Monday, March 21, 2011

The Importance of Soups

The Importance of Soups

Where do I start?  I mean, everyone knows how important soup is, don’t they?  The best thing about soup is, there’s no waste.  Everything goes in and you get the benefit of every ingredient.  I think that about every culture has soup on the menu.  What more could you ask for?  I am posting several different types of soup for different tastes.  I hope you all enjoy soup as much as I do.

Thai Squash Soup

        6 - Shallots (unpeeled)
        1 - 14 oz. can - Coconut Milk
        2 - cups - Chicken Broth
        1 1/2 - pounds - Butternut Squash (peeled and cut into
           1/2 inch cubes)
        1/2 - cup - Cilantro (packed)
        1 - Tablespoon - Cilantro (chopped for garnish)
        1/4 - teaspoon - Sea Salt
        2 - Tablespoons - Fish Sauce
        1/4 - cup - Scallions (green parts only) (minced)

        1) Preheat broiler
        2) Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil
        3) Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
        4) Put shallots on sheet and broil, turning occasionally;
            about 5 to 7 minutes; until softened and blackened.
        5) Remove from broiler, let cool, then peel and halve lengthwise.
        6) In large pot, over medium heat, combine shallots, coconut
            milk, broth, squash and 1/2 cup cilantro.
        7) Cook just until mixture begins to boil.
        8) Reduce heat, add salt and simmer about 15 minutes or until
            squash is tender.
        9) Stir in fish sauce and cook 2 to 3 minutes more.
        10) Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of scallions and chopped cilantro.
        11) Serve with black pepper (to taste)

You can find “fish sauce” in any Asian / Chinese market.  There are many unique sauces to be discovered.  Don’t be shy in trying new things.  There are so many new tastes to experience and enjoy.

Caramelized Onion and Sweet Potato Soup

        2 - Tablespoons - Butter
        5 - large - Onions (thinly sliced)
        1 1/2 - Tablespoons - Sugar
        4 - Sweet Potatoes (peeled and cubed)
        2 - quarts - Chicken Broth
        1/2 - teaspoon - Allspice (ground)
        1/2 - teaspoon -  Fresh Thyme (chopped)
        1/2 - teaspoon - Nutmeg (ground)
        1/2 - teaspoon - Sea Salt
        1/2 - teaspoon - Pepper

        1) In large Dutch oven, heat butter.
        2) Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes,
            until browned.
        3) Add sugar and cook 3 minutes, stirring.
        4) Add sweet potatoes, broth, and all spices and bring to
            a boil.
        5) Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered 15 to 20
            minutes, until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
        6) Adjust seasonings and serve.

Caramelizing the onions is a very important step in this recipe.  Cook them until browned but not burned.  Make sure that you stir constantly to assure the outcome.  The difference in the taste is amazing.  Anytime you are using onions in a recipe, try caramelizing them first.  You will enjoy the difference.

Chicken - Squash Noodle Soup

        1 - pound - Chicken Breast (skinless and boneless)
        1/2 - teaspoon - Poultry Seasoning
        1 - Tablespoon - Olive Oil
        1 - Onion (chopped)
        1 - Stalk - Celery (chopped)
        1 - Carrot (washed and chopped)
        2 - cloves - Garlic (minced)
        1 1/2 - quarts - Chicken Broth
        1 1/2 - cups - Noodles (dried)
        1 - Zucchini (coarsely chopped)
        1 3/4 - cup - Fat Free Milk
        1/4 - cup - Flour
        Small Bunch Parsley (snipped)

        1) Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.
        2) In large bowl, combine chicken and poultry seasoning; toss
            to coat.
        3) In large Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium heat.
        4) Add chicken; cook 3 to 5 minutes; until browned.
        5) Transfer chicken to bowl; set aside.
        6) In same Dutch oven, cook onion, celery, carrot and garlic about 5 minutes.
        7) Add broth; bring to boil.
        8) Add chicken, noodles, and zucchini; return to boil.
        9) Reduce heat; cover and simmer 5 minutes.
        10) In medium bowl, whisk milk and flour together until smooth.
        11) Add to chicken mixture; cook and stir until bubbly.
        12) Stir 1 minute more.
        13) Add parsley just before serving.

Root Vegetable Soup

        2 - Carrots (washed and cut into 1 inch chunks)
        2 - Sweet Potatoes (peeled and coarsely chopped)
        1 - Parsnip (peeled and coarsely chopped)
        1 - Red Onion (cut into wedges)
        3 - Cloves - Garlic (thinly sliced)
        1 - Tablespoon - Olive Oil
        1/8 - teaspoon - Black Pepper
        1 - teaspoon - Thyme (dried and crushed)
        3 - cups - Chicken or Vegetable Broth
        1/4 -cup - Flour

        1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
        2) In a 13 X 9 baking pan, combine carrots, sweet potatoes,
            parsnip, onion, and garlic.
        3) Drizzle with oil, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 the thyme.
        4) Cover with foil.
        5) Bake 20 minutes; remove foil; stir vegetables.
        6) Bake 20 minutes more or until vegetables are tender.
        7) Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk together milk,
            broth, flour, and remaining thyme until smooth.
        8) Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
        9) Add vegetables; cook and stir 1 or 2 minutes; until heated

If you want to add protein to this soup, just add leftover chicken, beef or pork.  Add this when you add the vegetables to the soup and be sure to heat through. You can also change up the types of root vegetables by using white potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, or yams.  Just use you imagination. You can also experiment with the spices used by using tarragon, sea salt, sage, or savory. The sky is the limit.  Check out the first couple of postings about spices.  You can see what spice goes with which ingredient.  IMAGINATION !!!!!
Enjoy !!!

I'll be back soon with a few salad recipes that will excite your taste buds.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's that time again !!!!!

Hi everyone, I have been scouring many sites and cookbooks, trying to find a few good recipes for you all.  I think you will be happy with these.  I like most types of food, but I do have my favorites.  I love Asian/Oriental food of all kind, except maybe Korean.  And I like seafood very much.  With this posting, I'm sending out a few fish/seafood recipes for your enjoyment.  Let me know what you think.  Please feel free to write and ask for any recipes.  I really do enjoy finding and adapting these for you.

This recipe can be made with Halibut, Tuna, or Cod, as well.

Grilled Salmon w/Sweet and Spicy Sauce

  4 - Salmon filets or steaks
        1/2 - teaspoon - Cumin (ground)
        1 - teaspoon - Lime Zest
        4 - Tablespoons - Lime Juice
        2 - Tablespoons - Olive Oil
        1/4 - teaspoon - Crushed Red Pepper
        1/2 - cup - Watermelon (seeded and chopped)
        1 - Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper
        2 - Scallions (thinly sliced)
        1 1/2 - Tablespoons - Fresh Mint (thinly sliced)

1) In a small bowl, mix cumin, lime zest, lime juice, oil, 1/8   
teaspoon red pepper, and a dash of salt. 
        2) Place fish and cumin mixture in a resealable bag. Marinade
        fish for at least an hour, turning occasionally.
        3) In a bowl, make salsa by combining the watermelon, bell
        pepper, scallions, mint and 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper. (set aside)
        4) Drain fish, discard marinade.
        5) Grill fish over medium heat, until flakey. (6 to 10 minutes)
        6) Serve fish with salsa.
        7) Use lime wedges, if desired.

Grilled Shrimp Salad w/Mango Dressing
        2 - Mangos - (1 1/2 cut into thin slices)
        1 - Shallot (peeled & quartered)
        Grated peel of 1 - lime, plus 1 - Tablespoon - lime juice
        3 - Tablespoons - Olive Oil
        Salt & Pepper (to taste)
        1 - pound - Large Shrimp (peeled & deveined)
        1 1/2 - pounds - Jicama (peeled & cut into thin slices)
        1 1/2 - cups - Parsley
        1 - cup - Fresh Mint Leaves (chopped)
       1/2 - cup - Roasted Peanuts (chopped)

        1) Preheat grill pan to medium/high heat.
        2) Using a blender, puree the 1/2 uncut mango, shallot, lime juice, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil.
        3) Season with salt and pepper (to taste)
        4) Thread shrimp onto skewers.
        5) Brush shrimp with remaining olive oil.
        6) Season with salt and Pepper.
        7) Grill shrimp, turning only once. (about 5 minutes)
        8) In a large bowl, toss Jicama, parsley, mint, lime peel, and mango slices with blended dressing.
        9) To serve, sprinkle with peanuts and top with skewered shrimp.

Pesto and Shrimp Pizzas

        4 - Ears - Corn (husks removed)
        2 - Red - Bell Peppers (cored and quartered)
        6 - Tablespoons - Olive Oil (divided)
        1 - pound - Medium Shrimp (peeled, deveined)
        Salt and Pepper (to taste)
        2 - cups - Mozzarella Cheese (shredded)
        3/4 - cup - Fresh Basil (thinly sliced)
        1 - Tablespoon - Fresh Lemon Juice
        1 - 12 inch - Baguette (split horizontally  - hollowed out and halved crosswise)  

        1) Preheat grill to medium heat.      
        2) Brush corn and peppers with 2 Tablespoons olive oil.
        3) In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper .
        4) Arrange corn, bell peppers, and shrimp on a cooking grate and grill; turning occasionally, (about 5 minutes)
        5) Cook the corn and bell peppers an additional 6 to 8 minutes. (until lightly charred)      
        6) Cool peppers, peel and discard skin.
        7) In a food processor, puree bell peppers, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup basil leaves and lemon juice.
        8) While food processor is running, gradually add remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil; and season with salt and pepper.
        9) Spread pesto on cut side of baguette halves.                   
        10) Top with grilled shrimp.
        11) Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and thinly sliced basil.
        12) Arrange baguettes on cooking sheet, cover and grill until cheese melts.  (3 to 5 minutes)  

Blackened Shrimp Subs

        1 - pound - Medium Shrimp (peeled, deveined)
        1 - Tablespoon - Olive Oil
        2 - teaspoons - Creole Seasoning
        2 - teaspoons - Reduced fat Mayo
        1 Tablespoon - Dijon Style Mustard
        2 - 12 inch - Baguettes (halved, and dug out)
       1/2 - Head - Romaine Lettuce
        1 - Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper (cored and sliced)
        2 - Tomatoes (thinly sliced)
        2 - Scallions (thinly sliced on an angle)

        1) Preheat grill to medium/high heat.      
        2) In a bowl, combine shrimp, olive oil, and Creole seasoning.
        3) In another bowl, combine mayo, mustard, and a little water.
        4) Stir until smooth.
        5) Lay baguettes on baking sheet, toast lightly.
        6) Layer Romaine lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes, and scallions.
        7) Toast again for 2 minutes
You can add any type of cheese to these subs.  Add in the final step and toast until cheese is melted.  In an earlier posting, I gave out a recipe for a ”Creole”  spice or rub.  You can use this in this recipe or you can substitute it with any pre-packaged taco or Creole seasoning from you local supermarket.

Grilled Fish Tacos

These “tacos” are a little different in that they use Savoy Cabbage leaves to hold the ingredients.  Of course, you could also use traditional taco shells.  You can also use additional ingredients, such as, sour cream, salsa, hot peppers, etc.  The recipe calls for white fish. There are a few that work, like Halibut, Tilapia, Cod and Blue Sole (Flounder).                                                                                                                                                                    

        12 - ounces - White Fish
        1 - Red Onion (sliced 1/4 inch thick)
        2 - Tablespoons - Olive Oil
        1 - Small Head - Savoy Cabbage (cored, leaving 4 outer leaves
        whole and shredding the rest finely)
        1 - Carrot (finely shredded)
        Juice of 1 Lime
        1/4 - teaspoon - Sugar
        1/4 - cup - Salsa Verde

        1) Preheat grill to medium heat.      
        2) Brush fish and onions with olive oil.
        3) Grill onions for about 5 minutes.
        4) Coarsely chop onions and put into a bowl.
        5) Add shredded cabbage, carrots, lime juice, sugar, and 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
        6) Season with salt and pepper. (to taste)
        7) Season fish with salt and pepper and grill for about 5 minutes
        8) Flake fish and add cabbage mixture.
        9) Divide the fish/slaw mixture in to 4 portions (servings)
        10) Put fish/slaw mix onto whole cabbage leaf and roll up, first with right side, then bottom, then left side, then top.
        11) Top tacos with salsa verde.
You can add any type of cheese to these tacos.  Add in the final step and toast until cheese is melted.

Spicy Shrimp Casserole

        6 - 6 inch - Tortillas (cut into bite-size pieces)
        1 - cup - Green Salsa
        1 - cup - Monterey Jack Cheese (shredded/low-fat)
        1/2 - cup - Sour Cream (light)
        3 - Tablespoons - Flour
        1/4 - cup - Fresh Parsley
        1 - 12 ounce - Cooked Shrimp (peeled, deveined)
        2 - medium - Tomatoes (chopped)
        1 - 15oz. can - Black Beans (drained)

        1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
        2) Place 1/2 of the tortilla chips in the bottom of a lightly
        Greased 2 quart baking dish. (casserole dish)
        3) Arrange remaining 1/2 tortilla chips on a baking sheet.
        4) Bake chips 12 to 14 minutes or until crisp.
        5) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together salsa, cheese,
        sour cream, flour, and 2 Tablespoons parsley.
        6) Stir in shrimp and black beans.
        7) Spoon shrimp mixture over tortilla pieces in baking dish.
        8) Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until heated through.
        9) Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
        10) Sprinkle with baked tortilla chips, tomatoes, and remaining
        11) If desired, serve with additional sour cream.   

Thai Shrimp Roll-Ups

        24 - Medium Shrimp (peeled, deveined and halved)
        Salt and Pepped (to taste)
        3 - ounces - Rice Noodles (rice vermicelli)
        8 - 7 inch - Rice Paper Wrappers
        24 Mint Leaves
        1 - Large - Carrot (finely shredded)
        2 - Scallions (thinly sliced)
        2 - cups - Romaine Lettuce (finely shredded)
        1/2- cup - Thai Peanut Sauce

        1) Preheat grill to high heat.      
        2) Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
        3) In a skillet, cook shrimp about 3 minutes, turning once.
        4) In a saucepan, cook rice noodles (according to directions).
        5) In shallow bowl, add warm water, moisten one wrapper at a time .
        6) Arrange 3 shrimp halves in each wrapper.
        7) Top with 3 mint leaves.
        8) Add 1/8 of the rice noodles.
        9) Add about 1 Tablespoon carrots, scallions, and 1/4 cup Romaine over shrimp.
        10) Fold wrappers - first the sides, then the bottom, stopping at  the halfway point.
        11) Add 3 more shrimp halves and continue rolling.
        12) Cover with damp paper towels.
        13) Repeat to make 8 shrimp rolls.
        14) Cut in half - diagonally.
        15) Serve with peanut sauce.  
You may also use a natural peanut butter, cashew butter or almond butter with this recipe.  If you want it a little more spicy, just add a little cayenne to taste.

Well, that's it for now.  I'll be checking back in with you very soon.  Until next time...........