Tag Archives: Cooking

Shallots: Fit for Confit

6 Jun

I have seen the term confit many times on many menus. I know what it means, sort of…and then I saw a beautiful photo of shallots in oil on Instagram and wondered what it could be. Shallots are one of my favorites in the onion family. The photo was the beautiful beginning of a shallot confit. I knew I had to make it!

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I also knew I needed to know what it really meant. So off to Google I go. Confit comes from the French word confire, which means to preserve. A confit is any type of food cooked slowly for a long period of time as a method of preservation, it is usually cooked in oil or fat. It is a centuries old method that can be used for fruits, vegetables and meats. Meats are typically salted too. A confit can kept for weeks, sometimes even months…not my shallot confit, it was gone in the blink of an eye.

Ingredients:

10 -12 shallots, peel and sliced

2 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tsp thyme

1 –  2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Add olive oil to a Dutch oven or medium pot and heat over medium heat, add shallots, garlic, salt and thyme. Sauté until the shallots start to brown and caramelize a bit, lower heat and let cook until the shallots become super tender, almost mushy. I cooked mine for a  total of about an hour. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and eat right away or store in airtight container and refrigerate until your ready to use it.

The confit can be used as a condiment on meats or I like the idea of serving it as an appetizer on slices of a toasted baguette with a spread of cream cheese. I have read that it is also good on a salad…whatever you can think of, it can’t be bad.

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*Recipe from Judy Kim and be sure to check out her Insta and her blog, just beautiful and lots of great recipes.

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Spring Vegetable Tart

6 May

It is asparagus season, this makes me very happy. Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables because it tastes great and can be used in so many different types of recipes. Asparagus is great all by itself, in a salad, hot or cold, roasted or steamed…I could go on forever.

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Now when most people think of tarts they think dessert, I know I always did, until I began to cook and opened my mind to all kinds of new things in the world of food. According to Wikipedia “a tart is a baked dish consisting of a filling over a pastry base with an open top not covered with pastry.” So when I was looking for something to bring to my sisters that was a bit different than the usual, I found a recipe for an Asparagus Leek Tart, it was perfect.

Ingredients

4 small leeks or 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed well

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into small pieces

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/3 cup milk

2 eggs

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1 heaping tsp of fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme if you don’t have lemon thyme

1 tsp of fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp concentrated balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or line with foil and grease lightly with shortening or butter. Set aside.

 

Melt butter and olive oil together in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes and remove from heat and keep to the side. While the leeks are cooking blanche the asparagus for two minutes in boiling water and then put into ice water to stop the cooking. Add asparagus to the leeks and set aside.

 

On a lightly floured surface roll out puff pastry dough into a rectangle and transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. Using a fork score around the edges to create a crust and pierce the dough all over so that it doesn’t puff up too much in the middle.  Bake for 10 minutes.

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While the pastry is cooking whisk together the eggs and milk in a mixing bowl until well combined. Add cheese, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

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Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the puff pastry from the oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Using a fork gently push the air out of the center of the dough so that it flattens in the center.

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Scatter the asparagus and leeks evenly on the dough, pour the egg and cheese mixture over the vegetables. Bake for 20 to 25 until set. Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with concentrated balsamic vinegar, serve and enjoy!

 

Thank you The Life Jolie for this delicious recipe!

A Lemony Transition to Spring Soup

18 Mar

As much as we are craving Spring, it’s just not here yet; there is snow on the ground and it’s cold. Now today was beautiful and sunny, it did get up to 42 degrees, but that’s not exactly Spring. During the winter months we eat a lot of soups and stews which I love but I’m ready for lighter and brighter foods, so I went on the hunt for soup that was just that, and I found it! Thanks to the blog Cup of Jo I found the perfect recipe for a soup that warms the body but is light and bright; a Lemony Soup with White Beans and Kale.

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This soup is delicious, especially since I changed it up a bit to make it mine. I used spinach since I’m not a fan of kale and I used orzo instead of Ditilini pasta (not a big deal but that’s what I had in the house). I also used canned beans instead of dry, the last time I tried to use dried beans I ended up with cement not soup…something I need to work on.

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I think that other than the fact that this soup tastes so good, is that it is souper easy to make; the flavors of the lemon and garlic are just so good together and it comes together in less than hour.

Ingredients

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs olive oil

1 small potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes

6 to 8 cups vegetable stock

1 lemon, juiced

1 cup orzo pasta, cooked

2 cups fresh spinach

Salt and pepper

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Directions

In a large dutch oven or pot add olive oil and heat over medium heat, add onions and potato. Stir and cook until onions are translucent then add garlic. Cook for another minute or two until garlic is fragrant. Add 6 cups of the vegetable stock, lemon juice and beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat till boiling then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

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While the soup is simmering cook the pasta. I like to cook the pasta and add it to each bowl as I serve it, otherwise I feel like it gets to mushy and soaks up the liquid. So cook it and put it aside to add as you serve.

Once you feel the potatoes are done, add the spinach. At this point add more stock if you think it needs it, it’s up to you how “brothy” you like it. I did use all 8 cups.

When it’s ready serve with grated parmesan cheese, drizzle of olive oil and some freshly grated black pepper. Mangia!

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Now if you want to, which I may do the next time I make it, is to leave out the potato and add a second can of beans. And of course if you want to keep it vegan, no cheese. One more suggestion for the gluten-free folks, keep the potato and omit the pasta. Once again one of the reasons I love cooking is that you can always make it your own, there are no rules. So keep on cooking and keep on enjoying!

Shroom’n Good Mushroom Stew

21 Jan

Now that I don’t eat beef or pork I needed to find a substitute for a hearty beef stew and this, my friends, is it. If you don’t like mushrooms then this will not work for you, but if you do, you will love it. It is easy and quick to make, as it doesn’t have to cook for hours like a meat stew and completely fills that need of a hot stew on a cold day.

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The original recipe calls for potatoes. I know this sounds crazy but I don’t like potatoes in my stew. I prefer to serve it with potatoes and I added peas, we love peas in this house. You can use frozen peas or canned but I prefer fresh. Our grocery store now carries organic fresh peas that are delicious, I use them in everything. As for the mushrooms, I like them chopped but not small, nice big pieces make a nice stew, especially since mushrooms shrink so much when cooked.

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Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive oil

1 10 oz Container button mushrooms, stemmed and chopped

1 10 oz Container baby portobello mushrooms, stemmed and chopped

1 Large Vidalia  or yellow onion, chopped

2 Celery stalks, chopped

2 Carrots, chopped

3 or 4 Garlic cloves, minced

1 Cup dry red wine

1/4 All purpose flour

3 to 4 Cups vegetable broth

2 Tbs Tomato paste

1 Cup peas

3 Tbs Fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp dry

2 Tbs Fresh chopped rosemary or 1 tsp dry

1 Tbs Bragg Liquid Aminos

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pour the olive oil into a large pot or Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery; cook until they begin to soften about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add mushrooms, cook until tender, stirring as they cook.

Add red wine and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer until wine is reduced by about half. Stir in flour a little bit at a time until fully incorporated.

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Add 3 cups of broth, tomato paste, peas, Bragg Liquid Aminos, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and make sure tomato paste gets incorporated. Bring to a low boil, then turn down heat to allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. If it thickens too much add some more vegetable broth.

Serve over egg noodles, mashed potatoes, rice or with a nice crusty loaf of bread!

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* Recipe adapted from Connoisseurusveg

 

Chicken Tagine or Tagine Chicken?

22 Dec

Either way, it is delicious! I wanted to do something different, so as usual I go to Pinterest. Scrolling through all those chicken recipes, I came across several recipes for chicken tagine, I like Middle Eastern flavors so they really appealed to me. The only thing was, there was at least one thing that I didn’t like in each recipe, so I took from the ones I liked and made my own version.

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I hope you enjoy  this as much as my husband and I did. I served it with couscous but you could also serve it with potatoes. If you choose to serve it with potatoes you can add some cubed potatoes to the pot for the last 20 minutes and voila!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive oil

2 Chicken breasts with bone-in and skin on

4 Chicken legs with bone-in, skin on

1 Yellow or Spanish onion, finely chopped

3 Garlic cloves, minced

4 Cups Chicken stock

1/2 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 Cup Parsley, roughly chopped

2 tsp Ginger, minced or 1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/4 tsp Saffron, crushed

1 Cup Green, pitted olives, reserve the juice

2 Lemons, juiced

Salt and Pepper to taste

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Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Dry chicken pieces and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in a single layer in pan.

Brown in batches until skin is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes then turn over and brown other side for about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add onion to pan and cook until soft, stirring to mix it well with the olive oil. Once the onion is soft, add garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add chicken back to pan. Add stock, cilantro, parsley, ginger, cumin and saffron. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

Add olives, reserved olive juice (I used about 1/2 cup) and juice from the 2 lemons. I also added one of the lemons that I juiced. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for another 30 minutes, chicken should fall off the bones.

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I like to serve it with the couscous and also roasted carrots to round out the meal. And whether you like to call it Chicken Tagine or Tagine Chicken…Enjoy!

Souper Easy Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

29 Oct

Now that soup weather is finally here I decided to make tomato soup. Growing up we always had Campbell’s and I always loved it but now that I rarely eat anything processed or pre-made I thought it was time I grew up and made my own tomato soup. I found a super easy recipe and it tasted great.

As far as what kind of tomatoes to use, you can really use any kind. I did a mixture of Roma and Compari. The recipe called for white onion, not sure I’d use that again, I think I’ll try a Spanish onion the next time I make it. Not crazy about the white onion flavor.

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Ingredients:

6 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

Salt

5 or 6 garlic cloves, peeled

2 large red peppers

Red pepper flakes, optional, to taste

2 tsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp olive oil, plus more for roasting

To do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss tomatoes and onions in olive oil, spread evenly on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. You may need 2 baking sheets, you don’t want them too close together.

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Peel garlic and place on tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, fold tin foil and secure edges, place in oven.

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Roast everything for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping tomatoes and onions half way through.

 

After removing the tomatoes and garlic from the oven, roast the red peppers under the broiler. Turn on the broiler, place red peppers whole on baking sheet. Put under broiler on the highest rack so they are close to the flames. Roast about 2 to 3 minutes each side turning as they get charred.

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Once they are well charred, remove and place in a bowl, cover bowl tightly to allow the steam to loosen the skin. At least 5 minutes. Remove the skins, just be careful, they are hot. You can leave some of the char as it adds a nice flavor to the soup.

Once the peppers are peeled; cut, core and remove seeds.

In batches add tomatoes, onions, red peppers, vinegar and olive oil to a blender, only till the blender is half full. Blend until smooth.

 

As you blend each batch, put the blended batch in a pot over low heat, once it is all blended and in the pot you can taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add more salt or red wine vinegar for a little more tang.

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Serve with a loaf of rustic bread and enjoy!

 

Tuscan Inspired Vegetable Soup

1 Oct

We recently took a vacation to Italy; we went to Rome, Tuscany and Florence. All of which were beautiful but I have to say that Tuscany is absolutely breath taking! The scenery, the food, the wine and the people were all wonderful.


When we left it was still summer, now it is definitely fall. And soup season has only just begun, so with that in mind after scouring several recipes I came up with my own Tuscan inspired vegetable soup. While in Tuscany we took a cooking class, it was so much fun! There were 2 other couples in the class from New Jersey, what are the odds?! The one thing that I learned in the class that was eye opening is that the chef didn’t use white onions or Spanish onions in anything, only red. He said that they only use red onions because they are sweeter and don’t have the bitterness that the others can have. Huh, who would have guessed. So in this recipe I used red onion, normally I would have used a Spanish onion for sure.

One other thing about this recipe is that I used pink beans, most Italian soups with beans call for cannellini beans but I did’t have any and certainly didn’t feel like going to the grocery store…again.

Ingredients:

3 Tbs olive oil

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

4 celery stalks, sliced

1 red onion, diced

1 zucchini, sliced then cut the slices into halves

3 cloves, garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried basil

3 Tbs tomato paste

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

6 cups vegetable stock

2 cups spinach

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz. elbow macaroni cooked and drained

Directions:

Heat a large heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat, add olive oil. When oil is heated add onions, celery and carrots. Slowly cook vegetables, stirring every few minutes until they begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic, basil, oregano and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes more.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, bay leaf and stock to pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes more. In the meantime cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

After the soup has been simmering for 20 minutes add spinach and cook for 3 or 4 minutes more. Remove from heat.

I like to add the pasta as I eat the soup otherwise in my opinion the pasta sops up the liquid and the soup gets gloppy.

Add some pasta to a bowl, pour desired amount soup over pasta and serve with parmesan cheese and crusty Italian bread. And of course a nice glass of red wine doesn’t hurt!

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* Photographed on Patio Fashions Chambray tablecloth with Patio Fashions Chambray napkins*

 

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