……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Cool Avocado Soup July 31, 2012

I rarely pull recipes off restaurant websites – I always feel like they’re going to leave off a key ingredient in order to inspire me to come back to their spot instead of making a dish myself. But, when I got this recommendation, it sounded too good to pass up.

Before I made this, I’d never eaten a cold soup. Now, I basically want to live off cold soup all summer long. This was incredibly refreshing, all while being incredibly creamy and decadent.

Plus, we finally got to use the antique cold soup china tureen that’s been in the basement for a year. Classy business, this soup.

Plus it’s green. Which is awesome.

Cool Avocado Soup from Panera

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 English cucumber, partially peeled, then chopped (I used a little cucumber from my garden!)
4 scallions, green parts only
2 cups vegetable broth
Juice of one lime
1/3 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems)
1/2 – 1 jalapeño pepper, depending on your taste preference, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 – 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4+ tsp. cumin
1/4+ tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt

Throw everything in the blender and puree for 2-3 minutes. Let it sit for a few hours, then blend again for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro as desired.


Asparagus, pea and radish salad June 27, 2012

For the first time ever, I’m growing radishes in my yard. They’re terribly exciting because the red starts to show through the soil very early – and the greens grow to be enormous rather quickly.

As a result, I’m been looking for radish recipes – and something along these lines seems to be quite the thing this summer. It’s quick, easy and really delicious.

Note that it’s important to eat this right when it’s done. While it’s still edible, refrigeration does nothing good to the dish.

Asparagus, Pea and Radish Salad– adapted from a bunch of sources; everyone seems to like some combination of radishes and peas as a summer salad

2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

1.5 lbs. asparagus, tough ends discarded
5 oz. frozen peas, thawed
8 or so radishes, greens discarded, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. butter

In a small bowl, whisk together cumin, lime juice and honey. Slowly add oil, then stir in dill. Set dressing aside (or refrigerate if you’re making ahead of time).

Steam asparagus until crisp-tender (less than you normally would), then immediately transfer to an ice bath. Let it cool completely, then pat dry. At this point, you can refrigerate the asparagus for up to a day.

In a large pot, heat butter over medium. Add asparagus and heat until it begins to get warm. Then add peas and cook until vegetables are warm, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and stir in radishes.

Pour dressing over and stir to coat. Serve immediately.


Fall Potluck: Baked Apple Sundaes October 2, 2011

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I have really wonderful friends. Earlier this year, they willingly rated all the dishes at my mac and cheese tasting party. They took pounds of squash off my hands when the squash plant was getting out of control. And they humor my constant desire to be at Tria drinking wine and eating cheese.

This fall was no different. I wanted to have a get together, but didn’t have time to have a dinner party – so they all pitched in for our autumn-themed potluck. Get ready to be jealous of our menu:

Cornbread, made in a skillet that’s been in the family for four generations
Chili, made with the unbelievably delicious DiPaola turkey sausage
Butternut squash gnocchi with sage butter sauce
Roast lamb
Beet and orange salad with hazelnuts
Spinach salad with almonds and cranberries
Ginger carrot soup
Pecan pie

Everything was as wonderful as it sounds. Pretty darn awesome party, I must say.

We also had baked apple sundaes, which are so delicious that you should probably make some right now.

Baked Apple Sundae

Take 1 apple, such as a honey crisp (pick an apple you actually want to eat here, not just a pie apple), per person or per couple, depending on how hungry you are. Using a knife and a spoon (a grapefruit spoon would be perfect here), core the apple, being careful not to pierce the bottom. You should be left with a 1-in. hole in the top, and no core.

Sprinkle the inside with some cinnamon and brown sugar. Adding butter is a nice touch if you’re just making a baked apple, but it’s not necessary in a sundae. Bake the apples inside a glass baking dish at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes. You do not need to grease the pan or add water, as some recipes suggest.

When the apples are done, they will be incredibly warm and soft enough to cut with a spoon, but will still be a little crisp and will maintain their shape.

At this point, using a cookie scoop, scoop vanilla frozen yogurt, or vanilla ice cream, into the apples. B.A. recommended Stonyfield organic…and it was really good, I have to say. Drizzle with caramel (yes, you can make your own, but the smuckers butterscotch caramel ice cream topping is just as delicious).

Easy, and pretty healthy (for a fall dessert, especially).

1 indulgent serving: 263 Calories, 0.4 g fat (no trans fat), 5.8 g fiber


End of Summer Rice September 12, 2011

Here in Philadelphia, it does not feel like summer has ended. It is muggy and hot and humid and muggy and humid. Yuck.

But on the bright side, my squash plant is finally showing signs of dying, so I’m delighting in what I finally know are the last squashes of summer. To celebrate, I’ve thrown together a nice rice dish that I served with sausage.

[Sorry, no photo. I packed it all up into little containers for my lunch this week before I snapped its picture.]

End of Summer Rice adapted from B.A. 

1 bell pepper, diced
2 small-medium squashes, diced
1 onion, diced
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups broth – or 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 3/4 cups water, if you’re, say, out of broth
Cayenne pepper to taste

Cook the diced veggies in olive oil, stirring frequently, until onions begin to become translucent and all have softened. Then, add rice and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Dump in your liquid and spices, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until water has been absorbed.

Healthy, simple, and delicious with some nice spicy Italian sausage on top.


Simple Veggie Stir-fry September 3, 2011

It’s that time of year again wherein working (3 jobs this time around) and full-time school converge to make cooking interesting things a secondary, sometimes tertiary activity. (I could venture to say when is it not that time of year actually…) Things have started off swimmingly with classes, although at the end of the day I’m pretty exhausted and headache-y most of the time. Solution 1: drink more water throughout the day. Solution 2: eat meals with a lot of different colored vegetables, and not just cobbled-together unrelated/minimal energy sources. Such as watermelon and matzoh crackers. Yes, I just admitted that. Don’t let it happen to you; make this stir-fry instead.

2 cups frozen peas

2 cups frozen cauliflower

1 cup frozen sweet corn

1 cup frozen orange bell pepper, sliced

1 cup sliced mushrooms, dirt patted off

1 medium onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

2 eggs, whisked*

1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Black pepper to taste

Saute onion, ginger, and garlic until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and saute on high heat. Deglaze pan with the vinegar after about 3 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and stir until cooked through on medium heat. Season to taste, and remove from pan to serving dish. Using the same pan, pour in the whisked eggs evenly and cook on medium-low heat as you would for an omelet, flipping over after about 3-5 minutes. Serve atop the veggies or crumble it into the mix.

*Omit the eggs if you want to keep it vegan.


Summer Squash Soup, Two Ways August 6, 2011

When I was small, my parents had an expansive garden. We grew multiple types of green beans, squash, melons, peas, tomatoes, and a bajillion other things. The garden was so large that my punishment for doing really stupid things was weeding the entire thing alone.

My dad’s terraced handiwork and hours pouring over seed catalogs in the winter meant that we were incredibly well-fed with homegrown goodness. And, at least one summer, it meant that our kitchen was unbearably overrun with zucchini. At one point, the zucchini got so big that my sister and I wrapped two up in blankets and teased my mother that they were going to replace any other dolls we had.

Suffice it to say, for several years, I literally could not each zucchini or summer squash. Could not, could not, could not eat it.

So, I’m not exactly positive what made me decide to plant so much squash in my little raised planter bed in my little yard. [Yes, that’s a photo of my yard. And, you know what, I can’t see my raised planter either. That’s how big those plants are.]

So, what do you do when you need to get rid of pounds and pounds of squash, but don’t feel like eating it for breakfast?

Squash soup, two kinds: Squash soup with dill and Summer squash-corn soup. Note that these are really good side dish soups, not great main dish soups.

Then put everything you can’t eat in the freezer for later.

Summer squash-corn soup

1 lb. summer squash, cut in half, then into 1/2 in slices
2 cups corn
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbs. olive oil
2.5 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes

In a heavy pot, combine corn, squash, onion, oil and garlic. Saute all together for 3 to 5 minutes, or until squash begins to soften and onion begins to become translucent. Add spices to taste for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add broth and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Let soup cool, then puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Garnish soup with thin squash slices, and spice with salt and pepper to taste.

Squash soup with dill

1/2 Tbs. butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
Salt, pepper, and dill
2.25 lbs. summer squash, cut in half, then into 1/2 in. slices
2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1-2 Tbs. olive oil

Melt butter, then cook onion and half the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add squash and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Add dill and broth. Bring to broth, then reduce to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until squash is tender.

Let soup cool, then puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.


Homemade Polenta July 10, 2011

I’ve never made polenta before, so this is something of a test recipe.  Since injuring my foot a few weeks ago (and having to be sedentary a whole lot as a result), I’ve been trying to eat much less than I normally would, as well as making an effort to cook new things when possible.  It’s easy to get lethargic in the super hot weather, so my advice for those stuck on the injured list this summer: eat a lot of cold salads, fruit (especially berries), and stick with lighter starchy things– like this baked polenta recipe!

2 cups water

2 cups milk (or milk substitute)

1 cup coarsely ground yellow corn meal

1 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch of salt

Bring the milk and water to a boil in a large saucepan (watch that it doesn’t get too frothy and overflow). Stir in the corn meal and continue stirring on reduced heat until the mixture thickens (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper. Pour into a baking dish and refrigerate for about an hour or until the mixture sets. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 350 degrees and cut the polenta into squares. Place squares on a baking sheet and bake for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  You can also pan fry the squares in a tablespoon of olive oil, about 7 minutes on each side.

You can basically mix the polenta with whatever veggie combination you like best. The photo above is sauteed onions, broccoli rabe, and orange bell peppers with fresh basil, black olives, and torn mozzarella sprinkled on top. Omit the cheese and use soy milk to keep it vegan.