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Keep It Green with This Rich Parsley Soup


Flat-leaf parsley

Our second green recipe for St. Patrick’s Day is a soup that derives its color from parsley, a wonderful vegetable that has an unfortunate reputation. Too many people just use the curly variety as a garnish on a plate.

Parsley Soup

But it is actually quite versatile, adding a punch to salads, a note of freshness to vegetable dishes and lively addition to stuffings for fish or chicken.

Many prefer the flat-leaf for flavor, but don’t disregard the curly variety.

“I’ve even used parsley as a vegetable,” says Simon Hopkinson in the ever-helpful “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” (Hyperion, $24.95). “Gently stewed in a little butter for a few moments with a sliver or two of garlic, it is very good with grilled chicken. For this, however, you do have to use the curly variety, as, irritatingly, the flat type sticks to the sides of the pan and doesn’t absorb the butter well. You need the curly type of parsley if you want to deep-fry it, too. I adore deep-fried parsley. It is simplicity itself to prepare. Just drop some well-dried sprigs into hot fat for a few seconds. (One of those electric deep-dryers with a basket is ideal.) Lift the parsley out, drain it on paper towels,and sprinkle with salt.”

Celeriac

This soup recipe, like a great many, original called for a potato, which is strictly verboten to anyone trying to count carbohydrates. But there are substitutes. I tried the following with celeriac, or celery root, which has one-third the carbs (7 grams for the celery root, but 22 grams for the potato per cup), but about the same amount of fiber (about 3 grams). The flavor will change — and in my opinion, for the better. But it still brought a thickness to the soup that gave it a silky texture. It cooked in about the same time as the recipe said the potato would take.

Parsley Soup

6 tablespoons butter
2 large leeks, white parts only, sliced
2 big bunches of flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves separated, stalks chopped, divided use
1 celeriac or 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or more as needed
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream

Use celeriac instead of potato to cut down on carbohydrates.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the leeks and all the parsley stalks, gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the celeriac or potato, stock and salt and peppers and simmer for a further 20 minutes.

Coarsely chop the leaves of one bunch of parsley and add to the soup. Simmer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, blanch the leaves of the other bunch of parsley in fiercely boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and refresh immediately under cold running water, then gently squeeze dry in a tea towel.

Blend the soup with the blanched parsley to make a vivid green puree. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan, if needed or desired. (When testing this recipe, a Vitamix made straining unnecessary. If you want a rustic look and texture, don’t strain.) Add the cream, reheat, and adjust the seasoning. If the soup is too thick, you may want to thin it with more starch.

Use a blender to puree the soup.

Garnish ideas include a fresh parsley leaf, fried garlic chips or a Parmesan-crusted crouton.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Adapted from “Roast Chicken and Other Stories” by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham

 

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Romaine, Apple and Cranberry Salad


Use a sweet-tart apple in this salad.

Fresh, fall apples have begun to appear at the market, making this the perfect time to try this recipe from Lori Lyn Narlock’s “Small Plates, Perfect Wines” (Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC, $16.95). It’s simple and it uses another seasonal favorite, cranberries, though the recipe calls for the dried version.

Romaine, Apple and Cranberry Salad

2 sweet-tart apples, such as Pink Lady or Gravenstein, peeled, cored and cut into fine julienne
4 cups (4 ounces) thinly sliced romaine lettuce hearts, plus 6 whole larger heart leaves
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

In a large bowl, combine the apple, slice romaine hearts and cranberries.

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar and chives. Pour over the apple mixture and stir gently to coat. Season with salt to taste. Arrange the whole lettuce leaves on a large platter or divide among 6 salad plates. Arrange an equal amount of the apple mixture on top of each lettuce leaf and top each with an equal amount of the pecans.

Wine pairing: Chardonnay

Makes 6 servings.

From “Small Plates, Perfect Wines” by Lori Lyn Narlock

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Grilled Portobello Pizzas Are Easy and Versatile


A portobello pizza on the grill

If you’re trying to avoid pizza crust because of too many carbohydrates or too much gluten, there is a solution. Fralo’s Art of Pizza in Leon Springs offers a portobello mushroom pizza that’s not on the menu, but it is available if you know to ask for it.

I tried to make my own version the other night for a quick dinner and found it both easy and delicious, with that almost marrow-like quality of the portobello shining through.

This dish can be an appetizer or a main course with a tossed salad alongside it.

And like any great pizza, you can tailor it to fit your tastes, with everything from green olives to anchovies to ham and pineapple.

Grilled Portobello Pizzas

1 clove garlic, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
Tomato sauce
Dried oregano or basil, to taste
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Your choice of toppings
Mozzarella cheese

Light your grill and get it hot. Spray with oil.

Sauté the garlic — and onion or green pepper, if you’re using — in the olive oil.

Portobello pizzas before hitting the grill

Brush the portobello caps on both sides with the oil. Place the caps with the top down on a plate. Sprinkle the garlic on the cap. Cover with a little tomato sauce, about 2 tablespoons, but not enough to make the cap soggy. Add oregano or basil, salt and pepper to taste. Top with onions, pepper, black olives, anchovies, pepperoni or whatever topping you choose. Top with mozzarella cheese (you can use shredded or a deli slice to cover the top).

Turn the grill down to medium-low heat. Place the mushrooms on the grill and close the lid. Let cook for at least 7 minutes so the cheese can melt. When the cheese has melted, remove from the grill and serve.

Makes 2 pizzas.

Adapted from Fralo’s Art of Pizza

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Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples


Red apples like gala work well with onions.

The combination of onions and apples can’t be beat. So, when I saw this appetizer recipe in the new “Real Simple — Dinner Tonight: Done!” (Real Simple, $24.95), I knew I was going to give it a try. This dish also works as a main course vegetarian meal for one or two.

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Apples

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 red apples (such as Braeburn or Gala), cut into small pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 sheets frozen puff pastry [1 (17.3-ounce) package, thawed
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the apples, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 2 minutes.

Place each sheet of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Spread with the crème fraîche, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with the onion mixture and bake until the pastry is browned and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut each tart into 12 pieces.

Makes 4-6 appetizer services.

From “Real Simple — Dinner Tonight: Done!”

 

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Give Them Buttermilk and Sour Cherry Pancakes


Who doesn’t like pancakes? And who doesn’t like a new way of making them? Nicola Graimes offers a variation in “New Vegetarian Kitchen” (Duncan Baird, $24.95) that combines the tang of buttermilk with sweet and sour dried cherries. These would make a great eye-opener or even a party dessert.

Buttermilk and Sour Cherry Pancakes

Scant 1 1/2 cups flour
A large pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup dried sour cherries
Sunflower oil, for frying
Blueberries and other berries, to serve
Greek yogurt, to serve
Maple syrup, for drizzling

Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined, then make a well in the middle. Add the eggs, buttermilk and milk to the well and gradually work in the dry ingredients, beating to make a smooth, thick batter. Let rest 20 minutes, then stir in the dried cherries.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Heat a little oil over medium heat in a large, nonstick skillet, and wipe away any excess with a acrumpled piece of paper towel. Drop 3 spoonfuls of the batter into the pan, spacing them apart. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 2 to 3 minutes until bubbles appear  on the surface, then flip over and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer to an ovenproof plate and keep warm in the oen while you cook the remaining pancakes.

Serve 3 pancakes per person. Top with berries and a generous spoonful of yogurt, then drizzle with maple syrup and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From “New Vegetarian Kitchen” by Nicola Graimes

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Add a Little Spice to Your Honey


Honey

During a recent visit to The Monterey on South St. Mary’s Street, a friend and I shared a dessert that was a delicate combination of fresh strawberries and local goat cheese ricotta topped with honey infused with a touch of fennel.

A few days later I discovered a series of flavored honey recipes in the new “The Herbal Kitchen” by Kami McBride (Conari Press, $18.95), each easy to make and easy to use in a number of different ways. Here are three short combinations that would work on a toast point smeared with goat cheese or cream cheese as an appetizer, in a vinaigrette or served with cheese after a meal.

Here’s her process for making an herbal or spiced honey:

“Put the honey into a sterilized jar.

“Put the jar into a double boiler over low heat.

“Gently heat for 15 minutes or until it is warm. do not boil or overheat the honey, just warm it up until the herbs can be easily mixed in.

“Stir the herbs into the honey while it is still warm.

“Remove jar of honey from double boiler and let cool.

“Store the honey in a cabinet for two weeks before eating.

“Occasionally stir the contents, mixing herbs thoroughly into the honey.

“Just leave the honey in the herbs as you use it. There is no need to strain the herbs out at any point.”

Cinnamon Honey

“This honey turns toast into a yummy treat and livens up pancakes, waffles and all warm breakfast cereals,” McBride writes. “If you are catching a cold, make a tea with just Cinnamon Honey and it will help to send your cold on it’s way.”

1 cup honey
3 tablespoons powdered cinnamon (see note)
1 teaspoon powdered allspice (see note)

Note: You can reduce a ground spice into a powder with a spice grinder, a food processor, or mortar and pestle.

Curried Honey

“If you like curry, this an exemplary honey for cooking. Put 3 tablespoons on a chicken before baking, or mix it with baked vegetables,” she writes.

2 cups honey
2 tablespoons powdered coriander
1 tablespoon powdered cumin
1 tablespoon powdered tumeric
2 teaspoons powdered mustard seed
2 teaspoons powdered fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon powdered clove

Flexibility Honey

“All of the (spices) in this honey help to reduce inflammation and increase circulation throughout the body,” McBride writes. “Adding turmeric and ginger to your diet helps with arthritic complaints. You can also warm this honey up and scrub it on your feet. Leave it on for 10 minutes and wash off with warm water. The honey foot rub will warm your body and increase circulation.”

2 cups honey
1 tablespoon powdered turmeric
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon powdered juniper berry
1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

Recipes from “The Herbal Kitchen” by Kami McBride

 

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Greens and White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes a Flavorful Dish


Whether you use dandelion greens, as I did here, spinach, kale or collards, this dish that is very satisfying. Especially if you add tomatoes slow-baked in the oven until they are just “melted,” topped with breadcrumbs and a little olive oil. If you like, sprinkle on some Parmigiano-Reggiano, too. Crusty bread is just about all this dish needs to be a meal

 

Simple and fresh, this recipe makes a meatless meal a pleasure.

Greens and Beans

1 cup white beans, such as French flageolets, small white beans, navy beans or cannellini beans
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
Roasted Tomatoes (recipe follows)
Salt, to taste
Pinch of white pepper
3 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
3 cups greens, such as spinach or dandelion, cut or torn into 3-4-inch pieces

Roasted Tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
Garlic salt, to taste
4 tablespoons soft breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of white or black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

For the beans: Soak the beans in a medium-large cooking pot for an hour or so. Drain off water and add fresh water to cover by at least 3 inches. Add the garlic and thyme. Put on medium-low heat and cook until they are tender. Remove the thyme twigs (the leaves will have cooked off) when they are done.

For the tomatoes: While the beans are cooking, turn the oven on to 275 degrees. Put the tomato halves, cut sides up, in a baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt. Toss the breadcrumbs in the olive oil, and add pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano, if using. Divide the mixture for topping each tomato half. Put the tomatoes uncovered into the oven and let them bake.

When the beans are done, there should be enough liquid left to make a small (maybe a cup or so) of thick, soupy broth. If the water cooks down as you cook the beans, it is OK to add a little more. Just try to have about a cup of the liquid left by the time the beans are tender. While the beans are still hot in the broth, season them with salt and pepper and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir gently. With the beans at a low simmer, put in the greens and stir them in gently. They will turn a pretty, bright green color as they wilt. You want these to cook until tender, but not so that they lose their fresh color. (Not more than a minute or two.)

Taste the beans and greens for seasoning. Serve in bowls and drizzle a little more of the olive oil on top. Put one or two of the roasted tomatoes on the side.

From Bonnie Walker

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Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad Mixes Two Favorites


Avocados go great with pecans in this salad.

Texans love pecans and avocados. So, why not use the two together? That’s the secret of this simple salad, which can be made any time of year, yet it has an appealing array of spring colors. It comes from Southern Living’s latest cookbook, “1001 Ways to Cook Southern” (Oxmoor House, $34.95).

Texas Pecan and Avocado Salad

1 head Bibb lettuce
2 avocados, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Tangy Dijon Dressing (recipe follows)

Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Top evenly with avocados and bell pepper slices; sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing.

Makes 8 servings.

Tangy Dijon Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2/3 cup dressing.

From Southern Living’s “1001 Ways to Cook Southern”

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Melt Some Cheese into Mushrooms on Toast


Portobello mushrooms

“Large, juicy mushrooms need little embellishment — just a slice of cheese and a hint of sweetness from the brioche,” writes Louise Pickford in “Brunch.” And with that, you have an easy vegetarian main course or a side dish in minutes.

Mushrooms on Toast

1/2 cup butter
8 portobello mushrooms, wiped and trimmed
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 slices of brioche or whole-wheat bread
4 ounces Taleggio cheese, cut into slices

Melt the butter in a skillet, add the mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes, until golden and beginning to give up their juices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, toast the bread on both sides under a broiler. Spoon on the mushrooms and their juices and top with the Taleggio. Return the topped bread to the broiler for a few seconds, so that the cheese can begin to melt. Serve at once.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Brunch” by Louise Pickford

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Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl


Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

Nomi Shannon, aka the Raw Gourmet, created this easy yet bold salad using ingredients you’re like to have around your kitchen. Don’t have something? Try a variation. As Shannon says, “This is just wicked simple — and there’s pretty much endless variations of the chop bowl.”

You could add celery or any color bell pepper for crunch. Use peaches or nectarines instead of mango. Spritz some lime juice on instead of the vinegar. Add serrano pepper for heat.

Mango, Tomato, Avocado Chop Bowl

1 medium ripe tomato, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium Ataulfo mango, chopped into ½-inch cubes
1 medium avocado, chopped into ½-inch cubes
6-10 fresh mint leaves, torn up
Pinch of sea salt
¼- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, optional

Gently stir together tomato, mango, avocado, mint, salt, cinnamon and vinegar, if using. Allow flavors to mingle for 15-30 minutes.

Makes 4 side dish servings or 1 main course serving.

From Nomi Shannon, the Raw Gourmet

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