Archive for September, 2009

From Dish Erin:

Zucchini zuppa with frizzled leeks

I realize summer is over, but I’m not yet ready to let go of it’s glorious produce. I love root veggies and sweet potato dishes, I do, but maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I actually had a summer that I’m hesitant to accept that it’s technically gone. I whipped this soup up a few weeks ago on a Sunday night as a way to put some balance into a particularly indulgent weekend (burgers and fries and beer, repeat, oh my!). The result was this light, healthy, summery and versatile soup. I used zucchini and leeks, but you could use ANYTHING green. Like broccoli? Throw it in. Green beans, peas, and/or asparagus would work, too. Nothing gets easier and lends itself more to creativity in the kitchen than soup.


1 leek
2 tablespoons olive oil+ 1/4 cup for leek frying
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 large zucchini, sliced
2-3 cups of chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
Fresh basil, mint and/or parsley
Salt & Pepper

First things first, prep the leek, and here’s my preferred method for this recipe: Slice off the green tops. Slice off the bottom roots. You should be left with only the white stalk. Slice in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. You now have two white halves, take one and slice crosswise so you have little 1/4 inch half-rings. Do the same to the other half but reserve about 2 inches for the garnish, set that 2 inch piece to the side. Prepped leeks

Sauté the shallot and garlic over in a stock pot or deep sauté pan over medium heat until soft.

Add the leeks and zucchini and continue to sauté for about 4 minutes or so, tossing (or stirring) to make sure all the veggies get coated with olive oil and butter. Season with salt & pepper.

Add stock to cover the veggies, cover and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes or so. Make sure the veggies are cooked through and when they are tender, remove from heat.

Veggies in panAdding the stock

Use a blender, food mill or immersion blender to puree the soup. When it’s 75% of the way there, add a handful of fresh herbs (I like basil, mint and/or parsley, but I bet dill would work nicely, too), a few tablespoons of heavy cream and more salt & pepper to taste. Then puree again until fully incorporated. Soup should be velvety and smooth. If it’s too thick, add a little bit more stock or cream, your choice.

Pour back into the pot over low heat to keep warm.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over high heat. While the oil is warming, take the leek you reserved and slice lengthwise to create thin little matchsticks. When the oil is hot, throw them in the pan and flash fry them. This will only take about 30 seconds, leeks go in, leeks come out, crispy and golden brown! Place them on a paper towel to absorb the oil and immediately salt & pepper. I also like to zest a little lemon over them.

Sliced leeksFry 'em up

Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with frizzled leeks. You can also top with a few slices of whole zucchini as pictured here. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

Soup's on with Dish Erin

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From Dish Jess:

Lebanese-style roast chicken with eggplant

I’ve been craving comfort food recently, and often find myself bringing together the flavors from both sides of my family. My mom learned to cook by having to make dinner for her working-class Jewish family in high school, but once she married my dad, she also learned to make the rich, spicy Lebanese food that’s an intimate part of his family’s life, and would often make those dishes for our family.

Roasted chicken was a staple dinner for us, and my mom’s recipe is a classic – seasoning beneath the skin, surrounding with potatoes & onions, sometimes carrots, and then baking & basting along the way. I was looking to make something with a bit more zest and spice than the average roasted chicken, so I incorporated some classic Lebanese flavors into this dish.

Seasoned chickenFor the chicken:
2 chicken legs with thighs, skinless or with skin
1 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp crushed mint
½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat over to 350°F. Mix all ingredients with a fork until they form a thick paste. Spread the paste in a thin layer over the meat. If you leave the skin on, separate the skin from the meat down to the leg bone, and spread the paste beneath the skin. I seasoned the skin with za’atar, a lebanese spice mixture that includes sumac, oregano & sesame seeds, but salt & pepper would also work well. Place into a roasting pan and surround with vegetables.

For the vegetables:
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 small eggplant, sliced into rounds
1 onion, cut into thin wedges

Toss the vegetables and walnuts with the olive oil and lemon juice. Spread them around the chicken in the roasting pan, and drizzle the yogurt over the top.

Chicken and veggies ready to roast

Roast all together for 45 minutes, basting the chicken once halfway through. Savor the fragrance of roasting onions, spices and chicken that fill your kitchen. Serve with rice and enjoy, making sure to eat some sweet carmelized onions scraped right off the pan!

Roasted and all set to serve

Dish Jess snacking

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From Dish Jodi:
White Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Apologies, readers, for perhaps an overly simple recipe today. (And especially for the crappy photography – sorry about the use of flash!) But sometimes simple is good…and easy is exactly what you need. My Sunday was spent creating a freakin’ cute birthday cake in the shape of a baby chick for our cousin’s one year old’s birthday festivities…and then later watching 12 toddlers dismantle it. So, last night, on a sugar crash from all the yellow buttercream frosting I’d ingested, I needed something healthy, simple, cozy and especially – EASY. Thus – I went for an old standard I share with you here.

Soup ingredients
1/2 cup cubed pancetta or bacon
1 cup onion diced
1 cup celery stalks diced
1 cup carrots diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans white cannelli beans
6 cups of chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil

In a big stock pot, brown the pancetta til the fat renders and the meat is crispy. Remove meat, leaving the oil. Toss in the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook til softened and starting to brown. Toss in chopped sage and thyme.
Deglaze the pot with the splash of white wine, and then add tomatoes, beans (rinsed first) and chicken stock. Simmer til the soup thickens slightly and the beans are warmed through.

Right before serving, sprinkle each bowl with some chopped parsley and basil. I love it with some crusty bread. It also reheats well for lunch during the week.

Jodi and Soup

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