A few of my favorite things…

Forget raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.  I’ve got soy sauce on tomatoes and  honey butter on zucchini cornbread.  Oh.  Yum.

This week’s Shabbat line-up featured some real winners: food and people and circumstances that never fail to make me smile.  Here they are, in no particular order.

1.  Small meals.  We’re talking 6 people or fewer, about the speed I can handle right now.  The kind that don’t require bringing up extra chairs from the basement or making sure the house is entirely clean.  Because it isn’t.  And might never be again.

2. Curried butternut squash soup.  This soup is perfect.  It’s easy to make.  It’s good hot or cold (Friday night, we served it cold).  It’s Marc’s favorite food.  He grinds his own curry powder to use in it, but any kind of curry powder will work, and it will still be delicious.  This time, we also put swirls of sriracha on top.  And my picture of the soup contains another favorite we’ll call 2a: Finding faces in unexpected places.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup, from Colorado Farmers’ Market Cookbook

4 tablespoons butter
4 shallots, minced (I used an onion and some garlic scapes)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoons curry powder
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
4 cups broth
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add shallots, garlic, and curry.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the squash and combine well.  Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the broth.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the squash is tender.  Blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper (and I recommend sriracha!).

3.  Cooking with zucchini.  I actually hate zucchini.  It’s like an uglier, duller cucumber wanna-be.  But putting it in baked goods makes me happy 1) because I feel like I’m outsmarting the zucchini, 2) it feels uber-resourceful, 3) it reminds me of zucchini brownies at Yom Kippur break fasts in my childhood that always made me feel cheated when I found out there was a vegetable in them, but in retrospect make me nostalgic

This week I made zucchini cornbread, straight out of this month’s Bon Appetit magazine, but I used egg replacer instead of the eggs, and it turned out fabulously, except for one thing: the recipe calls for using sliced zucchini on top of the bread as garnish, but the bread didn’t cook well directly under the slices and they just got soggy and weird.  Definitely make this recipe, but leave that part out.  Marc made honey butter to go on top, which it turns out is also a nice popcorn topping.  Also, in case you have enough zucchini lying around for two baked goods, I recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s recipe for zucchini chocolate chip cookies, which I look forward to making soon.

Here’s the bread, pre-dinner.  And yes, there’s a slice missing.

4.  Tomatoes in soy sauce.   I got this combo from one of my all-time favorite articles, “101 Simple Salads.”  This inspiring list of yummy things was in the New York Times two years ago, and I still refer to it quite frequently.  Halve grape tomatoes, thinly slice fresh basil, toss with soy sauce and sesame oil.  Add baked tofu to make it more meal-like.

5.  Finding something new in Entertaining for a Veggie Planet.  I know I talk about this cookbook all the time, but this week I made green skordalia, a recipe for Greek potato dip that I’ve never made before.  Since I approximated, here’s the approximate recipe: Peel and boil white potatoes until soft.  I think I used 5 small-ish ones.  Drain and mash, then add olive oil, salt, garlic, thinly sliced fresh basil, chopped scallions, lemon juice, and black pepper.  It’s supposed to be a dip, but I think this might become my new mashed potato formula.

6.  Shabbat naps.  Any naps.  All naps.  Any time of day.

7.  Chickpea salad.  I can’t get enough of this.  If you’ve ever eaten at my house, you’ve probably had it.  Recipe from Olive Trees and Honey.

1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dried chickpeas, cooked, or two 15 oz. cans
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon table salt or 2 t kosher salt
4-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or red wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro)
ground black pepper to taste
1 t ground cumin
2 t sweet paprika
dash of cayenne
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas and onion.  In another bowl, mash garlic and salt together.  Combine with lemon juice, parsley, and other spices.  Whisk in the oil.  Pour the dressing over the chickpeas and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to three days.

8.  Torah study.  Ok, this is not actually usually one of my favorite things.  But Torah with Tikvah met this week, and it was really lovely to sit down with people in an unhurried space with no agenda and just discuss.

9.  Not working.  Friday night, there was a Grad Network Shabbat dinner, and I wasn’t there.  Yes, it’s nice to be on leave.  Really nice.  But more than that, it’s also so reassuring to know that the Grad Network community is thriving without me.

9.  Shabbat walks.  Post-nap, it had cooled off enough outside that I had to get moving.  On our way to Beverly’s, we ran into Sara and Beverly, who were on their way to find us, so it was clearly beshert, meant to be.

10.  Nutella ice cream.  Marc made two batches, just to compare.  Lucky me.

11.  I heart New York.  I’ve now lived outside New York State for almost as long as I lived in it, but with the passage of marriage equality over Shabbat, I’m happy to reclaim my New York heritage.  Hooray!!

12.  Making lists.  This is a meta-favorite, it’s true.  But now that I’m back in the Shabbat hosting game, however small-scale, it’s good to have the opportunity to list our menus on the white board again.

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4 responses to “A few of my favorite things…

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