Archive for January, 2009

Make-it-your-own minestrone

minestrone

I started with the Moosewood Cookbook minestrone recipe, made a few changes and ended up with what is now my essential veggie soup template (if it’s not mixing disciplines too much to call a recipe a “template”). I’ve never made it exactly the same way twice – it’s so substitution friendly, you can change it based on whim or cupboard contents or both.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive, canola or other vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (If you love garlic, don’t be afraid to use 4 to 5 cloves)
2 cups peeled and cubed winter squash (Dealing with raw squash can be time consuming; I usually use a package or two of frozen butternut squash that is already prepared)
2 celery stalks, diced (Optional)
1/2 cup peeled and diced carrots (Optional)
2 to 3 cups cubed potatoes (Yukon Golds are great. Use less or more depending on amount of other vegetables used.)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil and thyme (Or experiment with your favorite herbs)
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
6 cups broth/water (I typically use a 4-cup carton of vegetable broth plus 2 cups water – if you use water only, you will probably want to increase the salt and herbs. I usually add a splash or three of wine – white, red, vermouth, whatever.)
4 cups chopped kale (Other greens can work too, but kale holds up really well to cooking and reheating. This is a great way to get fabulously nutritious greens into your tummy!)
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned white beans such as Cannellini or Great Northern (15-ounce can, drained)

Other substitution suggestions:
Can of chopped or crushed stewed tomatoes, or chopped fresh tomatoes, added with other veggies
Chopped fresh green beans, added with other veggies
Grated parmesan or romano cheese for serving
Pesto/pistou sauce for serving

Steps:
Warm the oil in a large stockpot on medium heat. Add the onions, then garlic and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the squash (if raw), celery, carrots, potatoes, herbs, 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and broth/water; once it has returned to medium heat, cook for 10 minutes or so – until the potatoes are almost done.
Add the kale and simmer for a couple minutes, then add the beans and squash (if pre-cooked frozen) and simmer for another couple minutes, until kale is tender and beans and squash are hot.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve immediately (Great with rustic bread!)

Makes a big ol’ pot of soup

Peaceful transfer of power

bushes-obamas-whitehouse1
The New York Times

This photo shows President Obama and Michelle Obama escorting former President Bush and Laura Bush to their helicopter following the inauguration.

I believe this is a day of hope for the United States and the world. And this morning I was particularly struck by something we may take for granted in this country – the peaceful transition from one leader to the next.

In the words of President Obama: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

And on a lighter note, I am delighted by the First Lady’s unique color choices – yellow dress, green gloves and teal shoes!

Oops, I did it again

blind-faith

I’ve had designs on these for a few months, walking by every morning on my way to work, gazing at them through the window.

Thank you, John Fluevog, for creating these and then deeply discounting them just for me.

Favorite things: potatoes, leeks, salmon

salmon-chowder-72

My starting point for this chowder was a Sunset recipe that included fennel, which I don’t care for, so I omitted it. The original recipe also called for chicken broth, and I use veggie. We are very fond of potatoes, leeks and salmon around here, so this chowder wins favorite soup at our house. Plus there are only two of us, so we have lots of leftovers.

Ingredients:
3 pounds leeks
3/4 cup thinly sliced chives
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups vegetable broth
1 dried bay leaf
3 pounds thin-skinned potatoes [I use Yukon golds]
1 pound thin-sliced or flaked smoked salmon [I use the hot-smoked kind, but you might try cold-smoked (lox)]
5 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (or more, to taste) [I use cracked black pepper and a little cayenne]

Steps:
Trim and discard root ends and coarse tops from leeks. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse under running water, flipping layers to flush out grit; drain; thinly slice crosswise.
In a 6- to 8-quart soup pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks, cover, and stir occasionally until very limp, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add broth and bay leaf to pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Scrub potatoes and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes.
Add potatoes to broth mixture and return to a simmer; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut salmon into strips 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide; put in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add to potato-broth mixture and stir often over high heat until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Serve into bowls from the soup pot. Offer with smoked salmon and chives to add to taste.

Makes about 8 servings

Out to eat: Portland – Kenny & Zuke’s

I am quite fond of Portland, Oregon. If you love books, green spaces and weird attractions, take a mini-break to Portland. And the restaurant scene just gets more and more inviting, with cooks and chefs inspired by the Northwest’s bounty of fresh ingredients. As a November 2008 article in Gourmet magazine attests, “There’s a real sense that Portland today is to the culinary arts what Paris was to the visual arts a hundred years ago.” (!)

Last weekend a quintet of us were in Portland, and in need of brunch. We hoped to taste the southern cuisine of Screen Door, but circumstances prevented us from making a reservation. There was to be a 45-minute wait, and wait we could not.

kenny-zuke-entrance
We were headed to Powell’s anyway, so we went downtown to check out Kenny & Zuke’s delicatessen.

kenny-zuke-eating
We were not disappointed. With latkes, bagels and lox, it’s hard to go wrong, I say.

And if you go in for a pastrami or a reuben – Kenny & Zuke’s sandwiches do look amazing.

Not your granny’s squares

cobweb-beige
Las Lopez Las

I like what happens when people mash up creative disciplines and blur the lines between them.

The exhibition Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting, currently at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, showcases some provocative work to challenge our ideas of what craft is. Anyone seen this show? The limited edition publications KnitKnit also explored some intersections between craft and art. And maybe you’ve seen the work of street artists like Knitta and their clandestine knit tagging.

Now what about things we can wear. I’m thinking a unique wrap or accessory of some kind. There are scores of unflattering hats and uninspired scarfs on Etsy. But here are a few more interesting finds.

juana-molina
Look how hip and sexy this lacy layering business is on Argentinean singer Juana Molina. Maybe someone will crochet one of these for you.

pear-scarf
On the whimsical side, Twinkie Chan‘s foodie scarves are super fun.

cobweb-scarf
I love the wraps that Las Lopez Las create, incorporating weaving, knit, crochet and embroidery. I want this cobweb thing!