Thursday, March 28, 2013

chickpea and kale soup

Chickpea and Kale Soup

Behind the silence on this blog, I have moved. Into a new (well, new-to-me) apartment (well, studio); on my own for the first time. These past few weeks have been spent packing and unpacking, working and sleeping, learning new routines and what it means to live alone, running errands and doing things I never even thought of before. The day before moving, I went back to work from my study break with five more hours a week on my contract.

It has been busy, to say the least.

Spring is finally making its way here, though, the warmth of the sun melting all the coldness away. After months of all hues of gray, the sudden brightness is sure to refresh and recreate. In the wake of the life that seems to be stirring up, a craving for lightness is grasping a tighter hold, making itself noticed. The nights still remain cold and I am reluctant to completely let go of the comfort of that a bowl of hot soup brings. So this soup was made, to tide over the business and the days of undecided weather.

Chickpea and Kale Soup 3
This is simple yet flavourful soup is sure to satisfy. A spin-off on the minestrone I often make, this soup is both light and somewhat hearty, thanks to the kale and chickpeas. To make this a meal on its own, you could add a cup of small pasta or elbow macaroni when adding the kale and chickpeas and cook until the pasta is done, about 10 minutes. Serving this soup with some good whole grain bread is highly recommended.

Chickpea and Kale Soup
serves 4

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
2 to 3 medium carrots
2 to 3 celery stalks

1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 (400g) can diced tomatoes
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock

1 (400g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 cups chopped kale
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Peel and dice the onion and carrots. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash and dice the celery stalks. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion, carrots and celery. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Sauté until the onion starts softening; add the spices, diced tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes, stirring once in a while.

After the 25 minutes, add the chickpeas and kale. Simmer until the soup is heated through and the kale has wilted, about 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

citrusy raspberry cornmeal cake

Citrusy Raspberry Cornmeal Cake

March came with a hefty snow storm. The icy roads became even more slippery and the shoveling continues. Evenings are spent with a blanket wrapped around the shoulders, a mug of tea in hand, fighting the chills while dreaming of the snow melting away. Yet there is something good even in this: a snow storm in March calls for baked goods, something cozy and sweet to drive away the blues settling in.

In my opinion? Nothing fights the blues as well as a cozy cake, bursting bright with juicy berries and citrus fruit.

Citrusy Raspberry Cornmeal Cake 3

These cozy everyday cakes have stolen my heart. Now, it is not likely that I would turn down any kind of cake, let alone a fancy one. But there is something in these cakes, fit for any - and every - time of the day. Usually they aren't anything special to look at; nothing to make them stand apart. Yet when given the chance, they take their place, providing that easy and sweet moment of time that is meant to be enjoyed.

Another thing that I love about everyday cakes is their easiness. Best times with only one bowl and a spoon, these cakes are delicious as they are, stripped bare. Yet they can be fancied up easily, with a simple frosting or maybe whipped cream, without having to put hours into it. Honestly, what's not to love about that?

Citrusy Raspberry Cornmeal Cake 2

This cake, I can't help but love. The slightly coarse texture from the cornmeal makes the cake really interesting. Raspberries and that hint of citrus fruits provide a burst of brightness. For serving, crème fraîche is mixed with lemon curd to enhance the citrus flavour while the slight tang brings everything together.

Originally, I wanted to make this cake with a clear taste of lemon on the background but as it happened, I forgot to buy lemons. We had a grapefruit, though, so that's what I used and ended up loving it. Whether you use lemon or grapefruit or even orange for that matter, it will be delicious.

Citrusy Raspberry Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Curd Crème Fraîche
adapted from bleubird blog
makes one 9-inch cake

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 to 2 tbsp lemon curd
1/2 tsp grapefruit or lemon zest
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 175C (350F). Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; set aside. In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the lemon curd, zest and vanilla.

Set aside about 1/4 cup of the flour mixture. Stir in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the sour cream, then the other half of the flour mixture until just combined. Combine the raspberries with the 1/4 cup of the flour mixture; fold in to the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool to room temperature before serving. Serve with a good dollop of lemon curd crème fraîche.

Lemon Curd Crème Fraîche: mix 1 cup of crème fraîche with 4 to 5 tbsp of lemon curd.