Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Creamy Broccoli ???

I came across this recipe called Creamy Broccoli Soup in the February 2011 issue of Real Simple. And even though the idea of broccoli soup makes me make the eeewwww face, I thought it sounded healthy and it didn't seem too involved.

It was definitely easy to make and fit almost perfectly into a weeknight schedule as I was able to squeeze in a short workout during the hands-off cooking time. I hesitate, though, to call it a soup. I didn't care for it thin like a soup; it wasn't creamy enough. I kept it thick instead, though it's not exactly stew-like either since it's all pureed. It reminded me of Cream of Wheat or Malt-to-Meal in consistency.

Basically, it's green mush. But it's tasty green mush!

Sam I Am. Paging Mr. Sam I Am. Your green mush is ready.
Creamy Broccoli Soup ?

Creamy Broccoli ??
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 medium onion, roughly chopped
    ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
    2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
    1 bunch broccoli, florets roughly chopped, stems peeled and chopped (about 7 cups)
    1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into ½" pieces
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ black pepper
    2 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese and croutons for topping each serving

  1. Heat oil in a large pot (I used my stock pot, you'll see why in a minute) over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, broccoli, potato, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ black pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables in the pot until smooth, adjusting the consistency with water as needed (this is why I used the stock pot, alternately, you could use a blender, working in small batches).

Scoob was a little dubious during the grocery shopping when I told him what I was planning to make, but he's a good man and eats just about anything I put in front of him. Even my disasters. But he did say this smelled good once it got going in the pot and was looking forward to dinner.

The original recipe called for 2 cups of water during the second step, but I'm pretty sure I didn't use it. Although, now I can't quite recall. I do remember thinking that there didn't seem to be enough liquid, but it turned out fine.

The recipe also called for sharp white cheddar cheese and bagel chips for topping. I remembered the part about sharp, but not the part about white, while I was at the grocery store, hence to orange-yellow cheese you see in the photo. I toasted up a couple slices from a baguette loaf instead of the bagel chips.

And even though the recipe says the red pepper flakes are optional, I think it would have been way too bland without them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blinded by the Light

Let me preface this post by saying I feel appropriately guilty that a large portion of the US is suffering through some of the coldest, snowiest weather they've seen in years (I mean hells bells people, it snowed in Austin, TX for crying out loud) while I spent the weekend blissfully warm and frolicking in sunshine. The weather is clearly part of the magnetic pull the Bay Area has on people.

We had the doors and windows open here yesterday and today and the weather was stinking gorgeous! And today was downright shorts and tank top weather. I kid you not. Brace yourselves—it was 78° here today. It is February. Right?

When did Spring get here?
Cherry blossoms at twilight.

Obviously, I wasn't the only one thinking shorts were called for today. Scoob and I were practically blinded at the sight of so many winter-white legs on display today.

But not mine. No sirree. You see, I remembered that it is indeed February, which means it's winter and I haven't shaved my legs since sometime in October. Probably. Maybe September. Could be August. In any case, I don't even know if I've got a new razor around to do the job, so my legs remain hairy and safely under wraps.

Though, if we'd been running errands in Berkeley today, I might have been tempted to join the hippy chicks with some braiding. You know, come to think of it, a layer of hair would probably mitigate the glare from my pale legs.

I could just call it a safety precaution. I didn't shave my legs because I didn't want to sear your retinas and make you see my legs every time you close your eyes. See, it's a public service. The sacrifices I make.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta

So, about that eggplant. I use eggplant nearly every week as part of a veggie pizza, but I always have about ½ an eggplant left over from that dish that goes bad before we use it. This got me thinking about what I could make with that leftover eggplant to stop throwing money in the garbage.

I generally use the big, fat eggplants for pizza, and this recipe uses Japanese eggplants (longer, more slender, and fewer seeds), so I still have an eggplant problem. I'm working on the finer points of a recipe to deal with it. Although, I do usually have leftover mushrooms from the pizza, and this recipe takes care of that.

This recipe was inspired by a dish Scoob ordered at The Charcuterie in Healdsburg, CA, where we stopped for lunch on our trip north for Christmas.

Eggplant pomodoro ingredients

Eggplant pomodoro pasta

Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

    3 Japanese eggplants, quarter lengthwise, chop into ½" pieces
    3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    ½ onion, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    ½ a portbello mushroom, diced
    1 carrot, diced
    1 Tbsp capers, minced
    12–15 Calamata olives, sliced
    1 14oz. can diced and peeled tomatoes, undrained
    juice and zest from ½ a lemon
    1 tsp Italian seasoning
    ½ cup water or broth
    crumbled feta
    dried or fresh parsley
    Kosher salt

  1. Cut eggplants, place in a colander and salt. Let stand 15–20 minutes to help leech out the bitterness. Meanwhile, do the rest of the chopping, dicing, and mincing.
  2. Start the water for your pasta and cook according to package directions. Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant to the pan. The eggplant absorbs the oil quickly, so you'll want to keep them moving when you first add them to the skillet to help distribute the oil more evenly. Cook for 6–8 minutes, stirring often, until tender
  3. Remove eggplant from the skillet and set aside. Heat the remaining oil and saute the onions, garlic, carrot, and mushroom for 6–8 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is tender.
  4. Return eggplant to the skillet and add tomatoes, capers, olives, Italian seasoning, and water/broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add lemon juice and serve over pasta. Top each serving with feta, parsley, and lemon zest if desired.

This one is a keeper at our house. I made it again last night and added a zucchini (sliced into ¼" half-moons) with the onions to up the veg factor. I will say that I would wait until the onions are about halfway done to add the zucchini if I do that again. They got a little mushier than I would have liked.

Also, I discovered we were out of lemons last night. I didn't make this discovery until after I'd finished chopping everything. I substituted 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar for the lemon juice. And it was good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where to Start

It seems like I'm always trying to play catch up here on the blog. I know I wrote about it before, but ever since Scoob got me an iPhone last spring, I just don't turn on the computer at home very often.

So where did we leave off?

On the family medical front, everyone is doing fine. Dad has a clean bill of health with his pneumonia and sis has been cleared to go back to work. Although, now mom is in some serious discomfort from some dental work. Hoping the swelling goes down and the pain abates soon.

It seems like we were talking tushie right before crap started hitting the proverbial fan. Okay, so I was talking tushie and you were listening. I did have other tushie-related news you know. I was excited too. Because I'd had to buy a new pair of jeans, because the other pair I just bought are now too big. Or at least they were when I had tushie-related news to share. Then there was birthday/Christmas/New Years and the old jeans fit just fine again. Drat!

It seems as though there was something else tushie-related, but I'll be darned if I can remember what it was.

So, I'm thinking I should stop trying to recover lost ground and just move forward. Well, that kinda sounds like a resolution. Not a bad one, either. Maybe I'll go with that.

Speaking of resolutions, after all the hullabaloo with the birthday/eclipse horoscope, I decided to check my New Year horoscope. If the stars don't lie, 2011 may shape up to be an exciting year. Oh, and just wait until the Year of the Rabbit starts. 'Cause the Rabbit and I, we're tight. Something about fruitful and multiplying when it comes to finances and babies. Oh yeah. We've started practicing. *wink, wink*

I do have a couple new recipes to share soon. We've been on an eggplant kick lately, so look out—if we eat much more we may turn into the eggplant version of Violet Beauregarde.

Speaking of recipes, I turned on the mobile version of the blog and I love it. I often look up recipes from my blog while I'm in the kitchen, and now the pages load so much faster. Woot!

Okay, enough of that. It's time for kittehs!

A couple weeks ago it was pouring down rain here. I came home from work one night and had to leave my umbrella open on the floor to dry. The cats loved it. And I got out the camera. Of course, being cats, as soon as I got the camera set up they both disappeared. Isn't that just like a cat.

But then I asked Tank to get back under the umbrella. Seriously. I said, "Tank, please go back under the umbrella and sit pretty." Yo, and he did. Without hesitation. That cat scares me sometimes.

Dozer was a little scared of the umbrella, but she did strike a pose under the table.