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Pea, mint and spring onion soup

We had the wonderful opportunity to spend a week cruising along a canal in France. The chef on our boat prepared this wonderful fresh peas soup, she was kind enough to share it with me. Now that I would like  to share it with all of you.

Serves 8 for first course

 2 tablespoons of  butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 bunch, about 8, spring onions or green onions plus a few extra for serving

2 white potatoes, cut into small dice

2 one pound packages frozen petite peas, 32 ounces, if you use fresh peas from the market they may need a longer cooking time since the starch is often much higher in fresh peas. I say use the frozen peas then you k ow the end result will be perfect. 

1 cup fresh mint chopped 

8 1/2 cups of vegetable stock

Heat olive oil and butter when melted add potatoes and chopped onions. Saute without browning, about 5 minutes. Stir in stock and simmer about 10 minutes until potato is tender. 

Stir in peas, bring back to a boil and cook 3 minutes until just done. Remove pan from heat add mint leaves. Allow to cool slightly then purée in blender or food processor. Serve warm with a Parmesan crisp along side and a few finely minced mint leaves on top along with a few chopped chives or fine minced greens from onions.

PARMESAN  CRISPS are quick and easy to make or you can buy them at a specialty grocer. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment or use a Silpat 

Grate 1 cup of Parmesan cheese,  divide the cheese into 8 long strips on prepared baking sheet. Place under broiler or in oven at 400 degrees for 1 minute or until cheese is melted and lightly golden. Lift from baking sheet while still warm and flexible, allow to cool and serve with soup. 

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Waldorf Salad

Serves 6 – 8 as a starter salad

PREP
1 head of grilled radicchio
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper

Cut radicchio into quarters, leaving stem attached to each piece.  Brush each quarter with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill on a grill pan or barbeque about 5 to 7 minutes, flipping to lightly char all sides.  Remove to cool and slice into thin pieces.

WALNUT VINAIGRETTE

½ cup corn oil
¼ cup walnut oil
½ cup spiced walnuts or pecans (note I bought a package called Shale with maple glaze and cherries)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
Salt to taste

Place nuts and oils in a blender and mix until smooth.  Wash and dry blender then add all remaining ingredients and blend, once blended slowly add oil and nut mixture.  Set aside.

SALAD

2 cups gala or honeycrisp apples peeled and cut into ½ inch dice.
1 ½ – 2 cups red, seedless grapes, halved
1 ½ cups celery cut into ½ inch dice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
5 Belgian endive, diced (or ¾ cup yellow frisẻe)
½ cup chopped celery leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Toss apples, grapes, celery and radicchio with mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil, then toss with celery leaves and endive (or frisẻe is that is what you used).  Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of vinaigrette.

Plate salad and drizzle drops of vinaigrette around plate.  Sprinkle additional spiced nuts on top of each salad.  Note:  if you buy spiced nuts with cherries or cranberries in the mix, chop and ad them also.

Great with grilled meat or chicken.

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JALAPẼNO CORNBREAD

12 to 15 Servings

INGREDIENTS
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups pastry flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup corn oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 jalapẽnos, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F if using a convention oven)
Grease a large baking pan (approximately 9 inches by 13 inches) with butter or pan spray.

In a bowl of a standing mixer, combine the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, buttermilk, whole milk, sour cream, corn oil, vanilla extract, jalapẽnos and red bell pepper.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low speed until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the melted butter.  Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and mix the batter for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour the cornbread batter into the prepared pan.  Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 25 to 35 minutes.  Test doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cornbread.  The cornbread is finished baking when the toothpick comes out clean.  Remove the pan from the oven, place onto a baking rack and let cool.

TO SERVE:  Slice into squares and serve

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Posole

I first shared a bowl of Posole years ago while visiting friends in New Mexico and have worked on creating the warm spicy soup/stew off and on for years. The following recipe is my final draft I believe you will enjoy it as much as we do.

Last month we roasted a whole pig for a party and I had plenty of pork left over so used it instead of roasting a pork butt. The results were great, but I think it tastes better when made a day ahead and allowed to rest. When you make it ahead you my need to add extra chicken stock since the beans and hominy
absorb some of the broth.

Enjoy!

Posole

Pork
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 2lbs. boneless pork shoulder
Salt and pepper
1 red onion, sliced
½ cup water

Posole

¼ cup vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
8 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 –  28 oz. can drained pinto beans
3 pablano peppers roasted, peeled and chopped
1 – 28 oz. can white hominy, drained
1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice, pureed in blender
2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon dried cumin
Salt and pepper

Topping
Shredded milk cheddar cheese or cotija cheese, chopped fresh
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Flour tortillas

Pork – heat oven to 275°  Mix rub and massage into pork.  Place pork in foil lined pan, cover with sliced onion, pour ½ cup water into pan, cover tightly with foil, roast until meat is tender, 5-6 hours.  Let pork rest, using 2 forks pull pork to create bite size pieces.  Can be made two days in advance.

Posole – Heat oil on low; add onions, carrots and celery, sauté until soft, five minutes.  Add garlic, sauté about 2 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, broth, peppers, beans, hominy, blended tomato, oregano, cumin.

Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add reserved pork.  Simmer 30 minutes or longer to meld flavors.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add reserved juices from pork.

Divide among bowls, garnish with shredded cheese, cilantro and lime wedges – serve with warm tortillas.

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Recipe Spotlight: Spinach Balls with Mustard Dipping Sauce

My friend Roberta Sherman serves these wonderful spinach balls and now I want all of my friends to try them.

SPINACH BALLS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 – 10 oz. packages of frozen, chopped spinach; thaw and squeeze out water
2 cups herb stuffing mix
1 medium onion finely minced
½ cup parmesan cheese
¾ cup melted butter
3 eggs, beaten
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Pulse herb stuffing mix in a food processor until fine, add to spinach, onions, parmesan cheese and nutmeg; mix well.  Add butter and eggs, stir to completely incorporate.

Using a tablespoon, make in to walnut-sized balls.  Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve warm on a tray with toothpicks and mustard dipping sauce.

Mustard Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 egg
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper

Mix vinegar and dry mustard and let sit 1 hour.

Whisk wine, egg, Dijon mustard and sugar in a small pan.  Add vinegar/mustard mixture to pan and whisk until the sauce has the consistency of custard.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

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Recipe Spotlight: Humita

Last year on our visit to Argentina we were served Humita.  This corn dish was served by the Indians from the northern province of Salta.  Now that fresh corn is appearing in our markets and soon in our own gardens, it is time to share this amazingly simple dish.

HUMITA
Serves 4

8 ears of fresh corn (preferably yellow).  Husk and grate off of the cobs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup whole milk
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
Coarse salt to taste

Using a box grater, grate corn kernels into a large bowl then run the back of a knife down each cob to release all of the milky liquid from kernels.

Melt butter with olive oil over medium-low hear.  Add onion and sauté until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes, do not brown.  Stir in corn and all liquid, sauté until mixture thickens.

Stir in ¼ cup of milk, once absorbed gradually stir in the rest of the milk.  Reduce heat and simmer stirring until corn is creamy, about 5 minutes.

Chop basil and add to corn along with crushed red pepper flakes, sugar and salt.

Serve with toasted country bread and meat.

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