Friday, January 28, 2011


During the winter months I make soup at least once a week. Our favorite soups are those that can do double-duty as an entree. This hearty soup is all that and more. The recipe is from my new Cooking Light Easy Winter Recipes magazine/cookbook. At $12 I wasn't sure it would live up to my expectations, but happily it has.

Yields 4 (two cup) servings
cooking spray
3/4 lb boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 (8 oz) pkg. sliced mushrooms
4 cups fat free, lower sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan and cook for 4 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add carrot, celery, onion, and mushrooms to pan and cook 6 minutes or until liquid is almost evaporated. Add beef, broth, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in pearl barley, cover, and simmer 30 minutes more, until pearl barley is tender. Stir in salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf. Serve immediately or add more beef broth when you serve.
N.I.: 341 cal; 11.4 g fat; 24.1 g protein; 36.2 g carb; 8.2 g fiber; 837 g sodium
The very generous portion of soup was greatly appreciated because it was simply wonderful! The pearl barley soaked up all the flavors of the broth and beef. The vegetables provided a delicate sweetness. A few slices of a good semolina loaf grilled in my panini press made this the perfect cold weather dinner. I could easily have made it again the following week if I hadn't had a few bags of beans in the pantry.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Meatloaf, like stuffing, is all about family traditions. If you're a longtime reader of The Food of Love, you might remember that my mom's meatloaf was one dish that I could not and would not eat. That said, I'm also fickle when it comes to meatloaf. My favorites are quickly replaced by new favorites. That said, when I saw this recipe for meatloaf in the new Cooking Light Easy Winter Recipes magazine, I decided to give it a try.

6 servings, 2 slices each
1 slice bread (I replaced this with 1 oz panko breadcrumbs)
2 tbs fat free milk
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
2/3 lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 lb lean ground veal
6 oz lean ground pork
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 large egg whites
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine breadcrumbs (or panko) and milk in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 tbs ketchup and remaining ingredients except cooking spray. Shape meat mixture into a 9X5 inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Spread the remaining 6 tbs ketchup over the top of the meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees. Cut the loaf into 12 slices.
This meatloaf proved my theory that meatloaf is a very personal thing. DSO loved it and raved about it for days. He was sadly disappointed when it was finally gone, having eaten it for dinner and lunch before adding the "dregs" to a bowl of soup. I, on the other hand, found the taste quite pleasing, but something about the texture just didn't do it for me. And so the search  for that quintessential meatloaf goes on.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I've visited California on a number of occasions and, while I'm definitely a New Yorker at heart, I have some indelible memories, mostly of good meals eaten on the road. A standout in my mind was lunch at Pea Soup Anderson's. I know it was somewhere between Los Angeles and San Diego, but I'm not real sure where. I remember the building, sort of a windmill, and the wonderful pea soup they served. With a juicy ham bone and package of spiral ham in the freezer, I'd clipped a recipe from Food Network magazine to try (Deb of Kahakai Kitchen beat me to it, so look here for her post). Then while visiting another of my favorite blogs, Mennonite Girls Can Cook, I saw Marg's post for Anderson's pea soup and thought, "Oh, boy, I wonder if it's the one I'm thinking of?" (check out Marg's post here). In the end, I used part of Marg's and threw in my ham bone and ham instead of farmer's sausage, which I love but can't get here in New York.

2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
1 juicy ham bone
1 pkg green split peas
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 lb ham, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Place the bay leaf and water in the pot and bring to a boil. Add the split peas and ham bone and boil hard for 30 minutes. Add the hambone and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, onion, and thyme, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Add the diced ham and season to taste with salt and pepper.
It was incredibly difficult not to eat this soup as soon as I'd made it (I'd prepared it for the next day's dinner). It's thick and sweet with just the right amount of saltiness from the ham. Though the ingredients are very little different from what I've used in the past (check here for yet another recipe), this was by far the most delicious and satisfying split pea soup I've ever made. I prefer it to the one I make in the slow cooker and really think the hard boiling stage helps produce a soup that is just thick enough while producing fully cooked peas. Next trip to Lancaster, I'll definitely pick up some farmer's sausage to try it with.

Friday, January 21, 2011


If you're not familiar with hoisin sauce, it's a soy based sauce used in Chinese cooking whose main ingredients are soybean paste, garlic, vinegar, and various spices such as chili peppers. The flavor this mixture yields is described as sweet, salty, and spicy. While we prefer chicken thighs, the same recipe can be adapted to a whole chicken or the parts of your choice.

2-3 lbs chicken, skin on, bone in
1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs honey
3 tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 tbs hoisin sauce
3 tbs seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 scallions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine brown sugar, honey,soy sauce, hoisin, rice vinegar, Chinese 5-spice powder, ginger, and scallions. Place chicken in a large zip locked bag and pour in marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in a metal baking dish coated with non stick spray. Pour over the marinade. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn chicken pieces and cook an additional 20-25 minutes until chicken is done. Serve with white rice and sauteed bok choy for your own version of take out.
As much as I love it, I seldom eat the skin on chicken. You can probably guess why I make an exception in this case. The flavors of the marinade permeated the flesh of the chicken and then are enhanced by the carmelization of the marinade on the skin. There are seldom any leftovers, but when there are, I love to slice the chicken and add it to my salad for a wonderful lunch.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


My old version of turkey shepherd's pie is delicious, but when I saw this recipe for turkey cheese pie with lots of additional veggies, I knew I had to try it. It's from Fast and Lean, One Dish Cuisine, a Prevention cookbook. The only change I made was to reduce the potatoes and add some salt. The recipe called for 6--no size or weight indicated. I used 1 large Russett baking potato. I felt the serving indicated (1/6) was too small. We had 1/4 of the pie with a salad for dinner and it was just right.

Serves 4-6
1 large Russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb extra lean (breast) ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, coarsely shredded
1 tbs snipped fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
1 tbs cornstarch
1 cup fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese
2 tsp paprika

In a small saucepan, cook the potatoes in simmering water until they are tender. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the potatoes are cooking, coat a large skillet with nonstick spray  and warm for one minute. Add the turkey, onion, celery, and garlic and saute until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

In a cup, whisk the cornstarch into the broth and add to the turkey-vegetable mixture. Spread the mixture evenly into a broiler-safe 10 inch pan.

Drain the potatoes and mash. Mix in the egg white and cheese. Spoon evenly over the turkey-vegetable mixture and sprinkle with the paprika. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until the potatoes begin to turn golden, about 3 minutes.
I really, really like my turkey shepherd's pie so I was surprised that I enjoyed this version so much. While my old recipe has a rich, dark sauce, the additional vegetables added an extra sweetness making this a satisfying one-dish meal. I will definitely make this again. It was quick and easy--easy on the waistline, too.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I love making frittata (or the Spanish version--tortilla). It's the perfect way to use up bits of cheese and leftover vegetables and it's as good for dinner as it is for breakfast. I generally use my non-stick 11 inch skillet which can go right in the oven, though I occasionally use my 6 inch skillet for an individual frittata. After seeing Giada's episode on brunch a few weeks back, I decided to try a mini frittata, baked in the oven. I also decided to use disposable aluminum cup cake pans instead of my Pampered Chef muffin pan. Giada's recipe is here if you choose to make yours in mini muffin pans as she did.

Here are some guidelines based on my adaptations. I had all the ingredients chopped and bagged and the egg mixture in a Tupperware beverage container since I transported them and assembled and baked at DSO's sister's for a New Year's brunch.

Makes 24 mini frittata
18 eggs
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
chopped ham and shredded Swiss cheese (about 3 oz each)
chopped turkey chorizo and shredded cheddar cheese (1 link and 3 oz cheese)
freshly ground pepper (no salt required due to ham and sausage)
non-stick spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray each of 4 aluminum cupcake pans with non-stick spray. Place some chopped ham and shredded Swiss in the bottom of 12 cups and chopped chorizo and shredded cheddar in the bottom of the other 12. Beat the eggs with the milk and season with pepper, then pour over the meat-cheese mixture, filling each indentation almost to the top. Bake about 21 minutes. Remove from the pans immediately and serve.
I was afraid to make these ahead of time, but they reheat beautifully (about 30 seconds in the microwave, leftovers made a great breakfast the next day). They were excellent for a brunch, simple to prep ahead of time and a breeze to bake. Using disposable tins made them even better. They don't taste the same as the frittata I make on top of the stove and finish in the oven, being lighter in texture and not having any fat whatsoever. In the future, I would add Sazon, my favorite seasoning, and some sauteed onion and red pepper. I might even put some reheated fried/oven potatoes in to beef up the taste profile. I don't see them as an appetizer, as Giada had suggested, but I do like them on a brunch buffet.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


My mom was a city girl, born in Manhattan and raised in Brooklyn and Long Island. Of course, she never looked back when she moved to Rockland County and was content to live most of her life in "God's country" as she called upstate New York. When my friend Lee, another Brooklynite, mentioned that her friend's offspring had published a cookbook called The New Brooklyn Cookbook, I had to check it out. I ordered my copy from Amazon and waited patiently for it to arrive. It was worth the wait. The recipes and stories are from 31 restaurants that authors Melissa and Brendan Vaughan claim "put Brooklyn on the culinary map." I read the cookbook from cover to cover and decided to make DSO Saul's Diver scallops. Let me say up front that I do not eat scallops and am not partial to kale, but the recipe sounded like something he would like. I am printing the original recipe below. I adjusted the recipe to make 2 servings, used turkey chorizo, and further adjusted the amount of oil and salt since I'd like DSO to be around for a long while.

Serves 6

For the white bean puree:
1 cup dried white beans
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

For the pine nut condiment:
1/4 cup currants
6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tbs finely grated lemon zest
2 tbs sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper

For the kale:
1 bunch Tuscan kale, about 3/4 lb, cleaned, ribs removed, roughly chopped
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
salt and pepper

For the scallops:
24 large Diver scallops
salt and pepper
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb chorizo, cut on the diagonal into 1/8 inch rounds

To make the white bean puree:  place the white beans in a large bowl, cover with water, and soak overnight. Drain and place in a medium saucepan with the olive oil, garlic, celery, onion, and bay leaf. Cover with water by 3 inches and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Remove the bay leaf, drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Puree until smooth, adding more bean liquid if necessary. Season to taste and reserve.

To make the pine nut condiment: soak the currants in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and reserve. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 2 or 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the currants, pine nuts, lemon zest, sherry vinegar, red pepper flakes, and thyme, and mix well to combine. Season to taste. Remove from heat to cool at room temperature.

To cook the kale:  prepare an ice bath and bring a medium saucepan of generously salted water to a boil. add the kale and blanch for 2 minutes, then transfer to the ice bath to cool. Drain well. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To cook the scallops:  season the scallops with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan (I used my cast iron skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the scallops and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn them over and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the chorizo to the pan and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes.

To serve: spread 1/4 cup of the white bean puree on a plate and top with 4 scallops. Arrange the kale between the scallops and top with the pine nut condiment and the warm chorizo slices.
DSO pronounced the dish delicious, but way too much work. I'm inclined to agree. He felt the white bean puree had a bit more garlic than it needed. I liked the white bean puree just the way it was. It would have been delicious spread on some grilled ciabatta. I tried the kale and still don't like it, though I slurp it up in my favorite caldo Gallega. I was proud of the sear on my scallops, achieved through the use of my trusty cast iron skillet. I would not make this dish again, but if Larry craves it, would make a reservation at Saul's. BTW, I had forgotten the pine nut garnish when I took the photo.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I wasn't going to post this because the picture is so poor, but after having it for dinner, I had to share it. This is a "fast and lean" recipe from the cookbook of the same name written by a food editor of Prevention magazine. A sidebar explained that cream-style corn is actually creamless, though the canned variety contains cornstarch and sugar in addition to crushed corn.

Serves 4
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 lb skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) cream-style corn
2 cups skim milk
1 cup corn kernels (cooked)
4 oz pimentos, drained and chopped
dash of cayenne
3 tbs chopped parsley

Warm the oil in a 4 qt pot for 1 minute. Add the chicken and saute until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Place the onions and garlic in the same pot and saute  until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the potato and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash the mixture. Stir in the cream-style corn, milk, corn, pimentos, cayenne, and chicken. Cover the pot and cook until the soup is hot and slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes. Don't let the soup boil. Top each serving with parsley.
(NI per serving: 385 calories, 5.1 g fat, 74 mg cholesterol, 461 mg sodium, 4.4 g fiber)
Thick, hearty, and sweet, this is just what you want chowder to be. DSO thinks it would be equally delicious with crab. I agree. I'm quite sure we'll be testing that theory soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Food magazines are like crack to me. It's hard to walk by the supermarket checkout without adding one to my order. I wouldn't want to add up what I spend on this addiction; between these impulse buys and the yearly subscriptions that I convince myself save me money in the long run, I could probably eat out once a week if I could kick the habit. How about the rest of you? Do I see a new 12-step program for foodies in our future?

I confess it was the Christmas cookies on the cover that convinced me to buy this month's Everyday Food. I didn't renew my subscription because I didn't find myself using many recipes, but I occasionally pick up a copy. I'm so happy I did because it contains a number of recipes for turnips, one of my favorite root vegetables. The first one I decided to try was this gratin of turnip and sweet potato.

Serves 8
1 1/2 lbs turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup (4 oz) grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an 8 inch square baking dish, arrange a single layer of turnips and sweet potatoes, overlapping slightly. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle them with one-third of the flour. Repeat to make 3 more layers. Dot top layer with butter, then slowly pour the broth and wine into the dish, being sure to keep the layers intact. Cover tightly with foil and bake until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese over the vegetables. Bake until the cheese is goden and bubbling, 12 - 15 minutes. Let gratin sit for 10 minutes before serving. (NI: 156 cal; 4.8 g fat; 4.5 g protein; 27.6 g carb; 4.3 g fiber)
I knew this was a winner just by looking at that bubbling, browned top, but I hadn't expected it to be so very sweet. DSO kept asking what was in it (thinking sugar of some kind). It was incredibly flavorful. If you're a fan of Gruyere--which we are--you'll love how its prominent flavor plays off that sweetness. I could have gobbled up half of this gratin, no problem, but I didn't. Served with Ina's roast pork (recipe here) and some sauteed broccoli rabe, it was a perfect cold weather meal. I'm going to try it with a  rutabaga and sweet potato combination next.