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Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Anniversary! A Deluge of Recipes...


I didn't miss it! It's still October 10th in California!

I honestly can't believe it's been a year since I've started writing this thing. And in that time I've accrued possibly...five readers. Three if we don't count my parents.  Oh well, that's fine because when it comes down to it, am I really writing these little notes on life and food for anyone, or am I happy to have these words just floating around within internet ether for my own pleasure? Heavy stuff.

At any rate, I haven't been the best blog poster, I realize that. And I apologize. The past few weeks were nuts as I've been working towards a very important deadline for my script, which is now seven drafts old! (Sniff....they grow up so fast...) But now that things have settled a bit I find myself coming to a depressing realization: I really need a job.

But let's not talk about that right now. Let's focus on all the delicious creations coming out of my mess of a kitchen.


A few months ago an amazing food blogger named Jennifer Perillo lost her husband, Michael. His favorite dessert was peanut butter pie, and food bloggers around the world made a pie for Mikey. I did too, but kept mine and my thoughts in the fridge for a while. After I read about Jennifer and her family, I immediately went out to the grocery story to buy ingredients for my own pie. Even if Jenny never knows I made this, my thoughts and prayers are with her. As is this pie (in spirit). 

 

I made too much peanut butter filling, so what do I do? Make another peanut butter pie, of course. But this one is PB&J, the "J" consisting of a homemade rhubarb jam. Topped off with some toasted graham cracker crumbs, this was a big hit at the nudist potluck party I went to (yeah, "nudist" means what you think it means).



But one of the best things I've started making is a roasted garlic and cauliflower soup. Oh. My. God. Not only is this really healthy, it tastes AMAZING. And such a good addition to the soon-to-be chilly nights we'll be getting in the Big Apple. I make mine a bit chunkier than normal soup and top it with some brown rice. Super, super filling, and guilt-free. Although I warn you: this is not a soup for a romantic first date. I reeked of pungent (yet delicious) garlic for the rest of the night. Luckily my script doesn't mind. He's good to me like that.



I added a few spoons of creme fraiche to the second batch of this soup and it didn't seem to make much difference, but perhaps there was an undertone of creamy tangy-ness. I'd stick to just chicken stock. But, I realized that the type of garlic I used DID change the character of this soup. I bought some fancy bulbs of garlic from the USQ farmer's market for batch #2 and I could swear the garlic in the soup had more depth. Maybe my mind just forced me to think that because I had to spend a buck fifty per (smallish) bulb.


If you're looking for a cocktail food to serve at your upcoming soiree, I'd say this soup can be transformed very easily. Just use a bit less chicken stock while blending and perhaps throw in a couple spoonfuls of grated Romano (or any ol' dry, crumbly cheese). Voila! Contemporary veggie dip.


And what do I do when a hurricane blows through the city? Make banana chocolate chip bread, of course. I'd had enough of surfing the internet, pretending to write, and reading in bed and decided to putter around the kitchen for a bit. This turned out surprisingly good. So good in fact that I'm ready to call this the ONE banana bread recipe I'll be using from now on. So good I refuse to tell you how much I ate hunched over the kitchen counter. (Hint: more than one bite.)


Alright, my devoted fans. I hope this tides you over for a bit. I'll be back soon with more. Funny thing about unemployment: it's doing wonders for my cooking. (Just learned about an amazing baking supply store in Manhattan that's much to convenient for me to get to. This does not bode well for my budget.)

Ummm....that wasn't me. Swear.


PEANUT BUTTER PIE FOR MIKEY (based on recipe from In Jennie’s Kitchen)

8 oz chocolate cookies
4 tbsp butter, melted
8 oz finely chopped chocolate
1/3 cup peanuts
1 ¼ cup heavy cream
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 14 oz can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinches of salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Roast peanuts in an oven set to 350 degrees till warm and toasty. Keep an eye on them, as they’ll turn dark quickly. After they’ve cooled, chop them up a bit.

Put cookies in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Add butter and a pinch of salt. Pule till combined. Press mixture into the bottom of a pie pan.

Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Stir in ¼ cup of heavy cream, along with the red pepper flakes. Spread half the chocolate mixture on the bottom of the crust and top with a sprinkling of half the chopped peanuts. Place pan in fridge as you prepare filling.

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks and store in fridge. Beat cream cheese and peanut butter together till light and fluffy. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar, then condensed milk. Add vanilla and lemon juice, and a small pinch of salt. Beat until all ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir 1/3 of whipped cream into filling mixture and fold in the other two thirds.

Pour half the filling into the prepared pan and spread out. Top with the rest of the chocolate, and sprinkle on the rest of the chopped peanuts. Refrigerate for three hours or up to overnight before serving.

ROASTED GARLIC AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Note: This is the kind of soup you can do almost anything to, add any vegetable, but I’d recommend always having the cauliflower. It gives the soup it’s creamy and binding texture.

1 small head cauliflower, chopped (medium florets)
1-2 bulbs garlic, cut in half
2 leeks, washed and chopped (1” pieces)
½ eggplant, chopped (1” pieces)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp thyme leaves
2 tsp rosemary, chopped fine
Sprinkling salt
Sprinkling black pepper
½ to 1 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread vegetables on a baking sheet and cover with oil. Sprinkle on herbs, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Roast veggies for about 20 to 25 minutes, till soft and caramelized. Place veggies in food processor (take roasted garlic out of skins) and pulse till becoming smooth. Add chicken stock little by little till you get the consistency you like. Serve. 

AMAZING BANANA BREAD (from Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/2006/11/speckled-for-the-freckled/)

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ cup flour
3/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Prehead oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter into mashed bananas and ass sugar, egg, vanilla, then spices. Add salt and baking soda. Add flour and mix till almost combined. Add walnuts and chocolate chips. Mix till just combined.

Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool and serve.

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