Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The idea for this recipe came from a recipe I saw a long time ago. It sounded so wonderful, but it had bacon and heavy cream. I think those ingredients are great for special occasions, but I wanted to make an everyday kind of soup that I wouldn't feel guilty about. I think part of what's so great about fish is that it's so healthy low-cal, and tilapia in particular is super lean. I also wanted a recipe I could throw in the crock pot and forget about for a while -- especially this week because I've got a lot on my plate (hee-hee).
Here's what I came up with. The fresh tarragon is very important, so don't consider leaving it out! It's a favorite herb of mine, and if you've never had it, take a taste to make sure you like it. It's got a hint of anise (slightly licorice-y).
Tilapia chowder with fresh tarragon (serves about 5)
1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped (I left the skins on)
2 carrots, sliced
1.5 teaspoons chicken broth powder
1/2 cup frozen peas
1.5 cups frozen corn
2 cups water
coarsely ground salt and black pepper, to taste
1.5 cups soy milk
about 4 tablespoons fresh tarragon, torn
1.) Put all ingredients except 3 tablespoons tarragon and the soy milk in a crock pot. Stir gently to blend, and cook on low for about 3.5 hours.
2.) Sprinkle the leftover tablespoons of tarragon on top of the chowder just before serving. I sprinkled a little on each individual bowl.
"I believe that if I ever had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around." (James Beard, as quoted at Timeless Quotes)
Monday, September 29, 2008
Roasted asparagus with parmesan crisps (makes 4 side servings)
1 bunch asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup grated parmesan (I recommend buying a nice, aged chunk and grating it yourself)
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1.) Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. While that is heating, mix your parmesan with the teaspoon of flour by hand.
2.) Heat a non-stick skillet medium-high, and drop tiny amounts of the parm mixture into it. As soon as they start to bubble and turn golden, flip them with a plastic spatula and let them sizzle on the other side. Cool them on a plate.
3.) Toss the asparagus with olive oil and roast for 5 minutes. Turn them once, and roast another 5 minutes.
4.) When the parm crisps are cool, grind them coarsely. Sprinkle the asparagus with salt and pepper, to taste, then sprinkle the crisps liberally on top. (You might have a few crisps left over...)
Up next: Tilapia chowder with fresh tarragon
Today's question: Can you help me find a really good broccoli recipe? I'd like to make it more often.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Jamaican pumpkin vegetable curry stew (serves about 6)
4.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
a 2-pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons curry (I like Madras curry)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper (I used black)
4 chopped tomatoes
1.3 cups water
2 carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 green bananas, chopped
2 whole green Scotch bonnet peppers (habaneros will do)
1.) Heat the oil medium-high in a soup pot. Add the onion, cook about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, and cook another minute. Add the curry, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
2.) Add the tomatoes, and stir. Add the water, scraping the pan bottom.
3.) Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer, medium-low, for 20 minutes.
4.) Remove the Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers before serving.
Today's question: Where have you traveled where the food just delighted you?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I'm always looking for new tofu recipes. I've grown to love those chewy, protein-packed pieces of mysteriousness. (Is that even a word?)
Q: How do you fix a broken pizza?
A: With tomato paste. (from the Scholastic "ROFL" book)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
I made this recently for the first time, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I forgot to take a photo! It turns out quite chunky, but it's not pureed, so you'll want to pay attention to cutting the veggies attractively (if you care about that kind of thing).
Indiana potato and pea soup (makes 5 servings)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 pound potatoes, diced
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala (a favorite spice of mine)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup soy milk
1 seeded and chopped red chile (leave unseeded if you want it extra spicy)
4 ounces frozen peas
5 tablespoons plain yogurt or soy yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1.) Saute the potatoes, onion, and garlic in heated oil in a soup pot, stirring, for 5 minutes, then add the ground spices and cook for another minute.
2.) Add the veggie stock and red chile. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
3.) Add the peas, and cook another 3 minutes or so.
4.) Stir in the soy milk, letting it heat up but not continue to cook.
5.) Serve in individual bowls with a tablespoon of yogurt on top of each. Garnish with cilantro.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
When Dan and I had whole lobsters quite a while back, I kept the shells and boiled them to make a stock, adding carrots, onion, and celery. I knew I wanted to make some sort of lobster-infused stew or soup, but beyond that, I wasn't sure what it would turn into.
I had sweet potatoes and corn in the house, and I thought those would probably go really well. Lo and behold, I opened a cookbook I had only used for a mushroom soup recipe a couple times -- Totally Dairy-Free Cooking, by Louis Lanza -- and found a recipe for lobster, sweet potato, and corn bisque. I cut the recipe in half and adapted it for my needs (i.e. I didn't have any brandy or white wine). Here's the resulting concoction, which turned out really delicious. The soy milk adds a little sweetness, and the lobster flavor really permeates the whole thing.
You could make your stock with the leftover shells from my broiled lobster tails recipe. Just boil the tails gently in enough water to cover them completely for about two hours -- cover the pot, too -- then strain the broth and discard the shells. Refrigerate if not using immediately to make the bisque.
Lobster, sweet potato, and corn bisque (makes 6 servings)
2 sweet potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1/2 cup water
5 cups lobster stock
1 cup lowfat soy milk or vanilla soy milk (I like WestSoy Plus)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.) Peel the sweet potatoes, cut into chunks, and steam until tender (for several minutes).
2.) Heat the olive oil in a stock pot, add the onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and corn and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.
3.) Add the sherry and water and simmer, reducing the liquid to about half. Add the lobster stock and bring to a boil.
4.) Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
5.) Add the sweet potatoes to the soup, and blend with a hand blender. Slowly add the soy milk while blending.
6.) Season with salt and pepper.
Coming up this week: I plan to re-create the tasty dipping olive oil from Grazie Italian Eatery, and I will share a roasted broccoli recipe that changed my mind about the green cruciferous veggies that I had been avoiding for so long. Also, I promise to post the Indian pea and potato soup recipe -- finally! If I have the time, I will also post the pecan pie recipe I made for my dad's 66th birthday on Friday. Otherwise, you'll just have to wait for that one. (It's worth it.)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
If you like lobster, buying tails alone is better than getting whole lobsters. Not only is the preparation much, much easier, but eating them is not such a difficult mess -- although I'd still serve a bowl with lemon water on the side.
The tails are the tastiest part of the shellfish, and more affordable, I would say. Dan and I had whole lobsters one year on our anniversary, and we paid about $50 for two. Two tails, frozen, are $12.99 at Kroger.
The other night, we had tails on another anniversary, not our own. September 10 was my parents' 42nd anniversary! Here are photos to prove it.
The first photo was Sept. 10, 1966; the other was taken Sept. 10, 2008.I decided to broil the lobster because most recipes I saw were for broiled, not grilled. But we grilled local, bi-color corn to have with them, along with this potato salad, made with extra tarragon. This butternut squash-potato puree with fresh thyme would go really well, too.
Check your diet at the door, and pass plenty of melted butter on the side.
Broiled lobster tails (serves 4-5)
8-10 frozen tails *
lots of butter
1.) Thaw lobster tails, unwrapped, in the refrigerator for about 4 hours.
2.) Brush them with butter and place them under a pre-heated broiler, about 4 inches from the flame. Let them cook 10-12 minutes. They will be ready with the tails turn up and the shells turn red.
3.) Serve with melted butter on the side.
* Keep the tail shells to make a lobster-corn bisque. I'll post that recipe sometime soon.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
I just want to update you on what to expect this week. My parents are coming to town, and I am going to take a mini break from blogging, at least for tomorrow, that is. But sometime later this week, I will post recipes for Kara's green chile pork -- a crock pot dish I've never and plan to use a slew of Anaheim peppers from my garden - -as well as a butternut squash-potato mash with fresh thyme and grilled lobster tails. That last one is going to be for my parents' anniversary. Keep your fingers crossed that those tails aren't hard to find here. (By the way, I think it's their 42nd anni!)
Check back later in the week. I won't forget to take any photos, I promise. I love recipes with photos because it helps me figure out what to do in the kitchen, so I try to make sure there are photos with my posts.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
My instincts must have been right-on when I was craving soup. Not only did I get a cold earlier this week, but the weather turned pretty cool today -- at least by Indiana summer standards -- so soup was definitely in order.
This is the second impressive recipe I've tackled from Lidia's Italy. I love the book because it's packed with interesting tidbits about culture, how the regions in Italy embrace different dishes, and so on. The first recipe I tried was her beef goulash, and oh man, I could eat that every day. The recipes are fairly time-consuming, though, so thankfully that's not a possibility.
The chickpea soup with porcini mushrooms took a total of two and a half hours, from start to finish. That's key. Because the chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and the mushrooms cook for almost two hours together, so the texture becomes what Lidia describes aptly as "velvety."
I cut the recipe in half here; hers makes 12 servings, and because it's just my husband and I eating it, that was overkill. Below is how I interpreted her recipe.
Chickpea soup with porcini mushrooms (serves 6)
1/2 pound dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight covered by about 4 inches of cold water
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1.5 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup canned plum tomatoes, hand-crushed
1 pound fresh mushrooms -- I used shiitake, portabello, and white button
black pepper, to taste
optional (and I highly recommend!): some fresh parmesan, very thinly sliced
1.) Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a soup pot, along with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, add the dried porcini, and leave lid partially covered while that gently bubbles.
2.) Put the onion, celery, fresh herbs, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a food process, and proces into a paste-like consistency. (Lidia explains, by the way, that this paste is used in various sauces, stews, and soups in food in Maremma, Italy. It's called a pestata until it's browned in a skillet, at which point it becomes a soffritto. See next step.)
3.) Put the oil in a skillet, and cook the paste over medium-high heat until it starts to brown and stick to the skillet (about 4 minutes).
4.) Add the crushed tomatoes, and scrape the paste into the soup. Cook, uncovered, for about an hour.
5.) Add the fresh mushrooms and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let it continue to cook another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the broth is thick and the chickpeas tender.
6.) Pour soup into serving bowls and if using parm, sprinkle some of that on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve with warm crusty bread.
Today's question: What's your favorite kind of soup? I have so many... I'll have to get my Mexican corn chowder and chicken mulligatawny recipes up here someday...
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I usually make this as an appetizer, serving one large portabello cap per person. I think, having now tried out this button-size hors d'oeuvres dish, that the larger caps are the way to go. The little ones still tasted great, but the large caps for some reason allow the bread crumbs to get a little crispier on the top. It's always possible to give the shrooms some time under the broiler to achieve that in a pinch, though.
A note -- I use Jaclyn's All-Natural Bread Crumbs, the plain kind. They are made with organic whole wheat flour. You could use white bread crumbs instead, if you like.
Stuffed garlic mushrooms (makes about 6 servings)
5-6 large portabello mushrooms, about 1 pound
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1.5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 ounces dried, whole wheat bread crumbs
salt and black pepper
1.) Wash the shrooms and cut off the stems. Chop them finely.
2.) Mix the stems with the parsley, 1 tablespoon of oil, and garlic, and mix well by hand.
3.) Brush the remainder of the oil on the bottom of a baking dish. Pre-heat the oven to 350.
4.) Place the caps, bottom side up, into the dish. Fill them equally with the crumb mixture. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Overweight is something that just sort of snacks up on you. (from All the Jokes)
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
When I made it, well... not so much. It's good, but it didn't satisfy the way Jean's did earlier this summer, so I don't think it's good enough for a wedding.
That's the second disappointment for me in as many days. (The first was the movie "Dan in Real Life." It was just another predictable romantic comedy. Blech.)
I thought it was weird because Jean and I used the same recipe, but then I realized I used 2 tablespoons of lemon instead of 2 teaspoons. Damn.
Anyway, the recipe is from a really great cookbook called Practical Cooking: Soups. It's divided into categories -- hot & spicy, European, International, low fat, vegetable, special occasion, and tradition. I've had the book for years, and I love its variety -- there are more than 175 soups -- and photos. I have to say, I'm a sucker for cookbooks with good photos, as well as those with nutritional information. (It's always helpful to have that these days, and there's no excuse not to include that in new books. There are myriad computer programs that figure that can figure that out for you.)
Here's the recipe for vichyssoise. I hope it turns out fabulous for you!
Vichyssoise (serves 6)
3 large leeks, green parts removed, white parts thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound of potatoes, peeled and chopped
3.5 cups veggie stock
2 teaspoons lemon juice
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup light cream
salt and white pepper
freshly snipped chives to garnish (I only had green onion in the house; chives are preferred)
1.) Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and onion, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Do not brown.
2.) Add the potatoes, stock, lemon juice, nutmeg, coriander, and bay leaf, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
3.) Cool the soup for about a half hour, then remove the bay leaf and process in a food processor until smooth.
4.) Blend the egg yolk with the cream, then add a little soup to it, whisk, and pour slowly into soup. Reheat, but do not boil. Allow it to cool thoroughly before serving with chives.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
This week I'll be making two wedding-hopeful treats: vichyssoise, a cold leek and potato soup that my friend Jean recently made -- it was AMAZING -- and either stuffed mushroom caps or mini carrot-rosemary scones. The mushroom caps are a longtime favorite of mine; the scones just sound interesting -- and cute, to boot! CC and her beau, Mike, will be coming over to babysit Wednesday evening, and I will leave out the goodies for them at that time. Hopefully their reactions will make it here to the blog.
Also this week: I'm in a big-time soup mood -- not sure why; it's going to be 92 degrees today, yikes! I plan to make an Italian chickpea and porcini soup, as well as an Indian potato and pea soup, my husband's pick of the week.
If I had made something for a side, I would have made my sister-in-law Kara's Asian slaw. It's a simple recipe she came up with some years ago, and the "secret" ingredient is a Trader Joe's sesame soy ginger vinaigrette (but any such vinaigrette will do). Now, there's a running joke in the family that Kara always "accidentally" leaves out an important ingredient when passing along her recipes because they never turn out quite like her versions, but fear not! Having made this slaw quite a few times now, I feel secure in saying that she gave me the real deal.
If you haven't tried the TJ dressing, it's really yummy -- and at a bargain price, of course.
Also, if you are avoiding peanuts, this slaw works really well with sunflower butter (my favorite is Sunbutter Natural Crunch) and sunflower seeds in place of the peanut butter and peanuts.
Kara's Asian slaw
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
1 package pre-cut slaw
3/4 cup sesame soy ginger vinaigrette
1 tablespoon peanut butter
a few shakes of soy sauce
a drizzle of sesame oil
Whisk together the vinaigrette, peanut butter, and soy sauce. Toss with the slaw, sprinkle the peanuts on top, and drizzle with sesame oil.