Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Larry Doolittle

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chilled Yellow Squash Soup with Cured Strawberries

Normally I would not post a summer squash recipe in the late winter but, this was an exception.   We came across decent yellow squash at Trader Joe's and this soup was weighing heavy on our mind.  Without further fuss, we scooped up the squash.

This chilled soup tastes like summer in a bowl.  The addition of a cured strawberries really intensifies the flavor and texture of this soup.

No doubt when summer squash is in season and you can pick it up at your local farmers market, or out of your garden, this will be one over the top chilled soup.  Until that time this soup is still delicious as a light meal or starter.

Remember? I like simple, complicated food gives me hives.  

In simplicity there is beauty

Yellow Squash Soup with Cured Strawberries
Serves 8
Recipe from Smoke and Pickles


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 pounds yellow squash, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1.  To make the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add th eonion and cook until transluent, about 2 minutes.  Add the yellow squash and thyme and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the squash is soft all the way through.  Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

2.  Transfer the soup to a blender, add the sour cream and salt, and puree on high until very smooth, about 2 minutes.  Check the consistency:  if the soup is a little gritty, strain it through a fine mesh-sieve. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

3.  About 1 hour before serving, make the strawberries:  Slice the strawberries into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place them in a glass bowl.  Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the strawberries and gently toss them with your fingers-making sure not to crush them.  Let them cure for an hour at room temperature, no longer, or they will get too soft.

4.  To serve, ladle the chilled soup into bowls.  Top each one with a few cured strawberries.  Crack some fresh black pepper over the top and serve immediately.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submittd by Berl Childers

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Art of Salad: Fennel Slaw with Grapefruit, Cracked Pepper, and Pistachios

There are a million creative and innovative ways to prepare fennel.  It can be grilled, roasted, braised, sautéed, added to soups and stews, and still my favorite way is to use fennel in salads.   The crisp crunch of raw fennel with a very subtle anise flavor is beautiful and provides a worthy foundation for an out of the ordinary salad.

In this easy to prepare salad, fennel is paired up with citrus and roasted pistachios with a pop of cracked black pepper that you can feel on your tongue without being the slightest bit overwhelming.   The light vinagrette is used to toss the ingredients in a mariage of flavors and textures.

Next time you are moving through your Farmer's Market, the produce section of your grocery aisle or thinking about what to plant in your garden- Don't Forget the Fennel

Fennel Slaw with Grapefruit, Cracked-Pepper, and Pistachios
Serves 4
Recipe from Fine Cooking


3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
1-1/2 Tbs. white-wine vinegar
2 large fennel bulbs with fronds (about 3lb.) trimmed (reserve fronds), halved lengthwise, cored, and very thinly sliced
1/3 cup unshelled pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Coarsely cracked black pepper
1 large pink grapefruit

In a large bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar.  Add the fennel and half of the nuts.  Finely chop the reserved fronds and add half of them to the bowl.  Crumble 1/2 teaspoon of the salt into the bowl and a generous pinch of cracked black pepper, and toss to coat.

Slice of the ends of a grapefruit to expose the fruit.  Stand the fruit on a cut end, and slice off the skin and pith, following the natural curve of the fruit from top to bottom.  Cut on each side of the membrane to free the segments, then cut the segments in half and add them to the fennel.  Toss gently and season to taste with salt.  Serve immediately topped with the remaining nuts and fronds, a pinch of pepper, and a light drizzle of oil.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Rebecca Subbiah

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Salad

When was the last time you had this much color on your plate? Mother nature ensures that when we embrace the spectrum of colors and add it to our plates that we are doing our bodies good.

This black bean and corn salad is easy to put together with just a few good ingredients, then tossed with a light lime vinagrette that brings it together and seals the deal.

Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Salad
Serves 6
Recipe from Whole Foods

2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups added no-salt, cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add corn and cook for 1 minute, then drain well and rinse in cold water, and drain again.  ( If using frozen corn skip this step.)  Meanwhile,  rinse onions in cold water to remove some of their sharp acidic flavor, drain well, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, lime juice salt and pepper to make a dressing.  Add beans, corn, onions, and bell pepper and toss until just incorporated.  Cover and chill for about two hours.  Add cilantro and toss again just before serving.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Matt Wilson

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato "Fries"

Got sweet potatoes? Did you know that orange fleshed sweet potatoes have a significant amount of beta carotene (Vitamin A)?  Did you know that just the addition of 1 tablespoon of olive oil can ensure that our body increases the uptake of beta carotene to about 35% of our daily requirement? There are a lot of good reasons to toss a bag sweet potatoes in your grocery cart.

I enjoy roasting potatoes to serve as a side dish but have discovered that roasting sweet potatoes with a hint of olive oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper can bring it up a notch both in flavor and nutrition.

Baked Sweet Potato "Fries"
Serves 4
Recipe from Ina Garten

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into three long spears.  Place them on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil.  Spread the potatoes in one layer.  Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes.  Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula.  Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve hot.