Miso-Butternut Squash Soup –
Adapted from Mark Bittman, New York Times Magazine
I will confess, the first time I made this, I used fresh butternut squash; this time, I already had steamed and pureed squash from a CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture, i.e. local farm subscription) overflow in the freezer and used that. In this case, I sauteed the leeks alone, then added the garlic and ginger, then added the defrosted frozen squash and water.
- 1 1/2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1 leek, sliced length-wise, then chopped, and rinsed in a fine-mesh sieve
- 2 TBS peanut oil or coconut oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 4” piece of fresh ginger, bark removed, and chopped
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup miso
Heat the peanut oil in a large pot over medium heat; add the leeks and squash and cook for about 5 minutes. If you already have cooked squash like I do, then don’t add it with the leeks but with the water.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
Add the water (and squash if already cooked and pureed) and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
Take 1 cup of liquid out of the pot and add it to the miso in a small bowl; whisk well. Pour the miso mixture into the soup pot.
Puree, either using an immersion blender, or in batches using a standing blender, pouring the puree into a clean bowl.
Entertaining tip: This can be made earlier in the day and gently reheated when it’s time to eat.
Spicy Glazed Eggplant –
Adapted from Gourmet magazine
The original recipe called for Japanese seven-spice powder (shichimi togarashi), which I could not find (although if I still lived in Chicago I could have bought some at The Spice House!), so I settled for a dash of cayenne pepper. Either way, it was delicious, and even my husband, not a huge eggplant fan, had seconds.
- 1 1/4 lb. eggplant, ideally Asian, otherwise the longest/thinnest Italian eggplant you can find, trimmed, halved or quartered lengthwise depending on size, then cut diagonally into 1 1/2” pieces
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 TBS mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated peeled ginger (use a box grater or Microplane)
- dash cayenne pepper
- 3 TBS peanut oil
- 1 TBS finely chopped chives (I use kitchen scissors)
Toss the eggplant and kosher salt together in a large colander and let sit in your sink for 45 minutes.
Rinse well in cold water, and dry very well using a clean kitchen towel.
In a small bowl combine the mirin, soy sauce, ginger and cayenne pepper.
Heat the peanut oil in a wok over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Stir-fry the eggplant until browned, about 8 minutes.
Add the mirin mixture and stir-fry for another minute or so, until the eggplant is glazed and tender.
Serve hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with the chives.
Entertaining tip: The eggplant can be prepared earlier in the day and kept in the fridge until cooking time. If you like, you can cook the eggplant up to 2 hours prior to serving; sprinkle on the chives just before serving.
Stir-fried Bok Choy and Cabbage
Adapted from Gourmet magazine
- 1 lb. bok choy, trimmed, cut lengthwise in thirds, then thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 lb. Savoy or Napa cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
- 3 TBS. peanut oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
Heat a wok or 12” heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour the oil down the side of the skillet and swirl it around the pan.
Add the garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds.
Add the bok choy, cabbage and sea salt and stir-fry about 5 – 6 minutes, until the cabbage is crisp-tender.
Serve drizzled with sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Entertaining tip: You can clean and chop the greens earlier in the day and store in the fridge. About an hour before company comes, slice the garlic and keep in a small bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge. Sesame seeds can be stored in the freezer until the next time you need them.