BROCCOLI BASIL CREAM SOUP

29 September 2009

SP-Broccoli-basil-cream-sou

Broccoli soup

BROCCOLI SOUP with BASIL CREAM

I have been on a green theme lately, avocado, pesto, swiss chard…. it wasn’t conscious I tell you. I take inspiration as it comes. This time it was from the general direction of the fridge, where two broccoli’s & half of a cauliflower were staring me down. Add to that my lack of inspiration for dinner (happens to the best of us right), plus a lonely bouquet of basil and this soup was taking shape.

I have always felt that cream of broccoli soup was missing something, that it needed a little pick me up to tweak the taste buds. Here’s where the basil cream came in. It is not overpowering, in fact you may need a few spoonfuls to put your finger on just what makes this sumptuous soup so much better than the rest.

BROCCOLI SOUP

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SP-Avocado-goats-cheese-sal

Avocado, goat cheese, red quinoa salad

Quinoa –  simply delicious, with a little crunch and nutty flavour, makes a nice change from eating rice and cous cous. Add to that chunks of ripe avocado, pieces of creamy goats cheese, some garlicky pesto + toasted pine nuts, and you have a great salad!

I often find myself stuck for inspiration when it comes to lunch and craving something different, but at the same time not having hours to spend in the kitchen. This recipe checks all the boxes. I even made the quinoa the nightbefore, so it was just a matter of quickly chopping up the avo, toasting the nuts and throwing the salad together.

Thank god my avocado was ripe this time, as I have been on streak of bad luck lately, to the point of having to return two to the grocerystore as they were completely uneatable.  I figure at CHF2.50 an avocado, you should have something good to show for it!

And for those vegetarians out there, quinoa is a great hidden secret, a fab grain-like, pseudo cereal, which are actually edible seeds.  It comes in red or white, and is a great source of protein, while being gluten-free and easy to digest. What more could you ask for!

O-Foods-Contest Also I just received a note from Michelle of Bleeding Espresso Blog who is hosting a great food contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, called O Foods, so take a look HERE!!!

RECIPE

PESTO

24 September 2009

SP-Pesto

Pesto

PESTO : This will be the shortest post known to man! Ok well not quite, but I was about to post the recipe for an avocado, goats cheese & quinoa salad when it occurred to me that it might be useful to have the Basil Pesto recipe first, as it is one of the main ingredients.

This recipe can be easily adapted to different tastes – more or less garlic, with or without parmesan and I add a dash of lemon juice to help keep the bright green colour, as the outer layer seems to oxidize so quickly!

Marisa told me,that when she was a little girl living in Italy, she was given the odious job of having to chop the basil by hand, into a fine paste using only a knife… authentic yes, time efficient no. So I have opted for using the blender and while less romantic it does get the job done.

PESTO

TOFU & SWISS CHARD Recipe

21 September 2009

SP-Tofu-swiss-chard

Tofu & swiss chard

TOFU & SWISS CHARD

Who wants to eat tofu ???? I mean soya bean curd in a cube, the meat for the non-meat eaters. Appetising….. well actually yes ,very! I think the carnivores have seriously been missing out here – the herbivores are on to  a great thing, that is both nutritious and delicious.  Once you get over the stereotype of ‘tofu burgers’ and ‘tofu dogs’,  it adds great variety to the weekly menu and goes well with Asian inspired sauces and many vegetables, like Swiss chard.

In case you aren’t familiar with Swiss chard, here is a link and there is a photo with my recipe. I make large quantities of this dish which is a delicious blend of the white, crunchy, slightly sweet part of the Swiss chard, with the slightly more bitter leaves, and herb tofu sautéed with black sesame seeds and garlic!

TOFU SWISS CHARD RECIPE

PUMPKIN SOUP

17 September 2009

SP-Pumpkin-soup

PUMPKIN SOUP

It is pumpkin season again! I hadn’t quite realised to what extent until last weekend when we were driving through the Swiss countryside and came across huge stalls of every size, shape and colour of pumpkin imaginable. The food bells went off in my head and after much shrieking I had Olivier turning the car around to make a pit stop.

Here things work on the honour system – you take a pumpkin and leave money in the penny jar. If you forget, the headless horseman will come after you that night to remind you. Kidding! So we loaded up the boot, settled the account and drove home with 5 extra ‘friends’.  Now it was a question of what to do with them – soup seemed like a good start.

The secret to this recipe is the use of two different types of pumpkins:

  1. The potimarron (aka Hokkaido squash or kuri pumpkin) a small, intense orange pumpkin with dense bright orange flesh and sweet taste with a hint of chestnut (marron = chestnut in French).
  2. The muscade of Provence which is a large pumpkin, orange/grey in colour with lighter orange flesh, contains more water and has a less sweet taste.

The mix of the two makes the perfect soup. This recipe will also come in handy for my brother who recently bought a second-hand bicycle in Rotterdam which came with a hand blender (don’t ask)!

PUMPKIN SOUP

TABOULE / Tabbouleh

7 September 2009

SP-Taboule

Taboule (tabbouleh, tabouli ) – is an easy recipe for when you don’t feel like cooking! Or when you don’t have time to cook, or when you have a big group coming over, or if, like my brother, you don’t have an oven! There does not seem to be one single recipe for tabbouleh, but several variations on a theme: Moroccan, Armenian, Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese. The basic dish is a salad of herbs to which you add tomatoes, onions and bulgar wheat (cracked wheat). Traditionally it is eaten as part of a mezze, a selection of small dishes,  using a lettuce leaf.

I prefer this salad when it has a 50:50 balance of herbs (mint /parsley) to bulgar, but what is great is that you can  personalise the dish to your taste. Another reason I was attracted to this salad is that it is budget conscious and in these times that can be nothing but a good thing!

TABOULE

TOMATO SAUCE

25 August 2009

SP-tomato-sauce

TOMATO SAUCE

What you didn’t know about true Italian tomato sauce…..

Marisa, the concierge in my office building,  is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Italian cooking.  Born and raised in the small village of Zogno, 4km from San Pellegrino, she grew up with the transitional values of simple & delicious hands on cooking.

At the end of the day when my job is ending and hers is starting, we often spend some time chatting about recipes. She told me that for Italians, the true way of making tomato sauce is with either onions or garlic but never both together. The tomatoes should be very ripe, as that is where the taste comes from and will make or break your sauce.  Removing the skin is also essential, as is a generous quantity of fresh basil and hand chopped garlic.

TOMATO SAUCE

PASTA DOUGH Recipe

21 August 2009

SP-homemade-pasta

Eight friends and a pasta machine is a great recipe for a dinner party and a welcomed change to the standard fare of one exhausted host, slaving over a hot stove while the guests wait ‘patiently’ in the next room.

Weeks ago at Lucy’s wedding, Helen & Rich casually mentioned the steam oven in their kitchen. I’m not sure they were quite prepared for my overly enthusiastic reaction…. Imagine a fat kid on a lolly pop and you are getting warmer. So they suggested we come over for dinner and I said great, why don’t we all cook together.  Friends are always surprised by this idea, I think mostly because they have never done it. I grew up in a family where everyone, men and women alike, pitched in to make the meal. The talking, drinking and cooking together was half the fun.

When planning the cooking menu, I had to keep in mind that we were 8 in the kitchen and that the recipes should be vegetarian for Lucy 🙂 While the steam oven was a great temptation, I put this on the back burner, opting for homemade pasta making – as I thought it would be a better idea for a large group.
STORY / RECIPE