Sunday, January 29, 2012

Turkey Vegetable Soup

I am blessed to have two daughters who enjoy cooking and I really like it when one of them cooks and shares with me!  Lindsey leaves nearby and called to let me know that she was making soup and bringing some over.  What a sweetheart!

Lindsey, is the guest chef today!  All I did was sample the results...and it was delicious!!

Turkey Vegetable Soup
with cheese-filled tortellini
Cuisine at Home, December 2011

2 cups each sliced carrot, diced onion, diced fennel bulb and diced Swiss chard stems
2 Tbsp minced garlic
4 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup dry Marsala
1-2 Tbsp chicken base (such as Better than Bouillon)
12 cups low sodium chicken broth

4 cups chopped roasted turkey (1 lb.)
3 cups refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini (9 oz)
8 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves, rinsed (1 bunch)
1 can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed (14.5 oz)

Stir in:
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan

Sweat carrot, onion, fennel, chard stems, garlic, Italian seasoning,  pepper flakes,  and nutmeg in oil in a  large pot  over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Deglaze pot with Marsala and simmer until nearly evaporated; stir in chicken base.  Add broth and bring to a boil then reduce hear and simmer 10 minutes.

Add turkey, tortellini, chard leaves, and beans; simmer, partially covered, until tortellini are cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper.  Serve soup with grated Parmesan.


Way to go Lindsey!  The soup had great flavors and was delicious!
Thank you for being the guest chef.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Deep-Dish Winter Fruit Pie with Walnut Crumb

This was on my daughter's list of things that she would like for Christmas.  As I looked at the books I knew that I would be ordering two copies of Rustic Fruit Desserts!  It was a popular book in her circle and they were applauding the wonderful recipes.

You are lucky today because Google Books has Rustic Fruit Desserts available for preview!  Take a look, I think you will like it as much as I do.

I put one of the desserts on our menu for the Gourmet Group.  In constructing the menu this time I was looking for recipes that weren't  overly time intensive but would offer great flavor.

The Deep-Dish Winter Fruit Pie with Walnut Crumb seemed like the perfect finish to our meal.  The introduction to the recipe billed  it as a sensory treat:  soft pears, slightly firm apples, texture and sweetness from figs, and tart cranberries to add a little "pop"!  It was delicious.  It wasn't a real sweet dessert and the walnut crumb was perfect with a statement made by the cinnamon!  We added a scoop of ice cream which was the perfect compliment.

Deep-Dish Winter Fruit Pie with Walnut Crumb
Rustic Fruit Desserts

Serves: 8-10
Baking time:  60-75 minutes

Pie Pastry
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
12 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp ice water
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make the pie pastry, put the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl, stir to combine, then  put the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss to evenly coat.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, a food processor, or your hands, just until the mixture becomes coarse and crumbly and the butter is the size of peas.  Stir the water and lemon juice together, then pour over the dry ingredient and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured work surface and press it into a 6-inch disk.. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll the chilled dough into a 14-inch disk, then line a  9 or 10 inch springform pan with the rolled-out dough.  patch any holes and trim off any dough that hangs over the edges of the pan.  Chill for an additional 30 minutes while you prepare the crumb topping and the fruit filling.

Walnut Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4  cup raw walnuts,  coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

To make the walnut crumb topping, mi the flour, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.  Stir in the butter, then  work it in with your hands until the texture of crumbs.  Put the topping in the refrigerator while you make the fruit filling.

Fruit Filling
1 cup dried figs
4 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375° F.

To make the fruit filling, remove the stem from each fig, then boil the figs in 1 cup water for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Slice each fig into 4 or 5 pieces, put them in a large bowl, and add the apples,  pears, and cranberries.  Separately, rub the sugar and cornstarch together, then add to the fruit and gently toss until evenly coated.

Transfer the filling to the pie shell and top with the walnut crumb.  Bake in the lower third of the oven  for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the crumb is golden, the fruit juices are bubbling, thickly around the edges, and the fruit is tender when pierced with a wooden skewer.  If the crumb is getting too dark, cover it with foil.

Storage:  Covered with a tea towel, the pie will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Spooned into a bowl and drizzled with chilled cream, it makes a wonderful breakfast.


Our newest member of the Gourmet Group prepared the dessert.  She said that she thought the crust was a little dry to work with so you may need to add an additional tablespoon of water.

I really liked the fact that this did not have the sweetness common to most cobblers. It was a very nice ending to our meal.

Today, I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen at Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

One Whole Lemon Equals A Tasty Treat!

I have an abundance of citrus this year and I am really excited about all the possibilities. With the temperatures dropping and a storm coming in, it is now harvest time so I now have to tend to a multitude of lemons and limes.  Ironically, my daughter posted a Lemon Bar recipe on Facebook that she had recently made, just as I was contemplating what I should make first.  As I considered the recipe and read her friends' exclamations of how great they were, I knew what I was going to make.

The recipe, Whole Lemon Bars, is from David Lebovitz's blog.  I didn't make any changes to the recipe even though I had never heard of processing the entire lemon!   

I must admit to nibbling every time I passed by the dish....they are delicious!  (So how long has it been since I swore off sweets?  Nope, I didn't last very long....)

Lemon Bars
David Lebovitz

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Lemon Topping
1 lemon, organic or unsprayed
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
Optional:  Powder sugar, for  serving

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Overturn an 8-inch square pan on the counter and wrap the outside snugly with foil, shiny side up.  Remove the foil, turn the pan over, and fit the foil into the pan,  pressing to nudge the foil  into the corners.  Smooth it as best you can.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 8 Tbsp melted butter, and vanilla,  stirring just until smooth.

Smooth the batter into the bottom of the pan, using your hands or a small offset spatula to get it as level as possible.

Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until it's deep-golden brown.

While the crust is cooking, cut the lemon in half, remove the seeds, and cut the lemon into chunks.

Put the chunks of lemon in a food processor or blender along with the sugar and lemon juice, and let it run until the lemon is completely broken up.  Add the eggs, corn starch, 1/4 tsp salt, and 3 Tbsp melted butter and blend until almost smooth.  (A few bits of lemon pieces are normal and encouraged!)

When the crust comes  out of the oven, reduce the heat of the oven to 300° F.  Pour the lemon filling over the hot crust and bake for 25 minutes or just until the filling stops jiggling and is barely set.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely.  Once cool, carefully lift out the bars grasping the foil.. Cut the bars into squares or rectangles.  Sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving, if desired.

Storage:  The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days.  You can freeze the lemon bars as well for up to one month, letting them come to room temperature before serving.


I can't imagine one ever needing the information about storage....they didn't last 24 hours at my house!

I am participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Backyard Citrus

It is time to pick and juice the citrus that live in containers on the patio and around the house!

The Eureka Lemon does really well in our area.

I do not know the variety of the lime tree.  The limes have a yellow skin but a green flesh.  Their juice is tasty.  My daughter and SIL gave it to us when they moved to the Pacific Northwest.

My favorite is the Meyer Lemon.  There are lots of good things to bake with this wonderful juice!

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mac and Cheese - Tailor to Taste!

There aren't very many folks around who do not like macaroni and cheese.  I remember the "quick lunch" mom made on cold days.  Mac and cheese with a squirt of ketchup.  The one I really liked, though, was the one for dinner.  It was from scratch and I think it was the first casserole that I really wanted to learn how to make.  Warm roni surrounded by a warm, flavorful cheese sauce...and sometimes a hotdog on top!  Did anybody else's mom do that?

Times have changed and macaroni and cheese has a new with an infinite number of variations.  In this month's issue of Fine cooking, mac and cheese is a featured article.  I loved the article....a base recipe to serve as my canvas and "the pantry and freezer" were my palette!

It was dinner time and I had not made much effort to be prepared.  So, having just perused the Fine Cooking article I decided that I would make the macaroni and cheese.  Of course that was when I thought I had just the right cheese combination in the refrigerator.  Nope....somebody got there before me.  I had cheddar, gruyere and parmesan.  I had leftover ham which Mr. T was kind enough to cut into little pieces.  I had half a bag of broccoli and half a bag of peas in the freezer.  It looked as though I was going to be fairly creative.

Six Steps to Your Delicious Mac and Cheese

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Grease the casserole dish (9 X 13) with butter.

Step 2
Make your own coarse breadcrumbs or use Panko breadcrumbs.

Step 3
Make the cheese sauce.
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cups milk (Sadly, all I had was half and half. LOL)
Kosher salt

Base Cheese (3-5 cups)
Select one or two cheeses such as cheddar, gruyere, Monterey Jack, Havarti, gouda, etc.
Accent Cheese (I four cups basic and 1/2 cup of the accent cheese.)
Parmigiano-Reggiano, Feta, Mascarpone, etc.
Herbs and Spices (use two or three)
2 tsp Thyme, rosemary, or sage;
1/4 cup chopped parsley;
1 tsp dry mustard, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, etc.

Melt the butter in a 3-4 quart saucepan.  Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk over low heat for 3 minutes.  The butter and flour should gently bubble and froth without coloring.  Slowly add the milk, while whisking constantly.  Be sure to whisk around the edges of the pan.  Whisk until the sauce until smooth and has the consistency of heavy cream.

Raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly.  Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, for ten minutes.  Turn off the heat and gently whisk in your choices of a base cheese(s) and accent cheese, herbs and spices.  Season to taste with salt.  Keep warm.

Step 4
Cook 1 lb of your favorite pasta

Step 5
Add the cheese sauce to the drained pasta and gently stir.
Add in any additional ingredient(s) up to three cups.
Select from:  peas, broccoli, ham, mushrooms, scallions, bacon, caramelized shallots, etc.

Step 6
Transfer the mixture to the baking dish.  Evenly scatter the breadcrumbs on top.  Bake at 350° F. until the top is golden brown,  about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.


I selected cheddar, gruyere, parmesan, ham, peas, broccoli, dried mustard, and cayenne.

Having a base recipe and being able to make it "your own" is easy way to use up odd pieces of cheese and a few leftover items!

Monday, January 2, 2012


We are having the strangest weather.  It was 81° F. yesterday, so unlike our usual low fifties and fog.  It seemed strange to have a window open.

Next, the sunset was stunning!

I am participating in Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Chard and White Bean Soup

During the holidays the family spends many hours cooking together.  It is exhausting but so much fun! The one thing we need to practice is restraint.  We really don't have to make everything that looks yummy, but it seems as though we try.  One morning, my oldest daughter sent me an email (from across the house..LOL).  It said, I want to make this for dinner tonight.  The email included a recipe for a Chard and White Bean Stew that looked delicious, but since there was no meat involved I am renaming it soup.

When I agreed, she said, "Oh, and you put a poached egg on top."  What?  Egg on top of soup?  It was time to be adventurous...I was assured that it was delicious.

Chard and White Bean Soup
adapted from Smitten Kitten

1 large bunch Swiss chard, cleaned, ribs and stems removed
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, chopped (about a generous cup, or to your liking)
2 ribs celery, chopped (about a cup)
4 medium shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup dry white wine
3 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
4-5 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped and stems discarded
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

Toast country bread or baguette, poached eggs, chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan to top the dish.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil.  Cook chard (or an heavier green) for one minute, drain and squeeze out extra water.  Coarsely chop the chard.

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium.  Add carrots, celery, shallots and garlic and saute for 15 minutes.  Add the wine, scrapping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot, and cook it until it reduced by three fourths.  Add beans, stock, tomatoes, a few pinches of salt, freshly ground lack pepper, thyme and bay leaf and bring to  a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add chard and cook for 5 minutes more.  Remove bay leaf.  Add more broth if you like a thinner soup and adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve drizzled with sherry vinegar.

Poach eggs, one per serving.

Prepare the bread by spreading with butter or olive oil and toasting under the broiler.  Rub bread surface with half a clove of garlic when removed from broiler.  Bread may be served along side the soup or ladle the soup on top of the bread.  Top that with the poached egg, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.

This is a keeper recipe and yes, I put the poached egg on mine even though I wasn't too sure....  
It was much more delicious than it sounded and I will do it again!