Tag Archives: shallots

Making Concessions. And soup.

This is my one concession to Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited about the food as everyone else—in fact, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner just might be one of my favorite meals of the year. And, I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that I’d be happy to make whole meals for the rest of the week out of stuffing.

But, the thing is….

Well….

How to say this?

Ok, out with it then.

My family’s Thanksgiving meal is traditionally in a restaurant. Or, at least it has been for the past several years.

There are lots of reasons for this, but mainly, it’s simply that it works for us. We’re all coming from different places and have different dietary restrictions. And, this way we can all sit and relax. Which is really, I think, the point of the holiday.

The problem, of course, is that I really don’t have a stable of recipes. I do, however, have an address book filled with suggestions for Prix Fixe dinners.

And, that said, my immediate family typically does have a smaller version of the meal at some point over the weekend—after all there’s something to be said about having the left overs for days on end. So, in some ways, I get the best of both worlds. And, I’m not constrained by the traditions when I cook.

With that in mind, and following the longest introduction ever, I present you the pumpkin soup that I’ve been eating as of late. This version isn’t for you purists—frankly, I’m a little bored with the classic combinations and find things like pumpkin and maple syrup or brown sugar or apples or you name it a little too sweet for a soup. This one’s got kick. Lots of onions, lots of chili. I’m enjoying it so much, I’m planning the left overs already.

Until the next time, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

1 2-pound sugar pumpkin
3 TBS olive oil, divided
6-8 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 tsps ancho chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape the center, setting the seeds aside. Brush the pumpkin with 1 TBS oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp paprika and salt. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until the pumpkin is soft and can easily be scraped from the skin.

Once the pumpkin seeds are dry, sprinkle 1 TBS of oil on them and season with salt. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, until they are golden brown.

While the pumpkin is roasting, make the vegetable stock (recipe follows).

When the pumpkin is roasted, allow it to cool and scoop out the roasted flesh. Set it aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 TBS of olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and shallot for approximately 10 minutes on a low heat, until they start to brown. Add the pumpkin, ancho chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and a dash of salt. Cover with the vegetable broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste, adding salt if necessary.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add more water.

Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Vegetable Stock
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
salt
8 cups cold water
1 TBS lemon juice

In a large stock pot, saute the vegetables, onion, and garlic for approximately 5 minutes on a low heat until everything starts to brown. Add in the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Then, add in the water, peppercorns, bay leaf and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Strain out the vegetables, add in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Set aside.

Makes 8 cups

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Filed under Meatless, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Screaming of Summer

When I started this blog more than a year ago, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t resort to posting about the weather. I’ve had a nice run of it, too. But, on the East Coast, last week was too hot to go without mention.

So, in the midst of the last epic heatwave, I did the only reasonable thing possible—I left the city.

Atlantic City has the benefit of being far enough from New York City to feel like you’re getting away, but close enough to make the trek in a day.

Plus, it’s quintessential Americana.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had never been to Atlantic City before, but after spending last summer at Fenwick Island and visiting Ocean City, I had list in mind—salt water taffy, a trip to the Casino (I won 15 cents! After spending 5 dollars!), a stroll on the boardwalk, and a trip the beach.

Did I mention how much I love Americana? Especially, this kind, that’s so specifically connected to the summer.

I made this succotash before the latest heatwave, when I could still stand the idea of turning on my oven, but I’m sharing it now because, much like my weekend daycation, it screams of summer to me.

Make it for your next picnic.

Summer Succotash

1 cup dried cranberry beans
4 ears of corn
1 TBS olive oil
6 strips bacon, diced
1 shallot
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TSP red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the cranberry beans, bring them to a boil for 3-5 minutes, covered and let stand for 3 hours. Rinse and cook for 45 minutes in salted water. Set the cooked beans aside, allowing them to cool.

At the same time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the corn cobs with olive oil and salt to taste. Cook 45 minutes, and set aside to cool. Once the corn is cooled, cut the kernels off of the cobs and set them aside.

Heat a large skillet over a low flame. Once the skillet is hot, add the bacon, cooking until the fat has rendered, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside.

Add the shallots and red pepper flakes to the bacon fat, sauteing for 3 to 5 minutes, until the shallots are soft. Add the corn and cranberry beans back into the skillet, stirring to combine. Add the red wine vinegar into the pan and stir, scrapping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Plate the succotash adding the bacon to the top. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6

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Lacking Self Control

I couldn’t help myself.

Walking through Union Square last Saturday—any Saturday morning, really—tends to be a bit of a dangerous proposition for me. I feel myself grow covetous. And, despite having a fully stocked pantry, find myself unable to resist the new flavors on offer.

In this case, it was the newly arrived flavors of fall that did me in. Sure, I’m already missing the juicy tomatoes of summer, but right now the rows and rows of apples have made me easily distracted. Paired with butternut squash—another fall favorite of mine—they make a surprising soup. Silky and elegant and so very filling, this is soup that’s good enough for company.

What? You thought perhaps I would admit to something more ominous?

Oh, well, there’s always next time.

For now, here’s the recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 bacon strips, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 TBS olive oil
3 apples, peeled and cut into cubes (combination of gala and granny smith)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes, with seeds set aside
2 shallots, diced
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp thyme
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk or heavy cream (I used soy milk for a lighter flavor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In separate dishes, toss both the butternut squash seeds and butternut squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Before roasting the butternut squash seeds, make sure that they have been dried thoroughly. Roast for 40 minutes. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat the bacon over a low flame, rendering the fat and browning the bacon, about 10 minutes. Strain the bacon on a paper towel and set aside.

Add the red pepper flakes, thyme, shallots, onions, and garlic to the bacon fat and saute until the mixture is translucent, about ten minutes.

Add the apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stir and saute 2 minutes.

Add the butternut squash and chicken stock. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until the apples are soft and falling apart.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Stir in a cup of milk or heavy cream and simmer for another 15 minutes, until all of the flavors have combined.

Serve using the bacon bits and butternut squash seeds as garnish.

Serves six, very generously

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Guaca wakka wakka

The truth is, it’s not even July and it already feels too hot and sticky to even think about turning on an oven.

Needless to say, we here at the Refrigerate After Opening kitchen have not been doing much cooking.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that we still have to eat.





These days meals are lazy affairs, composed of what’s easily on hand—vegetables for us (and, more truthfully, lots and lots of chips), finished off with a cooling dip. Mostly guacamole, due largely to my sheer aversion to all things mayonnaise and sour cream based.



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Guacamole is one of those dips that has endless variations, so think of the recipe below as a blank canvas. A very green blank canvas.

I tend to keep mine simple, allowing the acid of the lemon juice to do most of the work, its bright kick making the other flavors shine, although fresh herbs would be a nice addition and a little sriracha or Tabasco would give it some heat. Just keep playing with the flavors and you’ll come up with your signature version.

It may even tide you over until you’re willing to turn your oven back on.

Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, diced
1 1/2 shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large or 4 small tomatoes, with seeds removed and diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine avocados, shallots, garlic and onions, using a potato masher to break down the avocado and combine all of the ingredients well.

Add in lemon juice until you reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

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Sweet and Spicy

Salsa, done right, is the ultimate snack food. Light, filled with vegetables—and in this case fruit—and refreshing.

It’s also the kind of food with thousands of variations. Here, the combination of the sweetness from the mangoes and the spiciness from the shallots counterbalance each other, perfectly rounding the salsa. It’s great served simply, just with corn chips, but even better when served over black beans or freshly grilled fish.

The beauty of it is that you can adapt it to suit your tastes. If you want to make it spicier, add in some fresh hot peppers. Or, if you like cilantro (but, really why would you?), chop it up and mix it in. The variations are endless.

One quick note about the instructions before you get started: It may seem fussy to add the ingredients in the order I’ve indicated, but it’s worth it. By adding the shallots and garlic to the lemon juice first, they mellow out slightly, losing some of their bite and adding a more subtle flavor. Likewise, putting salt in early on helps to draw moisture out of the tomatoes, creating a liquid base, so you’re not simply spooning cut up fruit and vegetables onto your chips. Not that there’d be anything wrong with that.

Mango Salsa

1 mango, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely diced
2 tomatoes, diced with seeds removed
2 TBS lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, minced garlic and diced shallots. Add a pinch of salt and allow to sit at least 5 minutes. This is a good time to start cutting your tomatoes and mangoes.

Add the tomatoes to the lemon/onion mixture and add another pinch of salt. Allow to sit another 5 minutes.

Add the mangoes and stir. Add salt to taste and season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Eat immediately.

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Have Salad, Will Picnic

After a week filled with ice cream flavored with beer and steak and all sort of high-in-fat treats, I think something a little healthier is in order, if only so that we can get back to the ice cream with a somewhat lightened load of guilt.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s true that bacon makes everything better, but it’s equally true that with minimal effort, particularly at this time of year, vegetables can shine.

In this case, string beans are the star of the show. By blanching them in hot water and then shocking them in ice cold, the bright green color and crunch remain intact, making them the perfect foil for creamy boiled potatoes and juicy tomatoes. The whole thing is finished off with a bright, acidic dressing, helping to make the salad refreshing while still being filling.

The salad is mayo-free, so it’s the prefect take-along for all of the summer picnics and bar-b-ques that you’ll be attending, assuming you can bring yourself to share it.

String Bean and Potato Salad

1 lb potatoes (fingerlings or small red bliss work well here)
1/2 lb string beans, cut into 2″ pieces
1/2 lb grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 shallot, sliced into rings
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 batch of shallot vinaigrette (recipe follows)

In a pot of salted water, boil the potatoes. Cool and, if you’re using small potatoes, quarter them. Otherwise, dice the potatoes into uniform cubes.

Boil string beans in salted water until they are bright green and tender, about 5 minutes. Strain and place them immediately into salted water.

Once the potatoes and string beans have cooled, combine them with the halved tomatoes and shallot slices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the vegetables with shallot vinaigrette.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Shallot Vinaigrette

1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp each red wine and sherry vinegar
1/4 shallot, finely diced
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil, depending on your desired level of acidity (I use 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine Dijon mustard, lemon juice and vinegars in a large bowl. Add shallots and salt and pepper. Whisk all ingredients together, until they are well combined.

Add the olive oil in a slow stream, stirring the mustard/vinegar mixture constantly, until the vinaigrette has emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Filed under Etc., Meatless, Vegetables