Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup

In an effort to make up for the amount of food I ate over Thanksgiving, I'm going to post some healthier meals. Also, because I haven't been in the kitchen for a week--thanks to the delicious leftovers from the holiday meal--this is from a couple weeks ago.

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup
Makes 4 servings

1/2 head cauliflower
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
2 cups sweet potato cubed
1 tbsp rubbed sage
5 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
Salt & pepper
1/4 grated Parmesan

Wash and chop cauliflower. 

Season with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Same with the sweet potatoes, only now season with sage.

Puree roasted vegetables in a blender or food processor with chicken broth. You may have to do it in two batches. Add the Greek yogurt. Then return the soup to the stove or cheat like me and use the microwave. Season with salt and pepper, and top of Parmesan.

Serve it with a side salad. This is an Arugula and Romaine salad with Strawberry dressing. Topped with Anadama bread croutons. My husband gave it an A+!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mmmm, Pies

We look forward to the delicious homemade pies at my mother-in-law's every year during the holidays. This Thanksgiving, I decided to bring one. I've made pumpkin pies before, but this was the first time I made it from scratch. This recipe is from Joy of Baking.

Bake a pie pumpkin at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Wait 10 minutes for it to cool before scooping out the pumpkin. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor. I forgot this step and pureed it with the eggs. I think that's why the pie cracked when it cooled.

At the same time, you can salt and toast the seeds for 10 minutes. Pie pumpkin seeds are sooo good!

Make these gingersnap cookies.

Finely grind gingersnap cookies with toasted pecans in a food processor.

Make the pie crust and chill for an hour.

Press the cookie and pecan mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the pie crust.

Chill for another half an hour while you make the filling. Add the filling, and decorate with leaves. 

These are my first pie decorations. They're a little cracked, but it's hard to tell once the pie is baked. Bake the pie at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.

Mmmm last bite.

Add a slice of my mother-in-law's famous sour cherry pie. So delicious!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bread of the Week: Naan

Whenever I'm uninspired to bake new bread, I always go back to this recipe for Naan from The Kitchen Bible. It never fails me. The combination of butter, yogurt, and seasoning makes it soft and fragrant. I substituted in Greek yogurt and garlic flakes, because that's what we had. And because this is a short work week, we don't need a loaf of bread for sandwiches. This fits our bread needs for the week perfectly.  The best part, it only takes 6 minutes to bake!

Garlic Naan
Adapted from The Kitchen Bible

3/4 cup tepid water
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 - 3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp garlic flakes

Make sure the butter, yogurt, and water are lukewarm, and combine. Mix in the salt and sugar. Then add 1/2 cup of the flour and the yeast. Mix well.

Add 2 more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Turn it onto a bed of flour and knead for five minutes or until it passes the windowpane test. I didn't think it would because the dough is so soft, but it did. Add more flour if needed.

Knead in the garlic flakes for a minute. Then form it into a boule. Put it in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Let it rise for an hour or until doubled. I think it takes a pretty warm room to double it in an hour. It took me an hour and a half.

Shift the oven racks to the top third and middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it onto the counter. Cut into four pieces. Form four small boules. Then roll them out into ovals. Place on two baking sheets. Bake for a mere 6 minutes. 

Now is the time to introduce my bread warmer! We got this at our church's fair trade event two or three weeks ago. I finally get to use it. It kept our bread warm for dinner!

Made in Bangladesh
My top ones were browned before 6 minutes were up. If they're not browned after 6 minutes, turn the oven to boil and brown the tops for 30 seconds.

And what better to go with Naan than some curry? The Quick Lamb Curry, also from The Kitchen Bible, did not disappoint. It only took 10 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook. While the lamb chop is roasting in the oven, wash and puree the vegetables. The pureed vegetable as a curry base is new to me. I really like it.

Add the curry powder to the vegetable puree. Then add the lamb pieces, coconut milk, tomatoes, and cook for 6 minutes. And voilĂ .

Serve warm with white rice and Naan. Delicious!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rice Milk Pancakes with Sweetened Pears

We ran out of milk the day before grocery day. I thought it was good timing. Since there's no milk for cereal in the morning, I'll just make pancakes. Oops, I forgot you need milk to make pancakes too! Fortunately, we had a carton of rice milk, so I adapted this great recipe from (Eating cereal with rice milk would be out of the question for some members of the family). It's the fluffiest pancake I've ever made. I'm sure the original tastes just as good. :)

Rice Milk Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp rice milk, original or vanilla flavored
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted

Sweetened Pears
1 pear cored and sliced
1 tbsp sugar

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix rice milk and Greek yogurt in a large bowl until smooth. Add the egg and the butter to the milk mixture and whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the milk mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Cook pancakes on a skillet or a griddle.

Prepare the pears. Sprinkle the sugar on the sliced pears in a small sauce pan. Cook on medium low heat for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Top pancakes with confection's sugar and/or maple syrup. Serve with the pears on the side.

Does anyone else like pictures of half eaten food, or is it just me?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Flashback: Moose!

For the past three years, we didn't always get to have Thanksgiving together because Bill was working in the Arctic. When he was off around a week or two before the holiday, we'd compensate by doing lots of outdoor activities together. Of course, we had to be bundled up in Alaska.

Hatcher Pass, Alaska
See those cabins there? MythBusters apparently tested cabin fever there.

Coincidentally, they also busted a myth about moose in the same episode. Rupert first met this moose a week before Thanksgiving three years ago. This picture is for my mom who hasn't seen Rupert for four months. One more month, mom!

There were three different ones, if you look closely, just hanging out in our yard and grazing. My coworkers and I sometimes joked that they were my cubemates (I telecommute).

Then Rupert met another moose last year. Or maybe one of the little ones had grown up?

Hello Moose!

Sometimes they licked our car for salt, like deer.

And they left tracks like these in the snow. It's amazing how they stay on top of the snow, being such heavy creatures.

Keep your eyes open. Sometimes they would appear on the side of the road.

Beautiful day in June
Unfortunately, I never got to cook moose, so this is not a cooking post. But I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sushi Dinner

Last weekend we had a couple friends over for homemade sushi, apple tarte tatin, and a fantastic game of Ticket to Ride.

From left to right: vegetable, imitation crab, crunchy shrimp
I enjoy making sushi as much as I love eating it. Sushi rice is so sweet and fragrant. Add some rice vinegar and sugar and you're good to go.

It's so much fun to come up with various sushi combinations. My favorite ingredient aside from the sweet rice has to be steamed scrambled egg. I remember my mom making it when I was little and now it's a mandatory ingredient for me. I also made the pickled ginger and carrot this time (julienne then add to 1/8 cup rice vinegar and 1-2 tbsp sugar).

Panko crusted shrimp, avocado, and spicy mayo roll
This year, making sushi is particularly fun because I get to use the wild Alaskan salmon Bill caught. You can be sure there will be blog posts about fishing in Alaska later. This plate is mostly salmon rolls. I forgot to make some sesame rolls though. Next time!

Alright back to the game! I got it for Bill last year for his birthday to feed his train obsession. Since we moved to New York four months ago, we've already played it twice with our friends! Back in Alaska we took it camping a few times. This picture was taken in June but it was so cold, it might as well be wintertime. We played it in our tent (it was after 9pm but still light out because of the midnight sun).

With the holidays and family gatherings upon us, there will be many more opportunities to play. Are you looking forward to any favorite family games or activities?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seafood Casserole

This recipe is adapted from the Tuna and Pasta Bake in The Kitchen Bible. I added imitation crab (yes, I use imitation crab) and homegrown green beans. Instead of whole milk, I used half and half because that's what I had available. It makes 8 servings, or 4 servings in our house. Enjoy!

Seafood Casserole
Makes 8 servings, prep 10 minutes, cook 25 minutes

8 oz pasta shells
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup cream
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of mushroom
1 can (5 oz) tuna in water, drained
1 medium onion chopped
1 small red pepper chopped
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup frozen green beans
3 tbsp chopped parsley
4 oz imitation crab flakes, in small pieces
1 cup cheddar cheese
Dash of chili powder
Dash of nutmeg

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cook pasta for 8 minutes. Drain pasta. Using the same saucepan, bring milk, cream, and cream of mushroom to simmer on medium low heat. Stirring occasionally. Add tuna, onion, red pepper, corn, green beans, parsley, imitation crab, and half of the cheddar cheese. Stir in the pasta. Season with chili powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add to an oven safe casserole dish and top with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bread of the Week: Anadama Bread

I found another recipe that uses molasses! I'd never heard of Anadama bread, and skipped this page in The Bread Baker's Apprentice entirely until last week because of it. But Bill wanted a loaf bread, so I flipped through the book again. I'm so glad I did! Its flavors are from molasses and cornmeal, making it kind of sweet and very fragrant. Not to mention it's got a funny background story.

First make a soaker with water and cornmeal (polenta) the day before. It's another awesome thing about this recipe--I get to use polenta in a different way.

The next day, add the yeast and two cups of flour to the soaker. Mix and let it sit for an hour until it's bubbly.

Add the remaining flour, butter, and molasses. Mix until the mixture comes together. Then knead for ten minutes until it passes the window pane test. It was a lot of dough so I hand kneaded to protect the stand mixer.

Shape the dough into a boule and put it in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for two hours.

Once the dough rises to twice its original size, punch down the dough and shape it into a loaf. My bread pan is twice the suggested size, so instead of two loaves, I made a giant one. And boy, it was giant. I didn't know how much it was going to rise in the oven on top of the proofed size. Sprinkle some cornmeal on top before putting it in the oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

My attempt at scoring the bread did not matter because it reached new heights in the oven. I put the pan in the middle shelf as instructed, but the top touched heating element after 20 minutes. But it was still delicious (not to mention the nice sandwich slice shapes)!

I think it will go really well with ham, but we have roast beef and Swiss cheese this week. Nonetheless, Bill's been enjoying his sandwiches. Even though (or because of) the sandwiches are huge and I have to cut the sides to fit them in his lunch box. Just plain butter is tasty too. It brings out the corn flavor. Try some Anadama bread if you hadn't heard of it like me. I think you will be pleased!