Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vegetable Soup (2)

Happy Halloween! Today's recipe isn't spooky. In fact, it's quite the opposite; it's comforting and warm and delicious.

I shared a vegetable soup recipe a year and a half ago and it was delicious so I wanted to make something similar. But every time I decide to make soup, it's a little bit different. The ingredients vary depending on what I might be craving, what ingredients are in season, what ingredients are fresh and available at the super market, what ingredients are affordable, etc. All of these factors led to the soup I'm sharing in today's post and this recipe involves kale, because I wanted it, and eggplant, because it looked delicious, and parmesan cheese rind because it was sitting there in the cheese section of the market, asking to be used, among other ingredients.
I'm sharing all of the ingredients I used but you can definitely customize this recipe. One thing I forgot to add that I had wanted to include is cannelini beans but the end result was still satisfying so no harm, no foul. Turnips, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, sweet corn, butternut squash, basil, green beans, barley, asparagus tips, artichoke hearts, fennel (bulb), broccolini, cilantro, snap peas, sweet peas, baby corn, brussels sprouts - these are just a few suggestions of other ingredients you could add to the soup.

But right now, I'm going to share how I made vegetable soup on this particular day.

8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup diced onions
½ cup diced celery
2 leeks, chopped
5 to 6 cloves minced garlic
1 purple eggplant, chopped
3 portabello mushrooms, chopped
3 or 4 zucchini
2 yukon gold potatoes, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cayenne pepper, chopped
½ cup chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped kale
3 or 4 oz piece of parmesan cheese rind
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ cup ditalini pasta (or any other short cut pasta)
olive oil, salt, and pepper
+ rosemary (optional)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Apple Pie

People always refer to apple pie as such an all-American dish. What does that even mean? All-American can mean that something is made from American products but pie crust was invented by Greeks and apples originated in Asia so that can't be it. All-American also describes something that has American ideals like industriousness and tenacity and dream-achieving. Does that really describe apple pie? Whatever; I apologize because I am just rambling.

Anyway, if you pop over to my travel blog, you can read all about my family's apple picking outing. What did we do with all of those apples? Lately, I've been taking one or two with me to work everyday and eating them for breakfast and as a snack but the v. first thing I did with the apples when I got home was to make a pie.
pie crust (9")
5 to 6 apples (I used empire apples freshly picked that day)
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter cut into cubes
1 tablespoon cream
1 tablespoon raw sugar

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Kitchen Part 9: Finishing Touches

Admittedly, a lot of labor goes into the demolition and painting and cabinet installation when you're remodeling a kitchen. It's really grueling and works your muscles. But I have to admit, it was also a lot of work to get the loose ends tied up because though it didn't cause as much sweating and muscle cramps, it did require a lot of willpower to get it all done.
New cabinetry and refinished floors elevated our kitchen from a cruddy old mess to a more modern and pretty room but what really made the kitchen go from good to great were the finishing touches.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chai Spice Ice Cream

The weather is getting cooler and cooler and I love it. Autumn is my favorite season because I love the weather, the lack of humidity, and the food. Everyone thinks about pumpkin spice this and that but I love chai tea. It's my go-to drink in the cooler months. And it turns out, it makes a fabulous ice cream flavor. And yes, you can still enjoy this frozen treat even when it's cold outside. It's delicious!
This ice cream is perfect for serving up with apple pie (hint: I will be sharing an apple pie recipe v. soon). I'm not going to go super into detail with this post because I shared all of the nitty gritty bits that go into ice cream making in my vanilla bean ice cream post.

2 cups half & half
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup + ½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon chai tea blend (I love McNulty's)
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
4 egg yolks
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

As you can see, the only difference between this recipe and the vanilla bean ice cream recipe is the addition of the chai tea blend, cinnamon stick, and cardamom.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Habanero Hot Sauce

I'm really excited to share today's recipe. Obviously, you can tell by the title what it's going to be, duh. Well, we had a good little supply of habanero peppers growing in our garden and I was sort of at a loss for how to use them because they are so spicy. Doy, make a hot sauce with them, lady!
This hot sauce is actually really delicious and not just a fireball creator. It's got a lot of natural sweetness and the heat from the peppers doesn't hit you right away and once it does, it doesn't last too long on your tongue. It's kind of a ghostly spiciness in that it sort of sneaks up on you and then drifts away just as soon as you realize it's spicy, if that makes sense.

5 to 6 habanero peppers
¼ sweet onion
½ orange bell pepper
½ cup baby carrots
1 tomato
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cilantro
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
olive oil, salt, and pepper

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Kitchen Part 8: Tiles

I didn't want a traditional tile backsplash all over the kitchen. There were a multitude of reasons including cost, labor, and upkeep. But the biggest reason was that I found a tile that I fell absolutely in love with and I wanted it to be a special focal point.
I purchased my tile from The Tile Shop. I chose a beautiful green glass tile called New Haven and luckily, there was a subway tile sale going on at the time of purchase so I received 20% off. I had a bit of a mixed experience with The Tile Shop but in the end, I got what I wanted so I would say, yes, I recommend them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Berry Galettes

So today's post features the galettes I made using the dough from yesterday's pie dough post. These were my sister's happy birthday galettes and they came out splendidly.
I'm not being super exact with the quantities for this recipe just because the pie is v. free-form and rustic so you can pretty much "wing it" and make as many or as few pies as you would like. I'm just going to give some basic guidelines.

pie dough
fruit - you can make these galettes using berries like I did or you can use stone fruit (like peaches, nectarines, plums), apples, or pears; I don't suggest using any fruit with too much juice (such as pineapple) because the galette will end up really soggy
1 teaspoon flour for every ½ cup of fruit
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (for every ½ cup of fruit)
1 tablespoon honey (for every ½ cup of fruit)
¼ teaspoon lemon zest (for every ½ cup of fruit)
½ teaspoon lemon juice (for every ½ cup of fruit)
½ teaspoon sugar (for every ½ cup of fruit)
+ heavy cream
+ sugar in the raw (also known as turbinado sugar)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Basic Pie Dough

So at this v. moment, my kitchen is fully functional! We can cook and bake and chop. It's pretty awesome. We are just finishing up with the little punch list items (molding, paint touch ups, organizing, etc.).

I mentioned on Monday that it was my sister's birthday and every year I make something sweet to eat after a yummy dinner. This year, she requested a birthday pie instead of a birthday cake. I decided that I wanted to make berry galettes, which are just free-form pies, because I thought that they would be more festive and celebratory-looking.

Today, I'm sharing just the crust recipe and the actual galette will be shared tomorrow in a second post because this a great basic pie dough so I think it deserves its own entry. I think it's one I will refer to quite often.
2¼ to 2½ cups all purpose flour (depending on the humidity of the day)
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup cold water
+ pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuscan Kale Salad

This is not something I came up with on my own. I just really wanted to share it because it was delicious. I saw this kale salad on Smitten Kitchen and thought immediately, "I have to make this!" So, a few weeks ago, even though I didn't have a working kitchen, I saw tuscan kale at my market and decided that it was fate.
On Smitten Kitchen, Deb uses pecorino romano and walnuts and adds a crispy breadcrumb. I decided to use almonds because I'm not a big fan of walnuts and I used asiago cheese, just because that's what I had in the fridge and I didn't use the breadcrumbs because before I could heat them up on our grill, we ran out of propane. Nevertheless, it was delicious.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Kitchen Part 7: Quartz Countertops & Cabinet Fronts

First, let me start by wishing my baby sister a happy birthday. Happy birthday, sister! It's been a tradition in years past for me to make some sort of special cake in October for the combined celebration of my sister and dad's birthdays. It was pretty lucky because the countertops were installed just in time for Mich's birthday so I was able to make a really delicious dessert. Whoo! I'll be sharing all of that this week.

Also, just an FYI, Ikea is in the middle of another kitchen sale right now (through December 1, 2013). If you've been dancing with the idea of redoing your kitchen, now is a great time! Otherwise, you can wait a bit longer and I'm sure they'll be having another sale soon.

So, you need to know how excited I was for these quartz countertops. I've never lived in a house or apartment with anything but laminate and I was over the moon about getting (manufactured) stone. To most of you, it's probably not a big deal but to me, it just feels so luxe and fancy.
I called Atlas Marble & Granite to schedule the templating as soon as the floors had been refinished. The girl who usually answers the phone is called Katie and she is really nice. She said that they are usually booked up at least a week out. I was calling on a Monday and she said the next available appointment wasn't going to be until next Wednesday [08/25/2013]. Luckily, I had (and still have) a bunch of PTO days at work so I decided to take a day off for the templating and the install each.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Baby Kale Kimchi

Yay! Hopefully, as long as there are no random complications that arise later this afternoon, our countertops will be installed in just a few hours (EEP!) - I'll be sharing the whole process, probably on Monday - and soon, I'll be back to posting recipes more regularly since I will finally have a functional kitchen. Whoo!

Because we had to set our range in place in order to have our countertops templated, we've had a stove connected and usable for the past few weeks. We are constantly craving homemade Korean food so we've been taking advantage of having a stove by making lots of jjigaes (stews) because when you're craving Korean food, nothing hits the spot quite like a jjigae. But, you can't really have Korean food without kimchi. We haven't had the time or the patience or the resources right now to make anything too complicated so I've been making a lot of cucumber kimchi because it's relatively simple and doesn't require any humongous bowls or special tools (because even the easiest radish kimchi takes a bit of work). But as delicious as cucumber kimchi is, sometimes you want a little change. Enter: baby kale kimchi.
Does kale kimchi sound weird? Honestly, this recipe came about because I was making a jjigae and realized, "Shoot, we don't have any fresh vegetables to eat with this meal." I looked in our fridge and all we had was a container of kale. I couldn't imagine eating a regular kale salad (with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper) with Korean food, because while delicious, it's just not a good match. So, I thought I could try and make a kimchi out of it. I just used a similar technique for making cucumber kimchi and it was pretty delicious. So, when I decided to make it again for dinner a few nights ago, I documented it so I could share it.

½ lb baby kale (6 to 8 cups; my market sells them in 7 oz. containers - close enough)
2 to 3 tablespoons Korean fish sauce (to taste)
2 to 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (gochugaru; to taste)
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ red onion, sliced
3 to 5 hot peppers, sliced (I used cayenne and jalapeno)

Monday, October 7, 2013

What I Ate: Pasta with Rapini, Eggplant, & Sausage

I don't have a kitchen update this week because the countertop installation is delaying my posts a bit. The installation has been scheduled for this Thursday so I will have an update for you next week. I promise. In the mean time, I have a yummy dish to share.

I love rapini a.k.a. broccoli rabe. It's bitter and it's supposed to be bitter so it can be an acquired taste. The good news is that it pairs well with a spicy sausage and mild eggplant and adds a depth a flavor unmatched by spinach or kale. For dinner a few months ago (my gosh, months, when our kitchen was still usable) I made pasta (I used gemelli, which is one of my favorite cut pasta shapes) with eggplant, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes from our garden, a little chicken stock, rapini, and spicy sausage. I grilled the sausage on the grill outdoors and then sliced it up before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

 It was delicious. I love pasta dishes like this where you just combine a bunch of stuff you like together in a big bowl. It's simple and delicious and the cleanup is quick.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pickled Jalapenos

This is another recipe that I made before our kitchen renovation started (so literally months ago) because we had a surplus of jalapenos in our garden and I wanted to be able to eat them while we were kitchen-less.
If you like heat (the spicy kind of heat and not the temperature kind) then this might be the recipe for you! For some ungodly reason, our jalapeno plants have been producing intensely spicy peppers. Like, so spicy that I got into a coughing fit after slicing one open and smelling the capsaicin. Yeah. I hadn't even eaten it yet and my tongue was already ablaze.

I thought an appropriate solution would be to pickle the peppers, since pickling would tone down the intensity of the spice and make it edible instead of painful.

Ingredients [makes 2 pint-sized jars]
8 to 10 jalapenos
handful of baby carrots
½ cup diced onions
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional; if your jalapenos just aren't that spicy)
1½ cups water
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup salt
2 tablespoons sugar
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