Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I made a few things in the last week or so: a loaf of lovely challah that I baked too long, turning it a deep mahogany brown, a loaf of not-so-lovely bread machine-like white bread, a delicious casserole of baked mac-n-cheese topped with the breadcrumbs made from the leftover challah. (The macaroni was Barilla's "healthy" version and it was actually quite good--I think it has substantial portions of whole wheat, lentil, and quinoa flour.)

Tonight I made this "Anasazi Butternut Squash Soup" from Epicurious. I substituted a 12-ounce package of Soyrizo for the chorizo, vegetable bouillon for the beef broth, and black-eyed peas (with a shorter cooking time) for the kidney beans. I left the pepitas out entirely. It was really good. Browning the Soyrizo--blackening it, really--in the cast-iron skillet really made the dish, giving it depth and a slight savory bitterness that counteracted the light vegetable sweetness of the corn, peppers, and squash.


3/4 cup dried kidney beans
1 pound beef chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups water
2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth
3 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled seeded butternut squash
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels

2/3 cup shelled pepitas, toasted

Place kidney beans in medium bowl. Pour enough water over to cover beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain.

Sauté chorizo in heavy large pot over medium heat until cooked through and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Transfer chorizo to paper towels; drain, leaving 2 tablespoons drippings in pot. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add 3 cups water, broth and beans; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover. Simmer until beans are tender, 1 hour.

Add squash to soup. Cover; simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, corn and chorizo; simmer uncovered about 10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, set aside 2 tablespoons pepitas for garnish. Blend remaining pepitas in blender until finely ground. Stir ground pepitas into soup. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with reserved pepitas and serve.

Makes 6 servings.
Bon Appétit
Flavors of the World
October 1999

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Daren recommended this dish to me:


Extremely subtle and very delicate, this special dish, called Buddha's Delight because it's completely vegetarian, is all about texture. The biggest challenge in making it is finding the right ingredients, but the reward is worth the effort. Prepared with fresh vegetables, this recipe is sublime. If you can't find them fresh, don't be tempted to use canned (frozen bamboo shoots and ginkgo nuts are acceptable, however). Traditional Buddha's Delight doesn't call for garlic, but we find it makes all the difference. The recipe also serves 4 as a fabulous vegetarian main course.

12 large dried black mushrooms (3 oz)
5 cups boiling-hot water plus additional for soaking bean curd skins
2 dried bean curd skins (2 oz total)
1/2 lb fresh or thawed frozen large bamboo shoots
2 to 3 oz very thin bean thread noodles (2 small skeins; also known as cellophane, glass, or mung bean noodles)
1 (1/2-lb) firm fresh tofu cake, or 1/2 cake from a 14- to 16-oz package, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and very thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup peeled shelled fresh or frozen ginkgo nuts
1/3 cup vegetarian oyster sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce (preferably Pearl River Bridge brand)
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine (preferably Shaoxing) or medium-dry Sherry
3/4 teaspoon sugar
2 cups fresh soybean sprouts (1/4 lb)
2 romaine hearts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise, then cut into 2-inch pieces (6 cups)

Soak mushrooms in 5 cups boiling-hot water in a bowl, keeping them submerged with a small plate and turning mushrooms over occasionally, until softened and cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Squeeze excess liquid from caps back into bowl and reserve liquid, then cut out and discard stems from mushrooms. Cut caps into 1-inch wedges.

While mushrooms soak, carefully break bean curd skins in half crosswise, then halve each portion crosswise again. Transfer to a bowl, then add enough boiling-hot water to cover and soak, turning occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.

If using fresh bamboo, trim bottoms of shoots, then halve shoots lengthwise with a sharp heavy knife. Pull off and discard leaves from shoots, then remove any blemishes with a sharp paring knife (don't worry about natural dotted pattern along base of shoots).

Cover fresh or frozen bamboo with cold water by 1 inch in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Repeat boiling and rinsing, then arrange bamboo halves, cut sides down, on a cutting board and cut bamboo lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Soak noodles in cold water to cover until softened, about 5 minutes, then drain in colander and transfer to a bowl.

Drain bean curd skins in colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze dry and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

Halve tofu lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, bean curd skins, bamboo, and ginkgo nuts and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar and simmer 1 minute. Add reserved mushroom-soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Gently stir in tofu and soybean sprouts, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Gently stir in noodles and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Add romaine hearts (pot will be full) and turn to coat, then simmer, covered, until romaine is tender, about 5 minutes.

Cooks' notes:
• Mushrooms, bean curd skins, and noodles can be soaked (but not drained) 1 day ahead and chilled in their soaking liquid separately, covered. Drain (reserve mushroom-soaking liquid) before using.
• Bamboo shoots can be cooked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then cut and chilled in cold water, covered. Drain before using.
• Buddha's Delight, without romaine, can be made 2 hours ahead and kept at room temperature, uncovered. Bring to a boil and proceed with recipe.

Makes 8 servings (as part of a Chinese meal).