Summer Minestrone Soup

Garden Minestrone Soup
I, surprisingly, had to comb through quite a few of my cookbooks to find a soup recipe with kale and yellow squash, and well, I actually never found one, so I changed a Joy of Cooking recipe to accommodate my little garden’s bounty. I loved this soup, and I know I will make it many more times, since my squash, kale, and herbs are the biggest producers so far this year.

Garden Minestrone Soup

2 T. olive oil
4 chicken or pork sausages, casings removed (I like jalapeno!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
3/4 c. minced celery, including leaves
8-12 kale leaves, thick stems removed, chopped (or swiss chard)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 c. tightly packed fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c. tightly packed fresh basil, chopped
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
15 1/2 oz. can Cannellini, Great Northern, or other white beans (rinsed and drained)
10 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. parmesan or parmesan rind
2 t. kosher salt
Salt and 1/4 t. freshly grated pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking it, while, sauteing until browned. Then add onions, carrots, celery, kale, garlic, rosemary, basil and Italian Parsley, stirring until greens are beginning to wilt, 5 to 10 minutes. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Then, stir in tomatoes. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, then add the beans, the chicken stock, and the cheese. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered for 20-30 minutes.

Remove rosemary sprig, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano, a drizzle of olive oil, and a slice of terrific bread and rosemary butter.

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A Perfect Spring Meal

I’m a little late on the au courant cookbook scene, having just checked out Ottolenghi and Tamini’s Jerusalem a couple of weeks ago, but I’m so pleased with the first dish I made out of it that I’ve been exploring more recipes ever since. The night I made burgers, we also had homemade bread and butter, as well as a big bowl of fruit, and I thought 1) I wish this meal would magically appear on my table again tomorrow night  and 2) the sunshine, this meal, and my family have made this night perfect. So far, these burgers are still my favorite dish from the book, but there’s still more I’m trying . . .

Turkey & Zucchini Burgers

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large zucchini, coarsely grated (scant 2 cups)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 T. chopped mint
  • 2 T. chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. fresh ground pepper
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
  • 6½ T. sunflower oil, for searing
Yogurt Sauce
  • scant ½ c. sour cream
  • scant ⅔ c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 t. grated lemon zest
  • 1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 1½ t. olive oil
  • 1 T. sumac (I omitted, because I have to search harder to find this here)
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. ground pepper

    Set oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

    Make the yogurt sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well, and then place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

    Place all the burger ingredients, except the oil, in a large bowl. Mix well, using your hands, making sure to get all the ingredients well incorporated, but don’t over-work the meat; fold gently and quickly.

    Make the meat patties: a 1/3 cup measurement will make 9 burgers. (You can make your burgers as large or small as you like, but will need to adjust the cooking time.) Note that the mixture will be quite wet.

    Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, adding half of the oil once it is heated up. Once the oil is sizzling, brown the patties on both sides, for about 2 minutes per side, working in batches, and adding more oil as needed.

    Set the browned burgers on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until an instant thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Serve with yogurt sauce on top. Enjoy this delightful meal!

Beef & Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

Beef and Broccoli
I always come to my blog thinking I have already posted this recipe, only to find that I never have, and that surprises me. So, tonight’s the night. This recipe is one of my favorite dinners. It’s the first one that comes to mind when I have broccoli on hand, and my husband and I always surprise ourselves by how much broccoli we can eat when we make it! I also have tried cheaper cuts of beef, but getting the flank steak makes all the difference–it just works perfectly. This makes one of the most perfect weeknight dinners we know. The recipe comes from The Best International Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

Beef & Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

1 T. rice cooking wine or dry sherry
2 T. low-sodium chicken broth
5 T. oyster sauce
2 T. light brown sugar
1 t. toasted sesame oil
1 t. cornstarch

2 t. soy sauce
2 t. Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 lbs. flank steak, cut into 2-inch-wide strips with the grain, then sliced across the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices
6 medium cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced (about 1 T.)
1 t. peanut oil or vegetable oil, plus extra for cooking
1 1/4 lbs. broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into matchsticks
1/3 c. water
3 medium scallions, sliced 1/2-inch thick on diagonal, optional

In a liquid measure or small bowl, combine rice wine vinegar, chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch for the sauce. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine beef, soy sauce, and the 2 t. rice wine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.

In another small bowl, combine garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon peanut oil. Set aside.

Heat 1-2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and rippling. Add half of beef to skillet and break up clumps; cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned around edges and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Don’t overcook the meat – cook until just barely cooked through so the meat stays tender. Transfer beef to a medium bowl and cover with a lid and tin foil. Heat another 1-2 teaspoons peanut oil in the skillet and repeat with remaining beef.

Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; heat until rippling and hot. Add broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove the lid, add the bell pepper and continue to cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Push the broccoli to the sides of the skillet and add the garlic/ginger mixture. Cook, mashing the mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds. Stir the mixture into the vegetables. Add the beef back to skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine and add to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.

Spaghetti alla Primavera

Spaghetti PrimaveraI turned to this recipe because I had several vegetables on hand and wanted to get dinner on the table rather quickly, and not only was it quick, but so delicious. A great way to use many summer veggies. I also tried it with substituting different vegetables than it called for, and had fun just cutting up and using what we had. Sauteing the garlic and the tomatoes and basil together was a great finishing touch. Delicious! Taken from Saveur

Spaghetti alla Primavera

6 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
1 c. asparagus tips, blanched
1 c. small broccoli florets, blanched
½ c. frozen peas, blanched
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise, cut to 1″ lengths, blanched
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente
1 c. heavy cream
⅔ c. grated Parmesan
2 T. unsalted butter
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
2 T. thinly shredded basil
½ c. lightly toasted pine nuts

1. Heat 5 T. oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add ⅔ of the garlic; cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus, broccoli, peas, and zucchini; cook 3 minutes. Add pasta, cream, Parmesan, and butter, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine; transfer to a platter.
2. Bring remaining oil and garlic, tomatoes, and basil to a simmer over medium heat; pour over pasta; garnish with nuts.

Baja Fish Taco

baja-fish-taco
Now onto some great spring and summer recipes! I love this one–we had it several times last year, and I never got around to posting it, but it’s already become a classic at our home. It comes from
The Best Grilling Recipes–A Cook’s Country publication. There’s never enough fish in our family for this dinner! 

Baja Fish Taco

For Cabbage:
½ medium head green cabbage, shredded
5 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, sliced thin
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. vegetable oil
Salt

For Dressing:
¾ c. mayonnaise
1-3 t. minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Pepper

For Fish:
2 t. chili powder
½ t. ground coriander
¼ t. ground cumin
4 6-oz. mahi-mahi fillets, about 1 inch thick
12 6-inch corn tortillas

1. Toss the cabbage, forth cup of the cilantro, scallions, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of the oil and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl and set aside for serving. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, remaining tablespoon of cilantro, chipotles, lime juice, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Set aside for serving.

2. Combine the chili powder, coriander, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and forth teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels, rub them with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, then rub them with the spice mixture. Lay the fish on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and refrigerate the fish until the grill is ready.

3. Preheat the grill. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Lay the fish on the grill perpendicular to the bars of the cooking grate. Cook, covered if using gas, until the fish is opaque and flakes apart when gently prodded, 10-14 minutes. Gently flip halfway through cooking, using two spatulas. Transfer cooked fish to a platter, tent loosely and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

4. Working in batches, place a few tortillas on the grill and cook until warm, about 10 seconds per side. As they are done, wrap them in a kitchen towel or a large piece of foil.

5. Cut each fillet into three pieces. Smear each warm tortilla with some mayonnaise mixture. Top with cabbage salad and a piece of fish. Serve.

Mitzi’s Chicken Fingers

Mitzi Chicken 1I like dinners that cook relatively quickly, and I like using chicken breasts, because it seems like all stores really just want to sell boneless chicken breasts, so it’s great to have many uses for them. This recipe is a great one for both those reasons, and because it really is terrific tasting. I don’t know that I will want to buy chicken fingers again, because I can’t imagine them being better than these! I also love the simple instructions, and the fact that they work! Incidentally, don’t double the seasoning–it turns out to be way too strong. From Saveur Magazine, September 2011 (there’s a dipping sauce on the original recipe, too, but we just make a honey mustard, use ketchup or barbecue sauce).

Mitzi’s Chicken Fingers

2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3″-long-by-1″-wide strips
1 T. sugar
1 T. kosher salt
1 T. freshly ground black pepper
1½ t. garlic powder
1 t. paprika
1 t. dry mustard powder
1 c. flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 c. finely ground fresh breadcrumbs or panko
Canola oil, for frying

In a medium bowl, toss together chicken, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and mustard; set aside. Place flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow dishes; set aside. Pour oil to a depth of 2″ into a 6-qt. Dutch oven; heat over medium-high heat until deep-fry thermometer reads 325°. Working in batches, coat chicken in flour, shake off excess, and dip in eggs; coat in breadcrumbs. Fry chicken until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken. Serve with dipping sauce.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

7-SAV151-PottedMeatballs-750x750

Saveur’s Great Image

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard my son Henry say, “Mom, will you make this again sometime?” because I don’t know that he’s ever enjoyed a dinner meal enough to say this. So, I was shocked at this declaration last week when I made these meatballs. He, and all my other kids, really loved them. Loved them as in ate-them-all-and-asked-for-more loved them. I couldn’t believe it. Happily, my hubby and I loved them, too. This recipe comes from Saveur magazine, November 2012.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Sauce
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
½ tsp. sour salt (available at Amazon.com), or the juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp.)
¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Meatballs
2 lb. ground beef chuck
2 eggs, beaten
⅓ cup long-grain white rice, parboiled for 3 minutes
1 cup bread crumbs
1 medium yellow onion, grated on the coarse side of a box grater
2¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare the sauce: In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, then sauté the minced onion over medium heat until tender and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, and rinse out the can with ½ cup water to loosen any sauce that remains, adding that liquid to the pan. Stir in the sour salt or lemon juice and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Make the meatballs: Put the ground meat in a large bowl and push it to one side. Add the eggs, rice, bread crumbs, onion, salt, and pepper to the other side of the bowl and combine with a large fork. Work in the meat, handful by handful, until everything is thoroughly blended. Return the sauce to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Using a ½-cup measuring cup, shape meatballs measuring about 2½” and drop them gently into the sauce. You should have 10 to 12. Cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes, gently rotating and pushing the meatballs around halfway through the cooking so that they are thoroughly coated in sauce after about 15 minutes. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve very hot.

Sichuan Green Beans

Sichuan Green BeansThis recipe is part of my arsenal of great, fast recipes that I really like. I frequently get a Bountiful Basket, and when there’s green beans in it, this is most likely the recipe I turn to. I also love that it’s a one-dish meal. I usually just make some rice and serve some cut fruit with it for dinner. It comes from The Best International Recipe (America’s Test Kitchen).

Sichuan Green Beans

2 T. soy sauce
2 T. water
1 T. dry sherry or rice cooking wine
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. corn starch
1/4 t. ground white pepper
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. dry mustard
2 T. vegetable oil
1 lb. green beans, stem ends snapped off and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 lb. ground pork (I usually double this, because this is what my kids will eat)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. minced fresh ginger
3 scallions, sliced thinly
1 t. toasted sesame oil

Stir together all the ingredients from the soy sauce to dry mustard.  Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over high heat until just smoking.  Add the green beans and stir-fry for a few minutes until you they are crisp-tender, and are shriveled and blackened in some spots, about 5-8 minutes (reduce the heat if the beans darken too quickly).  Transfer the beans to a large plate.

Reduce your heat to medium-high and add ground meat to the pan, breaking the meat into pieces until no pink remains. about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add the sauce to the skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until the sauce has thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the scallions and sesame oil, then spoon over the beans and serve with rice.

Baked Coconut Shrimp

Coconut ShrimpSuch a great recipe from March’s Everyday Food. I’m not a huge fan of shrimp, but I loved these. We devoured them all quite quickly and I can’t wait to make them again. Enjoy!

Baked Coconut Shrimp

3 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut, roughly chopped
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. curry powder
2 large egg whites
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1 lime, cut into wedges
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium. Add panko and toast, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer panko to a medium bowl; stir in coconut. In another medium bowl, whisk together Dijon, curry powder, and egg whites.
  3. Dip shrimp in Dijon mixture, then coat with panko mixture, gently pressing to adhere. Place shrimp on rack and bake until opaque throughout, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.

Black Bean and Mango Quinoa Salad

I improvised a little for a luncheon get-together last week, and came up with a new salad that is wonderfully colorful and seemed nutritionally loaded

A bright salad for spring and summer!

(as far as my knowledge of nutrition goes:). It’s also vegetarian and vegan.  I based it off of a recipe from epicurious, although the end result is quite a bit different. So, this is for Sara particularly, but if something doesn’t seem right, let me know! This is how I remember it going . . .

Black Bean and Mango Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 2 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t. salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1 c. black beans, cooked and drained (or from a can)
  • 1 c. chopped peeled mango
  • 1 medium tomato, cored and chopped into 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 sweet pepper (orange or yellow look particularly great), seeded, deveined, and chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large handful of cilantro, stems removed, roughly chopped

Cook quinoa in medium pot of boiling salted water over medium heat until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain well; cool. Transfer to medium bowl. [My quinoa gets really clumpy when I cook it this way, so instead, I boil it for 10 minutes, then I put it in a fine mesh steamer, and steam it for 10 minutes more. It turns out light and fluffy this way. I also always rinse it 3xs before cooking it, which was the excellent advice of my friend Maryann. Rinsing it ensures the quinoa’s not bitter.]

Meanwhile, whisk oil and next 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with more salt (if desired) and pepper.

Add chopped mango, black beans, tomato,  green onions, pepper, 1/2 the cilantro and 1/4 cup dressing to quinoa; toss to coat. Garnish with remaining cilantro and drizzle with remaining dressing; serve. Stores well for 2 days in an airtight container, refrigerated.

Serves 4-6.