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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 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING:

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s (I think). At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they  escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

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. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.

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 woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. 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, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. 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. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. 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. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

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. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

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.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called 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. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

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. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

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, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

 

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 Beef, Soups, on March 18th, 2021.

chili_guy_fieri

Dig out your spices in multiple types and heat.

Today I’m sharing a recipe from my neighbor, Scott. His wife, Josee, has been my salvation this last year, as she has gone shopping for me to various places, but of late, it’s been weekly trips to Costco, since I wasn’t willing to go there during the pandemic – except once. Periodically I make something that has a big quantity and I’ve shared it with their family of four. I’m happy to do it as a thank  you for all the various trips Josee has made for me.

Now that I’m past the 14-day hold after the 2nd vaccine, I’m “free.” Happy days. No fear of eating out, outside still, though. Don’t have to wear masks in small groups. As I write this I haven’t had a chance yet to hug my kids and grandkids, but I will!

So, Josee brought over a plastic bag of chili for me – Scott had made it. He’s the weekend “chef” – he loves to barbecue –  and I think he’s a very accomplished home cook. He and I have had a few conversations about cooking and food in various contexts. Anyway, I managed to get two meals out of the baggie of chili Josee brought me, and OH, was it ever good.

Scott said it’s Guy Fieri’s recipe, so I was able to go online and print that out easily enough. Know from the get-go that you need to read the ingredient list carefully – you might not have everything on that list. So plan ahead, and of course, always with stew-type or soup type foods, it’s better the next day. Scott made beef Bourguignon a week or so ago and it was outstanding.

Since I didn’t make this recipe myself, I can’t really give you much info, other than what Scott told me. He said follow the recipe and do your prep ahead so you don’t miss anything. If you’re sensitive to heat, reduce the amount of cayenne, perhaps use half-sharp or mild paprika. Do note, the title of the recipe is Dragon’s Breath, so that should give you a clue about the fiery heat. It was fine for me – I can tolerate medium-heat. This is a great recipe. I’d definitely make it myself and yes, I would use the finely chopped up chuck roast, just because it adds a lot of flavor. If you have the bone to go with it, I’d put it in the pot too to add even more flavor. If you look at the online recipe, Guy Fieri always serves this with French Fries. I’m not much of a French Fry person (although hot ones from McDonald’s put in front of me would be eaten!).

Scott added fewer beans (their family is trying to reduce carbs too), but there were some in there.

What’s GOOD: as you know, for me it’s all about the end result – the flavor. The texture. And this scored on all counts.

What’s NOT: only that it takes hours to simmer and you might have to purchase a few ingredients if you don’t already have them in your pantry.

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

Dragons Breath Chili – Guy Fieri

Recipe By: from my neighbor, Scott, but from Guy Fieri, Food Network
Serving Size: 10

3 tablespoons bacon grease — or canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Anaheim chiles — roasted, peeled, seeded
3 poblano chiles — roasted, peeled, chopped
2 red bell peppers — diced
2 jalapeno chile pepper — minced
2 yellow onions — diced
1 head garlic — minced
1 pound chuck roast — boneless, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 pounds ground beef — coarse grind
1 pound Italian sausage — casings removed, or buy bulk
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper — (use less perhaps)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons hot paprika — (might use half hot and half regular)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup tomato paste
12 ounces beer — lager style
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
30 ounces canned kidney beans — with juice
30 ounces canned pinto beans — with juice
Saltine crackers — for garnish
1 bunch green onions — thinly sliced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
sour cream for garnish (optional: not in original recipe)

1. Add the bacon grease and butter to a large stockpot over high heat. Add the Anaheim chiles, poblano chiles, red bell peppers, jalapeno chiles and onions, and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add the chuck and brown, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage and brown, stirring gently, trying not to break up the ground beef too much. Cook until the meat is nicely browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain off fat. Add the chili powder, cayenne, coriander, cumin, granulated garlic, granulated onion, paprika, salt and black pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add the tomato sauce and paste, and stir to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beer and stock. Add the kidney and pinto beans; lower the heat and simmer, about 2 hours.
3. Serve the chili in bowls. May be served over Double-Fried French Fries. Garnish with crackers, green onions and Cheddar. Optional garnish: sour cream
Per Serving (sodium level is very high): 742 Calories; 40g Fat (48.4% calories from fat); 51g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 12g Dietary Fiber; 151mg Cholesterol; 1479mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 227mg Calcium; 9mg Iron; 1643mg Potassium; 599mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, Veggies/sides, on March 12th, 2021.

jamie_deens_green_bean_salad

Just lovely. So tasty.

Make this. It’s not that hard – although you do have to cut up tomatoes, toast the almonds, and shake together a very simple vinegar/oil combo, mince some fresh basil, red onion, and mince a clove of garlic. But that’s all. Get everything ready ahead of time – then cook the green beans in salted water. Drain them, dry them a bit, then toss them with the dressing.

The recipe comes from Jamie Deen, Paula’s son. Since I had green beans in my frig, and I had red onion – well, I had all the ingredients. The almonds toasted in my toaster oven for about 5 minutes. I went out into my garden and grabbed a nice little sprig of basil, I shook up the red wine vinegar, EVOO and garlic in a jar and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The beans were drained, I rinsed them well under cold water, then to cool to room temp (within about 10 minutes). I put the green beans in the little dish (pictured above) and added the vinaigrette and used my hands to mix it well. A little salt and pepper were added, then I piled on the tomatoes, goat cheese (his recipe called for feta, but I’m in a rut with crumbled goat cheese). Nuts sprinkled on top, the basil and it was ready to eat.

green_bean_salad_jamie_deenTruly, I could have eaten that whole dish full of them, they were that good. But I didn’t. I started with about 1/2 pound of beans, so I have enough for another day. If you’re not going to eat them all in one sitting, don’t put the dressing on the beans as the acid in the vinegar turns the beans kind of gray-ish. Not very pleasing to look at, although the taste isn’t impaired at all. This would make a lovely company side dish – it could easily go on a picnic, and can be assembled at the last minute at someone else’s home. Versatile. Just package everything separately.

What’s GOOD: everything about these were so tasty. Loved the vinaigrette. None of the flavors overwhelmed – just enough of everything. And did I mention how pretty the finished dish is? Gorgeous. Make more than you need so you can have leftovers  – although as I mentioned above, keep everything separate until ready to toss and serve.

What’s NOT: nothing, other than needing to do some prep work.

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

* Exported from MasterCook *

Green Bean Salad – Jamie Deen

Recipe By: Food Network – Jamie Deen
Serving Size: 5

salt to season the water
1 pound green beans — use slender ones, if available, ends trimmed
1 cup goat cheese — crumbled, or feta
1 cup cherry tomatoes — sliced in half
2 tablespoons red onion — minced
1/2 cup slivered almonds — toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large clove garlic — minced
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil a large pot of water with a generous amount of salt added. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 4 minutes. Drain and remove to a bowl of ice water. Or rinse well under cold tap water.
2. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl.
3. In small jar combine red wine vinegar and oil, then add garlic. Shake. Set aside.
3. Pour the dressing over the green beans and toss well. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Add the goat or feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions. Garnish with slivered fresh basil.
Per Serving: 344 Calories; 28g Fat (71.4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 205mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 211mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 431mg Potassium; 275mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Fish, on March 6th, 2021.

moroccan_fish_tomato_mint_sauce

A very quick dinner entrée – make it with any type of white fish or salmon.

Salmon features frequently here in my kitchen and on this blog. I do love it, but was tired of it. So I reached into the freezer for a piece of mahi-mahi. I wish I could buy fresh fish more easily. We do have a lovely (high end) fish market that’s about 10 miles away. It always seems too far to go to buy a single piece of fish. Even though I don’t love eating fish that’s been frozen, I do it anyway, mostly for salmon. I have cod and mahi-mahi in my freezer now, so you may see some new recipes for both in coming months. I’m not willing to buy fish at my local grocery store. I just don’t trust it – that it’s been in the case for too long, and we’ve all read the horror stories of markets rinsing “old” fish in some solution and repacking it for sale. And sometimes when you walk into a grocery store you can smell the fish from 100 feet away. Always a bad sign to me.

Anyway, I’d intended to make this recipe with salmon, the way the original recipe had been written. But it ended up being used with the white fish instead, and it was lovely. The recipe meant the topping to be more of a relish (to me relish means raw, does it to you?) but in this case it was cooked some, so I call that a sauce. A chunky one, though.

The red onion was cooked thoroughly, and then I added the tomatoes and because I cooked things a little out of order (from the recipe, I mean). I just mushed the sauce/relish off on one side of the skillet, pulled the skillet over so only the fish was over the burner. The fish took little time at all, even though it was about an inch thick. I covered the pan so it would steam a bit. The sauce was just great – loved the flavor of it. I served it with pan-seared mushrooms.

What’s GOOD: it was a treat to have something other than salmon. Liked the tender, flaky mahi-mahi, and loved the sauce. The predominant flavor was orange – a good thing. I’m sure the ginger added flavor – so did the capers, the mint and the citrus zests too – all of it contributed to umami flavors in the sauce. I have leftover sauce which I’ll use on something. It would be good on chicken too, I think. It’s also very low carb, and low calorie.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything, unless you don’t enjoy the smell of fish in your kitchen. I suppose you could grill the fish outside and serve the sauce on top if that’s something you’d prefer to do.

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

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Moroccan Fish with Tomato-Orange-Mint Sauce

Recipe By: Adapted from The Complete Step by Step Low Carb Cookbook, Jan 2005
Serving Size: 4

1/2 teaspoon salt — divided
24 ounces mahi-mahi — fillets (6-ounces each)
2 teaspoons olive oil — divided
1 3/4 cups red onion — chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger — peeled and minced
2 cups tomato — coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro — reserving some for garnish

1. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly over fillets. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add fillets; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; set aside, and keep warm.
2. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and ginger; sauté 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, tomato, and next 6 ingredients; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning.
3. Return fillets to pan, nestling fillets in tomato mixture; cook 3-4 minutes until fish is medium-rare or to desired degree of doneness. Cover pan for part of this cooking time. Use an instant read thermometer, and remove fish once it reaches 145°F. It will continue to cook when you place fillets on individual plates. Stir chopped mint and cilantro into tomato mixture; spoon mixture on top and around each fillet. Garnish with additional sprigs of cilantro. If using some raw onion and fresh tomato, sprinkle that on top.
Per Serving: 233 Calories; 4g Fat (15.0% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 124mg Cholesterol; 557mg Sodium; 10g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 78mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 1188mg Potassium; 308mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Pork, on February 28th, 2021.

 

risotto_ital_saus_leeks_corn

Yes, I am giving you a recipe, but this post is also about today, mid-to-late Covid time.

On Wednesday last week I finally had my 2nd Covid-19 vaccine. Until I received the confirmation of my appointment, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen because California (and other states) experienced a shortage of serum because of the awful weather. Understandable. I won’t bore you with the details of the vaccine appointment (long, tedious lines, parking issues, awful) but the side effects hit me like a brick about 7 hours afterwards. I had a very hard night, little sleep, with body aches and pains like I’ve never experienced in my life. Headache too, and chills/shivering. Crazy. The next morning I took Tylenol and that helped, but I was not feeling good all day. Even the following day was not normal, either. Still had aching in my back and neck and general malaise. But about 4pm (this is 2 days post-vaccine) my world brightened. I could see the sun shine. I was back to the land of the living. I was rejuvenated, ALIVE! What a transformation!

Starting about a week ago I couldn’t stand it anymore, not going grocery shopping, so I’ve been visiting my local markets when needed. And yes, of course, I’m masking, even double masking sometimes. What a joy it has been to realize that if I need to go buy a leek, I can go buy a leek, and not wait until I do my once a week online shopping (that needed to reach $50 in order to be free of an extra fee). What I feel is liberated – from this long year of quarantining, from living indoors nearly every day of the week, week after week, after week. I’ve still been doing my walking (around my house for 30 minutes every other day) so I do get outdoors. But still, 2020 will be a year that will live long in our memories. And for many people 2021 isn’t immune from those bad memories, either.

What I am is grateful, too. That I fit in the age range so I could GET the Covid vaccine (I got the Moderna one). This might be the only time in my life I’m grateful for being OLD! Grateful that I’ve survived this year and not caught Covid. I’ve been careful – very careful. Rarely out in a public setting, not frequenting any stores, really. Rarely eaten out. Just being home. Alone. But grateful. Because I’m a believer, I thank God that I survived this year, have now had my 2 vaccines, and I can return to more normal life.

Earlier last week my friend Linda visited me (yes, we kept socially distant), and she and I visited Claro’s, a specialty Italian market not too far from my house. I hadn’t been in Claro’s for over a year. Yippee! I bought some fennel salami and thinly sliced provolone, plus some sweet Italian sausage. Hence I had this sausage in my frig and it needed to be frozen or used.

Maybe because I was in a state of euphoria (about being post-vaccine and about life in general) I decided to make one of my favorite dishes. And it’s full of carbs, which I try to avoid. For me, eating carbs is kind of like pigging out; like hitting a home run; like celebrating. Certainly like over-indulging!

This recipe is already on my blog, but it was years and years ago that I posted it. It’s a Phillis Carey recipe, and in 2011 when she taught this in a class, she said it was one of her home mainstays, that it’s comfort food for her on any given weeknight. It’s on my list of favorites, and rightly so. It’s a one-dish meal. Except for a few small things, it’s the same recipe as before . . . but this time instead of turkey Italian sausage, I used real pork Italian sausage. I made it for more servings that I needed – but remember, I needed to cook that Italian sausage! I’d purchased some leeks at Trader Joe’s (theirs are just the best – not only inexpensive, but they’re all cleaned and trimmed), I had the specialty rice for risotto, I had frozen corn, cherry tomatoes. I didn’t have spinach, but I did have baby arugula. I was in business!

Why do you need hot broth to add to risotto:

Pouring cold broth onto the hot rice shocks it, and the whole pot of food has to warm up again – making the cooking time much longer.

Ideally, have all the ingredients out and ready when you begin, including a pot of hot chicken broth to add to the risotto. Some people wonder why you have to have the broth hot – simple reason – if you add cold broth to the rice, it not only sort-of shocks the rice and it has to get warm again before it begins absorbing more fluid. The cooking process slows down. It takes a lot longer if you add cold or room temp broth. So I did everything as the recipe indicated and I had a big pan of risotto in about 40 minutes or so.

I ate with delight – that nice bowl of risotto with Italian sausage, corn, leeks and tomatoes. I hadn’t planned ahead about this, so at 6:45 I phoned my neighbor, Josee, (the neighbor who has been so kind to do Costco and other shopping for me over this last year) to see if she wanted dinner for her family. Long story – she was SO thrilled I had called. So, I used all the Italian sausage, feasted on it myself, then did something nice for my neighbor. That made me feel good.

What’s GOOD: such a wide variety of flavors – the sausage, the leeks, the corn, and the lovely creaminess of risotto, made right so it’s like thick soup. So good.

What’s NOT: only that you have to stand near the stovetop for 20-25 minutes stirring frequently while you’re making the risotto rice part.

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

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Risotto with Italian Sausage, Corn, Leeks, Spinach and Tomatoes

Recipe By: Phillis Carey
Serving Size: 5

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil — divided use
1/2 pound Italian sausage — or use turkey sausage
3 cloves garlic — minced
3/4 cup dry white wine — like Sauvignon Blanc (not vermouth), divided use
1 1/2 cups leeks — cleaned, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup frozen corn — fire roasted, preferably
6 ounces baby arugula — or baby spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated, using more to sprinkle on top
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes — halved
2 tablespoons Italian parsley — chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil — sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Lower heat and keep the broth hot.
2. Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and garlic. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Add 1/4 cup wine to the sausage and simmer until the wine evaporates.
3. Heat remaining 2 T. oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven (Phillis suggests Le Creuset is the best pot for making risotto). Add the cleaned and dried leeks and cook for 6-8 minutes until they are softened. Add rice and cook, stirring often, until it turns white, but not brown, aout 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated.
4. Add a cup of broth to the rice and cook, stirring constantly, lowering heat to just a simmer, until rice absorbs all the broth. Stir in another cup of broth and stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth and stirring until rice is just tender, about 20 more minutes.
5. Stir in the corn and sausage and then add the arugula or spinach by handfuls, cooking until wilted; season to taste with salt and pepper. Do not let the rice cook until it’s dry – add small amounts of broth (or water if you run out) even up until the end. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and stir until melted. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, parsley and basil and serve immediately with additional Parmesan to sprinkle on top, if desired.
Per Serving: 455 Calories; 28g Fat (57.5% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 50mg Cholesterol; 366mg Sodium; 4g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 105mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 680mg Potassium; 220mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Veggies/sides, on February 26th, 2021.

AF_green_beans_failure

Withered, stringy. Hardly edible . . .

As I looked at these green beans that I’d gone to so much work to prepare, I knew I couldn’t post them here, as they were awful. Barely edible. Then I got a chuckle – – perhaps you, my readers, think that everything I make is a stunning feast, wonderful, marvelous. Uh, nope.

I followed the recipe to a T. You weren’t supposed to put more than 25 green beans (I used about 12 for each batch) in the air fryer at a time, so they’d have enough air around them, giving them a chance to cook and get crisp. The beans were dunked in an egg wash, then into a cheesy breading, then loosely put into the air fryer. Four minutes at 400°, toss them, then back in for 2 more minutes.

I removed the cooked ones onto the extra breading pan while I made a second batch. Once they were barely cool enough I picked one up to taste. Ooooh. Tough. Stringy. And withered, as you can see in the photo. Oh dear. So that second batch I air fried for 6 minutes, tossed, then 3 minutes. Those weren’t quite so tough, but they were even more withered. I turned down the temp of the air fryer and went back to 4 minutes and 2 minutes. Nope. Still withered and stringy. After that batch I gave up, tossed most of them in the trash can and cooked the remaining half pound of green beans on the stove with shallot, garlic and orange zest.

I’m not posting the recipe. I’m thinking maybe green beans aren’t a vegetable you should do in the air fryer. The egg dunk didn’t seem to stick – well, it did because all of the green beans had the breading attached when I put them in the air fryer basket, but by the time they’d cooked, most of the breading had fallen off and was down in the bottom of the pot. And the poor withered beans? Oh gosh. Not very pleasant to eat. The breading, what little there was of it, was nice and crunchy, but little of it stuck.

Thought you’d all enjoy a laugh. . . if any of you have had success with green beans in an air fryer, let me know.

Posted in Soups, on February 20th, 2021.

meatballs_yellow_curry_vegetables

This was pure serendipity. Things I had in the refrigerator, made into a lovely soup that I’d definitely make again.

If you read my blog recently when I made lamb meatballs into a kind of shakshuka, then you know I had some leftover meatballs. Some that I cooked in a frying pan, but they didn’t go into that tomato stew shakshuka thing. What to do with them?

At first I searched some of my own recipes for soup, then went online, and finally I settled on 3 different recipes, and kind of combined them. I had to use what I had on hand. As I write this (about a week ago) I’m still not shopping at grocery stores, so I really did have to use pantry ingredients.

First I warmed some EVOO in a big skillet, then added a half of a shallot, chopped up, and half an onion, minced. I let that lightly sizzle until the onion was translucent, then I added garlic, and lastly some yellow curry paste. About a tablespoon, heaping, I’d guess. Mash that up well, so it’s evenly distributed. Once you add hot liquid whatever little chunks of yellow curry paste will still be in little chunks. Then chicken broth was added, and vegetables: celery, a little nub of carrot, and chopped up broccoli stems. I let that simmer while the vegetables cooked for about 5 minutes, then I added the broccoli florets. You don’t want them to turn gray! Then a can of full-fat coconut milk went in. If you like the coconut milk flavor, use Thai Kitchen brand; Trader Joe’s coconut milk cans have virtually no flavor. I added some chopped up baby spinach and dried mint flakes too. And the meatballs.

A note about the meatballs: I used the lamb meatballs I had, but I think chicken would be good, beef, too, even pork, or a combo of a couple of those. Do add seasoning to the meatballs, maybe some minced  up onion and some kind of flavoring that would go with this kind-of Thai or Asian soup. Like lemongrass maybe? The yellow curry paste gives the soup ample spicy heat, so I wouldn’t add more chiles or chile heat. If you had bok choy, that would be good in this too.

Once scooped into a wide bowl, I garnished with green onions, cilantro and some fresh mint from my meager mint garden. This isn’t mint season, so I couldn’t find much that was useful. That’s why I used some dried mint in the soup part.

What’s GOOD: really delicious, and a great way to use up some leftover meatballs.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything.

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Meatball Soup with Yellow Curry and Vegetables

Recipe By: A creation I made with leftovers
Serving Size: 4

1/2 pound meatballs — I used lamb, but you can use beef or chicken or pork
2 tablespoons EVOO — or other neutral oil
1/2 large onion — chopped finely
1 medium shallot — minced
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry paste — or more to taste
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 carrot — chopped thinly
2/3 cup celery — chopped
1 cup broccoli — stems and florets, chopped separately
14 ounces coconut milk — full fat
2 cups baby spinach — chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mint flakes
1/4 cup fresh mint — minced, divided
1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped, divided
4 green onions — minced

1. In a large nonstick pot (with a lid), add the EVOO and allow it to heat slowly. Add the shallot and onion and allow to saute over med-low heat (do not burn or brown) until wilted. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the yellow curry paste and stir it well into the onion mixture until you don’t see any more chunks of it.
2. Add the chicken broth (or use a concentrate + water) and bring it to a simmer, covered.
3. Meanwhile, chop up the celery, broccoli, carrot and herbs and keep them separate. Add the broccoli stems to the soup with the carrot, celery and bring back up to a simmer. Add the meatballs and allow to simmer for about 5-7 minutes. (Note: if you’re using raw meatballs, add them earlier so they’ll be fully cooked through.) Add the broccoli florets, the dried mint, and half of the fresh mint. Add the coconut milk, scraping the can well to get all the rich cream out of it and into the soup. Taste for seasoning. Bring mixture back up to a simmer again and test the broccoli. If tender, it’s ready to serve.
4. Scoop 1+ cup servings into a flat, broad soup bowl and sprinkle top with more fresh mint, cilantro and minced scallions.
Per Serving: 357 Calories; 32g Fat (74.4% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 115mg Sodium; 6g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 100mg Calcium; 4mg Iron; 815mg Potassium; 212mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Lamb, on February 14th, 2021.

moroccan_lamb_meatball_shakshuka

Cross the pond to Morocco. Delicious dinner dish. There are a bunch of tiny lamb meatballs simmering in a rich tomato stew. Then the succulent steamed eggs on top.

Certainly I’m mixing cuisines here. I’ve just begun following a blog called MarocMama. Amanda (an American, I believe) resides in Morocco, and lives in a typical communal family household with her Moroccan husband, their children and his extended family. She writes about travel and food, and her cross-cultural lifestyle. When I saw this recipe, my mind went immediately to shakshuka. Amanda called this a kefta (for the little lamb meatballs). But with the eggs on top, well, it was nothing short of shakshuka for me.

[Shakshuka] was brought to Israel by Tunisian Jews as part of the mass Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim lands, where it has become a characteristic feature of the local cuisine. Shakshouka is typical of North African and Arab cuisine and is traditionally served in a cast iron pan or, in Morocco, a tajine. It is a Maghrebi dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion and garlic, and commonly spiced with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg. Egg shakshouka evolved from an Ottoman meat stew, also called shakshouka, into a vegetarian egg-based dish. Maghrebi Jews brought it to Israel, where it has become a characteristic feature of Israeli cuisine.. . from Wikipedia

And shakshuka is not usually a meat dish, either, so as I said up top, I’m mixing cuisines and cultural lines. Please no hate-mail! I’d purchased some ground lamb recently and knew I wanted to try this dish. I don’t own a tajine, but I knew that a wide skillet (iron one, even, although I used a nonstick high sided pan to make this) would work. I followed Amanda’s recipe mostly, but did make a few changes. Do use a pan that has a lid.

Recently I read on Food52 about a new-ish method of treating ground meat (that actually came from Cook’s Illustrated) with the addition of baking soda and water. Why? So glad you asked . . . sprinkling a mixture on ground meat helps the meat retain moisture, so it only gives off fat. And oh, does it ever work!

Typically, this dish served in Morocco would have a pile of some kind of soft or crusty bread on the side (chunks of a French baguette, or something similar to naan) so you could scoop up a meatball with the sauce, and drag it through a bit of the oozing egg. However, if that last part’s not your thing, you can cook the eggs until they’re hard and not drag the egg into it unless you wanted it.  You could even leave out the eggs – – but then it wouldn’t be shakshuka anymore, just so you know . . . but then, this recipe never started out to be shakshuka. I just renamed it. It began as kefta.

tiny_lamb_meatballsSo first off, I mixed up the lamb meatball ingredients, then I poured in a stirred-up concoction of 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 T water. Then I squished the meatball mixture well, so the baking soda would be distributed. Then it needs to sit for 15 minutes, to soak in, to do it’s thing . . . which is to draw in the water in the meat.

You don’t brown the meat in this recipe. The little meatballs are dropped into the tomato-y sauce you make. While the meat is sitting for the 15-minute soak in baking soda/water, I started the sauce. First it was onion, then garlic, in some EVOO. Turmeric is added, some half-sharp paprika (or use regular paprika and a generous pinch of cayenne), salt, cumin. After the onions had softened a lot, I added in a large can of good San Marzano tomatoes. Next time I make this I won’t add all the juice from the can, as it made a bit too much “soup.” Amanda uses large fresh tomatoes, but I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes at all, so canned would have to do. They happened to be the whole type, so I needed to squish them in my hand to break the tomatoes up into edible chunks. Do simmer that mixture for awhile so the lovely cumin and turmeric spices can mingle with the tomatoes.

That mixture simmered while I made the meatballs. The recipe indicated forming them into tiny grape-sized meatballs. Wow, is that hard! I made about 38 meatballs (pictured) from the one pound of ground lamb.

moroccan_lamb_meatballs_shakshuka_full_panAmanda mentioned in the recipe that if you crowd the meatballs, they won’t absorb as much flavor from the lovely tomato stew, so to use the extra for another dish. As it turned out, I did have a small bunch of meatballs left over, so am going to make a soup with them in the next few days. I cooked those meatballs in a small frying pan, and there was not one speck of water-type moisture in the pan – only the fat. So easy to do.

Above you can see the full pan. I’m hoping you can see the meatballs a little better. I simmered the tomato mixture uncovered for awhile to try to reduce the amount of soupy liquid. And I only used two eggs, because I’m just a family of one. I’ll be having leftovers one of these evenings.

What’s GOOD: everything about this was delicious. Wonderful. So full of flavor – from the lamb, the turmeric, the cumin, and the good San Marzano tomatoes. Loved it. Even the soft, runny eggs. Such a break from tradition to have eggs in a lamb and tomato stew.

What’s NOT: nothing really. Took a bit of time to make the meatballs, but otherwise it was easy enough. You could probably do this in a little over 45 minutes if you start the tomato stew first.

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Moroccan Lamb Meatball Shakshuka

Recipe By: Adapted from MarocMama blog
Serving Size: 4

MEATBALLS:
1 pound ground lamb — or beef, or combination of both
1 tablespoon garlic — minced
1/2 onion — finely diced
1/2 teaspoon salt — scant
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley — finely diced
1/2 teaspoon baking soda — mixed with 1 T water
TOMATO SAUCE:
2 tablespoons olive oil — (2 to 3)
1/2 onion — finely minced
28 ounces canned tomatoes — San Marzano, reserving some of the liquid for another use
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika — half-sharp, or use regular plus a pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt — or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley — minced
1 teaspoon garlic — crushed
3 large eggs — or one for each serving

1. In a bowl combine the ground meat with crushed garlic, onion, salt, and paprika and a small handful of chopped Italian parsley. Mix well with your hand to combine all of the ingredients. Pour in the mixture of baking soda and water, and massage into the meat. Set aside for 15 minutes for the soda to do it’s job of retaining moisture in the meat.
2. Roll into about 35-40 small balls slightly larger than a grape.
3. In a tajine (or use a large skillet with a lid) add 2-3 tbsp olive oil and minced onion. Place the tajine on the stovetop on medium heat, using a diffuser if you have an electric range.
4. Mix in turmeric, spicy paprika (sudaniya in Morocco), salt, ground cumin, chopped Italian parsley and crushed garlic. Pour in the tomatoes with only about half the liquid from the can and stir well.
6. Arrange the meatballs in the tomato stew so that they each have a little space to soak up the sauce. If you have more meatballs than space in the tajine reserve them for another dish. Each meatball needs enough room for some sauce to surround them. I used a heat diffuser so the mixture would simmer very slowly, and for the next section of cooking the eggs.
7. Cover the tajine and continue to cook on low. Check after 30 minutes. Once the meatballs are cooked through, crack 3 (or more) eggs and place on top of the meatballs and sauce. Cover the tajine again so that the eggs can cook through. Some people like the eggs to be steamed just until they are set but the yolk still is runny. You may also cook the eggs until the yolk is hard.
8. Serve and eat by scooping up bites of meatball and egg with crusty bread.
NOTE: You could also serve this with rice or couscous and scoop servings of the meatballs and the tomato stew with an egg on top onto each plate or bowl.
Per Serving: 511 Calories; 38g Fat (65.8% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 222mg Cholesterol; 1301mg Sodium; 9g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 135mg Calcium; 7mg Iron; 846mg Potassium; 317mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on February 8th, 2021.

cabbage_roll_soup

Ever made a soup that every time you reheat it, it tastes even better?

What got me thinking about a soup such as this, is a memory of a favorite of mine, the Deconstructed or Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage. And then I came across the recipe for this Cabbage Roll Soup, that I figured would be much like that beloved dish, but in a soup form. Well, it wasn’t exactly – I may have to go tweak that cabbage recipe and see how to make it into a soup. Shouldn’t be all that difficult. Next time . . .

Since I had a big, fat Savoy cabbage in my vegetable drawer in the frig, it got me to thinking about ground beef, vegetables, in a kind of spicy tomato-y broth and bingo, I thought about cabbage rolls. But no, I wasn’t going to make cabbage rolls. Way too much work. I wanted soup, besides. Sure enough, I had this untried recipe in my arsenal.

It took relatively little time to make – chopping up the vegetables, cooking down the ground beef, finding the various cans of things in my pantry, heating up broth, measuring here and there. Tasting. Chopping up about 3/4 of a cabbage, tasting again. Tweaking the flavors a little bit (a tetch of sugar, a can of tomatoes instead of tomato juice, more dried thyme). Rice went in at the end. I don’t eat much rice (though I love rice and I miss it, hence I decided to put some in this soup). I used Basmati, because that’s about the only rice I have in my pantry anyway. Be sure to make this a day ahead. It really improves with an overnight chill.

More than half of it was bagged up and given to my neighbor, Josee. She’s been a God-send to me, for me, since this pandemic, as she visits Costco at least once a week, if not more often, and gladly buys what I need from there. If I ask, she’ll go to Trader Joe’s for me too, though I try not to ask. In between I buy a $50+ of groceries at Ralph’s and they bring the bags out to my car and put them in the trunk. That way I don’t have contact with people. But anyway, Josee doesn’t really like to cook, and is always so grateful when I send over a big pot of something for her young family. She feels pampered because I cook for them sometimes. I feel blessed and appreciate her errand-running and shopping for me, so it’s a good and fair trade.

This soup made a TON. Way, way more than I could ever eat, but I knew I was going to give some of it away, so what was left fed me lunch for about 6 days. After 6 lunches, I’m ready for something new. Up soon will be a wild rice soup with chicken. Reminiscent of a casserole my mother used to make when I was young. That used cream of mushroom soup, something I never use anymore.

A little aside here . . . I’ve finally had my first Covid vaccine, as I write this. When this recipe posts, I’ll be a week away from having my second vaccine. YEAH! Then, I’m laughingly talking about my freedom – to go to the grocery store. And Target, maybe. Maybe sit outside at a coffee place, even.

What’s GOOD: good, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup. It was nice to have some rice since I so rarely eat any. Liked the flavor combination – the thyme, the little bit of sour (lemon juice) and the little big of sweet (sugar and tomatoes). Great lunch for these cold, winter days. Try to make this a day ahead – it’ll taste better.

What’s NOT: can’t think of anything. This isn’t off the charts kind of thing you’re going to tell all your friends about – just good comfort food in soup form.

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Cabbage Roll Soup

Recipe By: Adapted from Sweet Recipeas
Serving Size: 10

1 1/2 pounds ground beef — or ground chicken or a combination
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups cabbage — chopped
3/4 cup onions — diced
1 cup celery — diced
1 cup carrots — diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
7 cups low sodium beef broth
4 cups vegetable broth — or chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar — or sugar substitute
14 ounces canned tomatoes — diced
1 tablespoon mushroom soup base
1/3 cup rice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh dill — chopped
3 tablespoons parsley — chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups grated Cheddar cheese — for garnish
6 tablespoons flat leaf parsley — chopped, for garnish

1. Using a large stock pot add olive oil and cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking up with a potato masher or meat masher. Drain the fat from the ground chuck, leaving about a tablespoon of drippings.
2. Add cabbage, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the both types of broth, rice, canned tomatoes, mushroom soup base, sugar, Worcestershire, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat medium-low and simmer soup until the cabbage and rice are tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove pot from heat and add dill, parsley, and lemon juice. Discard the bay leaf and season well with salt and pepper. Serve hot with grated cheese and Italian parsley as garnishes.
Per Serving: 367 Calories; 23g Fat (56.7% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 80mg Cholesterol; 1055mg Sodium; 8g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 322mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 618mg Potassium; 330mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Salads, on February 2nd, 2021.

mixed_lettuce_snap_pea_salad

Nice, refreshing salad with Meyer lemons.

We had a gathering at my house a week or so ago, finally celebrating Christmas with my two families who live here in Southern California. All done outside except for some food prep. My son Powell brought a beautiful, big smoked ham he’d done in his fancy barbecue. I made Ina Garten’s zucchini gratin, a favorite of mine. We had a casserole of smashed sweet potatoes, and then I made this salad. Karen brought some fresh strawberries that could be dipped in crème fraiche and brown sugar, and I’d put out a big cheese platter ahead of time.

meyer_lemon_cream_dressingAn entire package of sugar snap peas is in that salad, above, but I don’t think you can see a single one of them in the picture . . . but they’re there. And there are more lemons than I thought, but each serving maybe had two slices of them (halved). I used a combination of Romaine lettuce and baby spinach. Then tons of radishes (an entire bunch) were added too. But the crown of the recipe is the lemon cream dressing. It starts with a minced shallot, then Meyer lemon juice, EVOO, salt, pepper, and lastly, a big glug of heavy cream. The dressing made enough to dress two big salads, so I used it on my dinner salad for a few days. Taste the dressing with a leaf of lettuce – if you think it’s too tart, add another little jot of EVOO. The recipe came from Sunset Magazine some years ago.0

All of the salad could be made ahead and tossed at the last minute. And it could easily be taken to someone else’s home and assembled there.

What’s GOOD: the lemony flavored tart dressing. I actually enjoyed eating the little thin wedges of lemon too. It made a very pretty salad with lots of crunch (from the sugar snaps and radishes) and the dressing was just lovely. Definitely I’d make this again. Loved the mint in the salad too. Such a nice addition to salads.

What’s NOT: nothing, really. I might put in even more radishes and sugar snaps next time.

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Lettuce Snap Pea Salad with Meyer Lemon Cream

Recipe By: Sunset 1/15
Serving Size: 6

1 whole Meyer lemon
1 1/4 pounds lettuce — mixed types, ends trimmed; or use 10 oz. salad mix
1 cup sugar snap peas — thinly sliced on a diagonal
3/4 cup radishes — thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves — torn into small pieces
DRESSING:
2 tablespoons shallot — finely minced
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt — divided
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil — plus 2 tbsp.
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Very thinly slice lemon crosswise, using a handheld slicer and removing seeds with a knife tip as you go. Discard ends. If the lemon is large, you may only use half the lemon. Cut lemon slices in half.
2. Toss lettuces in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup dressing. Add snap peas, radishes, and a little more dressing and toss again. Arrange salad on chilled plates and tuck in lemon slices and mint. Serve with more dressing if you like.
3. DRESSING: To a jar add shallot, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt and let stand 5 minutes. Add oil, then cover and shake well. Add in 1/2 tsp. more salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and the cream. Taste and add more salt, pepper or EVOO (if it tastes too tart) if you like. Shake before using. Make ahead: up to 3 days, chilled.
Per Serving (you don’t use all the dressing on this salad above, so calorie count is way too high): 236 Calories; 23g Fat (84.3% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 15mg Cholesterol; 334mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 74mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 346mg Potassium; 55mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Soups, on January 27th, 2021.

mixed_mush_soup_sherry_thyme

OH MY Goodness! This may be my favorite mushroom soup to date.

How can I exclaim loud and wide enough for you to try this soup. SO good. SO deep with flavor. You may have to buy a couple of unusual items to make it the way I did, but it’ll be worth your time and the expense.

The original recipe came from a website called vindulge. My D-I-L found that website when she began making smoked beef brisket chili using their left over smoked beef brisket. Such a fabulous recipe, so ever since I’ve been following vindulge’s blog. This recipe popped up awhile ago, and since I had an abundance of mushrooms, I thought I’d try a new recipe for it.

What intrigued me was the quantity of sherry – 3/4 cup. That’s a lot of sherry. Was it too much? Absolutely not. Just be sure to use a good sherry – either dry or medium. Don’t use a sweet sherry. Although all sherry is a bit on the sweet side compared to white wine.

Sponsored Ad - Organic 100% Porcini Mushroom Powder Milled a 200?m Kosher Certified Made in France Vegan Vegetarian, 2ozAwhile back, in watching a Rachel Ray show (I think this is when I ordered this product) she used some dried porcini mushroom powder. I bought Organic 100% Porcini Mushroom Powder Milled a 200?m Kosher Certified Made in France Vegan Vegetarian, 2oz from amazon. She mentioned that it added a ton of flavor to things.

The recipe called for an ounce of it (there are two ounces in the package). I’ve found less than that is sufficient, so I used about a tablespoon. The porcini powder is mixed with the sherry and sits for awhile, so the powder absorbs the sherry. Don’t know exactly what difference that makes, but sounded like something different. Meanwhile, I sweated some onion in EVOO, then added garlic, then a lot of chopped mushrooms. I always buy whole (uncut) mushrooms – somewhere, sometime in the past it was recommended that you should not buy already sliced mushrooms because too many hands have been in contact with them. So I do chop and mince my own mushrooms. I also think mushrooms last a tad bit longer if they’re left whole. Long-lasting (mushrooms) is a relative term, however, as no mushrooms will keep for very long.

Soup | Search Results | TastingSpoons | Page ?The vindulge recipe called for chicken broth, but I have this wonderful mushroom soup base (a kind of thick gel that must be stored in the refrigerator) that adds a lot of flavor to mushroom dishes too. I’ve had the soup base for more than a year, and it still seems to be good and has not developed off flavors or mold. I’m sure it’s for the restaurant trade, but I love the flavor of it.

The soup comes together quickly – providing you have all the ingredients at hand – and you could probably have it on the table in about 45 minutes including prep time. Crème fraiche is added at the end, and I also added about 1/4 cup of cream just because I had some that needed using. At the end, I added a bit of water to the soup because it needed thinning just slightly.

This is a very rich soup – so portions should be smaller than normal. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley on top, just to make it look pretty. In the original recipe, some of the cremini mushrooms were chopped up, fried in butter and set aside to add as a garnish.

What’s GOOD: the mushroom flavor just jumps on your palate. Very hearty soup. Rich. Delicious. I loved the sherry in it – the quantity used certainly makes the sherry flavor very prominent. A keeper.

What’s NOT: only if you don’t have the mushroom soup base, or the dried porcini mushrooms. I know it wouldn’t taste as good, but it might still be delicious.

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Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Thyme

Recipe By: Adapted from vindulge
Serving Size: 6

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms — see directions about whole or powdered form
3/4 cup sherry wine — use a good one, not cooking sherry
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 cups onion — white or yellow, chopped
1 pound mushrooms — cremini, cleaned and chopped with stems
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic — finely diced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon mushroom soup base — or chicken or vegetable
3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried thyme — tied with string
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1/4 cup heavy cream — optional
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley — chopped (garnish)

1. If using whole dried mushrooms they need to be rehydrated. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and add sherry. Soak for at least 30 minutes, no more than an hour. Stir to make sure the sherry incorporates with all the dried mushrooms. If using porcini powder, soak the powder in the sherry for 30 minutes. Stir well so powder is absorbed.
2. After re-hydrated the whole ones, strain the liquid from the mushrooms, and keep the strained liquid. Dice up the re-hydrated mushrooms prior to putting into the soup.
3. In a 3 quart soup pot over medium heat add olive oil and white onions. Saute for 8 – 10 minutes or until soft. Next add cremini mushrooms and continue to stir for another 15 – 18 minutes or until they start browning. Add butter and garlic and stir until the butter is melted.
4. Add flour and continue to stir for another 3 minutes to make the roux. Add stock, sherry, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the porcini mushrooms, and simmer the soup for 20 minutes, it will slightly thicken.
5. In a separate medium sized bowl add the crème fraîche and place one cup of the hot soup mix in the bowl and stir. This will temper the cream and keep it from curdling. Place the entire mix back into the soup and stir, bringing back to a simmer for another 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste as needed. Serve 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup servings. Sprinkle Italian parsley on top to garnish. Serve with crusty white bread or rolls. Freezes well.
Per Serving: 223 Calories; 16g Fat (62.2% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 32mg Cholesterol; 813mg Sodium; 5g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 50mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 469mg Potassium; 118mg Phosphorus.

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