these days were made for cooking

Friday night, I made Molly’s Braised Onion Sauce with Pasta (originally from James Beard). I adapted it to meet our own taste; we’ve been dairy-free for three months now, so instead of butter, I used a few tablespoons of canola oil. We didn’t have any Madeira, so I used 1/4 Chardonnay, and it was just amazing. I made a pound of pasta to go with it, so we had a lot left over (not as much as should have been; we kept going back for just one more bite), and it was so good reheated the next day, too (it made for a nice, comforting lunch at work on Saturday, paired with a great book and a quiet corner in the library).

Last night was a brownie night. we should be ashamed there aren’t more left. but we’re not! oh, so brazen.

Today was chilly, windy, and felt like March or April. I hadn’t spent a day in the kitchen for a while, but this one seemed made for it. I made two loaves of my French bread this morning; it’s loosely based on a recipe I found at recipezaar, but changed to gluten-free, dairy-free, and with various other changes to certain ingredients, and also in handling. Today it turned out the best that it ever has, and unlike regular gluten-free bread, it also rose. This is amazing, because usually, gluten-free bread benefits from relaxing in a warm oven for a while before baking, but it doesn’t rise, due to the lack of elastic gluten strands in the dough. I almost fell over when I opened the oven to check on it after 20 minutes nestled in the oven; I couldn’t believe that it had risen as much as it did! It’s light, chewy, has a crispy crust, and still, tonight, is moist; generally, gluten-free breads dry out and become crumbly quite quickly. I’m going to make two more loaves tomorrow, slice them, and put them in the freezer for sandwiches and toast. Yay!

Tonight, partially because I was so happy with how the bread turned out, and also because I was chilly in here, even with jeans and socks on, I made minestrone soup.

weekends are for: homemade minestrone

Minestrone Soup
(adapted from Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook)

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c water
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 large or 4 small celery stalks, sliced
1 T dried basil
3/4 T dried oregano
10 oz fresh mini portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 c chicken stock (I used 1 c hot water and one “Not Chik’n” boullion cube)
7 c water
1/2 head green cabbage
1 large potato, cut into small dice
1/2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise and sliced into thin semi-circles
2 14.5 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes, with juice
1 14.5 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1.) In a large pot, heat the olive oil and 1/4 c water; add onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery until they’re soft. stir in the herbs, a little salt, and pepper (if the mixture is getting too dry, turn down the heat and add 1 T water). add the mushrooms; when they’re soft and have given up their juices, add the 1C water and boullion cube, and simmer until there’s half the liquid.

2.) Core the cabbage; slice half of it into thin shreds. Add the water, cabbage, potato, zucchini, tomatoes, and chickpeas; simmer until the vegetables are tender. Splash in a tablespoon or two of Braggs, rather than salt; this adds a deeper flavour to the soup.

Feeds an army.

(I think it’s even better the next day, after the flavours have blended overnight.)

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