Tag Archives: cooking

Butternut Squash Curry

It’s been awhile since I recipe-d at you all –sorry an old Onion joke– but I keep meaning to take pictures of stuff I am making and then forgetting until it’s done or possibly all eaten.

Lately, I’ve been scrapping together dinners from pretty random things and feeling a bit uninspired by it all, but this one was worth sharing. Sweet and spicy, warm and healthy. Perfect for November. Omg it’s November.

Butternut Squash Curry

2 cups butternut squash soup*
2 cups (about 1/2 head) cauliflower
1 medium onion, chopped in big pieces
1 red pepper
2 large carrots, cubed
1 cup shelled edamame
1 cup paneer cubes**
2 tbsp hot red chili paste (less or more depending on how hot you prefer)
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut your cauliflower into small florets and toss with just a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt. Cut your red pepper into bite-size pieces and toss in olive oil. Bake both on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes until slightly brown. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook your carrots in olive oil, stirring occasionally, until tender and and reduce to medium low. Add your onions and cook until softened and starting to brown, stirring frequently. Add cauliflower, pepper, edamame and stir until combined. Mix in masala and curry.

3. Add butternut squash soup, stir to combine. Let simmer for about 5 minutes and then mix in red chili paste and paneer cubes.
4. Serve over jasmine rice or with naan.

*Butternut Squash Soup

I made my own soup for this, well actually, I used leftover soup for this. I recommend doing that.
Simply roast a whole butternut squash at 400 F for about 35-45 min, in large chunks, scrape the flesh from the skin into a saucepan, add 2-3 cups of vegetable broth (depending on the relative size of your squash) and 1 cup of coconut milk. Heat over medium-low and then blend with an immersion blender or mixer (you could pour into a blender, but then I’d recommend pureeing before you heat) and season with a little curry powder and cinnamon.

**Paneer

You can make your own paneer! I promise! It must be the world’s easiest cheese. You simmer some milk, you add some buttermilk and voila! Stir your curds, strain them into cheesecloth, a dash of salt, squeeze, set them under something heavy. Done. It’s so simple. I used the recipe and instructions here, at The Flourishing Foodie.

Hitting the Sauce

Last year, around this time, I made some tomato sauce with the tomatoes I bought at the Jean-Talon Market (which is so very nice) here in Montreal. I only bought a couple dozen tomatoes, made about 3 standard-jars-worth of sauce, and put them in the freezer in those small twist-top plastic freezer containers.

I thought, why not make a little more this year? I like my tomato sauce, we use a lot of tomato sauce…

So, today I bought a bushel of tomatoes and spent the greater part of the day boiling them, skinning them, seeding them, simmering them, adding more of them, stirring them, adding more of them, adding oregano/basil/garlic/salt/pepper, stirring some more, and finally canning them properly. I also burned the crap out of my hands about 14 times.

Is it worth it to make my own tomato sauce? Let’s break it down shall we:

Tomatoes $10
Oregano $.50
Basil $.50
Jars $10 (I could say that I am pro-rating the cost of jars over all the batches I might make in the future as well, but I won’t just yet)
All other ingredients were negligible cost and I already had them
Total $21

I made about 6 store-size jars of sauce in the end (4L, store jars are 650mL), so that’s $3.50 per jar, which is just about the same price as a jar of Classico at my supermarket. If you take away the cost of the jars, then it’s very cost effective to make your own sauce, provided you can get tomatoes cheaply. If you grow your own tomatoes, then it’s cost effective if you can keep your gardening costs to under about $0.30 a tomato, in my estimation.

All of these calculations can get tossed out if you just prefer your own home-made sauce regardless of cost, time, hand-burning.

My jars are currently cooling on the counter. Their lids occasionally “pop” which is music to my ears. I’m on pop number 5, there are 8 jars total. That should be enough to last us until… October.

Baba Ganoush


There is a Jewish market across town that sells respectable baba ganoush, but I haven’t made it over that way in awhile. The grocery store chooses to sell something labeled “baba ganoush” but I’m fairly convinced it’s very bland hummus mixed with paste.

I miss the Greek restaurant in my old neighborhood of NYC that had absolutely amazing baba ganoush. It was so much more flavorful and rustic. So, I tried to make it myself.

The result was excellent! I will no longer have to stoop to dip disappointment! I welcome you all to experience this liberation!

Baba Ganoush

(makes about 2.5 cups)

2 medium-sized eggplants, sliced into 1 inch discs and halved
1/4 cup tahini (or 1/4 cups sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil)
1 teaspoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 large bulb garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
a pinch of ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut your eggplant and rub each piece with olive oil, generously, and place on a oiled or nonstick baking sheet.

2. Roast eggplant pieces in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they are completely tender, golden on the surface, and the skins are blackened. Also, wrap your garlic bulb in aluminum foil with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove both from oven and let cool.

3. Scrape your eggplant centers off their skins into a food processor (or a large mixing bowl). To your eggplant, add salt, lemon juice, roasted garlic pieces (you can squeeze them out of their skins easily), cumin, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, pepper, and parsley. Mix until uniform in your processor or in your bowl with a masher or immersion blender.

4. Season to taste with additional salt and lemon juice, if desired. Chill, in sealed containers, for an hour or two. You can save some in the freezer for later and keep some in the fridge for now! Serve with pita and sliced vegetables like cucumber or peppers.

NB: I have found that several recipes suggest that you can grill your eggplant to achieve roasted-ness. So, if you’re breaking out the grill soon, keep this recipe in mind.

Guess who’s back? Pretzels with sprinkles, that’s who!

Hi there! Do you remember me? I’m the girl who convinced Shannon to start this awesome blog – just the two of us, being awesome online, I promised, it’ll be so fun to share our funny writings with each other, I reasoned – oh and then I totally bailed. Yay for me being awful and quitt-y!

Listen, people, I’m not here to make excuses. I am here to buy into the whole New Years Resolutions thing. The thing where we can all start fresh and new and become better people and work on our issues and that all of it has a totally great chance of working out if we make these commitments to ourselves in January. Don’t quit on me now, Early January Optimism!!!

So let’s talk about traditions. Holiday traditions. Traditions I do not understand. My mother-in-law who is a very nice person and completely the opposite of a stereotypical ‘bad’ mother-in-law I’ve heard about gave me some Christmas cookie/candy recipes. Because I decided that I was going to make Christmas cookies for my husband. Because Christmas eve fell right around Hanukkah and I felt bad that my husband was going to be subjected to all of this insane Jewish Russianness. So I decided to do a sweet (get it? ’cause they are cookies. Gawd, I KILL!) gesture.

Did you get all that? I asked for dessert recipes that my mother-in-law traditionally made for my husband when he was growing up. What I got was…unexpected…

What in the living hell is almond bark??? It’s chocolate colored, yet contains no chocolate. Why someone would take an afternoon of their time to dip ready-made pretzels from a supermarket bag into this almond bark mess when there are perfectly delicious chocolate-dipped pretzels at Trader Joe’s is beyond me. Rice Crispies cereal is now an ingredient? In a traditional Christmas thing you make every year?? What happened in America that instead of using quality ingredients in an old recipe, people use corn syrup?

This is the part of the post where I concede the point that I am a horrible stuck-up snob who should probably be immediately deported. Point conceded.

I plugged my little horrible snob nose and made the stuff. Then I went to the store, bought some good chocolate and made truffles and a Queen of Sheeba almond chocolate cake. You are free to guess which got eaten first.

Although, the caramels using my MIL’s recipes turned out pretty awesome. Even though they contain a can of sweetened condensed milk. SHAME!!!

Novembering

So it begins.

I knew summer was over and was really getting into the swing of fall, but now it feels like it’s almost winter. I remember the winter seeming to last forever last year, possibly because I had a newborn and so the cool September and October weather seemed wintery to my protective-maternal side. But I’m bracing myself for the long ride again. Winter around here seems to go on well into April.

The coats and hats and mittens have been unearthed. Close-toed shoes have been newly acquired. There may not be many more days that we can go to the playground for long stretches of time and so I’m already mentally preparing alternatives so that we do not go mad trapped in the house every day. Last winter, my daughter was just a tiny baby so she didn’t care too much about WHERE she was as long as I was there and giving her all my attention. Now, she wants 99% of my attention and a lot to do. Possibly with new friends. Possibly with large areas in which to run around. Also shoes.

On more fun note, I’m thinking about my thanksgiving menu. My mom and her husband are going to come visit us and while they probably do not expect “thanksgiving dinner,” we still have to eat something so I may as well find some fun new recipes to make. I should also mention that planning ahead is practically necessary, since we’ll have mostly vegetarians, one person who cannot eat any dairy, one person who won’t eat anything unhealthy and will probably bring her own quinoa (they have it here, mom, really), and one person who will throw everything on the floor.

The ladies over at Rants from Mommyland call it the “death spiral,” that moment you hit Halloween and watch all your time and energy get sucked into holidays and projects. I guess it hits the parents of school-kids harder. But I agree that there is a definite momentum and the to-do lists get pretty intimidating as November trudges on. I haven’t just started my November to-do list by copying over the 6 as-yet-incomplete things from October and adding 3 more things. And then the toddler deleted my sticky.

Happy November.

A lovely quiche

You know, so many people use pie dishes to make quiches. I much prefer this round cake-pan look. Especially because it can stand on it’s own outside the dish.

Crust:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cold butter, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup cold water

Crumble flour, butter, and salt together until mostly even. Add the water and mix dough with your hands into a ball. Press dough into a nonstick or buttered, round, 6-inch cake-pan (or spring-form pan) until the bottom and sides are covered and mostly even thicknesses. No rolling! No floured counter! Unless you want to…

Quiche Filling:
Break 5 eggs into a bowl and whisk until bubbly. Add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan, a tablespoon of ground pepper, 1 cup of grated cheese (I used mozzarella, but cheddar or many other kinds work), 1/2 cup of steamed spinach, 1/8 cup of whole milk or cream, and a tablespoon of salt. Stir to incorporate. Pour filling into the cake-pan with crust.

Bake at 360 F for about 25-30 min, until set in the center. If you want some nice brown on the top, you can switch to broil for just a few minutes.

Makes a nice breakfast, lunch, or dinner! You don’t have to use spinach, you can use mushrooms (but cook them first) or tomatoes, pretty much whatever you like or have around the kitchen. My daughter was willing to even eat a few bites of this. C’est si bon!

Pumpkin Season!

I don’t know what it is about them, but I just love pumpkins. Maybe it’s their little round bodies, their happy orange-color. To me, they are just the embodiment of fall. It’s such a shame that they are normally relegated to merely Jack o’Lanterns and pie for thanksgiving.

Every year, I try out a new round of pumpkin-recipe experiments. Some are so-so (pumpkin gnocci) and some are Fabulous. I would like to share my top 3 with you! I’ll give you two of them today and one tomorrow.

Pumpkin Cookies

These are SO easy. You can almost memorize the recipe because it’s almost all 1′s and one 2. The cookies are soft, like muffin tops, and great with a little bit of basic sugar glaze (thought I always skip it).

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 dash salt
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking soda

Combine wet (butter, sugar, pumpkin, egg) ingredients. Combine dry (flour, soda, oats, salt, spices) ingredients. Mix wet and dry together until incorporated. Bake at 350ºF for about 6-10 min.

Pumpkin Pizza

Pizza dough:
Get this started about 1 hr before you want to make your pizzas.

1 (.25 oz) package of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water, let sit until fluffly ~ 5 minutes. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, then add yeast mixture and stir well to combine. Dough should ball up. Cover with a damp dishcloth and set in a mildly warm place to rise. Takes about 30 min to double in volume, but you can wait longer if necessary. Put risen dough onto a floured surface and roll into a round or oval pizza crust shape with a rolling pin or even just our hands. Put pizza doughs on a baking sheet and set aside.

Or you can cheat, like me, and use a fluffy pita or other appropriate pre-made bread.

Pumpkin Sauce:
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup pumpkin
1 small boiled potato, mashed up
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

Caramelized Red Onions:
2 cup of chopped red onion
1 tbsp of butter

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add butter and onions. Stir occasionally until just browning. Set aside on very low heat.

Bring to a simmer, thoroughly stir in pumpkin, using an immersion blender if necessary. Simmer for about 20 min until reduced by about 25% and the texture of a sauce or thick soup (which is also good!).
Top your pizza with spoonfuls of pumpkin sauce, until covered. Sprinkle a small amount of shredded mozzerella. Crumble goat cheese until most of the pumpkin is covered. Sprinkle red pepper flakes, just a pinch. Bake at 350ºF for 10-15 min.
Add about a 1/2 cup of warm, caramelized, red onions to the tops of pizzas before serving.

Martha Stewart No More

Trust: It Was Delicious

I used to be somewhat of a foodie (I realize that’s kind of a dirty word now but whatevs). I used to bake cakes, cookies, pizzas and was positively mystified at the use of mixes from a box (“It saves you only like 10 minutes but you lose so much in taste,” I reasoned). I would craft nightly fresh gourmet salads and make my own dressings from scratch. I made fresh ice cream and made fresh cookies and then made fresh ice cream sandwiches.

I subscribed to Bon Apetit and leisurely looked through their recipes and got ideas and then USED THOSE IDEAS. I watched the Food Network and had opinions about the various chef techniques and ingredient selections. I slowly got over my fear of using yeast to make fresh dough (but sadly not over my intimidation of flambeing).

Do you see where I’m going with this?

As you may or may not know, I had a child. The child required and continues to require every second of my attention when I am home from work. The longest stretch of time I have to cook is on a Saturday or Sunday during a nap. That is when I mobilize into action and prioritize speed, ease, quantity of final output and the fewest number of vessels/kitchen implements needed over pretty much anything else. Case in point: yesterday, Rosh Hashanah came and went and despite my fervent desire to bake a honey challah, I totally didn’t.

Not trying to start a pity party, but I totally miss my cooking. More so, I miss the process of leisurely cooking just to see how it would turn out and then looking into my husband’s eyes to gauge his reaction to the final product.

In my head I KNOW that moms who stay at home are insanely busy but in my fantasy, I think that maybe I would have time to devote to this hobby if I wasn’t at work. Please correct me because I’m sure I am totally wrong.

UPDATE: After all the moaning and whining I did on this post, I went to the store, bought some packets of yeast, stuffed my baby into the Ergo and baked 2 Challah loaves.  I will tell you that kneading bread with a toddler strapped to your body is not so much fun, but he was very cute trying to get his little hands into the dough, so it all balanced out in the end.

One of the loaves turned out pretty meh – the recipe’s suggestion to press the raisins into the dough didn’t work out so well since all the raisins basically fell off as the dough rose in the oven). But the other one was truly delicious and gorgeous! High-five for baking instead of bitching!