Castilian Garlic Soup


Castilian Garlic Soup

I love this soup, because I am in love with both peasant food and offensive flavors.

There are couple ways you can go with this soup. Straight up traditional peasant recipes are just some garlic cloves cooked in olive oil, with water, tons of paprika, and stale bread. This lovely sounding recipe from New Mediterranean uses lots more garlic, and fancies it up a little with sherry and saffron, and floated garlic toasts. I like the technique of mashing the garlic cloves into the broth. Either way, this is most often made with eggs, either stirred in egg-drop soup style or poached on top.

I went with the more peasanty one (although I want to try the fancy version). It’s vegetarian, and forgoes delicate saffron in favor of an obscene amount of paprika for the uncultured tongue, which rises up in clouds and makes the soup a lovely dark red. Also, as it’s eggless, it needed a little something to be heavy enough for a light meal, so I added some chickpeas. We peasants do what we want.

Castilian Garlic Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
2 heads garlic, peeled, huge cloves chopped in half
1 tbsp paprika
splash of sherry
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can (or two cups cooked) chickpeas

To serve:
croutons: 1-2 pieces bread, cubed, tossed with a little olive oil, and sea salt, and toasted
nice spritz lemon juice – don’t skip!
chopped parsley

Heat olive oil and garlic on medium/medium lowish heat. Cook very gently, stirring, until they are soft, about 10-15 minutes, being very careful not to brown.

Add paprika and stir for a minute, then add sherry, broth, and chickpeas. Bring to a simmer for several minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Spoon into a bowl, spritz with lemon juice, and sprinkle parsley and a few croutons.

I cooked rice in leftovers, which turned out delicious. Peasant food or not, there’s something decadent about eating whole cloves of (cooked) garlic.

Edamame Hummus


This past month I joined a group called The Secret Recipe Club. Each month you secretly get somebody’s blog to try a recipe from…

…and someone secretly gets yours. I have been so anxious about who gets mine. What if they think taking pictures with a phone half the time is not charming but in fact lazy? What if they don’t think instructions like “a pinch,” “a handful,” and “an obscene amount” are valid measurements? What if they don’t like my cooking, or my recipe just doesn’t come out well? This is so much pressure!

(But enough about me, haha). MY experience this month was lovely. I was matched with Chris from The Café Sucré Farine – a collection of elegant and delicious-looking recipes. After scrolling through the mouthwatering list, I finally settled on the Edamame Hummus, something I’d been wanting to try. I made it for my sister’s baby shower, and I’m happy to say it did not disappoint!

It’s delightfully lemony, and the fresh green veggies and herbs make it perfect for spring. It was a hit at the party, getting snapped up with veggies and pita chips. Quote from my sister’s boyfriend’s mom: “I just love this hummus!”

Thank you so much Chris for your yummy recipe!

Edamame Hummus

From The Café Sucré Farine

1 pound frozen shelled edamame (soybeans)
1 pound frozen tiny peas
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice
lemon zest , from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed or ground corriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ cup tahini (can be found in many larger markets and in any Middle Eastern grocery)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
sea salt and reshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook edamame in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 3–5 minutes. Add peas and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water then drain well again.

Pulse edamame and peas in a food processor until a coarse purée forms, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and zest, garlic, cumin, coriander. tahini and olive oil. Add the cilantro and process for 2-3 minutes or until very smooth adding a bit more lemon juice if too thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving

TO DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Transfer to a serving bowl; drizzle with oil and garnish with more herbs.

Salty Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash


For those of you who, like me, have a salty sweet tooth, this is the perfect combination. The flavors of miso, molasses, and fresh orange juice contrast perfectly and make a fantastic glaze for roasted squash.

Peeling squash is kind of a pain. Butternut squash isn’t the worst though, and with a little technique it’s not too bad. I think I’ve talked about this before but here it is again. Boil it first in a pot of water for two minutes on each side, allow it to cool. Cut off the top and the bottom so that it can stand flat, and you can remove the rest of the skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the “neck” off the “bulb” (technical terms), then slice both in half vertically. Scoop out the seeds, then go about chopping it into cubes.

Salty Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp miso
2 tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
zest and juice of one large orange
cilantro to garnish

Preheat oven to 400°. Spread squash in a roasting pan. Whisk together miso, molasses, olive oil, orange zest and orange juice and toss together with squash (it will be liquidy at first, but as it roasts it will thicken into a glaze). Roast squash until soft, about 30 minutes, stirring/flipping a couple of times.

Pile in a bowl and garnish with cilantro.

#weekendEgg: Pumpkin and Sage Scrambled Egg with Warm Kale Salad


Is it nerdy to put a hashtag in the title? It’s functional anyway, it’s what I’m using to tweet out my crazy eggs…which is just the one so far, heh.

This egg combo from last weekend was amazing! Seriously, I was shocked how good it was. Something about the pumpkin and egg together did that magical kitchen alchemy thing where the product is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The chipotle and sour cream egg with picked onions was the best of 2011; it’s early but I declare this the best of 2012.

Pumpkin and Sage Scrambled Egg with Warm Kale Salad

For kale salad
olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
handful of kale, torn off stems and roughly chopped
salt & pepper
walnut oil
fresh lemon juice

Heat just a teensy bit of olive oil, and saute garlic, stirring so that it doesn’t burn. After a minute, add kale, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until just wilted. Remove to a plate and drizzle with walnut oil and spritz with lemon juice.

For egg
olive oil
one egg
1/3 cup mashed pumpkin
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp paprika
salt & pepper

Heat a little bit olive oil. Combine the rest of the ingredients and cook, stirring, until egg is cooked. Place on top of greens.

Sprinkle the whole thing with toasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts (I used pumpkin seeds).

Disclaimer: the measurements I bothered to put are a guess, do you think I’m using measuring spoons on a Saturday morning? No!

Persephone Salad


Whenever my husband and his friends are putting dinner together, they always put me in charge of salad. I guess salad is a girly thing to make so I get it by default, but maybe it’s also because I can be artful in diving into the depths of the produce drawer and pantry and emerging with interesting salad ingredients and the means for a homemade vinaigrette.

As green salads are just as much about texture as they are about flavor, here is the formula: something fresh (possibly fruity!), something creamy, something crunchy. And this salad fits perfectly.

This particular salad concept is based on the Arugula, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette (from where else, Food52, pretty much my favorite food resource on the web). I made it a couple years ago for Thanksgiving, and I’ve made variations on it ever since – including for Thanksgiving this year, and now for Zoeya’s holiday potluck.

The ingredients are very autumnal, but the pomegranate seeds like little ruby jewels look gorgeously Christmassy as well. This is not so much a recipe as a concept with lots of options (and I’m not going to be fussy with amounts). The only absolutely essential ingredient are the pomegranate seeds, which is what makes this so lovely and appropriate for the dark months.

Persephone Salad

For the salad:
greens, such as arugula, mesclun, spinach
a green apple or pear
seeds from half a pomegranate
blue cheese or goat cheese
walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pumpkin seeds (I used pumpkin seeds in this latest rendition, it’s a great options if you’re serving to people with nut allergies)

For the vinaigrette:
pomegranate molasses (instructions below) – this is your best option, but if you don’t have it you can use honey or jam or jelly. Maybe like that yummy lingonberry stuff they have at IKEA.
sherry or balsamic vinegar
olive oil or walnut oil
salt & pepper
a thinly sliced shallot, pickled in the vinegar, is nice

To make pomegranate molasses, take a small bottle of pomegranate juice and heat it slowly in a saucepan, stirring, until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Be careful not to burn.

To assemble everything, just toss the greens and the apple or pear with some of the vinaigrette (enough to lightly coat, not to drench). Sprinkle all the rest of the ingredients on top, along with another drizzle of vinaigrette.

Frenchy Lentils and Roasty Beets


Cute little French lentils have an earthy flavor – perfect for fall! – and take nicely to flavors both sharp (dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar) and sweet (carrots, molasses). They go really nicely with roasted beets, which I just love, mostly because they turn everything they touch an obscene magenta. I learned an ingenious method to cook them, which is just to trim the stalks and roast them whole with a little olive oil. After they cool, the skins will slip right off, and you can avoid staining your fingertips and cutting board.

Frenchy Lentils and Roasty Beets

For lentils:
olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp molasses
2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 c French lentils
dash balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook onion, garlic, salt and pepper, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add paprika, stirring for a minute, then tomato paste. Add dijon, molasses, carrots, lentils, and about 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary, until lentils are softened. Adjust seasoning (you’ll probably need more salt), and finish with a dash of balsamic vinegar (and maybe another little drizzle of olive oil).

For beets:
1 bunch beets, trimmed
olive oil

Heat oven to 450°. Arrange beets in a pan lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Roast until a fork easily goes through the beet. Allow to cool, remove skins, and slice.

Butternut Squash Soup


It’s fall, it’s fall, let the soup making begin! I can’t think of a more appropriate one to start with than butternut squash soup. These last couple of weeks Zoeya and I have gotten a little squash and pumpkin happy; everywhere we go there are gourds large and small and we’ve been bringing them home like lost puppies. They are functioning as both food and decoration.

On cooking methods: you will never in your life find me dicing, peeling or boiling a butternut squash (same goes for pumpkin, acorn squash, etc.). Why do people torture themselves? It is a thousand times easier – not to mention more flavorful – to halve or quarter it, scoop out the seeds and roast it.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, halved
olive oil
sea salt & pepper
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c milk
squash seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala (or just cinnamon)

Cut squash in half, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and roast at 400° until tender, about 25 to 30 min. Remove from oven and let it sit until it’s cool enough to handle, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh into a blender or food processor (if you’re impatient like me you’re going to burn your fingers).

Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium and gently cook onion and garlic until caramelized, about 20 min. (You can regular old saute your onions and garlic, but the carmelized ones are really sweet and go with the sweetness of the squash). Transfer to blender or food processor, along with broth. Puree. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Transfer to a soup pot, add milk, and gently heat through.

Serve sprinkled with spiced seeds: clean the seeds and dry. You can roast them but I actually did them stove top in a small skillet. Heat just enough olive oil to coat the seeds, sprinkle with salt and garam masala or cinnamon, and toast until they start to pop.

Romesco Sauce


I am in love with all things Spanish – gypsies, flamenco dancing, Moorish architecture, El Cid, tapas, Almodovar movies, Ojos de Brujo, depressing novels, Castellano as opposed to regular old Spanish. Spain is number one on my long list of places I’m dying to visit, and Shan has promised to take me one day.

Until then, I can pretend that I’m there by eating like I’m there. Romesco is a combination of so many quintessential Spanish ingredients: olive oil, roasted red peppers, almonds, sherry vinegar – I even put a drop of honey in mine for balance. It is a versatile sauce that is rich and bright at the same time, and goes on anything from seafood to veggies to a plain slice of bread.

Romesco Sauce

2 red peppers
handful of almonds, blanched and peeled
3/4 c olive oil, divided
1 head of garlic
1 slice bread (I used 1 whole wheat naan)
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
salt & pepper
1/4 c sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey

Roast the red peppers the usual way: 350° right on the grate, turning, until blackened. Peel, clean out the seeds and slice.

In a food processor, blitz the almonds until finely ground.

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil on medium, and gently cook the garlic (alternately you could roast the garlic, but I was in a hurry and this was quicker). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic to the food processor.

Tear the bread and fry in the same olive oil – you can turn the heat up a little. When browned, transfer to food processor. In same pan, saute the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Transfer everything to food processor and blitz.

Add sherry vinegar and honey and combine. Slowly add the rest of the olive oil and combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

I served this on top of braised paprika chicken thighs with a spinach salad. It made a nice big batch – I froze half and we used the leftover from the first half as a dip for veggies and pita bread.

I chose this as my best recipe in September :)

Kale Chips

Kale chips were pretty trendy last year; I finally got around to making them and all I can say is what in the world took me so long?! Yum! They couldn’t be easier to make and they really are as crispy and delicious as everyone promised they would be.

To give credit where it’s due, I referenced the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, adding a chaat masala zing.

Zoeya loved them as you can see. We munched on them last Friday evening, a complete treat for her – snacks…on the couch (yay! Eating on the couch is fun!)…watching a movie (Coraline!)…staying up late!

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale – the curly kind
olive oil to lightly coat
sea salt
chaat masala (optional)

Wash the kale and dry thoroughly. Trim away the stalks and rip into “chip-sized” pieces. Arrange in one layer on a couple of cookie sheets, toss with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake at 300° for about 20 minutes or until crispy.

I sprinkled mine with chaat masala (a little spicy, a little tangy) and left Zoeya’s plain.

Greek Pizza with Lamb Meatballs


Pizza is a surefire hit at our house. Zoeya is absolutely gleeful when I tell her we’re having pizza for dinner and Shan, although more subdued, usually ends up eating more than his fair share. I love to make pizza at home because it feels like a treat but it’s actually pretty healthy.

This particular pizza made me nervous until the end. I made a whole wheat dough when I usually make white, so I was anxious to see how that would come out. The components themselves weren’t perfect: the meatballs a little in need of salt, the sauce WAY too salty (must remember that happens when you reduce reduce reduce), the salad on top a little too lemony, but when put together a little miracle happened and the flavors melded just right.

Small disclaimer: As much as I love to spend a good chunk of my weekends in the kitchen, making pizza dough from scratch, pizza sauce from scratch, meatballs from scratch, none of them particularly difficult in themselves, was altogether more time-consuming than I would have liked. Luckily, all three of these things are easy to make double and freeze. If I ever get better at planning ahead, that’s going to be my strategy.

To save a little time, instead of making meatballs, you could just saute the ground lamb with the garlic, herbs and spices and top your pizza with the mixture, but I made meatballs so I could have some leftover. We ate them the next night as wraps with yogurt and cucumber. They’d also be great just by themselves with a side of lentils.

So with no further ado:

Greek Pizza with Lamb Meatballs

For the dough:
I used the pizza dough recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance which I wrote about here, substituting a cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of the white flour. I can report that this turned out wholesome and yummy and is my new recipe.

For the pizza sauce:
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
seasoning (you can adjust accordingly for the type of pizza) – 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried oregano
4 good-sized tomatoes (and can I just say that ugly farmer’s market tomatoes brilliantly outshine the perfect-looking yet tasteless grocery store tomatoes), peeled and chopped

Heat olive oil and add garlic, garam masala, paprika, and oregano. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, then add tomatoes, salt (be conservative! This is going to reduce down quite a bit) and a cup of water. Simmer, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t burn, until tomatoes are completely broken down and sauce is nice and thick. If the sauce thickens before your tomatoes break down, add more water and repeat. Makes enough for a thin layer on 2 pizzas.

For the meatballs:
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
zest of 1 lemon
small handful mint, finely chopped
small handful basil, finely chopped
scant 1/2 c bread crumbs
1 egg
1 lb ground lamb
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir well everything through the egg in a glass bowl, then add lamb and mix until everything is just combined. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Roll medium sized meatballs (about 1 1/2 tbsp) and place in pot. Brown on one side, then turn with spoons to brown on the other. Cover and finish cooking through in oven.

For the pizza
Pizza dough, pizza sauce and meatballs from above (you’ll have leftover meatballs)
Red onion, thinly sliced
Feta, crumbled
Spring lettuce dressed in olive oil and lemon juice

Heat oven to 500 degrees (hot!). Divide dough in half and roll out, toss, etc., then place onto 2 round stones or baking sheets greased with olive oil (or do one by one). Cover with a layer of pizza sauce and sprinkle with quartered meatballs, red onion, and feta (just a good sprinkle, you’re not trying to cover the whole thing like you would with motz). Bake for 12-16 minutes. Remove from oven and top with dressed greens, which will wilt prettily from the heat.

Slice and serve. Opa!

Note: garam masala is obviously not Greek, but I throw it in because it’s always in my kitchen and contains a lot of the same spices used in Greek cooking. You don’t need to run out and buy it if you don’t have it, just use cinnamon, cumin and black pepper, or whatever combination you like.