Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Great Asparagus Soup

When mother nature begins to awaken and Spring plants begin to bloom I always  think of Asparagus Soup. It is a favorite Spring soup, most often served cold but I like a hot Asparagus Soup on those still chilly evenings as well.

I recently saw this recipe and it was very different to most Asparagus soups I have made. Made with Vidalia onions, a little white wine, Monterey jack cheese added in and also 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese. Now I ask you, how bad can that be? It was a taste treat, not low on calories, of course, but worth the extra calories frankly.
Creamy Asparagus Soup
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup Riesling wine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of one lemon
1 (8-ounce) package Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Garnish: chopped fresh chives and a sprinkle of black truffle oil
In a Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat until butter is melted. Add asparagus, onion, celery, and garlic; cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine; cook for 2 minutes scraping up any browned pieces on the bottom. I think Emeril calls them yum yum's. Add flour; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add chicken broth, whisking until smooth. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly.
In the container of a blender, puree asparagus mixture in batches until smooth. Return asparagus mixture to Dutch oven over medium heat. Add cream, sugar, pepper, garlic powder, salt, and lemon zest, whisking until smooth. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add cheeses, stirring until melted. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. Serve and garnish with chives and/or truffle oil (optional).
It was slightly time consuming but only because of the prep work, dicing up the veggies, getting everything measured but it is well worth the effort. Make sure to use a good white wine, one you would drink with this soup. I actually used a Pinot Grigio and it was excellent. I seldom even buy a Riesling because of the sweetness.

It smelled heavenly and this is such a departure from my usual Asparagus Soup. I've never added in any cheeses, usually I'll top it with Parmesan but this was outstanding with the cheeses in the soup. Not for those who are watching calories but it's not something you'll prepare every week either. Take that departure.
I dearly love black truffle oil and usually do top any cream soup with it but it is definitely a matter of taste. If you've never tried truffle oil this would be a good time to do so. It is truly a garnish that will put any cream soup over the top in my opinion.
If you enjoy a good Asparagus Soup you should give this recipe a try, it is outstanding, a taste treat. It's Friday and I am sharing my post at a blogging party called Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee at Rattlebridge Farm. To see other excellent recipes shared just click HERE.
Have a wonderful weekend, Carolyn

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Cookbook Book Club

A few weeks ago our cookbook book club met which was on Fat Tuesday. Our clever hostess Mary did not miss an opportunity to decorate with a Mardi Gras theme. As we gathered we were served New Orleans Hurricanes. In my last post I shared the recipe that I've used for a very long time. They all must have liked them because one other in the group served them when we were at her house as did Mary our most recent hostess. I think friend Velva who is also a member of this group is serving them in one of her cooking classes that she will teach this coming week. Soooooooo, if you haven't tried that recipe that is already on my blog you are missing a mighty fine cocktail.
Now to tell you a little about our cookbook book club. This particular time our hostess chose for us to each bring our favorite recipe rather than cooking from a book. There were so many excellent recipes shared. The tone was set with this beautifully decorated table.
Friend Mary, our hostess, lives in a historical area where we live and her dining room is just lovely. An older home with such charm and character and you feel such comfort and warmth when visiting.

We always serve buffet style and this was a pic that I took before most had arrived. After a Hurricane I forgot to take any other pictures. Funny how that happens.
This was the dish I had brought, A Baked Spaghetti with Mushrooms topped with Mozzarella and Parmesan.
I'll post this recipe really soon. Each of us were suppose to bring a copy of the recipe we had brought and of course, I had forgotten but will post it here soon.
Each and every recipe were excellent but when I tasted this one I knew my Mr Picky Eater would love it. Friend, Harriet, brought this and it was delicious, a Jalapeno Rice with Chicken. It can be served as a side dish without the chicken but makes a delicious meal pared a side salad.

I did change the recipe just a little. First of all I halved it because it made a huge amount but Harriet said that it freezes beautifully. The other thing that I did was cook all the rice and I cooked the rice in chicken stock which I often do anyway.
Jalapeno Rice

4 cups cooked rice (2 cups uncooked)
2 cups grated Cheddar Cheese (8 ounces)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups sour cream
1/2 - 1 cup jarred jalapeno peppers

While rice is still hot, stir in onions, sour cream, jalapenos and about half of the cheese. Put in a large buttered casserole and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Cover and cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until very hot and bubbly.

This recipe can be prepared in advance without final cooking, or frozen, defrosted and then cooked.

It's also a good way to use a leftover rotisserie chicken, added in to make an entrée instead of a side dish.
This was quite simply delicious and a recipe I will make again and again. Such a simple recipe but packed with flavor. I halved the rice which was 1 pound box of Uncle Ben's original rice but did not half any of the other ingredients. I did not measure out the amount of chicken I put in but just determined that as to how much rice there was. I absolutely LOVED the use of the jalapeno peppers and the jarred jalapeno's can be found where you would find pickles in a grocery store.
Thank you my friend, Harriet for sharing this recipe, it is definitely a keeper.
Thank you for visiting my blog and do come again.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lentil Country Salad

This is a recipe from one of Lidia Bastianich's cookbooks, one of my most favorite cookbook authors. I have wanted to try this recipe for such a long time and finally did today. Lidia mentions that it keeps well in the refrigerator and can be served warm or cold. I made it for my lunch and I found that I loved this salad.
It is such a healthy dish loaded with fresh vegetables, carrots, celery, onions and of course the Lentils. I used Green Lentils for this salad since that is my preference.
Such a simple salad to put together, you place the rinsed lentils in a rather large sauce pan, add the vegetables and 3 bay leaves and 2 quarts of water. I wanted to gild the lily somewhat so I used 2 quarts of chicken stock instead of water. No other seasonings and brought to a boil and then simmered for 30 minutes.
Most of the flavor comes from the vinaigrette which has cooked pancetta, white wine, and white-wine vinegar and salted at the end. How bad can that be?
For my lunch I added a couple of sprinkles of freshly grated parmesan cheese, YUM. This is a healthy salad great for lunch but also pares well with most any meat as a side dish. Lidia suggests it as a summer side dish with most any grilled meats. This is a recipe that will have a spot in my repertoire of excellent salads. I was not disappointed.
Lentil Country Salad

serves 6 to 8
1 pound dried lentils, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups peeled, diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
3 fresh bay leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, diced
1/3 cup white wine
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large saucepan, combine the lentils, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain, and remove the bay leaves. Scrape the lentils and vegetables into a serving bowl.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, and cook until crisp, about 4 minutes. Pour off most of the fat, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the wine and vinegar, and season the dressing with the salt. Bring to a quick boil, then pour the dressing over the lentils. Toss with the parsley and serve.
As I mentioned I used 2 quarts of my favorite chicken stock instead of water. That was my only change with the exception of adding more salt after tasting the salad. It is a winner, a great salad to serve to friends for luncheon. I hope you will try it and enjoy it as much as I did.

I am sharing this recipe at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee at Rattlebridge Farm. To see other outstanding recipes shared please click HERE.