My favorite soup to make is minestrone, because of it's versatility. I use the same base, then add whatever vegetables are in season. The batch I made on Superbowl Sunday was especially good, so I thought I'd share.
3 slices bacon, diced
2ea. carrots, celery, garlic
1 c savoy cabbage
1 zucchini, large dice
2 T tomato paste
1 c water
Sprig or 1tsp thyme
6 c beef stock
1 can cannelini beans
1 c ditalini or other small pasta shape
Salt & pepper
Saute bacon in a heavy stockpot with a light film of oil. Cook until rendered on medium heat, about 8 minutes. Add 2 sliced carrots, 2 sliced stalks celery, 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook 3 minutes. Add any other veg now if you like. I put some sliced savoy cabbage and zucchini. Put in 2 tbsp tomato paste, stir to coat veg and let cook for 3 minutes. Add 1 c water and scrape bottom of pot. Pour in 6 c beef stock bring to simmer. Add some thyme, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add beans and pasta, cook 15 more minutes until pasta is done. Season with salt and pepper, serve garnished with grated Parmesan.
This year's theme was creativity, Art vs. Craft. The discussion on the mainstage re this topic was between a stellar group of Chefs. Maybe you've heard of them...
They each spoke on the topic, with the consensus being that Chefs don't go into the kitchen to create art, but instead to practice their craft. If they do this extraordinarily well, it may be elevated to an art. My opinion is that artists are born, not made. Some can create art on a plate, but some, no matter how many years they spend in the kitchen, never achieve that plateau.
What do you think?
This beauty came from my garden and was the star of our Pasta Ala Norma dinner. There are countless recipes for this classic dish, but here's the short version of mine:
Cut an eggplant into cubes. Sauté with olive oil and a sprig of thyme until lightly browned. Add 2 chopped cloves of garlic and cook 1 minute. Pour in 2-3 large peeled and chopped tomatoes with their juices.(or a 28 oz. can diced tomatoes) Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove thyme sprig, stir in 3T chopped mint leaves, 3/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of olive oil. Pour over hot, cooked rigatoni and serve. Pass Parmesan to grate over top if desired.
In August, my family took a short vacation to Washington, DC. We stayed in Arlington, VA, and ate most of our meals in the Crystal City area. The highlight was our dinner at Chef Jose Andres' Jaleo, a tapas bar/restaurant. My husband trusted me to order plates for us all to sample and share. My first choice was Chef Andres' version of the classic salade Nicoise for my older son:
I couldn't pass up the asparagus with romesco sauce (a fav of mine):
For my younger son, I thought bacalhau fritters with honey aioli was a good choice:
We also had a really amazing wild mushroom rice dish, which was eaten so fast I didn't get to snap a pic of it! The adults washed all the scrumptious food down with sangria (yum!) and not a crumb remained at the end of the meal, except for part of the hot pepper on top of the salad. I now want to visit more of his restaurants to see if all of Chef Andres' food is top flight like Jaleo's. You can read about his restaurant group at www.thinkfoodgroup.com
In my garden, this is the year of the wild squash. Tomatoes are coming in a close second, but we can't seem to keep them around long since my sons eat them like candy. These squash came from plants that just popped up in the garden this year, I'm sure due to the zucchini, pumpkin, and other squash scraps that went into our compost last year! I love to watch all the different colors, shapes and textures grow up from the bottoms of the female squash blossoms. This picture shows a few that have grown so far this year.
So, what to do with these lovelies? I have a go-to recipe that I like to use since it works with all types of winter squash and best of all is easy.
Roasted Winter Squash with Parmesan Sage Cream
1 winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese
about 6 large sage leaves
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In a bowl, combine squash, garlic, and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Transfer to a baking dish. Cover squash lightly with parmesan. With the back of a knife, gently bruise the sage leaves, then tuck them in between the squash. Pour enough cream over the top to come halfway up the level of the squash. Bake covered with foil until squash is fork-tender (usually about an hour). If top is not brown, remove foil, raise heat to 400 F for a few minutes until top begins to brown. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes then serve.