This whole baking-a-lot-by-myself-in-my-kitchen thing is starting to make me go a little nuts. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but just because it’s a lot of time spent measuring, mixing, scooping, and waiting.
So I’ve been trying to find ways to keep the redundant work at least moderately amusing, which largely seems to entail inner – and occasionally outer – dialogue, mostly baking related, mostly looking deeper into things that I’ve always found odd about one baking ingredient (why is “evaporated” milk not called regular condensed milk?), or fascinating about another (how is baking soda so uplifting?).
In other words, I’ve embraced the nuttiness. Speaking of which, spiced nuts are some of the easiest and most delicious treats to make for any affair, and multiple internet sources tell me that they hold well for weeks. They’re also ridiculously easy to store and transport, so welcome to my nut house.
I started with cashews, a nut that I can eat raw, roasted, plain, salted, whole, and in pieces. But curried? Somehow, I had never gone down that road, and as a curry lover, it was about time. Gotta jazz it up for the wedding, right? (more…)
With just tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, a couple pantry-staple spices, one pot, and 25 minutes of hands-off simmering, this spicy, satisfying and unapologetically healthy tomato-chile sauce comes together and is ready to satisfy any number of your weeknight Mexican food desires.
Toss it with some pasta, corn, and black beans, topped with a dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) to enjoy a break from and simple variation of the standard weeknight spaghetti with marinara. Or enjoy it as you would any other tomato and chile-based sauce (enchiladas? wet burrito? mixed into scrambled eggs or potatoes? hot salsa and/or bean dip? chilaquiles?). But my personal favorite is using it as the sauce for a Mexican Tortilla Lasagna. (more…)
When I made Smoky Black Bean and Spinach Soup last week, it was not quite so grey and cold out as it has been of late. Instead, a warm and sunny day had shifted into a temperate and windless evening, which is unusual by San Francisco standards. I blame this sudden change into decidedly spring-appropriate weather for creating my otherwise inexplicable craving for carrots on that soup-dedicated evening. Seriously … who ever really craves carrots?!?
To satisfy my desire for the crunchy and sweet root vegetable, I quickly ran a carrot against a coarse grater. To tie it in with the Mexican flavor profile of the soup and balance out the sweetness of the carrot, I added some fresh cilantro, tart lime, smoky cumin, and spicy hot sauce. (more…)
A few weeks ago, Jay and I enjoyed a weekend in Bodega Bay with his five other former roommates from college and their significant others. After a late morning and early afternoon of local wine tasting, we ventured upon a cute little cafe (whose name now escapes me) for lunch. It was in that cafe that I made a fatal error: I did not order the black bean soup. But luckily, our good friend Matt was up for swapping bites, and that one spoonful inspired this post.
Subtly smoky from cumin and smoked paprika and very creamy thanks to pureed black beans, the soup was also lightened by the fresh, raw flavors of lime, cilantro, tomatoes, and peppers that clearly contributed more than just a colorful garnish to the bowl. (more…)
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.
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…)