Turnip and Leek Soup

28 Jul

Turnip and leek soupMy husband got it in his head to plant turnips this year. They all disappeared except one, which became a monster. I kid you not, it weighed about 4 pounds when we finally dug it up last week.

What to do with a huge amount of turnip? Turnips are not in my cooking vocabulary. I didn’t grow up with turnips. My mother and grandmothers never served turnips. My cookbooks don’t have many recipes for turnips. I think the only time I’ve eaten turnips, other than as a minor ingredient in a soup, was in Scotland, where we enjoyed them mashed up with potatoes — “neeps and tatties.”

Luckily, my friend Jan served this wonderful soup a couple of months ago when she hosted our regular canasta game, and I took the recipe. I had to buy the leeks, but I had plenty of kale in my garden too!

This is a rather time-intensive recipe, because there are a lot of veggies that need washing and/or peeling and chopping, and then you have to prepare the walnuts and kale while the soup is cooking. But the end result is delicious, and as you can see, fancy enough to serve at a meal where you want to impress. The contrast between the silky-smooth pureed soup and the crunchy roasted walnuts is intriguing.

I bought a bunch of three large leeks and didn’t even bother to weigh them; I wouldn’t worry too much about having exactly a half-pound.

I didn’t have walnut oil so I used olive oil to mix with the kale. Walnut oil would probably add some flavor, but you don’t need to reject this recipe if you don’t have it.

You can keep the pureed soup in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving. Whisk the soup before you reheat it. (And when I made it, I didn’t bother to strain the soup because there didn’t seem to be any fibrous bits of turnip lurking in it — and it was fine!)

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. leeks (4 medium), white and light green part only, cleaned and sliced
1 lb.turnips, peeled and cut in wedges or diced
1/4 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced, or 1/4 cup medium-grain rice
6 cups water or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 oz. curly kale, stemmed and washed
1 Tbs. walnut oil
1/3 cup (1-1/2 oz.) toasted walnuts, chopped (toast in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, till fragrant; take care that they don’t get too brown)

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes.

Add the leeks and continue to cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic smells fragrant, 30 seconds to one minute.

Add turnips, potatoes or rice, water or stock, bay leaf and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes to an hour. The turnips should be very tender. Remove the bay leaf.

While the soup is simmering, blanch the kale in boiling, salted water until tender, 1-1/2 to mines, or steam for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and squeeze out excess water. Slice the kale into thin slivers and toss with the walnut oil.

Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, puree the soup. Strain the soup to remove any fibers from the turnip and return to the pot. Heat through, stirring, and season to taste with salt and  pepper.

Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a spoonful of greens and a sprinkling of walnuts.

Serves 4 to 6

Fruit or Berry Crisp

17 Jul

blueberry crisp a la modeThis is a terrific and easy dessert recipe — and it’s gluten-free! I don’t need to make anything gluten-free, specifically, but this is such a good recipe that I use it anyway. It came from Bread and Wine,  a book of food-related essays and recipes by Shauna Niequist.

You can use almost any fruit or berry. I made it a few weeks ago using serviceberries, which grow on an ornamental tree in my front garden. Serviceberries are like blueberries but a little smaller and less juicy, so you need less cornstarch.

If you don’t have almond meal and don’t care about it being gluten-free, substitute all-purpose flour for the almond meal.

Ingredients:

4 to 6 cups fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces, or berries
½ to 1 cup sugar, depending on tartness of fruit
2 to 3 Tbs. cornstarch, depending on juiciness of fruit (berries would need more, apples and pears less)
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup almond meal
½ cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
pinch sea salt
4 Tbs. cold butter, margarine or coconut oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8×8 (or similar size) baking dish.

Mix fruit with sugar and cornstarch. Place in the dish and spread until flat.

Place the crisp ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with your hands until all of the butter is evenly distributed.

Sprinkle the crisp mix evenly on top of the fruit.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crisp and golden.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream if you like!

Serves 6 to 8

Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup

7 Jul

cherry soup 2Don’t be put off by the Pepto-Bismol color! This is a yummy cold soup made with fresh sour cherries, now in season in Michigan (America’s sour cherry capital!)

We’ve had a cherry tree in our yard for at least 20 years, but we rarely get to enjoy the fruit. In the past, many of the cherries were infested with fruit fly larvae, which looked like tiny white worms. I discovered this when, after I pitted a large quantity of cherries in preparation for making a pie, I noticed the bowl of fruit moving on its own. YUCK! I had to throw away the whole bowlful.

In subsequent years I would inspect every cherry carefully as I pitted it and had to throw away half or more because of the worms.

Last year, because of a late frost, our tree produced not a single cherry.

This year, for whatever reason, the fruit flies had pity on us. A few cherries were infested, but many fewer than in the past. I was able to pick more than three quarts of cherries. I gave one to a friend in exchange for a bunch of rhubarb  from his garden, I froze one, and I used the rest to make this super soup.

You can use plain Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. When I made it a few weeks ago, all I had was vanilla Greek yogurt, so I used that and reduced the amount of sugar a little bit.

Ingredients:

6 cups water
1 lb. fresh sour cherries, pitted (about 3 cups)
¾ cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tsp. confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

In a large saucepan, cook cherries with water and sugar until cherries are soft, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix sour cream with flour, salt and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

Add about a half-cup of the hot cherry liquid to the sour cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the sour cream mixture to the saucepan with the cherries, and stir or whisk until the liquid is smooth. Simmer for 5 minutes but don’t boil.

Cool to room temperature. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the soup so that a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate at least one hour.

Serve cold as a first course or as a dessert. You may want to add a dollop of sour cream or whipped cream.

Serves 6

Eggplant Wraps

30 Jun

eggplant wrapsI clipped this recipe from the Detroit Free Press just a couple of weeks ago. The Freep adapted it from Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking by Mary McCarney. I don’t usually rerun recipes so quickly. To tell the truth I don’t even usually try them so quickly! But I liked this one so much I wanted to share it with you.

It’s a bit of a bother to make, but it would be a great dish to serve to vegetarian guests because it looks so fancy. Eggplant is nice and meaty, so this dish should appeal to carnivores too. Each wrap has only 95 calories, 7 grams of  fat, 5 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

You can assemble the wraps ahead of time and heat them up just before serving. Half the original recipe (the amounts I give below) made eight wraps, so we had them for two meals, and they reheated nicely.

The Free Press suggests using a serrated knife to cut the eggplant.

I will give you the recipe almost as it was in the Freep, except that I’ve halved the amounts — except for the oil. I found I needed at least as much oil as originally called for even though I was making half the recipe. But I’ll also tell you the changes I made and provide a few other suggestions for variations.

I didn’t have any marinated sun-dried tomatoes, only dried ones, so about a half-hour before I started cooking, I covered the dried tomatoes with olive oil to marinate. After I took the tomatoes out, I used the oil (with some added) for the recipe.

For the mixed herbs, I used minced garlic, basil and parsley.

I didn’t have fresh spinach, but my garden was producing lots of chard and kale, so I used a mixture of those.

Most importantly, after I had fried the eggplant slices, some were not really flexible enough to bend into wraps (perhaps I sliced the eggplant a little too thickly?). So I popped them into the microwave in a single layer for 30 seconds and they became perfectly pliable.

Here are some other variations you might want to consider:

  • Use thinly sliced or diced fresh tomato instead of sun-dried. Drain as much juice from them as you can before adding to the wraps.
  • Use goat cheese or feta instead of cheddar.
  • Use slivered almonds instead of pine nuts.
  • Add a few slivered kalamata olives

Ingredients:

Olive oil or cooking spray
1 medium to large eggplant
3 Tbs. sunflower oil or light olive oil (you may need a little more)
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. dried mixed herbs
8 oz. baby spinach
8 sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil, each cut in half or thirds
1 1/2 Tbs. pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 1/2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 8 slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a sided baking sheet with olive oil spray or use a nonstick baking sheet.

Cut off the top, bottom and rounded sides of the eggplant and discard. Then slice the eggplant lengthwise into 8 pieces, each about 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick. (If you have a very large eggplant, you may have some left over. You don’t want to make the slices too thick.)

In a small bowl, mix together the herbs and oil. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, lightly brush each slice of eggplant on one side with the oil mixture and place in the hot pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Brush the top side lightly with oil and flip to fry that side, another 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside the slices until all are cooked.

(If the slices are brown but still a little stiff, you can microwave them for 20 or 30 seconds until they are pliable.)

Wash the spinach well in cold running water, spin dry and then heat in a large skillet to wilt, using just the water that is clinging to the leaves. Drain off the excess liquid.

Assemble the wraps: Take one slice of cooked eggplant and place a little of the wilted spinach on one half. Then place a few pieces of sun-dried tomato on top, sprinkle with a few toasted pine nuts, and top with a slice of cheddar.

Fold the eggplant over to form the wrap and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. Sprinkle each with sea salt and fresh black pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

 

Broccoli-Cheese Salad

23 Jun

Broccoli-Cheese SaladI first encountered this salad at a potluck. Everyone was raving about it, but I didn’t eat it because it included bacon. But I looked for a recipe online, figuring I could substitute soy baco bits.

I found this one on a site called BellaOnline and altered it a bit. The original recipe calls for 4 slices of bacon, which we obviously don’t use in a kosher kitchen. It also called for mozzarella cheese, which I found rather tasteless, so I substituted cheddar. And I use about half the amount of dressing called for in the original, which is plenty (my quantities are what I list here).

If you’re concerned about the sugar, you can substitute Splenda, which I have done with no ill effect on the taste.

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli
1 small onion
1 hard-boiled egg
½ cup soy “bacon” bits
1 cup shredded cheese
½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbs. cider vinegar

Directions:

Finely chop the broccoli, onion and hard-boiled egg. If you use a food processor for this (a good idea), do the vegetables first and add the egg at the end for a few pulses.

Mix in the cheese and “bacon” bits.

Make a dressing by mixing the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar together until the sugar is dissolved. Mix the dressing into the broccoli mixture.

Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

 

Crustless Salmon Quiche

9 Jun

crustless salmon quiche 2Another winning recipe from my friend Greta Zalman!

The recipe calls for starting with fresh salmon, which you poach, but I find it works best for me as a way to use leftover salmon. It doesn’t have to be poached — baked salmon works fine, even if it has a glaze on it, as long as the glaze isn’t too overpowering. If you start with cooked salmon, just ignore the first line of the directions, but cut the leftover salmon into 1-inch chunks.

When I made this recently I didn’t have any scallion so I substituted 1/3 cup finely chopped onion.

This makes a very nice brunch dish. If you are serving a large crowd or bringing it to a large potluck, you can double the amounts and bake it in an 8 x 13-inch baking dish.

Ingredients:

¾ lb. skinned and boned fresh salmon, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Tbs. flour
1 Tbs. fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
4 large eggs
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1¼ cups milk
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, including the green part
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp. dried parsley
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ tsp. paprika
Lemon wedges for garnish, optional

Directions:

Bring ½ cup of water to boil in a medium skillet. Add the salmon, reduce the heat and cover. Cook until the salmon is almost cooked through – about 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the poaching broth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, dill, salt and pepper. Whisk in the eggs, 2 at a time, and then the mustard. Stir in the scallions and parsley and all but 2 Tbs. of the cheese. Stir in the poached salmon cubes.

Lightly spray a 9-inch glass pie pan or porcelain quiche pan with vegetable cooking spray or lightly brush with oil. Pour in the mixture; make sure the salmon is distributed evenly. Sprinkle the top with paprika and the reserved 2 Tbs. cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes until puffed and set. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges and serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.

Serves 6

 

Avocado salad

26 May

avocado saladAvocadoes were on sale this week, so it was a good opportunity to make this yummy salad. I would say it’s very easy, but it’s kind of a pain cubing four avocados. It’s well worth the effort, though!

You can tell an avocado is ripe when the skin is very dark, almost black, and it has some “give” to it. But don’t wait till it’s too soft, or the flesh will be mushy and may even turn black.

It looks like there’s no red onion in this photo. If you don’t have red you can cheat and use a regular ol’ yellow onion. But red looks prettier.

Ingredients:

4 or 5 ripe avocados (the small “Hass” type)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 can hearts of palm, drained
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
3 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tsp. salt or more to taste
black pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice each avocado lengthwise, and twist to open it. Remove the pit. (I do this by sticking a knife into the pit and pulling it out, probably not the safest method.)

Cut the avocado into cubes by slicing lengthwise and widthwise while it’s still in the skin; then use a tablespoon to scoop out the cubes into a large bowl. Scrape any avocado meat that remains into the bowl as well.

Cut each grape or cherry tomato in half, unless they are very small, and add to the bowl.

If your hearts of palm aren’t already sliced or in pieces, slice them and add to the bowl.

Add the chopped onion.

Sprinkle with lemon juice and add just enough mayonnaise to hold the ingredients together. The avocado is very moist and also full of oil, so you won’t need much mayo.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you serve on individual plates (rather than letter people help themslves), it looks nice on top of a lettuce leaf.

Serves 4 to 6

 

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