Monday, September 2, 2013

French onion soup with wild rice


First of all, I must apologise profusely for my long absence. Despite the lack of new posts, you've all still been so faithful in visiting this site. (I'm still not sure how I picked up such a large reader base in Latvia, but I love it nonetheless.) It may interest you to know that all of my ruthless blog-ignoring has paid off, and I am no longer a starving college student. No, I am now a starving intern, soon to be a starving grad student.

I am nothing if not ambitious.

If you've been on Pinterest lately (and who are we kidding, we're probably all on there far too often for far too long), you'll have noticed that the corn, zucchini, and tomato recipes are starting to phase out. Fewer and fewer people are pinning 56 ideas for backyard sprinkler fun, 72 ways to keep kids learning over summer, and 101 craft ideas for sponges. Now I'm seeing recipes for butternut squash gratin and apple crisp and pumpkin bread, and it makes me a tiny bit sad. Just a tiny bit, mind you, because when I think about leaving behind 100°F weather and moving forward into thick scarves and hearty soups and the glorious gorgeousness that is NaNoWriMo, I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. And for once, it isn't heartburn.

This soup is one more precursor of fall. It's not the prettiest dish on the block, but that's not always what counts. It's got wild rice, to help you feel healthy; and beef broth, to help you feel full; and plenty of cheese and butter, to help you feel safe,since you'll be that much harder to kidnap. If you want to switch out some of those things for whatever reason  perhaps leaving out the rice, perhaps cutting back on the butter (why?)  by all means, do. But whatever you do, you must absolutely have these two things:

1) A horribly lit kitchen, preferably under the trees on a cloudy day, certainly with at least one light bulb burnt out. It'll help you get into that fall mood. (Vitamin D supplements not included.)

2) An extremely social cat who does not want to be left out of anything and trips you up at every opportunity.

Ready? Let's make some soup.

French onion soup with wild rice
A mix of Smitten Kitchen's French onion soup, Smitten Kitchen's Vidalia onion soup with wild rice and blue cheese, and Key Ingredient's French onion soup


  • 4 T. butter
  • about 2 lbs. sweet yellow onions (I used three large ones)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 c. (two normal-sized cans) beef broth
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 tsp. thyme
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 c. wild rice or rice blend
  • bread (I used a sourdough boule)
  • butter for toasts
  • cheese (I used Western Family Swiss, but feel free to be fancier)
  1. Melt butter in large soup pot over low-medium heat.
  2. Slice onions thinly (I quartered mine before slicing) and add to pot. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. In large saucepan, bring about 4 c. water to a boil and add rice. Cover and cook for 4550 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
  4. Add sugar and salt to onions, turn up heat to medium, and cook for 3040 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are caramel-coloured.
  5. Add beef broth, bay leaf, thyme, and pepper to onions. Simmer for 3040 minutes.
  6. Butter bread thickly and top with sliced cheese. Toast in toaster oven until crisp.
  7. Stir rice into soup, ladle into bowls, and top with toasts.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Potato spinach blue cheese burgers

       It appears that it's been awhile since I last posted.
       Please accept this picture of rosemary–olive oil bread as an apology. It's that recipe that's been floating around on Pinterest, in case you're interested.

        It's been quite the five months. There's been Anglo-Saxon poetry ... and moving partway across town ... and starting a running programme ... and medical stuff ... and any number of expeditions, from waterfalls to the symphony, that seem to have taken priority over trying out new recipes, photographing them, and attempting to be witty in 400 words.

This is my new spice cupboard. It's alphabetised. Don't look at me like that; it makes things so much easier.

When your toast smiles at you, it's so easy to forget about one's blogging responsibilities.

       But quite out of the blue, I was just presented with the opportunity for another post. It started with the gift of some blue cheese, which initially presented two conundrums (conundra?): First, what could I make with it? and second, how can you tell when it goes bad? It's already blue, and it already has a strong smell.
       Eventually I decided to turn to an old turnover recipe, substituting the blue cheese for the cheddar in the original recipe. I mixed it with mashed red potatoes, spinach, and garlic, folded up in puff pastry, baked, and ate for supper with a strawberry–spinach salad with balsamic vinegar. I highly recommend it, and if I had had more puff pastry, I might have repeated the procedure with the other half of the potato mixture.

       But since I didn't — waste not, want not — I added two eggs and some breadcrumbs, formed it into patties, dunked them in more breadcrumbs, and fried them up in a small amount of olive oil, and there I was with the addition of some whole-wheat burger buns, fresh spinach, and the usual condiments, I have another four suppers in the freezer.
       But without further ado: the burgers.

Potato spinach blue cheese burgers

(makes, eh, maybe 10 or a dozen, depending on how big you make them)

  • 4 red potatoes, boiled, mashed, and cooled
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 oz. blue cheese 
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 c. breadcrumbs (+ 3/4 c. for coating)
  • salt to taste  
  1. Combine ingredients. 
  2. Form into patties.
  3. Coat in reserved breadcrumbs.
  4. Fry in small amount of olive oil.
  5. Serve fresh or flash-freeze as desired.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Coconut milk stir-fry with garlic tofu

       Let's talk about tofu.
       I haven't used it much ... just twice, both times in this recipe. But I've seen an awful lot in our cafeteria, and yes, I heartily mean awful. The main problem with tofu, I think, is the idea that it can be used in place of meat. I've seen great slabs of it slathered with barbecue sauce and served as a steak replacement. Blecchh. No thank you.
       But that's the thing about tofu ... it's not meat. It's its own special thing. I'm currently acting in a collection of one-act plays, and the one right after mine is about conventional ideas of beauty and how we shouldn't let other people define us. You know the stories: "The Ugly Duckling," "The Marriage of Sir Gawain," "The Ordinary Princess," and so many others where the inner beauty eventually shines through.
       Tofu is the same way. It's beautiful, in its own special way. You can't treat it like any other protein. You need to send it flowers once in a while, and tell it it's gorgeous, and open the car door for it, and it will be good to you in return. Observe:

       This is tofu after being diced, pressed, marinated in soy sauce and garlic powder with a dash of allspice, and fried. Seriously, I had the bowl of tofu sitting right there while the veggies were cooking, and I kept snacking on it. Have I really become the person whose guilty pleasure is tofu? Apparently so.
       This stir-fry is the perfect thing if you're craving lots of veggies and some quick, simple, flavorful goodness. It can be easily adapted to use whatever vegetables you have lying around in your crisper. You can leave out the coconut milk if you want to, or the peanut butter, or the cilantro. It's infinitely forgivable.

Coconut milk stir-fry
(adapted from my friend Amy's recipe)
  • 1 block firm tofu
  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash of allspice
  • 4 T. olive oil, divided
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced on the bias
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 c. coconut milk
  • 5 T. peanut butter
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper
  • ½ c. cilantro, chopped
  1.  Drain tofu and cut into 1" slabs. Place slabs between tea towels and place heavy object on top. (I used a skillet, set on top of a baking pan to distribute the weight evenly.) Let rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine soy sauce, garlic powder, and allspice in large baking pan. Add tofu and marinate for 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Fry tofu in 2 T. olive oil until brown. Remove from pan.
  4. In 2 T. olive oil over medium heat, cook onion until translucent. Add garlic and other vegetables and cook under crisp-tender.
  5. Add coconut milk and peanut butter, and reduce heat. Stir until combined.
  6. Serve over jasmine rice with cilantro.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cayenne feta scones

       What comes to mind when you think of relaxation?
       Sleeping? Cooking? Reading? Writing? Good on you. I'm your sister. Some of you exercise to relax. I don't understand that, I'm sorry. I just found a pin on Pinterest that read, "I work out because I know I would be first to die in the Hunger Games." That's exactly me, except without the actual working out.
       I'm betting cayenne pepper isn't on the list, but I'm throwing it in anyway.

       Right now we're on the cusp of a long weekend, and I'm facing the most horrendous case of writer's block I've known since trying to write coherently about the Great Vowel Shift. I just expressed this to the group I'm with, 71% of which is playing an obscure game called Mao. The first rule of Mao is that you do not discuss how to play Mao. I dropped out within the first three seconds.
       "I have no idea what to say about these scones," I said.
       "You might not want to go into marketing," one friend advised.
       "I'm not even trying to sell them," I said. "I made the scones and I can't think of anything interesting to say about them."
       "Well," the friend said, "were they hard to make? Were they easy? Did your roommate choke on one?"
       I will now respond: No, they weren't hard. No, nobody choked. And one unforeseen benefit of making a big batch of scones is that you can keep them on your counter and snack on them periodically. If you're heading to class in a rush, no worries just grab a scone.

       So with that in mind ... happy Presidents Day (and yes, that is the AP-approved spelling), happy long weekend (where applicable), and happy scone-making (in all cases)!

Cayenne feta scones
(from Fat and Happy Blog's lemon feta scones )

  • ½ c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 6 T. cold butter, cut into small chunks
  • 4 oz. feta
  • ¾ c. milk
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  1. Combine flours, baking powder, salt, and cayenne. Rub in butter until no large chunks remain. Mix in feta.
  2. Add lemon juice to milk and let stand five minutes. Combine with flour mixture. 
  3. Roll into ¾" sheet on oiled baking pan. Cut into 1¾" squares with floured knife and separate slightly. Bake at 350°F for 1517 minutes or until brown on bottom.