Creamy Carrot Soup with Ginger

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I was looking for a festive orange-colored soup for Halloween, but not really in the mood for the pumpkin soup I usually make this time of year. I wanted to make something a little lighter and brighter.

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Years ago I discovered cookbook author, Clifford A. Wright, when he wrote a fascinating book on the history of Mediterranean cuisine, which won the James Beard award for Cookbook of the Year. Since then I’ve discovered that not only is he an expert on Mediterranean cuisine, but he travels worldwide and writes about other cuisines as well. Traveling the world eating good food?  I want this guy’s job.

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According to Mr. Wright, carrot soup was probably created by the French. However their version, Puree Crecy, more than likely did not contain ginger. Whatever the origin of this particular soup, it’s a nice change from the standard carrot soup we made in (French) culinary school. The ginger adds a nice spiciness, without overpowering the soup.

carrot-soup-recipe

Creamy Carrot Soup with Ginger

6 Servings

As with all pureed soups you can do the final blending any number of ways.  This soup is best blended and strained until it is completely smooth. I recommend a high speed blender such as Vitamix or Blendtec.  However, if you don’t have one, a regular blender or a stick blender will also work. You will just need to strain the soup after blending it to make it as smooth as possible

2 tablespoons butter

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1.5 pounds young carrots, sliced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (about a 2-inch piece)

6 cups chicken broth

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup whole milk

2 cups half-and-half

chopped fresh cilantro for garnishing

  1. Melt the butter in a pot over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 15 minutes. Increase the heat to medium low, add the carrots and ginger and cook until softened, about 20 minutes.
  1. Add the chicken broth and the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup, in batches if necessary. Strain the soup if you want a smoother texture. Return the soup to the pan, add the milk and half and half and heat to serving temperature without letting it come to a boil. Check the seasoning. Garnish each bowl of soup with a sprinkling of the chopped cilantro.

Adapted from The Best Soups in the World by Clifford A. Wright

 

Arugula Salad with Persimmon and Stilton

Persimmon Salad 1

Can you believe Thanksgiving is here already? I shudder to think of how little time remains before Christmas. I tend to get so overwhelmed with stuff to do I end up not doing anything. Or, I jump from task to task and never finish anything. Not a great way to get things done. So, I’m trying the “three big rocks” method of time management…pick three things and don’t do anything else until you get those three things done. It sounds great on paper, doesn’t it?

Persimmons top down 1

The problem is, although I can stay laser focused at work, at home I am easily distracted. And there are a lot of distractions – the dog, the cats, a stack of cooking magazines to go through, cook books to rearrange, a birthday present for my husband to buy…

Salad closeup 2

This is the time of year that I really want to take the time to enjoy. I want to sit in front of that fire and read a book, or get outside and enjoy the fall crispness in the air. Experiment with some ingredients I don’t always cook with.

persimmons 2

Persimmons are one of those beautiful fall fruits that I’m always telling myself I should play around with, but never seem to get around to. I’m not a fan of eating them by themselves, but when I saw this recipe I had to try it. I had a bag of Meyer lemons in the fridge and loved the idea of a side salad that was more than our usual Romaine lettuce and vinaigrette.

persimmon salad 3

For those of you still looking to add one more side dish to the Thanksgiving table, this salad is it. Healthy, but definitely not boring – slightly bitter greens are paired with sweet persimmons, zinged with some Meyer lemon, and finally given a note of decadence with some creamy Stilton cheese. The variety of flavors in this salad will go with any fall meal. And it’s incredibly easy and fast to make. That’s a win win for the busy holiday season.

persimmon salad recipe 4

Arugula Salad with Persimmons and Stilton

Serves 4

If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons will work just fine. Meyer lemons are sweeter, so if you use regular lemons add an additional half a tablespoon or so of honey to the dressing. This salad is best served right after making it. But if you want to prepare it ahead, make the dressing separately and dress the salad right before serving.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 Meyer lemon finely diced with peel

2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice (from 1 Meyer lemon)

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced radicchio (1 large head or 2 small)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

2 quarts baby arugula

2 ripe Fuyu persimmons, top removed, halved and sliced into half-rounds

1/2 cup crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese (2 ounces)

Whisk the olive oil, diced lemon, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl you intend to serve the salad in.

Add the radicchio, arugula, and persimmons and toss with the dressing.

Divide the salad among four plates and top with the Stilton.

Adapted from Sunset Magazine, November 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Cacciatore

chicken first

You know that saying, “You don’t appreciate what you have until you almost lose it?” This time last week I thought I had completely lost my blog. Life was spinning out of control with busyness, and I neglected to renew the domain on WordPress. Then one day, about two weeks after it had expired, I tried to access my site and couldn’t. To say I had a meltdown is an understatement. But then reality inserted itself into my teeth gnashing and moaning and groaning (okay, I tend to exaggerate a little). Stop, hold the presses, I didn’t lose a family member. All the pets are okay. Jeannine, you’re getting this upset over a website?

chicken mug

I calmed down, contacted the support people at WordPress, who were extremely helpful, and as you can see, Jeannine’s Cuisine is up and running again, this time with automatic renewals scheduled. And, as a result, I did some serious thinking about what this blog means to me and why.

chicken beer

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post. It was an extremely busy summer and moving into fall it wasn’t much better. I actually considered putting the blog on hold until I retired. But I think everyone needs a creative outlet of some sort and this little blog, that I only manage to post to once in a while, is mine. It’s not a business, and may never become one, although it was, and perhaps still is, my goal. I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. However, it is a way to express myself and share what I love with friends and family. Yes, I did get upset, because each time I do a post I’m creating something that is essentially me- my thoughts, my cooking, my photography. And I get to share it with others. How cool is that?

Enough philosophizing. Let’s move on to the food, shall we? Aren’t you glad autumn is finally here? I know some people love summer and dread the coming of winter. But I’m one of those that needs summer so I can enjoy the transition to fall. Today’s recipe is perfect for today’s damp cloudy weather.

Vegetables

Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. This dish is a stewy chicken dish with onion, mushrooms, herbs, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Serve it with a side of pasta or some bread to soak up the sauce if that’s your thing, or if you are watching your carbs, it’s just as good by itself.

top down recipe

Slow Cooker (or not) Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 4-6

No slow cooker? No problem. Just make the recipe in a Dutch oven, bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. This dish is great for using up end of summer tomatoes, but if you don’t have any or can’t get decent ones, just substitute a 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes, chopped. To peel and seed the tomatoes, drop them in boiling water for 1 minutes. The peel will come right off. Cut in half horizonally and squeeze the seeds out.

3 tablespoons butter or other fat of choice, divided

2 pounds chicken thighs

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 tablespoon each of finely chopped basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram (or use 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Season the chicken very well with salt and pepper.  Do not fear the salt.

Raw Chicken

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan. Brown the chicken in the pan, in batches as necessary, about 5 minutes. The chicken should be golden brown. Transfer chicken pieces to slow cooker as you go.

Chicken

If you are cooking this dish on the stove, remove the chicken until you cook the vegetables, then add it back to the pot with the tomatoes.

Melt the remaining butter in the pan and sauté the onion, pepper, celery and mushrooms until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more. Pour the vegetable mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, paprika, herbs, and a little more salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Adapted from The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian and Chris Kresser

Happy New Year! – Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions

Soup 3

Happy New Year! In years past, this would be the time that I would be anticipating the wintery, dark, diet days of January that I would soon abandon in favor of what I refer to as “chocolate season” in February. I absolutely hate the word diet — so much deprivation! So, this year I’ve decided to take a different approach. Rather than a long list of resolutions, I’ve decided to follow Michael Pollan’s advice from his book, Food Rules — An Eaters Manual. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That’s it — simple, really.

I started Jeannine’s Cuisine in October of 2014 as a way to provide copies of my recipes to friends and family who were always asking for them. Since I started the blog, I’ve often asked myself if I should have some sort of theme — Mediterranean? gluten free? Paleo/Primal? Pastry? Then I realized that Jeannine’s Cuisine is all of that. It’s the way I eat, which encompasses a huge variety. But, in spite of my “everything in moderation” stance, there are still a few “rules” I go by for both this blog and the way we cook and eat.

Let me just put it up front – I love pastry. Of course, I do — I’m a former French-trained pastry chef. But, I seriously believe that sugar consumption is probably at the root of America’s obesity problem, and reading as much about nutrition as I do, I can’t recall EVER coming across anything that said it was good for you. Yes, I do some baking, and you will continue to see some baking recipes on the blog in the upcoming year, but, at least until February (smile), in limited quantities. It is January, after all. I tend to bake things I can freeze, then thaw one piece of whatever it is at a time. It keeps my sweets consumption in check, but still allows me the occasional treat with my afternoon tea, or even breakfast.

Another big part of Jeannine’s Cuisine that will continue in the New Year is to use/eat as little processed food as possible. I’d absolutely love to be one of those homemakers I read about who put up vegetables every fall and bake artisan bread every week. Unfortunately, I have something called a full time job that prevents that, but I can try. Yes, it’s a lot of work to do the cooking I do. I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen, but it’s so worth it when my husband beams when he has a spoonful of a delicious soup that I’ve just made from scratch.

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This butternut squash soup is one of his favorites. Mine too, for that matter. If you have a Vitamix or other high- speed blender, it will turn your soup into velvety goodness. If not, you can still get the same smoothness, it will just be a bit more work. Either way, as we look forward to the wintery, dark, no dieting days of January, we know we can stay warm inside with a delicious, good-for-you bowl of soup. Spring is a long way off. Stay warm my friends. Let’s make some soup!

 Soup 1Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions

6-8 servings

We used beef tallow for caramelizing the onions, but realize most people don’t keep tallow in stock. Bacon grease, butter or even some sort of mild oil will work as well, but you will need to adjust the heat on the onions accordingly to allow them to brown without burning the fat.

  • 2 sweet onions
  • 4 tablespoons fat of your choice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Halve the sweet onions lengthwise and thinly slice. Melt the fat in a frying pan and cook the onions on medium heat or lower, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Place the onions on a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the broth, squash, pears, thyme, salt, pepper and coriander. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender, approximately 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender in batches, pouring it into a bowl after each batch. If you do not have a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, after blending the soup, pour it through a fine strainer into a bowl, scraping it as necessary. After all the soup is blended, return it to the pot. Stir in the cream and reheat the soup, stirring frequently. Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of the caramelized onions.

Adapted from Los Barrios Family Cookbook by Diana Barrios Trevino

 

 

 

Finally Fall – Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

Shanks 1

It’s a beautiful Fall day, and the weather has finally cooled down enough to start doing some comfort food. I’m not a fan of cooking cool weather foods when it’s still summer outside, even if it’s the end of September, but by the time I start seriously considering hanging the glow-in-the dark skeleton by the front door, I know it’s time.

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Today’s post is inspired by the restaurant, Sebillon Elysee, in Paris. They are famous for their Allaiton de L’Aveyron gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb), which is wheeled out on a cart and carved tableside. It’s served over creamy white beans that come to the table bubbling away in a copper pot. This century-old restaurant is one of my favorites in Paris; very old-world style without being stuffy.

Shanks 3

I had never even heard of braising until I went to culinary school. Coq au Vin was the first braised dish I made, and I fell in love with it and the technique. Braising is the combination of searing food at a high temperature then cooking it in a liquid in a covered pot at a low temperature. The meat is then removed and the liquid left in the pan is reduced to make a sauce. Although braising takes some time, it’s mostly hands off, and the restaurant- quality results are worth the extra time. You end up with fork-tender meat and a luscious sauce. Anyone can braise; once you get this technique down the possibilities are endless.

Shanks 4

Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans

6 Servings

If you don’t like or eat beans, or you are following a Paleo or Primal program, this dish is just as good with a side of creamy mashed potatoes or some sort of vegetable puree such as cauliflower, turnips, or parsnips. I used navy beans because that was what was available, but any white bean, such as cannellini or great northern, will do.

1 1/2 cups dried white beans

6 8-12 ounce lamb shanks

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, diced

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups red wine

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 14.5 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

lemon zest from 1 lemon, grated

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Pick over the beans and soak them for at least 3 hours (preferably, overnight). Rinse the beans and place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring the beans to a boil, lower the temperature to a simmer, and cook the beans until tender, 45-60 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the lamb shanks. Thoroughly season the shanks with salt and pepper on all sides. In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the lamb shanks until brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove the shanks from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pot and cook until the onion softens, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Use a stiff spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and lamb shanks with any juices from the plate. Return the contents of the pot to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 1 1/2-2 hours. The meat should be very tender and falling off the bone. Remove the shanks from the pot and keep warm. Bring the pot contents to a boil and reduce to sauce consistency, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat, add the beans to the pot and cook on medium to warm the beans, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season the beans with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a spoonful of the beans on a plate or bowl and top with a lamb shank. Garnish with lemon and parsley.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Seasonal Favorites

 

 

Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup 2

A couple of years ago my husband and I had the opportunity to spend 2 years in Germany.  We absolutely loved living there and really miss it a lot. Actually, the only time I don’t miss Germany is in the summer.  Those summers in Stuttgart with no air conditioning were pretty brutal; however, the heat usually only lasted a couple of months, and it was followed by blue skies and cool breezes.  It was time to start planning the yearly trip to Munich for Oktoberfest.  But more important, it was time for Kürbissuppe, or pumpkin soup.

It seemed like every restaurant in Germany had seasonal dishes that you found everywhere.  Oh, how I miss those big fat white asparagus during Spargelzeit in Spring.  You always knew it was fall in Germany when the apples and walnuts appeared on the trees, and pumpkin soup appeared on the menu.

Herrenberg Street

I lived in a beautiful town just South of Stuttgart, called Herrenberg.  It wasn’t large, or small. In the words of one famous fictitious little girl; “it was just right.”  We lived close enough to walk downtown to the farmers’ market, the train station, and a few really good restaurants. I first had pumpkin soup at the Hotel Hasen Restaurant.  They always did something really original  with standard German cuisine, and this soup was one of those dishes.  If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Stuttgart, Germany, I highly recommend taking a side trip to Herrenberg.  In the meantime, let’s celebrate fall by making pumpkin soup.

Pumpkin soup 1

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut and Thai Curry

I’ve played around with this recipe for awhile.  I’ve made it with both fresh and canned pumpkin.  These days I’m leaning more towards keeping things fairly simple, so I made it with canned pumpkin. Make sure you use straight pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.  You could also use butternut or other winter squash.  I garnished the soup with a swirl of pumpkin seed oil, some chives, and a few toasted pumpkin seeds.  You can use any of those, some, or none.  A dollop of crème fraiche would also be nice.

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 leek, cleaned and diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (about 1/4 cup)

2 pounds sweet potato, diced

2 16-ounce cans pumpkin

Juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons red curry paste

8 cups vegetable broth

1 can coconut milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1.  Sauté the onion and leek in the coconut oil until limp.

2.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue cooking 1 more minute.

3.  Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until potato is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

4.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Taste soup and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.