Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Carrot Cardamom Soup

It's October and fall has arrived. I'll be the first to admit that I miss summer - the carefree summer days, swimming, tank tops, and all of that luscious summer fruit.  But fall isn't so bad.  There's something about a crisp fall day and the changing of the seasons that always makes me glad to live on the east coast.  I love getting out of Brooklyn/NCY for a taste of fall foliage as well - the colors are so gorgeous in just a couple short weeks.  Fall means pumpkins, apples, carrots, and  squash in the kitchen.  And, I've started cooking with them all.  I came across a great carrot cardamom soup with marshmallow (yes, a marshmallow garnish!) when reading Daily Candy, and figured I'd give it a try its from Saxon & Parole, a restaurant that I'd love to try out (newly opened).  At any rate, I didn't make my own marshmallows but otherwise stuck to the recipe and found it to be a new warm and lovely fall favorite.  Has the loveliest flavors with pumpkin oil, carrot, cardamom and coconut. Yum!

Carrot Cardamom Soup (original recipe here)
1 1/4 tsp honey
1 can of coconut milk
3 1/2 cups of hot water
juice of half a lemon
1/2 fist size white onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 large thumb of ginger, diced
2 green cardamom pods
2 oz unsalted butter or olive oil
1 2/3 lb carrots
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with: toasted marshmallow, toasted pumpkin seeds (I left out) and pumpkin seed oil

Combine the liquids (water, coconut milk, lemon juice and honey) and set aside. Combine the cardamom, onion, garlic, and butter in a pot over medium low heat and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the carrots and turn heat to high and cook another three minutes or so.  Add the liquids and bring to a full boil. Then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about thirty minutes, until the carrots are soft. Remove the cardamom pods.  Puree in the blender until smooth.  Garnish each bowl with a toasted marshmallow (I toasted using a creme brulee torch) and some pumpkin seed oil.  If you like, you can add toasted pumpkin seeds and/or chile flakes. (I used a bit of ancho chile powder instead)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Baked Ziti with Turkey Meatballs

I love baked ziti. Not the healthiest thing out there, but all that sauce, pasta and cheese - what's not to love? It takes a bit of time to put everything together, but its a great comfort meal that usually produces galores of leftovers.  I had recently received some great organic pastas to try from ShopRite for free as a ShopRite Potluck blogger, so I decided to use the one pound bag of delicious penne to make this baked ziti. The result was delicious and the pasta was just perfect for this recipe.  The turkey meatballs are a wonderful addition that lend flavor to this dish. 

Baked Ziti with Turkey Meatballs (adapted from this recipe from Epicurious)

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, cooled, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leafed)
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb ziti or penne
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about six oz)
1 cup grated romano cheese
about six cups of tomato sauce (store bought, or make your own, like I did)
15 oz ricotta cheese

In a bowl, combine the pecorino/romano and mozzarella and set aside.  In a pot of salted water, make the pasta, al dente.  To make the meatballs, mix the ground turkey with the garlic, bread crumbs, onion, pine nuts, parsley and egg until combined with your hands and form 1 inch meatballs.  Instead of cooking them in oil, I baked them for about 40 minutes at 350 until cooked through.

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 3-4 quart gratin or lasagna dish.  Then, spoon about 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce and half of meatballs into prepared dish and spoon half of pasta on top. Spread half remaining sauce and half cheese mixture over pasta. Top with remaining meatballs and drop dollops of ricotta over meatballs. Spread remaining pasta over ricotta and top with remaining sauce and remaining cheese mixture. Bake the ziti for about 30 minutes until golden and serve hot. 

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