Sunday, October 10, 2010

(Saturday) In the Kitchen: Stuffed Squash, Martha-Style

So, I also made this stuffed acorn squash for the picnic. I had seen a recipe for stuffed acorn squash in Martha recently, I think, or at least, on an email from her (yes, her personally).

But I didn't like the stuffing, which was all sweet and fruity. Just too much with the sweet squash. So instead, I made a spicy veggie curry mixed with rice, with some cinnamon and nutmeg to tie the taste into the squash. Oh, and I topped it with fried blanched almonds, a little trick I've picked up from some Moroccans I know (and by that I mean my husband). It was delicious!

- Roast the squash in the oven (duh). It takes about an hour. Don't forget to season the squash before you stuff it!
- Dice and cook vegetables - whatever you'd like to include, really. I used a number of onions (which I caramelized first before adding the other veggies), carrots, summer squash and cauliflower. I wanted vegetables that could be both savory and a little sweet at the same time.
- Caramelize the onions with a bit of butter and then add the other veggies. I added about a teaspoon each of: cumin, paprika, turmeric, ginger, curry, pepper and salt. I also added a couple pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Add some water and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes and adding water if need be.
- Cook rice concurrently :)
- Mix it together and stuff the squash. I made a lot (I wanted leftovers for lunch today) so you could reduce this recipe if you just wanted to stuff the squash.

Serve, and feel proud like Martha.

(Saturday) In the Kitchen: Plum Tart from Orangette

I baked this simple plum tart. It was delicious! And very simple, I mixed it all by hand.
The only change I made was to add a tiny squeeze of fresh orange and some orange zest into the dough, because I loved the orangey plum flavor of last week's pie.

I took it to a picnic we had with our friends and their kids, and there was only one piece left at the end. It is a small tart :-( If you try it, you might want to make two!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Yosemite Longing

Deep sigh. This is my favorite picture from my last trip to Yosemite, about a year and a half ago. It was a foggy, misty day and it made the floor of the valley so incredibly dramatic. Yes, that is a giant cascading waterfall you are seeing.

I am desperately longing to wake up here soon and breathe the amazingly fresh air, but it is looking more and more unlikely right now. Boo! Anyone know where closer I can get a fix of something like this?

In the Kitchen: Butternut Squash Soup

OK, I'm not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but I sure have been cooking up a storm lately. Today I made butternut squash soup, all the while arguing with myself that what I really wanted was pie for dinner. Nevermind all that, here's how I made it, which I would call "the lazy person's guide to butternut squash soup."

I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and roasted it for 50 minutes in the oven. It is WAY too much work to peel and chop this monster, I think. Roasting it makes it easy to scoop out with a spoon.

I sauteed onion and garlic with butter in a large pot, for about 10 minutes. Then I added about two cups of my homemade vegetable stock (insert smug smile here) and scooped out the squash into the pot with everything else. Then I added about a cup of whole milk for good measure. Salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, ginger. Puree in batches in your blender and eat! That's about it. I forgot to take pictures during the process so you just get to see the finished soup.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In the Kitchen: Stock & Soup

I made my own vegetable stock today, something I've always meant to do but never bothered...It was remarkably easy. I forgot that since you're not eating the veggies and herbs in there, they can be roughly chopped and all that. Totally casual, stock. I used leeks, carrots, celery and some celery root and thyme. I wanted to use fresh thyme, but I couldn't find it at the farmer's market yesterday, so I just used some dried thyme that I had.
After simmering it all for about three hours, I strained it and put most of the stock into the freezer for future use. I also reserved some for the roasted cauliflower soup that I made.

The cauliflower soup was easy too. I just chopped the cauliflower up and cooked it for about 10 minutes with butter, onion and one leek. When it was starting to get soft, I added in two cups of milk and two cups of my homemade veggie stock. I also added in some spices: ground coriander, nutmeg (a tiny bit goes a long way), a hint of curry, paprika and turmeric, and some sea salt and ground pepper.

When it had simmered for about 30 minutes, I pureed it in the blender in batches. I also toasted some slivered almonds to use as a garnish for when I serve the soup tonight. I had a spoonful and it was delicious! Can't wait to eat more!!

In the Kitchen: Apple & Plum Pie

So, as I mentioned, I've never baked before. But I absolutely *love* the Smitten Kitchen blog, and I read it every week. This pie recipe was featured on the blog last week, and I just decided to make it since I had all the apples and it was easy to pick up late-season plums at the farmer's market yesterday.
I diligently followed all the directions...and it came out looking very similar to the one on Smitten Kitchen! I am so excited. I'm waiting a couple of hours to eat it with Idriss, but I can't wait. Hopefully this is the first baking venture of many!

I'm not going to list out all the steps - I just wanted to show you how it looked at each stage. Go to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe.

Sunday in the Kitchen

Not sure why, but I was struck by an urge to cook all afternoon today. My husband can tell you that this feeling is not only rare, but it might actually be the first time I've done it in my life. We made out like bandits at the farmer's market yesterday, and I don't know, inspiration just struck me.

I wanted to make stock to use in soups, since I don't like the pre-made ones and soups taste so much better with good stock. I wanted to make a good soup. And, I wanted to make a pie. I've never made a pie before. In fact, I'm terrible at baking, and although we own a cute yellow Kitchenaid, I've never actually used it until today.

I'm going to post each cooking project separately. Yay cooking! Stock is in the freezer as I type :)

East Bay Explorer: Lakes

Yesterday Idriss and I meandered up to Lake Temescal for the first time. It's a small lake in the middle of the Oakland Hills, well, almost at the top of the hills.

It doesn't take long to stroll around it and take in the scenery, and it's super close to us. Two big pluses. The minus: the nearby freeway noise echos through the valley, which you can't see in these pictures but was a little annoying to me.

This morning, I took a walk at Lake Merritt, which is almost in downtown Oakland.

It's a more urban setting, but it's about 4 miles around, making for great exercise. I saw a really cool heron there, too. I think I will start running here. What else? Other East Bay park recommendations?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vintage Yellow Tile

We have lovely, original pale yellow tiles in our bathroom. It's a small room but it has a big window and what it lacks in modern conveniences, it makes up for in charm. I got the shower curtain on clearance at Anthropologie and the little black wire baskets for just a few dollars each at Ikea. They were perfect because there is no room for storage on the floor, so they hold some essentials that didn't fit in the medicine cabinet. Sometimes the cheapest and simplest solutions really are the best!


My apartment really still needs a lot of work. I've had a busy summer and haven't spent too much time on it, but here are a couple little vignettes I have together so far.

Saturday Snapshots

Sweet little hedgehog etching came as a surprise wedding gift from my dear old friend Stacy and her family. Farmer's market flowers from Idriss. Bartleby lapping up the sun. Lovey (and lovely) card I gave to Idriss a while back.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Feeling Happy-Go-Lucky

The tail end of dusk. The air is heavy with the heat of Indian summer and the scent of overripe jasmine. Crickets. I wouldn't want to change this moment for any other.