Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year's Eve & Happy New Year!

On this last day of 2014, here is a wish for a Happy and Healthy New Year.

I hope your 2015 is filled with good food and happy moments wherever you are! 

With much aloha,

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Capellini en Parmesan Brodo (and a Recipe for Parmesan Broth) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Capellini en Parmesan Brodo. Is it a soup? Is it a pasta dish? I happen to think it is a fabulous combination of the two. 

I try to make my own soup broths whenever I can. Homemade broths taste better and are healthier as you control the sodium and there are no additives. Since I have stopped cooking meat and poultry, it usually means a basic veggie broth, sometimes I change it up with a garlic or mushroom stock and the occasional batch of dashi. When I was flipping through the December 2014 issue of Bon Appétit, the recipe for Parm Broth quickly caught my eye--not to mention the recipe for Capellini en Parmesan Brodo that accompanied it. Something flavorful and a little different for my broth repertoire.

Described as 'rich and versatile' the broth called for a pound of Parmesan rinds and I had only two tucked away in my freezer to toss soups for extra flavor. The gourmet "market" tucked into my local grocery store sometimes has small bags of the rinds for sale and when I went in to inquire, the clerk told me she was cutting up a giant wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano in a few hours (after it came to room temp) and offered to hold some for me to pick up. So a quick trip back and $2.37 later, I had a pound and some change of rinds ready to be transformed into broth and a soupy pasta dish. 

About the Capellini en Parmesan Brodo Bon Appétit says, "The pasta absorbs the flavor of the broth as it cooks, and the pasta starches thicken the liquid to a lip-smacking consistency."

Capellini en Brodo
Recipe From Bon Appétit, December 2014
(Serves 2)

2 oz capellini pasta
2 cups Parmesan Broth (see recipe below)
2 large egg yolks
Grated Parmesan, fresh thyme leaves, and freshly ground black pepper (for serving)
Cook pasta in hot Parmesan Broth in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until pasta is al dente and broth is reduced and thickened, about 3 minutes (if too thick, thin with more broth). Divide pasta between bowls; twist into tight nests. Add broth and top each with an egg yolk, Parmesan, thyme, and pepper.

About the Parm Broth Bon Appétit says, "Use this rich and versatile broth in vegetable soups, instant-supper pastas, such as Capellini en Brodo, and beans in need of a boost."

Parm Broth
Recipe From Dawn Perry and Claire Saffitz, Bon Appétit, December 2014
(Makes About 4 Cups)

2 bsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
1 bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
3–4 parsley sprigs
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 cup dry white wine
1 lb Parmesan rinds
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and peppercorns, stirring often, until garlic is deep brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up any brown bits, until liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. 

Add Parmesan rinds and 8 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent cheese from sticking to bottom of pot, until broth is flavorful and reduced by half, about 2 hours.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (or an airtight container if making ahead).  

Do Ahead: Broth can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill

Notes/Results: The broth is rich in flavor with that kind of nutty, fruity taste of good Parmesan. My tip--use an old pot and prepare to spend time cleaning it. Even with frequent stirring melted Parmesan will stick and the clean up is a bit of a pain. Still the four cups of broth that result--two for the recipe below and two for another dish (I am thinking beans will be involved) is worth it. If you are like me and don't go through your Parmesan very quickly, do check with your local cheese seller or a grocer that cuts and wraps their own good cheeses--the price for the rinds is really reasonable. 

The capellini en brodo is a simple but indulgent pleasure--rich and silky broth and slurpable noodles. The egg yolk only adds to the rich creaminess. I used a very fresh local egg. You could of course poach or even fry the egg if you don't trust them raw. I like to live semi-dangerously. ;-) I will definitely be saving and buying up more rinds and making more broth and en brodo dishes. 

We have a couple of good friends hanging out in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week. Let's have a look. 

Janet of The Taste Space shares this soup/stew-ish curry dish and says, "This will be a quick post to share another of my favourite repeater recipes from this year: Isa’s Coconut Chana Saag. I am still not sure why it looks like most of the curries I share, but this one is flippin fantastic. Perhaps the touch of fennel brought it to the next level? In any case, it is delicious and highly recommended."

Kim of Stirring the Pot made Aunt Raffy's Quinoa and Ceci Soup from Giada De Laurentiis and says, "This is a power-packed super satisfying soup with lots of chickpeas (ceci) and the super healthy and ever-so-popular quinoa.  These powerhouse ingredients are made flavorful with lots of veggies, a variety of fresh herbs, and lots of Parmesan. It's definitely a feel good soup that leaves you feeling rather virtuous, plus it's even better the next day! It's a win-win all around."

Looking for a salad or a soup topper? Pam of Sidewalk Shoes recommends her Homemade Croutons saying, "We love bread around our house. The problem is you don’t quite make it through the bread before it starts getting a little stale.  hat’s when it’s the perfect time to make these homemade croutons. They are so easy and they pay you back tenfold. I love them in green salads and I also use them in frittatas, savory bread puddings, and panzanella."

Thanks to Pam, Kim and Janet for joining me 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 sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


Friday, December 26, 2014

Smoked Trout and Leek Risotto {One Photo Friday}

I love risotto. The creamy indulgent comfort. Even the making of it--the zen of ladling and stirring for 20 to 30 minutes and waiting for the 'magic' to happen. I usually use that stirring time to clear my head and think of nothing but I was caught up in the middle of this suspenseful mystery/thriller and spent my risotto-making time with my Kindle in one hand, the spoon in the other. (E-readers are made for risotto stirring.)  

A Diana Henry smoked fish and leek risotto recipe from Roast Figs Sugar Snow: Food to Warm the Soul has been tempting me for a while. Henry uses smoked haddock but I chose the easier to find smoked trout. The combination of smoky fish, sweet leeks and creamy rice sounded good and perfect for a slightly indulgent holiday week meal. I cut the recipe down a bit and made a couple of small changes noted in red below. 


Diana Henry says, "I don't usually like inauthentic dishes that fuse a technique from one country's cuisine with ingredients from another, but occasionally it works, and it does here. I'd even expect Italians to like this. Try not to break the smoked fish up too much--you want to find chunks of it among the rice, not tiny flakes.

Smoked Trout and Leek Risotto 
Adapted from Roast Figs Sugar Snow by Diana Henry
(Serves 4-6)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (I used about 1/8 cup)
4 medium leeks finely sliced
1 lb (450g) smoked haddock or other smoked fish (I used 8 oz smoked trout)
4 1/4 cups light chicken or vegetable stock (I used 5 cups low-sodium no-chicken broth)
10 1/2 oz (300g) aborio rice (I used 1 2/3 cups)
3 oz (75g) freshly-grated Parmesan (I used 2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano)

Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan pan and sweat the leeks in it for 15 minutes. Remove skin from fish and cut into small chunks and set aside. Bring stock to a simmer in a separate pot.

Add the rice to the leeks. Stir and cook for about a minute, making sure the rice is well coated with the buttery juices. Begin adding hot stock, a ladleful at a time stirring constantly. Don't add new liquid until each ladleful has been absorbed. The rice will become sticky and creamy as it cooks and it should take about 20 minutes to become soft while retaining a little bite in the center. (Note: I used 5 cups of broth and about 28 minutes to get the risotto to my liking--ultra creamy but still a small 'bite' in the center of the rice.)

When risotto is cooked to your liking, stir in about 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan and the chunks of smoked fish. Check seasoning--it's unlikely to need any salt because of the saltiness of the cheese and fish, but a good grind of pepper will finish it off. Serve topped with the remaining Parmesan and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley if desired.
Notes/Results: Rich, creamy and full of flavor. The smoked cheese paired well with the slightly salty Parmigiano-Reggiano and the leeks kept it from being too salty. I generally take more time and liquid to make my risotto. In the recipe, Henry says about 20 minutes--I took mine to about 28 minutes and used extra broth. Also, in the recipe the smoked haddock is poached before it is added to the dish but I didn't see a reason or need for that with the trout so I omitted that step. The dish made me happy so I quickly snapped one photo with my iPhone and dug in. I would make this again.

This post is linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck week. The chance to make any Diana Henry recipe or a recipe from any previous IHCC chef. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post when it goes live.

{One Photo Friday: Since I normally drag out my big camera and gear, take a bunch of photos of my recipes, and then spend time obsessing over them--I decided that for Fridays, I'll simplify by posting a recipe or something interesting and then just take one photo of it with my iPhone--no muss/no fuss.}

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mele Kalikimaka!

Mele Kalikimaka and Happy Holidays!

OK, I spent too much time on PicMonkey Collage this week. But nothing says Christmas like 'torturing' your pet with their favorite stuffed toy. ;-)
Holiday greetings from Me and Max (and his friend Kermit!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Creamy Dark Chocolate Peppermint Fuuudge! for Food 'N Flix December Pick: A Christmas Story

It's Food 'N Flix time again, and it's a holiday pick for December, the classic (1983) film, A Christmas Story hosted by Food 'N Flix's founder, girlichef (Heather's announcement post is here). I own a copy, and it just doesn't seem like Christmas without at least one viewing of this fun movie. 

I have to assume that most (if not all of you) have seen this movie but if not, the short version is that nine-year-old Ralphie Parker is obsessed with getting an "official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle" for Christmas but it doesn't look very likely since everyone from his mother to a (scariest ever) department store Santa keep telling him--"you'll shoot your eye out!" Set sometime in the 1940s in Indiana, it is a slice of Americana and good (if not always appropriate) family fun. With plenty of laughs, and some great scenes with quotes like:

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] "Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl."

Mr. Parker: "He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny."
Mrs. Parker: "He does not!"
Mr. Parker: "He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare!"

Although I had not looked for it before it became a Food 'N Flix pick, there is a surprising amount of food inspiration in the movie. From the classic family meals Mom makes but is too busy serving to eat warm herself. Oatmeal and bacon and eggs for breakfast, Mashed potatoes, I think I spied some Salisbury steak, and who could forget the "meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beetloaf.I hate meatloaf!" chant from Randy, "Mama's little piggy."  There is of course the ill-fated turkey and the resulting Chinese dinner with hilariously-sung Christmas carols by the waiters. Ultimately I had to go with fudge in honor of the scene where Ralphie is "helping" his father change a tire and the lug nuts fly out of his hands. Instead of an innocent "Ohhh Fuuudge!" Ralphie lets "the big one" fly, resulting in some time spent with a bar of soap.
Young Ralphie: "Ohhh fuuudge!"
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] "Only I didn't say "Fudge." I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word!"
So I made some fuuudge! The peppermint is because I was craving it, paired with dark chocolate of course, with broken candy canes on top for some holiday cheer. After making my fudge, I was in the drugstore and happened by the candy aisle where I discovered that there is actually A Christmas Story movie-branded "Ohh FFFFudge!" fudge. Oh well... (heavy sigh) I knew it wouldn't be that original of an idea--but it is a fun and tasty one. ;-)

I wanted to do a dairy-free fudge and was originally going to do a semi-healthy version but in the end, it's Christmas and I chose ultra-creamy over healthy and I am glad I did. This is a very smooth ganache-like fudge, like the inside of a good truffle with a cool burst of mint at the end. It's dairy-free, gluten-free and if you use coconut milk (and depending on the chocolate you use), soy-free too. That being said, besides the dark chocolate and unsweetened dark cocoa powder, the rest is pretty much powdered sugar and vegan margarine so not at all a health food. ;-) But it is the holidays and this fudge is more than splurge-worthy as an indulgent treat. The basic recipe is here at After reading the reviews, I doubled the chocolate chips to get a firmer texture.

Creamy Dark Chocolate Peppermint Fuuudge! 
Adapted from 'Laurie150' via 
(Makes about 1 8x8" Pan)

1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder 4 cups powdered/icing sugar
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used a combination of Enjoy Life's Dark Chocolate Morsels and Semi-Sweet Mini Chips)
1/2 cup coconut milk or non-dairy milk of choice
2 Tbsp dairy-free margarine (I used Earth Balance)
2-3 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste

crushed candy cane to sprinkle on top if desired (I used an organic vegan candy cane)

Lightly spray a 8" x 8" or similarly-sized pan with cooking oil evenly and line with wax paper or parchment.

In a large bowl sift cocoa powder and powdered sugar together and stir in chocolate chips. Bring the coconut milk and dairy-free margarine to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly so as not to burn it.   

Once milk mixture comes to a boil, remove pan from heat and stir into powdered sugar mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined and chocolate is completely melted. Stir in 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract. Taste and add more if desired.

Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle crushed candy cane on top if desired. Refrigerate until firm--at least 2 to 3 hours. When solid, cut into small pieces. Keep, in refrigerator until ready to serve--it will get soft if left out. 

Notes/Results: Such a dark and rich fudgy treat--sweet without being too sweet. This fudge is creamy, slightly soft and thus a bit "Fra-GEE-leh!" (It must be Italian!)" so keep it in the fridge when not enjoying it and use a small plate and refill it as needed. And, refilling will be needed as this is pretty scrumptious fudge--very truffle-like and so chocolaty with a cool burst of mint. A new favorite that I will happily make again.

The deadline for this round of Food 'N Flix is Sunday, December 28th so there is still a little time to get your entry in. Heather will be rounding up the entries on her blog shortly after. If you missed this round and love food, film and foodie films, join us for January's pick--one of my very favorites: Bridget Jones's Diary hosted by Evelyne at Cheap Ethnic Eatz.

Merry Christmas Eve and Happy Holidays! ;-)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Lemon: A Simple Mark Bittman Recipe for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Looking for a quick and simple soup for a busy holiday weekend, I went to the master, Mark Bittman and his How To Cook Everything Fast. I have paged through the book several times since I got it and it is studded with colored tabs. I have had a hard time making it out of the soup section alone with the sheer number of recipes and their variations. It seems like the recipe variations are what attract me the most. I made his Spanish-Style Pasta e Fagioli a couple of months ago and although I contemplated making his Spicy Black Bean Soup this week, it was the White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Lemon variation that I wanted. 

I love white beans with rosemary and thought that the lemon would add a nice bright touch to the mix. I did make a few changes to the recipe--noted in red below. 

White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Lemon
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman 
(Serves 4)

2 Tbsp olive oil (I used 1 Tbsp)
1 large onion, chopped
(I added 1 carrot and 1 stalk celery, chopped)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4 cloves of caramelized garlic)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I used about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
4 cups cooked or canned white beans (I used 3 cans--about 6 cups mixed small white beans and cannellini beans)
4 cups veggie stock or water (I used 6 cups mixed veggie broth and water)
salt and pepper
1 lemon

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened--about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook another minute or so. 

Add the beans, stock or water, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the pot. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beans begin to break down, 5-10 minutes and vegetables are tender. (Bittman notes that if you have time, the longer you let the soup simmer, the more flavors will develop. Up to an hour is fine; just add more liquid if the soup starts to look dry.)

When the beans are beginning to break down, run a potato masher or immersion blender through the pot, just enough to mash or puree about half the beans. 

Squeeze in the lemon juice and taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil if desired. 

Notes/Results: Light but satisfying and good flavor. The lemon and rosemary are both so aromatic but are not overpowering to the beans. This is a quick pantry soup, even if you want to cook it longer for more flavor. It's a good base soup--in addition to the celery and carrot I added, other veggies like fennel, potato, spinach or other greens would work well. I think it tastes great on its own but adding a bit of grated Parmesan would be a nice touch. I would make this again. 

I am linking this recipe up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week is Potluck week. The chance to make any Diana Henry recipe or a recipe from any previous IHCC chef. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post when it goes live.

If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share and have featured on A Souper Sundays post, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anchoïade: Garlicky Anchovy Spread for a Perfect Party Pleasing Appetizer

Ever since Sue from Couscous and Consciousness made this anchoïade (garlicky anchovy spread) from Diana Henry's Salt Sugar Smoke, I have been wanting to try it. I will say that although I truly love the flavor that anchovies bring to a dish, I really don't like looking at the little hairy beasties--so any chance I can get to mash them up into something unrecognizable like this dip/spread--it works for me. ;-) 

I made a few small changes to the recipe--mainly using caramelized garlic (I "roasted' up a bunch using the slow cooker and had some leftover from this fabulous soup, and I used extra garlic since mine was roasted and mellower). I used my favorite marcona almonds and upped the amounts of lemon and parsley a bit. The result is a flavorful spread for bread and veggies and perfect for any holiday appetizer plate. I recommend that if you have anchovy 'haters' in the house--you cheat and call it 'garlicky almond dip' and they probably won't guess the ingredients. ;-)

Diana Henry says, "Another classic Provençal "paste." If you like anchovies, it's completely addictive. You can go traditional and pound everything together with a mortar and pestle, or use a food processor. It's very satisfying to watch the anchovies "melt" into a paste."

Adapted from Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry
(Makes About 1 cup)

2 (2 oz) cans anchovies in oil 
3 garlic cloves, chopped (I used 6 cloves caramelized garlic)
1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted (I used roasted Marcona almonds)
2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (I used about 3 Tbsp)
finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon (I used a full lemon)
freshly ground black pepper  
extra virgin olive oil--about 1/4 to 1/3 cup

Drain the anchovies, reserving the oil. Place everything except the anchovy oil and olive into a blender or into food processor, or crush it all in a mortar and pestle (especially if you prefer a chunkier mixture). Process until well crushed.

Measure the anchovy oil and add enough olive oil to make it up to about 2/3 cup. Reserve about 3 tablespoons, and slowly add the remaining oil to the anchovy mixture to make a paste. (I kept the food processor running while I added the oil.)

Put the anchoïade into sterilized jars and spoon a layer of the reserved oil on top. Seal jars and keep in the refrigerator--it will keep for about two weeks.  

How to Use: Henry says, "This is wonderful on little toasted croûtes with drinks, or serve it with tapenade, radishes, hard-boiled eggs and bread for a very simple appetizer."

Henry also mentioned that were different types of anchoïade including one made just of anchovies and olive oil that was sometimes used as a sauce for fish. Sounded like a good idea to me so I tried this version on seared ahi. It was excellent--tangy and garlicky so it set off the richness of the ahi nicely. 

Notes/Results: So rich, savory, and so tasty--I would describe it as assertive and pungent in a good way with a big burst of flavor. It's not overtly "fishy" so I don't think you would have to be an anchovy fan to enjoy it. I grouped together croûtes of toasted baguette, hard-boiled eggs and a bunch of raw veggies--baby carrots, mini cucumber, sugar snap peas, quarters of plump red radishes and strips of red bell pepper. I also had some Brussels sprouts in my fridge and thought it would be fun to grill them a bit, so I did along with some slices of zucchini. My favorite dippers (besides the toasted bread), the Brussels sprouts and radishes for their slight bitterness, and the sweetness of the sugar snap peas both of which partnered well with the dip. This dip does tend to separate a bit so if you make it ahead of time, a quick run through the blender before serving works well. I will make this again.

This post is linked up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme this week is Party Pleasers. You can see what pleasing dishes everyone is bringing to the party by checking out the picture links on the post.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Potato, Leek, and Kale Soup with Smoky Paprika and Roasted Garlic: Flavorful, Comforting and Satisfying for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I have been wanting to try caramelizing garlic in the slow cooker after seeing them do it on The Kitchen on Food Network so I put eight bulbs into two packets of foil in the crockpot on low and headed to bed. What to do with all those resulting lovely brown cloves the next morning? I knew I wanted a garlic soup this week--thick, with potato and smoky with the garlic and smoked paprika. This is a vegan soup, somewhat caldo verde-like with the kale, that I put together. With the caramelized garlic, the smoky paprika, and the herbs, it has several layers of flavor and pureeing some of the soup makes it creamy. A thick and utterly satisfying soup for a cool, windy and rainy day. 

Two heads of garlic may seem like a lot but the caramelizing mellows the flavor, rounds out  any sharp edges the garlic, brings out the sweetness.  

Potato, Leek and Kale Soup with Smoky Paprika and Roasted Garlic
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 8-10)

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, white & light green parts, washed well, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tsp smoked paprika, and more to taste
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped 
3-4 sprigs of fresh time
2 full heads worth of roasted/caramelized garlic paste (see garlic notes)
4 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes, chopped--large dice 
10 cups light veggie broth or stock (low-sodium preferred
4 cups fresh kale, tough stems removed and leaves sliced into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add leeks, carrot and celery with a small pinch of sea salt and reduce heat to medium. Saute veggies about 7-8 minutes until softened and celery is turning opaque. Add smoked paprika and saute another minute or two until fragrant. Add rosemary, thyme sprigs, garlic paste and veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes until potatoes and vegetables are tender. 

Remove thyme sprig stems and if desired, place two scoops of vegetables and broth into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into soup pot. Increase heat to medium and add kale, stirring into soup. Cook about 10 minutes until kale is tender. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and extra smoked paprika if desired.

Serve with toasted baguette--spread with additional garlic puree if desired. Enjoy!

Garlic Notes: I used this recipe from The Kitchen on Food Network to caramelize the garlic overnight (about 6 1/2 hours on low) in the slow cooker, then smashed two heads work into a rough paste and added it to the soup. Easy-peasy, and I made enough for other dishes and to slather on bread to serve with the soup.

Notes/Results: So rich, thick and good, this soup really hit the spot--it's a great combination of creamy, brothy and hearty stew-like textures. The smoky flavor is prominent but there is a sweetness to all the savory with the browned garlic, leeks, and carrots. You could use onions in place of leeks but I think the leeks add sweeter notes that go well with the rest of the ingredients. I am a fan of Yukon gold potatoes in soups--they hold their shape but still have that soft creamy potato feel and they puree well to thicken the soup. You might think it is garlic overkill (is there such a thing?!?) to spread more of it on pan-toasted baguette to top or serve with the soup but it adds an extra special touch (not to mention good flu and cold-fighting properties needed this time of year, and great vampire protection) so I highly recommend it. ;-) It's good I like this soup so much because I made a huge batch that I will happily pull out for lunches and dinner this week--maybe adding a runny-yolked poached or fried egg on top for a little protein. I can see it pairing well with the kale and garlic. I would make this again. 

A couple of good friends await in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's see what they brought.   

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food shares this Vegetarian Spicy (Hot) Sour Soup and says, "Mild and harmless-looking, this is not your usual noodle soup. The kick of Thai red chili and Chinese black vinegar can just wake up your senses anytime of the day. So never judge a book by its cover. Not the Szechuan hot (spicy) and sour soup that you may order off the menu of a Chinese restaurant; however, the spice and sourness is as close as it gets. ... Often, a pot of soup represents a side (additional) dish complementing other mains and sides; but you can always dunk in noodles and make it a main dish."

Janet of The Taste Space brings Eat Your Greens Soup with Edamame and says, " is filled with a nicely fragrant broth made from ginger, cumin with a touch of cinnamon and filled with loads and loads of vegetables. Mushrooms, broccoli and carrot. Sometimes I use kale or collards, sliced into thin strips, but this time I used a crunchy cruciferous mix of kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts for more variety.  I also continued with the green theme and used frozen edamame as my protein of choice. It fits well with the uniquely Asian twist brought by the last minute addition of shredded nori."

Thanks to Tigerfish and Janet for joining me 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 sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate (Pearled) Couscous: A Moroccan-Inspired Meal

Pretty, festive, easy enough for a weekday dinner, but special enough to serve to company--this Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous from Diana Henry is full of wonderful and exotic flavors. 

It's our monthly Mystery Box Madness challenge this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where our selected recipe needs to contain at least three out of ten ingredients: Chocolate, Cherries, Cinnamon, Rolled Oats, Couscous, Pomegranate, Curry, Coconut Milk, Lentils, and Hot Peppers/Chilis. This dish contains four of the ten--cinnamon, red chili, couscous and pomegranate. 

Henry says, "Definitely a dish for cilantro-lovers Chermoula is one of the most well-used Moroccan herb and spice blends. Chermoula actually means "to tear lightly"--but that doesn't stop cooks from making it in the blender.

Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous 
Adapted From Crazy Water Pickled Lemon by Diana Henry
(Serves 4)

4 thick tuna loin steaks
salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil and lime wedges to serve

For the Marinade:
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, crushed
leaves of a small bunch of cilantro and a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped 

For the Couscous:
7 oz couscous (I used pearled or Israeli couscous)
2/3 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil (Reduced to 1 Tbsp)
2 pomegranates
1 oz pine nuts, toasted
3 Tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint (I added cilantro)
lemon juice to taste

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Turn the tuna steaks over in the marinade to get them well-coated. Refrigerate for about half an hour.

Sprinkle the couscous in a shallow dish and add half the water. Let the couscous plump up for about 15 minutes, then fork it through to separate the grains. Repeat with the rest of the water. Stir in the olive oil and salt and pepper. 

Halve the pomegranates and, holding each half over a bowl, beat the fruit with a wooden spoon. The seeds should just spill out. Remove any coarse bits of yellow membrane still attached to them. 

Put the couscous on to steam for about 10 minutes and, meanwhile, sear the tuna steaks. Heat a griddle until it is smoking hot and then cook the steaks  quickly for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. (I serve tuna cooked on the outside and raw as a rare steak on the inside.)

Mix the steamed couscous with the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, herbs, and lemon juice, and check the seasoning. Add a squeeze more lemon if you think the dish needs it. Put a mound of couscous on each plate and serve the tuna steaks on top, drizzled with any remaining marinade and a last slug of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with wedges of lime. 

Notes/Results: This was such a great dish--so much flavor in the sauce and the accompanying couscous. You definitely want to be a cilantro lover for this one--it is very prominent in the Chermoula marinade. I am a big fan, so I also chopped some up in the couscous as well. Speaking of the couscous, I knew I had some in the pantry but forgot it was the larger pearled or Israeli couscous so I went ahead and used it. I actually like it better than regular couscous anyway, and it adds a fun texture to the dish. I loved the mix of the herbs, tangy-sweet pomegranate and toasty pine nuts accented by the lemon in the couscous and it went really well with the sauce which is full of savory, sweet, herby and slightly spicy notes that compliments the ahi tuna I used. I like my tuna pretty rare on the inside--the best way to eat good ahi, but might give it another 30 seconds per side to serve to others who may not like it as 'raw.' This is really an easy and quick (after the marinating the tuna) dish that looks and tastes like it took more of an effort. (BTW--I was lazy and used the blender for my marinade--probably not as pretty but faster than all that chopping.) I only made a half recipe and was sorry I didn't make more. ;-) Loved it and will make it again--one of my favorite Dina Henry dishes so far.

This post will be linked up to this coming week's Mystery Box Madness Challenge at IHCC. You'll be able to see what mystery ingredients and recipes people chose by checking out the picture links on the post.