Thursday, January 03, 2008

I Do Ok

Once again, it seems like forever since I wrote about cooking. Of course – I have been cooking all along. I made a Sweet Potato, Chipotle, and Apple Soup (Dilly recipe below) that was TO DIE FOR ... I also roasted some cauliflower and onions in a Dijon mustard sauce, and sautéed some pork chops with garlic and rosemary …

So – what I’m trying to say is I CAN cook, I LOVE cooking – but sometimes I am tired – or life is busy – or there’s “nothing” in the house, so I don’t feel like cooking. Tonight was one of those nights. In an earlier conversation I remembered Dr. Esq. mentioning he had today off from the ER – with no plans. As I left the office I called him, “Hey! You awake?”

“Just got up”, came the mumbled reply. “Headed home from the ER around 5:30 this morning. Guess I was really tired. I laid down around 8:30 – and am just now ‘coming to’, he told me.

“Great! You can take me to dinner and tell me about your holidays!”

“Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea. I’m hungry … what kind of time frame do you have in mind, Mit?”

“Well, it’s 5:40 - as long as you can be here by 7 or 7:30, I think it will work just fine. But I am NOT going to eat at 8:00 pm tonight.”

We agreed – 7:30 would give him time to run – shower – and get to my house. Of course, he called at 6:30 to say he’d JUST found his “cold weather” running gear – and so he wasn’t going to make it. Which was fine – I totally understand. And I COULD have said, “No – it’s fine, whenever you get here”, but I didn’t want to be out that late. You know … the whole gym thing at 5:15 am.

So … WHAT to do about dinner? Nothing was defrosted. I wasn’t ABOUT to run to the store. I refused to spend money … so – “make due” was the theme. What did I have? I have almost every shape of pasta known to man – but no veggies. Hmm – well I did have a Vidalia onion, button mushrooms, and garlic. Digging around I realized I had some fresh rosemary – plus the Italian Parsley from the New Year and Half & Half for the coffee I never made. I found a recipe for baked ziti – but it looked like too much time, so I modified it.

I diced and sautéed the onions in olive oil/butter. Added the sliced mushrooms – and rendered them. The recipe I was modifying called for adding white wine and beef broth – along with Hot Italian sausage. I had none of those ingredients. I didn’t care about the meat – I DID have some champagne and some left over veggie broth. I decided to add about ¼ cup of the broth – and reduce to nothing. Then I added the chopped garlic – a little more broth – and reduced again. I dumped whole wheat rigatoni into the boiling pasta water – and then added a little more broth and minced rosemary to the garlic, mushrooms, and onions.

I debated for a long time about the champagne. But decided if I opened it – I’d drink it. And I already had a red going – so I abandoned that idea. I added the Half and Half and some fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and kosher salt. I reduced ‘till thick.

It was “good” … but something was missing. I didn’t think the Italian Parsley was going to “brighten” the dish enough – and as I searched my mind – I recalled the original recipe had crushed tomatoes in it. But it was too late to add those now … and then I had it!!! Tomato paste! (the kind out of a tube, which I am in deep lust with)

So I added a little – a little more Half and Half – and then topped the drained pasta with the sauce – added the minced parsley … it was … WONDERFUL! (probably better than where we’d have gone out to eat anyway). And here I thought I had "nothing to cook". Shesh!

Dilly – here’s the soup! I’m sure you can sub veggie stock for the chicken – and be fine.

Sweet Potato, Chipotle, and Apple Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 1 cup for frying

  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

  • 2 Gala apples—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 small canned chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and minced

  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 3 yellow corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips

Directions

  1. In a medium soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the apples and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the fruit and vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the chipotle.

  2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper and return to the pot.

  3. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Heat the remaining 1 cup of oil in a medium skillet. Add the tortilla strips and fry over high heat, stirring, until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve the soup in shallow bowls and garnish with the fried tortilla strips.

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

I am a soup fanatic, and I cannot WAIT to try this one! I made an attempt at starting up a cooking blog-journal, but it got to be too much, for whatever reason. It'd be a nice thing to do in collaboration with some folks, though. Share the "kitchen" duties, as it were, you know?

Geggie said...

Ooh..that does sound tasty! Pasta is so versitile.

I'm having a little contest at my blog if you'd like to participate, I'd love to have you!

tp said...

Wish you lived closer so I could drop by for those dinners that need testing/tasting !!!!