Thursday, October 14, 2010

salad


I'm terribly bored and waiting in a very long line, so here's a post about the really pretty salad I made last night. Yes, my pre-chopped salad was so pretty I took a photo. It's completely normal, right? This salad was composed of romaine lettuce and baby pea shoots with a Fuji apple, sunflower seeds, honey sesame sticks, dried cranberries, and cashews. I ate it with sesame soy ginger dressing from Trader Joe's. Actually I'm pretty sure every single thing in this salad except the sunflower seeds came from TJ's, as I've shopped basically nowhere else since the latest one opened up just five blocks south of my apartment. It's a magical place.

Monday, October 11, 2010

butternut squash soup



Butternut Squash Soup with Soda Bread

The last few days have been full of nasty surprises and torrents of rotten luck, so the obvious thing to do was to make some soup, soup being both the ultimate comfort food and a nice thing to share with other people in order to make myself feel more happy and less miserable. A friend of mine recently posted a recipe for a Portugese butternut squash soup that sounded delicious and less sweet than the ones that soup places in New York (of which there are many great ones) tend to make. I am also delving into the enthralling writing of José Saramago for the first time, so a Portugese soup seems appropriate. I followed her recipe (which came from a monastery cookbook!) pretty closely but changed the spices a bit according to what I had on hand. I also increased the recipe a little just to avoid being left with a stray cup of broth and two odd ounces of squash. Also: buying pre-cut, pre-cleaned squash is awesome and totally not cheating.

Ingredients
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 giant onions, chopped (I used red ones)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into chunks
1 potato, peeled and cubed
7 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (or to taste--I used quite a lot)
1 heaping tablespoon rosemary (I used dried, but fresh is probably better)
salt and pepper to taste
1 random dash of cinnamon added at the end, because it always gets used with the ginger and it looked lonely

Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes, reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let them sweat for 10-15 minutes. Remove the lid and add the squash, potato, and rosemary.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, put the lid back on and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes, stirring them through.

Blend the soup until it's smooth and thick. Serve with bread or crackers.

Do yourself a favor and get an immersion blender, as using a normal one will likely lead to the splattering of very hot soup. This will result in you having to wipe the kitchen floor and clean off the toaster while whimpering from the pain of two burned arms. Trust me on that. Or, you know, let the soup cool a little and don't over-fill the blender. I still ended up with eight or nine portions, despite losing a whole bunch to the floor and my arms. Planning on freezing a couple for the next time I can't be bothered to cook. Maybe I'll even take a nicely lit and staged picture instead of an indifferent I-just-wanna-eat-it-but-I-have-to-be-a-good-blogger phone camera one.

Halfway through making this soup I decided that in honor of Cookbook's original post I needed to bake some bread to go with the soup. I am also planning on giving some of it to a friend tomorrow, and it seems weird to give someone a jar of soup alone, or with store-bought bread. I put together a second round of the soda bread I made for St. Patrick's Day. Ten minutes in, I realized I needed milk. It immediately started pouring buckets outside. Nevertheless, milk was purchased and bread was made, and damn if this bread doesn't match the soup perfectly. Kelly and I ate half the loaf and a third of the soup in about twenty minutes. It was a delightfully healthy gluttonous experience, too (except for my lavish application of butter), so I don't feel at all bad about the number of alcohol calories I'm going to consume now to make the burns on my my arms stop hurting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

accidental punch




After deciding that cheap white zinfandel was too vile to drink on its own, I ended up tossing all the leftover liquids from Friday's black bean burger party into a pitcher and accidentally ended up with this yummy punch. Not sure I could replicate it, but here's the recipe in case you'd like to try. All measurements are approximate and were dictated by the relative emptiness of the bottles I was combining. Three glasses in, I've decided it could use a stronger citrus flavor and some more liquor, but I am out of lemons. And liquor. And have school tomorrow.

1 bottle cheap white zinfandel
6 ounces vodka
6 ounces triple sec
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 1/2  cups regular seltzer
1 cup raspberry seltzer
two splashes grenadine

Mix. Imbibe. Congratulate yourself on using up "leftovers", even though they would've been drunk anyway.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

cozy feet

cozy feet
cozy feet by whiskeyinyrshoes on Polyvore.com

The ones in the top left are what I imagine Virginia Woolf's Orlando would have worn. If they didn't have high heels I'd own them already. Might end up with the black suede ones, which also come in cognac, though sadly not in my size.

black bean burgers



My mother found this recipe years ago, shortly after I went vegetarian, and we've made it dozens of times since. The original called for jalapeños, which I don't really like, but I've played with a handful of other add-ins over the years. I think this version is my favorite so far, although I made some memorable ones with excessive amounts of hot chili oil. This recipe fed six people, with enough left over for Kelly and me to have a snack when we got home from a night out.

3 cans black beans, drained
3 medium-sized eggs
1 1/2-2 cup panko (or other bread crumbs)
4-5 green onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
spices as desired (I use rosemary, crushed pepper, and garlic powder)
buns, cheese, and toppings

In a large mixing bowl, mash up the black beans (I use the bottom of a ladle, but hands work too) until they clump together. Crack the eggs and stir them through the beans with a fork. Mix in the panko, then add the onions and cloves. Throw in your spices (I added hot paprika... big surprise). If the mixture is dry and crumbling, add another egg. If it's too sticky, add more panko.

Refrigerate for half an hour or so (not essential but it makes the stuff stick together better), then form patties and cook on medium-high in a lightly oiled pan for about five minutes on each side, until the burgers start to get brown patches. You can melt the cheese over the burgers in the pan if you like.

I've usually eaten these on pita bread, but I came across challah rolls at Trader Joe's while shopping for this dinner. They were perfect. I may never eat any kind of burger on anything else. You can embellish the burgers with traditional toppings like lettuce, onions, french fries and ketchup, or think up something different. I served them with a platter of cheeses (sharp cheddar and havarti), condiments (spicy mayo, sweet mustard, barbecue sauce), crispy bacon (because it's just too funny to put it on a veggie burger, and none of my guests were actually vegetarians), and baby pea or clover sprouts, with carrot slaw and garlic mashed potatoes on the side.