Showing posts with label Autumn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Autumn. Show all posts

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Minestrone

Autumn Day
Lord: It is time. The summer days were grand.
Now set your shadows out across the sun-dials
And set the winds loose on the meadowland.

Bid the last fruits grow full upon the vine,
do them the good of two more southern days
then thrust them on to their fulfillment, chase
the final sweetness into bodied wine.

Whoever has no house yet will build none,
Whoever is alone will stay alone
And stay up, write long letters out, and go
Through avenues to wander on his own
Uneasily when leaves begin to blow.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Roasted Delicata Squash with Chinese Flavours

I think this is the appropriate moment to thank Katie and Luisa for introducing me to Fuchsia Dunlop. I love to think of myself as someone who is into reading food writing but honestly, I don't really know all the great food writers everyone else seems to know. Expect for M. F. K. Fisher, whom I just adore, I have not read any of the classics and I also don't know the more recent writers.
So I have never ever heard of Fuchsia Dunlop before reading Katie's post a while ago (which made me turn to amazon and order her most recent book Every Grain of Rice)
Dunlop really is a wonderful writer, and as Luisa pointed out in her post about one of Dunlops recipes, she can make stinky fermented tofu and slippery sea urchins sound so intriguing you want to run out to buy everything you need to make these dishes.
And ever since receiving the book, I can't seem to stop myself from trying her recipes or just infusing just about anything with Chinese flavours. And that eventhough I haven't done much Chinese cooking so far, but her book shows such a different kind of Chinese cuisine than what I am used to from Chinese restaurants here.

Today I made her mapo dofou recipe, which you can find at the guardian and this delicata squash to go with it. I have actually never bought Delicata squash before, but now that I tried it, I don't think I'll ever turn back. I love its delicate sweetness and the fact that you don't have to peel it. Yay. Just cut it into slices, remove the seeds, brush a little olive oil on the slices and throw them in the oven.

Once roasted, I just topped it of with a sprinkle of Szechuan pepper a drizzle of Chinkiang vinegar and chili oil and some finely sliced scallions. And then I ate almost all of the squash myself, leaving only a few slices to Michael who got home from university later.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Chinese Flavours

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Slice a delicata squash into rounds and remove the seeds. Brush the sices with a mixture of 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the squash is browned in places and tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/2 tsp roasted, ground szechuan pepper on top, then drizzle on 1 tbsp of Chinkiang vinegar and 2 tsp szechuanese chili oil. Finely slice the green part of a scallion and scatter over the squah.

For the chili oil, you can buy chinese chili oil, but it is hotter than szechuanese chili oil (so you might want to use less) or follow Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Eggplant, Tomato and Zucchini Gratin with Parsley Breadcrumbs

I have tried writing about coming home for the last four weeks, unsuccessful as you can see. But we are back, and I am cooking again. It is good to be back after such a long hiatus. I might write about the rest of our trip on a later date and maybe about coming home, but right now I don't find the words and prefer to enjoy the moment instead of looking back.

I was so happy not to have missed all of summer's vegetable bounty. When we returned, tomatoes were just getting really juicy and sweet and lovely sprinkled with a little salt and the olive oil we brought back from Italy back in spring. And since we've been back in our apartment, we've had a bowl full of San Marzano tomatoes on our kitchen table. Ready to be eaten. Ready to be cooked down into a simple, garlicky tomato sauce. We made a lasagne with fresh tomatoes (which actually turned out dry, sorry mum) and today I made this gratin I found in Vegetable Literacy, a cookbook I bought just before leaving for Bolivia and haven't actually used it much since then (for obvious reasons).
Like Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, Vegetable Literacy is divided into chapters according to vegetable family, which is very helpful when you find yourself with an abundace of summer squash, green beans or run out of inspiration in the middle of winter on how to use carrots or cabbage. And considering the fact that the gratin I made today turned out wonderfully, I think I am going to cook from this cookbook quite a few times in the future.

The recipe for the gratin can be divided into two parts, first you make a rataouille of sorts, cooking the eggplant and tomatoes into a thick stew while lightly steaming the zucchini slices that Deborah Madison makes you place on top of the sauce, keeping them from falling apart.
Then you scatter breadcrumbs over the ratatouille and after 25 minutes in the oven soft pieces of eggplant and tomato and zucchini with a herby crunchy topping emerge.

Eggplant, Tomato and Zucchini Gratin with Parsley Breadcrumbs
Adapted from a recipe in Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison
Note: Deborah Madison has you top the ratatouille with slices of mozzarella, which in my opinion, does not much for the dish itsself, so next time I would omit the mozzarella and maybe stir in some parmesan with the breadcrumbs or keep this as is.

for the ratatouille
1 eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into slices
2 onions, cut into thin wedges
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried rosemary
4 San Marzano tomatoes (or 5-6 of regular round tomatoes), cut into dice sized pieces
2 smallish zucchinis, cut into slices the same width as the eggplant
salt and pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste

for the topping
1 clove of garlic
a bunch of parsley
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 tbsp olive oil

Before preparing the other vegetables, slice the eggplant and lightly salt the slices. After prepping everything else, dab the excess moisture off of the slices.
Preheat the oven to 375°F/200°C.
In a skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent and fragrant, then add the dried herbs and garlic and let cook for another minute or so. Then stir in the eggplant and tomatoes and sauté a minute or two before turning down the heat. Place the zucchini slices on top of the eggplant and tomato stew, cover the skillet and let cook, on low heat, for 20 minutes or so.
While the ratatouille cooks, prepare the topping. Putthe garlic and parsley into the bowl of a small food processor and give it a whiz until cut into smallish pieces, then add the breadcrumbs and pulse until the breadcrumbs are mostly green. Stir in the olive oil and set aside.
With two spoons remove the stew from the skillet into a baking dish and mix in the tomato paste with the liquid that remains in the skillet. Add this liquid to the ratatouille. Top everything off with the green breadcrumbs and bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll Ups

When I was little I loved to go visit my grandmother. The whole family travelled by train to Basel, a journey that takes little more than an hour, but felt soo long back then. The best visits were when my grandmother picked us up at the train station. Me and my siblings wanted each to see her first, to run and leap into her arms first. We then would take the tram to her place, were she had already lovingly prepared the same thing every single time. Buttery roasted potatoes. A huge leg of lamb, roasted in the oven. And some snap peas she grew in her garden in spring and always cooked for me when I visited because she knew I loved them. These snap peas, they made me felt loved.
Back then I learnt unconsciously what I know now. We can show our love with food. Be it the cupcakes you make vegan or gluten-free to celebrate with a friend who would have had to go without or the batch of cookies you make to bring to a friend when you are invited for dinner. The dinner you make that is anything but spectacular, but shared.

I made these lasagna roll ups this week for lunch, for me and my boyfriend. They require a little time to make, maybe not the best fit for a weekday lunch. But still, they are easy to make, unfussy with a simple, classical pairing of squash, sage and hazelnuts. They are soft and sweet and crunchy and herby all in one bite. And they just look really lovely, something you'd serve someone you love. Go cook for someone you love this week. Make it something special. Or just share a simple meal together.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Indian Curry Pumpkin Soup

I have a hard time deciding on a favorite season. The freshness of spring, the bright green grass, the tender spring peas, the flowers, I just adore them. I am so excited for the first asparagus to arrive, the strawberries and peas. And then summer, with its lazy days and long vacations, tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt, skirts and sandals, baths and outdoor activities. And I can even find something lovely in the cold Swiss winters. I love the first snow of the season, walking on snow, a cold fogless day in the mountains, wearing scarves.
But every year, I seem to say, mid October, that Fall has to be my favorite season. My heart makes a little happy dance when I see the first pumpkins and squashes. I can start to drink tea again, wrap myself in a scarf or blanket, light candles, and get back into cooking. For while I love tomatoes with sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil and a few slices of mozzarella di buffala, they inspire little cooking.
So at the beginning of Fall, I carry home as much butternut squash and pumpkin as I can carry. 
When I started out making this soup, I actually planned on making a pumpkin curry with big chunks of pumpkin. What I did not account for was the pumpkin becoming all stringy in the process of cooking, so I decided to add a little broth and puree it.
The resulting soup is different enough from the pumpkin soup I normally make, the curry makes it somewhat spicy, which makes for a really warming soup. 

With fall comes the fact that it gets dark way too quickly to take shots of food in natural light. I think I need to go back to Debs answers on how she takes pictures of her food without natural light. How do you deal? Just cook earlier in the day?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spicy Squash Salad with Wild Rice and Parsley

I barely have time to cook. Or rather I barely had time to cook. Having three presentations at college in a row (one per week) is just not such a great idea. Taking up another little job, writing for a homepage, at the same time might not be the clever idea I thought it was.
Many things got neglected in the meantime, I had almost no time to enjoy fall until now and I had to work all weekend long. Tomorrow, after my presentation about the 'Greening of Protestant Thought', this should be over. There will still be things to read, translations to make and classes to visit, but I'll have my weekends back.

One thing I did try to keep up doing is preparing lunch to take to college or to work. I made "salads", mostly. My definition of salad is somewhat loose, though. I usually don't add a real dressing, so a salad is more a cold meal that was planned to be eaten cold (in contrast to left-overs).
For today I prepared this squash salad. I saw the recipe on The Moveable Feasts, it is from Bon Appetit originally.
I did not have smoked paprika on hand and could not find it in the supermarket I went to, so I had to do without. I also decided early on that I wanted to add lots of parsley. (This is probably because I saw a recipe in one of Jamie Oliver's books, that used tarragon as main salad ingredient. Really interesting idea!)
And I swapped out the lentils for a wild rice mix (this is just regular rice and wild rice mixed, I think it was something like a 8:2 ratio)
It is a lovely little fall salad, way better than anything I could get to eat here for lunch...

Do you prepare lunch to take to work or to college? And what do you prepare if you do?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crunchy Baked Acorn Squash with Mozzarella

A year or two ago I saw this recipe for baked squash with mozzarella in a cookbook. We looked at it in a bookstore and just loved the idea. My boyfriend took a picture of it, secretly and a bit ashamed because we had no intention to buy the book. I can't remember what the book looked like or what the name of the recipe was, but we took the inspiration from there and baked squash, topped with rosemary and mozzarella for quite a few times last winter, and I think also the one before. And it was absolutely delicious, the squash turns from hard to soft, it develops a balanced sweetness (not like pure sugar sweet) and the mozzarella melts, turns from white to golden brown and somehow changes its flavor.

Well enough, but this year I saw in the Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty, a recipe for crunchy squash with lemon. I don't remember the title of this recipe either, and I only remember the lemon bit about it. He cover the whole squash slices in a crunchy mixture that included lemon. Without looking up his recipe I decided to include the crunchy topping into the baked squash with mozzarella dish I already made. This is how this recipe was born, after thinking about it for quite some time, it came together really quickly.