Monthly Archives: November 2010

“Kitchen Sink” Vegetable Soup

I blew my monthly grocery money gallivanting around Peru.  The food there was fantastic and cheap.  I now have dreams of perfectly marinated chicken, soups, and chica morada.  Girding for lean times ahead, I replenished staples – flour, oil, butter, sugar – and went on a cooking frenzy this past weekend.  I made pumpkin bread and roasted seeds, bagels, and vegetable soup.

The soup was a blessing from the gods.  A volunteer gig left me with a veggie platter worth of leftovers.  Coupling its remains with a few ingredients I had on hand, soup now serves as sustenance for several days.

This basic “kitchen sink” vegetable soup is so named because I like to think myself witty sometimes (it’s an everything but the kitchen sink type soup), nearly any veggie combo will work.  My ingredient list recounts what I had on hand that went into this rendition of vegetable soup.  Since I did not have any stock on hand, I slowly simmered the veggies so that they would create a flavorful broth.

A mid-assembly shot of the veggie-rific soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • carrots, hand full, chopped
  • celery, several stalks, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • bell pepper, hand full, diced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • corn kernels, hand full
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • several shakes red pepper flakes
  • dried basil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • salt

Directions:

I am a big fan of doing food prep as I start cooking to speed the process along.  I yank everything out and turn on the pan before I bother to chop anything. Then I start chopping on a “who’s needed first” basis, chopping and adding to the pot as I go to conserve counter space, dishes used, and time required until food reaches my belly.

  1. Heat on low the 1 tbsp olive oil in the bottom of the soup pan. Dice the onion and add to the pot.  Begin cutting the potatoes and other veggies as the onions cook.
  2. Once onions are translucent, add the potatoes and the roasted garlic cloves.  Continue chopping and adding the vegetables, beginning with those that need the longest cook time (parsnips, carrots, celery).  Do not add the quick cooking veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, and corn at this time. Add the chickpeas and cover the vegetables with water, adding 1″ or more over the tops of the veggies.
  3. Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cook on a low simmer for about 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  5. Add the remaining veggies and basil flakes and continue to cook another 10-20 minutes until zucchini and peppers have the desired bite.
  6. For a thicker soup, strain out a cup or two of the veggies and puree in a blender or food processor and then add back to the soup.
  7. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed and enjoy.
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Filed under Soups and Stews

Homemade Bagels

These bagels rock.  It only takes about an hour to create your own plateful of fresh bagels to see you through the week.  I tried bagels once before, but the result turned out poor since in a fit of idiocy I smooshed my poofy risen rounds down and ended up with boiled baked frisbees.  I thought they had risen too much and figured they’d re-poof during boiling or baking.  I was wrong, horribly horribly wrong.  This go around, I stuck closer to the directions I found on my first google hit for “whole wheat sesame bagels” and only made moderate changes to the recipe.

Whenever trying something beyond your usual comfort zone it is good to master the technique first before improvising.  I have still yet to make a good sandwich bread because I have yet to master kneading.  My impatience in learning how to consistently knead white bread by hand to the right satiny feel before I move on to more difficult to work flours to create the honey infused whole wheat or rye bread that I crave has led to numerous “bread bricks,” salvaged as croutons but good for nothing else.

Update: Since making this recipe, I’ve done several other batches, modifying the recipe each time.  I’ve still yet to find the supreme bagel recipe, but this is a good baseline for quick and easy baked fare.  In my next rendition, which I will post since the ingredients are quite different from this batch, I plan to half the yeast and double the rising time bouts to develop the flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Pulse all the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, salt, yeast) together a few times in a food processor fitted with the dough paddle to combine.
  2. Add the oil and 1 1/4 water while the food processor is on.  Add up to 1/4 cup more water until the dough comes together and forms into a ball.  It should take 45 seconds or less in the food processor to combine and “knead” all the ingredients.
  3. Knead the dough by hand for an additional minute or two, incorporating a light dusting of additional flour if the dough is tacky and sticks to your hand.
  4. Cut dough into 6 to 8 equal size pieces.  Form each into a ball.  Cover the balls loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rest for 10-2o minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  6. To form the holes, I prefer to use my fingers to pinch a hole in the center and stretch it slightly larger than the desired size.  Alternatively, use both hands to roll each ball into a snake slightly longer than the width of both hands.  Then tuck the ends together and use the palm of your hand to roll them together.  The website for a homemade bagel recipe I worked from features pictures and youtube videos on bagel rolling techniques.
  7. Let the bagels rest for 20 minutes. While resting, bring a pot of water to a boil.
  8. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  9. Once the bagels have rested and the water is at a boil, gently drop as many bagels into the pot as will fit without crowding.  Boil each side for about 1 minute.  A flat slotted spatula works well for flipping the bagels and pulling them out of the water.
  10. For plain bagels, place the boiled bagels on the baking sheet, leaving some room around each one.  To top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or other yums: set the boiled bagel into a shallow bowl filled with topping. Use a fork to pull the bagel out and set on the cookie sheet topping side up.
  11. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Flip the bagels over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Beware of burned fingers if you’re like me and can’t wait to slice open and devour a hot from the oven bagel.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I turned a cute little sugar pumpkin’s meat into two loaves of spicy pumpkin bread.  When scooping out the innards, I reserved the goop in order to harvest the seeds for this quick easy and tasty snack.

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Salt
  • Butter

Directions:

  1. Scoop out the pumpkin guts into a bowl.
  2. Add water to the bowl of innards.
  3. Dig in with your hands, separating chunks of guts from seeds.  Place seeds on a plate covered in a dry cloth or paper towel and discard the rest of the goo.
  4. Rinse the seeds again and toss any broken or immature seeds.
  5. Heat the oven to 275 degrees.
  6. Spread a pat of melted butter along a baking tray.
  7. Toss the seeds onto the tray, stir to coat with butter and spread into one layer.
  8. Sprinkle salt over the seeds.
  9. Cook 10-30 minutes.  Stir every 5 to 10 minutes.  Seeds are done when they reach a light golden brown color.

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Pumpkin Bread

My CSA is over, but I still have a coffee table piled high with squash and root vegetables in my fridge.  Fall in Boston settled in while I was vacationing the past week in Peru.  Inspired by the sudden crisp air and mounds of dried leaves that signal a New England fall, the first curcubita to fall under my knife was my cute little sugar pumpkin.  I turned him into two loaves of bread and am roasting his seeds as I type.

Pumpkin bread is in the same bread family as banana bread and zucchini bread.  The pumpkin adds moisture and a little bit of flavor to a loaf that is endlessly customizable.  I wanted an intensely spiced bread, easy on the sugar, with no nuts this time.  My results were not as spicy as I would have liked, so I upped the amount of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger listed in the recipe (I used tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, and 1/2 tsp cloves). D thought the bread needed to be sweeter, and one of the recipes I based this upon did use 3 cups for two loaves, but I think it was sweet enough.  Slather it in butter or devour it plain, this bread is always a good snack.

Sugar pumpkins are almost to dear to hack open

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 3 tsp ginger
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)

Directions:

One sugar pumpkin will yield 2-3 cups of puree.  Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp (set aside if saving the seeds). Place cut side down on a baking sheet and cook for 30-50 minutes at 350 degrees until tender.  Scoop out the cooked flesh and puree in a blender or food processor. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and all the spices.
  3. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.  Add the oil, water, and pumpkin.  Stir to combine.
  4. Pour the bowl of dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the batter equally into two lightly greased bread pans.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or cold!

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Filed under Bakery, Sweets