Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Soup . . . Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth

OK, so I'm on a soup kick lately. It is probably because the husband, kiddo, and I have all been sick for most of the last month. The weather here in Atlanta has been pretty crazy -- it will be freezing for a week, then in the 70s for a week -- it is no wonder we have all been sick. Having said that, there is something about a nice hot bowl of soup that warms me through and makes me feel better. This is a super simple recipe that won't take you long to make and tastes sooo good!

Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth
Recipe Courtesy of Heidi Swanson at

1 pound dried baby lima beans, picked over and rinsed
10 cups water (or chicken broth)
1 head garlic, top lobbed off to expose the cloves and loose skins removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved top to bottom and sliced into thin crescents
1 to 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
Squeeze of lime juice (optional)

Rinse the beans, then combine them with the water/broth and garlic in a heavy soup pot. You might think putting a whole head of unpeeled garlic in the pot is strange, but just go with it. Bring the beans to an active simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until just a touch al dente and not mushy or falling apart. Test their doneness by tasting; you really can't tell any other way.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, chipotles, and 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce, and sauté over medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, just until the onion starts to soften. You can always add more adobo sauce later for a spicier soup; just don't overdo it on the front end.

Add the salt and the onion-chipotle mix to the pot of beans and simmer gently for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors. The broth should be thin, so add more water if needed. Add more salt and more adobo a bit at a time if the flavors aren't popping. Finish with a squeeze of lime if you like. I usually remove the garlic head at this point or serve around it.

Serves 6.

Nutella Cheesecake Brownies

There is not too much I can say about this recipe other than YUM! I bought some Nutella the other day when I was at Publix and went searching the internet for something to make with it. I found this recipe posted on Alpine Berry's blog and I am very pleased with the results. I did make a change to the recipe that was posted, and that was to omit the sugar from the cheesecake layer. I wanted the cheesecake layer to retain a bit of the tangy bite that the cream cheese added, and it did.

Yum! These brownies are so decadent!!

Nutella Cheesecake Brownies
Recipe Courtesy of Alpine Berry

Ingredients for brownie layer:
10 tbsp butter (5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup Nutella
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder

Ingredients for cheesecake layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temp.
2 large eggs
1/3 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 9x9 inch square pan with parchment.

To make the brownie layer...
Combine butter, Nutella, eggs, and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Sift in flour and cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Pour batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Set aside while you prepare the cheesecake layer.

To make the cheesecake layer...
Mix the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and Nutella until well combined. Pour over your brownie batter.

Bake at 325F until the cheesecake looks set, about 40-45 minutes. Allow brownies to cool completely in the pan before cutting.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My New Favorite Salad

I was watching Nigella Lawson last month and I knew I would love this salad from the moment I saw it. It is a super simple recipe that packs a powerhouse of nutrition and tastes so yummy! The dressing is bright and adds a nice acidic contrast to the avocado and the crunchiness of the pepitas were a nice against the creaminess of the avocados. The smoked salmon just put the whole thing over the top and tasted so good with the dressing and added a nice bit of salt to the dish. I have made this several times over the last month, but just for me -- the only comment I got from the husband the first time I made it was "Tangy" as he went looking in the refrigerator for something else to eat. It makes a really change of pace from the same old salad for lunch, just make sure to keep the dressing in a separate container and mix right before eating because the spinach will get soggy if you mix it in too early.

Baby Spinach, Avocado, and Pumpkin Seed Salad
Recipe Courtesy of the Food Network and Nigella Lawson

10 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and ready to use
1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds (AKA pepitas)
2 (small to medium-sized) avocados
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Put the spinach leaves and pumpkin seeds into a large salad bowl.

Halve the avocados and then remove the stones. Spoon out the flesh over the salad leaves and pumpkin seeds.

Mix the olive oil, lime juice and zest in a small bowl. Add the salt and whisk to emulsify.

Pour the dressing over the salad, and then gently toss everything together using your hands. Take care not to mush the avocado pieces.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Anyone Want Some Soup?

Sorry that it has been a while since I have posted anything. I have been pretty busy at home and work and to make things worse, I have been sick all week (which is why this post does not have a picture). Since I have not been feeling well, I thought some hearty soup was in order and when I opened my new "Cooking Up A Storm" cookbook, I found exactly what I was looking for.

First a bit about my new cookbook. I first heard about the "Cooking Up A Storm" cookbook on NPR. As soon as the story was over, I called my sister-in-law and asked her about it, to which she responded yes, she was thinking about getting it also. It is so popular that it took me a month to get my copy in the mail! If you are not from New Orleans, this cookbook is the closest thing you will get to having good, local, home cooked New Orleans food. It is chocked full of stories about people searching for recipes of all kinds that were lost during Hurricane Katrina. The bookstores here in Atlanta will not have any copies in stock (I called all of them and asked), but you can get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders online.

So back to my soup. I wanted to make something that would be quick and easy and would not require a trip to the grocery store (which did a good job of narrowing my choices to a few). I get to page 57 and see the ingredients list for the "Crawfish and Corn Chowder" and luckily I have everything on the list already in my house. I know many of you may not have crawfish in your freezer and that is OK, you can substitute ham or shrimp or just leave the meat out altogether. I am luck enough to usually have some peeled crawfish in my freezer (I get a few packs of them every time we go to New Orleans because I cannot find them here in Atlanta).

This is super easy to make -- chop some veggies, sauté them for a few mins, then put in some stuff in the pot and let it simmer, then put in the rest of the ingredients and let it finish cooking for a bit. I am happy to report that the soup was just what the doctor ordered; a bit salty from the chicken broth, a bit sweet from the corn, loaded with potatoes and juicy tender pieces of crawfish - YUM! I can't wait to try more recipes from this cookbook!

Crawfish and Corn Chowder
from Cooking Up a Storm, Recipes Lost & Found from the Times Picayune of New Orleans

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (I used a few of the most inner stalks, they are the sweetest)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
t teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (14 oz) can stewed tomatoes with their juice
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 to 8 new potatoes, quartered (I cheated on this one and used simply potatoes)
1 1/2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
1 pound peeled crawfish tails
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (for garnish)

Warm the oil over medium heat in a 3 quart saucepan and sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrot until the onion is golden. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and garlic and continue cooking for 1 or 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue cooking until tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the corn and crawfish and simmer until the corn is tender, but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, garnish each bowl with parsley.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Roasted Edamame Salad

On an impulse, I bought some Edamame while I was grocery shopping. I brought it home and stashed it in the freezer . . . and there it sat. I had not idea what to do with it, so off to the Food Network's website I went. I stumbled across a recipe by Alton Brown that looked interesting and the fact that I already had all of the ingredients made it even more appealing. The resulting dish had a nice bright flavor from the basil, and the tomatoes provided some nice color and a bit of sweetness (I had some Campari tomatoes, which is as good as it gets for fresh tomatoes in Atlanta in January). This makes a healthy and filling lunch and tastes even better the day after it is made.

Roasted Edamame Salad

12 ounces fresh or frozen shelled edamame, about 2 cups
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels, about 2 ears of corn
1/4 cup finely diced scallion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the edamame, corn, scallion, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper into a 13 by 9 metal pan and stir to combine. Place on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, just until the edamame begins to brown. Remove from the oven and place in the refrigerator until completely cool, approximately 30 minutes.

Add the tomato, basil and vinegar to the edamame mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of the Food Network and Alton Brown

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fondue on New Year's Eve

I generally prefer to stay home on New Year's Eve and have a simple meal and be tucked happily in bed to ring in the new year. I suggested to my husband that we have a simple fondue for dinner. The fondue was served with roasted vegetables, warmed freshly baked bread, and a bit of meat to satisfy the carnivores at the table. I found an easy fondue recipe on the Food Network website and just roasted the veggies with a bit of olive oil, some salt, and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. YUM!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a healthy and prosperous year. :)

White Wine Fondue

1 pound shredded Swiss cheese*, at room temperature
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, halved
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
French bread, cubed, for dipping

Toss cheese and flour together. Rub a fondue pot or saucepan with the cut garlic. Add broth and wine. Heat over medium heat until hot but not bubbling. Add lemon juice. Add cheese mixture and stir until cheese melts. Season with nutmeg. Keep warm. Serve with bread cubes for dipping.

*Use only natural, aged Swiss cheese, such as Emmentaler, natural Gruyere, or Raclette.

Recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee and the Food Network

No Knead Bread

I was a bit skeptical when I read about this on The Kitchn website, but I tried it and it is so yummy! I made it in time to go with Sunday dinner and it is just as easy as described in the recipe. This bread has a truly wonderful crust and is light on the inside. When you take the bread out of the oven, it crackles for about ten minutes. My family was very impressed when I told them that I had baked it from scratch.

No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
Recipe courtesy of the NY Times: No Knead Bread Recipe