Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lentil and Sausage Soup

When I signed up for the Whole Foods emails I somehow started getting email from Food 52. I have fallen in love with this newsletter. I have tried a couple of their recipes and have not been disappointed in any of them. I recently did this Lentil and Sausage Soup. It was super easy to make and had loads of veggies. The recipe said you could use bacon fat or olive oil. I choose bacon fat. I also included the bacon in the soup.

I got garlic sausage for the recipe cause I love garlic and I also added extra garlic.

 After I added the extra garlic I got a little nervous. Garlic Garlic and more Garlic I thought I might have over done it. But luckily it turned out just fine. Phew!

Doesn't this celery look so yummy!

Instead of using Spinach I used Kale. I just love Kale the Lacinato variety not the curly variety. To me the taste is better.

The soup was surprisingly light but hearty and the same time. The next day it was even better. The recipe is below as well with the link. Let me know if you try the recipe. Enjoy!

It's awesome you stopped by!!....Thanks

Serves four adults with plenty of leftovers.
  • 1 1/2 cup French green lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil, divided
  • 3 or 4 sausages made with herbs and/or garlic
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup sturdy red wine
  • 3 stalks of celery, and their leaves if possible
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram or an equivalent amount of fresh
  • 4 or 5 carrots, depending on their size
  • 4 cups chicken or beef stock (preferably homemade)
  • 3 tablespoons organic ketchup
  • 2 cups chopped spinach (frozen is fine, if you don't have fresh; just use 1 1/2 cups instead)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste
  1. Fill a tea kettle with water and put it on the stove to boil while you do the following step.
  2. Heat 2 T of oil or bacon fat with one of the bay leaves and gently saute the sausages, if they are not already cooked. If they are pre-cooked (or if not, once you've cooked them), slice them into ¾“ slices and brown them in the bacon fat or oil. Remove the sausage slices with a slotted spoon and set them aside.
  3. Rinse the lentils in cold water two or three times, pick out any stones or other debris, and put the lentils on the stove in a saucepan with at least three cups of hot water from the kettle. If it hasn’t boiled at this point, don’t worry about it. Stir the lentils and cook them over medium heat, while you chop the vegetables. Be sure to keep an eye on the cooking lentils and stir them occasionally. Add more hot water as they cook, if they start to look dry. (You don’t have to do this step if you have a lot of time to make this soup. I.e., you can put them in the soup, uncooked, with the hot water, after you have cooked the onions and garlic.)
  4. If time is short, heat your stock in the microwave or on the stove so it will be nice and hot when you need it, in a few minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, dice the onions so they are about ½” square; chop the garlic. Add the remaining oil or bacon fat, as well as the onions and garlic, to the pan in which the sausages were browned; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions start to look a bit translucent, push them aside with a spoon and add the wine. Cook for a minute or two to deglaze the pot.
  6. Stir the lentils in with the cooking water. It doesn’t matter whether they are cooked. Just add them now, and add the stock.
  7. Chop the celery into small dice and chop a small handful of the celery leaves, if you have them; add to the soup. Add the marjoram and stir well, continuing to cook.
  8. Cut the carrots into slices or chunks, depending on how thick they are. Add them to the pot, with the reserved sausages, and the salt and pepper to taste, and stir well. (I add the sausages at this point, rather than earlier, because the kind I use tends to fall apart, even after browned, if I cook them much longer. You can add them when you combine the lentils and their cooking water, if that's not a problem for you.)
  9. Cook for at least another ten minutes, adding more water if necessary and stirring occasionally, to prevent the lentils from sticking. At this point, you can also turn it down to simmer, if you have the time, but do keep an eye on the lentils, please, and add more water if necessary.
  10. Add the ketchup and stir well. Cook until the carrots are tender.
  11. Test and correct the seasonings. Add the spinach and the parsley. Heat until the soup is very hot.
  12. Pass the red wine vinegar separately, for people to add, to taste. Serve with a hearty whole grain bread and fresh butter.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creamy Wild Mushroom and Parsnip Soup

I found this recipe in the New York Times Food Section that comes out every Wednesday. I love this soup so much I made it twice already once for Thanksgiving and then again for Christmas.  Both times I made the soup I double the recipe. It doubles just fine I didn't have to make any adjustments. I know the first time I made the soup I found it a little weird that the onions were sliced rather than diced. I can only figure it's because you are adding the carrots and parsnips at the same time and this gives the onions a longer cooking time.

 It just smelled so wonderful as the onions, carrots and parsnips cooked.

Both times I made the soup I couldn't find fresh Chanterelles. So I just used Creminis' along with the dried mushroom that the recipe called for. But the second time I made it I added some dried Chanterelles

 and used less cremini's and I think the soup tasted better. I also added the soaking water from the dried Mushrooms which I didn't do the first time.

Don't skimp on the mushroom topped toast. Not only does it look so pretty when you are serving it but it takes so good too. I did forget to add the drizzle of crème fraîche but you bet it will be there next time.

 I look forward to making this soup again with fresh Chanterelles. The recipe is below with the link to the web page.  Enjoy!!

It's awesome you stopped by....Thanks!!!

Creamy Wild Mushroom and Parsnip Soup
Time: About 1 hour
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, sliced, about 2 cups
2 small parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 thyme branch, plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, more if necessary
2 tablespoons chopped dried morel or porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound chanterelles or other wild or cultivated mushrooms, in roughly 1/8-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 slices day-old baguette
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Crème fraîche, optional.
1. Melt the butter in a deep heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, parsnips, carrot, thyme branch and bay leaf. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes
2. Add the broth and the soaked dried mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to a gentle simmer.
3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over high heat in a wide skillet. When the oil is hot, add the chanterelles, stirring with a wooden spoon, allowing them to brown a bit. Season with salt and pepper, then turn the heat to medium and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and cook 1 minute more.
4. Transfer 1/2 cup of the cooked chanterelles to a small skillet and add the rest to the soup. Let the pot simmer until the parsnips and carrot are quite tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Discard the bay leaf and thyme branch. Purée the soup in a blender and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Thin with more broth if it is too thick, and correct the seasoning. Keep hot.
6. Warm the reserved mushrooms. Toast the baguette slices lightly and put a spoonful of mushrooms on each.
7. Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Top each bowl with a mushroom toast, a little chopped parsley, and a drizzle of crème fraîche if you like.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christmas Wreath

I was really into sparkles this Christmas. To my dismay when I unpacked my Christmas decorations. I mostly have country type items. To keep the feel I wanted I pulled out anything that was sliver and white. Which by the way was not much. Some Christmas trees, a couple of Santa and my Reindeer. I also created this wreath.

I had many moons ago brought on clearance a couple of plain wreaths. I always planned to do something with them. But you know how the story goes store them and forget them. Every time I start to decorate for Christmas I find them again. By that time I had already started or completed the creations of the year I say "Next year definitely I'll do something with them."

Finally this was the year.

Can you tell I wanted shiny and glittery. Everything I bought for the wreath was silver, white and icy.
I started by spraying the wreath with artificial snow for the base.

 Then I spray some adhesive and sprinkled it with flocking powder to give it more dimension. Finally with some spot sprays of adhesive I layered on the sprinkles.

Just love the texture all those layers gave the wreath. It actually looks like it has ice forming on the branches. I then added some sliver balls,snow flakes and  icicles.

I love the way it came out and gave me the look I wanted.

It's awesome you stopped by....Thanks!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Christmas Scene on the porch

For my Christmas display on the porch I lucked out and was able to get an array of different types of pine this year. I was super happy to add different textures to the urns

I always enjoy doing this display for the Christmas season. It not only give the porch a Christmas feel but also a wintry feel that can be left out without looking funny in February.

I also put up a swag around the door. This too had two different types of pine that gave it a real lush look.

New this year is the metal water can I picked up at a local flea market for $5.00 along with this metal planter holder. I also filled them with pine and white branches. They just helped fill out the whole look.

We can forget one last touch a sled. Again I picked this up at the local flea market also for $5.00. I really felt I got such a great bargain on this sled.

Don't you think it just adds such a great little touch.

Now the whole scene is set for the Holidays.

It's awesome you stopped by!!!....Thanks