Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Serves 4 to 6 Jarred roasted red peppers create a rich soup that requires almost no work. Garnish with croutons. Serve as a first course.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium cloves garlic , slivered
1 medium red onion , chopped
Table salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups jarred roasted red bell peppers , drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water 3/4 cup heavy cream Ground black pepper

1. Heat butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just melted. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly until flour is lightly toasted, about 45 seconds. Add red peppers, pepper flakes, thyme sprigs, broth, and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer until peppers are soft, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove and discard thyme sprigs. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth and creamy. Return soup to clean pot over low heat, stir in cream, and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve soup when hot.

Cream Biscuits

Sarah’s Notes: As quick as Jiffy mix, but you control the quality of these ingredients.

Makes 8-10 2 1/2” biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour (whole wheat pastry flour works, but is a little heavier)
2 teasp. sugar
2 teasp. baking powder
1/2 teasp. salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (half and half works, too)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.  Rack should be in upper-middle position.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (the baker’s friend)
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Add 1 1/4 cup cream and stir with wooden spoon till dough forms (~30 seconds).
  5. Transfer dough from bowl to countertop, leaving floury bits in bowl.
  6. Add cream to bowl remainders 1 tablespoon at a time till moistened.
  7. Add bowl contents to rest of dough and knead by hand about 30 seconds.
  8. Roll or pat out dough gently to about 3/4” thickness.
  9. Cut into rounds or wedges and place on baking sheet.  Immediately place in oven.
  10. Bake about 15 minutes or till golden brown (can turn sheet once but I don’t like the effect that has on oven temp/baking time in regular ovens).

Serve as soon as possible.

Asian Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 hot red chili, minced (1 1/2 tablespoons) [or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes]
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
4 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced thin
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Bring vinegar and sugar (and red pepper flakes, if using) to boil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture reduces by half, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and cool to room temperature.

2. Whisk in lime juice, ginger, chile, and sesame oil. Toss in cucumbers, scallions, and basil; season with salt and pepper, and let sit for 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. Serve.

Roasted Curry Cauliflower

serves 4 to 6

1 medium head cauliflower
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 teaspoons curry
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Trim outer leaves of cauliflower and cut stem flush with bottom. Cut head into 8 equal wedges so that the core and florets remain intact.  Place wedges cut side down on foil- or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. oil mixed with the curry powder, rubbing well to coat thoroughly and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gently flip wedges and oil/season other sides.

2. Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until bottoms of cauliflower pieces are golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and, using spatula, carefully flip wedges. Return sheet to oven and continue to roast until cauliflower is golden all over, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Drizzle with sauce of your choice and serve immediately.

Sweet Potatoes Anna

Recipe Courtesy of Curtis Aikens, Food Network

Prep Time:  30 min
Cook Time:  1 hr 0 min
Serves:  4 servings

Sarah’s note: This has become a Thanksgiving staple at our table. A marvelous alternative to giving sweet potatoes the sugar treatment. Spice and cheese mixture is also great mixed in to microwaved and mashed sweet potatoes.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or more if needed
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in paper-thin rounds
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush 1 tablespoon melted butter on bottom and sides of 8-inch cake pan.

Layer the potato slices in concentric circles on bottom of pan. Brush with melted butter. In a small bowl combine the Parmesan with cumin and cayenne. Sprinkle 1/4 of the mixture on top of the potatoes, then season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering 3 times, topping with cheese.

Cover the pan with foil. Bake 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes more. Invert onto a platter and serve in wedges.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts (preferably small), trimmed and halved lengthwise (quartered if large)
1/2 cup pecan halves, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.

Put all ingredients in a 9×13 pan and stir to coat evenly. Arrange sprouts, cut sides down, in 1 layer and roast 15-20 minutes or until browned and a little crispy.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

4 servings

2 1/4 pounds yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes; about 3 medium)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Pierce yams with fork. Microwave on high until tender, about 12 minutes, turning once. Cut yams lengthwise in half; scoop flesh into microwave-safe bowl. Add butter, cheese and spices; mash. Season with salt and pepper.