Sunday, December 21, 2014

White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Lemon: A Simple Mark Bittman Recipe for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Looking for a quick and simple soup for a busy holiday weekend, I went to the master, Mark Bittman and his How To Cook Everything Fast. I have paged through the book several times since I got it and it is studded with colored tabs. I have had a hard time making it out of the soup section alone with the sheer number of recipes and their variations. It seems like the recipe variations are what attract me the most. I made his Spanish-Style Pasta e Fagioli a couple of months ago and although I contemplated making his Spicy Black Bean Soup this week, it was the White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Lemon variation that I wanted. 

I love white beans with rosemary and thought that the lemon would add a nice bright touch to the mix. I did make a few changes to the recipe--noted in red below. 

White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Lemon
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman 
(Serves 4)

2 Tbsp olive oil (I used 1 Tbsp)
1 large onion, chopped
(I added 1 carrot and 1 stalk celery, chopped)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4 cloves of caramelized garlic)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I used about 1 1/2 Tbsp)
4 cups cooked or canned white beans (I used 3 cans--about 6 cups mixed small white beans and cannellini beans)
4 cups veggie stock or water (I used 6 cups mixed veggie broth and water)
salt and pepper
1 lemon

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened--about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook another minute or so. 

Add the beans, stock or water, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the pot. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beans begin to break down, 5-10 minutes and vegetables are tender. (Bittman notes that if you have time, the longer you let the soup simmer, the more flavors will develop. Up to an hour is fine; just add more liquid if the soup starts to look dry.)

When the beans are beginning to break down, run a potato masher or immersion blender through the pot, just enough to mash or puree about half the beans. 

Squeeze in the lemon juice and taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil if desired. 

Notes/Results: Light but satisfying and good flavor. The lemon and rosemary are both so aromatic but are not overpowering to the beans. This is a quick pantry soup, even if you want to cook it longer for more flavor. It's a good base soup--in addition to the celery and carrot I added, other veggies like fennel, potato, spinach or other greens would work well. I think it tastes great on its own but adding a bit of grated Parmesan would be a nice touch. I would make this again. 

I am linking this recipe up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this coming week is Potluck week. The chance to make any Diana Henry recipe or a recipe from any previous IHCC chef. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post when it goes live.

If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share and have featured on A Souper Sundays post, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anchoïade: Garlicky Anchovy Spread for a Perfect Party Pleasing Appetizer

Ever since Sue from Couscous and Consciousness made this anchoïade (garlicky anchovy spread) from Diana Henry's Salt Sugar Smoke, I have been wanting to try it. I will say that although I truly love the flavor that anchovies bring to a dish, I really don't like looking at the little hairy beasties--so any chance I can get to mash them up into something unrecognizable like this dip/spread--it works for me. ;-) 

I made a few small changes to the recipe--mainly using caramelized garlic (I "roasted' up a bunch using the slow cooker and had some leftover from this fabulous soup, and I used extra garlic since mine was roasted and mellower). I used my favorite marcona almonds and upped the amounts of lemon and parsley a bit. The result is a flavorful spread for bread and veggies and perfect for any holiday appetizer plate. I recommend that if you have anchovy 'haters' in the house--you cheat and call it 'garlicky almond dip' and they probably won't guess the ingredients. ;-)

Diana Henry says, "Another classic Provençal "paste." If you like anchovies, it's completely addictive. You can go traditional and pound everything together with a mortar and pestle, or use a food processor. It's very satisfying to watch the anchovies "melt" into a paste."

Adapted from Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry
(Makes About 1 cup)

2 (2 oz) cans anchovies in oil 
3 garlic cloves, chopped (I used 6 cloves caramelized garlic)
1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted (I used roasted Marcona almonds)
2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (I used about 3 Tbsp)
finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon (I used a full lemon)
freshly ground black pepper  
extra virgin olive oil--about 1/4 to 1/3 cup

Drain the anchovies, reserving the oil. Place everything except the anchovy oil and olive into a blender or into food processor, or crush it all in a mortar and pestle (especially if you prefer a chunkier mixture). Process until well crushed.

Measure the anchovy oil and add enough olive oil to make it up to about 2/3 cup. Reserve about 3 tablespoons, and slowly add the remaining oil to the anchovy mixture to make a paste. (I kept the food processor running while I added the oil.)

Put the anchoïade into sterilized jars and spoon a layer of the reserved oil on top. Seal jars and keep in the refrigerator--it will keep for about two weeks.  

How to Use: Henry says, "This is wonderful on little toasted croûtes with drinks, or serve it with tapenade, radishes, hard-boiled eggs and bread for a very simple appetizer."

Henry also mentioned that were different types of anchoïade including one made just of anchovies and olive oil that was sometimes used as a sauce for fish. Sounded like a good idea to me so I tried this version on seared ahi. It was excellent--tangy and garlicky so it set off the richness of the ahi nicely. 

Notes/Results: So rich, savory, and so tasty--I would describe it as assertive and pungent in a good way with a big burst of flavor. It's not overtly "fishy" so I don't think you would have to be an anchovy fan to enjoy it. I grouped together croûtes of toasted baguette, hard-boiled eggs and a bunch of raw veggies--baby carrots, mini cucumber, sugar snap peas, quarters of plump red radishes and strips of red bell pepper. I also had some Brussels sprouts in my fridge and thought it would be fun to grill them a bit, so I did along with some slices of zucchini. My favorite dippers (besides the toasted bread), the Brussels sprouts and radishes for their slight bitterness, and the sweetness of the sugar snap peas both of which partnered well with the dip. This dip does tend to separate a bit so if you make it ahead of time, a quick run through the blender before serving works well. I will make this again.

This post is linked up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme this week is Party Pleasers. You can see what pleasing dishes everyone is bringing to the party by checking out the picture links on the post.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Potato, Leek, and Kale Soup with Smoky Paprika and Roasted Garlic: Flavorful, Comforting and Satisfying for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I have been wanting to try caramelizing garlic in the slow cooker after seeing them do it on The Kitchen on Food Network so I put eight bulbs into two packets of foil in the crockpot on low and headed to bed. What to do with all those resulting lovely brown cloves the next morning? I knew I wanted a garlic soup this week--thick, with potato and smoky with the garlic and smoked paprika. This is a vegan soup, somewhat caldo verde-like with the kale, that I put together. With the caramelized garlic, the smoky paprika, and the herbs, it has several layers of flavor and pureeing some of the soup makes it creamy. A thick and utterly satisfying soup for a cool, windy and rainy day. 

Two heads of garlic may seem like a lot but the caramelizing mellows the flavor, rounds out  any sharp edges the garlic, brings out the sweetness.  

Potato, Leek and Kale Soup with Smoky Paprika and Roasted Garlic
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 8-10)

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, white & light green parts, washed well, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tsp smoked paprika, and more to taste
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped 
3-4 sprigs of fresh time
2 full heads worth of roasted/caramelized garlic paste (see garlic notes)
4 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes, chopped--large dice 
10 cups light veggie broth or stock (low-sodium preferred
4 cups fresh kale, tough stems removed and leaves sliced into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add leeks, carrot and celery with a small pinch of sea salt and reduce heat to medium. Saute veggies about 7-8 minutes until softened and celery is turning opaque. Add smoked paprika and saute another minute or two until fragrant. Add rosemary, thyme sprigs, garlic paste and veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes until potatoes and vegetables are tender. 

Remove thyme sprig stems and if desired, place two scoops of vegetables and broth into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into soup pot. Increase heat to medium and add kale, stirring into soup. Cook about 10 minutes until kale is tender. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and extra smoked paprika if desired.

Serve with toasted baguette--spread with additional garlic puree if desired. Enjoy!

Garlic Notes: I used this recipe from The Kitchen on Food Network to caramelize the garlic overnight (about 6 1/2 hours on low) in the slow cooker, then smashed two heads work into a rough paste and added it to the soup. Easy-peasy, and I made enough for other dishes and to slather on bread to serve with the soup.

Notes/Results: So rich, thick and good, this soup really hit the spot--it's a great combination of creamy, brothy and hearty stew-like textures. The smoky flavor is prominent but there is a sweetness to all the savory with the browned garlic, leeks, and carrots. You could use onions in place of leeks but I think the leeks add sweeter notes that go well with the rest of the ingredients. I am a fan of Yukon gold potatoes in soups--they hold their shape but still have that soft creamy potato feel and they puree well to thicken the soup. You might think it is garlic overkill (is there such a thing?!?) to spread more of it on pan-toasted baguette to top or serve with the soup but it adds an extra special touch (not to mention good flu and cold-fighting properties needed this time of year, and great vampire protection) so I highly recommend it. ;-) It's good I like this soup so much because I made a huge batch that I will happily pull out for lunches and dinner this week--maybe adding a runny-yolked poached or fried egg on top for a little protein. I can see it pairing well with the kale and garlic. I would make this again. 

A couple of good friends await in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's see what they brought.   

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food shares this Vegetarian Spicy (Hot) Sour Soup and says, "Mild and harmless-looking, this is not your usual noodle soup. The kick of Thai red chili and Chinese black vinegar can just wake up your senses anytime of the day. So never judge a book by its cover. Not the Szechuan hot (spicy) and sour soup that you may order off the menu of a Chinese restaurant; however, the spice and sourness is as close as it gets. ... Often, a pot of soup represents a side (additional) dish complementing other mains and sides; but you can always dunk in noodles and make it a main dish."

Janet of The Taste Space brings Eat Your Greens Soup with Edamame and says, " is filled with a nicely fragrant broth made from ginger, cumin with a touch of cinnamon and filled with loads and loads of vegetables. Mushrooms, broccoli and carrot. Sometimes I use kale or collards, sliced into thin strips, but this time I used a crunchy cruciferous mix of kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts for more variety.  I also continued with the green theme and used frozen edamame as my protein of choice. It fits well with the uniquely Asian twist brought by the last minute addition of shredded nori."

Thanks to Tigerfish and Janet for joining me this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate (Pearled) Couscous: A Moroccan-Inspired Meal

Pretty, festive, easy enough for a weekday dinner, but special enough to serve to company--this Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous from Diana Henry is full of wonderful and exotic flavors. 

It's our monthly Mystery Box Madness challenge this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where our selected recipe needs to contain at least three out of ten ingredients: Chocolate, Cherries, Cinnamon, Rolled Oats, Couscous, Pomegranate, Curry, Coconut Milk, Lentils, and Hot Peppers/Chilis. This dish contains four of the ten--cinnamon, red chili, couscous and pomegranate. 

Henry says, "Definitely a dish for cilantro-lovers Chermoula is one of the most well-used Moroccan herb and spice blends. Chermoula actually means "to tear lightly"--but that doesn't stop cooks from making it in the blender.

Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous 
Adapted From Crazy Water Pickled Lemon by Diana Henry
(Serves 4)

4 thick tuna loin steaks
salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil and lime wedges to serve

For the Marinade:
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, crushed
leaves of a small bunch of cilantro and a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped 

For the Couscous:
7 oz couscous (I used pearled or Israeli couscous)
2/3 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil (Reduced to 1 Tbsp)
2 pomegranates
1 oz pine nuts, toasted
3 Tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint (I added cilantro)
lemon juice to taste

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Turn the tuna steaks over in the marinade to get them well-coated. Refrigerate for about half an hour.

Sprinkle the couscous in a shallow dish and add half the water. Let the couscous plump up for about 15 minutes, then fork it through to separate the grains. Repeat with the rest of the water. Stir in the olive oil and salt and pepper. 

Halve the pomegranates and, holding each half over a bowl, beat the fruit with a wooden spoon. The seeds should just spill out. Remove any coarse bits of yellow membrane still attached to them. 

Put the couscous on to steam for about 10 minutes and, meanwhile, sear the tuna steaks. Heat a griddle until it is smoking hot and then cook the steaks  quickly for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. (I serve tuna cooked on the outside and raw as a rare steak on the inside.)

Mix the steamed couscous with the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, herbs, and lemon juice, and check the seasoning. Add a squeeze more lemon if you think the dish needs it. Put a mound of couscous on each plate and serve the tuna steaks on top, drizzled with any remaining marinade and a last slug of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with wedges of lime. 

Notes/Results: This was such a great dish--so much flavor in the sauce and the accompanying couscous. You definitely want to be a cilantro lover for this one--it is very prominent in the Chermoula marinade. I am a big fan, so I also chopped some up in the couscous as well. Speaking of the couscous, I knew I had some in the pantry but forgot it was the larger pearled or Israeli couscous so I went ahead and used it. I actually like it better than regular couscous anyway, and it adds a fun texture to the dish. I loved the mix of the herbs, tangy-sweet pomegranate and toasty pine nuts accented by the lemon in the couscous and it went really well with the sauce which is full of savory, sweet, herby and slightly spicy notes that compliments the ahi tuna I used. I like my tuna pretty rare on the inside--the best way to eat good ahi, but might give it another 30 seconds per side to serve to others who may not like it as 'raw.' This is really an easy and quick (after the marinating the tuna) dish that looks and tastes like it took more of an effort. (BTW--I was lazy and used the blender for my marinade--probably not as pretty but faster than all that chopping.) I only made a half recipe and was sorry I didn't make more. ;-) Loved it and will make it again--one of my favorite Dina Henry dishes so far.

This post will be linked up to this coming week's Mystery Box Madness Challenge at IHCC. You'll be able to see what mystery ingredients and recipes people chose by checking out the picture links on the post.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Woman With A Gun" by Phillip Margolin, Served with a Healthier Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad

Phillip Margolin's Gone But Not Forgotten was one of the first legal thrillers that I picked up many moons ago, and his early slew of novels helped shape my love for the genre. I lost track of his books for several years so when I saw his latest novel, Woman With A Gun, on a list of upcoming TLC Book Tours, I quickly jumped to be a spot on the winter tour. Today I bring you my review of the novel along with a healthier Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad inspired by the book, and a recipe for Alton Brown's 'No Guilt Caesar Dressing.'

Publisher's Blurb:

This compelling thriller, from New York Times bestseller Phillip Margolin, centers on an intriguing photograph that may contain long-hidden answers to the mystery of a millionaire’s murder.

At a retrospective on the work of acclaimed photographer Kathy Moran, aspiring novelist Stacey Kim is fascinated by the exhibition’s centerpiece: the famous Woman with a Gun, which launched the artist’s career. Shot from behind, the enigmatic black-and-white image depicts a woman in a wedding dress standing on the shore at night, facing the sea. But this is no serene, romantic portrait. In her right hand, which is hidden behind her back, she holds a six-shooter.

The picture captures Stacey’s imagination and raises a host of compelling questions: Who is this woman? Is this a photograph of her on her wedding day? Does she plan to kill herself or someone else? Obsessed with finding answers, she soon discovers the identity of the woman: a suspect in a ten-year-old murder investigation. Convinced that proof of the woman’s guilt, or innocence, is somehow connected to the photograph, Stacey embarks on a relentless investigation.

Drawn deeper into the case, Stacey finds that everyone involved has a different opinion of the woman’s culpability. But the one person who may know the whole story—Kathy Moran—isn’t talking. Stacey must find a way to get to the reclusive photographer, and get her to talk, or the truth about what happened that day will stay forever hidden in the shadows.

Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Harper (December 2, 2014)

One of the things I like best about Phillip Margolin's books are their settings in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest--my old stomping grounds. Woman With a Gun is primarily set in the fictional town of Palisades Heights on the Oregon coast. Although the town doesn't exist, Margolin captures the feel of the beach towns there. The book consists of three different stories spanning fifteen years that intersect around the happening involving the intriguing photograph depicted on the novel's cover. The book starts in 2015, when aspiring novelist Stacy Kim sees it in a gallery. We then go back to a murder that happened the night the picture was taken in 2005. The photographer (Kathy Moran) turns out to have a past that involved Jack Booth, the District Attorney assisting the small town with the murder investigation and so we travel back to 2000 to hear their story and then back again towards the present. The story is primarily seen from the points of view of Stacy and Jack. Both are likable characters although I got a tad frustrated with Jack and wanted him to stop thinking with his little head so much when it came to the case. :-)  
Woman With a Gun isn't Margolin's darkest or most action-packed book, it builds a quieter suspense--not to say that it was slow or boring but Margolin spends his time setting up the story and building the characters.  I guessed correctly on the 'whodunnit' of the novel but wasn't sure of the reasons behind the murder that unfolded with the story. I also found it interesting that the novel was inspired by an actual photograph that Margolin came across while at a writer's conference in Georgia--in the bathroom of the restaurant where he was eating breakfast. Margolin, intrigued by the picture and the potential story it inspired, purchased the photograph and wrote the book. Woman With a Gun is not my favorite of Margolin's books (that's a tie between Gone But Not Forgotten and Heartstone) but it is well worth the read, especially if you are a fan, and/or you like character-driven mystery and suspense novels.

Author Notes: Phillip Margolin has written eighteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including the recent Worthy Brown’s Daughter, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington Trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.
Find out more about Phillip at his website, and connect with him on Facebook.

There is not a strong food presence in the book--beyond the locally 'famous' chowder of the Seafarer bar and restaurant or their also delicious oyster stew and fish and chips. Most of the meals were eaten out and what was eaten wasn't mentioned. There were a few salads--including the take-out chicken Caesar that Stacey Kim picks up and eats in her New York apartment. I love a good Caesar but don't like the excess sodium, fat and calories in most Caesar dressings and the lack of nutrients in the salad. 

I decided to make a more nutritious Caesar salad using a recipe from Alton Brown for a "No Guilt Caesar Dressing" and making some other swaps--adding healthy fat with avocado, extra nutrients with beets, and swapping out the usual romaine for baby kale and the croutons for toasted, chopped hazelnuts. The hazelnuts are a nod to the Pacific Northwest and the Oregon setting of the book, as is the salmon I used as my protein instead of chicken. Blacked salmon Caesar salads are pretty ubiquitous on casual restaurant menus in the Pacific Northwest and I happened to have some sale Coho salmon filets in my freezer. For my blackened salmon, I adapted this recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli--reducing the cayenne slightly and adding in some Old Bay seasoning with the smoky paprika. The result, a colorful dinner that is healthier than your average Caesar and even more tasty.

No Guilt Caesar Dressing Recipe 
From Alton Brown via Food Network
(Makes About 1 Cup)

2 oz cubed Parmesan
2 cloves garlic (I added an extra clove)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 cup silken soft tofu
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I reduced to 1 Tbsp)

Starting on the lowest speed, chop the cheese cubes in the blender jar until it settles into the bottom of the jar, gradually increasing the speed. Add the garlic down the chute and chop until minced.

Next, add the mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and tofu to the blender and blend until smooth. While the blender is running, drizzle olive oil down the middle of the vortex that has formed. Add more or less of the olive oil and blend until it reaches salad dressing consistency.

Nutritional Info for Recipe as Written: Per Serving: (2 Tbsp per serving); Calories 85; Total Fat 6 grams; Saturated Fat 2 grams; Protein 4 grams; Total Carbohydrate 2 grams; Sugar: 1 gram; Fiber 0 grams; Cholesterol 6 milligrams; Sodium 198 milligrams

Notes/Results: A good mix of flavors and textures in a healthy and satisfying salad. The dressing from Alton Brown is an easy-to-make winner--thick and creamy with good Caesar flavor. Since I like my Caesar garlicky, I added an extra clove.  I also found that I only needed about 1 tablespoon olive oil to get the consistency I wanted and that helps reduce the fat even more. I will definitely make it again. The salmon turned out moist and had a nice smoky heat and the roasted hazelnuts gave texture that I prefer to croutons. Besides adding color, the chunks of beet and avocado add extra nutrients and taste great. Easy and quick to get to the table, I will make this combination again. 

Note: A review copy of "Woman With A Gun" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of the Book Tour and what other reviewer thought about the book here.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cream of Brussels Sprouts Soup (Vegan) for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

A quick and easy soup post today as I am in Portland this week for my niece's wedding. I had some leftover Brussels sprouts and this Cream of Brussels Sprouts Soup was a great way to use them up. Also after two weeks of heavier, bean-based soups, it's nice to have something a little lighter. 

I chose to make a vegan version of the recipe but kept the creaminess by stirring in coconut milk. My changes to the recipe are in red below. says, "Much their cruciferous cousin, cauliflower, brussels sprouts turn into a wonderfully rich and creamy soup just by cooking them with aromatics and whirling them up in broth. This soup ends up having a much deeper nutty flavor than you might expect, as well as a thicker, more satisfying texture than one imagines these tiny cabbages could possibly contain. I like to add a bit of cream, but it is completely optional. Like most soups, this one doubles or even triples with ease - make a big batch and freeze some for later."

Cream of Brussels Sprouts Soup
Adapted from Molly Watson at
(Serves 4)

1 to 2 Tbsp butter (I used 1 Tbsp olive oil)
1 lb Brussels Sprouts
1 rib celery
1 medium leek
3 cups chicken or veggie stock (I used low-sodium veggie broth)
1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream -optional (I used 1/2 cup lite coconut milk) 
(I added 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice)
(I added shredded Brussels sprouts and pepper to garnish)

Trim off and discard the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts. Roughly chop the sprouts and set them aside. Trim and roughly chop the celery; peel and chop the shallot or leek.

Heat the butter in a small pot over medium-high heat. Once it melts, add the celery and shallot. Sprinkle with the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes.

Add the Brussels sprouts and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts turn a brighter shade of green, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer, cover partially, and cook until the Brussels sprouts are completely and utterly tender, about 10 minutes.

Use a hand-held immersion blender to completely purée the soup. You can also do this in a blender, just be sure to let the soup cool a bit first, work in batches, and put a kitchen towel over the top of the blender in case the heat of the soup makes it splatter out. Be sure to purée the soup a bit longer than you may think is necessary; you want the final product to be as smooth as possible.

Stir in the cream (coconut milk), if you like. Serve the soup hot, with a garnish of freshly ground black pepper, if you like.

Notes/Results: Smooth, creamy and good flavor, this soup would be a great way to sneak those healthy little sprouts into your diet. I found that adding a touch of fresh lemon juice to the soup added a (needed in my opinion) bit of bright acidity. This soup kicks in some good vitamin C and other nutrients for about 120 calories a serving and makes a good starter to a meal. I liked the look of the shredded raw Brussels sprouts to top the soup but 'frizzling' them a bit in hot oil would be a nice touch, as would using these Curried Shredded Brussels Sprouts that I topped a cranberry soup with. I would make this again.

Let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here and what delicious dishes they brought.
Janet of The Taste Space made Thug Kitchen's Pumpkin Chili and says, "...this one was a bean-centric chili and I cooked up some of Rancho Gordo’s bayo chocolate beans. I was really enticed to use them with a name like that! Turns out it is called chocolate based on their colour, not their flavour. When Rob bought them, he was told they had the consistency of fudge. Not so true, but they have a lovely firmness that lended well to this chili. Small red kidney beans would also work well here."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made this pretty Christmas Salad Slaw and says, "It is as beautiful as is healthy. It contains bunches of rich dark green kale mixed with chopped red radicchio, strands of grated snow white cabbage, candied dried cranberries, and a variety of seeds and nuts. This delightful combination is then tossed in a sweet creamy dressing. Vegan, Gluten Free, and exotic, this special salad is welcome at any celebration, but the rich red and green presentation makes it perfect for Christmas."

Thanks to Janet & Judee for joining me this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Diana Henry's 'New York Sweet Cranberry Mustard' for Gifting or for Eating

Food gifts whether sweet or savory are always fun to give or receive at the holidays. This New York Sweet Cranberry Mustard from Diana Henry's Salt Sugar Smoke caught my eye with its festive red color and I just happened to have fresh cranberries leftover from some Cranberry Soup with Curried Shredded Brussels Sprouts.  

A sweet and tangy treat for the mustard lovers on your holiday list and perfect to slather on a sandwich--either meat-filled or meat-free. ;-)

Diana says, "This is inspired by a mustard served at New York’s Home restaurant, a fabulously comforting place. I have made it slightly sweeter. It’s perfect at Christmas when you’re making all those turkey and ham sarnies and want cranberries with a kick."

New York Sweet Cranberry Mustard
Adapted from Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry 
(Fills 1 x 225g (8oz) jar)

3/4 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup apple or orange juice
2 cups fresh cranberries
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (I used 2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp grain mustard (I used 2 Tbsp)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Put the dried cranberries in a pan and add enough apple or orange juice to cover. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and leave to plump up for 30 minutes.

Put a cup of water and the fresh cranberries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries have burst (about five minutes), then add the sugar and honey and stir until dissolved.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and sauté the onion until soft and golden. Add the vinegar and mustard and cook gently for another five minutes. Mix this with both types of cranberries and any remaining soaking liquid from the dried cranberries, and season to taste.

Process in a food processor using the pulse button (if you want it really smooth you can then press the mixture through a nylon strainer, but I leave it chunky). Put in a sterilized jar, then cover with a waxed paper disc, and seal with a vinegar-proof lid. Cool, and keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

How to use
This is obviously a good thing to have around at Christmas, and it’s good with cold ham too. Russians eat cranberries with red meat, so don’t rule it out with cold rare roast beef.

Notes/Results: I really enjoyed the flavor of this cranberry mustard but did find it on the sweeter side for me--I wanted more mustard and more vinegar bite. Increasing the amounts of those ingredients made it perfect. Since I don't eat meet, I chose to slather it on a grilled cheese sandwich made with some smoked Gouda and avocado on light rye bread. It may sound like an odd combination but it was a perfect combination of sweet, smoky, creamy and tangy. I am sure the mustard would be equally as good on a turkey, ham or roast beef sandwich too. Easy to make and something a little different to give, I would make this again.

This mustard placed in small jars would make wonderful Gifts From the Heart for your favorite sandwich lovers or gourmet mustard aficionados. I am linking it up to I Heart Cooking Clubs were this weeks theme is all about edible holiday gifts. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.