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February 19, 2013 / lanceblair

Tapp Francke Ingolia’s Butternut Squash and Cashew Soup

I love Butternut Squash. Cashews? You have to slap my wrist with slowly increasing intensity to get me to stop raiding the cashews tin in the pantry. Then, maybe then, I might stop chowing down on them. Maybe. Soup? I can think of over twenty thousand pursuits I like doing less than spooning up a nice hot bowl of soup on a crummy day (and let’s face it, it’s crummy half the time if you like soup like I do). So, this leads us to the math lesson for the day:

Butternut Squash + Cashews x Soup > Most Other Soups

Now, take this equation, (ok, it’s not an equation, it’s a thingerdoo) and square it by this wonderful recipe by my ol’ pal Tapp Francke Ignolia, and you’ve got a reason to break out the bowls. This soup is on!

October 24, 2012 / lanceblair

Fancypants Lentil Soup

Here’s a fancypants but quick and delish lentil soup:

Heat the water with a nice dark/beefy broth. I used a vegetarian broth for this. 

Add chopped onions – the more the better, and not too finely chopped.

Introduce your lentils to the soupy goodness

Next, add a good heap of chives and parsley. When they’re in, add carrots and spinach.

Almost done! Add Sage and Ground Fennel to taste. Be bold with it. 

Finally, add a bit of chopped garlic and some short grain brown rice. 

You’ve made yourself Fancypants Lentil Soup. Enjoy! 

May 25, 2012 / lanceblair

Swiss Chard Salad with Dill

Quick down n’ dirty and yummy salad with Swiss Chard that compliments the bitter greens. Prep up your Swiss Chard, then add Balsamic Vinaigrette and let it soak in…then add ample amounts of Dill (even works with dried dill) and top it with a crumble of your fave soft cheese. The dill is the key. Sorry I don’t have any pics of said salad, as it disappears before I have a chance to snap it!  

May 2, 2012 / An Anthology of Clouds

Perfect Roasted Cauliflower

Every now and then I get cauliflower perfectly cooked, and I’ve been trying to pay attention to how that is achieved and be able to replicate it, and I think I just figured it out.

First, I am lazy and have small children and I don’t add anything to roasted vegetables beyond salt and oil (and sometimes sage for squashes or caraway seeds for brussels sprouts; it’s an additional step and is usually just unnecessary). So, though roasted cauliflower is amazingly nutty and delicious and probably would be great with pine nuts or something, I’m talking about perfecting it in its simplest version.

Today, I used a head of cauliflower, chopped up in an 8 x 13” glass dish with about 2 tbs melted butter and salt to taste in a 400 degree oven. My oven runs hot. I cooked it, stirring once, for 45 minutes then I turned off the oven and let it sit in there for another 20 minutes. This created a perfect, crusty, browned, slightly dried-out, salty, nutty crust and a meltingly liquidy interior. The sitting in the cooling oven was the key.


April 2, 2012 / An Anthology of Clouds

Zucchini, Dill, Quinoa, Feta Heaven

Zucchini dill walnut quinoa dish

Zucchini-dill-walnut-quinoa heaven

So, this zucchini-dill-walnut-feta-quinoa heaven came originally from a Heidi Swanson recipe for Sauteed Zucchini, which I made one evening last year substituting walnuts for the almonds Heidi calls for and putting it over brown rice. I’ve now made it both ways and think walnuts are much better and the almonds are unnecessary. In this version photographed, I put the zucchini over quinoa, but actually think it’s better over brown rice. The rice adds a depth that goes amazingly with the walnuts. This is one of those so-easy-to-make meals that feels so healthy to eat, you’re energized and perceptibly nourished, afterwards. I should cook like this every night. (Also, I pureed a bit of the zucchini (pre-adding-quinoa) for the baby and he scarfed the whole thing down!)

Recipe after this photo:

2 medium zucchini
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 medium shallots or new red onions, thinly sliced
olive oil, sea salt
handful of dill
handful of walnuts, chopped
feta cheese to top
few cups of cooked quinoa or brown rice (I do 1 cup uncooked quinoa or 1.5 uncooked brown rice, for dinner for 2 adults)

Sautee the garlic in oil in your largest skillet for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add the onions and a big pinch of salt, and sautee till translucent. Then add the zucchini, in as close to a single, flat layer as possible, toss to coat, add some more salt and… don’t touch it. You want the zucchini to brown. This is also why you need your hugest skillet. If you crowd it, it will steam instead of browning, which is not delicious, in a zucchini*. After 5-7 minutes toss it and let some other bits brown for a few more minutes, and you’re done. Add the dill and the nuts.

I then mixed the veg with the quinoa, seasoned some more, and added the feta last. Yum, yum, yum!

*I find  zucchini to be a difficult vegetable to cook. Heidi says if you’re increasing the quantity for this preparation, you gotta fry the zucchini in batches, anyway.

March 29, 2012 / An Anthology of Clouds

Jamie Oliver’s Tuna Meatballs

Well, I feel a little guilty including a non-vegetarian option here, especially using a fish as expensive, over-fished and pollution-prone as the tuna. I can’t really justify it, except that these meatballs are so light and amazing. I’ve started doubling the recipe in order to freeze them/keep them around as leftovers. They are cinnamony, citrusy, pine-nut studded and freaking delicious. Jamie recommends that you can do a swordfish/tuna mix, but specifies that it cannot be canned. It’s medium-time-intensive, but so worth it.

for the tomato sauce:
olive oil
1 small onion, peeled
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 x 400 g tins (one large tin) plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

for the meatballs:
400g/14oz/scant 1 pound tuna
olive oil
55g/2 ounces/ a few small handfuls pine nuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of parsley leaves, chopped
100 g/ 3 ounces stale breadcrumbs
55 g/ 2 ounces grated Parm
2 eggs
zest and juice of one lemon

First, make your sauce. Place a large pan on the heat, add a good glug of olive oil, your onion and garlic and fry slowly for 10 or so min until soft. Add the oregano, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 min or so and then liquidize (or don’t…. I just break up the chunks a bit with a knife). Taste. It might need a tiny swig of red wine vinegar or some seasoning.

While the tomatoes are simmering, chop the tuna up into 1 inch dice. Pour a couple of tbs olive oil into a large frying pan and place on the heat. Add the tuna to the pan with the pinenuts and cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a few min till the tuna is cooked on all sides and the pine nuts are toasted. Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool down for 5 min, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parm, eggs, lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Using your hands, scrunch and squeeze the flavors into the tuna. Then make the meatballs, slightly smaller than a golf ball. If you dip one of your hands in water while shaping, you’ll get a nice smooth surface. Keep the meatballs on an oiled tray and place them in the fridge for an hour to rest.

Put the pan you fried the tuna in back on the heat with a little olive oil. Add your meatballs to the pan and jiggle them about till they’re golden brown all over. You’ll probably need to do them in batches. When they’re done, add them to the tomato sauce, sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with good quality olive oil. Great served with spaghetti or linguine.

(Note, I usually change, streamline or etc. the recipes but in this case it’s word for word from Jamie.)

March 26, 2012 / lanceblair

Super-Double-Agent Sneakiest-of-Chefs Veggie Trick

Sometimes kids go through phases of not being totally in love with vegetables. These phases can last even up through their Mid-Life Crises. There are many strategies to overcome this unwillingness to consume those icky green, orange, yellow, and red things on the plate; many of which involve stealthily incorporating blenderized veggies into otherwise delicious recipes. Last night, I came up with a fiendishly clever Super-Double-Agent Sneakiest-of-Chefs Veggie Trick that fooled my carrot-and-zucchini-avoiding kid into eating a serving of each. There is one condition to this however: your child must like Penne, preferably whole grain or multigrain. If that is the case, simply slice your vegetable of choice into small slender pieces that would fit into the tube of a nice buttery and cheesy piece of Penne, then cook it up in a pan for a bit and then insert the veggies into the sleeves of the Penne. It probably will add an extra two or three minutes of preparation time to the meal, but that’s quicker than the half-hour of trying to get your kid to eat their greens, oranges, yellows, and reds.

My apologies for not dishing out a splendorous grown-up foodie gem for this post, but it is Cooking and Happiness!