Simple Summery Soup

One beautiful June day, our guests wanted to eat lunch on the patio, and something simple and summery seemed appropriate. I decided on a chicken salad plate featuring chilled zucchini soup. With fresh dill and a small dollop of sour cream, it was a real hit!

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Simple Summery Soup
SERVINGS
2-3servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1/2hr (plus chilling time)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut up onion and zucchini into random size chunks and simmer in chicken or vegetable broth, enough to cover, until very soft and tender
  2. Cool for a few minutes, then place in blender with 2 Tablespoons of sour cream and blend until well mixed, adding more sour cream if desired
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Refrigerate until well chilled; serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with dill

Mirepoix

For years, I just naturally began preparing many meals by chopping and sautéing together a combination of onions,celery and carrots. I never realized, in those teenage years, that I was employing a basic cooking technique, producing what is often referred to in the culinary world as the “All powerful Culinary Trio.” This homey trio of ingredients is absolutely essential for flavorful soups, sauces and gravies.

Recently, I added chopped potatoes to the mixture and that, along with a serving of fresh spinach and several succulent slices of roast lamb (excellent in the Spring) resulted in a most flavorful and satisfying meal. You might want to give it a try.

“All Powerful Culinary Trio” otherwise known as Mirepoix

Mirepoix can be used in a variety of ways—namely in stocks and sauces. To make a stock (chicken, beef, fish, lamb, etc.) one pound of Mirepoix will season roughly one gallon of liquid.

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Mirepoix
SERVINGS
1pound
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
pound
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

Edible Crudité Garden

Last night I encountered one of our sisters leaving the convent to attend a special baby shower that was to take place that day. She had in her hands a tray of the most exquisitely decorated mini cupcakes. I was very impressed by their beauty and the precision with which they had so carefully been decorated.

Late this afternoon I once again ran into the same sister. This time she was returning from the same baby shower with something even more impressive than the cupcakes I had seen going there earlier. In her hands she carried this little edible garden. It took my breath away.  I was completely taken aback as I looked carefully at the little rows of miniature vegetables “planted” in a garden of humus that was topped with..toasted rye bread crumbs. It was absolutely charming…so much so no one wanted disrupt it to eat it  because they wanted all the sisters at the convent to see it.  

The person who made it for the shower was thrilled to find it as she flipped through the April 2018 issue of the Food Network magazine.  Click here to see the original photo and ‘recipe’ for the edible garden entitled “Veggie Crudité Patch”.

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Edible Crudité Garden
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Fresh Green Pea Soup

“Spring is on the way!” the kitchen sister sings. Outside the convent door the crocuses agree and now tonight’s evening meal reflects the happy thought by bringing a touch of Spring to the dinner table. During this Lenten season we have been serving lighter meals which have included a wide variety of new soups — mostly vegetable-based and surprisingly successful and satisfying. Our brand new fresh green pea soup is making its debut tonight and we shall see how it tastes.

Today in the bush outside my window I saw a baby robin and now there’s not a doubt that Spring is on its way!

 

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Fresh Green Pea Soup
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
15mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
25mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Sautee onion, celery and garlic in a large pot.
  2. Dissolve the vegetable stock in the water and add to pot with onion, celery and garlic.
  3. Add the peas and stir occasionally, bringing everything to a boil.
  4. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. When peas are tender, remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Add mint leaves to the soup and blend with either an immersion blender, or in batches in a counter-top blender.
  7. Serve either warm or cold and garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired.

Happy Spring!

 

Baked Cauliflower Pie (sformato di cavolfiore)

​With the holidays​ just​ around the corner, you might be looking for a new and unusual crowd-pleasing side dish to wow your guests. This is one of my favorite vegetable dishes, introduced to me by Tessa Kiros in her wonderful cookbook: Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book. She introduces the readers to the twelve months of Tuscan cooking and seasonal ingredients. When I’ve served at our mission house in Tuscany, I would cook through this book and this recipe became one of our house favorites. As Tessa says, “pastry-less baked vegetable pies are very common and are made with various vegetables depending on the season, such as green beans, artichokes and spinach.” You can also use broccoli in place of cauliflower.

We just served this last night for the opening to our Gregorian Chant Retreat and received great compliments. This would make a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving table. If you want to make it gluten free, just substitute gluten free flour for all purpose flour in the the béchamel sauce.

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Baked Cauliflower Pie (sformato di cavolfiore)
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30-40mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
55mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 3​50 degrees/ Wash the cauliflower and trim away the hard stem. Put it into a pot of boiling salted water and boil for about 10 min. or until it has softened.
  2. Meanwhile, make the béchamel​ ​​sauce:
    1) Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add shallots (if using) and sauté 2 minutes. Do not let brown.

    2) Reduce heat to low, add flour, and whisk until smooth and raw taste is cooked off, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add bay leaf and cook until just thickened, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

    3) Stir in nutmeg and salt. Season with ground white pepper. Cool sauce slightly. Discard bay leaf before using.
  3. Drain the cauliflower and​ chop it up finely or roughly puree it. Put into a bowl and mix in the eggs, 2 cups béchamel​,​ parmesan cheese, a grating of fresh nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, adjusting if necessary. Mix well with wooden spoon.
  4. Butter an oven dish or loaf pan and sprinkle with half of the breadcrumbs to line the pan, shaking away the excess (use gluten free breadcrumbs if making gluten free). Pour in the mixture and sprinkle the surface with the remaining breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake for 30-40 min. in the hot oven, until the top is golden and slightly crusty. Serve warm.

Asparagus Cordon Bleu

​With all the meals we were serving in quick succession over this past weekend, we looked for a few vegetable recipes that could easily be prepared ahead but still maintain their beauty and freshness. We were so happy with the results of this asparagus dish. It was definitely a keeper – perfect for Christmas or even Easter! Never too early to start planning ahead! Asparagus Cordon Bleu is easy and a lovely addition for a dinner party or any holiday. It can be easily assembled in advance and popped in the oven shortly before serving.

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Asparagus Cordon Bleu
SERVINGS
6servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
20mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
35mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking dish by brushing with melted butter or olive oil
  2. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of salt. Drop the asparagus into the salted water. Cook 15-30 seconds or until asparagus turns bright green. Remove and immediately drop into the ice bath. Let cool thoroughly then pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Divide the asparagus into six even bundles. Wrap each in the prosciutto and place in the prepared baking dish.
  4. Top with grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 10-15 min. until cheese is melted
  6. Meanwhile, combine butter and panko in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the cheese. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Can be prepared 24 hours in advance. Assemble and refrigerate. When ready to bake, preheat oven and bake per directions, holding panko to add later.

Recipe adapted from achefskitchen.com