Winter

Sausage and Black Bean Soup

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by James Farmer III

blackbeansoupI love soups and stews. I truly do. This soup is a derivative of fresh, previously fresh, and local flavors that all meld together in a literal melting pot of culinary delight.

Sausage from M&T Meats in Hawkinsville mixed with Conecuh Sausage from Evergreen, Alabama add a layer of savory, smoky flavor as well as depth to this soup. Stewed tomatoes, put up from last summer, and black beans all swirl around in a big ol’ pot with cumin, cayenne, and a Vidalia roux.

Rouxs rule! A roux, or a cooked mixture of fat and flour, is the flavor foundation for this soup. A roux is the classical thickener for the French mother sauces, yet a Cajun roux is a bit different from its classical cousin. The roux for this soup is more so of a Cajun roux, though not totally authentic…a Cajun roux takes a long time to properly make – this one not so much. I also did not use flour since I used onion powder and cumin, thus making up the starch portion of the roux’s makeup. Typically a one to one ratio fat to starch is called for in a roux…this combo works just fine!

Cranberry-Banana Quinoa Bread

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by Joseph Erdos

quinoabreadQuinoa, an ancient South American grain, has multiple uses like breakfast cereal, a side dish, and even a quick bread. The best thing about Quinoa is its nutritional value: it is high in protein and fiber; it is perfect for those who maintain a gluten-free diet. This bread recipe uses gluten-free flour, making it suitable and highly enjoyable for this special diet. You can use any pre-mixed gluten-free flour like I did, or make your own mix. It should contain a few different flours like garbanzo, rice, or quinoa flour and starches like potato or tapioca.

Since banana bread is one of my favorite breads and also a favorite for many, I think this recipe is highly appealing to everyone and not just those on gluten-free diets. I mix in dried cranberries for a little tartness. You can add any dried fruits or nuts such as raisins, cherries, walnuts, or pecans. For a sweetener, I like to add a little honey, which lends a floral scent, and sugar rounds out the sweetness. Enjoy for breakfast with coffee or with an afternoon cup of tea.

Chipotle Chili Butternut Squash Soup is Hot

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by Susan Russo

butternetchipotlesoupI'm not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point in the last several years, ginger butternut squash soup became America's #1 vegetarian soup of choice.

Ginger butternut squash soup is everywhere. Google it, and you'll get hundreds of recipes (I stopped counting after the eighth full page load). Every vegetarian cookbook has a recipe for it. It's the go-to soup for Thanksgiving holidays and dinner parties, and 9 times out of 10, it's the only vegetarian soup available at cafeterias and supermarkets food courts. I've seen brawls break out in Trader Joe's as people frantically try to scoop up as many cartons of butternut squash soup as possible.

I understand the love. I made my first pot of ginger butternut squash soup about 15 years ago from a vegetarian cookbook I bought right after we moved to North Carolina. It was a revelation: creamy, refreshing, soothing. I have made that soup so many times, the recipe is etched in my brain along with my telephone number and birth date.

Carrot & Sunchoke Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

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by Matt Armendariz

salad-heroI’m perhaps one of the most happy-go-lucky kind of guys when it comes to food. I eat everything, enjoy a wide variety of foods, and can find something to eat just about anywhere I am. This ease disappears when I talk about pizza and my world view becomes nothing short of black and white. But only with pizza. Stay with me here.

I will eat the fanciest of hamburgers. I will eat the trashiest of hamburgers. In this case, I like the high brow and I can get down with the low brow, too. But pizzas? Forget it. I’ve spent half of my life consuming gummy, bready, greasy, gross pizza and I just won’t do it anymore. In fact, I haven’t in twenty years or so. Because once you taste a Neapolitan-style pizza (my personal benchmark) it’s hard to go backwards. There’s a balance of ingredients, a simplicity in its construction, and to me it gets no better. My apologies to my Chicago deep-dish pizza loving’ friends. I really mean that.

Anyway, when I tend to find my idea of pizza perfection I will visit regularly. It could be a bakery in Rome, a take-away window in NYC, or in this case my local pizza place in Long Beach called Michael’s Pizzeria. I’ve written about it before, and it’s one of my standard go-to places here in town. And for the longest time I refused to veer from their margherita pizza.

But one day a salad on the menu caught my eye, and now it seems to be the only thing I want to eat (in addition to my pizza). Picture this: winter root vegetables, pancetta, roasted pumpkin seeds and herb buttermilk dressing. It’s clean, flavorful, crunchy,  with a fantastic balance between the sweet & earthy and the tangy and salty.

Elevating the Lowly Lentil

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by Russ Parsons

From the LA Times

lentilsAs culinary fashion continues to wind inexorably lower on the luxury scale — from tournedos to beef cheeks, from foie gras to pork belly — it was probably inevitable that we would eventually come to lentils.

Representing the lowest and plainest possible food denominator since biblical times, when Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of soup made from them, lentils have always been regarded as a food you would eat only when you absolutely had to.

Yet look at a restaurant menu today or visit an upscale grocery and you'll find lentils that come in a rainbow of colors and bear an atlas of place names.

You'll find lentils that are reddish pink, canary yellow and pure ivory. Many chefs swear by the dark green lentils from Le Puy in France, but at Mozza, chef Nancy Silverton won't use anything but the tiny tan Castelluccios from Italy's Umbrian hills. You'll even find lentils called beluga, after the ultimate in luxury foods, caviar.

I've cooked with lentils for years, but in a dabbling way. When I could find Castelluccios, I used them, and when Trader Joe's stocked lentils from Le Puy at a great price, I'd buy them. But usually I just cooked whatever the supermarket had on hand.

But with lentils becoming socially acceptable, clearly a more organized analysis was overdue.

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Warm Winter Farro Salad

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by Amy Sherman

farrosaladWhen I first got married  I used to ask my husband if he wanted salad with dinner, the answer was usually "no." After a few years I wised up and started serving him salad without asking first. But often he didn't eat much of it, despite my raving "Have some salad! It's delicious!"  Lately I've hit upon a solution. I serve salad as a main dish, or pile everything onto it so it's an integral part of the meal. Main dish salads, if only someone had told me 12 years ago! 

During the Winter or whenever it's cold outside salads, either side salads or main dish salads are not top of mind, but they should be. Just as Summer is the perfect time for cold soup, Winter is the ideal season to try a warm salad. I like to start with a cooked grain like farro or quinoa then use seasonal fruits or vegetables and add some heartier elements too, in this case feta cheese and almonds. 

Picnic Food & Ice Cold Beer for Super Bowl Sunday

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by David Latt

david latt3Spicy Sweet Ginger-Garlic Chicken WingsSpicy Sweet Ginger-Garlic
Chicken Wings
We have a yearly tradition. For Super Bowl Sunday, we invite friends over to our house to eat, have some drinks and watch the game. Until our younger son, Michael, came into our lives, neither of us were much interested in sports.

Attending UCLA during the John Wooden days, when the men's basketball team reigned supreme, I never went to a single game. I didn't care. But Michael did. From the time he was a toddler, he watched Sports Center, baseball, basketball and football.

Like any parent we wanted to find common ground with our son. For us, that meant catching up with a three year old's encyclopedic knowledge of major league sports.

At first a chore, we got into it. We learned to cheer on the Lakers, root for the Dodgers and follow the careers of our favorite quarterbacks (Manning, Brady, Luck, RGIII, Rogers and Kaepernick).

Honeyed Apple–Peanut Butter Tart

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by Matt Armendariz

apple-peanut-butter-tart-cutMany projects I work on have a moratorium on sharing. Sometimes by me, other times by the publisher or editor who usually lets me know when I can start blabbing about it. Sometimes the lead times are long (a year or two in advance!), other times I just have to wait a month or two until whatever I photographed has hit the streets.

Of course, most of the time it’s ok to share a little bit via Instagram and Facebook, but I usually err on the side of caution and keep my mouth shut.

Which is painful when there are great recipes I want to talk about. Like this one. Oh my goodness, this one.

I am a peanut butter freak, and combined with an apple or banana it’s my standard sweet snack. I knew I’d love this recipe from Jenny Flake’s The Picky Palate Cookbook when we were reviewing the recipe list, and when Adam and his team began to assemble it I knew that the shape would photograph beautifully, and I knew that the shape would also fit in my stomach perfectly.

I think I ate the whole damn thing.

Meyer Lemon Pasta

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by Joseph Erdos

meyerlemonpastaMy love for Meyer lemons continues this week with another dish using these amazingly flavorful citrus fruits. This time it's a pasta dish that's done in less than 15 minutes. It's meatless, so it's great for vegetarians. But the savory flavors of garlic and crushed red pepper will also appeal to the meat-and-potatoes guys. But what really lifts this dish is the Meyer lemons, which add a tantalizing zing that refreshes the palate.

As fast as you can boil pasta is as fast as you can make this recipe. The sauce is made with just the lemons and some pasta water. Then it's a matter of finishing it off with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Make this meal in minutes—it's perfect for the weeknight when you're lacking the time or creativity to make anything complex. And if you can't find Meyer lemons, use regular ones and get results that are just as great.

Preserved Lemons

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by Joseph Erdos

preservedlemonsMy one favorite thing about the winter season is citrus fruit. When I have a good lemon or orange in hand, I almost forget about the mountains of snow and the blistery weather. I always seek out unusual citrus fruits, from Meyer lemons to blood oranges. But the one citrus fruit I use most is the standard lemon. The ones available in the supermarket are typically the Eureka variety. I use those juicy yellow orbs in practically every recipe. Salad dressings, baked goods, and stews all benefit from a little lemon, be it the juice or zest. The aroma and flavor of lemons are what make them so special and revered in many cuisines.

Luckily we can get lemons year-round in the supermarket, but there are also ways to preserve them. Many cultures preserve lemons when they are in season for later use during the rest of the year. North African cuisine, particularly Moroccan, and even Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines utilize preserved lemons in many savory recipes. They are added to the famous Moroccan tagines. They are also great in standard stews, braises, and roasts. Just as with the fresh citrus fruit, the possibilities are limitless with preserved lemons.

 

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