PUMPKIN & BLACK BEAN SOUP
This is a spicy version of the super-simple soup recipe from The Bake-Off Flunkie. Warm up your winter in two ways with this hot and spicy (and healthy!) soup!
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups pumpkin puree (canned)
- 3 red bell pepper
- 15 oz black beans, strained
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo (canned)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- crème fraiche, for garnish
- Roast the bell peppers until their skins are black. You can roast them on the grill, on a hot grill pan on the stove, or in the oven. After removing the peppers from the heat, place them in a sealed pot for 5 minutes, so the peppers can sweat their skins off. Peel, core, and roughly chop the roasted peppers. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a pot. Add the onion and cook until it’s starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned onion bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the pumpkin puree, roasted red bell peppers, black beans, and chipotle pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook it for about 5 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with crème fraiche. Yield 4-6 servings.
GRILLED EGGPLANT AND OLIVE PIZZA
A stove-top and oven adaption of Smitten Kitchen’s recipes for basic pizza dough and pizza.
for the dough:
- 2 1/4 cups flour (replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
for the pizza:
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 5 ounces sliced provolone, cut into thin matchsticks
- 1/3 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- To make the dough, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture until incorporated. Dump all clumps onto a lightly floured surface and knead the for a minute or two, until it forms a ball of dough.
- Lightly oil a bowl (even the one you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe!) and dump the dough in. Turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap, and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
- Dump it back on a floured surface, and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the dough into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the pizza toppings.
- Preheat the oven to the top temperature. Coat the eggplant slices in olive oil and minced garlic. Roast the eggplant slices over medium-high heat, until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and chop the cooked eggplant into 1/2-inch matchsticks.
- Roll or stretching out the dough onto a baking sheet (you can optionally lightly powder the pan with corn flour). Bake for about two minutes, just until it has started to rise and crisp up. Remove from the oven and mound on the eggplant slices, chopped olives, and layer the cheese on that.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and starting to blister, about 10 minutes, taking care not to burn the bottom of the pizza. Remove from the oven and let cool a minute before slicing. Yields 4 hearty servings.
ROASTED CORN AND TOMATO SALSA
Easy salsa that is highly adaptable. Just throw in whatever leftover fresh veggies you have!
- 2 ears of corn, stripped of their kernels
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 roma tomatoes*, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 bell peppers*, finely chopped
- 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
- 1 hot pepper*
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
*Red and yellow roma tomatoes work great here, just make sure to chop them very finely and save the juices for the salsa. For the bell peppers, red and green pack more of a punch than others. For the hot pepper, you can use jalepeño; but we used a very spicy cherry bomb pepper.
- Heat the oil over medium heat and add the corn kernels and pan roast for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that they don’t burn. About 5 minutes in, add the garlic and continue to pan roast. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add the tomato, bell pepper, onion, hot pepper, lime juice, and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste, or optionally adjust the heat by adding sriracha or tobasco.
TOMATO AND ZUCCHINI RISOTTO
Cheesy and fresh; you’ll go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. Adapted from Pink Parsley.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 3/4 cup arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped into ribbons
- 1/2 cup tomato juice
- 2 yellow roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3 red roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a small saucepan.
- Heat half the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until transluscent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and toast for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour white wine into rice and allow to almost completely evaporate.
- Add about 1 cup chicken broth to risotto, and stir constantly until the liquid has almost completely been absorbed. Continue to add the chicken broth and stir until the rice is cooked through, but still slightly al dente, about 20 minutes total.
- Before the final addition of chicken broth, add zucchini and basil. After all the chicken stock has been added, stir in the tomato juice, and allow to evaporate slightly. Mix in diced tomatoes, remaining butter, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Yields about 5 dinner portions.
ENGAGEMENT CHICKEN (aka TWO-LEMON CHICKEN)
The theory behind this dish is as fantastic and simple as the recipe itself: make this chicken for guests, and soon they will pop the question. I also learned that it’s a great dish to bond over with new friends, as nothing brings people together quite like picking apart a whole chicken. (For example, the only remainder of the dish was the above wishbone…)
This meat is so tender that the bird essentially jumps out of its bones. As a tip, make sure that you use small and juicy lemons, so that they fit inside of the chicken and provide plenty of flavor. Also, collect the cooking juices and pour them over slices of the meat. Thanks to Lela for introducing me to this recipe!
- 1 3- to 5-pound whole chicken
- 2 small lemons
- salt and black pepper
*For a 3 pound bird, cook in 20 minute intervals; for a 5 pound bird, cook in 30 minute intervals. A meat thermometer should read near 180 degrees at the thickest section of the breast by the end of cooking.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll the lemons to make them juicy, and poke many holes through the rind using a fork.
- Remove the giblets and thoroughly wash the bird with cold water. Dry it with a paper towel, and rub above and under the skin with salt and pepper. Stuff the lemons into the cavity, and seal it up with some cooking twine a few toothpicks.
- Place the chicken into a baking pan, breast-side-down. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees, and place the chicken on the middle rack. Cook for 20-30 minutes*, and then flip breast-side-up and cook for another 20-30 minutes*. Turn the heat up to 375 degrees and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes*.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, and let the meat rest for a few minutes before carving. The juices that pool in the pan are very flavorful and make a great sauce for individual slices. Depending on the size of the bird and how hungry your guests are, this will serve between 3 and 5 people.
CHOCOLATE AND HAZELNUT BISCOTTI
The perfect companion to a cup of hot coffee, this dark biscotti is crispy crunchy, slightly chocolatey, and distinctly flavored with espresso. And, of course, it involves my favorite, Nutella-like flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnut. This cookie comes from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of an old NYTimes recipe (it’s also butter-free!).
- 1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, blanched
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tablespoon espresso powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cups sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Set toasted nuts aside.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder together and set aside.
- Beat eggs lightly, just until blended. Remove one tablespoon of egg mixture to small dish and set aside. Beat sugar into remaining eggs until blended. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough.
- Place dough on a very well-floured work surface. With floured hands, pat it into a six-inch square. Scatter half the hazelnuts on the dough and press them into the surface. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the roll of dough on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Lightly brush the tops of both rolls with the reserved egg.
- Place in the oven and bake about 25 minutes, until firm to the touch. Transfer to a cutting board and cool. With a sharp and tighly serrated knife, cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick. Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 20 minutes, until they are crisp and dry. Allow to cool completely before storing or serving. Yields approximately 25 cookies.
PAN ROASTED CORN AND TOMATO SALAD
I found this easy border-style side dish through the NYTimes, and it lends itself very well to the summer and market-bought veggies. Plus, it’s got bacon in it.
- 1/4 pound bacon, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 6 ears of corn, stripped of their kernels (2 to 3 cups)
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
- 2 jalepeños, chopped
- Salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to render fat; add onion and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes, then add corn. Continue cooking, stirring or shaking pan occasionally, until corn begins to brown a bit, about 5 more minutes; remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Drain excess fat if you wish.
- Add lime juice to bacon-corn mixture; then toss with remaining ingredients, adding avocado last. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yields about five servings.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI
A delicious homemade replica of my favorite dish from my favorite Italian restaurant in Boston’s North End. This ravioli is incredibly indulgent and melts on your tongue with its fabulosity.
for the filling:
- 1 butternut sqaush
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot, chopped finely
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- dash of nutmeg
- salt and pepper
for the ravioli dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1/3 cup water
- Wash, peel, de-seed, and cut the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss together with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lay out onto a baking sheet and bake at 425F for 35-45 minutes, or until the squash is very soft, mixing every 15 minutes.
- Place the roasted butternut squash in a bowl and mash until very smooth.
- In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sautee shallot until translucent.
- Add the butternut squash puree, 2 tablespoons butter, and milk. Then add parmesan, and mix until melted and well incorpated. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- To make the dough, combine wet ingredients and pour over flour. Mix well until a soft, semi-sticky dough is formed.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out very thin. Using a knife, cut 2-inch squares from the dough. Place a scant teaspoon-sized dollop of filling onto a square. Overlay with another square of dough and press the layers together. Lightly brush the edges of dough with water and roll to seal. Either cook immediately, or keep stored air-tight in the refrigerator.
- To cook, simply boil in lightly salted water for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in a simple butter sauce with sage. Yields 30-40 ravioli.
PICKLED RED ONIONS
A great topper for salads, grilled goods, or just on its own, these pickled pink delights are such a fun summer treat!
- 1 large red onion
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- optionally: cloves, garlic, bayleaf, allspice, chili pepper, or peppercorns
- Thinly slice the red onion.
- Mix vinegar, sugar, and salt in skillet. Bring to boil over medium heat.
- Add the red onion and combine until coated. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the onions are limp and the pickling juice is pink.
- Let cool, and store sealed in jars. Yields approximately two cups.
Nutella is, in my opinion, a reason for waking up in the morning. Simply, it’s one of those rare items in life (or in your cupboard) that is plainly perfect. So naturally, when I stumbled across Baking Bites’ nutella macarons, I was inspired. Baking these is an involved process, but makes for some messy fun, with plenty of finger-, beater-, and mixing bowl-licking along the way!
- 2 1/4 cups hazelnut meal (180g)
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (200g)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (30g)
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar (180g)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup Nutella
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Sift together hazelnut meal, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add two egg whites and stir mixture until it comes together into a very thick dough.
- In a small saucepan, bring granulated sugar and water to a rolling boil.
- Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, beat remaining two egg whites until frothy. Slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites while beating. Incorporate and beat until thick and fluffy, resembling meringue.
- Add the meringue mixture in thirds to the chocolate dough, folding and smoothly incorporating between additions.
- Transfer batter to a piping bag (or plastic bag) with a 1-cm opening. Pipe dough onto prepared baking sheets to form 1-inch discs; batter will spread slightly after piping. Leave about 1-inch between discs on the baking sheet. Once all of the batter has been piped out, let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes; this will give them a smooth, shiny top during baking.
- Bake macarons for 11-12 minutes, until the tops are set. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to dry out for 30 minutes.
- Sandwich them together with about 1 teaspoon of Nutella. Serve immediately, or store air-tight at room temperature for a day. Yields about 36 delicious sandwich cookies.