Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sweet Potato Soup

This is a great winter warm up.
Serves 6-8

2 pounds sweet potatoes (make sure they're not yams!)
2 ounces (4 tbs) unsalted butter
1/2 pound shallots, minced (about 1 cup)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup rum (not necessary unless you want to kick it up a notch!)
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock (depending on how thick you like your soup)
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime

1. Bake potatoes in a 400 degree oven until they are tender and can be easily pierce with a fork. Let cool.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the shallots and saute until soft. Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the rum if desired and cook for about 2 minutes, or until alcohol has evaporated. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

3. Cut the sweet potatoes in half and scrape out the flesh. Add to the stock, stirring until the potaotes are broken up. Add the cooked rice. Remove from heat and working in batches, prue in a blender until smooth.

4. Return the mixture to the pot, and place over low heat. Add stock as needed to adjust the consistency of the soup, then season with salt and pepper.

For the topping: stir the cilantro, lime zest and 1 tsp of the juice.

Ladel the soup into bowels and top with cilantro lime topping.

Christmas Spaghetti

I call this Christmas Spaghetti because when it's all done, it's red from the tomatoes and green for the chard, hence the name Christmas Spaghetti!'s actually a pure delight from the heavy baked dishes that come along with the season. A friend of mine gave me a bunch of organic red chard the other day. It looked fabulous, i thought to myself i need to find something really special to make out of this chard. It's been a "cooked" holiday season this year as opposed to a "raw" holiday last year. People seem to really enjoy the sights and smells better coming for a kitchen stove and oven rather that a dehyrdrater and vita mixer! Nevetheless, this is a great side dish or main dish if you will...

This is also a quick and easy dish that fills you up and is healthy to boot!

Makes 4 servings.

2 tbs pine nuts
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil (Bariani is preferred)
2 organic onions, thinly sliced
2 bunches red chard, trimmed and chopped (about 14 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 diced organic tomatoes with their juice
1/4 cup cooking sherry (or dry white wine)
1/4 tsp crushed dried red pepper flakes
salt (himalyan pink is preferred)
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsly chopped
2 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place pine nuts on a heavy baking sheet to tast in oven for approx. 10 minutes. Keep checking so they don't get too dark. Set aside to cool when done.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the chard and sauted until it wilts, about 2-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stire in the tomates with their juice, the sherry or wine, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the chard is very tender, about 7 minutes. Season the chard to taste with salt and pepper.

3. while performing step 2, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring often to prevent tghe pasta from sticking together, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8-10 minutes. Drain. Add the spaghetti to the chard mixture and toss to combine.

4. Transfer the pasta to bowls, sprinkle with the pine bnuts, olives and cheese on top and serve.