Tuesday, June 4, 2013

food inspiration

cookie selection by Ladytroupe Sweets

Over the past few weeks I've accumulated a few new recipes, ideas, inspiration that I'd like to share.

Inspirational websites
I met a lovely new friend this past weekend.  We immediately hit it off because she started asking for ideas for dinner inspiration and had lots to offer herself.  She loves talking about cooking and food and well, so do I.  She introduced me to 101cookbooks.com and I became an instant fan.  There are a million unique recipes and everyone of them seems to have a neat twist to the ordinary. Check out the selection of soup recipes.  Gawd I love soup!

Favorite new recipes
Speaking of soup, I have a new favorite squash soup recipe.  It's delicious and super easy.  I know this seems like more of a Fall recipe but keep in mind the weather is gradually getting chillier in the evening and rainy season will quickly be upon us here in Ethiopia.  Squash soup is totally appropriate in my world.

Sara's Roasted Garlic Brown Butter Squash Soup
2-3 cups thoroughly soft roasted squash (I like to roast my squash whole in a 375 degree oven for an hour or more until it's really soft)
1 head of garlic
Olive oil
Dried thyme
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup finely chopped white onions
1/4 cup flour
2 nine ounce cans chicken broth or about 2 1/4 cups homemade broth
2 cups water
Salt and pepper

While you are roasting the squash, cut the tips off the head of garlic, drizzle the entire thing with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme.  Wrap it in aluminum foil and roast with the squash for almost an hour.  Squeeze out the soft roasted garlic cloves and set aside

In a soup pot melt the butter on medium heat and continue to cook until the butter is browned and smells nutty.  The butter will sizzle when melting as all the water is evaporated.  When the butter stops sizzling and popping the butter is almost browned.  Watch very carefully so you don't burn it.  When the butter smells nutty add the onions and saute until soft.  About 4 minutes.  Add a large pinch of salt at this point to sweat the onions.  Add the flour and stir.  Cook on medium heat for an additional few minutes until the flour is a light brown color.  Slowly add the chicken broth and whisk so it doesn't clump.  Cook until the mixture is thickening and bubbly.  Add the roasted squash and garlic as well as the water.  Simmer on medium low for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Using a small hand held strainer, remove the large chunks in the soup and transfer to a food processor or blender.  Puree the chunks and return to the soup pot.  Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with homemade croutons or rolls.  Ashlynn was in love with this soup! The older two girls gobbled down bowls of this with toast.

I have to say, I wish the browned butter flavor was a bit heavier in this soup.  The roasted garlic and squash definitely play bigger flavor roles.  I love browned butter but I can't bring myself to use more than a quarter of a cup in a soup recipe.  Adding more butter than that would make it too high in fat for my liking.

Inspirational cookbooks
Last week my new copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz arrived in the mail and I instantly curled up on the couch and devoured every recipe.  The book is packed with a huge selection of ice creams, gelatos, granitas and yogurts.  I make a lot of ice cream at home!  Every week I am so busy with ice cream orders I have to plot out my ice cream machine's daily work.  I have a few tried and true recipes that I tinker with for my favorite flavors.  But this recipe book is for my private ice cream experimentation.  I am especially intrigued my the honey lavender ice cream, mojito sorbet and rice pudding gelato.  Plus I know one of my very best friends is going to flip when I tell her I may just have the coconut ice cream recipe she's been waiting to taste (reminiscent of Antonio's coconut ice cream in the Philippines).  David Lebovitz "marbles"-as he calls it, coconut ice cream with a mango sorbet.  Perfection.

Favorite new ideas
I have a grown up dinner party menu swirling around in my head.  Okay, not the entire menu, but definitely dessert.  I can't decide on the following for the dessert course.  Maybe you can help me decide.

Ricotta lime filled fried crepes with blueberry frozen yogurt
Fried ice cream (Filipino style): coconut ice cream balls that have been rolled in toasted coconut and then topped with mango rum sauce.
Soft ginger cookies sandwiching creamy lemon ice cream with the edges rolled in a crystallized ginger dust.
buttermilk roast chicken


Old websites-new ideas
I've become the type of cook who varies the dinner menu so frequently, we rarely eat the same meal in a month (unless it's pizza-I love homemade pizza).  Once in awhile I'll find a new recipe that I must do over again the very next week but more often than not, I'm filing through my recipes and pulling things out of my repertoire that I haven't done in a few weeks.  It keeps things fresh and I don't get tired of cooking dinner when it's something new.  With all the birthday party planning that requires cooking in large amounts, I've been feeling a little burnt out when it comes to picking dinner to prepare each night.  Every time I start to feel this way, I go to Smitten Kitchen and type in an ingredient to Deb's search tool and see what pops up to catch my eye.  More often than not, something does-catch my eye- and I instantly feel more energized for dinner.  Smitten Kitchen's Buttermilk Roast Chicken did the trick the other night.  It's such a simple recipe and really yields a flavorful meal.  I didn't happen to have fresh buttermilk on hand so I used my powdered.  Keeping powdered buttermilk in my pantry has opened up an entirely new selection of cake recipes I can create and now I can use it for roasting chicken.  I can't say enough good things about Smitten Kitchen.
mini apple streusel pies

Inspirational party planning
I'm co hosting a baby shower for a friend in a few months. She's having her third child, a little boy and I am super excited to perfect the dessert table.  I have this lovely shower in mind as inspiration.  One thing I've decided that will most definitely be on the menu are French macaroons.  The lightest hue of blue with luscious filling.  I'm terrible with coordinating games and such for showers.  Can you share any ideas?

Lemonade
I make a lot of homemade lemonade and my favorite new combination is honey rosemary infused lemonade.  I simply make my basic lemonade and then add honey and a branch of fresh rosemary to the mason jar.  Two days later the rosemary adds a hint of herbal flavor. If you want your rosemary more front and center, just puree a small amount and mix it in the lemonade.  I always use fresh squeezed lemon juice and a simple syrup (1:1 sugar water) for sweetening it.  I think the tartness or sweetness of lemonade is a personal preference.  I tend to vary mine quite a bit depending on the audience.  If I'm making it for my family I try to skimp on the sugar and add strawberry puree or honey instead.  Do you make homemade lemonades or teas?  If so, what variations do you like?

What inspires you lately, in the kitchen or elsewhere in your home?  I'd love to know!

1 comment:

hotpotdc said...

I love the ricotta lime filled crepes idea! And the ice cream sandwiches. I love serving ice cream sandwiches in sophisticated flavors to grown ups. The format is so fun but the flavors you can do are so interesting! Although, I have to admit, my favorites of all time are still dark chocolate chip cookies iwth strawberry gelato. Not exactly super daring but really delicious.