A faster roasted squash because who has time to wait for good soup?

Those of you that read my snappy  cornishhens post touting how much I love the airfryer I bought ( I don't know how many years ago).  I still use the fryer multiple times a week. I never take it off my counter. I bought it back before there was much available in recipes or tips so I had to play with it awhile to get my groove going. The book that came with it was 90% not helpful.

It's fall and it's butternut squash soup season and roasting that squash first is the best way to impart depth of flavor.  I cut up my own vs the precut or frozen cubes just because soup is one dish you want to taste the love.  You can't shortcut the love no matter how many spices and techniques you add. 

So today's brilliant idea, as I look at the time and realize I want soup now but it usually takes 60-90 mins to roast it. That is AFTER the peel and chop prep happens. So what brilliant idea comes to mind? Toss those chunks into the airfyer that cooks chicken wings in 14 minutes. I really need to be a spokesperson for it.  I love to cook but this is the gadget for people that don't like to cook OR clean.  I love it in the summer because it doesn't heat up my whole kitchen/home and it has a timer so it will shut off when it's done. 

Sure enough the great squash roasting experiment  worked like a charm. I liked the cooking combo of starting the 3" chunks at 325 for 12 minutes then crank it up to 390 (full heat) the last 8 minutes. Another bonus you don't need to add any fat to the chunks when you air fry.

While it was air frying /roasting away I got the rest of the ingredients going in a big stainless steel braising pan*it helps moisture evaporate as the veg wilts vs. using a stockpot. Nothing fancy in there other than a smidge of olive oil, an onion and a large peeled zucchini for body and lightness without calories.  After they became soft I put the squash in and some vegetarian broth and let it simmer 20 mins. Pureed it up in the nutribullet then finished it with fresh nutmeg.  I don't meausure. It's soup. Too many variables to measure and not play with it til it tastes good.  

 

I had a random sack of  self rising flour so naturally the thought of biscuits came to me. whipped them right up and had a great lunch!

Top with a bit of home make kefir and balsamic drizzle.  

Seven Hens. A review.

You can get your chicken in a wrap, on a baugette roll, on a platter or in a salad.  I started to order the French until upon walking up to the register, I saw the seasonal features were taped to the register. I spied a pretzel bun and that sold me. Call it the southern-I do. This chicken was sharing a pretzel bun with pimento cheese

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Fox Atlanta gets it right with The Brickery's Ceasar Burger

It's clear they know the right ratio of beef-to-bun-to-flavorfully messy sauce. It's a ceasar salad on a cheddar burger essentially and I can't think of anything better.  It doesn't need bacon. It doesn't need tomatoes. It doesn't need mustard. It is perfect as is and is most definitely the star of the show in this establishment. 

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One Vegan week is back! v2014

I have been about 80% vegetarian for 2 months now.   A nice side effect of a high nutrition diet is you don't really want things like sweets or dairy.  The body is so fulfilled with the nutrtion your food is providing it doesn't want anything else. Cravings are gone and energy is high (and skin more gorgeous than ever).  However a week of birthday celebrating which seems to always entail steaks went down this past week. I didn't enjoy it like I used to and cakes did not taste appealing to me at all.  Now is the perfect time to do a vegan week again. I know it's my popular blog series every year.  

Each day I will post at least one of my vegan inspired meals/snacks to tempt you to dip into healthier waters.

Today's vegan:

Marinated crispy baked tofu from The kitchn.

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-baked-tofu-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-74358

coupled with my favorite Dr. Furhman's orange cashew dressing as the dip. 

http://yummyplants.com/vegan-recipe/mismash-salad-with-orange-cashew-dressing/

 

 

Salt: An epic love story

 

 

I conducted a very unscientific poll of a handful of chef friends and sure enough the conclusion was in line with what I was expecting. Without exception, each one of us has at least 4 different salts in our home kitchen cabinets as well as our professional kitchens. Not a single one has standard issue iodized .99 a lb salt in our arsenal -which is about all it’s worth. That and tile grout scrubbing.

What makes salt so worthy of not just love but of EPIC level love? Its history! It has the ability to preserve food which is the foundation of civilization. Salt also was used as currency by the Romans and the ancient Greeks traded salt for slaves.
 
Salt and butter is why food tastes so good when you eat in restaurants. What really makes salt the absolute shining star in the food world is its singular ability to make food, ANY food taste more like itself without altering the natural flavor.  Salted butter is no good but good quality salt and unsalted butter independently are divine. Butter we leave for another conversation. Today salt is the star of the story.

 

For people that avoid table salting their food, or finishing food with salt as I like to say, due to health concerns: forget it. Processed food is your worry. Not a pinch on whole natural food to enhance everything about it that makes your fresh food delicious.

 

Table salt has no place on a table. Anti-clumping agents and iodine give it an off taste. I proved my point onsite to a client once. All she had in her cabinet was Morton’s iodized. Most everyone has that so she didn’t think much of it until I had her taste some fleur de sel side by side. I encouraged her to stand over the sink as she likely would wretch at the contrast. In her palm I put a small pinch of fleur de sel. She put it on her tongue. No reaction. Next hand, the iodized offender. Let’s just say she appreciated being near the sink.

 

The specialty/ artisan salts aren’t for cooking. Much of their flavor is lost in the process but by all means use it to finish your food! Get creative with these treasures. Black sea salt, sulfur in taste, is lovely on a perfectly seared steak. Gray salt makes chocolate come alive. I suggest to my nutrition clients to add smoked salt to some foods when they miss the smokey flavor of bacon in a dish. Maldon salt over freshly steamed vegetables. Use coarse kosher salt in your cookie baking for the delightful contrast of sweet and salty in every bite.

 

Get out and explore some of the specialty salts on the market. Try a market that has these salts sold by weight and taste a grain or two. Notice how each one has its own special unique flavor. I promise you won’t gag. It’s not too salty. It’s the real unadulterated deal. You can bring your already good food to a great new level.