Wasabi-Soy Sweet Potato with Ginger-Kale Chowder

IMG_2531Soup, soup, soup, soup, SOOOOOP. I’ve been waiting for seasonally-appropriate weather for at least six weeks, largely to take the edge off the panic induced by a 70-degree Christmas Day in Ohio, but also to fully sink into winter grub. Winter grub includes soup. And thus we have here a tale of two soups.

The first is a variation on the carrot soup Shannon shared a month or two back. In this version, she braised the carrots in soy sauce before putting them in the food processor, replaced the onions with garlic, and added ginger and sesame oil. Boom. I have nothing against carrots, but I do get tired of the aggression of their sheer profusion these months. I could not get enough of this soup, though. I mean, some kind of lovely chemical in my brain drained away when Shannon told me there was no more. I didn’t care what Slippin’ Jimmy was dealing with in Better Call Saul. I sat there and secretly wished Shannon would give me some of hers.

Which she did on her own volition! “No, no,” I said, “you finish your soup; I’m okay.”

“I sampled a lot while making it; I’m full,” she said.

And so I destroyed the few tablespoons left.

And thus inspired, I decided to do my part to work our way through our stockpile of root vegetables by inventing another soup that would satisfy a craving that I realized was significantly a craving for sesame oil.

So I worked up what I’ll call Wasabi-Soy Sweet Potato with Ginger-Kale Chowder. Continue reading

Luck o’ the Carrot to Ya

carrot soupThere are all sorts of foods people eat on New Year’s Day to ensure prosperity for the coming year: greens because they look like cash, cornbread because it’s golden, black-eyed peas because they look like pennies (a stretch, I know, but whatever). What if, however, it’s not money you seek in the new year, but curly hair? When my mom was a kid, that’s how those meddling adults in her life got her to eat carrots, which was a lie so blatant that it would make me feel bad for her except that I’m pretty sure that she once told me carrots would make my eyesight better. Years later, I still have straight hair and glasses, but no lie: this carrot soup is delicious and might make a great addition to your New Year’s meal.

This is also perfect if you have a big bag full of carrots on hand, since they’re one of those vegetables that rarely get a starring role. You can adjust the spice to suit your taste, though you shouldn’t add so much that it drowns out the carrots’ own earthy sweetness. And is it just me, or do they not look a little like pennies when you chop them up to roast? Bring on the prosperous new year.

Zesty Roasted Carrot Soup Continue reading

A Cauldron of Southwestern Black Bean & Mustard Squash Soup

I’ve been into beans this winter.  I like pouring something that could substitute for buckshot into a cauldron of water and ending up with soft, succulent morsels of food.  And I cannot overemphasize the appeal of the cauldron component; to make yummy beans from scratch, I have to take the biggest pot we have, a cast-iron thing of uncertain origin in the home, and fill it with all sorts of whatever’s-on-hand to make delicious what would otherwise be bland bean flesh.  I mean, eye of newt is surely not tasty to most palettes and Macbeth’s witches weren’t making dinner, so this is perhaps not the best comparison, but I like pouring and scraping and shaking whatever cool things I can find into a simmering pot and getting a little magic out of it when all is said and done.

Looking at this picture, I remember that we sprinkled some cheese on top, too.

Looking at this picture, I remember that we sprinkled some cheese on top, too.

So the other day I decided to riff on the rough idea of a Southwestern-themed bean soup I had burbling around in my brain.  We had a butternut squash on hand, not Shannon’s favorite vegetable, and I’m always trying to come up with ways to make yummy things folks don’t typically like.  Note that you don’t have to include all of these ingredients in your version.  You shouldn’t make a special trip to the store just for a lime or whatever, and the soup will be tasty even if you don’t get the mustard going.

Southwestern Black Bean & Mustard Squash Soup Continue reading

How to Pretend to be Tamar Adler (Part II)

cauliflower pastaAnd so the saga continued. And this time, I was determined to step it up a notch.

Attempt 3: A Cabbage with a College Education
What’s not to love about a vegetable that looks like a brain? So I decided to cook up some cauliflower, Tamar-style. She’s an advocate for boiling vegetables rather than steaming them (crisper is not always better), so I sawed up about half a head and dropped it in a pot of salty boiling water. And since I hadn’t done so well at thinking ahead up to this point, I also put the rest of the cauliflower (with some whole cloves of garlic) and some sweet potatoes in a 425 degree oven to roast.

When the boiling cauliflower was nice and tender, I ladled it out with a slotted spoon, and then used the same pot of water to cook some penne pasta. Then I mashed up the cauliflower with a generous handful of Parmesan cheese, some freshly ground pepper and the roasted garlic from the oven.  I added some of the starchy pasta water to turn to all into a sauce right before I drained the pasta. I don’t like to brag, but I think I got some extra points for tapping into Tamar’s fresh herb enthusiasm and topping it all with a bunch of fresh dill before serving.

The results were pretty good, simple but tasty. The components of the sauce did not combine quite as smoothly as I wanted them to, but no one can really complain about a big clump of melted cheese.
Tamar Score: 7

Attempt 4: It’s Not Over ‘Til the Skinny Yam Sings Continue reading

Smoky Potato Chowder

smoky potato chowderGuess who got a new Crockpot for Christmas? Ba-zam! Yes, I know that this makes me approximately a thousand years old, but I’m pretty excited. It’s like magic. You put a bunch of ingredients in it, and approximately eighty-four hours later, you have a delicious soup.

Seriously, though, I made some pretty awesome Crockpot delicacies this weekend, including this soup that I sort of made up as I went along. I used a variety of potatoes, to make it a bit more interesting. It also features smoked paprika, which is Jason’s favorite SOTM (Spice of the Moment). Truly, he will go through a jar of it in the blink of an eye, but I managed to spirit some away from him to give the soup a little heat and a delicious bacon-y flavor. Eat it on a cold night with a salad and some bread, and you’ll have enough energy to go head-to-head with the Abominable Snowman. Or to teach him how to use a Crockpot.

Smoky Potato Chowder Continue reading

Snow Cap Bean Soup with Veggie Sausage Meatballs

snow cap soupThis past weekend, I was talking to a woman who made her own cactus fruit juice. Where, I queried, did she procure cactus fruits? “Oh, you know,” she said. “Down the block.”

This is one of those New York things that I love: the weird ingredients you find whether you’re looking for them or not. Years ago, as an impoverished new owner of an MFA degree, I was introduced to the East Village Cheese Shop (3rd Ave between 9th and 10th), a wonderland of steeply discounted cheese, obviously, but also all sorts of other oddities. On a recent trip there, I found these beautiful Community Grains Snow Cap heirloom beans, and if the price tag did not convince me to pick them up ($1.50 for a whole pound!!), then the description on the package certainly did: “Known for their jaunty white caps, smooth texture, and surprisingly potato-like flavor.” Jaunty white caps?! Sold!

jaunty white capsOf course, I’m often guilty of, say, buying something because of the eloquent description on the label and then not knowing what to do with it. So I made up this easy soup recipe for my beans, hearty and good for curing you of this new chilly nip in the air. Sure, you could substitute white beans, but why not scour your supermarket for something you haven’t used before, something…jaunty, perhaps?

Snow Cap Bean Soup with Veggie Sausage Meatballs Continue reading

Post-St. Patrick’s Day Stewed Leprechaun

leprechuanEveryone indulges their mischievous and somewhat bawdy antics on St. Patrick’s Day, of course, but what is one to do with the surplus of leprechauns running around the house after the holiday? We have more than most—though I’m only about a third Irish on a good day, I have a name that makes me sounds as if I’m straight off the boat from County Cork, and the little devils just come flocking. To call them a nuisance would be an understatement: they harass the cats, they poop in the shower, they drink all the Scotch in the house out of spite. I think it will be a solid month before I can get the smell of pipe smoke out of the couch, and the red hair I keep finding on my pillow…let’s just say I’m not certain it’s from their heads.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I find leprechaun slaughter an enjoyable task. (In fact, I prefer the term “leprechaun harvest” whenever possible.) But it’s important to remember that they’ve lived a good life, free to roam and tell dirty jokes wherever they like. And a little ether on a rag and then a quick whap against the edge of the sink is a process I find most humane.

Anyway, they make a first-rate soup. So come in out of the harsh March winds, sit down to a steaming bowlful and thank your lucky stars that St. Patty’s Day comes but once a year. For the recipe of what’s in the bowl, keep reading: Continue reading