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.
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…)
File this under “best lasagna you almost never tried because there’s no meat in it, no ricotta, no tomato sauce, and the main veggie featured is … squash?!?!?” It sounds crazy, I know.
And I’m sure the meat lover in your life will balk just as fervently as Jay did … and Adam … and Joe (okay, Joe kept the balking internal, but eventually admitted to it). Heaven forbid you ever make lasagna without sausage or ground beef! Have you forgotten the most basic tenets of lasagna-making?!? Surely you’ve gone a little too far down foodie alley; you’re trying too hard to come up with innovative, blog-worthy recipes; you’re completely off your rocker.
But then said meat lover will scoop up a slab of cheesy, squashy, creamy, basily baked noodles. And his carnivorous, quick-to-hate vegetarian food mouth will chew and gulp and chomp and swallow as he devours his portion (more…)
Cold weather is creeping back into San Francisco after a glorious month and a half of summer weather. To me, that means it’s time for warm, comforting dishes like risotto.
I especially love risotto because it tastes naughtier than it is. Although it looks and tastes incredibly creamy, risotto doesn’t contain any cream. Usually, the only high-fat ingredient I add is cheese, and even then, I don’t add much. Plus, without anyone noticing (ahem, Jay!), I can almost double the recipe’s output by adding tons of vegetables. As far as I see it, the only downside of risotto is the constant stirring.
But constant stirring is a double black diamond, super steep downside, probably covered with ice and moguls. It’s no gentle, downward sloping bunny hill. There’s no denying it: standing in your kitchen for 35+ minutes, stirring every minute or so, then adding broth every few minutes is downright laborious. And incredibly boring. It often makes me wish my rice cooker had a risotto-cooking mode.
Enter my knight in shining armor: farro. (more…)
San Francisco and I will soon celebrate the five-year anniversary of what I’m pretty sure will be our life-long love affair. Over the years, we’ve really grown together. I’ve come to share her love for farm-fresh, locally grown produce and CSAs. We’ve shared many eating adventures, eating our way through a large percentage of the Indian restaurants in the city within a mere month, seeking out restaurants like Red’s Java House and Boulevard that couldn’t be more different but are each foodie landmarks in their own right, and making a Saturday morning ritual out of walking to the farmers market to peruse the goods while sipping Blue Bottle cappuccinos and munching on Downtown Bakery apple swirls and seasonal fruit galettes. We’ve become weekend hikers and city explorers, avid museum-goers, sometimes concert attendees, and periodic wine country visitors. But for all the shared enjoyment, we still can’t come together on one issue: the weather.
You see, San Francisco is whimsical, constantly changing her mind, wanting what she wants and needing to have it now. Quite honestly, she’s a little high maintenance when it comes to this particular issue. I, on the other hand, prefer the sun, though I don’t really mind the wind or the rain or even the fog. But the one thing that drives me crazy is her insistence on starting off with a windy, rainy mess of a day, then giving a brief glimpse of sun, and later dashing all hopes of good weather by issuing a complete downpour. And then fluctuating between beautiful sun and windy rain as often as some San Franciscans take coffee breaks.
Last week alternated between caught-in-a-downpour-without-protection and sweating-in-rubber-boots-and-turtlenecks moments, keeping my feet consistently wet and causing my appetite much confusion. After scoping out summery produce at the market and enjoying barbecued summer fare the weekend before, I allowed myself to get too excited about light, chilled, produce-centric meals.
But amidst the largely cold and rainy weather this past week, I found myself yearning to eat something warm and comforting, yet also summery. A serious dilemma, indeed. So thank goodness for corn (more…)
When I was a kid, I loved cabbage – roasted or boiled, slathered in melty butter, and sprinkled with salt. (I still enjoy that sort of cabbage now, but reserve it for St. Patrick’s Day.) However, as much as I liked cabbage itself, I never understood slaw.
Most of the slaws I’ve tasted over the years have been more or less drowned in mayonnaise, and you see, mayonnaise and I aren’t quite best friends. I’m a mustard gal at heart, though I’ve learned to enjoy artichoke leaves dipped in a bit of mayo. But I never acquired that same taste for mayo when it came to cabbage salads. Peanut butter, on the other hand, I have always been able to eat by the spoonful (maybe even dipped in a little raspberry jam for some tart sweetness – yum! and yes, that is a “dessert” that I’ve eaten on multiple occasions.).
So when I first dipped chicken (and lamb!) satay – or even grilled sweet potatoes (seriously delicious with this sauce) – into spicy-sweet Thai peanut sauce, it was basically a dream come true. And at some point, probably after I dumped the leftover mango salsa and a dollop of pink chipotle mayonnaise on the extra cabbage from fish tacos, I had one of those light bulb moments where everything in the background fades out and a bright idea emerges: (more…)