Summer’s Final Days – Caponata

Caponata Bowl 1

I hope everyone has enjoyed this summer. We have been particularly busy this year but have still had time to enjoy all the wonderful produce that is at the markets this time of year. It will be gone before we know it.

Caponata Veg 1

We’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling, culminating in a 2-week trip to Washington and Montana. This is the one time of the year that I put work and the frantic pace of daily life in Virginia behind me. NO TRAFFIC – Ahhh! There is a reason they call Montana “Big Sky.”

Montana

My first experience with caponata was years ago, when a colleague who was living in Rome at the time asked if I would send some coffee to him from Bogota, Colombia, where I was living. I agreed if he would send me a box of Italian pantry items in return. He did not disappoint; what a haul! Years later, I’ve never forgotten it. One of the items in the box was a can of caponata. Even the Italian canned version was delicious and I resolved to make a fresh version at home.

Caponata toast 1

I’ve tried many versions of caponata over the years, but this one surpassed all the others. Maybe it’s the capers. My husband is always giving me a hard time about my extreme love of capers. Honestly, I could eat them on almost anything – well, maybe not ice cream…hmmm.

Caponata Bowl 2

Caponata is a sweet and sour cooked vegetable dish that originated in Sicily as a side for fish dishes. It was originally made with eggplant and celery, but today there are numerous versions that can contain everything from pine nuts to octopus.

Caponata Veg 2

Caponata is a wonderful way to use up some of that extra summer produce from the garden or the farmers market. It can be used in a variety of ways – as a side with virtually any meat, or as part of an antipasto platter. I’ve even seen it whirred in a blender with olive oil and vinegar and made into salad dressing. However, my favorite way to enjoy it is for lunch as a topping on crusty bread with a nice schmear of fresh ricotta or goat cheese.

Caponata toast 2

Eggplant Caponata

6 Cups

Caponata can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Serve warm or at room temperature. Feel free to substitute zucchini for the summer squash or even use one of each. Serve as a side dish, as a dip for pita crisps or crackers or on bread with ricotta or goat cheese.

1 eggplant, about 14 ounces, trimmed and sliced crosswise, 1/2 inch thick

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 yellow summer squash

5 white mushrooms, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 large tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 ounces tomato sauce

1 roasted red pepper, chopped, or 1 4-ounce can chopped pimento

1 tablespoon drained capers

6 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the eggplant slices on an oiled sheet pan and brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly then chop and set aside.

Slice the summer squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Chop into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large wide saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat until the surface is shimmering and you can smell the oil, 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, onions and chopped squash to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute.

Stir in the red wine and vinegar. Add the tomato, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the tomato softens, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the tomato sauce, roasted red pepper, capers, olives, basil, parsley, and the chopped eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Adapted from Pacific Northwest the Beautiful by Kathy Casey

A Summer Salad – Coleslaw with Pineapple and Jalapeño

Coleslaw !

Now that Memorial Day is a couple of weeks behind us, it’s “officially” summer, even if the solstice is still 2 weeks away. I know this because I just popped the first bright yellow cherry tomato off one of the tomato plants and ate it right there in the garden with the sun beating down. Mmmmm! I love taking a bowl of them to work to have with my lunch. Such a nice change from our usual green salad.

Eating that cherry tomato is actually how I discovered that I accidentally bought two cherry tomato plants rather than a cherry and a big tomato plant, as I had intended. Ooops! That’s okay. It was an excuse to go buy another tomato plant and a few corn plants as well. Now I have an even bigger “farm” than I did before and, more important, even more tomatoes this summer.

Coleslaw 2

So I go a little nuts with the summer veggies. My next-door neighbor saw me as I was carrying the box of plants to the garden and exclaimed…”more plants, Jeannine? Is that CORN? Big corn or little corn?” Truth be told, I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess I’ll find out. And I’m still laughing about the incredulous look on his face. Hmmm, I guess it’s like the cookbook thing. I may have a veggie problem.

This salad is ideal for the warm, humid days of summer. Other than a few items during the holidays, I don’t have a lot of go-to recipes that I make all the time. My husband often jokes about my “5-year rotation” on recipes. This salad is the exception. I first prepared it many years ago while living in Athens, Greece. I served it at a Memorial Day picnic I had at my house and it was a huge hit. Sour cream was totally unavailable in Athens, but Greek yogurt made a great substitute, and I’ve used it ever since.

Coleslaw 3

Coleslaw with Pineapple and Jalapeño

8 Servings

The jalapeño in this recipe does not make this salad fiery hot, rather it adds a nice spiciness. Feel free to adjust up if you like a little more heat, or even leave it out. The salad can be made 1 day ahead.

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeños

1/2 pound cabbage, cored and sliced (approx. 8 cups)

1/2 fresh pineapple, cored and trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (approx. 2 cups)

3 green onions, sliced

Whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the chiles, then add the cabbage and pineapple and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Right before serving, stir in the green onions and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Adapted from The El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook by Park and Norma Kerr 

Cheese Mustard Bread

Cheese Bread Blog 1

Happy Mothers Day! Some may wonder why I chose a bread recipe for a Mothers Day post when the food blogosphere is full of Mothers Day brunch ideas, many of which sound fabulous. Actually, my mother never has been the breakfast in bed type. However, I think she would really like this bread.

Remember Gourmet magazine? I still mourn the demise of that magazine. I guess it was about a year before they ceased publication that they started doing a Gourmet Cookbook Club. I bought every book they recommended, and what a selection it was. There was something for everyone, from Chinese food to breakfasts. This recipe was taken from one of the Gourmet Cookbook Club book recommendations.

Cheese Bread Blog 3

The Art & Soul of Baking is a beautiful book that was published by Sur la Table. They chose professional pastry chef and cooking instructor Cindy Mushet to write the book. It’s full of classic pastries like the ones I learned to make in culinary school, but there are some interesting twists as well. I will probably never take the time to actually cook all the recipes in one book, but I sort of keep a list of a few cookbooks in my head that I wouldn’t mind revisiting quite frequently. This is one of those books.

Cheese Bread Blog 2

I’ve always really enjoyed making bread. I love how the dough looks fluffy after the first rise and the feel of it in my hands. I love the idea of creating something that people in all cultures of the world have been making and eating for centuries. No matter how time marches on, there will always be bread.

This cheese bread has some great possibilities. A slice of it would be great along side a bowl of soup. I tried using it for a grilled cheese sandwich — off the charts. I’ve also had it toasted in a pastrami sandwich, but roast beef would be equally good. I’d always wanted to try making a cheese bread; and when I saw this recipe, I knew this one was it.

Cheese Bread Recipe Header

Cheese Mustard Bread

 1 Loaf

This recipe initially called for cheddar cheese, but don’t limit yourself to cheddar. You could vary the type of cheese with the type of mustard you use. I ended up using something called Catamount Hills Cheese, described as “an Italian-type cheese with notes of Swiss and Parmesan,” with Dijon mustard.

  • 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F.)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 4 ounces of cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) bread or unbleached all-purpose flour, plus a little more for kneading
  • 1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Place water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes foamy. Meanwhile, grate the cheese into a separate bowl, using the large holes of a box grater, mix it with 1 tablespoon of the flour and set aside. Whisk the milk and melted butter in a medium bowl.

Place the remaining flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook installed. Mix for 1 minute on medium speed to blend. Add the yeast mixture, milk mixture, and Dijon mustard to the bowl and blend on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the cheese and knead for 2-3 minutes longer. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 20 minutes. This allows the dough to fully hydrate before continuing to knead it. Turn the mixer speed to medium low and continue to knead the dough until it is firm, elastic, and smooth, 3-6 minutes.

Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and spread a little oil over the surface of the dough. Cover the dough and place in a draft-free location to rise until doubled in size, approximately 45-60 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Firmly press the air out of the dough, but do not knead it. Press the dough into a rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds. It should be the same size as the loaf pan. Lightly coat the loaf pan with butter or oil and place the dough in the pan, seam side down. Lightly oil the top of the loaf, cover with a damp towel and place in a draft free location until the dough has risen 1/2 to 1 inch above the pan, about 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg. Bake for 40 minutes. The bread should be golden brown, and the internal temperature should be 200 degrees. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet

Roasted “Bunny” Carrots with Honeyed Mustard

Carrots header

I hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful Spring day with friends and family. When I wrote this the sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the birds were chirping as I sat next to an open window taking it all in. I was smiling indeed.

Carrots 1

I’ve wanted to do a roasted vegetable recipe on the blog for some time. It is actually my absolute favorite way to cook and eat vegetables – drizzle with olive oil, roast at 400 until fork tender, sprinkle with sea salt, and eat. Then while the husband is out walking the dog, sneak a few more pieces of the leftovers, mmm. Food eaten on the sly just tastes better, don’t you think?

My husband probably would not mind me eating these leftovers in their entirety. His dislike of cooked carrots is notorious. His mother used to say that carrots were only good for horses, and I believe it rubbed off on him. But, these carrots are so good, I think he’ll even eat them.

Carrots are part of the “umbrella” family of vegetables and are related to parsnips, fennel, parsley, anise, caraway, cumin, and dill. They are said to lower chances of cardiovascular disease, probably because of the gajillion vitamins and antioxidants they contain.

Carrots 2

These beauties would probably be even nicer if you used the multi-colored bunches of carrots that are turning up in the stores these days. They make a nice side for an Easter meal, or any other time of the year for that matter.

Carrots Recipe Header Roasted Carrots with Honeyed Mustard

6 Servings

When I roast vegetables I usually just put them in the bare pan and let the olive oil keep them from sticking. Because of the honey in this recipe be sure to use foil in the pan, and spray it well.

2 pounds “bunny carrots” with green tops, tops trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

3 tablespoons whole grain mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray well with cooking spray or oil.

Stir the mustard, olive oil, and honey together in a large bowl. Toss in the carrots and mix well (hands really work best for this) until thoroughly coated. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Roast the carrots in the oven until they are fork tender, approximately 25 minutes.

Sprinkle the carrots with the parsley and serve.

Adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine

Buckwheat-Feta Burgers with Parsley Sauce

Buckwheat Header

 

Today’s recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian — a far cry from Paleo or Primal. So it seemed a good time to discuss my food philosophy a bit. What else should we do when ice is falling out of the grey sky?

Since starting Jeannine’s Cuisine (the blog, not the personal chef business), I’ve often toyed with the idea that I should have some sort of brand, or theme, or specialty. Actually, when people find out I went to culinary school and cooked professionally, one of the first things I’m asked is what I specialize in. Huh? Okay, I love all things Mediterranean; after all, I lived in Greece. But I love a good Asian meal as well. Let’s not forget the French influence from culinary school and trips abroad, and then there’s the pastry. So I guess my brand is just what it says…Jeannine’s Cuisine. This is the way I cook and eat. Sometimes, I prepare a totally Paleo meal for my husband. Other times he fends for himself while I have macaroni and cheese.

Buckwheat 1 cake

There are a million diets/eating plans out there. Hardly a day goes by without hearing about a new one. I want to be healthy and happy just as much as the next person, but I am of a mind that as long as I focus on lots of good produce, some healthy, i.e. grassfed/organic protein, and, for me, some whole grains, I can afford the occasional indulgence. I’ve done a lot of reading on nutrition, both the low fat (remember those days?) and the low carb camps. I’ve read the testimonials and think for many people, especially those with autoimmune issues or food allergies, the Paleo diet can be a lifesaver. I’m just not one of them.

Buckwheat Stack light

So what can you expect on Jeannine’s Cuisine? Real food. We avoid processed food as much as possible, buy organic when we can, and aside from some whole grain bread from Whole Foods and a stash of Greek yogurt, we generally try to make everything from scratch. But there are limits. I don’t have a dairy cow or goats to make my own cheese, nor do I raise chickens and don’t intend to start. And yes, after a long day at work, I’ve been known to order pizza or Chinese. Gasp! But you won’t find recipes calling for packaged foods or cans of mushroom soup here. What you will find is a variety of good food. Some recipes are easy and suitable for a week night, others take a little (or a lot) more work. But they are so worth it.

Buckwheat Top down 1

I’ve been trying to add more whole grains into my diet, without feeling like I’m having cereal for lunch or dinner. These burgers hit the nail on the head. The buckwheat cooks up just a little bit crunchy on the outside then you bite into the creamy center flavored with feta cheese and thyme. The parsley sauce is a little bit like Argentine chimichurri – tangy and little bit citrusy, a nice contrast to the nuttiness of the buckwheat.

Buckwheat stack dark

Buckwheat-Feta Burgers with Parsley Sauce

4 Servings

You will need to find raw buckwheat groats for this recipe, not kasha, which is toasted buckwheat. You might be able to find it at the larger Whole Foods stores, but you can definitely buy it online from Amazon. The parsley sauce that accompanies the burgers can stand on its own. I imagine it would be delicious with pan-roasted salmon. Or, you could also dilute it with a little oil and vinegar and use it for salad dressing. I prefer the burgers plain, but you could also serve them in lettuce leave or on a regular bun with lettuce, onion, and tomato.

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup buckwheat groats

3/4 teaspoon fine salt, divided

1 cup clean, dry lightly packed fresh parsley leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon dry oregano

1/4 teaspoon, plus a large pinch red pepper flakes, divided

a few drops Tabasco sauce

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion (about 1/2 medium onion)

6 tablespoons quick cooking oats

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare the buckwheat by placing the water, buckwheat and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 2 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Place buckwheat in a large bowl and set aside for 20 minutes while you make the sauce.

Place parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic oregano, red pepper flakes and Tabasco in the bowl of a mini food processor. Pulse until chopped; then, with the machine running slowly, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and blend until combined.

Make the burgers by adding the feta cheese, onion, oats, egg, thyme leaves, and peppers to the buckwheat in the bowl. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Use a table knife to divide the mixture (it will be thick and sticky) into four portions. Using wet hands, divide each of the four portions into two and form into burgers, approximately 3 inches in diameter. Place them on a sheet pan or large plate.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add four of the eight burgers and cook approximately 4 minutes per side until golden brown. Repeat with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining four burgers. Serve warm or at room temperature with the sauce.

Adapted from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck

 

 

Serious Comfort Food: No-Boil Macaroni and Cheese

Mac Post header

Okay, I surrender. I’ve had enough! Bring on Spring. I promise I won’t even complain when the heat and humidity of July roll around. It’s cold and gray, which wouldn’t be so bad if we had some snow coming down. Snow day! But so far, winter has been one long drawn out gloomy stretch of 20-30-degree days, some rain or sleet spitting out of the sky occasionally, usually during morning rush hour, and not much else.

Mac Fork

Days like this call for drastic measures. It’s time to get out the gardening books and dream of nicer days to come…flowers, fruits and vegetables, green leaves, and birds singing.

Mac one dish

It’s also time for some serious comfort food. Macaroni and cheese comes to mind, and this recipe does not disappoint. Rather than preparing the sauce and boiling the macaroni separately, the hot sauce is poured over the dry macaroni and baked. It couldn’t be easier and the result is delicious. The macaroni still has a nice bite to it, and the sauce cooks up perfectly creamy and cheesy.

Mac Recipe Header

No Boil Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 6

You could easily vary the type of cheese used to add some variety. When making the sauce, adding a little of the liquid at a time, 2-3 times and whisking between each addition before adding the remaining milk/water, will make a smoother sauce and prevent it from breaking.  

Mac 2 Dish Side 

4 ounces (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk

3 cups water

1 tablespoon salt, plus more for seasoning

1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning

1 pound elbow macaroni

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until a paste forms, about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk a little at a time, whisking between each addition before adding the remaining milk and 3 cups of water. Bring saucepan contents to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently until mixture thickens to a thin glossy sauce, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat.

Toss the pasta and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese in a 9×13 or other 3-quart baking dish. Pour the sauce over the pasta, submerging the pasta. Do not stir. Cover the dish with foil, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Or you can do what I did and just wipe out the saucepan and use that to avoid dirtying up another pan. Add garlic, Panko, and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Take the dish out of the oven and remove the foil. The pasta will be almost tender, but there will still be a lot of liquid. Don’t worry it will cook. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and the Panko mixture. Place the pan back in the oven (without the foil) and bake until the edges are bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Allow pasta to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Mac Full Casserole

Adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2013

 

 

 

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.

Soup 2

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

 

 

 

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

Tomato Soup 4

Some people may question the sanity of posting a soup recipe in the “dog days” of summer, especially those in places where the temperature normally exceeds 90 degrees. We’ve been fairly lucky this year in terms of having a hot summer. The Washington, DC, area can usually be compared to a steam bath around this time, but this year has been different, and, I must say, there will be no complaints from me. I love fall and it’s usually this time of year that I start thinking about that first morning I walk outside to discover a telling crispness in the air.

Tomato Soup 2

Meanwhile, we still have a couple of summer months left and lots of summer produce to use up – tomatoes anyone? Tomato soup is one of my favorite foods, and if you pair the soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s a total win, win. How do you like your grilled cheese sandwiches? I prefer a fairly dense country style bread because it can hold more cheese that way. I spread the bread with a combination of mayonnaise and strong mustard and then add the cheese, usually whatever I have on hand. Lately it’s been cheddar slices, but any kind will do. I also add some ham, if I have some and maybe some thinly sliced pickles. Butter up the outside of the bread and fry it until crispy. Yum, yum!

Tomato Soup 3

In this soup recipe, you roast all the vegetables before making the soup, which adds a wonderful smoky flavor. Don’t be afraid to get some char on the vegetables; it adds to the depth of flavor.

Tomato Soup 1

 Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup

I kept this soup on the rustic side, by just giving it a spin in my Vitamix. But if you prefer a smoother creamier soup, you can put it through a fine strainer before adding the cream.

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, approximately 1 pound

1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Halve the tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds and place cut-side up on half of a sheet pan or baking sheet. Trim the stalks and fronds from the fennel, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise then in half again and remove the core. Add the fennel and the onion pieces to the other half of the sheet pan. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands to coat. Roast the vegetables for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and carmelized. Remove pan from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the vegetables and the broth in a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to do this with half the vegetables and half the broth at a time.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large saucepan. Add the bay leaves and more salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then lower heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Hint: Now is the time to prepare your grilled cheese sandwich if you are making one. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the cream, if using it.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with fennel fronds.

Adapted from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Quinoa Cabbage Sauté with Lemon, Cabbage, and Dill

Quinoa 1 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.  I can’t believe it’s the 17th of March and when I got up this morning I was faced with this:

March Winter

The pansies I oh so carefully planted last weekend are buried in the stuff.  I just hope they survive.  Where is Spring?  It’s not supposed to be 23 degrees in mid-March!  Nevertheless, it’s still Saint Patrick’s Day, meaning all things Irish. It’s also a great reason to stock the fridge with Guinness.  Okay, I’ve never needed a special reason to stock up on Guinness, but for those who do, now is your chance.

Quinoa 2

Today’s dish is another repeat.  Not a repeat on the blog, but another amazing dish that I liked so much I wanted to make it and eat it a second time in short order.  It’s not actually Irish, but it does contain cabbage, so I guess we can go there.

Quinoa 3

I am not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m also not strictly a meat person.  Hmm, what DO I mean by that?  Well, I would never be happy having a chunk of meat with a side of vegetables for dinner every night.  My food has to have something extra.  It could be a sauce, a burst of lemon, perhaps some heat, but you will almost never see me eating a plain piece of protein seasoned with salt and pepper and that’s it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good steak, simply seasoned, but make that on occasion, not as a steady diet.

This dish is a vegetarian dish with a lot going on.  The quinoa and chickpeas provide protein, you get some nice saltiness from the olives and the lemon really brightens it up.  I eat this with a small container of plain Greek yogurt on the side for lunch and find that it fills me up just fine until dinner.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Quinoa 4

Toasted Quinoa Sauté with Lemon, Cabbage, and Dill

4 Servings

I have only made this recipe with red quinoa; however, I see no reason why you could not make it with any variety.  If you can’t find Savoy cabbage you could also use regular green cabbage.  If your pan is not big enough to cook all the cabbage at once, you can cook it in two batches.  I used Castelvetrano olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods for this, but Cerignola or even pitted Kalamata olives would also work.  This is a very flexible recipe that can be altered according to what you can find or have on hand.  

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided plus more for seasoning

1/2 cup red quinoa

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 head (approximately 1 pound) Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 ounces pitted large Green olives, halved

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

Greek yogurt or sour cream for serving

Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium size saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in quinoa and return to a boil.  Cover saucepan, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Uncover the pan, raise the heat to high and toast the quinoa until dry, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, about 5 minutes.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add the cabbage and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté until the cabbage is soft and golden brown. If the pan appears too dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.  Add the quinoa, raise the heat to high, stirring it into the cabbage until for about 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients, except for the yogurt.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine