Welcome to my blog. My blogging journey began about in August 2009 as a photo-a-day blog which has since transitioned to combine my love of good food and photography. Today, using as many local and fresh ingredients as we can, my boyfriend and myself spend time researching recipes, making our own adaptations, cooking, taking photos, eating, and finally reflecting on all or part of the above listed process here. I hope you take the time to not only read and look at our photos, but please cook some of the recipes yourself. You are invited and encourage to leave feedback as we continue our culinary journey!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Zucchini Roquefort Soup

Okay, I guess I got on a soup kick last week. I was craving this wonderful soup that my Spanish host mom, Lola used to make. I looked up a few Roquefort soup recipes. This one was not nearly as good as hers (I guess I'll have to get the recipe), but it still passed in our books. Thick, filling, creamy, and full of flavor.

Zucchini Roquefort Soup
3 small zucchinis-grated or chopped into very small pieces
1 small onion
5 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
1 cup Roquefort (or I substituted for Gorgonzola for a cheaper option) cheese
olive oil

Begin by cooking the zucchini and onion in a large bowl with olive oil for about 20 minutes. When the zucchini is soft, add flour and let the mixture thicken. When mixed together, add milk. Let the milk heat up and begin to boil---bring the milk back down to a simmer and then add the Roquefort cheese. I substituted for Gorgonzola, which has a similar flavor, but I do think that this soup would have tasted better with the actual Roquefort cheese. Cook the soup until it has thickened and all the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. The entire process should take approximately 40 minutes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Moroccan Carrot Soup

We had big cooking plans last week. So big, in fact, that we spent all of our free time cooking which left me little time to update. So now that the weekend is here I am updating with our most recent recipes.

This one actually comes from our friends Elysa and Andy, who invited us over a couple months ago and made this soup for dinner for us and another couple which happened to include an individual who is gluten free. I am not a big cooked carrot fan, but to be honest when I first took a taste of this soup I could not even guess what vegetable it was made with. Easy to prepare, healthy, and incredibly tasty.

Moroccan Carrot Soup
1/4 stick butter
1 small chopped white onion
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
2.5 cups chicken broth
1.5 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon honey
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup plain kefir (or yogurt)

Begin by melting the butter in a large pot. Add carrots, onion, chicken broth, and cumin. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until carrots are soft. Using a food processor or blender, make the soup one consistency and pour into a bowl. Add honey, lemon juice, allspice, and kefir and stir together. Serve warm. (The original recipe did not call for the yogurt to be mixed in the soup, but rather to be drizzled on top. However, I prefer it mixed in and then I still drizzle some yogurt on top of the soup). Salt and pepper to taste.

This soup has a great, unique flavor and would be fantastic for all you vegetarians (just use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth) out there. The soup could easily be made vegan with a few substitutions---margarine instead of butter, vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, and forget the yogurt or use soy yogurt.

If you think you will like this soup as much as we do, make double the recipe to ensure leftovers!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Homemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

To celebrate Valentine's Day and our Anniversary, last weekend D and I decided we would try our hand at homemade ravioli. I say try because things didn't work out exactly as we expected...but it was a fun project, we learned a few lessons, and now our ravioli will be better next time!

Making ravioli is a time consuming and difficult process, but we wanted to put some of our Christmas gifts to good use. So we made some homemade pasta noodles and a wonderful spinach-ricotta filling.

Eggs (100 g flour for every egg)

We used 600 g of flour to ensure leftovers. This was our mistake because using the pasta maker is a time consuming process and the pasta was dry before we were able to roll it out, therefore, some of our noodles were ruined because we could not get them thin enough. I would suggest not using more than 300 or 400 g of flour at a time.

Mix the flour and eggs together by kneading until they are one consistency. Roll a portion of the mixture into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin. Using a pasta maker, flatten the pasta to the thickness you need. Since we wanted lasagna/ravioli noodles, we kept the pasta in one flat sheet.

2 lb spinach
1 large container ricotta cheese (almost a kilo/2 lbs)
1 small container grated parmesan (5 oz)
2 eggs

Saute the spinach for 5-10 minutes, until cooked but not too small. Put cooked spinach in a large bowl and add ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese. Stir. Break eggs in bowl and mix well.

Making the ravioli
For Christmas we were given a fancy ravioli maker which we put to good use. Basically, the process involves using a special tool to make an indention in the noodle, placing the filling in the indent, placing another noodle on top, and finally using a special mold to push the noodles together and make the ravioli shape.

To cook, boil hot water and place ravioli in slightly salted water for about 5 minutes. For sauce, used melted butter and sage.

Unfortunately, since some of our dough dried out we ended up with a ridiculously disproportionate noodles to filling ratio. So...we brainstormed, checked our pantries and then made...lasagna! This is a much easier way to use this wonderful pasta filling for all you out there who are not the make-your-own-pasta-noodle type. Make the same filling, cover the bottom of a pyrex dish with filling, place noodles on top, and continue alternating between filling and noodles until you reach the top of the dish. Add a touch of salt and pepper, and feel free to toss some dried sage and butter in there as well! Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

You know what they say...when life hands you lemons...make lasagna!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter Beef and Vegetable Soup

Okay, so I'm slow to update. What can I say, we've moved and I've started a new job. The blog is not dying though, now that we're mostly settled in our new place we have some cooking plans in the works. Unfortunately, I cannot find my crockpot cookbook post-move (!), but this means that I've thought about some other non-crockpot recipes we've been wanting to try. In order to celebrate valentines day and our anniversary-one week late, I know-we plan on making use of our homemade ravioli maker. I'm also thinking that Roquefort soup, carrot soup, baked potato soup (can you tell I'm in a soup mood?), and something with yellow lentils are all in the works...plus we've been talking about making meatloaf for awhile.

Although now it's almost 60 degrees outside (!), just over a week ago there was a little thing called a blizzard. It was cold. We needed something to tide us over. Therefore, on "blizzard day" I cooked a beef stew in the crockpot. Easily adaptable for your tastes. Unfortunately, the recipe is in the crockpot cookbook that I lost, but I've written it here to the best of my ability for you to replicate.

Winter Beef and Vegetable Soup
1 lb ground beef
1 medium size onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 cup potatoes, cubed
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper
other spices to taste
4 cups beef broth
2 cups water

Begin by browning the beef on the stove. Add the onion for a few moments. Pour onion and beef mixture into crockpot. Add sliced veggies, spices, broth, and water. Cook on low for 7 hours. Enjoy warm! Keep plenty for leftovers.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow-day Polenta

Mid-blizzard, Daniele and I felt as if the wind was blowing straight through our apartment. We spent most of the time wrapped up in blankets and standing near the heaters in our apartment. So, when it came time to cook we knew we needed to eat something warm.

Polenta is perfect for the winter season, so I suggest you pick up some instant polenta from your nearest grocery and make some today. Follow the instructions on the package and serve with your favorite pasta topping.

We made enough for leftovers, so the first time we had polenta during the blizzard we served it with a sauce that included sausage, sauteed spinach, and tomato sauce. You can easily make this sauce at home. For our leftovers, we topped the polenta with grated american cheese, the rest of the sauce mixture, and some mushrooms and then baked it for about 20 minutes. For a side, we also roasted some tomatoes by slicing cherry tomatoes in half, adding a bit of olive oil, basil, salt, and oregano, and cooking in the oven alongside the polenta. This made us two versions of a similar warm, healthy, and hearty meal.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, and Pine Nut Bagels

You may have seen my other bagel recipes last fall. Although I do not particularly enjoy baking, and my breads usually do not turn out to be successful, I can say this: I love making (and eating) my own bagels! They are so much better than the ones you can get at the store and you can make them in whatever flavor you enjoy most.

I had some extra sun dried tomatoes from a few other recipes we made, so this is the flavor I decided to use for this particular version.

Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, and Pine Nut Bagels
1 cup warm water
1 package yeast
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons dried basil
6 tablespoons tomato sauce
1.5 cups wheat flour
1.5 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Begin by adding your 1 package of yeast to the cup of warm water. Stir and wait for about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. While waiting, soak your sun-dried tomatoes in some warm water to make sure they are soft.

In a large bowl, mix together flours, salt, basil, and pine nuts. When the sun-dried tomatoes are soft, chop them into small pieces and add them to the mixture as well (Save the water they were sitting in because you can add some later for extra flavor). Gradually mix in the yeast and water mixture to form a dough. Add one tablespoon olive oil and 4-6 tablespoons of tomato sauce for extra tomato flavor. Mix together to form one consistency. If the mixture seems wet and sticky, add some more flour. If the mixture seems dry, you can add a bit of the sun-dried tomato water to moisten. When it seems your dough is a good consistency, cover and let the bread rise for an hour.

After the bread has about doubled in size, form into 10-12 small balls and poke a hole in the center. In a large pot, boil 1/2 gallon of water. Add 3-4 bagels to the water and boil for 6 minutes, turning halfway. After all the bagels have been boiled, arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until golden-brown on top.

Enjoy your bagels with cream cheese (or whatever topping you prefer!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slow Cooker Mushroom and Steak Stroganoff

D had never had a stroganoff recipe so I decided to make an attempt at one last week. I also wanted him to begin to understand the beauty and tastefulness of sour cream. (I love sour cream but he despises it, and I thought a stroganoff recipe would be a good way to include the creamy flavor but hide some of the sour taste he doesn't like.) I was right! The stroganoff was a success. One one of your snowy days this week, cook this recipe in your crock pot. It will warm you right up!

Slow Cooker Mushroom and Steak Stroganoff
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 lbs beef top round steak, cut into strips
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
1 packet onion mushroom soup mix
2 jars sliced mushrooms
minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream
egg noodles

In a large, resealable plastic bag combine the dry spices and flour. Add beef strips to the bag and shake the mixture to coat the beef. Transfer the beef strips into the crockpot.

In a bowl, combine the soup, water, and soup mix, pour over the beef, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours.

Stir in mushrooms, sour cream, and parsley. Stir. Cover and cook for 30 more minutes.

Cook egg noodles and serve stroganoff over noodles.