Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stayin in Soup Night

I made a soup like this a while back, and it was incredible. So simple, but so good! I've tweaked it a bit this time, and I also realized that last time there were no photos. So in an effort to beautify the blog, here is a sweet, spicy winter-relapse root soup, with some unusual add-ins for flavor (not including the bit of thumb I sliced off with an untrustworthy vegetable peeler). Paired with a small salad or rice and beans (or both!) this soup makes for a good warm-you-up soup on a very cold night.

What you need:

3 big peeled sweet potatoes, chopped big
1 leek, cleaned well and sliced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 beet, peeled and chopped
10 c water
1/2 c cooked squash
salt and pepper to taste
3 c corn kernels
2 T molasses

In a T of olive oil in a bit soup pot, saute ingredients listed from potatoes through beet for about 5 minutes. Add water and bring to boil. Then add squash. Boil about 1 hour. Puree. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add corn and molasses. Stir well. Serve.

** I've got to add-- last night I ended up eating this with rice and beans in the soup. And then tonight I ate it without the rice but with chipotle black beans and cheddar cheese on top. I think the black beans, though not essential, are a terrific addition to the soup...
Also, that beet? My best idea in a long time. For the flavor, the color, the texture (not all of the beets and sweet potatoes were pureed so smoothly). That beet was essential!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bread Pudding

What do you do with a half loaf of a HUGE homemade challah you froze several months ago then defrosted because you thought you'd eat it and then let it sit in the fridge for two and a half weeks, untouched?
I'll answer my own question. You bake Nutella Bread Pudding! That's what you do!
Tonight, when I got home from school and a no-show in the clinic, it was late. 8:30 already. I had a quick dinner with a new protein I hope to not try again (a very salty new kind of sausage at the coop that I thought maybe looked good?), and I whipped up the leftover milk in the fridge with eggs and flavors that smelled good.
Hopefully I don't make a habit of not eating homemade bread. But in the case that I do, bread pudding is a Terrific way to not waste food! And if it was Sunday morning instead of a Tuesday evening on which I had a hankering for sweets, I could have made a strata instead. A savory bread pudding custardy thing. With like, vegetables, or something.
...the leftover bread possibilities are endless. Waste Not!

Nutella Bread Pudding
5 c torn up pieces of challah
1 3/4 c milk (any kind)
4 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
10 rasps nutmeg
2 t vanilla
2 T nutella

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a loaf pan. Fill a large bowl with torn bread. In another bowl, beat all ingredients except nutella. Pour over the bread and push down to cover. Pour about 1/3 into prepared pan, and then try to spread 1 T nutella over this layer. Then pour another 1/3 of bread mixture on top, and spread another 1 T nutella over. Pour remaining bread mixture into pan. Spread/push down with spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool in pan about 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Farro in Parmesan Brodo

A couple of weeks ago Mr. Ripe and I had house guests. On their second night with us, I insisted we feast. The menu was inspired by my recent falling back in love with the charming Jamie Oliver, having borrowed his book on Italian cooking from the local library. The theme of his book and of our dinner was very simple food, made with simple ingredients. The results were phenomenal. We marinated chicken overnight in Chianti for Chicken Cacciatore, and made Jamie's Italian beans (our version was simply cooked white beans in water with herbs on hand and veggies, sort of in a light stock, then tossed with olive oil). We also did a quick field greens salad and, upon remembering a flavorful side dish I once had at a restaurant here in Brooklyn, I could not abandon my instinct to make a similar farro side.
I have never cooked farro before, but it is a great hearty grain to use. It looks like a wheat berry, but it doesn't need to soak overnight in order to cook. In this way, it's much more versatile and easy to use, a perfect fit for my whim.
I started by toasting onion in olive oil, and then toasted the farro in there as well. I then used a very rich chicken stock (although vegetarian can be substituted) leftover from weeks prior, which I had frozen into ice cubes for easy access at just a time like this, as my cooking liquid. When the farro was cooked through, softened but still with a light chew, we added about 1 1/2 c parmesan. The idea is to go for a brothy batch of farro, so the grain is cooked, but it is served in quite a bit of rich parmesan chicken brodo. It is quite rich, but a delightful side dish if you require extra whole grains in your meal.
I definitely recommend this one- it's so easy, there is no reason not to try it!
Farro in Parmesan Brodo
1 - 2 T Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 c farro
1 t salt
6 c chicken stock (or water, or vegetable stock)
1 1/2 - 2 c grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper and salt, to taste

With olive oil in medium saucepan, turn heat to medium, and add onion. Cook until translucent. Add farro, and toast, 2-3 minutes. Add salt and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until still chewy but tender, 40-50 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, pepper, and salt. Serve farro with its broth.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chili Lime Chicken Soup

Man, I feel like I haven't posted forever! And I am sorry. My routine had taken over, I guess. And I cooked less in the past two weeks than I would have liked to. But oh, the agony, of leaving the house at 7 in the morning and not returning until 8 or 8:30. Oy.

Today I was recuperating from a terrible head cold. But by 5:30, I was going stir crazy! I had to leave the house. I had to feel fresh air on my face! I caught a ride to the coop with little more on my list than oranges and Emergen-C. And somehow (of course), I ended up buying more, spending $35 instead of perhaps $15. But it was because when I was there, as I slowly walked through the produce section, I became inspired by some fresh baby ginger and lemon grass. I grabbed some limes from a box and a couple pounds of potatoes. (And irresistible looking spicy marcona almonds, and chocolate covered raisins, and dried mango...)

Once home, I promptly got to business, without even fully having unpacked my bag. And soon, there was a pot of almost-done chili lime chicken soup on the stove! When Mr. Ripe came home, he served each of us a bowl of the soup, topped off with fresh lime juice. After his first few bites, with delight, he asked me where the recipe was from. I want to share with you readers that I was flattered! No recipe. I urge you to change and increase this and take out that and add some more of whatever to this recipe- make it yours! Mmm!

Chili-lime Soup
*excellent for speedy cold recovery*

2 T olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2" piece of ginger, minced
2" piece of lemongrass, minced
3/4 c red lentils
3/4 c short grain brown rice
1 whole dried chili
6 c chicken stock
4 c water
half a head of napa cabbage, thinly sliced crosswise
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lime juice

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add ingredients on list through the rice. Saute 5 minutes. Add the chili, stock, water, cabbage, and salt and pepper, stir, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Serve and add lime juice and/or sriracha to individual bowls.