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Merry Christmas to YOU

11 Dec

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(That’s right… I make tablescapes for cookie parties. With deer.)

So friends. It may have come to your attention that Mary and I are going for round two on this blogging thing. I have to say, I have a feeling it is going to be less soup centric since 1) good lord, we have eaten a lot of soup and 2) variety is the spice of America (also known as, we feel like it).

With that in mind and in the spirit of the season, I bring you my very favorite Christmas Cookies (White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut with Dried Cranberries). They are delicious, you can make the argument that they are healthy because they contain both fruit and nuts (note, you are also wrong), and they are festive looking – essentially making them the perfect Christmas Cookies. I’ve had special requests for them at the annual Christmas Cookie party every year since I started making them, and still think I should have won the Snauffer Christmas Cookie Exchange with them in 2006 (I was robbed).

With only the further ado of a very fancy paper and styrofoam wreath (I swear, life after grad school feels like SO MUCH TIME), Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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White Chocolate Chip, Cranberry, and Macadamia Nut Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit
  • In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, cream 1 stick of softened butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 1 cup white granulated sugar together until light and fluffy
  • Add 2 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla and beat until just combined
  • In a separate bowl, sift together 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and mix thoroughly
  • Slowly add in the flour mixture until completely integrated
  • Using a large spoon, fold in 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts (extra points if you have the patience to roast them), 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1.5 cups of white chocolate chunks
  • Drop heaping spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and cook about 12 minutes
  • Let cool on wire rack and enjoy!
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East West Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

27 Nov

I forgot to take a picture of the stuffed mushroom, so here is a picture of some nuts and my grandmothers & aunts & great aunts & my cousins & me that I keep in my kitchen.

You know what happened yesterday? I spent over an hour reading this blog thinking, Why don’t we update this blog anymore? And then I decided to make Alayna’s rosemary bread which is really, really easy to make and as I was mixing the dough I was thinking, I really still like all of these recipes that are on this blog. And then I started talking to Alayna and we were both like, Why don’t we update this blog anymore when we’re both such better cooks now than we were when we were writing this blog?

And so, hellllllo ladles wez be back!

Just because Alayna and I haven’t been posting for… err… about a year now, doesn’t mean we haven’t been cooking. Au contraire! Have we ever. So what we’re going to do is start updating Monday’s Soup again with whatever we have made that’s really awesome. Don’t gotta be soup, just gotta be good.

I also really want to do this so I can start stealing Alayna’s recipes again.

For those of you who are new here, let me tell you a bit about how Alayna and I cook so you know what you’re getting into:

  • We don’t use measuring cups or spoons because that would result in more dishes to clean. That means these recipes are really loose, add more of what you like, don’t add what you don’t like… this isn’t baking, it’s cooking so relax. (Well sometimes it’s baking but even then we don’t really use measuring cups.)
  • Alayna and I do not like to waste food, ever. This is less of an environmental/responsible conscious kind of thing (though there’s that, too) rather it’s more like, we’re really, really anal.
  • Alayna and I like to cook things that are both practical and wholesome. This is where our love for soup is really rooted- to make soup most of the time you really just use one pot. And then you get a whole delicious meal out of it. So practical! So healthy! So perfect!
  • Alayna and I really like to eat.

Alayna, please comment if I’m missing anything.

So anyways. Here we go again. Kicking this off are these amazing stuffed mushrooms I made last night adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook (I recommend!). Because this meal involved a lot of eastern flavors (e.g. miso, soy sauce, sesame oil & peanut butter) I wasn’t totally sure how this would come out. But it came out awesome. Gavin said, “This meal should go in the rotation.” As in, the rotation of dinners I make- that’s as big of a compliment as I’m going to get. It’s also, I just realized… vegan! But you really, really don’t realize that because it’s so flavorful and hearty and good.

Now without further ado…

East West Portobello Stuffed Mushrooms 
Serves 2 people who eat a lot, or 3 normal people
  • Preheat the oven to 350, oil a baking sheet that will hold 3 portobello mushrooms
  • Make brown rice (use about 3/4 of a cup of dry brown rice)
  • In a large bowl crumble 8 oz of tofu, 1 red diced red pepper, 1/2 a can of water chestnuts, 3 diced scallions, 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 2 tbsp of miso, some diced ginger, 1 tsp of sesame oil & mix well
  • Twist off the mushroom stems and place them gill-side up on the oiled pan, in a small cup stir 3 tsp of sesame oil & 1 tbsp of soy sauce brush this onto the mushrooms. Then mound the fillings on top of each mushrooms (I had extra and just put it on the baking sheet to heat up with everything else.
  • Bake for 35 minutes
  • Meanwhile! in a small sauce pan mix 1 cup of unsweetened apple juice, 1 tbsn soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice OR cider vinegar, some grated ginger, 1 tspn sugar and put on low heat
  • Slowly pour in 1 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp of cold water– mix for about 1 minute over heat

To plate:

Put down a handful or two of fresh spinach, then pile on a serving of the brown rice, then top on the stuff mushroom, then sprinkle everything with the sweet & sour sauce. Add soy sauce if you’d like, to taste

Summer Sayonara: A Poem

12 Jul

Ladles and Lads, have you been sad?

That Monday’s Soup has flown el coop?

Alayna in Madagascar. Where o’ where is Madagascar?

Mary Lorraine always at work.

The fridge is empty.

The soup pot is cold.

Enjoy the summer, dearest ladles & lads

We’ll be back before you know it

We’ll be back in in the fall. Why I’ll be

isn’t that tree just uber tall?


Smith Street Soup Festival & Lentil Bean Soup

25 Oct

What a fantastic soup weekend! It’s not every day you receive an email asking if you’re going to Smith Street Soup Festival on Saturday. What is this wonderful sounding Brooklyn event I wondered. Turns out you pay $5 for a ticket and with that one ticket you can eat 26 different soups from 26 different restaurants! What a deal!

I made a terrible mistake I will never repeat next year- because I’m going to Smith Street Soup Festival for the rest of my life now- that is I ate a giant bagel (and a half) an hour earlier. Than I drank a pumpkin spice latte. After downing 7 or so soups I was checked out on sodium and was having trouble moving my extremities. Jamie, my soup festival buddy, kept going, last I heard from her she was on a bus bound to IKEA so, yeah, I’m riding that one off under sodium high.

You know what else I learned? That our Monday’s Soups are pretty good. I mean these soups were alright. And the idea of people up and down the street lading soup bowls was amazing. But the soup themselves, I’ll give them a upbeat Meh.

And for the lentil bean soup I made this week? I’ll give that an upbeat THUMBS UP.

Busy hands didn’t deter Jamie, who drank the soups like Red Bulls circa ’01.

Lentil & Bean Soup

So this soup might sound familiar but I’m learning that it’s really worth it to simmer soups longer rather than shorter. I simmered this guy for about 2 hours and it totally paid off. Delicious!

  • Heat olive oil and add 1 chopped white onion with a sprinkling of salt, saute for 15 minutes and add 3 or so chopped pieces of garlic
  • Add a few sprigs of thyme
  • Add chopped vegetables. I included carrots, celery and winter squash- but this was only because that’s what I got in my CSA, add whatever. Lightly salt and saute for 30 minutes
  • Add 2 cups of lentils and cover with water. Turn heat to medium/low. Add 2 bay leaves and 2 or 3 vegetable bullion (I also added 2 red chilis)
  • Meanwhile boil 1 cup of beans for 2 minutes- add to soup with water.
  • Let everything simmer for an hour+
  • Add spices to taste.
  • Enjoy!

Will work for soup

12 Oct

Enjoy witnessing the disintegration of Monday’s Soup as I clearly can’t keep my end of the ladle together without Alayna in my zip code?

Another week, another reason why I flake out on making soup. I’m busy people, soup me! (That’s a play off of “sue me” if it didn’t click.) All I really want to do is make that vegetable health water soup we always make and eat it for the week.

I blame missing it this week on Paul for not proactively contacting me about setting up a time to soup. I blame it on Alayna for moving out of NYC. I blame it on my job and my 12 extracurriculars I decided to take on as if I’m bulking up my high school resume for the liberal arts college of my dreams. I blame it on my friends from Thailand who visited me and never asked me to cook dinner for them. I blame it on my readers for like, never ever commenting once. Suriously, what‘s the deal with that?

I told Alayna I would make a soup today as in Tuesday to make up for missing last night. But I know I’m not going to do that because I won’t be home until 11:30pm. So I wrote to Campbell’s Soup instead. I said they needed a fresh twist on their old Tomato Soup can marketing and that fresh twist was the ladles up in Monday’s Soup. I said we were published in Dubai and then I said “I LOVE SOUP!” in Arabic (أنا أحب شوربة). I said we are on TONS of BLOG ROLES. I said we enjoy 800 unique visitors a month (GIANT exaggeration!).  I said we were the who’s who of  the cyber soup bowl. (That’s true)

So fingers crossed spooners and soupettes. I’ll let you know when they respond. Or just you know, watch TV and go online, for our Campbell’s Soup commercial to air. Because you know what they say?

Reach for the soup bowl because even if you miss you’re near the spoon.

 

Soup Failure

16 Sep

Alayna’s been sending text messages, where the soup post? I’ve been sort of dodging them, hoping she wouldn’t notice that for the first time in almost two years there wasn’t a soup post one week. But of course Alayna would not let that one slide.

Ladles, in a nut shell (or, more suitingly) in a muang bean. I did make a soup on Monday. It was just terrible. That has never happened before. If they are Meh, they are pretty good Meh but they are never terrible.

I know why this happened. I was grocery shopping with no plan after work and the gym. This is when I’m my hungriest and my dumbest. I bought a really motley collection of produce. I went home and found there were mealworms in my pasta pantry. I freaked out and cleaned my entire kitchen and had to throw out way too much pasta. Now it’s 11:30pm. I’m starving and I put together this concoction that involves muang beans, butternut squash and rosemary. It was awful. I ate it. I’m still eating it. I have leftovers for lunch today, and I ate it for lunch yesterday too.

I’ll tell you this, when soupers fail you know what we don’t do? Waste food. Is that even a quality? It’s more because I’m chap than anything. Whatever, it’s healthy. Grrrrrrrreat.

So I’m not going to include the recipe because no one should ever recreate this disaster again.

Alayna, move back to NYC.

Roasted Carrot & Tomato Soup, and Strawberry Salad

24 Aug

So I’m finally back from Colombia, and I’m not going to lie…. it was great. We landed in Bogota late on a Thursday and spent the next few days exploring the old city and getting used to the 8,000ft altitude and even went out to a nearby town to see a cathedral built into an underground salt mine (fact: I had salt in my hair when I came out… weird!). Most importantly, I quickly realized we were back in the land of jugos, or fresh fruit juices. Colombia grows a TON of fresh fruit (some of which, like the lulo, aren’t grown anywhere else in the world), and like a lot of Latin America, there’s the go to drink instead of soda. It’s generally just fresh fruit with some ice and either milk or water. And they are DELICIOUS.

We then headed a little lower to Medellin, home of artist Fernando Botero, notorious for his fat figures. Between the mountains, the lower altitude and warmer weather, this was by far our favorite city.

Then we were off to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast…. more touristy than what we’d been doing, but beautiful nonetheless. Most importantly, it served as a great jumping off point to go up to Santa Marta and visit the Tayrona National Park where you hike in through the jungle to see where the Sierra Nevada mountains meet the Caribbean Sea. Needless to say, it made for some great pictures.

After our short trip up the coast, it was back to Cartagena and then Bogota for a quick dinner with an old co-worker (thanks Julian!) and an early flight back to the US of A, where I had both foolishly and brilliantly scheduled a housewarming party two days after my arrival to force myself to finish unpacking. All I’m saying is that it worked, but the groceries I bought over the weekend were slightly bizarre (I mean, did I really need eight peaches, three pounds of strawberries and two pints of blueberries for ONE WEEK?????? And how did I end up with so many carrots and yet so few savory items?), but I did manage to pull together a rather delicious roasted carrot and tomato soup paired with a small spinach, feta and strawberry salad (with balsamic and cinnamon for dressing) for the first night of outdoor eating in my brand new back yard.

Beautiful dinner on a beautiful night, and now DC is starting to feel a little more like somewhere I live. So, without further ado…. using the new blender!

Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup

  • Chop about 1.5 pounds of carrot, 2 pounds of tomato (I used a mix of beefsteak and plum) and four celery ribs and put them into a pyrex with six cloves of garlic, a sprinkling of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
  • Cover with tinfoil and cook at 400 for about 45 minutes until the carrot are easy to stick with a fork
  • Put a few handfuls of fresh spinach in your blender, then some roasted veggies, all of the leftover juice in the pan and a generous handful of fresh purple basil (because it’s pretty…. regular basil will also work) and blend, adding water if necessary to keep the mix going
  • Continue in batches until finished, season with salt and pepper and serve either warm or cold either plain, with greek yogurt or with feta cheese… it’s delicious all three ways

Strawberry Salad

  • Take strawberries, spinach and feta cheese and put them in a bowl. Make a dressing of olive oil with balsamic vinaigrette and cinnamon, toss and serve