Monday, January 30, 2012

California Clam Dip


The Ultimate Party Dip – Perfect for the Super Bowl

Everybody knows California Dip, a/k/a Lipton Onion Soup Dip. Food Timeline says it’s probably "America's most beloved" dip.

But good as this recipe is, it’s even better when you kick it up with clams.

Throw this dip together, add some chips, combine with friends — and it’s instant party.  Perfect for your annual Super Bowl view-fest.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bean and Cabbage Soup


The Distinct Flavor of Caraway Seeds Is the Secret Ingredient

Ever have cabbage that’s been boiled to a pulp?  Yeah, me too.  And a tasteless, stinky mess it is.

But cabbage that’s been lightly cooked, just until it loses its crunch?  That’s a different beast.  It has actual flavor!  And when you marry it with white beans and potatoes?  That’s a combination most people find pretty tasty.

Particularly when made into soup.  Particularly when made into this soup!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Split Pea Soup with Greens


Ham Shanks Add the Long-Cooked Flavor

How do you make Split Pea Soup without hambone?  

Most of us prepare a whole (or half) ham once or twice a year at most, so ham bones are scarce.  Does that mean we have to limit our consumption of Split Pea Soup — an exceptionally tasty and satisfying dish — to once or twice a year?

Fortunately, no. Last year we discussed how to make Split Pea Soup with Bacon. That recipe uses bacon and ham base as a hambone substitute and it is relatively quick to prepare. But good as the flavor is, it lacks a certain oomph.

If you want Split Pea Soup with traditional flavor— but without the traditional hambone — you’ll need to look for a “secret ingredient” in your supermarket meat department:  smoked ham shanks or ham hocks.  These inexpensive miniature “hambones” are the perfect size for soup making.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Curried Cauliflower Soup


Spice Up Your Winter with this Vegan Beauty

January is National Soup Month. 

It’s also National Oatmeal Month and National Hot Tea Month.  And some sources even claim it’s Prune Breakfast Month.  But that’s too much excitement for me.  I’ll stick with soup.

Besides, soup is perfect this time of year.  The weather is cold in most parts of the US, so a hot bowl of warming and filling satisfaction sounds mighty attractive.  And as noted last week in the recipe for Tuscan Bean and Pasta Soup, after the recent holiday excesses it’s nice to eat simple, healthy food again.

Cauliflower is both exceptionally healthy and in ample supply at the supermarket right now.  So why not turn it into soup?  Jazzing it up with Indian “curry” spices makes the dish even better.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Roast Cauliflower

Roast Cauliflower and reflection on Black Acrylic

For People Who Think They Don’t Like Cauliflower

A lot of people say they don’t like cauliflower.  In most cases, that’s because they’ve only had cauliflower after it’s been boiled to death.  Bummer — too much boiling turns this vegetable into a bland mushy mess, and the unpleasant cabbagey cooking odor can be a turn-off.  Misguided cooks may try to cover up the mess with a mystery “cheese” or “white” sauce, and then bake the whole thing into submission.  Their guests suffer collateral damage. 

So cauliflower can be a tough sell.  But roast cauliflower?  It’s like a different vegetable.  Roasting deepens and concentrates flavor.  The vegetable becomes sweeter, and reveals hidden taste dimensions that most people find irresistible.

Best of all, it’s an easy recipe that practically cooks itself.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuscan Bean and Pasta Soup

Tuscan Bean and Pasta Soup in white ramekin on black background, overhead view


This Vegan Italian Recipe Makes the Best Bean Soup

After a long, wonderful holiday season full of rich (and fattening!) food, many of us are craving healthier fare.  And with the colder weather typical of January, simple but hearty recipes sound mighty appealing.

There’s nothing quite as hearty (or simple) as recipes based on dried beans, legumes, and pulses.  These little nutritional powerhouses are great sources of protein, complex carbs, and fiber.  Because they’re one of our oldest foods (dating back over 7000 years, according to some estimates), they feature in many of the world’s cuisines, offering us a wide variety of recipes and traditions to draw from. 

Italy’s rich culinary heritage includes numerous dishes that incorporate dried legumes and pulses.  Some of my favorites are soups.  Typically, these are meal-in-a-bowl recipes that are easy to make and that deliver comforting, satisfying flavor.  Today’s recipe may be the best of the breed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Sidecar Cocktail

Sidecar Cocktail in Cocktail Glass with Sugared Rim, Black background


Warning:   This May Become Your Favorite Drink

The Sidecar is a velvety smooth, cognac-fueled elixir that features both sweet and sour notes.  Every time I have one, I wonder why I don’t drink it more often.  In fact, it may be my “desert island cocktail” – the drink I’d choose if I could have only one.

As is the case with many cocktails, the origins of the Sidecar are somewhat mysterious.  Legend says the drink was invented in Paris during the 1920s.  Some claim it was formulated in a small bistro.  Others say Harry’s New York Bar.  Still others say it originated at the bar of the Ritz Hotel.  Reportedly, the inventor of the cocktail was an American Army officer — and the drink was named after the motorcycle sidecar he rode in during quaffing expeditions.

But once you taste this fabulous drink, you won’t care where or how it originated.