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Entries in recipe (9)

Saturday
Oct162010

Accepting Reality: Fall Pumpkin Soup


© 2010 Cameron Blazer // Cottage Industrialist
I make no secret of my dislike for winter. I dislike cold weather. I dislike short days. And while October's arrival signals the coming cold and darkness, it is one of the most beautiful times of year in Charleston. The tide is never higher than in the first few weeks of fall, and the slanted light bounces amidst the marshes and the swollen creeks in a way that summer's saturated sunshine simply can't match. 

This week, while my students enjoyed fall break, and while I basked in a rare moment of autumnal positivity, I took advantage of the extra evening at home by inviting my in-laws over and making dinner. (Yes. If relaxation had been a subject in college, I would surely have failed. So be it.)

As is typical, my initial impulse—honey, invite your parents over...don't worry, i'll keep it simple...pasta and a salad—gave way to more elaborate plans.* I was overcome by an urge to overcome my hostility to fall, to honor October's bounty, to embrace the season. The menu came together organically. But it was anchored in the first course: pumpkin soup. (Oh, you can call it a bisque if you need that level of fanciness. But everybody knows it's soup.) Not too sweet. Rich, but not ridiculous.

This soup is dead easy. It could be a weeknight main course if you served it in nice, heavy mugs. I chose, instead, to gussy it up with some simple-but-seemingly-fancy-garnishes that made it feel very luxurious as a first course.

I am still nonplussed, at best, by the changing angle of the sun and the evershortening days. But if I can remember to keep this recipe at the ready, I should be able to make it through October and November none the worse for wear. I hope you will, too.

Clean Plate Club © 2010 Cameron Blazer // Cottage IndustrialistFall Pumpkin Soup

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients

28 oz. pumpkin purée**
1 medium shallot, finely grated***
2-3 c. vegetable broth****
2 T honey
1 T ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t cardamom
1/2 t nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2 pt heavy cream 

Garnish:
crème fraîche, to taste
pumpkin oil, to taste
roasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped 

Preparation:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine pumpkin, grated shallot, and broth over medium heat, whisking to thoroughly blend.
  2. Add spices, honey, and salt and pepper; stir to blend, continuing to cook until mixture begins to simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to low, and add cream.
  4. Serve in warm bowls, garnishing with a dollop of crème fraîche and a very small amount of pumpkin oil and pumpkin seeds.

Alternate preparation: Replace spices listed above with 2T curry powder. Replace cream with coconut milk. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander or thai basil.

* Let us not speak of the three flavors of gelato. Nor of the sorbet. Each of which was consumed. (I am ashamed.) LET US NOT SPEAK OF THEM. (Except to say this: vanilla gelato + blood orange sorbet = the sexiest take on a creamsicle ever. EVER.)

** I used an organic, canned variety (not pumpkin pie filling!), but if you have fresh roasted pumpkin, by all means, use it.

*** I use my microplane grater to grate the shallot directly into the pot. It saves time and keeps the shallot flavor bright without being overpowering.

**** You can use water, but, in that case, you should also grate a small carrot and a stalk of celery into the purée for sweetness and depth.

 

Monday
May242010

Strawberries and Cream Crumble: Dessert Three Ways

  © 2010 Cameron Blazer // Cottage IndustrialistQuick recap: last Sunday was a casserole of fail* on the cooking and crafting front. You may remember that I burned dessert. When you see how easy this dessert is, you will know just how off my game I was.

It's strawberry season here in South Carolina, and this week my son got to go to one of my favorite local farms with his class to pick strawberries. He came home with two pints of lovely, freshly picked, and minimally-smushed-by-and-eager-four-year-old strawberries. And so I set about to redeem myself from last week.

Will our heroine stage a comeback? Will she share the recipe? You'll never know unless you keep reading . . .

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb182010

Wafflemania

Friends, I have sacrificed in the name of waffles. And by sacrificed, I mean, I have made waffles every weekend for a month in a quest to suss out the greatest home-made waffle I could make. Which is to say I have gained 5 pounds in a month. 5 tasty, tasty pounds.

Continue reading Wafflemania . . .

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct052009

Pumpkin Spice Muffins


© 2009 Cameron Blazer // Cottage Industrialist

I accept the coming of Fall only reluctantly. Though my ancestors all hailed from rainy, gloomy, Northern climes, I was born for sun and heat and Summer. Still, even I can acknowledge that fall does have its charms. Leaves changing colors. Glorious, glowing harvest moons. The incomparable coziness of the first sweater of the season. Those are nice. But, let's face it, for me to get excited about the Fall I have to focus on the food.

Sunday afternoon was crisp and cool and sunny. While le kid took an increasingly rare nap, I was gripped--gripped, I tell you!--by the need to make pumpkin muffins. There were a couple of reasons for this. One? Pumpkin + spice + cake-y, muffin-y goodness? You really need another reason? Well, alright then. See, I was feeling guilty because for most of the past week I had been sending the kiddo off to school with nothing more than a crummy pop-tart (organic! non-frosted! he calls them "pastries!") in his belly. By Friday I was feeling guilty, and I made eggs and bacon before leaving for work. Realistically, though, eggs and bacon just aren't going to be a regular week-day occurence in our house. Did you know that the sauté pan does not magically clean itself while the rest of the world toils away? Enter my new friend, pumpkin muffin.

I reasoned that if I enriched pumpkin (practically a superfood, no?) with whole wheat, I could feel really good (bordering on smug) about my food-based parenting skills. But everytime I've ever made muffins with whole wheat flour they've come out leaden and sawdusty. What to do? After some tinkering, I came up with a recipe that is very heavy on pumpkin and combines whole wheat flour with white cake flour (compromise, people!). The result is, if I may say, gloriously moist, light, and chockablock with pumpkin. I also used a mixture of white and brown sugars. The little bit of molasses from the brown sugar, combined with the ginger/cardamom/cinnamon gives these a gingerbread-y taste, too, of which I am very fond. Also? They come together easy-peasy and make a minimal mess. I'd say these are a keeper.


© 2009 Cameron Blazer // Cottage Industrialist

If you'd like to download and print the recipe, I've made it (as well as three blank recipe cards) available as a printable PDF.

Also? I cannot guarantee my accuracy (as my calculations are based on information gathered from calorie counters all over the Internet), but I think the nutrition info for these muffins breaks down like so: 220 Calories • 3.6 g protein • 6 g fat • 2 g protein.

---

Do you have a favorite autumnal recipe? Are you looking for something you can't quite put your finger on? Head over to the new discussion board (!) to share. Triumphs and failures welcome!

Monday
May252009

Tortilla Chopped Salad

Back in the day, when I worked as a line cook at Spago in Hollywood, there was one item I disliked making more than any other: Chino Farms Chopped Salad. I disliked it for a couple of reasons: 1) it was incredibly prep-intensive to chop and blanch the seemingly endless number of ingredients; 2) it wasn't actually on the menu, but we had to have the prep for it on hand in case the few regulars who knew to ask for it showed up, which they only did when I had let that prep slip; 3) I hated the way it looked; and 4) I had, um, never tried it.

Tortilla Chopped Salad © 2009 Cameron Blazer
One day, a few months before the end of my tenure at the restaurant (I was on the crew that served the very last chopped salad and the last pizza from that famous brick oven in April of 2001), for some reason I've now forgotten, I broke down and tried THE SALAD, the Chino Farms Chopped Salad. And, oh. Oh, it was good. Ugly, but so good. It' not, itself, an original idea, but it is a salad whose spectacular execution spawned countless imitators. I'd say it's the perfect arrangement of identically-sized vegetable tidbits. Or maybe it's the mustardy, sherry vinegar dressing...all I'm going to say about that is WALNUT OIL.* Or the farm-fresh vegetables for which it is named. Whatever. YUM.

At any rate, I no longer turn my nose up at a good chopped salad, but I've looked for ways to recreate the magic of the Spago specialty with stuff I have lying around and without pesky blanching and concasee-ing. This version features a similar contrast of crunchy-to-squishy but with far less effort and with a somewhat lighter profile. I belong to a community supported agriculture co-op so most of my produce is local and seasonal, though I do cave and buy avocados from time to time, in spite of the fact that I'm pretty sure there's never been a natural born avocado fruit within a 100-mile radius of here. Almost every ingredient is interchangeable for other stuff you might have on hand--if you have a zucchini but no cucumber, by all means, use that. If you have left-over shrimp, chop those up instead of pork or chicken. If you have pumpkin seeds lying around, use them content in the knowledge that I am now, offically, jealous of you.

Tortilla Chopped Salad

1 cucumber, diced
1 tsp salt (really!)
1 tomato, diced
1/2 can black beans, well-drained
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 cup cooked chicken/beef/pork, diced (optional)
1 tsp cumin
2 c mixed greens, washed and well-dried
yellow corn tortilla chips, crumbled
1/4 c slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste
2 T olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, diced

  1. In the bowl you plan to serve the salad in, combine the cucumbers, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 of the lime juice. Let sit for as long as possible, but at least 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato, black beans, corn, cooked pork, and cumin. Toss to coat.
  3. Add the salad greens, and toss to distribute all the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Drizzle the olive oil and the remaining lime juice over the greens, add the almonds and crumbled tortilla chips and toss again.
  5. Top with the goat cheese and avocado, and serve.

If you like a creamier dressing, you can add the avocado and goat cheese earlier, and they will coat the leaves a bit--I just prefer more intact bits. For the record, I decided to make this tortilla salad before realizing I did not have any tortilla chips, but I did have some stale taco shells which I popped into the oven at 350° while I was putting the rest of the salad together--they crisped up perfectly and held up well to the dressing.

*Yes, I have the recipe we used, but I'm pretty sure it appears roughly accurately in any number of Wolfgang's books, so I'm not about to reproduce it here and put myself in front of that juggernaut. The recipe for the Chino Farms Chopped Salad is reproduced here; I'm not saying the vinaigrette recipe is wrong, just not what I was taught. One more time, with feeling: WALNUT OIL. That is all.