This is an odd yet yummy recipe. Depending on the size of the squash you use (and its moisture content I’m betting) it’s either think, creamy soup or fondue. The first time I made it, it was a little too thick and cheesy to be soup. So I broke out the bread cubes and called it fondue. Since there is only so much fondue one person can eat by themselves I took it to work so that my guinea pigs coworkers could tell me what they thought. Everyone gave it the thumbs up and agreed that it should be a fondue instead of a soup.
The weather has taken a quick turn to winter again it seems and I had a squash hanging out on the counter asking when I was going to use it (food doesn’t talk to you? Hmm, you should have that looked into).
To be quite honest, I like this squashy fondue better than traditional fondue. Plus, you have the added benefit of the nutritional veggie base. You can keep it vegetarian by using vegetable broth and you can keep it low fat by using nonfat broth and Neufchatel cheese.
The hot sauce and paprika don’t make the dish hot or even spicy but they definitely add depth to the flavor, that something you can’t quite put your tongue on. It will still be good if you leave it out, they weren’t in the first version. Continue reading →
Here’s something pretty to throw on your salad. Mid spring or early summer chives send up a woody stock that blossoms out into a lovely purple flower. Chives are part of the onion family and while their flavor is mild their blossoms are not. They seem to concentrate all their power into one fluffy flower! These are fairly hot. I usually throw them into a tossed green salad served with a creamy dressing like ranch. The dressing helps counteract the assertiveness of the chive blossom. You could certainly use them in other salads. You could also serve them on a crudite platter as is.
Toss the salad gently as chive blossoms can fall apart. They are compound flower, rather l a dandelion seed head and fall apart easily. Their color can range from crayon purple to lilac. I think mine need to
be repotted and are blooming a bit lighter than usual this year.
Chives are an easy plant to grow. Give them a decent size pot, good soil, and a spot in the sun and they will be quite happy on your porch or balcony.
Have you used chive blossoms before? How did you use them? I’ve been considering battering and frying them. Has anyone had them that way?
Perhaps it’s getting used to the new job and hours, maybe it’s the allergies, maybe it’s because I actually did fall down and go scrape on the concrete and it still hurts like heck, or maybe it’s PMS. Maybe it’s all just excuses for why I have not only not felt like cooking but not firing up the computer to post. I’m not on the computer as much since I got my shiny new phone. I guess I am on the computer, probably much more, it’s just much smaller.
Whatever it is, here is my peace offering for being away. I fell in love with edamame (soy beans) at the sushi restaurant. Steamed edamame is an appetizer and snack in Japanese cuisine. The little bowl of fuzzy pods are cracked open and consumed in no time at our table. Once I knew what to do with them I bought a bag of frozen beans for at home. A quick boil and voila! Snack time. If I’m craving something salty I’ll use a couple dashes of soy sauce on them, soy on soy action. That is what gave me the idea for this salad dressing.
It’s really pretty simple and lovely and easy, which is exactly what one needs to crawl back on to the salad wagon. Continue reading →
Fresh green beans and I don’t get along, I’ve never been able to cook them right. Maybe that will be one of my summer goals, to finally figure out cooked fresh green beans! I love canned green beans though. It’s another one of those turn arounds from when I was a kid. When I was a kid I hated them but since I didn’t like most veg that was okay.
Elephant garlic is not just giant garlic although it is closely related. It has a really mild garlic taste so it’s okay to use a lot of it. You do not want to use regular garlic in a straight across swap unless you are really into garlic (like me!).
Use the best bacon you can find (like there’s bad bacon, ha!). I used Trader Joe’s Black Forest bacon which is one of the best bacon’s I’ve had. They seem to have tried to follow the real Black Forest method which you can read about here. Be careful when cooking it, it cooks fast and must have a high sugar content as it burns fast.
This is a total fake for one of those all day kind of recipes, it doesn’t take very long at all. You could serve it as a side by I frequently it as an entrée with some toast. Continue reading →
Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are friends. Balsamic be all like, “Strawberry! Missed ya! Why you only visit me once a year?” I figure they should have a good long visit together… in a pan…where they wouldn’t be interrupted. And seared scallops are just seared scallops; they’re awesome all on their own. We all know that spinach already gets along with everybody else so I had to invite them to the party. I can’t say much more here other than sometimes I impress even myself, which is saying a lot. My inner food critic is pretty harsh.
By the way, I did not lick the browned butter out of the pan when the scallops were done. It was tempting but I resisted. Instead I wiped it up with crusty bread and then toasted the bread. I highly recommend this! So yummy. Continue reading →
Kale and I never used to get along. My first job was in a pizza parlor. Every morning we had to fill the salad display with ice and prepared salads. These displays were edged with large leaves of kale which we kept in a bucket with water when not on display. They smelled horrible. It wasn’t being kept in the water; they smelled horrible when they were freshly delivered. I often put the produce order away and they stunk right off the truck. I couldn’t imagine how people could eat the stuff. I knew they did, but it was smelly and the leaves were tuff and fibrous. It was even worse if you were hung over.
Twenty some years later a coworker offered me his salad that he wasn’t going to eat. Kale and I had met a few times at the store and farmer’s market but there had been no real introduction. This kale looked different and it didn’t seem to smell, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. But this coworker had pretty good taste and the salad had sesame and ginger in it. You can sell me just about anything if it’s been coated in sesame and ginger. It was love at first bite and kale and I have been spending a lot of quality time together since. It’s even managed to introduce me to some of its other leafy friends like sorrel, mustard, and beet. A gate opened and suddenly there was a whole new leafy world available!
This is my ode to that life changing salad. Continue reading →
Last week was one long week. The roofers showed up Monday for the new roof, I started a new job, and allergy season hit like Mohammad Ali. By Friday night I was all in. Good news showed up in my inbox from Denison Farm though, strawberry season has started! They’re a few weeks early, but I’ll take it! The first strawberries of the season were enough to draw my itchy, watery, exhausted rear out the door and down to the farmer’s market. I had planned on getting at least a half flat, but since they only had about a flat left by the time I made it down there. There was a line behind me, so I settled for a couple of pints. There will be more strawberries to come.
The first strawberries call for something simple, I’ve waited all year to taste fresh strawberries, I want to taste the strawberry. So I settled for a classic, which is all I could handle through allergy fog anyway. I used raw almonds, if you use salted almonds I would leave the salt out. Continue reading →
Tomorrow, April 23, is Shakespeare’s birthday. After almost 500 years people are still remaking his work. Joss Whedon has a version of Much Ado About Nothing coming out this summer with Nathan Fillion as Dogberry. I don’t know Joss; I’m not such a fan of Shakespearian speech in films set in modern times but I like ya so I’ll probably give it a view. My favorite version is this one from Kenneth Branagh.
What to make for one of the greatest writers that ever lived? Since I’m a history geek of course I instantly decided that it should be something he would have recognized. Problem is the food we eat has changed a great deal since his time. Shakespeare lived during an exciting time. The cross cultural food exchange that began with the “finding” of the “New World” was just getting underway. And while turkey was readily accepted, “Tastes like swan, try it!” many other now popular foods did not. I finally decided on shepherd’s pie, which is basically a casserole of mashed potatoes over stew. He’d recognize the dish if not all the ingredients in it. In his day they would have used mashed parsnips or turnips instead of potatoes and of course no tomato sauce or corn. I’m not sure how much garlic they used in England at the time either.
The next thing I decided is that I had to go big. The bard strikes me as someone who liked the good life and liked to live large. He might not have been able to live it very often, writers then and now struggle to make a living, but something over the top seemed appropriate. I added every think I like in mashed potatoes.
Some people get all picky about shepherd’s pie and claim it’s not the real thing if it’s not made with lamb. I say phooey. Shepherd’s pie is a peasant dish and I’m pretty sure they made it out of whatever they could catch to put in the pot. Besides, my farmer was out of ground lamb. Make it out of whatever kind of red meat you can catch. I would stay away from poultry as it wouldn’t have the right texture for the stew.
Be careful of it under the broiler, it browns fast. This may have been the first time I’ve used the broiler in this oven and I set the broiler on high. Luckily the topping caramelizes before it actually burns so if it’s a bit “browner” than you would like it might still be okay. The recipe doesn’t call for parsley but that’s because I forgot to add it. I had just spread the mashed potatoes over the stew when I realized the parsley was still sitting on the counter. I would totally add it next time. If you use fresh parsley add it when you take the stew off the heat and before the mashed potatoes. You could also add it to the potatoes; chives would be another good addition to them. Continue reading →
Raw broccoli isn’t high on my list of favorites. To be totally honest, it’s not on my list of favorites, it’s in the okay section. It’s just so…fibrous. It takes forever to chew and takes over the taste of everything else. So for this salad I do one of the following: defrost a bag of frozen broccoli and chop it, steam chopped fresh broccoli, or shred the broccoli. Shredded broccoli is my favorite but it takes the most work and clean up (drag out the mandolin, try not to maim myself using it, then clean the mandolin trying to get all the little bits of broccoli off of it). The picture is of defrosted and chopped broccoli.
This salad is supper yummy and filling. It has tons of crunch and the cranberries give it just the right amount of sweet. Poppy seed dressing (at least Annie’s brand) is pretty sweet as well. This is the only salad I use it with so far. The broccoli can take all that sweetness in stride and still be tasty broccoli. Continue reading →
When my grandmother was in her late eighties I lived with her awhile. It ended up being a fairly short time as she was in need of 24 hour company and I could not provide that. She was more than willing to give up cooking duty and I was happy to take it over. At some point she had lost interest in food and after 80 years of cooking (she started as a child helping to prepare meals) she was ready to give it up. Don’t get me wrong, she complained bitterly if I baked pie or cake or some other goodie and didn’t leave her any. She just wasn’t hungry for most meals. She had also become quite picky.
Chicken ‘n Pea Salad was one of the things I could routinely serve that she would eat. It’s also something that you can whip up quick after working all day. You can use up leftover chicken or defrost and grill up some (breaded tenders would be quite tasty). There always seems to be a bag of peas in the freezer (it feels empty without them) and some pasta sitting in the cupboard waiting to be used up. I’m not sure it’s allowed not to have ranch dressing in the fridge, at least not with my family. You can make it as basic or fancy as your audiences taste buds will allow, throw in some diced onion or shredded carrots. I normally use shell shaped pasta but I didn’t have any, the macaroni works just as well. Continue reading →