I’m Nuts for Coconuts

coconut 1

The thing about coconut is that you either love it or hate it, and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Used to be coconut was that “exotic” ingredient that made its appearance only in a cake or candy bar or cookie. Sure making macaroons (not the French kind) always required that you buy a bag or two but ethnic dishes aside, until a few years ago the idea of coconut water was laughable, now, it’s the hottest item in the specialty water market place.

Early New World Spanish explorers discovering the coconut in their exploration called the strange round object that fell from trees coco, which translated means “monkey face”. I suppose those three indentations on that hairy nut does sort of resembles a monkey head but really when the coconut was brought back to Europe it became a source for many and varied products. Just to be accurate, a coconut is actually the fruit of the coconut palm and is a drupe, not a nut at all. A drupe is a seed consisting of an outer hard shell

The coconut is a multi talented food source and it provides a form of meat, juice, milk, and oil to countries around the world. It’s also a rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Recent studies have shown that the coconut is one of the best foods around.

Today, coconut is considered a wonder food. There are lots and lots of coconut products available on grocery shelves these days. Shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut oil, really coconut everything and knowing what you’re getting and how to use it is key to making the most of your coconut experience. The dried coconut is obviously used in all kind of dishes. The coconut oil and coconut milk (which come from flesh of the coconut) are used in cooking baking, cooking and frying and coconut oil is also used in the manufacturing of soap and cosmetics. Coconut water is the hot new product in the flavored water aisle these days and not to be ignored the husks and leaves are used for making furniture and other house hold items.

So, it’s obvious that the past bad rep surrounding the coconut has been debunked. Now that you know exactly how versatile every little part of the coconut is, go get some and use these fun and delicious recipes to become acquainted. Who knows, maybe it will become you new favorite ingredient.

 coconut 3 soup

COCONUT VODKA PASTA SAUCE

 

1/2 cup oil

1 large onions, minced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 to 3 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup vodka

2, 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 14-Ounce can coconut milk

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Cork screw or bow tie pasta cooked al dente, kept warm

 

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic and celery in the oil until softened and just beginning to take on a brown color. De-glaze with the vodka, stir well, and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes (with the juice) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook 20 more minutes. Using an immersion blender or food process. Puree slightly, leaving some chunks. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve immediately with the cooked pasta or cool and refrigerate or freeze. Makes About 2 Quarts

 

My file, source unknown

 

THAI CHICKEN SOUP

 

1 lb pkg. fettuccini noodles

4 heaping tablespoons shredded coconut, unsweetened, toasted

6 cups chicken broth

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red or green chili, seeded, finely sliced

2 tablespoons fish or soy sauce (more to taste)

2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped (use a food processor)

1/2 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, optional

3 green onions, sliced

 

Place the dry noodles in a large bowl. Pour room temperature water over the noodles and let them soak for 10 to 15 minute. (They will be al dente in about 15 minutes). Drain and rinse and then divide them between 8 bowls)

 

Bring the broth to a boil in a large stock pot. Reduce to medium heat and add the turmeric, chili powder, garlic, and chili. Mix to combine, cook 2 minutes and then add the chicken. Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken pieces are all cooked. Reduce heat to a simmer and add fish sauce, ground peanuts, and coconut milk. Cook for 1 minute more and remove from heat. Add the lime juice, mix to combine and then spoon the soup over the noodles in the 8 bowls. To serves, top each bowl with the chopped cilantro, green onion, and toasted coconut. Serves 8

 

Modified from yummly.com

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COCONUT SHRIMP CURRY

 

2 teaspoon olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 cup red bell peppers, sliced thinly

1 1/2 cup sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds raw shrimp

2 cups light coconut milk from a can

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

salt to taste

cooked rice for 6 to 8

 

In a large skillet heat the oil and saute the onion, red pepper, and sugar snap peas for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander, and curry powder. Cook for 1minute. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered for 2 minutes.

Add in the shrimp, bump up the heat to medium and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water. Stir the mixture into shrimp mixture, and cook until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat, serve either on individual plates or on a platter. To serve sprinkle the chopped cilantro and peanuts on top. Serves 8.

 

Modified from about.com

 coconut 4 cake

COCONUT CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS AND COCONUT DRIZZLE

I love this recipe, I found it in Bon Appetite and have been making it ever since

 

Cake:

1 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate bars broken into small pieces, divided

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

 

Drizzle:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk**

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; dust pan with flour, shaking out excess. Sift 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Stir in the unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar, butter, and orange peel and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with sweetened flaked coconut.

 

Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, (tent with sheet of foil if cake is browning too quickly) 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.

 

In a bowl combine the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, and vanilla and mix to combine, adding more coconut milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.

Place the cake on a serving platter and then drizzle the glaze over the top. Cool cake completely on platter. This is great with vanilla ice cream. Serves 10 to 12.

Modified from Bon Appétit January 2010

COCONUT HONEY SALMON

 

1 1/2 cups butter

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flaked coconut

4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a saucepan combine the honey, brown, sugar, and coconut. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat. Cool the mixture slightly and pour it into a 9X13 glass pan. Place the salmon in the pan and then flip it once or twice to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Flip the filets and refrigerate for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Arrange the salmon in the dish, and spoon some of the marinade over the top, making sure to get some of the coconut on the top. Season with just a little salt and pepper. Bake 25 minutes in the oven, basting occasionally with the sauce, until the salmon is flaked easily with a fork. Serves 4

Submitted by Eleanor Razon Toronto Canada

 

© Eileen Goltz coconut 13

 

All Hail Asparagus, Spring is just around the corner

  So I walk into the produce section of my favorite green grocer and what do I spy? Why asparagus at .99 a pound. Are they kidding me? .99 a pound? Sign me up and shut the door, I’m all in for this special. As if in a daze my cart magically makes its way over to the stand and I find myself loading bundle after bundle of that sweet stalk of green goodness into my cart.

By the time I get out of my chlorophyll induced stupor I’m in my kitchen, the proud owner of 10 pounds of the stuff and no real plan on how to use it up before it starts to wilt. My plan, take a deep breath, do a little recipe research and cook up a storm.

Asparagus is one of Mother Nature’s finest gifts and is a sure sign that spring has sprung. It’s a part of the lily family and is sort of a first cousin to onions, leeks and garlic. Loaded with vitamins A, B and C it’s also a great source for folic acid, it’s at its best from May through June so now is the best time to stock up and chow down. It is a very versatile vegetable that can be prepared by steaming, roasting, grilling or even stir frying it. The spears should be firm and green with tightly closed firm tips. Choose thin or thick stalks is just a matter of personal preference, I don’t really taste a difference between the two. Pass up asparagus with thick woody looking stalks.  I don’t peel the stalks but I do cut off about 1/2 inch of the ends before cooking.

If you’d like a little variety in your life look for white or purple asparagus. They’re the same as the green variety they’ve just been grown differently; the white is grown like some mushrooms, without light so it doesn’t produce chlorophyll. You will find that the white asparagus is a tad bit sweeter but so is the price point. The purple is pretty but it does loose most of its purple color when cooked.

I’ve started cooking and don’t plan on stopping until the last stalk is devoured and invite you to do the same with these terrific recipes

 

GRILLED ASPARAGUS MOCK CRAB TART (dairy)

1lb. asparagus, cut into 1/3’s and grilled slightly

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 to 5 portabella mushrooms chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoon parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded Munster or pepper jack cheese

1/2 lb mock crab shredded or chopped

8 ounces vegetable cream cheese

4 eggs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a skillet melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the heat and add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Mix to combine and then press mushroom mixture evenly in bottom and up side of greased pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mushroom crust. Place the asparagus and mock crab on top of the cheese. In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, eggs and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Beat to combine and so that there are no lumps. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus and crabmeat. Sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes then serve. Serves 8.

Modified from about.com

 

PUFFED ASPARAGUS AND LOX BITES (dairy)

1 lb fresh asparagus ends cut off, steamed till just crisp tender

1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted

1 cup shredded pepper jack or Swiss cheese

1/4 lb lox, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Open puff pastry dough and cut each sheet into 1/3’s. Then cut each strip into 1/3’s. Roll each section out slightly so they form rectangles. On each section, lengthwise, place a few stalks of cooked asparagus on one edge, sprinkle some cheese, lox and green onions on top of the asparagus and then roll them up. Place the rolls, seam side down on the cookie sheet. Brush the top of each roll with the melted butter and sprinkle the top with a few sesame seeds. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until roll ups are golden browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut each roll in half and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

ASPARAGUS POPOVERS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch sugar

3 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425. In a medium saucepan, add 2 inched of salted water; bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the spears crosswise into thirds. In a medium cast-iron skillet, add the butter. Place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter. In a medium bowl, microwave the milk on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in the eggs, then the flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the asparagus pieces to the hot cast-iron skillet and pour the batter on top. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese. Recipe makes 24 pieces

From the May 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

ASPARAGUS TID BITS (dairy)

1 lb asparagus cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb smoked white fish, broken into bite size pieces

12 oz gruyere cheese, sliced

1 loaf French bread, sliced in to 1/2-inch slices

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Saute the asparagus in the olive oil until it’s just soft and set it aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the slices of French bread with olive oil. Place the oiled pieces, oil side up on the parchment paper, season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Place a small piece of white fish on top of the toasted French bread, then put two to three pieces of asparagus, and top with one small slice of gruyere, Grind a little pepper on top, return to the oven for 2 minutes or just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 12 to 14 pieces.

ASPARAGUS STRATA (dairy)

You can vary the amount of cheese according to your taste

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

2 carrots shredded

1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups milk or 1/2 and 1/2

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (for sauce)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

6 large par boiled lasagna noodles

1 to 1 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 to 1 cup grated Romano cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Place the asparagus and shredded carrots on a cookie sheet with sides and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until they just begin to soften. Cool slightly and set them aside. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and whisk briskly and constantly until it’s combined. Cook for about 2 minutes whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is thickened. Reduce the heat and add the nutmeg, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and garlic. Stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from the heat. In a 9 X 13 pan, spread a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom. Top with 3 noodles then top with 1/3 of the roasted asparagus and carrot mixture. Sprinkle a little parmesan Romano and mozzarella cheese over the top of the asparagus. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese. Top with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Repeat the layers asparagus, cheese, sauce. Top the sauce on the top of the strata with the remaining cheeses. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the sides are bubbly. Let the cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Submitted by Corrine Rasterty, Finley NJ

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ASPARAGUS AND ONIONS HOT POT (dairy)

1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion, chopped into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons of butter, divided

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded.

1 cup of panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute the asparagus, garlic and onion until just slightly wilted. Put the mixture into the greased pan. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the cream cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the asparagus and onion mixture. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

MAPLE GLAZED ASPARAGUS (pareve)

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Paprika

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450. Line the cookie sheet with foil. Place the asparagus spears on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and maple syrup over the top. Toss to make sure all the spears are coated. Lightly sprinkle the asparagus with the paprika, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes then turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

ASPARAGUS AND PASTA SALAD (dairy)

6 to 8 slices Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon, cut into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper chopped

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on a long diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked according to the package directions, save 1 cup of the water used in cooking

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Parmesan for serving

Cook the Morning Star Farm ® fake bacon in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a fry pan until it’s crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and but keep the oil in the pan. Saute the onion, mushrooms and red pepper in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta and 1/2 cup of the water to the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine, scraping the bottom to remove the cooked on bits of vegetable. Cook for 1 minute and add the remaining water and 1/2 cup parmesan. Mix to combine and cook for 2 more minutes. Place the pasta mixture in a serving bowl, add the cooked Morning Star Farm® fake bacon and toss to combine. Serve with additional parmesan. Serves 6 to 8

Modified from an old Gourmet Magazine recipe

Carrots Carrots and More Carrots/ Kosher and Non Kosher Recipes

 

So when is a vegetable bargain REALLY bargain? Answer:  when it’s a 10lb bag of carrots and you only need 2 lbs but the 10lb bag is only $1 more than the 2 lb bag. No brainer, you buy it. The truth is I always have carrots in the fridge; sometimes I just have more of them than other times. It’s when I have too many that I really great creative.

Carrots are my go to veggie that are always in season and ALWAYS cheaper than any other vegetable out there. They are delicious cooked or fresh you can always count on them to lend color and fiber to any meal. I call them the Robin Williams of vegetables, all over the place when it comes to their color. They come in the ever popular international orange we all recognize, white, or red, yellow purple (yes purple) and everything in between. On top of being the “pretty” vegetable  carrots  are a terrific source of  potassium, manganese, foliate, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins A, B1, B3, B6, C and K.

So now I’ve got all these carrots and I can only needed 2lbs for the soup I was making (recipe below). I figured that since I had them I might as well use them all at once because, well, I just cook that way. I went digging for carrot recipes that were just a little bit different and easy to make and delicious enough that even the most finicky of non veggie lovers would like.

 

PARSNIPS AND CARROTS WITH HONEY AND ROSEMARY

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound carrots (about 4 large), peeled, cut into bite sized pieces

1 pound large parsnips, peeled, cut into bite sized pieces

kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

 

Heat the oil in large skillet. Add the carrots, sugar and parsnips and saute until the carrot and parsnips start to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the butter, rosemary, and honey and mix to coat. Cook, stirring constantly until the vegetables are coated about 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serves 8

 

Modified Bon Appétit November 2007 submitted by Molly Stevens

CARROT SLAW

 

6 medium carrots, shredded.
1/2 a head of green cabbage, shredded

1/2 a head of red cabbage, shredded.

4 green onions, sliced thin
2/3 cup of mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon of orange juice

Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup salted sunflower seeds

 

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, green onions, cabbage. Toss to combine. In another bowl combine the mayonnaise, sugar and orange juice. Whisk to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the carrot mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour but up to 6 hours before serving. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top and serve. Serves 10 to 12

CARROT SOUP WITH A KICK

 

8 carrots, chopped
5 celery stalks, cut into pieces

1 parsnip, peeled, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped

4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons of curry powder
sea salt to taste

 

In a large soup pot heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, celery and onion for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly until they are soft. Add the curry powder and mix to coat. Add the carrots, parsnip, and water. Cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Cool slightly and then process in a food processor or blender until the soup is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Submitted by Antonia Marcarni Chicago IL

CARROT & PASTA

 

3 large carrots, washed, peeled

3 tablespoons olive oil

A little kosher salt

1 onion, sliced into rounds

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic, finely diced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup your favorite spaghetti sauce

1 lb cooked pasta, spaghetti, rottini or bow tie

 

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into long thing strips. Place the strips in a bowl and sprinkle them with a little kosher salt. Place the oil in the bottom of a large pan and add the carrots and onions and stir frequently.  When the carrots start to soften, add the garlic and pepper and continue cooking for about 5 minutes but make sure not to let the veggies get too browned. Add the spaghetti sauce, oregano and basil and then continue to simmer until the everything is hot. Serve the sauce over the cooked pasta. Serves 6 to 8.

 

My file source unknown

 

APRICOT CARROTS WITH WILD RICE PILAF

 

3 cups baby carrots or regular carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons oil

12 to 16 dried apricots, chopped

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon allspice

salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup water

2 cups wild rice/white rice mix cooked

 

Steam carrots until tender, but still firm and then set them aside. In a skillet saute the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions are soft. Add the ginger, cloves, sugar, and apricots and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the sugar has been incorporated. Add the water and whisk until the sauce thickens slightly.  Add the carrots, and cook for a few minutes until the carrots are hot throughout. Add the rice, mix to combine and serve. Serves 6.

 

My file source unknown

ULTIMATE CARROT CAKE

 

2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

1/2 cup buttermilk or milk or non dairy substitute

2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 pound finely grated carrots

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

1 cup golden raisins

1 batch Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

 

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by lightly coating with oil and lining with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg together in a bowl.  Set aside.

 

In a large bowl combine the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, brown sugar, vanilla, and pineapple together, mix to combine.   Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.   Stir in the carrots, pecans and raisins just until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

 

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake on the center rack for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans for at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove them.  Then, removed from the pans and peel off the parchment paper.  Continue to cool the cakes completely before frosting.

 

To assemble the cake, place the bottom layer on a cardboard round or other flat surface and put on a cake turntable. Scoop about 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese icing onto the top of the bottom cake layer.  Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the surface.  Carefully place the second layer on top.  Scoop another 1 1/2 cups or so of the frosting on the top of the cake and spread evenly, easing the frosting down the sides.  Spread the icing around the sides of the cake, adding more as needed.  Lift the cake off the turn table and place on a cake stand or platter and chill a bit to firm up the frosting before slicing.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar to taste

 

Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add extracts and beat just until incorporated.  Beat in sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting has the flavor and consistency you want.  You may not need to add all of the sugar.

 

Adapted from The Essential Baker via Zoe Bakes

© Eileen Goltz carrots12

Oddles of Noodles /some non kosher recipes

When my son discovered that the money train AKA his parents credit card had left when he entered grad school he quickly discovered the joys of pasta, or more specifically, ramen noodles. Left to his own devices (and given his limited time to spend in the kitchen) this staple in his pantry would have been the entree of choice. I convinced him, though a little culinary magic, a few simple recipes and a $50 gift card to Kroger have to try a few different types of noodles to kick up his menu variety.

Created in China (not Italy as most people believe) noodles were an integral part of the Chinese diet from as early as 200 B.C There are several kinds of noodles in Chinese cuisine, mien noodles (egg), rice noodles, wheat noodles and bean noodles. In northernChina, wheat noodle are eaten more regularly than rice or rice noodles. Rice noodles are considered a southern Chinese staple. I told my son that while there were nice inexpensive “Americanized” alternatives to the Asian noodles (lets not forgetJapanhere) that the originals were actually tastier and more interesting.

The first noodle I introduced him to was the Soba noodle. A Soba noodle is made with wheat flour and buckwheat. It’s high in fiber and has a nutty full bodied flavor. The higher the buckwheat content the more expensive the noodle. Soba noodles are typically served in soups or with a plain with a dipping sauce. Less expensive alternative: whole wheat spaghetti or linguini.

He already knew about Ramen but for the uninformed, Ramen are thin and skinny curly dried egg noodles that are typically sold in an instant soup form. There is usually a packet of flavored instant soup powder in the package. My son has eaten it for years and has added veggies and left over chicken or turkey. There isn’t really a less expensive alternative as they are cheap cheap cheap but regular spaghetti noodles are pretty close.
Rice noodles are round or flat, thin and slightly translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. They kinda have zero flavor of their own (just a great squishy texture) and they pair with just about any strong meat of fish flavor. You can substitute vermicelli, linguine, or fettuccine but it’s not really a close match.

Bean thread, cellophane or mung bean noodles are very thin noodles that are semi-transparent noodles made from the starch of mung beans. Bean threads become very slippery when cooked. Their subtle flavor is the perfect complement to any meat or fish dish. I would suggest rice noodles or vermicelli as a substitute but they are sort of a one of a kind noodle.

For most the tried and true method of cooking noodles is to boil the and then add them to the other ingredients, pour sauce over them or add ingredients to the pot they were cooked in. I really don’t have much to add to that for my column other than don’t over cook them and read the instructions on the package.

If possible try and buy fresh noodles as opposed to the dried variety. Fresh noodles should be soft but not limp, sticky, or brittle. Fresh will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer. Dried noodles can be kept until just about the next ice age in a cool, dry, dark place.

One final “noodle note” those ‘chow mein’ found in most Chinese restaurants are an American invention so if you’re looking for “authentic” pass the up and get yourself the real stuff.

SLEEPING DRAGON NOODLE SALAD

 

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 carrots julienned

1/4 cup chopped celery

4 radishes julienned

2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage

4 packages ramen egg noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons black or toasted sesame seeds

 

In a large salad bowl combine the sesame oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Add shredded cabbage and toss to coat. Add the green onions, carrot, celery and radishes. Toss to combine and top with sesame seeds before serving. Serves 8.

 

SHRIMP NOODLE STIR FRY

 

2 teaspoon cornstarch

2 egg whites

1/3 to 1/2 lb shelled shrimp (raw) cut in half

3/4 lb noodles (any kind will work but I like soba noodle with this)

salt

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 to 4 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 tablespoon white wine

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

 

In a bowl mix the cornstarch and ginger with the egg white and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Heat the 3 tablespoons sesame oil in a skillet. Add the green onion, and shrimp and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, wine and sugar and mix to combine. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the noodles and mix to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes and just before you’re finished add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and serve. Serves then add the sesame seed oil just before serving. Serves 2 to 4

 

Modified from a recipe submitted by Carlie Smyth Chicago IL

HOT AND SPICEY PORTABELLA AND EDAMAME WITH NOODLES
For sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons Wasabi paste (this is hot, you can use less)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 ounces portabella mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
8 cups shredded Napa cabbage
6 green onions, thinly sliced
8 to 9 ounces soba
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

 

In a bowl combine the water, soy sauce, Wasabi and brown sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.  Heat the oil in skillet then add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the portabellas and saute, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and add cabbage and 2/3’s of the green onions (save a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer 2 minutes.

 

While cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until the noodles are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and edamame in a colander and rinse with cool water. Place the noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine. Serve sprinkled with remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

 

BOTH SIDES BROWNED NOODLES

Kind of like a noodle pancake

1 pound fresh or dried egg noodles

2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or more if needed)

 

In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover the noodles and bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring to separate. Cook until the noodles almost done, tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place the noodles back into the pot and add the sesame oil and toss to coat. In a frying pan or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high heat. Add the noodles. Spread the noodles out to the edges of the pan, and then let them cook, without stirring, until they are browned on the bottom (6 to 8 minutes). Flip over and brown the other side. You can do this by placing a plate over the top of the pan, flipping the noodles out onto it and then sliding them back into the pan. You may need to add a little more oil to keep them from sticking. Cook on the second side until crispy,4 to 5more minutes. Remove the fried noodle pancake to a serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve with stir fried vegetables or grilled meat. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Submitted byTony Easteron River GroveIL

 

WARM GINGER AND PEANUT NOODLE SALAD

 

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound uncooked angle hair pasta or linguini

1 1/2 cups shredded carrot

1/3 to 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise

1 cup thin strips red or yellow bell pepper

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts

 

In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, Wasabi and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. When the noodles are al dente (still a little crunchy) turn off the heat and add the carrot and snow peas. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes then drain, saving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Add the drained pasta and noodles to the salad dressing in the salad bowl. Toss to coat. Add the bell pepper, water chestnuts and onions. Toss to coat. Add the pasta water and toss to coat. Sprinkle the honey roasted peanuts on top and serve warm. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

SPICY CASHEW NOODLE SALAD

 

8 oz dried linguini, spaghetti, or soba noodles

2 cups broccoli florets cut small

1/4 pound pea pods, sliced in 1/3’s

1 carrot, peeled, julienned

1/2 red onion chopped fine

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

3 green onions, sliced

1 large tomato seeded and chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, julienned

1 cup toasted cashews

 

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain again and then set it aside. Steam the broccoli, pea pods, and carrots for about 2 minutes, making sure they are still crisp. Rinse them in cold water and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a frying pan, add onion, ginger and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until just soft. Add the green onions, tomato and red pepper. Mix to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. In a bowl combine the lime juice, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce. Add the sauteed onion mixture to the sauce and mix to combine. Add the noodles and steamed vegetables to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Great at room temperature or served cold. Before serving sprinkle the pine nuts on the top. Serves 6.

 

SALSA SHRIMP AND NOODLE SOUP

 

1 lb shrimp, peeled and divined

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups water

2 packages shrimp flavored Ramen Noodles (use 1 packet of seasoning)

2 cups salsa

1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 can corn

1 green onion thinly sliced

 

In a medium bowl combine the lemon juice chili powder, cumin, and pepper. Mix to combine and add the shrimp. Toss to coat and let sit for 1/2 hour. In a large sauce pan bring water to boil, stir in 1 ramen flavor packet, break the ramen noodles into pieces and add them to the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp, salsa, beans, corn, and green onion and then reduce the soup to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink. Serves 4.

 

Submitted by Lenore Hentz Trenton NJ

 

ASPARAGUS AND NOODLE STIR FRY

 

3 oz. pkg. oriental or shrimp flavor ramen noodle soup mix

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 red onion, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 lb. sea scallops cut in half

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

 

Cook and drain ramen noodles as directed on the package and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in wok or large skillet. Add the asparagus, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the scallops and stir-fry until they are white and firm. Add the ramen seasoning packet, soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and hot sauce and stir into scallop mixture. Stir in the cooked noodles. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until everything is hot throughout. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Modified from about.com

Barley There (Ok, a bad pun but a great grain)

So there I was, cleaning out my pantry in a crazed moment of organization (believe me, they are few and far between) and lo and behold, I discover an open box of barley I had conveniently misplaced behind the other opened boxes of pasta, wild rice and ramen noodles I really need to finish. As I contemplated the box I realized that I have tons and tons of recipes that utilize this great grain and what better time to share them than when I’m all trying to use up this “stuff”

Barley is kind of a super fiber filled food and who can’t use more fiber in their diet these days. There are two types of barley typically available to consumers.  The first is pearl barley. This process barley has had its outer fibrous hull removed and is almost like white rice, great for soups and salads. Scotch barley is less processed barley. It holds up better in stews and cooked casseroles.

Barley has a slightly nutty and chewy flavor. I like to toast it (for 8 to 10 minutes in a skillet over a low heat) before cooking it to bring out its more robust flavor. You should know that barley expands A LOT when it cooks so make sure you have enough liquid to keep it from scorching. 1 cup dry barley expands to makes approx. 3 cups cooked barley. In the event, unlike me, you need to purchase some barley to make the following recipes please try and steer clear of the quick cooking kind. In my opinion, it’s just a poor imitation of the real stuff. Yes you can use the quick cooking barley if you’re in a hurry but for my money and taste the slower cooking kind is better in terms of flavor and texture.

 

How cook pearl barley:
In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup pearl barley, 2 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Makes approx 3 cups.

SHANGHI STIR FRY

 

1/2 cup barley
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small peeled and diced eggplant
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
8 to 10 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup shredded red cabbage

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

 

Place the barley and water in medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Set the barley aside. In large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken and garlic and stir fry 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked barley to the pan and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture to a bowl and set it aside. Do not clean the pan. Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add eggplant, bell pepper and onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add basil, hot sauce, sugar, peanut butter and soy sauce; cook 2 more minutes. Add the barley mixture to the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the serving bowl and garnish with peanuts, cucumber and red cabbage. Serves 4.

 

APPLES AND BARLEY CHICKEN

 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup barley
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3 tablespoons apricot jam or apple butter

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish. In a large skillet heat the oil and sauté the onion, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apple and curry powder and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the barley and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes. Spoon the liquidly barley mixture into the greased casserole. Arrange the chicken pieces over the barley mixture. Season with garlic salt. Cover and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and brush the chicken with the apricot jam. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

CORN AND BARLEY CASSEROLE

 

1 cup barley
3 cups water
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced

In medium saucepan bring the water and approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the barley and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the corn and simmer 10 to 15 minutes longer. While the barley is cooking in a bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, basil, approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the warm barley mixture and mix to combine. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Add the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to combine. Serves 6 to 8

ORANGE ALMOND AND BARLEY SALAD

 

2 cups hot cooked barley
4 to 5 tablespoons sesame oil

1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar
3-1/2 to 4 cups shredded romaine or red leaf lettuce

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges drained but save 2 tablespoons liquid
1-1/2 to 2 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Rice noodles, for garnish

2/3 cup toasted almonds

 

Place the hot cooked barley into a large bowl. Drizzle the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar over the hot barley, mix gently to coat Cover the barley and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. Add the mandarin oranges, orange liquid, turkey, celery and green onions to the cold barley. Toss gently to combine. Arrange the salad greens on 4 dinner plates. Mound the barley mixture over the greens. Sprinkle the top of each salad with the rice noodles and almonds for garnish. Makes 4 main course servings or 8 salad servings.

 

BARLEY BEEF SOUP

 

1 1/2 lb beef stew meat cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 onions chopped

6 carrots diced

1 to 1 1/2 lb mushroom sliced

8 cups beef broth

1 cup barley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

In the bottom of a soup pot brown the meat in the oil. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, mushrooms and barley. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. In the last 15 minutes add the parsley and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper before serving. If the soup is too thick add water to thin it. Serves 8

 

VEGETABLE BARLEY SOUP

 

1 onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 parsnip, diced

2 potatoes, diced

2 tablespoon oil

8 cups water or broth

1 cup uncooked pearled barley

1 can pinto beans, drained

1 small can crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 large bay leaves

Salt and pepper

 

In a large soup pot, sauté the onions, celery, parsnip, potatoes and carrots for 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth or water and the remaining ingredients. Mix to combine and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve. Serves 8 to 10.

 

Submitted by Victoria Cambria Northbrook IL

 

CHICKEN BARLEY GUMBO

 

1 lb skinless chicken thighs

2 teaspoon olive oil

4 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

1 onion, chopped

2 cups seeded diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups corn

2 cups sliced okra (sliced)

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon sage

2/3 cup barley

 

In a large sauce pan sauté the onions in the olive oil for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the chicken, cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water and broth the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Skim off the foam and add the garlic, red pepper, bay leaf, and sage. Cover and let simmer 15 to 30 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, corn, and barley, cover and simmer for an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8 to 10.

 

Modified from about.com

Make Mine Minestrone

While chicken soup may be the quintessential soup to serve when someone is sick and tomato soup is the perfect comfort food to serve with a grilled cheese sandwich (extra cheese please) Minestrone is the one I like to serve best on a cool crisp fall evening when there is just a hint of frost in the air and I’m ready to light the first bonfire of the season. Minestrone is an Italian soup in origin, made with fresh seasonally fall vegetables, often made more robust with the addition of pasta or rice.

The most common ingredients of Minestrone soup include beans (dry and/or canned), onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes. There is no one “politically correct” recipe for minestrone  since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season or in your fridge it can whipped together (and thrown in a crockpot ) relativity quickly before you head out for the day and ready when you get home or cooked the night before and reheated . It can also be vegetarian or contain meat. In fact the word “minestrone” has become a synonym for “throw what every you like in there”. Just so you know, great minestrone should distinguish itself by the large quantity of fresh vegetables it contains and its thick consistency (great for mopping up with that extra bread that always seems to be on the table when you serve a thick soup).

MINESTRONE OF MODENA (meat)

 

1/2 cup dried cannellini beans
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
3 ounces sliced pastrami, chopped
1 cup minced yellow onions
1/2 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced carrots
1 generous tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes, drained
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
4 ounces green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini, diced
4 ounces white mushrooms, diced
2 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
4 ounces asparagus, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen petite green peas
8 to 10 basil leaves, shredded
2 quarts warm water or canned low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sort beans, pick out the bad ones and soak overnight in water to cover.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add pastrami, onions, celery, carrots, and parsley; cook, stirring until vegetables are lightly golden and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir, about 5 minutes. Drain and add the rehydrated cannellini beans, potatoes, green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus, peas, and basil to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to coat vegetables well with savory base. Add warm water and Parmesan rind; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the minestrone has a dense, thick consistency. (If the soup should thicken too much, add a bit more water.) Remove cheese rind, and adjust seasoning. Turn off heat and let soup stand for about 30 minutes. Serves 8 to 10

 

Note: Rice or small pasta such as ditalini can be added to the soup during the last minutes of cooking. Add rice 10 minutes before you turn off the heat, pasta 3 to 5 minutes before. The rice or pasta will keep cooking as the soup rests.

 

Adapted from Biba’s Taste of Italy. 2001. Biba Caggiano, William Morrow Publishing

 

FAST AND EASY MINESTRONE (meat)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg
Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
7 cups beef or chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes, mashed with a spoon
1 (15.5 ounce) can kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried basil leaves
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup uncooked rotelli pasta (4 ounces)

Squeeze as much moisture as possible from spinach. Mix together with beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, and pepper. Shape into 1-inch balls. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until very hot. Add a few meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels. Repeat till all are browned.

 

Remove excess oil and add onion to Dutch oven; cook until opaque. Stir in broth, tomatoes, beans, oregano, and basil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add carrots and celery; cover and simmer for 10 minutes more. Stir in pasta; cover and simmer until done, about 10 minutes. Add meatballs and heat through, about 5 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls. Serves 10 to 12

VEGETARIAN MINESTRONE (pareve)

 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 large sweet potato, diced
2 medium white potatoes, diced
3 stalks celery
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
15 oz. canned whole tomatoes
6 cups water, boiling
Salt and pepper
Fresh or dried oregano, to taste

1/4 lb rottini pasta, cooked and drained

Parmesan cheese, optional

 

Saute the onion in the olive oil, until golden. Add the sweet potato, white potatoes, celery, peas, carrots, and corn and sauté until softened. Add tomatoes, breaking up with hands or spoon. Add boiling water, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  In the last minutes of cooking add the cooked pasta to the soup.  Ladle into bowls, garnish with cheese and oregano if desired. Serves 6.

 

VERY VEGGIE MINESTRONE (pareve or meat)

 

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (more if you prefer)

2 stalks celery

1 red pepper, seeded and diced into chunks
4 oz prewashed and cut kale (6 cups)
1 (1-lb) bag frozen mixed Italian vegetables such as zucchini, green beans, cauliflower, and broccoli
1 (14 1/2-oz) can “petite” diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup elbow macaroni
5 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (42 fl oz)
2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
grated parmesan, optional

 

Heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add kale and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Add frozen vegetables, peppers, celery, tomatoes with juice, pasta, broth, water, salt, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer half of beans to a wide shallow bowl and coarsely mash with a fork or a potato masher, then stir mashed and whole beans into soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Modified from a recipe from epicurious.com

 

MEATBALL MINESTRONE (meat or pareve)

 

1 cup frozen chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (15- to 19-ounce) can cannellini beans, undrained

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 (1.4-ounce) package dry vegetable soup mix

1 (16-ounce) package frozen cooked meatballs or vegetarian meatballs

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 cup elbow pasta, uncooked

1 (10-ounce) package fresh washed baby spinach

 

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the onion and the garlic in the olive oil until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in vegetable soup mix until dissolved. Add meatballs, tomatoes and crushed red pepper and return to a boil. Add elbow macaroni and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until pasta are tender.

Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted, about 1 minute. Serves 6.

 

MINESTRONE PASTA BOWL (dairy)

Not technically a soup but hey, it’s close and it’s really delicious so who cares what you call it.
1 package (16 ounces) uncooked rigatoni pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning Mix, divided
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 jar (26 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package and drain. Return pasta to stockpot; add 1
tablespoon of the oil and 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix, stirring to
coat. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium heat until hot. Add garlic stir-fry 1 minute.  Add zucchini and carrot; stir-fry 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add mushrooms, spaghetti sauce, garbanzo beans and remaining seasoning mix. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and heated through. Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Carefully pour sauce over pasta. Grate Parmesan cheese over pasta. Serve immediately. 8 servings

 

SIMPLE MINESTRONE FOR FOUR (meat)

2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 large potato, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchinis, grated
One 8 3/4-ounce can red kidney beans, drained
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
olive oil for drizzling
Combine the chicken stock, water, potato and garlic in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the potato becomes tender, about 15 minutes. Using a spoon or large fork, mash the potato slightly. Add the zucchini and kidney beans; cook until the beans are heated, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Divide among four soup bowls and drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil over each serving. Serves 4
AUTUMN VEGETABLE MINESTRONE (pareve)

2 (14.5 oz) cans vegetable broth
1 (18 oz) can crushed tomatoes — undrained
3 medium carrots — chopped
3 small zucchini — cut into 1/2″ slices
1 medium yellow bell pepper — cut into 1/2″ pieces
8 medium green onions — sliced
2 cloves garlic — finely chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Mix all ingredients except rice and basil in a 3 1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Stir in rice. Cover and cook on low heat setting for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Serves 6.

Krazy Kool Kale

            These days we see superheroes everywhere. From the big screen action figures like Green Lantern, Thor and Harry Potter to the billionaires like Gates, Buffet and Zuckerberg pledging to give away their personal bounty to worthy and noble causes. While taking the global view is fine for an evening’s entertainment or the news when you want to be a superhero in your own home you need to start serving what I like to call “super foods”.

            In my perfect world, chocolate would be front and center as the number one super food. Alas, while dark chocolate is really good for you, a better choice for the top spot would be kale. Ok, stop laughing and scratching you head and let me explain exactly why, even if you have no idea what kale is, you should start utilizing kale in your diet ASAP.

Kale (AKA borecole)  is veggie that belongs to the Brassica family (which includes Brussel sprouts, broccoli and collards is related to cabbage (a second cousin once removed) and is currently being touted  as one of the primer healthy vegetables on the planet.  A leafy green plant, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dino varieties and comes in a variety of colors from deep green to purple to deep red.

In addition to being “burdened” with an abundance of calcium, vitamins A, C, K, E, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus kale is a fiber rich food as well as a low-glycemic food which is great to add to your diet when trying to lose weight. Kale and collards are very similar and they both are like cabbages in that they can because, for lack of a better phrase, be flatulence producing,  so be warned.

I always say it’s best to eat your veggies, fresh and raw so utilizing kale in salads is always a good choice. However, I will concede that kale has a very distinctive, slightly bitter taste in its raw state so most people prefer the taste of kale when it’s been cooked slightly. While you do lose some of the nutrients and benefits it’s not enough to forsake the gains. You should look for firm, deeply colored leaves with firm stems. Smaller leaves tend to be milder in flavor and taste. To store your kale keep it unwashed, in an air-tight container. It should last for up to a week in the refrigerator.

If you want to keep the cooking simple I suggest you do I like do and just lightly saute the kale with garlic and olive oil and add pine nuts and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. You can also steam your kale for to five minutes and use it as substitute it for spinach.

Or, if you’re feeling just a tab bit adventurous yet want to keep your recipes user friend, tasty and “healthy” I suggest the following recipes. Trust me; your family will never guess they’re actually eating something that’s good for them.

 

BEAN AND KALE SOUP (meat or pareve)

 

1 bunch kale, trimmed

1 onion, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried

1/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup small shell macaroni

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional if using vegetable broth)

 

In a medium saucepan, simmer the kale with 1/2 cup water and the salt until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the kale, reserving any liquid that remains. Coarsely chop the kale. In the saucepan, stir together the oil, onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until the garlic and onion are light gold in color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and rosemary. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Stir in the kale and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to combine coat. Add in the beans, mix to combine and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in the macaroni. Boil for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary. You can serve it with Parmesan cheese as a topping at the table if the soup is pareve. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled.

 

Modified from: Soup: A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka

 

WILD RICE WITH KALE, TOMATOES AND ALMONDS (pareve or meat)

 

1 cup wild rice

2 cups water or broth

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup minced onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 14-ounce cans plum tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped

3 to 4 cups finely chopped rinsed kale leaves

1/2 to 1 cup toasted almonds

 

In a  saucepan bring 2 cups water to a boil, add the rice and salt, cover and cook  over low heat for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. In a heavy skillet saute the garlic and onion in the oil stirring constantly, until soft and golden. Add the tomatoes and kale, and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the kale is just wilted and tender. Place the rice in the serving bowl and add the kale mixture. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste and top with toasted almonds. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Modified, Submitted by Katie Marscaroni, Chicago

 

KALE PASTA SALAD WITH PISTACHIO DRESSING (pareve)

 

8 ounces angel hair pasta (you can use whole wheat spaghetti) broken into 2 inch pieces

1 cup pistachios, toasted

1 tablespoon minced garlic, smashed and chopped

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 large bunch of kale chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 cup dried cranberries or cherries

 

In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine 1/2 cup pistachios, garlic, salt, olive oil, rice wine vinegar and process to combine. Set it aside. Bring a large pot of water (with about 1/2 tablespoon of salt) to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente.  Just before the pasta is done add the kale and let cook for about 20 seconds then immediately drain the pasta and kale into a colander and rinse it with cold water. Drain well, using paper towels to soak up any excess water. Place the mixture into a serving bowl and add about 1/3 of the dressing.  Toss to coat.  You can refrigerate the salad at this point and finish just before serving if you like. To finish add half the cranberries and 1/2 the remaining pistachios. Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the remaining   cranberries and pistachios on top. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the top and serve.

 

CHICKPEA AND KALE BULGUR STEW (pareve or meat)

 

1 large onion, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup uncooked bulgur

1 14-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup orange juice

1 1/2 cup cauliflower, trimmed into small trees

3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds

3 stalks celery, cut into chunks

2 cup kale, de-stemmed and cut into thin slices

olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped for garnish

 

In a soup pot over medium-high heat saute the onion in the olive oil for a minute  then add the sugar and salt and cook for 1 more minute until the onion begins to soften a bit. Stir in the bulgur. Stir in the chickpeas and the stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for another few minutes, it should start to thicken. Taste to see if the bulgur is cooked through, if so add the orange juice. If not, simmer for a couple more minutes before adding the juice. Stir in the cauliflower, carrots, celery and the kale and then simmer another 4 to 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is just tender. If the stew is on the thick side, thin with a bit more water or stock. Taste, and add salt if necessary. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and red onions. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Modified from cookbook101.com

 

CHICKEN KALE AND WHITE BEAN SOUP (pareve or meat)

 

2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups packed chopped kale
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2  large carrots, peeled and sliced

3 stalks celery, diced

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and onion and cook 4 to 5 minutes stirring constantly. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add broth, kale, tomatoes, celery and carrots and stir to combine. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Add the beans and cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes until the beans are hot. Serve immediately. Serves 4

SUPER SIMPLE KALE SALAD (pareve)

 

1 head kale, shredded

1 cup chunky salsa (I use mango salsa)

2 avocados, diced

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

1/8 teaspoon cayenne or black pepper

1 cup raisins or dried cranberries

1/2 cup pine nuts or almonds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

 

In large salad bowl combine all ingredients together and toss to combine. Serves 6

 

© Eileen Goltz kale11a

 

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