Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weeknight Madness: Pasta Fagioli (Italian Bean and Pasta Soup)

Pasta Fagioli or as it sometimes called Pasta "Fazool" is an Italian style peasant soup which includes two inexpensive ingredients pasta and beans.  You just need to add a few readily available ingredients  and you have a delicious, healthy and satisfying soup.

What I love about this soup is it is forgiving.  A little less of this, a little more of that, it's all good.  A
 key ingredient for complexity and depth of flavor is to add a small piece of Parmesan to the simmering stock (A wedge of Parmesan lasts forever wrapped properly in the refrigerator).

I have made this soup with a variety of ingredients over the years and have never been disappointed. The recipe below is a great foundation for a wonderful soup. Don't hesitate to experiment.  Add a little pancetta, roasted chicken or green it up with spinach or kale.  Either way, you are going to love it.

This is a great weeknight soup easily prepared and served in under 30 minutes. You can prepare a batch for freezing, serving a crowd or enough for a table of two.



Pasta Fagioli
Serves 4


Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3  garlic cloves, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
14-ounces chopped, crushed or pureed tomatoes
1 queart chicken stock
2- 14 ounce cans Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Parmesan rind (optional)
1-1/2 cups small pasta
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a medium (6-quart) Dutch oven.  Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook until almost soft.  Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add basil and oregano.

Add stock: add beans, Parmesan rind, and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer (about 15 minutes).

Add pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until pasta is al dente (about 10 minutes).

Add a grating of Parmesan cheese to each bowl and chopped parsley.

Serve and enjoy!

Pin It

Monday, March 23, 2015

Savoring the Seasons: Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

It is time to get more creative with salad! With a few twists and turns combining flavors and textures, you can create a healthy salad to be served alone or as a hearty side dish.

In this salad, hearts of palm takes center stage, and it is best described as similar to white asparagus but tastes of an artichoke.  The heart of palm is the edible stem in a variety of palms grown in the U.S., Costa Rica and Brazil. Hearts of palm are readily available in supermarkets and can be located easily in your canned food aisle.

This is a Brazilian version using lime zest and fresh lime juice blended with a small amount of mayonnaise and oil to provide a creamy citrus dressing for the hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, avocado and slivers of onions.

If you have not discovered the versatility of the hearts of palm this is a good place to start with this easy to prepare, and delicious salad.


Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad
Serves 4
Recipe from Food and Wine


Ingredients:
1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small sweet onion, cut into thin slivers
Two 14-ounce cans hearts of palm, drained and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
In a medium bowl, toss the halved cherry tomatoes with the onion slivers, hearts of palm, avocado and chopped parsley.  In a small bowl, whisk the lime zest and lime juice with the mayonnaise and oil;  season the dressing with salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the salad, toss gently and serve right away.

Enjoy!
Pin It

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Wine and chocolate can be an incredible pairing, together competing for immediate attention.  Eating these cookies is like eating "fudge, a brownie, and a cookie at the same time" and paired with a cabernet or zinfandel is cause for swooning, and an intense in your face experience.

Saturday evening was reserved for Wine Club and Cabernet Sauvignon was the theme.  If you are not familiar with Cabernets they are a full bodied wine with naturally high tannins, which allow this variety to spend time in oak barrels, aging beautifully.  This is a wine that goes better with food, it can be overwhelming on its own.

I have sung the praises for wine and chocolate-it can be easily said a tall glass of cold milk or a couple of cookies neatly packed in a lunch box is also reason for swooning.

These are the ultimate chocolate cookies.


Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
Makes 36 cookies
Recipe from Allrecipes


Ingredients:
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup flour
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon instant-coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

2.  Beat butter with brown sugar and white sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then stir in coffee granules and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in melted chocolate.  Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Cover, and let stand 35 minutes so chocolate can set up.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto prepared sheets, spacing 2-inches apart.

4.  Bake until cookie edges are set but centers are stil very soft. 10-12 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!
Pin It

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Warmer Side of Winter: Citrus Chicken Chili

Winter in Florida means there is an abundance of citrus fruits.  There are great ways to add a little zest or juice to your dishes to brighten the color and flavor.  This citrus chili dish is a perfect example.

The twist in this recipe is the broth which includes a variety of peak season citrus juices (lime, orange and lemon).  Garbanzo beans (chick peas) replace the more traditional chili beans.  I am almost hesitant to call it chili because it is brothy and light, not heavy.  The addition of crumbled feta and minced parsley add a pop of color and a hint of saltiness.

A beautiful, so easy, so delicious chili reflecting the elements of a warmer winter climate.



Citrus Chicken Chili
Serves 8
Recipe adapted from Bush Beans

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1(16-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded
4 cups chicken stock
2- 16 -ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine.
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, green pepper, oregano, cumin and chili powder.  Cook 3-4 minutes until vegetables are soft.

Add tomatoes, citrus juices, chicken, stock and beans.  Lower heat; simmer 20-25 minutes.

Serve topped with feta cheese and parsley.

Enjoy!


Pin It

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Charred Onion Dip with Crudités

Shift your attention to the center……. "They are not crudités without a place to dip them".

Tossing shallot, leek and scallions with olive oil, and salt then broiling until charred brings out the natural sugars and provides a mellow caramelized flavor which simply put is amazing.

For your next get together don't forget the crudités platter.  My platter is very simple and was intended to showcase the dip. Don't heistate to use vegetables that are in season, and ramp up the colors with multiple hues of vegetables.



Charred Onion Dip
Makes about 1- 1/2 cups
Recipe from Bon Appetit


Ingredients:
1 thinly sliced shallot
1 thinly sliced leek
2 thinly sliced scallions
2 tbs. olove oil
Salt
1 grated garlic clove 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped thyme
2 Tbsp. Buttermilk
Additional salt and pepper

Directions:
Heat broiler.  Toss thinly sliced shallot, leek and scallions with olive oil;season with salt.  Broil, tossing once, until charred, 10-15 minutes.  Let cool.  Mix with garlic clove, mayonnaise, sour cream, fresh lemon juice and thyme.  Thin with buttermilk.  Season withs alt and pepper. Serve.

Enjoy!

Pin It

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dirt to Table Experiences: Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

A walk through my winter garden beds reveal damaged leaves from late evenings of below freezing temperatures, soggy root systems caused by the deluge of rain that quickly followed.  A bed of stunning bok choy was given up as a sacrifice to save my large head cabbages from pesky garden pests.  Mother Nature was not kind this season.  I have put my hands up and surrendered to her wrath.  As a tease to call me to the spring garden she left a few gems of cabbage, broccoli and carrots untouched in the garden.

One of the most amazing dishes to create from seasonally available vegetables is a great pot of soup, and nothing beats a good old-fashioned vegetable beef soup.  This soup is loaded with colorful vegetables and provides comfort on a cold night, or any occasion is perfect.

The recipe below is delicious, hearty and dependable.  Don't hesitate to alter the vegetables you use in this recipe, change it up for what is locally available or in season.



Vegetable Beef Soup
Makes 6 hearty servings



Ingredients:
1 lb. ground chuck
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 cups chopped green cabbage
4-5 medium carrots sliced (thick cut) 
1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced
1 cup cut green beans frozen or fresh
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 teaspoons, each dried oregano, basil and thyme
2 cups peeled and diced russet potatoes
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add beef, brown, and transfer cooked hamburger to a bowl and set aside.

Add onions and garlic to the Dutch oven and sweat over medium heat until softened, 5 minutes.  Stir in cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, celery, basil, thyme and oregano. Partially cover and cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in broth, tomatoes, broccoli florets, green beans and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes.

Serve now or later. You can even freeze it.

Enjoy!







Pin It

Friday, January 2, 2015

Savoring the Season: Preserved Meyer Lemons

It's That Time of Year!  If you have been following my blog you already understand the excitement when the Meyer Lemons on my backyard tree are ready to harvest.

Meyer lemons are the sweethearts of the citrus kingdom.  A mature tree can produce hundreds of lemons in one season. What do you do with a few hundred lemons?  You share, bake, freeze, make cocktails and finally, you preserve them.

Preserving Meyer Lemons (or any lemon variety) is simple. There are only two ingredients Lemons and Salt. The only hard part is waiting 4 weeks for them to be ready to use.  Preserved lemons are excellent in soups, stews and salads. Your preserved lemons will last up to a year in your refrigerator once they are ready to use.


Preserved Meyer Lemons
Makes 1 Quart
Recipe Adapted from Fine Cooking


Ingredients:
6-8 large organic Meyer lemons (Any variety of lemons will work)
1/2 cup kosher salt

Directions:
Sterlize a quart size canning jar  in boiling water or run it through the dishwasher to sterilize.
Cut 6 of the lemons lengthwise into 6 wedges each and remove the seeds.  Put about 2 Tbs. of salt in the jar and put 6 wedges on top.  Press down on the wedges with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon to partially juice and compact them.  Repeat in layers with remaining lemon wedges and salt.  Squeeze enough juice from the remaining lemons to cover the lemons in the jar.  Close the jar with the lid.

Keep at room temperature for 4 weeks, inverting the jar about once a day to mix the salt and juice, and adding more fresh lemon juice as necessary to keep lemons covered.  After 4 weeks, they're ready to use.  Rinse the lemons throughly before using.  The peel and flesh are both edible.  Store refrigerated for up to a year.

Enjoy!
Pin It
Related Posts with Thumbnails