Zucchini and Leek Soup

Zucchini and Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

One of my clients recently made me zucchini soup, and I had never ate it before. Expecting it to have a thin consistency with little taste, it was slightly creamy and surprisingly delicious. Her secret to texture and taste – leeks. Knowing that cooked zucchini is easy to digest and is good when your having gut issues (which I was) I decided to try making a similar soup myself. Not bad, not bad…

  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 leeks, white and green parts only, halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 7 large zucchini, halved lengthwise then cut into 1-inch thick half moons
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Allepo pepper or ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter or olive oil (optional)

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add zucchini, stock, salt, pepper and Allepo (or crushed red) pepper. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low-medium, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. Remove from heat, and butter or additional olive oil and blend using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Add salt, pepper and Allepo pepper to desired taste.

Serves 6-8.

Pesto Alla Trapanese

Pesto Alla Trapanese

Mains & Sides Recipe

This Sicilian-inspired pesto is perfect for summer. It uses raw tomatoes and a fresh mixture of herbs. The sauce is traditionally made with all basil, but this combination of herbs provides a burst of flavor. And, it’s simple to make. When cooking for two, I half the pasta and seal and store the remaining sauce in the refrigerator for the next day. If not having pasta, it works great as leftovers with quinoa or a white fish.

  • ¼ cup blanched or raw almonds
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom
  • 2 cups roughly chopped herbs*, 1/3 cup each of mint, parsley & basil
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated fresh
  • 1 lb pasta, farfalle, strozzapreti or similar

Toast the almonds and put aside to cool.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add salt then add pasta and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. In a food processor, combine almonds, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt and pulse gently until thoroughly combined. Pour olive oil in at a slow, steady stream while pulsing so the mixture begins to emulsify. Continue pulsing until all oil is combined and the sauce start to form a smooth paste. For aesthetic reasons, I prefer to stop pulsing while the pesto retains some color of the tomatoes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl then fold in the Pecorino Romano.

Add the pasta to the sauce or put the cooked, drained pasta into another large bowl and add desired amount of pesto. Toss pasta and sauce until all of the pasta is coated, adding up to a ¼ cup of pasta water if needed to break up the sauce. Place in serving bowls and garnish with herbs.

Serves 4-6.

 

Kohlrabi and Baby Leek Soup

Kohlrabi and Baby Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

My husband and I were at the Farmers Market. He wanted kohlrabi; I wanted baby leeks. I thought I’d make a soup with both. That’s essentially how this recipe was created.  And while the recipe is written for kohlrabi and baby leeks, there are some alternate ingredients included below. When visiting friends in Seattle and wanting to make it for a dinner party, kohlrabi and baby leeks weren’t available or in season. So, I used what was at hand locally and in my friends’ pantry. I know you aren’t supposed to experiment when cooking for others but I made a rutabaga, which I’ve never cooked but is from the same brassica family, and leek soup. Both soups were equally delicious and didn’t disappoint.

The flavor profile using kohlrabi versus rutabaga is mildly different – hints of sweet, peppery broccoli stem versus bitter turnip. And, the kohlrabi will create a slightly thicker soup. Pick your desired combination and enjoy!

  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter, separated, plus more for flavor if needed
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch baby leeks* (about 5-6) chopped; use entire leek
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 small to medium kohlrabi,** greens and stems removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 medium Yukon potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 5 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • Aleppo pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme, plus extra for flavor or garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino Romano cheese,*** grated, for garnish

Heat 4 Tbs of butter and the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat, melting the butter until it is slightly foaming. Add baby leeks and onion and cook until the onions become slightly translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add thyme sprigs and 3 generous pinches of Aleppo pepper. Reduce heat slightly and cook until leeks or onions just start to caramelize.

Add kohlrabi, potato and 1 tsp salt. Return heat to medium and cook about 5-7 minutes.

Add stock and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until kohlrabi and potato are tender.

Remove pot from heat and discard bay leaf and thyme stems. Purée mixture with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Add stock to thin or cook longer to reach your desired consistency. Taste and add chopped thyme, Aleppo pepper, salt and/or pepper to adjust seasonings as needed. Butter can also be added if desired (which I did for the rutabaga variation.)

Return pot to heat and cook on low until ready to serve. Garnish with Pecorino Romano and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 3-4 dinner portions or 6-8 side portions.

Alternative Ingredients (interchangeable for one or all of the above):
* 2 leeks, white and light green portions only, chopped
**1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
*** Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Vibrant Quinoa Salad

Vibrant Quinoa Salad

Appetizers & Salads Mains & Sides Recipe

I posted this recipe over a year ago, but it wasn’t under a typical recipe heading. So, I’m reposting it. I created this as a tasty Summer/Spring salad, but it’s great for during any warm weather spell.

Combine the following chopped herbs in food processor with 1/3 cup or more olive oil. Add lemon or vinegar if desired,

  • 1 bunch cilantro
, packed
  • 1/2 cup parsley
, loose
  • 1/4 cup each dill, mint & tarragon

Mix with the following:

  • 2 cups (more/less as desired) cooked quinoa
  • small sautéed onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 to 1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • generous handful of arugula, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste; I also added cumin
  • feta, optional

If you don’t like the taste of tarragon, you could skip it or experiment with another herb…basil, sorrel, lemon thyme.

Enjoy!

 

Brussel Sprouts with Pecorino and Walnuts

Brussel Sprouts with Pecorino and Walnuts

Appetizers & Salads Recipe

As the Fall season arrives, I am ready for sautéed or roasted brussel sprouts. However, early Fall in San Francisco feels like summer and I’m still wanting to make salads. This salad is well rounded with taste: brussel spouts – bitter; walnuts – astringent; pecorino romano – salty and sour. The same can be said for the dressing. If you want more brightness, you could add more lemon or reduce the mustard in the dressing. You could also add a fresh herb. This dish is also great the next day, and the brussel sprouts stay crisp.

• ¾ cup walnuts, whole
• 1 lb brussel sprouts
• ¼ cup pecorino romano cheese, plus 2-3 Tbs reserved
• salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
• 1 ½ Tbs Dijon mustard
• 1/3 cup olive oil

Lightly toast walnuts on low to medium heat stovetop, tossing often. Set aside to cool.

Trim the bottom of the brussel sprouts and thinly slice them. I used a knife

but a mandolin may slice them more evenly. Place thesprouts into a large bowl. For the dressing, whisk the last 3 ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour half of the dressing over the brussel sprouts and mix well. Cover and put brussel sprout mixture in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Taste the sprouts and add more dressing if desired.

Coarsely chop the walnuts and grate the cheese.

Add ¾ of the walnuts and ¼ cup of the cheese to mixture and toss.

Extra dressing can be added or stored for another use.

Enjoy!

Cucumber, Radish and Snap Pea Salad

Cucumber, Radish and Snap Pea Salad

Appetizers & Salads Mains & Sides Recipe

This is a vibrant vegetable salad that’s full of texture and a great pairing with many proteins or cold noodle dishes. (Try with the Mint, Cilantro and Green Onion Soba Noodles.) It tastes great fresh or the next day. Keep in mind that the next-day vegetables will taste pickled with the dressing combined. I like this salad with a bigger sour and astringent taste of vinegar. If you’re sensitive to vinegar, try adding half of the quantity first and adjust to taste.

  • ­­­­1 medium cucumber
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 1/3 lb snap peas
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbs rice wine vinegar*
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lightly toast sesame seeds on low to medium heat stovetop, tossing often, until golden. Set aside to cool.

Trim peas as needed. In a medium saucepan, cook peas in boiling salted water for 30 to 60 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop peas from cooking.

Peel and deseed cucumber. Halve cucumber and radishes and cut unto ¼-inch thick slices. Cut the larger peas in half.

Combine vinegars, salt and sugar in small bowl. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve.

Toss vegetables, vinegar mixture and sesame seeds in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

*If using seasoned vinegar, the additional salt and sugar may not be needed.

xo,

Julie

Soba Noodles with Mint, Cilantro & Green Onions

Soba Noodles with Mint, Cilantro & Green Onions

Mains & Sides Recipe

Soba Noodles with Mint, Cilantro & Green Onions

With the recent heat wave we had, I looked for recipes that were easy with minimal cooking. I found a soba noodles recipe and modified it below to my liking. Mint and cilantro are two favorite herbs that add a stimulating and cooling, respectively, effect to meals. They worked perfectly with this cold dish.

I paired this with the Cucumber, Radish and Snap Pea Salad (shown in photo.) If I were to pair the noodles with something less sour and astringent, I would add rice vinegar to the noodles. I’d start with a tablespoon and adjust from there.

  • ­­­­10 oz soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 2 Tbs avocado oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook noodles in boiling water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain immediately in colander under cold water to stop noodles from cooking. Drain well and place in refrigerator.

For dressing, whisk together avocado oil, soy sauce, sugar and salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Taste and adjust as needed.

Toss noodles with dressing, mint, cilantro and green onions. Add pepper to taste.

xo,

Julie

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Dessert Recipe

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a recipe. Lots of life happening…all are growth experiences. I hope I won’t be so silent for the second half of this year. While there are still berries at the farmers markets, this cake is quick and simple to make. And, it’s perfect for your summer meal.

I found this in one of my Gourmet magazines, which in my opinion was the best cooking magazine of all time. Not only did the magazine share amazing recipes and meals, but also its stories and photos mentally took you on a journey from where the recipes came. There are other publications that do the same, but this one remains my favorite. Unfortunately the magazine no longer exists, but many of the recipes can be found online. I’ve kept a couple handfuls of hard copies, and I still often browse through them for inspiration.

The original recipe was with raspberries, but my go to berry is strawberry. I’ve added lemon zest or spices (vanilla bean and/or cinnamon,) slightly reduced the sugar and made it with blueberries too. If you try it, let me know what you think!

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ stick unsalted butter, softened
  • scant 2/3 cup sugar plus 1 Tbs sugar, divided
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ½ cup shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together

flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and scant 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 to 4 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Slice strawberries and scatter evenly over top of batter, leaving space between the berries. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Hope you enjoy!

xo,

Julie