Last week was so busy that I only had time to post once. It busy in a fun way, in that I was doing things that I definitely wanted to be doing, but busy nonetheless and I’m looking forward to this relatively slower week by comparison. The weather seems like it’s going to be rainy and gloomy for the next few days, anyway, so I’m happy to just hang out at home. This weekend itself wasn’t too packed, but I always seemed to find myself clinging to just five more minutes of sleep come Monday morning. On Friday night, Kramer came along with me to a happy hour at work, then we headed back to Williamsburg to see Gravity. We are both huge fans of Alfonso Cuarón’s last feature, Children of Men (which I can’t believe came out seven years ago, but I guess it did), so we couldn’t wait to see his latest movie. We both really enjoyed it and felt stiff when we left the theater, because the entire time you’re clinging to your seat hoping that Sandra Bullock can grab onto something stationary after being flung through space for an hour. It was beautifully shot and I simply had a fun time watching it. It was definitely no Children of Men, but I’ll take it. I still want to see Prisoners, but that may have to wait until next weekend. On Saturday, we made the trek out to Jersey City to hang out with some friends at a beer garden to do a little Oktoberfesting. Kramer and I may have grumbled about having to head out to Jersey, but it wasn’t so bad and we had a fantastic time drinking beer, eating sausages and pretzels, and hanging out with friends. We were there for the entire day, then went back into the city for a little karaoke. I have to say, I never thought I’d like karaoke, but since moving to New York I have fallen in love with it. It’s great to be able to sing super loud over even louder music and not feel like an ass, especially when you’re like me and couldn’t carry a tune to save your life.
A couple of weekends ago, however, we had one last big end-of-summer barbecue at our friend Emily and Wesley’s apartment nearby, and we wanted it to be special. We figured that a clambake was the best way to go about that. I procured almost pounds of mussels and clams and cooked those up on the grill with plenty of andouille sausages, baby potatoes and corn. Kramer and I think that this was our best barbecue yet. I made focaccia, biscuits, chocolate chip cookies and brownies to go along with it, and added with the chicken, beef, lamb and salads that our friends brought, we had a serious feast on our hands. There’s nothing I love more than cooking outdoors – the mess is less apparent and you get to work on your tan (or in my case, lack-thereof), plus you can enjoy your barbecue with way more people than you would a more traditional party or dinner party, because those animals can keep it outdoors. I am really sad that the time is over for grilling, but Emily has promised that we can do it again bigger and better next summer, and a clambake is going to the first thing on my list next year! I promise I’ll make a post about it now that I feel confident that I know what I’m doing, too.
Out with summer and in with fall, so let me present this roasted carrot and sweet potato soup with candied walnuts. This was the first autumn soup that I made of the season, and let me say, it was a big hit with Kramer and me. The carrots and sweet potatoes have so much flavor and sweetness on their own that you really don’t need to add much else. I pureed them together with some onion, paprika, chile flakes, salt, pepper and thyme, and that was it. For a little extra texture, I added the candied walnuts, but you can just use regular walnuts or none at all, depending upon your preference. I made this on a Sunday for Kramer and I to eat for lunch all week, and surprisingly enough, we did not get sick of it and ate every last spoonful that was left in the fridge. You can do that, or freeze it and eat it at various intervals throughout the winter if you’re the kind of person who can’t eat the same thing every day. I went out and got some soup-friendly tupperware containers for the season, as I do like to make a lot of soups but sometimes you need a little variety and making a few different soups and freezing them is a great way to do that. I’ll be making this roasted carrot and sweet potato version again soon, though. You may not think of carrots and sweet potatoes as a go-to soup vegetable option, but this will definitely change your mind.
Chicken thighs, lamb chops and beef skewers.
The beginnings of a clambake – andouille sausage and potatoes.
We run this barbecue!
Kramer and Tom.
Morgan and Kramer.
Kramer and Tim.
Val, Tom, Robyn and Morgan.
Jessie and Lauren.
Candy your walnuts and set aside.
Roast your vegetables until fork tender.
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 8 cups of hot water
- 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and toss your chopped sweet potatoes, carrots and onion in your olive oil, salt, thyme, pepper flakes, paprika, and black pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until the sweet potatoes and carrots are fork tender.
- While your vegetables roast, candy your walnuts. Roughly chop them, then place in a pan with your brown sugar and butter over medium heat. Stir constantly, until the butter and sugar are melted and combined. Continue to cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a food processor or with an immersion blender, adding 1 cup of water at a time until it is combined with the vegetables, puree until smooth. You may not need all of the water, but it depends on how thin or thick you prefer your soup. Stir in your heavy cream. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Divide into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of candied walnuts. This soup will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 6 days or frozen for up to 4 months.