Friday, February 25, 2011

Edamame and Arugula Soup

Went to Portland, ME last weekend. Always the best eateries around! Green Elephant, Local Sprouts Cafe, Miyake, Paciorino, One Fifty Ate. Mmmm...this time in need of a snack, we stumbled upon Kamasouptra. We had a delicious edamame and arugula soup. This is my attempt at duplication.

Edamame and Arugula Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 cups water
1 vegan vegetable bouillion cube
1 lb potatoes, sliced 1/2 inch
10 oz frozen edamame
2 to 3 c arugula packed
salt and pepper to taste
toasted almonds, chopped
Crusty, rustic bread

Melt butter and olive oil in dutch oven. Add onion and salt once butter begins to bubble. Saute on medium high until slightly browned, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add minced garlic and stir until fragarant, about 30 seconds. Add nutmeg. Saute 10 seconds. Add six cups water, bouillion cube, and potatoes. Bring water to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook 20 minutes.

Add edamame. Cook 10 minutes. Add 2 cups arugula. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until wilted. Blend in food processor or blender. Add 1 cup fresh arugula to soup when blending. If arugula taste is too strong, return to dutch oven and simmer 2 to 5 minutes longer. Voila. Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with toasted almonds and serve with crusty bread.

Tip: Arugula got caught in my immersion blender. No fun. Blender seemed to work better. Food processor also seems like it would do the job!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fresh Herbs and Red Sauce

I hate a love/hate relationship with fresh herbs. I love to eat them and I hate to buy them. For example, when buying dill, I feel like it either comes in a lettuce sized bunch or one so small, you have to buy two. Perhaps there is a recipe out that that calls for four cups of dill, but I haven't found it.

Part of economizing seems to be using everything in your fridge. D's mom is so good at this. Her fridge is always spotless with exactly what she needs over the next several days. I find this mystifying. After making the shrimp with herb sauce, I was left with a lot of herbs, and I successfully have used two of the three and am on my way to using all of the sage. A small victory.

This recipe has become a favorite. It is one of the ways I used the leftover basil. I post it here to share and because I know I will someday loose this beloved edition of Cooks Illustrated.

Note: C.I. recommends using Tuttorosso or Muir Glen. I have only used Muir Glen. Deviated once and regretted it.

2 tbls unsalted butter
1/4 c grated onion, from 1 med. onion
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Table salt
2 med. garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (see note)
1/4 teas sugar
2 tbls coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tbls x-virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper

Heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar; increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and oil; season with salt and pepper. Serve (or freeze).

Things I change: I use 1 tbls butter. That said, this recipe has really given me an appreciation for canned tomatoes. I also love it, because I am not a fan of tomato paste. So simple and genuinely quick.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shrimp in Herb Tomatillo Sauce

After a long break, I realized I was losing track of all the recipes I loved. The following recipe is evidence of my love of trying something new and immediately forgetting about it.

I decided to change the format of the blog a bit since really I am restarting it for selfish reasons, as a way to keep track of everything I want to do, did and changed, and didn't like. Links are posted to recipes with any changes listed below the link. Also, D is potentially going back to school next year so I am starting to collect cheaper recipes. Our food bill is out of control...

Last night we made: Shrimp in Tomatillo Herb Sauce

Changes: Divine. Would not change a thing although I probably added more oil than it called for...didn't really measure that bit.

Ways to make it cheaper: make it when your herb garden is at full bloom and use white beans. The first time we made it, I used white beans. I thought it was amazing, but I should add that I am obsessed with white beans. If you use white beans, I recommend starting with the dry version since the canned ones are often falling apart. Six months after using beans, turns out Maine shrimp are in season, so we picked some of those up at the winter farmer's market and my internet search for good shrimp recipes lead me back to this recipe.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Books about People and Food

Over the past couple of years, I have enjoyed reading books with vivid food descriptions. Some true and some fictional. Here is a short list:

1. My Life in France by Julia Child: I am currently reading this book and falling in love with Julia and her husband. This book makes me naustalgic for travel, adventure and cooking. I also purchased Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It is working its way through the postal system.

2. Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey: A wonderful story of growing up told through memories of food. It also details how the mass exit of Muslims to Pakistan and Hindus to India affected and shaped the cuisine of Dehli. Great recipes in the back including one for lamb and peas in gravy.

3. The Alice B Toklas Cookbook by Alice B Toklas: I am slowly making my way through this book. I love the insights into each recipe although I have never considered making them. If you ever wondered how to properly prepare squab, this is the book for you, and even if you haven't, it is still an beautiful book about the care and love Alice took in preparing meals for Gertrude.

4. The Book of Salt by Montique Truong: A fictional account of the life of Alice and Gertrude's Vietnamese cook. The descriptions of the food are amazing. I found myself skipping parts of the book to get to the bits about food. Also, it is an interesting take on the French occupation of Vietnam.

5. Hummingbirds Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea: A book based on the life of a Mexican saint. The descriptions of the indegenous food of Mexico and its blending with Spanish cuisine were outstanding and brought another layer to this story.

These are the ones that have stuck with me. I am not sure why. I am excited to start my exploration of French food! If you have any additional suggestions or know a quick way to learn French pronunciation, let me know.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The following is a guest post from D. I helped stir the recipe for about two minutes. D refused to use the kitchen aid and I got the kitchen aid because I hate mixing. I held the bowl while he stirred with both hands and then he sat on the floor and held the bowl between his legs while stirring with both hands. I would recommend using a standing mixer...

Ok, I think using a mixer would be problematic, and I'll explain why later, but it's true that this basic fudge recipe is ludicrously labor intensive. The final step calls for you to beat the fudge with a wooden spoon until it begins to lose its gloss, which can take 10 or 15 or more minutes. If you're working with a less-than-accurate candy thermometer the fudge may never lose its gloss, and you'll get uncongealed, though still delicious, fudge. Despite the simple ingredients a lot can go wrong. My younger sister and I used to make this recipe when we were kids and we'd crack each other up falsely claiming that "it's losing its gloss! it's losing its gloss!" Then one day the fudge actually did lose its gloss and everything happened so fast that before we could transfer it to the pan it was hard as a rock stuck to the bottom of the kettle. This, I suspect, is why you're supposed to beat it with a wooden spoon rather than an electric mixer.

There are a lot of easier fudge recipes out there--usually they call for evaporated milk and semi-sweet chocolate--but they pale in comparison to the real thing.

3 c. sugar
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together the sugar, cocoa, and salt in a kettle. Add the milk and cook over medium heat stirring constantly. When it comes to a boil stop stirring and take its temperature. Let it boil without stirring until it reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Let it cool at room temperature, still without stirring, until it returns to 110 degrees. While it's cooling, line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil, and butter the foil. When the mixture has cooled, beat it with a wooden spoon until it loses its gloss. This is a lot of work and it's much easier if you have a helper and can take turns. Eventually (hopefully) it will thicken and you'll notice that its shine is fading--either that or you'll tire and decide that it's just not worth it. Whichever comes first, the next step is to transfer the fudge to the the pan. If the transition from glossy to matte was quick, you should also be quick about the transfer because the fudge can harden in no time. If you quit from exhaustion or you think the fudge is maybe losing its gloss but you're not really sure then you can be more leisurely about it. Let it cool completely and enjoy. If it hardens sufficiently, you can turn it over, peel off the foil, and cut it into squares. Store at room temp.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cranberry Christmas Cake

This is my favorite baked good of my mother's around the holidays.

Christmas Cake

1 cup sugar
2 cup flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 c cranberries, whole and fresh


Mix dry ingredients together first. Mix milk, melted butter, and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Stir dry and wet ingredients together. Gently stir in cranberries and make sure they do not break. Grease a 8 x 8 pan and pour the mixture in. Bake at 350 until it is golden brown on the top. You should be able to put a fork through the middle cleanly, but make sure the cake is not too done. This will take approximately 25 minutes.

1 c sugar
1/2 c cream
1/4 lb butter
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

While the cake is baking, the sauce should be made. Stir all ingredients together. Over medium heat, stir the mixture until the sugar disintegrates and it is clear.

Final Directions

Cut each piece individually and then spoon frosting on top. Should be served warm. The "frosting" will seep into the top layer of the cake and create a nice contrast between the cake and the tart cranberries.

The frosting can be stored in the fridge separately from the cake and reheated for future consumption.