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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. This 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 that 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 and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese 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 cocktail I made. I chose to serve Peach Bellinis  Fresh peach puree mixed with Prosecco sparkling wine, garnished with a strawberry. 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 that when you use fresh and seasonal ingredients, cooking can be fun as well as delicious. I want to say that these were some of the sweetest ladies and 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.

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 (slice 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 the 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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Turkey Sausage, Sweet Potato, And kale Soup

If you love soup, you will absolutely love this one. It’s healthy yet hearty, it’s so satisfying, you won’t feel guilty having seconds. It’s really easy to make, let me tell you how. I start out with the base of most soups.

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This soup starts out with the standard Mirepoix,. I have 1 large sweet onion, 2 carrots, 2 ribs of celery. next I have 2 peeled and diced sweet potatoes, and 2 minced cloves of garlic. In a heavy bottom pot on med high heat, I start out with 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil.

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I want to sweat these veggies out but not get any color on them so I add a good tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes for some heat. After they have softened I add in 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds.

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I then add the turkey sausage to the pot and let that start to get some good color on it. Once that’s happened I add in 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme leaves. Dried thyme will work fine as well. I try to use fresh herbs whenever possible. After the turkey has browned off I add my secret ingredient, Dry California Sherry, 2 tablespoons. This is totally optional, I just like that depth of extra flavor that it adds to this soup. If you don’t have Sherry, white wine will do in a pinch. Let this cook for a minute or two so the Sherry can reduce. Now I add the diced sweet potatoes.

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I stir this around and then add 1 chicken bullion cube and 2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth. I cook this on med high heat until the soup comes to a boil then turn in down to med and let it simmer for a good twenty minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.

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At this point I add in 3 cups of fresh chopped kale and 1-1/2 cups of Israeli Cous Cous. I turn off the heat, put the lid on and let it just do it’s thing. The small pasta will automatically cook in the hot liquid, and the kale will wilt yet keep its bright green color.

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I like to serve this with some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. You could also add some homemade croutons to this soup that would be delicious too.This soup is so tasty, I’m sure, that like me, you’ll be making this again and again.

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Chicken Meatball Stew with Kale

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So listen, yes there are quite of few ingredients, prepping is key.  This dish is even better the day after because all the flavors have married.  Also everyone has their own meatball recipe but this one is a little different because chicken doesn’t have a lot of flavor so we have to kick it up a bit. What I’ve done is given the meatballs an Italian sausage flavor. Chicken is leaner than pork so we are going to cut some fat there, and that’s a good thing. Kale is full of vitamins plus all the vegetables that are in this dish.  I feel good about serving it and its comfort food.  Maybe even a piece of crusty bread for dipping, Oh yeah.

Ingredients for chicken meatballs:

2 packages of ground chicken (white meat)

2 eggs (beaten)

1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon or oregano

1/4 cup of Italian flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup of half and half

3/4-1 cup of Italian bread crumbs You want mix to be moist but not real wet)

2 garlic cloves grated (in the mixing bowl that we are going to use)

1/2 onion grated (in the mixing bowl too)

Preheat oven: 350 degrees

Directions:  You want to mix everything together in the bowl that has the grated garlic and onion( add the ground chicken last).   If  you over mix the meatballs they will be tough( no good).  Then add your chicken and mix til just combined.  Place your desired size meatballs on (non-stick cooking sprayed) baking sheet. Two inch size meatballs should take 25 minutes. (They will cook the rest of the way in the stew.

Directions for stew:

While meatballs are cooking I start chopping and slicing what is going in the stew.

Ingredients:

1 diced onion

3 cloves of garlic minced

2 carrots peeled and diced (tip keep all veggies the same size)

2 Idaho potatoes peeled and diced (1/4 inch or so)

2 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 pints of mushrooms quartered
2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth

1 package of frozen artichoke hearts
1 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch

1 bunch of kale (remove stems and chop about 1 1/2 inch pieces)

1 tablespoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of olive oili
Directions:

In a dutch oven or a large heavy pot( get your pot hot first) , on medium heat put in your olive oil, add your onions.  Stir till they start to soften then add carrots, sprinkle in a little salt and pepper( season each layer).  After carrots start to soften a bit,
put your mushrooms in then add your garlic.  stir then add your diced potatoes( add a little more S & P) and cook for about 5 minutes.  Now pour in you 2 cans of diced tomatoes and sugar and stir again.  Add your first quart of chicken broth then your meatballs gently. Now using the other quart of broth cover meatballs.  Stir gently bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 35-40 minutes.  After 35 minutes or so add you frozen artichokes and kale.  Let that cook for another 5 minutes( your stew should still be at a simmer, and this is a good time to make sure your seasoning is right. ImageIf you need a little more salt and pepper go ahead and add it).   In a small bowl take your corn starch and 2 tablespoons of cold water, mix well then pour into your pot and stir gently so as not to break the meatballs. Let the broth thicken so it gives you almost a gravy like consistency.  Serve with a piece of crusty bread and you will be in heaven.

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