Friday, December 30, 2011

(Vegan) Sausage and Potato Goulash--A Delicious Winter Warmer

Winter dishes mean comfort food full of warming spices like cinnamon and paprika. This makes a dish like goulash perfect for this time of year. Over at I Heart Cooking Clubs we are cooking up recipes for a Winter Wonderland. Of course this being Hawaii, we don't have a cold weather and snow but it is definitely cooler this time of year and the last couple of weeks have been breezy, rainy and cool enough for a light blanket to snuggle with. Works for me!

Since I am not cooking or eating meat right now, I decided to make the dish using some good vegan sausages, but of course, you can make it with any kind of sausages you like. Or, if you can't find a good vegan sausage, you could sub out the meat for your favorite beans and still have a delicious and satisfying dish.

Tessa Kiros says, "This is a great, quick, tasty meal-in-one that will serve quite a few people or leave you with enough leftovers for the next day. Adults can serve theirs with a twist of pepper. This can be completely prepared in advance and just warmed up to serve. It's important to use good quality sausages--Italian sausages are also good."

(Vegan) Sausage and Potato Goulash
Apples for Jam
(Serves 8)

1 3/4 lbs good-quality sausages (I used Field Roast Italian Sausages)
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter (I omitted the butter)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 tsp sweet paprika
5 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup canned, diced tomatoes
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 cups hot water
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Slice the sausages into rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Heat the oil and butter in large heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron is good) and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Stir in the paprika, cook for 30 seconds or so, and then add the sausages. Continue cooking, stirring fairly often, until the sausages turn golden in places. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, cinnamon, bay leaf, and 2 cups of hot water. Season with salt and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are softened and the goulash is thick and stewy. Stir with a wooden spoon from time to time and loosen the bits at the bottom to make sure they don't stick. If the potatoes are not quite done after that time, take the pan off the heat and leave it with the lid on it for the potatoes to continue steaming. Mix the parsley through and serve hot, or even at room temperature.

Notes/Results: The smell of this goulash bubbling away is pretty irresistible--the scent of the paprika and cinnamon linger lightly in the air and combine with the tomatoes, sausage and onions to make a thick, rich, and very flavorful sauce. I served the goulash on my usual bed of baby spinach to get those greens in, and it made for a very warming and filling dinner that came together in no time. I would make this again.

You can see what Winter Wonderland creations the other IHCC participants made this week by going to the post and following the links.

***A Discovery of Witches Giveaway***
Don't forget that I am hosting a drawing for a terrific winter read to curl up with on a winter's day; A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Get all the details about the book & how to enter for a chance to win here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Discovery of Witches--Giveaway!--Win a Copy of a Wonderful Winter Book Escape

I'm a bad, bad food blogger. There hasn't been a whole lot of posting going on here at Kahakai Kitchen. Or a whole lot of cooking, or photo taking, or other bloggerly pursuits. I have eaten some great food, even cooked a little here and there for various holiday events but I haven't bothered with pictures or writing down recipes and such. In fact, it's been little difficult coming out from under the blankets when I have not been working. Yep, Max and I find blankets hard to resist and take every advantage to pull one out when the weather turns a little cooler. It has been very windy, somewhat rainy, cool, and about the closest it gets to blanket weather here the last couple of weeks.

Blanket weather calls for a cup of tea and a big, thick sumptuous book to curl up and escape from the holiday hustle and bustle. The book keeping me company right now is the fantasy novel A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I am in the thick of reading it right now and I am coming out from under the blankets to let you know that you have an opportunity to win a copy of the newly-released paperback version for yourself.

A Discovery of Witches is the tale of Diana Bishop, an Oxford scholar and historian and also a witch--a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials in fact. Diana doesn't do much magic, wanting to be normal and to advance in her academic career on her own merits. When she accidentally uncovers an enchanted manuscript hidden away inside an old alchemy book called Ashmole 782 in the at Oxford's Bodleian Library, Diana quickly returns the book to the stacks but suddenly there are an excess of witches, daemons and vampires coming out of the woodwork and willing to do anything to get their hands on the book which has been missing for hundreds of years and purportedly holds the secrets to their origins. Diana finds herself at first frightened by and then attracted to a particular mysterious vampire, Matthew Clairmont, who wants the book for his genetics research and wants Diana too, even though witches and vampires rarely mix and have prejudices against each other (and daemons and humans too of course).

The book is an absorbing combination of mystery, suspense, romance and magic, with about 1,500 years of world history worked in its nearly 600 pages. I like that it is a smart book, that these are adult characters, and it isn't the typical story of an awkward teen-age mortal girl in love with a vampire. Diana is an intelligent, history-loving, rowing enthusiast who just happens to be a witch, and Matthew is a smart, yoga practicing, wine connoisseur scientist who just happens to be a vampire. I will confess that I am only about a third of the way through the book so far but I am completely caught up in the story and it is very hard to put down.

A Discovery of Witches was just published in paperback from Penguin Books on December 27th. The book debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and became an international phenomenon with major publications in 34 countries and over 300,000 copies sold. Warner Brothers recently acquired screen rights to the book and its sequels and the second installment in the All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night, due out in summer 2012. The new paperback cover of A Discovery of Witches is gorgeous—the spine art of Oxford from the original edition is featured on the cover. You can read more about the book and author Deborah Harkness, here on her site.

***A Discovery of Witches Giveaway***

The publisher was kind enough to send me a copy of this luscious book and is letting me give away a copy to a lucky reader looking to escape the winter doldrums.

If you would like to win a copy for yourself it's very simple: just leave me a comment on this post, sharing what your favorite book that you read in 2011 is by 11:45 PM (Hawaii time) on Tuesday, January 3rd. I'll randomly draw a name and announce it the following day and the publisher will send out the copy soon after.

Good Luck! I'm off to read the next chapter. ;-)

Disclosure Statement: A review and a giveaway copy of this book were provided by the publisher but I received no monetary compensation and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hungarian Mushroom Soup From "The Vegan Slow Cooker" for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Hungarian Mushroom Soup is a favorite of mine. It has made two other appearances at Souper Sundays, (The New Moosewood Cookbook version, and my favorite from Old Wives' Tales restaurant in Portland, OR). So when I saw a version of the Moosewood recipe in The Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester, I knew I had to try it.

This version uses cashew cream in place of the normal sour cream. I have used cashew cream in sauces both sweet and savory, and as a base for curry, but never in a soup and I was curious on how similar it would be to the soup I know and love.

Kathy Hester says, "There is a special place in my heart for Mollie Katzen. I taught myself how to cook from her Moosewood Cookbook. This is one of her recipes that I have veganized and adapted to the slow cooker. It is a thick, super-creamy, earthy treat on a cold winter's night. It's also one of my most requested soups."

Hungarian Mushroom Soup
By The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester
(Yield: 4 Servings)
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes / Total Cooking Time: 6 to 8 hours

For the Cashew Sour Cream:
3/4 cup (100 g) raw cashews
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
juice of 1/2 lemon

For the Soup:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, minced
2 packages (10 oz or 280 g each) mushrooms, chopped
2 cups (470 ml) water
1/2 Tbsp (3 g) vegan chicken-flavored bouillon
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp (4 g) minced dill (to taste), plus extra for garnish
2 Tbsp (14 g) paprika

The Night Before:
To make the sour cream: Combine the cashews, water, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and purée until fairly smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

To make the soup: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown and give off their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes, Store in a separate airtight container in the fridge.

In the Morning:
Combine the sautéed vegetables, water, bouillon, lemon juice, salt and pepper, dill, and paprika in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Add the sour cream and stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Garnish the bowls of hot soup with extra dill.

Recipe Ideas and Variations: Don't have any cashews on hand? Use the same amount of silken tofu instead. It makes a great non-dairy sour cream, too!

Notes/Results: Excellent--as much flavor and creaminess as the original, but dairy-free and filled with more nutritional benefits than sour cream. Of course cashew cream is not low fat, but most of the fat is the healthier kind and there is about a 1/4 cup of it per serving of soup so not too bad. I plan to play around with it in more soups. This is a soup you could serve to anyone and they would have no idea it didn't contain dairy. I had a feeling I would like this soup so I doubled the recipe--plus mushrooms were on sale this week. I used low sodium veggie stock in place of the bouillon and added an extra cup of water and put my cooker on for 8 hours. It was nice to come home to a delicious-smelling kitchen and just have to mix in the cashew cream and have dinner ready to go. I would make this again.

I am sending this tasty soup to Cookbook Sundays, an event created by my friend Sue at Couscous and Consciousness and celebrating using all those cookbooks we all have stacked around. Check out her blog for the links to some tasty dishes and great cookbooks.

It's a little quiet this Christmas Day in the Souper Sunday kitchen, but we do have two glorious soups, a colorful salad and some delicious burgers on this busy holiday weekend.

Joanne from Eats Well With Others has a healthy, hearty Curried Eggplant Soup to help stay on track during a holiday week of eating. She says, "'s not the one slice of cake that's going to do the damage. It's all of chocolate and the cookies and the peanut butter I'm going to eat afterward that do. To combat that, this week. I planned. I planned light dinners on days that I knew that there would be lunch out. Lots of exercise on nights that I knew would involve birthday cake. And it worked. Fancy that. One of those light dinners was this curried eggplant soup. It's sweet and spicy and has a lot of staying power due to the white beans that are pureed into it and all the fiber from the eggplant and apple that are mixed in there as well. (Yes, there's an apple in it. Trust me. It's a good move.) And, um. Minus the feta I threw on top for photogenic-izing purposes. It's vegan."

Janet from The Taste Space has a soup and a salad to share this week. About her seasonally colorful Christmas Eve Borscht (or Barszcz) she says, "Polish barszcz has numerous variations, but the vegetarian version is commonly reserved for Christmas Eve. With the bloody blazing red beets you have a very festive soup with the dilly green accent. This version, tinkered from Rebar, makes a huge pot of soup filled with vegetables – beets, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes – and white beans for good measure. Lemon juice and balsamic vinegar add that necessary tang, a key feature in Polish barszcz. Traditionally, the soup was aged to get that acidic tang. Sounds like a project to tackle in the new year. ;)"

Janet's salad is this Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Pomegranate. She says, "First of all, let me apologize for the less-than-stellar photos. That’s the sacrifice for making a new recipe for guests away from home. Trust me, though, that the salad is stellar. Wilted kale. Garlic roasted butternut squash. Pomegranate arils. Smothered with a lemony vinaigrette. Oh so festive with a green base and sparkly red jewels. ... It is hard to muck up a salad with such delicious ingredients, so add what you like. :) This made a ton of food, and the beauty of kale salads is that the leftovers are just as good… which is what I brought home to photograph for you. ;)"

We have one luscious sandwich submission from Foodycat, these Burgers with Dan Lepard's Slider Buns. She says, "We were just having burgers for dinner at home, so I made large buns, not dainty little slider buns. I also didn't have an egg so I glazed them with milk. My burger patties were made from an equal quantity of bison mince and 12% fat beef mince, with a little chopped garlic and salt and pepper mixed in. I usually just do salt and pepper, but Paul particularly wanted garlic in them. They certainly don't need anything else added. I split the buns, piled in some shredded lettuce and topped with a cooked burger, with some mature cheddar melted on, and a good spoonful of chilli relish."

Thanks to Joanne, Janet & Foodycat for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Happy Holidays, & Merry Christmas.

Have a healthy, happy week!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Raspberry Sauce--A Festive, Fun, and Versatile Topping

We are celebrating the season with Holiday Goodies at I Heart Cooking Clubs. I was thinking I was on a bit of "goodie" overload with all of the treats that abound this time of year and was going to make something savory, when I found a recipe for Raspberry Syrup in Apples for Jam. The fact that it takes minutes to make, only uses three ingredients (four if you count water), and I had a bag of organic raspberries in the freezer sealed the deal.

This sauce is brilliantly, festively red and perfect to toss together when you need a special topping or sauce for a variety of desserts. It would be great on cheesecake, custards, or a flourless chocolate torte to name just a few. Or use it to liven up a bowl of plain vanilla ice-cream and turn it into a holiday dessert. It was the perfect topping for yesterday's delicious Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes--can't beat that dark chocolate raspberry combination. Feeling the need to be a little healthier? It would be wonderful on Greek yogurt or stirred into oatmeal, and (although it's pretty hard to improve on a mango), it is sublime drizzled on slices of fresh sweet mango. Add a couple of small scoops of mango sorbet to the plate and you can pretend you are having a light dessert at a luxury spa. You could even give it as a holiday gift in little jars. Yep, it's very versatile. I think it may end up in my smoothie tomorrow morning...

Tessa Kiros says, "This is perfect for making sundaes, and it's also lovely drizzled over a dollop of Greek-style yogurt or a bowl of apricot ice cream. Spoon some into a glass before pouring in your milkshakes or smoothies, or serve it with cream over crepes, pancakes, and waffles. Or you could use about 1/2 cup of sugar and only 4 tablespoons of water and add the berries to the pan at the start to make a fruit syrup. Pour a little into a glass and top it up with sparkling or still water. You can use any berries you like--blueberries, cherries, cranberries..."

Raspberry Sauce
From Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
(Makes about 3/4 cup)

2 1/2 Tbsp superfine sugar
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

Put the sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Put the raspberries in a processor or blender , pour the hot syrup over the top, and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve.

Notes/Results: A tasty combination of sweet and slightly tangy. Opening the jar of this sauce reminds me of a summer day in a berry field--it just makes me happy. As much as I enjoyed Tessa's Cranberry Syrup that I made a few weeks ago, I liked this one even more. An easy and delicious keeper recipe.

You can check out the Holiday Goodies that the other IHCC participants made by going to the post and following the links.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce: A Bit Naughty & Nice for Food 'n Flix December Pick: Christmas in Connecticut

Can you flip flapjacks in the skillet? Elizabeth Lane can. At least Elizabeth Lane, the 1945 version of Martha Stewart, author of a weekly column in Smart Housekeeping magazine. That Elizabeth Lane is a gourmet cook, dishing up recipes and stories of life on her Connecticut farm with her husband, baby and even a pet cow. In reality things are a bit different, the real Elizabeth Lane is a single "career girl" and lives in a little apartment in New York City. She can't cook and the recipes of the gourmet dishes she writes about are provided by her friend Felix, a chef and cafe owner.

When recovering war hero Jefferson Jones tells his besotted nurse that he has never had a real home, she writes to Elizabeth's publisher, Alexander Yardley, to see if Jones can spend Christmas in Connecticut with Elizabeth and her family. Yardley thinks it is a brilliant idea to sell more magazines and invites not only Jefferson Jones, but himself along for the holidays. Backed into a corner and knowing she will be fired if her publisher learns the truth, Elizabeth in desperation finally agrees to marry her persistent suitor, architect John Sloan, who just so happens to have a farm in Connecticut. Of course much mayhem ensues in this classic romantic comedy Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck. It's a fun little movie and part of my Christmas film collection so I was happy that Heather of girlichef selected it as the December pick for Food 'n Flix.

Elizabeth's publisher Mr. Yardley, has definite ideas about his ideal Christmas, which includes watching Elizabeth flip flapjacks on Christmas morning. Elizabeth, the non-cook, gets a lesson in pancake flipping from her chef friend Felix who has come along to secretly do the cooking but she fails each attempt. Will she be able to flip pancakes for Yardley, pull off posing as an expert cook, wife, mother and role model for her readers, and fight her growing attraction to Jefferson, or will her subterfuge be discovered? (You'll have to rent it and find out!)

Yes, pancakes are an obvious choice for a dish inspired by this movie but I couldn't resist. Mainly because they are easy, require no special ingredients and once again, although I re-watched the movie at the beginning of the month, I am sneaking in days before the deadline with my entry. (At least I am consistent!) I am a pancake scooper, not a flipper, although when I was in grade school and a Girl Scout, I earned a special "ROPF" patch. ROPF stood for "Royal Order of Pancake Flippers" and we had had to successfully flip one pancake to earn the somewhat homely homemade felt patch, designed to look like a pan with a flapjack in it. I made a (somewhat halfhearted) attempt to determine which box in my closet holds my Girl Scout sash so you could see my proof, but quickly gave up. You'll just need to take my word for it. ;-)

I thought if I was going with an easy dish like pancakes, I should jazz them up a bit. I made a Raspberry Sauce this week for I Heart Cooking Clubs, so I decided to add some mini dark chocolate chips to the pancakes because chocolate and raspberry are a good combination and seemed festive. Since I was putting the chocolate in and raspberry sauce on top, I thought the pancakes themselves should be somewhat healthy (a little bit naughty and a little bit nice), so I made Oatmeal Pancakes (from the Coach's Oat site), and added the chocolate chips. It's all about balance people!

Oatmeal Pancakes
Adapted from the Coach's Oats website
(Makes 16-18 pancakes)

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used oat flour ground from the Coach's Oats)
1 cup Coach’s Oats
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar (I reduced the sugar by 1/2 since I was adding the chocolate)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 cup water
(1/3 cup mini vegan chocolate chips)

In a mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, milk and water. Add liquid to dry ingredients. Stir mixture until well blended. (Mix in mini chips)

Pour 1/4 cup batter into a hot, lightly greased griddle for each pancake. Cook both sides until golden brown.

Notes/Results: Mmm... Chocolate chip pancakes + raspberry sauce = good! I made a half-batch of the pancakes, which made about 5 salad plate size and 1 small one. The oats make them a bit dense and chewier than regular pancakes, but in a good way. One thing--if attempting to be semi-healthy, do not attempt to take a 30 minute work phone call in the middle of mixing pancakes and forget you added the chocolate chips then add more. If you don't care go ahead and add away--it didn't hurt the taste any. The raspberry sauce had enough tartness to keep these pancakes from being too sweet, but still, all I could manage to eat was two. The giant stack of four was just for dramatic effect. Really.

Note: The Raspberry Sauce deserves it's own glory, so you will find the recipe posted tomorrow.

The deadline for this month's Food 'n Flix is a bit early this month, December 23rd. Heather will be rounding them up soon after. If you missed this round, join in January when we will be watching Eat Pray Love, hosted by The Law Student's Cookbook.

Are you a flapjack flipper or pancake scooper?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Carrot-Ginger-Tahini Soup: A Sunny, Creamy Blend for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This Carrot-Ginger-Tahini Soup has been on my "to-make" list ever since I first saw the recipe. I like the addition of creamy tahini to an already classic combination of carrots and ginger. The fact that it is simple to make for a busy pre-holiday week makes it all the better.

It's from Vegan's Daily Companion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The recipe looked fine as written but I love cumin with carrots so I added a bit and a squeeze of lemon juice before serving. Since it shares some of the same ingredients as hummus, I paired a cup of the soup with some garlic hummus and slices of warm flat bread for a light supper.

Patrick-Goudreau says, "If you have never added tahini (sesame paste) to a creamy soup, you're in for a real treat. With it's nutty flavor and smooth texture, it adds dimension and pairs particularly well with carrots."

Carrot-Ginger-Tahini Soup
From Vegan's Daily Companion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
(Yield: 4 Servings)

7 or 8 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tsp (5.4 g) grated ginger
4 cups (940 ml) vegetable stock or water
2 Tbsp (30 g) tahini
1/4 cup (60 ml) nondairy milk (soy, rice, almond, hazelnut, hemp or oat)
salt and freshly ground pepper
(1 tsp ground cumin)
(juice of 1/2 lemon)

To a 4-quart saucepan, add the carrots, onion, ginger, and vegetable stock. Cook over medium heat for 40 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.

Transfer to a blender, add the tahini and milk, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the soup to the pot to heat and serve, or transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator until ready to heat and serve. Garnish with freshly ground pepper.

Note: Oil-free, wheat-free, soy-free if not using soy milk.

Notes/Results: Silky smooth and a nice combination of the warming ginger, sweet carrots and nutty tahini. The cumin added a smokiness and the lemon brought out the flavors. This is a low-effort soup, just a bit of chopping in the beginning, and if you use an immersion blender, it's a one-pot dish. Satisfyingly creamy without any dairy, I would make this again.

We have some good friends waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's take a look.

Janet from The Taste Space has a healthy Lentil and Root Veggie Dal to share. She says, "...a red lentil curry, complete with ginger, curry powder, coriander, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon, complemented with a host of root vegetables: carrot, parsnip and turnip (did you spot the cruciferous vegetable?). A quick and healthy recipe, it was also up my alley. ...The vegetables make this a sweet curry and I thought this complemented the savoury spices well. For the curry novices out there, there was no hint of curry powder taste… unless you decide to add more! I found this perfecto as written."

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina is back with a hearty Autumn Chili to share. She says, "A recipe warm and comforting that will make you love the autumn for its delicious ingredients. I used my Black Chili Powder made from Chilhuacle Negro chilies. You can use a pinch of any type of hot powder, but black or brown chiles are generally mild and very aromatic.You can change some ingredients creating your own autumn chili, but don't forget the fried pumpkin, it was the perfect topping. I use one of my gorgeous Jack Be Little mini pumpkins. I served the chili with a freshly baked corn bread with aromatic herbs, that I will post soon."

My friend Sue from Couscous and Consciousness is joining us for the first time at Souper Sundays from New Zealand where summer is arriving slowly. Sue made this pretty End of Spring Ministrone with Rocket, Spinach & Walnut Pesto, and says, "For this soup brown rice is cooked in a light vegetable broth, with spring vegetables (I used asparagus, zucchini, and peas) added right at the end, so that the vegetables are still bright green and crispy. I made a pesto from some spinach and rocket (arugula) I'd harvested from my garden, and topped the soup with a generous dollop of that, along with some freshly grated lemon zest and shaved pecorino cheese." Welcome Sue!

Tigerfish from Teczcape-An Escape to Food has a unique dessert soup to share, this Snow (White) Fungus Dessert Soup. She says, "I wanted more nutrients in a bowl so that time and efforts spent cooking in the same pot is maximized. So, it is wild snow fungus 野生银耳, sweet potatoes and hulled barley. Weird? After I made this, I decided that that it was the last time with sweet potatoes and barley. Not that it tasted lousy but it was really kind of weird. The second time I made it, I just cook the snow fungus to tenderness and before consuming them, drizzle good quality raw honey into it. It was much better, and I get the feeling of being refreshed inside out!"

One salad this week from Joanne at Eats Well With Others who made a flavorful Eggplant and Chickpea Salad with Moroccan Spaghetti Squash. She says, "It was with great trepidation... that I taste tested the Greek feta dressing from Marzetti's new Simply Dressed line. Unlike most salad dressings, these are free of preservatives, trans fat, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. The verdict? Yum. The dressing was tangy and totally feta-full, which I loved. And it went perfectly on top of my eggplant and chickpea salad with Moroccan-spiced spaghetti squash (the only way in which I've ever actually LOVED eating spaghetti squash on it's own)."

Thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays link on the side bar for all of the details.

Note: Souper Sundays is still on for Christmas although we will be posting a little early. If you'd like to join in, please try to have your entry in by midnight, (Hawaii-Standard Time) on Saturday, December 24th. Mahalo!

Have a happy, healthy holiday week!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rotini with Red Bell Pepper & Anchovy Sauce (Salsa Piccante di Peperone e Acciughe)

I wanted pasta. I wanted a creamy sauce and something different from tomato or pesto. I had two red bell peppers and my stack of Tessa Kiros cookbooks. In Venezia I found a recipe for Salsa Piccante di Peperone e Acciughe, a sauce made from red peppers and anchovies and meant to be a condiment for fish or meat or drizzled on bread. I thought it sounded like a perfect sauce for the twists and turns of rotini pasta.

Some people are frightened by anchovies. Although I confess I am not a fan of a bunch of whole ones perched about my Caesar salad due to their hairy appearance, I do love them mixed into sauces and things where their flavor adds a unique richness. If you are not a fan, just open the can or jar, tip them into the pan without looking and whisk them quickly so they break down and you don't have to spend time looking at them. I promise you won't notice they are in the dish. If you like them but your family or dinner guests don't--shhhh!!! Don't tell them, hide the tin and no one will be the wiser. What they do is round out this creamy sauce which is a pleasing mix of lightly sweet and salty and pretty darn addicting, so I highly recommend you use them.

Tessa says, "Luisa's grandmother always made this to serve with a bollito misto (boiled dinner). You can also serve it with a simple plate of boiled chicken, fish, or grilled meat. It's also great drizzled onto grilled bread.

Red Bell Pepper & Anchovy Sauce (Salsa Piccante di Peperone e Acciughe)
From Venezia by Tessa Kiros
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/3 cup)
4 very large anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
2 small red bell peppers, seeded and cut into pieces
1 Tbsp capers in vinegar, brined
3/4 cup vegetable broth, not too salty
2 tsp white wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil and anchovies in a small saucepan, whisking so the anchovies dissolve. Add the flour, whisking until smooth.

Add the garlic, pepper, and the capers. Bring to a slow boil, then add the vegetable broth. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, whisking now and then so that nothing sticks. Allow to cool a little, then puree thoroughly using a handheld blender. When completely cool, stir in the vinegar.

Notes/Results: Creamy and really delicious. The sauce has a nice complexity and is a change from your standard tomato sauce. I loved the flavor and the way it was heightened and made brighter from the touch of vinegar. This dish is simple to make and can pretty much be done in the time it takes to get the water boiling and pasta cooked. I cut down the oil from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup (just because I am always looking for easy, painless to reduce a little fat and calories) but it wasn't missed. I served this on Barilla Plus Rotini--a personal favorite because who doesn't need a little extra fiber (4 grams versus 1 gram in regular pasta) and nutrients in a pasta that has the same taste and texture as white pasta? You can of course use the pasta of your choice. I garnished the dish with some fresh basil from my herb garden and a whisper of finely grated Parmesan cheese. Totally satisfied the current craving and I will make this tasty sauce again--as a pasta sauce or a condiment.

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, our chance to make any recipe we want. You can check out what dishes everyone made by going to the post and checking out the links.

In addition to IHCC, I am sending this easy pasta dish to Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by my friend and Cook the Books co-host Rachel, The Crispy Cook. PPN takes a break for the holidays so stop by Rachel's blog on Friday for the last PPN roundup of this year.

Are you an anchovy fan or foe?