Thursday, December 31, 2009

Vegetable Soup with Rutabaga

For Christmas Day we were served delicious vegetable soup. And now that we're back home it turns out we have a lot of vegetables, so here is an attempt to recreate the Christmas Day soup.

Also, I should mention that at the store I sometimes buy things that I don't recognize just so I can try something new. I bought a Swede, which it turns out is a Rutabaga, at least according to Wikipedia. (Which never lies, right? It also says it's a mix between a turnip and cabbage.) Apparently the Christmas Day soup had "neeps" in it, which in Scotland can mean a turnips or other similar vegetables.

1/2 Swede/Rutabaga, peeled and cubed
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups carrots, peeled and cubed
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups (or more, if needed) vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 cups barley (1 cup would probably be better)

Prepare all the vegetables. Combine all the vegetables in a large stock pot (we ended up having to use an even larger one when we added the barley, so make sure there's lots of room.)

This is what the Rutabaga looked like peeled and cubed:

And here are all the vegetables:

Add the other ingredients, except for the barley, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add the barley and continue to simmer until the barley is fully cooked. You may need to add some vegetable stock. Season as desired and serve.

Just so you know, it was all about the Army in the North country.

And terracotta masks.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash

Yes, we are in a snow covered cottage in the country. It's picturesque and serene, but also miles away from a store or a place to eat. We have a car, but around these parts everything closed at about 4 PM. I realized we didn't have anything planned for Christmas Eve dinner, so we had to make do with what we had in the house. Luckily A Good Appetite came to the rescue.

We didn't have all the ingredients, so some some adjustments were required from the original recipe.

Medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch squares
Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
fusilli pasta
2 ounces goat cheese
3 cloves crushed garlic

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the squash and place it in a large pan. Drizzle a small amount of oil, add the garlic, salt, pepper, basil and nutmeg to taste. Stir with a large spoon and place uncovered in the oven.

Roast the squash for about 30 minutes, checking ever few minutes and stirring as needed. (Now, at this point, I turned off the oven, left for the airport, picked up my mom, returned and turned the oven back on long enough to reheat the squash. But you can skip this step.)

When the squash has about 10 minutes left, start cooking the pasta.

In a separate small saucepan, heat the butter on medium heat until it starts to turn brown, but don't let it burn. Remove from heat and add some salt and nutmeg.

Drain the pasta when it is al dente and remove the squash from the oven. Add the pasta to the squash. (If you have a health conscious brother staying with you, this is the part where he takes his serving.) Add the butter and crumble the cheese into the pasta and squash, mix thoroughly and serve. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Holy cow. Next time I cut chilies I need to remember to wear gloves. I have residual chili oil all over my fingers and keep touching my eye and face and it burns!

Once I left my mom's chili recipe w/Niall and asked him if he'd make it. He made a few changes and ended up with this:


1 large onion, chopped
2 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can kidney bean, undrained
1 package vegetarian mince (or 1 pound ground meat, browned)
½ c. water
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 diced chipolte chilies
2 bay leaves
2 tsp red pesto
2 adobe chilies (we use canned)
2 tsp. hot sauce (Peri-peri, Tabasco, or something similar)
1 T soy sauce
2 squares dark chocolate (about 20 grams, 72% chocolate if possible) or 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Reconstitute the chipolte chilies. (I don't know if this step is necessary, but do it anyway.) Remove stems and dice the chilies.

In a large pot, saute onions in the olive oil. After a few minutes, add the garlic and cook until onions are translucent.

Add all additional ingredients and bring to a boil.

Simmer to desired thickness (around 20 minutes.) Adjust to taste. Serve with sour cream, cheese or with toasted slivered almonds.

Satsuma Cake

Niall asked me to make this cake from Girl Interrupted Eating. He had it at a friend's house years ago and still remembers it. We got ground almonds at the store, but I accidentally only bought 100 grams. Since I can't smell or taste and my brother is here but doesn't eat sweets, I only made 1/3 of the recipe.


2 clementines (or in our case, satsumas)
2 eggs
85 grams sugar (just over 1/3 cup)
100 grams of ground almonds (maybe about 1 cup?)
1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder

Put the satsumas in a pot of water and boil for 20-25 minutes. This step ended up being a problem for me because I didn't put in enough water, left the kitchen, the satsumas burned and I couldn't smell them!

We tried to air out the kitchen and started over.

After successfully boiling the citrus, I drained and chopped into pieces, removing seeds. I put the skins, pith and peel into the blender. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit)

Then I added the eggs and blended. Then added the sugar, almonds and baking powder and mixed some more.

The recipe made six cupcakes. Bake for 25 minutes and remove and cool.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Once Brigham posted about brussel sprouts and so we tried the recipe from Gourmet. I wanted to make the recipe today but there are a few issues: 1) making the recipe vegetarian (no fish sauce) 2) getting rice krispies...we usually don't have them in the house and I always forget to buy some 3) lack of the other ingredients (including mint and a fresh chili) and 4)today I have a really stuffed nose and I can't taste or smell anything. So I was completely dependent on my husband to confirm that these really tasted okay.

So here's the modified version that I couldn't taste or smell but apparently was okay.

1 pound little Brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (sorry cilantro haters)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend)
Hot sauce as desired

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and prepare the Brussel sprouts and place them in a shallow baking dish.

Brush with vegetable oil and bake until the sprouts are roasted, about 25 minutes.

While the sprouts are baking, prepare the sauce. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix together.

When the sprouts are cooked, remove them from the oven and place them in a shallow bowl. Mix with the dressing and serve.

Black Bean Soup

The first time I went to the church in North London, I got a newsletter that had a fantastic recipe for black bean soup, from a girl named Josie. I made a few modifications (dried black beans are so hard to find in these parts. Also, the original recipe calls for cumin and I am no fan of cumin.) Now this is a favorite. I know cilantro is not everyone's cup of tea, so you can leave it out if you fall in that category.

1 onion, cut
4-5 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup jalapenos, diced (Sometimes this amount makes the soup really spicy, sometimes it's mild. You may want to adjust depending on the heat of the peppers and your preference.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
2 cans black beans
3-4 cups vegetable broth

Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic and jalapenos, saute for about five minutes.

Add everything but the fresh coriander and salt and pepper (beans, broth, etc.). I don't drain the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover and simmer for about two hours, stirring occasionally.

Wash the cilantro and add to the soup. Puree and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Can be served with lime wedges, sour cream or cheese. The soup can be prepared in advance and reheated.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Raspberry Almond Shortcake Thumbprints

Sigh. I don't love shortbread, but I love raspberry, I love almond extract and I love Scotland so I had to give these goodies a try. I tried to follow the recipe on Land O'Lakes to make these, but I must have done something wrong.

The shortbread recipe was too dry, so I added a little milk. The cookies didn't turn out as pretty as expected, but they were still delicious. And they smell so good when they're cooking.

First, I mixed the butter, sugar and almond together. Then I added the flour.

The batter seemed really dry, but I refrigerated it for an hour and then tried to roll out the cookies. But I the batter really was too dry! I don't know what went wrong. I added some milk and managed to get little balls.

I used a 1/4 teaspoon to make the indentation, then added raspberry preserves.

Baked for about 15 minutes, and let cool.

We already had some frosting in the freezer, so I added some almond extract to it and used it to frost the cookies.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Yesterday we finally got snow. And just as it started snowing I got a really strong craving for Nacho flavored Doritos. The snow won out and I ended up using what we had in the house to make some nachos.


3 corn tortillas, each tortilla cut into 8
Mozzarella cheese
2 avocados
1 can refried beans
Green onions (aka spring onions), sliced
Hot sauce
Salt and Pepper

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the each tortilla into eight slices.

Place the tortillas on a baking tray and cook in the oven until browned, for about 10 minutes. (Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.) I think burned is a flavor so I like them really brown.

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop. Place the avocados in a bowl. Mash and add hot sauce, salt and pepper. When the tortillas have browned, arrange them on a plate. Sprinkle with cheese and top with refried beans. Put the plate in the oven on the center shelf and cook the nachos until hot and bubbly. Remove and top with avocados, onions and other toppings as desired.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lasagna-Mom's recipe (sort of)

For years I thought this is what real lasagna was, because it's based on my mom's recipe. I didn't know about bechamel sauce or ricotta cheese. I like this lasagna just fine. I'm going to give you my mom's recipe. But the one I make has to be vegetarian, so there are a few modifications

1 package frozen chopped spinach
2 pound ground beef (I use vegetarian mince)
12 oz. turkey sausage (I use Quorn vegetarian sausages)
1 pound mozzarella
½ pound mild cheddar cheese (I don't put any cheddar cheese in)
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce (I only use the one without anchovies so it's vegetarian)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
½ can milk
10 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked (sometimes I don't cook the noodles first)
2 cans (28 oz.) tomato sauce or marinara sauce
Fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

Extras I added: one onion diced, four cloves of minced garlic, one chopped zucchini (or courgette as it's called in these parts) and some extra virgin olive oil.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and added the onions. Cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic and the vegetarian meat. I then added the squash and spinach and cooked it a little longer. If you're following the original recipe you brown the meat in a skillet and drain the grease.

In a large bowl, combine meat, spinach, cheese, spices, Worcestershire sauce, soup and milk. Mix together.

Heat over to 350 degrees. In a large lasagna pan, layer ½ noodles, ½ meat sauce and repeat. Spread the tomato sauce over the mixture and sprinkle the Parmesan.

Cook about 1 hour, until hot and bubbly. I cover it with tinfoil for the first part of cooking to help speed along the cooking process. When the lasagna is done, remove from the oven and let it set for about 15 minutes. If you don't let it set it will run all over the place!