Friday, September 23, 2011

Warm and Spicy Cashew Tomato Soup

This is a great spicy tomato soup, made better by plenty of roasting time in the oven for the 'maters. I mixed halved Romas and whole grape tomatoes on the same sheet pan and roasted for about 2.5 hrs. I did take the grape tomatoes out at about 1.5 or 2 hrs. though.
I made "croutons" of spicy sauteed cauliflower florettes and used a high powered blender for the soup instead of the suggested immersion blender as I wanted a smoother and creamier soup.
When it came to incorporating the yogurt, I whisked it in a large bowl and added the hot soup a spoonful at a time whisking all the while, until it was tempered enough to not curdle. Instead of serving with grilled cheesers, I toasted some whole wheat naan topped with cave-aged Gruyere and nigella seeds. Yum!

Warm and Spicy Cashew Tomato Soup:
(as found on Eats Well With Others)

1 1/2 lb tomatoes (I used mostly Roma tomatoes with a good handful of small grape tomatoes)
2 tsp olive oil
salt, as necessary
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 cup salted cashews (I used a Thai spiced cashew that I found in the bulk section of the grocery store)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1" piece of cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod, bruised
4 cups water
1/3 cup nonfat greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 300.
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise, gently tossing with 1 tsp of the oil.
Sprinkle with salt.
Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil, cut side up.
Bake for an hour (or longer if you have the time…again, I went 2.5 hrs for the Romas).
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat oil on medium and saute the onion until it is a nice, even golden brown, stirring often.
Once browned, add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander, chili powder, cashews, and tomato paste.
Cook for a few minutes until nice and fragrant, stirring often.
Add cinnamon, cardamom pod, and water, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot and get up any browned bits.
When the tomatoes are finished roasting, add them to the soup and stir. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pod.
Remove soup to a blender (only fill half full and put a towel over the top holding down firmly to prevent wearing hot soup), and blend in batches. If you have a high powered blender you can probably get away with blending the whole batch at once making sure to start at a very slow speed...I did.
In a bowl large enough to hold all the soup, slowly whisk a few tbsp of soup into the yogurt. Keep adding soup slowly, whisking all the while until the soup and yogurt are fully combined as the yogurt will curdle if it gets too hot at once.
Gently reheat if necessary, though I didn't bother...
Serve with something good and cheesy...grill cheese, or cheese naan for dipping.
If you'd like to make some cauliflower "croutons" steam small florettes until just tender then sprinkle with a bit of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground black pepper and sea salt. Toss with a little olive oil, cook on med.-high heat in a saute pan til nice and toasty.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fennel Salad with Orange, Green Olives, and Pistachios

Things I dislike about this salad:

Fennel is expensive.
Pistachios are expensive.
Organic arugula that I added to it is expensive.
I really liked this salad, and will now have to make it again.

I only made half the posted recipe...I was not paying 8 bucks for 2 weenie fennel bulbs.
I often pair orange slices with fennel and arugula, usually adding in an avocado and some goat cheese, but we loved the olives and pistachios in this...a lot! I placed the salad on a bed of arugula since I wanted some greens with our dinner, baked a filet of wild coho salmon at 450 for 9 minutes and popped it on top of the salad for an awesome meal.

Fennel Salad with Orange, Green Olives, and Pistachios:
(Mark Bittman's recipe in Cooking Light)

1 Tablespoon grated orange rind
3/4 cup orange sections (about 2 large oranges)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted green olives (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 medium fennel bulbs with stalks (about 2 pounds)
1 cup shelled salted dry-roasted pistachios

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; toss gently to combine.
Trim the tough outer leaves from fennel, and mince feathery fronds to measure 2 tablespoons.
Remove and discard stalks.
Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise and thinly slice fennel bulbs. Add fennel slices to juice
mixture, and toss gently to combine.
Sprinkle each plate with fennel fronds and nuts.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lentil Chili with Cumin and Green Onions

For any other Texas folks out there seizing on the slight morning "chill" to delude yourselves with visions of Fall...or if you just don't care what time of year you eat chili, but were unable to find ground turkey at the store (due to creepy salmonella??) for your usual turkey chili, this could be the post for you. If you're similarly addicted to smicey chipotle goodness...bonus! Easy, highly customizable, and ultra toppingable (I'm sure that's a word).

Lentil Chili with Cumin and Green Onions:
(gently amended to feed my chipotle addiction from

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 C chopped onion (I used more like 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2T chili powder
1 tsp ground chipotle chili powder (not in original recipe...mmm...smicey)
1T ground cumin
1tsp dried oregano
1/8tsp cayenne pepper (used a little more...must be made more, and MORE smicey!)
4 C water (or more...I used 2 cups of veggie broth plus water for more flayvah)
1 C dried brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 C tomato puree (freeze the rest of the can in ice cube trays, then store in a freezer bag)
1/3C plus 2T chopped green onions
S&P to taste

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds.
Add chili powder, ground cumin, oregano leaves, and cayenne pepper and chipotle chili powder if using; stir 30 seconds.
Add 4 cups water, lentils, and tomato puree.
Increase heat and bring to boil, skimming off any foam from surface.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, adding more water by 1/4 C as needed if dry, about 30 minutes.
Stir in 1/3 C green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberry Chipotle Dressing

A. MAY. ZING!!!! I dreamed about this manna allll night long after we had it for dinner last night. What a crumby photo of a fantastic dish. Don't let the fact that it looks like tandoori chicken in my picture dissuade you from making it. :-)

Chances are, if you get invited to our house for dinner, you'll have to eat this. Because I'm planning on making it a million bazillion more times before I die.

It's rare anymore that a recipe from Cooking Light magazine jumps out at me as something I'd be a freak for, but Mark Bittman's recipe did just that. Bookmarked it the day before, made it last night. There will be no going back.

I used frozen whole cranberries and organic sweet potatoes (love this because we eat the whole nutritious peel too). Didn't make the whole batch (kicking self for not having leftovers), but I'll post the whole recipe that is supposed to serve 8...yeah right! I did toss some feta on after taking the photo, to up the protein a bit, but it's awesome without it too. Served up with braised kale, made for two happy tummies in this house.

Just an fyi, I tend to not use all of the dressing on the sweet potatoes, finding the whole amount makes them a bit too soupy.  Leftover sauce is great on any number of things though!  

Update: I've started just roasting whole sweet potatoes wrapped in foil @400 til soft (~1 hr), then topping with the dressing, pepitas, cilantro, and onions.  Saves using all that oil, if you're needing to eat a little lighter!  Great both ways, regardless.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberry Chipotle Dressing:
(Mark Bittman's recipe in Cooking Light magazine)

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (go for organic and don't peel)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons honey
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (you won't use them all so just put the leftover chipotles and sauce in a freezer bag and store for laters)
1/2 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkinseeds)
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 450°.
Place sweet potatoes on a large jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until tender, turning after 15 minutes.
Place remaining 1 tablespoon oil, cranberries, water, and honey in a saucepan. Remove 1 or 2 chiles from can; finely chop to equal 1 tablespoon. Add chopped chipotle and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce to pan (reserve remaining chiles and sauce for another use). Place pan over medium-low heat; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until cranberries pop, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Mash with a potato masher or fork until chunky.
Place pepitas in a medium skillet; cook over medium heat 4 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan frequently.
Combine potatoes, pepitas, onions, and cilantro in a bowl. Add cranberry mixture to bowl; toss gently to coat.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Salsa de Tomatillo Asado con Chipotle: Roasted Tomatillo and Chipotle Salsa

On a recent trip, I grabbed a copy of Saveur to read on the flight. Most excited about a 2 page spread of different salsas, I immediately marked at least 3 that I wanted to make upon our return home. This roasted tomatillo and chipotle is the first of those.

I wasn't sure how I felt upon first tasting this salsa. The sour of the tomatillos seemed to clash initially with the smoky chipotle flavor for me (I've made this twice now, and realize I just didn't like too much tomatillo. 0.68 lb of tomatillo :-) and upping the garlic and dried chipotle it was perfect from the get go). Could also be that I was incredibly high off the Doña success and stuck on that flavor profile. That said, this new salsa quickly grew on me and Scott liked it from the get go. Super easy to make, and I gave half of the batch a quick addition of some agave nectar to serve over salmon...keeping the rest as is to eat with chips. Delicious both ways. It doesn't make a whole bunch, but you can easily double. OH and I almost forgot, I added in a minced chipotle in adobo for extra heat, since there really wasn't much to speak of from just the dried chiles.

Salsa de Tomatillo Asado con Chipotle:
(Adapted from Saveur Magazine)

8oz+ tomatillos, husked, rinsed and left whole (I think I used 6 medium to small)
7 cloves of garlic, left whole and you can leave them in their l'il skins til done roasting
4 dried chipotle chiles
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (my addition)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup water
agave if desired...try splitting the batch and only adding to half

Preheat oven to 500.
On a foil-lined baking sheet, roast tomatillos for 10 minutes, flip over, then roast 10 minutes more.
While tomatillos roast, heat a dry cast iron skillet to medium-low on the stove top.
Toast dried chiles and garlic for about 10 minutes, or until there are some charred spots on the chiles and garlic, and the garlic has softened a bit.
Place tomatillos (and any accumulated juices), garlic, dried chiles, 1 chipotle in adobo and 1/2 tsp salt and water into a blender and blend until smooth.

Doctor the salsa with some agave if you'd was very nice served over salmon with black beans and squash with this addition. Without agave it's great just scooped up with tortilla chips.
Great on eggs too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spinach and Egg Bread Pudding

If you live in Austin, do yourself a favor and go to Central Market, buy a loaf of the hatch chile sourdough bread (the large sliced boule) while they've still got it and pop it in your freezer for laters. It made this bread pudding extra deeeelicious. But then, I also used my favorite Kaltbach Gruyère cheese in it too and you could make a piece of cardboard taste good with a slice of that on it.

I'm digging cooking without recipes this last week. Just stir stuff together and see what I get.
All winners so far, but I didn't take a picture of the hatch chile chicken stew I made the other night.
The Monster told me to write it down after though...he wanted to make sure he'd get to eat it again sometime. Will post once I remake it as I still have both hot and mild roasted hatch chiles in the freezer.

Ok, so back to this bread pudding. We ate almost the whole thing. Just the 2 of us. :-)
Served with nothing more than sliced tomatoes.

Spinach and Egg Bread Pudding:

olive oil
~3/4 cup red onion, diced small
1 large clove garlic, chopped
~1/4 tsp dried thyme
splash of dry white wine
~10 oz organic baby spinach, chopped
salt, divided
4 eggs
1+ cup unsweetened soymilk, dairy milk, or other non-dairy (I felt I needed to add a bit more soymilk to the final mix and up 3 eggs to 4 for more just use your good sense)
garlic powder
fresh grated nutmeg
black pepper
~1 cup (not packed) grated aged Gruyère (Kaltbach is my favorite)
~7 oz cubed bread, cut to about 3/4" (I used about 4 slices of a boule and a weenie end crust)

Preheat oven to 375.
Butter a casserole dish. I used a 1.5 quart oval enameled cast iron dish.
Saute the onion with thyme and a bit of salt in 1 Tb olive oil over medium heat for ~5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
Add a splash of white wine and cook til no liquid remains.
Add spinach and cook for ~5 minutes til no liquid remains, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, soymilk, a bit of garlic powder, a dash of cayenne, a shower of fresh grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Fold the cooked spinach, cheese, and cubed bread into the egg mixture until well combined, then pour into the casserole and bake for 25-30 minutes (I went 28).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

A clean and pretty mild soup that I like to fire up with a little Siracha love.
Easy to make when you're feeling fuzzy.

Kale and Sweet Potato Soup:
(from Joy the Baker who was inspired by Food and Wine)

1-2 Tb olive oil
1 medium onion; diced
2 cloves garlic; minced
2 tsp finely grated/minced fresh ginger
3/4 tsp turmeric
~1/4 red pepper flakes (I tend to use a little more)
6 cups organic vegetable broth
1 tsp kosher salt
1.5 lbs sweet potato; diced to 3/4" pieces (peel if necessary, I leave the peel on if clean and organic)
3/4 lb organic kale; thick stems removed and chopped
~1 cup coconut milk
pepper to taste
a squeeze of lime juice is nice
2 cups cooked brown rice (you know you can make up a big batch of brown rice, or other whole grain and freeze it to use any old time right? Freeze leftovers in a ziplock bag, flattened out on a cookie sheet til frozen, then break off pieces as needed.)
Sriracha sauce to taste

Cook brown rice and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed dutch oven, then add onion and cook for 5 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, red pepper flakes and stir for 1 minute.
Add vegetable broth and sweet potatoes, bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Add kale, return to a simmer, cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes more, or until sweet potatoes have cooked through.
Remove from heat, stir in coconut milk, add some lime juice if you'd like, adjust salt/pepper to your taste.
Serve with a scoop of brown rice and plenty of Sriracha sauce.