Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Simple Garlic Soup

I came home from a long holiday trip to Alaska with a terrible cold and little in the fridge. Faced with potatoes, garlic, and chicken and peppers that I knew were reserved for a dinner P wanted to make, I decided to try my hand at a simple garlic soup. The result was gorgeous: savory, warm, and perfect for a winter cold.

Simple Garlic Soup
adapted from recipes by The Splendid Table, Brooklyn Supper, and Serious Eats

3 heads garlic
3-4 medium yellow potatoes
1/4 yellow onion
1 box beef broth (if available: any kind of stock, or even water and wine, will do)
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Heavy Cream (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the tops off of 2 heads of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or until fully soft. Remove from heat and let cool.

While your garlic is roasting, peel and smash the cloves from the remaining garlic head. Rinse and dice your potatoes, and dice your small piece of onion. Cover the bottom of a soup pot with a generous layer of olive oil and add garlic, potatoes, onion, pepper, salt, and thyme. Heat to medium-low and let saute slowly with the lid on. Check every five minutes to make sure nothing is getting too brown. After 15 minutes or so, add the beef broth and let simmer.

Once your roasted garlic heads are cool, remove the skin and add to your pot. After simmering for a bit longer, add a bit of water to thin things out (unless you weren't using stock to begin with), then use an immersion blender until smooth. Drizzle in heavy cream or milk if you have it on hand, stir and enjoy.

Serves two.

Food allergies and ethics
Gluten-free so long as you use gluten-free broth, I prefer Pacific Brand. To make vegetarian, substitute beef broth for a flavorful veggie stock. Vegan if you use veggie stock and skip the heavy cream.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brown Butter Rosemary Cornbread Stuffing

You know the beloved children's story, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie"?  There could be a follow-up titled "If You Give A Parady A Side-Dish".   We admittedly go overboard at times, which is well-documented on this bloggy.  I spent this Thanksgiving with some dear friends who happen to be the rare sort of people who approach food like my family does, and while we definitively went overboard, the meal was fantastic.  On my list of dishes to contribute was stuffing, and so it began.

Stuffing, the usually humble, down-to-earth dish who is content to never be the star of the Thanksgiving show became a fancy-pants, bougie-fied (not a word, don't care) food in my hands and I have no regrets.  There was a brief moment in time between the cooking and eating of said stuffing where I feared I had gone too far, but one bite and a friend's declaration that it was the best stuffing he'd ever had and all doubts were laid to rest.

So now that you know this dish is over the top, I can tell you that I made my own cornbread to then make into stuffing.  I can admit that I browned butter not once, but twice.  And I can reassure you again that it is so worth it.  Please indulge me and add this to your Christmas meal, or next Thanksgiving, or any other reason you have to feast, because really, who says stuffing is just for Thanksgiving? Not I, and not this stuffing.

cornbread recipe barely adapted from Joy The Baker

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 square baking pan, line with parchment paper.

Brown the butter in a small saucepan. Heat slowly over medium-low heat until it begins to crackle and brown. Remove from heat, whisk together with eggs, buttermilk, and orange juice.

In a large bowl, blend orange zest and rosemary into sugar, pressing the zest and spice into the sugar to release the flavor. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the flavored sugar, whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir to combine. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

6 tablespoons butter
9 cups cubed cornbread, stale or toasted dry
1 onion, diced
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons rosemary
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3.4 cup chicken stock.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown butter in a small saucepan until it begins to crackle and smell nutty. Remove from heat and transfer to a measuring cup or small bowl.

Mix together cornbread, diced onion, eggs, rosemary, salt, pepper, 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of chicken stock in a large bowl. Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Drizzle the remaining butter and chicken stock over the top. Bake 30-45 minutes, until crisp and brown on top.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Guest Post: Sweet Potato Biscotti

Our Mom called last week to brag about eating these awesome, tender biscotti, so of course, we commissioned a guest post from her fabulous colleague Tammy, a librarian, blogger, and maker of tasty treats.

Merry Christmas and Happy Eatings, Everyone!  I am honored that these sisters have graciously agreed to allow me the opportunity to share with you a recipe I just recently tried.

Knowing this family is very good about eating healthy, I was a little concerned as to how my horribly UN-healthy fare filled with full-fat, refined sugar, gluten and plenty of “vitamin C” (cholesterol) would be received.  But my fears were alleviated when I scrolled through these culinary delights and occasionally found my old friends, “cheese, butter, and heavy cream.”  And even the party twins, “BOOZE & PIE”!

So here goes…enjoy!


For The Biscotti:

3 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
½ c butter
½ c sugar
½ c brown sugar
3 whole eggs
½ c sweet potato puree
½ c chopped candied pecans

For The Icing (optional):

1 bag white chocolate chips
1 T shortening

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Mix together all dry ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, cream butter & sugars together, then add eggs and puree.  Next, add the dry ingredients into the wet.  Fold in pecans.

Place dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat.  Shape into a 15”x16” log and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and place log on a cooling rack.  Let cool for 30 minutes or more.  Slice into ¾” to 1” slices* and return the slices to lined cookie sheet, bake for 8-10 minutes.  Flip slices over and bake on other side for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on cooling racks.

These are good without the icing, but for extra scrumptiousness, melt chips and shortening in microwave in 30 second increments until melted.  Dip one side of biscotti slices in white chocolate and let dry on cooling racks until firm.

*Slices may then be sliced in half lengthwise for a more authentic biscotti size.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tom Kha, no Gai

This is a quick and easy way to get some bone-warming Thai flavors onto your table. I took lots of weeknight-friendly shortcuts, and the soup was still utterly satisfying,


Veggie bullion (or chicken broth)
3 TB lemongrass in a tube (or 4 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 4-inch lengths and smashed with the back of a knife)
3 TB ginger in a tube (or a big, hand-sized hunk of ginger, peeled, chopped and smashed with back of knife)
4-5 Thai chilis, stems chopped off (or Sriracha to taste)
Juice of 1 - 2 limes
Chopped kale - or, if you prefer, the more traditional add-ins of chicken and/or mushrooms
1 can coconut milk
2 TB fish sauce (vegetarian fish sauce can be found at Vietnamese markets)

To top:  Fresh cilantro leaves, and I highly recommend fried garlic from an Asian market (or homemade, but it's easily purchased), which packs a great flavor punch on all kinds of soups, from tomato to pho.

Equipment:  A fine mesh strainer.

1.  Mix 8 cups of water with half the amount of bullion called for so it's not overpowering.  Add lime juice, chilis or sriracha, ginger, and lemongrass, and boil for 10 minutes, tasting and adjusting along the way to see if you need more of anything to make the broth pop.  Then, strain to remove the ginger and lemongrass pulp.

2.  Return to a boil and add whatever ingredients you want.  I made it simple with just kale.  Boil until these are cooked.

3.  Add about 1/2 to 3/4 of your can of coconut milk, to taste, plus fish sauce. Again, taste and adjust before serving.  Some recipes recommend a bit of sugar this point; I left it out, but follow your tastebuds.

4.  Ladle into bowls and serve with a small bowl of rice and a small well-baked sweet potato on the side.  Top with fresh cilantro and fried garlic.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Early Winter Breakfasts: Spiced Butternut Muffins with Bittersweet Chocolate

At some point during the Thanksgiving grocery shopping bonanza, I sent my husband out for a butternut squash. He returned with the largest gourd known to man, which, he informed me very grouchily, cost $9. A $9 squash?! Adding insult to injury (no, really, I tore my rotator cuff during the Thanksgiving festivities and am sure lifting this sucker didn't help) I ran out of time to make butternut soup on Thanksgiving day.

We're determined that $9 is not going to go to waste, so we've since had squash in our chicken soup, squash cooked into quinoa polenta arepas, and now squash in these perfect. not-too-sweet breakfast muffins. 

This recipe seems a bit fussy, but it's only because I was using up other leftover holiday ingredients, like buttermilk and heavy cream. You don't need to follow my lead here, and could definitely substitute plain old milk. And if you're not gluten free? You can sub the brown rice flour for whole wheat and use a regular all-purpose flour. The almond meal would still be a nice touch, or just increase the amount of one of the other flours by 1/2 cup. 

Adapted slightly from this lovely recipe:

Spiced Butternut Muffins with Bittersweet Chocolate
Adapted a little from this lovely recipe at Making Thyme for Health

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use this mix)
1/2 cup almond meal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup roasted and mashed butternut squash** 
2 eggs
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

In a large bowl, sift together your dry ingredients. Set aside and preheat your oven to 350°F. Fill a 12-muffin pan with liners.

In a separate bowl, mix together all of your wet ingredients, including the squash. I did this by hand with no problem, and my squash was pretty dry. 

Slowly fold the contents of your wet bowl into the dry mix. Don't overdo it. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate last. 

Pour into muffin tins and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. 

**You can either pre-roast your squash or puncture its skin and then microwave the heck out of it. You might get some more depth if you roast it, but for muffins I found the microwave a very acceptable cooking method.

Food Allergies and Ethics
Gluten-free, vegetarian