Soup-Er Bowl: White Bean, Sausage and Cauliflower Soup

superbowl football soup cauliflower

Soup-Er Superbowl Soup

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner. If I read the Roman Numerals correctly, it’s Super Bowl 48..Not 49-er. And while, we, as New Yorkers, lament that our (or Jersey’s depending upon how you look at it) hometown team won’t be playing, we rejoice in the fact that at least one Manning will be there….Hopefully leading the Broncos to victory.

And, let’s be honest, we’re just happy it’s not the Patriots.

superbowl soup dinner recipe budweiser horses

Boozy Budweiser Clydesdales – not Colts

I know it’s almost Super Bowl Sunday because I saw the Budweiser Clydesdale horses outside of my apartment the other day. That’s right, a team of boozy Broncos led by some Cowboy towing a ton of beer. Right here on 67th St. Only in New York, Kids.

And, then there are all of the cooking tips on TV. Seem that no one eats like a Saint on SBS. Most chow down more like Cardinals – twice their weight in one day – and view Super Bowl Sunday as an excellent opportunity to consume 8million tons of guacamole – always seemed odd to me. Maybe those Texans started this tradition of guac. Americans pride themselves on creating 7-layer dips in the shapes of football stadiums, wrapping billions of cocktail weenies in crescent dough and consuming copious amounts of …beer.

I, on the other hand, prefer to provide my guests with Giant Soup-er Super Bowl soups. Last year, I made the Soup-Er simple Taco Soup…..this year, I’ll be mesmerizing Manning fans with a not as simple, but equally delicious, White Bean, Cauliflower, Chicken Sausage Soup. A soup that may even entice my Seahawk friends Jet-ing in from the west.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. If you don’t have a hand held blender – get one. They don’t take up a lot of space, aren’t that expensive, come in pretty colors (mine is pink) are dishwasher safe and make an easy job of pureeing your soup.
  2. Timing is everything – since you’re having people over, clean as you go – you don’t have counter space for all of those dirty pots & pans anyway and your kitchen probably doubles as your bar, coat rack, convening space for friends and Titans of Industry.
  3. If you don’t have a Viking range, no worries, yours will be just fine.

Soup-Er Super Bowl Soup (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • rachael ray sausage oscars smoke house super bowl soup

    Super Sausage from Somewhere Upstate – Well East of Buffalo, home of the Bills

    4 Chicken-Cheddar-Spinach Sausage links Sliced –  mine were from Oscar’s Smoke House upstate –  because Rachael Ray says so…PS, they ship to NYC

  • 2 Cans White Northern or Cannolini beans – the big white ones not the Redskin-ed ones – rinsed
  • 2 Cups Cut Cauliflower – don’t be an over Packer – just 2 loose cups will do
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion Diced
  • ½ Small Shallot diced
  • 2 Cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh Thyme – ok, mine are frozen – not in the refrig-e-Raider, but in the freezer
  • 4 Cups of Good Chicken Stock – like you’d ever use ‘bad’ chicken stock?
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. Spread the cauliflower on a lined baking sheet (Reynolds Wrap pan-lining paper is my fave), sprinkle with EVOO and salt and gently mix

vegetable roasting cauliflower

Cauliflower Ready to Roast

3. Put Cauliflower in to oven and roast for :30mins

cauliflower roasted vegetarian

Brown(s) Food Is Good Food

4. Meanwhile…..In a large stock pot – Le Creuset, s’il vous plait – over medium heat, sauté the diced onion and shallot in about 2 tbsp of EVOO until well softened and sorta translucent – about :10 mins

soup onion shallot super bowl sunday dinner

The onion makes it onion-y the shallot makes it sweet…and it’s pretty

5. Toss in a Bay Leaf for flavoring….

soup recipe super bowl

Bay Leaf for seasoning

6. Add 4 Cups of Chicken Stock and 1 Cup of water

7. Add in the roasted cauliflower and the Thyme leaves

cauliflower soup dinner recipe

Stirring in roasted cauliflower goodness

8. BTB / RTS – bring to boil, return to simmer….but, you knew what I meant

9. Simmer for :25 minutes until the cauliflower is well softened. Keep an Eagle’s eye on your simmer – it’s an art, simmering.

While that’s simmering….

9. In a frying pan over medium/high heat, add 1 tbsp of EVOO and sauté the sausage slices until browned.

dinner sausage soup with white beans

Chicken Sausage with Cheddar and Spinach – Oscar’s Smoke House NY

10. Remove the sausage and set aside

oscars smoke house chicken sausage

Browned and Beautiful

——————————WAIT—————————————

ABOUT :10mins – read a book, call your mom, watch an episode of ‘That’s So Raven(s)’, whatever….

11. In the sausage-y pan, add the spinach and wilt – :04 mins ish

fresh spinach soup cauliflower recipe

Wonderfully Wilted Spinach

12. Remove the sautéed spinach and set aside

13. Back to the large stock pot….After :25 minutes Turn off heat on Stock Pot…….Remove the bay leaf

14. Stir in 1 15oz can of White Beans and simmer another :05 minutes

soup dinner recipe

Simmering Simmering Simmering

15. Add pepper to taste – about 4-5 turns of a mill

16. Puree mixture with pretty pink hand held blender until smooth – you may have to chase the chunks of cauliflower…Like a Lion, Panther or a Bengal Tiger might chase down its prey.

soup puree cauliflower

Pretty Pink Pureeing – chasing chunks of Cauliflower

dinner soup recipe cauliflower spinach sausag

Smooth, Sleek and Silky…Like a Jaguar

17. Stir in 1 Cup of Cannolini / Northern White beans and the cooked sausage and the spinach. I like a soup that eats like a meal…so, I add no more stock… you do what you want, you know what I’m doing…If your guests are hungry as Bears, Ram in another can of beans to make it more stew-ish. You can also stir in some cream, don’t need to, but can – whatever you want. You’re the Chief Chef here.

soup super bowl recipe find the teams

Do you have to add spinach? No, but it’s pretty and delish

Gindo's Spice of Life fresh and spicy pepper sauce

That’s Hot!

18. Have some spice-loving Buccaneers coming over? You can, at this point, stir in a few dashes of Gindo’s Fresh and Spicy Spice of Life…for an extra point or an onside kick!

19. Heat Through

20. Serve warm (just in a simple soup bowl, no need for the formality of fine china on gilded Chargers).

Add some yummy, crusty bread  – I paid just $1.19 for a baguette at Fairway today! At that price, I felt like a Steeler of breads!

dinner soup recipe super bowl

The Spinach Swims in the Soup like a Graceful Pod of Dolphins

So….the Giants didn’t make it to the big game. It’s fine. Truth be told, I’m more in to the commercials anyway…And the cooking. And, with this chicken sausage, white bean and cauliflower soup – it’s sure to be a Soup-er Super Bowl Sunday!

Go Peyton!

PS – Maybe you’d rather watch reruns of Falcon(s) Crest instead of the Big Game. Listen, if you need to be entertained, find the 32 NFL teams mentioned in this post.

Making X: Don’t ASAP Your Scrambled Eggs

scrambled eggs gordon ramsay CDB William Steig

Perfectly Scrambled – Not abbreviated

We were all abbreviating things long before we starting LOL-ing or telling each other that we’d BRB.

Please, verbal and written abbreviations go back to Before Christ – BC to be exact. I mean you don’t think Julius Ceasar was all ‘hey Mark A, wanna head down to the 4-M? Heard Lady C will be there?’

In the AD years – FYI – we started using abbreviations like ASAP, PDQ and tons more well before anyone had a cell phone.

CDB book kids William Steig

Best Book Ever

Growing up, my professor brother (please address him as Doctor James, but don’t ask him to write a prescription) found, loved and shared a book by William Steig called C D B!…as in See The Bee.

The book is written in phonetically fabulous single letters or 2-letter combinations. Each letter or short letter combo becomes a word when read correctly – kids, this is like when you write ‘Gr8’ instead of ‘Great’. Get it?

This approach is way toats more difficult than just using the first letter of a word to signify that word. Steig’s approach requires the reader to use sounds and maybe even the ol’ noggin to determine what the writer is saying.

William Steig C D B scrambled eggs

This Hen Has 5 Eggs

Because of our family obsession with C D B, we often spoke Steig shorthand at home. Like if we wanted eggs for breakfast, we might ask our mother ‘F U N-E X?’ to which she might reply (if we were lucky) ‘S, V F X’.

I’ve been making myself scrambled eggs for years. I have a method. I have a taste and consistency that I love and a cheese that I had determined to be the ideal cheese for scrambled eggs…I could scramble those puppies up in no time flat.

Some egg-making – though – just shouldn’t be abbreviated. And, if you ask Gordon Ramsay, there’s really only one RIGHT way to make perfect Scrambled Eggs. And, it takes a little extra time.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs (not X) (serves 1 – test kitchen just me today)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Don’t worry about the fact that you only have a 1.5q sauce pot – it’s the perfect thing for perfect scrambled eggs
  2. Let the pot cool before soaking it to clean – soaking a hot pot is bad. Just is.
  3. Add whatever testifiers and flavinators you want – but don’t stir anything in – not even salt, pepper etc until the eggs are almost completely done

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Eggs – you can buy organic if you must, but you know that cost like 2X non-organic ones
  • 1 Pat of Butter – just like a TBSP
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used to use Port Salut….but, for these eggs, a harder, sharper cheese is really better)

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan on the stove, crack the two eggs and throw in the butter

perfect scrambled eggs gordon ramsay

Do Not Scramble B4 Putting In To Pot

2. Turn burner heat up to Medium and begin stirring the eggs and butter in small stirring circles (if you have a Power Burner…Med/Low is A OK)

scrambled eggs Gordon Ramsay perfect

G Ramsay Describes Technique as similar to making Risotto

3. The butter will melt and the eggs will come together as you continue to stir

scrambled eggs breakfast vegetarian

C, it’s working….

4. Once the eggs begin to scramble – I O W begin to form eggy scrambly pieces – remove the pot from the heat…but keep stirring

perfect scramble eggs vegetarian breakfast

D trick is the stirring – Scrambling Away – Gently – Remove from Heat

5. As the pot loses heat, return it to the burner, still at about medium and continue to stir

6. Keep on active burner just long enough to reheat the pot…then remove it ASAP! Keep Stirring

scramble breakfast all -clad pot

B patient – Scrambling Away! Sorta Shocking How Well This Works

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the eggs reach the desired consistency. Normally, I prefer a drier scrambled egg…but with this technique, a more creamy, grits-like consistency works better

NOTE: Gordon Ramsay stirs in some creme fraiche and some chives…but you really don’t need the creme fraiche and chives just make it a very expensive scrambled egg dish – unless you have some on hand.

8. Serve topped with some lovely grated sharp cheddar cheese

perfect eggs

Just perfect

There are great occasions for abbreviations. Like texting your BFF.  There’s also the times you just need to speak in code – my roommate from college, PKO used abbreviated, acronym-speak well before the first text was sent. Never did figure out what she was saying…

But, BTW, when you want the perfect scrambled eggs. you need to take your time and not try to make them ASAP.

Secret Mushrooms: Thanksgiving Stuffing with Morels

stuffing thanksgiving morel mushroom

Perfect Thanksgiving Plate

Everyone has a food or two that they just won’t eat. I, for example, do not eat raisins (yes, I eat grapes) or chopped coconut. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an occasional Pina Colada and am happy to drink coconut milk. I just can’t stand the texture of raisins or raw coconut – no macaroons for me.

Some time ago, I was dating someone who refused to eat mushrooms of any kind. Seriously? We were on the verge of spending Thanksgiving together and his aversion to mushrooms put me in quite a conundrum. I mean, I had been making the Turkey and Stuffing for Friends-Giving since I was in college and had really perfected it.

And part of that perfection is morel mushrooms, the bacon of the mushroom family, and a key ingredient in my Thanksgiving stuffing. I had a difficult decision to make….Eliminate the mushrooms? Make two separate batches of stuffing? Or, just don’t tell him and hope for the best.

Hmmmmm….This particular boyfriend had a career where knowing things and figuring things out were sort of important. Like part of his job and such.

Bacon Mushroom

Bacon Mushroom

What he might not have known is that Morels are prized by gourmet chefs around the world. In the US, they are known by many names including Hickory Chickens, Molly Moochers, Merkels and even Miracles. In our house growing up, we called them Bacon Mushrooms because of their smoky, rich flavor.

So, I couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving without morel mushrooms…I took the risk and I put them in and didn’t say anything. What? Like you’ve never done that?

Old School Stuffing with a Bacon-y Twist (serves 8)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. You can make this the night before to save counter space and pots and pans on day of
  2. Dried morel mushrooms are tricky to find…But, Eve’s Garden on West 23rd St usually has them
  3. You can never have enough chicken stock on Thanksgiving

Ingredients:

  • pepperidge farm stuffing thanksgiving morel mushrooms

    Stuff It

    2 Medium Onions – diced

  • 4 – 6 Celery Stalks, peeled and diced
  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 1/4 Cup of Rosemary – chopped small
  • 4 Slices Wheat Bread – cubed
  • 4 Slices Portugese or White Bread – cubed
  • 1 Bag Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing
  • 1 oz Dried Morel Mushrooms
  • 1 Box of Chicken Stock
  • Salt and Pepper

1. The night or two nights before, cube the white and wheat bread. Put into a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap. Poke some holes in the wrap and set aside. This will stale up the bread a bit. You can also just toast the cubed bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes to crust it up a bit.

stuffing bread thanksgiving

Staling Up the Bread

2. Put the dried morel mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover with chicken stock to rehydrate – this takes about an hour or less. I usually buy Whole Foods 365 brand Chicken Stock – it’s not any more expensive and very good.

3. Preparation – so important. Dice the onions and celery and finely chop the rosemary leaves.

4. Remove the morels from the chicken stock and rinse gently to remove any residual dirt

morel mushrooms thanksgiving stuffing

Rehydrated and Gently Rinsed Morels

5. Chop the morels into small pieces

dinner stuffing mise en place

Mise En Place – critical to a successful Thanksgiving

6. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt two sticks of butter – I use salted and then I don’t need to add more salt later

thanksgiving stuffing butter

Butter makes it Better

7. Add the onions, stir for about 2 mins and then add celery and cook until softened – about :10 minutes. You want the celery to maintain some of its crunch.

stuffing celery onions butter

Add onions about a minute or two before celery

8. Add the chopped rosemary and morel mushrooms and stir to combine

stuffing recipe thanksgiving

Add the rosemary and stir until fragrant

stuffing dinner recipe thanksgiving

Gently stir in the Magic Morels – Tastes Like Bacon

9. Add salt and pepper to taste – if you use salted butter and/or chicken stock with sodium, be sparing in any addition of salt

10. Pour in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and stir to combine and warm through

11. In a large bowl, combine 1 bag of Pepperidge Farms Herbed Stuffing and the cubed, staled bread

12. In stages…like 1/2 cup at a time…pour the buttery, oniony, celery, morel-y, rosemary, chicken stock-y mixture over the stuffing/cubed bread mixture.

Thanksgiving stuffing morel mushrooms

Add moisture in stages – you don’t want it soggy

13. Gently fold together the ingredients until moistened and combined. You don’t want the mixture to be soggy…especially if you are going to stuff your bird. The stuffing will absorb the juices from the turkey during the roasting process

14. Allow to cool entirely before stuffing in the bird. You can choose not to stuff the bird…but will miss out on the flavorization that the turkey juices provides to the stuffing

thanksgiving stuffing recipe

I stuff the top and bottom of the bird

15. Depending upon size of your bird, you will have extra stuffing. Put this extra in a baking dish and reheat prior to serving. You may need to add a little extra chicken stock to keep it moist and delicious. Remember anything not stuffed in the bird won’t benefit from the turkey juices.

Thanksgiving that year was a big success. The boyfriend ate the stuffing and never caught on to the secret mushrooms. I’m not saying lying is a good thing – it’s not. But, I just couldn’t give up my bacon-y morel mushrooms. Some secrets are worth keeping.

For other Thanksgiving Day tips see Talkin’ Turkey….

Indulgences – who am I to say no?

Listen. Not the best advice. But today I had a croissant for breakfast and cashews for lunch.
So when the waitress comped the donut-wich – like a chipwich with cinnamon donuts instead of cookies – for dessert tonight, who was I to say no?!?
Amazing. Wrong. And delicious at Umami burger. Where, bee-tee-dubs it’s #truffleseason.

20131112-204416.jpg

Ending the Curse of the Turanos: Tuscan Grilled Chicken

tuscan chicken on the grill

Better to offer a chicken to Italians…Never send a fish

My people are Italian….like Sicilian Italian Our people take vendetta seriously – did you see The Godfather? Family feuds are way more intense than Hatfield-McCoy.

Because we are innately aware of our peoples’ tendency toward revenge, my brothers and I grew up in fear of the Turano family. See, in the 1930s our great uncles – Gasper aka ‘Cap’ and Vincent married sisters – not just any sisters, Turano sisters. Uncle Cap, the eldest, led the way – the oldest must marry first in traditional Italian families. Vincent, the second son, followed shortly thereafter with his own Turano bride.

italian family feast chicken

Sal and Grandma – not a Turano. and my brother, no Turano blood.

It would have naturally followed that my grandfather, Salvatore – the youngest – would then choose one of the two remaining Turano sisters as his wife…and both families urged him to do so. Sal, as he was known, would, however, buck this trend and spurn the Turano girls. He instead married his high school girlfriend, my grandmother.

Ever since Sal made the choice to disregard tradition, the Turanos looked at us funny. Funny, like with evil, spell-casting glares, slanty eyes and stuff. We felt their hatred and sensed that they were cursing us behind closed doors. We blamed mysterious happenings throughout our lives on the Turanos…a bike went missing, a pet passed away, the car ran out of gas…must be the effing Turanos.

But, now, 80 years since Sal’s jilting of the Turano sisters…It’s time to bury the hatchet and end our fear of the effing Turanos. So, I offer the descendants of Cap and Vincent, (some of whom are kind enough to read this blog) an olive branch….a feast from a neutral region of Italy…Tuscan Grilled Chicken.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken (serves 8)

Tiny apartment tips:

  1. You could do this in your apt…just use a much smaller (3lb ish) chicken
  2. Open windows and doors to vent during grilling as the chicken should and will smoke up
  3. Yes, the butcher at Food Emporium, Whole Foods etc WILL de-backbone the chicken for you. Just ask.
  4. Plan ahead…chicken needs to marinate for at least 4 hours, though I’d recommend marinating overnight

Ingredients

  • rosemary lemon chicken on grill

    Always mise en place. Always.

    2 4-5lb whole chickens

  • 2/3 Cups Olive Oil – you can order DiGiovanna Olive Oil online – that’d really get the Turanos mad….
  • Lemon Zest from 4 lemons
  • 2/3 Cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic = about 5ish cloves
  • 2 TBSP minced rosemary leaves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

1. Ask the butcher to remove the backbone from the chickens and flatten them. We actually bought Perdue wrapped chickens and took them to the butcher who gladly helped us out. Put the flattened birds into baking dishes.

2. Sprinkle the chickens with salt on both sides – don’t be shy here, the salt will help crisp up the skin

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and 3 tsp of pepper

tuscan lemon marinated chicken

Green-y, Lemon-y, Garlic-y marinade

4. Pour the marinade over both sides of the chickens

chicken tuscan marinade

Marinating

5. Cover the chickens with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

wolf range stove dinner chicken

Guest-Chefing and a Wolf Oven – bonus

7. Heat a gas grill to low heat

8. Remove the marinated chickens from the fridge and temperate for at least :15 mins

9. Spray the grill with non-stick spray

10. Place the chickens on the grill breast-side up

chicken on grill flattened

Breast side up…lefty is a little slanty

11. Weight down the chickens with a heavy pan or baking dish to ensure that the entire surface of the bird is in contact with grill

weighted down flattened chicken on grill

We weighted lefty with a baking dish. Righty was weighted down with a cast iron skillet

12. Cook for :20minutes – leave the lid of the grill open as it’s a smoky deal

13. Flip the bird (not at the Turanos) – literally and re-weight down so that the entire breast-side is in contact with the grill surface

tuscan grilled flattened chicken

Our two little guys flipped

the flipping is hard

the flipping is hard

14. Cook for another :20 minutes

15. Transfer the browned birds to a baking dish and bake in the oven for :15 more minutes to ensure bird is wholly cooked.

16. Remove the birds from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, cover in tin foil and let rest for :15 mins before slicing

17. Slice and serve

tuscan chicken on grill

Sliced and ready

I hope that enough time has passed to heal the relationship between us and the effing Turanos. And I hope they see this chicken as the olive branch they may have been waiting for.

That said….when eerie things happen, I still have a thought in the back of my head, that it just could be the curse of the effing Turanos.