Hearty Vegetable Soup

final hearty vegetable soup

I have a cold and I stayed home from work on Thursday. So what do people do when they have colds and stay home from work? Well, I’m guessing your answer was not, “Make a soup recipe that takes roughly two hours of work,” but for some weird reason that is what I did (despite my lack of tasting ability right now, I thought this was a good idea).

Needless to say it wore me out (good thing I didn’t go to work today if 2 hours of light activity destroyed my energy supple, although that choice was just as much for me as to avoid getting my brand new co-worker sick). I took a three-ish hour nap after I finished eating a bowl of this soup, which is probably delicious. I hope. At the very least it’s full of nutrients that I need because I’m sick, right?

The recipe comes from my favorite cookbook of all time, the one and only The New Best Recipe from our favorite people at Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. Of course I made some edits, so just grab a copy of the cookbook for the original. Continue reading

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Chai (tea) Muffins (Yes, saying chai tea is redundant)

Boston

Business trip to Boston

I came up with this recipe on a Sunday morning. I had almost no fruit in the house since I just returned from a business trip, but wanted to make some interesting muffins. I never seem to use chai tea bags when I buy them, and I thought it might be a comforting muffin flavor. I tried 2 tea bags (the number remaining in one of the two boxes of chai in my cupboard – I told you I don’t use them! but I think 3 or more would give a stronger chai flavor. The tea I used happened to be vanilla chai, but any chai will work.

I will also note that I was riffing off an existing banana oat bran muffin recipe. It’s a good starting point if you understand how little things affect muffins (i.e. amount of liquid, inclusion of fruit, kind of fruit used, etc.). Muffins can be a little complicated – I have been making them for a long time and yet I still sometimes have trouble getting the texture I want. I was pleasantly surprised at how this experiment came out. Even with the oat bran the crumb was soft on the inside and perfectly crunchy on the outside.

Mmmmmm

Mmmmmm


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Strawberry Oat Bran Muffins

Because I can’t follow a recipe without making substitutions… The original recipe here is for Banana & Oat Bran Muffins from Cornerstones Cupcakes & Muffins. It’s one of those books it’s impossible to keep open without a weight of some sort.

Original Recipe:

makes 12

6 Tbsp (90g) butter, softened

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 (115g) cup mashed ripe banana

3/4 cup (70g) oat bran

1/2 cup (125 ml) buttermilk
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Roasted Mini Bell Pepper and Feta Tartlets

These were the light and delicious result of my first experiment with savory tarts.

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I made two versions – one with feta cheese and one with boring cheese (alpine style combined with parmesan) for the boyfriend since he’s not a feta lover. I actually don’t recommend the substitution – feta mellows when baked so stick with it even for selective eaters.
I made the recipe with baby or mini peppers, but I’m sure regular would do. Just adjust the roasting time. I like the mini peppers because they stay fresh longer and they’re the perfect size if you only want a little bit of pepper. Basically perfect for a 1 or 2 person household.

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Ingredients:
6-8 mini bell peppers, variety of colors (or 1 or 2 regular)
Feta cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated
Olive oil

3.4 oz all purpose flour
2.25 oz butter
pinch of salt
2 tbs ice water

Recipe:
makes 6 tartlets

1. Turn your broiler on high and arrange the peppers on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Place sheet on middle oven rack or approximately 9 inches from the heating element. Turn the peppers when the skin begins to blister, after about five minutes. Remove from oven when the second side begins to blister, another 5-8 minutes.
2. Place peppers immediately in a brown paper bag and close. This will steam the peppers and loosen the skin. Leave in the bag for 8 minutes, them remove and use your fingers to pull the skins off (discard skin). Slice peppers into thin strips then toss lightly with olive oil. 
3. While the peppers are roasting, combine the flour, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until mixture looks course like pebbles. Add water and pulse until dough starts top form.
4. Move dough to lightly floured surface and form into a ball. If the dough is cool enough, you can begin rolling it out. If it is too sticky, refrigerate it for up to 1 hour.
5. Roll dough into large rectangle to desired thickness, roughly 1/8 inch. Using tartlet pans as a guide, cut circles to fit the pans. Gently lift and drape dough over each pan and form to sides. To trim excess dough roll a rolling pin over the top of the pan. Repeat until all pans are full. You may need to re-roll the dough to finish. Prick with a fork or toothpick. Cover each pan with foil (should touch the dough).
6. Place pans on a baking sheet and freeze for up to 30 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 425 F. You can use pie weights (or uncooked dried beans) to weigh down the shells as you bake them. Bake for 9-15 minutes until dough begins to set, then remove foil (and weights) and bake for 6-8 minutes longer, until dough looks dry and begins to brown lightly. Remove from oven.
8. Place strips of peppers in the tart shells, distributing evenly. Crumble feta over the peppers and sprinkle parmesan on top. Use your judgement – do you like a lot of cheese or a little?
9. Bake 6-8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Enjoy! Inspiration for this recipe came from here and here.

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