……………………………………………………. 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.


Pumpkin Black Bean Soup October 28, 2011

This recipe, in addition to being tasty, is incredibly easy to make when you’re away from your kitchen (or feeling very lazy). I made it while away for a weekend when I didn’t have refrigeration beforehand, and didn’t have access to all my normal kitchen things (and yes, I brought all these ingredients and a pan of cornbread with me when I was on vacation).

The original recipe suggests serving with warm tortillas, but I found cornbread to be a great accompaniment.

Note: while I normally advocate adding more of whatever spices you like, this recipe is uniquely balanced as it is. Don’t add more cilantro, even if you love it.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup 

This is supposed to be two servings, but we found that it’s more like four servings.

1 tsp cumin
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can black beans
1 can light, unsweetened coconut milk (in case you’re having a hard time finding this, check the Asian foods section of the grocery store)
1 cup vegetable broth
4 Tbs fresh cilantro
2 Tbs lime juice
3/4 tsp. lime zest

In a large saucepan, combine cumin, pumpkin, black beans, coconut milk, broth and 3 Tbs cilantro. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes to combine the flavors. Turn off heat, add lime juice, lime zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with remaining cilantro.


Mac and Cheese Tasting Party for 12 February 27, 2011

First, let me say that a dinner party for 12 is not an easy task – and I couldn’t have been prepared (or sane) without the boyfriend’s help. Don’t try a multi-course party unless you have someone else there to help you out. And, it was also made better because my friends are good sports: no one questioned my weird desire to have a mac & cheese tasting party, and everyone–even friends and significant others I just met–participated in ranking the dishes at the end of the night, even though it was corny.

Nacho mac in progress

So, for my (mostly) vegetarian dinner party, we had Pumpkin Gruyere Mac, Nacho Cheddar Mac, and Three Cheese Mac. See below the break for recipes and group decision on which mac was the best!

One of the tasting dishes (!!!) - best feedback I got.

We started with Chicken Brochettes with Garbanzo Puree, and had green salad, pickles, and some delicious nuts between courses as palate cleansers. We ended with a delightfully refreshing lemon-lime sorbet made by my friend.



Chicken Brochettes with Garbanzo Puree February 26, 2011

Filed under: Appetizer,Side dish — krandle @ 1:27 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

The other weekend, I went to dinner at Tinto, Garces’ Basque-influenced small plates wine bar in Philly. Thanks to my wonderful parents, we got the chef’s tasting, and got to eat some of the most amazing food. My favorites were the duck confit and the cheese plate, but I’d have to go back to be sure.

The dish I decided that I could make was a version of the chicken brochettes. Tinto’s version had a truffle jus, so I had to just use the idea and run with some different flavors – but I’m pleased with my end result.

I made these for my mac and cheese party, and they really nicely offset the heavy creaminess of the later dishes. I think these flavors could also be adjusted to go with almost any style of food you were going for.

(I can’t believe I don’t have a picture! – Ok, I can believe it…I was cooking for 12 that night and was a bit distracted. My lovely roommate assembled mine, and they looked about as good as Garces’, so I’ll just include that picture here. And, yes, I do have those awesome skinny parfait glasses – wonderful birthday present!)

Chicken Brochettes with Garbanzo Puree

(Not based on a recipe, so the ingredient list is a bit fluid)

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
Lots of cilantro
Some grapes
Chickpeas – about 1/2 to 3/4 of a can
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Chili powder
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

Take  chicken breast, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Then, in a food processor, blend cilantro and lemon juice and pour over chicken to marinate for a while. Place chicken on skewers – be sure to soak in water beforehand – and cook. (It would be great to barbecue these, but I cooked them under the broiler and they turned out well.) Let the chicken cool slightly, then remove from skewers. On long toothpicks, or skewers that have been cut in half, create your brochette, with two grapes and two pieces of chicken each, alternating between the two.

I made the dipping sauce in my food processor, blending chickpeas with olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, cayenne pepper, salt, and cumin. Make sure all the chickpeas are blended thoroughly and that you have enough liquid mixed in to make the puree more of a sauce than a hummus. It makes it easier to actually dip into. Also, be sure to use lots of spices – more than you think you would need – so they stand out against the flavor of the chickpeas.

Pipe the puree into parfait glasses (put the puree in a plastic bag, cut one corner of the plastic bag, and then use like a pastry bag) and put one chicken-grape skewer in each glass. Chicken should be a bit warm, but not really hot. The flavors really come out at closer to room temperature.

People loved these – even the ones who probably aren’t big on hummus – and they’re really pretty healthy and quick. I’m sure M could come up with a way to make these vegetarian or even vegan–I just like chicken.


Sweet Potato Lentil Soup January 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Lentil Soup, modified from Whole Living’s recipe

Makes 6 LARGE servings

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium celery ribs, chopped
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. chile
2 cups dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 package (9 ounces) frozen cut green beans
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Coarse salt and black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, carrots, celery. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and all spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Add 7 cups of water and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and continue to cook, covered, until lentils and potato are just tender, about 15 minutes.

Add green beans and tomatoes with juice. Cook until warmed through, 2 to 4 minutes. Add cilantro; season with salt and pepper.

406 calories per serving: 51 calories from fat, 70.2 g carbohydrates, 25.9 g dietary fiber, 19.5 g protein

Cost per serving: $1.50 (but less if you make it into more than 6 servings)


I made this recipe in place of what was suggested for Jan. 2 by the B.A. foodie cleanse, as I don’t particularly care for couscous. Overall, it has a good flavor. Using lots of cilantro helps brighten the flavor. Adding in some lemon or lime juice would also help. I’m freezing some of it to see how it turns out. Update: Sweet potatoes don’t freeze terribly well, and the part of the lentils that tastes like dirt is much more obvious after having been frozen.

As for the other parts of the cleanse…putting mashed up avocado on toast is a wonderful, wonderful idea. And using chile instead of cumin is a nice change of pace.