Monday, September 26, 2011

beet and smoked sausage soup

An excess of farmer's market beets in your fridge and a large quantity of Hungarian salami in your freezer? This recipe can help you out. Or am I the only person who every has that problem? It seems near constant.

This recipe is from the Canadian Living test kitchen, but it's definitely the kind of hearty, spicy food that pulls at my Eastern European heartstrings. It also appeals to my weird obsession with food that is not food-colored (in this case, dark magenta and bright orange). Unfortunately none of my photos turned out very well, but trust me when I say that this soup is as pretty as it is delicious. And completely capable of staining through three layers of clothing. So wear black when you make it. And eat it.

5-8 medium-sized beets
2 tablespoons butter
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried dill
6-8 ounces smoked spicy sausage, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
juice from one large lemon
1 stalk fresh rosemary, if you have it on hand
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Rinse and scrub the beets clean, and trim off any dangling ends. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil, and wrap in tinfoil. Place the packets on a baking sheet and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until they're tender enough for a dinner knife to sink in without much pressure. Cool for twenty minutes or so, then slide/cut off the skins (under running water is easiest and cleanest) and dice. Set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat in the bottom of your thick-bottomed soup pot and cook the celery, onion, carrots, dill, salt, and pepper until softened (about seven or eight minutes). Add the sausage and cook for another three minutes or so. Add the potatoes and beets and cook for another minute. 

Slowly pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the rosemary (wrap it in cheesecloth if you don't want bits floating around in your soup) and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and serve with rice, barley, or oyster crackers.

This stuff is delicious. You could probably even make it vegetarian, but you'd have to do something to compensate for the loss of spice from the sausage. I'd probably throw in some of the hot red peppers we use for paprikás, and add another tablespoon or two of butter for thickness.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

spicy spinach pesto

This recipe is entirely my own, and entirely the result of having a large bag of spinach that wasn't going to last much longer. It's also one of my 25 recipes, even though I've stopped pretending I'm actually going to finish that. Probably should have put more thought into the list, because some of it just isn't practical for me to make on my own.

I'd never had spinach pesto before, but I figured it was a logical switch, since spinach leaves are fairly similar to basil leaves in everything except for flavor. And I had a lot of spinach and not much basil (my one little plant grows bravely, but sadly there isn't enough sunlight in my apartment for it to really flourish). And it worked out really, really well. Especially once I added a handful of crushed pepper, because that makes everything better. As usual, all measurements below are approximate. Adjust according to your taste. This made enough pesto to fill a 14 ounce jar with a couple of tablespoons left over, so it would probably cover pasta for about four people.

2-3 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
handful of fresh basil leaves (as many as your plant can spare)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup olive oil
3-6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
zest and juice of one small lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
crushed red pepper to taste (I used about two tablespoons)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put a tablespoon or so of the olive oil and a small handful of the spinach into your food processor* and chop up. This is the starter for your pesto (it helps everything blend more smoothly). Add the spinach and olive oil a handful/tablespoon at a time and continue to process. After the first one, add another ingredient with the spinach. I did walnuts first, then garlic, then the lemon, and the crushed pepper last, but it depends on which things you want crushed up the most. Taste and adjust. Mix in the cheese last (my processor has a 'stir' setting that was helpful here). Store in a jar or tupperware in your fridge... I'm guessing it'll last about a week.

* Note: don't use a blender for this, or you will just get green liquid that looks like it's from a swamp. Or at least don't use my blender for this. Maybe yours can do it.

Serve tossed with pasta and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with a dollop of ricotta or more parmesan. Or, you know, on toast. Because it's that delicious.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

rosemary brown sugar pork chops

Aside from being one of the first real things I've cooked in my new apartment, these pork chops were the first things to be cooked in my brand new cast iron pan. I've wanted one for years but have always been denied the pleasure, either due to practical issues or because I was worried that a careless roommate would destroy my wonderful pan. But now I have one (three, actually--they came as a set), and I completely earned it by lugging it around a gigantic mall, onto a crowded bus, and then up a hill because I accidentally got off said bus about four stops early. Totally worth it. This recipe came from The Kitchn, and I only messed around with it a little bit (more of all the seasonings). My pork chops were very thin, since I was originally planning on using them in a stir-fry rather than whole, but they soaked up the flavors really nicely.

2 large or 4 small pork chops
1 - 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons pepper*
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Mix the rosemary, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cumin together in a shallow dish, and coat the pork chops in it. If you have time, cover them and stick them in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors soak in (I highly recommend this). Take them out of the refrigerator and let them sit for ten minutes or so.

Heat the oil over medium high, and put in the pork chops. Cook a couple of minutes on each side (mine were super-thin, so they only took about two minutes per side, but a nice thick one would take more like five minutes on each), until the internal temperature is about 145ºF. Having a meat thermometer is helpful, but I ended up just cutting them open to see if they were cooked through. The brown sugar will caramelize a little on the outside, which is my favorite part of this dish.

Remove from the pan and cover with foil to finish cooking. Serve with something delicious (I had orzo with pesto and sundried tomatoes, which you'll see in the next post).

* I used this crazy flower pepper from Trader Joe's, which I've been putting on everything lately. Highly recommend it.

Coming soon: more recent stuff, plus some peeks into that epic dinner party my mother and I cooked back in August.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Miu Miu Glitter Love

Miu Miu Glitter Love

Miu Miu Glitter Love by whiskeyinyrshoes

I love this collection and I want to own every bit of it. Except I would never wear them, because I hate heels and peep-toes. But I could just sit there and look at them for years.

P.S. sorry if all my saved items are showing up in your RSS feed, I can't figure out how to make Polyvore not default to that and I forget to uncheck the box all the time.