Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowstorm Soup

I know, I know--not very pretty, is it? But it's tasty so read on......

We've been pretty much housebound for four days now. We were able to send the boys through the snow to the local beer and cigarette emporium we fondly call The Crappy Mart for milk and eggs of questionable quality but otherwise it's all about the pantry.

In honor of our epic arctic blast (the most snow in 40 years!) I'm calling last night's dinner Snowstorm Soup. It's a tomato-based lentil and pasta soup with a sample of all the vegetables in the house. When cooked together long enough my picky kids hardly realize they've consumed bok choi and sweet potatoes. They key was having some of last summer's basil pesto tucked away in the freezer. Hearty and warming, this is just the thing for a chilly, snowbound evening meal. Try serving it with a crusty no knead baguette and I don't think you could ask for more.

The recipe can be found here. I hope it warms you on a frozen night some day soon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Another Bread Pudding

At the risk of overdoing it, I'm going to share yet another delicious bread pudding with you all. I wish I could talk about my Chanukah donuts but they were so weird that for the first time in recorded history, we had some left over this morning and that was with three teenage boys in the house last night. I don't know what happened but I'm blaming it on the yeast and moving on.

This morning, as I watched the sky dump white stuff for the third day in a row and looked through our remaining provisions I came across last Friday's challah, some heavy cream nearing its due date, and a few bananas. Just like that, a new bread pudding was born and, my friends, this was a winner.

I started with bananas briefly sauteed in butter, sweetened with dark brown sugar and finished with dark rum. I tipped these into a dish of cubed challah and topped with a custard of eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla. Another sprinkle of brown sugar produced a sweet, crunchy topping and my goodness, this was delicious! It was just the thing to have come out of the oven when my intrepid husband returned home after his two hour long attempt at getting to work. He never made it, but got to have bread pudding and a cozy nap instead so I think it all worked out for the best, don't you?
You'll find my recipe here and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rice Pudding for a Chilly Day

I'm not a very enthusiastic meat eater mostly because I don't much like the smell of cooking flesh or the way most meat feels in my mouth and this meat has never really been part of my cooking repertoire. As we transitioned to a kosher kitchen, meat meals came to mean more fuss and trickier meal planning. The laws of kashrut forbid mixing meat and dairy and thus we have two sets of dishes, utensils, and cookware. And meat meals tend to be followed by not so spectacular desserts given that there can be no butter, cream, or other dairy products.

I could never eat meat again and be just fine but when my growing children request it, I try to respect their wishes, which is how I ended up with a 5 lb organic free range (but not kosher) chicken in my cart on Friday. The same chicken spent a couple of hours roasting to perfection after being rubbed with fresh rosemary, olive oil, and tangerine juice and was declared delicious by everyone except me. This time around, oh irony of ironies, I was the picky one! We followed the meal with my non-dairy dessert standby: apple charlotte.

The leftover chicken became part of a stir-fry the next night but when the dessert request came I was stumped. But only briefly. I thought a coconut milk rice pudding with Indian spices might be just the thing and set about coming up with a recipe by combining elements from Claudia Roden and this recipe from the web. Coconut milk makes a fine alternative to milk without all the weird additives in most milk substitutes. This dish takes a bit of patience since it calls for cooking the rice in the milk rather than working with leftover rice as in many rice pudding recipes. But the result is lovely: thick and creamy and slightly exotic and perfect with a steaming mug of masala chai on a chilly night. You'll find the recipe here.