Carrot and Chickpea Soup

We had lunch at 4pm today.  Is it still lunch when you eat at 4pm?  Is it still lunch if you eat it after an afternoon nap?  Regardless, it was the second meal of the day, so we’re going to call it lunch.

Earlier in the week I cooked a whole mess o’ chickpeas.  I intended to make a dish from my new Essential New York Times Cookbook, but the beef I pulled out of the freezer was a bit past freezer burned.  Oops.  Instead the chickpeas lingered in the fridge until this morning, when I was determined to find something delicious to do with them.  Enter this soup.

Roasted Carrot Soup with Smoked Paprika
Photo by HealthHomeHappy.com

The photo above is of a different carrot soup, so please just imagine the paprika coloring the soup a deep orange-red, rather than serving as a garnish.  And the creaminess? Just as pictured.  Credit for the cray-cray creaminess of this soup goes to Shane, who cranked the hell out of the food mill to force a pound each of chickpeas and carrots into a velvet puree.  We could’ve used the food processor, but the last few times I’ve put soup through it, I’ve ended up with liquid everywhere.  So good work, Shane!

Creamy Carrot and Chickpea Soup
Adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook, as posted on Mark Bittman’s website

2 tablespoons olive oil – reduced from 1/4 cup
2 onions, chopped
1 pound carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (pimenton)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock – reduced from 6 cups
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas – instead of 1 cup uncooked
1 cup orange juice

1. Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onions, carrots, garlic, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and carrots have colored, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cumin and paprika and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds or so. Add the stock and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down so the mixture bubbles gently but steadily. Cook until the chickpeas are very soft, 20-30 minutes. When the chickpeas are very tender, add the orange juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Puree the soup in batches in a blender, food processor, or food mill if you’re crazy.

Bittman suggests serving garnished with chopped (toasted?) almonds and parsley – we ate it with crusty bread and a drizzle (or more) of olive oil. The recipe yielded 8 cups soup, half of which we’ve frozen for later. Good stuff!

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1007 Stewed

It’s on, baby!

Dinner tonight was entirely made up, just me chopping things and sticking them in the enameled pot.  I knew we had a bunch of veg, and I knew I wanted to make something that would cook itself while I exercised, and this is what I came up with: a sweet and savory stew that we spooned over a loaf of bread warmed in the oven during the last 10 minutes of cook time.  The rough recipe follows below, but you could absolutely make this with whatever root veg you had on hand, or you could substitute fresh tomatoes for the tomato paste, or red wine for the white wine, or butter for the oil, or beans for the sausage.  You get the idea.

Stew-ish

Early Fall Stew

1 medium yellow onion
2 smallish bell peppers (from the garden!)
1/2 medium eggplant (just the neck part), peeled
2 cups mushrooms
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 medium-sized carrots
4 sausages (we used garlic chicken sausages from Trader Joe’s)
2-4 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
whatever herbs you have on hand
salt & freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Preheat your oven at 350F. Chop all of your veggies and slice the sausages into bite-sized pieces. In an oven-safe pot (with a lid, though you don’t need it right now) – I used our new enameled cast iron – heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and let it sweat a bit. Add the rest of the veggies, a couple of tablespoons tomato paste, fresh herbs – I used oregano and rosemary because that’s what we have in our front garden, and a fair amount of salt and freshly ground pepper, tossing everything around so that the tomato paste coats a bit. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, then put the lid on and stick the pot in the oven for an hour or so.

Serve with crusty bread and a crisp beer or cider.

0818 Tom Collins: Official Drink of Knights of the West Side

Tom Collins
Photo by bichromephoto

I’ll be honest – I spent most of today looking forward to cocktails at the second meeting of the Knights of the West Side. I even did a little research as to what constitutes a classic cocktail, mostly to determine whether or not I should be able to order a Vesper martini. By the time we we got to Knight’s, though, I chickened out. I guess I didn’t want to have to explain a drink that I’d never had before? Either way, I had a dirty martini, while Shane and Matt had Tom Collinses (Toms Collins?), which I think is now the Official Drink of Knights of the West Side.

Side note: I’m still a little fuzzy on the punctuation of Knights of the West Side. Is it Knights, plural, because there’s more than one person going to Knight’s? Or is it Knight’s, with the same punctuation as the restaurant, which is named after the owner?  Regardless, we enjoyed our drinks and a quality old-timey steakhouse meal: pot roast, new potatoes and carrots, a salad, and gorgeous golden dinner rolls, so hot out of the warmer that we could barely tear them open.  We left full and happy – good food, and good friends.

0629 Platter Salad

So I’ve had Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors cookbook for about two years – around the time that we got really invested in buying and eating local – but in that time have only made ONE recipe from it.  I’ve been trying to be better about buying cookbooks, but this seemed like one I’d really use, you know?  Unlike Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes and The Farm to Table Cookbook, both of which were lovely but didn’t reflect our eating habits or the foods actually available to us locally in Virginia.

I suppose I can only spuriously say that I used the Local Flavors recipe for tonight’s dinner – a platter salad – for a variety of reasons.  First, I only followed about half of the instructions.  I didn’t boil or blanch in the right order, and owing to a moped emergency in the middle of prep, I also didn’t make Madison’s dressing.  Also a recipe? For a very deconstructed salad? Helpful, but kind of overkill.  In fact, the recipe was primarily useful for the gorgeous photo that I used to convince Shane that this was enough for dinner.  Our own salad didn’t look much like Madison’s, but it was pretty spectacular if I do say so myself.

Platter Salad

Moving clockwise, we have brand new red potatoes from the market, boiled in salted water for about 20 minutes or until soft.  Green beans from the market, safely kept away from Head Bean Eater Mina and blanched for about 7 minutes.  Carrots, long lingering in our crisper, peeled and boiled for about 10 minutes.  A sweet market onion, sliced into rounds and lightly pickled in red wine vinegar.  Line-caught Bonito tuna, tossed with a bit of the red wine vinegar.   And French breakfast radishes from our garden, all atop romaine lettuce from the market.

And we ate all of it, well, except some of the lettuce.

Recipe:
June Platter Salad of Green Beans, Potatoes, and Tuna from Local Flavors

NB: Zingerman’s is having a crazy summer sale on a handful of excellent items.  We’re REALLY irritated that we missed out on discounted fancy tuna, as we’ve just exhausted our stash.  If you’re local, you can save yourself some extra dough by ordering over the phone and picking up your goodies in person at the warehouse south of town.

Also hat tip to Sarah, who also cooked from Local Flavors tonight!

0407 Moroccan Carrot Soup

If last night DEFINITELY was not soup weather, tonight definitely was.  We both did some shopping downtown, and by the time we headed home, it was cold and rainy and I had cut up my feet by walking in wet shoes with no socks.

0407 Moroccan Carrot Soup

Shane made this soup last week for the guys, and we liked it enough to make it again immediately.  Carrots and cumin are really a winning combination in general, but when pureed into oblivion and drizzled with a bit of yogurt, they turn into something sublime.  Toss a couple of slices of bread in the toaster, and you’ve got a great vegetarian dinner on the table in an hour or less.

Recipe:
Moroccan Carrot Soup from Bon Appetit

The Last 10 Days of Food

Gees, where to begin?  I’ve been pretty diligent about posting to date, but a weekend of friendos visiting from DC followed immediately by a mid-week trip with some of my favorite girls resulted in 10 days of nothing – and very little desire to catch up.  So here’s what I got:

Mike and Bill rolled in on the 27th, kicking off four days of beer, movies, more beer, vegetarian food, still more beer, a trip to Detroit for the guys, additional beer, dinner at Jolly Pumpkin, and oh, more beer.  I’m still not sure if I accurately captured the amount of beer that was consumed over this weekend.   This wasn’t like a woooo spring break!! kind of blow out – rather, it was a series of tastings, sharing rare or regional treats from each of their stashes.  I wish I’d taken pictures of the very serious boys taking their serious beer very seriously.  I know Shane took a picture of all of the bottles, so that’ll have to suffice.

While the boys were busy with the beer, I made a couple of tasty dinners – Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta (hearty and filling, though not quite what I expected from the recipe) and tempeh tacos (always a crowd-pleaser) – and the killer spinach strata that we’d had at Shana’s on my birthday.  When the boys were late coming back from Detroit, I ate without them, then regretted it as Shane stepped up to make a really delicious Moroccan Carrot Soup (which we’re going to re-run for dinner this week).

Stradaaa

And THEN I hopped on a plane to St Louis, where my friend Erin and I collected some of the best donuts in the country and also some legendary pretzels before hitting the road to Carbondale, where we met up with Angie, Kim, and Laurie for a couple of days of hiking, snacking, napping, drinking, and relaxing with farm animals.

Fritters and Globs

In addition to delicious baked goods and a whole lot of other bad-for-us snacks, we grilled out, toasted s’mores over a campfire, and made breakfast together using two pounds of bacon and the most beautiful farm eggs I’ve seen.  We also checked out a bar and a cute breakfast place in Erin’s neighborhood and had an awesome dinner at Schlafly Bottleworks (including curry crackers that I’m committed to duplicating) on our last night in town.

Farm-fresh free range eggs

Suffice to say that the next few weeks (leading up to um, a special occasion) will should be a bit leaner on the indulgent meals – segueing nicely into the beginning of the growing season and the return of fresh things to the market.  It’s been a delicious and ridiculous ten days – and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and back into more normal eating.

Recipes:
Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta from Self
Tempeh Tacos
Spinach and Cheese Strata from Smitten Kitchen
Moroccan Carrot Soup from Bon Appetit

February Jam: Carrot Jam

Guess what I made?
Guess what I'm gonna make

The February Can Jam ingredient is carrots – a toughie because carrots lack the acidity for safe water-bath canning. Participants were advised to stick to published recipes and not make any changes to the acid to stuff ratios. So that was the first challenge.

Citrus stoplight

The second challenge was coming up with something to make that we would actually eat. I found lots of recipes for things like carrot cake jam, carrot chutney, and pickled carrots – all of which sounded interesting, but either called for other canned foods (why would I buy canned pineapple to make a jam?!) or weren’t things I could really picture us eating.

Shredded carrots and snacks

So I hit on carrot jam. My thought was that if we didn’t like the carrot jam as is, we could thin it with some vinegar to make a carrot slaw – along the lines of the broccoli slaw we had with fish the other week.

Carrot Jam!

And I think it worked! The resulting jam is sweet with a hint of spice – I ate some of it on toast yesterday, and would definitely eat this alongside a savory piece of fish or in a shrimp taco.  There’s no pectin in the recipe, so I didn’t expect the jam to set up like last month’s marmalade, but it is loose enough that I might keep these jars in the fridge just in case – which also means they’ll be handy for quick eating.


Carrot Jam
Based on a recipe found at wisegeek.com

4 cups grated carrots (approx 1.5 pounds whole carrots)
juice and zest of 1 lime, lemon, and orange
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coriander (maybe more)

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and simmer together until the carrots are suspended in a thick syrup, ~30-45 minutes.  Pack in sterile jars and process for 10 minutes in an open water bath, or just stick it in a big container in your fridge.  Good times!