Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chickpea Soup With Golden Spices for "Souper Sundays"

Yes, it is "Souper Sunday" time again, time for a soul-satisfying bowl of homey goodness. I am especially excited about this week's soup which I found when perusing Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven the other day; Chickpea Soup with Golden Spices. Molly describes it as "resembling a heated-up version of humus", and being a big fan of both the chickpea and hummus, I thought it sounded interesting and good. (Speaking of being a fan of the chickpea, time to test your inner TV sitcom geekiness: On what TV sitcom was the immortal line, "God Bless the chickpea!" uttered and most importantly by whom? Obviously my geekiness quotient is high because I quote this line along with many others often. I will post the answer in the comments tomorrow). But back to the soup, our whole reason for 'Souper Sundays."

Chickpea Soup With Golden Spices
Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven

2 cups uncooked chickpeas, soaked for at least 4 hours (or four 15-ounce cans)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups minced onion
4 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp salt
1 carrot, diced
a few threads of saffron (not too much--literally a pinch)
2 tsp lightly roasted cumin seeds (dry roasted or sauteed in a little olive oil)
2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Black pepper and cayenne to taste
2-3 Tbsp sesame tahini (optional)

Optional for the top:
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
a little minced cilantro, parsley or mint
a drizzle of Chinese sesame oil

Place the soaked, uncooked chick peas in a large pot and cover with water by at least two inches. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the chickpeas are very soft. (If you are using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain them and set aside).

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, half the garlic, half the salt, and the carrot, saffron, cumin seeds and mustard. Saute' over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the carrot begins to soften.

Add the chick peas and 4 cups water. (You can use their cooking water if there is any left). Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and salt, along with the lemon juice, black pepper and cayenne to taste. You can also add some sesame tahini at this point, if desired.

Puree' the soup in a blender or food processor until fairy smooth. (You might want to add a little extra water if it seems too thick.) Taste to adjust seasoning.

Serve hot, with a spoonful of diced tomato, a small amount of minced cilantro or mint, and possibly a drop or two of Chinese sesame oil on top of each serving, if desired.
Yield 6-8 servings

Molly notes: "If using dried chickpeas, you can soak and cook them well in advance, This soup stores well in the refrigerator or freezer (if packed in an air-tight container)."

Notes/Results: I started with dried chickpeas, soaking them the night before, because I think you end up with a deeper flavor and better texture than canned, but if you don't want to mess with it, canned should work fine. I didn't make many changes to the recipe but it calls for a water base to the soup and I used a low-sodium vegetable stock instead and I did add the optional tahini because I like it so much in hummus. (It really gave the soup a creamier texture once it was added). There are a few steps to the recipe but it is easy enough to do and well worth it. If you don't have an Immersion Blender, I will say it again--ask for one for Christmas! The fact that you clean one bowl and the bottom part of the "stick", and don't have to mess with hot soup in a blender makes it so worth it!

I served my soup with some whole wheat pita chips for some crunch and my new favorite way to eat tomatoes (thanks to Tyler Florence); roasted in the oven with a bit of chili oil and salt. I topped it with a drizzle of sesame oil, some chopped parsley, a sprinkle of paprika for color and a few chickpeas, I saved out of the soup for a garnish.

This is a DELICIOUS soup, creamy, hearty, lots of layers of spices and flavors. You may be thinking either "Deb, I don't know if I want my hummus hot!" or "Couldn't I just heat a bowl of hummus and call it soup?" and to that I say--"Just try it!" and "No, it wouldn't have the depth of flavors that this soup has!" If you are a chickpea fan, I think you will love this soup and bless that chick pea! This soup is worth the price of the cookbook alone in my mind (although last week's Savory Corn Cakes help!) I will make this soup again.

With the holiday season officially upon us, it is quiet in the Souper Sunday kitchen today, but I can always count on Natashya from Living In the Kitchen With Puppies to drop by and hang out. She has a incredible looking "easy-peasy" Asian Noodle Bowl to share. She makes her noodle bowls when she needs something hot in a hurry and it is full of healthy veggies and shrimp to cure whatever ails you. Thanks Natashya, as usual your soup looks delicious and I am happy to have your terrific company!


Feeling soupy? (Or noodle-y, or stew-y, or using up those Turkey-day leftovers and want to drop by and share your comforting creation?) We'll be here every Sunday for awhile. Just send me an email or leave a comment and let me know you'll be stopping by before Sunday and I'll add you to the round up so you can share your souper creation. You can make and post the soup any time, I just round them up on Sundays.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Uova Sode con Salsetta (Fried Hard-Boiled Eggs in a Saffron Onion Sauce) for La Cucina & Cook The Books

If you have not read about it yet, Cook The Books, is a book group that I helped start along with Rachel from the Crispy Cook and Johanna from Food Junkie, Not Junk Food. We will be reading a book every two months, cooking a dish inspired by it and posting it.

Our first book is La Cucina, A Novel of Rapture by Lily Prior. Set in Italy, specifically Sicily, it is the fanciful story of Rosa, the only girl in a large family. Spending most of her time in the kitchen, cooking is Rosa's passion, that and her first love Bartolomeo, who is killed by the local Mafiosi when she is 18. Rosa leaves her village and heads to the big city where she becomes a spinster librarian until in her 40's, she meets L'Inglese, who becomes her lover and brings her back to passion and to life. (I won't tell you anymore about the plot so you will just have to read the book!) The novel is full of many wacky, wonderful characters, incredible food and sex, more food, more sex--well you get the picture!

In coming up with a dish to represent the book, I struggled a bit. Rosa takes her cooking a bit more seriously than I do and I didn't want to knead bread all day, slaughter a pig or make homemade pasta. I finally decided to find an appropriate Sicilian recipe and to look to a cookbook that has been sitting on my shelf for awhile: In Nonna's Kitchen: Recipes and Traditions From Italy's Grandmothers by Carol Field. There are many recipes from Sicily and other regions in Italy in this book but the one that caught my eye was Uova Sode con Salsetta or Fried Hard-Boiled Eggs in a Saffron Onion Sauce. It sounded interesting and unusual and eggs are seen as a symbol of life and rebirth, which Rosa experiences in the novel.

The story for this recipe is that the grandmother behind it, Antonietta deBlasi, grew up in Sicily and spent her summers at a family house by the sea. During their two-months there, the men and children went to the beach every day while the women, who were not allowed to swim as it was thought that immersion in water would deplete their energy, (Hah! It was obviously a man who wanted a hot meal on the table that thought that one up!), stayed home and cooked lunch. It was also thought that only eggs could replenish energy lost in swimming so there were always many egg dishes on the menu.

Uova Sode con Salsetta 
(Fried Hard-Boiled Eggs in a Saffron Onion Sauce)
In Nonna's Kitchen, Carol Field

6 eggs
2 onions, finely diced
a large pinch of saffron threads or powder dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
about 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for frying

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, place the eggs in it , reduce the heat, and simmer them for 13 minutes. Immediately pour off the hot water and replace it with cold running water until the eggs are bathed in cold water. Set them aside to cool. You can wait to peel them until you are ready to proceed.

Place the onions in a medium saute' pan with the saffron dissolved in warm water. Add the olive oil and simmer over the lowest possible heat, adding as much as 1/3 cup of warm water to keep the onions moist. Cook until they are soft and limp and the sauce is lightly concentrated, about 30 minutes. The recipe can be made ahead to this point.

Pour the flour into a shallow bowl and season it with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 to 1 1/4 inches of oil in a medium-size saute' pan or deep fryer to 375 degrees F. It should sizzle when a pinch of flour is dropped into it. Peel each egg and then dip it in just enough flour to cover the lower half of the egg.

Place each egg in a slotted spoon and carefully lower it, floured side down, into the oil. Do not crowd the eggs. Fry until the bottom half is crisp and deeply golden while the top remains creamy white. Drain on paper towels.

Serve the eggs hot with the sauce spooned over the top. (Serves 6)

Notes/Results: To get in the mood, I put on one of my favorite Italian CDs: The Best of Paolo Conte (I dare you not to be in a good mood listening to Vieni Via Con Me!) This was a simple recipe to make, you just boil the eggs and let them cool while cooking down the onions in the saffron water until they are soft and saucy. Then when ready to serve, quickly fry up the eggs, after dipping the bottom halves in seasoned flour and top them with the saffron onion mixture. Deep frying the eggs gives them an interesting texture, the tops are your normal hard boiled egg, but the bottoms are crispy and have the chewy texture like the edges of fried egg white. The saffron onion sauce is a beautiful yellow hue, flavorful and delicious and compliments the eggs well. I did find myself adding a touch of salt to the sauce and sprinkling a bit of pepper over the dish to enhance the flavors further. An interesting dish that I am glad I tried. I don't know if I would necessarily make it again as written, but I might make the saffron onions again and serve them with fish or another protein.

Recipes for this first round of Cook The Books don't have to be posted until December 15th so there is still plenty of time to join in the fun. (Remember, the blogger with the winning recipe that best represents the novel gets a cool badge for their blog!).

You can get all the details about this book group on the Cook The Books site here.  We will be announcing the next few books soon so if you can't make this one, plan on the next book.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Ultimate Hot Chocolate and Homemade Marshmallows for Tyler Florence Fridays

My pick for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays was born out of necessity.  Last weekend with the cooler weather and torrential rains, I decided I needed hot chocolate. Since I was thumbing through my Tyler's Ultimate cookbook at the time, it seemed like fate that I found his recipe for The Ultimate Hot Chocolate and Homemade Marshmallows on pages 234 and 235. 

Tyler says that most hot chocolate actually has very little chocolate but The Ultimate Hot Chocolate "contains layers of flavor: vanilla, coffee beans and cinnamon. The vanilla acts as a low note and the cinnamon a high note, bracketing the flavor of the chocolate and the coffee to give the drink an amazing, well-rounded flavor."

The Ultimate Hot Chocolate
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence

1 quart milk
2 Tbsp whole coffee beans
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup sugar
4-ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Marshmallows for serving

Combine the milk, coffee beans, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, sugar, chocolate and cocoa powder in a saucepan.  Bring it slowly up to a simmer over medium heat, stirring it frequently so that the chocolate doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pan.  Strain and serve hot, with marshmallows.  
(Serves 4)

Homemade Marshmallows

2 Tbsp powdered gelatin
1 cup cold water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting (up to an additional 2 cups)

Combine the gelatin and cold water in a medium saucepan.  After the gelatin has softened, about 10 minutes, add the granulated sugar and and stir together over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, about 8 minute.  Cool the mixture to room temperature.

In a mixer, beat the egg white until it forms stiff peaks.  On low, beat in the confectioner's sugar, then slowly pour in the cooled gelatin mixture, increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is white, thick, and has doubled in volume.

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil. grease it lightly with butter and dust very generously with sifted confectioner's sugar.  Pour in the marshmallow mixture and sift more confectioner's sugar over the surface.  Let the marshmallows stand at room temperature for at least three hours or overnight to set.  The marshmallows will be light and spongy when set.

Loosen the marshmallows from the edges of the pan and invert onto a large cutting board. Peel off the foil and use a large knife to cut the marshmallows into cubes.  Dredge each piece in more sifted confectioner's sugar.  
(Serves 4-6)

Notes/Results:  The chocolate is quick and easy and made in only one pan. The flavor is rich but not overpowering as the cinnamon and coffee cut some of the sweetness.  I used a 2% milk and it still was rich and very decadent. Now for the marshmallow saga--this was my first time making homemade marshmallows and I didn't really know quite what to expect. I thought I was doing OK but after letting them sit out overnight, they were very flat, watery and not like the puffy little clouds I had envisioned.  My pride is such that I did not want to be bested by a mere marshmallow so after re-reading the recipe and looking at other marshmallow recipes online, I thought I had it figured out and decided to try again several days later. 

I think my first mistake was using organic powdered sugar, which seems to not be as white and almost takes on a grey cast when moistened.  The second and bigger issue was the mixing.  I think Tyler could have been a little more detailed in the mixing directions. He does say to increase your mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture is white, thick and double the volume, but for us marshmallow neophytes it would be good to note that this process with take at least 10 minutes.  Since I have the patience of a 6 year old most of the time, I grew bored the first time I was mixing them up and stopped way to soon. This time I hunkered down with my mixer and beat the ever-loving bejesus out of the mixture with dramatically different results.  My mixture this time was much thicker and lighter than the first batch--more like a marshmallow cream.  (If I would have had a ripe banana and peanut butter, I would have made a fluffernutter sandwich with the beautiful puffy clouds).  It set up quickly and my marshmallows were light and puffy and delicious.  I mixed up more hot chocolate and tried again.  Heavenly!  Another great Tyler recipe for me and one I would make again on another cold and dreary day now that I have the hang of the marshmallows.

If you are a Tyler Florence fan(atic) and want to join us on Fridays, by choosing a Tyler recipe you want to make, come visit the TFF site here.  The round up will be posted there each Friday so come see what recipes the TFF members made and how they liked them.

If you are thinking of making a soup, stew, chili or other one dish meal out of your Thanksgiving leftovers and want to join me for Souper Sundays, shoot me an email or leave a comment and I'll add you to the Souper Sunday Round-up.  You don't have to make or post your soup on Sunday, that's just when I round them up.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mexican Chicken Soup--Barefoot Bloggers

Our final November Barefoot Blogger's recipe comes from Judy of Judy's Gross Eats and is Ina's Mexican Chicken Soup.  The recipe can be found in Barefoot Contessa at Home on page 34 and is also at The Food Network site here.  I am a big soup fan and was excited to try Ina's version of this classic soup.

Mexican Chicken Soup
Barefoot Contessa at Home, Ina Garten

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas
For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.  Yields: 6-8 servings

Notes/Results:  I pretty much made the soup as is, with the optional cilantro and a can of white hominy I had in my cupboard that was begging to be used, being the only changes or additions made.   This recipe makes a TON of soup and a smarter person would have halved the recipe.  Instead I took it to co-workers in disposable containers (which incidentally does a lot for your popularity!).  The flavors were very good in the soup.  I could have maybe added another 1/2 a jalapeno or so (I used 1 & 1/2) and I found it also benefited from a squeeze of lime before serving to brighten up the flavors.  I do highly recommend adding the hominy Ina, it adds another dimension to the texture of the soup.  I served mine with some crumbled cotija cheese (think Mexican feta) and avocado.  I would make this again but I think the next time I would leave out the tortilla strips and just fry up the tortillas and serve them on top.  I think its a texture thing with me, I know they are meant to thicken the soup but I found them to be a bit too "mushy" when cooked in it and could have happily enjoyed this delicious recipe without them.  

Great pick Judy--I really liked the lighter, healthier feel of this recipe (says the girl who picked the risotto cakes!).  Check out the other Barefoot Bloggers soups here and also consider joining the group for the December recipe picks.  Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

If you love spending time with Ina on Thursdays
and want to hang out with Tyler Florence on Fridays,
join us for TFF--Tyler Florence Fridays.
You pick your favorite Tyler recipes to cook and post each week--starting this week.
Get the details at the TFF site here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Surprise and Delight

So I am sitting at what has recently become my second office since we went "virtual" and started working from home, Common Groundz, a little coffee shop near my house with free Internet access.  I have become a Wednesday morning regular there the past four weeks with usually a cup of tea and either an Acai Bowl (basically a smoothie in a bowl with the healthy super-antioxidant Acai Berry and granola, bananas and berries) or a toasted bagel with lox. Today was a bagel day and I had settled in for a couple of hours of typing away and was considering how bad I would really be if I got a guava bar or something sweet.  Suddenly, the owner, a very nice Japanese man appeared before me with a plate in his hand. On that plate was a little, steaming, warm chocolate cake surrounded with cream anglaise, raspberries, mint leaves and whipped cream.  "I would like you to try Thanksgiving Pudding!" he said, and handed over the plate.  "I hope you like!"  A few minutes later, he popped back over and put a little flower on it, saying he forgot to put it on the plate. How sweet is that?!  

Working with two restaurant retail brands here in Hawaii, we talk all the time about ways to "surprise and delight" our customers so they come back to our businesses.  This becomes even more important in today's sucky economy where businesses need to do everything they can to keep their customers happy and it is nice to see someone go above and beyond like this. (Especially of course when I get to be the recipient!)

He checked back with me a few minutes later to see how I liked it (can you tell from the picture?!), and explained that he wanted to give his customers a little treat this afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving and he knew I would be gone before then and wanted to give me my dessert now before I left. Smart man!  I probably spend about only $10-$15 a week there in that quiet little cafe but because of the usual friendly service, free internet and the little extras like friendly conversation about my new MacBook and the occasional little surprise and delight treat, I will keep spending it at Common Groundz.  As I told the owner, he really made my day!

Common Groundz Cafe
377 Keahole Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96825

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kajiki with Guava Beurre Blanc--Farmer's Market Exotic Fruits

Poor little guavas! Although I bought several with the other exotic fruit I bought this month and they perfumed my kitchen so nicely, I just never managed to get them posted. Guavas are a popular fruit here in Hawaii and grow wild and are also commercially planted on some islands. They are most plentiful in late summer into fall and are high in Vitamin C.

I made a puree of the few I bought and used some of it in these bellinis but didn't know what to do with the rest of the puree.

When I stopped at the store they had some fresh, local kajiki (blue marlin) so I decided to pick some up. (Kajiki is also called A'u and is a firm-fleshed fish with a mild flavor and a light amber-colored flesh. It lends itself to being eaten as sushi, grilled, baked or smoked).

Since the container with the guava puree fell out of my fridge when I put the kajiki in, I thought I would try in in some kind of sauce for the fish. Wanting to play off the mild sweetness of the fish, I thought making a guava beurre blanc would be interesting.

Kajiki with Guava Beurre Blanc

2 (6 ounce) Kajiki fillets (or substitute another firm, white fish)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Rub filet's with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a medium pan or skillet and lightly oil. Cook fish until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Guava Beurre Blanc

2 Tbsp shallots, finely minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp Guava puree
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Salt to taste

In a saucepan, combine shallots and wine. Reduce until thick and syrupy. Add the lemon juice reduce again, stir in guava puree and heat through. Remove pan from heat and add one chunk of butter, stirring with a whisk to blend. Slowly add all the pieces of butter one by one until well combined. If you need to you can return the sauce to the heat to incorporate all the butter but do it over very low heat, or the sauce will break. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer and serve immediately over fish.
Yield: about 3/4 cup.

Results: Pretty good! My (first!) beurre blanc sauce turned out well and the guava had a nice fruity sweetness that wasn't cloying and went pretty well with the fish. I think I still prefer a more savory sauce for fish but this was interesting and a change. I served it with a simple green salad with olive oil, lemon juice salt and pepper and a Seeds of Change, Indian rice mix. The whole meal took about 12 minutes to prepare. I would make beurre blanc again, either guava or plain.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Miscellany & Chicken Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

Technically this post should be called Friday/Saturday Miscellany, but I was too lazy to post it then so Monday it is. Just some random weekend (mostly) foodie stuff.

I started the weekend attending a panel seminar at KCC Community College (through their culinary program) called "Special Challenges Facing the Food Entrepreneur" about the challenges facing people starting or currently in food related businesses. I was interested in the subject matter, hearing the panelists and it was free to the public so my friend Natalie and I went. Panelists included Chef Roy Yamaguchi, of Roy's Restaurants (36 of them) and Ed Kenney of my favorite Honolulu Restaurant, Town (and also Downtown), there was also a fairly new Bakery owner, a former restaurateur who now is running a lunch wagon and catering business and a chef about to open his second high end plate lunch place. It was quite a wide range of speakers and very interesting to hear their experiences.

There was good discussion and lots of information. Some of the key messages:
  • the food / restaurant business is hard work
  • you have know who you are and love what you do
  • do your homework, find your niche
  • trends are "casualization" of fine dining--great gourmet food in a casual setting; focus today is on people, planet and profit; people growing food, cooking and eating together more and more.
The panel was moderated by a local food editor and critic, Wanda Adams of the Honolulu Advertiser. When discussing marketing and PR for food businesses, she made a point of saying that Food Bloggers are the leaders today in word of mouth marketing for food related products and businesses and not to discount their importance and power. Go bloggers!

An interesting way to spend a couple of hours on Friday evening. We followed it up with dinner at The Green Door, a Malaysian restaurant in Kahala. I did not have my camera with me (bad blogger!) but I will have to bring it along next time as dinner was amazing; tamarind pork, sea bass in a peppery-garlic mushroom sauce and special shrimp rolls rolled in a latticed rice paper cover. Nat knows the owner Betty, who sat with us and chatted about her challenges in running her business.

For Saturday we had Plan A or Plan B, depending on the weather which was supposed to be stormy and windy with torrential rains. If it was calm, the KCC Farmers market, brunch and a sample sale. If stormy, cancel the market and still do the rest. (I can do rain or wind at the market but not both). The winds and rain came so we ended up meeting for a Dim Sum brunch at Happy Day in Kaimuki. This was my first visit and although my favorite Dim Sum is still Mei Sum in Chinatown, they were pretty good. Here are a few dishes below:

Pork Shaomai (or shui mai, shu mai, etc..)

Turnip Cakes

Steamed Bean Curd

After early brunch, we headed across town in the driving rain to a sample sale at a private home. The woman hosting reps several lines of candles, teas and other gift items. The sale started at 10:00 and we were there at 10:05 and the house was already crammed with about 30 people. I only did a little shopping and ended up with a couple small candles, a couple of teas and a Foodie Fight Game, full of food trivia (yes I am geeky like that!), that I thought would be fun to have. Here are my purchases and the cool cloth tote bag from India was from Natalie, she had picked it up at another sale earlier in the week. I love it! Thanks Nat!

Here's a few random Foodie Fight questions to test your knowledge:
  1. What part of the apple contains higher levels of antioxidants--the skin or the flesh?
  2. In what month of the year do the greatest number of Americans diet?
  3. What course follows the salad course and is served before dessert in European-style dining?
If you want, leave your answers in a comment and I'll post the answers to these questions tomorrow in the comments section of this post.

Finally, to cap off our morning, a shopping trip to Whole Foods and a cup of chai tea and some magazines at Barnes & Noble. By that time the rain and winds were down to a dull roar and I headed for home.

It did seem like the kind of day when you should stop for a cupcake. This was the daily special at Cake Couture, a chocolate cake, topped with chocolate ganache and a raspberry buttercream frosting.

Stormy days are also suited to comfort food for dinner. Whole Foods carries these chicken sausages with basil and sun-dried tomatoes that are nicely spiced and really great in pasta.

I used them with a bunch of ingredients I needed to use up; oyster mushrooms and basil from my CSA box, pasta, pecorino cheese and of course capers.

Chicken Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken sausages, casings removed
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup white wine
1 Tbsp capers
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
12 ounces fresh pasta, like linguine, cooked

1/4 cup grated cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped for garnish

Saute garlic and sausages in oil over medium heat until sausage is almost browned. Add mushrooms and wine and saute until mushrooms are soft and sausage fully cooked. Add capers and warm through. Season to taste. Place cooked pasta in pan and toss with sausage mixture. Place in serving bowl and top with grated cheese and fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!

Delicious and a great way to use up random things in the fridge.

Not the driest Saturday to run all over town half the day, but a fun way to start the weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Buffalo Chili with Savory Corn Cakes for "Souper Sunday"

How did Sunday get here so soon this week? It is Souper Sunday time again, time to slow down and enjoy a bowl of something comforting and filling. It is actually what most people consider to be "normal" soup weather here in Hawaii this weekend; windy, pouring down rain yesterday and still pretty cool today, perfect for a hearty bowl of chili.

Since I had a pound of ground buffalo that needed to be used, I decided to substitute it for the ground turkey in this quick and easy recipe I posted back in May. It's a simple recipe, about 30 minutes to a hot bowl of chili, nothing fancy but good flavors from the cumin, oregano and chili powder and texture from the combination of black beans and pinto beans. I topped it with some shredded jack cheese and green onions.

In looking for something to serve with it that wasn't cornbread, I happened upon a recipe for Savory Corn cakes from Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven. (One of those those small cookbooks that are on your shelf and when you open it you think, "why don't I ever cook from this book?" In fact next week's soup will be from this book too). The corn cakes also looked quick and easy (going with a theme here!) and Molly says you can "whip them up in 20 minutes, any time of day" from breakfast, a light supper, etc.

Savory Corn Cakes
Molly Katzen's Vegetable Heaven
2 tsp butter
1/4 finely minced red bell pepper
2 cups corn
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
oil or butter for the pan
Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the bell pepper and corn, and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the scallions, and set aside. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center. Beat together the eggs and buttermilk until frothy,. Pour this and the corn mixture into the well in the center of the dry ingredients, and stir briefly until everything is combined. Don't over-mix.
Lightly grease a hot skillet or griddle with butter or oil, and fry the corn cakes for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden.
Serve hot, topped with a few cilantro leaves and a drizzle of sour cream or guacamole.
Yield: about a dozen 4-inch corn cakes.
Results: Yum! These little cakes are easy and delicious. I halved the recipe and used frozen corn and they turned out great. Good flavor and texture from the cornmeal, they are a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup or chili. A keeper recipe, I would make these again.
Let's see who stopped by the Souper Sunday Kitchen and what delicious dishes they brought:

First up and making her first appearance at Souper Sunday is Laurie from That's Not What the Recipe Says with a bowl of Hearty Ham and Bean Soup. How incredible does this soup look?! I love me some beans (this soup has 15 kinds of them!) and a big bowl of this soup would hit the spot. Laurie's food always looks incredible and this soup is no exception!

Hearty must be the theme for today, because here comes Natashya from Living In the Kitchen With Puppies, with a drool worthy Baked Potato Soup from her slow cooker. Loving both soup and baked potatoes this looks like a little bit of creamy heaven in a bowl. I am going to have some of this one too!

Who says hearty soup has to be warm soup? Not Suzie from Munch & Nibble. Because of the warmer weather "down under", she did a follow up to her wonderful red gazpacho last week and by making a hearty, delicious green Cucumber Gazpacho. Although her weather turned a bit cooler than she thought it would, she still enjoyed this soup and with the cucumbers, dill, and mint, I can see why. I'm going to have to have a big cup of this one too.

Wow! Such great soups again this week! Thanks Laurie, Natashya and Suzie for joining me for Souper Sunday. (If you don't know this wonderful group of bloggers by now, go check out their soup recipes and blogs). We will be back for another Souper Sunday next week so if you have a soup, stew, chili, stoup, slow cooker dish or other meal in a bowl you want to share send me a comment or email by next Sunday. (You don't actually have to make your soup or post on Sunday, that's just when I round them up!)

Have a wonderful week!