Cream of Spinach & Cauliflower Soup

A new one to experiment with.

The heavenly texture of this good-for-you soup comes from cauliflower (which also offers cancer-fighting cruciferous benefits), instead of high-fat cream, and the flavonoids in spinach promote better heart-health and may guard against cancer, as well. Popeye would approve of this spinach-rich, velvety soup.

 

  • 1 pound cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 cups good-quality vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Remove green leaves from cauliflower, peel the stem, and chop it and the florets coarsely. Chop spinach coarsely as well.

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the garlic, cooking for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the cauliflower, stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add spinach and cook another 5 minutes, until the spinach is well-wilted and the cauliflower is very tender. Mix in the mustard and thyme and allow soup to cool slightly.

Using a hand-held immersion blender, or working in batches in a blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Add pepper and additional salt to taste, and thin with additional stock or water if too thick.

Serve warm.

Serves 8.

Courtesy of care2.com

The Wine, Cheese & Etc. Forage

Many people feel that they cannot enjoy a proper meal without taking the time for shopping, preparing and cooking.  And who has the time for that?  Your partner and friends can always enjoy a good forage:

The Cheese.  Don’t think you have to be a total foodie to compile a good cheese arrangement.  Start with some opposites, such as a cheddar and some brie. Whatever you like.  

The Wheat.  A couple of different types of crackers will do, and maybe any leftover french bread.

The Drink. That’s what friends are for. Have them bring the bottle (s).

The Etc.  A good dry salami, delicate prosciutto or basic ham from your local deli counter (or whatever is left in your fridge) is always a good compliment to the cheese.

Arrange 3-4 cheeses, the wheat and the etc. on a large wooden cutting board or serving platter and have the wine glasses waiting.  If you have a herb garden, grab whatever is the most plentiful and use as a garnish on the tray.

The point is that you will be sitting down to a nutritious (but yes, high in fat) meal with good company that takes little prep time.  

Some cheese and wine experts may balk at my advice.  True, some people go all out, supplying proper utensils such as cheese knives and researching the proper wine to accompany each type of cheese. Now that takes time.  I’d rather get on with it and enjoy the food and the company, the most important part!

Stuffed Mushrooms

I have been using this recipe for over six years now, and this is actually one of the easiest recipes to get comfortable with.  It always adds flair as a side to whatever your entrée is.

You don’t need as much bread as they call for, though you will always end up with extra stuffing that it good to save to use with chicken breast or pork loin.  We use baby bella mushrooms for the better flavor and color, and it only costs a few cents more than traditional white mushrooms. 

 

  • 3 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 20 large (2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter) white mushrooms (1 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Tear bread into pieces and pulse to coarse crumbs in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and toss with oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.

Pull stems from mushroom caps (to create space for stuffing) and finely chop stems. Put mushroom caps, stemmed sides down, in a lightly oiled large shallow baking pan and bake in middle of oven until mushrooms exude liquid, about 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

While mushroom caps are baking, melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté chopped stems, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic, oregano, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Cool vegetables slightly, then add to bread crumbs along with cheese and parsley and toss well.

Turn mushroom caps over, then mound mushroom filling in mushroom caps, pressing gently (there will be some filling left over). Bake in middle of oven until mushrooms are tender and stuffing is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Courtesy epicurious.com

HRC Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a cheat recipe from a leading restaurant chain.  It is by far the best chicken soup recipe I have tried, partly because it is so basic! The secret is to bake your chicken prior whacking it into the pot.

As always, salt can take away from the flavor of a dish, and this soup is no exception! Use low-sodium chicken stock.  

  • 1 pound chicken breast fillets
  • 1 pound chicken thigh fillets
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cups egg noodles (we use No-Yolkes to keep cholesterol low)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Rub a little vegetable oil over the surface of each piece of chicken and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven when it’s done and set it aside to coold.

Met the butter in a large saucepan or dutch over over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery in the saucepan for just 4 to 5 minutes. You don’t want to brown the veggies.

Dice the chicken and add it to the pot with the remaining ingredients, except for the noodles.

Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

Add the noodles and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.

J’s Awesome Salsa

Here is a basic, nutritious and easy salsa recipe that can be used as the base for other entrées.  Use what you have in the house and add to taste.  For a really fresh taste,add finely chopped fresh cilantro.

When we use canned veggies, we try to buy organic and generally give the vegetables a light rinse to remove the excess salt.

  • 1 can petit diced tomatoes, rinsed (or fresh diced tomatos)
  • 2-3 chopped green onions, white and green parts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 or whole jalapeño (depending on how hot you like it) or pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed lime juice (or to taste)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper and Kosher salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for one hour for best flavor.  Serve with organic tortilla chips.  We like to mix yellow corn and blue corn chips for color.  Enjoy!

Roast Pork Loin With Shiitake and Leek Compote

  • 1 large leek (white and pale green parts only)
  • a 1-pound center-cut boneless pork loin
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

Cut leek crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and in a bowl soak in water to cover, agitating occasionally to dislodge any sand, 5 minutes. Lift leek out of water and drain in a colander.

Trim any fat from pork. Season pork with salt and pepper and pat with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. In a 10-inch oven-proof non-stick or cast-iron skillet heat butter or oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork loin, turning it. Transfer pork to a plate.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In fat remaining in skillet cook mushrooms and leek with salt over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. Put pork on vegetables in skillet and roast in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in center of pork registers 160°F.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. If vegetable compote is too liquid, cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid is evaporated. Stir remaining teaspoon chopped parsley into compote.

Slice pork thin and serve, garnished with parsley, with compote.

 

Courtesy of epicurious.com