Monthly Archives: February 2012

Roasted Asparagus and Cippolini Onion Bisque

Roasted Asparagus and Cippolini Onion Bisque

For the past couple of days I have been desperately looking for signs of spring.  Even though our winter here in the Rogue Valley has been relatively mild, I am ready for change.  As I look around my yard, I see that the lilacs have started to form buds, the willow tree is starting to change from brown to a light shade of green and my little crocuses started to flower. My koi fish who lay dormant for months are starting to surface and are swimming to the sides of the pond.  Spring is near…

Crocus

Spring brings wonderful vegetables such as asparagus, colorful chard, bright green spinach and tender lettuce.  I especially love asparagus.  Unfortunately, my husband hates asparagus. The poor man, I sometimes think that he suffers needlessly.  When Bruce married me he neglected to read the fine print that said “Tessa really doesn’t care what Bruce thinks about asparagus, she is going to cook it anyway”.   Luckily for my son, I taught him at an early age to always read the fine print :).

Fresh Asparagus

When selecting asparagus, always look for firm tightly closed tips.  If it does not look or feel fresh, it’s not.  Don’t bother buying it.

My Roasted Asparagus and Cippolini Onion Bisque is one fabulous way to serve asparagus when it is fresh and in season.  I oven roast the asparagus and cippolini onions and then blend it in a light chicken stock with potato and tarragon.  Cippolini onions are a variety of Italian onions that I recently found at my local food co-op.  They are mild in flavor and good for roasting. If you can’t find cippolini onions, use half an onion.  My Roasted Asparagus and Cippolini Onion Soup is a delightful first course or an easy lunch served alongside your favorite sandwich or salad.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound asparagus spears (washed and woody part of stem removed)
  • 2 cippolini onions (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 white potato (peeled and diced)
  • 1/4 tsp dried tarragon leaves
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  On a small baking sheet toss the asparagus and cippolini onion in the olive oil and salt.  Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile in a medium sized sauce pan add your chicken stock, potato and spices.  Cook on medium heat until potato is tender.  Add your asparagus and cippolini onions to the pot.  Take a hand blender and blend until smooth.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Dish up and serve.  Makes about 6 servings.

Lamb Chickpea Stew

Lamb Chickpea Stew

Sometimes weekends are just as busy as weekdays.  Cleaning the house, yard work, and laundry often consumes my precious time off.  When I have a weekend like that I need to remember that I have a slow cooker tucked away in my cupboard.  Preparing a meal with a slow cooker is simple, saves time and tastes wonderful.  Just toss in the ingredients, cover, turn on low and disappear for about 6-8 hours.  Come back and dish up.  Easy…

My Indian inspired Lamb Chickpea Stew is satisfyingly simple and tastes fabulous.  It has tender bits of lamb, tasty chickpeas, and garam masala in a tomato spinach broth.  Garam masala is a North Indian spice blend made with cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cardamon.  I found my garam masala in the spice section of my favorite grocery store.  Serve the Lamb Chickpea Stew with naan or with a scoop of basmati rice.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound lamb stew meat
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
  • 1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh spinach

Begin by tossing all the ingredients in the slow cooker except the spinach.  Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until the lamb is tender.  Add the spinach about 5-10 minutes before serving.  Cook until spinach has wilted.  Dish up and serve.  Makes 2 – 3 servings.

Indonesian Meatballs

Indonesian Meatball

I found this little gem of a recipe for Indonesian Meatballs while digging through my old ugly recipe box the other day.  The recipe is from my family and I vague remember them sharing this dish years ago at family gatherings.  I’ve had this recipe for Indonesian Meatballs saved for a number of years and since I had a pound of ground beef stashed in my freezer I thought I’d give it a shot.  Indonesian Meatballs are made with ground beef, minced onion, garlic, nutmeg, cloves and finished with Indonesian soy sauce and fresh chopped tomato.  These meatballs are moist, flavorful and tastes delish!  Makes 2 dozen meatballs.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • big pinch of cloves
  • 1 slice of bread soaked in 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 2 Tbs butter for frying (or more)
  • garnish with thinly sliced green onions

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbs Indonesian Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 tomato chopped into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs butter

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together all of the meatball ingredients (except butter).  Roll beef mixture into 24 golf ball sized balls.  If the meat is too sticky to handle add a bit of bread crumbs to the mixture.  Heat a large frying pan on a medium flame and add butter.  Add meatballs to the pan, careful not to let them touch.  You may have to brown the meatballs in batches if your pan is too small.  Once the meatballs are evenly browned, add all the meatballs back to the pan, add sauce ingredients and cover.  Cook on low for about a half an hour or 45 minutes, until the tomato has cooked down.  Add additional water if necessary.  Taste the sauce, correct your seasonings and serve.  Makes 24 little appetizers.

Red Lentil Soup with Turkey

Red Lentil Soup with Turkey

Nearly every Sunday afternoon I like to make something to pack in my lunch for my busy work week.  I figure that if I have something tasty to take with me to work, it will keep me away from eating out or hitting the fast food drive thrus.  Today I decided to make Red Lentil Soup with Turkey.

Earlier this morning I visited a newly formed food cooperative for the first time here in town.  I found some gorgeous locally grown carrots and a screaming deal on organic red lentils.   The lentils rang up at $2.39 a pound…  Generally red lentils are not exactly the easiest legume to find nor are they the cheapest.  I heard someone refer to these tasty little lentils as “designer beans”.  I say I don’t care what you call them because they taste great to me and now I know where to get them!

Red Lentils

My Red Lentil Soup with Turkey is easy to make, tastes wonderful and is good for you.  It has gorgeous red lentils, roasted turkey, bright orange carrots, onion, celery, and wonderful Moroccan spice blend called Ras El Hanout.  Don’t worry, at the bottom of the post, I have my version of the spice blend if you don’t have it in your cupboard.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red lentils (picked over carefully and rinsed well)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 1 rib celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 pound roasted or precooked turkey
  • 2 tsp Ras El Hanout
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Pick over, wash and drain your lentils.  Set aside.  In a medium sized saucepan, over a medium flame, saute your carrots, onion, celery in canola oil until the onions are translucent.  Add the red lentils, turkey, chicken stock, garlic paste, salt and Ras El Hanout blend.  Cook covered for about 30-45 minutes.  I like to cook my soup for about 45 minutes because I like it when the lentils start to get really tender and break down.  Makes about 4 servings.

Ras El Hanout

Mix together in a small bowl the following ground spices.   Be sure to put the mixture in a tight fitting jar and store in a cool dry place.

  • 2 teaspoons each -  ginger and coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons – cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric and nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon – allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon – cloves

I reused an old spice jar for storing the Ras El Hanout.  I wrote the ingredients and ratios on the back of the jar.  That way, when I run low on the spice blend, I just read the back and mix up another batch.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Indonesian Corn Fritters (Perkedel Jagung)

Indonesian Corn Fritters

I have an ugly old recipe box that I have hidden away in the back of a cupboard in my kitchen.  The box is well over twenty five years old and was originally designed to neatly hold 3 by 5 recipe cards.  Instead it is stuffed with recipes written on various sizes of paper of all shapes and color…  If you look closely, I even have a folded up paper plate with a recipe for shrimp sauce from a local restaurant jammed in the front of the box.  My recipe box with its mishmash of old scraps of paper is truly a treasure trove.  While digging through it this morning, I found an old family recipe for Indonesian Corn Fritters.   I had a bag of corn in my freezer and I knew what I was going to make…

My Ugly Old Recipe Box

It’s been years since I have prepared Perkedel Jagung or Indonesian Corn Fritters.   Indonesian Corn Fritters are little fried cakes with whole kernel corn, chopped celery leaves, minced green onions, garlic, coriander, and other spices.   You can eat them plain, drizzle them with sambal oelek or my all time favorite, sweet chili sauce.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound frozen whole corn kernels (defrosted)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 5 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper or to taste
  • oil for frying (I used canola)
  • cilantro for garnish

Grab a food processor.  Add all ingredients except 1/2 of the corn, oil for frying and the cilantro garnish.  Pulse ingredients until well blended.  Don’t over mix.  Add contents of processor into a medium sized bowl.  Add remainder of the corn.  Mix well.

Heat a non stick frying pan.  Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil on medium high heat.  Fry until golden brown and flip to cook other side.  Cook until done and drain on paper towels.  Add more oil as needed. Garnish with cilantro and drizzle with your favorite sauce.   Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 dozen fritters.

 

 

Peruvian Bean Soup

Peruvian Bean Soup

I am one of those people who makes it a habit to “troll” the grocery store looking for ingredients that I have never used before to share with my family.  Yesterday I found some dried Peruvian Beans in the Latin section of my favorite store.  Peruvian beans are also known as Mayocoba Beans, Peruano Beans or Canary Beans.  Peruvian Beans are a yellowish ivory color and are similar in texture to a pinto bean when cooked.  Quite frankly, I’m surprised that I have not noticed these wonderful little beans before.  Now that I have found and tried them, I am  a complete fan.  Love them…

Peruvian Beans

Sunday afternoon is the time when I like to prepare lunches to eat during my busy workweek.  While at work, I try my best to avoid fast food during my lunch hour.   I have found that it is quicker and so much healthier to have home cooked foods prepared in advance that I can bring to work with me that I can simply toss in the microwave and heat.  No fuss with take out, tastes great and it’s even easier on my pocketbook.

My Peruvian Bean Soup is hearty, easy to make and good for you.  It is similar to a navy bean soup with ham but is a bit different for the soup is golden in color and there’s a smidge of heat from the jalapenos and cayenne pepper.  It’s really good!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound dried Peruvian Beans or 1 1/4 cup (soaked overnight)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp minced jalapeno (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish with cilantro and chopped red pepper

Begin by washing and picking over the Peruvian Beans.  Soak in about 4 cups water overnight.  Rinse well before adding to the soup.  Add all  ingredients to a medium sized pot.  Cook covered until beans are tender or to your liking. My beans took about 2 1/2 hours on low.  Makes about 6 servings.

Black Bean Salsa

Black Bean Salsa

I gotta tell you… My brother in law makes the best fish tacos.  Better than anyone that I know.  And lucky for us, we were invited to dinner last night.  I am not one to ever go to someone’s home empty handed so I made some salsas to share.  First of all, I made my Black Bean Salsa and a yummy Restaurant Style Salsa by Tia at iamsimplytia.com.

My black bean salsa is good for you and super simple to make.  It has tender black beans, red onion, juicy grape tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, lime, and spices.  Both salsas were great additions to last night’s dinner.  As far as the fish tacos go…  I will share the recipe at a later date.  They were simply scrumptious.  Meanwhile, I hope that you enjoy the Black Bean Salsa.  We sure did!  Tessa

Black Bean Salsa Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can black beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp jalapeno pepper finely chopped (I like to use more)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper or to taste

Begin by grabbing a medium sized mixing bowl.  Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Lightly toss and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors marry.  Serve with chips, put in burritos, tacos, salads or serve as a side dish.  Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

Tia’s Restaurant Style Salsa.  You gotta try it, it’s really good!  Thanks Tia!  Click here to get the recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Twists

Chocolate Peanut Butter Twists

If you were to peek in my pantry, you would quickly realize that I don’t have a lot of pre-made items.  My pantry consist of basic ingredients.  Grains, beans, sugar, flour, vinegars, sauces, canned goods and pastas.  In the grand scheme of things, I think that it probably is a good thing.  Homemade meals are likely better for you than store bought frozen or boxed.  However, if you were in a cookie mood like I was the other day, peering into my pantry would have been pure torture…

I stared into my pantry trying to figure out how to satisfy my craving for sweets.  I spied a box of imported Dutch chocolate sprinkles hidden in the corner and a jar of peanut butter.  I snagged them both and promptly headed to the freezer where I knew I had some puff pastry stashed away.

I decided to make little chocolate peanut butter twists.  Similar in method to a Parmesan cheese or herb twist.  These little twists were so good that I had to hide them from Bruce.  Don’t tell him that I put them on the top shelf in the left hand corner :).  Adapted from Pepperidge Farms.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate sprinkles
  • 2 Tbs creamy peanut butter

Begin by heating your oven to 400°F.  Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl.  Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unfold the puff pastry. Carefully roll the puff pastry into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. Brush each half with the egg wash. Brush one half of the rolled pastry with peanut butter. Evenly cover the peanut butter with chocolate sprinkles.  Place the remaining half of the pastry over the chocolate sprinkle filling, egg side down. Lightly roll with rolling pin to seal.

Using a sharp knife or pizza slicer, slice the pastry into 28  half inch strips. Twist each of the strips. Place the twisted strips 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, pressing down both ends. Brush the twists with the egg wash.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes.

Chicken Cabbage Soup

Chicken Cabbage Soup

Today was a day that was all about simple foods with simple flavors.   I was in the mood to make a pot of chicken soup but I wanted it to be a bit different than my usual recipe.  I thought of incorporating tender cabbage instead of noodles or rice.  I’m glad that I did.  My chicken cabbage soup is light, delicately flavored and includes some of my favorite Asian ingredients such as soy sauce and mirin.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • chopped cilantro for garnish

Grab a large sauce pan and add all the ingredients with the exception of the cilantro.  Cook until the vegetables are tender.  Ladle up and garnish with the cilantro.  Makes about 6 servings.