Tag Archives: recipe

Recipe: Creamy Double Mushroom Soup with Green Onions

5 Mar

Mother Nature is really letting us have it this winter; we have been hit with yet another snow storm. The government has shut down and so has my office: today is an official snow day. Being home on a day such as this, my thoughts turned to warm and comforting things such as soup. Specifically, to an earthy soup featuring two types of mushrooms and lots of green onions–hence the name. I might have called it quadruple mushroom soup because it features mushrooms four ways: dried (and soaked) mushrooms, sautéed sliced mushrooms, fresh chopped mushrooms–and sliced raw mushrooms as a garnish. This is definitely a soup for mushroom lovers, of which I am one. But it is also a good soup for anyone needing some flexibility (that would be me, too). Not enough dried mushrooms on hand? Add more of the fresh ones. Don’t like (or have) button mushrooms? Substitute portabella or another type. Use one, two, or all three of the broths suggested below. Make it vegan, or not (see below). This is a forgiving soup perfectly suited to an unforgiving day.

Mushroom Soup

Creamy Double Mushroom Soup with Green Onions
Serves 4-6

2 oz. dried mushrooms (porcini, shitake, etc.)
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
20 oz. white button mushrooms–slice half the mushrooms, finely chop the other half (save two mushrooms to slice later for garnish)
2 bunches green onions/scallions, trimmed at both ends, rinsed clean, and thinly sliced (save one green onion to slice later for garnish)
3 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground pepper, to taste
dash of dry sherry or splash of white wine (optional)
5 c. beef broth (or veggie broth or miso broth, or combination of broths)
1 tbsp. soy sauce (optional)
pinch of sugar (about 1/2 tsp.), to taste
1 c. heavy cream (or unsweetened coconut milk or soy creamer)

Preparation
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover; soak for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat, add the sliced white mushrooms, and sauté until they start to turn golden; remove the mushrooms from the pot and reserve.
3. Add  the remaining olive oil to the soup pot and sauté the green onions until soft. Add the minced garlic and pepper; cook for another two minutes. Add the sherry/wine (if using) and reserved sautéed mushrooms. Turn heat to low.
4. Strain the soaked mushrooms through a fine sieve, saving the dark mushroom liquid. Rinse the mushrooms twice in a small amount of water, adding the first rinse to the dark mushroom liquid and discarding the second rinse. 5. Add the rinsed mushrooms to the soup pot. Strain the saved mushroom liquid and add it to the soup pot, along with the broth, soy sauce (if using), and sugar. Turn the heat back to medium high.
6. Using an immersion blender, blend the contents of the soup pot (or blend in batches in a blender and return to pot).
7. Add the chopped mushrooms to the soup and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the heavy cream (or coconut milk/soy creamer). Check seasonings, adding more pepper, soy sauce, or sugar as desired.
8. Serve soup in individual bowls and top with a few thin mushroom slices and a sprinkle of sliced green onions.

Recipe: Mousse de Mango

10 Sep

I love mangoes in any way, shape, or form–and so do my children, who used to line up for a chance to get the pit after I was done slicing the rest of the fruit. For years, I vowed to make mango mousse–but I always let myself be lured by the siren call of the chocolate version instead. Until recently, when I was making a Latin American dinner and wanted a Latin American dessert to go with it. And now I’ve been asking myself, why didn’t I try this sooner? This recipe, very slightly adapted from The South American Table by Maria Baez Kijac, calls for fresh mangoes, and like many other mousses, includes raw egg whites (so use the freshest eggs possible). It serves 8 regular dessert lovers, or 6 serious mango lovers. Note: the original recipe suggests serving the mousse with a raspberry coulis, but I am a purist who prefers an unadulterated mango flavor.

Mango Mousse

Mousse de Mango

1/4 c. fresh orange juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 large, ripe but firm mangoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (2 c.)
3/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. orange liqueur or rum
1 c. whipping cream
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Preparation
1. Place the orange juice in a small heat-proof bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over top, and let soften for 5 minutes. Set the bowl in a small saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water and heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove the bowl containing the gelatin mixture from the saucepan.
2. Place the mangoes in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the sugar, liqueur/rum, and dissolved gelatin, and process again until smooth. Place the mango puree into a large bowl.
3. Whip the cream in a medium-size mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar in another medium-sized bowl until soft peaks form.
4. Very gently fold half the whipped cream into the mango puree, followed by half the egg whites. Repeat, and mix gently until all the cream and egg whites have been incorporated.
5. Distribute the mousse among 6-8 dessert cups, cover, and refrigerate until thickened–about 30 minutes.
6. Enjoy!

Recipe: White Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake

8 Feb

In our house, we love dulce de leche (we are not at all averse to eating it by the spoonful), and we really love the pastry cake known as Torta Chilena (delicate, crispy layers of pastry laced with the rich, caramelly spread–see the recipe here). But Torta Chilena is quite labor intensive (a labor of love, but laborious nonetheless). I wanted to make a slightly less time-consuming cake featuring dulce de leche–one that was special in its own right. The result: this White Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake. It’s a more traditional cake-like cake (if that makes sense), but has lots in it to love. It does require more time than a box mix (though using ready-made dulce de leche will reduce the prep time), but it is so worth it.


White Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake

–Cake
2 ½ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1 c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 c. buttermilk (or 1 tbsp. vinegar, plus enough milk to make 1 c.)

–Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ c. butter, softened
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 c. white chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Filling 
1 recipe home-made dulce de leche (see directions below) — or use 1 (13.4-oz. can) prepared dulce de leche

Preparation
1. FILLING: To make dulce del leche, heat oven to 425º. Spray a glass casserole dish with cooking spray, pour both cans of condensed milk into it, cover the dish, and then set it in a bain marie (baño maria), which is a roasting pan filled with enough water to rise slightly above the level of the condensed milk in the casserole dish. Bake for about 2 hours, stirring periodically, until golden brown. Set aside and let cool. (This is the dulce de leche – there will be extra left over). If using prepared (canned) dulce de leche, proceed to making the cake. Note: you may need to vigorously stir (or even slightly heat) canned dulce de leche to make it spreadable.
2. CAKE: Reduce oven temperature to 350º.  In a glass bowl, heat the 1 c. white chocolate chips in a microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring after each, until chocolate is mostly melted. [Note: be careful with the melting process; overcooked white chocolate turns into a hard lump.] Stir the chocolate until it is completely smooth and let cool. Spray 4 cake pans with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in the eggs and egg whites, then add the melted white chocolate and incorporate. Add half the flour mixture, mix in, add half of the buttermilk, mix in and repeat. Spread the cake batter evenly into the 4 pans. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until knife/toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool.
3. FROSTING:  Beat cream cheese, butter, and confectioner’s sugar together in medium bowl until smooth, then stir in 1 c. melted white chocolate chips (see note in #2 about melting white chocolate).
4. ASSEMBLY: Place 1 cake layer on plate/stand. Frost the layer with 1/3 of the dulce de leche, then with 1/6 of the frosting–just enough for a very thin layer; you want to be sure to have enough frosting left for the outside of the cake. Continue stacking layers, and use remaining frosting to frost top and sides of cake. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Recipe: Cornbread

25 Mar

In our early marriage days, my husband and I used to make cornbread, corn muffins, and cornmeal pancakes from a well-known small-box mix.  But then we moved overseas, where there were no boxed mixes, and a whole new world opened up–we had to bake everything from scratch. Today, we still bake from scratch — no longer out of necessity, but because it tastes so good and requires very little extra effort. And of course, any excuse to bake is a good excuse. Here is a very basic but very good cornbread recipe, not out of the box.

Cornbread
9 servings

1 c. flour
1. c cornmeal
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 8- or 9-inch square pan with cooking spray.
2. In medium bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients, beating by hand just until smooth.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Slightly adapted from Pillsbury Kitchens’ Cookbook.

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Fries

13 Mar

In the United States, grocery stores offer both sweet potatoes and yams, which are not botanically related. Except that here, they are one and the same.  The “yams” sold in the United States are orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Real yams are starchy and drier than sweet potatoes and have a rough and shaggy exterior. The problem is that white-fleshed sweet potatoes arrived on American shores first, so when the orange-fleshed versions put in an appearance, they were labeled as “yams” to avoid confusion. In the end, Americans have become more confused than ever.

On the plus side, the orange-fleshed sweet potato (AKA “yam” in the United States) is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is responsible for the orange color. Beta carotene protects cells from pesky free radicals and is also converted into Vitamin A.

But all that aside, sweet potatoes are delicious — especially in the form of sweet potato fries, which make a regular appearance (and disappearance) at our house. These fries are crispy on the outside and soft, sweet, and rich on the inside. And since the olive oil they are tossed in enhances the absorption of the beta carotene, eating these super fries is a win-win situation all around.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4-6

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin strips
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. cornstarch/arrowroot powder/wheat flour/rice flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried oregano

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray two large baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Place sweet potato strips in large bowl; toss with olive oil.
3. Add remaining ingredients; toss well to combine.
4. Place the sweet potato strips on the baking sheets, in one layer.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden.
6. Enjoy!

Recipe: Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

25 Feb

Quick, easy, and full of oaty goodness, these bars work multiple jobs: they can be a snack, dessert, or even part of breakfast. They are also a good way to use up jam or preserves if, like us, you have a variety of half-full jam jars in the fridge (a state of affairs that arises when family members each have a favorite). Whenever I want to clear out the fridge, I make these bars. But truthfully, fridge clearing isn’t the main reason to make these; we quite frequently open new jars of jam just for this recipe, starting the cycle all over again. The bars are worth it.

This weekend, I actually did use up all that remained of a jar of regular raspberry preserves, but there wasn’t quite enough for the recipe. Solution? I topped up the measuring cup with a bit of black raspberry jam. That’s the other good thing about these oatmeal bars –they are very versatile: a blackberry, blueberry, cherry, or strawberry/rhubarb filling would work quite nicely, too.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
9 or 16 servings

3 c. quick-cooking oats
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. canola oil
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. raspberry (or other fruit) preserves/jam, stirred until smooth

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray (or lightly oil the pan).
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Combine wet ingredients, and add to dry ingredients, mixing well.
4. Put half of oat mixture into baking pan, and press firmly and evenly into place with the back of a spoon.
5. Spread the preserves/jam evenly over the oat layer. Loosely cover the filling with the remaining oat mixture.
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes; let cool 15 minutes before serving.
7. Cut into 9 squares for hearty servings, or 16 squares for smaller bites.

Recipe: Tortilla Soup

5 Feb

Twenty-four years ago today, my husband and I had our first date at an El Torito Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, Washington DC, whereupon I not only polished off a full platter of food, but found extra room for dessert, too. Ah, the joys of youth (and first dates). My future husband was amazed, but that was because he did not yet appreciate the magnitude of my sweet tooth — in my view, there’s always room for at least a little dessert.

The restaurant is now gone and my ability to eat that much dinner has gone with it. So on the anniversary of that first date, I present a light meal that was an El Torito favorite: Tortilla Soup. If you have this for dinner, you will certainly have room to satisfy any sweet cravings afterward.

This recipe calls for chicken, but a vegetarian version could easily be made without the chicken and using vegetable broth/bouillon instead of chicken broth/bouillon. A vegan version would also omit the cheese.

Tortilla Soup

[Updated instructions 2/7/2015]

3 chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lb.)
7 c. chicken broth
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 potato, diced
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 zucchini, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
chicken (or vegetable) bouillon powder or cubes to taste
juice of 1/2 lime

Accompaniments:
corn tortilla strips (see cooking instructions below; will need 5 corn tortillas and canola oil)
1 1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 avocados, sliced
3/4 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

1. Heat the broth in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, reduce heat, and gently poach the chicken. [Note: Whenever possible, I like to poach the chicken ahead of time and let it cool in the broth: bring the chicken and broth to a simmer, turn down the heat so that the liquid ripples but doesn’t actually boil, cover the pot, poach the chicken for about 15 minutes–skimming the broth as needed–then turn off the heat and let the chicken breasts cool in the broth for about half an hour. If time is short, poach the chicken for 20-25 minutes, skimming as needed, remove from the pot, and transfer to a plate to cool.]
2. Add onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, potato, tomato paste, bay leaf, garlic, oregano, cumin, and a dash of salt and pepper to the broth in the soup pot. Bring to a boil,  reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25 minutes.
3. While soup is simmering, cut the 5 corn tortillas into quarters and then cut each quarter into thin strips; leave the strips on the cutting board until ready to cook. Shred the cool chicken with a fork or clean fingers, and set aside.
4. Heat canola oil over high heat in heavy skillet (should be at least 1- to 1.5-inch depth of oil). When oil is very hot, add a layer of corn tortilla strips. Fry until golden, flipping as needed to ensure even coloring. Drain tortilla strips on a layer of paper towels. Repeat until all strips have been cooked; reserve.
5. Add zucchini, tomatoes, jalapeno, and shredded chicken to the soup pot, then simmer 10 more minutes. Check seasonings; if broth needs a bit more flavor, add chicken (or vegetable) bouillon powder or cubes and more pepper as needed. Add lime juice just before serving.
6. Serve soup in individual bowls, with avocado slices, jalapenos, tortilla strips, cheese, and cilantro as accompaniments.

Recipe: Savory Baked Salmon

26 Jan

Nine times out of ten when deciding how to prepare fish, I opt for lightly marinaded or seasoned fish that is then broiled or grilled — a fresh and simple preparation.  It is a choice that makes me feel virtuous and happy (because, of course, a wise dinner decision opens up all sorts of possibilities for dessert).  But sometimes I find myself yearning for a slightly heartier fish dish that warms the soul in a different way. I don’t pretend this Savory Salmon is light, but it is good–the topping would work on almost any fish. And children like it. I serve it with oven-roasted asparagus and a cucumber-tomato salad.

Savory Baked Salmon
Serves 6

2.5 lb. salmon (or other fish) fillets
salt and pepper

Topping
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. paprika
sprinkle crushed red pepper (chilli flakes)–roughly 1/4. tsp. , or tiny pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1.5 tsp. parsley flakes)
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese

Preparation

1. For Topping: Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice and stir until smooth; add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
2. For Salmon: Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper, then generously coat each fillet with topping. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily. If topping is not golden, broil briefly, keeping a careful eye on the fish.

Recipe: Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta

8 Dec

Sometimes, you want something fairly simple for dinner, but still want it to have a little flair. This dish meets that need. It is a different take on an old favorite: lasagna. Instead of layering the lasagna, you roll it up. It is fun to make, and a pleasure to eat.

Lasagna Roll-Ups © G. Stansbury

Lasagna Roll-Ups with Spinach and Ricotta
Makes 10-12
[Updated  Dec. 9, 2012]

15 pieces lasagna from a 1-lb. box
16 oz. ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
1.5 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
freshly grated pepper to taste

pasta sauce of your preference (at least 24 oz./4 c. — may need more)

Preparation
1. Cook lasagna al dente in large pot of boiling water according to directions on package. Drain, and rinse with cold water to cool.
2. While lasagna is cooking, combine ricotta, garlic, spinach, egg, 1/2 c. mozzarella, Pecorino Romano/Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray, then pour about 2 c. pasta sauce into pan, spreading evenly. Add more sauce as needed to ensure there is a healthy layer of sauce in bottom of pan.
4.  Lay out a lasagna noodle and spoon about 1/3 c. filling in an even layer down the entire noodle (you can also spread the filling on the noodle with very clean fingers). Roll the lasagna noodle up as tightly as possible, and nestle into sauce in pan. Repeat with remaining noodles–you will end up with between 10-12 roll-ups  (the extra noodles are back-ups in case of any breaks or tears). Pour remaining sauce over and in between roll-ups.
5. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove aluminum foil and sprinkle remaining 1 c. mozzarella over the roll-ups. Broil until golden, and serve immediately.

Recipe: Pakistani Chicken Patties

3 Dec

These patties are from an old New York Times recipe for Pakistani Seekh Kebabs. I first tasted them cold, at a picnic on the edge of a river after a hike with our friends. Our friends brought the patties as their picnic contribution, and they (the patties) were heavenly (though our friends are quite nice, too).

You could grill these, but you would miss out on the main reason to pan fry them in olive oil: the onions. As the patties cook, some of the onions fall out and turn golden brown in the olive oil. There is a battle at our house for those onion bits; their appeal cannot be underestimated.

So, hot or cold–all parts of these patties are delectable. We eat them with curried couscous (a bit of cross-cultural fusion) and the accompanying Cilantro Mint Chutney.

Pakistani Chicken Patties
Serves 8

Patties
2 lb.  ground chicken (or turkey, or combination)
1 egg yolk
1 large onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
¼ c. cilantro, leaves and stems–finely chopped  (Note: if you are buying the cilantro in a bunch, you can use 1/3 for the patties 2/3 for the chutney)
2 teaspoons salt

olive oil

Cilantro Mint Chutney
1 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. mint leaves
1/2 c. cilantro, leaves and stems
1 tbsp. lemon juice (I’ve used 1/2 tbsp. vinegar in a pinch)
1/2 tsp. sugar

Preparation
1. For patties, combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, shape meat mixture into patties with a spoon, and cook the patties in batches until golden. Serve with couscous and Cilantro Mint Chutney.

2. For chutney, combine ingredients in a blender or a small food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Refrigerate up to 2 days.