Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go to your room! er... I mean.. The Fridge!

Tonight was one of those nights I came home and it was already 7:00 and I knew I couldn't start making a meal from scratch that late because then I wouldn't be eating till maybe 9 pm and then by the time I was done I'd have no time to really relax. So instead of making a meal for tonight, I put some frozen tamales in the steamer and sliced up a cucumber real quick for a mini cucumber salad (read: red wine vinegar, pinch sugar, salt, and pepper). And, as the tamales steamed, I chopped an onion, two carrots, some of that beautiful marina di chioggia squash, and started on soup for lunches and dinners this week!

Though I didn't get to enjoy it tonight, cooking a nearly hands off soup while I got to sit on the couch and relax definitely has its benefits. I'll be good for tomorrow and the next day. And I can stop feeling bad about that gorgeous squash just sitting around, not being used!

Here's the recipe; it's incredibly simple. Promise!

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3/4 c chopped hard winter squash
1 1/2 T cumin
1/2 T curry powder
2 c red lentils, rinsed (Hey, sometimes when you buy them, they're dusty. It won't kill you but...)
10 c water
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onions, carrots, squash, and spices. Stir, and saute until onions are translucent. Add lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes. (Or, if you forget pot is on the stove for an hour, it will be good then, too!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bright Yellow Squash Cake

I struggled over whether or not to post this recipe. I made it in an obstinate mood. I refused to look at any recipes even for guidance. I had a big Marina di Chioggia squash, which is a large, heirloom squash that looks like a very big pumpkin but instead of being round and orange, it has bumpy blue-green skin and is a bit more ovular than round. This squash was my last remnant from having worked at the Fort Greene Farmers Market for Hector Tejada at Conuco farms. It had sat on my counter for a number of weeks and so I thought it was ready to be processed. I cut the squash in half, crosswise, and scooped out the seeds of one half (the other half went into plastic wrap in the fridge... maybe soup later this week?). I roasted it on 375 for about 70 minutes, then let it cool before scooping out the flesh and putting it in a container in the fridge.

When I came home from my orientation at the Park Slope Food Coop (yes, I'm now a member! Awesome!), and I had four boys men in my livingroom watching football and screaming every few minutes, I thought baking a squash butter cake would be a good way to occupy myself. (And, I have to say, I had some report writing to do and you know me- what better way to procrastinate than to bake?)

Here is the recipe to the cake, which I devised out of thin air. It's very damp. Moist. I warn you. It's kind of like a kugel with no noodles, because of the egg, mashed squash, and yogurt. But it is freakin tasty. And bright orange-yellow in color. So here it is in case you decide you want to retrace my evening:

1/2 c softened butter
1 c sugar
1 1/2 c mashed squash (I bet you could use canned pumpkin, unseasoned or sweetened)
2 eggs
3/4 c vanilla or plain yogurt
1 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add squash, and mix until combined. Add eggs and beat well, then add yogurt and vanilla. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until combined. If the batter is too thin, add flour. If it is too thick to be poured into a loaf pan, add more yogurt. Bake on 350 for 40 minutes. Remove from pan and place on rack to cool.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

Yesterday was cold. Cloudy and cold and snowing on and off, but not sticking. We had some friends stopping by for tea, and I thought, Hey, if I'm stuck inside all day, I may as well have a project going.
So to the store I went for canned beans and carrots and scallions. (I know I am an avid supporter of dried beans, but we had just gotten back from the Bay Area and our supplies are low.)

This chili is one of the easiest things to make, especially if you have the staples lying around somewhere. We ate it served on top of creamy polenta, but you could have it over rice, egg noodles, or just plain. Or with cornbread (which was our second choice after polenta). Throw all the ingredients in the pot in no specific order (although the order in which the following ingredients are listed is a good order to go in!), and let it simmer away until it thickens up. We didn't even add any water or stock--the only liquid is from the tomatoes and bean liquid. And this chili flavor was very chilily!

2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 c diced carrots
1 1/2 T chili powder (we used a mix of 2)
1 T cumin
1 dried chipotle pepper, whole (or a can of adobo chiles)
2 dried anaheim peppers (or just a couple t's of crushed red pepper)
32 oz canned tomatoes (we used the ones we put up this summer, but store-bought is fine)
1 can each of black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans
salt to taste
white pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic, carrots, and spices in olive oil. Add beans and tomatoes. Season to taste. Boil and then reduce to simmer, cooking for about 45 min, or until it reaches desired consistency. Serve with chives or cheddar cheese or sour cream (or all three!).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Like most things in life

Polenta is better the next day served with an egg.
Those people to put on the egg commercials are on to something. The incredible, edible egg, indeed! I swear by eggs making just about any meal better. Especially a meal based around a starch. With some sort of vegetable thing in there, somewhere.
So this morning, when I wanted a real good breakfast, I turned on the broiler, boiled a pot of water on the stove, reheated last night's dinner, and called it Brunch.
A small skillet of last night's creamy polenta with butter and goat gouda, topped with last night's vegetarian chili, under the broiler for 10 minutes until bubbly was topped with a perfectly poached egg, seasoned with salt and pepper, and finished with a dollop of Mr. Ripe's cousin's Christmas Salsa. Wowza.
Talk about brunch!