Two Brown Girls

Two brown girls, two countries, and two kitchens in which to play!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Three-P Soup

No, I didn't use three varieties of peas in this soup. I had some potatoes that were doing their darnedest to reproduce and some onions going a bit soft, so I decided to make a blended potato soup. Then I spied a parsnip tucked in the back of the fridge. And remembered that I had accidentally ordered 3 bags of frozen peas instead of 1 last time I had groceries delivered. Thus was born this Three-P Soup: Potato, Pea, and Parsnip. I tried taking a photo but as my silly little point and shoot couldn't quite capture the depth of green opted to omit one. However I do suggest you try making this -- its lovely and filling without being heavy, perfect on a chilly-but-not-freezing night curled in front of a movie.

Potato, Pea, and Parsnip Soup (Three-P Soup)
2 small/med onions
Olive oil
12 baby potatoes
1 parsnip
1.5 cups of frozen peas
Water or stock (about 3 cups?)
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds (roast in a small frying pan)
Freshly Grated Sharp cheese (I used a nice english cheddar)
Salt to taste
All amounts are, as is so often the case around here, approximate

Peel and cut up onions (any way you like really, I do slices, but this is all going to be blended, so don't worry about it being pretty). Saute onions for a couple of minutes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add chopped up potatoes and cut up parsnip (all unpeeled, its extra fiber and less work!) and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add frozen peas, nutmeg, and enough water or stock to cover (I think it was about 3 cups but just eyeball it) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmering, for about 15-20 minutes, until all the root vegetables have become slightly mushy. Add roasted cumin seeds and blend with an immersion blender (or pour into a food processor and blend). Chuck in grated cheese (about a 1/4 cup, but add more if you'd like!) Add salt to taste and serve.

This soup was surprisingly good given how thrown together it was. The nutmeg and cumin give it depth and its chock-full of delicious veggies without being offensively veggie-like. The cheese makes it a bit creamy and gives yet another flavor note, this time of salt and dairy and tang from being aged. Its all rather lovely. I recommend it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Delicious Almond-Orange Shortbread

I am on a big of a baking tear these days and have finally managed to sit down and write a post about it. Having seen this post on smitten kitchen about coconut shortbread and having just received some ground almonds in my latest grocery delivery I decided to make some almond-orange shortbread. And what do you know, it was deliciousness itself!!

Almond-Orange Shortbread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 10.2.09 who adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2004

1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) ground almonds
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 teaspoons of orange zest (you can vary the amount of zest depending on how "orangey" you would like the final biscuit to be. i used closer to 1 tsp than 2.)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended (I used a spoon and my own steampower -- it took a bit of time, but it worked pretty well!). Mix in salt, almond extract, vanilla, and orange zest. Beat in flour in 2 additions. Stir in ground almonds. Gather dough together, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out 1 dough disk on lightly floured work surface to scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1 3/4- to 2-inch-diameter cookie cutters, cut dough into rounds. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather dough scraps and reroll; cut out additional cookies. Repeat procedure with remaining dough disk until all of dough is used.

Bake cookies until light golden, about 20-25 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week.)