a community blog of gastrophiles for all seasons

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Zucchini Bread Has Magic Properties

I've always loved my mom's zucchini bread recipe. So of course I've mislaid my copy of it. I've tried a few other recipes, but they all seemed to dry in the bowl and turned out to be that way baked too. And that should not be. The bread should be dense and moist. Paula Deen is Southern and not afraid of spices so I decided to take a chance on her version. It's not Mom's but it's close and it's damn good.

Also, every morning since I made it, and breakfasted on a nice thick hunk? No morning sickness. Could this be a miracle food?

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

I'd go with walnuts, personally. Also, up the nutmeg and cinnamon to 1.5 tsp. If you can still get good zucchini in the stores, go for it. The bread freezes great. You can also grate the zucchini and freeze just that in 2 cup portions for the next time you want to make miracle bread. And yes, I believe I'll be doing that this weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Soup! Sun-Dried Tomato and Tortellini

As I always say, one good soup deserves another (or something like that). So here's what I made last night for dinner. It made for a good weeknight dinner--fast, healthy, decently tasty, and only dirtying a minimal number of kitchen items (this is key for me). Looking at this recipe, I just realized I forgot the garlic. Darn. That probably would have been tastier. I was thinking I might kick up the spices a tad for the next time I did it.

Notes: Cutting sun-dried tomatoes can be a pain. Make sure you have a good, sharp knife or that your tomatoes are less leathery than the Alessi ones.

It is also nearly impossible to find just a 12 oz. pack of tortellini. Don't beat yourself up trying.

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
2/3 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sun-dried tomato halves, packed without oil, chopped (about 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups fresh cheese tortellini (about 12 ounces)
1 cup chopped bok choy [official food of Carrie and the Dream of Cowboys]

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sauteé 5 minutes. Add broth and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes. Add pasta and bok choy; simmer 7 minutes or until pasta is done. Discard bay leaf.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)

CALORIES 256(28% from fat); FAT 8g (sat 2.6g,mono 3.9g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 12.1g; CHOLESTEROL 25mg; CALCIUM 47mg; SODIUM 681mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.9g

Curried Lentil and Spinach Soup

I made this soup (based on a recipe I found at epicurious) last Friday evening; a good decision as I came down with a cold the next day. Nice, hearty soup that clears the sinuses whether you need it to or not.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder (preferably Madras-style)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
8 cups of low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) stock
~2 cups (or more) water
1 16-ounce bag dried lentils (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt or sour cream

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 4 ingredients; saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in curry powder, ginger, cumin, bay leaf, and dried crushed red pepper. Add 8 cups of chicken stock and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water and dried lentils; bring to a nice boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, adding more water by 1/2 cupfuls to thin soup, if desired, about 45-50 minutes. Add spinach and cilantro; simmer until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top each serving with spoonful of yogurt (or sour cream).

Per serving: calories, 479; total fat, 9 g; saturated fat, 1 g; cholesterol, 1 mg
Makes 4 main-course servings.

The only things I changed were using chicken stock instead of water (good move, I think) and the cooking times - which were WAY off. Mary dubbed the dish "Indian Chili" which I think is pretty accurate.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Tomato Basil Soup (Healthy version)

So since Taylor was sick on Friday, I decided to make him soup. I had this recipe written down at some point, but I had to go searching for this recipe to make it, so I figured I'd post it here so that I can find it and some of you might like it as well. I had a slight mishap while using the food processor while making it (that liquid level line is key to notice), but other than the tomato juice bath my counter had, it came out well. I bought some ricotta herb bread at the bakery down the street to dunk in the soup...yummy.

Note: A handheld submersion blender would be handy instead of trying to transfer the soup to and from the saucepan.

4 cups chopped, seeded peeled tomato (about 4 larger, or one big ole can)
4 cups tomato juice
1/3 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup (4 oz.) 1/3-less fat cream cheese, softened

Bring tomato and juice to boil in large saucepan (and I do mean large). Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Place tomato mixture ina blender or food processor; process until smooth. Return pureed mixutre to pan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper. Add cream cheese, stirring well, and cook over medium heat until thick (about 5 minutes).

Yield: 8 servings (serving size 1 cup); 133 calories, 4.4 g fat, 5.4 g protein, 1.9 g fiber; 18.7 g carb.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Homemade Enchiladas and Mexican Rice

Inspired by (and missing) Mary's tried and true chicken enchilada recipe and a recent episode of Here in America's Test Kitchen, last night Taylor and I tried out the ATK recipe for chicken enchiladas and mexican rice (you may have to register to see the recipes). I had done some of the prep for both dishes Monday night, and Taylor got started yeterday before I got home and had pretty much finished the rice before I got home and did the vast majority of the cooking. I always forget how long it takes when you do something like this totally from scratch.

Enchiladas: I really liked the enchiladas, even though they are quite different from how you'd get them in a restaurant (not saucy enough) or Mary's (not creamy enough). I think we may have used extra cheese on top, since the whole container "accidentally" got dumped out on top of the pan. But you can't go wrong with extra cheese. Our corn tortillas were not so yummy either...I wouldn't buy that brand again.

Rice: It was good...not sure if it was worth the extra work over a mix rice (though it definitely had that "fresh" taste). It was an interesting idea though, you puree two tomatoes and an onion, fry the raw rice just a tad, add garlic and jalapeno, and then combine the puree, the rice, chicken broth, tomato paste and salt, and cook it through. The pureeing and frying were kind of unusual.