Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Asparagus soup is my favorite thing

When I see beautiful bunches of asparagus in the grocery store I always end up snatching them up solely because I know that I can make 100 different things with them. Last year I was obsessed with shaved asparagus salad with pancetta and a poached egg. Now I can't stop making this soup. My roommate, Katie, said it's the best soup she's ever had. And it's ridiculously easy and insanely flavorful. I think I have made this soup at least five times in the last couple of months. Total crowd pleaser ;)

Cream of Asparagus Soup
2 or 3 bunches of asparagus
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp dill, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp tarragon
3 tbsp flour
2 cups water
2 cups hot milk (I use non-fat)
white pepper, to taste

Break off and discard the tough asparagus bottoms and chop the rest into 1 inch pieces. Reserve the tips for garnish.
Melt the butter in a medium sized skillet. Add onion, asparagus stalks, and salt. Saute for about 10 minutes. When the onions are clear and soft, add the flour, stirring constantly. Cook another 8-10 minutes over the lowest possible heat, stirring frequently.
Add water, stirring constantly. Heat to a boil then turn down to simmer. Simultaneously heat up the milk in a separate saucepan, but don't bring to a boil. When milk is hot, add it to the soup, along with the tarragon and dill (if using). Turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup.
Steam the asparagus tips until just tender. Add to the blended soup. Add white pepper and more salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Meat Soup

I was looking for something to do with all of this leftover corned beef and I think I found it. I figured split pea soup usually calls for ham, but corned beef is pretty similar cuz it’s salty and I think it tastes better than ham. I love big hunks of meat in my soup and haven’t had yellow split peas in a while so I came up this little number. And don't worry, there is still plenty left to make Reubens for days. And I'm not talking about Paul.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Corned Beef and Carrots

1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed and discolored peas discarded

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick half moons

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 cup cooked corned beef cut into bite-sized pieces

1 32 oz box free-range low sodium chicken stock

2 cups water

2 tsp cumin

A splash of olive oil

S+P to taste

Chop up the onions and garlic. Heat olive oil in large pot. Add onions, garlic, carrots and cumin and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add split peas and corned beef and stir to combine. Let mingle for another couple of minutes then add the broth and water. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer over med/low heat for about an hour. Add S+P to taste. Enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Excessive Meat

Last year when I made corned beef and cabbage it was gone immediately and I had no leftovers with which to make hash, sandos, ect... So this year I thought that I'd better make extra, plus I guess I assumed that everyone would eat more than they actually did. Irish car bombs are pretty filling, after all. Plus, we started out with an assortment of cheeses and salami, including Sharp Irish Cheddar, Toma Trifulera (a soft, creamy cheese with a hint of truffles), and an awesome raw cow's milk cheese from Virginia called Appalachian that had a mild, buttery flavor with a hint of mushroom. So after a healthy amount of booze and cheese, I brought out about 10 lbs of corned beef, along with 3 loaves of Irish Soda Bread, and a massive amount of carrots, red potatoes, and cabbage. Even the dogs had their fill, and I am still left with a crap-load of food today. I made a really tasty hash for breakfast. I am planning on making something corned beef inspired for dinner too, like maybe split pea soup with corned beef instead of ham. We'll see. Any ideas?

Corned Beef Hash

yields breakfast for two

4 red potato halves
1/2 cup cooked carrots
2 slabs cooked corned beef, chopped
1 tsp olive oil

In a bowl, mash up the potatoes, carrots well. Mix in the corned beef. On a cutting board, flatten half the mixture into a patty about 1/2 inch thick and about 6 inches in diameter. Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the patty into the pan and cover. Cook over medium for about 7 minutes per side, or until brown and crispy. Do the same with the remaining mixture. Serve alone or with poached eggs. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

This was the first thing I made for myself when I moved into the dorms in college. I was probably trying to win friends, and if I remember correctly, it worked! My mom has made this recipe every St. Patty's Day since I can remember. She did not however make Corned Beef and Cabbage because my grandpa used to make it all the time and she hated it. I don't understand how anyone could hate corned beef; it's so salty and fatty. I'm not huge on cabbage anymore since I started this blood type diet, but for one night I'm going to go crazy. I bought three huge slabs of corned beef, two heads of cabbage, a huge bag of both red potatoes and carrots. This is going to be good. Bring on the Jaime!

Irish Soda Bread

yields one big loaf

3 cups flour
2/3 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp melted shortening (I used butter)
1 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used lowfat)
2 eggs beaten
1 cup currants (or raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Sift the first five ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Beat eggs in a small bowl. Add melted shortening or butter to eggs and mix. Add in buttermilk to egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Attach paddle attachment to mixer. Slowly add egg mixture to the dry ingredients while mixer is on low. Add currants and mix until everything is evenly combined. Pour mixture into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

GTS: Gym, Tan, Soup

Ok, so I don’t tan, but I do make soup. However, not all soups are created equally. I tend to avoid tossing starches into the mix because it can become too heavy and by the next day your leftovers have turned into a thick stew or a pasta dish. But my friend Rose has been talking about this hearty, couscous-laden soup she made the other day that she claimed was still healthy. And so tonight, after an especially grueling day at work (and after plying her with some tasty Moscow Mules from Tipsy Pig), I convinced her to give me the recipe. Turns out she was right, it’s extremely satisfying, and if you use whole wheat couscous, you get a complete, healthy meal in one steaming bowl.

Rose’s Bomb Ass Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 leeks, green parts discarded, white parts chopped (be sure to clean thoroughly)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Olive oil

1box of chicken broth (or veggie if you want this to be vegan)

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.

1 bay leaf

2 tsp cumin

1 cup packed spinach

½ cup whole wheat couscous

¼ cup homemade hummus (optional)


In a large pot, heat about 2 tsp olive oil and sauté the onion, leeks and garlic until softened, about five minutes. Add the cannellini beans, bay leaf, cumin, and broth and bring to a boil. Add the couscous and spinach and turn down heat to low. After five minutes, turn off the heat, add S+P to taste and stir in the hummus. Turn on the latest episode of The Jersey Shore, plop down on the couch and enjoy!

Homemade Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans

Juice of one lemon

1 tsp tahini

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil


Put everything into a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. Add more olive oil and S+P to taste.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soup's On!

I love this time of year when I don’t have to feel weird about eating soup all the time. I’m constantly cold in our drafty old house, and even when I’m bundled up in my new, hideous, fleece socks from dad and sexy UC Davis sweatsuit, all I can think about is warm, hearty soup. Last week, for example, I made asparagus soup one night, went out for ramen at Suzu in Japantown the next night (get the spicy miso ramen), and when I was sick again on Sunday I decided to brave the rain for Little Chihuahua’s Chicken Tortilla Soup. And so this morning, another rainy one, I perused the aisles of the new Whole Foods that just opened up on Haight, and decided on a beautiful head of cauliflower which turned into quite a lovely and velvety soup today. Even though I am usually the one who will throw an entire stick of butter into a soup, I am trying to do things a little healthier these days, and so I am cutting back and only using olive oil to sauté the onions and shallot and garlic in. Trust me, it’s still really tasty. But feel free to use as much butter as your heart desires.

Silky Cauliflower Soup

1 stick of butter (or 3 tbsp olive oil)

1 onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

2 cloves garlic, sliced

4 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

1 head cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets



1 lemon, cut into fourths

In a soup pot melt the butter or heat up the olive oil. Add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the cauliflower, thyme and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 more minutes. Add enough water to cover the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over moderately low heat until the cauliflower is softened, about 25 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until very smooth. Squeeze a fourth of a lemon into each bowl . Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Boogers on a Biscuit

When I wasn't plying elderly people with chardonnay, I spent today brainstorming new menu ideas with Chef. We had been going back in forth for the last couple of months about burrata; he doesn't think our clientele would go for it, I think it's the best thing ever. Long story short, he finally listened and we received our first shipment of burrata today. It's going to go on our new and improved bruchetta, which, up until now has consisted of goat cheese with roasted peppers and basil oil. Sorry but I can't stand roasted peppers. Honestly burrata would taste good with boogers sprinkled on top, but I suggested an english pea puree topped with burrata and drizzled with a meyer lemon infused olive oil. Either that or a bed of sauteed kale topped with burrata and finished with a balsalmic reduction. Mmmm...or you could just throw a big hunk of it on a plate with some arugula, olive oil and prosciutto.

I also made a juice today that didn't involve beets for once. Instead I used one kiwi, one grapefruit, one orange, six clementines and four strawberries. Essentially all of the citrus-y flavors I love but never get to eat due to my attempts at 'eating right for my blood type'. According to this doctor, each blood type has a distinct diet that, when followed, can make you run optimally. I heard about it years ago when I was cooking at a health-conscious restaurant in Davis, Ca. Back then, the nutritionist/owner told me that seeing as my blood type was O Positive, I really should not be a vegetarian. Sure, I was sick ALL of the time, but I also lived in a loft in a garage during the coldest time of the year. I didn't even consider meat food and so ignored her and continued to dream about burgers for another four years. Turns out, she was right all along. When I stopped being veg, I lost weight. I had more energy. I didn't get sick anymore. So I thought recently that maybe this whole blood type thing was right on. Even though I felt healthier and more energetic, I always had stomach aches, always felt bloated and felt that my metabolism seemed to be slower than it should be. My diet consisted mainly of Brussels sprouts, cabbage salads, yogurt, berries and oranges, coffee and beer. Of course there were other things thrown in there, like bacon, but when I read the food list of what O Positive's were supposed to avoid, guess what, ALL of those items were on the list. Turns out O Pos Peeps have the primal, predatory, ancestral blood type which means we need a lot of meat, exercise, saltwater fish, and dark leafy greens. Also, we have more stomach acid than other blood types, so we need to avoid acidic foods like tomatoes, oranges, berries, and cabbage and caffeine. Also we tend to have trouble digesting wheat and dairy. I've been following this diet somewhat closely of the last year now, and I must say I've never felt healthier. Once in a while, I just need some grapefruit juice, though, ya know?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The mighty squid, the world's favorite aphrodesiac

This is what I call "spitting rain". From inside it doesn't really look like its raining, just kind of misting, so you forgo the 'brella. But then when you get out into that spit, you realize you are soaking wet in about 10 minutes. That's what happened to me on my way to yoga today. When I got there I was drenched. Then I dried off and replaced the rain with sweat, only to get soaked again on the way home. This is how people get sick. Anyway, my days off are limited, so I am utilizing this rainy one to the fullest. I just downloaded the new Radiohead album, used my new juicer for the first time (4 little beets, 2 stalks of celery, 4 carrots, one nubbin of ginger and 12 clementines) and made a delightful calamari salad for lunch. As for the juicer, I should have captured the mess with my camera. Since I didn't, allow me to elaborate: in order to get the one cupful of delicious, blood red, potent juice, I got about 4 cups of pulpy, rainbow mash that will make a great contribution to my compost, but for some reason feels a little wasteful. Also, a lot of prep went into that magical cup. It takes a minute (or 15) to peel all those veggies and clementines. So, I am not abandoning my juicer after only one try, but I am also not abandoning Taqueria El Castillito across from Safeway on Church that for only $3.04 makes you a small (actually pretty big) juice with the same ingredients in about 3 minutes.

As for the calamari salad:

1 lb squid, cleaned, bodies and tentacles separated
3 c of arugula
1/2 c sliced almonds
1tbsp plum sauce
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 english cucumber sliced (i just hate regular cukes)
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil

Saute the squid with the plum sauce for about 3 minutes.

Cut squid body into 1/2 inch rings, and cut tentacles in half if too big to eat. Toss remaining ingredients gently with olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Should serve about four small dinner salads or two larger lunch ones.