August – Salad Soup

August – Salad Soup

This hot, muggy, humid, uncomfortable month in parts of the U.S. has birthed a number of recipes for Greek salad. All of them are delicious and cooling, taking advantage of perfect seasonal tomatoes and cucumbers. This soup is a version of gazpacho, but very similar to a Greek salad. It uses many of the same ingredients and is a light, cold lunch on a hot day. Even better, it is easy…very easy. And, you can modify the recipe to use what you have on hand.

I call this recipe Greek or Mexican (you decide) salad in a soupy bowl of goodness, but without the dressing (only a drizzle of olive oil at the end, which is completely optional). It has healthy vitamins from all those vegetables, and healthy fat from the addition of avocado. You could up the protein by adding a sprinkling of feta or fresh goat cheese, or pour it over a scoop of cottage cheese. Make it spicy, or not. Got some leftover salsa in the fridge? Go for it. What about some crispy tortilla chips sprinkled on top (my husband’s favorite). It would then be a Mexican Salad Soup…you could even add a handful of corn kernels. Leftover grilled corn, you are on! And if you are adding tortilla chips a dollop of sour cream would be yummy. The options are endless.

Greek Salad Soup

This soup is even better the second day, and even better the day after that. It is my idea of a perfect lunch on a warm day. The vegetables give it a satisfying crunch and mouth appeal, the avocado is a touch of richness to fill you up. This season I keep a large bowl in the fridge to snack on or for a quick meal. Serve it instead of a salad with your dinner, it would make an appetite wetting first course with some crisp bread or flatbread.

To save time, I used V-8 juice as the base. It’s an idea my cousin in Tennessee introduced me to when we visited last June. Because I am a fan of spicy food, I added a small can of spicy V-8 to about 3 cups of regular V-8. But it is completely up to you and your own taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of V-8 juice
  • 1 small can of spicy V-8 juice (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 green or orange pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, halved and diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (for Greek Soup) or cilantro (for Mexican)
  • salt to taste (I found it didn’t need any)
  • drizzle of olive oil to serve (optional)

Avocado ready to add

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients and chill for at least 2 hours (better overnight).

That is all, can you believe it! It couldn’t be easier.

Salad Soup

This is a light, healthy, and quick lunch.

Salad Soup

You could serve it instead of a salad, maybe as a first course for dinner. What about small cups for folks to eat while they wait for you to grill dinner outside? It’s could easily be a walk-around the garden soup.

Salad Soup

Even better, it is vegetarian and vegan and gluten free. You won’t have to worry about dietary restrictions.

I think the folks in the midwest and south, where it is sweltering at the end of summer, will enjoy this refreshing soup. I’m taking it to share on Fiesta Friday #237 hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Come on over to read about the other delicious things going on around the world. Please add your own link after reading the guidelines. Hope you are enjoying the weekend.

 

 

 

June – Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Crispy Chickpeas

June – Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Crispy Chickpeas

Do you ever crave something juicy and yet crunchy? What about gluten and egg free? If you are avoiding gluten, sometimes it is difficult to find both. But these flavorful “breaded” filets will satisfy your craving. Even better, these chicken filets are completely grain-free since they are coated with healthy chickpea crumbs instead of flour or panko. You can find these crumbs at better grocery stores, be on the lookout. I’ve seen them on Amazon but you need to buy a case, a bit too many packages unless you can get a group together for the purchase.

Even if you are not avoiding gluten or other grains, these chicken filets are just plain yummy. You could even turn them into a chicken parmesan. Add some grated parmesan to the crumbs, once they are cooked, coat with a delicious tomato sauce, cover with a slice of melty mozzarella and run under the broiler for a minute. There you go!

Chickpea Crumbs

I seasoned the crumbs with Toasted Fennel Spice, a mixture from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking. I’ve made this spice mix many times and often give it as Christmas gifts.

Fennel Spice

Here is a link to the recipe. Fennel Spice is a mixture of toasted fennel, coriander, black peppercorns, chili flakes, and chili powder. It also calls for ground cinnamon, which I sometimes leave out. It’s delicious with poultry, also pork and fish.

When coating the chicken you can dip it into egg first; or do as I did and dip the filets into the liquid from a can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, it is called aquafaba. Aquafaba is used in many recipes as a vegan replacement for egg whites. It’s amazing stuff! You can make anything from meringues and macarons to marshmallows and more. It acts as a binder, leavening agent, emulsifier, or anything an egg white traditionally does—but without the cruelty or cholesterol. Actually I just learned that the juice from other canned beans have the same properties, great northern are somewhat milder. Anyway, if you are avoiding eggs for any reason, try aquafaba. Use this link and the one above for some ideas.

Anyway, I dipped the pounded chicken thighs in aquafaba before coating in chickpea crumbs, then served roasted chickpeas with the filets. They got a triple dose of chickpeas. All were additionally flavored with Toasted Fennel Spice.

IMG_7591

Breaded thighs ready for the oven

Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Toasted Fennel Spice Mix

IMG_7598

Chickpea crusted chicken with Fennel Spice

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 1 cup of chickpea crumbs
  • 1 can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained but liquid saved
  • 1 tablespoon or more of toasted spice
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parsley for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, coat one lightly coat with olive oil.
  3. Add the liquid from the can of chickpeas to a shallow pan.
  4. Spread the garbanzo crumbs in another shallow pan, season with the toasted spice and salt and freshly ground pepper
  5. Flatten the chicken thighs or breasts between two pieces of waxed paper using a heavy rolling pin or mallet. You want them to be of uniform thickness.
  6. Dip the thighs first in the aquafaba, then into the crumbs, coating both sides. Place each on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spritz lightly with olive oil.
  7. Spread the drained garbanzos or chickpeas on the second sheet, sprinkle with lightly with olive oil and season with more Toasted Fennel Spice.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through, and the garbanzo beans are crisp. The beans might be done before the chicken so check periodically.
  9. Serve garnished with parsley.

    IMG_7600

    Crunchy crisp chickpeas

 

I think I will take this one to the Fiesta over at Angies, it’s Fiesta Friday #229 and I am the co-host this week. Come on over, and please add your own link. Make sure to read the directions though so you are included in the voting.

June – Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

June – Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Here is a one dish dinner, you only need a salad or some type of green vegetable to round things out. Chicken wings are a popular item this time of year. Use the smallest new potatoes or fingerlings available, or cut larger new potatoes into halves or quarters.

Lemon Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Perfect food for eating outside on the first warm summer evening.

This is more a Mediterranean/Greek style dish than your traditional bar snack chicken wing recipe. You can use the larger drumette portion of the wing or the midsection or even the entire wing. I had to use a mixture, with the onset of grilling season (and the basketball finals) chicken wings were in short supply. These wings are baked with wine, lots of lemon slices, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, plenty of black pepper and s pinch of red pepper flakes. The potatoes bake in the juices, both are delicious right out of the oven but the leftovers were good as well at cool room temperature.

These chicken wings come from the oven crispy brown in places, as do the potatoes. This is finger food so provide lots of napkins.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds very small potatoes, such as fingerlings, whole or use medium-size yellow-fleshed potatoes cut in halves or wedges
  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 small lemons (prefer organic unwaxed), cut in to 1/4 inch half moon slices
  • 6 large rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine or rose
  • chopped fresh or dried oregano for garnish (I didn’t have any available and used arugula)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse potatoes (trim if necessary) and pat dry.
  2. Spread the chicken wings on a baking sheet or cutting board in one layer. Season both sides of the wings with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with red pepper flakes as desired.
  3. Transfer the seasoned wings to a large bowl. Add olive oil, lemon slices, rosemary and garlic. Toss well to coat the wings.
  4. Place the potatoes in the bottom of a roasting pan. Arrange the seasoned wings and lemons slices over the potatoes in a single layer. Add the wine and cover the pan tightly with foil.
  5. Bake, covered, for about 45 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
  6. Replace the pan in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until browned.
  7. Turn the wings and bake for another 20 minutes so both sides are brown and crisp.
  8. Serve hot or cool to room temperature, garnished with fresh or dried chopped oregano if available.

 

Roast Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Browned Lemon Chicken Wings

Lemony Chicken Wings

The lemon slices end up being sweet and the juices just needed you to mash a few potatoes to soak it up.

This recipe came from the New York Times, from the City Kitchen by David Tanis.

I am taking it to share with Angie and the rest of the party at Fiesta Friday #229. And and guess what, I am the co-host this week. Click on the link to see all the lovely blog posts that are on the list. And please, read the link directions and add your own.

 

 

May – Three Crostini or Tartines or Bruschettas

May – Three Crostini or Tartines or Bruschettas

Whatever you call them and no matter what their size, these toppings are unique and delicious. I call them the perfect start for a party. Made larger, bruschetta sized, they could even be considered dinner. What is the difference between the three? Crostini are smaller, in Italian the word translates as “little toasts”. Bruschetta comes from the Italian word ‘bruscare’ meaning ‘to roast over coals‘. Traditionally thin slices of bread are toasted and rubbed with garlic, then drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and served warm. They are usually larger than a crostini and can be topped with almost anything…I love them topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, and vine ripened tomatoes in late summer. Add a glass of rose to the mix and I am in heaven. A tartine is the French version of an open faced sandwich, pretty much the same thing as a crostini. All three start with a crisp slice of toasted bread.

The three toppings are fresh ricotta and pickled plums, fresh goat cheese with pickled fennel, and sweet butter with chili marinated anchovies.

If you don’t have pickled plums on hand (I had a couple of jars in the pantry from my backyard plum tree at the old house), use any pickled sweet fruit. And if you haven’t tried pickled fruit you are missing something. They are amazing in combination with cheese. I’ve seen some jars in the gourmet grocery stores. You can find recipes on-line, here’s one I found interesting. I might try pickling peaches this summer, they sound delicious as well.

You can toast the bread a day or two ahead and store the toasts (once cool) in a plastic bag. They keep well and leftovers make a delicious and crunchy garnish for a bowl of soup or a dip. When the kids were little I kept a jar on the kitchen counter, they didn’t last long and were a favorite snack.

To make the toasts, cut a baguette into 1/4 inch slices (you want it thick enough to hold the toppings but not so big that it isn’t an easy bite if you are standing up with a glass of wine in the other hand). Heat your oven to 350 degrees F and lay the bread slices in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake for about 7 minutes, then turn them over and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Check them frequently as they can burn. You want them a little charred and brown on the edges but not blackened.

Ricotta with Pickled Plums

Soft Goat Cheese with Pickled Fennel

Chili Marinated Anchovies with Sweet Butter

Pickled Fennel Tartines

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh fennel fronds
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into ½-inch slices

For serving

  • 2 dozen toasts
  • 1 lb. fresh goats cheese
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Fine sea salt such as Maldon
  • ½ cup freshly chopped Italian parsley

METHOD:

1 day to a month in advance, pickle the fennel. 

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, salt, red pepper flakes, and optional fennel fronds.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pack the fennel into 3 wide mouth pint sized canning jars.
  4. Carefully pour the hot brine over the fennel, diving the herbs and spices between the jars at the end.
  5. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. For serving, add a smear of goat cheese to each toast, top with some chopped pickled fennel, then a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt and a leaf of chopped parsley.

 

Tartine with chili-marinated anchovies and sweet butter

INGREDIENTS:

First prepare the anchovies if they came packed in salt.

  • 1 (1.5 lb.) can of salt-cured anchovies
  • 1 (10.2 oz.) jar of Calabrian cilis
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) good quality sweet butter (unsalted)
  • 2 dozen toasts from a good quality baguette

METHOD:

Marinate the anchovies at least a week before making the crustadas.

  1. Rinse them well.
  2. Place them in a large bowl and add water to cover, soak for about 2 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse again, then set aside to “drip dry” in a colander. Use when no longer drippin
  4. Drain the oil from the jar of chilis into the work bowl of a food processor or heavy duty blender.
  5. Add the chilis, removing and discarding the stems, keep the seeds. Pulse the chili oil and chilis together about 10 times, until roughly chopped.
  6. Add half the chili mixture to a large mixing bowl, pulse the remaining until more finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse to blend.
  7. Once the anchovies are dry, transfer them to the bowl. Pour over the pureed chili mixture. Blend gently.
  8. Transfer the mix to a large glass container, seal, and refrigerate for at least a week or up to 6 months.

Just before serving, use a cheese slicer, vegetable slicer, or a sharp knife to shave the butter into thin slices. Cover each toast with the butter shavings, top each with 1 or 2 anchovies, and serve.

Lastly, the ricotta and pickled plums. You could use any pickled fruit for this one, the interest is between the ricotta and sweet but tart pickle. Pickled sliced and spiced peaches would be good, also figs. Use what you have in your cupboard or in the local specialty grocery store. I happened to have some pickled plum from a backyard tree. Let me know if you want my recipe for pickling them. They were cherry plums, actually wild ones that had sown themselves from the neighbors yard.

Unfortunately I don’t have any final finished pictures because they were carried out to a hungry crowd as most excellent nibbles to have with a glass of wine or beer. The contrast made them interesting and easy to eat while in the midst of conversation.

 

From A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus, Menus and Stories. i have really enjoyed this cookbook from Renee Erickson of the Seattle based restaurants.

May – Pickled Asparagus

May – Pickled Asparagus

I just can’t get enough of asparagus when it first comes into season! By the end of May I am looking for ways to preserve it for the rest of the year. Out of season asparagus is often shipped long distances and can be dry and lacking in that wonderful grassy flavor (not to mention enormously expensive and environmentally irresponsible). I want to take full advantage of the long spring season, there are so many ways of serving it. Have you ever thought of combining different cooking methods with the same vegetable? The combination of fresh asparagus and pickled ones in an inspiration. Think thinly sliced or finely chopped pickled spears combined with sour cream (or even better, creme fraiche) as a sauce for fresh asparagus cooked on the grill. You could add equal parts mayonnaise if you want. Serving it as a sauce elevates the vegetable to a new level. What about putting a poached egg on top, serving all on top of a slice of crisp toast? I could see a slice of crisped prosciutto somewhere in there as well or even a slice meaty bacon. Yum!

I am getting ahead of myself because a simple platter of grilled or roast asparagus with pickled asparagus sauce is delicious.

Roast Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus Sauce

But first you need the pickled asparagus. I have found jars in better grocery stores but they are the tiny grassy spears, and are quite costly. It is far easier to pickle your own when asparagus is in season.

For pickling you can use either thin or thicker spears, peel the ends of the thicker ones first. if you haven’t done this before you can find the tips here. I found large mouth quart canning jars so I could pickle the longest spears possible. But you can cut them into smaller pieces and use pint jars if that is all you have. Either way pack them with the tips up to preserve the shape as much as possible.

Start with 4 pounds of asparagus to ensure enough for 3 quarts. I purchased 3 large bunches, thinking it would be enough (it looked like an enormous amount) and was short a 1 quart container. You’ll need about 16 cups (hard to measure). At the end I had one unused sterile quart container and extra pickling solution…what to do? I found a head of celery in the fridge and remembered reading somewhere about the joys of pickled celery. Why not? Now I have a jar of pickled celery and will let you know how I like it.

Asparagus waiting to be pickled

If you have to buy your asparagus a day or two ahead, store them like flowers with the ends in cool water.

Pickled Asparagus

For 4 quarts:

Ingredients:

  • 6 1/2 cups of white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of fennel seeds
  • 8 sprigs of fresh fennel fronds if available
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 16 cups of asparagus or 4 pounds

Method:

  1. First bring the water in your canning jar to a boil. I find this takes the longest and always start it at the very beginning of the canning process. You can use the water to scald 4 quart canning jars. Or, I find it easier to run them through the dishwasher, then place them open side down on a clean dishtowel until you are ready to fill them.
  2. In a dry small skillet, toast the fennel seeds on medium heat until they are turning golden brown and aromatic (about 1 minute). Remove and place on a plate to cool.
  3. Prepare the asparagus by measuring the length you will need for your jars, snap and peel the ends once the appropriate size. You really only need to peel the ends of medium or large asparagus stalks.
  4. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil. You will use this to blanch the asparagus. While it is coming to a boil, put a large bowl of ice water in the sink. Once it comes to a boil, add the asparagus in batches. Set a timer for 1 minute, then remove the stalks from the boiling water and drop them into the ice bath to cool quickly. Once cool, remove them to a clean dishtowel lined tray. Repeat as necessary until they are all blanched.
  5. In a pot bring the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a boil. This is your brine. Keep hot.
  6. In a small pot soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the seal.
  7. Now you are ready. Turn the jars right side up and add 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 bay leaf, and 2 garlic halves to each jar. Pack the asparagus in tightly, tips up.
  8. Carefully pour the hot brine over the asparagus in the jars. Leave about 1 inch of head space. Check for air pockets and add more liquid if needed. Wipe the rims, add the lids and screw on the bands until snug but not tight.
  9. Place the jars in the pot with the lid, add water to cover the jars (by about an inch if possible). Bring the water back to boil, cover, and process for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars for a few minutes. Remove the jars and let cool completely. Check to make sure the lid pops in, indicating proper canning.

And here is the lone jar of pickled celery.

Pickled Celery

The inspiration for this recipe came from The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant with Kate Leahy. It is probably one of my most used books on preserving.

I think I will take this as part of my recipe for asparagus with pickle sauce to the party at Fiesta Friday #226, it will be lovely as part of the buffet. You can find the link to Angie’s Fiesta Friday blog here. Follow the listed links at the bottom to any of the blogs that interest you. Angie’s cohost this week is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

If you are a blogger yourself, please add your link to the list.

TGIF everyone!