Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Decade of TERP! (Also, A New Corn Soup Recipe)

On March 22, 2007 I made my first post on The Essential Rhubarb Pie (which I now lovingly refer to as "TERP").

I still feel like this is my "new" blog.  I had been writing Shipwrecked & Comatose (on MySpace no less) for a few years before that.  I felt my brain is so preoccupied with food, I needed a separate space just to talk about it.

The blog has come a long way.  In those early days I would write about any food-related subject that came to mind.  I reviewed just about any snack that ventured near my mouth.  I would log every recipe I made.  I rarely wrote out the recipes properly in those days and I also never included photos.  I can't believe I managed to have any sort of audience.  I certainly appreciated the audience I had.  Over the years I really do appreciate those of you who have kept reading.

I know my blogging has been slow in recent years.  Part of it is life gets in the way.  I don't have the time to be rattling off every food-related thought in my head online.  Another part of it is I have a harder time maintaining an audience when there are so many better blogs out there.  The final part of  it is I realized my recipes were beginning to repeat themselves a bit.  I found too many of my recipes were similar to each other and I didn't want to be boring. 

I still want to keep this blog going.  I still love inane food-related ramblings and I will keep sharing them.  I still do create new recipes.  Maybe this blog won't be as regular as it was 10 years ago, but I believe it deserves to continue.

Speaking of new recipes, I am sharing a new one in celebration of my first decade online.  I made a delicious corn soup for my lunch this week.  The recipe had two distinct sources of inspiration.

The first inspiration for my soup was a Thai-style sweet potato soup I used to make for dinner parties.  It had coconut milk, hot pepper, lemongrass, and cilantro in it.  I haven't made it in ages since Kevin doesn't like sweet potatoes.  I don't remember where I got the recipe from.  I have searched online, but I'm not sure any of the recipes I found are the same recipe.

The second inspiration came from my Hawaii vacation last year.  On our final night in Oahu, we had dinner at Roy's.  I had a delicious dish of red curry chicken topped with coconut creamed corn.  I never considered corn and coconut together prior to this dinner.  It was an awakening.

In honor of that Thai-influenced soup and the coconut corn under my Thai-influenced chicken, I created this soup.  It's a mixture of sweet, sour, and spicy and it makes a tasty lunch.

It seems odd every recipe I have posted in 2017 has been vegan.  It's not on purpose.  I guess if my goal is to make sure any new recipes I post here are creative and original, then a vegan recipe is going to require a lot of creativity since I don't normally cook vegan food.

If veganism isn't your thing, tune in for Easter.  I'll be showcasing meat and dairy all over the place.

Thai-Style Coconut Corn Soup

  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 small red chili peppers
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 4 2" pieces of lemongrass
  • 1 10 oz package frozen corn kernels (divided use)
  • 6 leaves Thai basil.
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbl chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a pot of low heat and add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the peppers and cook until they begin to soften.  Add the stock and the lemongrass to the pan.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the lemongrass stalks from the pot. Using a stick blender (or transfer to a food processor), blend  until smooth.  Then blend in the coconut milk and the lime juice.  Taste and adjust the salt to your preference.

Stir in the cilantro and the remaining corn kernels and serve.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Looking for a Healthier 2017

2016 has been quite a year.  Whether or not you look back on it with fondness or sadness, you can't deny it was eventful.

So what's on tap for 2017?  I don't know about the rest of the world, but I am working on making sure I stick to a nutritious meal plan.  As I stated on my other blog, I am challenging myself to go as long as possible without sweets and limit alcohol only to when I'm out.

So what's on the agenda for those nutritious meals?

My main goal is to keep everything heavy on the vegetables.  My experiment for the first of the year was Cauliflower Tacos.

My inspiration for these tacos came last summer when I tried Pico Taqueria in Chincoteague for the first time.  They had a cauliflower taco that was so tasty I didn't miss the meat at all.  I even thought the cauliflower taco was tastier than the chicken taco I ate with it.

Pico's had crispy onions, aioli, capers, and cheese.  I decided to continue the idea of sweet, sour, and salty flavors, but do it my own way.

I roasted the cauliflower with chili powder and cumin until it was nice and soft.

I made caramelized onions and added some vinegar for tang.  I made them in my new pressure cooker (awesome Christmas present from Dad).  You can do it the traditional way if you don't have a pressure cooker or just prefer doing it that way.

I got the creaminess from avocado and then additional spice and creaminess from a "crema" made from cashews and chipotle powder.

So my first new recipe of the year (and my first dinner of 2017) was vegan.  You know this carnivorous lady rarely does vegan.

I recommend making the cashew sauce ahead of time so the flavors can really blend.  I made mine the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. 

These were unique and delicious.  I will definitely put this recipe in regular rotation.

Cauliflower Tacos

  • Corn Tortillas
  • 2 Avocados, diced
  • 1 Tbl lime juice
For Cauliflower
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
For Onions
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbl red wine vinegar
For Crema
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbl white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder

Place the cashews and water in a bowl and allow to soak for about 15 minutes.  Blend the water and cashews in a food processor with salt, vinegar, and chipotle powder until smooth. Set aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss cauliflower with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, and salt.  Spread out on cookie sheet.  Roast for 40 minutes or until soft. 

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pressure cooker on saute mode.  Add onions and cook until onions are beginning to soften and give off their liquid.  Put lid on the cooker and cook on manual for 20 minutes.  Quick release the steam and remove lid.  Stir in the vinegar and allow to sit in the pressure cooker on warm for 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Alternately, you can slowly cook the onions for 4-60 minutes in a frying pan over low heat.

Toss the avocados with the lime juice.  Heat the tortillas for about 15 seconds in the microwave.  Layer the avocados, onions, and cauliflower and drizzle the crema over the top. 

In case you are wondering why I don't have a Christmas post, it's because I didn't host this year neglected to take a camera to Christmas dinner in order to get good photos of the food.  I made my short rib ragu and layered it with noodles, bechemel, and parmesan, and mozzarella for a new twist on lasagne bolognese.  (All I had was this poor quality phone photo).

Prior to Christmas I had some other family gatherings.  The week before Christmas I went to Chicago to spent time with Kevin's brother and attend a live taping of "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me".  We ate well while we were there.  We had dinner our first night at Rosebud Prime where I dined on a bolognese sauce that was almost as good as mine (and even had Peter Sagal drop by my table).

The next night we went to Lawry's Prime Rib.  Yes, it's related to the seasoned salt company.  The prime rib is to die for.  Even Kevin ate it.

Upon returning from Chicago, we were in NYC with Dad for an early Chirstmas dinner at Lincoln Square Steak.   It was a charming old-school NY steakhouse.  I never took any food photos, but I cant tell you after eating so much red meat all weekend, I went for the pork chops this time around.  

No wonder I started the new year with vegetarian tacos!