Saturday, January 26, 2013

Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup

Found in the cupboard: Cannellini beans. Found on top of washing machine: 1 butternut squash (don't ask). Found in freezer: Spinach. Solution on a wintry evening while fending off a cold? A hearty, soul-warming soup (adapted from here).

Olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1 small butternut squash (2-2.5 pounds), peeled and diced
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken broth
1/2-1 cup frozen spinach
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt to taste (less if the chicken broth is highly salted)
2-3 pinches Meyer lemon zest
White pepper
A little Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)*

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and the shallot, and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the squash and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and bay leaf, and saute for a couple minutes more.

Pour in the chicken broth, stir once, and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 12-20 minutes (depending on how big your cubes are), until the squash is just tender. Add the spinach and the beans, return the soup to a simmer, and cook for about three minutes more.

Add salt and lemon zest to taste (there's enough salt when the broth tastes flavorful, and there's enough lemon zest when you can taste just a hint of it). Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with white pepper, and grate just a very little cheese over the top if desired (like 2-3 passes across a microplane per bowl).

Serves 2-4.

*If you live near the Sacramento Co-op, there is a cheese there called Pecorino Moliterno with Truffles. Buy it, revel in what happens when you eat it alongside a tart apple, think of it obsessively the entire next day, and also use it here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Lemon Zest

This will come as a shock to all regular readers, I know, but the truth must out. I used to not like something that I now love. Shockingly-er still, it has something to do with bacon.

I'll give you a moment to recover.

The formerly-disparaged vegetable in question this time is the Brussels sprout. I could wax palaverous about my conversion, but I'll spare you this once. The short version is, in the following order:
1. Ugh.
2. Tuli Bistro
3. Oh!
4. The following recipe.
5. Gosh I love Brussels sprouts. Do you want to make Brussels sprouts tonight? I really love Brussels sprouts, don't you? Hello, check-out person at the co-op! Have I talked to you about my deep and profound love of that vegetable you're ringing up there? Hey guy next to my car, guess what? Brussels sprouts! (To which my husband replied: Yes dear. Get in, please.)

I know I say this a lot, but I mean it every time: Make this.

Love the Brussel. Be the Brussel. Eat the Brussel...

1 slice Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, sliced crosswise
Olive oil
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 lbs small young brussels sprouts, washed well and halved
(for larger sprouts, separate the outer leaves)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp lemon zest + 1 pinch sugar, mixed
1 oz blue cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
(We tried this with a crumbly blue cheese and a creamier/tangier blue cheese and preferred the crumbly one)
Salt to taste

Heat a wide nonstick pan over medium heat. When hot, add the bacon, and saute for a minute. Add a glug of olive oil, the onion, and a pinch of salt, and saute for another couple minutes until the onion softens.

Add the brussels sprouts and a couple liberal pinches of salt, and toss to coat evenly. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.

Add a splash of broth to create some steam and cover the pan. Continue cooking for another 4-6 minutes, stirring once in the middle, until the brussels sprouts are golden brown and the hearts are al dente.

Uncover, push to the side of the pan, and add the lemon zest-sugar mixure. Let heat through for 5 seconds, then stir to mix well with the sprouts. Sprinkle in the blue cheese, stir, turn off the heat, and serve hot.

Serves 2.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tangerine Mimosas

Happy New Year, everyone! Ring in 2013 with a sweet twist on the classic mimosa (juice 1-2 tangerines into each half-glass of champagne, clink a toast, and sip happily).

Here's to a new year of recipes to come....