Twisted Italian Soup
I don’t know about you but I love a good, stick-to-my-tummy soup on a fall or cold winter day. Add a nice glass of wine and you won’t see me until the next morning! Here’s a soup I made one day for my family while I was developing a new, whole grain, cornmeal cornbread recipe (but please, use your favorite cornbread recipe).
For this recipe, I started by browning some Italian sausage, both hot and sweet. I then drained the meat and set it aside. Next, I drizzled a little oil in the pot and added my onions and garlic. Once the onions were translucent I added chunk, fresh rutabagas, diced carrots, and half of a sweet potato which I diced also. I browned the root vegetables for about 5 to 7 minutes and then added my broth using enough broth to cover the vegetables.
I cooked this for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to harmonize. Next, I added fresh, chopped thyme, dried parsley, turmeric, a variety of canned, rinsed beans and peas (cannellini, chick peas, black-eyed peas) and a can of whole, peeled tomatoes. I used my potato masher to smash a few of the beans, peas and tomatoes. Doing this will act as a thickener without having to add flour or cornstarch, but if you feel better using either, do so.
I returned the meat to the pot and added a little more broth to cover all the ingredients. Lastly, I covered the pot with a tight-fitting lid and allowed the soup to cook until the beans and peas were tender and the desired flavor had been reached. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, I added sea salt, fresh, ground, black pepper and chopped, fresh kale.
Optional: A small amount of heavy cream at this point may be added to the pot for a richer soup. I served it over a slice of my new cornmeal cornbread and shared some with my neighbors! I needed the feedback.
For this soup, I really did not measure the ingredients because I make it slightly different each time (trying out a new herb, adding tomato sauce instead of tomatoes, adding potatoes…it just depends). Try it out and use as much or as little of any ingredient you choose. Send me feedback! I’d love to hear from you.
Fall is here and I for one am so excited to see it! I love fall! I feel almost as though it has crept upon us as quietly as the tiny caterpillar I saw squirming up the stem of my basil plant today. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat him…I sent him on his way (with the stem he was so attached to and enjoying). One of the reasons I enjoy the fall so much is the great outdoors and how my garden changes. My heirloom tomatoes are still thriving and looking even more beautiful than the day before, my red-veined sorrel which showed up early this spring and is still growing strong. I enjoy cooking with hearty vegetables like cabbages, parsnips and rutabagas. Have you ever tried rutabaga French fries with chipotle or red pepper dip? Yummy to my tummy! The sweet to my soul in can be found in the magical fruits like apples, pears, peaches and plums all beautifully colored and plump and juicy. Pies and cobblers here I come. It’s also a season of roasting and stewing and braising meats until they fall off the bone or melt in your mouth. To wake up to hot cider and cozy up with a blanket. So as the world turns and changes in a direction to give us longer nights (more time for smooching….lol) I gear up for extra time in my kitchen preparing delightful, colorful treats the earth has provided for me and only in this special season of oranges, purple, reds and whites!
This dish went so fast we forgot to take an actual picture of it plated properly; but man, was it good! Chopped Sirloin with Gravy who doesn’t love a good gravy? We all had to be rolled away from the table. Prepare the sirloin patties a day in advance and wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until the next day. It’s a great thing to come home to. Add a green vegetable or salad and perhaps a baked white or sweet potato and bam! Dinner is ready.
Ingredients (for the steak)
¼ cup onion, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup crushed salt crackers
1½ pound ground sirloin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Ingredients (for the gravy)
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces button or cremini mushroom, sliced
½ cup diced onion
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
¼ cup fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
Method of Preparation
Preheat an oven to 400º.
For the steaks, combine eggs, onion, parsley, Worcestershire, garlic, and crackers. Add sirloin, salt, pepper, paprika and crushed red pepper flakes; mix to combine. Shape meat into four 8 to10 ounce sirloin patties. Set aside.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat. Add sirloin and sear on one side and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn sirloin over and transfer the entire pan into the oven and cook until desired doneness about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a warm serving plate. Loosely tent with foil to rest and allow the residual heat to finish the cooking and redistribute all the juices.
For the gravy, using the same hot pan melt the butter until bubbling. Add the onions and cook until translucent then add the mushrooms. Sauté over medium-high heat until the mushrooms begin to release their moisture. Cover until the liquid has been released and then remove the lid and allow the moisture to evaporate. Add the wine, for flavor, and allow it to evaporate as well. Add the flour and mix allowing the flour to brown and absorb all the flavors of the mushrooms and onions. Stir in the broth and cook until the gravy starts to thicken. Remove from the heat. If the gravy is too thick thin it with more broth or water. Season with salt and pepper. Serve gravy over sirloin and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Although pictured here with bacon pieces I used smoked turkey. Remember, I grew up in the South and collard greens were a staple dish on our table every Sunday and for the rest of the week until they were gone (which usually was only the next day)! My mother seasoned them with pork neck bones, fatback or another part of the pig and they were delicious! I loved them! I still do except now with the awareness of health and wellness information at my fingertips I have vowed, not to abandon my traditional foods which bring back memories of family gatherings and cousins and friends sitting around the table or at a picnic bench in the park, but to modify the recipes so that I maximize the natural vitamins and nutrients the foods contain. I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t have this or that I can’t have that so in order to avoid that most serious conversation with my physician I will do my part and make the traditional foods I’m used a little healthier (there, I said it). In this dish there is no loss of flavor, just a slighter different one. The intake of vitamins and nutrients is significantly higher and the cooking time in my recipe is shorter. Sounds like a win, win, win situation! Try it out and let me know what you think.
2 large bunches of collard greens, stems removed
3 quarts of water
2 cups chicken broth
1¼ – 1½ lbs. smoked turkey necks or legs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon EVOO
Optional: 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Method of Preparation
- In a large Dutch oven (or other heavy bottom pot) add the water, turkey, salt, sugar, ground pepper, paprika and oil. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to medium heat and allow turkey to cook for 40 minutes creating “pot liquor.”
- Thoroughly wash/rinse the collard greens. Chop greens into small pieces.
- After 35 minutes check the turkey and pot liquor. Liquor should have reduced by about ¼ and the turkey should be soft but still on the bone. Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and replace the lid and cook for another 5 minutes to blend.
- Add the greens to the pot and sprinkle with a little more sugar, salt and olive oil drizzle. Stir and cover. Cook for another 30 -35 minutes or until greens are tender and tasty. The turkey should be falling off the bones. If not, cook a little longer until desired tenderness.
- Note: Serve with cornbread.
- Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey
Berries are back! This Berry Crisp recipe is best when made in season, but cab be just as tasty if you freeze and store your fresh berries for a winter treat and all through the year. Fresh is best for me but feel free to use store bought berries as well. I used popular berries but feel free to use your own selection of berries. I added blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. The farmer’s market is a great place during the season to purchase berries and it also helps support the local farming.
2¼ cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 cups fresh raspberries
2¼ cup fresh strawberries
Zest of 1 orange
2¼ cups whole oats
1¼ cup light brown sugar
1½ cups granulated sugar, divided
1¾ cups plus 1 teaspoon of all-purpose flour, divided
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup of toasted pecan pieces (optional)
2 sticks of Butter plus 2 tablespoons, very cold and cubed
- You will need 2 9-inch pie plates.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Rinse the berries, drain and pat dry using a paper towel. Set aside.
- In a large bowl add ½ cup flour, ½ of the granulated sugar, orange zest and cinnamon and whisk together.
- Add the berries to flour mixture and gently toss to coat the fruit.
- Divide evenly among the pie plates.
- For the topping, place the whole oats in a food processor and pulse 3 to 4 short bursts. Do not pulse to a flour but small enough to recognize and chew the oats.
- Pour oats into a large bowl. Add the remaining flour, the sugars and the salt. Mix Thoroughly.
- Add the cold butter to the flour/sugar mixture using a pastry cutter and mix until mixture resembles small peas.
- Spread over the berries and cook until browned and bubbly.
- Serve with whipped cream, sweet cream, or ice cream and top with Triple Berry Sauce (found on www.simplechefrenee.com).