Tag Archives: Chef

Caribbean Callaloo Soup

Callaloo SoupThere’s no better way to beat the winter blues than with a taste of the Caribbean.

Callaloo soup is enjoyed throughout the Caribbean with minor variations.

Callaloo is the leafy greens that top the taro root.

In the U.S., it’s recommended that you use spinach leaves to mimic the flavor.

In addition to showcasing okra, callaloo soup also incorporates my favorite habanero pepper. If that’s too hot for you, you can leave it out or substitute your favorite hot pepper.

This recipe is from a great book I found in my local library, Better Homes and Gardens Best Ethnic Cuisines.

I would definitely recommend this book because I found some great recipes from many different cultures.

Callaloo Soup

3 strips thick-sliced bacon, chopped

½ c finely chopped onion

¼ c finely chopped celery

1 habanero

1 clove garlic, minced

4 14-ounce cans chicken broth

1 c. sliced fresh or frozen okra

12 medium shrimp

2 c. shredded fresh spinach

Salt

In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Add onion, celery, habanero, and garlic to pan. Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Carefully add broth to pan. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boiling. Add okra to pan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer, covered 5 minutes more or until opaque. Stir in spinach and heat through. Stir in cooked bacon. Season to taste with salt.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Learn

Soup’s On In January

If you’re like me, it can be difficult to re-adjust back to the ordinary routine after the excitement of the holidays. It’s not that I have a problem with January, per se, but living through the next two and a half months of snow, rain, rock salt, and biting winds really takes a toll on my psyche.

So that’s why I’m counting on soup to rescue me.

You might think soup is an unlikely superhero, but you’d be wrong.

Soup is a real global contender – as you’ll see over the next four weeks.

It is generally an inexpensive meal to prepare, in keeping with many of our New Year’s resolutions to save more.

It is also a relatively healthy food choice, usually prepared with lots of local and seasonal produce. That helps those of us with fitness resolutions this time of year.

And it is my favorite food of all time. Some of my best food associations involve soup and my grandmothers.

My grandmother Kathryn used to prepare Campbell’s tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch for me when I was a kid and we were still allowed to go home for lunch during the school day. (I’m not that old; it was just a very quaint town.)

As an adult, I treasure the memory of my grandmother Marie making me a soul-warming potato soup when I was adjusting to new challenges in my life.

I can’t think of a better way to get through the cold, grey days of January than to celebrate with a bowl of soup.

So for the next 21 days – every day, Monday through Friday – you’ll find a recipe that I’ve discovered and am excited to share.

Some of the soups are global and some are just fantastic recipes created – or improved – by my friend, Chef Danielle Turner of www.CookingClarified.com.

I’m excited to hear your about your favorite soups, soup memories, and your coping strategies to keep a cheerful attitude over the long winter.

And I hope this little project inspires you to keep your resolutions to be financially and physically fit in 2011 and to embrace all the great things the world has to offer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Learn

French Food Made Fun

French food has always struck me as the belle-mere (mother-in-law) of cuisine.

Like a mother-in-law, she has her own, iron-clad way of doing things; she is a little disdainful of time-saving tricks; she is convinced that old-fashioned hard work is good for everyone; she insists that you try everything – even aspic and bone marrow – and dares to look triumphant when you admit that it’s good.

She is challenging; she forces you to acquire new skills and step outside your comfort zone; and – if you succeed – she ultimately rewards you.

I’m not a French chef and I don’t aspire to be one.

I’m a home cook drawn to exotic foods from around the world. I live for blow-your-head-off spiciness. I’m undisciplined and a little lazy. I like near-instant gratification. Although I enjoy watching Julia and Jacques and reading their books, I never cook their recipes. I learned from Julie Powell’s lesson – I don’t need to live it.

But still, when I had a chance to take a French cooking class (one night only!) I thought the belle-mere and I should get to know each other a little bit better.

Although I can’t pretend to have really cooked any of these dishes, I did enjoy watching the real chefs pull it together. And – armed with lots of information on how to “cheat” my way to close-enough, I might even prepare some of these dishes on my own.

The sous-chefs pry the chestnut meat from the shell

Chestnut Soup with Madeira

I’ve never really eaten chestnuts before. Sure, I sing the song during Christmas but that’s about it. So my expectations were pretty low when I saw this soup on our to-do list.

The other students and I watched as the sous-chefs painstakingly picked apart roasted chestnuts to get enough for soup for 25.

As they slit into the shiny (and slippery) roasted chestnuts with extremely sharp knives, I closely examined the cut I had earned just a few days before trying to slice open an English muffin.

I knew – no matter how fantastic this soup was, and it was fantastic – that I would never prepare it myself. I just don’t have good enough insurance (or hand-eye coordination). But the chef assured me that frozen chestnuts or canned chestnuts would produce roughly the same result.

My own little cup of yum

Salade Nicoise

I really like Salade Nicoise and I have to say I was embarrassingly excited to make the vinaigrette for this dish. I would definitely make this for my family.

Coq au Vin

This classic dish was delicious and looked relatively easy to make (on the French scale, at least). I really loved the mushrooms and pearl onions we sauteed in bacon fat as a side dish.

Pot au Feu

As good as it was, I will not be making pot au feu for the next big family get-together. Too many “interesting” ingredients such as bones and oxtail. But I would definitely order it in a restaurant!

Fig Clafoutis

After this feast, who would still have room for dessert? It turns out, I did. By the way, I think Clafoutis would be a great name for a child of a celebrity.

By the end of the night I had reached an agreement with the belle-mere. All that was left was the bon digestion!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Eat

Fresh Ideas on School Lunches

Even though the school year is only a few weeks old, many parents (like me) have already fallen into the school lunch doldrums. Even when they are lucky enough to have a child willing to try new things, they’re just at a loss for what to serve that’s nutritious, portable, and able to withstand the typical child’s backpack until lunchtime.

Well, fret no more because my friend (who happens to be a super-talented chef) has some ideas for you. Chef Danielle is the creator of www.cookingclarified.com and she recently put together a FREE, downloadable e-book called Lessons in Lunch that will give you some fresh, multicultural ideas to answer the question: what’s for lunch?

You may also be interested in my cameo appearance in the e-book as the author of an article on school lunches around the world.

Happy Reading! (And Eating!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat