vegetables

Oooh! Miso Hungry!

Miso, in Jordan’s world, is a magical thing. Of course, it’s the base for my favorite kind of soup, but it’s so much more than that. It’s complex, and rich, and salty, and savory, and full of umami— that much sought after “fifth taste” that so many cooks are constantly trying to create. Anywhere unbound glutimates are present– in everything from tomatoes to Parmesan cheese to steaks, and yes, miso, you will taste umami. I usually buy miso paste at a nearby Asian supermarket, and keep it around to use as a secret ingredient in lots of savory dishes to deepen the flavor and add that unidentifiable “something extra.” It comes in little tubs that look like this:

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What is miso paste? Fermented, cooked soybeans and some rice and/or barley. Miso paste comes in three varieties: white, yellow, or red. The deeper the color, the more intense the flavor. I know, it sounds a little odd, but if you drink beer or coffee, or eat pickles or sauerkraut, or even chocolate, you’ve already had fermented food, making miso no big deal, and putting you in just the right spot to try miso butter. Once I explain how to make this wonderful concoction, if you don’t become a little bit emotionally attached addicted to putting this stuff on everything– roasted veggies, steak, fish, even baked potatoes, I’m not sure we can be friends. Kidding. Sort of. Not really. Yeah, I’m kidding. Probably.

It’s such a simple thing to make, I can’t even really give you a recipe. It’s more of a ratio– 2:1, softened, unsalted butter to miso paste. I usually use dark red miso paste for mine, but if you’ve never used miso paste for anything before now, you can start with something lighter and less intense. You can make a small batch for one dinner, say, 2 tablespoons butter to 1 tablespoon miso paste, or make a big batch, more like 1 cup butter to 1/2 a cup miso paste, that you keep in a container in the fridge to use any time you feel the urge to up the flavor factor. You can also roll it into a log wrapped in wax paper and freeze it, just like you would do with slice and bake cookies, then just slice off a little chunk to use whenever the mood strikes.

I used miso butter on some roasted baby potatoes to go with my dinner earlier this week, and it took those potatoes from, “Yeah, those are pretty good,” to, “Holy crap take these away from me before I eat them all and actually turn into a potato.”

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I hope you’ll take yourself on a little flavor adventure and give this a try. If you really, truly, honestly don’t like it, send the rest to me. I’ll definitely take a bath in it find a use for it.

Well, that’s just souper!

First of all, Happy New Year! I hope everyone’s 2016 is starting off well. I know we all have resolutions or intentions or maybe just things we’re NOT going to do this year, and I wish you the best possible outcome for all of that. I’ve got some goals for this year, for sure. One of the biggest, most important ones is to REALLY focus on this blog, and my social media presence, and connecting with all my readers, other bloggers, and other food industry folks. The boyfriend and I are in the process of clearing out some space for me to create a little home office, so I can do this whole thing in some sort of organized, professional manner. Even though I have lots of past content here, I’m looking at it as a brand new project, and that means approaching it in a brand new way.

*Forrest Gump voice* And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. For now.

Let’s get down to business, and my love of soup. I adore soup. It seems like the perfect vehicle for experimentation with (usually) a minimum of fuss. Of course, this time of year in our part of the world it’s pretty cold, so soup also has the added benefit of being warm, hearty, and satisfying without being too heavy. This Latin American inspired Turkey Meatball Soup is no exception. It’s colorful, flavorful, and filling without landing with a thud in your guts. It also comes together pretty quickly, making it great for a weeknight, and, depending on how many you’re feeding, has the potential for leftovers later in the week.

FYI: You can totally leave out the meatballs and replace the chicken stock with veggie stock and this would be vegan and vegetarian.

Equipment

Your favorite large soup pot
A spoon suitable for turning the meatballs and stirring the soup
Knife and cutting board
Measuring spoons
Measuring cups
Paper towel lined plate for holding the browned meatballs while you assemble the rest of the soup

Ingredients
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground lean turkey
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

For the soup:
1 small yellow onion, medium dice
1 Pasilla pepper, seeded, medium dice
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained but NOT rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes
15 ounce can tomato sauce
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, garlic powder, chile powder, and Mexican oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the spices, salt, and pepper into the ground turkey and form it into walnut sized balls. Heat your soup pot over medium high heat, add the canola oil, and brown but do NOT cook through the meatballs. They’ll finish cooking through in the soup. You’ll probably want to do them in two batches to avoid crowding the pot.

Hold the meatballs on the paper towel lined plate while you put together the rest of the soup.

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Add the diced onion and pepper to whatever fat is left behind in the pot. Saute until the peppers are softened slightly and the onions are translucent. Lower the heat to medium, then add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Let all that hang out for 2-3 minutes while you open and drain all your cans. Add the diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, and the spices. You can also add black pepper if you want, but don’t add salt until the very end because the soup will reduce a bit and you don’t want it to get too salty.

Give all that another big stir, and let it simmer together for about 5 minutes. Then, add the stock and the browned meatballs, knock the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer away for about 30 minutes.

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Remove the lid, and let it continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, then give it a little taste to see how much salt, if any, you want to add. There’s so much flavor in there already, I only added maybe an 1/8th of a teaspoon.

You can garnish this with pretty much anything you think works. We used diced avocado and a lime wedge, because a little squeeze of lime juice at the end brings another layer of flavor to the party. You could also use tortilla chips or strips, shredded cheese, sour cream or Mexican crema, sliced olives, or some rough chopped cilantro. Of course, a bottle of hot sauce might come in handy, too, if some of you want to kick up the heat in there.

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I hope you’ll give this one a try. If you do, let me know how it works out for ya. Enjoy!

Farmer’s Market Dinner

Tonight’s dinner menu