March 28, 2014

split pea soup with ham

Split peas.  So simple, so inexpensive, so good for you.  A member of the legume family, split peas are a really great source of fiber: which helps lower cholesterol and maintains even blood sugar balance.  They are also a good source of protein and have potassium and B vitamins. 

This recipe has some smoked ham in it, which does add a rich smoky flavor.  But feel free to sub in onions and fennel instead for increased vegetable flavor.

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March 21, 2014

winter soup session: mushroom soup

I feel sure that anyone my generation grew up with a memory of Campbell's creamy mushroom soup.  Or their moms used it in a three ingredient casserole.  Well this recipe brought me back, I had a visceral deja vu of that taste.  However, this soup is made from fresh yummy mushrooms, homemade stock with just a hint of mascarpone cheese swirled in for creaminess. 

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March 14, 2014

winter soup session: fennel and celery root

Who would have thought that this:

Would turn into this (with the help of 5 women peeling and zesting and chopping):

As I did my research on these vegetables, I found that both celery root and fennel are in the same family as carrots.  Celery root is full of Vitamins B and C, and potassium.  It lacks the sweetness that its cousins, carrots and parsnips, have and thus is low in carbohydrates.  It fills you up, but is very low in calories.  Fennel is full of anti-oxidants, is anti-inflammatory, has Vitamin C, potassium and folate.  They mix nicely together, as veggies in the same family do.  This soup is very easy and very filling.

We made it with these spicy cheddar shortbread crackers (featured in the lower left corner of the picture).  They were delicious, and with a food processor, they took no time to make:

Fennel and Celery Root Soup by The Family Table
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March 07, 2014

winter soup session: cauliflower soup with coconut, curry and lime

Cauliflower, yum. 

My favorite way to eat cauliflower is roasting, and it is so simple.   Quick instructions:  cut the cauliflower head into florets, toss in olive oil, dust with salt and pepper and put on a pyrex glass pan or a cookie sheet.   Place in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until starting to brown and caramelize.  Eat.

For a little change of pace, this curried cauliflower soup is simple, fast and delicious.  Aside from the benefits of cauliflower, this recipe has turmeric which has huge medicinal properties: anti-inflammatory; helps give relief to arthritis; helps to prevent colon and prostate cancer; helps to reduce polyps in the colon; lowers cholesterol; protects against alzheimer's.
Truly "magical" perks.

Enjoy.  I made a pot of rice and enjoyed my curry soup with sauteed zucchini and the rice.
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February 28, 2014

winter soup session: ribollita

"Ribollita" means "reboiled" in Italian.  Typically, as a family would continue to eat their minestrone day after day, it would get to be more liquids than solids as people would favor the beans and vegetables over the liquid.  To thicken it up, cubes of stale bread would be added to the soup.  A new meal was created.

To make ribollita, canned beans can be used (healthy tip: if you rinse well your canned beans you can decrease the salt in them by 50%).  However, it is yummier and healthier to use your own simmered beans.  And on a wintery day in Chicago, bubbling beans is a great zen activity, it feels satisfying. Once your beans are cooked, you can put them in a tupperware, or a baggie and freeze them until you are ready to make soup.

Ribolitta can be made with any vegetables you have on hand.  I give you the recipe for what I used, but feel free to use what is on hand.  Any fresh vegetables will make a delicious soup.  Although greens of some sort are a necessity.

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January 01, 2014

braising: chicken cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore is a traditional "Hunter's Stew" from Italy.  Chicken thighs (bone in or bone out) are dusted in flour, sauteed in hot olive oil until brown, then braised with onions, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and white wine with oregano, rosemary and thyme.  It is a very aromatic dish, making your kitchen and house smell like a rainy day in Tuscany (one can imagine).

Buon Appetito!

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November 08, 2013

braising: pork shoulder with guiness and dried cherries

I spent a lovely day cooking with the O'Meara ladies.  They planned a family dinner for twenty plus and then came and cooked their dinner with me, supporting The Family Table.  It was such a great idea and such a nice day!

We made a yummy dish, one that would be really good for St Patrick's day.  Pork Shoulder is trimmed, seared and then put in a dutch oven (or crock pot would work too).  The aromatics (onion, fennel, garlic) are then sauteed in the pork pot and deglazed with guiness and balsamic vinegar.  Dried cherries, molasses and orange peel are added for a sweet-ish, rich, wintery braise.  You can add chopped sweet potatoes in to make it a complete dish.  Steamed barley would also be really nice to slurp up the broth.  We also made the kale and brussel sprout salad (from BBQ Beef class in May, 2013) for some greenery.

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