Archive | October 2012

Celery Apple Soup


There isn’t a vegetable that I don’t eat, but I’ll admit that celery isn’t exactly one of my favourites. We were at our farmers’ market and I came across the largest celery stock I have ever seen and it was being sold at the exorbitant price of $1 just begging to be purchased. My husband is a huge celery fan. He takes either carrot or celery sticks to work every day (boring). Even so, he would need three weeks to go through all that celery.

When all else fails, I always turn to soup. My husband tells people that there isn’t a vegetable that I haven’t turned into a soup. The challenge in this case was to give the celery a boost without compromising it entirely. Not an easy task.

Most people dismiss the taste of celery, but it exists and when cooked, it is not subtle at all. This is one of those recipes that just came together in my head and I knew that in spite of the celery as a main, I would like it and I did. The apple stands up to the celery without competing with it and adds that perfect touch of sweetness. There aren’t very many vegetables that can handle two whole sprigs of rosemary, but in spite of the amount of rosemary used, it is not a rosemary celery soup. In fact, I had to keep adding rosemary to ensure subtle hints appeared in every spoonful. As for the Dijon, it’s the first time I have ever used mustard in a soup and though unconventional, it just works. In short, it’s celery a little mellow (and a little enhanced) from the apple, rosemary, and mustard, but still always that ever-familiar celery.

It’s not often that celery gets to shine; it normally plays the supporting role. However, this soup proves that it can definitely hold its own with a little help. It goes beautifully with a deep, dark, hefty molasses bread. Whether you are a celery lover or not (like me), albeit unconventional, it is a fitting autumn soup.

This is a quick, inexpensive and easy weeknight meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Oil, Olive 4 tbsp
Onion, small, chopped 2
Garlic, cloves, crushed 2 large (or 4 small)
Celery, stalks & leaves, roughly choppeds 1 lb
Apples, Empire, small, grated 2
Mustard, Dijon 1 tsp
Salt
Black pepper
Rosemary, fresh, chopped 2 sprigs
Broth, vegetable 4 cups

Directions:

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the celery strings from each celery rib before roughly chopping.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium pot and gently fry the onions for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add celery and celery leaves and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the apples, Dijon, salt, black pepper, rosemary, and vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes until the celery is cooked through.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat. Using a hand blender thoroughly puree the soup to an extremely smooth consistency.
  7. Return the pot to the stove over medium heat until heated through.
  8. Serve with a couple thick slices of thick molasses bread.

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Quiche

I know what you are thinking. Contrary to appearances, the crust is actually not that thick. In order to avoid unnecessary waste, I fold the extras over the inside. It doesn’t look dainty, but that additional bit of buttery flakiness is soooo good.

You all know that eggs are not my favourite, but I absolutely adore this quiche. Made in the pie tin, the ratio of eggs to vegetables/cheese to crust is evenly distributed making this a perfectly balanced dish that isn’t too eggy. I grew up with a classic Italian dish that combined sweet and spicy dried peppers with eggs, so am extremely familiar with this combination. I have loved the pairing of roasted red peppers and goat cheese ever since I made Ina Garten’s sandwich.

For our pre-Christmas party last year, I made the miniature versions of this and our guests gobbled them up. Roasted red peppers pack big, bold flavor and their sweetness combine with the tanginess of the goat cheese tantalizing the tongue in that classic dance between sweet and sour.

This is a quick and easy weeknight meal (if not preparing your own pie crust).

Serves 4 (with a side salad)

Ingredients:

Pie dough, quiche (prepared) 1
Eggs 4
Salt 1/2 tsp
Milk 1/4 cup
Black pepper
Thyme, sprigs, fresh 6-8
Red pepper, roasted, chopped 1
Shallots, chopped 2
Olive oil 3 tbsp
Cheese, goat, crumbled 1 oz

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat oil over medium heat in a small frying pan. Add shallots and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, thyme, salt, and  black pepper.

4. Line quiche crust with cooked shallots. Follow with roasted red pepper and goat cheese. Ensure that they are all well distributed.

5. Pour in the egg mixture.

6. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the quiche is set.

7. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Broccoli & Pasta


That weekend, the largest, most beautiful, most vivid green broccoli I have ever seen seemed to shine, so much so that they presumed themselves   to be the local feature at my farmers’ market. When my husband and I caught a glimpse, we were immediately reeled in. Instantly and simultaneously, we both screamed out “broccoli and pasta”.

Perhaps one of the most simple and rustic of dishes, but also one of the most versatile, it became a staple recipe in my single working mom’s repertoire of dishes. It is a classic southern Italian dish that every one in the family (including extended family) makes and for good reason. It’s a one-pot fast dish at its best. Once you learn the formula, you can substitute other vegetables quite easily. We make similar dishes with rapini and with brussel sprouts. In my mother’s version, the pasta takes center stage. She normally ups the pasta and reduces the amount of broccoli. In my version, I cut the pasta by half and double the broccoli.

This dish can be made year round, but it is of course best when broccoli is in season. If you make it when the broccoli is in season, you’ll understand why I incorporate more broccoli than pasta. The broccoli was perfectly cooked with an ever slight crisp bite, which followed with the sweetest finish. The pasta and beans make this dish a complete vegetable protein, so it is extremely satisfying and delicious.

This dish takes minutes to prepare and is a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Potatoes, medium, quartered 3
Pasta, spaghetti, spelt 1/2 lb
Broccoli, heads, cut into medium stalks 4
Beans, white, pre-cooked 3 cups
Salt
Olive oil

Directions:

You will need a very large pot for this recipe. Use the largest pot you own.

  1. Fill the pot three-quarters of the way up with water.
  2. Peel, quarter, and add the potatoes to the pot of water.
  3. Bring pot of water to a boil.
  4. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a medium simmer and generously salt the water. The water should taste like the ocean.
  5. Add the pasta. The brand of spelt spaghetti I use takes 10 minutes to cook al dente.
  6. After 5 minutes, add the broccoli stalks. I leave the broccoli stalks quite large, so that they don’t melt away.
  7. After 3 minutes, add the pre-cooked whited beans.
  8. After 2 minutes, remove the pot from the stove. Drain leaving 1-2 inches of water in the pot.
  9. Add olive oil. I usually ensure 2-3 good turns.
  10. Give it a good stir, so that the olive oil is well incorporated.