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soup's on

soup’s on

This bout of bronchitis is still hanging on. I haven’t been able to do much so I’ve been filling my time with culinary endeavors and working on the cookbook manuscript. I’ve been pretty much a homebody during this illness but late Friday morning I managed to get out on a little adventure to the Brantford Farmers’ Market.

I bought six pounds of fresh local carrots, a few sweet potatoes, cooking onions, and garlic. It was the perfect selection for the soup I decided to make today. This also gave me a chance to take my new Caphalon immersion blender for a spin. I purchased it a few weeks ago with some of my Air Miles so that I could replace the one my husband accidentally melted a few years ago. I forgot how convenient an immersion blender is.

I served the soup with thick slices of Artisan Potato Scallion Bread from the bakery at Sobey’s grocery store.

curried carrot and sweet potato soup

makes 8 servings

My dear friend, Laurie Moniz, loves to pop over for coffee and some days even lunch. One day she arrived bearing a pot of carrot and sweet potato soup and there were leftovers. My husband devoured what was left which was pretty surprising because he usually won’t even try carrot soup. I was impressed so I asked Laurie for her recipe. She’s much like me in that her personal recipes are more like guidelines than recipes. This is my version of her scrumptious soup. 

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 medium sized onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 litres beef or vegetable stock
2 medium to large sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 pounds carrots, chopped
2 teaspooons medium curry powder
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions until they start to become translucent and soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer, being careful not to brown it. Add the stock, sweet potatoes, carrots, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the vegetables are fully cooked. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Optional: garnish with your choice of goat cheese, sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt. Top with a little fresh cilantro.

Vegan option: use veggie stock and skip the optional dairy suggestion.

Last weekend I decided that I was going to make soup. Bryan loves the Quinoa and Spinach Soup from my first cookbook, but I was not really in the mood for that particular soup. I was thinking more along the lines of chicken noodle soup.

To satisfy both of us, I suggested that I make a soup inspired by the flavors of Peru. I’d have the yummy chicken soup aspect that I was after and Bryan would have the quinoa that he apparently was craving. Sometimes I think this act of finding the middle ground is why we’ve been together for almost 20 years. The soup turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself, and is now on our list of favorites.

I promised some of my friends that I would share the recipe so here it is…

Peruvian chicken & red quinoa soup

chicken & red quinoa soup

chicken & red quinoa soup

makes 4-6 servings

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is the seed of the goosefoot plant, prized by the ancient Incas. It is a complete protein and a good source of the amino acids. Quinoa is also gluten free. If you can’t find aji amarillo, a yellow pepper with medium heat that has been dried and ground, then use 1 tablespoon of fresh jalapeño pepper that has been finely minced. When you make this recipe, it is best to prep all the ingredients before you start to cook. We like to serve it with grilled flatbread or fresh cornbread.

1 cup red quinoa
1 1/2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 1/2 teaspoons ground aji amarillo or 1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 pounds chicken breasts, bone-in, skin removed, and cut into 3 or 4 pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
10 cups cold water
3 medium red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small zucchini or summer squash, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Place the quinoa in a fine sieve under running water for about 3 minutes or until the water runs clear. Let the quinoa drain after rinsing. Toast the quinoa in a dry frying pan, preferably non-stick, over medium heat until the seeds start to jump or pop in the pan. Remove the seeds from the pan and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery until softened but not browned. Add the garlic, aji amarillo or jalapeño pepper, cumin, and oregano. Stir for 1 minute being careful not to scorch the garlic. Add the chicken, salt, water, potatoes, and quinoa. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off foam, if desired. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the carrots to the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes. While the carrots are cooking, remove the chicken meat from the bones and shred using two forks. Discard the bones. Add the zucchini and lime or lemon juice to the pot. Continue to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes and add the chicken meat back to the pot. Heat the chicken through and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish each bowl with fresh cilantro before serving.

saving the best to last

saving the best to last

When I was little I remember Dad going to a restaurant in the little village of Breslau, Ontario. Eventually he became friends with the chef who shared his recipe for ribs and pigs’ tails with my Dad. I still make this recipe from time to time. As you can see from the photo, my little guy loves these.

sauce for ribs

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup apple juice or water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt

Pre-cook the ribs for 2 hours at 375°F. Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour  over the pre-cooked ribs. Bake at 375°F for an additional 1/2 hour.

Those of you who follow my wilderness cooking blog already know that I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). This ancient mother grain from the Incas is a complete protein and has a wonderfully nutty flavor. While I haven’t tried this recipe yet, it really appeals to me.

The recipe can be found at Food Done Right.

balsamic veggie sauté

balsamic veggie sauté

Today was an incredibly sunny and beautiful spring day. The kind of day that is perfect for grilling. Bryan (that’s my husband) decided that we should have some nice New York style strip loins done on the barbeque with baked potatoes, peaches and cream sweet corn and a side of mushrooms.

Well, as you know, I like to play in the kitchen so instead of just mushrooms we ended up with the following…

balsamic veggie sauté

This would also be a great side to make when car camping too. While we had this with steak it would be completely delicious in a wrap with some grilled chicken and a little provolone cheese.

1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup onion, sliced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup green pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups baby spinach

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent and start to show some color. Add the mushrooms and green peppers. Continue to sauté for a few minutes and add the balsamic vinegar. Let simmer until the vinegar reduces by half and then add the tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes then add the baby spinach, turn off the heat and cover the pan until the spinach wilts.