Friday, May 28, 2010

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I made this recipe from Bon Appetit last night and it was great. It was probably not the best idea to make it on the hottest day of the year so far, but the results were worth my sweat. Also, I wouldn't exactly call it a "quick" recipe. Maybe a "moderate amount of time" recipe.

Moroccan Carrot Soup


2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped white onion
1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
red pepper to taste
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred to loosen


Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in carrots. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes; cool. Finely grind--you can do so in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle like I did. Bon Appetit also recommends that you can seal the seeds in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, and use the flat side of a meat mallet or a heavy-duty metal rolling pin to pulverize them.

Remove soup from heat. Puree in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice. Season with salt and pepper. The original recipe does not call for red pepper, but when I make it again, I will add it. A little heat would make it just perfect.

Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle yogurt over; sprinkle generously with cumin.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Squeaky Bean

B and I recently had one of the most fun nights out we've had in a long time, with a night out with another couple at The Squeaky Bean. L and I met the guys (our husbands) there. It was loud and packed and they were waiting at the bar and VERY happy that they were drinking "Man Beer," which is a beer from Bull and Bush. When you order, make sure you do so in a very manly voice.

I ordered a "Squeaky Spritz," which consists of Prosecco, Aperol Italian Aperitivo Liqueur, Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water, and is garnished with a Castelvetrano olive. I had to get it because it sounded like such an odd combination withe the olive. It looks like an orange pop (although this pic looks red)--pretty much the color of that nasty orange drink from McDonalds that you used to get in the big yellow and red jugs. Ick. But it was surprisingly refreshing and not too sweet--just the way I like my cocktails. I'd venture to say it's one of my new favorite cocktails, but unfortunately one I probably won't try to recreate at home, due to the unique ingredients. And the olive Weird. I got the photo to the left from a nice photo essay on The Squeaky Bean from Metromix.

We started off with the Pig Platter and the fonduta. Seriously, how can you go wrong with something called a "pig platter?" And it is served on the cutest wooden pig tray ever. Basically, it was an assortment of cured pork (duh).

The fonduta was made out of gruyere and pureed potato and was served with grilled bread. Decadent and delicious! I could bathe in the stuff. Seriously.

After we got a table we ordered the crispy medjool dates with cambazola and prosciutto--always a crowd pleaser. We also got the burrata, which comes with butternut squash agro-dulce, micro fennel, and grilled bread. This was the only "disappointment" of the evening and it really was quite good. It just didn't stand up to the other dishes. (Plus I'm totally spoiled by Osteria Marco's burrata and should know better than to order it anywhere else).

We also got the roasted cauliflower salad with medjool dates, smoked trout, curry vinaigrette, and parsley coulis. I would never think to order this, if it hadn't been for this post from Denveater. Please go there to see a gorgeous pic of this amazing dish. Cauliflower is just not something that usually interests me particularly. I have nothing against it. This salad elevated cauliflower to a higher level. Although, I suppose if you mix just about any vegetable with medjool dates, smoked trout, curry vinaigrette, and parsley coulis it's going to be amazing, right?

After so many small plates, we got just two entrees to share between the four of us. By this time (ie., after several Squeaky Spritzes--and let's not even talk about the boys and their Man Beers), I wasn't taking pics and not paying attention to the details of the menu, but one had pork belly and one had kobe beef. The pork belly was awesome and the kobe wasn't my favorite as the sauce was really salty. I seem to recall there being a lot of mint and peas on the dishes, since SB focuses on seasonal ingredients. In fact, I swear I could still taste peas the next day. Plus I was ridiculously full all day the next day too!

At some point in the evening I also tried the Tejon Fizz cocktail, which our server described as tasting just like a gummy bear. It's made of Van Gogh pineapple vodka, muddled cardamom pods, fresh lemon juice, a whisper of agave nectar, and club soda. It was definitely sweet and a little too sweet for me. Plus I just liked that Squeaky Spritz so damn much...

I did not see the kitchen, but I've heard that it is very tiny and has only one convection oven. How they put out so many incredible dishes is truly a feat. This is now one of our favorite places in town. Can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making the Most of Your CSA Bounty

Here's a good article from Serious Eats on making the most of all the wonderful fruits and veggies you get from your CSA.

You can find a CSA here. If you're not familiar with the term, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is where you buy "shares" of a farmer's crop and get a weekly box of whatever produce they have available. I currently do something like a CSA with Door to Door Organics. I'd prefer to do a CSA, but I need that home delivery with our hectic lifestyle. I love getting that weekly box of fruits and veggies, but sometimes they can be overwhelming and I hate hate hate letting stuff go to waste. So the above article has some common sense, but still useful tips.

If anybody knows of a local CSA that delivers and I don't have to pick up the box, let me know!