Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rosemary White Bean Soup

This recipe is from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa cookbook. This is a hearty, healthy and yummy soup.......perfect for late fall or winter.

1 pound dried white cannelini beans
4 c sliced yellow onions
1/4 c. olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper

Cover beans with water by at least 1 inch and refrigerate hours or overnight; drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the beans, rosemary, chicken stock and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Puree the soup in the food processeor until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper to taste.

One helpful hint from the book - do not salt the beans until after they are cooked, if you salt before they are cooked through, they become tough. Hope you all enjoy this soup!!! We really loved it, it is very hearty and has such a great flavor to it!

My Notes

I found soaking the beans overnight necessary and I simmered the soup 90 minutes so that the beans were soft enough to use the immersion blender. Also added five cloves of garlic vs. the two and added carrots and celery (including the leaves) along with the onions when sauteing.

Soup simmering:

After using immersion blender:

Ready to eat:

Served with fresh foccacia bread and an antipasto:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Da and Duh!

Today I decided to visit a large Ukrainian supermarket that I'd been to several times. This market is located in the far northeast section of Philadelphia. My first visit to this market about five months ago was confusing and I did not feel welcome. Perhaps I was staring at the people shopping and those that worked there? I don't know, but I got strange vibes. I told my friend who emigrated here from Belarus over 25 years ago and turned me on to the place how odd I felt shopping there. Most likely I looked out of place, not being a large person (most women in there are quite large), and perhaps not looking European enough, oh, I don't know.......I imagine I just look too American. Since that first visit my Ukie friends have given me hints on where things are located in the store, what is good to buy, what the deals are and to look a bit MAD. Helloooooooo? Look mad? Well, I can do that! A better word would be to look stern, that is nicer. I went a few times after that first visit, looking stern and acting like I knew what I was looking at and buying. I just stared at the radish/tongue salad like I see and eatit everyday (a bit NOT). I also did not speak English, I pointed to the lady behind the prepared foods and showed her the size container I wanted. "Dat" one I told her. I also used the word "da".........that means "yes." By the way, the only Russian word I know is "Da."

Today I went with my wee little digital camera. I love the way the fresh fruit and vegetables are big bins and everything looks so fresh and colorful. The citrus has leaves attached to it, something I rarely see at the Acme. After produce, I stopped at cheese. Oh my, a case behind glass loaded with Feta. Of course I was drooling and bought a half-pound of one of the fetas (Bulgarian was the choice today). Feta yes, radish/tongue salad, no. More pics of the cheeses, followed by the camera and I arriving in the prepared foods where that tongue salad is. Last time I was there I bought small containers of two particular salads my Ukie friend told me about: onion salad and beet salad and also recommended a farmers cheese w/herbs which has a spread-like consistency, all so delicious! Snap, snap, snap goes the camera and I get my wee little containers and land at the olives and pickles section. More snapping and then more of the bread section. Just as I was heading to the caviar display a very large American man stopped me and told me to please erase any photos I had taken in the store. Oops! For a slight moment it did occur to me that what I was doing was against the store's privacy acts. However, no one was stopping me until I was almost done. The man was nice enough and told me that folks could come into the store, take photos to show pricing, etc. I told him that I just was taking the photos for a hobby and may even drum up some business for the store for anyone that would read my blog. Oh yes, I imagined, my friends far, far away are going to visit me and insist on shopping at the store! I apologized and gave the camera to the gentleman who promptly deleted the photos. He really did not trust that I'd do it. I told him not to delete others that were still loaded and he did notice those were of broccoli soup. Man, I was getting looks from customers and employees. I felt like such an outsider, once again. So, my "da" adventure turned into a "duh" one. "Duh" is a word that accompanies an answer to an extremely obvious question, according to Wikipedia. Obviously, one does not go into Net Cost Market to take photos.

Here is a photo of the outside of the store:

and the two salads, spread and half-sour pickles taken at home:

Note: My Russian doll in the photo taken to remind me of what the photo is all about-Da!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Broccoli Pine Nut Soup

I am a member of a food bulletin board and this week participated in a Soup Cook-Along. This recipe was chosen by my foodie from Becky. The recipe is from the July 2005 issue of Super Food Ideas, the best-selling food magazine in Australia.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs broccoli, trimmed, cut into small florets
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1/3 cup pine nuts
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a large soup pot and add onion and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes or until soft. Add the broccoli to the pot, then stir in the stock and water. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.While the soup is cooking, heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Toast the pine nuts, stirring, until golden. This won't take very long, so be careful not to burn. Stir toasted pine nuts into soup.With a stick blender, food processor or blender, process soup, in batches, until smooth. Return soup to pot and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat for about five more minutes or until warmed through. Ladle into bowls and serve. 6 servings.

Pine nuts toasting:


Soup prior to using immersion blender:


After blending (blend small amounts at a time):


and finally, nice and hot and ready to eat


I used five cloves of crushed garlic because we LOVE the stuff. Also substituted all chicken broth for the vegetable stock and water, so used 6 cups chicken stock. Based on my friend Becky's suggestion I toasted up some additional pine nuts to garnish each soup bowl.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken Milanese with White Bean Salad

We love Chicken Milanese at our house aka breaded chicken cutlets which are pan-sauteed. I found this recipe in a Redbook magazine while waiting for a medical appointment. To make this dish shout out, "yum", it is served over a white bean salad. Here are the ingredients needed:

White Bean Salad

1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces.

1 can (15 1/2 oz) white beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed

1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 T fresh lemon juice

1/2 t kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 cups baby arugula


1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1. Salad: Bring 4 cups of lightly salted water to a boil in a large, deep skillet, add asparagus. Blanch 2 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain, refresh under cold water and place in a medium bowl. Add beans, tomatoes, onion, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, toss to combine. Lay arugula on top of salad but do not toss yet.

2. Chicken: Place flour on a sheet of waxed paper. Beat egg with a fork in a small shallow bowl; place bowl next to flour. Place panko breadcrumbs on another sheet of waxed paper. Season cutlets with salt and pepper. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge cutlet in flour, patting off excess flour; then dip into beaten egg; then dip into panko breadcrumbs to coat. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until oil is shimmering. Fry cutlets in 2 batches, 2 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp. Drain cutlets on a paper towel. To serve, place cutlets on serving plates. Toss arugula into salad mixture until coated and place on top of cutlets.

My Notes
* This recipe is supposed to serve four. I always double the salad ingredients for three or four of us..

* Rather than using cannellini beans, I prefer the small white beans (my favorite).
* Usually substitute Wondra for flour when recipes call for dredging in flour.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Live High, Live Mighty, Live Rightiously

Some of you may know that the title of this post is part of a Jason Mraz tune, Live High. I interpret the lyrics as accepting life the way it is, making the best of each day, living for today......just for today. When I feel overwhemed just listening to this song puts my life in perspective and........boy did I feel overwhelmed today. Yes, this blogging world is confusing and I'm trying to learn the tricks. Maybe by the end of 2010, I will have figured it out.

Besides food, cooking and endless thinking, another passion of mine is music. Trust me, I am not always passionate about thinking, most particularly when I get into my own head. That is why I love this song............its a form of meditation for me just to hear the tune and listen to the lyrics. Below is a youtube link. Note that this is not my favorite way to listen to the song, but the best one IMO of Live High currently out there on youtube.

This blog world takes getting used to. There are many things I need to get accustomed with right, magic jack and jahjah. These three words were not part of my vocabulary in the not too distant past. Skype, magic jack and jahjah are three ways of communicating with my son in Barcelona. So far I've only heard from him via his very own blog. Check it out - Across the Sea, and can be linked via my home page.

So, that is just it for today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why noodle salad?

When seeing the film, As Good As It Gets, I laughed at the expression, "noodle salad." My youngest son refers to macaroni salad, a recipe from my mother, as noodle salad, having never seen the film. Noodles also remind me of the brain........of twists, curves, tangles all lumped together to form a thought, a movement and controlling all of my senses. And salad is a mixture of more than one ingredient. Maybe this makes sense? Anyway, that is the title of my blog and this is my first entry.

Over the past year or so I have started to follow blogs, some are done by friends of mine, or recommended by friends, and then there are those that I see on the right side of the blogs I read under Follow. Just yesterday, my oldest son started his own blog documenting his experience as a college student studying abroad this semester. Figured if my first born can do it, so can I! I'd like to post what I follow but first need to figure out how to do that, in fact there are many things to figure out in this new world of blogging.

I hope to write about my thoughts, particularly little things in life that are really not that important, but intrigue me. And, eventually write about food and cooking, a passion of mine. Hopefully I will post some photos of food and recipes too.

My thought for today is about the convenience store Wawa. If none of you know what a Wawa is, it is similar to a 711. I know Wawas are in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. When I go to a Wawa I always get their coffee, hazelnut regular is my favorite. Just pulling into any Wawa parking lot I feel as if my life is in jeopardy by simply parking my car. Since its an in and out place, folks always seem to be very rushed when shopping there. One goes in there for what they need and out immediately, the faster the better. Its as if life goes full speed when just pulling into the lot. This behavior does not happen at pull slowly into their lots and customers get out of their vehicles slowly and calmly walk into the coffeehouse. I wonder why? Does the fact that milk, chewing gum, candy, a box of macaroni signify speeding things up? Now, pouring the coffee is a problem for me at Wawa. The coffee percolaters are all set out, perhaps twenty of them, each labeled with what flavor, decaf or regular. I pour my coffee and then need to head to a counter usually behind me with my cup that is steaming hot to 'dress' the treat. This simple movement is also dangerous like the parking lot. Since folks are in a rush, they don't look and see if they are in my way and I risk third degree burns just to pour some creamer in my coffee. My last comment for today is that certain Wawas are better than other Wawas. Same merchandise, same coffee, same hoagies, but I would like to rate them one star to five stars. And, of course I am a fan of Wawa on facebook!