Recipes by Type

Soups

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.

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.

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.

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!

Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup

Thanksgiving

 

 

Of all the holidays Thanksgiving is my favorite. It not the only holiday that brings people together in a happy food filled day. Christmas and Fourth of July do that pretty well. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, not just food. It is a very healthy thing to celebrate gratitude all year long, not just one day a year. Sometimes Thanksgiving Day is there to help us realize that.

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I have many things to be grateful for and I bet you do too. I have excellent health, a wonderful wife, amazing siblings, my father is still alive after ninety-one years of circling the sun, my dog Tucker entertains and protects us, our cat Boots is a champion purring machine, we live in a nice house, and I have the best friends a guy could ever want. There was a time I didn’t think much about gratitude, and I’m glad that is in my past. Since surviving two near death events in 1986, and remember traveling down the white kaleidoscope tunnel of no return that obviously I did return from I’ve been changed by that. Little things that used to set me off in anger aren’t triggers anymore. Smiles from a friend or stranger are more special now. A good walk in nature with friends or family can be priceless.

 

I am especially grateful for my ability to cook and share good food with friends and family. From the cooking classes and demos in Kennett Square to visiting Colorado I cook where ever I go whenever I can to share the love. At the table the outside world disappears and life slows. This special time allows us all to focus on the food and the pleasure being with each other. Thanksgiving is a time when we take that to a higher level. A super bowl of good eating is what it seems. We cook up the traditional foods and sometimes go with creative new ways to cook our turkey, potatoes, green beans, squash, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. If we are lucky we are given another shot at out doing ourselves again next year. This year when you are having your feast with friends and family try taking that gratitude into everyday of your life. It shouldn’t take a near death experience like I had to own that level of gratitude!

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I’d like to share a recipe for turkey and butternut squash soup that you can make with  the yummy turkey stock made from Thanksgiving leftovers. With  turkey stock you can make a lovely seasonal soup in minutes for this cold weather that has come down from up north. Please feel free to share this with friends and family, or on social media of your choice.

saute in turkey stock not oil!

saute in turkey stock not oil!

Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 pound diced turkey meat, about two cups

1/2 gallon turkey stock, see note

2 cups butternut  squash cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup onion minced

3 ribs of celery sliced thin

12 oz package of frozen mixed vegetables,corn, green beans, carrots and peas

2 cups pasta, bow tie or shell pasta will do

2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley, optional

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 tablespoon fresh sage minced, or 1 teaspoon dried sage

Sauté onions and celery in one quarter inch of the stock on medium high heat in a 4-5 quart soup pot. Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring often.

Add rest of stock and cook on high for 5 minutes.

Add butternut squash and bring to a boil.

When it comes to a boil add turkey and mixed vegetables.

Bring to a boil again and add pasta cooking on high heat and stirring often during the next two minutes to keep pasta from sticking together.

Cook until pasta is tender then add parsley and sage, cooking at a simmer for 2 more minutes.

Serves 4-6

Note:

If you don’t have turkey stock you can use chicken stock.

Even when I have turkey stock I put a little bit of Better Than Bouillon chicken base in it.

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Delicata Squash and Kale Soup

October Harvest

 

With the cooler weather some of the remaining veggies in my garden are rebounding from the summer heat. The kale crop is growing like crazy after just pluggin’ along the last two months. With so much kale coming out of my garden I felt the need to create a new soup using it. My friends at Wilbur’s Farm have not had much luck selling their gorgeous Delicata Squash and gifted me about fifteen pounds of it recently. With these two ingredients abundantly crowding my storage facilities I set out to make a healthy, great tasting soup that most people would love, not counting picky kids of course.

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Back when I was a kid I wanted nothing to do with any kind of squash. I think there was an unspoken rule to be cool you had to hate all squash as a kid. It was one of the few rules I had no problem adhering to. However I eventually started to eat squash when as a twenty something year old cook one of the restaurants I worked at served acorn squash, and later on zucchini sautéed with onions and mushrooms. Both of these veggie dishes met with my discriminating approval and opened the doors to more squash appreciation and experimenting.

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Delicata squash was not on my radar until I tasted it at a Whole Foods produce section about ten years ago. They were sampling it to stimulate sales of this relatively unknown squash. My wife and I tasted it and pronounced it excellent. I’ve cooked to for many people since then with rave reviews. It has been only recently that I started putting it in soups. Delicata works well in soups as long as you don’t put it in too soon. It can turn to mush if overcooked, just like most vegetables. When cooked properly it adds color, flavor and texture that is quite good in many a soup and veggie dish.

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October is a great time to buy winter squash and you will find Delicata in many grocery stores. To pick a good one select a firm squash with no big wart like blemishes. When you are ready to cook it run it under cool water with a veggie brush to clean off any dirt clinging to it. Dry it, cut off a half inch on both ends and then cut it lengthwise for seed removal. A soup spoon usually is best for scraping out the seeds which can be cleaned and roasted for a great tasting snack.

cut it up

cut it up

At this point your Delicata is ready for what ever recipe you want to try on it. So get out and buy some of this great little squash as I think you will find it to be one of your favorites due to its taste and ease of preparation.

Delicata Squash and Kale Soup

 

1 delicata squash cut into bite size pieces, about 2 cups

1 cup yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons oregano

1 can kidney beans, 15.5 oz size

1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz size

5 cups water

1 vegetable cube or chicken bullion

2 cups chopped fresh kale, if buying whole leaf kale instead of chopped, cut out the tough spine.

salt and pepper to taste

yum!

yum!

In a 3-4 quart pot sauté onion for three minutes in olive oil on medium heat stirring often.

Add garlic and cook stirring two more minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.

When it reaches a boil reduce heat to a simmer and cover.

Cook for fifteen to twenty minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Add salt and pepper to taste

delicata squash soup

delicata squash soup

Variations:

Chili variation:

2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, optional

use four cups of water instead of five

reduce oregano to 1 teaspoon

 

Super veggie variation:

1 cup of cut green beans

1/2 cup sliced carrots

1/2 cup frozen peas, added towards the end

1 teaspoon basil

add all of the above, except peas, after the onion and garlic have been sautéed

 

 

Meat variation:

By adding meat this can become a main dish. Use 1 pound Italian sausage, or ground beef. Start by browning the meat  in oil for five minutes, then add onion and garlic cooking on medium heat stirring for five more minutes.

Add rest of ingredients and cook as directed in original recipe.

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

IMG_6425I love fall in North America! The weather is great and all sorts of seasonal veggies and fruits crowd farm stands across our nation. Butternut squash is abundant now and is getting almost as popular as kale.  Butternut squash is versatile as well as delicious. It’s weird looking back on my life as a confirmed squash hater. That is until just about ten years ago. Part of that affliction was from not finding or trying many a tasty recipe for this wonderful food. There are so many recipes available for this funny looking squash variety. With butternut squash you can make a lovely salad with walnuts and kale, mash it like mashed potatoes, or make many great tasting soups with it.

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Peeling a butternut squash is not for just anyone. It’s about as easy as giving a cat a bath and just as dangerous. Luckily most grocery stores sell peeled and cubed butternut squash. This no doubt will save many a home cook a visit to the emergency room. When you buy it already peeled and cubed you can make a soup like this one in minutes! You can also tweak it in many ways to suit your taste. You can add carrots, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, or your choice of herbs to make this personalized. You could also make it with the simple healthy ingredients listed here and have a great soup made from scratch.

 

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Give this fall soup a try soon and see if you agree with me that it’s a keeper. To celebrate fall harvest I am giving a way to two lucky readers some of my heirloom Strawberry Popcorn. This yummy little corn was grown organically with no chemicals or sprays of any kind and produced over a hundred cute little red ears. I have already tested a batch on my stove and pronounce it yummy. To enter this giveaway leave a comment on what your favorite way to season popcorn is and good luck to all who enter.

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Simply Delicious Butternut Squash Soup

 

4 cups butternut squash cut into about one inch cubes, about 19 ounces

1 teaspoon better than bouillon chicken base, see note

1 cup milk, either coconut or cows milk

salt and pepper to taste

 

Cover squash with water in a 2 quart pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and add chicken base.

Cook for ten minutes or until soft.

Drain off about one cup of the liquid and reserve it.

Add the milk and blend with either a table top blender or immersion blender until smooth.

Add some of the reserved cooking liquid if needed for a thinner soup.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with a sprinkle of sweet Hungarian paprika.

Serves four

 

 

Note:

If you want a vegan style soup use a vegetable bullion cube in place of the chicken base.

Curry powder( one teaspoon) is a nice spice blend to add to this soup for an exotic flavor.

 

Visitors

When I was a child my somewhat eccentric parents invited foreign exchange students staying at Buckly Airforce Base east of Denver for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Why they were staying there I don’t know, but I remember going to the base to pick them up. Through this exchange I met someone from the Phillipines, and Nigeria. There were one or two others but I forget where they were from. The guy from the Phillipines showed my mom how to make adobo which we all liked very much, and instilled a love for the dish that has lasted a lifetime.  The meat of choice was doves as dove season was the previous month and we had many of the tasty birds in the freezer.

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The guy from Nigeria was interesting because of his family. My mom casually asked at dinner, “what does your father do”, and the answer was, “he is the ruler” which shocked my mother. It’s not every day you have someone for dinner who’s father is the king of a country so that gave my parents something to talk about for years to come. For me the guy was fun because he indulged me with some archery in our backyard as I had just received my first bow and arrow set for Christmas that day. Apparently I thought at that young age, I think I was eleven years old at the time, that men from Africa knew how to shoot an arrow. Pretty funny in retrospect as we were both rather bad at it.

 

Over the last twenty years my wife and I have had only one foreign  house guest and he was a chaperone from Japan assigned to a bunch of middle school aged kids visiting Denver. It was fun and I would have liked to do more hosting. In June of this year I saw a home made sign announcing “20 Spanish students need host families” and called after getting approval from my wife. We ended up with a great kid from Burgos, Spain who at the ripe old age of sixteen speaks very good English and is a great addition to our household.

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Turns out he is a natural cook. Even though his mother does almost all the cooking in his home I found out that he has significant talent in the kitchen. His first homework involving food was to prepare an American dish for a competition in class on Tuesday. I helped him select the dish to prepare and he made shepherds pie with virtually no help from me. Then that night he cooked us two traditional Spanish dishes for dinner. He made a Spanish tortilla and a gazpacho soup. For those of you who have never had a Spanish tortilla it’s nothing like what we see in Mexican restaurants. A Spanish tortilla has potatoes, onion and eggs in it and looks like an omelet.

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Both dishes Manuel made for us were excellent but I really liked the gazpacho, and since I have a lot of tomatoes getting ripe lately I wanted to make another batch the next day. Manuel didn’t use a recipe but I took notes and tried to copy his gazpacho. The results were good but it took some more testing to come up with the recipe I share with you here. It’s fast and simple as well as healthy. If you have an abundance of garden tomatoes like I do it’s a great way to use them up. With these hot summer day upon us give this a try and see if you agree with me that this is one great Spanish cold soup.

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Gazpacho Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes

 

3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters

1/2 yellow onion chopped, about 1/2 cup

1 cup peeled and diced cucumber with seeds removed

1 cup diced green bell pepper

1 medium sized apple peeled and diced

1 clove garlic minced

5 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 tablespoons good quality apple cider vinegar, I like Bragg’s brand best

1 slice of bread cubed, about 1 cup

1 teaspoon salt

 

Soak bread in water for five or more minutes to soften. Drain water off before adding to the blender.

If using a blender instead of a food processor put tomatoes in first to facilitate faster blending. Then add rest of the ingredients.

If it won’t all fit blend for thirty to sixty seconds and add rest of ingredients.

Blend thoroughly for two to three minutes, depending on the strength of your blender. There should not be anything larger than a sesame seed for best results.

Best if chilled for and hour or two, but can be eaten right away if needed.

Serves eight.

 

Note:

I tested this with both a blender and a food processor. The food processor I have held all the ingredients but was a bit slower to blend thoroughly. The blender did a good job blending but didn’t hold all the ingredients at once and I had to add the rest after a minute of blending reduced the volume.

Gluten-Free Cream of Asparagus Soup Recipe

Hello Spring!

IMG_5431

Due to a heavy travel schedule the last three out of four weeks and a computer crash I haven’t posted my usual once a week recipe. I’m glad to say the computer has been fixed and I’m up and running at full speed again!

I just came home from a lovely ski vacation in the Colorado Rockies Sunday night, and it’s great to be home in time for Spring! Never mind the fact that it was snowing when we landed in Baltimore as I’m sure it’s time to plant the garden and welcome in the warmer weather that is forecasted this week. While on vacation I had time to read the book Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter. It’s a very interesting book about how gluten messes with our brains by causing surges in blood sugar which in turn causes inflammation in the brain. That inflammation in turn causes Alzheimer’s and Dementia according to the good doctor.

Now I don’t know if the good Dr. is right on with his findings, but it does make for an interesting read. What is really interesting is his view on low fat/high carb diets. He promotes a diet low in carbs and fairly high in healthy fats like:

butter

nuts

olive oil

etc

He also says eggs are healthy to eat often. This seems to go in an opposite direction from current health guidelines, but then this morning on national public radio I heard a story on the low fat/high carb diet being unsuccessful in combatting heart disease. The story:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/31/295719579/rethinking-fat-the-case-for-adding-some-into-your-diet featured an interviewed with Walter Willett from the Harvard school of public health. Willett’s study was submitted for publishing but not accepted because it flew in the face of popular thinking at the time.

The story went on to say the healthy fats are butter, olive oil, nuts, and avocados. There seems to be a trend reversal in the works for our diets. You never know for sure with these kind of stories though. After all it has to stand the test of time, but it does confirm what Dr Perlmutter is saying about healthy fats and carbs. So in the interest of science yours truly is testing Dr Perlmutter’s diet plan to see if I feel any better on this diet. Not that I feel sick mind you but I am interested to see if the diet brings about any positive changes in my health. Especially the mild to moderate headaches I have had for years several times per week.

So far the gluten free diet plan that includes many things I have eaten sparingly previously has gone well. I have been eating eggs two to three times a week instead of oatmeal and toast for breakfast. I have brought butter back into my diet more than once a week, and have eaten a bit more meat than usual. I have noticed a decline in the occurrence of headaches and digestion has been better with a few exceptions.

It does help that gluten free products are gaining space in grocery stores so I’m not having much trouble staying gluten free. The only time I ate any gluten I know of is at dinner in Denver last week on of the items on my plate was cauliflower with a bread crumb topping that I was able to scrape off mostly.

In the near future I’ll be posting gluten free recipes that I aim to make attractive to those who need to avoid gluten as well as those who don’t. It will be interesting to see how far this gluten free diet goes as research uncovers the truth about gluten in our diets. After all you can’t believe everything you read. Remember when margarine was healthy!

 

To start out my gluten free recipes I give you a cream of asparagus soup that even if you can tolerate gluten you will love this simple yummy soup. It came out great in testing using 2% milk, but if you use whole milk it’s even more rich and tasty.

Gluten Free Cream of Asparagus Soup

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1/4 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped celery

2 cups water

1 cup 1/2 inch diced peeled red potato

14 ounces fresh asparagus cut in 1 inch lengths, see note

1 1/2 cups milk, 2% or whole

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

optional, 1 vegetable bullion cube, or chicken bullion

 

sauté with water not oil for this soup

sauté with water not oil for this soup

In a 2 1/2 to 3 quart pot sauté onion and celery in 1/2 cup of the water for seven minutes stirring once or twice. If you have never done this water method of sautéing, don’t worry as it’s easy.

Add the rest of the water, potato, and salt/ bullion if using and bring to a boil. As soon at it reaches a boil reduce heat and simmer for seven minutes covered.

spuds and asparagus

spuds and asparagus

Add asparagus, and white pepper, cover and cook for ten to twelve minutes covered stirring once halfway through.

Turn off heat and add milk. If using a tabletop blender, carefully add soup and blend in two batches if necessary. I prefer to use an immersion blender and blend it on the stove top. If eating soon, reheat to just a simmer and serve.

Serves four.

 

Note:

One pound of asparagus with the tough end cut off will yield about 14 ounces of tender asparagus.

If using a vegetable bullion cube or chicken bullion cube cut salt in half to 1/4 teaspoon.

 

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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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