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Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Cheddar

12 Jan

saute - siclian greens 010

  • 2 tablespoons  butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large  onion,diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups  chicken broth
  • 1 large head cauliflower – golden color cauliflower if possible, cut into small florets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup  sherry
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Croutons and minced parsley for garnish

In a heavy bottom put, cook the onion in the butter and olive oil until it’s softened. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute. Add in the broth, about 3/4 of the cauliflower, salt, cayenne and mustard.

Let the soup simmer for 15 -20 minutes, until the cauliflower is very soft.

Puree the mixture using a hand immersion blender.

Add in remaining small florets and cook until tender.

Stir in the milk, cheese and sherry. Bring the soup to a simmer, do not boil.

Taste for seasoning and readjust with cayenne and salt. Serve with croutons and minced parsley.

Gazpacho, a little earthquake and Hurricane Irene

27 Aug

I have been meaning to tell you about this delicious super simple, no measurements needed ( my favorite ) recipe for summer garden gazpacho. I made it last week and have not gotten around to posting it yet.

I have a few days left before I start-up my full-time teaching position again in September as well as a new part-time job teaching a college course for the first time.  I planned to spend my last week of vacation in school, at the copy machine, to copy all the work for the whole semester.  Until I got a call from a friend who lives on the beach.  She was truly the little devil on my shoulder and suddenly made me realize that I was out of my mind to spend the last beautiful days of summer in a copy room when I could enjoy TODAY. I went, had a beautiful day her and her adorable son and vowed to enjoy, relax and take it easy for the next few days.

I woke up the next morning with my new attitude and decided to cook all the recipes I have been wanting to make this summer and have put off.  A trial batch of beignets, a tomato, cheese and  pesto strata, bourbon peach butter, the key lime and blackberry Italian meringue pie from the cover of Bon Appetit as well as lattice top mini cherry pies, raspberry crumb tartlets and blueberry galettes. In the midst of this crazy kitchen day, I burnt myself pretty bad, went to call for help while running my hands under water for the burn and got my phone wet ,which then broke.  A few minutes later I thought I was really losing my mind and got seriously dizzy and off-balance. I wasnt crazy because apparently, I experienced the weirdest little earthquake to hit NY in some time. But with my new “take it easy motto”, I just brushed it off and enjoyed some pie.

Then came Irene. If you live on the East Coast of the USA, you know all about this feisty lady by now. The normal me would have been all crazed at the first mention of it but I stayed pretty calm for a few days. We don’t usually get hit bad in NY and they usually blow these things out of proportion to make good news.  And then today I snapped. It’s that damn scary music they play on the weather channel and the pictures of the swaying palm trees, they get me every time. I make fun of those “nutty” people who panic at the grocery store but I am secretly just as bad. I try not to hoard unnecessary amounts and I would never push or grab but I will get my hands on the last bunch of bananas if it’s the last thing I do. I havent been so happy to get my hands on D batteries since I was kid on Christmas with a new electronic toy.  I’m gonna start doing stupid things, like putting my socks in rainbow color order for no reason. I can feel the crazy creeping in. I don’t know how I am going to survive the more than 24 hour wait until this hurricane finally shows up. So in my efforts to stay busy, and for the sake of my sock drawer, I am here to share with you a recipe that is delicious at room temperature, in case YOU also wont have electricity to heat it up.

Summer Garden Gazpacho

  • 4-5 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup ( handful) almonds
  • 2 slices white bread (stale or toasted if possible)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • salt, pepper and olive oil

Dice up vegetables. In a  blender or food processor, puree almonds, garlic and vinegar. Then add chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and begin to drizzle in olive oil. When the soup reaches a drinkable consistency stop the blender and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add in bread and puree again. Adjust consistency with more olive oil. Serve room temperature or cold with sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

To all my East Coast readers be safe, stay calmer than me and cook some delicious food before the storm comes. Thank you for listening, I feel better.

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

11 Jun

I use my blinker to pull into my driveway even if its 2 am and no one else is around. When the supermarket asks you to bring the cart back, I do. If a tag says don’t remove ,I leave it. I usually play by ALL the rules. But then there are some rules that just annoy me, usually ones that start with the anonymous “they”. “They” say you can’t wear white after labor day. Isn’t everyday technically after labor day? And what about winter white? “They” say you can’t serve hot soup in the summer? We eat other things hot don’t we? I just don’t like cold soups, I can’t wrap my head around it. Don’t get me wrong, gazpacho is delicious but I want a chip to eat it like salsa. And then there are some soups are kinda of rule breakers. This soup, maybe because of the whole summer, clambake, beachy, seafoody thing, is acceptable in summertime. I don’t care what the rules are, this is delicious anytime of year. Be a rebel, eat it hot.

Corn and Shrimp Chowder – original recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups seafood or chicken stock
1 large Yukon Gold potato or Red New potato, peeled and diced
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
3/4 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1 cup milk or cream
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seafood seasoning
2 teaspoons sherry
salt and pepper
parsley, minced

In a large saucepan, sweat onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
Add in tomato paste and cook 2 minutes.
Stir in flour to make a roux which will thicken the soup.  Cook while stirring 1 minute.
Whisk stock into the roux slowly and bring to a boil.
Add diced potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a knife.
Season with salt and pepper, taste and re-season.
Add in chopped shrimp, corn, Old Bay, milk and sherry.
Simmer 5 minutes and taste for seasoning.
Adjust with salt and pepper.
Garnish with minced parsley.

Italian Wedding Soup – Meatball and Escarole Soup

11 May

I have been to many Italian weddings, none of which this soup was served. So what’s in the name? When I typed in ” Italian wedding soup why“, Google finished my phrase with, ” do they call it that?”. That’s my favorite thing about Googling stupid things, sometimes the question pops up and finishes itself for you, meaning other people out there had the same stupid question you did. Totally unrelated to this post and the soup but did you know that the most popular questions asked to Google are Who is God, How to kiss and What is love? Anyway…some sources say the many meatballs represent wishes of many happy days of marriage, others say it comes from “minestra maritata” or “marriage soup” and refers to the good “marriage” of the greens and meatballs. All I know about this soup is that if you put love in the pot when you make it, people will taste the love when they eat it.

Italian Wedding Soup original recipe

Wash 1 large head of chopped escarole. Really well. It’s dirty.

Slowly sweat ,dont brown, 1 large onion and 3 cloves of garlic in 3 TBL of olive oil in a large sauce pot.

Add the escarole and cook 2 minutes. Add 6 cups of chicken stock and simmer.

While the soup simmers, prepare the meatballs. I make mine with chicken but feel free to use whatever floats your boat. Gently combine 2 cups ground chicken with 1 egg, 1 TBL chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 cup breacrumbs, 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese and salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Using a tiny disher or patient hands, roll little baby meatballs into the simmering soup. The more gentle it boils the clearer the soup will be.

Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and butter at an Italian wedding or your house, either way it brings love.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Cilantro

25 Jan

My Mom loves me. She tells me I’m pretty without make-up. I know she thinks this because she’s my Mom. When other people see me without make-up for the first time, they usually ask if I have the flu. I’m okay with this. I’m thankful for make-up and the color it adds to my pale face.

Lentils are kind of ugly. People who do not grow up eating lentils need to be coaxed into eating them,  especially in their pale brown watery soup state.

Enter the red lentil. It’s like a lentil with lipstick on. People will like it better because its prettier and that’s okay. If it’s needed to bring them into the wonderful world of lentils, than so be it. After a few years together, when the relationship gets to that comfortable stage, the paler lentil can show it’s face again and start wearing ugly pajamas to bed.

This recipe is slightly adapted from the New York Times column A  Good Appetite ,written by Melissa Clark. ( Wednesday January 9, 2008)

olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrot, diced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

3 TBL tomato paste

1 TBL cumin

2 QT free-range organic chicken broth

1 1/2 cups red lentils

salt and pepper to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

1 lemon

1/4 cup cilantro –  minced

In a large pot saute onions,carrots and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add tomato paste and cumin, cook 1 minute. Deglaze with chicken broth. Taste and season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Add in lentils and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and reseason. With an immersion blender, puree about half the soup making sure to leave the rest of the soup chunky. Take the soup off the heat and add a few squeezes of the lemon and stir in cilantro. Taste and adjust to taste. Serve with grated pecorino cheese and crusty bread.

The most important part of this soup is to add the lemon juice and cilantro off the heat. When this soup was re-heated you could not taste the lemon or cilantro anymore.


Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup with Brown Butter and Sage

12 Nov

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup with Brown Butter and original recipe

  • 2 TBL butter 
  •  1 TBL olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large butternut squash divided  
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 16 oz container free-range organic chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat free organic milk
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • canola oil
  • Topping:
  • 10 baby sage leaves or 5 large sage leaves
  • 2 TBL butter 

Peel butternut squash, sweet potato and parsnip. Cut butternut squash in half, separating the solid neck from the round bottom. Dice the solid neck part for the soup. Dice parsnip and sweet potato.

Hollow the seeds out of the round bottom of the squash and slice into half moons. Place half moons onto a sheet pan and season with salt and pepper and drizzle with canola oil. Roast in a 350 degree oven until tender and carmelized.

 Dice onion and saute in large sauce pot with 2 TBL butter and 1 TBL olive oil until softened. Add remaining cubed vegetables and saute 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and stir. Cover and simmer 1 hour or until all vegetables are completely tender when pierced. Puree with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Add in milk and half of the parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and remaining cheese. If desired, add more milk to thin soup and re-adjust seasoning.

In a non-stick skillet melt remaining 2 TBL of butter for the topping. Over low heat continue cooking until butter begins to brown and add sage leaves. Fry them in the butter until crisp. 

Top soup with roasted butternut squash half moons and drizzle with browned butter sauce and sage leaves.


Cranberry Bean Soup with Stuffed Artichokes

5 Aug

After seeing these beautiful cranberry beans over and over again in my food magazines for the last few years and never being able to get them fresh at the grocery store, I was delighted to finally find them at the farmers market last week. Although the weather doesn’t really call for  soup, I had some celery and carrots that needed to be used and thought it would make for a nice pairing with some artichokes I had also picked up. This summer version was made with all my fresh garden herbs and tomatoes, if made in the winter, I would have substituted canned tomatoes and dried herbs.

Cranberry Bean Soup with Stuffed Artichokes  original recipe

Shell about two handful of cranberry bean pods.

Finely dice mirepoix (3-4 carrots, 1 stalk celery and 1 large onion) and mince 2 cloves of garlic.

Cube 1 thick slice of pancetta and brown in a saucepan.

In a separate pot, simmer trimmed and prepared ( choke removed) artichokes, about 7-10 minutes and set aside to cool.


Add mirepoix to pancetta and sweat vegetables until softened. Add 2  boxes of free-range organic chicken stock.  Set aside 1 cup of broth vegetable mixture for the artichokes. Add cranberry beans,1 chopped heirloom tomato, rosemary, thyme and basil sprigs. Cover and simmer 40 minutes.

Pour reserved broth mixture  into baking dish. Remove stems from artichokes and stuff with a mixture of fresh breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Place stuffed artichokes into pan with stems and cover tightly with tinfoil. Bake for 20-30 minutes and then remove tinfoil and continue baking additional 10-15 minutes. Test one of the center leaves to make sure the artichoke is fully cooked.

Remove rosemary and thyme springs from soup. About 10 minutes before serving, add small pasta, such as mini penne directly into soup. It will cook in the broth and reduce the liquid. Top with grated parmesan and fresh basil.

Serve with a green salad and those delicious cherry clafoutis you made from yesterday’s post!