Monday, February 27, 2012

Joy's ginger and lentil soup

This meal really hit the spot during this chilly, gray, yet snowless winter we've been having.


And it's a good thing, too, because this recipe makes a whole heap of soup.


I followed Joy's recipe, and her serving suggestions. I ate this soup with pearl couscous and cheddar on top.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Joy's creamy garlic soup with roasted potatoes

I remember when I first discovered that you can just eat garlic.


It was in college.  (I learned a lot of things in college.)  My friend Peter gathered a few friends together and took us to a tapas restaurant in Old Pasadena.  One of the tapas was roasted garlic with crostini.  It was so simple.  So brilliant.  Why hadn't I thought of this myself?!  Until then, garlic had been a spice, one thinly sliced clove here, a few crushed there.  It seemed so indulgent to just eat it, straight up, by the head.


I felt the same way when I discovered garlic soup.

And then there are the potatoes.  Have I mentioned my obsession with the purple ones?  I'm convinced they're better for you than the garden variety.  (To validate my claim, I did a little googling, and it seems they actually are.)


I realize she's a baker, but in my mind, Joy's savory meals are where it's at.  At least until I'm ready for dessert.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Deb's smashed chickpea salad

I love easy recipes!  And meals I can feel good about, nutrition wise!  And chickpeas!  And taking photos in natural light, especially if it means not showing my face in the office 'til... I don't want to incriminate myself, but you know, after I cook, photograph, and eat lunch.  Smashed chickpea salad is perfect.


I'm an olive hater, so I omit those.  I added raw red peppers into the mix.  A little of this, a little of that.


This recipe is so simple, infinitely versatile (add feta, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, pepperocinis, help me think of others!) , and dirt cheap.  And so good I could eat it for lunch every day.


At this point I'm just gushing, so I'll stop.  But seriously Deb, nice one.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Deb's really simple homemade pizza

I am so pizza obsessed. I have (at least) three favorite pizza restaurants around town, and I'm a fan of homemade pizza too. Sometimes I just burst out in song, proclaiming "I WANT PIZZA" like the Olsen twins, slowed down. However, I don't think I've nailed making my own crust yet, so I seem to try a new recipe every time. To have a more methodical trial and error method for pizza crust, I'll post the recipes I try on the blog, with a few comments.

The first is, of course, the really simple pizza crust from smitten kitchen.  Toppings were kept simple: this pizza was all about the smoked mozzarella we had picked up.


His and hers pizzas.  I like mine saucy and light on the cheese (left), and Phil is the opposite.  Both are heavy on the garlic.


The recipe says to bake the pizza at your oven's hottest temperature.  For me, that was 500º F, and they came out nice and bubbly.


And top mine with a small mountain of arugula, please.  It makes me feel healthy.

I thought the crust turned out well!  I didn't need to roll it out because it was easy to spread and shape just using my fingers.  Mine did turn out a little too thin in places, and because of my liberal saucing, it got a little soggy in those places.  Next time I'll try to make the crust a more uniform thickness (or thinness, but not too thin).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

another grilled sandwich

Ok, I was pretty proud of my sandwich grilling skills after making grilled cheese. I had seen a grilled pb&j on this blog, linked to ages ago by A Cup of Jo.  And since I've never been a jelly on her sandwich kind of girl, I went with something a little different.


Grilled peanut butter and banana!  Or pb&b.


Serve with plenty of milk.

Deb's tomato soup and grilled cheese

Phil went out of town for a week to a conference, so I took this opportunity to make a personal favorite. A huge batch of soup that would keep me well fed and warm while he was away.


I was inspired to make a tomato soup by these really prettily packaged canned tomatoes from Trader Joes. I followed this recipe from deep within the smitten kitchen archives. The only changes I made were using water instead of chicken broth to make it vegetarian, and using light cream instead of heavy because that's what I had in the fridge.


Of course, the giant food processor got to come out and play for this one.

My grilled cheese was a little less classic than Deb's version: I made it with my favorite pain de campagne from Whole Foods, Emmentaler cheese, and a few spinach leaves.


Somehow the contents of my grilled cheese sandwiches seem to end up on the outside of the sandwich; I'm not that smooth when it's time to flip it over. But I like the toasty cheesy bits, so it's all good.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Deb's green beans and lemony pasta

It should not have been a surprise to me that Deb makes cooking look so easy.  Like inspire me to make a two-layer cake easy.  When I was browsing smitten kitchen for dinner ideas, I landed on spaghetti with lemon and olive oil.  Mouth begins to water.  And in the post she mentions she served these green beans.  Mouth watering intensifies.

I know that making a meal with two dishes is no big deal for many people.  But I'm someone who might just eat chips and salsa for dinner if I can't be bothered to cook.  For me, this was on par with Thanksgiving.  (I actually did make these green beans for a thanksgiving potluck!)


Let's just say that the process wasn't too graceful. Things got a little frantic. But the result was pretty darn good!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Joy's spinach salad with blood orange, feta, and avocado

I am such a boring salad-maker, and sometimes I forget how amazing salad can be with just a little effort.  When I saw this beautiful salad on Joy the Baker, I wanted to eat it immediately.  A quick stop at the grocery store, and we were able to find a blood orange and (more surprisingly) ripe avocados.  Phil put everything together in just a few minutes.


I loved every bit of this salad!  The smooth avocado, the salty cheese, and the acidic oranges.  To me, each bite with blood orange was like a burst of vinaigrette.  But I noticed Phil quickly ate all of the oranges and then continued with the rest of the salad together.  He preferred the oranges on their own, but said he still liked the salad overall.  For me, the unsung hero of the salad was the sunflower seeds.  I know, right?  An ingredient I almost omitted or substituted turned out to add so much texture and toasty flavor.  But really, this salad has an ensemble cast of amazing food, and together they can do no wrong.  For the rest of the week, I brought versions of this salad to work as lunch, substituting a clementine for the blood orange.

We ate the salad with a demi baguette and olive oil.  We go through olive oil like crazy in this household, and I had picked up a $20 bottle on sale a few days earlier.  Inspired by this story I heard on public radio, I wanted to do a taste test between the $20 bottle and our usual $7 store brand.  (I love taste tests like nobody's business.)  I wrote the identity of the oil on the bottom of the little bowl and mixed them up so neither of us knew which was which.


The results of the test were interesting: we could both tell a difference between the two oils, but our conclusions about which was the expensive oil was different!  To me, one of the oils was more fruity and flavorful, and fresh tasting, and I called that one the $20 bottle.  To Phil, that same oil tasted grassy and less like olives, and he thought it was the store brand.  In the big reveal, I was correct about which oil was which (yea!), but we also decided that we didn't prefer either one much more than the other, especially for the price difference.

Friday, January 13, 2012

deb's carrot miso soup


My obsession with our giant food processor continues.  With it, I made carrot soup with miso and sesame.  This was one of the easiest meals I have ever made, and had such a huge flavor payoff.  I can see it becoming an instant classic in my kitchen.


And I barely chopped anything.  I sometimes dread the prepwork associated with a recipe like this.  Chopping onions makes me me cry. A lot. I have to leave the room after just a few seconds. And our knife situation is not ideal (although it is infinitely better thanks to Peter, who came to visit and saw me cooking and prepping everything with a paring knife). None of that matters now that I have my food processor.  It chopped the onion, garlic, and carrots in like, two seconds.  And I didn't bother to peel the carrots, I just washed them well.


The one change I made to Deb's recipe was to add tahini, about a half cup, at the end when the miso is being mixed into the soup.  It was, after all the 'sesame' in the post's title that piqued my interest, and I was surprised to see it only as a garnish.  The toasted sesame oil was delicious on top, but if you're sesame obsessed like me and have a jar of tahini hanging out in your fridge, why not add some to the soup?


Mine isn't as pretty because I forgot about the scallions.  But it was tasty and warm and the perfect thing to eat while watching a new episode of Shameless.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Joy's pesto and Deb's sorbet (but boozier)

I've become obsessed with our food processor.  Phil's parents bought a new food processor for themselves, and gifted their older machine to us.  Let me say, it barely qualifies as a small kitchen appliance.  With its multiple blades, bowls, its own caboodle-type storage case, and enormous base with three big buttons, it is a beast.  But when I saw with what ease it made the best version of Joy's spinach and cashew pesto, I wondered where it had been all my life.
I ate it with a delicously garlicky hasselback potato, as Joy suggests, and Phil had his with pasta.  (And I had the leftovers for both lunch and dinner the next day.)

Since the beast was here to stay, I typed "food processor" into the search bar on smitten kitchen, and drooled over the possibilities.  We landed on an easy recipe for sorbet, and then bastardized it just a little bit (but in a way I hope Deb would approve of).

Boozy Strawberry Mango Sorbet
Adapted from smitten kitchen and the cuisinart recipe booklet that came with the food processor

1 generous cup frozen strawberries
1 generous cup frozen mango
1/3 cup limoncello
1/3 cup simple syrup (if you like it sweet; omit this if you like it tart)
Juice from half a lemon

Puree all of the ingredients in a food processor.  Taste, and add more lemon juice if you think it needs it.  Pour puree into a ziploc freezer bag and freeze until firm.  The alcohol prevents it from freezing too hard.  Enjoy like it's summer, even though it's 20º outside.  Makes two servings.