One of the best things about travel for me is getting ideas about ramping up our food game. Last week, we were in New York City and landed a reservation at Bar Boulud. The prix fixe for the night included a bowl of chilled pea soup which was simple, fresh, and stunning. And no, that’s not the wine talking! This recipe from Mark Bittman reaches back to when he wrote the Diners Journal for the NYTimes comes very close; the flavoring at Bar Boulud was rosemary infused, but either rosemary or tarragon as suggested in Mark Bittman’s recipe makes this a great summer-time soup to start off a meal, or on its own.
Our reason for traveling to NYC this time was to see the Irving Penn Centennial exhibit at the Metropolitan. If you have a chance to get to NY before the show closes on July 30, 2017, by all means go! It is an amazing and inspiring show of Penn’s personal projects and more commercial endeavors.
Possibly the Best Pea Soup – Mark Bittman, NYTimes
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely sliced shallots
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound shelled fresh sweet peas (I used WFM frozen; not a fan of shelling peas)
- 1/2 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon*
- 1/2 TBSP salt
- Pinch pepper
- 1/4 cup half and half or light cream
*If adapting for Bar Boulud version, experiment with fresh rosemary here
- Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until shallots are just wilted. Add 3 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
- Add peas, tarragon, salt and pepper and bring back to boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature. Puree in a blender in batches until very smooth. Force through fine sieve into clean pot, discarding small amount of pea skins left in sieve. (I used my handy stick blender and left the skins in. They were pulverized and added a bit of texture to the soup)
- Stir in half and half and add salt if necessary to taste. Can be reheated and served hot or chilled and served cold. (Top with a dollop of creme fraiche and chives if you want to fancy this up)
I love Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, really I do. And so, I when I came across a recipe on his website jamieoliver.com for Mushroom Curry, I decided to give it a whirl. I thought that navigating measurements in metric units would be my biggest challenge; however I have discovered that I don’t speak – and often don’t understand – the Queen’s English. Hob? Groundnut oil (according to Nigella Larson, that’s peanut oil)?
The implementation of this recipe was a bit improvised. My local grocer did not have fenugreek or paneer. So I’ve left those out. What resulted was tasty if not true to the recipe which follows.
- 500 g mixed mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 5 cm piece of ginger
- 1 onion
- 1/2-1 fresh red chili
- 500 g ripe mixed color tomatoes
- ground nut oil (I cook with coconut oil so that’s what I used)
- 1 tsp Tumeric
- 1 tsp fenugreek (left that one out)
- 1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 heaped tsp medium curry powder
- 1 TBSP mango chutney
- 1 400 ml tin of coconut milk
- 30 g paneer (left that out)
- 400 g brown basmati rice
- 2 limes
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F.
- Roughly cop some of the mushrooms, keeping the smaller ones whole and tearing up the rest. Tip into a large casserole dish and toast on the hob over a medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes until nutty and really golden. I interpreted this to mean toast in a large skillet (no oil) until the mushrooms are golden; no “hob” at this house.
- Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the garlic, ginger and onion. Trim and finely slice the chili, then roughly chop the tomatoes.
- Add all of it to the pan except the tomatoes, then add 1 TBSP oil and all the spices. Toss for 2 minutes or until the spices are toasted and it’s smelling lovely, stirring continuously.
- Add the tomatoes, mango chutney, and coconut milk. Stir to combine and season well with sea salt and black pepper. At this point, I transferred what was in the skillet to a large casserole dish.
- Top with bits of paneer and place in the oven (no paneer so I just popped the casserole in the oven). Cook for 30 minutes or until all cooked through and gnarly.
- Meanwhile cook the rice according to package directions.
- Taste and season as required, adding a little lime juice as needed.
- Spoon the curry over the rice, then roughly chop the coriander leaves and scatter over the top. Cut the remaining lime into wedges for people to squeeze over the top.
Recipe created by Martha Rose Shulman.
The New York Times Food and Cooking sections are a great resource for home cooks whether adventurous or not. As a subscriber, I receive a couple of weekly newsletters from the Times and this one caught my eye for its simplicity.
This recipe, Spinach, Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry, comes from Martha Rose Shulman, one of the Times regular contributors, popped up recently and turned out to be quite quick (15 minutes!) to prepare. (And a bonus for subscribers, the recipes can be stored online in a personal recipe box).
Ms. Shulman makes a couple of serving suggestions – one of which is to use the stir-fry as a pita filling. Next time, I’ll try that!
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (I substituted coconut oil)
- ½ pound tofu, cut in small dice (firm!)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Soy sauce to taste
- 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed (use fresh, readily available)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or wok, and add the tofu. Stir-fry until the tofu is lightly colored, three to five minutes, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute, and add soy sauce to taste. Add the spinach and stir-fry until the spinach wilts, about one minute. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add more soy sauce to taste. Remove from the heat.
- Using tongs, transfer the spinach and tofu mixture to a serving bowl, leaving the liquid behind in the pan or wok. Drizzle with the sesame oil, and add more soy sauce as desired. Serve with rice or other grains, or noodles. You may also use it as a filling for whole wheat pita bread.
Living in a diverse community such as Lowell, MA, I sometimes find that I’ve taken for granted all of the ethnic flavors that are available to us here. With one of the largest Southeast Asian populations in the United States, we’ve been so fortunate to experience some fantastic foods and flavors, and even the mainstream grocers carry many ethnic foods.
This curry-flavored soup comes from Vegetarian Times, one of my favorite sources for non-meat based meals. The magazine encourages cooks to substitute whatever might be available for both the cauliflower and green beans; however, in the dead of winter, access to either of these veggies in not a problem. In almost all cooking, I use either olive oil or coconut oil; I substituted the coconut oil for canola in this recipe.
- 1 TBSP canola oil (I substituted coconut oil)
- 12 oz cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (3 cups)
- 4 large green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
- 1 TBSP Thai red curry paste
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes in their juice
- 3/4 cup light coconut milk
- 6 oz green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used thawed frozen beans)
- 1 TBSP lime juice
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and white parts of green onions. Saute 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown. Add curry paste, and saute 1 minute more.
- Add broth and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and green beans , and simmer 5 minutes, or until beans are tender.
- Stir in lime juice and remaining green onions. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Note: the nutritional information for each serving (6) can be found on Vegetarian Times’ webpage for this recipe.
It’s Meatless Monday! We both love stuffed peppers, but I’m not a huge fan of the ground meat and tomato sauce stuffing. This recipe uses quinoa along with chopped veggies seasoned with cumin and cinnamon. In place of stuffing full peppers, I split them in half – still delish! Visit Whole Foods website for the original recipe.
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 7 bell peppers (1 cored, seeded & chopped; tops removed and reserved if you are filling the peppers upright, just core and seed the remaining 6)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 pound baby spinach
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinse & cook according the package directions ahead of time)
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup roasted cashews (if desired)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until transparent, 8-10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes more.
- Add carrots and chopped peppers, cook until just softened, then add parsley and spinach (in batches if needed). Let spinach wilt then stir in cinnamon, cumin, and cooked quinoa. Toss gently to combine. Add salt, pepper, and cashews (if using) and cook 1-2 minutes more. Set aside to let filling cool to just warm.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×13 inch baking pan and set aside.
- Divide quinoa mixture evenly among remaining 6 bell peppers (or 12 halves), gently packing it down and making sure to fully fill each pepper. Top each pepper with its reserved top then arrange them upright in prepared pan.
- Cover snugly with foil and bake until peppers are tender and juicy and filling is hot throughout, about 1 hours. Transfer to plates, and serve.
What happens when you can’t locate instant polenta in the market? You improvise! I most definitely would try this one again after I locate the polenta; for this version, I used the rolls of pre-made polenta as the base and piled the mushrooms on top.
Adapted from Whole Foods Market
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms (halved if small and sliced if large)
- 3 shallots, sliced
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3/4 oz (about 2/3 cup) dried porcini mushrooms, ground in a spice grinder or food processor to a fine powder (not used because of the pre-made polenta)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons instant polenta
- 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine mushrooms and shallots in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms and shallots have released their liquid and browned, about 12 minutes; add wine 1 TBSP at a time if necessary to keep mushrooms from sticking. When mushrooms are very tender and browned, add thyme, soy sauce, pepper and any remaining wine. Cook, stirring until liquid has evaporated.
[Because I used the roll of pre-made polenta, I skipped this step. Sliced the pre-made roll and cover the bottom of a baking dish, pile the mushroom mixture on top]. Combine 3 cups water and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in porcini powder. Add polenta in a thin, steady stream stirring constantly. Cook, stirring constantly until polenta is thickened and bubbles, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mushroom mixture, 3 TBSP of the parsley and 3 TBSP of chives. Pour this mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and smooth the top. Bake until just browned on top, about 30 minutes.
Cool for 20-30 minutes. Run a table knife around the edge of the pan. Sprinkle pie with remaining 1 TBSP parsley and 1 TBSP chives. Cut into wedges.
To make the pie ahead, pour the polenta mixture into the pie place and cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Add about 15 minutes to the baking time.
Adapted from Mayo Clinic Diet.
I love the combination of spices in this carrot soup – and with just 80 calories per 1 1/2 cups it is a perfect way to counteract the food treats I experienced at the Lowell Folk Festival this past weekend. This tasty soup comes from the Mayo Clinic recipe resources. Most of the spices I already had in my stash, so it was one tasty meal that came together quickly and with minimal shopping.
- 1 TBSP Olive Oil (substituted coconut oil)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound carrots peeled and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 TBSP fresh ginger + 1 tsp (peeled and chopped)
- 1/2 medium jalepeno pepper, seeded
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 5 cups chick stock or vegetable stock/broth
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (save some leaves for garnish if desired)
- 2 TBSP fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tsp salt (omitted)
- 3 TBSP sour cream, light or fat-free (I used fat-free plain Greek yogurt)
- 1 lime (grate the zest + use the juice in last steps)
- In large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seed. When the seeds just start to pop (after about 1 minute), add the onion and saute until soft and translucent (about 4 minutes). Add the carrots, ginger, jalepeno and curry powder and saute until the seasonings are fragrant (about 3 minutes).
- Add 3 cups of the stock, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the carrots are tender (about 6 minutes).
- In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth and return to saucepan. Here’s where I make use of my immersion blender. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of stock. Return the soup to medium heat and reheat gently. Just before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt if desired.
- Ladle into warmed individual bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of yogurt, a sprinkle of the lime zest and additional cilantro leaves.