Sunday, October 31, 2010

Roasted Eggplant Soup

The quantity of CSA produce can get very overwhelming sometimes.  Things sit in my fridge, and I feel guilty every time I open it.  I'm never sure if I'll be able to use ALL of it.  That being said, cooking can extend the life of things, and roasting can concentrate the flavor of veggies past their prime.  I had three fat eggplants sitting in my fridge when this recipe for Roasted Eggplant Soup was posted.  It seemed very simple: just roast eggplant, tomatoes and onion together, then transfer it to a large pot and turn it into a soup.

This was a successful endeavor.  I was honestly a bit skeptical about eggplant soup, but I was also sick of the Moroccan couscous thing, and they were good enough eggplants that it would be wrong to dispose of them.  The recipe notes made me even more skeptical: the soup was described as not "exactly right" and "has a lot of potential" particularly in reference to the spices.  This scared me, because I am not confident in adding spices to things without any direction.  (How am I to know how much is too much?)

Fortunately, the results were pleasantly surprising.  I thought it was a very nice soup and I was not disappointed with the flavors.  Ken described it this way: "it tastes like if you put eggplant parm in the blender."  (My mom thought that sounded gross, and I agree, but I think it tastes more like if you put eggplant parm with not really any cheese and definitely no bread crumbs in the blender.)

I ate this topped with feta and croutons (made from day-old olive oil and rosemary bread).  Ken used shaved Parmesan.  Both were good.  I can't say I'd make this again, but it's a good use for eggplant and tomatoes that are on the way out.  As the original recipe notes suggest, I might try to leave it a bit chunkier if I do make it again - but the immersion blender is just so fun to play with...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nigella's Granola

I like to make granola bars to take as snacks when I'm out, but I don't have a perfect recipe yet.  In the meantime I got distracted by a recipe for loose granola.

You can substitute some things here to suit your tastes.  I personally LOVE the pecans, while Ken prefers the almonds - you could use different nuts instead.  Use more or less sunflower seeds or sesame seeds.  You can use another liquid sweetener other than maple syrup - the original recipe uses brown rice syrup, which I didn't have.  I thought about trying agave nectar, but I thought maple syrup would contribute more to the flavor.  And next time I might substitute some rolled grains for a bit of the oats.

Adapted from Orangette's adaptation of a recipe from Nigella Lawson.

Dry ingredients:
5 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
2 cups raw pecan halves
1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt

Wet ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
¼ cup honey

Rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 300 degrees.  Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and the wet ingredients together in another.  Then, mix the two together very thoroughly and spread it evenly on two rimmed baking sheets.  Bake it for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown (I went for about 45 minutes).  When you take it out, if you DON'T want clumps, go ahead and mix it right away.  If you DO want clumps, just let it sit.  It should crisp up as it cools, but a lot of mine remained soft.

If you want to add dried fruit, you can mix some in after it cools.  This can be stored at room temperature if you're going to eat it soon.  Otherwise, to preserve the nuts, you can keep it in the refrigerator.

It was very, very delicious!  In the future, I might like it to be crunchier or clumpier.  I might try to spread it out more on three baking sheets instead of two next time.  I ate it with yogurt, as a cereal with milk, combined with Total with almonds cereal, and plain.  I thought it would make a great apple crisp topping, too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mushroom Bourguignon

It makes me so happy to hear that my friends are obsessed with food like me!  I find that one food blog we often have in common is Smitten Kitchen.  My friend Hilary mentioned to me how great the Mushroom Bourguignon recipe was, and when I looked it up, my mouth started watering pretty much instantly.  It looked amazing.  With the weather getting colder, it's time for some comfort food!

Fortunately, it was exactly what I thought it would be.  I did have to boil the crap out of it at the end to get it to thicken enough - and I think I threw in a little extra flour too - but in the end, it was just unbelievably delicious.  I used local mushrooms from the Rutgers Gardens market, which were on the pricey side, plus they took forever to clean and slice, so I may go the route of convenience packaging next time.  I used frozen pearl onions (as recommended) to make that part easier as well - they worked out perfectly fine.  I thought they tasted good!

We ate these over egg noodles - haven't had those in years! - and again, it was amazing.  It actually tastes exactly how the picture looks.  It's also filed under "freezer friendly" on the Smitten Kitchen website, so that just makes it all the more attractive to me!  I will definitely be making this again, and hopefully saving some for later too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash

I saw this Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash recipe a long time ago.  At the time, it looked interesting, but not appealing enough to try.  Now that I have so much winter squash, it came up again and I decided to try it.

I didn't find it particularly exciting.  It could be adapted to be so.  The recipe notes suggest a variation with coconut milk and curry - that's what I should have done instead.  The aniseed was not for me - I should have known when I opened it and smelled it.  That being said, I found the pudding kind of bland.  The only thing that really made it worth eating was the melted cheese on top!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cashew Curry

I got a head of cauliflower in this week's CSA share, and while I was looking for something to do with it I came across this Cashew Curry recipe on 101 Cookbooks.  It looked like an easy enough lunch, and Ken recently decided he likes curry, so I figured I would make it soon.  I have green beans from last week's CSA share that are pretty beastly, but holding up very well, so I even went with the same vegetables used in the recipe.  For the protein, we added shrimp instead of tofu.  Now having made this recipe, I know that I can adapt it to whatever I have on hand.  The second time I made it I added some thin shreds of carrot, which added a nice color, and I figured it's always good to get some extra veg in there.  I want to try slices of onion instead of chopped - while chopping them is easier, I really like cooked onions.  The cashews are essential as well - they add a nice crunch that contrasts with the softness of the veg.

A funny note: we ate the first bowl of this without the cashews.  I had put them in the oven to toast up along with some acorn squash seeds, and I completely forgot about them until well after they were done.  Fortunately I remembered at exactly the right moment and they were deeply toasted without being burned.  I did laugh, though, when I realized that this recipe is called "Cashew Curry" and I didn't put any cashews in it :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sweet Dumpling Squash with Orange-Scented Quinoa Stuffing

I have a growing collection of cookbooks, and these have been getting me through this year: helping me use our CSA share, feed myself and sometimes others, and get better at cooking.  When I'm not sure what to do with something, I scan my shelf and pick someone I think will be able to help me.  When I started getting a ton of winter squash I turned to several sources - Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (look out for the Winter Squash Soup with Lemongrass and Coconut Milk) and Terry Walters' Clean Food in particular.  Clean Food is full of unusual ingredients, which is sometimes exactly what I'm looking for.  A search for "sweet dumpling squash" in that super natural recipe search on my sidebar yields no results (at least that was the case last time I checked).  Clean Food has a recipe, though.

My mom went to Florida with her friend a few weeks ago.  I wanted to make dinner on the day she came home - she got in while I was chopping up stuff in her kitchen and immediately started to help me.  It was as if she had just gone out to the post office or something, not to Florida for a whole week.  It was very nice to have some company in the kitchen and to have a delicious, healthy dinner with my family.  I chose to make the Sweet Dumpling Squash with Orange-Scented Quinoa Stuffing.  Surprisingly, it was a big hit.  My family are not the most open to the type of natural, nourishing food that I love.  (I was just asked by both my sisters, on the same day but at different times, "Can we have normal food for Thanksgiving this year?")  But everyone loved this.  Even my super picky dad ate it, although I was barely able to convince him to even try the squash.  My mom was thrilled with it and picked out sweet dumpling squash the next time we got our CSA share.

This was a very filling, delicious meal.  The bites of squash and stuffing together are the key to success.  For someone who can feel complete without a meat product, this is a satisfying meal - the quinoa provides all the protein you need - but of course my family needed sausage and pork chops alongside.  This could be made into a side dish for many if you cut the squash into wedges and pile some of the stuffing on top.  I also did not (obviously, from the picture) use an entire squash per person as the recipe called for - half was more than enough for all of us and there was less waste too.  We had a ton of stuffing left over, though!  I would probably make this again someday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

I'm very behind in posting.  Sorry!  Well, sort of.  I feel bad for a second, then I remind myself why I do this - it's for me.  So I'm sorry mostly to myself, and a little bit to you.  I'm supposed to be studying for midterms right now, so I'm just trying to get out a few older posts that were near finished anyway.  I needed a study break.  Right?

In my week of soup craving, I looked up a ton of recipes, including some on my favorite recipe site which I had previously overlooked based solely on the fact that they are soup.  This Coconut Red Lentil Soup caught my attention because I had most of the ingredients already, I needed to use up an open can of coconut milk from which I had used only 1/4 cup, and it was a chunky soup.  I continued my trend of making things when I'm not even going to eat them that day (you should see my refrigerator - it's like a life size game of Jenga) and started on this soup around 9pm on a weeknight.  The smell was reminiscent of what fans blow out of our neighbors' units (namely, curry).  But the smell when you put your face right up to the pot was sweet and extremely appetizing.

I simmered it way longer than the 20 minutes called for - I thought it would be better as it got thicker, but I definitely let it go too long - it was more of a gloppy consistency by the time I got it out of the pot to store it.  I finally got to try it a few days later and I spooned it over some leftover brown rice.  The flavors were good, but I'm not crazy about the grainy texture of the split peas.  This is something, like beans, that I hope to learn to love.  It no longer qualified as a soup, either - I should have added some water to thin it out just a bit.  I ended up only having a few bites, since it's not raining anymore - we've actually had some pretty perfect weather the past few days.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

CSA: September 2010

It seems that this month was all about frantically preserving things for the winter.  The photo above, taken by my awesome sister Haley, is some of our oven roasted tomato sauce - it's amazing.  We freeze it in 2-cup portions in quart-size freezer bags, laying them flat until frozen so they take up less space.

Week 17 (9/2/2010):
- 6 lbs slicing tomatoes
- 2 lbs heirloom tomatoes
- 1/2 lb grape tomatoes
- 1/2 lb chard
- 6 summer squash (yellow)
- 4 peppers (3 purple, 1 red)
- 2 bunches basil
- 6 eggplants
- 2 bunches parsley
- 1 pumpkin
- 10 sunflowers
- 1 quart snap beans
- 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes
- 2 quarts sauce tomatoes
- 2 quarts okra (did not take)
- Cinnamon basil and sweet Thai basil
- Mint
- 1 pint tomatillos
- 12 hot peppers

Friday: I made bruschetta for lunch with heirloom tomatoes and basil from the CSA.  Later, in preparation for a taco dinner, I made a roasted salsa verde using tomatillos, a jalapeno, and cilantro from the CSA, as well as red onion from the market.  I also made a salsa (more like a sauce) with heirloom tomatoes, cilantro and serrano chiles from the CSA and red onion from the market.  I cut up a tomato for use as a taco filler.
Saturday: We grilled pizzas topped with zucchini, red pepper, tomato, and basil from the CSA.  We also grilled some green and yellow zucchini with Montreal steak seasoning (yum).
Sunday: We grilled more pizzas with more zucchini, red pepper, and basil.
Monday: It's a holiday (yay!) so since I'm off today, I made zucchini muffins (my favorite bread recipe in muffin form) using cinnamon basil, mint, and green and yellow zucchini, all from the CSA.  (The mix of green and yellow was much prettier than my all-green zucchini bread has been in the past.)  Later, for our Labor Day BBQ, we made the Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto using delicious corn from the market and basil from the CSA.  We also had tomatoes with basil and mozzarella, and as a side we had garlic potatoes with scallions from the CSA.
Tuesday: It was a busy day but I managed to get around to eating an apple from the market - took me all day to finish!
Wednesday: I finely chopped an entire bunch of parsley to freeze.  We had plans to go to a friend's house for dinner, so I made a loaf of zucchini bread to bring for dessert using green and yellow zucchini, basil and mint.

Week 18 (9/9/2010):
- 8 lbs heirloom tomatoes
- 8 lbs tomatoes
- 1 lb chard
- 1 lb green beans
- 6 summer squash (2 yellow crook-neck, 4 large lime green pattypan)
- 4 multicolor peppers (to turn red)
- 6 hot peppers (5 jalapeno, 1 little green weird one)
- 2 bunches basil
- 4 eggplant (small dark globe)
- 2 bunches cilantro
- 1 pumpkin
- 2 heads lettuce (forgot!!!)
- 2 quarts multicolor/size cherry tomatoes
- 1 pint tomatillos
- 12 hot peppers (mostly serrano and jalapeno)
- cinnamon basil
- mint, chives, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme
- 12 sunflowers
- 1 pint edamame
- 1 pint (almost) red raspberries
- 1 quart okra (did not take)
- 4 quarts sauce tomatoes

Thursday: I made tomato sauce with last week's sauce tomatoes and an onion from the market, roasted in the oven, and I added fresh basil and oregano when I pureed it.  (Next time it needs more garlic!)
Friday: I snacked on the raspberries, and later Haley and I devoured the edamame (steamed and salted).  For dinner we grilled green and yellow squash and eggplant with a miso glaze.  I started making bruschetta with last week's cherry tomatoes.
Saturday: I froze strips of red and purple peppers.  Ken had some leftovers from my mom's - she made a chicken piccata with summer vegetable pasta, which used some tomatoes, yellow squash, and basil from the CSA.  I also cut up a cantaloupe for snacks during the week.
Sunday: We had a honeycrisp apple from the market as an afternoon snack.  I used sliced zucchini, onion and shallot to make refrigerator zucchini pickles.  I finished the bruschetta I started on Friday, adding more cherry tomatoes as well as some basil.  For dinner I had some zucchini slices grilled with Montreal steak seasoning.  (Note to self: a little goes a long way...)  I also made garlic dill pickles using cucumbers from the market, and to keep them crisp, I added grape leaves from Nonna's backyard.
Tuesday: For dinner, we made Shrimp in Tomatillo and Herb Sauce, which used tomatillos, serrano chiles, basil, and mint from the CSA.  After that, I made chard and pork dumplings using local swiss chard and scallions.
Wednesday: I made myself a quick fried rice for lunch including some yellow zucchini and red pepper.  Later, I made fig jam using the ton of figs in my fridge from my Nonna's backyard.

Apple Pie with Lattice Crust
[Photo (and pie) by Haley]

Week 19 (9/16/2010):
- 2 lbs chard
- 4 eggplants
- 4 bell peppers (to turn red/orange)
- 4 jalapenos
- 2 heads lettuce (red leaf)
- 8 lbs heirloom tomatoes
- 8 lbs red slicing tomatoes
- 1 pumpkin (Galeux d'Eysines, a French heirloom variety)
- 2 bunches basil
- 2 bunches beets
- 2 pieces from beets or bok choy - forgot! :(
- 1 quart cherry tomatoes
- 4 quarts sauce tomatoes
- 1/2 pint raspberries
- 20 hot peppers (jalapenos, serranos, others - might be poblano)
- 20 sunflowers
- rosemary, marjoram, sage, mint
- Okra (did not take)

Friday: I snacked on a honeycrisp apple - my favorite.  For dinner, I made a tart with heirloom tomatoes and basil from the CSA, plus our favorite lemon pepper shrimp with broccoli from the market.
Saturday: After I cut a cantaloupe for later in the week, I spent the morning cooking with my mom.  We made tomato sauce with our sauce tomatoes (plus a market onion), seasoned with basil and oregano.  We roasted some yellow heirloom tomatoes to be the base for a later sauce or soup.  We also roasted a pumpkin and froze the puree for future pies - our one pumpkin yielded about 9 cups of puree.  Later, we went apple picking, and Haley made a delicious apple pie - she did the fancy lattice crust herself!
Sunday: I made a Moroccan-style couscous salad that used eggplant and cilantro.  I also toasted the pumpkin seeds from the previous day's pumpkin.  (For 2 cups of seeds, toss with 1 tbsp melted butter, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 2 tsp salt.  Yum!)
Monday: Throughout the day I found myself eating apples from our apple picking trip nonstop - I think I had 3!  (Too bad I don't remember what kind ANY of them are!)  For dinner I made a different eggplant rollatini recipe, which used the last of my eggplant stash, to my relief, and some parsley.
Tuesday: No time to cook, but I did eat more apples!  I wish I remembered what kind they were!
Wednesday: I made salsa in the afternoon in anticipation of taco night (which didn't happen, sadly) using tomato, red onion, serrano peppers, and cilantro.  For dinner we made this warm salad with red onion, corn, tomato, cilantro and a few other non-local ingredients.

Pumpkin pie made from fresh organic pumpkin puree
[Photo by Haley]

Pumpkin Cookies using Organic Pumpkin Puree
(and a little canned pumpkin too)
[Photo by Haley]

Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Tart
[Photo by Haley]

Week 20 (9/23/2010):
- 1/2 lb chard
- 1/2 lb grape tomatoes
- 2 eggplants
- 4 zucchini
- 4 peppers (donated 3, kept 1)
- 4 heads lettuce
- 2 bunches basil
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 Chinese cabbage
- 1 bok choy
- 4 lbs heirloom tomatoes
- 6 lbs slicing tomatoes
- 1 pint raspberries (didn't fill it, though)
- 1 quart cherry tomatoes
- 2 quarts snap beans
- 6 quarts sauce tomatoes
- 1 pint tomatillos
- 30 hot peppers
- Okra (did not take)
Thursday: Dinner was tacos with the salsa from yesterday, plus I used some lettuce - so glad to have that back!  I also ate an apple, of course.
Saturday: Another marathon cooking session with my mom resulted in pureed pumpkin for the freezer, oven roasted tomato sauce with basil and oregano (also destined for the freezer), pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, and roasted pumpkin seeds.  We also made dinner for the family, which included grilled yellow crookneck squash and pattypan squash marinated with bay leaves, rosemary and thyme, and the tomato and mozzarella tart - we used a regular red tomato and a yellow heirloom tomato, sprinkled with chopped basil.
Sunday: We cooked down 2 lbs of chard and froze it for later use.
Monday: I snacked on the raspberries, and cut up a tomato and some lettuce to try to finish off the taco leftovers.  Dinner was lemon pepper shrimp with broccoli from the market - I am so happy to see broccoli again :)
Tuesday: We had the Moroccan-style eggplant and couscous salad for dinner again, so I got to use up my eggplant, as well as some cilantro and red onion.  (The cilantro has been keeping really well, I'm using the bunch from the 9th still, and the bunch from the 16th still looks perfect.  It's amazing, the difference in freshness - something shipped from far away and sitting in a store for days just doesn't last when you get it home.)
Wednesday: I made dinner for friends, so I made turkey and couscous meatloaves which contained red onion, shredded zucchini and chopped sage, as well as roasted vegetables with white balsamic and shallot: rainbow radishes, fingerling potatoes, carrots and zucchini.

Grilled Squash Tossed in Herb and Garlic Marinade
[Photo by Haley]

Organic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
[Photo by Haley]

Week 21 (9/30/2010):
- 3 lbs tomatoes
- 3 lbs heirloom tomatoes
- 8 winter squash (3 kabocha, I think, 2 sweet dumpling, 2 butternut, 1 spaghetti)
- 1 lb (I think) chard
- 4 eggplant
- 4 peppers (still don't know what kind these are!)
- 2 heads broccoli
- 2 heads lettuce
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 3 bunches kale
- 2 heads raddichio
- 2 quarts (almost) cherry tomatoes
- 6 quarts sauce tomatoes
- 1 pint tomatillos
- some miscellaneous hot peppers
- Oregano, sage, thyme (and marjoram that mysteriously went missing)
- Okra (did not take)
Friday: Mom roasted the sauce tomatoes to make this week's batch of sauce.
Saturday: I used a butternut squash and some apples to make soup.  For dinner we ate a spaghetti squash with parsley and Gruyere.
Sunday: I had a picnic lunch including my favorite thing to do with arugula - Ottolenghi Red Rice and Quinoa.  I finally had a chance to finish (and freeze) Friday's sauce with some oregano and basil.
Tuesday: Lemon pepper shrimp for dinner, with broccoli from the market AND the CSA - the one tiny head I took home from the CSA just wasn't enough broccoli for me!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No-Bake Cheesecake

When I came across this cheesecake recipe, I immediately thought of the peach rum sauce I canned several weeks ago.  Although the recipe says to top the cake with blueberries, I covered it with my peach rum sauce instead, and it was delicious!  I made it for a picnic, and although it doesn't look quite that good, it does taste delicious.

I adjusted the original recipe slightly by adding 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar to the cheesecake mixture.  Although this didn't make it really sweet, I found that it took away the savory/cheesy flavor and made it feel more like a dessert.  The peach rum sauce contributed the extra sweetness it needed (although berries would be fine too) - if you're thinking of using something similar, I used about 8 ounces of the sauce.  The crust is the one thing I might adjust next time - I thought it needed just a bit more butter to help hold it together better and not fall apart.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Gruyere and Parsley

Deborah Madison's book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is one of my more neglected cookbooks.  I guess I just usually go for a different type of recipe - but this book has lots of hidden gems, like the Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce which my mom's freezer is now literally full of.

I have always wanted to try spaghetti squash, but since I have never been a huge fan of pasta with plain old tomato sauce, I wanted to try something different with it.  I just received a great deal of squash from my CSA and I'm so excited to use it.  I was going through a few of my books (this is how I stumbled upon the Apple Squash Soup as well) and the Baked Spaghetti Squash with Gruyere and Parsley caught my eye, particularly the Gruyere, possibly my all time favorite cheese.  I couldn't resist!

This took so long to make, but practically NO effort whatsoever.  The spaghetti squash has to bake for quite a while, about an hour, but be careful not to overdo it or you won't get the stringiness, more like a fibrous mash.  You may want to turn it over halfway through so you don't end up with a soft dark spot on the bottom.  The rest of the work is a snap: grate Gruyere, press garlic, chop parsley.  Done!  We started that last bit of prep work when the timer read 8 minutes left, and were done by the time it went off.  While the squash was in the oven I did some reading for my Employment Law class.  This is just one of those recipes that proves eating healthy is possible for even the busiest people.

A few notes: the 2-4 tablespoons of butter that this recipe calls for is just way too much.  A small pat will do just fine (and save you calories).  You don't even need so much Gruyere.  Next time I might add a bit of everything at a time and taste as I go to make sure I don't overdo it.  Also, this is definitely a side dish.  We thought it would be nice with a piece of tilapia or some garlic shrimp - we ended up having the leftovers with a piece of salmon and some leftover roasted vegetables.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles

I got a lot of zucchini from my CSA this summer.  It piled up week after week as I somehow was never able to use my measley 2-3 by the time I got another batch.  However, with proper storage, they can last quite a while in the refrigerator.  In an effort to pare down the supply, I had been grilling them and making zucchini bread.  Then, magically, a post for zucchini pickles appeared on 101 Cookbooks.  Something new to do with zucchini!  Of course I was excited.  The beautiful and mouth-watering photography makes it impossible not to try many of the recipes from the site.

I sliced the zucchini, onions and shallots (all local, yay!) paper-thin the night before, tossed them with salt, and popped them in the fridge to drain.  The next day, I shook them off and after slicing the chile and adding the dill and spices to the jar, I filled the two pint jars with the zucchini mix and poured in the brine.  While I left them on the counter to cool, they sealed.  Oops!  Oh well.  (Note: this recipe is not tested for canning.)  I gave one to Andrea, who had given me the chile to use, and kept one for us.

We didn't get around to eating this for quite a while - about 3 weeks.  I figured since it was pickled it would be fine - pickles are pretty much indestructible.  Turns out they were delicious!  I brought them to a picnic I had with my friend Annette (yes, it is really cold for a picnic, thanks) and we ate them the way they are shown in one of the pictures on Heidi's blog post - whole grain bread smeared with goat cheese, piled high with zucchini pickles and sprinkled with pine nuts.  It was even better than I thought it would be!  They are slightly sweet, which usually doesn't do it for me when it comes to pickles, but they were truly delicious.  There may still be some zucchini around - give it a try.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple Squash Soup

As you may or may not know, I have been craving soup lately.  Usually this means I am deathly ill, or about to be.  That's what I thought it was, until I found myself still craving soup a week later - not sick at all.  (Stressed, yes.  Could that be it?  Maybe.)  I'm not a soup person at all, so this is really weird for me, but after wishing I could make soup for the whole week, I decided to go for it.

I spent the week looking at probably hundreds of soup recipes.  I don't really know why I chose this one.  It seemed like a good idea, mainly because I had both butternut squash and apples, the main ingredients.  This Apple Squash Soup from the book Clean Food is a creamy, sweet pureed soup seasoned with nutmeg.  I think it's delicious.  I roasted the butternut squash seeds with olive oil, butter and sea salt and sprinkled them on top for a crunchy texture.  One of the reasons I don't like soup is because I like to chew my food, so this helped me get through the bowl.  (Actually, I'm eating it right now.)

The recipe calls for rice milk and coconut milk - much more of the former and just a bit of the latter.  I think it may have been interesting to go with all coconut milk instead, though it would be higher in calories that way.  I can't really taste either over the squash.  I'd also be interested to try making this soup with apples that are more tart - I'm not sure what kind I used (our pick-your-own apples got mixed up very quickly) but I think they are on the milder side.  The vegetable broth I used was a Rapunzel bouillon cube - I use half what they recommend, but I may try it according to the directions next time.  The salt is important - I tasted the soup without it and it was really flat.  By the time I was happy with it I had put in 3 big pinches of sea salt.  I also ended up adding an additional 1/4 tsp of nutmeg on top of the 1/2 tsp called for in the recipe.  The recipe made a little more than 2 quarts - enough extra for the small bowl that I ate.

I can't say whether I'll make this again.  It's good, but there are tons of similar recipes out there.  Before I make this again I'd like to try some other versions and other soups entirely.  (Here's a version of this soup that sounds even better than the one I'm eating right now.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Moroccan Eggplant and Couscous Salad

Something struck me about this Moroccan-inspired eggplant recipe, but I wasn't sure what it was.  I knew I wanted to eat it but I didn't know why.  When I tasted it, though, it all made sense!  It was delicious.  I was skeptical, especially because instead of amounts of seasoning it's "go with what smells good," but it turned out good.

This is made of several components: roasted eggplant cubes, roasted chickpeas (roasted separately from the eggplant), couscous, and a dressing with white balsamic and cilantro.  The spices (cumin and cinnamon) are key.  I left out the golden raisins, because I didn't see them at the store, and I also hate raisins, but when I made it a second time I added some currants - yum!  I also left out the chickpeas the second time around, as we didn't really like them.  They did not get crunchy at all!  So sad.  Luckily it's just as delicious without them, and the leftovers are fantastic too.  This would still be fine at room temperature so it could make a great picnic food or packed in a lunch.