Honey-Pumpkin Cornbread and Warming Soup

November 3rd, 2015

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Taking a break from detailing our Italy trip, I wanted to share with you a tasty combination that I made on a recent cold and blustery day.  With thoughts of Thanksgiving in my mind, the idea of a cornbread with the addition of pumpkin sounded like a good combination. As it turned out, it was a good idea; moist, golden and lightly sweetened with honey.  The soup that I made with it came from one of my favorite blogs, Manger.  It is a combination of French lentils, farro and lots of vegetables.

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The feeling I am trying to express in this post is that of warmth and comfort.  The food is the starting point, of course.  But I would like to give you a few more visuals to explain how I am feeling. Perhaps, because I am still dealing with the aftermath of surgery, I need to concentrate on what makes me happy and secure.

Tuscan Villa 1

This Tuscan kitchen made me happy.  There were logs in the fireplace ready for an evening fire on a cool night. ( Wide angle lens tends to make people appear wider).  The gas stove was a dream to cook on and I could have spent an entire vacation in this charming villa.  I wanted to forego the motorcycle touring and just hang out here.

Tuscan Villa 2 View

This was the view from the window.  The church bell rang on the hour all day and all night.  Who needs a watch?

Dream room

This picture is small.  I saw it on Pinterest.  Although it is not necessarily my style these days, it is just like the house that I have seen in my dreams.  I don’t know about you, but I dream about houses.  In my dreams I always have this other house that I have neglected, but that I am very proud of.  I encourage my dream guests to make themselves at home, even though it is cluttered and dusty.  And I wonder to myself in my dream why I do not live there.  It is cozy and comfortable but a little bizarre.  This room lacks that bizarre element, but it is close to my vision.

I am on the mend.  Stitches taken out today.  Life is returning to normal and I am back in the kitchen.  If you are in the mood for some comfort food you will love this cornbread and Mimi’s Soup.

HONEY-PUMPKIN CORNBREAD

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square-baking pan.
  2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, butter, honey, buttermilk and orange zest in a separate bowl. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until moistened; transfer to the prepared baking pan.
  3. Bake until the cornbread pulls away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Cool in the pan 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cook on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Printable Recipe

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

January 19th, 2015

Sweet Potato Soup 1

It has been quite a week.  Even with a simple kitchen remodel, daily tasks can revert to chaos.  We were able to use our kitchen during the facelift, but because of a leak under the sink, washing dishes was a problem.  I ended up washing dishes in the sink in the garage.  We have eaten simple soups, grilled steaks with baked potatoes and homemade pizza.  This sweet potato soup was one of my favorites.  Not only was it easy, but it was delicious.  When you are in the middle of a project, cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave is a blessing.  Add them to some chicken broth, seasonings, and a quick whir in the immersion blender and dinner is ready.  The bacon, shaved parmesan and parsley is just an added bonus if you have the time.

Florida Kitchen New

Here is a sneak peek of the kitchen remodel.  I will show you more later because not everything is finished.  The contractors were one door short on  the order.  The cabinet to the right of the stove is missing a door.  We also need the contractors to come back to re-adjust shelf heights in one cabinet.  Other than that, we are very pleased with the results.  The cabinets are a shaker style with a subtle bead board panel inset in each door.  To break things up, I requested glass doors in the cabinet over the dishwasher.  I store all of my glassware and cream colored dishes there.   Because we still have soffits over the cabinets, I decided to get creative on top.  I bought inexpensive corrugated metal letters spelling out “Dinner” to add an industrial element to the design.  I already had a “Bon Appetit” sign and black and cream plates on the other wall above the stove.  More later.

Sweet Potato Soup 2

This creamy sweet potato soup came together so quickly, that I thought to myself,” I need to have these ingredients on hand at all times for a quick and easy meal”.  David is not always a fan of sweet potatoes, but this soup convinced him otherwise.  It is thick and hearty.  The crisp bacon and Parmesan shavings complement the whole bowl to perfection.

On another note, hold all of your family and friends close.  We have just lost a dear friend from our college years to cancer.  John will be missed.  My, where have the years gone and why do we have to start dealing with the lose of friends?  I am not ready.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

CREAMY SWEET POTATO SOUP ( Cooking Light )

2 pounds sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 2 large)
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt ( I added more )
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves

Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave safe baking dish.  Add 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; saute 1 minute or until translucent.  Stir in cumin and red pepper.  Add stock to pan; bring to a boil.  Add sweet potatoes and gently mix in breaking them up slightly.  I used an immersion blender to puree the mixture.  If you do not have an immersion blender,  mix half of the mixture at a time in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Return to pan to reheat.

Divide soup evenly among 4 to 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese evenly over top.  Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Printable Recipe

 

Venetian Fish Soup

December 3rd, 2014

Venetian Fish Soup 1

I don’t know about you, but after the Thanksgiving holidays I crave food that is totally different from that table of white carbs and sweet desserts.  Also, for health reasons, David is trying to eat better.  So he has been on a seafood soup kick lately.  He spends his mornings at the gym and then comes home and throws something together like this Venetian fish soup.  Similar to bouillabaisse or cioppino, this fragrant fish soup is vibrant and alive with flavor.

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Shrimp and fish fillets are the protein in this soup.  Combined with vegetables, clam juice, crushed tomatoes and white wine, you have a relatively light bowl of goodness.  If you wanted to add some carbs to the mix you could add a piece of garlic infused toasted baguette to the bowl before you add the soup.  But for lunch we liked it just the way that it was.

Venetian Fish Soup 3

The recipe came from Food and Wine Magazine.  David adapted it slightly.  But I am showing it here as it was written.  I am fortunate to have him in the kitchen doing his healthy cooking.  Maybe it will offset all of the cookies I am getting ready to make.

VENETIAN FISH SOUP

1/2 pound large shrimp, shells removed and reserved
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in puree (from a 28-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt or more, depending on the saltiness of the clam juice
2 bay leaves
2 pounds moderately firm white fish fillets such as cod, halibut, ocean perch, orange roughy, or pollack (cut in pieces)
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the shrimp shells and the water in a small pot; bring the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl.  Discard the shells.

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat.  Add the carrots, onions, fennel, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine; cook until it almost evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the shrimp stock, clam juice, tomatoes, red-pepper flakes, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the thyme, salt and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.  Taste for salt and, if needed, add more,  Remove the bay leaves.

Add the fish, shrimp, the remaining tablespoon parsley and the pepper to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the fish and shrimp are just done, about 2 minutes.

Printable Recipe

Ribollita – Tuscan Vegetable and Bread Soup

October 24th, 2014

Ribollita 1

Ribollita is a classic Tuscan peasant soup.  It utilizes stale bread and inexpensive winter vegetables.  Translated ribollita means “reboiled”.   Many times left-over minestrone was used as its base.  I admire the frugality of this soup because it also offers a wealth of nutrient rich vegetables.  Leafy kale (cavalo nero in Tuscany), savoy cabbage, carrots, potatoes, celery,cannellini beans and tomatoes are all part of the ingredients.  The stale bread stretches it to feed many.  I was inspired to make this soup because I had a left-over chunk of the wonderful Parmesan bread that I made in my last post.  It was perfect for this soup; a little dense and full of Parmesan flavor.

Ribollita 2

I reviewed several recipes for ribollita.  Some included pancetta or bacon, some added garlic and rosemary, but I went with a classic recipe from Gabriele Corcos, who with his wife Debi Mazar, has the cooking show Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. Gabriele is a native of Tuscany.  For me, this hearty soup had a depth of flavor that emanated from the vegetables.  The tomatoes were kept to a minimum and water was used instead of broth to flavor the soup.  So the overall flavor was mild with a rich earthy vegetable taste.  This is most likely the way it was made originally.  My husband decided he needed some meat, so added sauteed sausages to his soup.

Ribollita 3

This soup is very forgiving of any ingredients that you may want to add, and I have decided that I will be hoarding stale bread just for the purpose of making it.  Warm, filling, delicious and good for you.  You couldn’t ask for more.

David Cooking

Today is David’s birthday.  Happy birthday to my partner, soul mate and best friend.  As you can see we have a lot in common.  But I don’t mind sharing kitchen space with him.

RIBOLLITA (Adapted from Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corsos and Debi Mazer)

8 ounces dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water to cover (Or 1-15 ounce can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans)*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch Tuscan kale or regular kale, leaves, removed and roughly chopped
1/2 head savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 pound stale country style bread (I used 1/3 of a loaf of Parmesan bread), cut into cubes

Rinse and drain the soaked beans.  Bring a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot full of water to a boil.  Add the beans, making sure they’re covered by a few inches of water, and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook for at least 1 hour, salting the water after 40 minutes, until tender.  Drain the beans and set aside.

In an 8-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot.  Add the carrots, onion, and celery and saute’ for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent but not golden.  Add the potatoes, kale and cabbage and saute’ for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted.

Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon and the drained beans.  Add enough water to cover the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until it thickens considerably.

Add the bread and continue cooking for another 30 minutes , until the crust of the bread begins falling apart.*  If using canned beans add them when you add the bread.

Serve in bowls with an extra drizzle of olive oil.  Serves 6.

Printable recipe

Creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon

August 4th, 2014

Corn Chowder 2

 

We have dear friends from Iowa who have a log cabin in Lake Lure.  They built their cabin here after staying at our rental cottage a few years ago.  They fell in love with Lake Lure and now have their own stunning get-away retreat.  They arrived from Iowa last week with fresh picked corn from home.  You can’t get any more authentic than corn from the heartland of America.  What to do with the bounty?

Corn Chowder 1

 

Why, corn chowder of course.  We have had cool, rainy weather AGAIN!  This was the perfect summer soup.

I have a long history with sweet corn.  It was one of the crops that dotted our farmlands in Michigan when I was growing up.  As teenagers my friends and I spent time in corn fields.  I guess that makes me kind of weird.  What were we doing in corn fields you may ask?

1. It was a great place to park.  Any couple who wanted privacy could find a hide-away under the full moon, hidden next to the stalks.  Very romantic.

2. Carloads of girlfriends loved to stop the car  on the road and run to the fields and gather a few ears to eat.  We usually ended up with field corn meant for cattle.  We were once attacked by a wild pig, but darn it was fun.  We laughed and considered ourselves daring.

3. Corn fields were just a part of our environment.  Still today, I measure the height of the corn by the old adage ” The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye” and know when it is ready to pick. Growing up in corn country, you just knew.

Corn Chowder Cropt

This corn chowder is hearty with a depth of flavor.  I simmered the shorn corn cobs in the vegetable broth mixture for a while to release as much flavor as possible.  Give it a try when you have lots of corn.  It can easily be doubled.

CREAMY CORN CHOWDER WITH BACON

3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup flour
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
6 to 7 ears of corn, kernels removed and a few cobs saved to flavor the stock
1 1/2 cups cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
Several sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, red pepper and garlic and cook until onion is soft.  Add the flour and cook 2 minutes stirring frequently to slightly brown the flour.  Add the vegetable broth and 4 of the reserved corn cobs and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, partially covered.  Remove the cobs and add the celery, carrots, potatoes and corn kernels.  Cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.  Add the cream, thyme and salt and pepper to taste and cook gently for another 15 minutes.  Serves 6.

Printable Recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.