Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Delicata Squash Bisque

I started out with a plan to make a frugal version of vichyssoise then realized I was missing most of the ingredients so I improvised with what I had and came up with what I am calling Delicata Squash Bisque. The lack of plan accounts for the absent ingredient pictures.

I am beginning to better appreciate how much I learn from my spontaneous creation and substitutions. Besides getting a better idea of the versatility of delicata squash, I took away an important lesson:
  • Many soups rely on cream. Well, that's delicious but too rich for me on a regular basis so I thought of ways I could have a creamy soup without the cream. My first substitution was milk. I knew that could only be the start. I also knew that blending potatoes into the soup would help thicken the soup. Beans were the answer! I used white beans (great northern beans) and had great results. The soup was creamy, luscious, and satsifying.

P. S.  I made a small pot of soup. This could easily be doubled!

Delicata Squash Bisque

by Ace Nation

Keywords: soup/stew vegetarian delicata squash

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 delicata squash, diced into bite-sized pieces with the skin on
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 15 ounce can white beans (about 3/4 cup beans)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups milk


In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat.

Add onion, stirring occasionally, cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic, delicata squash, and potato, stirring occasionally, cook until potato is almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Add beans, milk, and vegetable stock. Let simmer gently, avoiding boiling the soup.

Stirring occasionally until all vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Very carefully blend the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. If soup is too thick, add milk 1/8 cup at a time until desired consistency.

Return soup to pan and reheat gently.

If desired, garnish with a drizzle of fruity olive oil or fresh herbs of your choice like parsley or dill.


Powered by Recipage

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Farmer's Market Improvisation

Just take a look at the beautiful produce I bought from the Corvallis Farmer's Market! I am one lucky lady: I went twice this week, Wednesday and Saturday.

Green onions and gold roma tomaotes (which are AMAZING!)

Bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, eggplant, and patty pan squash (great raw!)

$5 for 2 pound of organic chile peppers from Spring Hill Farm! If I had paid for these peppers individually, I would have paid at least $15.

Starting from the top: Poblano, chimayo (?), jalapeno, serrano, cherry bomb, anaheim

There is a little bit of everything at the market this time of year: berries sit next to baskets of peaches while the glowing red of cherry peppers catch my eye. Winter squash is even starting to make an appearance! Take a look at the photo, it is delicious.

I will take credit for the moment of improvisatory brilliance but will momentarily explain how I didn't actually cook the meal. Grilled veggies sounded really nice and Z., the grill-master of our home has been bugging me about finding something he could grill. I had been indulging in American Dream bacon pizza for the last two day among other delightful treats so this veggie dinner was a needed change.

This is another meal that will inspire countless variations because it would be great with whatever veggies are on hand. I used delicata squash, which is considered a winter squash but is already coming into season at one of the farmer's market vendors I check out every week. I love grilled onions so that was a no-brainer.

I also love dark greens and after being missing for a month or so, beets are all over the market. The lady behind me in line asked me what I was planning on doing with the greens because she hates them. These greens are so tender and mild that I told her I was just going to saute the greens with olive oil and garlic. Once I got home I wished I had shared this tip with her: I generally don't eat cooked greens on their own; I prefer to mix my cooked green with other vegetables. I like the different textures and mix of flavors.

Since Z. was grilling, he thought to reduce the balsamic in a small pan on the grill outside. This is one of the best ideas ever! I love how reducing the vinegar creates a glaze and brings out the sweetness in the vinegar but cooking vinegar can really stink up a place even with windows open and fans blasting. I even bought a liter of balsamic from Trader Joe's the next night with the idea that I am going to cook down the whole bottle to have whenever I want. Enjoy!

Beet Greens with Grilled Vegetables and Balsamic Glaze

by Ace Nation
Keywords: grill saute vegan gluten-free greens vegetables

Ingredients (serves 1-2)
    For the beet greens
    • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3-4 cups beet greens, washed and chopped
    • Kosher salt, to taste
    • Red pepper flakes, to taste
    For the grilled vegetables
    • Nonstick Cooking spray
    • 1/2 delicata squash, seeds removed, cut in strips
    • 2-3 1/4-inch sliced onion
    • 1 small eggplant, cut in pieces
    • Kosher salt
    • Black pepper
    For the balsamic glaze
    • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    For the balsamic glaze
    Pour vinegar in small pan and place on the heat. Stirring occasionally, cook until vinegar has reduced by about half and coats the spoon. This will thicken even more as it cools.
    For the grilled vegetables
    Microwave the squash 2-3 minutes, just enough to get the squash slightly tender.
    Spray the squash, onions, and eggplant with nonstick cooking spray.
    Season each side of the vegetable liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    Grill each side until lightly charred and cooked through; each vegetable will require a different cooking time.
    Set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces.
    For the beat greens
    Heat olive oil over medium-low heat.
    If using tougher beet greens, begin by sauteing the stems first. Add the garlic to the pan, stirring occasionally, cook 3-4 minutes.
    Add the remaining greens and cook until all vegetables are just tender and wilted, about 5 minutes.
    Season with kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
    To serve
    Place a bed of the greens on a plate. Arrange the desired amount of grilled vegetables over the greens. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and top with basil.
    Powered by Recipage

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    San Francisco Vacation Final Day

    I promised you tales that show off moments of amusing denseness but you will have to wait until the end for those stories.

    I want to start with one of the adventures of the day: a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Admission was not cheap at $18 but I am so happy we went. The visit reminded me that even if you aren't crazy about an exhibit or the art is not to your taste, it's expanding your senses and appreciation. Here are a few of my observations:

    Sculptures by Yves Klein
    • SFMOMA has a beautiful building. My favorite location was the very top floor where the coffee shop is located. Who knew that a hallway could be so lovely?
    • Then there was the art! I was very excited to see my first Rothko painting in person. Oh my goodness! I've read about the luminosity of Rothko's colors but could not imagine what the writers meant. The colors glowed. This was one gallery Z. and I came back to a few times to just sit and experience the painting.
    • We discovered Yves Klein blue. Neither one of us has stopped talking about this blue. Z. and I ascended to the next floor entering a new gallery. The first thing we spotted in this room was a sculpture a shade of blue I had never seen before. This blue was so saturated and vibrant that I got the same feeling I had eating my first meal at Pambice in Portland.
    • My favorite exhibit was the "Selected Histories: 20th-Century Art from the SFMOMA Collection. SFMOMA has works from some of my favorite artists in their collection so I was curious what would be on display. I saw paintings from some of my favorite artists like Matisse, Frieda Kahlo, and Georgia O'Keefe. O'Keefe is my favorite painter. I love her flowers because she takes something that seems so ordinary and makes it extraordinary by giving us an enlarged close-up, giving it an abstract feeling. I wonder if it's anything like a butterfly sees as it approaches a flower. I also love her landscapes, especially her paintings of hills. The simple forms combined with the color and blending are transcendent.

    We enjoyed banh mi for lunch at the same nondescript restaurant we visited multiple times during our last visit. These sandwiches are amazing! The earthiness of the pork is balanced by the tangy pickled vegetables, spicy peppers, and bright cilantro.'s cheap.

    Z.'s grandma likes to send postcards while she is traveling so I thought it would be fun to send her a postcard from our trip. I purchased a postcard at the museum gift shop of one of the paintings we saw. The gift shop did not sell stamps so they directed me to a post office nearby. The post office was located in the Macy's. A post office in Macy's! This sounded like a neat adventure. Z. knew exactly where the department store was located so that was no problem. We begin wandering around not seeing any signs about a post office. I decided to ask an employee, we happened to be near the makeup and perfume counter at the time.

    I told the lady I had a very silly question, "I had heard there was a post office here. Where may I find it?"

    "Oh, no problem! It's downstairs."

    "Right. Uh, but how do you get downstairs." Being in an enormous building and talking to a stranger in a strange city must have evaporated 100 points off my IQ.

     Smiling much more graciously than I would have answered, "There's stairs right behind you."

    Blushing, I explained how much more complicated I thought getting to the lower level would be since I hadn't done that yet and hadn't seen the stairs. We had a nice chat on how I wasn't from around there.

    I think I made her day by how embarrassed I was at my dumb question.

    I've been in department stores many times. They do allow people from Wyoming to shop sometimes but I was still overwhelmed by the size of the store and trying to find the post office. Z. and I wandered the whole level, completing the loop a few times. We found the corner where the post office was supposed to be located but still couldn't see anything. I finally stopped to ask an idle cashier where the post office was. She had never actually been there so she offered to walk us over there.

    Ta-dah! Z. and I had walked passed the post office multiple times already. Behind colorful pitchers and piles of plates, demure letters were posted on the wall quietly announcing the presence of the post office. But it looked like a plain old wall. How do you get to the post office? There was small pathway to the side that led into the small room that was the post office. I purchased my stamp and mailed my post card. After about 20 minutes, Z. was free to leave the Macy's.

    We made our way back to the Ferry Building to enjoy one last special meal: Boccalone. No description I can come up with will do this charcuterie justice. How can I describe the incredible quality of a little piece of pork that I can see through? The joy of licking your lips and feeling a layer of Boccalone porky fat still glistening? TRY IT!