Tag Archives: festive

Sunday Supper: Healthy & Hearty Borscht

29 Jan

Low Sodium Borscht

Borscht is a traditional Ukranian soup/stew and makes a great hearty winter meal.  My father is part Ukranian and would have my mom make this for us a few times every winter and always on Valentine’s Day (because of the soup’s deep red color).  My mother used a recipe from the Joy of Cooking that I adapted to include meat and make the borscht more of a soup-consistency.  The main ingredients are beets and cabbage, two of the NY Times 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating, so while this is another recipe that doesn’t necessarily photograph well, it is an easy, savory winter meal that is also very healthy.  And delicious!

Healthy & Hearty Borscht
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary Edition)
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups very finely chopped beets (I used pre-packaged peeled beets so I didn’t have to worry about roasting/peeling beets)
1/2 cup very finely chopped carrots
1 cup very finely chopped yellow onion
1 pound beef chuck, 1/2″ cubes (optional)
Flour (optional)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups beef stock (low sodium) (Note: For a vegetarian option, use vegetable stock)
1 cup water
1 cup very finely shredded green cabbage
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Sour cream (or 0% Greek yogurt), for a garnish
Dill, for a garnish (optional)

Directions
1. Chop the beets, carrots, onion and cabbage in advance.  Set aside.
2. Lightly dredge the cubes of meat in a bowl of flour.
3. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan.  Add meat and cook until lightly browned.
4. Heat butter in soup pot over medium-low heat.  Once melted, add beets, carrots and onions.  Stirring continuously, cook until softened.  About 8 minutes.
5. Add beef stock, water, cabbage, red wine vinegar and meat to pot.  Bring to a bubbling simmer.  Once simmering, lower heat, partially cover soup with lid, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Serve hot.  Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream (or 0% Greek yogurt) and dill.

Note: This soup also tastes great cold.  I like it even better reheated as leftovers the next day though because the flavor intensifies and the broth thickens.

Low Sodium Borscht

Christmas Dinner: Hot Toddies

5 Jan

Honey Bourbon Hot Toddy

Don’t get me wrong, hot toddies are great, but I’ve always been more of a spiced cider, egg nog or hot chocolate kind of person.  This recipe from Bon Appetit’s December 2011 issue caught my eye because the picture was SO pretty and I could totally envision my family drinking these while sitting around the fire Christmas afternoon opening presents and relaxing after dinner.  I watered down the BA recipe a LOT because it was really strong.  My adaptation of their recipe is below.

Honey-Bourbon Hot Toddy
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2011 Issue
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 tbsp. honey
2 cups water
6 tbsp. bourbon
Lemon juice
Lemon peel, for garnish
Cinnamon stick, for garnish

Directions
1. Heat water on stove until just about to boil.  Take 1 cup of water and mix it with honey.  Stir until honey dissolves.
2. Add bourbon and mix.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice right and mix again.
3.  Divide between 2 mugs or Toddy glasses.  Add remaining water to mugs until you have reached desired strength of drink.  (I filled ours all the way to the top).
4. Add a lemon peel and cinnamon stick to each drink for garnish.  Serve warm.

Honey-Bourbon-Toddy-646

Honey Bourbon Toddy (Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit, December 2011) - See what I mean about this picture? It's stunning!

Christmas Dinner: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

3 Jan

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I found a yummy looking recipe for pumpkin bread pudding on Smitten Kitchen from back in 2007!  Their recipe was adapted from Gourmet magazine and you can find their original post here.  I used more bread than I should have so to make the dessert creamier and less dry, I added creme anglaise sauce on top.  Both recipes are listed below.  The bread pudding calls for almost the exact same ingredients as a traditional pumpkin pie so this recipe is great if you are looking for that pumpkin pie flavor but a different texture dish.  Creme anglaise is a great recipe because it is so versatile – it can be served warm, cold or room temperature.  In addition to serving on top of bread pudding, I also like to eat it with berries in the morning for breakfast.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, October 2007 Issue

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tbsp. bourbon (optional)
5 cups cubed (1″) day-old baguette or crusty bread (I used half a ciabatta loaf and a baguette.)
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 with rack in middle.
2. Mix together dry ingredients (sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves).
3. Slowly add eggs, milk, pumpkin and bourbon until well mixed.
4. Toss bread cubes with melted butter in another bowl and add to 8″x8″ baking pan.  Pour pumpkin mixture on top.  (Note: Only use as much bread as I did if you like thicker bread pudding.  When I make this again, I will probably do at least a cup less bread and cut the pieces smaller, so that you can see the “soupy” pumpkin mixture in the baking pan.)
5. Bake until pudding is set, which should take about 25-30 minutes.

Creme Anglaise
From the Joy of Cooking
Makes 2 Cups

Ingredients
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups hot milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp rum, Cognac or other liqueur (I used light rum)

Directions
1. Whisk egg yolks in 2-quart saucepan, adding the sugar by fairly rapid spoonfuls – if it goes in all at once, the yolks can turn grainy.
2. Continue beating 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.  By dribbles, stir in the hot milk – stirring, not beating, because you do not want the sauce to foam.
3. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon and reaching all over the bottom and sides of the pan.  The sauce should gradually come near – but not to – a simmer.  You must be careful not to over heat it as this will scramble the yolks.  Indications that it is almost ready are that the surface bubbles begin to subside, and almost at once you may see a whiff of steam rising.
4. The sauce is done when it coats the wooden spoon with a light creamy layer thick enough to hold when you draw your finger across the back of the spoon.
5. Next beat in the vanilla, butter and run.  Spoon on top of bread pudding.  Sauce can be refrigerated in a covered container for several days.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise