Tag Archives: Meat-Free

Eggplant Parm + NEWS!

Alright… I said I’d spill the beans a little more about my big blogging news, and I’m here to do just that! Plus give you a superb recipe for one of my favorite comfort foods, the lovely Eggplant Parm(esan). More on that later. For now, my news!

Drumroll please….

I AM STARTING A BRAND-NEW FOOD BLOG!!!! It will be live on Tuesday, and I am so, so beyond excited to show it to you! It’s been in the works for a long time now. First just in my head, then shopping around for website developers (yes, I used a real professional this time instead of just pretending I know anything about WordPress themes!), and my developer and I finally have this thing in almost working order!

My reasons? First of all, I feel like the name of this blog, Texan New Yorker is now only half true. Thanks to Matt’s job, I keep moving away from NYC! Yes, we moved again this summer… And since he works in such an incestuous industry where the companies keep buying and eating each other, another move at some point wouldn’t be terribly shocking. On the purely pragmatic side, I’m feeling that tying the name of my blog to geography is no longer an accurate move.

Secondly, when I started Texan New Yorker, I was sooooo green and naïve on the blogging scene. I’ve made rookie mistakes, missteps of all kinds, and I took it in a direction I’m no longer happy with. I feel like it’s become somewhat inauthentic and not resembling my own voice as I’d like. I was a newbie, and felt somewhat tentative to speak my own mind and truth for fear of offending others and being ostracized. I’ve been overly concerned about SEO, which is often a deterrent to making food one’s own way, and feeling like I can’t, say, blog something non-Thanksgiving-y in the middle of November. Which is silly and needs to stop. So it will, come Tuesday November 7th!

I’m so thrilled with how the new site is turning out, and I so hope you all will join me in this next adventure! I promise it will be incredibly delicious recipes and much more interesting chat. I’ll write even more about it on Tuesday.

For now, Eggplant Parmesan, a beautiful comfort food dish I only learned to like in adulthood. We just didn’t have much eggplant growing up so it kind of freaked me out at first, and since it is oh noes vegetarian, for a while I just plain refused to try it. Loser. You know when I first bit the bullet and sampled it? At the Olive Garden. I’m not particularly proud of that, but there you have it.

This homemade version is of course far superior to what I had at the Garden, which probably isn’t saying much, but fear not, it’s totally delicious by much higher standards as well. We loved it. I bet you will too. Enjoy!

Source: very slightly adapted from Crazy Good Italian by Mike Isabella

Ingredients:
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup plus 3 cups grated parmesan
2 tbs dried oregano
2 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
2 medium eggplants
2 cups olive oil (can use canola or vegetable oil if your olive oil is really expensive)
3 whole garlic cloves
1 (32 oz.) jar good quality marinara (I used Rao’s Homemade)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I did not use fresh, I wanted less water for better melting)
10 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced, plus extra torn for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Set up a breading station in three separate shallow bowls or pie plates: place the flour in the first, the eggs in the second, and in the third combine the panko, ¼ cup parmesan, oregano, salt, and chile flakes.
Slice off ½ an inch from the top and bottom of the eggplants and discard. Use a peeler to remove the skin if it bothers you (it does not bother me so I skipped this step). Slice the eggplants into ¾-inch-thick rounds.
Dredge each slice of eggplant in flour, then eggs, then panko mixture.
Heat the olive oil and garlic cloves in a large saute pan over medium heat. Let the garlic get golden brown while the oil heats up. Once the oil is ready to fry the eggplant, remove the garlic and discard. It was just there to flavor the oil.
Increase the heat to medium-high, test it for readiness with a pinch of panko mixture. Once it is ready, fry the breaded eggplant slices for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Cool on a paper-towel lined plate or cooling rack. Do this in batches. You don’t want to cool the oil temperature too much and prevent the eggplant from browning and crisping up.
Now to assembly: ladle ¾ cup marinara into an 8×8-inch square baking dish. Layer the eggplant, more marinara, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil. Repeat until you have three layers of eggplant. Top with remaining cheese.
Cover with foil and place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, removing the foil after 25 minutes. The sauce and cheese should be bubbling. Let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with torn basil.

Mesa Grill Black Bean Soup

Happy (belated – gulp) 2017!! With some extremely notable exceptions – a new nephew! a wonderful extended vacation with Matt! a good friend getting married! – I didn’t like 2016 any more than anyone else, so I decided to skip all the food blogger end-of-year countdowns and just jump into 2017 with good vibes. Mold in my apartment has hampered that a little, but take heed, it will not win!

I’d been planning to jump back into blogging yesterday, but seeing as it was MLK Day, and this particular MLK Day seems more … I don’t know, pertinent? Important? … than usual, given the current political climate and happenings, I didn’t feel that I personally could add much to that conversation. So today it is!

I want to begin this New Year with one of my favorite recipes, one that I first cooked years ago and never forgot, yet have never committed to my blog. What you have here is perfect comfort food for cold weather or grumpy days that will not interfere with any fitness/weight loss/lose those holiday pounds goals. In fact, it might even help! And this soup is SO delicious. The genius of this recipe is in the garnishes. Garnishes to soup or chili are usually in the vein of just throw whatever you like on there, if you like anything at all – and of course that’s totally fine! But it’s just not how this particular soup works. On its own, it’s a solidly built yet kind of non-special black bean soup. But when you garnish it as instructed, the entire bowl sings and makes everyone all kinds of happy.

On a different note, I do aim to be a better blogger this year. When your blog is not your primary source of income, it’s too easy to back-burner it, but that’s lame. I want this to be a fun, inspiring, and of course delicious space, so I vow to be better at time management. And feel free to hold my feet to the fire, my dear readers whom I love!

Source: slightly adapted from The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

SOUP:
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 cup red wine
3 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 jalapeno chiles, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, and seeded
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbs fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

GRILLED ONION RELISH:
1 large red onion, sliced ½-inch thick into rounds – do not separate the layers of the rounds
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

TOMATO-SERRANO RELISH:
2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 serrano chile, diced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

CUMIN CREMA:
8 oz. crema, crème fraiche, or sour cream
1 scant tbs ground cumin
1 tbs fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

AVOCADO-TOMATILLO RELISH:
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 large tomatillos, husked, scrubbed, and chopped
3 tbs finely chopped red onion
1 small jalapeno chile, finely chopped, seeded if desired
3 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
First, make the SOUP: heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add carrot, onion, and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half.
Add the beans and reduce the heat to medium. Add the jalapenos, poblano, and stock. Simmer 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, salt and pepper. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. If the soup has cooled, rewarm before serving.
While the soup is simmering away, make the garnishes. I recommend starting with the GRILLED ONION RELISH: preheat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Cheater’s note: a griddle pan or nonstick or cast-iron skillet works fine as well. Just sayin’. Anywho, brush the onion slices with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill on each side for 4-5 minutes, until lightly charred and cooked through. If the rounds start coming apart when you flip them, it’s fine. Remove the onions from the grill and chop.
For the TOMATO-SERRANO RELISH: combine the tomatoes and serrano chile in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
For the CUMIN CREMA: place the crema in a small bowl, add the cumin and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and whisk to thoroughly combine.
For the AVOCADO-TOMATILLO RELISH: gently combine the avocados, tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and oil in a bowl, then season with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls, then spoon at least one tablespoon of each garnish on the soup, laying them side-by-side as much as possible. And it’s totally okay to add more of any or all garnishes when your bowl of soup is halfway gone. That’s why you make so much of each garnish!

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Years ago, when I finally decided to start eating from the produce aisle on a voluntary basis, I’ve been searching for a vegetable-based taco that meets with my admittedly high and exacting taco standards. Which are the following: they must be filling and hefty, no matter what the contents; flavor must be extremely bold and in your face; there must be a touch of heat and spice from chiles of some kind; there must be multiple components that complement each other.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Vegetarian tacos generally fail at most of these criteria, particularly the last one. It often feels like people, more specifically restaurants and food trucks, think that if the filling is vegetable or bean based, then it might be overkill to top it with a vegetable or bean-based salsa. No!! Not at all! In fact it’s quite necessary to provide that contrast of textures, and that is a bit tougher on a vegetable-based taco.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

But with this blog post, I’m proving beyond any doubt that it is entirely possible. The key is choosing different textures between the main event filling and the garnish. This taco is, thus far, my hands down favorite meat-free taco ever, and it’s not a stretch to say it’s going in my top ten tacos eaten ever. The zucchini here is chopped and sautéed, so a chopped tomato salsa really wouldn’t work. The textures and shapes would be too similar. Corn kernels are a perfect solution. Then the chipotle crema adds a creamy note that this taco just begs for, plus that heat and spice that I personally require on all tacos.

Zucchini Tacos with Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

Carnivore or vegetarian, I don’t care, just try these. Whatever your eating habits/philosophy, it doesn’t matter – you will NOT be disappointed. Enjoy!

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:

TACOS:
2 tbs olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cubed zucchini
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 corn tortillas, warmed

CORN SALSA:
2 ears grilled corn on the cob, kernels cut from cob
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and black pepper, to taste

CHIPOTLE CREMA:
3 tbs plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch each of salt and black pepper

Directions:
For the TACOS: heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini becomes slightly tender, 5-6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
For the CORN SALSA, combine the corn kernels, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and toss together.
For the CREMA, whisk together yogurt, adobo sauce, lime juice, salt and pepper.
To assemble the tacos, add some zucchini mixture to each warm tortilla and cover it with corn salsa. Drizzle some crema on top. Serve immediately.

Chaat Tostadas

Chaat Tostadas

I recently breezed through Padma Lakshmi’s recently published memoir, and while part of me wishes I’d waited for a beach to plow through it (it would be SUCH a perfect beach read!), I must recommend it to all the Top Chef fans out there. Yes, much of it is salacious and juicy as you might expect, but I truly loved the food writing. Everyone knows Lakshmi is from India, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about their culinary habits and traditions.

Chaat Tostadas

I thought it would be a bit crass and tone deaf for a Caucasian American to wax purple prose about another culture’s food traditions, especially from a country I’ve never visited and to whose food I was only introduced about a decade ago (grew up in Dallas suburbs in the ‘80’s yo), so I’ll just leave it at recommending the book to Top Chef fans and saying that although I’m an outsider and a novice, I do quite enjoy Indian food.

Chaat Tostadas

IMG_3362

So when I ordered Seven Spoons a couple weeks ago, this mostly Indian dish jumped out at me, and became the first thing I made from the book. It’s such a beautiful dish, it really is. Chaat is the all-purpose word for Indian street food, and it means that all the different tastes and textures are combined in one dish. You have crunchy, spicy, sweet, savory, sour/tangy, creamy, etc. all on one plate. There’s admittedly a lot going on here, but it all works together seamlessly and is so worth your time to put together. A wonderful meal. Enjoy!

IMG_3383

Source: slightly adapted from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady

Ingredients:

CHICKPEAS:
¼ cup canola oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed lightly
½ tsp ground cumin
Generous pinch of sweet paprika
Generous pinch of cayenne
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

GREEN CHUTNEY:
1 bunch of cilantro, stems and leaves, divided
2 tsp water
1 to 2 limes
2 tsp peeled grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 green chiles, seeds left in for a hotter chutney
¼ tsp raw sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 big handful of fresh mint leaves

TO SERVE:
8 corn tortillas, shallow fried in canola oil until browned and crispy, drained on paper towels
1 cup plain yogurt, Greek-style or regular
A sweet chutney, for drizzling (can be tamarind, mango, apricot, whatever you want – but puree it if it’s really chunky)
Chaat masala, a spice mix found at specialty grocery stores, OR combine ½ tsp each ground cumin, cayenne, and ground coriander
1 small red onion, minced
A couple handfuls sprouts, such as mung bean, alfalfa, or radish
Sev (crispy fried Indian noodles); or if you can’t find those, sub in crunchy chow mein noodles
A handful of cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

Directions:
To make the CHICKPEAS: Pour the oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika and cayenne. Stir until you can smell the spices, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the chickpeas and turn them through the hot oil to coat. Continue to cook until chickpeas are crisped, 7 to 10 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then set aside.
To make the GREEN CHUTNEY: add the cilantro stems, water, and juice of 1 lime to your blender. Process until pureed or mostly pureed. If nothing is happening, add a little more water or lime juice. Scrape down the sides, then add the ginger and garlic. Process again, scrape down the sides again, then add the chiles, sugar, and salt. Process again, then add the cilantro leaves and mint. Puree again, and this time it should get really smooth. Again, add a touch more water or lime juice if not. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
TO SERVE: place 2 tostadas on each of 4 dinner plates. Top with the spiced chickpeas, followed in order by the yogurt, sweet chutney, green chutney, a couple pinches of chaat masala or the spice mix you made in lieu of it, the onion, the sprouts, sev or chow mein noodles, and lastly cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and eat immediately.

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs #SundaySupper

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Today we present you with the wonderful theme of Eggtastic – recipes prominently featuring eggs! Eggs and I have not had the smoothest relationship over the years; despite that, I love this theme.

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

As a child, the only eggs I would willingly eat were scrambled, and then only my mom’s. Fortunately, I have broadened my horizons a bit since reaching adulthood, and now I’d say the only type of eggs I just can’t do are hard-boiled. It’s good progress, right?

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

But yet, even now as a grown-up, I’m fairly particular about how certain types of eggs are prepared. Which brings me to this recipe I’m sharing today. I found this on The New York Times Cooking (one of the absolute best spaces on the entire interwebs, by the way); the recipe is submitted by Mark Bittman, a cook and food writer I respect enormously, and he specifically instructed to fry the eggs gently in olive oil. Except…. I hate fried eggs that way. I need fried eggs to have runny yolks, completely set whites, and super browned crispy edges.

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

So, I did what any food blogger would do – slightly adapted the recipe to accommodate my beloved crispy edges. I’m thrilled to say it worked, and you should make this the next time you need a quick, five-ingredient, weeknight meal that you barely have to think about. The end result was simple, delicious, and incredibly comforting. This will be a go-to for those days I’m feeling too tired to cook dinner. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

And be sure you check out all the delectable egg recipes from my Sunday Supper crew!

Source: adapted a little bit from The New York Times Cooking; recipe submitted by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:
Salt
½ lb. thin spaghetti
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
4 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, optional but highly recommended

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente according to package directions.
Place a large, high-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and garlic cloves. Cook, pressing the garlic cloves to release the oils, until the garlic is nicely fragrant and lightly colored on both sides. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon.
Crank the heat on the skillet to very high. Let it heat a full minute, until the oil is smoking lightly. Carefully, without cracking the yolks, crack the eggs into the hot skillet in a single layer. Season them with salt and black pepper. Let them fry, untouched, for a good minute. The whites will bubbly and the edges will brown. They should cook about 90 seconds at the most. You want to keep the yolk runny.
Transfer the eggs to a large bowl that can handle being lightly scraped by forks. Immediately use 2 forks to break up the eggs into bite-size pieces. Don’t worry about yolks running all over.
Time this to happen right when the pasta is cooked; you want to immediately transfer the drained pasta to the bowl with the cut up fried eggs. Toss vigorously with tongs – you want the heat of the pasta to finish cooking the yolks. Add cheese to taste and serve immediately, with extra cheese for passing at the table, if desired.

Appetizers & Sides

Main Dishes (Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Brinner and Dinner!)

Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Smoky Beer Macaroni and Cheese

Smoky Beer Macaroni and Cheese

Happy 2016!! I am having an absolute blast playing with all my new toys I got for Christmas, and yes, most of them are cooking related. I got *several* new cookbooks, and this mac and cheese here is the first recipe I made from one of them.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s the first Monday back to the grindstone after the holiday season, and we’re all supposed to be thinking about healthy eating and weight loss resolutions and whatnot; thus, a pasta dish featuring three cheeses probably isn’t going to be too popular on this day of the year. Oh well. It’s cold outside. Plus, I find that this blog is much more fun and fulfilling when I cook the things I want to make and eat rather than trying to appease the SEO gods. So I must stand by it!

Smoky Beer Macaroni and Cheese

This is a particularly interesting and richly flavored version of the classic comfort food. Like I mentioned, there are three cheeses in here, two of which are smoked cheeses. And the beer adds a hoppy dimension and cuts the richness a little bit. In short, it’s a mac and cheese for grown-ups.

smoky beer macaroni and cheese

I personally prefer mac and cheese without bread crumbs on top, usually, but if you want it, add 1 cup panko mixed with 3 tbs melted butter on top of the shredded cheese layer right before baking it off. Enjoy!

Smoky Beer Macaroni and Cheese

Source: slightly adapted from The Craft Beer Cookbook by Jacquelyn Dodd

Ingredients:
½ cup unsalted butter
3 tbs all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 cups beer (use a pale ale)
2 tsp mustard powder
½ tsp chili powder
6 oz. smoked Cheddar, shredded
6 oz. sharp white Cheddar, shredded
8 oz. smoked Gouda, shredded
16 oz. elbow macaroni
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Fresh black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Place 4 large gratin dishes, or individual cast-iron skillets, on a large baking sheet. Grease if necessary, and set aside.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smooth and the raw flour taste is cooked out, about 1 minute.
Add the milk and beer. Whisk to combine, then bring to a simmer. Whisk in the mustard and chili powders.
Combine all three cheeses in a large bowl and set aside about ½ cup. Slowly add the mixed cheeses (aside from the ½ cup of course) to the stockpot, about 1 large handful at a time. Let the cheese melt before each new addition.
Now add the macaroni noodles to the cheese sauce, keeping the heat level between medium and medium-high. You want to cook the pasta in the cheese sauce until al dente but not completely done. This takes about 10 minutes, and you will need to stir often enough to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot. For me, this meant stirring constantly. I thought it was worth it.
Once the noodles are al dente, shut off the heat, season with salt and pepper, and quickly spoon the mixture into the prepared gratin dishes. Top each with the remaining shredded cheese. This is when you’d put on the panko mixture if you choose.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the edges are bubbling and the top cheese is melted. If you want, finish the gratins with a grind of black pepper.
Serve immediately.

Broccoflower Cheese Tartlets

Broccoflower Cheese Tartlets

The past few years, as I’ve paid more attention to the seasonality of produce and followed several farmers’ markets on social media, the oddly beautiful yet somewhat alien-looking winter vegetable known as broccoflower, or sometimes Romanesco, has caught my eye.

Broccoflower Cheese Tartlets

This year, I saw some and impulsively decided to try it for the first time. This veggie is a hybrid (love child) of broccoli and cauliflower, and frankly, I think it tastes better than either of its “parents”. I know broccoflower isn’t all that common and has a very short season, but could we please, please have more of it?? It’s so good!

broccoflower

broccoflower

The texture is slightly softer than broccoli or cauliflower, and it lacks the bitterness of broccoli. It has an almost-sweet background note that is very tasty and pleasant. When cooked, the texture was soft but still with a nice bite to it. Matt and I were extremely pleased with my impulsive purchase, and kept raving over these little tartlets with each new bite. I hogged all the leftovers for myself, I’m afraid to say. I regret nothing.

Broccoflower Cheese Tartlets

These tartlets would be perfect for setting out at a cocktail party, but I can also say with some authority that they work just fine for dinner alongside a side salad. If you can get your hands on some broccoflower, don’t hesitate to pick it up. Enjoy!

Broccoflower Cheese Tartlets

Source: A Lot on Her Plate by Rosie Birkett

Ingredients:
Uncooked pie dough for a one-crust pie
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 broccoflower (also called Romanesco cauliflower), cut into little florets, stalk discarded
3 large eggs
1 generous cup (5-6 oz.) shredded Gruyere cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tbs heavy cream
6 tbs whole milk
Pinch of crushed red chile flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin. Set aside.
Roll out the pie dough until it is ½-inch thick. Cut out rounds slightly bigger than the holes in the muffin tin. Line each hole with the pastry rounds so that it’s level with, or even slightly sticking out from, the top of each hole. If you need to patch the bottoms or sides with the scraps, that’s fine. No one will see it.
Chill the pastry for 15 minutes, then use a fork to prick the base of each. Line with pieces of parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the parchment paper and dried beans/pie weights. Let cool while you make the filling.
Blanch the broccoflower florets in salted boiling water until they turn bright green – barely 1 minute. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and drain.
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the cheeses, cream, milk, and chile flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then whisk to combine. Divide the filling between the cooled pastry cups, leaving about ½ an inch from the top.
Arrange the broccoflower in the filling and grate over a little more Parmesan. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the custard is set and the pastry is golden and crisp. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

When it comes to soups, I highly prefer chunky soups over the pureed variety. I need something to chew with each spoonful. Pureed soups often don’t do it for me, with one major exception: butternut squash soup. It’s one of my fall season favorites, and I try out a different recipe every year.

I have one hard-and-fast, persnickety rule: it can’t be too sweet. Butternut squash is inherently sweet, so I firmly believe it doesn’t need any help in that department, and in fact could use a little bit of “hindrance” from decidedly savory ingredients. My favorite things to put into butternut squash soup are ingredients like bacon, parmesan, bitter greens, smoked cheese and the like. Cubes of bread roasted with a liberal amount of cinnamon sugar has never topped the list. Until now, that is.

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

I know I’ll fail at adequately explaining to you how delicious this soup combination is, but suffice it to say, outstanding is a mild understatement. The soup itself was incredibly tasty and well-rounded and really let the squash’s flavor shine. The cinnamon-sugar croutons were something I’d happily make just to snack on by themselves. Using earthy multi-grain bread ensures the sweetness is somewhat tempered; and yet it fondly reminded me of the cinnamon toast my mom would make us for breakfast when I was little.

But I think the best part of this meal comes when you top your soup with an embarrassing amount of croutons: some of the cinnamon sugar migrates from the croutons to float around in and richly flavor your soup, and it just tastes so amazing! So perfect. Enjoy!

Amaretto Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon-Toast Croutons

Source: Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

Ingredients:

CROUTONS:
2 cups multigrain bread cubes, preferably a bit stale
1-2 tbs olive oil
4 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

SOUP:
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs amaretto
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Black pepper, to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Chopped toasted pecans, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
First make the CROUTONS: preheat your oven to 400 F. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, sugar, and cinnamon. Spread the cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven until golden and crunchy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the croutons cool on the sheet. Try not to eat too many while you’re making the soup.
Now make the SOUP: heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Now add the onions with a pinch of salt and stir. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then pour in the amaretto. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the squash cubes and stock to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes. Once the squash is soft, remove the pot from the heat and either carefully pour the soup into your blender and puree until smooth, or hit it with an immersion blender. Either way, make sure you turn the heat off the pot. Once the soup is pureed and creamy, transfer it back to the soup pot (if necessary) and heat over low heat. Pour in the cream and stir to combine. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with so many croutons and garnish with a sprinkling of scallions, and pecans, if desired.

Pulled Veggie Sliders

Pulled Veggie Sliders

I firmly believe that this is the worst time of year to be trying to lose weight. I know because I’ve been there. Not only is the most food-centric holiday of the year approaching in one short month, but before then you’ve got the barrage of Halloween candy, then after that more holidays largely featuring lots of feasting at family dinners, cookie exchanges, and holiday candy. And that’s not even mentioning that on top of all that decadence, this is football and tailgating season!

pulled veggie sliders

Game day grub is generally not all that figure-friendly. Lots of tortilla and potato chips, fattening dips, cheese and fatty meats feature prominently. It’s tough to stick to your calorie count during this time. I know – I’ve been there.

So I wanted to offer up something appropriate for game day that is pretty figure friendly, that won’t blow your calorie allotment for the day, but isn’t a consolation prize. This little slider is incredibly tasty – Matt remarked that it was better than many pulled pork sandwiches he’s eaten – full of familiar barbecue flavors and the pulled meat texture you’re looking for, but with huge amounts of fat cut out.

pulled veggie sliders

It comes together much more quickly than a pulled pork or short rib slider would, and these babies are FILLING! I guess it’s all that fiber from the veggies, but trust me, once you’ve eaten a serving of these sliders, you won’t have any room for the loaded nachos or creamy onion dip. Oh, and obviously a fantastic option for any vegetarians at your tailgating party. Enjoy!

Pulled Veggie Sliders

Source: Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

Ingredients:
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs mustard powder
1 tbs smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp celery seeds
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot or Texas Pete’s
1 ½ cups shredded carrots (peel them first)
1 ½ cups shredded yellow potato (no need to peel)
4 cups shredded green cabbage
1 bottle (12 oz.) dark beer, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
8 slider rolls
Coleslaw, for topping the sliders
Pickled jalapenos, for topping the sliders (optional)

Directions:
Combine the crushed tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, mustard powder, smoked paprika, oregano, celery seeds, cloves, and hot sauce in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring until the brown sugar dissolves. Stir in the carrots and potatoes, then bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the cabbage and ¼ cup beer. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add more beer as necessary to keep the vegetables from scorching. Your end goal is for the mixture to have the consistency of pulled barbecued meat – saucy but not at all soupy.
When the mixture is ready, mound some onto the bottoms of the slider rolls. Top with some coleslaw, the pickled jalapenos if using, then the top bun. Serve immediately.

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

Though in many ways we grew up in very different circumstances, we share one aspect of childhood very much in common: both my husband and I were raised in households with parents who insisted we eat healthfully and get our fair share of vegetables. Not only was there a side serving of veggies present at most dinners, we were both exposed to a nice variety of fruits and vegetables – it wasn’t the same few produce items at every meal. Now, not gonna lie here – both of us as children had a pretty decent laundry list of vegetables we didn’t *want* to eat, but both of our respective parents toed a fairly firm line of “eat it anyway, they’re good for you.”

roasted broccoli rabe

So, you’d think at least one of us would have entered adulthood knowing what broccoli rabe was. Nope. Didn’t happen. It’s only been in the last year or so that we’ve started eating it when its early spring season rolls around. This year we’ve been playing around with the more traditional method of cooking it – boiling it to reduce its inherent bitterness, then sautéing in a cast iron skillet and dousing it with a dressing or sauce. Quite tasty.

short cut pasta with broccoli rabe and harissa

And then I ran across a different method of preparing it in an older issue of Food & Wine – roasting it in the oven. I haven’t ever seen that method for broccoli rabe before (which isn’t to say it’s not out there – like I said above, I’m fairly new to the world of this veggie).

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

But, I was very intrigued to try it, so try it I did, and I found it quite lovely, so I had to share it with you. Broccoli rabe is quite tasty prepared this way, and here’s a plus if you have a smaller kitchen – roasting it in the oven dirties up fewer dishes overall than boiling-then-sautéing will. I will add that you lose less of the bitterness by roasting, but I found it a pleasant bitterness – not at all overpowering, and it played very well with the chewy, mild pasta and the spicy flavors going on in this recipe. Fantastic vegetarian dinner option. Enjoy!

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

{One Year Ago: Shaved Asparagus Pizza; Homemade Pizza Sauce}
{Two Years Ago: Penne alla Puttanesca}

Source: Food & Wine Magazine, August 2013

Ingredients:
1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
¼ cup olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno or Fresno chile, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tsp harissa
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 lb. short cut pasta, such as gemelli, penne, cavatappi, cavatelli, or whatever you prefer
Grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli rabe with 2 tbs olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats, then arrange the broccoli rabe on the 2 baking sheets in as even a layer as possible. Roast for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.
In a large (12-inch) deep skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbs oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, chile and harissa and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until the garlic and chile are tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously, then cook the pasta according to package directions, just to al dente. When done, drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta, cooking water, and about ¼ cup parmesan to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the pasta is coated in a thick sauce, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mint and parsley, and more cheese if desired. Serve immediately with more cheese for garnish, if preferred.