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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Am in the middle of Tidelands,  by Philippa Gregory. It tells the tale of a peasant woman, Alinor (an herbalist and midwife), who lives barely above the poverty level, trying to raise two children, during the time of great turmoil in England, the rancorous civil war about Charles 1. Her husband has disappeared. The feudal system at the time isn’t any friend to Alinor. In comes a man (of course) who is a priest, but to the Catholic king, not the Protestant people, and everything Catholic is abhorred and suspect. A fascinating read, loving every chapter so far.

Read Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover. A page turner of a story. A young woman is convicted of a crime (young and foolish type). Once released her sole purpose is to be a part of her daughter’s life. Hoover has such a gift of story-telling and keeping you hanging on a cliff.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Oh my goodness. The wicked webs we weave. How in the world did the author even come UP with this wild story, but she did, and it kept me glued. Sophie walked away from her wedding day, and always wondered if she made the wrong decision. Then she inherits his aunt’s house, back in her home town, where the quizzical Munro baby disappearance provides a living for many of his family. Sophie moves there, only to have to unearth all the bad stuff that happened before. Quite a story.

Very funny and poignant story, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). Mrs. Palfrey, a woman of a certain age, moves into an old folks’ home in London. It’s a sort of hotel, but has full time elderly quirky residents. You get to know them all, and Mrs. Palfrey’s subterfuge effort to show off her “grandson.” I might not have ever picked up this book, but one of my book clubs had us read it, and I’m ever so glad I did.

I’ve been on a Moriarty tangent lately, this one Three Wishes, is about three triplets (women), two identical, one fraternal, as they progress through their 33rd year of life. So many twists and turns for each one. As someone said on amazon, Liane Moriarty never disappoints with providing a good story.

For one of my book clubs we read Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. This book is so hard to describe. Elizabeth is a wizard at chemistry and struggles to be recognized for her intelligence and research. She meets a man at her company who is brilliant too. They make quite a pair. They have a child, then he suddenly dies. Her work isn’t taken seriously, so she leaves her employment and becomes an overnight phenom on a cooking show where she uses the chemical names for things like sodium chloride, etc. You go alongside her struggles, and her raising of her daughter. LOTS of humor, lots to discuss for a book club.

Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loved it from the first page to the last. Sad when it ended. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct.

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

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 Soups, Vegetarian, on January 20th, 2023.

This has “comfort food” written all over it. First bite to the last.

A post from Carolyn. It’s no secret that I love shepherd’s pie. And traditionally, it’s made with ground lamb. If you make it with beef, it’s considered cottage pie. This version has all the ingredients, but made into a soup instead. I’m not sure when I began making shepherd’s pie – decades ago – maybe I had it on my very first trip to Britain in about 1978. I’ve always made it with beef. Maybe we Americans have adopted the title, but without keeping to the British tradition of lamb. I like it with either. And originally, the “pie” was made with tiny, minced up pieces of leftover roast, not the ground meat we buy at the grocery store. I started with a recipe I found online, but then augmented it with more flavor (mushrooms, celery).

Because I try to limit carbs, I made this with less potatoes. To explain . . . this soup has two quantities of potatoes in it: (1 part) cooked separately, made into mashed potatoes (or use some leftover you have) and added to the finished soup to give it a thick texture; and (2nd part) cubed potatoes added in at the end of cooking and cooked in the soup just until done. You can see a cube right on that spoon in the photograph. Originally this recipe called for a total of 3 pounds of potatoes. I used about 1 1/2 pounds total with half in the mashed potato part and half in the soup. You can change this to suit your wants or your family’s.

Important flavors in this soup: Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and mushrooms. All umami flavors. Actually, because I didn’t want to have beef, I used Impossible Burger meat in mine. Because it’s mixed into a soup, truly you’d never know the difference. And if you want to eliminate the meat altogether, you’ll have a delicious vegetarian soup. Just make sure the broth you add has lots of flavor.

What’s GOOD: altogether comfort food. Good stick-to-the-ribs winter meal. Serve with some crackers or toasted bread and you have a full meal. This is going onto my favorites list as I’ll be making it again soon.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. This is a keeper.

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

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Cottage Pie Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from an online recipe
Servings: 7

MASHED POTATOES:
3/4 pound potatoes — peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter
COTTAGE SOUP:
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 cup onion — diced
1 cup celery — chopped
1 cup carrots — diced
2 cloves garlic — chopped
1 pound ground beef — or lamb, or meat substitute
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces mushrooms — chopped, mixed variety
4 cups low sodium beef broth
3/4 pound potatoes — peeled and cubed (yes, this is listed twice)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup cheddar cheese — shredded
1 cup frozen peas salt and pepper to taste
More grated cheddar and chopped Italian parsley for garnish

1. MASHED POTATOES: Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. When they’re tender, drain them, mash with a potato masher (or mixer), then add butter. Add half of the low sodium beef broth and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
2. SOUP: Meanwhile, cook the beef, onions, celery and carrots in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, breaking the beef apart as it cooks, until the beef is cooked through, and drain off any excess grease. Add the mushrooms, garlic and tomato paste to the beef and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
3. Add remaining half of the broth, the uncooked cubed potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
4. When the diced potatoes in the soup are tender, add the mashed potatoes, grated cheddar and let it melt into the soup, about 2 minutes, until it’s just heated through. Add the peas and heat, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with more grated cheddar and some Italian parsley chopped on top.
Per Serving: 484 Calories; 29g Fat (52.7% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 86mg Cholesterol; 703mg Sodium; 7g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 307mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1101mg Potassium; 411mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on December 9th, 2022.

Yummy. Comfort food at its best.

A post from Carolyn. Once in awhile I get a craving for risotto. Usually after I’ve watched someone else make it on a TV program, I’ve seen it on a menu, or someone mentions it in passing. I used to make it much more regularly, but since it’s a very simple carb, I try not to. Yet a craving sometimes needs to be answered. My cousin Gary was visiting and he doesn’t mind having meatless meals. As it happened, I had some chicken sausages that I cooked separately, for some added protein.

I have a relatively “old” Breville multi-cooker – it’s a similar shape to an Instant Pot (smaller in all dimensions). It’s not an Instant Pot (though I have one of those also) – this was before IP came into being and has now taken over pressure cooking in general. This old Breville cooker (that doesn’t pressure cook) has a risotto setting. FYI: you can’t buy these old Breville models anymore. Not sure if anyone manufactures a device that “makes” risotto like it does. This little model does have a saute function, but I was in a relative hurry, so I cooked the shallots and mushrooms in another skillet and added them to the cooker. I’ve revised the recipe with directions for using a regular pan on the range, since I doubt many people have this old Breville thing.

Risotto requires a lot of stirring, and particularly at the end of the cooking time as it could burn easily if you’re not watching it. Have the rest of your meal all ready at this point so you can concentrate on the risotto.

One of the secrets to risotto is adding a little bit of white wine at the very beginning – with the rice – and allowing all the wine to be absorbed by the raw rice. Then you begin adding broth about 1/2 cup at a time and the mushroom concentrate. (A note about that – if you don’t have mushroom base, it’s now available from Better Than Bouillon, and I hear it’s really delicious.) Continue cooking, adding broth, until the rice is done, kind of mildly firm to the tooth, but still just barely cooked through. Then you add a dollop of sherry wine and 1/2 cup of heavy cream. I let it continue to warm through, and maybe add some water if it’s too thick, or to cook a minute or two more if it’s too thin. Scoop into heated bowls and garnish with black pepper and some grated Parm.

What’s GOOD: oh my, yes, I do love risotto. If you like mushrooms, you’ll love the intense flavor in this. Do click on that amazon link above for the mushroom concentrate – it makes a difference. The risotto was so satisfying – comfort food for sure. Leftovers were mixed with a tiny bit of water and served a few days later. Altogether wonderful.

What’s NOT: only the time of cooking risotto, with stirring and stirring.

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

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Risotto with Mixed Mushrooms

Recipe By: My own recipe, a combination from several on the internet
Servings: 4

1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 medium shallot — minced
1/2 cup dry white wine — or vermouth
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup brown mushrooms — chopped
2 teaspoons mushroom concentrate — optional, or chicken soup base
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon sherry wine — or brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated on top

STOVETOP:
1. Wash and blot dry the shiitake mushrooms and soak them in warm/hot water for about an hour, until they’re soft. Remove and discard the stems, then slice or dice them. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet add EVOO until pan is warm and shimmering, then add the minced shallot. Stir continuously while it cooks. Do not let it brown. Add the brown mushrooms and the shiitakes and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the rice. Stir as it cooks for about a minute, then add the dry white wine. If you have any mushroom concentrate, add it and stir well to distribute. Stir while the wine is absorbed into the rice. Have ready the numerous cups of broth (heated on the stove nearby, or Pyrex measuring cup in microwave). Begin adding about 1/2 cup of broth at a time. At this point it doesn’t have to be stirred continuously.
3. Continue adding 1/2 cup of broth as the previous addition is absorbed. These additions cannot be hurried. Do not add more broth until most of the previous addition has disappeared almost. Taste the rice to see if it is cooked through – this process should take about 20-25 minutes altogether. Toward the end it needs to be stirred continuously so it doesn’t stick. The rice should be just barely firm to the tooth. Add sherry wine and heavy cream. Continue to heat through for less than a minute. Add black pepper to taste. Taste the risotto for thickness – if it’s too thick add a bit more broth. It should be pour-able. Serve on heated plates and garnish with grated Parm. Eat immediately.
BREVILLE MULTI-COOKER:
1. Briefly wash dried shiitake mushrooms, then soak in warm/hot water for about an hour until they’re soft. Remove and discard tough stems, then slice or dice the mushrooms and set aside.
2. Using Saute setting heat EVOO, then add shallots. Cook for about 5 minutes until shallots are limp but not browned. Add brown mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms have given off their liquid and the pan is nearly dry.
3. Add rice to the pan and stir until rice is coated with the oil and mushroom mixture. Add white wine and continue to stir as the wine cooks off.
4. Add nearly all the broth and mushroom concentrate or chicken soup paste, stir well.
5. Change cooker to Risotto setting, cover and allow to cook through. Toward the end make sure the pan isn’t dry. If it gets too dry, add about 1/4 cup of water. Taste rice for perfect risotto texture (slightly firm to the tooth). Add sherry wine and heavy cream. Allow mixture to warm through. Taste for salt or pepper, and if it’s too thick, add water to thin risotto. Serve immediately in heated bowls with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated Parm on top.
Per Serving: 255 Calories; 16g Fat (57.5% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 34mg Cholesterol; 79mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 38mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 432mg Potassium; 157mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Beef, Vegetarian, on November 18th, 2022.

Comfort food – think all the ingredients of cabbage rolls, but in a casserole.

A post from Carolyn. You’ll likely find a bunch of recipes out there for cabbage roll casseroles. I looked at about 15 maybe before deciding on one, but then I tweaked it some. First, I substituted Impossible burger meat instead of ground beef. You can use beef, or ground chicken or turkey too. In a casserole like this, I doubt anyone could tell the difference!

There’s another recipe here on my blog that’s a similar concoction, Unstuffed Sweet & Sour Cabbage, posted waaay back when – in 2008. My goodness, how time flies. I also have made a similar mixture into a soup. But I prefer the sweet/sour aspect of this recipe and my 2008 one.

First a chopped up an onion and sizzled that a bit in a big frying pan with a bit of oil. Then garlic, some celery (not in the original recipe), then the beef substitute. It cooks up just like ground beef, looking like raw, with redness, then it cooks out the red. Then a big can of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste are added. Paprika and thyme were sprinkled in. I also added some half-sharp paprika too. Since most of you won’t have that (you can buy it at Penzey’s), just add a little jot of Sriracha to the mixture. I added some beef soup base (not much) to give it a bit more beefy flavor, though you could use vegetable soup base just as easily. I added a little bit of caraway seed, ground sage, celery seed too. Those weren’t in the original recipe either.

Meanwhile I cooked up 2/3 cup of basmati rice (long grain) and set it aside. Once the sauce came to a boil I simmered it for about 20 minutes to meld the flavors. I poured it out into a big bowl. Then I chopped up a big green cabbage. Some recipes leave the cabbage in wedges, but I liked the idea of layering the cabbage and the “meat” sauce, so I cut it into about 1″ squares, approximately. That got sautéed a bit in oil and water (in the original pot), then steamed until mostly cooked. One recipe cautioned that the baking of  the casserole doesn’t cook the cabbage any further, so it needs to be fully cooked before composing the casserole.

Into a big 9×13 pan it went – half of the cabbage – then half the “meat”, then the remaining cabbage and remaining “meat.” I also sprinkled on some fresh dill in between the layers and some more on top when it was served.

This makes a generous quantity, and it’s very filling. I ate one portion and then squared out  more portions and put them in freezer containers for another day. Always happy for that occurrence. I used some plastic wrap to mold (pressed directly on) the top of the food itself, then put the plastic lid on top. I didn’t want it to grow ice crystals, so hope that will be a good solution. My cousin Gary is coming to visit over Thanksgiving, so this will make a nice dinner for us one night.

What’s GOOD: loved the ease of making this – it’ll serve at least 8-10 people. I liked that the whole casserole had just 2 cups of cooked rice in it (since I try to limit carbs). Loved the flavors, the sweet (from the tomatoes) and the sour (from the little bit of cider vinegar added at the end). You might ask – why did she put in celery? Because of the flavor – celery adds a nice addition to flavors. It probably isn’t in cabbage rolls. I try to add more veggies wherever I can.

What’s NOT: nothing really. It made a mound of dirty dishes, but it wasn’t all that bad. I miss my dear hubby who used to wash all the dishes for me – that was our deal – I cooked – he cleaned up.

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

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Cabbage Roll Casserole

Recipe By: Adapted a lot from Spend with Pennies blog
Serving Size: 9

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion — diced
1/2 cup celery — chopped
3 cloves garlic — crushed
1 pound meat substitute — like Impossible or Beyond Beef, or lean ground beef, or ground pork, or 1/2 pound of each
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes — including juice
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon beef broth concentrate — or vegetable broth concentrate
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon half-sharp paprika — or add Sriracha to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups cooked rice — (about 2/3 cup raw)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dill weed — optional
CABBAGE:
1 large head cabbage — about 12-14 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil — or more if needed
4 tablespoons water
TOPPING:
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese — grated
1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese — grated
fresh dill weed sprinkled on top

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. in a large skillet sauté onion and celery in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and the meat of choice over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat. Stir in diced tomatoes (including juice), tomato sauce, tomato paste, and all seasonings – broth concentrate, paprika, half-sharp paprika or Sriracha, thyme, sage, caraway, celery seeds, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and add cooked rice. Add cider vinegar and stir thoroughly so it’s mixed well throughout. Taste for seasonings (may need more salt). Remove meat to a bowl and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, chop cabbage into 1″ squares. Heat half the oil in same large skillet and add 1/2 of the cabbage and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook just until softened (about 10 minutes). Watch carefully so cabbage doesn’t burn, adding more water if needed until cabbage is cooked through. Repeat with remaining cabbage. Place 1/2 of the cooked cabbage in a 9×13 casserole dish. It will just barely cover the bottom of the casserole. Top with 1/2 of the meat sauce. Sprinkle some fresh dill in between layers. Repeat layers of cabbage and sauce.
4. Sprinkle top of casserole with a generous portion of the two cheeses. You may refrigerate the casserole for a later time (allow to cool first). When ready to bake, remove casserole from refrigerator for about an hour before baking – it may take longer to bake.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top of casserole (the cheese) is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling around the edges. If you’re not sure it’s thoroughly heated, test casserole in the center with an instant read thermometer and casserole should read 165°F. Remove from oven then sprinkle more diill weed on top. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, cut and serve.
Per Serving: 514 Calories; 33g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 1039mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 757mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 494mg Potassium; 632mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Vegetarian, Veggies/sides, on September 11th, 2022.

SO easy to make, and so delicious. 

A post from Carolyn. I made this for my lunch the other day. My usual go-to for lunch is soup, but gosh, it’s been SO darned hot here in SoCal, that eating hot soup did not appeal. But warming up my toaster oven was easy enough and this came together in minutes. This was so good. Maybe doesn’t reach the tip-top of any broccoli dish I’ve ever made, but it sure was tasty and easy to do.

I had broccoli heads in my refrigerator – being a single person/widow, buying an entire bunch of broccoli is usually too much for me, so the broccoli head, even though more expensive, is a wiser choice. If you want to buy the bunch and have a family, well then, just double this recipe. My notes say this is an Ina recipe, but I did alter it a little bit – really I just cut up the broccoli into florets (making sure I cut off any of the wider, thicker stalk parts, tossed it with EVOO, salt and pepper, some slices of fresh garlic, roasted it in a 425°F oven for about 15 minutes. Once out of the oven I sprinkled it with shreds of Parm and pine nuts and put it back in the toaster oven for about 3 minutes. Done. Then I added the lemon zest AND lemon curls and a squirt or two of lemon juice and it was ready to eat. I gobbled up that pan full, just about. The recipe called for julienned basil – and I had some – but forgot to put it on there. Do add it if you have it available.

I also had some leftover calabacitas (one of my favorite vegetables ever) and ate those along with the broccoli. A very filling lunch. Not much protein (cheese and pine nuts, only), but I had chicken for dinner, so I was fine with my allotment of daily protein.

What’s GOOD: so easy to prepare, and takes just minutes start to finish. Really good flavor from the cheese and pine nuts. Lots of texture too. Be sure to use finely grated Parm, not big shards or shreds so you have plenty of Parm to go around. You don’t use much.

What’s NOT: nothing that I can think of.

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Easy Pan-Roasted Broccoli with Parm

Recipe: Adapted slightly from an Ina Garten recipe
Servings: 6

2 pounds broccoli heads
4 garlic cloves — peeled and thinly sliced
EVOO
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest — some grated, some in threads
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts — toasted
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — not shreds, but finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh basil — julienned

1. Heat the oven to 425°F.
2. Cut the broccoli into florets, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart.
3. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 2 tablespoons EVOO, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 18-20 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned. Remove the broccoli from the oven add lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, and Parmesan. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted. Sprinkle wop with basil. Serve hot.
Per Serving: 136 Calories; 7g Fat (40.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 9mg Cholesterol; 783mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 234mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 534mg Potassium; 219mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Vegetarian, on August 14th, 2022.

These toasts, cute as can be, and quite delicious. I’d have this for lunch. Dinner even, if you didn’t want a hearty meal.

A post from Carolyn. So this recipe came from my friend Cherrie. She subscribes frequently to “Hello, Fresh,” that delivery service that gives you everything you need for a meal (several meals in a week, actually), all you have to do it put it together. I’m not sure whether this was an appetizer, or if it was a vegetarian type light dinner. She made it, took a taste of her husband’s but decided she wasn’t hungry enough for it and when I came for dinner that night she gave me a package of these. Already put together – all I had to do was warm them up a bit. She liked it enough she plans on making it herself sometime soon, and she sent me the Hello, Fresh print-out they sent her for the preparation.

Going online, I discovered this recipe was in Bon Appetit in 2014. So neither she nor I can claim anything about creating this recipe. It’s just that with tomatoes in season right now (and so very tasty) this can make a lovely light meal, or served on smaller toasts, as appetizers. However you serve them, they’re really tasty and not difficult to make.

There’s the photo I took of the ones my friend Cherrie made. She used pine nuts in hers, not walnuts. You do need to have ricotta on hand, some good tomatoes (cherry or grape type), some fresh herbs (chives, dill, thyme, maybe, or basil) and good bread to serve it on. Oh yes, balsamic glaze too. Knowing this recipe was just up my friend Joan’s alley, I sent it to her and she made it that very evening (her picture there at top). She raved about the good taste of the tomatoes (charred) and the garlic too. I concur – love tomatoes and garlic, and the charred tomatoes have that wonderful umami flavor.

What’s GOOD: the tomatoes (charred makes such a difference), the garlic, the cheese, texture of the nuts, the herby ricotta. Everything good.

What’s NOT: nary a thing – fresh herbs are needed here.

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Charred Tomato & Ricotta Toasts

Recipe By: Hello Fresh recipe
Servings: 2 (maybe more)

1 clove garlic
10 ounce grape tomatoes
1/4 cup herbs — parsley, dill and/or chives
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 slices sourdough bread
3 tablespoons walnuts — or toasted pine nuts
5 teaspoons balsamic glaze
salt and pepper
4 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

1. Adjust rack to top position and preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Peel and grate or mince garlic. Halve tomatoes; toss on a baking sheet with half the garlic, a large drizzle of olive oil, and pinch of salt and pepper. Roast on top rack until tomatoes are lightly charred, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Carefully wipe off sheet with paper towels.
3. Meanwhile, pick parsley leaves from stems; mince leaves. Mince chives. In a second medium bowl, combine ricotta, half the Parmesan (save the rest for serving), and half the minced herbs. Season with salt and a pinch of chili flakes to taste.
4. In a small bowl, combine remaining garlic and a large drizzle of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Brush one side of each slice of sourdough with garlic oil. Place on baking sheet used for tomatoes. Bake on top rack until toasted, 4-5 minutes total.
5. Remove sheet from oven; add walnuts to same sheet. (TIP: If sourdough is done at this point, remove from sheet.) Return to oven until walnuts are toasted, 2-3 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop walnuts.
6. Divide toasts between plates; spread with herby ricotta. Evenly top with tomatoes, walnuts, and remaining Parmesan. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and chili flakes to taste. Drizzle with as much balsamic glaze as you like and serve.
Per Serving (the calorie count must to be high because of the unknown size of the sourdough bread): 936 Calories; 44g Fat (42.1% calories from fat); 39g Protein; 98g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 76mg Cholesterol; 1475mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 672mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 892mg Potassium; 638mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Vegetarian, on July 29th, 2022.

Wanting something to serve alongside some Italian sausages, this was in my to-try file. 

A post from Carolyn. My granddaughter Taylor, the one who’s about to graduate from nursing school (and move home – so I’ll be an empty nester again) asked me to fix her favorite dinner, the sheetpan sausage one I wrote up a couple of months ago. I said sure enough, I’d do that. I didn’t have asparagus this time, but did have summer squash, a sweet potato, plus a big red onion. I wanted something to go with the sausage, a sauce, or something. This one was in my file to try, so I did. Although I changed the ingredients a little bit and added Castelvetrano olives (if you don’t already know about these, you should – they’re a green ripe olive, Italian, so good). I love capers and liked that they were in this mixture too. So easy with some EVOO, balsamic, lemon juice plus a few Italian herbs.

If time permits, make this a few hours ahead – I didn’t, as it was last-minute, so I made it while the dinner roasted in the oven. The flavors will meld some if you let it rest on the counter for a bit. It’s a very easy concoction to make – and gave the sausages some good oomph. If you like spicy, add some red pepper flakes to the mixture.

All the ingredients I had on hand – I keep those Castelvetrano olives in my frig all the time, and capers, and I try to have red onion on hand. Also, Italian parsley. I still have Meyer lemons on my tree, so that was easy, and EVOO and balsamic. So easy, all of it.

What’s GOOD: went so well with the Italian sausages, but would be good with chicken, pork chops, even hamburgers. Not sure about fish, unless it was a fairly flavorful fish like swordfish. Halibut would work too. Altogether delicious sauce, and am glad I still have some leftover.

What’s NOT: only that you need to have Italian parsley – I have it on hand always, along with cilantro. Our weather is too hot here to grow it or I would!

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Italian Parsley, Caper and Olive Sauce

Recipe By: Adapted from a relish recipe found online
Serving Size: 6

1/4 cup EVOO
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup red onion — finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic — minced
3 tablespoons parsley — chopped
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons Castelvetrano olives — or other green, ripe olive
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Italian herbs — dried salt and pepper to taste

1. Place all ingredients in a ceramic bowl; mix well. Allow it to sit for a few hours to meld flavors.
2. Serve with grilled beef or pork, Italian sausage, or even pasta. Will keep in the frig for several days.
Per Serving: 93 Calories; 9g Fat (86.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 40mg Sodium; 2g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 9mg Calcium; trace Iron; 43mg Potassium; 7mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Soups, Vegetarian, on June 16th, 2022.

Simply the best kind of refreshing first course for summertime. If you haven’t got good, ripe tomatoes or watermelon yet, save this to make in a month or two.

A post from Carolyn. So, a couple of weeks ago I hosted a small fund-raising event at my home. It’s the third time or fourth time we’ve had a wine tasting fund-raiser on my patio. I think we skipped a year, 2020, when we were all housebound from Covid lockdowns. About 10 of my dear PEO sisters bid on attending the event this year. The money all goes to philanthropies to help young women get an education; and we who host pay for the food or activities and the bid money goes to the philanthropies.

I had two co-hostesses, Linda and Lois, and they made most of the food. I made sangria (recipe coming up) and I also made another batch of the tres leches cake I posted a few weeks ago. The one made with pineapple, coconut milk, rum, etc. I made some asparagus appetizers, then we had some Spanish meatballs, and also a baguette slice appetizer. All those recipes coming up soon.

The weather was okay – maybe we should be happy it wasn’t blisteringly hot as that would have been miserable. It was about 70, and we sat outside the whole time. I’d figured out the menu some months ago and decided to go with a Spanish wine and tapas theme. After having the sangria (from Spanish rose cava), we moved on to an appetizer, then we served this lovely gazpacho. I love gazpacho. I found a great website just chock full of tapas recipes, called Spanish Sabores. Most of the recipes came from that website, however all of them had a few modifications so I feel quite comfortable posting them. If you’re ever wanting to do a tapas night, do go to that website for ideas. The couple who post are just the cutest!

So, this recipe. I told Lois to buy really good tomatoes, and to find a ripe watermelon. That’s not always easy, and this was in May, so it’s possible neither would be great, but I sent Lois to my favorite independent grocery store where I can rely, always, on their good produce. She talked to the produce guy and he helped her pick out the best. When in doubt, buy Roma tomatoes as they generally have good flavor year-around.

The gazpacho is so easy to make – whiz up most of the ingredients in a blender, put it through a fine-mesh sieve (or not, if you want more texture) and then add the watermelon and mint, then taste for seasoning. After Lois made it, I tasted it and decided it needed a tiny bit more salt, a bit of sugar (because I could taste the bitterness of the green bell pepper) and then I added some balsamic vinegar. A tetch. Really just a tetch. Oh, perfection. In this soup, you really can taste the tomatoes, the watermelon, the bell pepper. The other ingredients just add layers of flavor.

What’s GOOD: so fresh, and refreshing. Easy to make. Do taste it at the end to add salt, maybe, or a bit of sugar, or the balsamic vinegar (very little). You can make it ahead, too.

What’s NOT: only that you need to seek out and find really ripe (tasty) produce to go into it. Don’t compromise on that or the soup won’t be great.

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Watermelon Mint Gazpacho

Recipe By: Adapted from Spanish Sabores blog
Serving Size: 8

6 large tomatoes — very ripe, roughly cut into large chunks
1/2 cup green bell pepper
2 small cloves garlic — cut into a few pieces
1 small onion — roughly chopped
3 cups watermelon — ripe, roughly chopped with seeds removed
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons EVOO
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar — or maybe up to 2 tsp
1 teaspoon sugar — or more to taste (optional)
2/3 cup fresh mint leaves — plus more for garnish

NOTE: If you prefer your gazpacho thicker, do not strain, or use a wider-mesh strainer to retain more of the tomato pulp. You can also top each glass with a little sherry vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, a watermelon ball and a mint leaf.
1. Wash and chop the tomatoes, pepper, and onion. Make sure you are using the best quality fruits and vegetables possible since gazpacho is a raw dish.
2. Blend the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, and garlic until completely pureed.
3. Strain the blended vegetable juice through a fine mesh strainer. (Or not, if you prefer a thicker consistency.)
4. Everything should pass through except for a layer of seeds and skin. Discard this.
5. Add the vegetable juice back to the blender and add the watermelon. Blend again until completely pureed.
6. Add salt to taste (go easy, you can always add more later), and sherry vinegar and blend. Suit your own taste on how much vinegar – and it depends upon the ripeness of the fruit and vegetables used.
7. Finally, slowly add in the EVOO (better olive oil means better gazpacho) as the blender is running. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar and blend until smooth.
8. Taste the gazpacho for salt and vinegar and adjust if necessary. Then, add two to four ice cubes (depending on how thin you like your gazpacho – when we made it we used no ice). Let them melt for a few minutes in the blender and then add a handful of fresh mint and blend for the last time. Can be made the day before; keep chilled.
9. Taste for salt and serve ice cold in glasses, garnished with a mint leaf.
Per Serving: 87 Calories; 4g Fat (35.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 9mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 36mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 392mg Potassium; 44mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, Vegetarian, on April 21st, 2022.

Just good vegetable soup – tons of broccoli, a little bit of wild rice and some cheese.

A post from Carolyn. There’s a local restaurant near where I live that always has broccoli cheese soup on the menu. And I’ve had it many times, but the last couple of times it was so thick and gluey (with cheese) I was concerned about choking on it. Not a fun feeling. But when I read something about broccoli cheese soup a couple of weeks ago I just decided I needed to make some at home. And I wanted a little bit of fiber of some kind. Since I had some wild rice on my pantry shelf, that’s what it became. Not broccoli cheese soup; not thickened. Not gluey with cheese!

I rounded up a few recipes and chose the best from them. I made this soup very high in broccoli and relatively low in cheese, and also not a whole lot of broth or milk in it. You definitely know you’re having broccoli with some cheese. And the wild rice gives it a really nice chewy consistency. You can make this in the Instant Pot if you’d like (and one or two of the recipes I consulted had you do that). I had time, so I made it in my big round Le Creuset pot. Low and slow.

It’s the usual kind of start to a soup – onion, carrots, celery, and I had leeks, so they went in there too (good flavor). After sweating them a bit, I added chicken broth, dry marjoram, salt and pepper, some wild rice and let it cook about 10 minutes. Then I added the broccoli (all chopped up into little florets) and basmati rice and let that cook for another 15-20 minutes until both rice ingredients were just barely tender. It came off heat, I added heavy cream, some half and half, some sharp cheddar and reheated it briefly to let the cheese melt. Then served it with some grated cheddar on top, some pine nuts (toasted) and a flicker or Italian parsley.

Is this soup going to blow your socks off? Probably not, but it was delicious (not low in calorie, I’ll add, with all that dairy in it), but a cup of it was plenty for a serving.

What’s GOOD: all the veggies – liked the texture both of the veggies and the rice (wild and white). Very filling, even though it doesn’t have any meat protein in it. I liked it a lot. Yes, I’d make it again. I made enough to freeze several cups for another time. One cup is a sufficient serving.

What’s NOT: really nothing – liked this soup a lot. If you don’t have leeks leave them out. It uses a lot of broccoli.

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Broccoli Wild Rice Soup with Pine Nuts

Serving Size: 10

1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
1 large yellow onion — chopped
3 large carrots — peeled, sliced
2 1/2 cups celery — chopped
2 medium leeks — cleaned, chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth — or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup wild rice
1/3 cup basmati rice
8 cups fresh broccoli — trimmed, chopped, stems chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups half and half
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese — grated
6 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts — toasted

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat add EVOO. Then add onions and leeks. Allow to sweat, turning heat down as needed, while you chop the carrots and celery. Add those to the pot. Add the broccoli, wild rice, salt, pepper, marjoram, heavy cream and chicken broth. If the vegetables aren’t covered with liquid, add water or milk to the pot to just barely cover the vegetables.
2. Bring the mixture to a very low simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add white rice and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Taste the rice to make sure it’s barely tender. A little bite to it is good, but not crunchy.
3. At the very end, add half and half and grated cheddar (or you may add the cheese as a garnish), and bring back to a simmer. Serve at this point or cool and refrigerate. If you’d like a thicker soup, remove about 3 cups of the soup and use an immersion blender to puree and add back into the soup.
4. When serving add Italian parsley to the top. Optional garnishes: croutons, diced red bell pepper, pesto, more grated cheese. You could also add chopped rotisserie chicken. You could also use coconut milk in lieu of heavy cream and/or the half and half. If you use Trader Joe’s brand it won’t have much of a coconut milk taste.
Per Serving: 519 Calories; 37g Fat (60.9% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 91mg Cholesterol; 932mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 530mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1030mg Potassium; 504mg Phosphorus.

Posted in easy, Pasta, Vegetarian, on April 7th, 2022.

Creamy pasta with luscious lemon flavor and arugula. And cheese. Yummy Parmigiano-Reggiano. A post from Carolyn, but it’s really from my friend Linda.

Linda says: I spent the weekend with my friends Carolyn & Dave many years ago in Palm Desert, California. I picked up a book called “Cooking for Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser, a writer [and later editor] for the New York Times food section. I made this recipe finally and it was outstanding. The pasta I used was imported lemon linguine. I added extra lemon zest, Parmesan & arugula. My suggestion is to taste and adjust to your preference. I thought it needed more of everything, except lemon juice. The pepper is important!

From Carolyn: the book from Amanda Hesser is just so cute – it’s about her meeting her (now) husband, and their courtship. He wasn’t much into food, and of course, she was/is. Yet he managed to pull recipes from his back pocket (you’d have to read the book to learn about his cooking), so each chapter tells a little story of their courtship, then bookended with a recipe. Some are his, and most are hers.

When Linda visited me last fall  at the desert house, we went shopping at Home Goods, and she picked up a package of lemon linguine. Now . . . this recipe doesn’t call for “lemon linguine,” just linguine, but hey, if you can find lemon linguine (it might be available at World Market), use it. I bought a package of that lemon linguine too, the same time she did, and I need to try it. As you know, I don’t eat much pasta, but this would be a special occasion.

What’s GOOD: Linda says it was outstanding. That’s enough said! Easy too.

What’s NOT: only that you need arugula and crème fraiche on hand.

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Linguine with Meyer Lemon Zest, Crème Fraiche and Parm

Recipe By: Adapted from Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser
Serving Size: 4

Sea Salt
1 pound linguine — lemon flavored if you can find it
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
2 Meyer lemons — zest and juice
2 1/2 cups arugula — roughly chopped
1/2 cup crème fraiche
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

1. Fill a large pot with water and season with lots of salt – enough that you can taste the salt. Bring it to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente (still firm and not quite cooked through).
2. While it cooks, finely grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into a large serving bowl. Zest the lemons into the bowl, then add the arugula.
3. Scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Juice one of the lemons and set aside.
4. Drain the pasta and turn it out into the serving bowl with the cheese, lemon zest and arugula. Working quickly, sprinkle over the lemon juice and a little pasta water. Add crème fraiche, then begin to fold all of the ingredients together. Fold over and over again until the pasta is slicked with sauce, the cheese is fully melted, the arugula wilted and the flavors harmonized. Season with plenty of ground black pepper. Taste a strand of linguine, then add more lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper and creme fraiche, as needed. Or add more grated cheese if it’s needed. If the sauce is a bit too sticky, add a little more pasta water and mix again. [Notes from Linda: she added more lemon zest, arugula, cheese and pepper – she didn’t think it needed more lemon juice or the creme fraiche – but then, this recipe is very adaptable to your own individual taste.]
Per Serving: 783 Calories; 29g Fat (34.1% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 91g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 78mg Cholesterol; 753mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 752mg Calcium; 5mg Iron; 394mg Potassium; 636mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, Vegetarian, on March 25th, 2022.

Another recipe from my friend Linda

A post from Carolyn. My dear friend Linda is an avid cook. There are any number of recipes of hers on my blog and she so nicely asked if I wanted a couple more recipes to post, favorites of hers. I said of course! This soup, made popular by Ina Garten, actually has different beginnings. It’s from Bobbi Brown, the originator of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. The recipe is in one of Ina’s cookbooks, but at Food & Wine they introduced the recipe (from Ina) but said that it was from Bobbi Brown. Who knew . . . I went online to read a bit more about Brown – she’s married with three sons – lives in New Jersey and she and her husband recently renovated an old hotel there and it re-opened as one a couple or three years ago. Click on the link above, to Wikipedia, if you’re interested in knowing more.

French Green de Puy Lentils Texture Picture | Free Photograph | Photos Public DomainThe one important note here – it’s necessary that you find and  use French Le Puy lentils. Sometimes they’re a bit harder to find. They hold their shape after cooking. You know that orange lentils dissolve once cooked. Here you want the distinct shape and texture of the lentil. Online it says Walmart and Target both carry French/Le Puy. So does amazon.

Anyway, the soup is quite straight forward – soak the lentils, cook onions, garlic and leeks until tender, then add celery and carrots. Broth, tomato paste and lentils are added and cooked for about an hour, then you add some red wine. Always a flavorful addition to hearty soups. Season it well – sometimes lentils need more salt than you might think. This soup has garlic, thyme and cumin in it. You can drizzle the top of the soup with olive oil and grate some Parm on top too. As with all soups (IMHO) they’re better if made a day ahead. The recipe indicates this keeps for two days. Huh? Just two days? Surely lentil and vegetable soup would keep more than two days; not sure why that would be the case. Thank you, Linda, for the recipe and the soup photo.

What’s GOOD: Linda says this soup is just wonderful. Not hard to make. Good, deep flavor. Freezes well too.

What’s NOT: only that you need to find Le Puy lentils. Buy two so you have some when you want to make this again.

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French Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Recipe By: Ina Garten (and from Bobbi Brown)
Serving Size: 8

1 pound lentils — Le Puy French type, picked over and rinsed
Boiling water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil — plus more for serving
3 large onions — chopped
3 medium garlic cloves — minced
2 large leeks — white and tender green parts only, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 celery ribs — cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 medium carrots — cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 quarts low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry red wine — or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese — for serving

1. In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, leeks, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper and the thyme and cumin and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Add the celery and carrots and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils to the pot. Increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the red wine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan.
4. To Make Ahead: The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let return to room temperature and reheat gently, adding more stock to adjust the consistency if necessary.
Per Serving: 379 Calories; 10g Fat (22.4% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 158mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 83mg Calcium; 6mg Iron; 1050mg Potassium; 315mg Phosphorus.

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