Posts Tagged ‘onion’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Mirepoix

October 10, 2017

 

It’s no secret that I am a big Trader Joe’s fan. I brave the crowds frequently to stock up on items that are unbeatable for both price and quality.

One of my latest discoveries is not new to the brand, but it is new to me and it is life-changing. One word. Mirepoix. 

Mirepoix (meer – pwah) is a staple in the French culinary world, consisting of diced onion, carrot and celery, which provides the base for soups, stews, and sauces. It takes a bit of an effort to make, due to the washing, peeling, and dicing of the vegetables.

Trader Joe’s offers it in a 14 oz tub, layered with the perfect proportion of one-half onion, three carrots, and 3 celery stalks, all cut and ready to use. In the time it took to unpack my groceries, I had sauteed the Mirepoix and was ready to add the other ingredients for a quick pureed soup. And did I mention it’s only $2.99?

Quick Pureed Soup:
Slowly saute the mirepoix in butter or olive oil, until the vegetables start to soften, and the onion becomes translucent. True mirepoix is not meant to brown or caramelize.

Add the vegetable of choice, (zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli are all good options) and any herbs you might like. Add enough chicken or vegetable stock* to fully submerge the vegetables and simmer covered until they are soft. Puree the mixture until smooth, put it back in the pot, correct seasonings and enjoy!

* If you don’t have stock on hand, Better Than Bouillion is another easy fix. It comes in a jar and is spoonable, rather than dehydrated into a salty cube. It is organic, not full of fake ingredients, and a big dollop added to the pot of water makes a tasty soup. It is high in sodium, so be sure to taste before adding additional salt.

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Unrecipe of the Week: Zucchini Soup

April 11, 2016

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The calendar may say it is spring, but around here, its pretty darn cold out there! With some states having snow, winter is clearly not over yet. Its a perfect day to whip up some soup. This one doesn’t take long, and has a creamy, velvety textures without using a drop of cream!It is so quick, you can make it on a weekday, and enjoy it for lunch in the days to come.

Zucchini is a favorite of mine, magically manefesting itself into zoodles, chips, breads, salads, and this delcious soup. It was on sale at my local vegetable market this week for $1.50 for 2 pounds,(super cheap by New York standards) so I happen to have a few in the house, and very little else. Sounds like zucchini soup time to me!

Zucchini Soup:
Dice a small onion and a clove or two of garlic and saute in olive oil or butter until translucent. Add a few diced zucchini to the pot and saute another minute or two.
Add enough chicken or vegetable broth to the pot to cover the vegetables by at least an inch, and simmer with the lid on for about 15- 2o minutes or so, until the zucchini is soft.

Puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

You can adapt this by adding a little fresh thyme to the pot while the zucchini is cooking, and a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese to the pureed soup, to give it a little extra zip.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Mushroom Soup

November 9, 2015

Even though the weather in New York has been balmy, I have been craving soup. It might be about seeking comfort more than warmth, but soup has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. My mother sent me a recipe for mushroom soup that she had recently made, and I thought I would give it a try. That is, until I read it. The original recipe called for adding 10 tablespoons of flour and a whole stick of butter to the pot, to get a creamy texture without the cream. Thinking there was no way I was going to add a stick of butter to my soup, let alone all that flour, I set out to adapt the recipe to make it a bit cleaner. While I don’t know if it resembled the original, it definately tasted good enough to share.

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Pureed Mushroom Soup:

Dice one onion, a couple of ribs of celery and a carrot or two. Clean and slice about 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms. I used all conventional mushrooms, but next time I will try to mix in some shiitake and crimini mushrooms for a deeper flavor profile. Saute all of this in a little olive oil until slightly browned and the mushrooms have released all of their liquid, about 5-8 minutes.

Add about 10 cups of chicken or vegetable stock to the pot, and bring to a boil. Simmer, with the lid partially on for about 45 minutes. Add a few sage leaves and puree the mixture until smooth. Return the soup to the stove. Make a paste using a little of the hot soup and a couple of tablespoons of flour adding more liquid until it is smooth. Stir this into the pot of hot soup, and gently boil until it starts to thicken. I added just enough to get a silky consistency, but you can add more if you prefer an even thicker soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Keeping Avocados Green

July 7, 2015

 

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The world seems to be having a love fest with avocados. Everywhere you look there are recipes, menu items and articles about their health benefits. If the outrage towards the New York Times article last week suggesting the use of peas in guacamole is any indication, we Americans take our avocados very seriously. Even President Obama got into the act, taking to his Twitter account to let them know that peas were not an acceptable addition to his guac!

The only problem we can find with the creamy green fleshed fruit, is keeping it that way. Avocados go brown quite quickly when exposed to air. There are lots of ideas about what keeps the guac green, and how to store leftover avocado, once it has been cut. Some work better than others. While we have written about some of these from time to time, here is a comprehensive guide to keeping avocados from going brown.

Lemon juice: The acid in lemon juice has been known to keep avocados from turning color. Squirt a liberal amount over the exposed flesh, and hope for the best!

Onions:Others advise placing the avocado in an airtight container with cut onion. Keep the flesh of the avocado away from the onion to avoid it picking up the flavor. Once the container is sealed, the vapors emitted from the onion should keep the avocado from changing color.

Leaving in the pit is another way to go. This protects most of the avocado, but the area surrounding the pit does start to go brown.

Placing plastic wrap directly on the avocado or guacamole is another alternative. Supposedly, it protects it from the air in a way that just covering it doesn’t.

Food 52 recommends brushing the exposed area with olive oil as another way to keep it from oxidizing.

Some people swear by removing the pit and placing the flesh side flat on a plate before covering it.

Many place the avocado into an ice water bath. Place the cut side into the cold water, cover and refrigerate.

One person claims that pickle juice is the answer. While this may just work, your avocado will taste like a pickle. We’ll pass on this one.

Lastly, the very best way to keep an avocado from oxidizing, is to eat it!

Photo: : Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Oops Soup

October 17, 2014

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry . Today’s dish really is an unrecipe: in fact, not only did I use the “little of this and a bit of that” method, I didn’t even intend it to be soup!

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It all began in the vegetable market, when I had a taste for something hearty, yet vegetarian. Autumnal flavors were on my mind, and zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms sounded like a good start.

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I sautéed an onion and some garlic with the mushrooms, and added some italian herbs. Sounds good, right? Well, it all went astray from there. As I tossed chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes on top of it in the slow cooker , I had some second thoughts. I wondered if 5 hours in the slow cooker might make them soft. I wondered if they might give off too much liquid. I added a can of beans to make the stew heartier, and hopefully thicken up what I realized was going to be a pot of mushy vegetables. I turned on the cooker and went about my business. When I came back a few hours later, I had just that: a pot of bland, starting to get quite mushy vegetables. They had given off quite a bit of liquid, but not enough to make soup. I added some stock and some canned tomatoes to the pot and let it cook it’s little heart out. When it was done, I pureed it into a rich, flavorful soup. It’s sort of a riff on a classic minestrone, and a little drizzle of olive oil and some grated Parmesan cheese provided the perfect finishing touch. All’s well that ends well!

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Winter Vegetable Stew Soup:

Dice one medium onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, and sauté them in olive oil until soft. Add some sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to brown. Add a healthy amount of dried oregano, basil and a bay leaf, and place in the slow cooker. Pile on chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. ( I used 2 zucchini, 1 medium eggplant and 3 large tomatoes.) Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add 1 can of beans, rinsed, ( I used chickpeas ) and set the slow cooker for about 5 hours. Check it a few hours in, give it a stir and realize this is going to be mediocre at best. Add a little vegetable stock, if necessary, and a can of diced San Marzano tomatoes. Let it cook until the timer goes off.

Puree the mixture, and taste to correct seasonings. If it is too thick, add a little more stock.  To serve, place in soup bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a dollop of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy, knowing that good cooks can salvage almost anything!

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Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Chicken With Chickpeas in a Spicy Harissa Sauce

October 6, 2014

This is a hearty dish that warms your soul on a dreary autumn day. Sautéed chicken is seared and then braised in the oven in a Moroccan inspired spicy tomato sauce. It holds it’s own as a vegetarian option as well. Simply leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable broth for a savory chickpea stew.

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While a more traditional interpretation uses chicken thighs, we liked lightening it up a bit with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Chicken With Chickpeas in a Spicy Harissa Sauce:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and cook them in a little olive oil in an oven proof skillet until both sides are brown. Remove them and put them on a plate. Set aside.

Add a diced onion and a couple of cloves of diced garlic to the pan, and sauté until softened. Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste to the pan and stir. Add 1 can of chickpeas (rinsed), about 1/2 cup of chicken broth and a couple of tablespoons of harissa paste* to the pan. Bring to a simmer and place the chicken back into the skillet. Transfer to the oven, and roast until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

Serve on a bed of rice (we used cauliflower rice which is the perfect foil for the spiciness and low in calories) and enjoy!

*Harissa paste is a blend of hot peppers and olive oil, garlic, and aromatic spices such as cumin and coriander. It is available at fine grocery stores in the international foods aisle. We bought ours in a jar at Whole Foods. Each type of harissa is different, so adjust the quantity to accommodate your palette.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Gazpacho Marys

August 7, 2013

With produce at the height of its summer glory, it is the perfect time to make gazpacho. This “unrecipe” is a twist on the classic. It lies halfway between a cold soup and a bloody mary with the addition of an (optional) shot of icy cold vodka.

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Gazpacho Marys:

Chop up an onion, a few cloves of garlic, a seedless cucumber, 4 big tomatoes and 2 red bell peppers.  Add about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4 to 1/3 cup of white balsamic vinegar, and puree in batches until it is “chunky smooth.”  Blend in some tomato juice, until it reaches the desired consistency, about 1/2 to 3/4 of a large bottle. Season with a couple of big squirts of srirachia ( or any other hot sauce you like), and salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

To serve:  Ladle the gazpacho into a martini glass, and add a shot of icy cold vodka.  Garnish with chopped cucumber and enjoy!

photo: indigo jones instagram

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Burn Treatments

June 11, 2013

As a continuation of my series of “Unfortunate Events”, I spent a few days last week in the Cornell Burn Unit at New York Hospital.  I know what you are thinking: Yes, I did just finish physical therapy on a fractured knee. Mmmhmm, I did hurt my foot after a triumphant return to the gym and taking my mileage from the recommended “walk a minute/ run a minute” to running 3 miles straight in the course of a week.
All of that is better now thank you, but last week I did a doozy of a job burning my hand. I will spare you the gory details, and trust me they are quite gory, but after a few days of pretending it was all fine, I ended up at the doctor, the emergency room and yet another emergency room, before finally being admitted to the hospital.

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I burn myself a lot. As anyone who cooks like I do will tell you, burns are a part of the process. I inevitably have a couple of little marks on my arms as reminders of great meals past.

This one however, was more serious.

The moral of the story, is that if you have an injury that is large, extreme and doesn’t stop hurting/bleeding/swelling/oozing, do as I say, not as I do, and head to the doctor immediately. Many ERs now have a fast track area that deals with these non-life threatening emergencies that require treatment that often can’t be provided by your local doctor. (IV antibiotics, X-rays and MRI’s, wound treatment and stitches: you get the idea!) The first visit had me in and out in 45 minutes, a world record for a New York City ER.  If you think it might be serious, go see a doctor!!

Today’s kitchen tips are for those little pesky burns that don’t require either hospitalization or shots of morphine just to take a shower and get them bandaged (for reals!).  These are quick remedies often found in the kitchen to soothe those mildly singed areas and help prevent scarring or infection.

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A teabag can act as a soothing compress, and the tannic acid present in black tea helps to draw the heat from the burn. Soaking a teabag in cool water and applying it directly to the area should provide some relief. Some advocate using the tea leaves as a poultice, and dabbing them directly on the burn before covering the area with gauze.

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When honey is applied to a burn, it draws out fluids from the affected area, and acts as a disinfectant. It also keeps the skin soft, and supple as it heals.
Apply honey to the wound, and cover it with a gauze bandage. Change the bandage several times throughout the day.

Vinegar has antiseptic properties that can cleanse the burn and help dull the pain. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, and use it clean the area. Placing a cloth soaked in the mixture directly on the wound is said to help ease the pain.

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Rubbing a raw potato over a burn is said to reduce pain and prevent blisters. Apply the cut side to the burn immediately, for optimum effects.

Milk is another food with soothing properties.  Soaking the affected area in milk or plain yogurt is recommended to take the burn out of the wound. Repeat every few hours, being sure to use fresh dairy products each time.

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Freshly cut onions are also thought to be a good treatment, as the quercetin and sulphur compounds help to relieve the pain, and prevent blistering. Work quickly, as the onion loses its medicinal properties soon after it is cut. You may not smell very good, but people swear by the results!

Remember to keep the burn clean, and moist at all times. The doctors at the Burn Unit I was in are big fans of Bacitracin, which keeps the wound clean, infection free, and moist while it heals. And hopefully, mine will!

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Risotto with Butternut Squash and Kale

October 5, 2012

During the week, I tend to make the same old things for dinner; salmon, shrimp, and an occasional roasted chicken from Whole Foods.  It’s fast and nutritious, but a bit dull at times.

The CSA box is pushing me outside my comfort zone, and challenging me to use what is at hand to whip up dinner.

Tonight, I used the butternut squash and kale, in a rich risotto with seared scallops on top. It was comfort food at its best. Delicious, but simple enough to allow the flavors of the farm fresh ingredients to shine.

Risotto with Butternut Squash and Kale:

Halve the squash and rub it with a little olive oil. Roast it in a hot oven for about 45 minutes, until it is soft.

Scoop out and discard the seeds, and skin, and cut the squash into small cubes. * I only used ½ of the squash. Wrap the other half up for another use.

In a large pot, sauté one small diced onion in a little olive oil and butter. Add 1 or 2 cups of Arborio rice (depending on portion size) and stir until the rice is about to brown.

Add 1cup or so of chicken or vegetable stock and white wine to the pot, and stir until it is absorbed. Keep doing this for about 20-25 minutes until the rice is tender, and almost porridge-like. It is not necessary to stir it every minute, but be careful that the liquid does not cook out while it is unattended. Stirring also helps get the desired creamy consistency.

Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

While the rice is cooking, wash a couple of handfuls of the kale and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Sauté it in a bit of olive oil with some salt and pepper for a couple of minutes until it starts to wilt. Set aside.

Gently mix the squash and the kale into the rice mixture. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

Seared scallops optional.

Unrecipe of the Week

October 1, 2012

Often the simplest preparations are the best. That was certainly the case with Friday night’s squash soup.

It was a rainy evening in New York City and my vegetable basket was filled with random goodies; the perfect scenario for a warm, comforting soup.

I cut a butternut squash into large pieces, drizzled them with olive oil so they didn’t dry out, and roasted them in a hot oven for about 25-30 minutes, until they were soft and caramelized.

In the meantime, I sautéed an onion in a little olive oil and added the chunks of peeled and seeded pattypan squash.

I covered the vegetables with broth, (chicken or vegetable broth will do) and simmered it until the squash was soft.
I removed and discarded the skin from roasted butternut squash and added it to the pan.
After simmering it for another 10 minutes or so, I pureed it, using an immersion blender. Adding a little more broth to smooth out the consistency, and seasoning it with salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper for a bit of heat and my soup was ready.

It was creamy, rich and flavorful without any cream, or butter. The taste was all about fresh, seasonal foods, prepared in a simple manner. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and enjoy!


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