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Friday, October 29, 2010

Kale Potato Soup

I love soup. Especially in Autumn and Winter. It seems as though soup season is finally (really) here. Baltimore weather is so weird -- yesterday it was high 70's and muggy, and today it's low 60's and crisp and windy. I love it. I think there's even a frost warning this weekend. Hearty soup recipes are great to make into meals with the addition of crusty bread, a good salad, or a sandwich. So many options and combinations.

This Kale Potato Soup is so hearty and creamy that, if I hadn't made it myself, I would have guessed it had lots of cream and butter in it. Not so, my friends! Only 1 tablespoon of butter in it. (Side note -- I am not against butter or cream. They both have their places. But sometimes I want to lighten up on dairy. Other times I want to pair a soup with a heavier side and it's nice to balance things out.)

I used sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, and I loved it. It gave it a nice sweetness that was not over the top. I'd like to try with regular potatoes too and maybe add some bacon as a garnish. This little recipe will be my last highlight of Simply In Season, a) because it's time to move on to other gems in my cooking library and b) because I probably shouldn't reproduce the entire cookbook for you.

Kale Potato Soup
By Marie Harnish, published in Simply In Season
Serves 4

1 large bunch of kale, chopped
Steam and set aside. Don't cook it with the potatoes or the flavor will be too strong.

1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Melt butter in large stock pot. Add garlic and onion and saute until golden.

2 large potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups vegetable broth (or 5 cups water with vegetable bouillon)*
Add and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft. Let cool a bit and puree in batches in a blender until smooth.

Salt and pepper to taste.

*If you like a creamier soup, you can substitute some of the water out for milk. I believe I used one cup of milk instead of water.

What is your favorite Autumn/Winter meal?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Perfect Comfort Food

This is one of the most satisfying dishes I've ever come across. Perfect comfort food for Autumn and Winter. Simply in Season did again (I'm telling you, it's an awesome cookbook).

I used butternut squash in this recipe, but you can experiment with acorn, kuri, pumpkin, or any winter squash you come across (however, I don't recommend spaghetti squash). You could also get away with using sweet potatoes. It calls for Parmesan cheese. I used Parmigianno-Reggiano, which I love, but feel free to use any hard cheese that your taste buds agree with. If you like meat, a great addition would be some local sausage.

I made this on a Sunday, cut it into 6 portions, and froze each portion individually. It covered my lunch and my husband's lunch for 3 days last week.

Savory Squash Bread Pudding
Recipe from Megan Goossen, Published in Simply In Season
Serves 4

3 cups winter squash or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Arrange in single layer on oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees.

1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Saute in 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly.

4 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided (or your favorite hard cheese)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Whisk together in large bowl using only 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan. Stir in squash, onion, and garlic.

9 cups day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
Add and stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Pour into oiled 2-quart square baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan on top. Bake at 350 degrees until golden on top and custard is set, about 45 minutes.

What's your favorite comfort food?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Easy Dinner

On a scale of 1-10, I would probably have to give this dinner a 7 or 8. It wasn't incredible, but it filled me up just fine and made my taste buds happy. The beauty of these two unassuming recipes is that they're quick and easy to prepare. Not only that, but most of the ingredients are easily found on hand. I had leftover frozen cranberries from last Christmas (shh, don't tell anyone...they still tasted fine), I usually have apples, and broccoli is cheap and accessible. The only thing I actually had to buy for this dinner was an orange.

Herbed Broccoli Sandwich
By Gladys Longacre, published in Simply In Season
Serves 4

2 cups broccoli, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
In large skillet saute 2 tablespoons olive oil until broccoli is bright green.

A few dashes each dried basil, thyme, pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix in to broccoli and onions.

4 slices French bread or your favorite bread
Top with broccoli mixture.

1 cup cheese, shredded (I used Havarti)
Sprinkle on top and broil until melted. Serve immediately.

Cranberry Apple Salad
by Mary Beth Lind, published in Simply In Season

1 pound whole cranberries (if using frozen, thaw first)
4 red apples, cored and diced
1 orange, peeled and diced
1 cup turbinado sugar
Mix ingredients together in large bowl. **Simply In Season suggest grinding it in a food processor to make it more like a relish for meat. However you prepare it, it's delicious!

What's your go-to meal when you're pressed for time? How would you make this meal a "10"?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pear Custard Bars

Hello, my lovely readers! I'm excited to have a theme for the delicious Autumn season: a cookbook of the month! I made this decision halfway through October, so it might spill into November (can you believe we're almost to November?). See, I realized I have quite a few wonderful cookbooks that I never use. Why? Because I'm bombarded with recipes on the internet and in magazines. Which is all very inspiring, but I do want to make use of my cooking library. Plus, now that all my friends and family (and couchsurfers) know that I love to cook, they naturally give me cookbooks as gifts. I need to make it a priority to use them.

This month's cookbook is Simply in Season. I found it fitting to choose this as the first cookbook of the month because I've dog-eared almost every page to indicate recipes I want to try some day. Eventually I decided to stop dog-earring and just start cooking.

So, without further ado, let's talk about the first recipe I chose. It's a doozy. Pear Custard Bars. Yes! They're amazing! I knew I would like them, but little did I know how much I would love them. And who can resist something with the word "custard" in the title? It actually only has one egg in it, but it still tastes rich and custard-y. Go to the farmer's market, pick up some in-season pears (and farm-fresh eggs and yogurt or cream cheese) and bake these for any occasion, even if you have to make one up. They're absolutely delicious. Here's the recipe:

Pear Custard Bars
Recipe from Jocele Meyer, published in Simply In Season
Yields 16 bars

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar (I used turbinado)
1-4 teaspoon vanilla
Cream together with an electric mixer

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
Add and beat until combined

2/3 cup nuts (I actually omitted these because I was concerned about nut allergies, and the bars were still amazing, but I'm sure they'd be even more amazing with added almonds or even pine nuts)
Stir in and press into an 8x8 inch/2 quart baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack.

8 ounces cream cheese (softened) or 1 cup plain yogurt (I used a combination)
1/2 cup sugar (turbinado)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese until smooth (no need to beat the yogurt). Mix in sugar, egg, and vanilla. Pour over crust.

3 cups fresh pears (try experimenting with red pears, bosc pears, or even apple pears)
Slice pears (no need to peel) and arrange over filling.

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine and sprinkle over pears. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (center will be soft and will become firmer upon cooling). Cool for 45 minutes, then cover and refrigerate at least 45 minutes before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

What is your favorite autumn dessert? Which autumn recipes do you have on deck?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apple Cheddar Panini

There are few ways I like to eat green apples better than with cheddar (everything's better with cheddar!). Cheddar is an old favorite of mine. I grew up eating orange cheddar, then switched to white, and now look for extra sharp aged white cheddar. There's just nothing like it. It goes so nicely with crackers, eggs, toast, on its own, and with green apples.

Now that Autumn is here, apples are in abundance. I read somewhere recently that there are hundreds, even thousands, of varieties of apples. Among my favorites are Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith. Try Granny Smith or Mutsu apples in this easy Panini.

Apple Cheddar Panini
Serves 1

2 slices cinnamon raisin bread
1/2 of a green apple, sliced
3-4 slices of sharp white cheddar

Lightly butter each slice of bread. Layer apple and cheddar slices on the bread. Grill butter side out on a George Foreman grill (or you can put it in the toaster oven or on a grill pan) until golden. Enjoy!