Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cauliflower and Bacon Chowder

Of course I have been making lots of soup! I've made vegetable soup, bisque, tomato soup, and CHOWDER. I love chowders. They are thick, creamy, and luscious. And...did we neglect the fact that it's soup. Enough said.

I decided to try making a couple of winter variations of my corn chowder. Well, as you can tell from the name, this first variation transformed from corn chowder to cauliflower chowder (there's still corn in it). I used vegetables that are readily available in the fall/winter and increased the comfort level by including bacon.


Cauliflower and Bacon Chowder

by Ace Nation
Keywords: soup/stew cauliflower winter

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
  • 3 slices thick-cut pepper bacon, cut into lardons
  • Olive oil as needed, about 1-2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 Serrano chili, seeds removed and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 red potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 15 ounce can corn, rinsed and drained (or about 3/4 cup frozen corn)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cup stock
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
In a large high-sided skillet or large sauce pan, cook bacon until browned and crispy. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate, avoiding eating it all while you cook the soup so you have some bacon left to put on your soup.
Depending on the fattiness of the bacon, you may or may not need extra oil. If needed, add enough olive oil to the pan so there is 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan.
Add onion and Serrano to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic, celery, carrots, potato, and cauliflower to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Do not leave the stove for this step and have the milk and stock ready to add to the pot. Add the flour, coating the vegetables with flour. The flour will soak up all the moisture and the pan will look dry. Cook for about 1 minute.
Add milk and stock to the pan. Combine with the vegetables and bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with bacon on top.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Peanut and Yam Curry

Occasionally, trying out other cooks' recipes will inspire me further. Such was the case with Autumn Sweet Potato Soup from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. I thought the soup was great but couldn't get the idea of turning it into, what I would call, a curry. I took my favorite flavors from the soup and added what is my standard spice quintet: turmeric, smoked paprika, garam masala, cumin, and coriander.

The spices and veggies in this recipe are standard for me. I have created many delicious and varied meals from these ingredients. But this particular combination, with the addition of the peanut butter and ginger created something truly special. I have to say, this is one of the best recipes I have made.

I ate my curry with millet but rice or another grain would work well. I have an idea for a fancy millet that might go great with this. But I should try it first before I share it.

MAKE THIS and enjoy!

Yam and Peanut Curry

by Ace Nation

Keywords: vegan peanut butter vegetables

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 red chili peppers, such as Italian frying pepper
  • 2 small or 1 large yam, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 15 ounce can red beans (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste


In a large high-sided skillet, heat oil over medium heat.

Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes.

Add shallot chili peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Add yam and kale to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add turmeric, smoked paprika, ground ginger, garam masala, cumin, and coriander. Toast about 30 seconds, no longer than 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, red beans, peanut butter, and water. Combine ingredients and bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and allow to simmer gently until beans are warmed through and the sauce has thickened.

Season to taste with kosher salt and cayenne pepper.

Serve with rice, millet, or couscous.


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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Recipe Review: Autumn Sweet Potato Soup

Source: The Shiksa in the Kitchen

No more pumpkin recipes for awhile! I do have one gorgeous buttercup squash that has been roasted and pureed in the freezer. I am going to hold on to it until I have a really special recipe to make with that squash. Before I get to my own recipes, I wanted to show you someone else's recipe I made and enjoyed recently. This is the first recipe I have made from this blog but it's one I read regularly!.

This soup requires just a short introduction. This soup is so yummy just the way it is that I followed the recipe exactly (sometimes that's hard for me). I thought adding peanut butter to a soup sounded crazy but it turned out to be delicious. The flavors of this soup, particularly the yams, ginger, tomato, and peanut butter inspired one of the best meals I have ever made. Check back to find out what I made that was so good!

P.S. I didn't have yams at the time so I used half a delicata squash and it was great.

Please see the link above for the full recipe. Here are some pictures of the ingredients (very simple!).

Garlic, onion, delicata squash, red chile, green chile

Peanut butter, diced tomatoes, and future vegetable stock

From top clockwise: cumin, ground ginger, garam masala (my one addition)

Finished soup, garnished with chopped peanuts!

Friday, January 4, 2013

My First Attempts at Frugal Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake 
Disclaimer: This is not my official recipe! This recipe is still a work in progress.

My first attempt at Pumpkin Cheesecake was created in an effort to salvage a failed ravioli filling. When researching winter squash ravioli recipes, most of the recipes included ricotta cheese. I assumed cream cheese would make a suitable substitution: it's creamy, soft, a similar color, and it's cheaper. I have said this before and I'm sure that I'll say this again: I'm a home-cook, not a foodie. I don't know that I have ever had ricotta cheese.

This is what I started with and...
Well, I blended the ingredients together and you can see what happened. I had something resembling the consistency of a creamy soup. I wasn't about to throw it away!

I imagined myself in a home-cook version of Chopped (if you haven't already figured it out, I was home alone, cooking for one). How would I redeem myself? While I had never made cheesecake that wasn't the Jello boxed stuff, I have read enough recipes to know that I what I had was probably the beginnings of a cheesecake. I added an extra egg, some sugar, a splash of vanilla, and some spices. I don't have a spring-form pan so I thought of using my muffin tin. To have some semblance of a crust and to be able to remove the cakes easily, I used the won ton wrappers I had planned on using for the ravioli.

What was the result? Pretty darn good. I felt so proud of myself at making cheesecake I bragged about it incessantly to my friends and made my neighborly friends (and official taste-testers) try it. They approved!

Z. hates squash so he had absolutely zero interest in trying my creation. In order to have my delightful life companion taste-test and to see if my last try was just a happy accident, I attempted a plain version. The results weren't quite as spectacular or creamy as the pumpkin cheesecake. I wonder if the pumpkin provided extra moisture the plain version was lacking.

Ingredients for plain cheesecake
Both times, the won ton wrappers were a problem. The edges that were exposed did not burn but were tough and sharp. The portion of the wrappers under the filling could not be cut. These little cakes became a finger food.

Plain cheesecake

I am going to work on improving this recipe. All the other recipes I have found require a large amount of cream cheese and are way larger than I need. I think my cheesecake's potential lies in its simplicity and small output. Any suggestions???