Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kale & Bean Soup w/ Crostini

This is an excellent soup! A very satisfying savory filling healthy meal. I like Kale cooked to the consistency more of spinach. In this soup I added the Kale when I added the broth and it needed to be cooked a bit longer. However it was still pretty good. Next time I am going to saute the Kale first and then add it to the soup in the final stages. Concerning the herbs, you really can add whatever you have as long as you have a mix of fresh and dried. The turmeric gives the cauliflower nice color but doesn't turn it into an Indian dish by any means. Although I will definitely be making it that way soon. The two beans were a perfect selection for the soup. I like the contrast in size and the beans never got too mushy. To serve, I broiled some old baguette slices and brushed it with butter and Italian herbs...placed two pieces in each bowl and ladled the soup over it and sprinkeled a bit of parm...extra tasty! mmmMMM Kale & Bean Soup w/Crostini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes and the juice....I used the crushed...still a few chunks but not too many.
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can large white beans(fava, lima), drained & rinsed
  • 4 cups raw chopped kale
  • 6-8 cups water, depending on how brothy you like it. I like lots of broth!
  • Salt & pepper to taste, but I only gave one grind of salt.
Broth Base: Low sodium Chicken Base(the paste kind and not the bouillon) * I make this according to the directions, but decrease the proportion by a bit less than half. So if your making 6 cups of broth, I use 4 tsp instead of 6 tsp. I do this because you don't want the chicken broth to be the prominent flavor, but rather let the other herbs infuse the base. I guess you don't really even need the chicken base, but I find it hard to get a good savory broth from just vegetables? Saute the Kale by chopping up in bite size pieces and discarding the stems and adding to a pan of hot olive oil(about tbsp), reduce heat and simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes until they are tender. They wont soften up much more once you add to the soup. Set aside to be combined with the other veggies. Prepare your chicken broth according to directions except my recommendation of decreasing the proportions....see above..set aside to be combined with all the veggies. Saute the onions in the olive oil until just soft then add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Add the dried and fresh herbs and saute another minute. Then add the chopped carrots and saute until they are slightly tender. Add the cauliflower and turmeric and saute until the cauliflower is almost done, or to your liking. I like it pretty Al dente'. Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans. Once you have your pot boiling add your broth and braised kale and simmer for about 15 -20 minutes covered. I then turned it down to low and let it stew for about another 20 minutes. After cooking let it sit uncovered while all the flavors calm down and get to a nice eating temperature. soupy eating....jaime

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grilled Vegetables Meet Meat

This is my first post so I thought I'd select something that is kind of an all around favorite of mine - steak and vegetables. I found a deal on 4 1-pound top loin steaks while stocking up at Sam's Club and threw this down -- well a bunch of Mondays ago now:
Meat Preparation
2 1-lb top loin steaks
olive oil coarsely ground salt coarsley ground pepper Thoroughly massage olive oil on all sides of meat. Liberally grind coarsley ground salt and pepper on both sides. Hint: I had to take a break 2 times. I preheated my grill to about 375 and put the steaks on for about 4 minutes. During the last minute or so there was a lot of flareup and the temperature soared to 575 and put a pretty good char onto the meat. I flipped and rearranged the meat, letting the grill cool back off to about 375 and let it sit for about 4 more minutes. This produced a medium-well steak which personally is the way I prefer it. The steak had a great crust of seared fat and salt and pepper. The meat was exploding with flavor and was tender to my liking. This was served on top of grilled vegetables which are detailed below.
Vegetable Preparation
4 Long Sweet Red Peppers (This was a weird little find - I'd never seen one before. They taste pretty much spot on a red bell pepper -- possibly a little sweeter, a slightly more tender texture; about the diameter and length of a small to small-medium zucchini tapering off at one end) 1 large yellow onion 1 can new potatoes drained fresh rosemary fresh thyme coarsley ground salt and pepper olive oil I laid a bed of onions and new potatoes into a disposable aluminum grilling pan and made a row of the long red peppers, quartered lengthwise. I cut up some fresh rosemary and thyme into pretty large chunks and sprinkled it everwhere. I drizzled a bit of olive oil all over and gave it a couple grinds of salt and a liberal amount of pepper. I threw the pan on the side of the grill the steak was not cooking on and let it go. The result was extremely flavorful. It had this smokey-sweet thing going on with the peppers and onions; combined with the fresh herbs it was a toothsome bed for our worthy guest. Pair it with a 2002 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (if you're so lucky) otherwise 2005 is a good fallback. Beefy Dreams, Mike