Thursday, October 16, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper and Potato Soup

On Sunday, I came up with a vague plan to make a roasted red pepper soup this week. Mostly, the plan entailed buying red peppers and figuring out how to turn them into soup later. Here's the outcome: a lovely, creamy, potato-red pepper pairing that was filling and nutritious. I want to do a better job showcasing the regular food we eat around these parts, and this is tasty, relaxed, and very easy to make changes to depending on what you have on hand.

Ingredients
5 red peppers
6-8 yellow potatoes
Head of garlic
1 box vegetable stock
Milk
Olive oil

Fresh thyme
Paprika (smoked or regular, whatever you have on hand or prefer)
Salt
Pepper

White or red wine (optional)
Parmesan rind (optional)
Heavy cream or half and half (for a final drizzle, optional)

Assembly 
Preheat your oven to 400. Then, wash and de-seed your peppers. I typically slice off the top, then slice the pepper into thirds, removing the seeds from the middle. Arrange your clean pepper segments in a large glass baking dish, toss well with several glugs of olive oil, and put them into the oven to roast. This typically takes about 35-40 minutes. You want to keep them in until the skin is blackened and pulling in places.

While the peppers are roasting, peel most of the cloves of garlic from your garlic head. Toss them whole into a deep soup pot with a healthy covering of olive oil, and begin to cook on medium heat. Throw in some white or even red wine if you have it on hand...I poured right of the glass of Pinot I was drinking. Added some nice depth but totally isn't necessary.

Rinse your potatoes and puncture with a fork. Then, throw them in the microwave for 7 minutes, until they are mostly soft. Chop with the skins on and add to the garlic, oil, and wine already simmering.

Next, add your veggie broth and begin to season using salt, pepper, smoked or regular paprika, and thyme. If you have an old parmesan rind on hand, throw 'er in. If not, don't worry about it. Let simmer while your peppers finish.

Once your peppers have a decent blackening going, pull them out of the oven. This is where you really should let them steam in a covered bowl and then remove their peels. But who's got time for that, especially on a weekday? Throw them into the soup pot, peels, oil, and all.

It's time now for your immersion blender (or to do this in batches in a regular blender if that's what you have available). Pull out the parmesan rind if there's one in there, and then immersion blend away. Slowly add milk as you go, until you get the texture you want. I added a drizzle of organic half and half at the end, but again, this is an easy soup and that's not necessary.

Food Allergies & Ethics: Gluten-free, but check your vegetable broth of course. Vegetarian. Replace the milk with coconut milk to make this vegan, or leave it out all together and thin with a bit more broth, wine, or water.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fancy Grilled Cheese, Autumn Edition (Grilled Cheese with Sharp White Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash)

We're big fans of cheese around these parts, especially when it's melting between slices of toasty, buttered bread. Here's an October edition of what P and I like to call Fancy Grilled Cheese aka Grilled Cheese With Extras Like Mustard and Caramelized Onions and All Other Good Things.

Grilled Cheese with White Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash

I used leftover roasted butternut squash here. If you're starting from the beginning, well, turn your oven to 425 or so and get to roasting. Or, to make it easier, just microwave the squash. I'm skeptical too, except that's how our Ma does it and it always works. Stab it with a fork, microwave for between 7-10 minutes or until that cute little squash is falling in on itself.

Once that's taken care of, assemble your grilled cheese components.

Bread (gluten-free if you need)
Sharp white cheddar cheese or gruyere, lots, thinly sliced
Yellow onion, thinly sliced
Butternut or acorn squash, roasted and de-seeded
Sharp mustard
Salt
Butter

1. Heat a little butter in a skillet, and cook your thinly sliced onion over medium-low heat with salt until it becomes extremely soft and begins to caramelize. Don't rush this, to properly caramelize I find onions need 30+ minutes.

2. In the meantime, spread butter and a nice sharp mustard on all sides of your bread.

3. Once the onions are ready, remove from the skillet and set aside.

4. Add a touch more butter to the same skillet, then lay your bread slices down.

5. Flip a few times, and once the bread is beginning to toast nicely, add your thinly sliced cheese.

6. As the cheese is melting, top with caramelized onions and a scoopful of squash.

7. Flip one slice onto the other and toast the whole thing in the skillet with a little more mustard. (Just put a bit down in the skillet like you would butter. This makes for a messy, messy skillet but a delightful, delightful sandwich.)

8. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lime Basil Gin & Tonic

It's the last Friday of summer.  Here's a cocktail inspired by a drink I had somewhere once, the lime basil growing abundantly in the backyard, and LIME FLAVORED EVERYTHING in Mom's fridge.


A squeeze of agave
2 ounces Limeade
3 ounces Lime gin
2 ounces Lime perrier or tonic water
11 Lime Basil leaves (mine are on the small side, so if yours are larger, adust accordingly)
(in the absence of LIME FLAVORED EVERYTHING, plain gin, perrier/tonic, and/or basil will do just fine.)

Honesty:  Those measurements are complete estimates of what I did based off of the interwebs.  I believe you are a smart, capable adult who deserves this cocktail and can guesstimate your measurements just as well as I. ;) 

Place 10 basil leaves in your hand, clap.  Pummel them in a small glass with agave and a small amount of your limeade. Strain out basil leaves.  Add to tumbler with gin, perrier and the rest of the limeade, stir well.  Garnish with final basil leaf.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Plum Raspberry Crumble

I'm home in September for the first time since high school (usually this time of year is kicking off school or busy in other ways), and I forgot how lovely the mild air and changing of the seasons can be here.  The leaves are just beginning to brush yellow, but the best of late summer flowers still spill out of pots around our yard.




Because of this pie, I didn't make nearly enough out of late summer berries, failing to even make my Dad's legendary raspberry cobbler because all I wanted to do was soak peaches in whiskey.  Whoops.  I wanted to remedy that and also to make use of some abundant plums from a tree in my Mum's yard, so I adapted this recipe to suit my late summer/early fall baking desires. The result was exactly right: it has all the tart, fresh flavors of summer, but begins to ease in the subtly spicy-sweet flavors of fall.  I happily baked while old favorites like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tom Petty played out of our stereo with windows and doors thrown open to welcome the almost-crisp night air.  It's a transition dessert, to help us say goodbye to recent favorites while welcoming what's next.



Now, do you think there are still peaches enough to make that pie one last time?

(Oven at 350)
10 small plums
1 cup raspberries (alternately to raspberries and plums, 1 1/2 cups of whatever fruit(s) you please)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp vanilla powder (alternately, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or leave out)
4 TB butter, in small cubes
1/3 cup sliced almonds (optional, feel free to leave out or exchange for pecans or walnuts)

Note: We were concerned that the plums had bitter skins, so I blanched and peeled mine.  You'll want to pit and slice yours, and I leave the peeling up to your discretion.

Place plums and raspberries in the bottom of either four 1/2 cup or two 1 cup ramekins, filling roughly half.  In a small bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar and spices.  With fingers, work butter cubes in until the butter pieces are roughly pea sized or a little larger.  Toss with almonds.  Press crumble on top of fruit, chill ramekins 20 minutes or overnight.  Once ready to bake, heat oven to 350 and place ramekins on a baking sheet with parchment paper to catch any bubbling over.  Bake 22-28 minutes until bubbling and golden. Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream by night or a mug of coffee by morning.  Or vice versa, who am I to judge?





Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bloggiversary, Round Three: Sarah's Five Favorites

Long ago in Wyoming, when we were little girls, Katelyn, Annalise and I went through a phase where we were fighting a lot.  I think we were probably about 12, 9, and 5, so we're talking almost 20 years ago. (Back then, my favorite dinner was elk Dad hunted and butchered himself, with a side of Mom's scallop potatoes.  Sorry about the vegetarianism, Dad - it's about factory farms!)

Well, at some point, the three of us were overtaken with remorse for our bickering and had a meeting after dinner one night in the basement, during which we decided the solution was to form a club, consisting of the three of us, and called ....... ahem:   "Sarah, Katelyn and Annalise in Peace:  SKAP!!"

I'll just let that sink in a bit.

Actually, it gets even better.  The rules of SKAP were that if one sister did something mean to another sister, the third sister got to act in a quasi-judicial capacity and decide what the mean sister had to do for her victim, and then..... we would sing a special song we referred to as the "SKAP Rap."

...... Yep.  The "SKAP Rap."  I don't even know what to say about that, other than that we lived in small-town Wyoming without a television, so please, cut us a break.  Thankfully, I do NOT remember the words.

So, the reason I am telling this completely ridiculous story (other than that I still love to embarrass my younger siblings) is just to say that ever since I left home, I have done nothing but wish that I could again live close enough to my sisters to bicker regularly, make up, and hatch stupid plots together.  Please call me today so we can bicker, OK, guys?

When I claimed "todayicooked.blogspot.com" five years ago and then called my sisters to tell them about it, I was in the middle of probably the lowest period of my life (a divorce in my mid-twenties).  I think I imagined that the blog would be sort of a recipe box, a place to jot down reminders and ideas, and I think it came to mind because I was frankly having trouble forcing myself to cook for nobody but me.  Watching the posts grow ever-longer, as my two deeply thoughtful sisters use the blog to capture pieces of daily life in their lovely writing voices, has been a surprise and a source of happiness again and again over five tumultuous years.

OK!  So recipes:

By Annalise:
Fava Beans with Tomatoes and Toasted Bread.  I love this recipe both on its merits, and because it includes an extended discussion of Annalise's embarrassing childhood nickname (also my fault - I'm on a roll here), and also because it is posted via a photo of an exchange of text messages between her and Katelyn.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes:  This post is all Annalise all the time (covering such essentials as her love of autumn, colored pants, baking, and Pinterest), and coincidentally also contains a recipe sent via text message.

Finally, Annalise, while I will not insult your formidable baking prowess by categorizing our most-read recipe ever as a "favorite," I will note that in the time we've had this blog, you've gone from being a sweet and awesome college girl who makes her friends cookies and takes a blurry phone photo, to a sweet and awesome college grad who makes an entire Thanksgiving dinner for 40 immigrant teenagers and takes sophisticated photos on a fancy camera.  Well played.  

By Katelyn:
Tha(ish) Indian(ish) Soup:  I obviously make this without chicken, and it's straight-up one of the yummiest things on the blog.  I might make it today!

Strawberry Breakfast Salad with Cowboy:  This salad is quintessential Katelyn:  Healthy, comforting, fresh, and unexpected.  Plus, the post itself is very sweet, which is also quintessential Katelyn.  Tell that cowboy to eat his salad!

Katelyn, I credit your entries on this blog with helping me get into much healthier eating habits than 5 years ago.  You are so thoughtful about everything you do in life, and (science jokes like this one aside) you really bring all of your scientific and social scientific training and learning to bear on everyday decisions.  Everyone in our family benefits a lot from that.

By Sarah:
Fresh Corn and Fava Soup:  This is the kind of thing I wish I managed to eat every single day!  Mostly veggies, with flavor.

Alright, that's it from me.  Thanks for letting me publicly air my great love for these two:

Annalise and I are pretending to be aliens.  I am confident that today, now that she is no longer a preteen wearing awesome lipgloss, Katelyn would join us.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bloggiversary, Round Two: Kate's Five Favorite Recipes from Five Years

The sisters and I started blogging five years ago. A lot of things have changed since then, from where we live to what we look like and what we do. But our enduring love for food, and for talking to each other about food, has stayed the same.

Here are my five favorite recipe posts from the last five years of blogging. 

By A: 
See my dear little sister, you're not always last!

Frozen Sweet Potato Fries: C'mon, kids, who doesn't love a good frozen fry? A thinks this is a favorite because I love to make fun of her. That's true, but I chose it for two other reasons, as well. First, I take a lot of pride in the fact that despite being foodies, us Parady girls are not snobby about our food. We love all kinds of meals and all kinds of recipes, for all kinds of reasons. Frozen fries are GOOD, and quick, and they belong on this here bloggie.

Second, lil' sis has greatly expanded both her palate and her kitchen skills over the past five years. I'm really proud of her. The fries are a favorite, then, because they highlight just how amazing some of her more recent posts are, especially the one I've chosen as another favorite, below.

Grandma's Fresh Lemon Pie: Lemons, pie, and Grandma. I recently moved away from the city that Annalise and I have been living in together, and this post makes me get a little weepy. She and I have spent four of the last five years baking pies in my kitchen, spending time together with our Grandma, and salivating over Arizona lemons from A's yard. This pie, and Annalise's gorgeous presentation of it, is a gem. 

By S: 
So much of what I know about cooking I learned from Sarah. Our parents are pretty darn good in the kitchen. But it's S who imparted the three most important rules of my kitchen: veggies are delicious, so is cheese, and no cooking project is ever too big. See below.

Warm Tortilla Salad & "Jalapeno Poppers": S is the queen of creating amazing salads, and this is a classic Parady sister "eat-a-delicious-salad-with-a-rich-side" pairing. The flavor and texture combo here is ridiculously good, and one that all three of us love: tangy, salty, perfectly acidic, creamy, and crunchy. Oh wait, everyone really loves that combination! Final comment: if you haven't made these poppers yet, do it this weekend. So easy, so enjoyable.

Yogurt: A Collaborative Sororial Post: Besides assurances from Sarah's husband that this is the best yogurt, ever, I chose this post because it is mostly a transcript of a cell phone conversation between Sarah, in Denver, and me, in North Carolina. So much of Sarah's wisdom comes my way over the phone, sadly, so it feels appropriate.

And now, for the big confession. I actually haven't taken the plunge and made yogurt yet. I'm scared! But I'm going to do it soon. Because the most important thing I've learned from big sis is that all the life things are terrifying-- but you just do them anyway. I'm trying to follow her into the world of making bold career decisions (she started her own firm this year), but maybe I'll take a baby step in the kitchen first. Join me, dear blog readers, and let's be fearless in the face of FERMENTATION AND BACTERIA.

By K (me):

Spiced Molasses Holiday Pie: This pie was born from a long review of other recipes for molasses pie and shoo-fly pie. The traditional recipes fittingly come from Pennsylvania Dutch country where our Mom grew up. They seem to have a crumb layer in addition to a "wet" molasses filling. Our version instead offers straight-up gooey goodness, with a filling that I think was originally based on this recipe in particular. (I didn't take good notes during my search, so unfortunately we've never really been sure how it came to be, but that looks very close.) Together, Annalise and I created two different versions, one stronger and topped with a maple whipped cream, one sweeter and topped with a cinnamon whipped cream. Pick one, and make it this holiday season.

Here's to the next five years of recipes!

K

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bloggiversary: Annalise's 5 Favorite Recipes from 5 Years

Today, this bloggy of ours turns 5 years old - we can scarcely believe it.  In all of those five years, we've never celebrated the anniversary, but we figured 5 is a big deal. If our blog were a human, it could be starting kindergarten!  All 3 of us will be posting to share our top 5 recipes over the next few days, a "Greatest Hits" collection, if you will.

While we know posts have been few and far between recently, we really love this blog, and searching through the archive for ALL-TIME FAVORITES (an impossible task) reminded me of why I'm personally so happy we have it. Looking through posts reminded me of some of my happiest memories with my sisters, as well as some of harder times we've faced together and the therapy that cooking provided.  I also found myself (as our Mum would say) LOL-ing over the signature Parady cornball humor that is sprinkled throughout all of our posts.  I remembered how K was so excited over her IMMERSION BLENDER that she demanded we caps-lock those words in all recipes, found this joke from Sarah that went sadly un-appreciated and laughed over my own early cooking college days.

Cooking is (clearly) a big deal to our family, and whether we are calling each other on the phone for a recipe reminder and throwing in a quick life update on the way or spending hours together baking way too many pies for a big holiday dinner, it keeps us close in moments big and small.  This blog allows us to record that, along with being a virtual recipe box, so thank you for reading and allowing us to share our delicious memories with you.

Starting with the oldest sister first, here are my two favorite recipes by Sarah: 
TOMATO SOUP YES MORE TOMATO SOUP
I would be remiss if I were to not choose a soup recipe from Sarah, and as the title of this recipe states, tomato soup recipes are her particular favorite.  There are 47 soup recipes on this blog, and once when I wanted to make one for a sick roommate I called Sarah directly because I was too overwhelmed to choose.  This is the one she directed me to and it certainly lived up to the caps-locked hype.  I would declare it her favorite but fall is on its way and I would not be shocked if another tomato soup recipe appeared along with it.  Making it reminds me of many such phone calls over the years to my sisters, who always have the right food answers.

Watermelon Feta Quinoa Salad
An alternate title for this blog could be "soupsandpieandquinoa.blogspot.com".  While our tastes and preferences vary drastically, there are also strong similarities between the three of us, one being that our cooking/eating alternates between very healthy and very indulgent.  We call it a "balanced" diet - a favorite lunch order for all three of us is sweet potato fries + salad.  Here's a recipe that came out of a suggestion I made on an email thread where we all challenged each other to come up with something we all three would eat (initially Sarah said she hates watermelon, then she ended up being the one to post it, so ha!) and came to fruition during a summer cookout at Sarah's home.  Triple-Parady-approved!


By Kate:
Maple Custard Cream Pie
Choosing a pie from Kate was essentially mandatory for me, as our joint love of pie has been a dominating theme on this blog and also in many happy memories together during our years in Phoenix.  We are the sisters who once made 5 Thanksgiving pies for only 10 people. However, I will admit that there was a time where I *gasp* didn't have a deep love of pie.  This was the pie that changed that, so of course it came from K.  It's still a long-time favorite of mine, particularly for Christmas morning.

Roasted Corn and Tomato Risotto
Risottos are a specialty of K's, and they are partially responsible for me starting to eat vegetables a few years ago while I was still listed as the "finicky carnivore" in our blog description.  Big sisters are excellent for tucking foods you are skeptical of into creamy, cheesy, flavorful rice so that eventually you will eat them on their own.  I chose this one because we are just at the tail end of abundant corn and tomatoes, but you can't go wrong with any of the risottos she's shared.

By me: 
Costan Rican Casado and Guanabana Batidos
As the youngest sister on this blog, my culinary skills are always lagging just a tad behind the others (and some of my more embarrassing cooking moments have been archived here).  It's a point of pride and amusement for me, then, that I wrote our TWO MOST VIEWED POSTS of all time.  Muahahaha.  This is the second most-viewed, but I am actually proud of rather than embarrassed by this one.  Going abroad was the best thing for my development as a cook, because I became the de facto cook for my roommates and was challenged by unusual ingredients.  Upon return, I took it upon myself to recreate my favorite meal from Costa Rica, and the result is this post that has apparently become some sort of "expert" recipe for others who miss the light, fresh meals found there.

Bonus favorite by Mum:
French Onion Cream of Mushroom Soup
I couldn't resist including a guest post from our Mom in my list of favorite-ever posts.  While I myself have never made this soup (the picky eater in me still can't stomach mushrooms), K captured our family perfectly in writing this post.  I remember reading it and laughing so hard I fell off my bed and startled my roommate two rooms away.  It deserved to be on here.

Look forward to hearing from K and S soon, and maybe take some time to glance through our archives yourself.  Happy bloggiversary to us!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Heidi's Zucchini Agrodolce

I just wanted to say that I made this and it was amazing.



I love that Heidi's recipes always have unique flavor profiles that you can still meddle with.  Besides her ingredients:

a dressing of vinegar, salt, garlic, honey and olive oil;
mandoline-sliced zucchini,
blanched red onion also thinly sliced on the mandoline,
toasted walnuts
toasted coconut flakes, and chopped dates...

...I also added:

mandoline-sliced carrots,
kernels of corn,
green beans chopped into tiny green bean coins,
finely chopped black olives, and
finely chopped parsley.

I served the resulting crispy salad on a bed of lightly dressed greens, just to give our jaws a break from chewing.  Take that, CSA box!  

Melon-Olive Skewers with Bread & Rosemary

I haven't snapped a picture of these skewers at any of the several summer barbeques for which I've made them, but besides being juicy and chewy and savory and sweet, they are also quite lovely, pale green and red and black.  You'll need:

One ripe green melon (really key that you get a good one, as we all know the horrors of unripe honeydew - cantaloupe would probably be nice too), cubed
Cherry or grape tomatoes 
Gemlik olives (mild, wrinkly black "breakfast olives"), pitted
Crusty bread, cubed

Skewer these items (all at a 1:1 ratio); drizzle them with a mixture of olive oil, something tart (lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, balsamic, apple cider vinegar, etc.), rosemary, and salt; and grill them.  Smaller cubes grill more nicely and are easier to eat.  You can serve people their own skewers, or unskewer everything, toss in a bowl, and serve as a salad.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Food from Turkey

Almost a year ago, my spouse and I took a vacation to Turkey.  The trip very much reminded me of how weakly educated I am in history before the past 100 years or so, something that I suppose is not a surprise, living as I do in the "New World," on a thoroughly colonized continent in a society that chooses to view its own history as beginning a bit over 200 years ago.  In Turkey, you can't avoid the physical signs of layers and layers and layers of history, society upon society, world upon world.  It's dizzying to the American mind, and very wonderful.

Anyway, this here is a food blog, and the reason I'm posting so belatedly about our trip is that I've been making some very tasty melon-black olive-bread skewers all summer, and as I thought about posting them here, I realized that the idea came from eating many Turkish breakfasts involved juicy, honey-sweet melons and mild, wrinkly black olives.  This made me nostalgic, I went back to my photos of the trip, and here are all the delicious things I found there:

White beans in rich broth in Cappadocia.

Melt-in-your mouth mezze at Seten.

A bulgur-and-chickpea soup with the most amazing flavor (which I've been meaning to try making), also at Seten.

Breakfast:  Olives, cheeses, fruits, tomatoes, raisins.  Heaven.

Eating a little wild apple from an abandoned orchard in the Rose Valley.

There were grapes, too!

Wonderful bread and haydari

Clay pot, cracked open (which took some effort) for eating on a chilly night

Cheese-filled flatbread on the river in the Ihlara River Valley

Honey and pistachios and flaky pastry

More mind-blowing mezze in Kalkan, at a place called Olive Garden

Lunch to go in Istanbul.


Beautiful pasta at a museum restaurant in Istanbul

Fancy manti at Mikla

Sweets and spices at the Spice Bazaar

Peppers and white beans from another lovely lunch counter

Husband with sesame bread

Cheers!



Friday, August 29, 2014

Bourbon Peach Pie

We know this space has been neglected.  Just the other day Kate sent an email to us asking for the recipes that are currently simmering on our stovetops, and as she declared herself in a cooking rut I realized that I am in the same uninspired place.

To be fair, we've had a busy summer of changes.  In July, I ended my two-year AmeriCorps program and moved out of the sweet old house that I was lucky enough to live in for two years.  Somewhere in between there I waved good-bye to Kate and Pete as they moved across the country for an exciting new chapter.  Sarah, meanwhile, has been working her tail off in her own new professional venture.  And now I sit, still in the Phoenix heat, rarely feeling the motivation to do much more than roast some simple veggies or follow someone else's recipe to a T.



Luckily, motivation can always be found in pie, and all the more so when that pie involves booze.  I've been on the hunt for a solid bourbon peach pie recipe all summer, dreaming of something that married two of my favorite vices perfectly.  In early summer, my friend and (now) new roommate Mandy and I had a night of too-much-pie-baking to celebrate our program graduation that ended with us laying on her floor at midnight while pies (multiple) still sat in the oven, including these bourbon peach hand pies by smitten kitchen.  Her husband declared them the best "pop tart" he'd ever eaten, and they were delicious to be sure, but lacking the kick of bourbon I was hoping for.  It seemed every recipe I could find gushed about adding a "splash of bourbon", but who wants just a splash? I, personally, would like some drunken peaches. A few weeks later, I decided that another google search was in order, and baked a peach pie with bourbon-laced caramel as my last pie in the kitchen I dearly loved.  The caramel didn't set quite right, but it was also lovely and perfect for feeding the kind friends and family that helped my roommates and I move.  Still, the truly boozy pie I was seeking alluded me until Mandy found what we had hoped for: a recipe that validated our desire to simply soak the peaches in bourbon until the cows came home. We loosely followed that, and here's the result, a pie that will make you ecstatically happy to be an adult even while dealing with responsibilities like moving in 100+ heat.  I should know, it's already been made three times since then, somehow always coming before the many other berry-filled summer desserts I have vague ambitions to bake but haven't gotten around to.


Hopefully fall will provide these sisters with a little more stability, and we'll have some fresh veggie-filled ideas for you.  But until then, pie:

1 double pie crust dough, chilled
7 juicy peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
(at least) 1/4 cup of bourbon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon salted butter (or unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of salt)

In a large bowl, douse sliced peaches in bourbon (don't be shy).  Cover and let chill for awhile, at least a couple hours but overnight recommended (the longer they chill, the more bourbon they'll soak up).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl, then mix with peaches.  Roll out pie crust and place in 9 inch pie pan.  Fill bottom crust with peaches, cover with scattered pieces of butter, cover with top crust (or lattice, if preferred).  Be sure to ventilate crust,  then brush with egg wash and dust with raw sugar.

Bake for 35 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 for an additional 25-30, until crust is golden.  Cover crust edges with aluminum foil or pie shield if browning too quickly.

Cheers!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Improvised Meals: Coconut Rice with Greens and Chili-Garlic Black Beans

There's little in this life I find more satisfying than being able to improvise a delicious dinner when we are running low on fresh groceries or when the things in the fridge seem super random. Sometimes my efforts on this front fall pretty flat, but recently I've had good luck and so am going to share a few "improvised meals". Maybe my lovely and creative sisters will join me and post a few of their own?

The first meal in this little mini-series couldn't be easier, and like many of the most nourishing meals, is built around grains and beans. I always keep coconut milk and this Huy Fong chili garlic sauce on hand (looks like the company has verified it is free of gluten), which here adds most of the flavor.



Ingredients
1 can black beans
1 can coconut milk, full fat
1 cup rice (I like to use short-grain brown rice here, but whatever you have on hand will be fine)
1 egg (optional but highly recommended)
Few large handfuls of greens (spinach, arugula, etc)
Garlic (optional)
Salt
Red pepper flakes
Hot sauce (I love the Huy Fong chili garlic sauce so much & the company has verified it is gluten free)
Sesame oil

Assembly
Prepare your coconut rice, using the coconut milk as a partial substitute for water. When cooking brown rice with water, I use a 1:2 ratio; when subbing in some coconut milk I increase the total amount of liquid by about 1/4 cup.

Heat some sesame oil in a pan and add garlic, then black beans. Heat black beans through with red pepper flakes, salt, and hot sauce. In the meantime, fry an egg in a separate pan.

When rice and egg is ready, toss greens on top of bean mixture to wilt. Top rice with beans, egg, and as much extra hot sauce as you can take!

Food Allergies & Ethics: Gluten-free (check your hot sauce), vegetarian, and dairy free. Omit the egg to make it vegan.








Thursday, June 5, 2014

CSA Dinner: Coconut Rice, Braised Baby Bok Choy, and Grated Baby Turnips with Nori Salt

Just a quick note on a dinner that came together just right.  

In this week's CSA, among other things, we got four small, delightful turnips with perfect greens and some baby bok choy.

I made short-grain black rice in the rice cooker with water and half a can of coconut milk (Katelyn taught me that!); braised the bok choy and turnip greens in avocado oil, ponzu, and a little miso; baked an eggplant into lovely softness; and topped it all with grated turnips (spicy and crunchy!) tossed in nori salt.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Guest Post: Sunday Chicken, Two Ways (Orange, Kalamata Olives & Fennel or Roasted Red Peppers, Provolone & Basil)

First of all, I am honored to be invited to guest blog again for the fabulous Parady sisters.  

Summer has finally arrived in Laramie, Wyoming, and summertime begs for good, flavorful food!  If you are like me, though, brats and burgers won't necessarily cut it.  My husband Kelby and I have begun a weekend routine of getting all inspired from watching "Lidia's Kitchen" on PBS on Saturday morning and then re-creating her genius for a Sunday night backyard date night.  These two chicken dishes are really, really easy, and really, really delicious.  And, your kitchen will smell amazing for days.



Chicken with Orange, Kalamata Olives, and Fennel

You will need:
- One package of chicken breasts or chicken cutlets (I swear that using free-range, organic, antibiotic-free, etc. chicken really does cook and taste better)
- Two generous tablespoons of unsalted butter (again, I use the fanciest butter I can find - I love Kerrygold Irish butter)
- Two generous tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour (or a gluten-free flour substitute)
- Large red onion
- Large, ripe orange
- One cup pitted and halved Kalamata or Gaeta olives
- Dry white wine (for drinking while cooking, of course, but save a cup or so for the recipe, too!)
- One teaspoon fennel powder
- Chopped fresh Italian parsley

Tackle the fennel powder first.  Having freshly-ground fennel is key for this recipe - all of the other flavors hinge on it!  I had Kelby carefully clean our coffee bean grinder (with some disassembling, I think, to get all the coffee grounds out of the filters and mechanisms), and ground a little more than a teaspoon of fennel seed in it. You haven't smelled until you've smelled freshly ground fennel.

Next, prep your chicken.  If you use chicken breasts, cut them on a bias to create two thin slices from each breast. 

Zest and juice the orange, slice the red onion, and halve the olives, if necessary.  

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat - it is important to keep from overheating the mixed fats and burning them off, and to keep from over-cooking the chicken. Season the chicken breasts with kosher salt, and lightly dredge through the flour. Tap off any excess flour. Brown the chicken for about two minutes on each side and set aside. Add the onion and cook until it softens. Then add the olives, orange juice and zest, fennel powder, and some white wine.  I just eyeballed the amount of white wine to use, but I'd say it was between 1/2 and 1 cup.  Cook for a couple of minutes, and then add the chicken back to the skillet to cook for a few minutes more, until all the ingredients come together in a sauce that coats the chicken and the chicken is cooked through. Correct seasoning with a pinch of salt, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. 


Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers, Provolone, and Basil

For this variation on chicken, you will need:

- One package of chicken breasts or chicken cutlets
- Two generous tablespoons of unsalted butter 
- Two generous tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- All-purpose flour (or a gluten-free flour substitute)
- One 8-oz. jar of roasted red peppers
- A few ripe tomatoes (use whichever variety is most in season)
- One teaspoon dried oregano
- One cup (at least) grated provolone
- Fresh basil

Slice the red peppers, and dice the tomatoes. The amount of tomato you use is variable, depending on your preference for them, and depending on what tomato variety you have.  If you use plum or roma tomatoes, use about four or five of them.  If you use beefsteak, use only two. Remove the seeds when dicing them. 

Prepare and cook the chicken as you would in the recipe above. However, rather than removing the chicken after browning it, leave it in the pan, and add the peppers, tomatoes, oregano, and about a teaspoon of salt.  Simmer the ingredients until they come together in a sauce.  Top everything with the grated provolone and fresh chopped basil, cover, and cook a few minutes more.  

Final tip: If you don't have a pair of herb scissors, I highly recommend investing in one. Herbs, especially small-leafed herbs, can be such a pain to de-stem and chop, and herb scissors will reduce that prep time down to nothing and make fresh herbs much easier to incorporate into your recipes.  Here's what they look like (in fact, this is the exact pair that I use): http://www.amazon.com/RSVP-SNIP-Herb-Scissors/dp/B000TYKWMI.  

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Tea Smoothie With Strawberries + Avocado

It was 111° F here in Phoenix yesterday. With heat like that, a smoothie in the morning is basically a necessity, but the typical dairy + banana base loses its appeal.

Enter the summer smoothie made with sun-brewed green or herbal ice tea, avocado for creaminess, frozen berries, cinnamon, and honey. This morning, I covered frozen strawberries with tea I brewed in the sun yesterday using 1 bag of organic green and 2 bags of Tulsi Cleanse. After blending with my immersion blender, I added 1/2 an avocado and a ton of cinnamon and honey, then blended again until smooth. Light, hydrating, creamy, and delicious.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Yogurt: A Collaborative Sororial Post

Sarah dictated her foolproof yogurt-making process to ace interviewer Katelyn, who transcribed and gave it back for editing, and here you have it:  

Homemade yogurt is awesome, saves a ton of $$, and isn't all that effortful, although it takes 1 or 2 tries to get in the swing of it.  I make it roughly every 2 weeks on Sunday nights.



You will need:

A starter yogurt.  I like Noosa best if you can get it.  Fage works great too.  You need at least 2 TB; I usually use about 1/2 a cup.  Or, you can buy a stable culture online at www.culturesforhealth.com.  (They also have a lot of good advice and info on their site.)

Half a gallon of full-fat, high-quality, pasteurized (but not ultra-pasteurized) milk.  If you make a gallon at a time, it takes a LOT longer to heat and cool the milk, so I've decided a half gallon is the perfect amount.

A stock pot big enough to hold all of your milk; a soup pot to boil water in for sterilizing things; a strainer; a whisk; a ladle; a cooking thermometer; enough canning jars to hold 1/2 gallon total; and a cooler big enough to hold all the jars.   (Canning tools are nice to help handle the hot jars, but not necessary.)

About an hour (mostly because of the time to heat and cool the milk).

To make the yogurt:

1.  Assemble equipment and get your starter yogurt out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

2.  Heat the milk in the stock pot up to 175 degrees (Farenheit) to scald it.  Start stirring when it gets up to about 165 to prevent it from boiling over.  (Since we're using a strainer, don't worry too much about some milk cooking to the bottom of the pot.)  As soon as it hits 175, take it off the heat.

3.  Cool the milk to 120.  This takes a LONG time at room temperature.  I recommend putting the stock pot in the freezer with the lid off and checking the temperature frequently.

4.  While the milk cools, fill your cooler with 90-degree water, just high enough that it won't come up to the lids of your jars and leak in.   And start your saucepan of water boiling to sterilize the jars.  (You can also sterilize your whisk, ladle, strainer, and canning tools at this point and lay them out on a clean towel.)

5.  When the milk gets to 120, take it out of the freezer, and whisk in your starter yogurt so the bacteria get mixed around.

6.  Then, sterilize your jars one by one, ladling the milk mixture through the strainer into each one to fill it, putting a lid on it (not too tight), and putting it in the warm water in the cooler.

7.  Leave the yogurt in the closed cooler for 10-12 hours (overnight works well). It should be quite thick and tart; the longer you leave it, the thicker and more tart it will get.  Mine comes out thick enough that you can see little bubbles frozen on the surface around the edges.

NOTES:

- I like to sterilize because that way, the yogurt lasts a VERY long time (like a month!) in the fridge.  When I tried skipping that step, I had a few batches go bad.

- I used to love thick greek-style yogurts, and experimented with straining my yogurt to get that thickness, but have come to love the delicate texture of unstrained yogurt.

- Commercial yogurts don't have stable cultures, so you need to either buy a stable culture like one from Cultures for Health (and then use your own yogurt to start each subsequent batch), or use a new starter each time.  Since we usually eat up a whole batch before I get around to making another, it's been easier for me to just buy a new starter each time - and still cost-effective given the quantity.

- If you want to make a gallon at a time, 1/2 a cup of starter yogurt is still plenty.

- If you have a spot in your house that stays at a steady 90 or 95 degrees, you could skip the cooler and just put the jars there.  (Top of water cooler, by heater, in greenhouse, etc.) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Guest Post: Thai Feast

Guest Post from the recently relocated Natalie (sometimes blogging at Lady Justice):

We made a thai feast for some friends tonight, and it turned out pretty well, so I thought I would share these recipes I found.  This was the first time I had really made thai food like this (I have made curry before, but not the whole shebang), so I didn't really know what I was doing, but following recipes (and then adding my own personal twist here and there) is pretty easy and fun!

1. Tofu Tom Yum Soup:

My variations: I used a lot more tofu than it called for.  In fact, I don't even know what the recipe means by "8 medium sized cubes of tofu" . . . only 8 pieces, really? I used a whole pound!  So I would recommend doubling the water/broth amount as well.  I also substituted fresh thai basil leaves for the kaffir lime leaves. And I omitted the chili peppers (because I don't eat them).

2. Yum Pak Grood:

Omitted the chiles, otherwise by the book.  Fiddlehead ferns!!

3. Tofu Massaman Curry:

This recipe has a gajillion ingredients, but the homemade curry flavor is worth it!

Because there just weren't enough ingredients already, I also added 3 carrots (thinly sliced in half lengthwise and then on the bias), which I put in with the potatoes.  I substituted 1 lb.  cubed tofu for the chicken in this recipe.  I also used actual minced shrimp instead of shrimp paste, and fresh lime juice instead of tamarind.  I also subbed veg. broth for chicken broth (of course), and I subbed black pepper for white pepper, and ground cumin for whole cumin.  And I omitted red pepper, but left in a little bit of cayenne pepper.  (I served chili sauce, fresh lime wedges, and fresh cilantro on the side of all items as desired.)  Everything else by the book (or web page as it were).

4. Cassava Cake:

A super easy and tasty dessert!  I added 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 3 tbsp. agave to this recipe (as recommended by others in the comments).  Also, I used about 2 1/2 c. cassava, fresh grated from the whole root vegetable.  I also sprinkled powered sugar on the top.  (This totally freaked my boyfriend out because we weren't following the recipes exactly.  It's like he doesn't know what's going to happen if we improvise.  What are you doing . . . will the powdered sugar change the taste of the whole cake?!  Lol.)

Warning: Make sure if you are using fresh cassava to cur all the skin off, cut it into chunks, cut out the woody fiber from the center of the vegetable, and rinse the chunks well before grating.  Cassava can make you sick if you don't pre-rinse it or if you undercook it.  But since this recipe cooks for at least an hour, it should be fine.

We also served the cake with green tea, coffee, and green tea cakes as another dessert alternative.  I found all of these interesting and exotic items at Uwajimaya, a fantastical and gigantic Asian Supermarket wonderland in downtown Seattle!

I wish I would have taken pictures because it was tasty and eye-catching too!  But by the time I get it all made I am too hungry to think about taking pictures!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Guest Post: Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

An email from our momma:  

i made these this morning & they are YUM! left out the cloves & chocolate chips. Upped the nutmeg & ginger slightly, added ground flax seeds - tablespoon or 2, and chopped walnuts. I tossed some raw pepitas with a small amount of raw sugar & sprinkled on top of muffins before baking. The pumpkin seeds really added a nice crunch :D

XOXOXOXO


Monday, March 10, 2014

Gluten-Free Almond + Orange Tea Cookies

These fluffy, cakey cookies actually remind me of a lemon poppyseed olive oil cake I picked up recently at the La Grande Orange Grocery in Phoenix. I whipped them up on Sunday to serve with chamomile tea (for P) and a hot whiskey toddy with fresh squeezed orange juice (for me).

I came up with the recipe after reviewing five or six recipes for orange and almond cookies online. The batter was just a little too wet to form with my hands, but happily they baked beautifully as cookies and did not pancake at all. The cakey texture and mellow flavor makes them perfect for serving as a snack with tea anytime of the day.

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup gluten-free baking mix 
2 eggs
Zest of 1 small orange
Juice of 1/2 small orange
2 teaspoons almond extract
Several drops orange extract or food-grade orange essential oil (optional)

Assembly 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a cookie sheet, or cover your cookie sheet with a Silpat baking sheet or parchment paper. 

Cream your sugar with olive oil and softened butter. Add almond meal, flour, and eggs. Mix well. Zest one small orange over your mixing bowl. Once you are done zesting, squeeze the juice of about 1/2 of the orange into the bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of almond extract. If you have it on hand, add several drops of food-grade orange essential oil or orange extract. 

Use a spoon to drop batter onto the baking sheet. The recipe will make a dozen cookies and you should be able to bake them in one batch; just make sure to leave about two inches between cookies. Bake for 15 minutes, and let cool completely before enjoying. 

If you prefer a sweeter treat, these would be great with a quick icing made of confectioners sugar and fresh-squeezed orange juice. If you don't have orange extract or essential oil on hand for the batter, you might consider making a quick reduction from the juice of a full orange to make sure the citrus flavor comes through. These would also be lovely with thinly sliced almonds baked in or pressed on top.

Finally, the batter is pretty forgiving so if you want to play around and add a bit more juice or almond flavor, or if you think it needs a bit more or less flour, go for it. The batter has the consistency perhaps of something between a traditional cake and traditional cookie batter, so don't worry if it seems a bit wet. 

Enjoy!

Food Allergies and Ethics: These are gluten-free. However, if you are not living in a gluten-free household you could easily use all-purpose flour in place of the gluten-free baking mix. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Roasted Tomato & Rosemary White Bean Dip

Spring has come to Arizona, but for everyone still suffering from cold weather this roasted tomato and rosemary white bean dip is just the thing. I served it during the holidays and for the superbowl; it's great party fare but also nice to have on hand during the week to use as a sandwich spread or salad topper.
Ingredients
1 container grape or cherry tomatoes
3-4 roma or hothouse tomatoes
1 head garlic
10 sprigs fresh rosemary 
3 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Smoked paprika
Chipotle powder (optional)



Assembly
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Quarter roma or hothouse tomatoes and halve grape or cherry tomatoes. Slice the top off of the garlic head. Arrange tomatoes and garlic together in roasting pan and drizzle very generously with olive oil, pouring a nice glug directly over the head of garlic, especially. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Let roast for 30 minutes, then add about half of your rosemary  and stir or flip tomatoes. Roast for an additional 30 minutes or until your tomatoes are running with juice and beginning to caramelize. 



While tomatoes are roasting, pour three cans of rinsed and drained cannellini bins into a large saucepan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika to taste. Add chipotle powder if interested in a spicier, smokier dip. Add good amount of de-stemmed rosemary leaves to the saucepan. Stir and mash gently while beans heat all the way through. Add more olive oil if they begin to get too dry. 

Remove tomatoes and garlic from oven and beans from heat. Add tomatoes and beans to a large serving bowl. Remove rosemary sprigs, but feel free to knock the leaves off into the beans and tomato bowl. Rinse garlic head under cold water and then slip skin off of the roasted cloves. Mash cloves into the beans and tomatoes with a masher or a large fork until texture is how you prefer. I like it fairly smooth but with some of the beans keeping their form. Make sure to pour all of the oil from the roasting pan into the dip, and add other seasonings until the flavor is as you prefer. Decorate with remaining rosemary sprigs.

Serve warm with roasted or raw vegetables, crackers, bread, or even tortilla or potato chips. Enjoy.



Food Allergies and Ethics: The dip itself is gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. Just be mindful of what you serve it with. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Baked Farro

I've tried making farro before, but somehow I never got why people rave about it.  This time I do.  It's a perfect, hearty, deliciously savory vegetarian meal for a cold night.



Ingredients:
2 cups (dry) farro - note whether you have whole, semi-pearled, or pearled
2 cups of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce
2 cups broth
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 egg
2 cups grated cheese (I used a gouda)
1 cup chopped parsley

First, if you are using whole farro, you will need to either soak overnight, or pressure-cook for 10 minutes. For semi-pearled or pearled, you need to cook it for a few minutes in the broth until it softens a bit.

Then, just mix together all of the other ingredients, pour them over the farro (and broth) in a baking pan, and bake uncovered for 45 minute at 400.   

Newfangled Cheese Ball

I made this over the holidays and it got eaten faster than anything else on the snack table.  The parsley makes it much more attractive than your traditional cheddar-and-almonds orange blob.

In case of recipe link death (it has happened to some of our early posts!  Quelle horreur!), here's what you need to know:

Ingredients:

Group One:
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 TB buttermilk
8 ounces cream cheese
about 3 Medjool dates, minced (should be 3 TB)

Group Two:
1 TB minced shallots
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Group Three:
1/4 cup minced parsley
2.5 TB walnuts, toasted and finely chopped


Thoroughly mix Group One (you may need to let your cheeses soften first), then mix in Group Two.  Use saran wrap to form this mixture into a ball, refrigerating it for a bit first if needed.  Unwrap, separately mix together Group Three, and roll the cheeseball in the mixture.

Cotija Tacos

The main point of this post is to note that it's easy to make a delicious, salty, soft-and-chewy round of griddled cotija in the toaster oven.  Make some little piles of crumbled cotija on the metal toaster tray.... toast them.... et voila! Plunk each one on a warmed corn tortilla and top it as you please.  I used crema, pickled onion, and some corn and nopales (finely diced and browned in butter, lime juice, paprika, cayenne, cumin and salt).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cinnamon Ginger Sea Salt Energy Bars (Gluten-Free and No-Bake)

Most gluten-free energy bars rely on dried fruit and nuts, and in my experience tend to be overly sweet. These snack bars are made from a very flexible dried fruit and nut base, but the combination of cinnamon, sea salt, ginger, and dark chocolate makes them something special.

The recipe is extremely forgiving, so have fun with substitutions. These are a great way to ease back into the post-holiday working life. For those of you still in airports, I carried the bars on my flights yesterday. They held up very well.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups dried apricots
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
Cinnamon (to taste, but I recommend using copious amounts!)
Ginger (I used powdered but dried or candied would be wonderful)
Sea Salt (to taste, but you really want the salt to cut through the sweetness of the dried fruit)
Handful of dark chocolate chips (about 2 oz. dark chocolate)

Optional: Agave, honey, or coconut oil (just a small drizzle of one for moisture purposes)

Assembly
Grind your dried fruit and nuts in a food processor until the mixture is fairly fine. Add cinnamon, ginger, and sea salt to taste. If you need a bit more moisture, drizzle in some agave, honey, or coconut oil.

Press the mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Melt the dark chocolate and drizzle or spread over the loaf. Refrigerate until the mixture firms (30 minutes or so). Remove from loaf pan and cut into 12 squares. Store in a glass container or wrapped individually in foil or wax paper. I recommend keeping these refrigerated or enjoying them from the freezer, but they are sturdy even after a few hours of travel.

Food Allergies and Ethics: Gluten-free and vegan (so long as you check your dark chocolate).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Perfect Kale Breakfast Tacos

When P isn't around to make his famous scrambled eggs on corn tortillas, I like to make myself cheesy kale breakfast tacos. (Also fantastic served with tomato soup for dinner or lunch.)



I've written the recipe to serve one person; multiply accordingly.

2 corn tortillas
Several thin slices of a sharp white cheddar
1/4 bunch of kale (you can substitute spinach if you don't have kale on hand)
Olive oil or butter
Salt

Plain greek yogurt
Salsa

Place a skillet on your burner over medium heat, with a thin pat of butter or layer of olive oil in the bottom. Clean and de-stem your kale, then add torn pieces to the pan. Sprinkle salt and let cook until quite tender.

Add both corn tortillas to the bottom of the skillet. Let fry in the remaining butter or oil. Add thinly sliced cheddar to each, then place kale on top to melt cheese. Fold each tortilla over and let fry on each side until crispy. Serve with plain greek yogurt and a bit of salsa.


Food Allergies and Ethics: Vegetarian and gluten free.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Autumn Quinoa with Parsnip Puree

I have never made parsnips before!  I lurv them.  They are like... potatoes, but with flavor!

I served the puree over the quinoa, and it was nice and hearty.  Also, I failed to take a picture, but parnip puree is NOT exactly photogenic, so don't worry about it.

Puree:

Start with 4-5 large parsnips.  Remove the stringy cores as you chop them into dice. Toss them in melted butter, salt them, and roast in a pan for about 25-30 mins in a 400 degree oven, until pieces are easily cut through with a knife.

Throw the pieces in the blender (in batches if necessary), with about 2 cups total of milk, plus salt and freshly grated nutmeg to taste.  Blend until creamy adding more milk as needed.

Quinoa:

Cook  1 cup (dry) quinoa (rice cooker works great).  Finely chop 2 shallots.  Soften in butter in a small pan on stovetop, then add a small handful of walnuts, about 8 sage leaves, and a small green apple, all finely chopped, and cook till sage leaves are crispy.   Add to quinoa along with a bit of white balsamic or apple cider vinegar, salt, and olive oil.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roasted Eggplant with Buttermilk

This is a completely heavenly recipe from "Plenty."  (Actually, it's the cover recipe!)  I made it as soon as I got home from Turkey a few weeks ago, because I realized while I was there that I've been cooking eggplant wrong forever (basically, by doing anything other than baking it until it falls out of its skin), and this recipe seemed like it would fix that.   Oh man: it did.


Just to assuage my guilt about reposting other people's recipes, let me tell you that esp if you are a vegetarian, you need to buy this cookbook!  This particular recipe, for example, includes a miraculous method for de-seeding pomegranates that I'm not going to spill here.

Here's what I will tell you, though.  This is one beautiful set of flavors, and it was barely any work.  Also, this is how you cook an eggplant, regardless of what you top it with.

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants
1/3 cup olive oil
1.5 tsp lemon thyme (I used a mix of thyme and lemon verbena)
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 tsp za'atar (make your own like this)

For sauce:
9 TB buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1.5 TB olive oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 and prepare eggplants:  Cut in half lengthwise, leaving stem on.  Lay on baking sheet, cut sides up.  Then, "score" the flesh of each eggplant deeply with a knife, both from side-to-side and diagonally, being careful not to cut through the skin.  Finally, brush with olive oil.  Keep brushing until the flesh of the 4 halves has soaked up the entire 1/3 cup.  Sprinkle with lemon thyme, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until soft and browned.

2.  To make the sauce, just whisk everything together.  To serve the eggplants, pour some buttermilk sauce over each half, and top with pomegranate seeds, za'aatar, and a drizzle of olive oil.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chopped Veggie Soup with Pepitas and Crema

We're still splitting the difference between summer and fall here in Phoenix, where daytime temps are in the 80s or 90s but the evenings are quite chilly, dropping into the 50s. (Cue laughing from my mother in Wyoming and my sister in Colorado.) This soup does the same, but readers who are already experiencing blustery days or snow may want to swap out the zucchini for butternut.



Chopped Veggie Soup with Pepitas and Crema
1 carton of good veggie broth (Pacific brand is gluten-free)
2 14oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 zucchinis
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 can cannellini beans
Several small yellow or red potatoes
Several large handfuls spinach
1 head garlic
1 yellow onion
Parmesan rinds (optional)
Olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
Dill

Pepitas
Heavy cream
Chopped fresh herbs (optional but a lovely topping, I used basil)

Pour a generous glug of olive oil into your soup pot and begin to heat on a medium setting. Thickly slice your onion, mince the entire head of garlic, and cut your potatoes into small segments. Add to the pot. Stir in salt and pepper and let cook until onions and potatoes soften a bit. Next add your liquids: fire-roasted tomatoes, veggie broth, and water if necessary. Start with just one can of the tomatoes and add from the second can as you like. Thoroughly rinse the beans and stir those in as well.

At this point I throw in the Parmesan rinds, which will add a rich quality to your broth. Slice your zucchinis, add the corn, and simmer until done. Continue to add salt, pepper, dill, and squeezes of lemon juice to taste.

While the broth is simmering, heat your smallest frying pan with just a touch of olive oil. Add the pepitas, salt, and pepper and leave them on until toasted, stirring occasionally. Chop fresh herbs to use as a topping along with the pepitas.

Just before you take the soup off of the stove, stir in a few handfuls of torn spinach. Remove the Parmesan rinds, ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with toasted pepitas and chopped fresh herbs. Finally, add just a drizzle of heavy cream. If you don't have cream, thin a bit of plain yogurt with lemon juice as a substitute. I also grated some additional Parmesan on top, or you could add a bit of feta.

Food Allergies and Ethics:  Gluten free (but make sure to check your broth) and vegetarian. Could easily be vegan by omitting the Parmesan rinds and the drizzle of cream at the end.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Roasted Grape & Asparagus Pizza

I made this several months back when my father-in-law was visiting, and I guess I forgot to post it.   Not for lack of yumminess - I loved the little bursts of flavor from the grapes.  The pre-cooking is important for them to get soft and sugary, so don't skip it!

Brush your pizza crust with an emulsion of lemon olive oil, white balsamic, honey, a touch of mustard and salt. (Salad dressing, basically).  Spoon a few tablespoons of pizza sauce on top of that and spread thinly.

Slice half a bunch of thin asparagus spears into small (1/2 inch or so) pieces. Halve a handful of small red grapes.  Sear first the asparagus, then the grape halves, in just a bit of olive oil on the stovetop.  Top the pizza with asparagus, grapes, dollops of goat cheese, and very finely grated parmesan.  Resist the urge to over-top.

Google the baking time & temp depending on the thickness of your crust, whether you are using a stone, your oven, etc.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Yogurt Sauce

Let's be clear:  I have stuffed a pepper or two.  My mom's basic recipe was my favorite in college until I stopped eating ground beef, and in the winter, I think there is hardly a nicer dinner.

I promise I really try not to post every single variation, since you can basically stuff anything delicious in a pepper and bam, dinner success! - but I like the yogurt sauce (in lieu of cheese) and flavor-packed, protein-laden filling of tonight's attempt, so here we are.

Filling:

1 white onion
1 can white beans or chickpeas
1 16-oz can whole tomatoes
1 bunch torn kale
If you have some slow-roasted tomatoes, 1 cup of those (I slow-roasted grape tomatoes today and they are to die for so I threw a handful of them in).
1 tsp each paprika and cayenne (more cayenne if needed)
1/2 TB each mint and basil
olive oil
salt
2 TB lemon juice
1 cup (uncooked) quinoa
1/2 TB cumin

Start quinoa cooking with the cumin in the water (on stove or in rice cooker).

Clean the peppers and set them upright in a deep, square baking dish.  (mine fits 4-5 peppers depending on size).  Splash a bit of water in, put lid on, and microwave for 5 minutes to begin steaming them and removing crunch.

In one frying pan, cut the onion into 8ths and cook it in olive oil on low heat to caramelize or at least soften.

Meanwhile, in another (larger) one, heat up a TB of olive oil, add drained and rinsed beans/chickpeas, add paprika, cayenne, and a few pinches of salt, and cook on high heat.  Taste and add more cayenne until there's as much fire as you like.  When the beans start to darken, scoop 2/3 of the whole tomatoes from the can and crush them with your fingers, and add them (but not their juice yet).  When the onions are ready, add them too.

Add basil, dill, and lemon juice and let this all cook together for a bit, then toss the kale in.  When the kale is cooked, add the (cooked and drained) quinoa.

Spoon filling into pepper and tuck any excess around them in the dish.  Crush the remaining whole tomatoes and pour them and their juice over the top.  Bake without lid at 425 for at least an hour - the longer the better, really (I don't think there is such a thing as too long!)




Yogurt Sauce:

Mix up the following:

Plain yogurt (trying to use up my last batch = reason for this meal)
1 small cucumber (lemon, persian, baby), chopped into very small dice
2 TB finely chopped fresh mint
Salt
1 tsp ground cumin
Optional: squirt of lemon juice