A little seasonal inspiration…

October 31st, 2009

Yesterday I discovered that fennel and butternut squash were on sale. I immediately had visions of a warm, comforting fall soup… I couldn’t find a recipe that I liked so I created my own… It turned out really well! One of those dishes that I’m quite proud to have made. The fennel and ginger complemented each other without being over powering (thanks to the suggestion of the Flavor Bible). The butternut squash and pear had just enough sweetness. If you want it to be a little thinner add some more chicken broth. I made a goat cheese grilled cheese to dip in it. A very delicious lunch!

Ginny’s Butternut Squash and Fennel Soup

1 butternut squash, roasted (See Note)
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft.
2. Add the fennel and pear, saute until the pear is soft.
3. Add the roasted butternut squash.
4. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil until a fork goes through the fennel easily. About 15 minutes.
5. In batches, food process the ingredients until smooth.
6. Return to the stock pot, mix in the salt, pepper and ginger. Heat to desired temperature and serve.

Note:  I poked holes in the whole butternut squash with a fork and roasted at 450 for about an hour and a half.  About half way through, I rolled the squash onto another side.  Then I cut it open and scooped out the inside.  I always roast a whole squash, as opposed to trying to split it before roasting it, because the last time I tried to do that I almost took off a hand.  Be careful!


My First Dollar Dish and a Guest Blogger

May 2nd, 2008

Yesterday, my sister took her last exam! In a few short weeks, she will graduating from college. In the fall, she will begin law school at Carolina! I am very proud of her and all her accomplishments! GO RESA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In honor of her finishing her collegiate career, I wanted to share with you her entry into my Dollar Dish Duel

Like my sister, when I first came up with the Dollar Dish Duel, I immediately thought of Ramen. The go to of college students all around because it is very inexpensive and filling…So, I decided to jazz up Ramen. But how?

Ginger came to mind as a flavorful and inexpensive spice. I bought a piece of fresh ginger root that was about two inches long for three cents!!! For a protein, I decided upon tofu ($1.79) and grabbed a cheap bunch of green onions ($.69) for some added flavor. I ended up going with Rice Noodles ($1.98) in lieu of Ramen just because they looked interesting. This all came to $4.40. From my pantry, I took leftover soy sauce packets, honey and some vegetable oil. Overall, I was satisfied with my creation. The flavors worked really well. The ginger was strong enough to flavor the tofu but not too overpowering. Next time I would use extra firm tofu because my tofu crumbled easily. I would also make the oil hotter and fry the tofu. So there is my first dollar dish! Stay tuned…more to come!

It is not to late to enter my Dollar Dish Duel. Deadline is May 5th! Round-up on May 7th! Click on the Logo for more details!

Ginger-Green Onion Tofu Noodles

1 tablespoon Ginger, minced
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
2 packets Thai Rice Noodles
1 12 oz. package Firm Tofu

3 staples:
1 tablespoon Honey
4 tablespoons Soy Sauce from packets leftover from takeout
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1. Slice the tofu into one inch cubes.
2. Mix tofu with soy sauce, ginger and honey. Let sit for 30 minutes.
3. In a fry pan, heat oil over medium heat and sautee the green onions.
4. Add tofu mixture and cook until browned.
5. Make Rice Noodles, discarding seasoning packets, according to instructions.
6. Drain water from noodles.
7. Mix with tofu mixture and enjoy!

P.S. How to easily remove the skin from the ginger? Take a spoon and scrape off the skin. Comes off very easily so you can grate or chop the ginger.

I Heart Valentine’s Day

February 12th, 2008

Oh Valentine’s Day! A day of joy, happiness, jealousy, depression, anger and disappointment… There is so much meaning associated with this day… If you are in a relationship, whatever your significant other does somehow represents how he/she feels about you. If you are single, it is the day you want to hide, as your co-worker is sent a dozen beautiful red roses. It is down right silly. A while ago I decided to just embrace Valentine’s Day and enjoy it regardless of my current relationship status! Besides, it is a perfect excuse to indulge in delicious chocolate creations, wear too much pink, decorate everything with hearts and remind your loved ones that you love them. Of course, I am also human and my positive attitude does not always shine though…my co-worker will receive flowers and I’ll feel a pang of jealousy or my boyfriend will buy me only one rose and I’ll begin questioning our relationship…but I am trying and chocolate always helps.

When I saw the event, A HEART FOR YOUR VALENTINE, I could not wait to come up with something. Although in lieu of a sweetheart this year, my roommates happily filled in. I thought of this recipe for a Double-Chocolate Ginger Dessert from La Cucina Italiana, designed specifically for a couple. I had put this on my list of something to make in the future but had never gotten around to it. Chocolate and ginger is one of my favorite combinations so I thought I should give it a try. This recipe defies my mother’s mantra “that if you can read, you can cook.” It is very sparse and assumes you have a certain degree of skill. It also calls for baking in small 3′ by 4′ pans which are very hard to find so I decided to play with the recipe, incorporating hearts and this is what I came up with…

Double-Chocolate Ginger Dessert
(adapted from La Cucina Italiana January-February 2006)

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup candied ginger, chopped
5 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate, divided into 2 ounces and 3 ounces
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon butter, chopped into pieces
pinch of salt
2 egg whites

1. In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream and candied ginger, set in the fridge for an hour to infuse.
2. Preheat oven to 350º.
3. Melt 2 ounces of the chocolate in a small sauce pan slowly on low heat.
4. Remove from heat and add the butter, stir until melted.
5. Pour the chocolate mixture into a cool bowl and add sugar, flour, and salt.
6. In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites at high speed with a mixer until they form stiff peaks.
7. Fold the white eggs into the chocolate mixture.
8. Butter and flour 2 ramekins. Pour the batter into the ramekins.
9. Bake for 30 minutes or when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove and set aside to cool.
10. Place the remaining 3 ounces of chocolate into a large bowl.
11. Heat the cream/ginger mixture over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer.
12. Remove from heat and strain the chopped ginger out of the cream.
13. Mix the cream into the chocolate, until the chocolate melts.
14. Allow to cool and then using a mixer beat into a mousse (I tried to do this but mine refused to become a mousse so I created more of a chocolate-ginger ganache).
15. Spread the chocolate-ginger mousse/ganache over the cakes in the ramekins (Both of my cakes had fallen in the middle, creating a small pocket for the ganache).

For the chocolate hearts…
1/2 cup white chocolate
1/4 cup milk chocolate

1. Grease the bottom of a pan and the inside of the heart cookie cutters.
2. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Heat it for 20 seconds and mix it to help melt it. Continue to heat it for 10 second intervals, stirring in between until it has melted. Be careful not to burn it.
3. Melt the milk chocolate in the same manner.
4. Pour the white chocolate into the pan.
5. Dab the milk chocolate and swirl into the white chocolate with the back of the spoon.
6. Place the heart cookie cutters into the chocolate and put into the fridge to harden.
7. When it is harden, break apart the chocolate and pop out the chocolate hearts.

P.S. Check out the round-up for other yummy heart ideas here.

A heart for your Valentine