January 28, 2011

Bolivian Peanut Soup

I made this soup for my first ever Soup Swap, hosted by Nupur of One Hot Stove. I made it at home in WI and froze it before taking it all the way to St. Louis for the soup swap. The recipe is adapted from soupsong, one of my favorite go to sites for soups from different countries. My inspiration behind this soup are two fold: ~ I wanted to make something that can freeze well and yet be filling. ~ The soup has to puree well, and yet doesn't need cream to be creamy! This is a scaled up recipe for 8 single servings (2 cups each). The prep time was about 10 minutes with another 20-25 for cooking.

Ingredients: 4 medium to large Yukon gold potatoes - diced; 2 carrots - diced; one red onion - chopped coarsely; 1/2 cup tomato puree, 1 cup peanuts - diced, raw preferred; 2-3 cups of vegetable stock; 1 cup coconut milk; 2-3 tbsp smooth peanut butter; 1/2 tsp cumin & coriander powder; Salt, pepper & chili powder to taste. (I used a hot green chili powder).
  • Saute the vegetables in a tbsp of olive oil in the soup pot. Season.
  • Add stock, water as needed and the peanuts. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer till the vegetables are tender.
  • Puree with a blender and dilute with  more stock for preferred consistency.
  • Whisk the peanut butter and coconut milk together, add to the pureed soup.
  • Adjust seasoning, cook for a few more minutes.
  • If serving immediately, garnish with roasted peanuts.
I know everyone else needs to add more salt to it than what I used. The soup was super simple, low-stress for making quite a few servings and has frozen wonderfully.

I am sending this soup to "Winter Warmers" hosted by The Veggie Hut and to MLLA #31 hosted by Briciole.

January 17, 2011

Creamy Chestnut & Sweet Potato Soup

I am loving making pureed soups with my new immersion blender! And with all the snow we have been getting (some of my friends will tell you we have not been getting enough), they are a perfect start to any meal. The most recent one I made is this Chestnut & Sweet Potato soup. I had a pack of precooked chestnuts from Trader Joe's that needed using up. And I also had cream left from making a Polenta Gratin.

Here is the quick version of it: I chopped up the chestnuts, a small onion, three cloves of garlic, two small Japanese Sweet Potatoes, one stick of carrot. All of these were sauteed in butter + olive oil in my soup pot, and boiled with some water and salt & pepper. I also added 1 cup of vegetable stock, a pinch of dried Italian seasoning. Once the vegetables were completely cooked, they were pureed. I then added a little more stock and 1/2 cup cream to get the consistency I like. The garnish were crunchy carrot ribbons fried in butter and peppered cashews. Now I am ready for more creamy chestnuts with other root vegetables & different types of squashes!

January 4, 2011

Foodie Art

One of the things I got to do over the holidays was to combine two of my passions - food and art! Here is a simple Chocolaty Cupcake painted with acrylics on a 8x8 canvas. It is also embellished with a few beads, sequins and faceted glass pieces. I have to work on having an interesting background on the next one. I might end up writing "yum!" in large swirly letters on this one... may be. Update: I did write the yum, but not in large letters. At the collection of Donald Malchow, Madison.

January 3, 2011

Shakshouka from Israel

Cooking through a few of the middle eastern countries for dinner last week, I put together a mezze with hummus, pita, eggplant in a yogurt sauce, shakshouka and baklava for dessert. This dish was pretty interesting  and is adapted from the book Food of Israel - Authentic recipes from the land of milk and honey. The author mentions traveling to Jaffa to learn how to make this dish perfect - fried peppers and tomatoes and eggs. I don't think mine turned out to be perfect, but it was really good. I am not sure how to fold in egg whites and let it cook without  them being visible! 

I fried 3 chopped green chilies in oil, added 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 roasted red peppers (diced) and 2 small diced tomatoes. The mixture was then seasoned with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of paprika. Once the vegetables were cooked, I added first the egg whites and folded it in, then slid the yolks on top. I did let the yolks cook well too, though the recipe called for them to be soft. Another way of having tomatoes & eggs, cooked fast. I am sure this one is going to be a regular at our home!

January 2, 2011

Foodie 2010 & Making Yogurt at Home

Foodwise, 2010 was an awesome year. I challenged myself to cook dishes from all the countries in the world. Though I haven't completed it, I am very happy to have covered 90 countries and made at least one vegetarian dish from these countries. It has been quite an adventure! We also had a wonderful time indulging in a lot of food when we were in France last summer. Three trips to India in one year also meant a lot of eating out and checking out some great restaurants in addition to all the home made delish dishes. I started participating in the Daring Bakers challenges, albeit not being a regular. Despite living in WI for the last 4 years, we made it to Muscada for the Morel Mushroom Festival. We also had a small garden which produced a lot of fresh veggies, that we were able to share. I have also managed to keep the blog alive and participated in a few cooking events online. And it was great to have friends come over and try any & all of the dishes I make :)

The last bit of highlight is perfecting the art of making yogurt at home in the WI winter without a yogurt maker. I use a heating pad and a couple of layers to keep the milk warm as the little microbes do their work. As much as it is a simple process, the pleasure of providing the optimal conditions for micro organisms is definitely an achievement! My starter culture is from an Indian restaurant in St. Louis and as they have been propagating their culture for a while, I haven't had issues in starting out from left over yogurt. 

Happy New Year 2011 everyone! Hope this year is also an adventure in food :)
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