Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Souffles

October 31, 2012

Halloween Souffles

Page 64, Ottolenghi

Total foodie confession – I have never made a souffle. I have, in fact, been terrified to make a souffle, believing it to be a difficult process wrought with certain failure.  Ottolenghi exhorted me to “try something scary today” for Halloween, and make his Halloween Souffles.  Well, why not.  Samhain seems a perfect time to try something like a squash souffle, given the fact that it’s one of the four main festivals of the Gaelic calendar, marking the last harvest and beginning of winter. Squash harvest has been keeping us in the Plenty this year! So, another of the hubbard squash that A and A grew for me was pressed into use.

The squash was roasted and pureed and replaced the pumpkin in Ottolenghi’s version. It is, so far in our relationship of 9+ years, B’s favorite squash dish I have made. Because here is the sad truth, friends, B does not like squash. It has made for a few sticky moments in our life together as I *adore* squash and would practically live on it in the fall, if given my druthers. I have found some ways to slide squash into our lives with recipes for things like squash cupcakes and squash risotto that she willingly tolerates, but I have hit the squash jackpot with this one! And? It wasn’t even scary or hard to make – despite all of my souffle fears.

So, if you have been avoiding souffles too, this is definitely worth a try. My success with this version has definitely made me more willing to try other souffles. It really seems to be all about the egg whites – whip them until stiff and fold them in carefully to keep the volume.


Halloween Souffles
Serves 6 in ramekins or 4 in soup bowls

one 3/4 pound pumpkin ( I used hubbard squash)(skin on)
olive oil
3/4 teaspoon soft brown sugar
1/4 cup whole hazelnuts ( I used almonds) (skin on)
4 tablespoon unsalted butter; 2 tablespoons, melted
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sweet rice flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
5 eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white
1/2 cup green chile, chopped and drained well
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 1/2 ounces hard goat cheese (I used goat cheddar), finely grated
sour cream and chives, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin into eighths. Scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Place the pumpkin pieces skin-side down in a shallow roasting tin or baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the flesh is tender. Leave to cool for a while, then scoop out the flesh and blitz it to a puree. You need exactly 4 1/4 ounces for the souffles.
2. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F and place a baking sheet on the top shelf. Blitz the hazelnuts in a food processor until powdery. Brush the ramekins generously with the melted butter, then coat the bottoms and sides with the hazelnuts. Place the coated ramekins in the fridge.
3. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce is thick and starts to bubble. In a large bowl mix together the 4 1/4 ounces pumpkin, egg yolks, green chile, oregano, goat cheese and 3/4 teaspoons salt. Add the sauce and stir until smooth.
4. Place the egg whites in a large, clean, stainless steel or glass bowl and whisk until they are stiff but not dry. Add a little of the egg whites to the pumpkin base and stir to loosen, then fold in the remaining egg whites, taking care to retain as much air as possible.
5. Fill the ramekins or bowls up to 3/8 inch from the top. Place the souffles in the oven, on the heated baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown and risen well.



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Stuffed cabbage (kale)

October 28, 2012

Stuffed cabbage (kale)

Page 95, Ottolenghi


Stuffed cabbage was not a part of my growing up, but for B it was a dreaded meal.  The filling (hamburger and rice) for the cabbage rolls of her childhood was the same as the filling for stuffed peppers and several other dinners – and was not a hit. So when I told her that I was making stuffed cabbage rolls for dinner, she was less than thrilled, despite the fact that Ottolenghi has not let us down yet.  Luckily the filling for these rolls is a complete departure from those cabbage days of yore.

Our garden is still bursting with kale, so I substituted that for the cabbage in this recipe to lovely and delicious effect. Kale is the easiest and most nutritious vegetable to grow – and actually gets better as the fall goes on.  It cann easily be used in place of cabbage or spinach in most recipes. We have two different varieties in the garden this year – curly kale which is a regular sized and fairly mild kale (which has grown into a forest of green this year!) and siberian kale which has enormous leaves and is super cold resistant.  In order to have leaves large enough to use as wrappers for the rolls, I went with siberian kale for this dish. It really does have HUGE leaves.  Once I blanched them in boiling water (by simply running them through the pot of water for a few seconds), I was able to cut the tough stems out and make fabulous kale rolls!


The rice/vermicelli/ricotta/herb filling was so tasty that B and I were eating it straight from the mixing bowl. It would have been a fabulous meal all on it’s own, but wrapped in the kale and baked in a sauce of white wine and broth, it was transformed and delicious beyond belief. This is *definitely* a recipe that will be getting repeated use in this house!



Stuffed Cabbage

2 tbsp  unsalted butter
1.5 oz  vermicelli noodles (not the rice kind)
scant 1 cup  basmati rice
1 1/4 cups water
1 medium white cabbage or Savoy cabbage ( or 8 large kale leaves)
3/4 cup ricotta
1/4 cup  Parmesan, grated
3 tbsp chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for serving
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
6 Tbsp vegetable stock
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Break the vermicelli by hand into small pieces and add them to the butter, stirring for 1 or 2 minutes, careful not to let them burn. When the noodles start turning golden add the rice and give it a good stir. Then add the water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a minimum, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before removing the lid and letting cool.

While the rice is cooking, cut the cabbage vertically in half. Peel off the leaves and blanch in boiling water for 6-8 minutes, or until semi-soft. (You can do this in batches, depending on the size of your pot.) Refresh the leaves under cold running water, drain, and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Add the ricotta, half the Parmesan, the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, to the cooked rice. Mix well with a fork. Use the cooked cabbage leaves to make parcels of whatever size you’d like, filling each one with a generous amount of the rice filling.

Arrange the stuffed cabbage leaves in an ovenproof dish (use cabbage trimming to fill in any gaps). Whisk together the wine, stock, sugar, olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Pour this over the cabbage and put the dish in the oven, baking for about 40 minutes or until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes, so the cheese melts and turns golden. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.




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Winter squash and coconut soup

October 28, 2012

Winter squash and coconut soup

Page 226, Henry

Cancer sucks. And our lovely neighbor is working hard to kick cancer’s ass. She had surgery earlier this week and I figured the absolute least that I could do was make a giant batch of healthful and delicious soup for her. Luckily, I have a tub of fabulous hubbard squash that were an A&A special! I provided the seeds and they provided the space to have a wandering vine with huge squash growing off it (not something that works well in my seriously-raised garden beds). So far, I have only used two of the squash and that alone has made risotto, soup, cupcakes, and more!

I turned to Diana Henry’s version of Plenty for Karen’s soup – and tried to imbue it with every ounce of love and healing energy and total repect that I have for her along with the cocount milk, lime, chili, ginger, and garlic flavors.


Cut 4 and 1/2 lb peeled winter squash into chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees until caramelized and tender.  Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy saucepan and gently cook two onions and two stalks of celery, both coarsely chopped, until soft but not browned. add two garlic cloves (minced), 1 red chile (deseeded and finely chopped), 1/2 in. fresh ginger peeled and chopped and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add squash , 4 cups veggie broth, seasoning, and 2 cans of cocnut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes or so.  Puree and then add the zest of one lime, the juice of two limes,  and taste for seasoning. 

Put in a container and take to a fabulous woman who does so much for the neighborhood, the community, and the world, that it is the least that you can do to feed her while she heals. ❤



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Tomato, semolina and cilantro soup

October 28, 2012

Tomato, semolina and cilantro soup

Page 130, Ottolenghi

In my continuing quest to use garden tomatoes in a seasonally-appropriate way, this ridiculously comforting soup was a big hit for a lovely Sunday afternoon lunch – especially when paired with a grilled cheese of mimolette on sourdough. I am not sure which made my wife swoon more. Actually, that is a lie. Sorry, Ottolenghi, but it was the grilled cheese that really won her heart. But the soup won mine. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lemon juice paired with cumin, coriander, thyme and sweet paprika? I am sold! Then add the semolina that you whisk in at the very end of the cooking process to give it body and substance, and I am over the moon in love. I have only known of semolina as the base of pastas, and this was my first time using it in my cooking. Super comfort food, I must say.

It was the perfect meal on a lovely fall afternoon full of sunshine and crisp air and loads of house projects being checked, checked, checked off of our to-do lists.

Tomato, Semolina, and Cilantro Soup
Adapted from Plenty
Serves 4-6

Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1½ tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 cups roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
6 cups water, plus more for thinning if necessary
1½ tbsp. sugar
1 cup semolina

Juice of 1 lemon
Greek yogurt (for garnish)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Put a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom and then add the onion and celery along with a good pinch of salt.  Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the coriander, cumin, paprika, thyme, and half the cilantro.  Sauté until the onion is golden and soft and the mixture is very fragrant, about another 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, another pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and the tomatoes; cook for another minute.  Pour in the water and sprinkle in the sugar and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Next, add the semolina to the simmering soup in a slow steady stream as you whisk vigorously.  Keep on cooking for 10 minutes whisking occasionally to avoid lumps.  Add  the lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Before serving, add more water if the soup is too thick for your liking.  Ladle into bowls and spoon yogurt on top.  Garnish with the remaining cilantro.

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Tomato party and Green pancakes with lime butter

October 25, 2012

Tomato party and Green pancakes with lime butter

Page 131 and Page 150, Ottolenghi


The garden is still bursting with goodness this late in October (partly due to conscientious covering every time it is predicted to drop below 35 degrees) and I am happily working my way through Ottolenghi’s tomato chapter as our very-late and abundant harvest of three kinds of tomatoes continues unabated.  We also have a kale forest, bunches of chard, and a whole new crop of fall beets coming in. Add the still-present herbs oregano, parsley, mint, and thyme, and it is a cooking paradise this fall!

Ottolenghi created Tomato party as a way to “make use of as many as possible of the infinite types of tomatoes available right now”, though he probably would not have guessed that “right now” would be late October for our household this year! This recipe uses the tomatoes in a variety of ways – patially roasted, lightly dried, and totally fresh. The combination creates layers of tomato flavor and we adored it. It was especially tasty as the acidic and fresh counterpoint to my other Ottolenghi dish, Green pancakes with lime butter. People, savory pancakes are one of the great joys in my life, and Ottolenghi has no less than FOUR different versions in Plenty. Oh, the joy! These light and lovely pancakes are stuffed full of spinach, green onions, and green chiles and are topped with a compound butter made with garlic, lime zest and juice, and chopped cilantro. Can I get a hells yes?!



Tomato Party

Serves 4

¾ cup couscous


Olive oil

2/3 cup boiling water

1 cup fregola (or Israeli couscous)

3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered

¾ teaspoon brown sugar

Black pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons roughly chopped oregano

2 tablespoons roughly chopped tarragon

3 tablespoons roughly chopped mint

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 small green tomato, cut into thin wedges

¾ cup red cherry tomatoes, halved


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the couscous in a bowl with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil. Pour over the boiling water, stir, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside for 12 minutes, then remove the plastic wrap, separate the grains with a fork and leave to cool.

Place the fregola in a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 18 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Leave to dry completely.

Meanwhile, spread the quartered vine tomatoes over half of a large baking pan and sprinkle with the sugar and some salt and pepper. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and some oil over the top. Place in the oven. After about 20 minutes remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. On the empty side of the baking pan, spread the yellow tomatoes. Season them with salt and pepper and drizzle over some oil. Return to the oven and roast for 12 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and allow to cool down.

Mix together the couscous and fregola in a large bowl. Add the herbs, garlic, cooked tomatoes with all their juices, the green tomato and cherry tomatoes. Very gently mix together using your hands. Taste for seasoning: you might need to add salt, pepper, and some olive oil.


Green Pancakes with Lime Butter
Serves 4

Lime butter:
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp chile flakes

Savory pancakes:

1/2 lb (about 8 cups) spinach, washed
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
2/3 cup milk
6 medium green onions, finely sliced
2 fresh green chiles, thinly sliced
1 egg white
Olive oil for frying

To make the lime butter, place the butter in a medium bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until it turns soft and creamy. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Tip onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a sausage shape, twisting the ends of the wrap to seal the flavoured butter. Chill until firm.

To make the pancakes, start by wilting the spinach in a pan with a splash of water, then drain in a sieve. When cool, squeeze the spinach to remove as much moisture as possible. Roughly chop and put aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, whole egg, melted butter, salt, cumin and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the green onions, chiles and spinach and mix with a fork. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and gently fold it into the batter.

Pour a small amount of olive oil into a heavy frying pan and place on medium-high heat. For each pancake, ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and press down gently. This should make smallish pancakes, about 3 inches in diameter and 3/8 inch thick. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they become a golden-green colour, then transfer to paper towels to keep warm. Continue making pancakes, adding oil to the pan as needed, until the batter is used up.

To serve, layer three warm pancakes per person and place a slice of flavored butter on top to melt.



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Chickpea, tomato and bread soup

October 13, 2012

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup

Page 218, Ottolenghi

What a fabulous way to celebrate my birthday! My dearest A arrived from California, about 10 of our besties came for a potluck, I made this soup, and we laughed and laughed for hours. Perfection followed by a maraschino cherry birthday cake and total gratitude for the plenty that is another glorious year my life.

It was chilly and forecast to rain, so soup was an obvious solution to wanting to feed 10-15 people with a minimal amount of fuss. This Ottolenghi version of the Tuscan soup ribollita was warm, aromatic (the whole house smelled AMAZING), hearty, and paired well with all of the food that folks brought to share – including a glorious baked brie in the shape of a cat in my honor, homemade brown bread, pumpkin bars, some of my favorite salads, and at least three other kinds of fabulous cheese.

Ottolenghi has taken a seriously hearty soup and given it a lightness with the pesto and basil that top it. Fennel, carrots, onions, and tomatoes are the perfect base for a soup that is comforting to the core. I highly suggest you find that out for yourself this fall.

Chickpea, Tomato and Bread Soup

  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut lengthways in half and sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 14 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 large slices (4 oz) stale sourdough bread ( crust removed)
  • 2 1/2 cups chickpeas (freshly cooked or canned which have been rinsed and drained)
  • 4 Tbsp. basil pesto
  • handful of shredded basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the onion and fennel in a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute on medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 4 minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the tomato paste and stir as you cook for 1 minutes.  Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two.

Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, then cover and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

While you wait, break the bread into rough chunks.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until thoroughly dry. Set aside.

About 10 minutes before you want to serve the soup, place the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them a little with a potato masher or the back of a spoon; you want some to be left whole.  Add them to the soup and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.  Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.  Taste the soup and add salt and pepper.

Ladle the hot soup into bowls.  Spoon some pesto into the center and finish with shredded basil if desired.









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