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Archive for the category “Vegetables”

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

The following recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup is just one of many delicious entries in a new cookbook of recipes using apples by Philip & Lauren Rubin called The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite.

This recipe was sweeter and richer-tasting than my usual butternut squash soup, while still being cream- and butter-free.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
½ cup walnut halves
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced in ¼ -inch rounds

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the squash, apples, carrots, stock, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Ladle the vegetables and half of the broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the remaining broth, one ladleful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place a few walnuts in the center of a soup bowl. Shingle 2 slices of goat cheese on top of the walnuts and ladle the soup around the goat cheese. The idea is to have the goat cheese visible atop the soup. (Hint: it may be easier to ladle the soup into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour from there.)

Serves 6

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Carrot Tomato Soup: Tastiest and Simplest Ever

One of my favorite inventions this summer has been this Carrot Tomato Soup.  I started with the most basic ingredients- carrots, tomato sauce, water and salt.  And then before I decided what to add next, I tasted it: perfect.  Stop there!

Simple, tasty and healthy, it’s the perfect summer soup.

Carrot Tomato Soup

1 pound carrots, scrubbed or peeled and then diced
8oz tomato sauce (1 small can)
8oz water (could substitute milk or cream for a creamier soup)
1 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Optional: olive oil to drizzle on top

1. Boil or steam carrots until tender.  Let cool.

2. In a food processor or blender, combine carrots with tomato sauce, and water.  Blend until smooth.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Put in fridge if you’d like to serve a chilled soup, or reheat on stovetop for a warm soup.  May also serve room temperature, as is my custom.  You may choose to drizzle some olive oil on top of each portion before serving.

Simply Salads’ Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

From Simply Salads, a wonderful cookbook by Jennifer Chandler that builds on store-bought salad greens to make an incredible variety of healthy, tasty meal-sized salads!

Makes 4 dinner salads
Peanut butter lovers beware.  The dressing in this colorful and tasty salad is addictive.

For the Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (if you use natural you may want to add a bit of sugar to sweeten)
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
1/2 cup Peanut Dressing
1/2 cup fresh snow peas
1 bag (5 ounces) Spring Mix salad blend
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (can use supermarket rotisserie chicken)
2 carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a traditional grater
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
2 limes, quartered, for garnish

For the Peanut Dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, canola oil, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:
Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add snow peas and cook until vibrant green and crisp tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain the peas and immerse in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain again and place in a large salad bowl.

Add the salad blend, chicken, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts and toss. Add the dressing to taste and gently toss to coat.

Garnish with lime wedges.  Serve immediately.

Barefoot Contessa at Crate & Barrel

Just received word that Ina Garten, aka Barefoot Contessa, will be sampling her new Red Velvet Cupcake Mix at Crate & Barrel on the Upper East Side (650 Madison Ave, Manhattan) next Thursday, 12/11/08, from 4-6pm.

I’m assuming she’s going to assemble and bake the cupcakes before sampling.  The dry mix might not taste that great.

If there’s anyone I’d trust with making food taste good, it would be Ina Garten, so I’m confident she has this figured out.

Homemade Salad Dressing: Tarragon vinaigrette

I bought a bunch of fresh tarragon at the market because I don’t think I’d ever bought fresh tarragon before.

Then it sat in my fridge for a while, making me feel guilty.

In the nick of time I used it in a delicious homemade salad dressing.

Now I can buy fresh tarragon again!

Fresh Tarragon Vinaigrette

Adapted from Wasabi Bratwurst‘s Everyone’s Favorite Fresh Herb Salad Dressing

What I Changed and Why: Kept the fresh herb to tarragon only to highlight its flavor; Kept the vinegar to just balsamic for simplicity; Adjusted other spices to taste.

3 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, finely minced
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salad greens (such as one small head red leaf lettuce)

1. Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. (If you do not have such a jar then first whisk together all ingredients, adding the fresh herbs at the very end.)

2. Toss the greens & the dressing in a large bowl and plate it.

Sweet Potato Stacks: Tri-color, garlic, fried sage

Gourmet Thanksgiving in Advance (described here) Recipe #4

Quite possibly the best sweet potato recipe ever.

Tri-Color Garlic Sweet Potato Stacks

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine‘s Roasted Sweet-Potato Rounds with Garlic Oil and Fried Sage

What I changed and why: Didn’t puree garlic with oil because I didn’t want the mess; Used pre-chopped jarred garlic because I’m lazy; Used three kinds of sweet potatoes because they all looked so good in the store (the flavors melded beautifully, and the various colors looked pretty); Didn’t peel the sweet potatoes out of laziness and for added nutrition; Made the olive oil extra virgin since its flavor is paramount in the final dish; Increased cooking time since tenderness is important; Changed presentation to stacks just for fun.

1 Tbsp chopped raw garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large sweet potatoes: one garnet, one jewel, one Japanese (about 2 1/2 lb), washed and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
24 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven 450°F with rack in upper third. Toss garlic with olive oil and mix thoroughly with sweet potatoes in large bowl. Spread in 1 layer in a 15-by 10-inch shallow baking pan.

2. Bake until soft, about 30 minutes.

    3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then fry sage leaves in 2 batches, stirring, until crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

    4. To serve, stack sweet potato slices, alternating colors. Place sage leaves on top.

    Recipe: Wild Mushroom and Collard Green Bundles

    Gourmet Thanksgiving in Advance (described here) Recipe #2

    Perhaps the most delicious way to eat collard greens, particularly for those who dislike bitter-tasting collards and/or vegetarians who can’t do the collard greens & bacon thing.

    When you get to step 3, be generous with the filling in each leaf. I had extra which I put in romaine leaves. As you can see in the photo, they’re not as pretty (though surprisingly still tasty, but not as good as the collards).

    Wild Mushroom and Collard Green Bundles

    Adapted from Gourmet Magazine‘s Wild-Mushroom Bundles

    8 large collard leaves, stems and thick portion of center ribs removed
    1/2 cup vermouth
    2 tablespoons shallot, finely diced
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
    1 lb mixed fresh wild mushrooms: shitake, oyster, and chanterelle, cut into wedges (6 cups)
    1. Cook collards in a large pot of boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes, then drain. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, then spread leaves, undersides up, on paper towels, overlapping cut edges slightly, and pat dry.
    2. Bring wine to a boil with shallot, garlic, butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a heavy medium saucepan. Add mushrooms and cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 12 minutes. Butter a 2-qt shallow baking dish, then strain mushroom juices into baking dish, reserving mushrooms.
    3. Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third. Mound a 1/4 cup mushrooms in center of each collard leaf. Fold leaves to enclose filling and arrange bundles, seam sides down, in 1 layer in baking dish and cover the dish with foil. (Or, if making in advance, at this point refrigerate the baking dish for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before heating.)
    4. Heat in oven until bundles are hot and juices are bubbling, about 20 minutes.

    Recipe: Cranberry, Quince, and Pearl Onion Compote

    Gourmet Thanksgiving in Advance (described here) Recipe #1.

    A refreshing, sweet/tart accompaniment to turkey and mashed potatoes. It’s worth it to find quince, which has a pear-like consistency when cooked and a festive winter holiday flavor.

    Cranberry, Quince, and Pearl Onion Compote

    Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2008

    1/2 lb pearl onions (2 cups) – the recipe says “red preferred,” but I could only find white
    2 cups organic apple juice
    1/2 cup (raw) sugar- the recipe called for 1 cup but I found half to be very sweet
    2 T cider vinegar
    6 cloves
    1 tsp coriander seeds- next time I might crush them or use a powdered form since the crunchy seeds stand out in the finished dish
    2 quinces, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 (12-oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries (not thawed if frozen)

    1. Trim root end of each onion and cut an X in it. Blanch in boiling water 1 minute, then drain in a colander. Cool slighly, then peel. Be liberal in what you peel off, since the fibrous outer layers will compete with the texture of the final dish.

    2. Bring juice, sugar, vinegar, and spices to a boil in a 3-qt heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add onions and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add quinces and continue simmering, uncovered, stirring occasionally until both onions and quinces are tender but not falling apart.

    3. Add cranberries and simmer until tender but not falling apart, 5 to 8 minutes. Discard cloves (easier to find than I had feared!). Trasnfer fruit and onions to a bowl using a slotted spoon, then boil syrup, if necessary, until reduced to 1/3 cup. Pour syrup over compote and cool to room temperature. (May be made 3 days ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

    Squash and Pumpkins: Centerpieces… and Edible Too

    Fall is a great time to be a lazy host(ess) because it’s so easy to throw together a centerpiece of squash and pumpkins.

    They’re colorful and seasonal, attractive and long-lasting. They can be arranged and re-arranged.

    Then, when you get sick of looking at them (or when you’ve re-arranged to your heart’s maximum content), slice them in half, scoop out the seeds & stringy parts, and pop them in the oven, cut side down on a cookie sheet with an inch of standing water. Bake ’til soft. And eat.

    Recipe: Balsamic Caesar Salad Dressing

    There are two types of people: those who view salad as something to eat because it’s healthy and those who love salad.

    I truly love salad. Good salad.

    Some friends of my future in-laws, Pat and Beth, spent a year traveling the world before they settled down and had kids. Beth, an avid vegetable eater, nearly went crazy. As soon as they arrived in a new country, Beth learned the word for “green” in the native tongue. At each restaurant she pleaded to the server, “Green! Green!” in hopes that a plate of vegetables would arrive.

    Here’s a fun twist on Caesar salad dressing. I think it appeals to both salad types.

    Balsamic Caesar Salad Dressing

    2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1/2 Tbsp grainy mustard
    1 Tbsp anchovy paste
    1 egg
    1/4 cup olive oil
    Optional: 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

    In a glass measuring cup, combine vinegar, mustard, and anchovy paste and mix with a fork. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add egg and boil 45 seconds. (No more!) Take out with slotted spoon. Rinse with cold water and crack egg into the mixture. Mix well. Whisk in olive oil with a slow, steady stream of olive oil. Coat salad greens, tossing well. If desired, add grated Parmesan and toss again.

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