Sunday, October 25, 2009

Minestrone Soup from Alice Waters

Minestrone means "big soup" in Italian = a soup of many vegetables.

-1 cup dried cannellini or borlotti beans (I use little white beans)
If using canned beans use 2-3 cups. Reserve the cooking liquid or canned liquid.

Heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat:
-1/4 cup olive oil

-1 large onion, finely chopped
-2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
Cook for 15 minutes. Add:
-4 garlic cloves
-5 thyme sprigs (I used some fresh rosemary...1 tsp. dried thyme would work, too)
-1 bay leaf
-2 tsp. salt
Cook for 5 minutes longer. Add, and bring to a boil:
-3 cups water
When boiling, add:
-1 leek, diced
-1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
Cook for 5 minutes, then add:
-2 medium zucchini, cut into small dice
-2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 medium-sized can diced tomatoes
Cook for 15 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.
Add the cooked/canned beans, along with
-1 cup bean cooking liquid, or liquid from canned beans and enough water to make 1 cup
-2 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped (about 1 lb.)
Cook for 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more bean cooking liquid or water. Remove the bay leaf.

Serve in bowls. each garnished with 2 tsp. olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Fall Minestrone variation:
Add 2 finely chopped celery stalks to the onions and carrots. Instead of thyme, add sage and rosemary with the garlic. Omit the green beans, zucchini, tomatoes and spinach, and use instead 1 bunch kale, stemmed, washed and chopped, 1 small can tomatoes, drained and chopped, and 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 2 cups). Cook the tomatoes and kale with the onions for 5 minutes, add water and cook for 15 minutes. Add the squash and continue cooking until tender, about 10-15 minutes, before adding the cooked beans.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Combine in a small bowl:
1/3 cup coarsely chopped herbs, including parsley, mint, basil, rosemary, lemon verbena
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 small garlic clove, chopped very fine or pounded into a puree
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil

Duncan's Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans

6 servings:
- 1 T. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 16 ounce pkg. gnocchi (or fresh...)
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
- 6 cups chopped chard leaves or spinach (about 1 small bunch)
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
- 1 15 ounce can white beans, rinsed
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella or fresh mozzarella
- 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tsp. oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat for two minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until onion is soft, 4-6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1-2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the ghocchi and sprinkle with cheeses. Cover and cook until cheese melts and sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Best Banana Bread

You can substitute chocolate chips for the coconut....
Makes one 9" loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut (or semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.

Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Run knife through batter in zigzag pattern.

Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes (Check frequently, don't overbake) Turn out onto rack and cool.

Squash/Carrot Soup with Crispy Kale

Serves 6-8

Kale Chips:
1 bunch kale, wash, patted dry, stems removed, leaves chopped into large pieces
5-7 T. olive oil, divided
Kosher salt

1 small yellow onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
_ t. dried thyme or 3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems discarded, leave minced
2 bay leaves
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, diced
Dash salt and pepper
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped (or use small sugar pumpkin)
1 lb. carrots, cleaned and chopped
4 c. chicken broth
1 -2 c. water
1 T. apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place chopped kale on prepared cookie sheet. Drizzle with 2 to 3 T. olive oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Gently toss kale so that it’s evenly coated with oil and salt and then spread it over the cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 min. Toss and bake for an additional 5-8 min. or until slightly golden and crispy. Keep an eye on it; kale can overcook quickly once it becomes crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Place 3 T. olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5-8 min. Add garlic and sauté for approx. 2 min. Add thyme, bay leaves, diced apple, salt and pepper and sauté 2-3 min. Add squash and carrots and continue to sauté another 2 min. Stir in chicken broth and 1 _ c. water. Reduce heat to a low simmer and let cook 25-30 min. or until carrots and squash are tender.

4. Remove soup from heat. Remove bay leaves. Puree soup with a hand-held blender. If soup is too thick, thin to desired consistency. Add apple cider vinegar. Check season and adjust salt and vinegar to taste. Reheat if necessary. Serve soup hot, topped with crispy kale.