Happy Thanksgiving

Thinking of you, as I get ready for Thanksgiving …

ThanksgivingPilgrims

One of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving: Orange Carrot Soup.

OrangeCarrotSoup

… and another Bordeaux Cranberry Compote.

 

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Don’t forget festive libations, including for designated drivers. This is my Black Tea Sangria, served over ice, with apple slices, mandarin orange slices, and frozen raspberries, then topped off with tonic water. I’m still looking for a good name for this mocktail. Have any suggestions?

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Don’t forget to spend a little time in nature to get away from the hustle and bustle for preparing for the holdiays…

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May everyone travel safely…

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Warmest wishes to you for a most lovely holiday season!

Chive Blossom Omelettes

Cousin Kate asked me for my Chive Blossom Omelette recipe and so I decided to share it here. Unfortunately, our chives are done blooming for the season – and I don’t have any other herbs flowering today, so I can’t make this recipe to photograph it right now. I am borrowing a chive photo from one of my very early blog posts and giving the recipe anyhow.  I hope that this post inspires you to use some herbs from your garden.

Thank you for the prompt, Kate!

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2 large eggs, beaten until frothy

about 1 1/2 teaspoons of unsalted butter

optional: a little bit of Vidalia (sweet) onion sautéed in butter

sliced Havarti cheese, torn into several pieces

pinch of garlic powder

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

about 1 tablespoon of snipped chives and parsley

about 3 chive blossoms, gently torn apart

3  whole chive blossoms for garnish

Directions

Clean the herbs and pat dry with a clean towel before starting.

Preheat a 9″-skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of unsalted butter to the skillet and swirl it around until the butter just barely begins to sizzle. Immediately pour the eggs in and swirl them around the bottom of the pan. Try not to let the butter or the eggs brown. Turn the heat down, if necessary, while cooking the omelette.

Spoon the onion – if using – over half of the eggs. Top with enough cheese to mostly cover half of the egg mixture. Lightly  sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and fresh ground pepper. When eggs are very nearly set, top with the fresh herbs. Slide the omelette, filled half first, out of the pan and onto a warmed plate, folding the egg side over the filled side as you remove the pan.

Garnish with little creme fraiche (crema), a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and a few whole chive blossoms. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

The Underrated Chive

Growing and Cooking with Herbs

 

Hmm! White Chili

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it is a rainy Memorial Day Weekend here in Manhattan, Kansas. So I thought that a White Chili would be a good dish to serve – fun & casual, flavorful & warming, but not too heavy. I hope that you are having a great weekend!

White Chili

This flavorful dish is what is traditionally referred to as a white chili (because no tomatoes are used in the base). This vegetarian version, though, is more of a light golden color.

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 T. crushed garlic

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 c.)

2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 c.)

1 Anaheim pepper, chopped (about 1/2 c.)

5 sweet mini yellow peppers, chopped (about 1/2 c.)

1 jalapeño, minced (about 2 T.)

1 (15 oz) can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 c. frozen yellow corn, semi-thawed

1 t. ground cumin

1/2 t. white pepper

3 c. boiling water

2 “Not-Chick’n” bouillon cubes

4 oz. low-fat cream cheese

1 ripe avocado, diced (for garnish)

juice of 1 lemon

1 c. chopped ripe tomato (for garnish)

2  – 3 T. cilantro leaves, stemmed and chopped (for garnish)

cheddar cheese, shredded (for garnish, optional)

  1. Place olive oil in a large deep skillet or stock pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, celery, and peppers. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  2. Stir in chick peas, beans, corn, cumin and white pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water. Add cream cheese to bouillon and stir until mostly dissolved. Stir bouillon mixture into pot. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook just below a simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Just before serving, toss together avocado, lemon juice tomato and cilantro leaves. Ladle chili into bowls. If desired, top with cheese. Garnish with avocado-tomato mixture.

Enjoy! Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Spaghetti with Spinach & Peppadews

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This is a simple dish to make – done in the amount of time that it takes to cook a box of spaghetti – but it has a delicious combination of flavors and is very rich and satisfying.

Spaghetti with Spinach

Ingredients:

8 oz. package of spaghetti (gluten-free is ok)

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. dry white wine*

1/3 c. finely chopped yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced (about 1 T.)

salt

red pepper flakes + extra for the table

several large handfuls of baby spinach (about 2.5 oz. by weight), washed and larger stems removed

2 oz. (about 2/3 c.) fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese + extra for the table

3 marinated peppadew peppers, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Put a large pot (8 qt. pot) of lightly salted water on to boil. When the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti, stir. Cook until the pasta is almost done – when it needs about 2 minutes more cooking time. Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients. (That is, chop the onion, crushed the garlic, wash the spinach, and grate the cheese.)
  2. Add olive oil, wine, onion, garlic, a couple of dashes of salt and a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes to a large, deep skillet (about 12 x 3”.) Place on burner over medium heat. Stir ingredients. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta when it is not quite done. Add nearly cooked pasta to skillet. Toss with olive oil mixture several times. Cook for about 1 minute. Add spinach. Toss with pasta several times. Cook for about 1 minute. Add cheese. Toss. Check pasta for doneness. When pasta is the desired doneness, transfer to a serving platter or to individual dishes. Garnish with chopped peppadews. Serve immediately.

Buon Appetito!

* I served the pasta with Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina and so used that in the dish.

Simple Baked Halibut

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I love to experiment with sauces and flavors, but sometimes they can get in the way of one’s appreciation of the main element of a dish. So whenever I have a really great piece of fish – like this halibut that a friend sent to us from Alaska – I like to keep its preparation simple. That way the fish itself can really shine. Here I served the Baked Halibut with stir fried asparagus, steamed rice and soy sauce mixed with lemon juice and a dash of cayenne pepper served on the side.

Simple Baked Halibut

serves 2 – 3

1 lb piece of halibut cut about 2-inches thick, thawed

1 large lemon

sea salt

mix of black and green peppercorns

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

2. Meanwhile, pat fish dry with a paper towel. Place fish, skin-side down, on the parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle fish with sea salt and several twists of fresh ground pepper. Cut about 2/3 of the lemon into thin slices. Spread slices over the top of the fish. (You can save the rest of the lemon to squeeze into a little soy sauce, if you like.)

3. Place fish in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked all of the way through. (The fish will be solid white in the center, not somewhat translucent.) Serve immediately.

Variations:

• Mix a few thin slices of red onion in with the lemon slices.

• Drizzle just a little bit of melted butter or olive oil on the fish before baking.

• Top with a little bit of chopped fresh parsley when serving.

Orange Carrot Soup

A light, but flavorful and warming soup to start your new year!

OrangeCarrotSoup

Orange Carrot Soup

4-6 Servings

Ingredients

3 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 c. diced yellow onion

salt

fresh ground pepper

2 T. semi-dry white wine, divided

4 c. diced, peeled carrots

2 t. smoked paprika

1 t. ground cinnamon

4 c. vegetable (or chicken) broth or bouillon*, divided

3 T. honey, divided

1 – 1 1/4 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice, to taste

zest from one of the oranges (use a course-textured zester)

croutons or Greek yogurt, optional

*I use 2 “Not-Chick’n” bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 c. boiling water. “Not-Chick’n” can be found in the organic foods section of many grocery stores.

Directions

  1. Place 1 T. of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, a dash of salt, a twist of fresh ground pepper, and about 1 T. of the wine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is crisp-tender and translucent. Transfer to a stock pot.
  2. Place remaining 2 T. of the olive oil in the large skillet. Add carrots, paprika and cinnamon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Transfer to the stock pot containing the onions.
  3. Add enough of the broth to the stock pot to almost cover carrots. Stir. Cover and cook over medium heat until carrots are tender enough to purée but are not mushy, about 15 minutes. Stir in 2 T. of the honey.
  4. Purée mixture with a stick blender – or transfer mixture to a food processor or blender to purée until almost perfectly smooth, then transfer mixture back to stock pot.
  5. Stir orange juice and remaining 1 T. of wine into carrot mixture, then thin soup to desired consistency with the remaining broth. Stir in orange zest. Taste. If necessary adjust flavor using honey, wine, orange juice, or salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 10 more minutes before serving to blend flavors.
  6. Stir soup before serving. Serve in small cups as a starter or light lunch – or in soup bowls for a heavier meal. If desired, garnish with croutons or a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Enjoy! Happy New Year!

Fire Roasted Tomato Minestrone

The combination of chopped onions, celery and carrots, sautéed in olive oil (to make what Italians call soffritto) or in butter (to make what the French call mirepoix) is wonderful for adding flavor to sauces, soups, stews and stuffings. Around the holidays, I keep soffrito or mirepoix in the refrigerator so that I have the aromatic vegetables already prepared to make holiday cooking easier.

I generally use about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of butter or extra virgin olive oil per cup of raw vegetables, adding a dash of salt and pepper. To the onions, I also add a splash of dry white wine. For this minestrone, I prefer olive oil to butter, but either will work. If you have soffritto already made, you can substitute 3 cups of it for the vegetables in this soup and reduce the olive oil to 1 to 2 tablespoons.

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Fire Roasted Tomato Minestrone

This is a delicious, stew-like minestrone … flavorful and filling for the winter months. If you prefer a more brothy soup, you can thin this with a little vegetable or chicken stock.

Ingredients

• about 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided

• 1 c. diced onions

• 1 c. diced celery

• 1 c. diced carrots

• 1/3 c. dry white or red wine

• 2 28-oz. cans diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes – or 1 can diced, 1 can crushed (do not drain)

• 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans (white kidney beans) or great northern beans, drained and rinsed

• 1 15-oz. can red kidney beans or black beans, drained and rinsed

• 1 T. dried oregano, crushed

• 1 T. paprika or smoked paprika

• 1 t. dried thyme, crushed

• 1/2 t. sea salt

• fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, optional garnish

Directions

(1) If you do not have soffritto already prepared, start by sautéing vegetables in olive oil, one type at a time, using about 1  – 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper, per cup of vegetables. I like to add a splash of dry white wine to the onions. Cook briefly until crisp-tender.

(2) Add prepared vegetables, wine, about 1 T. of the remaining olive oil, tomatoes, beans, and spices to a large pot (6-8 qt). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the minestrone comes to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook at a low simmer, continuing to stir occasionally, for about 15 minutes. (So that the vegetables remain crisp-tender, don’t overcook.) Taste.  Add more olive oil, wine, or seasonings if desired. Ladle into warm bowls to serve.

Serving suggestion: At the table, grate a little cheese over each bowl of minestrone – but not for vegans. Serve with warm bread and a glass of wine.