Friday, February 1, 2013

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

This soup will knock your socks off.  It is rich and satisfying, especially during soup season (which is the opposite of grilling season, in case you were wondering). Did I mention it was rich? Even my son, who is not a mushroom fan, loves this.  I got the original recipe from my coworker Sue, who is a fellow soup connoisseur.  Claire's husband once declared it the best thing we've ever made.  There are many versions of this recipe, which I originally saw in the Moosewood Cookbook.
Here it is without the garnish...

Hungarian Mushroom Soup
I like to deepen the mushroom flavor by using a combination of fresh mushrooms and a dried mushroom mix that contains shiitake mushrooms in it.  I tend to chop my mushrooms smaller, but if you like bigger chunks, just slice them.  Serve it with crusty bread and a salad.  You won't be hungry.

6 T butter
1 1/2 c chopped onion
4 tsp Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika
4 tsp dried dill weed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2/3 c flour
1 2/3 c milk
2 2/3 c water
4 c chopped mushrooms
2 t soy sauce or tamari
2 T lemon juice
1/2 c sour cream or Greek yogurt (and a little extra for garnish)
3 T minced fresh parsley (and a little extra for garnish)

Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the onions with the paprika, dill weed, salt and pepper until the onions are tender and translucent. Whisk in the flour, then add the milk and water.  Add the mushrooms and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce, lemon juice, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and parsley.  Serve immediately, with a little extra sour cream or yogurt  and parsley on the side for garnish.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Quinoa Cakes with Green Goddess Dipping Sauce

I made these for the first time last August, and have been making them regularly ever since. They are delicious, and great as a side dish or as a vegetarian main dish.  I make my quinoa in my rice cooker.  It turns out perfectly every time.  Adapted from
I made these originally during the Summer Olympics 2012.  Can you tell?

Quinoa Cakes
My kids love these.  They are hard to resist when hot out of the pan.

2 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa (follow directions on package)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped scallions
1/2 finely chopped white or red onion
1/3 c Parmesan cheese (preferably not the kind that comes in a can)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c whole wheat bread crumbs

Mix together the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl, and stir in the scallions, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs and let it sit while you get the pan ready.  Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil in a large frying pan on medium to medium low-heat. Once it's hot, scoop about a golf-ball-sized spoonful of the quinoa mix, shape it gently into a patty, and place it into the oil.  (This is easiest if your hands are wet.)  Cook on one side until the underside is golden brown, and flip over. Cook until the patty is firm in the middle, about 7-9 minutes total.

Green Goddess Dipping Sauce
I throw this together all the time for various things, especially when I don't want to use store-bought dressing but I need either a dip for carrots and celery, or a sauce.  Adding a little water to it will change its consistency so that you can also use it as a dressing.  If you have fresh basil or other herbs, feel free to experiment. 

1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
small handful of baby spinach leaves, chopped
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 clove finely minced garlic, more or less depending on your taste
1 chopped scallion (optional)
1 t olive oil (optional- makes it a little smoother)

Blend together with an immersion blender or something similar until smooth.  Add a little water or milk, 1 T at a time until a desired consistency is reached.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Walnut, Caramelized Onion, and Kale Pizza

I'm not even sure how long it's been since I've posted a recipe.  Not that we haven't been cooking and trying out new stuff, but things do get crazy around here in both our houses.  This morning I was inspired by needing to use up several things before they spoiled. Store-bought pizza dough, big bag of kale, some onions that I caramelized a few days ago, and some walnuts that my kids and I shelled earlier this week. I ended up making a pizza at 10:00 in the morning. The sweetness of the onions counter the slight bitterness of the kale, and the combination of everything together made me think I was eating sausage.  Vegetarians, leave out the bacon.  For those who are trying to cut back on their bacon intake over the holidays, it's 1-2 slices for an entire pizza (20 x 13 inch)- more for flavoring than anything else.  Also consider using a third cheese, like blue cheese crumbles, smoked gouda, or gruyere. 

Caramelized Onion and Kale Pizza with Walnuts and Bacon

1 package premade pizza dough (Trader Joe's) or use your favorite recipe
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1-2 slices of precooked bacon, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 cups kale, chopped
1 c spinach, chopped
2/3 c shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 c coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the dough according to directions.  I used a little bit of olive oil to press it out to fill the entire 20 x 13 inch pan that I used. (You could also use a dusting of flour) Poke some holes in the crust so you don't get a bunch of air bubbles. Prebake at 400 degrees for about 7-8 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a pan for a minute on medium heat, and add the sliced onions. Patiently wait for them to brown, stirring occasionally.  You may want to turn the heat down to medium low if they are browning too quickly. Add the bacon and saute for about 30 more seconds, then set aside.

Once the crust is done, sprinkle the spinach and kale as a base layer, followed by the cheese, and the caramelized onions and bacon. Add a few turns of freshly ground pepper and sprinkle on the chopped walnuts. Bake at 400 degrees until the cheese is golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
If chopping onions makes you cry, you can always try a snorkel mask. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

My friend Robin shared her version of this recipe, and it was universally applauded. Husbands declared that they did not miss the meat. Children asked for seconds. The burgers freeze well, and are filling.  I served them on whole wheat buns with a side of sweet potato fries, salad, and roasted peppers.  It's a great Meatless Monday option.

Black Bean Burgers
You can add additional veggies to these quite easily.  I added some microplaned carrots- they melt right in. Did I mention these freeze and reheat easily?  They are also baked, not fried.   I served them with a greek yogurt based dip, see recipe below. 

2 cans cooked black beans (should be about 2 1/4 c)
2 1/4 c cooked brown rice (1:1 ratio with beans)
1/3 c sauteed chopped mushrooms
1/2 microplaned or very finely grated carrot
2 T chopped basil
3 T tomato paste
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2- 1  tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process all ingredients briefly in the food processor.  Form into patties.  You may want to spray hands with cooking spray or rub a little olive oil to prevent the mixture from sticking.  Place on a coated cooking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Greek Yogurt Dip/Sauce
You can use this for your dip for sweet potato fries, too.  Sometimes I add a handful of spinach and blend it just for color, and because I like to add spinach to things.

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 clove garlic
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 grated cucumber (optional)

Blend all ingredients with a fork.

Sweet Potato Fries
I'm bringing this back from our original post. Here's what I said then:
I've been making these for years.  I clipped the original recipe out of some magazine, long since lost.  My husband is not a huge fan, but my kids love it.  They get to dip their fries in ketchup.  If they are not browning or crisping well, put them on the broiler on high and watch closely.  They're not going to be quite as crispy as fast food fries, but they're so much better for you....

2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled, cut lengthwise into 1/4- 1/2 inch wedges. (about 3-4)
Tossing sweet potatoes.
1 T olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then turn. Bake for 10 more minutes and broil if necessary to desired crispness, but they are generally done after about 20 minutes. 

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Lemongrass chicken

Our dinner plans were waylaid for 2 nights in a row after I planned this meal, resulting in a 36 hour marinating time by the time we finally got around to eating this chicken. It probably doesn't need 36 hours, but holy cow, er, holy chicken, was it tender and flavorful!  The fresh lemongrass is amazing.  The caramel was a little tricky in that you need to watch it. I over did it the first time and had to start over- but it was a fun lesson in the properties of sugar. Adapted slightly from a recipe in Food & Wine's Chef Recipes Made Easy from Eric and Sophie Banh, who own Monsoon in Seattle.
Can't. Stop. Adding. Kale. To. Things.

Lemongrass Chicken
Smirking delicious chicken.

4-6 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 T Asian fish sauce
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
6 T sugar
3 T canola oil
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, tender inner white part, minced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced (may substitute a small red onion)
1 jalapeno, diced and seeded (may decrease or increase depending on taste)
1/3 c cilantro, chopped

Combine the fish sauce, garlic, curry powder, salt, and 2 T of sugar in a small bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat.  Let it marinate for up to 36 hours if you have time, although you can also cook it immediately.
In a small skillet, mix the remaining sugar or honey with 3 T water and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 T water.  Transfer the caramel to a small heatproof bowl.  Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add the oil, and let it heat up. Add the lemongrass, shallot and jalapeno and stir-fry for a minute. Add the chicken and caramel and stir-fry over moderate heat until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is slightly thickened- about 6-8 minutes depending on your chicken. Toss with cilantro and serve over rice.

Steamed Jasmine Rice with Kale and Scallions
A quickie side dish that I threw together just so I could add kale to our meal.  

4 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 cup finely chopped kale with tough ribs removed
2 scallions
dash white pepper
1 tsp canola oil

Heat the canola oil in a large pan. Add the scallions and stir-fry for a minute. Add the kale and stir-fry for an additional minute, until it is a rich, dark green.  Toss the rice in and add a dash of white pepper. Toss until everything is mixed together. Serve.

Stir-fried Asparagus
My standard stir-fry that I make with just about any vegetable. Today it was asparagus.  Snap the tough ends off.  The asparagus will tell you where to snap it- it should be as close to the tough purple end as possible, but it should snap off easily. You really don't need to peel your asparagus. I have never understood why this is necessary- plus you lose all that fiber. Having grown up on an asparagus farm, I could think of about 50 more things to share about my absolute favorite vegetable.  For the haters who say it's too mushy, my response is that you are cooking it too long. Mushy asparagus is gross.  If you stir-fry it, it can still have a little texture. If you like it softer, just cook it a little longer.  And don't leave out the garlic. 

1 bunch of asparagus, about 1 lbs, with the ends snapped off, and cut on the diagonal
2-4 T water or chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 T canola oil

Heat the canola oil in a pan until it sizzles when you add a drop of water. Add the garlic and stir, but don't let it burn.  Add the asparagus and stir-fry until it is tender, about 3-5 minutes. Midway through, when the pan is  starting to get dry, add the chicken stock or water.  Add salt to taste.  If you like your asparagus on the tender side, turn the heat off and cover the pan for a minute or two.  (If you let this step last too long, your vegetable can get overdone. Don't say I didn't warn you.) Serve.

Please leave us a comment. Even if it's a complaint that I haven't posted in a couple of months! Hey, we've been busy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Puff Pastry Pizza and Arugula Salad with Artichoke, Tomato and Basil Marinade

This is seriously so easy and delicious that it's not fair. Did I mention delicious? It makes a great appetizer and will impress your dinner guests. If you are making it for actual dinner, I would make at least 2 (depending on the size of your family and your stomachs), and I would also serve it with a big salad. My only slight difficulty was finding the puff pastry sheets. Once this got on the table, it was essentially gone in 60 seconds.   The salad is a wonderful accompaniment to just about anything, and is a nice change from boring old plain salad. The arugula and the artichokes are a perfect combination.

Puff Pastry Pizza
Try to limit the ingredients to no more than 4-5.  More than that and it becomes difficult to appreciate the crispy softness of the puff pastry.  Adapted from RealSimple July 2011.

1 package puff pastry
Toppings (your choice):
  • pesto
  • halved grape tomatoes
  • mozzarella cheese, plain or smoked
  • fresh, slivered basil leaves
  • crisped prosciutto, diced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  On a parchment-lined baking sheet, roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a 9x13 inch baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until firm. Prick with a fork, and layer toppings, not too generously or the puff pastry will get soggy. Top with freshly grated black pepper and back until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Cut and serve.

Arugula Salad with Artichoke, Tomato, and Basil Marinade

Arugula, approx 2 cups (enough to make a bed) 
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 c grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 c fresh basil leaves, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T balsamic vinegar 
2 T olive oil
1 tsp capers, optional
black pepper
shaved parmesan

Arrange a layer of arugula in a large, flat bowl. Drain marinated artichokes, reserve juice. Top salad with artichoke hearts. In a separate bowl, combine 2/3 leftover artichoke marinade, halved grape tomatoes, garlic, basil, vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper. Let it sit for 15 min-2 hours. Just before serving, toss salad with marinade mixture and top with shaved parmesan.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Circassian, Cardassian, Kardashian, or Cesarean Chicken?

It's actually Circassian Chicken, modified slightly from Hank Shaw's recipe on  Traditional Circassian Chicken is a Turkish dish, served cold, that calls for walnuts, not pecans. Which is maybe why the kids didn't quite get the name of the dish, and dinner conversation mainly revolved around whether or not the members of the Obsidian order or the reality TV Kardashian family ate this for dinner.  And finally, "So Mom, what did you say it was? Cesarean chicken? So did you have to cut this dish out of some chicken's belly?" JUST EAT YOUR DINNER!
The red pepper strips add a delightful sweet crunch.
Circassian Chicken
This meal is actually a sleeper hit, and quick to prepare. We substituted pecans for walnuts, and cilantro for parsley.  The cayenne spices things up a bit, so use a little less if you want it milder, or use a dollop or two of Greek yogurt to cut the (very mild) heat. You can serve this plain, but we loved it with toast triangles and a side of crispy Cesarean, er Cesar Salad.  Also good the next day as a chicken sandwich filling, or in a pita roll with some fresh, crisp lettuce and juicy tomato. 

2 skinless chicken breasts
4 T olive oil
4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 c chopped pecans
3 cloves garlic
2 T green onions, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 T chopped cilantro or parsley
1 1/2 c chopped spinach
2 slices of wheat bread, preferably stale
1 quart of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 lemon, juiced

Bring the chicken stock to a low boil and add the chicken breasts, letting them simmer for about 10 minutes before removing from the heat.  Heat the olive oil in a small pot, and add paprika. When you can smell the paprika strongly, turn off the heat.

Cut the bread into chunks and place in bowl.  Pour 1-2 cups of chicken broth into the bowl and let it soak. In the meantime, reserve 1/2 cup pecans and set aside with green onions and 2 tablespoons of cilantro and the chopped spinach. Put the remainder of the pecans and cilantro into a food processor along with the garlic, cayenne, and the soaked bread and pulse repeatedly until it makes a thick, chunky paste.  Add more chicken stock 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to loosen it up.  Pour in the paprika in oil and pulse again until combines.  Add salt if needed.

Shred the cooked chicken by hand or with a fork, and add the pecan-paprika paste, as well as the reserved pecans, green onions, and cilantro.  Stir gently to combine.  Add pepper and lemon juice to taste.