Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Brilliant Winter Salad of Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula

purple cauliflower

A couple of years ago if someone told you that your blueberries were loaded with anthocyanins, you'd probably have dumped the bowl down the garbage disposal and called 911 to report being poisoned.

Anthocyanin sounds scary, kind of like cyanide. Fortunately it's a good word; "anthocyanin" is derived from two Greek words, "anthos " (flower) and "kyanos" (blue). It makes sense, therefore, that anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the blue, purple, and red color of many fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

When it comes to food, anthocyanins are little health workhorses. They're associated with a decreased risk of many illnesses including cancer, high blood pressure, and even Alzheimer's. Fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored are even better for you. That helps explains why pomegranates, blueberries, broccoli, and red grapes are on virtually every Top 10 Healthiest Foods list ever written.

roasted purple cauliflower and arugula salad DSC_0007

Purple cauliflower, which is currently in season, owes its stunning color to anthocyanins. This cheeky variety, along with its cousins, orange and green cauliflower, have helped make cauliflower fashionable.

Use purple cauliflower in cooking as you would use white cauliflower. Steam, saute, bake, or roast it; just don't overcook it, or you'll risk mushiness. If you boil it, add a few drops of vinegar to the water to help maintain its vivid color. The texture is the same as white cauliflower although the flavor is slightly sweeter.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy purple cauliflower is in winter salads like this Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad. Roasted purple cauliflower and peppery arugula are dressed in a light and refreshing lemon-mustard-rosemary vinaigrette. The flavors match the vegetables' brilliant color making this a winter salad guaranteed to brighten any cold, gray day.

Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad
Makes 6 servings
Print recipe only here.

1 medium head purple cauliflower, broken into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
several shakes of salt and black pepper
6-7 ounces fresh arugula

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons grainy/spicy mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about half of 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place cauliflower in a large baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until coated. Cook for 30 minutes, or until lightly brown and crisp.

2. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Place arugula in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Add roasted cauliflower and toss. Serve warm.

Here are more colorful vegetable recipes from Food Blogga:
Patriotic Potato Salad
Orange Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese (yes, it's healthier and good)
Roasted Rainbow Carrots and String Beans with Citrus-Sage Glaze
Olive Oil, Caramelized Onion, and Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Here are more pretty purple cauliflower recipes you might like:
Purple Cauliflower Soup recipe at Chez Us
Purple Cauliflower Taboule Salad recipe at Citronetvanille 
Colorful Cardamom Roasted Cauliflower recipe at Sunday Nite Dinner
Roasted Purple Cauliflower with Ghee, Mustard, and Cumin recipe at Tigers and Strawberries

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recipe For Banana, Espresso, and Chocolate Chip Scones

banana, espresso, and chocolate chip scones

It rained all week here. Thank God.

Sometimes I feel like I live in a terrarium: there is no weather in San Diego. As a New Englander, it's nice sometimes to experience rain, sleet, cold, you know, weather.

This was obvious to me when it rained every day last week, the first time that has happened in over a year. Standing at my window with my cup of coffee in hand, I watched the dark clouds roll in. Like something in a brown bear that just knows it's time to hibernate, something in me knew it was time to make scones. 

I could have been on a Discovery Channel program: The camera peers in on me; I'm exiting the pantry closet, arms weighed down by flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and whatever else I could put into a baked good. A Bear Grylls-like voice over says, "See here as the young woman sensing the imminent rain cannot suppress her instinct to make scones."
As the rain fell, I instinctively added banana, espresso, and chocolate chips to my scones. I could not say why, I just knew it was the right thing to do. With a high butter content and ripe mashed bananas, their texture is moist yet flaky and not too crumbly. And the flavor is sweet yet bold like a chocolate biscotti dunked in a caffe macchiato.

It's sunny here again. But I've made enough scones to last all winter. I'll just sit here and rest until I see clouds again on the horizon.

Banana, Espresso, and Chocolate Chip Scones
Makes 6 large or 8 small scones
Print recipe only here.

1/3 cup heavy cream of half 'n half
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup very ripe mashed bananas 
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
egg wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten OR 1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon milk, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place oven racks in top and bottom thirds of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk cream and egg; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and cinnamon. Add chilled butter, and mix with a pastry blender or fork until a coarse meal forms with tiny pea-sized butter pieces. Mix in bananas and chocolate chips. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture and, using a spoon, mix until just combined. Do not over mix, or the dough will become leaden.

4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disk, about 1/2-inch thick. With a wet knife (to make slicing easier) cut the dough into 6 large triangles (or 8 smaller ones). Place scones on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

5. Brush egg wash over the tops of the scones. Bake scones for 20-22 minutes, rotating pans mid-way through. Bake until puffed and golden; transfer to a rack to cool.

You might also enjoy these baked goods from Food Blogga:
Pear and Cardamom Cake
Upside-Down Clementine Cake
Coconut Lemonquat Tea Cake
Orange, Walnut, and Chocolate Chip Muffins
Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Syrup Glaze
Here are more scone recipes you might enjoy:
Truly Great Scones recipe at Chubby Hubby
Meyer Lemon Scones recipe at Baking Bites
Peanut Butter and Jelly Scones recipe at Cookography
Maple Oatmeal Scones recipe at Brown-Eyed Baker
White Chocolate and Sour Cherry Scones recipe at David Lebovitz
Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Scones recipe at A Mingling of Tastes

Friday, January 22, 2010

Italian Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta

Italian mac n' cheese with pancetta

When I was asked to create a macaroni & cheese recipe for the launching of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s Macaroni & Cheese Blog, I thought, “Life is good.”

The first thing I had to do was select a cheese from their cheese list. It took me seconds to spot “Fontiago.” Was it a typo? I had heard of Fontina and Asiago, but what was "Fontiago?" After cooking and eating nearly three pounds of it, I can tell you it’s not a typo. It’s for real. And it’s fantabulous.

Fontina is mild and nutty and prized for its melting ability. Asiago, although similar in taste to Parmesan, is more assertive. Fontiago is a unique cheese that marries Fontina with Asiago in one creamy, tangy, aromatic cheese.

Fontiago cheese

To honor the cheese’s Italian roots, I decided to make an Italian macaroni & cheese with pancetta, basil and parsley. As the macaroni & cheese cooks in the oven, the aroma is deliciously reminiscent of wood-fired pizza, thanks to the smoky pancetta and nutty Fontiago.

With a generous coating of grated Parmesan and toasty olive oil-soaked breadcrumbs, this Italian macaroni & cheese is tantalizingly crusty on the outside. The crust, however, gives way to a luscious, soft cheese filling flecked with salty, diced pancetta and fragrant fresh basil and parsley. A couple of dashes of crushed red pepper flakes provide just the heat it needs.

I have made this Italian macaroni & cheese several times now and can tell you that it’s easy enough for a mid-week dinner yet sophisticated enough to serve for company, especially when paired with a side salad and red wine.

Since I found Wisconsin Fontiago, living the good life got a whole lot easier. Of course, the red wine doesn’t hurt.

Italian mac n' cheese with pancetta

Italian Macaroni & Cheese with Pancetta
Serves 6 to 8
Print recipe only here.

8 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound medium pasta shells
8 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
6 cups whole milk
4 cups (16 ounces) Wisconsin Fontiago cheese, grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
a few shakes of salt and black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, thinly sliced
1 cup (8 ounces) grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

2. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add pancetta. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and olive oil, mixing with your fingertips. Set aside.

4. Cook pasta in salted water, about 2 minutes short of being fully cooked; it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain the cooked pasta, but do not rinse. Place in a large bowl. 

5. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Gradually add milk, whisking continuously until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, or until thick and bubbly.

6. Add cooked pancetta, Fontiago cheese, cream sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, basil and parsley. Stir well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges.

*Fontiago Cheese is a Wisconsin original made by Roth Käse cheese company, www.rothkase.com.

For more delicious macaroni and cheese recipes, check out http://www.30days30waysmacandcheese.com/.

You might also enjoy these pasta recipes from Food Blogga:
Creamy Goat Cheese and Beet Green Pasta
Penne with Italian-American "Gravy," Meatballs, and Sausage
Orange Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese (yes, it's healthier and good)
Cellentani with Lemony Broccoli, Toasted Walnuts, and Breadcrumbs
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Needs Meat When You've Got Hearty Mediterranean Vegetable Stew with Olives?

Mediterranean vegetable stew with olives

In my last post I mentioned that when I was a child I felt sorry for kids whose moms made "meat and potatoes" dinners. That was until I heard of moms who were vegetarians. I thought that was tragic.

I think I was about eleven when I discovered vegetarianism from a student teacher who was raising her children to be vegetarians. No hamburgers on the grill? No hot dogs at baseball games? No chicken parm sandwiches on Sunday night? What kind of a mother does that to her children? I wondered. If it weren't for my mom's meatball sandwiches, I don't think I would have made it through middle school.

Then one day several years later, I did the unthinkable. I became a vegetarian; not because I wanted to ruin my children's lives (I don't have children), but because of an unfortunate incident with some tainted chicken. I didn't eat meat for years after that.

I do eat meat now, but I still love vegetarian meals which I eat several times a week. And since I'm featuring one-pot meals this week, I want to share my recipe for Mediterranean Vegetable Stew with Olives. For those of you who wonder whether or not a vegetable stew can be as satisfying as beef stew, I'm telling you, Yes, it can. Since it's loaded with fiber-rich vegetables and high-protein cannelini beans, this vegetable stew is filling yet low-cal and healthy. It's reminiscent of eggplant caponata, but has more layers of flavor since it's got licorice-scented fennel and briny Kalamata and Cerignola olives. I don't have to tell you to sop up the juices with good, crusty Italian bread.

I don't miss the meat in this vegetable stew at all. Of course, I don't plan on giving up my mom's meatball sandwiches. That would be tragic.

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew with Olives
Makes 6 servings
Print recipe only here.

Note: Omit the grated cheese, and this recipe is vegan. 

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fennel bulb, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 1 ½ cups)
1 eggplant, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 3 ½ cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
¼ cup dry white wine
1 (28- ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
¼ cup coarsely chopped Cerignola olives (large, green Italian olives)
1 (14-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
Zest of ½ lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan or Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onions, and sauté until just transparent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and fennel, and cook 2 minutes. Add eggplant and peppers, and cook 3-4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add wine, and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Add olives, cannellini beans, lemon zest, fennel seeds, salt, and crushed red pepper. Stir well, and cook until heated through, 3-4 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs.

2. Serve with crusty Italian bread, or serve atop polenta, rice, or wide pasta noodles, such as parpadelle. Garnish individual servings with desired amount of grated cheese.

You might also enjoy these easy vegetarian meals from Food Blogga:
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges
Rigatoni with Walnut, Parsley, and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Butternut Squash Risotto with Rosemary, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

Here are more vegetarian one-pot meals you might enjoy:
Spicy Vegetarian Chili recipe at Simply Recipes
Pueblo Vegetable Stew recipe at The Perfect Pantry
Lemony Lentil Vegetable Stew recipe at Mango and Tomato
Chili Piquin Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe at The Whole Gang

Monday, January 18, 2010

Basic Beef Stew Recipe: Meat and Potatoes Can Be Good Food, Mom

beef stew DSC_0009

One day when I was a little girl watching my mom make dinner, I asked her why we weren't a "meat and potatoes" family. She said, "That's because we're Italian, and we eat good food."

I remember thinking, was meat and potatoes bad food? Would it make you sick? I suddenly felt sorry for all those kids at school whose moms cooked meat and potatoes. I secretly wished I could bring them home for dinner so they could have good food like my mom's eggplant parmigiana, escarole and beans, and macaroni with gravy and meatballs.

Other than the once-a-year New England boiled pot roast with potatoes and carrots, my mom never made meat and potatoes meals, and I don't either. The closest I get to making meat and potatoes is a burger and fries, which suits Jeff just fine since his mother also never made meat and potatoes. 

steak and potatoes DSC_0017

Since I'm a food blogga and since this week is about as wintery as it's going to get in San Diego -- 50's and rain -- I have decided to post some belly-warming one-pot meals. Everyone should have a basic beef stew recipe because it's easy, inexpensive, and satisfying. It also tastes great with beer and sports, so the men in your life will love you for making it. Rich red wine and beef broth along with earthy thyme add depth of flavor to this simple beef stew that is chock-full of firm carrots and potatoes.

I guess I didn't need to feel sorry for those meat and potatoes kids at school after all.

Basic Beef Stew
Serves 6-8
Print recipe only here.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds top round or chuck steak, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups red wine
3 cups beef broth
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. In a large, deep pot, heat olive oil. Dredge meat in seasoned flour. Place in hot oil until browned, about 5 minutes (don’t overcrowd meat or it’ll steam). Transfer browned meat to a bowl. In same pot, add chopped onion and brown for 3-5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the wine. (Pour wine in the hot pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.) Add meat back to the pot. Cover the pot, and cook on low for 25-30 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, and carrots. Cook covered, on low heat until meat is very tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add more broth if necessary. When meat is cooked, stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Add fresh parsley before serving.

You might also like these one-pot meals from Food Blogga:
Italian Chicken and Escarole Soup
Turkey Pot Pie with Mashed Sweet Potato Topping
Fast and Easy Herbed Chicken and Cauliflower
Healthy Chipotle Chicken Chili with Crispy Spiced Tortillas

You might also like these one-pot meals: 
Lamb Tagine recipe at David Lebovitz
Beef Tagine recipe at Real Epicurean
Chicken Stew with Sherry recipe at Thyme for Cooking
Paprika Pork Stew with Sour Cream recipe at The Naptime Chef
One Pot Chicken with Beans and Vegetables recipe at Kitchen Parade

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tree-Huggers, 401K's, and Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola

crunchy maple walnut and banana granola

If I say, "She's so granola," you know exactly what I mean -- she's a tree-hugging, free-spirited, hemp-wearing woman with long graying hair who wears her well-worn Birkenstocks to walk to the local co-op where she buys only fair-trade goods.

Does that mean that a short-haired, Anthrolpologie-wearing, Cosmo-drinking girl with a 401K like me can't be "granola"? Cause I eat a lot of it.

I don't buy it at the local co-op; I make my own, while wearing high heels. Making homemade granola is easy and allows you to control the fat, sugar, and calorie content. It's also less expensive. Don't pay $5.00/pound for pre-made granola when you can buy oats for 79 cents a pound.

crunchy maple walnut granola

My current favorite is Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola, a hearty maple-coated granola loaded with clusters of sticky walnuts and coconut, crisp banana chips, and tart cherries. I know it's expensive, but you have to use pure maple syrup.  

Recently someone said to me, "You're so Mad Men in that dress." Hah. Little do they know I'm so granola.

cherry, prune, and almond granola
Be sure to check out my homemade Cherry, Prune, and Almond Granola pictured above.

Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola
Yield: Approximately 7 cups
Print recipe only here.

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried tart cherries
3/4 cup dried banana chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter (or butter substitute such as Smart Balance)
1-2 teaspoons maple extract*
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. In a small pan over medium heat, melt maple syrup and butter. Remove from heat; stir in maple extract, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. Pour maple-butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well coated. Spread mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until granola is golden brown. (If you want it extra crunchy, then turn off heat and leave in the warm oven for another 20-25 minutes.) Cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

*Note: Maple extract is intensely flavored, so it's a great, reduced calorie way to cut down on the amount of maple syrup needed. It's available in the spice section of most major supermarkets. If you can't find it, then add an extra 1/4 cup of maple syrup to the recipe.

Here are more healthy recipes from Food Blogga you might enjoy:
Low-Fat Date, Fennel, and Pistachio Scones
Shrimp, Pineapple, and 7-Whole Grain Pilaf Salad
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Lemon
Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges
Healthy Tofu and Vegetables with an Orange-Honey-Ginger Glaze

Here are more homemade granola recipes you might enjoy:
Glorious Granola recipe at Cookie Baker Lynn
Coconut Almond Granola recipe at Baking Bites
Hearty Homemade Granola recipe at Adventures in Shaw
Very Nutty Homemade Granola recipe at The Passionate Cook
Granola with Almonds, Apricots, Cranberries, and Pineapple recipe at The Kitchn

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Want to Lose Weight? Forget New Year's Resolutions and Start Making Soup.

easy butternut squash, kale, and chickpea soup 0014

New Year's resolutions. They're nothing but bunkum.

"Resolve to lose weight." It sounds real enough. It's a statement made in the dark of winter when we are most vulnerable. The holiday season romanced us with its twinkling lights, sparkling cocktails (can you say 400-calorie-martini?), and carb-heavy desserts. We indulge. We regret. Then on January 1st we commit to a diet.

By January 10th, most of us (read I) rummage through the pantry closet for something, anything chocolatey, salty, sweet, or preferably all three. We spot the bag of blue corn tortilla chips hidden behind the oatmeal and tell ourselves, "These are pretty healthy." We eat a few. Close the bag. Re-open it. Eat a few more. Next thing we know, half the bag is gone. Then we're thinking, "Well, hell, I already ruined my New Year's resolution. I might as well eat 'em all now."

If any diet worked, then why do magazines promote them on their covers every month, every year? Because they know that we are fallible and that living a life of extremes isn't attainable for most. Consider some of these weight loss claims from popular women's magazines: "Melt 10 LBS Fast!" "Shed One Size! In Just 2 Weeks!" "Shrink Your Belly!" And these are just the ones on my coffee table.

I say, "No." No to fast fixes, unrealistic goals, and tasteless foods. No to diets.

I say, "Yes" to moderation. After 30-some-odd years, I have found that it's the only way for me to stay healthy and fit and sane. I eat all foods, but in moderation. I eat meat and cookies and drink an occasional martini. I also exercise regularly, in moderation; most days for 30-45 minutes.

I spent too many years obsessing about my weight, about exercise, about eating. My resolution this year is to live life, enjoy food, and stay healthy by forming and maintaining habits I can realistically sustain.

easy butternut squash, kale, and chickpea soup 0018

I also resolve to eat a lot of soup, which will be easy. Broth-based soup filled with veggies are nutritious and filling. Studies have shown that people who eat 1 1/2-2 cups of vegetable soup before a meal consume about 135 fewer calories at the meal.

Lately, I have been eating my Easy Butternut Squash and Kale Soup. It's chock-full of vitamin-rich veggies and fiber-rich beans. With both winter squash and dark, leafy greens at their peak, this soup is ideal for the cold winter months.

Sure, I eat pretty well, exercise, and eat a lot of soup. I also have bad days when I feel awful about the  way I look or regret eating mindlessly. But I know that eating well is more than just a resolution. It's changing the way you think about food and giving yourself healthy yet delicious options from which to choose. That's why foods like soup are so great to have in the house -- if you've taken time to make something healthy and delicious, it's a whole lot easier to eat something that will make you feel good about yourself.

Easy Butternut Squash, Kale, and Chickpea Soup
Serves 6
Note: This is a vegetarian soup. If you omit the sprinkling of cheese on top, then it's vegan. 

Print recipe only here.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced, preferably with some leaves
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3-4 cups)
1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (more if you prefer it soupier)
1 small bunch kale (dinosaur or curly), washed and thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt, to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling on top

1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and saute 5-7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the squash, chickpeas, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cook 5-7 minutes, or until squash is tender but not mushy. Add kale, crushed red pepper, and salt. Heat through, about 3 minutes. Stir in herbs. Taste it, and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve hot, garnishing each bowl with a sprinkling of grated cheese.

You might also enjoy these soups from Food Blogga:
Healthy Chili
Italian Lentil Soup
Italian Escarole and Bean Soup
Curried Red Lentil, Chickpea, and Red Kale Soup

Here are more wonderful soups featuring butternut squash and/or kale:
Butternut Squash Soup recipe at The Perfect Pantry
Curried Butternut Squash Soup recipe at The Garden of Eating
Butternut Squash Chili with Kale recipe at Dani Spies
Spicy Kale, Chorizo, and Squash Soup recipe at Eggs on Sunday
Kale and Apple Soup recipe at Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to De-Seed a Pomegranate and Make Double Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies

double chocolate pomegranate cookies 0031
Double Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies

Remember on Monday when I said I was going to introduce something new to my blog? Well, here it is: How to De-Seed a Pomegranate. OK, so how to de-seed a pomegranate is hardly new, but this is a video of me de-seeding a pomegranate, which is new frontier for this Food Blogga.

Some of you are panicking right now, thinking, "Oh, great. Now I have to watch her chop vegetables every week just so I can leave a comment on her blog."

Fear not, friends, you will not be tortured.

1. The videos will be short. I know you don't want to watch an 18 minute video of me peeling and slicing butternut squash. So you won't.

2. I'll keep them useful yet light in tone. I'm thinking of adopting a mockney accent like Jamie Oliver (actually I love Jamie, accent and all).

3. I don't have Giada's budget, kitchen, or film crew, but I do have a kind-hearted, savvy husband who is willing to give up a few hours on the weekend to be both my film and editing crew. Already he has suggested I dress like Giada. He's so insightful. Thanks, Jeff.

OK, here we go -- Put on your 3-D glasses and watch the pomegranate come right at you!

Once you've de-seeded your pomegranate, you need to make cookies. Why pomegranate seeds in cookies? Why not? Their tartness is the perfect foil to sweet chocolate and rich pecans. Plus it just sounds cool: Double Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies

double chocolate pomegranate cookies 0020

Double Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies
Makes about 30-35 large cookies
Print recipe only here.

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and center a baking rack. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars; beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; add to the large bowl, and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, pomegranate seeds, and pecans.

3. Drop 2 tablespoons of cookie dough 2 inches apart (as they will spread) on the parchment-lined baking sheets.

4. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes, or until firm and golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

To store cookies, layer between pieces of waxed paper to prevent sticking and place in an air-tight container. Properly stored, cookies should last up to a week.

Note: Feel free to use all dark chocolate chips instead of white or to substitute pistachios for the pecans. Also, you can make smaller cookies if you prefer. But, really, why would you want to do that?

Here are more pomegranate recipes you might like from Food Blogga:
Winter Jewel Fruit Salad
Low-Fat Lemony Medjool Date and Pomegranate Scones
Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Glaze
Fiery Shrimp with Avocado-Pomegranate-Tangerine Salsa served over Soft Polenta

I'm not the only one who loves pomegranate cookies:
Glazed Pomegranate Cookies recipe at Pots and Pins
Pomegranate Chocolate Chunk Cookies recipe at Coconut and Lime
Chocolate Pomegranate Cookies recipe at Tender Turning Quiet

Monday, January 4, 2010

NPR's Kitchen Window's Most Viewed Stories of 2009

Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for reading, commenting, cooking, (and eating!) with me in 2009. I look forward to sharing many more stories and many more of my (er, sometimes my mom's) recipes with you this year. I will also be introducing something totally new. Well, new for me anyway. I can't wait to show you soon.

Peanut Butter-Maple Bacon Fudge

I am also pleased to announce that two of my pieces, Bacon Gets Its Just Desserts and Grilled Cheese Gets An Update were the #1 and #2 most read pieces on NPR's Kitchen Window in 2009.

The Best Basic Grilled Cheese

This is a no-frills grilled cheese sandwich – the one that children love and that makes an adult feel like a kid again.
Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices favorite soft white bread
1 tablespoon real butter
2 slices American cheese

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place slices, buttered side down, on a clean work surface. Place both slices of cheese on one slice of bread, slightly overlapping them. Top with the second slice of bread, buttered side up. Close the sandwich.

Place sandwich in a preheated nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Flip the sandwich with a spatula, pressing lightly to flatten. Cook 1 minute, or until it is golden brown and the cheese is completely melted. Slice in half on the diagonal. Eat it while it's hot.

Here's to a delicious 2010!