Articles in Vegetables w/recipe

Pasta with Spicy Sausage and Chickpeas. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya

As the new year emerges, the world welcomes a fresh start, usually with hopes of a new beginning with some luck thrown into the mix. The practice of welcoming a new cycle in the calendar is probably one of the most universal holiday celebrations in the world, and it is often celebrated by eating legumes for luck. I love the idea of a new start as much as I love the seasons, and over the years I have relished the idea of welcoming the new year with simplicity and good, wholesome food.

Legumes, including beans, peas and lentils, are considered to be symbolic of money, and thus considered a harbinger of prosperity and good luck in the new year. Several of them resemble coins, and the fact that they swell up when soaked in water also extends the analogy that the prosperity grows with time.

Traditions vary in different parts of the world. In Italy there is a preference for sausages with green lentils eaten just after midnight. In a similar vein, in Germany they ring in the new year with split peas, while in Japan lucky foods eaten during the first three days of the year include sweet black beans. Closer to home in the southern United States, it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas in a dish called Hopping John. When the dish is served with collard greens, the odds of prosperity are increased, because green symbolizes the color of money.

On an Indian table, legumes are a cornerstone ingredient, soul food actually, something that we celebrate on days good and bad, so the idea of a bowl of legumes served any which way easily translates to good luck for me.

The new year often comes with resolutions for eating healthy, and legumes are healthy and readily available during the winter months when other things are somewhat lean. The cornucopia of red, yellow, green and white lentils, along with the dozens of red, white and black beans, ensure we have plenty of options to pick from at the beginning of the year and beyond.

Legumes are rich in protein and high in fiber and are lower in calories than most meat-based sources of protein, offering a healthy and filling option for your plates and palates. While most legumes will cook down to soft and satisfying goodness, they have a whole variety of flavors, tastes and textures to ensure your palate is interesting and innovative.

Most beans and complex lentils can be cooked ahead of time in a slow cooker for four hours or for 20 minutes in a pressure cooker. Cook legumes with water and a little salt and use in your recipe as needed. Cooked beans and lentils can be stored in your refrigerator for up to five days or alternately place them in a zip-lock bag and freeze to use as needed.

The water the beans are cooked in is actually fairly tasty and good for you and can be added to soups and stews. On any given week, I have a few of these bags handy and ready to be added into flavorful dishes, assuring me full-flavored stews without the trappings of extra sodium and preservatives.

For your new year, I offer you two versions of classic dishes the way we enjoy them in my household and a recipe for collard greens to ensure we are in the green for the coming year.

Hopping John (Rice Cooked With Black-Eyed Peas)

Hoppin John. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya

Hoppin John. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya

For my recipe for this Southern dish, I have actually ditched all meat-based products to create a dish that is flavorful and delicate. If served with love and affection, it will indeed convince you that this year you shall be lucky with or without money. My secret ingredient is that I do, in fact, cook my black-eyed peas from scratch and save some of the simmering liquid to use for cooking my rice dish. The dish resembles a pilaf, which probably takes it closer to the Senegalese roots of this traditional dish.

Of course, to maximize the green, I garnish my variation of Hopping John with finely chopped green onions. New Year’s or otherwise, add this dish to your table and you are bound to feel well-nourished on a cold day. For a quick visual of how to make this dish, watch this video.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium-sized onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 or 2 ribs of celery, finely chopped

1 or 2 carrots, diced

1 cup white rice (I used basmati rice, which will give this recipe a very delicate and elegant finish.)

2 1/2 cups stock or water

1 cup cooked black-eyed peas

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (optional)

Chopped green onions for garnish

Directions

  1. In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil and butter and heat until the butter is melted.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens considerably and begins to turn pale golden.
  3. Add the celery and carrot and stir well.
  4. Stir in the rice and mix well. Add the stock or the water and cup of black-eyed peas.
  5. Add the salt and the pepper and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook the rice for 18 minutes. Note: This time works for basmati rice; for other rice varieties allow a few more minutes. Essentially the rice should be soft and all the water should be absorbed.
  6. Let the rice rest for about 10 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff. Sprinkle with the red wine vinegar if using and garnish with the green onions if using.

Note: If you are cooking the black-eyed peas yourself, save the cooking liquid and use it for the rice, in lieu of the stock or water.

Pasta With Spicy Sausage and Chickpeas

This southern Italian dish is often made with brown lentils and spicy Italian sausage and often enjoyed on New Year’s Day. I make this with chickpeas and add lots of fresh basil to provide a fresh touch of brightness. Since we like our flavors spicy, I use andouille chicken or turkey sausage and add in some freshly ground cumin and fennel. For a quick visual on how to make this dish, watch this video.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 to 30 minutes

Total time: 35 to 40 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red onion, very finely diced

1 1/2 cup of crushed red tomatoes or tomato sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3/4 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of chopped spicy sausage (Italian or andouille)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground fennel

1 1/2 cups pasta cooked until al dente (a small shape such as a pipette or ditalini)

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil

Freshly grated Parmesan to finish

Directions

  1. Heat the oil and add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic is pale golden. Add in the onions and sauté until soft and wilted (about 4 to 5 minutes).
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and the sugar with about 1/2 cup of water.
  3. Stir in the salt and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the chickpeas, sausage cumin and fennel and cook through for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the pasta and mix well.
  6. Turn off the heat, garnish with the chopped basil and Parmesan and serve.

Collard Green and Roasted Root Vegetable Slaw

Collard Green and Roasted Root Vegetable Slaw. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya

Collard Green and Roasted Root Vegetable Slaw. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya

This dish is a beautiful medley of root vegetables, tossed with very finely chopped collard greens tossed in an assertive Asian-inspired marinade.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

For the roasted vegetables:

2 medium-sized turnips
3 medium-sized carrots
4 small to medium parsnips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I have a strong preference for Crown Maple Syrup)
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

For the greens and the remaining dressing:
1 medium-sized bunch of collard greens
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Peel the turnips, carrots, parsnips and julienne into thin strips.
  3. Place the vegetables in a roasting pan. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, ginger, maple syrup and the tamari, and drizzle the vegetables with the mixture.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, stack the collard leaves over each other and thinly slice the leaves, to create a chiffonade. Place in a large bowl.
  6. Add in the roasted vegetables, reserving the pan juices.
  7. Pour the pan juices into a mixing bowl, add in the sesame oil, cayenne pepper, olive oil and vinegar and mix well.
  8. Add the dressing to the collard and vegetable mixture and toss lightly. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve.

Main photo: Pasta with Spicy Sausage and Chickpeas. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya

Read More
Roasted Spiced Butternut or Hokkaido Squash With Raw Spinach and Goat’s Cheese With Apple Dressing. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

At Christmas, in our house at least, roasted potatoes have always been obligatory, along with parsnips and even the occasional carrot.

More recently I’ve discovered that almost all vegetables are good to roast. The key to success is threefold: first, don’t crowd the roasting pan. Second, roast vegetables in a very hot oven, and if you have the option to combine broiler and oven heat, even better. Third, try prepping the vegetables the night before and leaving them out on the counter, loosely covered with paper towels to blot up excess moisture. All these steps combined will give you perfectly golden, toasty vegetables, packed with flavor and goodness. Try these recipe ideas for your holiday feast.

Roasted Spiced Butternut or Hokkaido Squash With Raw Spinach and Goat’s Cheese With Apple Dressing

For this lovely golden-green, sweet-sour dish, inspired by a recipe from the restaurant Honey & Co. in London, you need a firm squash like butternut or Hokkaido (or potimarron, to use its French name), not a soft pumpkin of the jack-o’-lantern variety, which collapses in a fluff on roasting.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

For the vegetables:

2 pounds butternut or Hokkaido squash

Salt and pepper to taste

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon fennel seed

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon cumin seed

2 pinches of crushed chilies

2 tablespoons oil

Zest of half an orange

Juice of 1 orange

4 ounces baby spinach leaves

1 small radicchio (or curly endive)

4 ounces small soft fresh goat’s cheeses, halved

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons cider vinegar or wine vinegar

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 small apple, unpeeled, finely diced

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with nonstick baking parchment.
  2. Scrub the butternut or squash (no need to peel), cut in half-inch slices and again in half if large. Place on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix together all the ground spices with the crushed chilies and sprinkle them over the vegetables.
  4. Mix together the oil and orange juice, brush the slices lavishly with it and scatter the orange zest over the vegetables.
  5. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, crisp and tender when pierced.
  6. Meanwhile, wash and spin the spinach leaves and radicchio or curly endive and tear them in smallish pieces.
  7. When the butternut or squash is tender, remove from the oven and arrange around the edge of a large serving dish or bowl with the salad leaves.
  8. Place the lemon juice, vinegar, oil and honey in a frying pan and cook hard to reduce by half. Pour the hot dressing over the salad and mix it up a little.
  9. Arrange diced apple and halved goat’s cheese on top and serve.

Roasted Zucchini and Eggplant With Walnut Sauce

Roasted Zucchini and Eggplant With Walnut Sauce. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Roasted Zucchini and Eggplant With Walnut Sauce. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

The warm roasted vegetables are paired here with cool walnut sauce (a cross between a Mexican nogada and a Middle Eastern tarator sauce). The same sauce is great stirred into thin strands of pasta or served as a dip with sticks of raw carrot, celery and radishes.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 thick slice of country-style bread, about 2 ounces, crusts removed

A little milk

4 tablespoons freshly shelled walnut meats

Juice of half a lemon

4 ounces fromage blanc or curd cheese

6 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 zucchini

2 eggplants

Olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Place the bread in a dish, add milk to cover and leave to soak up the milk. Once the bread is soft, squeeze it out well (reserve the milk) and place in a blender with the walnuts, lemon juice, fromage blanc, olive oil and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, scraping down and re-blending to make sure all is incorporated. If the blades are having a job turning, add a little of the reserved milk.
  2. Tip the sauce into a bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Refrigerate until needed.
  3. Top and tail the zucchini and eggplants and slice thickly lengthwise or cut in chunky batons about the size of your little finger. Place them, nicely spaced out, on a baking tray lined with nonstick paper, sprinkle with olive oil, chopped garlic and salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the oven to 425 F and roast vegetables until a little browned at the edges — about 30 minutes. Stir them up once or twice to ensure they roast evenly.
  5. Serve the warm vegetables with the cool walnut sauce.

Crisp-roasted Kale With Pumpkin Seeds or Pine Nuts

Crisp-roasted Kale With Pumpkin Seeds or Pine Nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Crisp-roasted Kale With Pumpkin Seeds or Pine Nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Kale is definitely having a moment: It’s all over the place, juiced, steamed, boiled or in salads. Here’s another idea: Chop it very fine, sprinkle with sea salt and sesame oil and roast it to a crisp in a hot oven. The result is not at all cabbagey (kale, like cabbage, belongs to the brassica family) but delightfully crunchy – a bit like those flash-fried basil leaves or parsley used as a garnish. Lovely just to snack on, or with fish or chicken, sprinkled over soup or pasta or with bacon and soft-cooked eggs for a light lunch or supper.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

10 ounces kale (mix green and purple if you like)

A sprinkling of sea salt

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts or pumpkin seeds

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Shred the kale finely, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, sprinkle with sea salt and sesame oil and mix in the pine nuts or pumpkin seeds.
  3. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the kale is lightly toasty and crisp and the pine nuts/pumpkin seeds are golden — mix it up halfway through to make sure it toasts evenly.

Main photo: Roasted Spiced Butternut or Hokkaido Squash With Raw Spinach and Goat’s Cheese With Apple Dressing. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

 

 

Read More
Chef Nicole Heaney shows her sablefish with apple puree, Brussels sprouts and farro risotto. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Cooking for dinner parties should be fun. If the occasion is a holiday, a birthday or a personal landmark, celebrating at home with a meal cements relationships with friends and family. But when preparing the meal is too much work, the fun goes away.

With relative ease, chef Nicole Heaney shows how to create a flavorful dish featuring a filet of fish that is perfect for entertaining. The key for a dinner party, as she demonstrates, is a little planning.

In the kitchen at Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar in Monterey, California, chef de cuisine Heaney shows how to prepare sablefish with crispy skin in a brown butter sauce. Adding flavor, Heaney pairs the rich, fatty fish with al dente Brussels sprouts, creamy farro cooked risotto-style and savory apple puree to add acid and sweetness.

Key to making the festive plate is the combination of four elements, each of which takes very little effort to create. And of the four, three can be made ahead. The Brussels sprouts, farro and apple puree can be made hours ahead of the dinner or even the day before. Then, just before serving, reheat the three components and cook the sablefish as your guests are sitting down ready for a celebration.

For a delicious vegan and vegetarian meal, leave out the fish and serve the Brussels sprouts, farro and apple puree.

A kitchen with a view

Chef Nicole Heaney preparing sable fish with apple puree, Brussels sprouts & farro risotto. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Chef Nicole Heaney preparing sablefish with apple puree, Brussels sprouts and farro risotto. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar is the main restaurant at the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row. Working with executive chef James Waller, Heaney cooks in a kitchen with a view of Monterey Bay. Growing up in Wyoming and working in Colorado and New Mexico, Heaney was an adult before she saw the Pacific Ocean.

She confesses that, even after a year at the restaurant, when baby humpback whales swim close to the restaurant, she joins the other kitchen staff members to rush outside for a closer look from the dining patio. There they watch as the whales breach for a long moment before disappearing in the cold blue water.

Her cooking is influenced by the time she spent in Sedona at Mii amo Café. Preparing meals for health-conscious guests of the resort and spa, Heaney learned the importance of clean, fresh flavors. Fats were kept to a minimum. The kitchen did not use butter or cream. Asian ingredients and techniques were frequently used.

The regime is not as strict at Schooners, but Heaney still creates dishes with distinctive flavors and innovative ingredients like the kelp noodles she uses to make her version of pad thai.

An avid reader of Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,” she knows that the more you understand the chemistry of cooking, the better you can control the results. In her video demonstration, she points out the importance of using acid to round out flavors, as in the savory apple puree and farro risotto.

Apple Puree

Apples and onions poaching in apple juice and apple vinegar. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Apples and onions poaching in apple juice and apple vinegar. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

The apples Heaney uses are grown locally on the Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville, California. She recommends using Gala apples in the recipe. Heaney leaves on the peels to add flavor and color. Because the apples will be pureed, there is no need to cut them precisely.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Final assembly time: 5 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 3 cups sauce

Ingredients

4 large Gala apples, washed, pat dried, peels on

1 yellow onion, washed, peeled and trimmed, roughly chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup bourbon (optional)

Unsweetened apple juice to cover

Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

Kosher salt to taste

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Directions

1. Heat a large saucepan on a medium flame.

2. Cut open the apples. Remove and discard the core and seeds. Do not peel the apples. Cut the apples into large pieces.

3. Drizzle olive oil into saucepan, add onion and apples and sauté together until translucent.

4. Add bourbon (optional). Cook off the alcohol, which may catch fire. Be careful not to singe your eyebrows as chef Heaney once did.

5. Cover with unsweetened apple juice. Simmer on medium heat until reduced by half and the apples soften and begin to break down.

6. Puree in a large blender. Start blending on a low speed and progress to a higher speed until the puree is smooth.

7. Taste and season with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and kosher salt.

8. If preparing ahead, store refrigerated in a sealed container.

9. Just before serving, reheat. Taste and adjust the seasoning and, if the puree is too thin, continue reducing on a medium flame to thicken.

Farro Risotto Fit for a Dinner Party

Farro risotto with mirepoix of minced carrots, onions and celery. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Farro risotto with mirepoix of minced carrots, onions and celery. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Cooking farro risotto-style means heating and hydrating the grain as if it were Arborio rice. Substituting farro for rice adds a nutty flavor. Heaney prefers her farro al dente but that choice is entirely personal. Many people prefer their risotto softer rather than al dente.

Better quality ingredients yield a better result. With risotto, that means using quality rice or, in this case, farro. The stock is as important. Canned stocks are available, but they are high in sodium content and can have an off-putting aroma. Homemade stocks are preferable. Any good quality stock can be used — beef, pork, chicken or seafood. For vegetarians and vegans, the farro can be prepared with vegetable broth and without the butter or Asiago cheese.

The cooking time may vary depending on the farro.

Like other whole spices, pepper has volatile oils. To preserve the freshness of its flavor, Heaney prefers to grind the peppercorns just before using.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30 to 45 minutes

Final assembly time: 5 minutes

Total time: 40 to 55 minutes

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

64 ounces hot stock, preferably homemade, can be vegetable, beef, pork, chicken or seafood

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, washed, peeled, trimmed, small dice

1 large carrot, washed, peeled, trimmed, small dice

2 large celery stalks, washed, peeled, trimmed, small dice

3 garlic cloves, washed, peeled, rimmed, minced (optional)

16 ounces farro

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon sweet butter (optional)

1 bunch Italian parsley, washed, pat dried, leaves chopped fine

1 tablespoon chives, washed, chopped fine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, washed, chopped fine

1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (optional)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt to taste

Black peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste

Directions

1. In a saucepan, heat stock on a low flame.

2. Heat a separate medium saucepan over a medium flame. When hot, add olive oil and sauté onions, carrots and celery until the vegetables are translucent.

3. Add farro. Stir well and sauté until lightly toasted.

4. Add garlic (optional) and sauté until translucent but do not brown.

5. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Cook until alcohol is fully cooked out.

6. Add hot stock in 6- to 8-ounce portion. Stir well.

7. As stock is absorbed, add more stock and stir well. Do not scald the farro.

8. Each time the stock is absorbed, add more stock until the liquid becomes cloudy and the farro softens.

9. If the farro is being made ahead, when the farro is soft but not yet soft enough to eat, or 75 percent cooked, remove from the burner, allow to cool and refrigerate in a sealed container.

10. If continuing to cook or if reheating, taste and continue cooking the farro until it is al dente or to your liking. Set aside until the fish is cooked.

11. Just before serving, to finish, add sweet butter (optional) and stir into the heated farro until melted.

12. Add Asiago cheese (optional) and stir well to melt.

13. Taste and season with fresh lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

14. Just before plating, sprinkle in chopped fine parsley, chives and thyme and stir well.

15. Serve hot and plate as described below.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized halved Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Caramelized halved Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Heaney prefers her Brussels sprouts al dente. Some people like them softer, in which case, after the Brussels sprouts are washed, trimmed and halved, blanch them in salted boiling water for two minutes, drain and then sauté as directed below.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Final assembly time: 5 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 pound medium-sized Brussels sprouts, washed, discolored leaves removed, ends trimmed, halved

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black peppercorns to taste

Directions

1. Heat a large sauté pan.

2. Add extra virgin olive oil and halved Brussels sprouts.

3. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.

4. Stir well to prevent burning. Sauté until Brussels sprouts are caramelized on both sides.

5. If the sprouts are to be served later or the next day, when they are cooked 75 percent, remove from the burner, allow to cool and refrigerate in an airtight container.

6. When the fish is cooking, heat the sauté pan with a small amount of olive oil. Add the cooked Brussels sprouts to reheat and plate with the fish, farro risotto and apple puree.

Crispy-Skin Sablefish in a Brown Butter Sauce

Also called black cod, sablefish is not actually cod. Heaney uses sablefish caught in nearby Morro Bay. She likes cooking the fish because it is almost “bulletproof.” The flesh is difficult to overcook and is almost always moist, flavorful and delicate.

In order to achieve a crispy skin, Heaney has developed a simple technique described in the directions. She recommends buying a wooden-handled fish spatula with a beveled edge, which helps remove the fish from the pan. The spatula is preferable to tongs, which tend to break apart the filets.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 to 10 minutes

Final assembly time: 5 minutes

Total time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

4 6-ounce skin-on filets of sablefish or black cod, washed, pat dried

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon sweet butter

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, washed, pat dried, leaves only, finely chopped

Directions

1. Season each filet with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides.

2. Heat a large sauté pan on a medium-high flame. When the pan is hot, reduce the flame to medium-low.

3. Add the olive oil. Allow the oil to heat.

4. Place the filets into the pan, skin side down. Do not overcrowd the pan, allowing space between each filet. If the filets are crowded together, the skin will not crisp.

Sear but do not burn the skin.

Jiggle the pan. That will help prevent the filets from sticking to the pan. If they do stick, use the fish spatula to gently release them from the bottom of the pan.

5. Add sweet butter to the pan and swirl around the filets.

6. Let the filets cook without fussing too much. The fish is cooked when the flesh is opaque.

7. Using the fish spatula, gently flip each filet over. Swirl the filets into the melted butter, being careful to brown but not burn the butter.

After 30 seconds, use a spoon to baste the filets with the melted butter.

8. At this point, the fish is cooked. Add parsley for color and season with lemon juice.

Put the saucepan to the side.

Assembling the dish:

Plate the fish when everyone is seated at the table.

All of the elements — fish, apple puree, Brussels sprouts and farro risotto — should be hot and ready to serve.

Select a large plate. Using the back of a soup spoon, spread a tablespoon of the apple puree across the plate. Add a good portion of the farro risotto in the middle of the plate, then the caramelized Brussels sprouts.

Gently add the sablefish filet, crispy skin side up. Spoon a little bit of the brown butter on top of the filet, farro and Brussels sprouts. And as chef Heaney says, “That is it.”

Serve the dish hot with a crisp white wine and let the festivities begin.

Main photo: Chef Nicole Heaney shows her sablefish with apple puree, Brussels sprouts and farro risotto. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Read More
Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Thanksgiving is surely a time for gastronomic excess, but at the same time, unless your children are adult cooks as mine are and the work is joyfully parceled out, the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner can become burdensome and stressful. But dinner, especially the Thanksgiving sides, shouldn’t be stressful.

When I was a kid, I remember it was my aunt or my mom cooking and we kids played football in the cold late November air. Entering the house to the aroma of that roasting turkey is as indelible a memory as any.

Simple, satisfying green Thanksgiving sides

Boiling broccoli for broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Boiling broccoli for broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

These days we all cook, and there is much hilarity as we cook and eat all day. We gather about 11 a.m. and shoot for the turkey carving around 4:30 p.m.

I can’t say our food is simple — it’s mostly labor-intensive — but there are three wonderful Thanksgiving side dishes that can fit right into the program of a too-tired cook or a teeny kitchen. I call them the three B’s, three vegetable recipes that are perfect for Thanksgiving, easy to do, more-or-less traditional and all begin with the letter B: broccoli, beans and Brussels sprouts.

Broiled Broccoli

Broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Broiled broccoli. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

I like to make this preparation when I’ve cooked something else in the oven that is either richer or more complex and has taken more of my time, such as a roast turkey. It seems almost no one has had broiled broccoli, so you’ll get positive comments. And it’s so simple it barely needs a recipe. The turkey is going to rest for 20 minutes, so that’s the perfect time to raise the oven to “broil” and cook this.

Prep time: 15 minutes to preheat broiler

Cook time: 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

3 pounds broccoli

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil and plunge the broccoli in, stems first. Boil until the broccoli is still bright green and slightly tender when skewered into the stem portion, 6 minutes, but not more. Drain well.

3. Slice the stem at a sharp diagonal, then slice the florets in half. Toss the broccoli in a large bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the broccoli, cut side up, on a broiler tray. Broil until blackened on the edges, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Green Beans with Pine Nuts

Green beans with pine nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015Clifford A. Wright

Green beans with pine nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is about the easiest way to make green beans sparkle in taste and color. This preparation occasionally appears on our Thanksgiving table as it can be assigned to someone who feels they are not a good cook and they won’t mess it up. It makes a nice room-temperature antipasto the day after.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 12 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 to 6 tablespoons pine nuts

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the green beans until no longer crunchy, about 10 minutes. Drain the beans and cool quickly under cold running water so that they stop cooking, and then let drain further.

2. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook the pine nuts until golden, about 1 minute. Add the green beans. When the pine nuts begin to brown, take the pan off the heat and serve.

Griddled Brussels Sprouts

Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is as simple as it gets. Typically we serve this preparation as a kind of appetizer, as it’s easy to cook, easy to eat and tossed with salt — just perfect with a pre-turkey drink.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 8 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise

Coarse sea salt

Directions

Preheat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat for 10 minutes. Pour oil into the skillet or griddle until slightly thicker than a film of oil. Place the Brussels sprouts in the skillet, cut side down. Cook until blackened golden brown, then turn with tongs and cook until the convex side is also browned, 5 to 8 minutes in all. Sprinkle with sea salt, drizzle with more olive oil, if desired, and serve hot.

Note: By the time you place the last cut Brussels sprout down, you will probably need to begin turning the first.

Main photo: Griddled Brussels sprouts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Read More
Red and green bell peppers for late-summer antipasti. Credit: Copyright 2013 Wynne Everett

Eating seasonally has been the rule of thumb for cooks for millennia. But if you were to read the food blogosphere, you would think that it was just discovered. And now that we are in the early fall, there are certain foods you can tell are in season because they’re inexpensive and abundant at the farmers market. Of course, if you have a garden, you know that too.

It’s a bit more difficult to tell what’s happening seasonally at supermarkets because supermarkets don’t follow seasons as they provide consumers foods all year round, often imported from far away, such as those grapes from Chile.

I am not slavish to the seasons, but I tend to stick somewhat closely to the best local and seasonal produce. I do so gastronomically rather than out of any political correctness. The reason is simple: They taste better.

There’s one vegetable that is rather prominent now in my local Southern California farmers markets and my little roof-top garden: bell peppers. I like them ripe and red, and I often serve them in an Italian style as an antipasto. Here are four very simple ways of preparing red bell pepper antipasti. I usually serve them before the main course, which in the early fall is still quite often grilled foods.

Roasted Green And Red Bell Peppers With Toscano Salami

Roasted red and green bell peppers with Toscano salami Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red and green bell peppers with Toscano salami Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

The natural sweetness of bell peppers can flavor many other foods, and that’s why I like to serve this antipasto before plainer or simply cooked meats. The Toscano salami is available in Italian markets and some supermarkets. It has a darker color with larger, but fewer, chunks of fat than the common Genoa salami. Use whatever salami is available. Choose large and fleshy bell peppers for this dish.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

4 green bell peppers

1 red bell pepper

8 slices Toscano salami, each slice cut in half

1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon fennel seed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pine nuts

4 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed (optional)

Directions

1. Place the peppers on a wire rack over a burner on high heat and roast until their skins blister black on all sides, turning occasionally with tongs. Remove the peppers and place into a paper or heavy plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes, which will make them easier to peel. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, rub off as much blackened peel as you can and remove the seeds by rubbing with a paper towel (to avoid washing away flavorful juices) or by rinsing under running water (to remove more easily).

2. Cut the peppers into thin strips and arrange on a platter. Surround the peppers with the halves of salami. Sprinkle the peppers with the garlic, onion, oregano, fennel seed, olive oil and pine nuts. Place the anchovy fillets on top, if desired, and serve at room temperature.

Roasted Red, Yellow, Green Bell Peppers In Olive Oil, Oregano, Anchovies

Roasted red, yellow and green bell peppers in olive oil, anchovies and oregano. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red, yellow and green bell peppers in olive oil, anchovies and oregano. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This colorful antipasto platter is perfect for a large buffet table. In Italy, trattorie will put these tables outdoors (fuori tavola) and sometimes allow their customers to serve themselves. Ideally, you will use a colorful polychromatic platter for serving that perhaps you’ve brought back from Italy. If you make this antipasto a day ahead of time, make sure you hold the black pepper and anchovies until it is ready to be served.

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

4 red bell peppers

4 yellow bell peppers

4 green bell peppers

1 tablespoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

8 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Place the peppers on a wire rack over a burner on high heat and roast until their skins blister black on all sides, turning occasionally with tongs. Remove the peppers and place in a paper or heavy plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes, which will make them easier to peel. When cool enough to handle, rub off as much blackened peel as you can and remove the seeds by rubbing with a paper towel (to avoid washing away flavorful juices) or by rinsing under running water (to remove more easily).

2. Toss the peppers together and let drain for 1 hour in a strainer.

3. Toss the peppers again with the oregano and olive oil. Arrange on a platter so that the colors are nicely distributed and place the anchovy fillets on top and sprinkle with pepper. Keep covered and refrigerated, but serve at room temperature.

Roasted Red And Yellow Bell Peppers With Shaved Celery Heart

Roasted red and yellow bell peppers with shaved celery heart. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red and yellow bell peppers with shaved celery heart. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is a nice antipasto for an early fall day when you have the grill going, as the best way to cook the peppers is on the grill, which gives them a nice smoky flavor. Alternatively, you can blister their skins as instructed in the recipes above.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time:  25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 red bell peppers, roasted until the skin blisters black, skin discarded, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

4 yellow bell peppers, roasted until the skin blisters black, skin discarded, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

1 celery heart, very thinly sliced

3 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced

16 green olives

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar to taste (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Arrange the bell peppers attractively on an oval platter. Spread the sliced celery heart and scallions in the center. Garnish with the olives and sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, if using, and salt and pepper.

Roasted Red Bell Peppers With Mozzarella And Prosciutto

Roasted Red Bell Peppers With Mozzarella and Prosciutto. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

Roasted red bell peppers with mozzarella and prosciutto. Credit: Copyright 2015 Clifford A. Wright

This is a five-minute antipasto for a time you are too tired to cook or when you have unexpected guests. Excellent quality roasted red peppers sold in Italian groceries, supermarket salad bars and even in jars and cans make this dish an easy one. Of course, you can make them on the grill, too.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese

1/4 pound prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced

3 large red bell peppers, roasted until the skin blisters black, skin discarded, seeded, quartered

5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Slice the mozzarella into 3-by-1/2-inch rectangles. Place each piece of cheese on a slice of prosciutto and roll them up. Take a quarter of a roasted red pepper and stuff the wrapped cheese inside.

2. Arrange attractively on a platter and sprinkle the basil over all. Drizzle the olive oil over the cheese, add a sprinkling of pepper and serve.

Main photo: Red and green bell peppers for late-summer antipasti. Credit: Copyright 2013 Wynne Everett

Read More
Main photo: Shakshouka, a hearty meal that is great for breakfast and perfect for a family dinner. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya

When tomato season arrives in August, we are so excited about our salads and tomato sandwiches that we often forget that the season happily continues well into fall. Tomatoes can be used in many ways beyond luscious salads. Here is a selection of unusual and interesting ways to use this vivacious favorite.

More from Zester Daily:

» Savor summer tomatoes all winter long

» Improv night! Family meals made easy

» 8 spicy secrets for cool summer meals

» What to do with tomatoes? Make pasta and sauce

Main photo: Shakshouka, a hearty meal that is great for breakfast and perfect for a family dinner. Credit: Copyright 2015 Rinku Bhattacharya 

Read More
Residual heat from the grill is often enough to cook peppers and eggplants for delicious dips and salads. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

It’s midsummer and the barbecue has reached peak heat. Your butterflied chicken, leg of lamb or rib of grass-fed beef is now perfectly cooked and ready to serve. What to do with all that residual heat? The answer: You need to have on hand a bunch of peppers, eggplants and onions to throw onto the fire, ready to turn into any one of these delicious dips or salads.

First brush the vegetables with a little oil, then throw them straight onto the barbecue. The direct heat gives them a terrific smoky kick that you’ll never get if you just bake or broil them. Serve any of the following  recipes with your ready-grilled meat or fish (or have them lined up ready for that next barbecue) or as a dip with crackers, toast, pita or crusty bread.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Baba Ghanoush. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

 

(Salad or dip of roasted eggplant with yogurt and cilantro)

Baba ghanoush is a piquant eggplant sauce/dip/salad originally from Egypt and found throughout the Middle East with slight variations and different spellings. This one has yogurt instead of the more usual tahini, giving a lighter, less rich result. Be sure to prick the eggplant all over first, otherwise it will explode. Serve as a dip with pita or as a sauce or relish with kebabs or kofta.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes on the barbecue

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup

Ingredients

1 large eggplant

Olive oil for brushing

1/2 cup natural yogurt

6 tablespoons olive oil

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Plenty of chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Light the barbecue and get it good and hot.

2. Brush or rub the eggplant all over with oil, prick it in a few places with a fork and grill until the skin is seriously toasted and the eggplant quite soft and deflated — at least 20 minutes, depending on your heat source — turning it often to toast it evenly.

3. Remove the eggplant, allow to cool, cut in half, scrape the flesh out of the skin and discard the skin.

4. For a textured baba ghanoush, mash together with a fork the eggplant flesh with the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, chopped herbs (reserve some for sprinkling on top) and salt and pepper to taste. For a smoother result, use a food processor.

5. Cover with cling film and refrigerate.

6. Sprinkle with reserved herbs just before serving.

Muhammara

Muhammara. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Muhammara. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

 

(Spicy Syrian pepper and nut dip)

A colorful and delicious nutty, peppery concoction from Syria. Muhammara goes great with any grilled foods or with toasted sourdough.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Yield:  About 1 cup

Ingredients

1 red pepper

Olive oil for brushing

4 ounces (about 100 grams) walnuts or 2 ounces (50 about grams) each walnuts and pine nuts

2 to 3 slices sourdough or French-style country bread, crusts removed, cut in cubes

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

Salt to taste

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chiles

6 tablespoons olive oil

Basil leaves and flowers for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Brush the pepper with a little olive oil and sear on the barbecue, turning it often till evenly blackened and blistered — about 10 minutes if the barbecue is good and hot.

2. Rub off the skin (easiest to do under running water), remove the stalk and seeds and chop the flesh roughly.

3. Place the pepper flesh in a food processor with walnuts (and pine nuts, if using), bread cubes, lemon juice, sugar, cumin, paprika, salt, crushed garlic and crushed chiles. Process to a rough paste.

4. With the motor still running, pour the olive oil through the funnel in a steady stream and continue processing until the mixture has lightened in color and is fairly smooth.

5. Tip into a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate.

6. Garnish with basil leaves and flowers just before serving, if desired.

 Ajvar

Ajvar. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Ajvar. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

 

(Balkan eggplant and pepper dip)

Typically served with burgers, this gorgeous brick-red paste is great with all kinds of meat or fish or slathered on toasted French country or sourdough bread.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: About 2 cups

Ingredients

2 red peppers

2 medium eggplants

Olive oil for brushing

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled

A pinch of crushed chiles or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

1. Rub peppers and eggplants with a little oil and prick eggplants all over with a skewer.

2. Roast the vegetables on the barbecue until the peppers are blackened and blistered (about 10 minutes) and the eggplants are quite soft and deflated (at least 20 minutes) — turning them occasionally to ensure even roasting.

3. While the vegetables are roasting, put the unpeeled garlic in a small frying pan or on a griddle and toast until the skins are a little brown and the garlic is soft inside. Remove skins and mash the garlic.

4. Peel the peppers and remove the stalks and seeds; scrape the flesh out of the eggplants and discard the skins. Put the peppers and eggplant flesh in a blender/processor.

5. Add mashed garlic to the blender or food processor with chiles or cayenne, season with salt and pepper and blend till smooth.

6. With motor running, pour olive oil through the hole in the blender lid or through the food processor funnel and continue blending or processing till the mixture thickens and lightens.

7. Tip ajvar into a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed.

Salad of roasted eggplant, peppers and onions with herbs and pine nuts

Salad of roasted eggplant, peppers and onions with herbs and pine nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

Salad of roasted eggplant, peppers and onions with herbs and pine nuts. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

This recipe has its roots in escalivada, a great Catalan staple of roasted eggplants, peppers and onions drizzled with olive oil. Here I’ve added some balsamic vinegar for interest and toasted pine nuts for contrast.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes on the barbecue

Total time: 30 to 40 minutes (plus, ideally, several hours to marinate)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings as an appetizer

Ingredients

3 medium eggplants, about 1½ pounds

1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow pepper

Olive oil for brushing

1 red onion, unpeeled, halved

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and slivered

Salt to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons pine nuts

Directions
1. Rub the eggplants and peppers with a little oil and prick eggplants all over with a skewer.

2. Lay the eggplants, peppers and onion halves on the barbecue and grill until the eggplants are blackened and soft, the peppers thoroughly blistered and blackened and the onion soft. The peppers and onions should take about 10 minutes and the eggplants at least 20 minutes, depending on your fire. Turn the eggplants and peppers a few times during grilling, so they roast evenly.

3. Strip the skin off the eggplants and cut the flesh in strips.

4. Peel the peppers and cut the flesh in strips.

5. Peel the onion and slice thinly.

6. Lay all the vegetables on a platter, alternating the colors. Sprinkle with oil and balsamic vinegar, scatter garlic slivers and salt over the top and leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

7. Toast the pine nuts in a small, heavy-based pan without any oil (they have plenty of their own), shaking the pan frequently till pine nuts are evenly golden — take care not to burn them!

8. Sprinkle pine nuts over the salad and serve at room temperature.

Main photo: Residual heat from the grill is often enough to cook peppers and eggplants for delicious dips and salads. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style

More from Zester Daily:

» 4 fruits and veggies great for grilling, plus 2 to skip

» Take a 4-course meal outdoors with a grill party

» Give carrots a Middle Eastern lift with tahini

» The secret to medieval eggplant

Read More
Sorrel soup with crème fraîche prepared by chef Jacques Fiorentino at L'Assiette Steak Frites. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Puréed vegetable soups make an excellent entrée for a delicious meal consisting entirely of a soup and salad.

Wanting an authentic French recipe, I visited chef Jacques Fiorentino in the West Hollywood kitchen of his restaurant L’Assiette Steak Frites where he demonstrated his easy-to-prepare sorrel soup.

Sorrel brings dark, leafy goodness

Fresh sorrel, Coleman Family Farm (Santa Barbara and Ventura County) at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Fresh sorrel, Coleman Family Farm (Santa Barbara and Ventura County) at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Sorrel is not spinach. The leaves are similar, but the flavor is completely different. Richly flavored with citrus notes, sorrel’s dark green pointed leaves are a good source of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Unlike many leafy greens, sorrel is a perennial. One spring we were given a small plant in a 3-inch pot. During the first year the plant doubled in size. By pinching off the floral buds and harvesting the young leaves, the plant flourished and we enjoyed sorrel soup on a regular basis. After several years it grew so vigorously that it all but took over the garden.

A riff on soupe à l’oseille, a French classic

Calling his restaurant Steak Frites, Fiorentino announced to the world that his restaurant was solidly in the French bistro tradition. The dark wood interior and precise menu puts a spotlight on favorites that would be found in neighborhood restaurants throughout France.

Like Proust and his madeleines, Fiorentino uses a few carefully chosen dishes to evoke his childhood in Paris. For him that means grilled steak, double-cooked french fries (frites), foie gras and sorrel soup with deep herbal accents. As a nod to contemporary preferences he added salmon and, for vegetarians, portobello mushrooms with frites.

Wash. Sauté. Simmer. Blend. Season.

Immersion blender puréeing sorrel soup in the kitchen at L’Assiette Steak and Frites. Copyright2015 David Latt

Immersion blender puréeing sorrel soup in the kitchen at L’Assiette Steak and Frites. Copyright2015 David Latt

Depending on the chicken flavoring used, you will need more or less salt. Homemade chicken stock has the least salt and is preferred. Packaged stock, chicken concentrate and bouillon cubes have considerably higher salt contents.

Good quality concentrated chicken stock and bouillon cubes can be purchased in restaurant supply stores and supermarkets. Since the sodium content varies considerably, delay adding salt to the soup until all ingredients have been blended, then taste and season.

A vegetarian version can be created by substituting vegetable for chicken stock. As with chicken stock, homemade vegetable stock is preferable to bouillon cubes and will have a lower salt content.

In the restaurant, Fiorentino uses potato flakes for flavor and convenience. If you would prefer to use potatoes, boil the potatoes in salted water until a paring knife pierces the flesh easily. Allow to cool, peel, cut into quarter-sized pieces, add to the soup and blend.

L’Assiette Sorrel Soup

Sorrel soup with sorrel simmering in the kitchen of chef Jacques Fiorentino's L’Assiette Steak and Frites. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Sorrel soup with sorrel simmering in the kitchen of chef Jacques Fiorentino’s L’Assiette Steak and Frites. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Total time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 ounces unsalted butter

1 small red onion, washed, peeled, roughly chopped

1/2 stalk celery, washed, trimmed, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

1 medium-sized potato, Yukon Gold preferred, washed

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred) or 1½ cups water and 3 cubes Knorr chicken bouillon

8 ounces whole milk

4 ounces cream

1/4 pound fresh sorrel, washed, leaves only

Sea salt to taste

Pinch freshly ground white pepper, finely ground

Directions

1. Heat a large saucepan over a medium flame. Add butter, melt and allow to lightly foam. Add chopped onion and celery, stir well and sauté until the onion is lightly translucent. Do not allow to brown. Add thyme and marjoram, stir well to combine flavors.

2. Boil a pot of salted water, cook whole potato, covered, for 20 minutes or until a pairing knife enters easily. Set aside to cool.

3. Add liquid, either chicken stock or water, stir well and continue simmering for a minute or two. Pour in milk and cream, stir well and bring flame up to medium so the liquids simmer five minutes to combine the flavors, being careful not to boil.

4. Add whole sorrel leaves. Stir into the soup. Reduce flame so the soup simmers. Stir frequently and cook 25 to 30 minutes to combine flavors. If water was used instead of chicken stock, add chicken bouillon or base, stir well. Simmer an additional 5 minutes.

5. Blend the soup using either an immersion or a general purpose blender, about 5 minutes. Peel the cooked potato, dice and add to the soup. Blend until smooth.

6. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Serve hot with fresh bread and, if desired, a tossed green salad.

Main photo: Sorrel soup with crème fraîche prepared by chef Jacques Fiorentino at L’Assiette Steak Frites. Credit: Copyright 2015 David Latt

Read More