Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween! - Oct 30, 2009

Carrot Almond Cake

As promised, one last post for today and I am topping off the week with a Jack-O-Lantern themed carrot almond cake. I was able to use up the ground almonds left over from the Horchata experiment, plus some of our carrots from Harmony Valley Farm. Yum! I made this cake once before over the summer, and it's a nice alternative to traditional carrot cake. All the fat is from egg yolks and the almonds, so it's dense and moist, but not oily. Happy trick or treating!
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Shepherds' Pie - Oct 29, 2009

Shepherds' Pie

Plated with Romaine Fennel Parmesan Salad

MMMM! This was the dinner I postponed on Wednesday night. I made it last night and it was well worth the wait. Kate gave me the recipe last year. It's Gordon Ramsay's recipe and it's tasty. The salad I whipped up to lighten the meal a bit. It was tasty too, fresh and crunchy. This week is a little flip-flopped in that I did more cooking towards the end of the week, instead of the beginning, so I'll have one more post coming up later today. Hint: It involves the almond meal left over from the Horchata project.
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Almond Milk - Oct 29, 2009

Almonds Soaking

I love almond milk. I like to add a little cinnamon and call it 'horchata.' Horchata can be made from several different base ingredients. Many people like to use rice, I happen to prefer almonds. I saw directions on how to make homemade almond milk on Instructables, and thought I'd give it a try. You can link above for detailed directions with pictures if you'd like to try for yourself.

Strangely Plump Almonds

First you have to soak your almonds over night, which makes them look swollen and puffy. Then you put them in a blender or food processor to make a ground almond mash.

Almond Mash

This smells vaguely reminiscent of Elmers Glue, at least I thought so. Next you strain out the liquid using a cheese cloth or some such thing.


And finally, after adding water, you have a pitcher of fresh homemade almond milk to sit in your fridge to 'bloom' before adding sweetener and other optional flavorings.


All through this project I had that new Vampire Weekend song in my head...'Horchata.' I didn't think it was possible, but I love Vampire Weekend even more now. Here's a link to their site where you can download the song for free if you want.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Simple Greens with Parmesan Pepper Toast

I had a different meal planned for last night, but Nick got invited to a basketball game after work, so I scratched those plans and opted for a simple dinner for one. I dressed the romaine with olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, and grated Romano cheese. The toast, which served as giant croutons, was buttered, peppered, and Parmesan-ed. Complete with a glass of red, it was very satisfying and a good reminder that simple is delicious. M.F.K. Fisher would be proud.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Sausage Ragout over Soba - Oct 26, 2009

Pumpkin and Sausage Ragout with Fennel over Buckwheat Soba

This was a little experiment last night that might need a little tweaking yet. I wanted to use up the 2/3rds can of pureed pumpkin I had in the fridge and came up with this idea. Since pumpkin puree is similar in texture to tomato paste why not use it as a base for a pasta sauce, thought I? I sauteed some onions until soft, added some ground pork with fennel seed, added some sliced fennel bulb, salt and pepper to taste, and then poured in the pumpkin along with some water to get the right consistency. I threw in a bit of fresh sage at the end and we had it over soba noodles. The flavor was good, especially the layering of the fennel seed with the fennel bulb. It might need a bit of cider vinegar perhaps? I will definitely add more salt and pepper and perhaps try over regular spaghetti noodles next time.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Pepper Cornbread Casserole - Oct 25, 2009

Cornbread and Pepper Casserole

Or, as we like to call it here in Minnesota, "hot dish." This is a recipe out of 'Asparagus to Zucchini.' It's a great combination of sweet and spicy peppers, cheese, and cornbread. Very comforting to eat the warm, gooey goodness on a cold, cloudy day. I cut back on the amount of cream cheese, and actually, I would cut it back even more next time I make it. Also, I will omit the honey in the cornbread topping as I thought it made it too sweet. The peppers already lend a sweet flavor, so I think a savory cornbread would compliment better.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Smoothie - Oct 22, 2009

Pumpkin Smoothie

I have some pureed pumpkin leftover from last week's bundt cake and decided to use it in a seasonal smoothie this week. It tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass. I just blended together 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin, frozen banana slices, 2 ice cubes, honey to taste, and a cup of almond milk. I seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg. Yum! It's a nice way to use up extra pumpkin.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Veggies - Oct 22, 2009

Fall Veggies

I just picked these up! More squash, purple potatoes, fennel, parsnips, purple kale, bok choy, the list goes on. Time to start brainstorming some warm and tasty comfort foods to make over the next two weeks. And, as always, a big thanks to Harmony Valley!
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Cashew Chicken - Oct 21, 2009

Cashew Chicken with Broccoli over Brown Rice

Flipping through 'Asparagus to Zucchini' over the weekend, I came across a recipe for a Broccoli Tofu Peanut Madness that inspired last night's meal. I wanted to use up our broccoli and I had half of a giant onion sitting in the fridge. Instead of tofu I used up a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast that was in the freezer. I omitted the peanut butter for the sauce that the recipe called for, instead mixing tamari, lemon juice and chopped shallots with some cumin and cayenne. It was really tasty, despite the lack of MSG, and I think that was because I sauteed the onions and broccoli in the fat rendered from the chicken. The cashews didn't hurt either.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Homemade Butter - Oct 20, 2009

Fresh Homemade Butter

I read about making butter at home last week at the Kitchn. This idea intrigued me and I immediately wanted to give it a try. Plus, I had picked up a butter bell at the thrift store recently, and I thought this would be the perfect thing to fill it.

Cream and Butter Bell

I picked up some local, organic cream from the pasture-fed cows at Cedar Summit Farm, along with some sour cream at the co-op,

put it in my food processor, turned it on, and two minutes later had fresh butter!


And, as an added bonus, fresh buttermilk is the by-product.

It really is that easy. It tastes so good spread on some whole wheat sourdough toast!
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cuban Sandwich - Oct 19, 2009

Cuban Sandwich with Garlic Bistro Fries

Inspired by our Cuban black bean soup, we decided to make Nick's favorite sandwich for dinner last night. We used thinly sliced pork (from grilled pork chops rather than pulled pork shoulder for convenience sake), deli smoked ham, homemade dill pickles, and stone ground mustard (we didn't have any 'yellow' mustard). For some reason, Nick prefers his Cuban without the Swiss cheese, so we left it off. All of this we put on crusty French bread (since it's readily available and similar to Cuban bread) and ate slightly warmed. On the side I whipped up some oven baked bistro fries from the beautiful red fleshed potatoes from Harmony Valley.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Cuban Black Bean Soup - Oct 18, 2009

Cuban Black Bean Soup

I came across this recipe while flipping through 'The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper.' It sounded tasty and used some peppers, of which we have plenty! It required a bit of intensive prep work initially, including lots of chopping onions and peppers, cutting ham off the bone, plus I opted to make dried black beans instead of using canned. But once everything was in the pot, it was easy. I was impressed with the flavors. It made a big batch, so we have plenty of leftovers for quick future meals this week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pumpkin Bundt Cake - Oct 15, 2009

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cinnamon-Spiced Yogurt

I brought out my Fiesta Party Pan again and this time made up Jaime's recipe for pumpkin bundt cake from the Dinner Club annals. My little bundt pan was too small for this recipe and it ran over while baking. Luckily I suspected it might and put a cookie pan underneath to catch the run-off. Next time I will use the extra batter to make some cupcakes. This was excellent...very rich and spicy, and perfectly seasonal.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chickpea and Spinach Stew - Oct 13, 2009

Chickpea and Spinach Stew over Brown Basmati Rice

This is an old favorite of mine from Food & Wine awhile back. It's hearty and satisfying. The magazine ranks it as healthy, fast, vegetarian (actually vegan), and a staff favorite. Not many recipes score in all four categories, so this is a winner. I make a few changes when we have it. I substitute smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton de La Vera) for the sweet paprika because I love the earthy smokiness it brings to the dish. Also, I sub in currants for the golden raisins. I have a weird textural issue with raisins when they soak up liquid. Currants are smaller so they don't bother me, and still add that balancing sweetness. And, we always have it over rice instead of crusty bread.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swiss Chard Tart - Oct 12, 2009

Swiss Chard, Parmesan, and Pinenut Tart

I had been planning on making soup all day on Monday, probably because I was craving something warm and comforting after watching it snow all day long. But, for some reason, I just couldn't get excited about the soup possibilities I was considering. For inspiration, I pulled out our trusty 'Asparagus to Zucchini' and found this recipe for Swiss Chard Pie. I don't own a pie pan (yet, but I'm keeping my eye out for the perfect one at the thrift store), so I changed this recipe slightly by making it in a tart pan (of which I have two sizes, go figure!). Anyway, it was warm and comforting, and exciting with the brightly colored chard stems chopped up and mixed in.
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Pumpkin Curry - Oct 11, 2009

Delicata Squash Green Curry

Inspired by a call from a group of friends who were all hanging out together in Portland, OR, and the lovely delicata squash we received in our CSA delivery last week, Sunday night's meal was delicious. We had pumpkin curry from a street vendor at Portland's farmers' market last fall when we were out visiting the same group of friends. For this version, I used JJ's salmon curry recipe as a base, cooking the squash and onions in coconut milk and sweet curry spice until the squash was soft, and then adding some of our homemade green curry paste to give it a little extra kick. Served over rice and topped with some cashews, it's hard to resist, and perfect for fall. Miss you Anna, Kate, and Rima!
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Pepper Pizza - Oct 10, 2009

Pepper and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Since our bag of peppers from Harmony Valley is bursting at the seams, we decided to use some of them up on a Saturday night pizza. We also threw on a bunch of caramelized onions, our last tomato, a handful of fresh herbs from the yard (before the snow could cover them), some pinenuts and chevre. The peppers gave a nice spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Pizza is extra tasty in the fall, for some reason.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Apple Crumble - Oct 8, 2009

Apple Raspberry Crumble

My parents dropped off some apples that my Aunt gave them from her trees. They weren't sure what kind of apples, but my Aunt told them they were good for baking. That was all the encouragement I needed. I found a recipe that I liked here, and tossed in a handful of my freshly picked raspberries and some fresh, minced ginger for a little heat. The crumble stayed good and crumbly for two days and then started to loose the battle against the fruit and turn soggy. I'm pretty picky about that, so it was good that I cut the recipe in half. Nick and I were able to consume the majority of it before sogginess ensued. It was perfect served with some homemade plain yogurt for a creamy accompaniment.
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Thursday, October 08, 2009

New CSA Delivery - Oct 8, 2009

New Veggies

Our first squash of the year! We got that cute delicata in the middle, plus a pretty hefty butternut. I can't wait to pair it with some sage for a true taste of fall...yum! Also, we got a bunch of peppers. I didn't even put all of them in the picture due to the massive quantity. Some of them are UW Roasters which apparently are a hybrid developed at UW-Madison, our Alma Mater. They are just the right shade of Badger Red! And speaking of colors...

Close up of Rainbow Chard Stalks

...can you believe how beautiful and vibrant these are? Thanks Harmony Valley!
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Beef Stroganoff - Oct 7, 2009

Beef Stroganoff over Egg Papparadelle

Button Mushrooms

Nick's Aunt Judy (a wonderful and inspirational cook) sent us this recipe over the summer after we requested it based on rave reviews from Nick's dad. Now that it is officially fall here, it was time to make it. I had never made stroganoff before, but this seemed to be a very simple preparation. Just mushrooms, onions and beef in a healthy portion of butter. The seasonings come from prepared horseradish and a secret weapon called Heinz chili sauce. The directions call to add a cup of sour cream right before serving, but I improvised and used some of my homemade whole milk yogurt, made extra thick by draining off some of the whey. Also, we took a vote and decided to serve over egg noodles instead of rice. Yum! This recipe will officially be classified as 'naughty' at our house due to the red meat and heavy dairy, and thus will be made sparingly for a treat. We made sure to drink some heart healthy red wine along with it to balance things out a bit.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cabbage and White Bean Soup - Oct 5, 2009

Cabbage, Cannellini, and Apple Soup

It's been rainy and cold here in Minneapolis for what seems like weeks and I'm in a bit of a funk about it. That said, it is good soup weather. I made this last night because we had a half head of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be used up. I found the recipe over at 101 Cookbooks and modified it slightly by adding some apple pieces and seasoning with a bit of fennel seed, because the German in me likes cabbage, apple and fennel together. The parmesan on top adds a nice bit of salty, creamy flavor.
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