STUFFED SQUASH SOUP: Hearty & Filling!

stuffed squash soup textThis soup started out as a Stuffed Squash recipe I was developing. I had a lot of leftover filling and, as it was on the bland side, knew we weren’t going to eat it. But as regular readers may know – I HATE waste!!! There was no way I was going to throw it out.

So, I put on my thinking cap. The filling was a mixture of butternut squash, mushrooms, chickpeas, rice, dried cranberries, pecans, and a shallot. An omelette was my first thought…but, no.

Then it occurred to me – SOUP! One can of whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and an onion later I had an amazing dinner. The result was a delightful blend of textures and flavors.

When life sends you lemons, make lemonade.

STUFFED SQUASH SOUP – makes about 10 cups

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice (I use Trader Joe’s 3 Rice Medley)
  • 1½ T olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 T pressed garlic
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Wash and dry the butternut squash. You’re going to need to cut it in half lengthwise. In order to prevent injury, soften the squash a bit by microwaving it for 3 minutes ONLY. (You don’t need to pierce it.) Turn it over and zap it for another 30 seconds. Slice it in half lengthwise and place halves cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in 375º F oven for about 25 minutes – until flesh can be pierced with a knife. butternut squash soup9Let cool enough to handle. Scrape out and discard seeds and fibers. Cut into 1/2″ slices, then cut away the peel. Cut flesh into 1/2″ cubes. butternut squash soup10While squash is cooking, cook the rice.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add in onions and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often. skillet 5Add in shallot, garlic, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes over medium/high flame, stirring often. stuffed squash soup2Add in squash, rice, garbanzo beans, cranberries, pecans, thyme, chopped tomatoes and it’s juice, tomato sauce, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.stuffed squash soup1 Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.

 

TERIYAKI TOFU NOODLE BOWLS: As Good As I Remember!

noodle bowl textMy family has fond memories of the teriyaki noodle bowls from a local restaurant that closed years ago. Not only did they serve meat choices, but they offered perfectly grilled tofu, too. It was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Topping it off was a luscious, thick teriyaki sauce.

After a recent, nostalgic discussion of these noodle bowls, I decided to try and recreate it. It took a few attempts with the sauce, but I finally got it right. Of course, me being me, I made the noodles, too.

TERIYAKI TOFU NOODLE BOWLS – serves about 3

  • about 21 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 T sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
  • 5 scallions – green & white parts, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 3 cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce (recipe follows)
  • about 6 oz purchased soba noodles, or homemade (recipe follows)
  • about 3 T vegetable oil

Drain tofu blocks and press between 2 plates to extrude water for about 30 minutes. Set something with a little weight on top of the upper plate to speed up the process. Pour off water as it accumulates.

Preheat oven to 200º Fahrenheit.

Slice tofu into 1/2″ thick pieces. The thickness is important – too thin and the tofu can easily become rubbery. Then cut into the size you like. I prefer my pieces to be about 1″ x 1½” x 1/2″.noodle bowl4 Liberally coat a nonstick skillet with oil. Heat oil over medium/high until shimmering. Add in tofu and leave undisturbed for at least a minute before moving them. (I suggest using a splatter screen to reduce fallout.) When the tofu is browned on the bottom, flip and cook the other side.noodle bowl5 Remove to a baking sheet and leave in the preheated oven to keep warm until the veggies and noodles are cooked.

Heat the teriyaki sauce. (Recipe below)

Insert a steamer basket into a pot with 1/2″ water at the bottom and place carrots, celery, scallions, and broccoli. Cover and turn heat to high. Immediately set timer and steam for 3 minutes. Remove veggies to a large bowl. noodle bowl2Bring 2 quarts of water to a full boil. Add noodles (recipe follows) and cook until done – about 5 minutes for homemade.noodle bowl6 Drain and add noodles to bowl with veggies.

Add in the tofu, sesame seeds, and as much teriyaki sauce as you like. Mix all together and serve in bowls.

TERIYAKI SAUCE – make 1½ cups

  • 2½ T cornstarch
  • 4 T (2 oz) Mirin sweet cooking rice wine
  • 1 cup (8¼ oz) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ginger powder (fresh is best)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup (6 oz) dark brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until thickened.noodle bowl3

Store unused teriyaki sauce in refrigerator for future use.

NOODLES – makes 3 servings

Note: If you don’t have buckwheat flour, then use 8½ oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour

Additional note: There are many excellent youtube videos demonstrating how to make pasta. It’s very helpful to see it being done.

  • 2½ oz (1/2 cup) buckwheat flour
  • 7½ oz (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T olive oil
  • water, as needed

Place the flours, eggs, and olive oil in the food processor with steel blade in place. Process to blend. Check the consistency of the dough – it will probably be too dry at this point. You want it to not fall apart when squeezed. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to start. Process about 15 seconds and check consistency. Add water a small amount at a time until dough holds together and is tacky but not sticky. (If you add too much water, just sprinkle in more flour.) The pictures show me making spinach fettuccine, but the idea is the same.fettuccine, spinach9 Form dough into 4 balls and place in the processor with lid. Let rest for at least 30 minutes. fettuccine, spinach10Using a hand crank pasta machine, roll out dough to one setting thicker than for normal fettuccine (it’s #4 setting on my Atlas machine).fettuccine, spinach4 Use the fettuccine blades to cut. fettuccine, spinach5

MASHED POTATO CAKES: Crunchy Outside, Creamy Inside!!!

mashed pot cakes textI’ve rarely met a potato dish I didn’t like. However, I was never very happy with homemade potato cakes. There’s a slight difference between potato patties, latkes, hashbrowns, and pancakes. I’ve tried making them all and never been very happy with any…until America’s Test Kitchen came to the rescue.

Their idea was to NOT use leftover mashed potatoes because the consistency will vary from batch to batch – ranging from dry to mushy.  Rather, use a recipe specifically developed for patties. Another brilliant idea was to coat the cakes with panko, which gives them a nice crunch without all the oil.

MASHED POTATO CAKES – makes 8 patties

  • 2½ lbs russet potatoes
  • 1 T + 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 whole egg
  • about 2 cups panko crumbs
  • about 6 T vegetable oil for frying
  • optional:  toppings such as sour cream, ketchup, aioli sauce

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4″ slices. Put into pot and add enough water to cover potatoes with 1″ water. Add in the 1 T salt. Bring to boil and cook 10 minutes. mashed pot cakes6Drain, then return potatoes to pot or large bowl. mashed pot cakes7Mash potatoes until smooth and let cool about 10 minutes.

Add the Parmesan, egg yolk, chives, 3/4 tsp salt, and pepper to the pot and mash all together. Let cool 1 hour. mashed pot cakes8Form 8  3″ patties – they’ll each need about 1/2 cup’s worth of potatoes. Make sure to press the patties together firmly so they don’t fall apart. mashed pot cakes9Beat the whole egg with a fork and pour onto a plate. Pour the panko onto another plate. Dip each pattie on both sides into the egg, followed by the panko. mashed pot cakes3mashed pot cakes4Set all the patties aside for 5 minutes before frying.

Preheat oven to 200º Fahrenheit oven.

Heat 3 T oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet and place 4 of the patties. Fry until bottom is golden brown (about 3 minutes), then flip and fry until golden brown. mashed pot cakes5Place on a cookie sheet and keep warm in the 200º F oven. Cook the remaining 4 patties in the same manner. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven until ready to eat.

 

 

WHITE BEAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ SOUP: Perfect For Those Chilly Nights!

sausage soup textLet me start by pointing out the quotation marks around the word SAUSAGE mean imitation. (For you carnivores, you can use real sausage.)

White Bean & ‘Sausage’ Soup is one of those recipes that can be made in 30 minutes – ideal for those nights when you have little time and/or desire to cook. This has become one of my family’s favorites, especially when served with a homemade Italian Bread Loaf.

WHITE BEAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ SOUP – makes about 7½ cups

  • 1 T olive oil
  • about 1 lb imitation sausage – my favorite for this recipe is made by Beyond Meatsausage soup5
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 cups vegetarian stock (homemade recipe: vegetarian stock)
  • 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
  • 1½ cups canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (about 3 oz) fresh spinach, chopped
  • optional – Parmesan cheese, grated

Chop imitation sausage into bite sized pieces. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and cook ‘sausage’ over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.sausage soup1 Add in onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Cook 3-5 minutes – until onions are softened. sausage soup2Add in stock, beans, tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boil, cover, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes.sausage soup3 Stir in spinach off heat and check for seasoning (I add another 1/2 tsp salt). sausage soup4Sprinkle servings with Parmesan, if desired.

SPEEDY THIN CRUST PIZZA: My Very Favorite!

one hour pizza textSpeedy Thin Crust Pizza has become my go-to pizza recipe not only because I can have it on the table in a little over an hour, but because it’s REALLY good. It’s a very thin pizza with a nice chew.

Pizza in a little over an hour, you question? That’s right!!! This is my variation of America’s Test Kitchen’s 1-Hour Pizza. (I’ve made this pizza many times and could never make in in 60 minutes – more like 70 minutes.) Of course, the first time or two you make it, it will take longer.

SPEEDY THIN CRUST PIZZA – makes 2 pizzas

  • 6.25 oz (1-1/3 cup) bread flour
  • 2.75 oz (1/2 cup) semolina flour
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 T) warm water (about 110º F)
  • 1-5/8 oz (1/4 cup) beer (I like a pale beer)
  • 1/2 oz (2 tsp) white distilled vinegar
  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • toppings of your choice

Preheat oven to 500º Fahrenheit. Place the oven rack with a pizza stone or steel  4″ from the top heat source. It will take at least 30 minutes to bring the oven up to temperature, so I turn on my oven when I begin making the dough. 

If you have a scale (which I highly recommend), place the workbowl of your food processor with the steel blade in place on top. Turn the scale on if it’s battery operated so you start at ‘0’. Weigh the bread flour, semolina flour, water, beer, and vinegar. Add in the yeast, sugar, and olive oil. one hour pizza12Set the workbowl on the processor base and run the machine for 10 seconds.one hour pizza15 Let mixture set in place for 10 minutes. Add in the salt and process for 30 seconds. one hour pizza14Empty dough onto a floured counter and fold the dough onto itself a few times to bring the dough together. one hour pizza7Divide the ball in half and place each one on a piece of oiled (I use olive oil) parchment paper approximately 12″ wide. DO NOT USE WAXED PAPER – IT’S TOO THIN!!!one hour pizza9Rub the tops of the dough with a little more oil then top each with another piece of same-sized parchment. Press down with your hands to smoosh the dough into a square to get it started. With a rolling pin roll both dough balls to about 13″ x 10″ using short strokes, working from the center outward. (I find it easier to keep the parchment from sliding on my counter if I place it on a dry tea towel.) Let set 30 minutes.one hour pizza10 Use this time to get your toppings ready.

After 30 minutes, place one of the parchment covered pizzas upside down on a dry pizza peel or rimless cookie sheet. (The reason you flip the pizza upside down is that it’s easier to peel away the oiled parchment.)one hour pizza16 Carefully peel away and discard the top parchment (which used to be the bottom parchment). one hour pizza4bTop pizzas with your choice of sauce and toppings.one hour pizza17 Slide the pizza with bottom parchment onto the preheated stone or steel. one hour pizza18Bake for 4 minutes. Rotate the pizza 180º, then remove and discard the parchment by securing it in place with a spatula with one hand and pulling out the parchment with the other. (The parchment won’t burn your fingers, so you don’t need to use an oven mitt as long as you don’t touch anything else.) one hour pizza19Let bake another couple of minutes, until it’s browned to your liking. Remove from oven, let set a minute or two, then slice it up and serve. (This is not the same pizza I placed in the oven in the above pictures.)

NOTE:  If you want to sprinkle top with basil, do this after it’s baked – otherwise, the basil will burn.

one hour pizza6

 

PUMPKIN SCONES WITH MAPLE DRIZZLE

pumpkin scones text2I’m not sure when it happened but, for better or worse, every year new foods become pumpkin flavored during Autumn.

Pumpkin pie? Sure – I’ll eat that maybe once a year…unless there’s a better choice.

Pumpkin ravioli? Yeah – a small amount encased in pasta is fine… now and then.

BUT, Pumpkin Scones? Heck, yeah!  I’ll have those anytime – especially with a maple drizzle.

Scones are super fast and easy to make – the less you mess with them, the more tender they are! So jump on board the pumpkin trend and try these delicious Pumpkin Scones!

Note: As self-proclaimed Queen of Freeze, I feel obliged to suggest (or nag) you freeze the unused pumpkin in portion sized amounts for future use. This recipe only requires 1/2 cup, so there’s plenty leftover from the can.

PUMPKIN SCONES – makes 8 scones

  • 8½ oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 T milk (any kind – I use nonfat)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Maple Drizzle – recipe follows at the end

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Cross-cut using 2 knives to break up butter into pea-sized pieces.

(If using the food processor, place butter with dry ingredients and pulse about 8 times – until the butter becomes pea-sized. Empty into a medium sized bowl.) pumpkin scones9 In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, milk, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently fold to mix.pumpkin scones11 Empty onto a well-floured counter and knead about 5 or 6 times. (I use a bench scraper to help since the dough is sticky.) pumpkin scones3With floured fingers, pat dough into an 8″ circle (try to keep the dough to an even thickness) and cut into 8 wedges.pumpkin scones5Place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet (I prefer a dark sheet that’s greased.)pumpkin scones6 Bake at 400º F with the rack in the middle position for about 16 minutes. They’re at their best when they’re slightly dark on the bottom. pumpkin scones7The last time I baked them, I thought I overcooked them (see photo), but they were amazing – a slight crunch on the outside and perfect chew inside. So when you check them for doneness, look for slightly dark sides. pumpkin scones14Then remove from oven onto wire rack to completely cool before icing.

MAPLE GLAZE

  • 1 T butter
  • about 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 T maple syrup (use the pure syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in confectioners sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend well, smashing any sugar lumps. If icing is too thin, add more sugar; if too thick, add a little milk.pumpkin scones1For easier control over the drizzle, pour icing into a spouted cup or a pastry bag with a small circle tip. Design as you wish.pumpkin scones2Allow icing to harden before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOROVIAN SUGAR CAKE: Snack Or Dessert – It’s All Good!

morovian coffee cake textMy introduction to Morovian Sugar Cake was a little bittersweet.

I found the recipe in a newspaper (this was well before the internet!) and it sounded intriguing. Being very young and inexperienced in the kitchen, I didn’t allow myself quite enough time. I was able to get it in the oven before I needed to go to work, but my roommates were left in charge of removing it.

All that remained when I got home was one 3″ X 3″ square. They said it was so good they couldn’t stop eating it. I ate the remains, and it was magnificent. In fact, I was amazed they were able to leave me any.

Note: Don’t repeat my mistake – allow enough time for rising!

MOROVIAN SUGAR CAKE

  • 1 cup water 100º – 104º Fahrenheit
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant mashed potatoes flakes
  • 1/4 cup instant dry milk
  • 1 tsp + 1/8 tsp salt, divided
  • 6 T + 6 T butter, melted, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • about 4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

In a measuring cup stir the water and yeast together. Let proof for 5 minutes. ham loaf1

In the food processor, pulse together the granulated sugar, potato flakes, dry milk, and 1 tsp salt. morovian coffee cake10Add in 6 T butter and eggs. Process to blend.morovian coffee cake5With machine running, pour in the proofed yeast water. morovian coffee cake4morovian coffee cake11Add 3½ cups to processor and blend. Add flour one tablespoon at a time, processing after each, until dough starts pulling away from sides of the work bowl. Stop adding flour, and run machine another 30 seconds to knead the dough. Pour dough into a greased rimmed baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) and pat dough to fill the pan evenly. Cover with a tea towel and let rise about 45 minutes. morovian coffee cake2

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

While dough is rising, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt. morovian coffee cake1After dough has risen, create pockets with your fingertip, the handle of a wooden spoon, or something else that’s about 1/2″ diameter.morovian coffee cake9 Sprinkle the sugar topping over the entire cake. Drizzle the remaining 6 T melted butter over all. morovian coffee cake8Bake at 350º F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. morovian coffee cake7Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.