Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

I had some fresh red chard the other day and wanted to make something simple. I decided on a simple soup with some sausage. I had some breakfast sausage so I worked with that.

I diced 1/2 of a yellow onion and two cloves of garlic and sautéed in about 1 tbsp of olive oil. I added salt, pepper and a couple teaspoons of oregano. Then, I added 6 ounces of breakfast sausage and cooked until it browned. I peeled and chopped 2 carrots and 1 potato and added them. Then I added 1 small 6 oz. can of diced tomatoes and about 12 oz of water and left it to simmer.

Meanwhile I cut the red chard leaves in thing strips and about 10 minutes before serving I added the chard and cooked until it was softened. I also added a can of kidney beans. I did not bother straining or rinsing the beans, knowing the liquid will just enrich the broth.

This made a delicious and simple soup that only got better the next day and the next. It made 4 servings.

Red Chard & Chickpea Salad

Chickpea and Chard salad
I made a quick salad using the stems from red chard the other day. I had a bunch of red chard and had removed the leaves and washed them for a soup I was planning to make and though tossing the stems would be a complete waste, so I chopped them up, chopped up 2 radishes, 1 carrot, half an onion, 3 dill pickles and added a can of chickpeas (strained). I adde dome salt, pepper and about 1/2 cup of the pickle juice and then let it marinate in the pickle juice overnight. It was easy and delicious.

Red chard can be very earthy – sort of like beets, but unlike beets they still taste good – and the pickling brine from the dill pickles made a huge difference in mellowing the flavor of the stems. The whole salad was fresh, lovely and crispy. This made about 4 servings.

Green Beans, Onions and Dried Cranberries

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Local green beans are in season, so I had to have some. I made two servings as a side dish, but since they were my supper entree, I ate both of them. I knew I had not blogged a recipe in some time because I am mostly cooking the recipes I have already blogged, so I decided to come up with something new. I think it was a great success.

First I heated about 1 tbsp of olive oil on low-medium (4 out of 9) and added 1/4 tsp of fennel seeds. I heated them until the room was filled with their aroma. Meanwhile, I diced one onion which I added to the olive oil as soon as the fennel was heated and flavorful. I added a bit of salt and pepper. While the onions sautéed, I snapped two cups of green beans. I added them to the onions and added a bit more salt and pepper. After they cooked about a minute or two, I added 2 TBSP of dried cranberries. I sautéed until the moment they just became tender, so they weren’t crunchy, but they were not even in the neighborhood of mushy.

The flavor profile was a wonderful balance of hearty and sweet – the beans forming the base with onions adding sweetness, dried cranberries adding tartness and the fennel seed blending all the flavors into something magical. I will definitely make this again.

I do apologize for the terrible photo, I didn’t actually look through the viewfinder – whoops!

Migas

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I bought a big stack of corn tortillas and was wondering what might be a good way to use them for breakfast. I decided to make migas – a popular dish across the Spanish-speaking world, though not always made with tortillas. In Spain they will uses bread and potatoes and lima beans while in Mexico, you are more likely to get migas with tortilla strips and a lot more heat. I have seen them made with the tortillas cooked with the eggs and with the tortillas cooked in advance and added to the eggs at the end. I decided to make it both ways, cooking them with the eggs yesterday and separately today. While they both tasted good, the second was by far the best – so that’s what I will show here.

So first I took 2 corn tortillas and sliced them into 1 inch strips and then cut those long strips in half. In a skillet, I melted 1 TBSP of butter and pan-fried the strips until browned and crisped. I removed them from the butter and set them aside.

I added 2 tbsp of chopped onion and one minced small clove of garlic and let them sauté in the butter. I chopped up 2 TBSP of bell peppers (red, yellow and green) and 1 thick slice of tomato (about 2 TBSP) and added them to the softening onions. I let them cook. Meanwhile I cracked two eggs in a bowl and stirred them for scrambled eggs. When scrambling eggs, I mix them just enough to mix the whites and yolks but do not beat them. I prefer creamy eggs and over-mixing them will make them dryer. Note I also add no salt while cooking. Salt will make the egg mixture separate and the eggs will not be as creamy and tender.

I added the eggs and let them cook, stirring frequently. When the eggs are just about done, toss in a small handful of grated cheese. Adding the cheese to early will make the eggs runny. I used Pepper Jack for a tiny bit of heat. Just before serving, I added salt and pepper and stirred in the tortillas I set aside.

Cooked this way, the tortillas are crispier and are more evenly browned. There’s not the slightest hint of sogginess. The eggs are rich and creamy and the flavors blend beautifully. Makes 1 serving.

Shuksouka

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I was inspired to try this Middle Eastern egg dish for a mid-morning brunch thanks to friends on my timeline. I am so glad I did. I did not have fresh tomatoes to make it from scratch and used a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. It was still delicious and incredibly easy.

I put a tablespoon of olive oil in an iron skillet and brought the heat up to medium. I added 1/4 tsp of cumin and 1/4 tsp of cardamom and let them simmer in the oil until the rich aromatics scented the room. Meanwhile, I diced a small yellow onion and 2 garlic cloves.  I added the onion, salt and pepper and let sauté and then added the garlic along with 1 cup of finely chopped fresh kale. The kale is not usually found in Shuksouka but I don’t care. It was what I had on hand and added a delicious grounded earthiness to the flavor.

I then added a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and some salt and pepper. I filled the can about 1/3 full and added water and let it come to a nice simmer. Then I cracked 6 eggs on top and let them cook. I wanted the yolk a little more done than recommended, so I put the lid on towards the end. I continued to let them poach until completely done.

This made 3 servings You could, if you like, reserve the sauce and poach just 2 eggs at a time. It’s rich, spicy and very filling.

I sprinkled some feta on top but that could easily be left off because with the spicy tomatoes, it was superfluous.

I heated the leftovers for another meal – using very low power so they eggs didn’t freak out and this time, I sprinkled a bit of sumac on top and that seemed to marry the flavors even better.

 

Cucumber Grape Salad

Grape Cucumber Salad

This is a simple, fresh salad that took minutes to prepare.

I peeled and cut one cucumber into small pieces and cut 1 cup of grapes into halves. I added about 1 tbsp of finely sliced onions and 2 tbsp of finely sliced cilantro. Adding a bit of salt and pepper, 1 TBSP of sour cream and 1 TBSP of rice wine vinegar and stirred it all up.

The blend of sweet grapes, tangy onion and the springlike freshness of cucumber and cilantro is fabulous and irresistible. It make  4 servings, but good luck not eating it all.

Sauéed Turnips, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts and Apple with Anise Seed

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I put some olive oil in a skillet and heated it with some peppercorns and anise seed until it was perfuming the air.

Then I added chopped onions (1/2 an onion) and one minced serrano chile and sautéed.

I cut up one small parsnip and 2 carrots into thumbnail chunks and added, with a bit of salt and pepper, and cooked until nearly done. Then near the end, I added about 6 brussels spouts that I had cut in half and an apple I cut into chunks and tossed them in to cook until tender. Tossed a bit of rice vinegar on to finish. Salt and pepper. This made two large servings.

This was the most delicious vegetable sauté I can remember. It was earthy and warm, piquant with the vinegar and parsnips. The brussels sprouts gave it a lovely earthiness and the chile gave it some heat. The sweetness of the carrots and apple added another flavor note.

I served it with a pork loin, but it is a vegan dish that you can serve with anything.

Mushrooms and Red Chard with Barley

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I cooked up some barley for breakfast and decided to make some extra to cook up something for lunch. Of course, barley and mushrooms go together perfectly and were my first thought. I had some red chard that really needed to get used and soon, so I decided to go for it. My favorite spice with mushrooms is paprika, so I thought I would give it a whirl. This made four servings. I figure that if I am going to cook something for 45 minutes (the barley) I am going to make more than one meal out of it. When I cooked the barley, I strained it and saved all the barley water to use in this dish.

I started with eight mushrooms that I cleaned and sliced. I patted them dry with a clean towel. I heated up a sauté pan and tossed them in and let them cook on medium high for about 8 minutes. This dry sauté evaporates out a lot of the fluid and enriches the mushroom flavor. Now when I cook them with the other ingredients, they will not get mushy.

While it was sautéing, I would shake the pan every once in a while to keep them from sticking. Meanwhile I thoroughly cleaned a bunch of red chard, separating the leaves from the stems. Red chard requires several rinses and careful attention to be sure you get all the dirt off it. I hold it under the water and run my finger up and down the stem a few times to make sure all the dirt is gone. No one wants to bite down on some sand or dirt in their lunch.

I chopped the stems into 1 inch long pieces. I also chopped 1/4 of white onions. Chopping up the leaves, I kept two cups and saved the rest for a salad. I set the red chard leaves aside for later.

I added 1 tbsp of olive oil and swirled it around the pan. I added the red chard stems and onions. I added 2 tsp of paprika and salt and pepper. I sautéed everything until the onions were transparent. I then added the barley water I had saved from this morning. I added the red chard leaves and the 2 cups of cooked barley I had reserved. I let this simmer until the chard was done (3 to 5 minutes) and tasted tested it. It was good, but a bit one-dimensional – very umami, but the brightness of the chard stems was missing. So I squeezed the juice of one lemon at the end and that lifted up the chard flavor – giving a multi-layered flavor profile that begins with the heart umami of the mushrooms and barley and ending with a bright, fresh chard tartness. It was delicious.

 

 

Curried Parsnip Pear Soup

Curried Parsnip Pear Soup

I had a craving for some curried parsnip pear soup and decided to make it for lunch. It tastes and looks like it is hard work, but it is a simple recipe that only takes patience, not hard work.

To start I minced 1 TBSP of fresh garlic (3 small cloves) and 1 TBSP of fresh ginger (a piece about the length of a thumb) and added them to 2 TBSP of butter on medium heat in my soup kettle. While they cooked, I chopped up a yellow onion and put 1/2 cup of yellow onion in with the garlic and ginger. I added 1 TBSP of curry powder, stirred, added some salt and pepper and let sauté until tender.

While that was sautéing, I peeled 3 parsnips and cut them into chunks about 1 inch square or so. The exact size matters less than trying to make them all uniform in size. I added them to the pot and added water to cover plus 1/2 inch. A bit of salt and pepper was added to taste.

I cut up two Bosc pears. I did not bother peeling because this will be pureed and the pear skin is not tough and woody like parsnip peelings. I added the pears and put the lid on the kettle and turned the heat up to medium-high, bringing it to a slow boil. Then I let it continue to cook at a low boil until the parsnips were tender.

Removing it from the heat, I removed the lid to help it cool faster and let it sit and rest until it cooled enough I could put it in my Magic Bullet. You can use a blender or an immersion blender. I pureed until smooth.

I spooned some into a bowl, added a dollop of sour cream and 3 thin slices of pear. This happens to be Bartlett, but any ripe and tender pear would do.

This could easily be made vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter at the beginning and leaving out the sour cream garnish. The soup itself is a delicious blend of the tart parsnip with the sweet pear. The bit of heat from the curry works well with those flavors. It is so delicious you might find yourself using a spatula to get ever last bite of soup out of the bowl.

This makes 8 servings.

 

 

Brussel Sprouts with Fried Onions & Lemon Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts Salad

This tasty little salad was inspired by Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans salad with shallots. I used onions instead of shallots because that was what was on hand. I used more lemon juice and less olive oil than she does because that’s my personal preference. I wanted to try it with walnut oil but could not unscrew the top. I think it will take pliers! I also substituted pecans for walnuts because that is also my personal preference. Still, with all the changes, you can see her original inspiration in the final product.

First I sliced a small yellow onion into 1/4 inch slices and patted them dry and let the rest a bit so they could dry some more. I heated up peanut oil to 350° and fried the onions in the oil. Removing the onions to rest on old paper bags so the oil could be absorbed, I salted them lightly while still hot so the salt would stick.  After they were all fried and patted clean of oil, I let them rest.

Then I cleaned one pound of brussels sprouts. This preparation was different than usual. I cut off the stems and cleared away the outer leaves that were browned or blackened with age. Then I peeled the leaves off, one by one, until they were too tight to peel away. This central core, I chopped thinly with a knife. I tossed the leaves and chopped sprouts in a bowl. Frankly, this part was tiresome and made me long for a sous chef. However, the separate leaves add a lighter, loftier texture to the salad and the individual leaves are perfect for holding dressing. It was worth the effort. One thing made it easier. After peeling off a bunch of leaves, it was easier to peel off the middle leaves by cutting off a bit more of the stem.

Next I put some pecans in a dry pan on med-high heat to toast.

While the pecans toasted, I took a fresh lemon and grated the zest into the bowl with the brussels sprouts. I added a generous amount of grated black pepper and some salt. Then I squeezed the lemon, adding all the juice. I drizzled 2 tbsp of olive oil on top and mixed them together.

I removed the pecans from the heat and chopped them up just a bit.

Then I placed a bit of the salad in a bowl, sprinkled some of the crispy, fried onions and toasted pecans on top and there it is – a light, flavorful salad for Christmas dinner.  This made four salads.

There is something about  the flavor of toasted nuts and lemon vinaigrette that is just wonderful. The brussels sprouts with their sharp, tangy flavor blended right in and the pepper added a delicious mellow heat. It was just a perfect blend of flavors with the wonderful umami of the fried onions.