Kale and Potato Soup

Standard

My dear friend, Diana gave me this recipe a number of years ago, and the chill November days have brought its savoury joys back into the kitchen! It’s simple to make, very hearty and nutritious. Since my fall garden is still full of kale and the potatoes freshly dug, it’s a natural for an easy fall meal.

I like to team this soup with a loaf of homemade sundried tomato-rosemary or ricotta-pesto bread. Cornmeal muffins are also a lovely accompaniment.

Potato and Kale Soup (serves 6)

1 large onion
1 tbsp olive oil                                       Saute in a big pot for a few minutes till the onion softens
1 clove garlic, minced

Into the pot throw 2 big potatoes, diced, and sautéed along with the onions and garlic, then add 4 or 5 cups water or (better yet!) homemade chicken or veggie stock. Cook and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Remove stems from a large bunch of tender kale and chop leaves coarsely. Add kale to cooked potato broth and continue cooking for about five minutes till the kale is green still but cooked. Puree in the blender or, if you prefer a slightly chunkier texture, use the Braun multipractic hand blender and partially puree.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Advertisements

Summer Tomato-Basil Tart

Standard

Summer-ripe tomatoes and fragrant basil deliver a winning savoury treat in this easy cornmeal pastry tart!

Summer-ripe tomatoes and fragrant basil deliver a winning savoury treat in this easy cornmeal pastry tart!

It’s that time of year when the tomatoes are at their prime and so is their ardent companion, basil. This delicious dish along with a bowl of fresh garden greens, is fast and easy to whip up for a simple summer dinner. Easy to have the dough made in advance (even the day before) and the ingredients all prepped until just before dinner.

Simple Cornmeal Pastry

1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup ice water
1 cup unbleached flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
3/4 tsp fresh ground salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into bits

Tomato-Basil Mixture

5 ripe medium-sized tomatoes
1 cup goat cheese
1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
tsp fresh ground pepper

Stir together the yogurt and ice water. Then mix the dry ingredients – flour, cornmeal and salt – together in another bowl. With a pastry blender or your fingers, blend the cold butter into the flour mixture till it is soft and crumbly. Then add the yogurt and water mixture, stirring gently till just blended. Lightly dust your hands with flour, and form the dough into a loose ball, wrapping it in plastic wrap and storing in the fridge for two hours or more.

Prepare the tomatoes by slicing them into thin 1/4 inch slices, then laying them on paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. (This keeps the tart crisp in texture.) Meanwhile, prepare the basil, grate the Parmesan cheese, and crumble the goat cheese. Set aside.

When cornmeal dough has chilled, roll it out on a well floured board to about 12 inches in diameter. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, sprinkle with a bit of cornmeal, and transfer the tart shell to the baking sheet. The next step is fun – gently with your fingers, fold about 1/2 inch of dough over along the outside edges to make a border for the tart. The idea is hand-made so don’t worry about perfection.

Now, layer the goat cheese onto the prepared tart shell, add some of the basil, arrange the tomatoes in concentric circles and cover with the rest of the basil. Top with the grated Parmigiano and bake for about half an hour till golden brown. Let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing – the perfect amount of time to dress the salad greens with a simple olive oil, lemon juice and salt dressing, and pop the cork on a bottle of chilled dry Prosecco.

Giant Peach Pancake

Image

 

Giant Peach Pancake

  Feeding a Crowd and Want the Wow Factor? 

        3 words:  Giant Peach Pancake!

Giant Peach Pancake 

This easy, low fat pancake is a frequent go-to in the kitchen. The ingredients are simple: fresh fruit (this one uses peaches but I love it with apples, sour cherries and also apricots), a few eggs, milk, and a bit of flour. It’s quick and glamourous! Only stipulation is that the crowd must be sitting with forks raised when this masterpiece emerges from the oven. Like a soufflé, the pancake rises with heat and loses its loft once it’s out of the oven, so eat it up fast! Somehow, this is never a problem at my house!!!

Pancake Batter

¼ cup butter or margarine melted
6 eggs1
½ cups 1% or skim milk
1 tsp vanilla1
½ cups unbleached flour

Heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 C).

In a food processor or with electric mixer, beat eggs for a few minutes, add milk and vanilla. A bit at a time, add the flour, blending continuously as the flour is added. The mixture should be smooth but not over beaten!

Place a large cast iron or other skillet or a couple of smaller ones, into the oven and melt butter in the skillet. Pour the batter into a hot skillet and bake on bottom shelf for 10-15 minutes.

Peach Sauce 

4 cups sliced peaches ( I like the slices larger, so cut into 12ths ..)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

Mix fruit, sugar and spices together in a large saucepan or skillet and cook gently till warmed and sugar starts to caramelize. With apples, add 1 tbsp rum and 1 tbsp apple juice for extra juice. Peaches have enough moisture and don’t need the liquids added…

Add the warm fruit sauce, and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes, or until pancake puffs up, golden brown, and the fruit sauce bubbles happily round the edges. Mmmmm…

Remember that crowd of brunch guests have to be ready, waiting and eager as the pancake will settle the instant it emerges from its hot oven. No fear. The drama of the moment when this giant pancake graces the table, is well worth assembling an audience and preparing for the inevitable applause.

Fall – a time for soup

Standard

Fall’s bounty and beauty are all around. Finally, the firewood is gathered for the winter, the garden is put to bed, and my new hens have finally started laying!

Impossibly blue fall skies counterpoint the orange lace of the larch and it’s time for soup!

In the soup section, I have added today’s contribution to healthy and hearty living: Beef Barley Vegetable and Chicken or Turkey Noodle. Yummy!

Beef Vegetable Soup

Risotto al Gorgonzola di Patrizia

Standard

This is Patrizia’s simple, yet elegant risotto for a March afternoon lunch….We just returned from hiking for four days in the Cinque Terre so a homemade risotto with fresh rucola salad really hit the spot! 

Heat 3 – 4 cups organic vegetable or chicken stock in a saucepan.
Chop 1/2 leek into rings and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes.

Add 1 cup of Canaroli or Arborio rice and cook with leek till the rice is golden brown and roasted. Add 1/2 dry cup white wine and heat until the wine is just absorbed. Then add a ladle of hot stock. Stir the risotto briefly, then let cook until the liquid is absorbed again. Each time the risotto begins to dry out, add more stock. Carry on with this method for about 20 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Be certain not to over-stir or overcook the rice.

In the last few minutes or when just al dente, stir in 1 cup of soft Gorgonzola cheese, cubed or cut into pieces. Cover the pot and let the risotto sit for a few minutes off the heat.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano atop each portion.

Risotto al Radicchio di Treviso

Standard

It’s spring here in Bordighera, Italy, and the radicchio is fresh and just slightly bitter! Patrizia’s been cooking her fav0urite Italian dishes for me and this delectable meal was today’s lunch… Bravissimo!

1/2 onion, diced and sauteed in 1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cup arborio or canaroli rice

3 cup vegetable stock, heated in a pot and kept hot while cooking the risotto

1 head radicchio, Treviso or other variety

1 tbsp butter

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add diced onion. Saute till translucent and then add rice. Gently stir rice into the onion and oil and then let the rice “roast” and start to gently turn opaque and more golden. Add 1/4 cup of white wine or Prosecco, stir and then let the rice absorb the liquid. Keep an eye on the risotto and after a few minutes or so, add a couple of ladlefuls of hot stock.. Stir in radicchio and gently let stock absorb while the rice steams. Add another couple of ladlefuls of stock, stir, and again, gently simmer the risotto. Continue this process till the rice is al dente and the moisture mostly absorbed. The key is the rice — al dente is criticial. Then, to finish the dish, add a tablespoon of butter, stir and then cover with the pot lid for minute or two to rest.

January snowsqualls, sleepovers, and cooking in a storm!

Standard

Sometimes unexpected things happen. And rich and amazing surprises result.

The past two weeks when the snow falls, it appears to have come in foot high dumps. As well as a lot of shovelling, this past weekend’s snow event made Winna stay not only for Friday night’s Shrimp Creme Brulee dinner, but nestle in for a full weekend sleepover. Apart from great girlfriend time sipping steaming mugs of coffee as the trees drooped with fresh winter cloaks, we talked and cooked and ate, and shovelled a LOT of snow. We also snowshoed along the serene shores of Slocan Lake in a monochromatic impressionist landscape.

A Wintery Day and Prawn Creme Brulee

You, however,  need not shovel a cm of the white stuff in order to to serve up these wintery delights!

Shrimp Crème Brulee

Serves 8 as an appetizer; 4 as a meal

I tbsp butter ¾  cup half and half or whole milk
1 large leek, white part sliced finely or 2 green onions ¾ cup grated Gruyere, Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese
   or 2 shallots, finely chopped 1 tbsp minced fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried
2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
12 oz prawns, peeled and cut into half inch pieces 2 tbsp minced fresh chives
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice ¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 large egg yolks ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan for topping
¾  cup whipping creams 1 cup rye or multigrain bread, cubed in ¼ inch cubes for croutons

Preheat the oven to 275 F. Lightly grease 8 – ½ cup ramekins. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add leeks and garlic. Stir until fragrant and then add the prawns.. Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Cook gently till they just turn pink. Remove from the heat.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks together until pale in colour. Whisk in cream and milk and then stir in shrimp mixture, cheese, tarragon, parsley, chives, salt and pepper. Fill ramekins ¾ with this savoury mixture.

Place ramekins in a 9 x 11 baking pan, and fill with hot water half way up the sides of the ramekins in depth. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the centre of each custard jiggles slightly. Remove carefully from the pan and place on a baking sheet. To each ramekin, add a handful of croutons and a tablespoon of parmesan cheese.  Place the cookie sheet under the broiler to melt cheese or use a kitchen torch  to brown the cheese.

A fine bottle of Italian wine -- the perfect complement to Savoury Prawn Creme Brulee

Serve hot.

Perfect as a main course with a fresh carrot salad

Gingerbread Pancakes

Standard

Gingerbread Pancakes with Peaches and Raspberries

Kate’s Gingerbread Pancakes
Yield: makes 8 – 5” pancakes
Kate’s (and everyone else’s) favourite!

Served with summertime’s fresh raspberries and   peaches (or in winter, frozen berries and canned peaches), this version of a pancake breakfast is a stellar riff on a classic tune. Maple syrup is a splendid accompaniment!

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking  powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ salt
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ tsp molasses
1 ½ tsp honey
I large egg
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 225 F and put in a metal or pottery serving tray to warm. Preheat an electric griddle or frypan on the stovetop to 350 F and brush lightly with a tsp oil/tsp butter.

Blend flour, baking powder, soda and salt with spices in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together molasses and honey with egg, yogurt and melted butter in a small bowl, then add to dry ingredients till just combined.

Dip a ¼ measuring cup into the batter and spoon onto the heated griddle. This recipe makes enough for eight pancakes: one griddle full. If the all my family is coming for breakfast, the recipe needs to be quadrupled, but you may only need a single or double batch. Once bubbles appear on the pancake  surface, they’ll be golden, and it’s time to flip them over for another 2 minutes or so till they are golden brown and lusciously ready to eat. Place decoratively in overlapping circles on the serving tray in the warming oven as each batch is cooked.

Gingerbread pancakes are luscious served with any kind of soft fruit (berries, peaches, apricots, apples cooked with a tbsp of butter and tbsp of apple juice and then carmelized once cooked with a tbsp brown sugar). I usually make a fruit smoothie as well, and a French press of strong coffee.

Strawberry-Mandarin Orange Smoothie

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries (add a few ice cubes if the strawberries are fresh rather than frozen)
1 cup or 3 mandarin oranges
1 cup juice drained from canned peaches (I can my peaches in Fireweed honey, so the juice is sublime!)
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp honey
¾ cup soy milk
tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon

Blend for a few minutes until the fruit is well mixed. Serve in wine glasses or martini glasses with a fresh or frozen berry slice to garnish.

Aside

Popular demand for the Spinach-Mushroom Cannelloni recipe has finally catapulted me into adding this sumptuous recipe. Mmmmm! It’s a tasty one! Check it out in the Savoury Dishes section…

But, if you don’t have an hour or more to cook cannelloni for a crowd, try this warm and nutritious dish instead. It’s fast and easy and also warms the cockles of one’s heart…

Tasty Low-fat Turkey Chili

Serves 4-6 and takes about 15 minutes to prepare.

Tasty Turkey Chili --- fast and nutritious!

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs ground turkey
tbsp freshly dry roasted, then ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-10 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes on medium heat till fragrant. Add turkey and cook through (about 8 – 10 minutes). Add cumin, coriander and cayenne, then beans and corn and tomato sauce. Heat through. Add 1 cup chopped Italian parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a bed of rice with a green salad on the side.

Fall means foods that warm body and soul.

Greek Chicken Creme Brulee

Standard

As fall falls and we dress up in bulky sweaters once more, warm savoury treats gain traction in our kitchens.

I love this recipe as it’s simple, fast (about 20 minutes to prep then another 30-35 to bake), and the ingredients are usually at hand. The flavours are rich and complex. Mostly we think of creme brulee as a sensational dessert. Baked in the same kind of  ramekin as its sweet cousin, the savoury brulee variety, is rather like a personal feta, spinach and chicken quiche without the pastry. But better.

Cream and cheese simultaneously ramp up the calories and the wow factor, but a small ramekin is quite filling. Team a serving with a big plate filled with fresh vegetables, and it makes for a somewhat decadent, but not entirely unhealthy meal. I love this dish for entertaining, as it can all be prepped and then the brulee put into the oven as guests are nibbling appetizers.

Greek Chicken Feta Creme Brulee                                           

Greek Chicken Creme Brulee


1 chicken breast or 1 cup chicken, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 leek, thinly sliced or 1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz fresh baby spinach, washed
3 large egg yolks
1 and 1/2 cup half and half or whipping cream
3 oz feta cheese, crumbled  (or substitute grated asiago)
1 tbsp minced fresh or 3/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sourdough or multigrain bread cut into 1″ cubes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
24 tsp parmesan cheese for topping

Lightly oil 8 1/2 cup or 6 3/4 cup ramekins or flan dishes.Preheat oven to 300 F.

Saute garlic and leek or onion in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the chicken. If the chicken is already cooked, stir briefly; if the chicken is uncooked, saute with garlic and onion till its cooked. Add spinach for just a moment till wilted. Remove mixture from the heat.

Whisk egg yolks till pale yellow, then add cream, salt, oregano and rosemary. Combine chicken mixture with egg mixture. Toss the bread cubes with olive oil. Ladle the brulee concoction into the ramekins, top with bread cubes and finally, a couple of tsp of parmesan cheese. Add a rosemary sprig to the top of each ramekin.

Bake filled ramekins in a baking dish and pour hot water into dish till halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the custard is set, but still jiggly in the middle.

Variation: Leave out the chicken for a vegetarian version. Instead substitute 3 roma tomatoes, seeded and cut in 1 inch chunks. Add tomato to the leek and garlic, then wilt the spinach as above. Or — add the seeded Roma tomatoes to the chicken recipe.

Asparagus Grilled in Sesame Oil with Cherry Balsamic Vinegar

Honey-Glazed Rosemary Carrots