EAT

Soup for the Soul

Growing up my mom will always make soup during the Winter months. Coming home from school to a comforting bowl of hot soup was just perfect. I’m carrying on this tradition with my own family. This soup is one of the favorites in my house, between the girls and J the pot will be empty and gone in two days.

Split pea and Kale soup

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium size onion, chopped

2 medium size carrots, diced

2 red peppers, diced

4-6 big leaves lacinato kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 pound bag of dried split pea

1 qt chicken stock

1 1/2 cup of frozen petit green peas

2.5 qt water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, peppers and sauté for about 10 minutes with the cover on. Add the kale, garlic and parsley, stir well and cook for 5 minutes. Rinse the split pea in cold water and add to the pot. Add the chicken stock, water, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, partly covered, for 30 – 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the split pea is starting to disintegrated. Add the frozen green peas, and cook for another 20 minutes.

Soup is best if made one day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Thin with water if necessary.

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Photos by Kate Bolt

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EAT

Shakshuka

I must write a post about one of my favorite dishes. It is my signature dish for brunch or for a light dinner. This is another traditional dish and I grew up with my dad’s version where he used a lot of diced peppers. My version is more Greek in its style using kalamata olives and feta. Shakshuka is a super easy dish that can serve as the star of any gathering. All it needs is a good white bread to accompany it. For best flavors serve it with Tahini on the side.

2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can of rustic cut tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add kalamata olives and garlic. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes to allow the olives to soften (this will remove some most of their bitter flavor). Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook further for about 10 minutes.

Make 4 little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs and carefully pure each into its own dip taking care not to break the yolks. Sprinkle the feta over the eggs. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes, until the eggs are set. Remove from the heat, and leave for a couple of minutes. Spoon into individual plates and serve with tahini.

Note: This recipe I only used 4 eggs since it was only made for two. This base is good to use with up to 10 eggs.

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Photos by Kate Bolt

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EAT

Stuffed Peppers

This is one of those recipes that every family has. My late grandfather used to make it using only green peppers since he liked the bitterness in them. I only use the red ones since I love the sweetness in them. Some will precook the rice to shorten the cooking time and some will use only dry rice and let the peppers cook longer. Every family has a story of her own. This is mine.

Note: The peppers are cooked in a tomato sauce. Mine changes each time, according to what I have at my pantry. The sauce should be easy and simple to accompany the peppers. 

Sauce, peppers and seasonings
7 red bell peppers (Try picking the big ones that can hold the stuffing)
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 large can of rustic cut tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sugar in the raw, salt and freshly ground black pepper
Stuffing
1 cup basmati rice
1 pound sirloin ground beef
2 tbsp chopped dill
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp baking soda
Salt and freshly ground peppers

Start with the stuffing. Cook the rice according to direction on the package. Limit cooking time to 15 minutes until the water is absorbed but the rice is not fully cooked. Set aside.

Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl and add the baking soda. Using a little bit of ice cold water, mix the baking soda with the beef (this is a family trick that will make the beef airy). Add the dill, dijon mustard and season with salt and freshly ground black peppers. Pour over the rice. Mix everything together well (you may need to use your hands).

Using a small knife gently remove the top cap of the pepper while keeping it intact. Use the knife to remove any seeds left inside and random white pieces. Without forcing the peppers, stuff each one with an equal amount of the mixture. Close each pepper with its top.

In a large pot (which you have a tight-fitting lid for) pour the tomatoes and season with 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, salt and freshly ground peppers. Depending on how acidic the tomatoes are you may need to season with a little bit of sugar to balance the flavors. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Carefully arrange the peppers. The tomato sauce should almost cover them. Add hot water if necessary to reach that level. Bring to a boil again and then lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for about an hour. The stuffing should be fully cooked and the peppers tender but still keeping their shape.

Use tongs to remove peppers from the pot. Spoon sauce in a moat around them or slice open peppers and douse with sauce on top. Enjoy!

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Photos by Kate Bolt

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EAT

Easy Fix

On my previous Book Worm post I shared snapshots of my favorite books. This post is about a recipe from the cookbook “OTTOLENGHI”.  Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli chef who owns a group of restaurants in London. Along with his head chef, Sami Tamimi, he published two other cookbooks: “Jerusalem” and “Plenty”. I am a little bit obsessed with his books. I find his recipes simple, easy and delicious. Follow them and you have a bullet proof dish!

That being said, I must confess that I like “minimum work – maximum show” recipes! Oh, and that I don’t really need to follow them step-by-step, but can make a few shortcuts. I’ve prepared the following dish several times: as part of a brunch, a light vegetarian dinner or lunch date with a girlfriend.

Here is the recipe with my notes, enjoy and bon apetit!

Sweet potato galettes

3 Sweet potatoes, about 12 oz/350 g each.

9 oz/250 g puff pastry

1 free range egg, lightly beaten 

6 1/2 tbsp /100 ml sour cream

3 1/2 tbsp /100 g aged goat cheese

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 medium-hot chile, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skin for 35 to 45 minutes, until they are soften up but still slightly raw in the center (check by inserting a small knife). Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8 inch /3 mm thick.   Note: I peel the sweet potatoes and cut them in advance. I layer them on a cookie sheet, and bake them for about 20 minutes. Taking this shortcut makes this recipe a quick prep and in my opinion does not influence the taste. 
  2. while the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/16 inch / 2 mm thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out four 2 3/4 by 5 1/2-inch / 7 by 14-cm rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. Note: I use “Pepperidge Farm” puff pastry sheets which comes in two folded squares. I just cut each square into half. If I am in rush I skip the wait in the fridge. 
  3. Remove the pastry from thE fridge and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread the thin layer of sour cream on the pastries, leaving a 1/4-inch / 5-mm border all round. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chile. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Check underneath; it should be golden brown. Note: I often make this dish for my husband and girls, so I omit the pumpkin seeds and chile.  
  4. While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries come out of the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Note: I use a Cuisinart Mini Prep Processor to chop the parsley and garlic together. I am a big parsley fan so I use a nice size bunch. The Mini Prep is my “go-to” kitchen tool for all herbs. It makes chopping a quick task.

I hope you will enjoy it with your family and friends!

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 All photos are taken by Kate Bolt 
 

 

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