Saturday, September 24, 2016

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup Slides Down Like Pure Golden Honey

This soups texture is silky-creamy, velvety-smooth and it promises to slither its way down ones throat like golden honey or a smooth single malt scotch! When the season for butternut squash rounds the corner, this soup is always on my list of must-haves. 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Yield: 14 servings 

4 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 large onions, diced
2 teaspoons curry powder
4 large Idaho baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2½ 32-ounce containers chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Rosemary sprigs (garnish)

  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and sauté leeks and onion until glossy. Add curry powder and sauté until fragrant, a minute or so; add chicken broth, potatoes and butternut squash, bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until vegetables are fork tender. Allow soup to cool slightly. 
  2. In a food processor or blender, purée soup in batches; transfer puréed batches into a large bowl. After final batch is puréed, transfer soup back into the original large pot, simmer until serving time. Serve hot. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Pleasing Palate Pleasures of Cheese Tortellini Chowder

When the outside temperatures begin to drop, this is one of my favorite autumn dinners. My taste-testers ranked this as one of the best chowders they had ever eaten. In case you don't devour this in one sitting, it gets thicker with time; so you may need to add more chicken broth.

2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup sliced celery
½ cup chopped red pepper
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup corn
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
⅛ cup cooking sherry
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream
10 ounces tri-color cheese tortellini
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1.      Melt butter in a large pot over moderate heat and sauté onions, celery, red pepper,  carrots and corn.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
2.     Whisk in flour (it will grab the vegetables very quickly) and slowly add chicken broth, whisking constantly. Add white wine, water and vegetable cube and stir until cube dissolves. Add sherry, salt, pepper, cream, tortellini and parsley and stir to combine. Simmer until heated through. Serve immediately.

6 servings

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Nothing Compares to a Plate of Summer's Fresh Vegetable Lasagna

I had been daydreaming about making a fresh vegetable lasagna all summer. I was thrilled with the results of my daydreaming, as was Nick. You need nothing more to complete this meal than good-quality Italian bread and olive oil for dipping. It's fun to use a combination of both red and yellow tomatoes. Don’t be alarmed if when you remove the lasagna from the oven and it looks like it’s swimming in liquid; fresh vegetables naturally produce this liquid during the cooking process. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes to allow the juices to settle with the other ingredients.

Summer's Fresh Vegetable Lasagna
2 eggs
15 ounces ricotta cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Several grindings of freshly ground black pepper
4–6 medium red and/or yellow tomatoes, sliced
1 additional tomato, chopped, for top of lasagna
About 2 cups fresh basil leaves
6 pieces no-boil (also called oven ready) lasagna noodles
About 2 cups shredded zucchini
1 pound mozzarella, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt

   1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.
   2.  In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add ricotta            cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper; stir until  well combined.
   3.  Line the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with half of the sliced tomatoes and completely cover tomatoes with half of the basil leaves. Top basil leaves with 3 lasagna noodles. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over lasagna noodles. It won’t completely cover the noodles, but don’t worry, it spreads out during cooking. Top ricotta mixture with 1 cup of shredded zucchini and top zucchini with half of the mozzarella cheese.
4.      Repeat layers, starting with another layer of tomatoes. Top the last layer of mozzarella with remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan; sprinkle the top of lasagna with kosher salt and top with chopped tomato.
5.      Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and baked an additional 15 minutes or until bubbly. Switch oven temperature to broil and broil until slightly golden brown. 

8 to 10 servings

Friday, September 2, 2016

Potato Salad Will Have Tasters Coming Back For More

My mother has been preparing this potato salad since she and my father first ate it at a potluck picnic with friends in the summer of 1945. The woman who prepared the salad said it wasn’t at all like traditional potato salad because it had a mere tablespoon of mayonnaise. (Mayonnaise was being rationed at the time, but potatoes and onions were plentiful and inexpensive.) So she decided to experiment and dress the potato salad with an oil and vinegar-based dressing rather than the traditional mayonnaise-based dressing. Everyone loved it! It’s as popular and picnic-friendly now as it was then. 

It goes well with just about anything that goes with potatoes and especially anything from the grill. 
The original recipe used apple cider vinegar, but I use seasoned rice vinegar—both make a great-tasting dressing. Peeling the potatoes is a matter of preference.


½ cup neutral oil
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
6 medium potatoes, unpeeled, quartered
1½ cups quartered and thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1. In a 1-cup jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine oil, vinegar, celery seed, salt and pepper. Shake contents until well combined. Allow dressing to stand at room temperature for several hours.
2. Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender. Allow potatoes to cool. When cool enough to handle, thinly slice.
3. Layer the potatoes and the onions alternately in a rimmed dish large enough to accommodate the ingredients. 
4. Shake dressing and pour evenly over the potatoes and onions. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (Overnight is recommended.)
5. Just before serving, toss the salad with the mayonnaise. Season with additional salt if desired. 

6 servings

Friday, August 12, 2016

Homemade Tomato Pie Is Summertime Favorite

Back in the 1940s when tomatoes were at the height of their growing season, California restaurants served fresh tomato pie. They were made using a traditional pie crust and were filled with fresh juicy slices of tomatoes and topped with a creamy cheese sauce. People raved about these pies and would drive long distances just to get a slice of pie! And wouldn't you know? This fabulous tomato pie was the precursor to one of our most popular dishes, the Pizza Pie. 

Here is my rendition, a long time family favorite.

For optimum flavor, I prepare a homemade crust, but if you’re crunched for time, buy a good frozen 9-inch pie shell. Wholly Wholesome makes a great tasting pie crust.


½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons white wine
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 (9-inch) baked pie crust
3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced (enough to fill the pie ¾ full)
About 15-20 fresh basil leaves

   1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
   2.  In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise with ¼ cup  Parmesan cheese, white wine, dry mustard, garlic  powder, salt, pepper and parsley. Set mixture aside.
   3. Arrange half of the tomatoes in the baked pie shell. Top  the tomatoes with fresh basil leaves and top the basil leaves with remaining tomato slices.
4.      Dollop the Parmesan/mayonnaise mixture over tomatoes. (Don’t worry about perfection as the mixture will even out while baking.)
5.     Top the pie with the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until lightly brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

4 to 6 servings