Thursday, January 31, 2008

This tastes better than it looks.

I tried one last soup recipe from my new cookbooks. Cholent is a Jewish stew usually made on the Sabbath. It's started at sundown Friday night, and then cooks at a low heat until Saturday lunch. Traditionally, cholent is a combination of beef, beans, potatoes, lentils, and carrots. The more ingredients the better. Just like Italian grandmothers and their tomato sauce recipes, every Ashkenazic Jewish family has their own cholent recipe. This one from Veganomicon is full of kidney beans, butter beans, lentils, tvp chunks, potatoes, and carrots. It was flavored with caraway seeds, and I'm not sure what I think of them yet. Caraway is the seed used in rye bread. I took the cholent over to a friend's house, and he thought the lentils were rye. Don't worry, I didn't know what to say about that either. Other than baking rye bread (you know how I feel about yeast), anyone have a favorite way to use caraway seeds?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sorry this post is so corny!

One of the new cookbooks I got was Veganomicon. As I was paging through it, I noticed a few recipes that just HAD to go together. The first recipe was Cornmeal-Masala Roasted Brussels Sprouts. I know Brussels sprouts are one those gross foods that you hide in your napkin or try to feed to your dog, but if you haven't tried them roasted yet, you should give them another chance. Roasting Brussels sprouts makes them tender (not mushy), and they don't end up smelling all cabbage-y. This recipe was so good, I keep finding myself popping into the fridge to nibble on the leftovers.

The second recipe was Double Corn Cornbread. This was just a good average cornbread recipe. Something you wouldn't be ashamed to feed your Kindergarten teacher when she stops by for a visit.

The last recipe was Corn and Jalapeno Gravy to dip my cornbread, Brussels sprouts, and finger in. Here they are all together:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

National Soup Month

Apparently, January is National Soup Month. I guess I'm not the first person to think that January and soup go together like beans and rice. It's also National Tea Month, National Book Month, and Prune Breakfast Month. I think I can do without Prune Breakfast Month.

Here's my latest soup: Green Coriander and Ginger Broth with tofu. It was good, but not great. It's got lots of coriander (cilantro), celery, shiitake mushrooms, and green onions. I sprinkled this bowl-full with sesame oil, and I had another bowl-full with some Tabasco. I think hot chili oil would probably be a good compromise. Either way, I don't think I'll be making this soup again. Maybe it would taste better with fresher ingredients, but I think I just like stronger flavors.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Soup's On

I received seven new cookbooks in the month of December. Seven! I think people have figured out that I like to cook. Or maybe I just gave enough hints. Of course, this didn't stop me from ordering one more. I can't wait for it to arrive on January 8. What?

It was hard deciding what to make first from all these lovely books. Especially since December was a gluttonous month that included two birthday cakes, candy making, and two batches of cookies. I'm on sugar overload, and it's been so long since I've had my fair share of vegetables that things are kinda awkward. "Um, Broccoli, I've been meaning to call. But I've just been so busy. Dessert really needed me this month. But I promise we'll make plans to get together soon."

I can't lie to Broccoli, so I think January is going to be a month of soups. I can get all that lovely warm, I've-been-cooking-this-all-day feeling, and at the same time try out lots of new recipes from my new library. All the cookbooks have soup recipes. Um, except that cupcake cookbook. I may have to hide that one in the freezer.

This is all a long way of saying, look at my pretty soup:

It's Yellow Pea and Coconut Milk Soup with spinach, rice, and spiced yogurt. Except I left out the yogurt. And I used millet instead of rice. But I got the general gist of the soup. It's from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. An entire book of soups! I think I'd make this again, but with some changes. For all that this had an entire 15 ounce can of coconut milk, it doesn't taste much like coconut. Next time I'll stick with a smaller can of lite coconut milk. And the recipe directions have you using three different pots and pans. I'm dishes phobic, so next time I'll combine a few steps so I can leave out a pan.

Oh, Sugar Sugar: A Photo Essay

I spent a week in December making edible presents for my family. At left, candied grapefruit peel. I made this (and candied orange peel) by boiling pieces of citrus peel in water a few times to get rid of any bitterness and to soften the peel. Then I boiled it in a sugar solution, and tada, candy!

I did the same thing with pieces of ginger. Except, the ginger needs a lot more sugar to get that crystallizing action going.

And here's the grapefruit peel dipped in chocolate along with some pieces of dried apricot. I must admit that I did not dry my own apricots. A girl only has so much time!

Some of the crystallized ginger took a bath in the chocolate too, but at that point I was too exhausted to take any more photos.