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.

 

Spicy Pineapple Cole Slaw

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This is a fresh, crispy, crunchy mouthful of sweet and hot. It’s refreshing and delicious.

First I chopped up about 3 TBSP of yellow onion. I also chopped up half a head of red cabbage and two carrots.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan I heated 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar and 2 TBSP of sugar and one serrano chili finely chopped. I cooked until the sugar was fully absorbed and the chili’s hotness blended with the sweet and sour (about 3 minutes).

I poured over the salad fixings knowing that the heat would not cook the veggies. I stirred well and added 1 cup of chopped pineapple. I added some salt and pepper to taste. This made 8 servings.

 

 

Double Mushroom Risotto

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Although I usually prefer fast and easy recipes, some recipes deserve all the time and patience you can give them and reward you with rich, intense flavor that is so delicious you cannot imagine it until you taste it.  This double mushroom risotto is exactly that kind of recipe. I spent hours on the broth – an investment that paid of with rich flavors that infused every bite of the risotto.

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I used leg shank marrow bones – three two inch shank cuts (about 2 pounds). There is no more flavorful meat for making broth than the shanks with the rich leg bones filled with marrow. I put about 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of my stock pot and heated it up. I placed the shanks flat on the heated oil and browned them on both sides which adds to the color and the flavor of the stock. Then I added 1 cup of chopped onion, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp of dried thyme and let them cook a bit until the onions turned transparent. I then added enough water to completely cover the meat and brought to a boil before reducing heat to a simmer. I let it simmer with a cover on it for a few hours before adding 1 oz of dried porcini mushrooms and then let it cook another half hour. I put it in the fridge overnight to cool before straining it in the morning. I ended up with 11 cups of broth which is exactly the amount I needed for this double batch of risotto.  I heated it up to a low simmer while I cooked the risotto since it needed to be the same temperature as the risotto so it could be added bit by bit at temperature for even absorption and perfect consistency.

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The next step was dry sautéing 4 cups of sliced button or crimini mushrooms. To do this, I put them in my pan and turned the heat up and stirred for about 6 minutes while they cooked without any oil or water. I then added 4 TBSP of butter and 2/3rds cup of chopped yellow onions and 1 tsp of  dried thyme. (I would have used a sprig of fresh thyme if I had it.)  I cooked until the onions became tender.

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Then I added good quality red wine – 1 1/3 cup and set it simmer until it was cooked down by half. When it was done, I added 3 1/2 cups of arborio rice and stirred it in and cooked for a couple minutes before adding 1 cup of the broth and stirring while it was absorbed.

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I then continued to add 1 cup of broth at a time – until all 11 cups were absorbed. The rice was still a bit toothsome and the liquid was still not completely absorbed when I removed from the heat and added 1/2 cup of grated parmesan to melt into the risotto. With the lid on it, the rest of the liquid was completely absorbed without any risk of the risotto getting mushy which would be criminal.

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The result is a perfect creamy risotto with intense mushroom and beef flavor. It’s addictive, so be sure you make it for an event where other people will help eat it all.