Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Whole Foods, Parmigiano-Reggiano Display

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I was strolling through the Whole Foods market when this wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano display caught my eye. Oh yeah, the “on-sale” sign too!

Right behind the Parmigiano-Reggiano Display wheel is an enormous wall of cheeses from around the world, I mean that literally! There are cheeses from all over the world, and I’m planning on trying a few of them in the very near future.

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The most amazing moment was watching the process of opening an eighty-pound Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese wheel.

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It turns out, this is a pretty big undertaking, and definitely takes some time to complete. Once that wheel is cracked open, it’s pretty awesome! I bought myself a couple of big wedges. When I returned home from the store, I placed one in the freezer and one in the frig. I think it’s going to be a pasta night!

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A Ladies Luncheon At Lynn’s Home With My Kale And White Bean Soup

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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 With My Kale And White Bean Soup 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.

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.

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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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mint

Fresh-Mint-Leaves

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Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rinds

I love to save the cheese rinds to add to the soup. They add so much flavor!

E.V.O.O.

Olive Oil

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Kale

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Onions

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Stuffing (2)

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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

Menu:
Peach Bellinis
Cheese Board; Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Grana Padano
Fennel Salad With Grapefruit, Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Garnished With Edible Flowers
Kale And White Bean Soup
Homemade Ciabatta Croutons
Eton Mess By Way Of Italy (menu category -desserts)
Mint and Peach Iced Tea

Ingredients For Kale And White Bean Soup:
(better known as Beans And Greens Soup)
All ingredients below divided evenly into 2 (6-quart) heavy bottom pots

2 bunches (approx. 12 cups chopped in total) of organic kale, center ribs removed, roughly chopped
4 (15.5-ounce) cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 stalks of celery, 2-inch dice (include leafy tops)
2 large onions, 2-inch dice
8 carrots peeled and 2-inch dice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of nutmeg freshly grated grated
2 Fresno chilis seeded and minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 quarts of vegetable stock, unsalted
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 freshly ground black pepper (1/2 teaspoon per pot)
2 fresh bay leaves (substitute dried)
2 teaspoons of freshly chopped rosemary leaves
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated 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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Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Peppers

 

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I know that everyone has an opinion about what’s good for us and what’s not. After watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, I learned a few things about how food affects our health. I’ve decided that a least twice a week that I’m going to make a whole plant-based, dish. I know this may take some planning but I suppose I have to start somewhere.

Being a server my biggest weakness is drinking coke. I love coke out of the fountain. So starting now I’m giving it up and reaching for the water instead. I’m going to stick with this plan for 6 months and see if these changes make any difference in the way I feel and look. I’ll keep you posted.

This dish a great for entertaining. The beautiful colors of the peppers will catch the eyes of all your guests. These vegetarian Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Peppers are full of flavor.

Quinoa Stuffed Roasted Peppers

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