Every few weeks, I fill up a Le Creuset Dutch oven with fresh vegetables and make a big batch of soup. I basically redo the same soup except that I change the vegetables. I usually mix vegetables that inspire me at the store with what is in my fridge. Being French means that my soup always starts with a roughly chopped mirepoix (celery, onions and carrots). Since I will puree my vegetable soup, I don’t need to be fancy on my cutting board.
This week, my soup took shape from a big pack of leeks and 3 turnips that I bought a few days before. Here is this week recipe.
Ingredients for my Leek, Carrot, Turnip and Celery Soup:
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 large leeks, cut
- 3 turnips, pealed and coarsely chopped
- 6-7 large carrots, pealed and coarsely chopped
- 3 crisp, leafy stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
- optional (I put it because I had one in my fridge): 1 orange pepper, coarsely chopped
- 3 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 handful of minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon of origano or thym
- 1 teaspoon of savory (my favorite herb)
Step by step instructions:
- On low to medium heat (2 on my gas stove), heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large soup pot.
- Add the leeks, carrots and celery to pot. Cook for 5 minutes with the cover. Stir from time to time
- Add the turnips and orange pepper. Season the vegetables with the herbs, salt and pepper.
- Stir. Add more olive oil. Continue to cook for 12 minutes with the cover. You want the vegetables to sweat.
- Add the chicken stock. I want the flavour to mix together, which takes about 15 minutes of cooking.
- Puree the soup directly from the pot with an immersion blender.
- Enjoy now and later!
In My Freezer
I let the soup cool for 30 minutes and divide it into 12 single and double portion containers. I always store the soup in the freezer. As a mom with a young child, having a homemade soup ready to serve brings me peace of mind. I reheat it on the stove or the microwave and serve it to my hungry toddler boy while I cook dinner. Some nights, I eat a bowl of soup with him.
Feel free to experiment with my soup recipe. Possible variations would be to switch the herbs for ground ginger or ground fennel. I prefer to use fat-free chicken stock but you could use water or a vegetable stock instead. Like I said at the beginning, get inspired by what is in your pantry and your fridge.
photo of Josee Robitaille and Kim Vallee
Yesterday I attended a Proctor & Gamble media event where the star was Josee Robitaille, a consulting chef. I enjoyed so much her recipes that I translated them especially for you. The first recipe is a pineapple marmelade that will become the talk at your next brunch.
It is simple to make. No special skills are required. All you need are 4 ingredients (pineapple, sugar, lime and fresh vanilla), a heavy-bottomed pot, a Microplane grater, and a food processor. I ate some this morning with a warm French croissant. Delicious! You could serve the pineapple marmelade with crepes, French toasts or on a plain yogourt.
What I like about this marmelade recipe is that it is not too sweet. If you decide to serve at a brunch, I suggest that you make a bigger batch. Your guests will be delighted to take home a small jar.
Pineapple Marmelade Recipe by Josee Robitaille
on the left side: see what is look like once it is fully cooked, on the right: get an idea of the cube size
- After you removed the skin, split the pineapple in two lengthwise. Further divide each half lengthways and remove the heart. Then, cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Put the pineapple cubes inside a heavy-bottomed pot.
- Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of raw sugar and the zest of one lime to the pot.
- Cut the pod of your vanilla bean in halve, lengthwise with a paring knife. With the sharp edge of the paring knife, remove the seeds from the pods. Add the seeds to the pot. Then, cut the pod in half. Add the empty pods to the pot.
- Bring to boiling and cook without a cover at medium temperature for 25 to 30 minutes. It will be ready when the water from the pineapple is almost all evaporated. Mix a few times during cooking.
you aim for a puree with some textures.
- Remove the vanilla pods and put the rest in a food processor.
- Pulse until you obtain a coarse puree.
- Transfer into a glass container and put it in the fridge. You can keep it for 2 weeks in your fridge.
With pineapples and citrus fruits becoming seasonal, I think that I will make my own marmelade more often.
In a few words, I gave me less time to think about what’s to eat for dinner. Since my toddler go to day care, the need to quickly prepare dinner has taken a new meaning. I remain impulsive when it comes to decide what to eat for dinner but I added more organisation than it used to. I factor in what my son ate for lunch, what I would like to eat and make sure that our diet provides a variety of meat, fish and poultry.
At couple weeks ago, I gave Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals a try. The recipes were delicious but I lost a lot of time by having to constantly read the instructions to find where I was. My guess is that if I redid the same recipes, it would fast.
I reserve 30 to 40 minutes before I pick him up at day care to shop for what I’ld need to cook dinner that night. It used that time as a transition between work and family time. If the recipe is from a cookbook, I will take a picture of the ingredient list with my iPhone. This is quicker than to make a grocery list. I head to the stores with a “plan B” recipe, in case that they don’t have in stock an essential ingredient.
Our main courses for a week might look like that:
- Casserole of grilled Italian sausage and vegetables on rice – Like father, like son, since both adore this recipe.
- Dijon mustard trout served with grilled asparagus and rice – another winner
- A pasta dish made with a home made sauce
- Colombine potatoes (slices of potatoes with red peppers, french shallot and parsley), boiled green beans served with a T-bone steak
- Thai shrimp noodles
- Veal al limone with rice and broccoli – I used to serve Brussels sprouts with that recipe. Since my son has not yet developed a taste for them, I cooked broccoli instead.
- Tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes – a recipe from Jamie Oliver
Over the week, I might grab a home made dish from the freezer. But tonight, I want to try a new recipe. I will quickly browse Donna Hay cookbooks for a change. I only have five minutes left to decide.
I don’t know if it is the same at your house. I am good at mixing the amount of meat, fish, seafood, poultry and pasta that we eat in a week. But I rely mainly on a set of recipes that I rotate over a few weeks. The rotation was longer before we had a child because we were eating out a few times a week. But now that I cook dinner every night, we can taste the redundancy.
By looking at my cookbook collection (I have more cookbooks stashed upstairs), I have plenty of sources of inspiration for easy to cook recipes. I use my cookbooks mainly for when I host a dinner party or during weekends. My excuse is that it is too late at 7 PM to try a new recipe.
My desire to expand our menu option comes from my little boy. Except for eating a Minigo for dessert, he craves for more variety at dinner time. So, I determined to break that bad habit. Starting tomorrow (tonight’s meal is already planned), I will try at least one new recipe every week. To make sure that I will fail, I already bookmarked 4 recipes that I never tried before.
Any tips for me? How do you vary what you cook for dinner every night?
photo credits: Anjali of Eat Your Greens. Get the recipe on her blog.
We all have a go-to meal for when we are too busy, we don’t feel like cooking or to make us feel good. For me, it’s soup. I could eat it every day. I appreciate its versatility. On a 3-week trip to Portugal, I ordered a vegetable soup almost every day and none were similar. Plus, a soup can be as sophisticated or rustic as you want. You will not be proud to serve this roasted tomato, squash and coconut milk bisque to their guests.
A soup is an affordable and easy way to eat tasty, healthy food. I feel even better knowing that it helps me manage my vegetable drawer. I build my recipe from what I already have. If you are busy (we all are), keeping a supply of frozen, portion-sized homemade soups will simplify your life. I appreciate even more my supply of soups now that I have a toddler. When he is too hungry and that supper is not ready, I serve him a bowl of soup while I continue cooking. His delight comes quickly. I keep my microwave in my kitchen just for these moments.
Early fall, with the wide choice of fresh vegetables, is the ideal time to make soup at home. Take advantage of it. If you do not know where to start, you will find recipes for broths and tasty soups in Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison (I own it). Often, I simply start with the traditional onions, French shallots, celery, carrots base and build flavours from that. Since I work from home, a break provides me enough time for the prep work. I let the soup simmer as I continue to work. At other times, I start a big pot of soup while I cook dinner.
I’m telling you
One way to simplify your life is to keep a reserve of good homemade soup in my freezer.
Photos: National Watermelon Promotion Board except for number 4: The Party Dress magazine
I was happy to share my summer entertaining tips for the 2012 awareness campaign of the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Canada. Since the refreshing watermelons are available all summer long, I feel that watermelon is the fruit of summer.
If you are looking for more ways to serve watermelon to your guests this summer, you will find many more recipes at the National Watermelon Promotion Board Website. I compiled my top 5.
- My number 1. Another way to serve the Spiked Melon Balls would be on a lollipop. Serve the lollipops speared into a wheatgrass bed or onto a watermelon.
- My number 2. If you host a brunch on a hot summer day, replace the classic by the more refreshing Watermelon Mimosa. To make watermelon juice, you simply need to blend cubed watermelon and strain it through a sieve. Try it with a light Champagne.
- My number 3. Finish a grown up dinner with this lovely Watermelon Lavender Granita that contains a hint of vodka. Use watermelon or citrus flavoured vodka to enhance the flavour.
- My number 4. I found my fourth choice on The Party Dress magazine. They got me with the stylish food presentation of their watermelon appetizer with feta and basil. The recipe is a mix between a caprese salad and a Mediterranean Watermelon Salad.
My last recipe idea is a twist on the tacos.
- My number 5. For a summer picnic with family and friends, impress the crowd with some delicious Jamaican Rock Lobster Tacos wrapped in parchment paper and tied with twine. I would probably prepare my tacos with seasonal clawed lobsters since they are a local product for me.
Writing this post made me hungry. I will pour myself a glass of my watermelon and mint spa water while I cook dinner.
Note: I wrote this post on my free will; it is a not part of the program that I did for the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Canada.
Last Friday, food blogger Beatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande was at “The Martha Stewart Show”. Bea prepared two savory tartines from her first cookbook. Everything looks tasty!
Tartines, which are open sandwiches, make great lunch. I love these two recipes because there are filled with colorful food. Plan ahead of time if you wish to serve them to your friends. Rest assured that the techniques are easy to follow and the ingredients are easy to find. She made:
If you plan to serve both tartines for a stylish lunch with your girl friends this summer, start by roasting the cherry tomatoes. While the cherries are in your oven, prepare the basil oil, blanch the green vegetables and make the ricotta spread. Toast your favorite bread; select a loaf with a nice crust. You will find on Martha Stewart’s recipe the recipes with videos where Beatrice shared more tips on how to make her tasty tartines.
Beatrice talked about her experiences at the Martha Stewart Show on her blog. If you are looking for more deliciously healthy recipes, do not forget to grab your copy of her cookbook the next time you shop at a bookstore.
+ For Americans: La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life $19.59 USD at Amazon.com
+ For Canadians: La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life $21.95 CAD at Amazon.ca
A one-pan dish not only saves you time, they build flavor while you do something else. I am partial to oven dishes versus a slow cooker. It’s because it’s the way I am used to cook.
The recipe on my to-do list is the Balsamic Roast chicken with caramelized pearl onions, olives and tomatoes that I saw in the March 2012 issue of Style at Home. It looks so tasty. Their wine expert, Konrad Ejbich suggests to pair it with a saucy Ripasso Valpolicella. You need a certain amount of sharpness to complement the olives and the tomatoes. The Ripasso Valpolicella is stronger that the fruity Valpolicella, but not as powerful as Amarone.
According to Wine Align, “the Ripasso technique involves taking leftover pomace from the production of Amarone and adding it to simple Valpolicella to kick-start a second fermentation; this method serves to boost the alcohol, body and tannins as well as add layers of complexity to the overall wine”.
Nov. 4th, 2012 Update: You can now find the recipe online here.
The recipe is also published on page 116 of the March print issue of Style at Home. You can buy a digital copy of Style at Home at Zinio. This is now where I subscribe to most of my magazines. Zinio operates a Canadian and an American store. Select your country for the flag at the right top corner.
+ Style at Home (March 2012) – Photo by Edward Pond, Prop Styling by Lara McGraw
With the big Holiday season only a few months away, it is good to know tricks that can save you time in the kitchen. In this video, SAVEUR magazine‘s Executive Food Editor, Todd Coleman, shows you how to peel a whole head of garlic in less than ten seconds. It’s a bit noisy but effective.
For every day use, you can tap a clove of garlic with the back of a chef knife. A less-messy option is a garlic peeler. I like the colorful silicone garlic peeler by Danesco and Zak Designs.
I am on the lookout for more time-saving cooking tricks. If you know any, please share them.
+ How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from SAVEUR.com
+ Zak Designs E-Z-Rol Garlic Peeler, Blue $6.27 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]
+ via Aging Ungracefully
Reading the latest issue of Saveur (Sept. 2011) taught me that the pesto starts with the smallest, palest basil leaves. It is because they do not have the bitterness and the licorice-like taste of the mature leaves. But if you have mature green basil leaves, simply blanch them for 30 seconds and plunge them in an ice bath right away. Another tip is that coarse sea salt will help pulverize the ingredients. You want a delicate flavor olive oil to not overpower your pesto. Go for an olive oil that is pale gold. Plus, you will get several recipes from across the Mediterranean.
The second article that caught my attention is about homemade ice cream. They showcased 6 ways to make your own ice cream without an automatic ice maker, which include using coffee cans or Ziploc bags.
Wow! A recipe that unites two of my favorite flavors: chocolate and Matcha tea. I am pleased that Kusmi Tea has accepted that I shared the recipe on my blog. I was surprise to see that it is not complicated to make your own choco-matcha truffles. You could serve them as mignardises at the end of a dinner party or bring those as the perfect hostess gift.
Choco-Matcha Truffle Recipe
Recipe by Kusmi Tea, which operates a boutique on Saint-Denis Street in Montreal.
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 5/8 cups 35% cream
- 3/4 – 1 lb 70% Guanaja chocolate
- 3 tbsp. Matcha powder tea (powder for cooking)
- Boil cream and honey.
- Finely chop the chocolate and put the pieces in a bowl.
- Pass the sweeten cream through a sieve, pouring over chocolate.
- Whisk thoroughly until you get a smooth texture.
- Refrigerate until the mixture hardens.
- Make small balls with mixture. Aim for 2 cm (3/4 in) in diameter.
- Roll the balls in the Matcha powder and completely cover each truffle.
You could eat that with one of the delicious teas from Kusmi Tea. Click here for their online boutique that serves Canada and the United States.