Butternut Squash and Leek Soup

Butternut Squash-Leek Soup Recipe

  • 1 whole garlic head
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil $
  • 6 cups thinly sliced leek (about 4 large) $
  • 4 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 medium)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic, squash, 2 cups water, broth, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is tender. Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture.

Crispy leeks:

  • Thinly slice the reserved leek greens into rounds. I usually do this while the soup is cooking.
  • Heat a skillet with high sides over medium high heat until hot. Add ¼ cup of the Safflower Oil. Allow oil to get very hot, but not smoke. Test by dropping a drizzle of water in the pan – if the water sizzles, the oil is ready. Add small amount of leek rounds.
  • Cook in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and paper towels and quickly sprinkle with salt. Repeat using same oil until you have the amount of servings you need. You should be able to get 3 or 4 servings per batch.

Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl

miso sweet potato + broccoli bowl

Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl
Inspired by the version in Goop; dressing from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

There’s of course no reason to only use these vegetables, or to not swap in others, if you desire. I’d estimate about 1/4 cup dried rice or grains per person; most triple in volume once cooked. I forgot to buy ginger before making the dressing this time and was shocked that we didn’t notice it missing this time, so don’t panic if you’re short an ingredient or two.

Serves 4

For the bowl
1 cup dried rice or another cooking grain of your choice
1 to 2 sweet potatoes (about 1.5 pounds)
1 large bundle broccoli (about 1 pound)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

For the miso-sesame dressing
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons white miso (the mildest kind)
2 tablespoons tahini (other nut butters can work in a pinch)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place rice or grain and cooking liquid in a rice cooker or on the stove. Cook according to package directions.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cut tops off broccoli and separate into bite-sized florets. If your broccoli stems feel especially woody, I like to peel them (with the same vegetable peeler), then cut them into 1/2- to 1-inch segments.

Coat one large or two smaller trays with a thin slick of olive oil. Layer sweet potatoes on tray(s) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Flip and toss chunks around, then add broccoli to the tray(s), season again with salt and pepper, and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until broccoli is lightly charred at edges and sweet potato is fully bronzed and tender. Toss chunks around one more time if it looks like they’re cooking unevenly.

In a small skillet, toast black and white sesame seeds until fragrant. (You can do this in the oven if using an oven-proof skillet.) Let cool.

While vegetables roast, prepare sesame-miso dressing: Combine everything in a blender and run until smooth, scraping down sides once. Taste and adjust ingredients if needed, but try to resist adding more honey if it tastes salty, as that extra pop of saltiness is exactly what I think sweet potato needs.

Assemble bowls: Scoop some rice/grains into each, then pile on the roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. Coat lightly with sesame-miso dressing and finish with toasted sesame seed duo. Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Avocado and Shrimp Salsa

a little more lime in the salsa

Mama Canales-Garcia’s Avocado and Shrimp Salsa

I didn’t get a chance to make this with Danny directing me (on their wedding china, against their giant loft windows, sigh), so I made a couple bloopers. One, Danny doesn’t use jalalpeños, because he finds them unreliable (some are so mild they taste like bell peppers, some are so hot they’ll ruin the dish). Instead, he leaves the heat on the side in the form of Tapatio hot sauce. Always Tapatio, don’t even ask. Danny also shares my view that finely chopped white onions are vastly superior to red ones in salsas and guacamoles. Alas, three different stores failed to produce one, and red it was. I hope Mama Canales-Garcia forgives us. 🙂

Please, adjust everything here to taste. Maybe you want more tomatoes or shrimp or lime. You might want extra heat and no onions. This recipe is intended for your kitchen, you plate, your belly, so make it the way you’d like it.

Makes about 6 cups salsa

1 pound small shrimp, shelled and deveined or pre-cooked and defrosted
2 firm-ripe avocados, halved, scored into a small dice
2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered or 2 cups chopped tomatoes, drained a little
1/2 small white onion, very finely chopped (use red if you can’t find white)
1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
Drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1 to 2 limes
Salt
Handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Hot sauce, on the side
Tortilla chips, to serve

To cook the shrimp: Bring salted water* to a boil and turn off heat. Add shrimp, cover pot and let stand until firm and pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain shrimp, pat dry and chill.

Make salsa: Chop shrimp into small bites and put in medium bowl. Scoop avocados into bowl. Add tomatoes, white onion, jalapeño (if using, to taste) and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the juice of one lime, and a second one, if needed. Add salt to taste, then cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

* If you have more time, you can first make a shrimp stock with about 3 cups water, 1 cup beer or wine, the reserved shrimp shells, additional lime juice or the peels from the lime juice you’ll use in the salad and some peppercorns or red pepper flakes. Boil these together for 20 minutes, then strain the mixture. Cook the shrimp in this stock instead.

Short Rib with Eggy Grits and Dandelion Greens

Brunch time.

While you’re waiting on short ribs, do the following.

  • 6 cups water, plus more if needed
  • 1 1/2 cups medium or coarsely ground corn grits
  • 2 teaspoons salt (divided)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens
  • 2 tbs lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together 2 tbs olive oil and 2 tbs lemon juice. Toss in a bowl with the salt and pepper and dandelion greens. Set aside.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. (If you have one that’s nonstick, use it. You’ll thank me later.) Whisk in the grits and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Reduce the heat and simmer the grits, partially covered, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking. Cook until the grits are thick and just tender, about 40 minutes for medium ground grits or longer for coarse grits.

Put braised short ribs in the oven to brown at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Whisk in additional water if the grits get too thick. They should remain pourable. Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the thyme.

Arrange grits, short rib, and greens on plate as desired. Poach one egg per person and smash onto the grits when ready to serve.

Optional: serve horseradish and creme fraiche to put on the short ribs.

Short rib prep, for reference:

  • 6 large beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (if ribs are tinier, buy by weight, not number)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced carrot
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups port
  • 2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
  • 6 cups beef or veal stock
  • 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and the cracked black pepper. use your hands to coat the meat well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season them generously on all sides with salt.

 

When it’s time to cook the short ribs, heat a large Dutch oven [or a large saute pan, if you would like to use a separate braising dish; I aimed to use fewer dishes] over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get lazy or rushed at this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. [I find this takes closer to 45 minutes if you’re really thorough. Be thorough!] When the ribs are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate to rest.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lieing flat, bones standing up, in one layer. [If you used a saute pan for previous steps, transfer the ribs to a braising pan at this point.] Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of the escaping steam, and piece a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. [If you would like to cook these a day ahead, this is where you can pause. The next day, you can remove the fat easily from the pot — it will have solidified at the top — bring these back to a simmer on the stove or in an oven, and continue.]

Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.

Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. Skim the fat from the sauce (if you made these the day before, you will have already skimmed them) and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Shrimp Sauteé with Thyme Grits

http://www.laurabrussell.com/shrimp-saute-with-thyme-grits/

grits

RECIPE: SHRIMP SAUTÉ WITH THYME GRITS

MAKES : 4 SERVINGS

I used grits labeled “organic stone-ground corn grits, medium grind”. You can choose white or yellow grits, medium or coarse grind, as you prefer. Adjust the cooking time as needed. Realistically, using a grain labeled “polenta” will work here as well. As written, the recipe is dairy-free, but I can assure you the grits will taste delicious with a nub of butter and a cup of grated cheddar cheese stirred in at the end. Pass hot sauce at the table.

INGREDIENTS

    • 6 cups water, plus more if needed
    • 1 1/2 cups medium or coarsely ground corn grits
    • 2 teaspoons salt (divided)
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
    • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
    • 1 fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
    • 1 bunch green onions, whites and green tops chopped and reserved separately
    • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. (If you have one that’s nonstick, use it. You’ll thank me later.) Whisk in the grits and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Reduce the heat and simmer the grits, partially covered, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking. Cook until the grits are thick and just tender, about 40 minutes for medium ground grits or longer for coarse grits. (Whisk in additional water if the grits get too thick. They should remain pourable.) Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the thyme.
  • In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve it in a bowl. Add the jalapeno, green bell pepper, and white portion of the green onions to the pan. Cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the bacon. Wipe out the pan. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp (if there are too many to spread in a single layer, cook in two batches), black pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are almost done, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until the shrimp are just done, about 1 minute more. Stir in the lemon juice, reserved bacon and vegetables, and the tomatoes. Remove from the heat.
  • For serving, scoop some grits onto each of four plates or shallow bowls. Mound the shrimp on top of the grits and sprinkle the basil and green portion of the green onions over the top.

One-pan Farro with Tomatoes

one-pan farro so good, people actually sneak bites of it before dinner

One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes

Inspired by Martha Stewart Living

In case I have not gasped about my new favorite dish enough, here, let me continue: It cooks in one pot and tastes like you worked all day on it. When you put the ingredients in, you will surely think, “This is too much onion!” because it looks that way. Trust me that in 30 minutes simmering time, that onion becomes the foundation of a dreamy loose tomato sauce whose flavors root deeply into each farro bite. Finished with a swirl of olive oil, scattering of basil and sprinkling of parmesan, if you’re like us, you’ll barely be into your second bite before plotting to make it again tomorrow.

One a Farro 101 note, the trickiest thing in writing this recipe was considering the different types of farro (from an Italian wheat strain known as emmer) available — as well as misconceptions, such as the notion that it can be used interchangeably with spelt. (It cannot, as spelt can take hours.). Farro comes whole/unpearled, semi-pearled (semi-perlato) and pearled (perlato); pearling describes how much of the exterior bran is removed, but packages are not always labeled. If your package says it will cook in less than 15 minutes, it’s probably pearled; if it takes around 30 minutes, it’s probably semi-pearled. And if it takes 60 to 80 minutes, it is whole or unpearled. [To make it even more confusing, I’ve been using the Rustichella d’Abruzzo brand, which labels it as “whole farro” but it is indeed semi-pearled, which is why cooking times are the best way to decipher which kind you have.] This recipe will work for all three versions (there are multiple comments below noting results for each, as well as quinoa, couscous, and even rice, just do a word search [Cntrl + f] to find the grain you’re looking to swap) but I’ve defaulted to semi-pearled below, which I find most frequently in stores. In all cases, if your package gives you a different cooking time than the 30 minutes suggested below, default to it instead. Questions? Ask away and I will, as always, heh, do my best to feign expertise.

Serves: 4 as a side, 2 as a hearty main

2 cups water
1 cup (updated) semi-pearled farro (see Note above for farro types)
1/2 large onion (I usually use a white one, for mildness)
2 cloves garlic
9 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
Up to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Few basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Place water and farro in a medium saucepan to presoak (I find just 5 to 10 minutes sufficient) while you prepare the other ingredients. Adding each ingredient to the pot as you finish preparing it, cut onion in half again, and very thinly slice it into quarter-moons. Thinly slice garlic cloves as well. Halve or quarter tomatoes. Add salt, pepper flakes (to taste) and 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, and set a timer for 30 minutes. Bring uncovered pan (no lid necessary) up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. When the timer rings, the farro should be perfectly cooked (tender but with a meaty chew), seasoned and the cooking water should be almost completely absorbed. If needed, though I’ve never found it necessary, cook it for 5 additional minutes, until farro is more tender.

Transfer to a wide serving bowl. If there’s enough leftover cooking liquid to be bothersome, simply use a slotted spoon to leave the amount you wish to behind. Drizzle farro lightly with additional olive oil, scatter with basil and parmesan. Eat immediately. Repeat tomorrow.