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me_in_paris_198That’s me, on a trip,  sitting in a Paris restaurant.
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Just finished reading Unsaid: A Novel by Neil Abramson. I think I read about it on amazon because I don’t remember anyone telling me about it. Perhaps amazon recommended it to me because I’ve read several books about African animals lately. The narrator of the book is the soul and voice of a woman who has just died of cancer. So she’s a ghost, of sorts, or an angel. But she’s hanging around her old life (her husband, her friends, her co-workers – she was a veterinarian) because she’s so very worried about her menagerie of animals she owned and worked with. The crux of the story is about a chimpanzee that is part of a U.S. government study – measuring the intelligence and sign language ability of this one chimp. The funded study is suddenly ended, and the intelligent and sentient animal (that word, sentient – I had to look it up – is used several times in the book – it means with “feelings”) is going to be returned to the general population of chimps used for maybe not-so-nice drug studies and likely would die from an inflicted disease. The widower is an attorney, and he’s thrown into battle with the U.S. government about saving the chimp. There’s a huge message here about the use of animals in drug studies and it’s hard to come away from this book without feeling “feelings” for the sweet chimp, whose intelligence was measured as the age of a 4-year old human. You’ll be drawn into the many other animals, the husband’s grief, and the team of people trying to save the chimp. Quite a story.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – many reader friends recommended it, and oh, is it good! If you’re at the end of your tether with reading WW II resistance stories, you’ll want to skip this one, but you’ll be rewarded if you do read it. It’s the story of 2 sisters who live in a remote area of France and both get caught up in the war. There are some very terror-filled moments in this book – I won’t kid you – the deprivation, torture, hunger, betrayal; all the things that make a book real, wartime real. The relationship between the sisters isn’t always good. One becomes a resistance fighter; the other is a mom whose husband fights for France, but is imprisoned for years. She eventually participates by shepherding Jewish children to safety. It’s a riveting book, and the 2 women are portrayed with great realism.

Also read The Secret Chord: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks. It’s a novelized biography of King David, the man who was a sinner from his youth. If you’ve studied the Holy Bible, then you’ll know that he reformed, eventually, and he is credited with writing most of the Psalms. If you’ve spent much time reading Psalms, then you’ll know there is so much angst contained within the poetic verses. David was a consummate writer and poet – no question about that – and he was a musician as well. But he had his appetites, which betrayed him over and over and over. He laments his bad character in the form of the Psalms. I can remember singing in our church choir one of the Psalms about Absalom, his beloved son, that he had killed. King David’s time was primitive, life for life, where trust wasn’t taken lightly. It’s a really fascinating portrayal of the man, his vices, and his eventual redemption.

If you’re already a fan of Molly Wizenberg, then you’ll know about her book Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage. Molly started off writing a blog some years ago, called Orangette. She wrote a book (part memoir and cookbook) a few years ago, and her prose is a delight to read. She’s a commander of words. This book is the story of meeting and marrying her husband Brandon, and their journey to realizing HIS dream of opening a pizza restaurant (Delancey) in Seattle. It’s a very interesting read since they built the restaurant in a questionable neighborhood; they had insufficient money. Let’s just say that along the road to getting the restaurant open, there are many hurdles, including her own belief in the project. I loved the book. And yes, there are a few recipes included too.

After I read The Elephant Whisperer (which was a fabulous book), I read online that Lawrence Anthony considered his best book The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures. So I had to read that, of course. It’s the very sad story about his effort to extract 6 rare white rhino from deep in the jungle of Africa, in an area controlled by guerrillas. He’s unsuccessful, and now the only known white rhinos left are in zoos. They’ll likely be extinct in the next generation. I wasn’t as enamored with the book as I was with the elephant book – maybe because the mechanics of trying to find and negotiate to get the rhinos wasn’t as riveting as the elephant stories. Jungle politics, nighttime helicopter flights, slogging in the mud all play important parts. If you want to know more about rhinos, the rare northern whites, then you’ll want to read this book. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have one in your local zoo. Great literature this is not, but it tells an important story about poaching and why we must fight to eliminate it with education.

Also read, for one of my book clubs, Circling the Sun: A Novel by Paula McLain. It’s the biography of Beryl Markham, but only of her early life. Beryl’s own book, West with the Night has long been a favorite of mine, but she only wrote about her later life once she learned to pilot a plane and flew all over Africa. The McLain book is about her youth on her father’s horse farm, her coming of age and about falling in love (she was a philanderer from way back), her young adulthood, her marriages, her successes in life and her failures. It’s a VERY good book that I enjoyed reading from beginning to end. Markham is known more compellingly for her piloting career, but she led a fascinating life before she ever began to fly. Worth reading.

Read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Oh my goodness. When one of my book groups met to discuss this book, we all talked about the crying we did at the end. Oh yes, me too. This is a novel with a point to make (somewhat like Jodi Piccoult’s books). In this case it’s the right to die issue and it’s cloaked in a fast-paced page turner. A young woman who is a bit at loose ends, accepts a new job as a caregiver, something she’s never done before, to a young man who had recently become a quadriplegic. There are numerous sub-stories (about her family, her relationship with her sister, her boyfriend and her relationship with him, the patient himself, who is grumpy, and his relationships with his mother and father and ex-girlfriend). And, it’s about his wish to end his life. During the last 100 pages I could hardly put it down. I don’t want to jinx the story. It’s a romance of sorts. It’s gritty in a way, but charming. Loved the book. Now I’m going to order the sequel, the book the author never really intended to write, but so many people wrote her asking for one. I’m right there too. This book is being made into a movie.

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Fish, on February 8th, 2016.

baked_salmon_honey_mustardOver the holidays, when my cousin Gary was visiting me, we both came down with bad colds (he caught it from me, I think), so there were about 4 days of the 10 he was here that we didn’t do anything at all. On New Year’s Day I finally decided I was well enough that I should cook a nice meal. Gary chose salmon.

As it happened, while I was watching hours and hours of TV, I decided to view Valerie Bertinelli’s Food Network show and she made this salmon. It was easy and she raved about it. It really wasn’t hard to make – at all – and makes a nice presentation. I like her show and am now recording it on my Tivo.

honey_mustard_saucesalmon_sauce_readySo, salmon steaks in hand, I made up the coating. It’s a combo of mayonnaise (she used low-fat, I used full because that’s what I had), Dijon mustard, and honey. Her recipe calls for a whole lot of honey, and I thought half was enough (and it was plenty sweet for me, so I’ve altered her recipe below). Half the mixture is set aside for serving (extra to dip into or pour over) and the other half is used to coat the salmon. Easy. Into a 375°F oven it went and baked for 6-7 minutes (don’t over bake it). Then you turn on the broiler (so put the fish into the right position for broiling even when you’re doing the baking portion of it). That takes another 5-7 minutes. As you can see from the photo, the collagen has begun to leak out of the flakes, meaning it’s almost past it’s prime. I try to be alert to that, but I didn’t peek into the oven until 6 minutes and it was done already. It all depends on the thickness of the salmon. Once out of the oven you garnish it with chives and serve. Dinner was on the table in less than half an hour.

What’s GOOD: how easy this is, and it’s very flavorful. Worth making for sure. I always have the ingredients on hand – except chives, perhaps, but as luck would have it I did have some for this. It could easily be Italian parsley or even cilantro to put on top, but the chives are a good match with salmon. There is a LOT of mustard in this recipe, but when it’s tempered with the mayo and honey, it loses its pungency somehow, but you can still notice it. In a nice way.

What’s NOT: not a thing. Easy, easy, easy.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file (click on link to open recipe)

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Baked Salmon with Honey Mustard Sauce

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Valerie Bertinelli’s Food Network show
Serving Size: 4

1 1/3 pounds salmon fillets — skin-on, 7-8 ounces each, cut into pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise — may use low-fat
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons chives — finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a large baking sheet with a nonstick silicone liner, and lay the salmon, skin side down, on top. Set aside.
2. Combine the mayonnaise, mustard and honey in a medium bowl and stir to thoroughly combine. Reserve half of the sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce over the fish, spreading it evenly all over the top and sides of each fillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Roast just until the fish is opaque in the center, 6-7 minutes. Increase the oven to broil. Broil the fish for 6 to 7 minutes, but keep your eye on it to avoid overcooking. Garnish with chives and serve with the reserved sauce.
Per Serving: 417 Calories; 29g Fat (61.6% calories from fat); 31g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 88mg Cholesterol; 446mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, on February 4th, 2016.


An elegant appetizer, a time to use those really good, BIG shrimp that you’ve saved for a special occasion. Diced tomatoes are added in and the piquant lime juice adds a zing.

It’s been a couple of months ago now, that my friend Cherrie and I went to the Phillis Carey Diva class. She prepared this that day, and I’d forgotten all about it, to share with you. It’s very easy to make – just have good shrimp to use (none of those little bitty things, or canned),  but you don’t want or need to use the gigantic shrimp, either. In fact, you can cut the shrimp into more bite-sized pieces, so there’s no need to buy the most expensive ones. Phillis always prefers to start with raw shrimp (all the shells removed, including the tail shell) and she sautés them in olive oil. Out they go to a waiting bowl. To the skillet you add lime juice and zest, add it to the shrimp, then you add some chopped white onion, serrano chile, garlic and more olive oil. That’s really it.

Phillis prefers to serve this with some fresh chopped tomato, the avocados, of course, and garnishes it with some sliced black olives (optional) and cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge. It can be made UP to 24 hours ahead (without the avocado and tomato and garnishes, though).

What’s GOOD: well, if you’re a lover of shrimp, then you’ll be in hog-heaven. If you like ceviche (a raw fish appetizer), this kind of is similar in that the lime juice somewhat “cooks” the fish. In this recipe you do cook the shrimp completely before adding in everything else. It’s a very satisfying appetizer – good textures. Lots of flavor.

What’s NOT: probably just the cost of shrimp these days! And finding good avocados without bruises! That seems to be a challenge for me of late.

printer friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file (click on link to open recipe)

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Shrimp Cocktail with Avocados, Tomatoes, Olives and Fresh Lime

Recipe By: Phillis Carey cooking class, 12/2015
Serving Size: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds medium shrimp — cleaned, tails removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup white onion — chopped
1 whole serrano chile — finely chopped (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic — minced
2 whole avocados — diced and rinsed with water
1 1/4 cups plum tomatoes — seeded, diced
1/2 cup black olives — sliced (optional)
1/2 cup cilantro — chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 pieces lime wedges — garnish

1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Saute until shrimp are just barely opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp and any juices to a bowl and set aside.
2. Add lime juice and zest to the skillet and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Pour over the shrimp in the bowl. Add the onion, chile, garlic and additional amount of olive oil to the shrimp. Cool to room temp before serving, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours (no longer than that).
3. When ready to serve, gently fold in the sliced avocados, tomatoes, olives (if using) and cilantro. Spoon mixture evenly in martinii glasses or small bowls and serve with a lime wedge on the side.
Per Serving: 319 Calories; 19g Fat (52.4% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 173mg Cholesterol; 255mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on January 31st, 2016.


What a lovely side dish this is – or it could be a vegetarian entrée, it’s so filling and complete with nutrition! Technically, I  used golden raisins since I didn’t have any currants. It was just fabulous!

Looking for a variety-packed side dish (a carb) to serve with the big family dinner I did recently, I decided to try this wild  and basmati rice (my favorite kind of white rice) side salad. My cousin, who has to eat GF, was all over it (1 1/2 teaspoons of flour is called for in the recipe, to coat the onion topping, so I used his GF flour instead). My D-I-L thought it was a great find, and one she could make and pack small cups into her son’s lunch. I don’t think anyone didn’t like it, and I certainly heard only positive descriptors, so I’d say this dish was a hit. I’d definitely make it again.

Wild rice features in this, and I used one of those already-cooked packets. If you don’t have that, just make it from scratch as instructed in the recipe.

RICE CONUNDRUM: The rice is a bit of a perplexing method. Well, let’s just say that I doubted the accuracy of the recipe when I began making it . . . for over 2 cups of white rice you used just 1 1/2 cups of water? Eh what? Surely I thought that was a typo. You need more water than rice, making it in a traditional method. I went back to the recipe in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottalenghi. Nope, it was right. So I went on the ‘net, thinking there would be others who had posted this recipe. Yes, but the few there all showed using the same amount of water. I went to Ottolenghi’s website, thinking there might be an errata page (book errors), but no, there wasn’t. I went to my food chemistry book, Harold McGee’s small encyclopedia, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. He has no less than 6 pages of info about rice (no recipes) and in one section it did elaborate that different cultures/cuisines use different proportions of water (no specifics) and he briefly discussed the Middle East’s penchant for flavorings, and the use of oil and butter. No help there. I did a google search on “how to slow steam rice” and that brought up about 100 slow-cooker methods. I took out the “slow” and then got dozens of youtube links to show me exactly how to steam rice. Not what I needed. I even went to the publisher’s website (Random House) hoping for an errata page. I couldn’t find one. What’s with that? Publishers always used to have an errata page.

So, what did I do? I cooked the rice according to the directions, but were I to make this again, I would increase the water by about half. Usually rice needs twice as much water to rice. I’d make it with 1 1/2 times the amount of water to see if that works. The rice is slow-slow cooked on the cooktop – I used my risottos cooker on its slow cooker setting and in the allotted 15 minutes it ran out of water. I let it sit for a bit, thinking that the grains would cook a bit more. I tasted it. It was okay – just a bit crunchy. Surprise. And yet, to me, the rice was on the firm side, for sure.

Once both rices are ready, you begin adding ingredients – herbs, spices, then the raisins. The chickpeas (garbanzos) are sautéed in some oil and spices too (so the flavorings stick to the beans) and those are added in. The onion is a common thread in Middle Eastern rice and grain salads, and not just onion added to the carb, but prepared separately. I didn’t deep fry the onion as the recipe indicated as I was using my cousin’s GF flour and wasn’t certain how it would react to frying, so I just used a few tablespoons of oil and did it that way. Next time I think I’d make more onions and I’d caramelize them, since that adds so much flavor. And I’d leave out the flour – some people made the onions like onion rings, but I prefer the full-bodied flavor of caramelized onions and would mix them in. I added in a bit more olive oil at the end because I thought the dish was very (too) dry, but you can go without that.

What’s GOOD: this was a wonderful side dish. I still question the quantity of water to rice and will alter the recipe if/when I make it again. The flavors were wonderful. The golden raisins (or currants) add such a surprise taste in the savory rice. It’s colorful and everyone liked it a lot.

What’s NOT: it does take a bit more time than some dishes, but none of it was difficult or all that time consuming. If I made caramelized onions next time, THAT would take some extra time.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file (click link to open recipe)

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Basmati and Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Currants and Herbs

Recipe By: Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Ottolenghi
Serving Size: 6

1/3 cup wild rice
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 cups boiling water [my opinion – it needs more water]
2/3 cup currants
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley — chopped
1 tablespoon dill weed — minced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Drizzle more oil before serving if salad seems dry
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans, canned — drained, rinsed, towel dried
3/4 cup sunflower oil, for frying the onions (or other vegetable oil) [I used about 2 T. instead]
1 medium onion — thinly sliced * see notes
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1. Start by putting the wild rice in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still quite firm. Drain and set aside.
2. To cook the basmati rice, pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a medium saucepan with a tightly fitting lid and place over high heat. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir as you warm up the rice. Carefully add the boiling water, decrease the heat to very low, cover the pan with the lid, and leave to cook for 15 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean tea towel and then the lid, and leave off the heat for 10 minutes.
4. While the rice is cooking, prepare the chickpeas. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the cumin seeds and curry powder, wait for a couple seconds, and then add the chickpeas and 1/4 teaspoon salt; make sure you do this quickly or the spices may burn in the oil. Stir over the heat for a minute or two, just to heat the chickpeas, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
5. ONION: Wipe the saucepan clean, pour in the sunflower oil, and place over high heat. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously. Use your hands to mix the onion with the flour to coat it slightly. Take some of the onion and carefully (it may spit!) place it in the oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt. Repeat in batches until all the onion is fried. *NOTE: next time I would use twice as much onion and I’d caramelize it in oil rather than batter and fry them, only to chop them up to add to the rice mixture.
6. Finally, add both types of rice to the chickpeas and then add the currants, herbs, and fried onion. Stir, taste, and add salt and pepper as you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Per Serving (altogether incorrect because it assumes you consume the oil you fry the onions in): 445 Calories; 8g Fat (16.4% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 83g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 232mg Sodium.

Posted in Pork, on January 27th, 2016.


You’d think, old as I am, I’d have figured out that you CAN oven bake a pork shoulder as a ROAST – that it doesn’t have to be for pulled pork – that a pork shoulder can have another life other than in barbecue sauce or as part of a Hawaiian luau!

With a big family get-together planned (this was after Christmas), I dug into my freezer and found this pork shoulder roast that I had in there, probably longer than it should have been, but once defrosted it showed no signs of deterioration, thankfully. I’d recently watched Ina Garten prepare this recipe on her Food Network program, and decided it sounded really good. It was.

pork_shoulder_ready_to_bakeThe pork roast, with a nice, big fat cap on it, is punctured in numerous places all over so the spice mixture (a wet combo of onion, garlic, jalapeno, oregano, cumin, chile powder, apple cider vinegar and olive oil) that is spread all over the roast can permeate the meat. You could probably do this ahead of time – I didn’t – and it still had plenty of good flavor. The meat is put into a big roasting pan (I used my big, huge turkey roasting pan, but it’s perfectly okay for any kind of meat), slathered on all this gooey stuff, poured some white wine in the bottom and into a slow, 300° oven it went, covered in heavy-duty foil. After 2 1/2 hours, the foil was removed, a bit more wine added in and it continued to slow-roast for another 4-4 1/2 hours. I added more white wine (you use a whole bottle) near the end, though I wouldn’t have to since there was ample liquid there.

Once out of the oven, I tented it with foil and allowed it to sit for another 20 minutes until we were ready to eat. My son, Powell, carved the roast, with me hanging around his elbows trying to take the top picture above. The meat is served with lime wedges, which added a really lovely, bright taste to the meat. I wouldn’t have thought of the lime, but it was a very nice addition.

What’s GOOD: loved the flavor of the meat. Pork shoulder is a fatty cut of meat, but when slow roasted, a tremendous amount of fat drains off. How much? I have no idea – probably not enough to call this healthy – but enough to make you not feel guilty eating it. I really enjoyed the spicy mixture flavor, although none of it was in the bites I ate because it sat on the top of the fat cap, but it flavored the interior somehow. And the white wine wafting around the roast during the long, slow baking time kept it moist too. It was really good – I’d definitely make this again if I was serving a big group. We had 10 people and there was very little left over from the 7+ pound roast I had.

What’s NOT: nothing really – pork shoulder might not be everybody’s cup of tea (high fat) but I thought it was very good.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file (click link to open recipe)

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Slow-Roasted Spiced Pork

Recipe By: Ina Garten, 2015
Serving Size: 12

7 pounds pork shoulder roast — (7- to 9-pound)
6 garlic cloves
1 large yellow onion — chopped
1 jalapeno pepper — ribs removed, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bottle dry white wine — (750 ml) such as Pinot Grigio
Lime wedges — for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Test your oven with an oven thermometer to be sure it’s accurate!
2. Score the fat on the pork diagonally with a sharp knife in a crosshatch pattern. With a small paring knife, make a dozen 1/2-inch-deep cuts in the top and sides of the pork to allow the seasonings to permeate the meat.
3. Place the garlic, onion, jalapeno, and oregano in a food processor and process until the ingredients are finely chopped. Add the cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper and process for 30 seconds to make a paste. Add the vinegar and olive oil and process to incorporate. Rub the mixture all over the pork, including the sides and the bottom, and place the pork in a large roasting pan, fat side up. Pour half of the wine into the pan and cover the whole roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, remove the foil, and roast for another 4 to 4 1/2 hours, until the meat is very, very tender when tested with a carving fork. Every 2 hours, add another cup of wine to keep some liquid in the pan.
4. Remove the pan from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow the meat to rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Slice, sprinkle with salt, and serve with lime wedges on the side.
Per Serving: 520 Calories; 40g Fat (71.4% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 141mg Cholesterol; 131mg Sodium.

Posted in Desserts, on January 23rd, 2016.

choc_tres_leches_tiramisuThat photo doesn’t do this justice. What more decadent could a dessert be with chocolate, creamy stuff, and tres leches sauce made into a tiramisu? Oh my goodness, is this dessert ever fantastic.

A disclaimer here, I haven’t actually made this – it’s from a class with Phillis Carey, who, besides being the queen of chicken breasts, also must be the crowned head of tiramisu, because she’s created so many different varieties of tiramisu I’ve lost count.

At the Diva Queens class last month, in San Diego, when Phillis and Diane Phillips did a double cooking class, Phillis prepared this dessert. It was one of the last things we had, and everyone was full, but oh gosh, was it worth every single mouthful? Yes, indeed. Make this if you have the occasion.

During some parts of the year, Trader Joe’s sells the cake-like ladyfingers – that’s what you want for this. Not the dried Italian-style ones. Lots of grocery stores carry them too – Phillis always explains that when TJ’s has them, she buys a dozen boxes and stores them in her freezer. I think I have 2 boxes down in the wine cellar. They could be all dried up by now. I suppose I should check one of these days.

The hardest part of making a tiramisu is assembling all the ingredients. Do make that effort first – get everything all set with the ingredients and the dessert dish you’ll use, etc. Then once you start, it all comes together in a jiffy. Then you must let it refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight might be easier. A special occasion dessert, for sure.

This version uses a chocolate-cream-Kahlua mixture to moisten the ladyfingers. You can’t really taste the Kahlua – coffee just accents the chocolate, really. But it provides the liquor zing. Mascarpone cheese is mixed up into the “Cinnamon Cream” (sweetened condensed milk, whipping cream, cinnamon and vanilla) mixture. And those are layered in the dessert dish. That’s all there is to it – decorate the top with chocolate curls and chill. You’ll hear raves, I’m positive, unless you’re serving this to someone who doesn’t like chocolate or cream!

What’s GOOD: what’s there not to like about tiramisu? Really! It’s a wonderful dessert, and decadent for sure, so only make this for a special occasion. It’s chocolaty, creamy, Kahlua-y, and everything delicious.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything, other than you do need to make this 4 hours ahead or the day before.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file (click on link to open recipe)

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Chocolate Tres Leches Tiramisu with Dark Chocolate Curls

Recipe By: Phillis Carey class, 12/2015
Serving Size: 8

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cocoa powder — (unsweetened)
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces mascarpone cheese — warmed to room temp
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces ladyfinger cookies — (soft type)
1/2 cup heavy cream — whipped, for garnish
1/3 cup shaved chocolate — for garnish

1. CHOCOLATE TRES LECHES: In a small saucepan whisk together the cream, unsweetened cocoa, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in coffee liqueur (Kahlua). Cool before using.
2. CINNAMON CREAM: In stand mixer, beat condensed milk into the mascarpone. Add whipping cream, cinnamon and vanilla. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.
3. Separate ladyfinger sections, leaving the individual fingers attached. Lay half the ladyfinger sections, round sides down, in a 9×13 glass or ceramic dish. Brush well with HALF the chocolate tres leches mixture, to saturate.
4. Spread ladyfingers with HALF the mascarpone cream and repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, brushing more tres leches mixture over every bit of the ladyfingers, then spread with remaining cinnamon cream. Cover dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours (no more than that, though).
5. When ready to serve, whip 1/2 cup whipping cream and spoon down the center of the tiramisu. Sprinkle top with chocolate shavings.
Per Serving: 645 Calories; 48g Fat (66.2% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 236mg Cholesterol; 143mg Sodium.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on January 19th, 2016.

butternut_sq_potato_gratinIf you’re looking for an elegant and over-the-top taste in a side vegetable, this is your ticket to success! Rich? Yes. Hard? No, not really, though it does take some prep work. Delicious? Absolutely!

Looking on my own blog archives, I see that I posted a similar gratin a year ago, a recipe that Phillis Carey made for a Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Gratin. That one is only butternut squash. This one, made by Diane Phillips at a cooking class I went to last month (and have since made myself) contains both butternut squash and potatoes in about equal measure. Phillis’ recipe used only Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, whereas this one uses Gruyere mostly, with a little bit of Parmigiano in it. Although Diane cooks global cuisines, she often does Italian food as her heritage is Italian, and she and her husband spend part of every year there.

But this dish, I think, is more French than Italian. There’s nothing much in it that rings of Italy except the Parmigiano, and nothing particular that rings French except the Gruyere, so I can’t pinpoint. Gratins are usually French, however!

butternut_potato_gratin_unbakedThere’s the casserole just before it went into the oven. Both butternut squash and Yukon potatoes (sliced on my mandoline at about 3/8 “ thick) are gently simmered in milk and cream until nearly done, then poured into an oiled baking dish, covered with a mixture of the cheeses and baked for about 45 minutes. Diane suggested 1/2” slices, but my mandoline only goes up to 3/8”, so that’s what this was – it may have cooked in less time, but otherwise there was no difference between mine and Diane’s. It also has a leek in it, some garlic, fresh thyme too. And if you’re feeling feisty, add some squirts of Tabasco (I didn’t when I made it just because there were children eating it).

Once baked it’s nice to let it sit out to cool just a bit – no question – if you had a bite of this straight from the oven you’d burn your mouth, so do let it rest for 5-10 minutes before digging into it. I took this to a family Christmas Eve dinner (the one above) and had a 2nd casserole that had enough for Christmas Day dinner as well. I reconfigured the recipe to serve 16 and it served more than that, I think. The casserole isn’t all that thick/deep, but because it’s rich, you don’t want to serve large portions. With a well-rounded dinner, I think this recipe below would feed 10 for sure, as long as nobody was doing seconds or taking a gigantic serving. Hungry teenagers? Well, it might only feed 6!

What’s GOOD: the combo of butternut squash and potatoes is sublime – the textures are different – but the mix produces a rich, silky casserole that’s everything you’d ever want in a beautiful, elegant side vegetable to a special occasion meal.

What’s NOT: well, only that it’s rich (it does contain heavy cream and ample grated cheese). But hey, it’s just one very special dish, not a regular weeknight kind of thing. It does take a bit of prep, but if you have a slicer or mandoline, it made quick work of the prep. I thought it was easier than expected.

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Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin

Recipe By: Diane Phillips cooking class, 12/2015
Serving Size: 8

3 cups butternut squash — peeled, cut in 1/2″ slices
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes — scrubbed, 1/2″ slices
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 clove garlic — minced
1 whole leek — chopped finely, both white and tender green part
2 teaspoons fresh thyme — finely chopped
6 drops Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese — finely shredded
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

NOTE: If you don’t have a leek, use half of a white onion, chop up and cook through in the milk/cream mixture.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the inside of a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil spray or nonstick cooking spray (not Pam).
2. In a large NONSTICK skillet, heat the squash slices, potato slices, milk, cream, garlic, leeks (or onion), thyme, Tabasco, and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables are almost done; they should be firm, but a knife will pierce them easily.
3. Transfer vegetables to prepared baking dish and sprinkle top with the cheeses.
4. Bake the gratin for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheeses are golden brown. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. This dish is especially good with grilled meat, chicken or seafood.
Per Serving: 292 Calories; 19g Fat (58.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 69mg Cholesterol; 111mg Sodium.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on January 15th, 2016.


There are a lot of recipes on this-here blog for green beans. I like them. I’ll eat them any old way, even steamed with a sprinkling of Butter Buds on them. But making something different with them is definitely my preference.

Last month at Phillis Carey’s bonanza “Diva” cooking class she made a kind of a southwest dinner. I have yet to share the star of her group of recipes – the pork tenderloin. Soon. Meanwhile, I wanted to make this green bean recipe. All for me. Just me. I’ve now had 3 meals with them and I still have some left over. They go a long way.

tomatillos3You know what tomatillos are, right?  There at left – they’re a Mexican fruit-like vegetable – they kind of look like green tomatoes, but they grow with a paper-like covering over them (probably to protect the tender flesh from the hot sun). You peel the covering off, wash them well (because they develop a kind of sticky residue on them) and cut them up. They’re TART. Lemony in a way. You wouldn’t eat them straight away – pucker power for sure. But they’re used frequently in all manner of Mexican cooking.

Phillis gave us the recipe for making a tomatillo salsa from scratch, but she said if you didn’t want to do that part, just buy a jar of tomatillo salsa or tomatillo verde at the grocery store. That’s what I did, Herdez brand. That saved a bunch of work. Some markets have fresh tomatillo salsa on the refrigerated shelves, at least here in SoCal. But the jarred stuff works fine.

To the jarred salsa I added some additional cumin and lime juice. Phillis’ recipe calls for a red onion. I didn’t have one, so I used a yellow onion instead. The green beans are simmered in water until they’re nearly done. Meanwhile you cook the sliced onion in vegetable oil until the strands are limp, then you add in the drained green beans and the tomatillo salsa. I decided to add something that’s likely not traditional – a bit of sour cream. It cut the acidity of the salsa a little bit and added a nice richness to them. There’s very little sour cream in them. You could try it without that too, which would be true to the original recipe. I added fresh cilantro to the finished dish, just because I could. I like cilantro in most things.

What’s GOOD: certainly this is a different kind of preparation of green beans – not a common method, with the tomatillos in it. The dish is tart, piquant. The sour cream softens it a little bit. If you or your family don’t like the tart flavor, leave out the lime juice (the jarred salsa may have enough) and add just a little bit of sugar. This makes a nice dinner presentation for a side veggie. A gussied-up veggie. It keeps for several days.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. It’s a lovely veggie. Different. Maybe not to everyone’s taste.

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Green Beans with Tomatillo Salsa

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from a Phillis Carey cooking class, 2015
Serving Size: 8

2 pounds green beans — haricot verts or regular ones cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium red onion — sliced
8 ounces Herdez tomatillo verde — jarred tomatillo sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro — chopped, plus some for garnish
2 teaspoons lime juice
3 tablespoons sour cream — optional

1. Bring a large stockpot full of water to a boil. Add salt, then add green beans. Simmer until beans are just BARELY done (you’ll cook them a minute more later). Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, drain and dry. The green beans may be cooked up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
2. In a large skillet warm the oil, then add the sliced onion. Stir occasionally and cook over medium to low heat until the onion is completely limp. Add the jarred tomatillo verde sauce, ground cumin, lime juice and some of the cilantro. Bring to a simmer. Taste for seasonings – if the mixture seems too tart, add a couple of pinches of sugar. Add sour cream, continuing to heat, but do not boil. Add the green beans and warm them through until they’re hot. Pour out onto a platter and garnish with additional cilantro.
Per Serving: 87 Calories; 5g Fat (48.1% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 1022mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on January 11th, 2016.


Sometimes the simplest dishes are amazingly delicious. Vegetable soup can be so good, and yet when I order it out it’s usually got lots of root vegetables in it (which makes it a carb soup in my book – and definitely not my favorite in generic category of “vegetable” soups), tomatoes and has a red hue. This one is nothing at all like that – mostly green veggies with the hint of smoky bacon (optional) and a bit of milk and cream. This is a “dry” soup – not much liquid.

A year or so ago I began subscribing to a blog called Cooking in the Archives. It’s a blog from 2 very erudite women, both professors and researchers in English Lit, books in general, and rare books in particular. They must have become friends somewhere along the way and they both enjoy researching “old-tyme” recipes and updating them to today’s kitchens. I always enjoy reading their own journey as they identify a recipe (always shown in “old-tyme” language as well, then their translations) and about the permutations they make to the recipe.

A recipe that had me interested was one they posted earlier this year, called Herb Soop (no, that’s not a typo). Today I set out to make it – but then when I went to the grocery store I somehow forgot to buy some of the important ingredients that went into it. So I decided to make my own detour with what I had on hand. I’ll make that soup another day.

In February I’m hosting a luncheon here at my house (along with my friend Linda I.) for a small group of my P.E.O. sisters, as we watch a DVD on some thing yet-to-be-selected about American history, and I thought it would be fun to prepare a lunch that highlighted old-tyme food as well. The blog actually highlights recipes from 1600-1800, and not always American ones. But this soup recipe I made was just fabulous – although not necessarily an historical recipe.

Now, this soup. I started off with some very lean bacon, just because I think a bit of bacon adds SO much flavor to soups. You could leave it out if you’re a vegetarian. And you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth too. I rendered the bacon, then added a bit of oil (because the bacon had almost no fat in it), then half an onion chopped, and let that cook for a bit. Then I added Savoy cabbage (chopped), a poblano chile chopped up (certainly not in the original recipe) and celery and let that cook a bit. Then I added a package of frozen veggies I had on hand from Trader Joe’s (it’s a mixture of green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and peas). I didn’t really want cauliflower in this and I’ve not included it in the recipe below, but you can add it if you’d like to. Meanwhile I chopped up some fresh parsley and fresh mint and had those ready nearby. I added some chicken broth and allowed the vegetables to cook until they were nearly done, but not quite. Then I added a cup of milk to which I’d whisked in an egg (to thicken the soup just a little – this was in the Herb Soop recipe), and the herbs, plus a little sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg (so good in creamy things – strictly my idea) and let that heat through and the veggies were cooked just perfectly. I scooped the soup into a wide bowl, garnished it with some more herbs and ate it with relish.

What’s GOOD: I threw this together in about 30 minutes of chopping and stirring. It’s a DRY soup – if you know what that means – it does not have a lot of liquid in it – so it’s mostly vegetables with a bit of a creamy base. I absolutely loved it. It was very filling, had a delicious variety of flavors and textures, enhanced by the herbs. I particularly liked the fresh mint in it – not something you see often. The poblano chile added quite a bit of heat – if you’re sensitive to hot stuff, leave it out. It will be just fine without it. You can add heat to your own taste with cayenne or some of the Slap Yo Mama Cajun seasoning. Don’t overdo it, though.

What’s NOT: Make sure you’ve GOT enough green veggies to make this – variety is the spice of life, and this soup! If you have a meat-eating family, they may not be satisfied with this. If I had to add some protein to this I’d add some shrimp, I think. Maybe some mild fish like sole.

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Vegetable Soup with Bacon & Herbs

Recipe By: My own concoction but very loosely based on a recipe from Cooking in the Archives, 2015
Serving Size: 3

2 slices bacon — chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil — optional
1/2 yellow onion — chopped
1 cup celery — thinly sliced
1/2 Savoy cabbage — chopped
1/2 poblano chile — seeded, chopped small (optional)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup green beans
1/2 cup broccoli — cut in small florets
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 dashes Slap Yo Mama Cajun Seasoning — or cayenne
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg — freshly ground
1/2 cup Italian parsley — save some for garnish
1/4 cup fresh mint — save some for garnish
2 tablespoons chives — chopped
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg — beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

NOTE: This soup is very flexible – add what vegetables you like, but I particularly made this to NOT include any root veggies. If you add them you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly and note that there isn’t a lot of liquid, so root veggies won’t be submerged in broth.
1. In a large high sided pan render the bacon over low heat until it has begun to crisp.
2. Add oil (if needed) to the pan then add the chopped onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes until onion is translucent.
3. Add celery and cabbage, and poblano chile. Turn heat to low and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring several times.
4. Add chicken broth, then add green beans, broccoli, peas, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and Cajun seasoning. Cover and allow mixture to simmer for about 7-10 minutes until vegetables are not quite tender.
5. In a small bowl whisk the egg, then add the milk. Add it to the pan, then most of the parsley, chives and mint. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes (don’t let it boil), then add heavy cream. Heat just until mixture is hot and vegetables are cooked to your liking. Taste for seasoning (salt and pepper) and add to suit your own palate. Scoop into bowls and garnish with additional parsley and mint.
Per Serving: 314 Calories; 22g Fat (61.6% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 113mg Cholesterol; 726mg Sodium.

Posted in Salads, on January 7th, 2016.

spinach_jicama_orange_saladAn absolutely lovely spinach salad. A special occasion salad, for sure – lovely for the holidays, although I’m not posting this until now, in January. With the fruit in it (and the pomegranate molasses in the dressing), it has a nice sweet tinge to it. It’s beautiful, too. The photo was Phillis’ from the class. My photo was good, but hers is better.

Last month my friend Cherrie and I attended a bonanza cooking class in San Diego. The venue where our favorite cooking teacher, Phillis Carey, taught, closed a couple of months ago. That was a sad day.

Once a year Phillis and Diane Phillips taught a double class, usually in December, that were recipes for the holidays. So Phillis and Diane found a new venue, although I think it may be the only time they teach there, so I won’t even tell you about it. Where it was held was not important anyway.

Diane prepared an Italian inspired menu. I’ll share 2 recipes from that one – a delish gratin, and some Brussels sprouts. Oh, and a very nice filet mignon. Later on those . . .

Phillis did a more California-ish menu – a shrimp cocktail, this salad, a buttermilk-brined pork tenderloin that was to die for, a really fantastic savory bread pudding, some unusual green beans with a tomatillo salsa, and the finale was a chocolate tres leches tiramisu. Oh my gosh, was it wonderful.

But today we’re just going to talk about this salad. Luscious salad. I think I could eat this salad at least once a week, but it takes a bit of prep, so no, I won’t be doing that. If somebody would make it for me, then absolutely, I’d be asking for it on the menu every week.

Tip: buy pomegranate molasses to make the vinaigrette if at all possible. Otherwise you can boil down pomegranate juice to make it yourself. The vinaigrette for this salad is just so good – the pomegranate molasses gives it the sweetness, but it’s tempered by balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar. The salad itself is just spinach, jicama that’s julienned into itty-bitty pieces, a red onion that’s soaked in acidulated water (to take the sharpness and heat out of it), fresh oranges (or use mandarin oranges, canned) and a modicum of fresh pomegranate seeds that you can buy at Trader Joe’s already prepped. So easy.

Phillis prepared a candied pecan to go on this, but I’m giving you the recipe for the peppered pecans that have been a big-time favorite of mine for years. You can make those a day or so ahead of time. This is a sturdy salad (from the spinach) so you could get everything ready ahead of time and just toss it all at the last minute.

What’s GOOD: this salad is special. A real special-occasion type salad, but if you had the dressing made and the pecans already prepared, well, you could throw this together in no time. The jicama takes a bit of time to prepare – if you have a mandoline, then you could do it in a flash. Jicama is a bit unwieldy to work on, but it added a really nice crunchy texture. The jicama soaked up the red colored dressing, so it was also juice and tasty. Altogether delicious salad. A winner.

What’s NOT: well, all I can say is the time it takes to prepare. More than a normal green salad for sure. But you’ll be wowed when you eat it, so it might make all the effort worthwhile.
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Spinach, Jicama, Red Onion and Orange Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Recipe By: Phillis Carey cooking class, 12/2015
Serving Size: 8

1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pecan halves
16 ounces spinach leaves
1 cup jicama — julienned
1 whole red onion — sliced and soaked in vinegar water for one hour, then drained
4 whole navel oranges — or substitute mandarin oranges (easier)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

NOTES : If you don’t have pomegranate molasses, use 2 cups pomegranate juice and boil it down until you have about 1/3 cup – it’ll be thick and full of flavor. Don’t let it burn.
1. VINAIGRETTE: Combine in a bowl the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, honey, vinegar, mustard, pepper and salt. Can be made ahead by 3 days.
2. PECANS: Place a baking sheet or jelly roll pan next to your range before you start.
3. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
4. Heat a large wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add pecans and toss until pecans are warm, about 1 minute.
5. Sprinkle pecans with HALF of the sugar mixture and toss until the sugar melts. Add remaining sugar mixture and toss again until sugar melts, then IMMEDIATELY pour out onto the baking sheet. Spread nuts out and allow to cool. These will keep, stored in a plastic bag, for about 3-4 weeks.
6. SALAD: In a large bowl toss together the spinach, jicama, drained red onion slices, oranges and enough vinaigrette to coat all the spinach. Plate the salads and top with pomegranate seeds and peppered pecans. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: 352 Calories; 27g Fat (66.6% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 286mg Sodium.

Posted in Soups, on January 3rd, 2016.


Lentil Soup. Comfort food at its finest. What you see in that bowl are lentils, multi-colored carrot chunks, tomatoes, onions, a Poblano chile all cut up, celery, broth, some Indian spices (explanation below) and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top. Very easy. VERY easy. And SO GOOD!

I think “hankering” must be an old-time word. I don’t hear people use it much. That’s what I had – a hankering for lentil soup when I walked into my kitchen and decided that I’d make a batch. Lentil soup doesn’t take long to prepare since lentils cook from beginning to finished in about 20 minutes. I could have made my Dad’s recipe. I’ve written up a long post about that soup before. He’d have been so happy to see his recipe here on my blog (my Dad, who only knew how to grill, really, did make lentil soup, about the only time he stepped into the kitchen his entire married life – and never in my mom’s kitchen, only when he was away from home). When my parents came to visit, my Dad would ask if we wanted it. Of course we did. If you want to see that recipe, it’s a fairly standard, plain-Jane kind of lentil soup with bacon.

Searching my cookbooks, and searching online yielded no particular recipes that interested me. I read about the quantities of onion, carrots and celery, thyme, salt and pepper. Some of them included cumin. That’s what got my mind to buzzing. What if I made a lentil soup with Indian spices. I searched for Indian lentil soup recipes, and came up with much the same ingredients (without thyme). So, I just started making my own version. It was easy. I had a poblano chile in the refrigerator, so was determined to use that. I had those rainbow carrots, so I used purple and yellow. I had one big onion, plenty of celery, regular brown lentils. I did not want a pureed soup – I wanted a soup with texture, and that’s exactly what I got here. And the soup was ready to eat in about 45 minutes.

First I rendered a couple slices of bacon (you can eliminate that step if you’d prefer to make this vegetarian), then added onion, carrots and celery. I let those simmer for awhile until they were soft (about 5-8 minutes, I’d guess), then I added in a can of tomatoes and some chicken broth (I used Penzey’s soup base and water). And lastly, I added in the poblano chile that I cut up into short slivers about 1/4 inch wide. I brought it to a simmer, covered it and let it percolate for about 20 minutes. I think it took close to 30 minutes to get the lentils to just the right consistency (the older the lentils, the dry-er they are, and hence will take longer to cook). Ground cumin was added, some turmeric, salt and pepper. Just before serving I added a spoonful of garam masala (it’s best added in just at the end). When I scooped it into the soup tureen you see in the photo, I put on a dollop of Greek yogurt. The fragrance was wonderful, let me tell you!

Oh my YES! This soup was fabulous. Such a humble meal, but long on flavor. I’ll be eating from that batch of soup for days.

What’s GOOD: Chunky. Full of texture. Easy to make. Full of flavor from the vegetables and the cumin and turmeric and garam masala. Altogether delicious and I’m sure I’ll be making it this way again. Soon. This doesn’t have any meat, as such, but you could add some. You could also not use bacon and it would be a true vegetarian meal if you used vegetable broth.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. The soup was just what I wanted – I satisfied my hankering, for sure.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 14/15 file (click link to open recipe)

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Lentil Vegetable Soup with Indian Flavors

Recipe By: My own concoction, 2015
Serving Size: 6

2 slices thick-sliced bacon — chopped (optional)
1 large onion — chopped
1 cup celery — chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots — cut in coins
15 ounces canned tomatoes
1 whole poblano chile — cut in thin 1″ long slivers
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garam masala — added in just before serving
1/3 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat — or sour cream

1. Heat a large pan, then add the bacon and allow to sizzle on low heat until most of the fat has been rendered. Add the onion and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the celery and carrots and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the canned tomatoes (including the juice), the poblano chile, chicken broth, lentils, dried thyme, ground cumin and turmeric. Bring to a simmer.
4. Cover pot and allow to cook slowly for about 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are barely cooked through and the vegetables are fully cooked. Add more broth or water if needed. You may blend part of this if you prefer a more pureed soup. I prefer the texture of the vegetables and lentils. Add the garam masala just before serving and stir into the soup. Scoop into soup bowls and garnish with Greek yogurt or sour cream. NOTE: If you reheat this another day, add another jot of garam masala just before serving.
Per Serving: 286 Calories; 5g Fat (16.7% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 39g Carbohydrate; 17g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 1688mg Sodium.

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