, stirring often with a rubber spatula, 10 minutes or more, until the roux is darker andfragrant (smells like nuts). Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. Heat 1/4 cup broth over medium heat and add onions, celery, scallion whites, and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes until vegetables are softened. Add garlic, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook 2 minutes more. Add roux and mix thoroughly. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often until all the vegetables are soft. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, and remaining broth and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for 20 minutes until all the flavors are melded. Add chicken and shrimp and cook for a few minutes more. Add parsley and scallion greens and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.

    Cheesy Poofs

    So I have officially divided my two blogs. Now you can find all things soup on my
    soup blog. The 31 days will be completed no fear but I have decided to separate out those entries into its own area of the blogosphere. I will continue to post all my recipes on this, more general blog, and to celebrate my first non soup entry in literally months I decided to do some housekeeping, publishing some past recipes I promised long ago. I admit I got distracted by the call of soup.

    Cheesy Jalapeno Corn Cakes

    Corn Chili Mix:
    2 tbsp canola oil
    1/2 cup onion, minced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup frozen corn
    1/4 cup diced canned green chilies
    1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
    2 tsp cumin
    2 tsp chili powder
    1 tsp red pepper flakes
    salt and pepper to taste

    2 tbsp canola oil
    2 cups milk
    1 cups course cornmeal
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

    To Assemble
    1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, pepperjack)
    1/2 cup sliced pickled jalapenos

    In a sauté pan, sauté onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes until onions are clear. Add frozen corn, chilies and spices and cook till warmed through. Salt and pepper to taste.

    To prepare polenta, In a saucepan on medium high heat, heat milk and oil. Whisk in cornmeal and stirring constantly bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring continuously for 10 minutes (this varies based on how course your cornmeal is). Add water by the tbsp if the mixture gets to thick. When cornmeal is cooked thoroughly (it will still be soft and smooth when done) add corn chili mixture, ½ cup Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.

    In a greased muffin tin fill ½ full with polenta mixture. Press the polenta flat and create a small depression in the center. Fill with some shredded cheese and a few jalapenos. Top with another layer of the polenta mix and press. When all the polenta cakes are made and pressed put in the refrigerator or freezer for 10-20 minutes until thoroughly cooled.

    Turn onto a greased baking sheet and place in the oven at 450° and bake for 12 minutes till the bottoms are crispy. Turn on broiler and broil the tops until they are crispy (about 2-4 minutes).

    Cool for a few minutes and eat!

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Poor Single Peas

    For Valentines day, I could have pretended to find some "romantic" soup to make but after a week of birthday celebration I am, of course, sick. Sick for the first time since I got the ax in October! So instead I wanted "feed your soul" sort of soup and looking at my cheat sheet for soups to cover in the next six days split pea sounded the most tempting to my mucus muted palette. Normally split pea is associated with pork or bacon and while both sound wonderful I try to avoid cooking with them (damn vegetarian boyfriend!). So I was drawn to other ideas for "spicing up" your average vegetarian split pea soup. I found two methods that both sounded interesting and both of them rely on garnish for interest so I decided to try both. One called for a topping of caramelized onions and cumin seeds, while the other relies on the power of slow cooked garlic croutons. Maybe the marriage of the two rival the romance of Romeo and Juliet...

    Split Pea Soup with Caramelized Onions and Garlic Croutons


    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 small yellow onion, diced
    1 medium leek, halved, sliced and well rinsed
    2 carrots, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 bay leaves
    2 cups dried split peas
    8 cups vegetable broth
    salt and pepper to taste

    Caramelized Onions with Cumin Seed

    1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    1 tsp cumin seed

    Garlic Croutons

    2 tbsp olive oil
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    pinch of salt
    4-5 thin slices multi-grain bread

    In a skillet heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium low heat. Cook garlic for croutons for about 10 minutes until lightly golden. Do not burn. Salt oil and garlic combo and take off heat. Place bread slices in oil and flip so that each side is well coated with oil. Place on a cooking sheet and sprinkle cooked garlic over reserving oil. Place under a broiler for 1 -2 minute each side or until browned. Set aside to cool. When cool break into pieces.

    In the same skillet heat reserved oil (adding as much a another tbsp if needed). Cook onions and cumin seed over medium low heat for 30 minutes or until onions are golden in color. Set aside.

    While the onions are caramelizing prepare the soup. In a soup pot heat remaining oil over medium heat. Cook onions, leeks, and carrots for 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Add peas, bay leaves and broth and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook 20 minutes or until the peas are cooked. Remove bay leaves, reserve 2 cups of the soup and puree the rest. Return reserved soup to the pot and salt and pepper to taste.

    Serve with garnish of onions and croutons.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Pozole, Posole

    Two day effort went into tonight's soup. Yesterday, I roasted a chicken and made broth with the carcass and was all prepared to cook Jay's favorite, posole, for dinner. Unfortunately Jay had to be an adult and work late and I wasn't about to cook posole for just myself... So I waited till tonight for the preparation. There are of course a multitude of variations. There is Mexican stylepozole, served with a clear broth, and New Mexican style posole with either green or red chili. For those of you unfamiliar with New Mexican cuisine, it seems to pretty much revolve around one central choice: green or red. Green is milder and usually involves some diced cooked chili similar to a fresh pablano, while red is hot and spicy and usually ground into a powder. New Mexico red chili powder is far better than any chili powder I have ever used and quite honestly, I am not sure I could ever go back to the other stuff. When we are in New Mexico we buy it in bulk at the Albertson's (of all places) and use it for the rest of the year. So obviously, given the choices, I made my posole with red chili. It was delicious, easy and very, very satisfying:


    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 jalapeno, minced
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp cloves
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    4 tbsp New Mexican red chili powder
    8 cups chicken broth
    4 cups cooked posole (in cans available at many grocery stores)
    2-3 cups shredded chicken
    salt to taste

    In a soup pot heat oil and cook onions over medium heat until just soft. Add garlic and jalapenos and cook for 3 or 4 minutes more. Add spices and cook for 2 minutes to release flavors. Add broth, cooked posole, and cooked chicken and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook 10 minutes until all the flavors are melded. Salt to taste.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Asceticism is for Ascetics

    I thought that the Potato Soup was simple, but this recipe has set a new bar for simplicity for the month. Jay wanted to try a soup that involved poached eggs and I found a tempting recipe on Epicurious for eggs poached in a garlic broth. The thing is, poaching eggs is harder than it sounds. All conditions have to be ideal and the slightest variation in the freshness of eggs, temperature of the water, or the temperature of the eggs can mess the whole process up and the recipe I found had this elaborate precess for poaching the eggs in the broth in a small 6 inch circle created by a round of bread. This sounded unnecessarily complicated to me. Jay practiced all weekend to be able to achieve the perfect poached egg and introducing new obstacles seemed like a bad idea. In addition the recipe sounded a little on the plain side. So I adjusted technique and recipe slightly to achieve something with a little more "interest". Despite these adjustments Jay still felt like it was a soup for ascetics, granted a tasty soup for ascetics. I recommend you serve it as a first course or along side a substantial side unless you want a very light meal. Strain the leftover broth and use for your next soup!

    Garlic Broth with Poached Eggs

    3 tbsp olive oil
    3 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
    8 cups water
    2 tsp + red pepper flakes
    1 cup kale or other green, sliced thin
    8 slices of a baguette, stale is fine
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    4 fresh eggs
    2 tsp white vinegar
    salt and pepper to taste

    In a large soup pot heat 1 tbsp olive oil over low heat. Cook garlic cloves slowly until the garlic is lightly browned and softened. Add water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 40 minutes until the garlic is very soft. Remove cooked garlic with a slotted spoon. With a fork mash garlic into a paste. Add 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, salt to taste, and set aside. Season broth with remaining red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil again and add kale. Cook for 2 minutes until kale is just soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep broth warm but not boiling.
    Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil and place in the pan. Cook each side until just toasted. Remove from pan and spread one side with a bit of garlic mash. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese. Cook under a broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove and set aside.
    Crack eggs into separate small glasses and bring to room temperature. In a deep skillet heat 3-4 inches of water to a boil. Add vinegar. Lower to a slight simmer. Dip cup into the water allowing the water into the cup but not allowing the egg out. Slowly drop egg into the water and draw errant edges together. Cook for 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Place in the warm broth while you prepare the rest of the eggs. It is difficult to cook more than two eggs at the same time as the water cools with each addition. It is easiest to cook 2 at a time and reheat water in between.
    To serve, split the kale between two bowls. Add two eggs each on top of kale. Pour broth over to fully cover and top with two pieces of bread.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    El Nino says Punxsutawney Phil is full of it

    Last time I made this recipe I was actually living in New England, and in the dark cold winter New England Squash Soup would hit the spot. So, after a bright and sunny 60 degree Groundhog day up here in Seattle (Punxsutawney Phil doesn't know about El Nino) eating such a wintery soup seems a little weird. However this recipe is awesome and needed to be included in the month because it is basically completely fat-free (0k so there are like 2.5 grams of fat in the entire thing - pretty dang close). I think the key to this recipe is the garnish - it's what takes the soup from totally fine to really special - so I don't recommend skipping it. I got it out of that old standby of mine Moosewood Restaurant's Low Fat Favorites, with some slight adjustments (including switching out apple juice for white wine and a whole apple - worthwhile improvement I think):

    New England Squash Soup

    1 cup dry white wine (don't you love a recipe that starts that way!)
    1/2 medium onion, diced - about 1 cup
    2 celery stalks, diced
    1 apple, cored and diced
    2 large cloves garlic, minced
    1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
    1 small yellow skinned potato, cubed
    3 cups vegetable broth
    2 bay leaves
    1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    2 cups sliced white mushrooms
    1/4 cup dry white wine
    2 tbsp soy sauce
    1/2 tsp dried marjoram
    3/4 cup lowfat milk
    salt and pepper to taste

    In a large soup pot bring 1 cup of white wine to a boil. Add onions, celery, apples, and garlic and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer until the vegetable soften, about 10 minutes. Add squash, potatoes, stock, thyme, bay leave, and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until squash is cooked through.
    While the squash cooks, simmer mushrooms in an uncovered skillet with soy sauce, 1/4 cup wine, and marjoram until the mushrooms are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
    When the squash is very soft puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Add milk and salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with a few of the sauteed mushrooms.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Wedding in January - or February

    A few weeks ago I posted a status update on Facebook that I was weeding in January. Most everyone conveniently misread this to say "Wedding in January". In order to avoid a similar problem let me get out of the way that no, we didn't make Wedding Soup for any reason other than it sounded good. Actually, Italian Wedding Soup is apparently thus named by result of a mistranslation. It really is meant to be minestra maritata ("married soup"). In any case, Italian Wedding soup is basically brothy soup with greens and meatballs. There are, of course, many variations, and while I made our version with fake meat, I think ground turkey would work really well this recipe. I adapted the recipe from an Ina Garten recipe. Ina Garten is otherwise known as the Barefoot Contessa and is a protege of Martha Stewart. I don't hold that against her, and her Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is one of my favorites...

    Italian Wedding Soup

    1 lb ground turkey or Gimmie Lean ground beef style meat substitute
    1/4 small red onion, minced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
    2 tbsp fennel seeds (Jay thought this was slightly too much, I liked it... adjust accordingly)
    1/2 cup bread crumbs
    1 egg
    1 tsp salt

    1 small yellow onion, diced
    2 carrots, diced
    2 celery stalks, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    8 cups vegetable broth
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1 cup whole wheat pasta (rotini, elbows, or even orzo would work)
    1 bunch lacinato kale, thinly sliced
    salt and pepper to taste

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine ingredients for meatballs and mix thoroughly. Using a tablespoon or just your hands roll meatballs into 1" balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Take out of the oven and set aside.

    While the meatballs are cooking assemble soup. In a large soup pot heat olive oil and cook onions, celery, and carrots over medium heat for 5 minutes until onions are slightly translucent. Add wine and let the alcohol cook off for a minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add pasta and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until pasta is cooked and add kale. Turn the heat off and let the soup sit for 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. To serve ladle soup into a bowl and drop three meatballs into broth. Garnish with Parmesan and red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.