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Haitian Independence Soup

14 Nov

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 yellow onion, small diced

2 carrots, small diced

3 ribs celery, small diced

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 large potato, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

1 cube vegetable bouillon

SOFTEN: Place cubed butternut squash in large pot.  Cover with water and add sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer until squash is completely softened (15-20 minutes).

PUREE: Using an immersion blender (or blender or food processor) puree water, sugar and butternut squash combination until smooth.  Set aside and keep warm.

SAUTE: Heat 1 spin of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add carrots, celery and onion.  Saute until softened (5-7 minutes).  Add turnips, potatoes and salt & pepper (as desired).  Stir and cook for another few minutes (3-5 minutes).  Add garlic, stir and cook one additional minute.

SIMMER: Add butternut square puree to the other veggies.  Add water to desired consistency, if needed.  Add bouillon cube, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.  Stir in cilantro.  Simmer together, the longer the better (at least 15-20 minutes).

Adapted from Chantal Powell in Soup & Bread Cookbook

This is the first recipe in the newly published Soup & Bread Cookbook.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Soup & Bread, be sure to check them out.  S&B was started by Martha Bayne who was bored of spending cold, not-so-busy Wednesday nights tending bar at The Hideout so she invited some friends by to make some soup, share, mingle and eat.  She encourages local professional and amateur chefs to bring crockpots filled with their favorite soup or some tasty loaves of bread to share.  Everyone pitches in a donation which is then given to local charities, particularly the Chicago Food Depository.  She also has plenty of tips for getting similar initiatives started in other cities.   S&B is a great homage to soup itself, which has been building community, stretching foods to help ease hunger and keeping us warm through many winters.   Be sure to come out for the next S&B series in Chicago which starts this January.   The S&B Cookbook is a compilation of favorite soups brought to S&B over the years, with helpful tips and entertaining stories on using soup to foster community building.

This recipe is absolutely delicious.  Adding just a touch of sugar to the butternut squash as it boils adds a subtle sweetness, almost similar to sweet potatoes.  I added a little cayenne pepper which created a nice balance of spicy and sweet.  I love the simplicity, adding only cilantro to spice it up; yet simmering the cilantro into the soup prevented the cilantro from overpowering the it which I’ve found cilantro has a tendency to do.  Great start to an excellent cookbook.  More soup recipes to come..it’s only November.

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Banana Bread

23 Feb

  • 1 1/2  cups  mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3  cup  plain fat-free yogurt
  • 5  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 6.75  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4  cup  ground flaxseed
  • 3/4  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground allspice
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  1% low-fat milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until combined.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground allspice).

Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.

Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.  Remove bread from pan; cool completely. Combine powdered sugar and milk, stirring until smooth; drizzle over bread.

Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2010

The biggest challenge to making this banana bread is hoarding the bananas from the hungry banana thieves rummaging your kitchen (in my case, my boyfriend Tom) until they’ve fully ripened.  Once you’ve got your bananas, the rest couldn’t be easier – measure, mix and bake.  I like this particular recipe because the flax adds a little texture and the glaze makes it just a bit sweeter.  The glaze also makes it look like you added extra effort – without any effort at all.   I also recommend adding a handful of walnuts.

Vanilla Flan with Butterscotch Sauce

22 Feb

  • 3 cups  half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup  packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • granulated sugar

1. In medium saucepan heat half-and-half and vanilla bean over medium heat until steaming (140 -145 degrees), about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat; cover.  Steep for 15 minutes.

2. Position rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In small bowl combine brown sugar and 1/4 tsp. of the salt, pinching and mashing to eliminate lumps. Spoon mixture into 9-inch deep–ish pie plate. Pack into firm, even layer.

3. Remove bean from half-and-half (let cool if hot to handle); cut bean lengthwise. With point of small knife, scrape seeds from bean and add to half-and-half. Briefly reheat mixture for 1 to 2 minutes, just to steaming.

4. In large bowl whisk eggs, granulated sugar, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Gradually whisk in warm half-and-half until well-combined.

5. Slowly pour egg mixture in pie plate over brown sugar. Some sugar may float up but will settle to bottom eventually.

6. Place pie plate in deep roasting pan. Place pan in oven. Pour boiling water in roasting pan to halfway up sides of pie plate. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

7. Carefully remove pie plate from roasting pan. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. To serve, gently run a thin metal spatula or knife around edge of flan. Invert onto serving plate. Makes 8 servings.

Better Homes & Gardens, February 2010

This is one of the tastiest flans I have ever tried, but I am a total sucker for all things butterscotch.  I made this exactly as instructed, using the vanilla extract method since I didn’t have any vanilla beans on hand.  Delicious!

Unfortunately, I do not have any sort of serving platter so the flan was bent a little out of shape by my up-turned dinner plates but it made no difference.  Once the pieces were cut and moved to serving plates, they bounced back to the standard flan shape.  However, I should warn that the butterscotch sauce is very sticky and fluid.   So if you plan to flip the flan onto a plate or small platter, be sure to put something under it because it will ooze everywhere.

That said, this was the first flan I’ve ever made and I thought the process was relatively easy and the product was damn impressive.  Can’t wait to have some more tonight.