Batter Licker

January 20, 2011

swiss chard and potato soup spiced with cilantro, jalapeno and cumin

So when I loaded up on veggies, especially greens, at the grocery store on Sunday in preparation for a meat- and dairy-free week, I went a bit overboard. By Wednesday, it became clear that I was going to have trouble finishing all the lettuce, spinach, kale, and chard, and that the chard particularly needed some attention soon. But it was cold out, and I had a sore throat, and I just didn’t want to eat any more salad or sauteed greens or greens in any recognizable form, really. I wanted something warm, filling, and soothing for my throat. I wanted soup.

But none of that bland, watery soup. I wanted thick soup, rich with flavor. Then I remembered the whole bunch of untapped cilantro lying in wait in my refrigerator. And the potatoes. And the 6-pack of jalapenos from Trader Joe’s. And thus, this hearty, happens-to-be-vegan chard and potato soup was born.

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This soup is a great way to use up excess greens when they’re starting to look less-than-chipper but haven’t quite gone bad yet. While I chose chard, you could substitute spinach, kale, and even leftover lettuces – whatever excess greens you have on hand – but the darker ones will bring a bit more depth to the flavor. (more…)

January 19, 2011

one-pot chili

I have been eating meatless meals all week, so it’s only appropriate that I can’t get chili out of my mind. My brain has an obnoxiously playful sense of humor when it comes to teasing my stomach and testing my willpower. And frankly, the chilly weather seems to be conspiring with my brain this time around because there’s nothing quite like a warm bowl of chili full of warming spices to combat a cold evening or refrigerated day at the office.

For me, there’s also no Christmas Eve dinner quite as satisfying as chili not just because of the usual late-December chill in the air, but also because serving chili on that particular night has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember.

However, chili isn’t just great for cold evenings and holiday eves. Chili is also the quintessential Super Bowl dish. (more…)

January 12, 2011

ultimate creamed spinach

Filed under: cheese,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 1:05 pm

Truth be told, I’ve always found creamed spinach a little blah. Why sully healthy spinach with cream when you could steam or saute it and season the wilted greens with exactly the same ingredients used in the creamed spinach?

Enter Parmesan and Emmental, a smooth Swiss cheese, and my attitude towards creamed spinach is transformed as profoundly as the dish’s flavor.

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Yes, the cheeses are rich. But so is creamed spinach, naturally, as it contains heavy cream and, often, whole milk. The difference is that the flavor from the cheeses makes the spinach much more flavorful and creamy and totally worth the caloric splurge. (more…)

January 10, 2011

grams’ roasted rack of lamb

Filed under: lamb,meat — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 2:30 pm

Every time we fly to Boston to visit Grams, she treats us to one of her signature dishes. The first time I visited during winter, she made her incredible veal marsala, and since then, I’ve had the pleasure of dining on her Ritz breaded chicken, roasted rack of lamb, another veal dish, and now her brisket. And because I’m still in Newton for a few more days, I decided it’s fitting that I feature one of these dishes.

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I chose her roasted rack of lamb because it’s simple and quick but delicious and impressive for a romantic night in or for a dinner party. And because I took pictures of the beautiful rack when I made it before the New Year. And because, in the words of Drake (whose obnoxious song I only heard for the first time a few days ago and which has refused to leave my head ever since) I really think nobody does it better; I love the way she puts it together; oh it’s fancy huh; oh it’s fancy huh.

Side note: I won’t blame you if you go ahead and shoot me now for putting that into your head. (more…)

January 4, 2011

creamy butternut squash soup with a kick

Filed under: cheese,soup,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 9:10 pm

It’s teeth-chattering cold in my San Francisco apartment. That makes it a perfect night for using some freshly roasted, pureed and frozen butternut squash leftover from one of these to make butternut squash soup. It’s also a good time to wonder why I always visit Boston and its bone-chilling weather in January.

Usually, we venture back East for the New Year, excited to experience that magical bit of winter wonderland that snow-less San Francisco can never quite achieve. But this time around, Christmas decorations have already been re-packed and my cute tabletop rosemary Christmas tree has made its way into soups and stocks and even an aromatherapeutic bath or two. With the holiday season so utterly behind me, except the extra pounds that have chosen to stick around, I wonder how the blistering cold and the post-blizzard, muddy snow could possibly retain their charm. Regardless, I look forward to visiting with Jay’s grandmother, checking in with the Tarves family, and eating some of the best food Boston has to offer, from Frank McClelland’s sophisticated New England-French fare at L’Espalier to authentic Italian and hand-made pasta dishes at Francesca’s. And this time, when Francesca asks why Jay hasn’t made an honest woman of me yet, as she has every visit for the last several years, I’ll flash the bling her way.

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But back to the soup: onions, marjoram (or oregano!), and garlic add aromatics and a delicious depth of flavor to roasted butternut squash puree. But two other ingredients really transform this vegetable soup into something luscious. Cream cheese blended with the seasoned puree creates a sumptuous, velvety texture, and a kick of cayenne adds an unexpected, utterly delicious spiciness to balance the rich creaminess of this soup. (more…)

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