Monday, August 30, 2010

creamy white bean soup with leeks

I've said it before and I'll say it again-- one of my very favourite things about San Francisco is that it's almost always soup weather! I just love soup. You know what else I love? White beans. And leeks. And my Epicurious app on my iPhone.

"Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the world than soup?" ~Miss Manners

This recipe is super easy and cheap. It was adapted from a recipe I found on Epicurious, which was adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine in 1991. I, of course, tweaked it to fit my needs, taste buds, and pantry, the main differences being omitting the dairy and that the original recipe called for tarragon, which I find far too licorice-y. But, if you like tarragon, by all means use it where I used thyme.

an immersion blender
soup pot

2 cans cannellini beans
2 C vegetable stock
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp dried thyme
the juice of 1 large lemon, strained and divided
olive oil
hot pepper flakes
salt & pepper


Thinly slice your leeks (first make sure then are properly cleaned). Heat to medium a hefty swirl of olive oil in your soup pot, and thrown in the leeks, a couple of pinches of salt, and a pinch of hot pepper flakes. Toss to coat well and then let caramelize, 3-4 minutes. The rings will start to break apart and get nice brown bits on them. Add the garlic and toss well again, to brown the bits that haven't browned yet.

In the meantime, put the two cans of beans, undrained, into a mixing bowl with 2C of vegetable stock, and 1 tsp of dried thyme. Using your immersion blender, blend to a smooth consistency.

Back in your soup pot, deglaze the bottom with half of your lemon juice, scraping up all the little yummy bits of garlic and leek. Add the pureed beans and drop the heat down to medium-low. Heat up to serving temperature (do not boil). Taste and adjust seasoning. Once you pull the soup from the heat, stir in the remaining lemon juice and serve!

Note: I am extremely lazy when cooking for one, bu
t if I was serving this to people I would have pan-fried some leeks on the side and put a few on the top. It would also be delicious with a handful of garlicky croutons.

Friday, August 27, 2010

okey dokey artichokey

I love artichokes. LOOOOOVE. When I saw this big daddy at the farmers' market for $0.99, I pounced. I wanted SO badly to make homemade mayonnaise to dip it in, but sadly, I gave up after reading 30 recipes, watching 7 videos, and 2 actual failed attempts. If I ever figure it out, I promise you guys will be the first to know.

So instead, you get a very, VERY easy lemon-tahini sauce recipe. Which turned out to be just exquisite, and perfect with the artichoke. You could also thin it out with some hot water to make a nice tangy salad dressing.

(PS> to steam an artichoke, cut the bottom off so it will sit flat, cut the top off, and trim any thorns off the outer leaves. Sit in a couple of inches of simmering water for 20-40 minutes based on the size of your artichoke. It's done when a leaf comes off easily. I read to put some lemon juice in the water to keep it bright green but that didn't work for me... maybe next time I'll throw in a half a lemon instead of just squeezing the juice?)

small food processor

about 1/4 C of tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon-1 lemonsalt
1 clove garlic, pressed, grated, or microplaned
pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)

Put tahini, about half of your lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and the garlic in your food processor and pulse several times. Taste, and adjust for lemon and salt, then serve!

Monday, August 23, 2010

how to cook a perfect steak in your apartment (sans grill)

Remember when I taught Tom how to cook salmon? That was like a hundred years ago and now he cooks more than I do! But I liked the idea of laying out the basics so someone can take off and do his/her own thing in the kitchen, so today I'm going to teach y'all how to cook the perfect steak without a grill. It CAN be done in your studio apartment, with just a few spatters.

OK, so yes, I'm MOSTLY a vegetarian. But I have been trying to eat meat once a week, for the iron, and Trader Joe's sells these lovely 6-ish oz filets that are free-range, organic, vegetarian-fed, and affordable.

Tonight's menu is roasted potatoes, kale, and filet mignon-- and BOURBON. God, it's been too long since I've had a bourbon: 2 fingers, on the rocks, with a twist. *sigh*

a cast-iron skillet (this is a must-- do NOT use a non-stick skillet)
a splatter-guard
a kitchen timer

vegetable oil

While your potatoes are roasting, let your steak(s) rest to room temperature, and season liberally with salt & pepper. Heat, to high-medium-high, about 1 T of vegetable oil and 1 T of butter per steak in your cast iron skillet. Make sure you use an oil with a high smoke point, like corn or canola, as you want your skillet screamin' hot. Using tongs in one hand and the splatter guard in the other, lay the steak in the hot buttery oil. Slam the splatter guard down and DON'T TOUCH IT. You want the fat to caramelize the meat. If you're anything like me, you'll be tempted to move it, but DON'T. Timing you will need to play around with-- on my gas stovetop for a smallish steak (6-8 oz) to get rare-to-medium-rare, I do 2 min on the first side and 90 seconds on the second side. Remember you can always cook it more and you can never cook it less, so err on the side of caution at first.

Remove it from the heat and set it aside covered in a foil tent while you finish plating your meal. It needs to rest for a couple of minutes.

My trick for the greens-- steam them lightly on the side while you're searing the steak and while the steak is resting, throw the greens around in the greasy cast-iron skillet. It will make a big ruckus and splatter oil everywhere but it will be totally worth it, and by worth it I mean DELICIOUS.

My roasted potatoes: get the teeny tiny white ones (about the diameter of a quarter), toss with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast at 400 for about 40 minutes until they are done (test with a toothpick).


my post-yoga lunch: Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Gyoza over a bed of edamame, roasted sweet potatoes, and a side of homemade pickled radishes. NOM.