Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ribollita - Twice-Cooked Florentine Vegetable Soup

My daughter told me that Ribollita was a soup that I had to make.  So, when I saw Bittman's recipe on the New York Times recipe feed, I decided that there couldn't be a better time.  It was raining and it was cold!  My daughter also followed up with the comment that she used Biba's recipe that was in Biba's Italy.  Both recipes had an appeal so I went to work doing my own variation...what can go wrong with vegetable soup?!  Nothing.  It was delicious!

First, what is Ribollita?  Ribollita is a Tuscan soup that is made with inexpensive vegetables such as cannellini beans, savoy cabbage, kale, carrots and onions to name a few and it is served over day old bread.  The word ribollita means "reboiled" so in the process it will be brought to a boil twice or, as the ancient soup came about:  reheated and then served over stale bread!  However you choose to do it and whatever vegetables you choose to use, it will be good!  I know that I didn't use the exact measurements for the vegetables.  I stayed in the range but put together what looked good to me....

Twice-Cooked Florentine Vegetable Soup
and Biba's Italy, Biba Caggiano

5 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed (about a tablespoon)
2 celery stalks (about 2 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and coarsely diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 small head Savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 small bunch of leafy kale (I used about 3/4 of the bunch)
1-15 oz. can diced Italian tomatoes (San Marzano, if available)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock may be used) (Add additional based on the amount of vegetables that you are using.  I ended up with six cups of stock.)
5 thick slices crusty Italian bread
1/2  cup shredded Parmesan

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When it is hot, add the onion, celery, and carrots.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, parsley and stir until the garlic blooms.  Add the kale, cabbage, potato.  Stir.  Add the tomatoes and juices, drained and rinsed beans, rosemary, thyme and enough stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan partially with the lid, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Remove the rosemary and thyme stems.  Taste.  Adjust the seasonings.

Ladle soup into bowls and place a slice of bread on top of the soup.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and top with shredded Parmesan.  Put the bowls under the broiler until the cheese is browned.


This was a hearty and filling soup!

I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Smoky Beef Chili with Black Beans and Corn - Planning for the Game!

Game day is around the corner!  That means that it is time to break out the recipe collection and find a good chili recipe.  As I comb through the cookbooks and the "pile" of recipes, I realize that I am easily distracted when it comes to cookbooks and "the recipe collection".  My mind meanders when I see a great dish and I think of when it could be part of the perfect meal.  I get myself bogged down in the appetizers and think about having a wine and appy evening.

As I plan my imaginary get together, I remember the focus...chili!  Searching for a recipe is kind of like is easy to go down a rabbit hole and totally lose sight of the focus!  But, I found it. I found a recipe that sounded delicious and would make enough for a small army:  Smoky Beef Chili with Black Beans and Corn.  There were lots of ideas for little bowls of tasty add-ons...avocado, diced fresh tomatoes, chopped purple onion, lime wedges, sliced scallions, minced cilantro, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese.  With all of those choices it was certain to be good.

The recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen and is said to be foolproof so I took it on a test drive.
We thought the chili was great. It was smoky but not spicy hot....I might increase the chipotle by two tablespoons the next time as we like it to have a bit of a snap....but, that could easily be accomplished with a bottle of chile sauce on the side.  I would definitely recommend including the lime wedges. The juice gave a nice twang to the dish.  A pan of cornbread accompanied the meal.  It was an all around comforting meal on this particular cold day.

Smoky Beef Chili 
Black Beans and Corn

Yield:  12-16 servings

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1-2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup chili powder
2 Tbsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (Add 1-2 Tbsp additional at the last step if you want it spicy.)
2 Tbsp ground cumin
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
4 pounds ground beef (85% lean)
2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (28-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
2 (28-oz.) cans tomato puree
4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

Selected garnishes on the side such as avocado, diced fresh tomatoes, chopped purple onion, lime wedges, sliced scallions, minced cilantro, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese.


Heat the oil in a large (12 quart) pot over medium heat.  When shimmering, add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin, coriander, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 15 minutes.  Stir the mixture often.

Increase the heat to high and stir in the ground beef, one pound at a time.  Cook while breaking up the chunks with a large wooden spoon.  Cook until it is no longer pink.  This should take about 3-4 minutes per pound.

Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato puree.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for one hour.  Stir the mixture occasionally.

Uncover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, until the beef is tender and the chili is dark and slightly thickened.

Note:  Stop at this point if you are making the chili in advance.  The chili may be refrigerated for up to two days.  Reheat gently, about 50 to 60 minutes, over medium-low heat, stirring often. Add water, as may be needed, to adjust the consistency.  Then proceed with the recipe.

Stir in the corn.   Simmer the mixture until heated through, about 3-4 minutes.  Taste and add 1-2 Tbsp additional minced chipotle at this point, if you want it spicy. Season with salt to taste.

Serve with selected garnishes.


Since this recipe can be made two days in advance and finished up the day of the game, it is a snap!

I am linking to Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Baked Brie with Fresh Cranberry Balsamic Compote

Years ago, while visiting the Olympic Peninsula on vacation, we passed cranberry bogs.  A sea of cranberries, so to speak.  Shades of red as far as the eye could see.  I want to go back.  I want to take a tour.  I want to eat cranberries!

I have wonderful memories galore from that trip.   We rented a house on Quinault Lake, watched the little mouse sneak out and snatch peanuts, tried (there wasn't much of a picture) to watch the Dream Team play their first basketball game, hiked the old forest, saw a mountain lion, bought the most amazing prawns, went crabbing and caught extra large Dungeness crab, dug clams...never did we rest...but, boy, did we eat well!  So much fun.

After all of that cranberry bogs didn't excite the girls.  I am still intrigued and must visit again. I love cranberries.  I know, I have said it before.  I haven't changed my mind.  Each year I seem to add another cranberry "something" to my list of favorite things.  This year it is a new appetizer.

If you happen to have some fresh cranberries lingering in the refrigerator, tucked away in the freezer, or can still pick some up at the market,  you will want to make this wonderful appetizer.  What appealed to me was the idea of warm and melted brie coupled with tangy fresh cranberries...and then, the addition of balsamic vinegar to the cranberry compote, heaven.  I couldn't stop sampling the compote...mmmm.

I must give credit to the Goodie Godmother who shared the recipe on her blog....delicious, thank you, Mary.  You made my taste buds smile!

Baked Brie
with Fresh Balsamic Cranberry Compote
adapted from Goodie Godmother

1 round of Brie
Crackers or sliced and toasted baguette slices for serving

2 cups fresh whole cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

Make the cranberry compote by simmering the fresh cranberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and the sugar has dissolved.

Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove the pan from the heat and transfer to a glass bowl.  Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven:  350° F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut away the very top of the Brie's rind.  Place the wheel on the baking sheet, cut side up.  Top the wheel with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cranberry compote.  The amount is based on the size of the wheel and your preference.  Bake 12-15 minutes until the Brie is soft and melted.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter.

Serve immediately with crackers or toasted baguette slices and additional Fresh Balsamic Cranberry Compote, if desired.

NOTE:  The compote may be made up to three days in advance.


I was really happy to find this snappy appetizer!  I am even more tickled that I have cranberries in the freezer so I am not limited to making this appy just during the holidays!  Yippee!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ginger-Citrus Grilled Salmon and Salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing....It's About Eating Healthy! - Blogger CLUE

Have you noticed that the month of January seems to have two themes going on.  One is organization.  Every January we see multiple articles pertaining to how we can organize our lives. We also see products. Usually those are containers in varying sizes.  Some of them have little cubbies in them, some have adjustable spacers for the cubbies and some let you design your own container using various sizes of spacers...sort of like, make your own cubbies.  When we finish using all of those containers the idea is that we should have organized kitchen pantries, spice cabinets, cupboards, and know where all of our random lids, and utensils/tools are located.  Since I am one of those folks who likes to organize, January is a fun month for me!

The other theme that is evident is being healthy.  That means that not only do we drag ourselves to the gym, and make our way outside to take a brisk 30 minute walk, but we also go to the market and shop healthy and subsequently prepare healthy meals.  And, since it is the beginning of the year, the idea is to mend our ways, improve our attitudes, and care about ourselves and how we treat our mind and body, not just in January but all year long.  With that in mind it seems fitting that the theme for Blogger CLUE should be "Healthy Eating"!

Blogger CLUE is a recipe exchange group.  Each month members are assigned a blog, a theme and challenged to find a recipe that meets the theme!  How fun is that?!  I love a challenge...I love exploring new blogs....I love to cook....and, I do love to eat new things.  I was so excited to get my first blog assignment for the new year.

It is with pleasure that I share Palatable Pastime with you and the two very healthy and very tasty recipes I selected to prepare. While Sue has only been blogging since 2013, she has quite an extensive recipe index of simple and sophisticated dishes.  Each and every dish has been prepared for her family, as Sue says, "real people and real food!"

There were so many recipes to choose from.  I eyed the Greek Omelet Roll with Spinach and the Chicken Roulades with Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Tepanade  but when I hit the seafood section of her index, I knew I had hit paydirt....a place where I would find recipe after recipe that was healthy and tasty.  Asian Cuisine is one of Sue's favorites so I narrowed the field just a bit more.  When I read the post for Ginger-Citrus Grilled Salmon, there was no question in my mind...I was making my grocery list and heading off to the store and lucky for me, there was also a salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing that was calling to me.

The salmon may be prepared with the skin in tact or without. We prepare salmon on the grill frequently and prefer to use a salmon fillet with the skin in tact.

Ginger-Citrus Grilled Salmon
adapted from Palatable Pastime

1 pound salmon fillet, skin in tact
1-2 scallions, sliced

2 Tbsp lime ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour over the salmon fillets.  Allow the salmon to marinate for thirty minutes.  Drain the marinade and reserve it.

Place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan.  Over low heat, reduce the marinade to a syrupy consistency.  Stir constantly.  It should coat the back of a teaspoon when ready.

Place the salmon on a piece of heavy duty foil which serves as the "pan".  Grill the salmon on medium.  If there is no lid on the barbecue, tent the salmon with a piece of foil.  About half way through, if needed, drain the liquid by punching a hole or two in the foil.  The salmon is done when the thickest part of the salmon will flake.

(If your filet is skinless, then the salmon should be cooked 3-4 minutes per side, or to the level of doneness that you desire.)

Serve the salmon drizzled with the sauce reduction and garnish with sliced scallions.

NOTE:  Ponzu is a type of soy sauce with citrus flavoring, in this case, lime.  I found it in both our grocery store and an Asian Market.


We loved the salmon!  It was so fresh and flavorful, simple and healthy!  In addition to steamed broccoli, we had a wonderful Salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing!  I recognized the dressing immediately as the one we get on the salad when we go for sushi...LOVE!

Salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing
adapted from Palatable Pastime

Iceberg lettuce
Shredded carrots
Option:  Additional ingredients that you might prefer:  chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, sliced mushrooms

In individual bowls place the lettuce.  Top with shredded carrots.

2 Tbsp white miso
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Serve over the individual salads.


These two dishes definitely belong on the rotation.  It was a super flavorful and healthy meal!  Thank you Sue for sharing!

It's is time for healthy eating...just ignore the stores pushing all of that Valentine candy out onto the shelf.   Ignore the temptation and stay focused on health!

Below are more healthy recipes from other members of Blogger CLUE!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cheesy Stuffed Pull Apart Bread aka Crack Bread

It's a New Year!  And I have to admit that I have developed a habit....Pinterest.  It is good and it is bad.  It is good because I can organize until my heart is content.  I can have categories and I can sort things and I the, I can actually find them again!  It is fun.  

There is also a bad side....I am certain that there must be...  I know what it is!  It encourages me to spend lots of time playing on the internet.  That in of itself has a good side and a bad side...but for another time.

For now, I enjoy looking at things on the internet and then saving the idea for another day.  During the holidays, the day arrived.  I actually went through all of my pins for appetizers and decided to choose one...or two...or combine a few.... 

I was drawn to the recipe by Michaela at An Affair from the Heart.  She did all of the work of combining recipes to create this tasty cheesy, garlic, herb and bacon treat!

Cheesy Stuffed Pull Apart Bread
aka Crack Bread

Preheat oven:  375°

1 loaf crusty bread
1 stick butter, unsalted, melted
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup green onions, sliced, tops included
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp dried mustard
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, sliced
8 oz White Cheddar cheese, sliced
4 slices of bacon, cut into a fine dice (If preferred you may purchase real bacon bits.)

Place a large piece of heavy duty foil on a baking sheet.  (You will want enough to allow you to wrap the loaf of bread after it is prepared.)

With a bread knife, slice the bread diagonally in both directions to create and "X" pattern.  DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH! Carefully place the bread onto the foil.

Cook the finely diced bacon until crisp.  Drain and set aside.  (Watch closely, it will cook fast.)

Slide slices of cheese in between the cracks....both directions.  Place one type of cheese in one direction and the other cheese in the cross direction.  Each cube will be surrounded by cheese!

Sprinkle the bacon bites into the cracks.  Use your fingers to tuck some of them inside the cracks.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the stick of butter.  Add the oil, green onion, dried mustard and parsley.  Mix well.  Drizzle the mixture over the bread making certain that some goes into the cracks.

Wrap the foil around the bread and bake for 10 minutes.  Then, open the foil so that the top is visible. Bake for another ten minutes so that the cheese gets bubbly.  Serve warm.


This was quick and fun!  It is a recipe that is open to variations.  (I guess I can never really leave a recipe alone.)  I can see changing the cheeses on its next appearance at our house....or not!  It didn't last long....

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Southwest Breakfast Nachos(?)....for Dinner...with a Special Sauce

Yes, I like breakfast for dinner.  Yes I like omelets.  Yes, I like nachos.  How about breaking from tradition and combining the two?

What makes a Southwest Omelet? Fluffy eggs, ham, onion, green pepper, cheese and whatever else you like layered in that fluffy egg, that has been folded over.

What makes great nachos?  Layers of chips, chicken, beans, cheese, and fresh toppings like avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, sour cream and pretty much whatever you like.

It seems that they have some type of meat, cheese, onion, and "whatever you like" in common....and, they are layered, so to speak.  So, in name only we had Southwest Breakfast Nachos for dinner! Taking the best of both dishes, along with whatever else, and putting them all together with a special sauce.

The chosen "whatever" was hashbrowns, there was meat, cheese, peppers, onions...well, you know how it goes. The nachos are built by layering the potatoes, special sauce, ham mixture, eggs and cheese.  Everything but the kitchen sink came together with a special sauce....They may not be beautiful, but they were mighty tasty.  In fact, tasty enough for dinner and then leftovers for breakfast!

Southwest Breakfast Nachos 
with Special Sauce
prepared by A Spoonful of Thyme

Yield:  8 servings

1 bag (30 oz) frozen Ore-Ida Tator Tots or Crispy Crowns (I used the crowns.)
1/2 pound ham steak, diced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced (about a half cup)
1/2 cup mushrooms, rough-chop
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1-2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
3 cups sharp cheddar or Colby Jack cheese
3 green onions, sliced (Include the tops)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Special Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
2-3 Tbsp Sriracha (start with two Tbsp....taste and increase to your liking)
1 large clove garlic, crushed

Preheat oven:  425°

Following the package directions, cook the potatoes.

While the potatoes are baking, prepare the special sauce.  Whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha and garlic.  (Be sure to taste the sauce and adjust amount of Sriracha to your taste.)  Set the mixture aside.

Saute the diced ham in olive oil until it begins to brown; then, transfer the meat to a paper towel to drain and the place the ham into a medium size bowl.

In the same pan, add the pepper, onion, and mushrooms.  Cook the mixture until the liquid evaporates and the vegetables are tender.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the ham. Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the eggs and cook until soft (slightly underdone to prevent their getting rubbery).  Transfer the eggs to a small bowl.

Build the nachos by placing half of the potatoes in a baking dish.  Ladle about one third of the special sauce over the potatoes.  Next, layer half of each of the ham mixture, the eggs and the cheese.  Bake the layer for about 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

Build another layer starting with the potatoes, another third of the special sauce, the remaining ham mixture, eggs and cheese.  Bake again until the cheese melts.

Remover from the oven and top with the remaining special sauce and garnish with the chopped green onions.


I am not certain that this can be called is in layers, there is meat, there is cheese and sauce. It turned out to be a great dinner...and that sauce!!!  I can see this being repeated at our house.