Sunday, March 11, 2007


This year I've decided to purchase a CSA share. I'm growing more and more interested in fresh, sustainable, local, organic etc and think this is just a fantastic way of doing my part AND having to go to the store less AND bonding with my mom more often since we're going to share the share. I picked a farm near her house so she'll go pick it up every Tuesday and then at some point I'll take the Max out to Hillsboro and she'll meet me with my half. I'm seeing myself making lots of freezable soups and stuff since I assume it'll be way more food than I can eat in a week. Then in winter when the deliveries stop, I can continue to enjoy. Look at some of the great things that will be included each week! I'm SO excited!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The best recipes in the world

I checked out Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World from the library and have been spattering the pages with ingredients every Sunday as I cook my lunches for the upcoming week. For the most part, I've been very impressed. The recipes are simple with easy to find ingredients and the results so far have been more than satisfactory. Since I don't want to be all copyright infringement girl, I'll just paste in a great example that is already on the website.

Chestnut Soup:

This is a rich soup. Add a little splash of port just before serving to give this a bit of a kick.
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1½ pounds fresh chestnuts, boiled and peeled, or 2 cups thawed frozen or canned chestnuts, drained and rinsed (I used frozen from Trader Joe's)
1 quart beef, chicken, or vegetable stock, preferably homemade, or water
Salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup heavy cream, or more to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chestnuts and stock and simmer until the chestnuts are very soft, about 30 minutes. (You can prepare the soup up to this point and let sit for a few hours or cover and refrigerate for up to a couple of days.)
Cool the mixture slightly if time allows (it’s never a good idea to puree boiling hot mixtures if you can avoid it). Use a food mill, an immersion blender, or an upright blender to puree the mixture. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat it over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and serve immediately.

When I made this, I tasted it before adding the cream and my socks flew off my feet! I couldn't believe that a soup using only four ingredients could be this spectacularly flavorful! Then I added the cream and it somehow became about half as tasty. So next time I'll leave it out because who needs the extra calories anyway? Frankly, most of the recipes I've tried call for more fat than I like to cook with, but that's easily adjustable.

Other dishes I've made that I will definitely make again:
Sopa de Habas (Fava bean soup) - it was similar to the chestnut soup in its heartiness and simplicity
Saag Paneer (Cheese or tofu with spinach sauce) - I made mine with tofu and it was really fantastic
Fish Tagine - I love that this can be made with a variety of different types of fish. Like many of Bittman's recipes, it's more about learning a simple technique that you can tweak to your own taste (or to the herbs, spices and vegetables you have on hand).