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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s Home

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My very good friend Lynn asked me if I would have a cooking class/ luncheon at her home. Without hesitation, I said yes! Her home is located in the historic district of Orlando. A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s Home was the perfect place for Lynn and her friends, Marian, Jean, Diane, Gloria, and Sandy to spend some quality time together. I thought it would be a great idea to put a menu together, show the girls some tips, and cooking techniques they could take home and use when they’re cooking for their families.

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Earlier in the week, Lynn and I met to iron out all the details. We came up with a plan and set it in motion. Gifts for the girls, a tablescape that would compliment the Italian theme, and then, of course, the menu. The day before the luncheon, I went shopping and found some great seasonal ingredients at the local farmers market in town. I wanted the centerpiece for the table to also echo a few of the ingredients I was using. A large rustic bowl filled with pink grapefruits, lemons, fennel fronds, and fresh bay leaves.

Menu:
Peach Bellinis
Cheese Board, Parmesan, Parmigiano- Reggiano, and Grana Padano
Fennel Salad With Grapefruit, red onion, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and garnished with edible flowers
Kale And White Bean Soup
Homemade croutons
Eton Mess By Way Of Italy (menu category -desserts)
Peach and fresh mint iced tea

I set up a small cheese board filled with shards of different types of Parmesan cheeses. The saltiness of the cheeses paired really well with the Peach Bellinis made with fresh peach purée mixed with Prosecco sparkling wine, finishes with a strawberry garnish. A traditional cocktail that originated in Venice, Italy.

I went through the steps for each course step by step. The ladies were taking notes which made me feel pretty special. They asked great questions and I think they went away realizing, when you use fresh and seasonal ingredients, cooking can be super fun as well as satisfying.

These were some of the sweetest ladies, I hope that we’ll be able to get together again in the near future. Lynn, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to help you with this amazing luncheon.

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Homemade Croutons

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 to 40 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 2 6-quart Dutch ovens with lids

Recipe For Kale And Cannellini Bean Soup:
Know as Beans And Greens Soup
All ingredients divided evenly into two 6 quart heavy bottom pots

2 bunches of fresh kale, stems and center rib removed coarsely chopped
4 15-ounce cans of white Cannellini beans -drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 stalks of celery diced halved and coarsely chopped
2 large onions coarsely chopped
8 carrots peeled and 1/2 inch diced
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of grated fresh nutmeg
2 Fresno chilis seeded and minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
8 cups of water (amount of water may vary slightly)
2 2-inch pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (1 tablespoon per pot)
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper (1/2 teaspoon per pot)
2 fresh bay leaves ( dried are fine)
2 teaspoons of freshly chopped rosemary leaves
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
*E.V.O.O drizzle (drizzle on top as a finish to the soup)
Accompaniment: homemade croutons

Note: smoked sausage is an option to add to this soup (sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick pieces)

Directions:
Turn the burners to medium-high heat allowing the two heavy bottom pot to heat up. Remember that all the ingredients will be evenly divided into the two pots. Once the pots have come up to temperature, adjust the temperature to medium. Add in the olive oil, diced onions, minced Fresno chili, celery, diced carrots, and tomato paste. Stir all the ingredients together cook until vegetables start to soften, around 10 minutes. Make sure to season as you go by adding Kosher salt, black pepper to taste.

Add the minced garlic, bay leaves, and freshly chopped rosemary leaves continue to stir. About 3 to 5 minutes in, add in the unsalted chicken stock, cheese rinds. Slowly add in half of the chopped kale leaves to each pot. Using a spoon, start to submerge the leaves into the liquid. Next, slowly add in the water and the rest of the chopped kale. This is the point is where you’ll be able to see if you have enough liquid, (refer to the pictures above) allowing 3 inches of space at the top of each pot.

The kale will wilt as it cooks, and most of the ingredients will also release their water. Not to worry, (cooking soup uncovered) as the soup comes up to a boil, water will also evaporate as the soup cooks. Now, the drained Cannellini beans. Next, it’s time to add the 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and the freshly grated nutmeg to each pot. Stir all the ingredients together. Bring the soup up to a boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the kale and carrots are tender. Once finished, cover the soup pots until ready to serve.

Serve in porcelain bowls with grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, and a drizzle of good *E.V.O.O.

The dessert you see in the pictures above, “Eton Mess By Way Of Italy”  and “Homemade Croutons” recipes can be found by clicking on the links below.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Eton Mess By Way Of Italy

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Homemade Chili

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There are times when I crave a bowl of my Homemade Chili. Chili that’s smokey, spicy, and with real depth of flavor. In this recipe, I bring out all the stops. To add texture and sweetness, I like adding shoe peg corn. Shoepeg corn is small sweet white corn kernels, and I believe, is an ingredient that’s underutilized. I’m also a believer in adding a moderate amount of black beans to chili.

Everyone who loves chili knows, the longer it simmers the thicker and better it gets. The making of chili takes a lot of love. If you can dedicate 30 minutes of prep time and a little over an hour of cooking time, I promise you will really love this chili.

Ancho chilies are dried smoked Poblano peppers. They’re a mild pepper with a smokey flavor that’s perfect for chili.

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Piquillo Peppers (2)

Piquillo Peppers (1)

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The next day I like to do something a little different. You know how chili’s always better the second day well, that’s when I grab a warm corn tortilla and make a taco. A little Homemade Chili, Pico de Gallo, Chunky-Style Guacamole, and Queso Fresco. YUMMY!

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven with a lid, 10-cup food processor, 3-quart saucepan, 2 small mixing bowls

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds of lean ground sirloin
6 ancho chiles, reconstituted and puréed (yields 1/2 cup of ancho purée)
3 tablespoons of Mexican chocolate (optional)
1 7-ounce jar of Piquillo peppers, puréed
3 tablespoons of chili powder
3 packed tablespoons of light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of smokey paprika
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers, packed in adobo, seeded and minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 diced red bell peppers
1 diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup of sliced green onions ( reserving the green tops for garnish)
1 large diced onion
2 28-ounce cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 10-1/2 ounce can of beef consommé
2 cups of beef stock, unsalted
1 15-ounce can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce package of frozen shoepeg corn, thawed

Toppings:
cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese
lime wedges
guacamole
diced red onion
sliced tops of green onions
tortilla chips

Directions:
Start by reconstituting the dried ancho chilies. Fill a 3-quart saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the peppers to the hot water and allow them to soften/reconstitute for 30 minutes.
As shown above, while the dried ancho chilies are reconstituted on the stove, you want to move on to the prep work for the chili.

In the meantime dice the green onions (reserving the green tops for garnish), a Spanish onion, red and green bell peppers, mince the garlic, and seed and mince a jalapeno pepper. Alongside those ingredients, I’ve seeded and chopped a couple of Chipotle peppers. Another ingredient is, I’ve puréed Piquillo peppers and puréed using a food processor then transfer the Piquillo puré to a bowl. I’ve drained and rinsed the black and kidney beans. Thawed the shoepeg white corn.

Next, remove the stems and seeds before adding them to the food processor. Add 1/2 cup (if needed add a 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency) of the cooking liquid to the processor. Pulse until peppers are puréed. After the ancho chilies have been processed, transfer to a bowl and set aside. then you want to get all your liquids together for the chili, beef broth, beef consomme, and the San Marzano whole tomatoes.

Next, is to get together all the spices for the chili. First, and this is totally optional, is the chocolate. I’m using what’s known as Mexican chocolate. It’s used as a spice and gives a real depth of flavor to the chili. Then there are the standard chili spices, chili powder, ground cumin, sweet and smokey paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, light brown sugar, Kosher salt,  and black pepper. I like to arrange all the spices on a large plate as seen above.

Using a heavy Dutch oven pot over medium heat, start with vegetable oil in the bottom of the pot. To bloom all the spices, add them right in with the vegetable oil. Stirring and mixing all the spices, including the brown sugar. Once the spices release their aroma, add the lean ground sirloin to the pot. Once the meat is combined with the spices, add the Chipotle pepper purée, again, stir to combine. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, the meat for another 10 minutes or until the meat is brown and cooked through.

Next, add all the diced veggies along with the minced garlic and jalapeno. To that, the tomato paste. Continue stirring all of these ingredients together, making sure the meat and veggies are well combined.

Now for the liquids. Start with the canned whole tomatoes. Once they’re in the pot, using a wooden spoon, start breaking them up. Add the beef consommé and beef broth, again, giving everything a big stir to combine. Still, on medium heat, allow everything to come up to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, simmer for 50 minutes. Once the chili has been simmering for 50 minutes, add the black beans, kidney beans, and shoepeg corn, simmer for another 10 minutes.

Finally, the usual suspects, shredded cheddar, diced red onions, cilantro, lime wedges, and of course some Chunky-Style Guacamole! There you have it my Homemade Chili.

Mexican-Style Corn On The Cob

Chunky-Style Guacamole

Pico De Gallo

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California-Style ABLT

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A BLT is a staple in American cuisine. Needing only a few simple ingredients means using only ingredients of the highest quality. This California-Style ABLT is a whole different level of deliciousness. Thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes, and leafy greens make the ultimate BLT sandwich. Avocado puts the “A” in this BLT giving it California-style.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons (3)

Tuscan Soup (36)

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Toppings

Guacamole (3)

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: 1 rimmed baking sheet pan with a rack, 12-inch sauté pan, small mixing bowl

Ingredients:
8 slices of thick-cut applewood bacon
2 heirloom tomatoes, 1/2-inch thick slices
Romaine lettuce, substitute leafy greens
1 sliced avocado
1 7-ounce store-bought container of fresh basil pesto (using 1 heaping tablespoon)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of good mayonnaise
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted
4 slices of Ciabatta Bread, buttered and toasted

Pesto Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon of good store-bought fresh basil pesto

Directions For Pesto Mayonnaise:
In a small mixing bowl add 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of fresh basil pesto, stir to combine.

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
Place the rack in the lower third of the oven. Use a foiled covered baking sheet with a rack. This makes for crispier bacon because it cooks the bacon from all sides. The bacon should take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Check the bacon progress after 12 minutes. Once fully cooked, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel.

In a sauté pan over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Cooking two slices of bread at a time, rub one side of each slice of bread in the butter and flip it over and rub the other side. Once both sides are coated in butter, cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until light golden brown. Repeat this process for the next two slices.

Spread a light coating of pesto mayo on all four slices. Place the lettuce down first, then the bacon, then tomato, with a very light sprinkling of Kosher salt, and then the avocado with another sprinkling of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Set the tops on each sandwich and they’re ready to serve This is my secret to making a great California-Style ABLT.

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