Yes yes, usually we do book recommendations for the upcoming winter break. However, let’s try something new: flavors of winter 2019! Here’s a compilation of some new and not so new favorites. We hope you enjoy!
This time a year I find that my intake of butter, sugar, and flour goes way WAY up! As an antidote, I create variations of Smitten Kitchen’s endives with oranges and almonds. (I love Deb Perelman’s cookbooks and her blog is a regular source of dinnertime inspiration.) Here is the basic formula:
- A crunchy leaf that serves as a boat: endive works great but you can use lettuce leaves if you don’t like the slightly bitter taste
- Dab of something creamy: cream cheese, chevre, blue cheese, brie, avocado
- Bit of something fruity: sections of grapefruit or orange, a slice of apple or pear, a spoonful of cranberry sauce, chutney, or currant jam, a scattering of pomegranate seeds (my personal fave)
- Touch of something salty: salted almonds or pecans, a sliver of smoked trout, a sprinkle of fancy salt
- Drizzle of something acidic: vinaigrette, vinegar, olive oil
- Sprinkle of something green: chopped parsley, chives, cilantro
I love Deb’s original, but I’ve also tried these combos:
- chevre, grapefruit, pomegranate, pecans, olive oil, and sherry vinegar
- cream cheese, cranberry sauce, smoked trout, and chives
- blue cheese, sliced pears, Marcona almonds, and parsley
Once I’ve eaten a few of these (or maybe the whole plate) I’m ready for some butter, sugar, and flour.
Winter flavors equal soup flavors around here. And one of the most important elements of a good soup is the stock. Lately, I’ve been honing my stock skills- of both the vegetarian and omnivore varieties.
Veggie stock turns out to be much simpler than I expected. I found this quick and easy recipe that requires tossing a few key ingredients (like onions, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves + other aromatics of choice) into a pot of simmering water for a few minutes, straining, then building your soup from there.
For meat-based stocks, I’ve been collecting bone & veggie scraps during meal prep. Later, I throw them in my Instant Pot with the aforementioned veggie stock ingredients, plus a little apple cider vinegar to pull the minerals from the bones. Three-ish hours later, voila, bone broth. I feel compelled to also mentioned that I also keep a case of ready-made stock in the pantry because a) time, b) energy.
My most favorite soup of late is this Garlicky Kale and White Bean Stew. It’s highly adaptable- make it with vegetarian stock or not, swap the kale for whatever greens you have on hand, use whichever canned beans you have in the cupboard, add sausage or not…you get the idea.
And, just for you, I’m willing to share my favorite soup hack of late: don’t throw away your Parmesan cheese rinds! Keep them, and when making a pot of soup throw a couple in for a gorgeous, rich umami bomb of flavor.
Finally, I must tell you that the highlight of my soup season is our annual Soup Swap. We gather with friends over snacks and drinks in mid-January. Each swapper brings a few quarts of their favorite soup, and we all leave with a variety of delicious, warming soups to stock our freezers and warm our bellies for weeks to come.
I don’t really bake. But this recipe is handed down to me by my mom, who also doesn’t really bake. And if she can do it, so can I.
Pumpkin Bread: notice I didn’t say low fat. Or low sugar. Or healthy. I’m talking sweet, delicious pumpkin bread with a buttery, pretty glaze on top.
My mom bakes dozens of these loaves of pumpkin bread and freezes them. Then she hands them out to friends and colleagues in the days before Christmas. She is famous for this, and folks look forward to her pumpkin bread with great anticipation.
So I am trying it this year. It is a nice affordable present for people, one they are bound to enjoy. It won’t fill up the landfill, only you and your loved ones’ stomachs. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. And your kids can help you make it (like I said if I can bake it…)
Also, not a pro, but a tip: It is much better to double this recipe. You’ll want two loaves anyway, and then you don’t have to worry about using up the rest of a can of pumpkin.
Pumpkin Bread Recipe
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- dash of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup warm water
Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, and oil, mix well. Add vanilla, flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg. Mix baking soda, and warm water in a separate bowl, add this to the other mixture (a little at a time). Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Cool. Top with glaze (see below).
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon water
Combine and boil until thickened. Spread on bread with a brush, pour the rest over the top and cool completely. Enjoy!
After the River of Light festival in Waterbury last week, a few of us got together to make some sushi rolls.
Growing up, my Japanese grandma would produce a seemingly infinite supply of these rolls, called nori maki in Japanese. Sometimes we would make them as a family, competing in categories such as speed and quality. No surprise that grandma’s were always the tightest and most delicious.
Last week we brought a big batch of miso soup. It used to be a lot harder to find the ingredients, but these days the three basics are available at most grocery stores:
- Kelp (seaweed)
- Bonito (fish)
- Miso paste
You create a dashi stock by boiling the kelp for a bit, removing, and then simmering the bonito for a while. Put the bonito in cheese cloth to make it easy to remove, or just strain it.
Then add the miso paste and anything else (we like tofu and scallions) before serving.
Pro tip: no spoons required. Slurp drink straight from the bowl for maximum soul warming effect.
Y’all it is so cold outside. So cold. And there is basically no time to cook in the evenings anymore. No time. So.
Enter: Indian-ish, by Priya Krishna, and her amazing super-fast and well tasty weeknight dal recipe. One pot, four ingredients, no fuss and super warm. Vegan too, which makes it perfect for both vegan households and vege-flexible ones. You know who you are. It pairs well with Krishna’s sag paneer recipe, where the role of the paneer is played by feta cheese (not vegan). Because greens are important for winter health, and feta is salty and delicious. And both of those go well with: my Windfall Pears Chutney!
<Greg Wallace “Let’s Cook!” Masterchef gif goes here — someone please make one for me I am so tired>
Windfall Pears Chutney
- pears (like 2lbs, whacked into small pieces)
- a cinnamon stick
- half a red onion, diced
- 3 fresh jalapeños (or more, no judgment)
- some chopped fresh ginger (look, chutney’s not an exact science)
- yellow mustard seeds (….a tablespoon maybe?)
- exactly three cloves
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- handful of raisins
First off, if it’s not in small pieces when you start, turn it into small pieces. Then put the whole noise in the bottom of a Dutch oven, on the stovetop. Leave it uncovered so you can watch it, and put it on low/simmer, and it will eventually turn into a choppy, lumpy chutney. Also your house will smell amazing. I take it off the hob when all the liquid has disappeared, but you do you. And finally please note: this is not for canning. I do not can this. Lasts in the refrigerator about a month. Goes with dal and sag paneer, as mentioned, but can also jump in and mediate Those Discussions about cranberry sauce at holiday dinners, if you know what I mean (and I think you do).
Okay, funny story! Last time I was at the dentist my hygienist was talking about the same cookbook Audrey references above. Indian-ish, by Priya Krishna.
This has been my goto book for winter recipes ever since. Ironically, as someone who really digs protein, my favorite standout has been Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Pea Chutney. Amazingly simple, satisfying, and filling. So here’s what you need:
For the cauliflower:
- 2-3 pound whole cauliflower
- liberal amount of olive oil
- Kosher salt to your liking
For the chutney:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1 small green chile
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (stems and seeds)
- 2 walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
To get going, rub the cauliflower with olive oil and salt. Toss it in a 400 degree preheated oven, until golden brown, abut 50 minute. In a pan toast the fenugreek and peppercorns in some oil for a minute or two. Add the chili, garlic, and onion and sauté until translucent. Add the peas until warm. Then throw the cooked mixture in the blender and add the rest of the ingredients. Cut the cauliflower in half, plate the chutney and serve.
We hope that however 2019 comes to an end that it involves a great meal, family and friends, and perhaps some giving to our communities. Also, we hope you can take a moment to reflect on the past year and recharge. 2020 will be here soon. We know you will be ready.
Happily sharing a holiday go-to recipe of Curried Mango Chutney Cheesecake with all of you. It never fails to be a hit with a crowd in part because of the surprise savory factor to this cheesecake. And, the topping! The green of the onions, the red of the cranberries, and the shredded coconut white adds to the festive factor.
Full disclosure. I am allergic to mangoes, or more precisely the oils on the skin (who knew mangos were part of the poison ivy family of plants?). So, I tend to shy away sadly from anything mango-related. Yet, I happily make this savory cheesecake spread at least twice a year. It’s that darn good.
For those of us who tend toward the savory, but do like that sweet/salty thing, you’ll love this. Seriously, always a hit; a curious Camilla (cat in the photo above) thinks so too.
Like Emily, something that I crave during winter and the holidays is SOUP. I love that soup is satisfying, stores well, and often feeds me and my family for days.
One of my all-time favorite soups is Roasted Vegetable Soup from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. It plays off the Contessa’s Roasted Winter Vegetable recipe and adds a few things to make a delicious soup. Something I admire about this recipe is the flexibility of ingredients; there are some suggestions – like sweet potato, parsnip, and carrot, but she encourages the cook to make use of whatever you have around. Leftover mashed potatoes?…add ’em in!
When you make this soup, I take a shortcut and use an immersion blender straight in the same cooking pot. It saves on some time and on dishes to wash later on.
Make sure you don’t neglect the garnish. It really makes a difference to cook up the delicious homemade croutons (use your stale bread!) and sprinkle on that chopped parsley. I also like to add a dash of olive oil on top. Then you get that simultaneous magic blend of sweet and salty in the end. When you’ve made your soup, bring in some crusty bread, whip together a leafy green salad, and you have a perfect winter meal.
Please feel free to share your favorite recipe!! We’d love to expand our palate.