Japanese…..y Soup!

The other day I found miso paste in my refrigerator.  I obviously forgot about it because normally I use those type of things right up!  It was unopened and something I picked up from an Asian market not too long ago.  Instead of making ol’ traditional miso soup, I cooked up this asian inspired sauté with miso broth.  It was so delicious, I ended up making it the very next day for a dinner guest.  It’s quite fast, healthy, and tasty!  And no really obscure, hard-to-find, asian ingredients required.

Japanese-Style Chickpeas and Vegetables in Miso Broth

2 Tbsp oil
1 very large green onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
I large carrot, sliced diagonally
1 large bell pepper, cut in 2-inch strips
1 16-oz can chickpeas
2 heaping Tbsp miso paste
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Five spice powder*
Couple dashes of hot sauce
¾ cup white wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups water

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the green onion and garlic, sauté 3-5 minutes over medium-low until the onion is soft.  Add the carrot and bell pepper, sauté another 5 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, sauté another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the miso paste, hoisin sauce, dried basil, five-spice powder, hot sauce, white wine, and salt and pepper.  Simmer on low until the wine reduces to about 1/3 of a cup and the mixture is coated in a thick liquid, but not too liquidy (the carrots and bell pepper should be slightly crunchy and al dente).  Add the water and simmer on low uncovered 15 minutes or until steaming hot.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.

*An asian spice whose main ingredients are star anise, cloves, cassia, Szechwan pepper and fennel seeds.  Can be found in most stores that have a good variety of spices.  This is one brand:


I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for……Pizza!?

No, it’s not ice cream.  It’s Pizza – Pizza. Pizza. Pizza.  There is a universal taste appreciation for that crisp, flat dough topped with veggies, meats, cheeses and baked till golden brown and bubbly.  My mouth waters just thinking about it, and I “scream” for it.

And when it comes to pizza, everyone has their preferences – thin and crispy, thick, deep, meats, veggies, fruits, sauces, and so on.

Pizza is one of my favorite things to make.  It is seriously an art because one can be so creative with its toppings, and when you need to “use up” things from the produce drawer or the back of the fridge? Throw it on a pizza.

When it comes to pizza, my preferences are thin and crispy, and unconventional (no thank you to plain pepperoni and sausage).

Pizza has been around for a long, long time. According to Wikipedia (the most accurate and truthful site ever) pizza had appeared in Medieval Latin by 997 AD, and in 16th century Naples, a galette flatbread was referred to as a pizza.

And here’s a little fun fact about the oh-so-classic Pizza Margherita:

In June 1889, to honor the Queen consort of  Italy Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita,” a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag. He was the first to add cheese.  Throughout the years to come, pizza had undergone many changes and even today across the world, pizza exists in many different forms (Chicago style, New York style, etc).

Like I said earlier, I personally prefer thin crust.  I roll my dough out nice and thin with a rolling pin creating a very crispy crust.  In the past I have put such things on pizza (not necessarily together though) as leeks, potatoes, shrimp, walnuts, mangos, eggs, mixed greens, and the list goes on and on.  I must say, one of my favorites was a roasted red pepper, basil and mango pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese.  Try it.  You won’t be disappointed.  Oh and for one of my favorite pizza dough recipes that’s been used time and time again (it’s simple, classic, basic) go HERE.  Add some fresh herbs to the dough for an added treat!!

So, I’m curious, what’s your favorite kind of pizza and pizza topping?


Something savory….soup!

When it comes to food, everyone has their tastes.  Savory, sweet, bitter, you name it.  And on that spectrum of tastes, people seem to lie far to one side or the other.  On my spectrum, I have a propensity to be faaaaaar beyond the sweet end.  It’s true, I crave healthy sweet treats – honey in my tea, marmalade on my toast, a bite of organic, dark chocolate here and there, and home-baked sweets constantly, and I’m known to always have some home-baked goods on hand (great for those unexpected visitors).  Every breakfast of mine includes something sweet like honey, marmalade, cereal, smoothies.  Give me oatmeal and pancakes over eggs any day, unless of course they include a sweet, creamy cheese.

I’ve realized that nearly every post on this blog thus far has been something sweet, breakfasty, desserty, snacky.  So, for this post, I’m going to give you a bit of my savory side of life…something I create daily for lunches and dinners, but never quite feel the urge to post.  A friend inspired me to do so.

I know we’re coming into Spring and most people aren’t thinking about soup – frozen life is no longer blanketed in snow, the flowers are beginning to bloom, the sun is showing its face after being in-hiding for 6 months, the birds are singing, and drops of rain may be falling here and there.  But I am thinking about soup these days.  I love soup any time of year.  It is pure comfort food that warms the body and soul.  So, I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do.

Ginger Red Lentil Soup with Basil Cream

20 large basil leaves, very finely minced
1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
pinch of salt

To make the Basil cream, mix all in a small bowl, let sit, chilling until ready for use.

2 cups red split lentils
7 cups water
2 vegetable bullion cubes (for 4 cups of H20)
3 Tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium carrot minced

2 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small can tomato paste
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper

Rinse lentils until water until water is no longer murky.  In a large saucepan brings lentils and water to a boil.  Add bullion, ginger and carrot and reduce to a simmer, covered for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in separate pan, toast curry powder until fragrant over medium-low heat.  Set aside.  Add butter to same skillet, add onions and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add tomato paste, then toasted curry powder.  Mix well.  Add yogurt until thoroughly mixed.

Add onion mixture to soup.  Stir well. Can add more water to your liking (I liked it rather thick).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with a dollop of basil cream, and enjoy with warm crusty bread.