Archive for ‘chili powder’

June 29, 2011

Southern Tier Double IPA Cheddar Soup

If you remember this fabulous beer dinner I went to at Garden in the Cellar in Cambridge, this dish may look familiar. I have not been able to get this soup (or the entire meal) out of my head since March, and I finally decided to try and re-create it.

As with other times that I have re-created something I loved from a restaurant or other event, I don’t really have a recipe. Although this drives some people crazy, I prefer to adjust, experiment and change the ingredients as I am cooking, and tasting. Enjoy, this is a perfect meal for a rainy day – the flavors are incredible!

Ingredients:

butter
celery, carrots, onion, coarsely diced
vegetable broth – a lot
3-4 yukon gold potatoes
extra-sharp cheddar – go for high quality for this recipe
jalapeno cheddar – I happened to have this in the fridge, not necessary, but awesome!
2 bottles of Southern Tier Double IPA, or any other delicious IPA
scallions
sour cream
bread,  for croutons

Directions:

1) heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium-low heat
2) coarsely dice carrots, celery and onions – about 1 lb of carrots and celery, and 2-3 white onions. sweat in large saute pan and add a healthy pinch of salt
3) once vegetables are softened and translucent (about 8-10 minutes), put them in a large sauce pot – this will be the home of your soup
4) add vegetable broth, I used almost all of a 32 oz. container (you can add chicken broth for a more savory soup, but I preferred it to be vegetarian, and more healthy)
5) meanwhile, peel and chop 3-4 small-medium potatoes and add to boiling water
6) once potatoes are cooked thoroughly, add to soup. stir ingredients well, and season to taste with salt, pepper and chili powder
7) cook soup (which should be brothy at this point) cook on medium-low for about 30 minutes
8) add IPA! I added about 2.5 bottles, and you could really taste the flavor of the beer
9) grate extra cheddar cheese, I used about 12 oz – do not buy pre-shredded!!
10) add soup mixture to a blender or food processor and mix until smooth and creamy
11) transfer soup back to stove top at low heat and add cheese in small amounts, waiting for each amount to melt.
12) let simmer on low for a few hours
13) garnish with chopped scallions, sour cream and homemade croutons, and enjoy!

May 27, 2011

Seared Scallops with Butternut Squash Puree


I am officially obsessed with scallops.

I do not know exactly when this obsession started, but I feel like I could cook them every single night and it is impossible to order anything else if I see scallops on a menu. Literally, impossible. Although I eat scallops year round, spring and summer heighten my obsession of this perfect, sweet and rich shellfish.

I spent much of the winter eating Trader Joe’s frozen scallops – a quick, inexpensive way to get my fix. Now that is warmer and seafood is constantly my mind, I have been splurging on only the best scallops. I am weary of Shaw’s and Stop and Shop when it comes to seafood – everything always looks so old and tired and off-color. Enter the newest aspect of my scallop obsession: Wulf’s Fish Market. This place is all about fresh and local seafood, and the scallops I have been getting there, although pricey, have been absolutely delicious and fresh, and well worth the extra cost.

Last week I wanted to keep the scallops simple and sweet. I recommend trying the recipe below with high-quality DRY scallops (as opposed to evil wet scallops treated with phosphates, which results in them absorbing more water – so you pay more per pound – which then evaporates during cooking leaving you with shrunken, dry and tasteless scallops – I could go on and on about this, but I’ll spare you).

The slightly spiced scallops pair extremely well with the butternut squash puree which is sweet and savory, and adds a little texture. Also served with grilled asparagus and sauteed spinach with fresh lemon juice. This meal was light and extremely delicious!

Pan Seared Scallops

  • around 1/3 to 1/2 pound of scallops for each person
  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1) remove extra moisture from scallops by placing them between layers of paper towel on a level surface and put something on top to add a little pressure – I use a cutting board.
2) meanwhile, mix a little more than a teaspoon of each of the spices above together on a small plate
3) add butter to a large saute pan on medium-high heat.
4) after they chill in the paper towels for about 5 minutes,  put both sides of each scallop in the spice mixture and add to buttered pan and don’t move them around! It can be hard not to move them/check on them, but if you want the nice pan-seared crust you must leave them alone! Also, do not overcrowd the pan or you will steam, not sear the scallops.
5) cook for about three minutes, then flip to the other side (pans/stoves are different, so peek before flipping to make sure you have a brown/golden crust)
6) cook the other side 2-3 minutes depending on size. Don’t overcook your scallops – it is easy to do. When they are done they should be springy to the touch, and have a light translucent center.

Butternut Squash Puree:

  • 1 medium-large butternut squash
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp light cream
  • fresh chives
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

1) pre-heat oven to 350
2) slice squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and flesh and place on a baking sheet, skin-side down
3) bake for about 35 – 45 minutes, or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork
4) scrape flesh out of squash and add to food processor and puree for a minute or two while adding ingredients above. You do not have to add all of the above ingredients, the puree will be sweet and smooth on its own, but I think the extra ingredients make it even more delicious. Especially the fresh chives, salt and pepper.

note: to make this an extra veggie filled dinner I grilled some asparagus, and sauteed some spinach in a bit of olive oil and then squeezed some fresh lemon juice on top. The lemon brought some needed acidity to the dish so I recommend it.

nutritionally speaking: 
excellent source of potassium, selenium,  protein, folate, omega-3,
vitamins A, B6, B12, C, E, K

February 9, 2011

what’s in season wednesday

no, that isn’t a monster vegetable… this week’s edition of what’s in season wednesday is turnips! once considered a poor man’s vegetable, turnips have a delicious, hearty and unique flavor that helps them to really stand out amongst the winter vegetables.

turnips are root vegetables, and like last week’s what’s in season wednesday, are members of the cabbage family. turnips are high in calcium, potassium and vitamin c. turnips can be white/cream colored or purple and should not be bruised on the outside.

things to remember about turnips:
1) due to a high water content they do not store long. i recommend keeping them in the fridge in a plastic bag
2) flavors and spices that enhance the turnip flavor include: curry, black pepper, lemon juice, chives, parsley, and thyme
3) turnips are fabulous in a winter vegetable stew

typically i roast turnips with carrots, parsnips and potatoes to make a delicious side dish. however, last week my friend gave me some extra turnips that she wasn’t going to use and i decided to try potato and turnip pancakes. it was a delicious alternative to simply roasting the turnips!

potato & turnip pancakes:
5-6 small to medium turnips, peeled and cut into small cubes
1-2 medium to large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 bunch of thinly sliced scallions
1 egg beaten lightly
1/2 cup flour
canola or vegetable oil
salt and pepper and chili powder
paprika
sour cream

cook the chopped turnips and potatoes to boiling water  until soft. remove from heat and mash turnips and potatoes while adding scallions, egg, flour and salt, pepper, chili powder (to your taste).

meanwhile, heat about 1/4 of an inch of oil in a large fry pan. the oil is hot enough once a few drops of water sizzle in the pan. drop small amounts of turnip and potato mixture and flatten with a wooden spoon while they fry. depending on how hot the oil is 4-6 minutes on each side will cook them through.

transfer to a paper towel and let cool 1-2 minutes. sprinkle paprika, a few raw scallions on top of each pancake and serve sour cream on the side!

January 27, 2011

what’s in season wednesday

brussels sprouts are the feature of this edition of what’s in season wednesday. a versatile vegetable with belgium origins (approx. 16th century), brussels sprouts are extremely good for you – one serving has more vitamin c than 3 whole oranges! about 75% of our nation’s brussels sprouts are grown in california. brussels sprouts have a notoriously bad reputation, but if cooked well and seasoned just right, brussels sprouts are a wonderful, delicious and nutritious side dish to any winter meal.

a beautiful cold season crop – the peak season runs september to february -brussels sprouts are lucky to be in the same family as the famously nutritious broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale and mustard greens. they really are just tiny versions of cabbage.

it is best to steam your sprouts, or roast them for an extra crispy texture and flavor. i’ve even had them fried buffalo style, and they were delicious. boiling/overcooking brussels sprouts is a bad idea because it will significantly reduce the amount of sulforaphane, which is believed to prevent cancer. they are also a great source of indole-3-carbinol, believed to block the growth of cancer cells.

to make delicious chili-powder brussels sprouts:

try to buy sprouts still on the stalk when possible. they’ll be fresher, and its fun to cut them off. sprouts already removed from the stalk work fine too. wash them well, and slice them in half. in a large fry pan heat up 1-4 tablespoons of butter (depends how many sprouts you have, and how much you like butter) and add sprouts. put a lid on the fry pan and steam for about 10 minutes.

next add flavor… season the sprouts with salt, pepper and chili powder. the chili powder is key here – i discovered last winter that brussels sprouts come alive when spiced with chili power, the combination is delicious. how much you add depends on your spice/heat tolerance. i add a lot! continue to steam on low/medium heat until sprouts are cooked well – tasting is the best method to determine if they are done. they should be slightly crisp, but easy to chew. if you have overcooked your sprouts they will be bitter and have a bad after taste (hence the bad reputation!). chili-powder brussels sprouts are simple and reheat very well so make extra!

nutritionally speaking: excellent source of vitamins a, b6 and c, great source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin and very high in dietary fiber. low in saturated fat, sodium, and no cholesterol