Bean Soup

Bean soupUpon special request, for Tom R, who asked for the recipe … here you go! 

Ingredients

  • 1 ham hock
  • 1 cup dried, mixed beans (rinsed)
  • 3 -4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (with basil, garlic, oregano)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled)
  • 2 carrots, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 celery stalk; peeled and diced
  • 1 sweet onion, halved and pan seared
  • 1/2 cup long grain brown rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 or 7 peppercorns,cracked
  • 2 tsps herbs de provence
  • (RESERVE – add this at the end of cooking) Juice from 1 lemon

Spices –  I added a few generous pinches of kosher salt at the end, and a shake of southwestern seasoning. Taste it before salting; sometimes the ham hock can make the soup salty, and you don’t need to add more.

Technique

Put all the ingredients (except lemon juice) into the crock pot, on high setting for one hour. Lower to low heat, and cook for 4 hours or so … beans should be tender. Check midway through – if it’s too thick, add more water, half a cup at a time. Taste before finishing and season to taste (generous kosher salt, and other seasoning … you could add some cumin, or saffron.)  Check the beans after 3.5 hours – add more liquid if necessary, as beans absorb the liquid.

Bean soup in crock pot

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Thanksgiving stuffing

So many good ingredients, it’s a meal in itself!

Ingredients

 

  • 1 loaf day-old baguette
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 lb chestnuts, cooked and peeled
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 lb pork sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 – 1 cup golden raisins
  • several springs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 large granny smith apples, peeled and cored, and diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • caraway seeds
  • chipotle powder
  • Poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Chocolate chip cookies – inspired by Food52

Chocolate chip cookies

Makes 36-48 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • tablespoons granulated sugar
  • tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 and a half cups plus 2 tablespoons (170 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and a half cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and a half teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12  ounces (170 grams) bittersweet chocolate (use the best-quality chocolate you can), cut into roughly 1⁄2-inch chunks with a serrated knife
  • Flaky salt, such as Maldon, for finishing
  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light in color and texture, 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well to combine. Again, stop the machine and scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt to combine.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until streaks of flour still run throughout. Add the chocolate and mix until everything just comes together. Finish mixing the dough by hand, taking care to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
  4. At this point, it is best to refrigerate the dough for 24 hours. Resting the dough intensifies the deep toffee flavors and improves the texture of the baked cookie.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheets. Top the cookies with a pinch of flaky salt just before baking.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the sheets halfway through if they appear to be baking unevenly. The cookies should be lightly golden on the outside but still look quite gooey on the inside. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  8. These are best eaten the day of baking but will keep, if well sealed, for up to 2 days.
  9. You may want to use this dough as a base for oatmeal, and /or dried cherries; I added walnuts to mine (1 cup rough chopped.)

Orange almond cake

If you’re gluten free, then you might be missing some good cake. This is the dessert that will relieve your cake deprivation!  It’s not dry, and is great for breakfast.

orange almond cake

Yes. Cake for breakfast. Why not? Life is short. Think of it as a baked smoothie … with sugar.

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • pinch of cinnamon.pinch of pumpkin pie spices or nutmeg

Wash the oranges and simmer them for 90 minutes. Cut them in pieces (remove seeds, if there are seeds) and puree them in a Vitamix or food processor. (I used about 3 cups of water to boil; I reserved the water at the end, and added 1 cup of granulated sugar and 2 cinnamon sticks, and simmered it for an hour while the cake was baking. You can freeze the orange syrup, and use it for another Greek Gypsy favorite: Karythopita. Recipe coming soon … )

Using a standing mixer on medium high speed, whip the eggs and gradually add the sugar, mixing for about 5 minutes, so that the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. Add the vanilla, orange puree and blend; then add the almond meal and spices, and blend well.

Pour the mixture into a greased springform pan and bake at 400F degrees; test for doneness with a wooden skewer at 30 min; I baked mine in a convection oven and it was done at 35 minutes.

Serve warm, with fresh figs and vanilla ice cream. So good.

 

 

Caramelita Bars

This is a very sweet dessert.

I served these gems after a spicy, meat-and-seafood paella. I don’t know how there was room for these babies; there just was. Next time, I might serve it with some whipped cream and blueberries, or Tawny Port.

Yes. Tawny Port.

~Ingredients

1 stick butter, softened

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup flour + 1 tsp baking soda

1 cup quick oats

~ ½ jar Smuckers caramel sauce (or Stonewall Kitchen dulce de leche) + 1 Tbsp flour, blended together

½ bag mini chocolate chips

½ cup chopped pecans (maybe these candied ones)

Tools

8×8 baking pan

Large bowl for mixing

Spatula

Technique

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixing bowl, mix the butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar until light in color, and well blended. In another bowl, mix the oats, flour and baking soda. Add the flour to the butter mixture; blend together well. Press half the oat-flour mixture in a greased 8×8 pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Pour the caramel mixture on the base, spreading it all the way to the sides; you may need to add a little more (maybe ¾ jar) and then add the chocolate chips and the pecans, distributing evenly over the caramel. Finally, sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture on top, and bake for 15 minutes.

IMPORTANT! ALLOW TO COOL completely before cutting and removing. Everything needs to cool, in order to firm up otherwise you will have an unpresentable mess. Trust me on this one. I put mine in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cutting it.

An alternate is to prepare a shortbread base (omitting the oats) with a butter-flour mixture; add 1/2 cup oats to the reserve.

Psari Plaki

Classic whole baked fish - Plaki

Classic whole baked fish – Plaki

Whole Fish, baked – a classic way to prepare fish. Buy a whole fish that is gutted and scaled; leave the head and tail intact. Prepare the salsa first, on the stovetop and pour it on, and around the fish in the baking dish. I used a fish that was about a pound and a quarter. This salsa (sauce) is ample to serve 4 people, with a fish up to 1 1/2 lbs.

Ingredients for the Salsa:

 

  • 1 small white or sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, rough chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, rough chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 stalks tuscan kale, stem removed and sliced thin (optional)
  • Black pepper, and generous sprinkling of kosher salt

Technique

Saute the onion on medium heat until translucent; add carrots, fennel, and celery, and cook for 10 minutes. Add garlic, continue to cook and stir, do not allow garlic to brown or burn (it causes indigestion).

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20-30 minutes, and then stir in the kale.

Arrange the fish in the metal baking pan, and pour the sauce on and around. Put in the oven, under the broiler, for about 10 min on high. Then switch from broil to bake @ 350 degrees, and bake for 20 min, then check for doneness.

To serve: carefully move the sauce off and around the fish. You will want to remove the skin from the flesh, and the flesh from the bones. Bass has bones, and it is advised that you present the fish whole, on a platter with the sauce, and then carefully clean the bones away, when serving on plates.

Enjoy with crusty french bread. I make sweet potato-and-butternut squash fries to accompany this fish dish, and a romaine salad.

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Tiramisu

 

It’s that time of the year. Pumpkin is the star! Instead of the expected pie, why not mix things up? This twist on tiramisu is out of this world.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 8 oz container of Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups  brewed espresso coffee, cooled (reserve 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp rum or kahlua
  • 2 packages ladyfingers (~24)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (optional)
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Technique

Mix egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, in a standing mixer, on high for 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Add 1 Tbsp of espresso. Add the cheese and continue mixing. Divide the egg-cream mixture in half; put one half aside and add the pumpkin to the other half, in the bowl, and mix thoroughly. Add a few shakes of the pumpkin pie spice.

IMG_7967

Pour the cooled coffee in a shallow bowl; add the rum or other liqueur. Begin the layering: dip one half of the lady fingers in the coffee and place in dessert bowl, coffee side up. Create a layer of lady fingers; add a layer of pumpkin cream. Another layer of dipped lady fingers, then a layer of plain cream, and alternate layers until you use up the ingredients, or get to the top of your serving dish.

Chill for several hours or overnight, before serving. Dust with cocoa powder before serving.