Tag Archives: cooking

recipe: bread soup

photo-2

Last night, after watching what was another beautiful sunset (but no green flash, that I could see at least) I began to ponder, and ponder was what it was, what I might make for dinner. I happen to have a fridge full of interesting veggies at the moment – Brussels sprouts, leeks, fennel, cauliflower and eggplant, among them. I’m trying to use those things first that need to be eaten before they go bad, so I was sort of focusing on the eggplant and the fennel.

So, as I do when pondering what to make for dinner, and having a few ingredients in mind, I began to peruse my cookbooks. I recently got two new cookbooks from the River Cottage genre and came upon a nice one for a fennel rocket (arugula) pasta.

Having settled upon this, I began to get up, when another of my new favorite books about food (it is, sort of, a cookbook. But it is really more accurately a book celebrating the splendor of food) caught my eye. An Everlasting Meal by Tamar E Adler. It is a glorious celebration of food – and reads more like a memoir of meals than a cookbook. I recalled that in it she has a wonderful section on what to do with old bread (not what you typically expect of the average cookbook) and that I happened to have a Mexican/French baguette on the counter which I had been allowing to ‘age’ for just such a purpose.

So the fennel rocket pasta got moved to the back burner (metaphorically speaking) and the stale bread came to the forefront. Bread soup, that is.

So, here is my slightly modified recipe for ‘bread soup’ with a significant nod in the direction of An Everlasting Meal:

Easy, Frugal, and Delicious Bread Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup any combination of leeks, onions, celery, garlic (I used them all)
1/2 cup of parsley and rosemary
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup dried mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water (reserve water for use in broth)
4 cups (more or less) of stale breadBroth or other cooking liquid

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Add leeks, onions, garlic and celery. Saute until soft. Adler suggests adding salt to keep them from browning, which I did.

Meanwhile, rehydrate dried mushrooms – I had a variety, but use something flavorful – in a small bowl with boiling water.

Back to the soup. Add parsley  and rosemary. Stir, let wilt a bit. If anything begins to stick, pour in a bit of beer (I used Victoria, as that’s what I had) or wine.

Add stale bread. Adler says to remove the crusts. I didn’t, since on my Mexican/French baguette, removing the crusts would have removed much of the bread. Stir to coat the bread with the olive oil, onion, herby mixture.

Let it cook just a bit, then add your broth or other cooking liquid. Adler recommends saving pasta water, water that you use to boil veggies, or other ‘cooking liquid’ that one might, unthinkingly, throw out. I happened to have some pasta water which I used, as well as the re-hydrated mushroom water, and then some beer, white wine, and a bit more water (since I had no stock thawed) to make it so the liquid just covered over the bread mixture.

Let it simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Serve, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy.

t.v. dinner

I don’t have a tv. Sometimes that comes as a shock to people, or at least a surprise.

I do have a computer, but since I live in Mexico, things like abc.com or hulu or even Netflix are either severely restricted or not available without technological work arounds (such as a proxy server, to prove to the geeky reader that I do know that is an option).

I didn’t throw out the tv in some fit of anti-consumerist righteousness—in my grandmother’s house, where I live, there never was a tv. Granted, there was never electricity, or a phone, or wifi, and I’ve managed to adjust to the addition of those things quite easily, thank you.

Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy watching a tv show or two or four when visiting friends who do have one of those new fangled modern inventions. But what I realized, in a conversation not long ago, is that I don’t really miss it. In fact, the limited Netflix subscription that I am able to get here in Baja? I never use it. Never. I think I have watched one movie in the more than six months since I reactivated the subscription (one might ask why, then, do I keep the subscription and it would be an appropriate question, which, for now, I’m ignoring).

Not only do I not miss it, but I’m not sure how I would have time for it. Seriously.

Because what I also realized is that, when I post food photos of what I have made or am eating for dinner, I think that many people have the same reaction to that as I did to the tv—how in the world would I ever have time for that?

So, what I then realized, brilliant ponderer of life that I am, is that for me dinner is my tv. Like a tv dinner, but backwards.

Because, pretty much, from about 5 or 6 pm when I come inside from working out in the yard or doing whatever I have been doing for the afternoon, I begin the process of dinner that will basically take me the rest of the evening. This is most definitely not ‘fast food’ in any sense of the word, though it is not always complicated or even time consuming. Most often it is quite enjoyable.

By that point in the day I don’t feel like getting in the car (which I tend to only drive every few days in my Baja life) so I am left to figure out something for dinner with the ingredients that I happen to have on hand. When those ingredients do not immediately present themselves as a menu, I go searching in my many (hard copy) cookbooks based on a particular ingredient I might decide to use that night, such as a sweet potato, broccoli, swiss chard, lentils, etc. Sooner or later something presents itself, either from the cookbooks or from my good friend google, and I set about the dinner prep process.

Often, during this process, I listen to a podcast from On Being with Krista Tippett (amazing, and highly recommended) or an audio book by Richard Rohr, Rob Bell or some other current day theologian (I know, that is probably not going to compete head to head with Desperate Housewives) or I listen to the live stream of news from my Al Jazeera iPhone app—I especially love the weather report and the ‘sporting report’ which are more like lessons in geography and geopolitics than simply weather or sport. Occasionally I put on music. Sometimes, I go the entire evening, with no ‘sound’ at all, other than me talking to myself (should I admit that?) or the onions sizzling in the pan.  Some might consider that to be cavernously hollow. I find it peaceful.

More often than not,  I wind up actually sitting down to eat dinner somewhere around 7pm. I do, of course, have to photograph my food—sometimes I actually let it get cold while I am getting just the right shot of it. And yes, even if I don’t photograph it, I still need to ‘plate’ it in an aesthetically pleasing way—why not make it look beautiful, even if it is just for me?

What is perhaps ironic is that the actual process of eating, since I am a rather fast eater, takes only moments, after sometimes an hour of prep, and then, when the plate is empty, after dinner clean-up.

When I was a little girl and my grandmother was still alive, living in the house, I made the mistake of asking her, “Mama (pronounced Maam-ma, not momma), you don’t have a dishwasher—how do you do the dishes?” Let’s just say I found out. And I’m sure she continues to chuckle as, each night after dinner, I find out yet again, with  no machine to wash the dishes for me.  (The good news is that the water from the sink drains out into the yard, and is what keeps the bougainvillea and the volunteer cherry tomato climbing up it both in fairly vibrant bloom.)

By the time the dishes are done, and usually left out to dry—drying dishes seems like such a ‘make work’ task when they can dry perfectly fine on their own—it is somewhere around 8pm. Now, I realize, that for many people that might be ideal time to sit down and begin watching tv, especially since shows (that are not recorded on the dvr) are often starting then. However, by the time I am done with a day working on the computer, then working in the yard, then making dinner, by about 8pm, if I am honest, it is pretty much transition toward going to bed time. Granted, I don’t actually go to bed at 8—but there is absolutely no shame in 9.

What I am realizing is that for me, the process of selecting ingredients, cooking, eating, and cleaning is a form of ‘entertainment’ if you will. I love to consider what I might make with the ingredients I have available to me, fresh from the garden or from the monday market. It does not seem like an annoyance—it is more of an adventure. I love to think up ways to use everything, so that (ideally) nothing goes to waste. It is a challenge, not a chore. And it matters to me to display that meal in a beautiful way, that celebrates the food—it is not simply fuel to keep my body going, but, I hope, a delight to the senses—or at least good.

Okay, here’s the part where I’m going to get a bit self-righteous…be warned. I’m sorry. I don’t really like being self-righteous. Even though I am an ordained evangelist. Next thing you know I will be on the corner with a megaphone and a sign saying “cook dinner or burn forever!” Anyway, I digress….back to the self-righteous point…

My question is this….does it strike anyone else as interesting, odd or a bit of an issue that we, in our culture today, so often do not have the ‘time’ for eating real food? Food that’s actually made at home, not food that we have to buy as fast food or pre-made  ‘food’?

It seems that we make time for what we value, don’t we? It also seems to me that food is something to value, beyond simply filling ourselves up.

What if we were to see ‘food’ and its enjoyment as entertainment, or even as a way to relax and unwind from a busy day? What if cooking together or washing dishes together became a family activity (as my good friend Jen recently wrote about) instead of or at least alongside watching tv together?

I wonder, instead of having tv for dinner, what about having dinner for tv?

Day 21: Irish impressions

guinness group photo reflection

guinness group photo reflection

 

This being my 3rd visit to Belfast (and Dublin) these aren’t exactly ‘impressions’– more like ‘highlights’ — but I thought impressions sounded better for a title…

It also may seem as though all I have done during my time in Ireland is eat and drink, which is completely untrue. While eating and drinking, I’ve enjoyed having good craic with old friends Stuart and Julianne as well as newly-in-person-but-previously-on-facebook friend Sara. See, so it’s not just eating and drinking…

dublin

Okay, so, we did do a lot of eating and drinking, but so much fun to do so while catching up with good friends!

aloo gobi, thanks to the recipe zaar

I just found out about the site, Recipe Zaar. (Thanks to facebook friend Nathan Solla for the recommendation!) You can enter what ingredients you have on-hand, and it gives you a list of recipe options with those ingredients. I always seem to have stuff and wonder what is a creative or new recipe to make, so I’m pretty excited about this site.

Entering the ingredients “cauliflower, ginger” and selecting Main Dish and Curry, I ended up with Aloo Gobi last night for dinner. Yum. Definitely recommend it.

Erin’s Veggie Enchilladas

The other night I bragged on facebook about my delicious homemade veggie enchilladas. Since I made them up, here’s my attempt at a recipe:

Erin’s Veggie Enchilladas

The impetus for this recipe was the desire to use up some things I had in the fridge, mainly:
left over homemade salsa
fresh (from Mexico) corn tortillas that, due to their lack of preservatives, don’t keep well
left over zucchini vegetable salad
a batch of homegrown green beans
Probably, if I were starting from scratch, I would use a different sauce than the pureed homemade salsa, but it actually worked out quite nice. So, here you go:

El Pato Sauce

El Pato Sauce

Homemade Salsa:
3 medium tomatoes (fresh from the garden or vine-ripened is better than store-ripened)
1 bunch of cilantro
1 red onion
1 can (7.75oz) of El Pato Jalapeno Sauce or similar
1 16 oz can of tomato sauce (or simply more chopped tomatoes)

Chop tomatoes. Chop onion. Cut up cilantro. Mix it all together. Add El Pato sauce slowly, to taste. If you need to make it more mild, add tomato sauce. Salsa is better after it sits (refrigerated) for a bit.

Zucchini Corn Salad:
1 Zucchini, sliced in thin strips
1-2 cups corn (frozen is fine, fresh is fresher)
1 red pepper, chopped to desired size
handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
A few basil leaves
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Slice the zucchini, put it in a bowl with some sea salt, cover it with a moist paper towel, and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two (or less, if you don’t have the time).  Take it out, rinse it, and dry it off.  Add chopped red pepper, defrosted corn, halved tomatoes and chopped basil. Add oil and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, the enchilladas:
As I said, I had all the above already sitting in the fridge, which made this a quick and easy recipe.

Heat oven to about 350.

Puree salsa in a blender. It will still have texture, but be more soupy. Put it in a flat bowl. Heat frying pan. Put in corn tortillas. You can put them in oil to soften them, but I prefer to just sprinkle a bit of water on them, which softens. The point is that you want them to roll easily.

Once tortilla is warmed, take it out of pan, put it in pureed salsa mixture to coat both sides. Fill with zucchini salad mixture and roll, placing in a baking dish, seam side down. You might also want to put some grated cheese in with the veggies.

Repeat this for as many tortillas as you have. Ideally, they will fit snugly in your baking dish. Pour remaining salsa puree over the nestled tortillas. Cover with grated cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or long enough for cheese to melt.

Serve as is or topped with sour cream, cilantro, slided avocado and sliced tomato. Yum.