Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mushroom Risotto

I was in a blah mood yesterday – the cold, gray, rainy day certainly didn’t help – and I wanted something creamy and comforting for dinner. What I really wanted was linguini with mushroom carbonara sauce (hold the bacon), but I was out of eggs and had no intention of going out into the rain to more. I had my mind set on something creamy and mushroomy (and no, cream of mushroom soup was not even close to what I wanted, I've never even eaten the stuff), and then it came to me: risotto!

Risotto is totally easy to make, it’s just a little time consuming because of the slow addition of the liquid to the rice, which is why I think people are afraid of it. Normally I wouldn’t make risotto for myself (I’m really lazy when it comes to cooking for myself and frequently resort to frozen veggie burgers and strange foods which I dare not mention on here for fear of sullying my good name), but it was the perfect comfort food for a dreary day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Candy Cane Cupcakes

I made these mini cupcakes last week - they were supposed to be taken to my department's holiday party, but I ended up giving them to the bf and his coworkers because I ended up going home due to my not feeling so hot (I''m totally better now, save the for minor congestion).

The cupcakes are simple vanilla cupcakes, recipe courtesy of Amy Sedaris. I don't have the recipes for the frostings with me, but all I did was grind up candy canes in a spice grinder and replace some of the confectioners sugar in the frosting with the candy cane powder (the pink frosting is a vanilla cream cheese frosting, the chocolate frosting is a cocoa frosting made with Ghirardelli cocoa powder). After piping the frosting onto the cupcakes, I topped them off with a sprinkling of crushed candy cane.

Friday, December 21, 2007

White Bean, Kale, and Butternut Squash Pizza

I’ve always liked the combination of white beans, kale, and butternut squash, but I’ve only seen it as a stew – kind of boring. My recent culinary solution to everything is pizza, so I figured that these ingredients would be great on a pizza.

I made a version of this a few weeks ago, and while it was good, it wasn’t quite right. I thought about it for a while, came up with a solution, and, being the easily distracted person I am,never got around to it. Well, I finally did the other night, and this second version of it is really really good. All of the flavors shine – nothing gets lost like it might in a stew. And it’s a pizza. Who doesn’t like pizza? (Weird people, that’s who.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quick Tofu Green Curry

The fever finally broke last evening, leaving me with a seriously stuffy head and a congested chest. Not so fun, but a major improvement from the sweats and chills (gross). I couldn’t breathe very well, and I wanted something really spicy to clear out my sinuses.

I had been craving Pad Thai in the afternoon and was contemplating ordering some from the place on my corner, but the reviews on the place were very mixed and it seemed that the Pad Thai was not so good. After eating only my leftover tomato soup for lunch, I was seriously starving and needed something tasty and spicy – and quick. I rummaged in the fridge and freezer and found that I had everything I needed to make a Thai green curry, and so I did just that. It was better than what I presume the Pad Thai would have tasted like, and it helped me breathe easy, if only for a little while.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sick Day: Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

I’ve been really sick the past few days, so I haven’t had the energy to cook. Last night I really wanted tomato soup and grilled cheese – my comfort food when I’m sick and feverish – but I didn’t have any so I had to make it myself. The soup was totally easy to make and made me feel better – mentally, at least.
Instead of making grilled cheese (I didn’t have any sandwich bread), I sliced up ciabatta, topped each slice with mozzarella cheese, and stuck them in the toaster oven. As for the dishes that are still in the sink…I don’t quite have enough energy to tackle those yet. Who wants to do them for me?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pipette with Romanesco

One of my favorite things to do is to go to the Sunday Market – for some reason it reminds me of NYC (probably because I used to go to the Union Square Greenmarket all the time).

Although the pickings become slim as the weather gets colder, there’s still plenty of good stuff to be had, such as this item that I picked up this past Sunday:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spiced Parsnip and Apple Soup

I’ve never been a fan of parsnips, but I sort of changed my mind about them a few weeks ago after using roasted cubes of them in a version of this stuffed pumpkin that I served at Thanksgiving. They’re slightly sweet, earthy, and sharp, and, if they’re in the right company, they’re pretty good. On their own, though, I just can’t eat them. I’ve had them cubed and oven-roasted in a hash (don’t like the texture – they’re sort of dry and mushy), fried as chips, and shaved into salads; none of these preparations impressed me.

I had some parsnips left over from Thanksgiving (they keep very well, apparently), and I didn’t want to be wasteful and throw them out, but I really didn’t know what to do with them. I decided to turn them into soup, because that would get rid of the whole gross texture thing, but who else was I going to invite to the party? 

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vegetable and Cheese Soufflés

I don’t know why people are so intimidated by soufflés. They’re actually really easy to make, and they’re also incredibly versatile. I guess a soufflé is really just a glorified omelette, but it’s so much prettier and the texture is just wonderful – the inside is still a little soft and custardy, and the towering dome makes for a great presentation.

This recipe can be easily multiplied to make more than one (but it’s nice to have a recipe for just one when you live alone and frequently are cooking for one), and it’s totally amenable to a variety of vegetables and cheeses, as evidenced by my dinners for the past few days.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts and Pomegranate

And another recipe for brussels sprouts. They have gotten a bad rap for so many years because they haven’t been cooked the right way. These little green guys deserve better treatment than being dunked in or suspended over boiling water.
A little coating of oil and a hot oven is what they need, and they will shine if you do so. Once you’ve done that, the possibilities are endless. They’re great on their own, but they can take on a whole new persona with the addition of a few extra ingredients. I love a traditional treatment of walnuts and parmesan, but I’ve recently experimented (and with success, I think) with some different dressings.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with a Soy-Sriracha Dressing and Spiced Puffed Rice

I always serve roasted Brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving, and this year I wanted to change them up from my usual treatment of toasted walnuts and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I decided to stick with the vaguely Asian theme I had going, so I dressed them up with a spicy and savory Asian dressing, fresh herbs, and toasted puffed rice for crunch instead of nuts. My family loved them (or so they told me!).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Spiked Apple Cider Cupcakes

It’s that time of year when everyone starts pulling out special holiday flavors for their drinks – pumpkin and gingerbread lattes and hot apple cider are practically ubiquitous these days.

One of my favorite holiday drinks is spiced and spiked apple cider. (I love Red Jacket Orchards cider, but I obviously can’t get it down here, so Reid’s Orchards is my very able local substitute.) Good apple cider is wonderful on its own, but one cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a dash of nutmeg, a splash of rum, and a quick trip through the microwave later, it turns into a delicious drink for a cold night. And here it is all dressed up as a cupcake.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Penne with Kale and White Beans

This is seriously one of the easiest meals to make. I bought a ton of kale from the market on Sunday and was planning on turning some of it into a soup along with some white beans (a classic combination), but I didn’t really have plans for the rest of it. I hadn’t made anything for lunch yet (and yes I always make my lunch and take it to work with me because, well, don’t we all know why it’s better to do that?) and the mountain of kale in my fridge was staring at me. So that’s how I got the idea for this quick and hearty lunch.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Maple, Coriander, and Pomegranate Glazed Acorn Squash

This is another side dish I served for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. I had a lot of fun with taking traditional Thanksgiving ingredients and putting a twist on them. In this one, acorn squash (which I think is boring) gets a sweet, tart, and smoky glaze: the rich maple syrup keeps things traditional, and the pomegranate molasses and coriander provide a great foil to the sweetness of the syrup.

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