Over dinner, a good friend was lamenting her systematic eating of leftover Christmas fudge over the three weeks following the holidays – a piece or two every night. I laughed to myself imagining fudge, or anything sweet for that matter, would even last a week, let alone three, in my house. And then my mind faded from the conversation at hand and I began to be preoccupied with fudge. My internal conversation went something like this:
“Mmm…Fudge…Why didn’t I make fudge for Christmas?!…I haven’t made fudge for a while…I have an awesome fudge recipe…that’s easy too…super chocolaty…never gritty…why am I not making fudge this very minute?!…fudge…I need it…yummm…”
Needless to say, I pulled my super quick 5-minute fudge recipe out soon after that. I convinced myself I was performing a pantry-cleaning service by using up leftover coconut, almonds and almond paste in the process. Anything for a good cause.
If coconut and almond aren’t your thing, you can substitute your favorite mix-ins in place of the coconut, almonds and almond paste.
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup almond paste, chopped
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt such as Maldon (optional)
Line an 8×8” pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.
In a microwave, heat sweetened condensed milk and chocolate on high for 1 minute. Stir to combine. Heat an additional 30 seconds if needed until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla, coconut, almonds and almond paste.
Pour fudge into pan and smooth. Sprinkle with sea salt (optional). Cool in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Use aluminum foil to remove fudge from pan, cut into 1” squares. Store in an airtight container. Fudge does not need to be refrigerated.
I’m sweating as I shuttle food styling materials from kitchen to photo studio (AKA The backyard shed). “Soup Weather” in Southern California has morphed into sun-drenched 72 degree days. So much for those hearty soups I’ve been stirring up the past two weeks. This weather requires lighter fare for these temperate days. This mouthwatering Thai carrot soup laced with creamy coconut milk and piquant red curry is just what the Channel 7 weatherman ordered.
Simple carrot soup is elevated with the addition of Thai flavors, turning an everyday vegetable into something rather special.
1 lb. carrots, sliced into coins
1 onion, sliced
3 cups chicken broth
4 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
⅓ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and white pepper, to taste
sliced green onions, cilantro sprigs, or sriracha (optional, for garnish)
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, sauté carrots and onions in oil until onions have softened. Add broth, red curry paste, brown sugar and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until carrots are fully cooked.
Remove from heat, add coconut milk and cilantro. Using a blender, blend soup in batches until smooth. Return to pot; season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish bowls with green onions, cilantro sprigs or sriracha.
In a tradition dating back to Roman times, some Italians eat a bowl of lentils on January 1 to ensure their wealth, luck and prosperity throughout the New Year because the flat legumes are believed to resemble coins.
My severance pay is coming to an end in a handful of weeks, which means I need to either hope for some of that luck and prosperity or, sadly, start looking for a new job. I’m not sure I’m ready to head back to corporate life. Although on some quiet days I’ve been bored, I’ve relished these six months of keeping my own schedule (which means staying up until 4 a.m. and sleeping until noon), working on projects (with a dozen more on my ‘to do’ list), being a tourist in my own town (museums, hiking and beach time), and having ample time to play in the kitchen. A two-day weekend doesn’t provide near the same freedom (or time!).
Ugh, well, if needs must, but perhaps I’ll start the job search next week. Today, I’ll go the easier route and test the Italian method while I update my resume. And while the tradition may be Italian, I realize this recipe is decidedly not.
A hearty soup chock full of lentils, sausage and healthy chard.
4 oz. hot Italian sausage (you can also use mild if you’re not a fan of heat)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 ¼ cup dried lentils
5 cups chicken stock*
3 big handfuls roughly chopped chard leaves, stems reserved for another use
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Greek yogurt (for garnish)
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté sausage in oil until just beginning to brown. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté until onions soften and become translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bay leaves, curry powder, and cumin and sauté briefly. Stir in lentils. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Add chard and continue simmering about 5 minutes until chard is bright green and tender. Add cilantro and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve bowls of soup garnished with big dollops of Greek yogurt.
* I use 4 cups of stock (1 container) and 1 cup water rather than open a second container of stock and have leftovers.
January is National Soup Month and I’m in the thick of it. I’ve managed to cook (and eat!) Four pots full of soup in two weeks. In the recipe below, I’ve taken one of my favorite soup flavors, lemony Greek avgolemono, and turned it into hearty winter fare with the addition of chewy farro, healthy zucchini, and shredded chicken. The only words out of my mouth while I was enjoying a big o’ bowl were, “god, that’s good!”
What a way to brighten up a gloomy winter with this satisfying version of lemony avgolemono soup.
3 medium zucchini, shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup quick-cooking farro (I used Trader Joe’s)
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 T. lemon zest
Salt and white pepper
In a Dutch oven or soup pot, sauté zucchini in olive oil until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add farro and sauté 1-2 minutes. Add stock, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes until farro is tender. Add chicken to pot and heat through. Remove soup from heat.
Meanwhile, place the eggs in a small bowl, Whisk the eggs while adding the lemon juice. Whisk in the Parmesan cheese, parsley and lemon zest. Whisking continuously, slowly pour a ladleful of the hot stock into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Then, while whisking the soup in the pot, slowly pour in the egg mixture. The soup will slightly thicken. Season with salt and white pepper.
Oh yum! This zesty soup is a riff off last Monday’s Brussels sprout recipe, but with a spicy, smoky Spanish twist thanks to chorizo and smoked paprika. Loads of dark green kale pack this flavorful soup with plenty of healthy goodness. Pardon my slurping.
½ cup creme fraiche, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté chorizo until beginning to brown. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat.. Add onions to pot with chorizo and sauté until onions soften and begin to color. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds until just fragrant. Add tomatoes, potatoes and carrots, bay leaves, red pepper and smoked paprika. Sauté 1-2 minutes.
Add broth, bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits, then lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in kale and continue simmering until kale softens and potatoes can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaves, add vinegar and season to taste with salt. Garnish with creme fraiche and parsley before serving.