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Recipes by Type

Lentil Vegetable Salad

In late March, I attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) meeting in Washington DC. While the theme was “Happy Birthday” to founding member Chef Jaques Pepin, the DC host team assembled a great list of local sponsors, tours, and three days of panels, seminars and workshops. Attendees went home with bags and minds full of goodies, information, and ideas.

Part of the eighty cake display.

Part of the eighty cake display.

 

The National Geographic presentation, derived from the National Geographic’s Food 2014 issue, gave me much food for thought. The image that sticks in my mind is an illustration of the amount of food an American family of four wastes each year. The piles of veggies behind the family and the meats in front forming a parade of waste is truly shocking, and disturbing. The article states that on average a typical American family of four tosses out 1,160 pounds of vegetables, dairy products, and meats in just a year!

Robert and Chef Tom at the  Melissa's table.

Robert and Chef Tom at the Melissa’s table.

 

This has to stop.

 

 

Modern American refrigerators are large, and some of the food we buy gets lost and goes bad by the time we rediscover it deep in the bins and shelves. A quick twice a week survey of every bin and shelf in our fridges could cut out plenty of waste. Making a grocery list and sticking to it helps cut out overbuying, and waste as well.

 

 

Using leftovers efficiently and creatively helps eliminate waste. A common restaurant term is “cream of walk-in soup” – a soup made from scavenging the walk-in cooler for vegetables and other foods that need to be used before they go bad.

 

A website like recipekey.com can help the home cook use what they have on hand. You enter what you have and the site shows recipes using those ingredients by percentage. With tools like these you can use instead of lose foods to spoilage in your fridge and pantry.

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As an example, the other day I had a few spears of asparagus, a nice bit of fresh cilantro, lemons, broccoli stems, celery, and some Melissa’s fire roasted red bell peppers in my fridge. There were some lentils in the pantry from Melissa’s Produce, so I decided a lentil vegetable salad was in the works. After a bit of chopping and mixing I had a great looking healthful salad for lunch. Without the lemon, and adding vegetable stock it could have been made as a soup. As for the amount of each ingredient you can vary the amount of broccoli, asparagus, bell pepper and celery significantly and still come up with a great tasting salad. This is a use-your-leftovers type of salad so feel free to experiment, and substitute ingredients as needed.

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Lentil Asparagus Salad

 

1 1/2 to 2 Cups cooked lentils*

2-4 broccoli stems, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch pieces

1 Cup chopped fresh cilantro*

1-2 stalks of celery, about ½ cup sliced thin

1/2 to 1 Cup chopped fresh red bell pepper, or fire roasted

½ pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths

1/4 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons chopped green onions, optional

1 jalapeño chopped, optional

salt to taste

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In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except lemon and oil.

In a small bowl whisk oil and lemon juice together for ten-seconds or so, and pour over the salad.

Mix salad with spoon or toss with hands to incorporate the dressing. Ready to serve right away or refrigerate for 2-8 hours.

Serves 4 to 6.

 

*Red beans may be substituted for lentils

*Parsley may be substituted for cilantro.

Cream of Broccoli Potato Soup

Easter Sunday was pretty mellow this year. My wife and I went to see and sniff the lilies at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, then came home to a lovely dinner of homemade pita bread and baba ganoush for an appetizer, followed by quinoa topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers. On the side were pan braised Brussel sprouts in garlic infused olive oil and a special Californian red wine to round it out. 

Lovely Longwood lilies.

Lovely Longwood lilies.

After our fine dinner it seemed only natural to watch Julie and Julia- since I had recorded it on the dvr. I saw the movie only once when it came out, and it was the inspiration for my own food blog. What impressed me most about the movie is how Julia Child overcame such odds to get Mastering The Art of French Cooking, one of the most important cookbooks in America for the last hundred years, published! I was so impressed that she stuck with the project after all the problems with one of her two co-authors, and the disappointment that editors and publishers didn’t see the importance of this bold new book for American cooks. Lucky for Julia and for all of us that editor Judith Jones at Knopf saw the book for what it was worth!

Once this amazing cookbook was in their hands, American cooks confidently graduated from beef stew to Beef Bourguignon, and Raspberry Bavarian Cream took the place of raspberry pudding. Mastering the Art of French Cooking stepped up the game for home cooks and fostered an age of creativity in home and commercial kitchens.

I’m always learning new techniques and exploring new cuisines. Recently, I have been experimenting with potato-thickened soups. This can make a soup gluten-free, and it simplifies the time and effort it takes to make a homemade soup.

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This week’s recipe shows off broccoli, one of my favorite vegetables. With asparagus season near, this could easily be cream of potato asparagus soup, too. Don’t be afraid to be creative and tweak it your way. I found the leftover soup to be excellent and topped with sautéed maitake mushrooms for a nice variation. White mushrooms would work well too since Maitake are not widely available. Either way I hope you try this cream of broccoli and potato soup and let me know how yours turned out.

Use fresh potatoes and broccoli of good quality.

Use fresh potatoes and broccoli of good quality.

As Julia would say,”Bon Appetite” and don’t forget to enter the giveaway from the good folks at Melissa’s. They will bestow upon one lucky reader a box of mixed produce from their 280,000 square foot warehouse in California.

Follow this link to enter by leaving your comment on my last post about Oven Roasted Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and good luck!

http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/oven-roasted-potatoes/#comments

IMG_0999Cream of Broccoli and Potato Soup

1 3/4 pounds fresh broccoli

1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock*

1 3/4 cups 2% milk

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon salt, optional

Cut broccoli into florets then small like these.

Cut broccoli into florets then small like these.

Wash potatoes, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes. Hold potatoes in a bowl of cool water until ready to cook.

Wash and trim leaves off the broccoli.

Cut stems off below the crown.

Peel the stems and cut into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.

Cut the crown into golf ball sized florets then cut the floret stems into 1/2 inch slices.

Cut the florets into the size of a grape and set aside.

In a 3 quart pot add vegetable stock and potatoes. Cook on high, covered, until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cooking for 7 minutes.

Add broccoli, cover and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking for another 7-10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Remove from heat and add milk.

If using a tabletop blender put soup in blender in two batches mixing until it is smooth, about 1 minute.

If using an immersion blender you can keep the pot on the stove, turn heat to low, add milk and blend until smooth.

Add more milk to thin, if necessary.

Adjust salt.

Makes about 10 one cup servings.

* Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cubes can be used, instead of vegetable stock. Chicken stock would also work well.

Leftover soup with maitake mushrooms.

Leftover soup with maitake mushrooms.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Through a series of events that I had not intended I ended up at the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual meeting in Washington DC. I was invited on a “press pass” to write about, photograph and enjoy this gathering of food writers, food photographers, food stylists, chefs and other foodie folks. Funny thing is I had never even heard of this organization that has been around for thirty seven years. The meeting was to be held in Washington DC this year making it an easy commute from my home. I went online and investigated their website for info on the organization and this year’s meeting.

oven roasted potatoes

 

I was introduced to Robert Shueller at Melissa’s produce before the event to test some of their products. I was sent a box with potatoes, Hatch salsa, shallots, pearl onions and other veggie delights. I also received their “Great Peppers Cookbook” and a cookbook on using Dutch Yellow Potatoes. I had used Melissa’s products for years but had no idea they had such a large product line. They have more fruits and veggies that you can imagine. Well over half of my meals at home and at restaurants are vegetarian so I appreciate companies like Melissa’s bringing us a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.

 

One of the most memorable moments for me was the keynote address by José Andrés where he spoke of the need to reduce our meat consumption and eat more vegetables. Here’s a professional cook like myself who has transitioned from a diet heavy in meat to a more vegetarian-like diet. He also spoke of his work in Haiti bringing clean efficient gas stoves to the locals who have been suffering from the toxic fumes of cooking with charcoal. José also spoke of the environmental damage inflicted on the island of Haiti from cutting down most of the islands trees to make charcoal for cooking. With a lack of trees to hold back the rains the farmer’s fields were susceptible to damaging erosion which then led to more particulates in the surrounding ocean damaging the coral reefs. This also led to less fish available to the local’s diets compounding the problem of feeding a family even further. Jose is one amazing human being!

 

3 simple ingredients

3 simple ingredients

On Friday I arrived in Washington, DC and picked up my pass. For the next four days it would be a blur of meeting food photographers, food stylists, chefs and bloggers to discuss our respective food worlds with. Sitting in on numerous sessions I learned a ton of new information to take my blog to the next level and hopefully bring you better quality photographs, as well as better written recipes. The professional food photographers generously shared tips with us mere mortals on how to step up our game. I  will now be using natural light more often to see if I can get a clearer picture thanks to the help from the professional photographers. The last day of the event I sat in on a session aimed at writing better recipes and expect my recipes to be improved thanks to that session.

This week’s post bring a new and appropriate giveaway. Melissa’s has generously agreed to send one lucky winner a box of products similar to what I received. You can’t imagine the variety of their product line, and if you are the lucky winner you will get a glimpse of it in your home. To be entered just submit a comment on this post. For an extra chance in the drawing comment on any of my Facebook posts over the week following the publishing of this post, and you will double your chances to win.

 

For this week’s recipe I want to share one of my kitchen secrets. I eat steak maybe twice a year, but have in my kitchen two or more steak seasoning spice blends that work wonders in many vegetable recipes. Here is one of my original recipes using McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning on potatoes. Warning, they are addictive!

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Roasted Dutch Yellow Potatoes with Steak Seasoning

1 1/2 pound Mellisa’s Dutch yellow potatoes, or other type

2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil, or plain olive oil

3-4 teaspoons steak seasoning*

Preheat oven to 350°

Scrub and wash potatoes then dry.

Cut lengthwise so you have 4 wedges.

Put wedges on cookie sheet pan and drizzle garlic infused olive oil over them.

Sprinkle half of the steak seasoning then mix well. Add the rest of the steak seasoning and mix well again to coat the wedges.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350°.

Remove from oven, stir potatoes then return to oven increase heat to 400°  and cook for 20 more minutes or until lightly brown and tender.

Serves 4-6

Note:

*I use one of 3 steak seasonings. Either Urban Accents-Chicago Steak and Chop, McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning, or Kent Rathburn’s Steak and Chop Salt. All of them work well but I think McCormick’s is my favorite as it has more black pepper.

Supper Club

Since June 18th 2011 my wife and I have participated in a supper club where we get together at a members home for a bi-monthly celebration of food and wine. We have four couples in the group from diverse backgrounds and professions. I look forward to these foodie fests with great eagerness as I love to share my cooking with those who love good food and wine. Being from Colorado and the fact that I work out of the home my social world is limited here in Baltimore giving me a greater appreciation of our club.
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Back in Colorado we tried to start a similar supper club and had an amazing first dinner at a friend’s home. I made seared foie gras with a side of blackberry sauce, and one member brought the wine and special glasses for each type. It was great fun with interesting people, but no one could seem to make time in their busy schedules to continue on. From that first failed event I realize how special our group is to hold on for almost four years now. Several of us work well over fifty hours per week and three of us travel extensively yet still find a spot in our calendars for one Saturday every two months. There have been times when we went four months before we could get everyone onboard for a free Saturday, but that’s okay as long as we can all be together.
prepped and ready

the ingredients

The themes are the responsibility of the host and have ranged from our first meeting’s farmer’s market, then Western Mediterranean, Julia Child, to southern inspired themes. Last Saturday was American comfort food featuring mini mac and cheese, candied bacon and cheese whiz on Ritz crackers for appetizers. The main course featured a grass fed beef meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans with onion and bacon, pan fried chicken, biscuits and gravy. Dessert was a Myer Lemon cheesecake with a buttery nut crust. It was all very good but what makes it is most worthwhile is sharing in each other’s company.
We learn about new and special restaurants near and far from our supper club members like Little Sero in Washington DC for exceptional Thai food. One of our members that travels the US often told us about a great Spanish restaurant in Chicago called Mercat la Planxa where we had excellent tapas and wine. New recipes are learned from each gathering, like last night’s meatloaf contained different veggies that I never would have thought of putting in a meatloaf.
ready for the pot

ready for the pot

Sometimes when it seems like too long in between supper club meetings we get together to try a new restaurant. It’s always best to dine with four or more when trying out a new restaurant to get a better sampling of dishes, especially when we order appetizers that are made for sharing. With one couple living south of Baltimore, two living in the city and us living north of Baltimore we cover a lot of ground. We share our favorite grocery stores, farmers markets and specialty shops and sometimes share in bulk buying.
There are many reasons to start a supper club and perhaps yours will be different than ours, but if you start one my hope is that it continues to give you a joyful excuse for blocking out one night every month or two to share the best thing in life and that is time spent with people you enjoy to be with over food and wine. In my ongoing effort to share new and different recipes with you, here is an unusual mushroom soup. Most mushroom soup recipes are high in calories and fat. This one is virtually non-fat and tastes great. It is based on similar soups I have had during my travels in Japan, but uses easy to find ingredients. It also cooks in less than ten minutes and takes less than ten minutes to prepare. Give it a try and please share with foodies you think would enjoy it. As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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Royal Trumpet Noodle Soup
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/2 pound royal trumpet mushrooms, see note
1/2 pound fresh asparagus spears
1 carrot shredded, about one cup
1/4 pound Asian noodles, white or soba style
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
Trim ends off of royal trumpets then cut stem off about one half inch from bottom of cap.
Chop stems and set aside.
Peel and shred carrot and set aside.
Clean and trim tough part from asparagus, cut into two inch lengths and set aside.
In a two quart pot add stock, water and one tablespoon soy sauce. Add mushroom stems and cook over high heat until it boils.
Add noodles stirring often for the first two minutes.
After about five minutes or when noodles are almost done add asparagus and carrots. Cook for two minutes on high.
Taste and add second tablespoon of soy sauce if needed.
Serves four.
Notes:
Add chopped green onions with asparagus for more color and flavor.
Shitake and/or white mushrooms can be used if royal trumpets aren’t available.
A tablespoon of miso goes well with this soup if added with the stock and water in the beginning.

Blackened Tilapia Recipe

On my morning dog walk today I saw several robins hopping about looking for worms and other avian culinary delights. I expect this is a sure sign that a long awaited spring is just around the corner. On the morning weather forecast I heard encouraging words I haven’t heard in a long time-“Highs in the lower sixties today and mostly sunny by the afternoon.” Such sweet music to my ears was this news that I feel compelled to start work on my veggie garden. I’ll sort my seeds and start planning my crops for the year. Somewhere on the internet is a site with tools where I can map, by square feet, my garden layout for the spring and summer. This is most helpful in designing a well laid out garden that takes advantage of my gardening space and sun fully. After all, I would not want my tall pea vines to block out the sun on my lettuce and herbs. With a well planned garden all the plants are arranged as if in a large family picture with the short ones up front, the mid-sized in the middle and the tall in the rear.

Kale from last spring

Kale from last spring

In a day and age when you hardly ever know what goes into your food it is important to grow what you can in your own yard, community garden, or patio. Even when I lived in a rental town home before moving to my current house I had Earth Box container planters on my deck and grew tomatoes, herbs and peppers in a small space with good results. With just a few hours per week you can take control of some or most of your produce needs. It is so gratifying to provide for yourself and family fresh grown tomatoes, peppers, herbs and more. With a bit of luck you might even have a surplus to share with neighbors and food banks. I have had bumper crops for the last three years and wander the neighborhood looking for someone at home to gift my excess crops to. It is a wonderful thing to share that which we have brought about using our own two hands.

Early spring lettuce form last year.

Early spring lettuce form last year.

Speaking of sharing, today I have one of my favorite very fast and quite healthy recipes to give to you. Blackened fish, whether it be catfish, salmon, halibut, redfish, or tilapia is an excellent choice for those in a hurry wanting to eat healthy. This blackened tilapia recipe uses very little oil on  lean pieces of fish and takes less than ten minutes to prepare, and cook. It goes well with fried rice, Spanish rice, or steamed rice. Add a side salad, steamed green beans or broccoli to round it out as a full meal.

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When the weather gets a bit warmer  and drier I like to use my charcoal grill to cook it on outside.

With just three ingredients this is about as simple as a main dish gets and is bursting with spicy good flavors of chilies, cumin, garlic, herbs and black pepper. Give it a try with tilapia, the “aquatic chicken” of aquaculture. Easily grown in controlled fish farms tilapia has exploded on the American food scene over the last fifteen years. It is healthy, tasty and relatively easy on the environment, as well as reasonably priced. With a wide presence you should be able to find it in your grocery store. If you can’t find tilapia try this recipe with catfish or salmon. Please share with family and friends and leave your comments to help me continue improving my website and recipes.

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Blackened Tilapia

Dust it well with the blackening blend.

Dust it well with the blackening blend.

1 6-8 ounce piece of tilapia per person

1 1/2 tablespoons of high heat tolerant oil, see note

1 tablespoon of blackening spice per piece of fish

 

Dry of fish with a paper towel then dust with blackening spice on both sides.

Heat heavy skillet and oil, cast iron is preferred, using high heat. When oil just starts to smoke add fish and cover with splatter guard.

Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip and cook for 3 more minutes. Hold in a warm oven if necessary to finish additional pieces.

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Note:

I use avocado oil or refined peanut oil that can handle heat over 400 degrees. Some light olive oils can take heat over 400 degrees too but don’t use extra virgin.

You can use just about any commercially available blackening spice blend sold in grocery stores. If not available here is a simple recipe to make your own:

1 T salt

1 t dried oregano

1 T paprika

1-2 t cayenne pepper

1 T granulated garlic

1 t onion powder

1 t dried thyme

2 t ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and you have your very own blackening spice.

 

 

A Taste of Two Cities

The southern states have never been my favorite part of America even though my parents are from there. Maybe it’s because I was raised in Colorado that I’m not fond of the south with its flat low country and near tropical weather. Over the last year I have visited Charleston, SC and Fairhope, Alabama for short breaks from the northern cold. These two places are changing my mind about the south. Both towns have much to offer vacationers with a love of food and culture.

Charleston water view.

Charleston water view.

 

Charleston is a foodie paradise as long as you don’t get hung up on counting calories! This is food that will fill you up and warm you up.

 

Seafood soup southern style.

Seafood soup southern style.

Ordering the shrimp and grits with a biscuit on the side is a must to get the true southern experience. At Poogan’s Porch they serve up some of the best biscuits money can buy. They have a fried chicken breast biscuit sandwich on the breakfast/brunch menu that knocked my socks off. I didn’t order it but was glad my father-in-law did and shared it with us. It was crispy, juicy, spicy perfection served hot from the fryer between the top and bottom of a buttery biscuit. Dinner at Husk is not to be missed. They were named best restaurant in Bon Apetit in 2012, a lofty honor that they deserve.

Pecan pie perfection.

Pecan pie perfection.

 

The duck confit and chicken were great but the pecan pie should be enshrined in the Smithsonian American History Museum as an example of pecan pie perfection. Served with a scoop of ice cream this one dessert for one was ample for the four of us! A carriage ride through the historic streets of Charleston is a great way to hear about the history of the city while you ride comfortably spell bound by the clip clop of the horse’s hooves.  I doubt I’d visit Charleston in the summer months but in January it was a great to get away from the chilly Baltimore winter.

A massive Charleston oak tree.

A massive Charleston oak tree.

 

Fairhope, Alabama is not your typical southern town. This hotbed of artistic creativity was founded in 1894 as a single tax colony by a group from Des Moines, Iowa. It didn’t work out as planned, but did transition into an artsy southern paradise on Mobile Bay. The small downtown area is well preserved and sports many cute shops long gone from most American downtown areas, victims of big box stores and online commerce. You can walk the entire downtown area in an hour or so, including popping into several shops. If you are a lover of books and bookstores the Page and Pallet will grab you and keep you for a while as you browse their local authors section and have a cup of coffee from the attached coffee shop, “LatteDa”. Some famous authors are seen at the Page and Palette; like Winston Groom of Forest Gump fame, or Fannie Flagg of Fried Green Tomatoes.

Downtown Charleston.

Downtown Charleston.

 

If wine is your thing just across the street from the Page and Palette is a wine bar and shop called Red or White wine & Gourmet. With small plates and a knowledgeable staff you are sure to find interesting wines there. Just half a block away is Pinzole’s restaurant and wine bar. Stop by for a glass of Italian white wine like an Orvieto and maybe a pizza too.

A glass of  white wine at four o'clock. Why not?

A glass of white wine at 4four o’clock. Why not?

Fairhope has dozens of restaurant choices from Sweet Olive Bakery & Juice Bar for breakfast, or the Grand Hotel for a glimpse of Fairhope’s glorious past when people vacationed for a week or more in the big hotel on the bay. If you are lucky enough to be there on Sunday be sure and try the legendary brunch buffet at the Grand Hotel. The view of Mobile Bay and their down south dessert spread is enough to get me in the door, but the entrees and sides are of high quality too. After your meal stroll along the bay shore walkway or park your stuffed self into a bench under a Live Oak as the breeze animates the Spanish moss dangling low from its massive branches.

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A charming alley in Fairhope.

On my most recent trip to Fairhope I was able to attend a writer’s group meeting, and met two ladies from Colorado. Both were impressed enough to make it their home, one full time, the other part time. There aren’t many places in the south a Coloradan would move to, but Fairhope is so charming I can see the draw. It’s a free thinking, liberal community with a focus on art and good times in a beautiful southern setting. What’s not to love?

Duck confit.

Duck confit.

The Grand Hotel Fairhope.

The Grand Hotel Fairhope.

The Windmill in Fairhope where Sweet Olives resides with two other restaurants.

The Windmill in Fairhope where Sweet Olives resides with two other restaurants.

Mushroom Potato Soup

To be or not to be Gluten-Free?

I’m still not convinced that I need to go gluten-free. I did a test last summer and went four weeks virtually gluten-free and the only thing I noticed was the mild to moderate headaches I have had almost daily for the last thirty years went away about three weeks into my experiment.

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When I added gluten back into my diet a bit at a time the headaches were still mostly absent so I couldn’t draw a line and say for sure what was going on. After all my research into gluten I do believe it is best to be cautious of wheat and all the man induced meddling it has endured over the last hundred years. Therefore I still eat wheat products but have cut back considerably on anything that contains it and gluten.

Cream of mushroom soup is one of my favorite comfort foods. It was probably one of the first things I cooked by myself when I was about twelve years old. Even though it was just canned Cambell’s cream of mushroom soup it was good stuff. Since moving to the Mid-Atlantic region and discovering the Mushroom Capital of the World just up the road in Kennett Square my appreciation for a great bowl of mushroom soup has blossomed.

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In an effort to be cooking in the footsteps of the mushroom chefs up north I’ve come up with my own recipes including this new one I share with you today that happens to be gluten-free. I find that this new soup combines the savory flavor of mushrooms with the heartiness of a potato soup and will satisfy the pickiest mushroom soup fans. Please give it a try and share far and wide so others can enjoy this shroomy good bowl of soup.

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Cream of Mushroom Potato Soup

2 pounds russet potatoes

1 pound mushrooms, maitake,  crimini, or white

2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil

1/2 cup minced yellow onion

2 teaspoons mushroom base, or beef base

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons chicken base

2 cups milk

3 cloves garlic, optional

cooking mushrooms in a LeCruset pot

cooking mushrooms in a LeCruset pot

Peel and  cut potatoes into one inch cubes. Put in a covered pot with one teaspoon chicken base and  water to cover. When it boils reduce and cook at a simmer until tender.

Cook minced onions, and garlic infused olive oil on medium low heat for three minutes in a sauté pan.

Chop mushrooms and add to sauté pan cooking at medium heat for about ten minutes and stirring every minute or so.

Add thyme and white pepper and cook for about two more minutes until most but not all of the liquid is gone from the mushrooms.*

Add cooked minced garlic from garlic infused olive oil if using.*

When potatoes are tender drain and reserve liquid. Mash potatoes and 1/2 cup of milk with a hand masher.

Add the mushroom mix to the potatoes.

Add milk, mushroom base, chicken base and one cup of the potato liquid and blend with an immersion blender.

Cook for another five minutes and add more potato liquid until desired thickness is achieved, about two cups should do.

Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

hot soup!

hot soup!

Note:

*Most of the time when sautéing mushrooms the liquid is cooked off, but it’s not necessary to cook off all the mushroom liquid with this recipe.

*If using my recipe for garlic infused olive oil you will have the cooked garlic cloves to use in this soup. If not just sauté minced fresh garlic when the mushrooms are added to the onions.

*For a different garnish try finely sliced celery leaves.

Pasta Portabella

With a busy schedule that has me out of town one or more days for each the next five weeks I don’t want to spend any more time than needed in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong. I still love to come home from a trip and cook, but it has to be quick and healthy like this Portabella Pasta dish. When I’m on the road I get to eat at some great restaurants. Take for instance the Wicked Spoon in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Casino last week. The food was amazing and they have a bottomless glass of wine special too. When you order a glass of wine the waiter will ask, “Would you like our bottomless glass of wine for just $4 more?” to which I said, “Hell yeah!”. The catch is you have to get your wine drinking done within two hours. That is not a problem for most of us, certainly not me. After three tasty glasses of Prosecco I had enough food and wine for the day and was off to enjoy the sunshine.

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Once I get home I  look forward to cooking in my own kitchen again. I might have even picked up some ideas from dinning out on the road. This week I went up to Phillip’s Mushrooms in Kennett Square and picked up a load of portabellas, shitake and maitake mushrooms to use in my test kitchen. I had some ports leftover and decided to share this recipe that I wrote two years ago but had lingered on the back burner awaiting a final test. I learned this type of cooking while visiting Ostuni, Italy. That region of Italy is known for simple dishes made with just a few ingredients. Their thumbprint pasta called “ orecchiette” is found often and usually served with some sort of tomato product, and maybe some fresh herbs. We loved every dish we tasted with orecchiette in it and I have used it occasionally since that visit.

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In your kitchen you can substitute orecchiette with bow tie pasta or a gluten-free pasta and I suspect it will still turn out quite well. Use the best canned or fresh tomatoes you can get your hands on for best taste. If you want to make it a meaty entree just add Italian sausage in it or on the side and you will have the full meal deal. Pair it with a nice Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner Italian style. It beats Spaghetti O’s any day! Please leave your comments so the world knows I have a gazillion readers/followers. Until next time, eat well and drink well my friends.

 

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Pasta Portabella

2 cup orecchiette pasta, or bow tie pasta

1 16 oz can diced tomatoes

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

5-6 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil

1 portabella mushroom sliced in 3/8 inch slices

2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped,optional

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

saute time

saute time

Heat to boiling 8-10 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt.

While water is heating sauté portabella slices in a sauté pan on medium heat until lightly browned. It may take two rounds as the portabella slices  should not be touching. After browning set aside in a warm oven.

Cook pasta when water boils.

Use same sauté pan to heat tomatoes and herbs to a simmer.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and toss with tomatoes.

Add chopped parsley and arrange on individual plates.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with sautéed portabellas, and parmesan.

Serves 2 as an entree or four as a side dish, but easily doubles to serve more.

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

A Turkey Chili Story

Once upon a time there was chili and chili was good. Back then chili was always made with beef or pork for the meat component, and it was good. For many years all the people in the land ate of the usual beef and pork chili and all was well. Then one cold day came strangers to the world of chili and proclaimed that there are other meats that are good in it. These strange people put ground turkey in their chili much to the surprise of the beef and pork chili eaters. As if that wasn’t enough strangeness they would also use bison instead of the age old method of beef and pork to make matters more unsettling. The “old school” beef and pork chili eaters were upset by this oddness and said, “woe is thee who eateth the turkey or bison chili” and they refused to eat it. This did not bother the “new school” turkey and bison chili eaters, and they blended in as best as they could in the world of the “old school” crowd.

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Many years passed and the “old school” chili eaters had children who grew up alongside the children of the “new school” chili folk and in time they became friendly towards each other. It was bound to happen that one day the child of an old school chili eater was visiting his friend who’s parents were of the “new school”. It was cold and nasty outside and the “old school” child was invited to stay for dinner. Lo and behold the family served nothing for dinner but turkey chili. The “old school” child  thought it was better to eat of the strange turkey chili than go hungry and upset his hosts so he bravely tried this new chili. What a surprise to his taste buds this milder flavored meat had! It was delicious in a most agreeable manner and he ate much of this warm and satisfying bowl of hot red goodness. He couldn’t wait to go home and tell his parents about what was once thought of as sacrilege amongst chili eaters, was indeed quite tasty. He asked his hosts for the recipe to take to his parents so they too could sample this new chili. When he arrived home with chili smeared on his happy little face he told his parents of the wondrous chili at the “new school” chili eater’s home. He presented them with the recipe and the parents tried it and liked it. Soon all the land was rejoicing in the bliss of two new chili recipes and all was well in the land.

Today I share with you that amazing turkey chili recipe that brought peace and harmony to the land of chili eaters. May it keep you warm and happy.

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1/2 pound ground turkey

1 cup diced yellow onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can of tomato sauce

1 can of pinto beans

1 can of kidney beans

2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a 6-8 quart pot add olive oil, onions and garlic, and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring often.

Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes stirring often.

Add ground turkey, turn heat up to med-hi  and cook for 5 minutes stirring every 30 seconds until turkey is no longer pink.

Add rest of the ingredients, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook at a slow simmer for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so.

Chili is ready to eat after 20 minutes, but improves if cooked for 45 minutes, the last 25 minutes should be with the cover off. Like most chili recipes this one improves the next day.

Serves 4-6

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Soba Noodle Soup

Soba Noodle Soup With Shitake Mushrooms

Japanese cuisine tends to be healthier than American food and has taught me much about eating right. That’s not to say the Japanese are without health issues, but overall they are slimmer and healthier than us Americans. Most of the foods they eat are lower in fat and sugar than American foods. According to a Business Insider article from February 19,2012  us Americans were consuming one hundred pounds of sugar per year each! The Japanese consume only about forty pounds each. Their fat consumption is less also and other than pork katsu or tempura vegetables and shrimp they don’t overdo it with fat as often as we do.

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Even if you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier I want to share a Japanese inspired soup recipe I developed using soba noodles. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are used often in Japanese soups and served cold dipped in broth as well. I sometimes make soba noodle salad and hope to post a recipe for spring or summer this year. Soba can be a bit high on sodium so if you are concerned with sodium be sure and by the less-sodium version sold in most Asian grocery stores. Soba soup or salad is versatile and tastes great with broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, snow peas, or edamame. For meat additions try pork, chicken, beef, salmon or tofu if you are eating a vegetarian diet.

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I love how fast a from-scratch soba soup recipe comes together, and how it incorporates super healthy shitake mushrooms. This recipe of mine can take as little as twelve minutes to make  if your veggies are purchased cut-up and soup ready. It’s low-fat, easy to make and filling as well as delicious. There was a time you had to go to an Asian grocery store to buy soba noodles but I’m seeing them in many regular American grocery stores lately. If you can’t find them local try amazon.com where I found one of the brands I like, JFC Brand six pack for $17.36 plus shipping.

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So please give it a try and leave comments on how you tweaked the recipe to include what you had on hand, and share on your favorite social media. Here’s to eating healthier in 2015!

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Soba Noodle Soup with Shitake Mushrooms

1  quart water

2 teaspoons chicken base, or bullion cubes- see note

1  1/2 tubes of soba noodles

1 cup sliced shitake caps

2 cups chopped green or broccoli florets

1 cup shredded carrots

1 tablespoon soy sauce,optional

Bring water to a boil with bullion, or base.

Add mushrooms and noodles and cook on high for two minutes stirring often.

Add cabbage and carrots cooking for two more minutes.

Add soy sauce to taste, about 1-2 tablespoons.

Serves four.

Note:

If you are concerned with your sodium intake buy the “less sodium” soba or bullion.

To make this soup a main course add one of the following:

1-2 cups cubed tofu

1-2 cups of cooked shredded chicken, or sliced pork

Top with La-Yu hot sesame oil to kick it up!

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Did you ever come home from work or a busy day and thought you didn’t have time to cook a healthy great tasting meal? Many of us have this problem, but there is a way to conquer that beast. You just need the recipes, basic supplies and support of this blog to get you through it. I have learned over the last twenty years how to create great, healthy meals in very little time. You don’t need to be a chef to make this work for you. I have done the hard work of developing a plan for you.
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