Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Curry Carrot Soup with Wasabi Cream

For my Birthday, my friend Jenna surprised me with a wonderful cookbook called Simply Organic, by Jesse Ziff Cool. This book is also created by one of my favorite publishers and has wonderful layout design and photography. I would highly recommend picking up a copy.

This book compiles over thirty years of Cool's knowledge of organic, local and sustainable foods. With over 150 recipes, Simply Organic teaches home cooks about how to bring an organic and sustainable lifestyle into their homes. This book focuses on what to cook based on what ingredients are the freshest and ripest for each season and would be an excellent addition to your cookbook collection if you are an advocate of Farmer's Markets or CSAs. I may reference a lot of recipes (or adaptations) from this book as I start to try things out, so I figured I would first give it my stamp of deliciousness approval.

This first recipe that I am going to post is for Carrot Soup. According to the book, it is best created in Late Spring when carrots are their sweetest, but I figured living in California that I may not have needed to follow that rule. Being early Winter, the carrots ended up being a little bitter (I should have tasted them before making it!) but I can definitelty see its potential. The wasabi cream was also a nice touch.

3 T olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thin
2 lbs carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple juice
6 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh grated ginger
1 T curry powder
2 T local honey

1 T wasabi powder
1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
4 green onions, minced

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and apple juice and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the broth, ginger and curry powder and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the carrots are very tender.

Remove from heat and puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in honey, salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is cooking, in a glass measuring cup, blend the wasabi powder with the sour cream or yogurt. Stir in the green onions.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a generous spoonful of the wasabi cream.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cheesecake Revisited

When we were young, our grandmother used to make this fantastic cheesecake with a ready graham cracker crust and blueberry pie filling. Natalie and I would make it in college pretty regularly for our dinner parties. Recently, I was given the task of making a dessert for a baby shower. I tried to make an updated, lighter version of this by using fresh fruit and healthier ingredients. It was a hit. And, the leftover cake kept nicely for a few days in the fridge!

2 cups store bought reduced fat cinnamon graham crackers
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
5 packages reduced fat cream cheese (room temp)
1 1/4 cup egg substitute
3 cups blueberries
powdered sugar for dusting
zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9" spring form pan with non fat cooking spray and line the outside with heavy duty foil to create a seal. Crush graham cracker crumbs in food processor for about 15 seconds. In a bowl, combine crumbs, 1 T sugar, and butter until well blended. Press mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan.

In a bowl fitted with a flat mixer, beat cream cheese on high until whipped (about 5 min), reduce speed to low, add two cups sugar and continue mixing for 3 more minutes. Slowly pour in the egg mixture and beat for another 3 to 5 minutes until batter is fully combined and creamy. Add the zest of 3/4 of a small lemon to the mixture.

Pour the mixture into your spring form pan, place the pan into another larger pan filled with water about half way up the sides of the spring form pan. This will keep the cheesecake from cracking and ensure that it is incredibly moist. Cook for about one hour and fifteen minutes or until cake is just loose in the center (this will set up in fridge). Let the cake cool one hour prior to placement in fridge for at least 3 hours.

To serve, remove from fridge and let set for 20 minutes, top with fresh blueberries, sprinkle the top with remaining lemon zest and about 1 T powdered sugar.

Other Things to Try:
  • During the holiday season, use ginger snaps instead of graham crackers
  • Omit lemon zest and use 1t vanilla bean concentrate (I have found this at Trader Joe's)
  • Top with any fruit you like

Restaurant Review: Cass House

For New Year's Eve (and our twin birthday), we went to a wonderful dinner at the Cass House. The Cass house is a beautifully restored historic home in Cayucos that has been converted into a luxury bed and breakfast that has a fabulous French-American Restaurant. We were served a special New Year's Eve four course prix fixe menu that also included two amuse bouches and two intermezzos. Four of us went to dinner and loved everything we ate.

The restaurant regularly boasts a 3-4 entree prix fixe menu for $48 and $56 respectively. They have an incredibly attentive staff as well as an extensive wine list of local and international wines. Here is a link to their restaurant. I recommend getting reservations.
Cass House

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hello World!

Hello =)