Batter Licker

January 27, 2011

roasted cauliflower and sunchoke soup

You wouldn’t know it when tasting it – or when looking at it, for that matter – but there’s no cream in this soup … and no cheese. Give your accolades to roasted, pureed cauliflower for the creamily rich texture and to sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes) for the wonderfully nutty flavor they contribute to this soup. And to Chef Frank McClelland.


And by way of thanking Chef McClelland for inspiring me to recreate his gastronomic invention at home, stop into L’Espalier next time you’re in Boston for a culinarily magical meal. In my three visits, I have never left his restaurant feeling any less than entirely exhilarated about his creations – and entirely full.

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During my second visit to that lovely restaurant, I ordered the cauliflower and sunchoke soup as an appetizer. There is nothing I love more than ordering soup at a fancy restaurant. On this occasion, the bowl came with two (or three?) large scallops sitting center stage, decorated with a sprinkling of crispy pancetta and some watercress. Moments after the bowl’s appearance, I watched as the waiter ladled spoonful after spoonful of thick, creamy soup into the bowl and consciously refrained from drooling as the milky substance slowly shifted to encircle the plump seared scallops. (more…)

BlogHer food ’11

Filed under: non-food — Kristen @ 9:32 am

I'm Going!

When I arrived at work today, an email greeted me with the wonderful news that, despite me being the law guru (i.e., NOT part of the conference-coordinating team), my department approved my request to attend BlogHer Food ’11 in Atlanta, expenses paid. Needless to say, I’ve been giddy all morning. Even though I will be working at the conference (I have to earn my keep somehow!), I cannot wait to meet some of my favorite food bloggers, enjoy delicious food, and bond with a few of my BlogHer coworkers.

I love my day job – and especially as a junior attorney, I feel incredibly thankful to feel that way!

January 26, 2011

healthier overstuffed baked potato

Baked potatoes are frequently used as a vehicle for all sorts of unhealthy shenanigans, from butter and salt to sour cream and cheese. I would know because, as a kid, I simply could not get enough sour cream on my potato. Nowadays, I’m a little smarter about my obsession with piling creamy, tangy stuff on top of potatoes: I use Greek yogurt instead.

I also take advantage of my profound love of broccoli, artichokes, spinach, and most other stuffed potato-friendly green veggies, and either load them into the potato stuffing itself or serve them alongside the potato, periodically “dipping” the veggies into the starchy but creamy potato mixture. Call it my (much healthier and more delicious) version of dipping broccoli into cheese sauce. (more…)

January 23, 2011

mixed greens, chopped peanuts, farro and fruit salad with spicy banana-cilantro dressing

This salad has it all: protein and healthy fats from peanuts, fiber and protein from farro, various other nutrients from fresh mixed greens and fresh or dried fruit, and a whole lot of flavor from these healthy ingredients and the spicy-sweet dressing. And yes, I did put farro, the mother of all whole grains with a nuttier flavor and chewier texture than rice, in a salad.

I’ve praised the merits of farro before in a risotto-style dish, but this time around, you can blame my trip to Italy three years ago, where we stopped at a locals-only cafe that had an entire menu dedicated to salads that contained a large scoop of rice. While rice isn’t exactly what carb-avoiding salad-eaters are going for, it did add a great, chewy texture and some heartiness to salads that might otherwise leave you yearning for a carbalicious snack just a couple hours later. As a whole grain full of protein and fiber, farro achieves a longer-term fullness and isn’t exactly the same type of refined, carbohydrate-heavy grain as the white rice we’re now told to avoid.

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I love the contrasting textures in this salad – soft crunch from the greens, a hard crunch from the peanuts, chewiness from the farro, and (if you take my tip to not use dried sour cherries, which weren’t tangy enough to stand up to the spicy sweetness of the dressing, and to use tangerines, tangelos, or even grapefruit instead) the juicy explosion from fresh citrus.

The flavors were all incorporated to accommodate the banana, jalapeno, and cilantro flavors from the dressing. Peanuts pair exceedingly well with bananas, but also with the Thai-inspired cilantro, jalapeno, and ginger flavors. Nutty farro provides some savory, subdued relief from the sweetness of the banana and the spiciness of the jalapeno, and incorporating some purple lettuces provides a great bitter contrast to the banana’s sweetness. If you use a tangy, fresh citrus fruit, it will cut the creamy sweetness of the banana nicely. (more…)

jalapeno-spiced banana-cilantro dressing

When I informed friends about my plan to exclude meat products from my weekday meals this month, I wasn’t surprised to get a lot of sarcastic “good luck with that” responses. What I didn’t tell them, and what you may have noticed from the “water saute” method I used in my vegan chard and potato soup, is that I’m also reducing my use of olive oil. I can only imagine their already-rolling eyes might have rolled right out of their heads if I had disclosed that. In fact, I think I can hear some of your eyes rolling around on the floor right now.


But I realized that, after years of being encouraged to use this “healthy oil,” I have become over-reliant on it. Whether making a vinaigrette for a “light” lunch salad, tossing kale leaves or chickpeas in it before baking them into crispy snacks, sauteing vegetables in it for a healthy side dish or a soup or stew base, or using it as an anti-stick agent when cooking fish and meat, I had forgotten that olive oil is still an oil, and a 120-calorie tablespoon here and there and seemingly everywhere really adds up.

In trying to reduce my olive oil intake, as well as sugar, I’ve realized that blending fruits into a salad dressing adds the “fruity” element typically added by olive oil without the calories and fat. Bananas are particularly great because they make the dressing sweet and creamy at the same time. But a pure banana dressing would be a bit too sweet, so I added jalapenos, ginger, cilantro, and lemon juice to cut the sweetness with a spicy kick, fresh herbal flavor, and acidity.

The resulting dressing is packed with flavor and nutrients, and tastes creamily sweet with a delightful zing from the jalapenos and the ginger. And you can use as much as you want on your salad because, guess what?? No oil! With this healthy combination, you can drink the entire 2/3 cup of dressing for a mere 130 calories. (more…)

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