Thursday, May 31, 2012

Recipe 27: Clam and Pasta Soup with Summer Squash

I hope this Clam and Pasta Soup with Summer Squash makes up for
my lapse in timely post-making.
Whatever, whatever.  So I'm a huge slacker.  But you guys, summer vacation starts in a mere matter of weeks, when I will (in ambitious terms), write up my recipes and review of the books from the Dinner Train, and also several reviews of things I've read while not reading the books I said I would for Dinner Train (ahem...Middlmarch and Little Women, I'm looking at you with all my 19th century earnest goodness/judgment).  So spoiler alert - not a fan of LW.  Dubious about my ability/desire to finish in for Saturday's book club meeting, but club we will!  Until then, tide yourself over with the following recipe for clam and pasta soup, which I made some adaptions to (and suggestions for improving an already good thing) below.  Tip: canned clams can be found in the same area as tuna.  Don't overthink and look in the fancy section like I did!  Also, this soup is rather economical - but unlike many recipes, unless you are serving it as a starter, the serving size is closer to 3 for a main menu, but this might change if you follow my recommendation make it a little heartier by doubling the cans of clam and use only the juice in one.  Let me know!  This soup is also rather a quick one to make - I'd say it takes under an hour!

Clam and Pasta Soup with Summer Squash

Clam and Pasta Soup with Summer Squash
(adapted from The Soup Bible, by Debra Mayhew)
Serves 3-4, will be on your table in under an hour if you are efficient


- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced or chopped
- 2-4 cloves of garlic (more if you like more garlic, less if you like less, duh)
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste (or 1 Tbsp finely chopped rehydrated dried tomatoes + one tsp olive oil)
- 1 summer squash, chopped (pieces the size of your pasta - aka yellow zucchini)
-  1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp Italian season blend
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2/3 cup red wine (drink the rest)
- 2/3 cup small pasta shapes (mini bow-ties, etc.)
- 1 5-6 oz jar or can of clams in natural juice (or, go for two, using the juice of one can and draining the other for more meat in this soup)
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (save some as a garnish)
- Salt-N-Pepa to taste

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tidbits: A cassoulet of movies, talents in South Beach, other things

Below, my friends, is a hot mess (of links)  I believe the French call this a cassoulet.  Touche!  I have been le busy - I made the brilliant plan to run a book a week book club, and train for a half marathon allll at the same time.  Miraculously, I survived both!  I have a goal to eventually write review and recipes for Middlemarch (preview: it wasn't enjoyed), Slaughterhouse Five (preview: not easy, but powerful stuff), and a few other things I've been ripping through, chiefly CODEREDOHMYGODREADTHISNOW: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.  Yes, it is good enough to demand all those caps and no spaces in between.  It may be the best thing I've read all year, and it made me cry on a park bench normally inhabited by a hobo (so you know it's good!).  I'll write more - if you promise to read it.
  • I defy you to deny that Lebron James, has, in fact, taken his talents to South Beach.  Behold, the photographic greatness, spotted on Jezebel:

    YESS.  Please get more boys to read!

  • Have I told you, lately, that I love you, @Queen_UK?  This is all that is right with Twitter and the Interwebs.  My favorite of all the twitter feeds in all the lands, "The Queen" always brings a self aware silliness to the table.  Articles like this don't hurt either.
  • I am a younger female faculty member in an environment with lots of teenage boys, commonly know of by its formal name, a high school.  This means it is always high comedy to ask me to the prom.  Somehow, it never gets old to anyone besides, oh, me.  In case the whole "being an adult" diagnosis wasn't enough evidence of why it's a bad idea, some lady proved it.  "[S]he went to last month's Condon High School prom with a boy from the track team because the boy felt bad about not having a date and had been struggling in English class." Struggling in English? Why didn't you say so? That TOTALLY makes it not weird! This is too terrible to even earn a Case of the Terribles rating (Spotted on Jezebel).
  • The Great Gatsby trailer is out, finally!  And yet...I have no recollection of this story.  Except for Daisy.  And I don't remember much about her, other than that she was flighty and blonde and tragic.  And I like what I'm seeing:

    If the trailer soundtrack is anything like what the movie soundtrack will be like, I'm sold.  And please oh please where can I get me some of those dresses? More importantly, when does the next Bright Young Things book dropping already?
  • The trailer for The Perks of Being a Wallflower drops soon!  FINALLY.  June 3, during the MTV Movie Awards, which I probably haven't been able to sit through since 2002.  That's why I keep you around, Internets. 
  •  Word and art lovers, check out this super cool cut paper artwork by Annie Vought.  I would love to see famous letters of bygone days or love letters or clandestine paperwork with redactions get this treatment (can you tell I have Code Name Verity on the brain still?) - but can't actually pull an example for my brain.  But still, this is super cool.  (Spotted on Colossal)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Recipe 28: Roasted Butternut, Kale, and Lentil Soup

I apparently forgot to take a picture back when I made this in...March.  Probably because it was so delicious that I was distracted by devouring it.  It looks just like a regular lentil soup but tastes TWICE as good.  It is based losely on the Rosemary Lentil Soup recipe I used earlier in the year but was mostly an experiment.  This version? WAY tastier.  Just make sure to finely chop your kale; it makes it easier to eat later! 

Roasted Butternut, Kale, and Lentil Soup

1 cup lentils (brown)
4 Tbsp olive oil
20 oz butternut squash (1 precut supermarket package)
3 slices bacon, diced
1 medium or half a large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1/3 cup red wine (whatever you're drinkin', chef)
2 bay leaves
3 tsp dried rosemary (2 for soup, 1 for roasting)
2 qt vegetable or chicken stock
3 cups chopped kale (approximately equal to 6 extra large stalks)
salt and pepper

1.  After checking your lentils for rocks (and removing them, you're not a dinosaur), place them in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit for at least an hour.
2.  Prepare a baking sheet, and toss your butternut squash with about 1-2 Tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp rosemary, and lots of salt and pepper.  Roast on 400 degree for about 45 minutes or until the butternut begins to brown, stirring about every 15 minutes.
3.   Heat remaining oil in your Le Creuset over medium.
4.  Add bacon and saute for about 3 minutes, until it begins to brown (slash you start to drool, because as Laurent in Twilight says, the scent is so mouthwatering...).
5.  Add onion to the pot, stir, and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion softens up.
6.  Stir in celery, carrots, 2 tsp rosemary, bay leaves, and lentils.  Stir, cooking for about one minute.
7.  Then, pour in your red wine (more than the recommended amount is okay) to deglaze the pot a bit.
8.  Add stock to the pot, stir, lower the heat when the mixture hits a simmer.  Cook for about 45 minutes, occasionally stirring.
9.  Add in butternut and kale.  Cook covered until kale has tenderized, about 15-20 minutes.  Note it may take longer; check your lentils to make sure they are good and soft!
10.  Season to taste!
11.  Taste a whole bowlful, along with some really delish crusty bread, a slab of wine, and a glass of chevre to spread on your baguette!  YUM.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery: Anne-oying or Cordellialy Inviting?

Oh hello book cover of a children's classic
that will terrify the target audience!
Anne of Green Gables
by L.M. Montgomery

     It may have taken me almost three months to get this up.  But better late than never, right?  Plus, I'm fairly certain I am one of maybe five grown women to have never read Anne of Green Gables anyways, and I don't think too many dudes will be jonesing to know about it - but who knows?   Here, avid readers, all ten of you, is my way belated review of Anne of Green Gables.  I have clearly chosen the creepiest version of a cover I could find for this one; my e-copy left the job of imagining what Anne looked like up to me.  This is not what I pictured.  Is it a Russian version?  Why would a child want to pick this up? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Anne of Green Gables starts disappointingly.  Especially if you are say, an orphan who thinks she’s found a home finally, or some elderly siblings thinking they are adopting a boyslave to take care of the farm.   In a move totally questionable when reviewed using modern standards, or say, common sense, eleven year old Anne has been sent by herself on a train to be left at a rural stop, and picked up by a slightly squirrelly (but eventually loveable) older dude.   Does this seem shady to anyone else?  Because it seems like old timey Dateline, “To Catch A Predator” to me.  On the ride to Green Gables, Anne immediately lets fly her flag o’crazy, to let the good but boring people of Avonlea know the funparade has arrived.  Naturally, despite the initial dismay on Marilla’s part, and the hiding amongst the cows on Matthew’s part to avoid hard conversations after stating his opinion to stay (he could, in a less endearing portrait, be a character in Cold Comfort Farm), Anne stays.  I mean, would we have a book otherwise?
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