Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Watercress and Spinach Soup

It’s starting to get cold out. I don’t know about you, but this makes me crave soup! My Godmother makes delicious soups and two of my favorites are her watercress soup and her spinach soup, with just a splash of lemon.
She always talked about how important the splash of lemon at the end was, and it is! If you don’t believe us, taste the soup pre-lemon, then post-lemon and I dare you to disagree! J
 2-3 Servings

2 Tbsp butter

1 large Russet potato, peeled and diced
3 green onion sprigs, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups chicken broth
6 oz fresh watercress - leaves and tender stems only
1 lb fresh spinach, chopped

1/4 cup minced flat leaf Italian parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice from ½ lemon
Plain Greek yogurt (or sourcream)

Over med-high heat, melt butter in a large pot. Add potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Add green onions and garlic. Sautee for about 2-3 minutes. Add broth and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 more minutes.

Add watercress, spinach and parsley. Mix together until wilted.  Puree in a blender until smooth. Return to pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice.  

Serve immediately with a dollop or drizzle of yogurt. Enjoy with a sliced baguette or grilled Panini sandwich.

Note: In order to keep the bright green color of the soup, I recommend serving immediately. The longer it sat on my stove top the more brown it turned.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Croatian Swiss Chard and Potatoes (Blitva)

While were in Croatia, we often ate this traditional Dalmatian side dish, Blitva.  You could find it on the menu of any Dalmatian restaurant accompanying grilled fresh fish. Unfortunately, some of the dishes we had were lacking flavor due to over boiling the vegetables. Since I love these two vegetables, I decided to do it my way and kick the flavor up a notch.
To increase the flavor, I steamed the potatoes, instead of boiling, and sautéed the chard in garlic and red pepper flakes with a splash of apple cider vinegar.

2 large red skinned potatoes, diced
A large bunch of chard (I used red chard), rinsed and roughly chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, pressed or crushed
Few dashes of crushed red pepper flakes
A few drizzles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
A dash of apple cider vinegar
Salt, season to taste

Over the stovetop, steam diced potatoes for about 15 minutes, until fork tender. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add chopped chard. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, until wilted. Add apple cider vinegar and season with salt, to taste. Add potatoes and stir to combine.

Serve with your favorite grilled fish.

If you like this dish, try the Italian version, Spicy Greens and Bean, of this dish here.

Note: The potatoes are pink because the red chard releases the pink color from its red stems. You can use regual Swish chard with white stems too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chicken with Mediterranean Couscous

This dish took less than 30 minutes to make. It was colorful and full of flavor. I love marinating chicken in Italian salad dressing overnight because it's so easy and provides lots of flavor the next day.
I package of couscous (I used a box of garlic and olive oil flavor)
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
¼ cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and diced
¼ cup artichoke hearts in oil, drained and diced
½ cup Mozzarella cheese pearls
2 Tbsp minced fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

Italian Chicken:
2 chicken breasts
Italian salad dressing
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
In a large bag or bowl, add chicken and cover with salad dressing. Marinate overnight.

Cook couscous according to directions on packaging. Stir in remaining ingredients. Set aside and cook chicken.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium frying pan, heat a drizzle of EVOO over high heat. Once it starts to smoke and ripple, add chicken and brown on both sides for 1-2 minutes. Move chicken to oven and cook for 15 minutes, or until cooked all the way through so no longer pink in the middle and juices run clear.

To plate, make a bed of couscous and top with chicken sliced and fanned on top.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chorizo Stuffed Chile Relleno Casserole

Since we weren’t going to be around for Thanksgiving, I wanted to have an early celebration and throw a big brunch for my friends. I made several egg casserole/frittatas, but this one stood out as the crowd favorite. 
If you’re having guests in town for the holidays, I’d recommend this simple and quick dish as a part of your brunch menu.
1 chorizo sausage link (1 lb)
1 large can of whole roasted chile rellenos (about 10-12 peppers)
6 eggs
¼ cup milk
A dash of Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated pepper Jack cheese

Remove sausage from casing and into frying pan. Over med-high heat, cook sausage through. Using a spoon, carefully stuff chile peppers. Place stuffed peppers onto a greased baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs with milk, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper. Pour over chiles into dish. Cover with shredded cheese.

Bake on 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the middle is set. Let casserole rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into squares.

Top with sliced avocado and serve with salsa.


Blueberry Bread Pudding

I found that people typically really like bread pudding or won’t touch the stuff. I usually fall into the latter category, but decided to give it another shot. Recently, I made a big brunch for some friends and since I’m not a huge breakfast or sweets person, I wasn’t sure what to make for “dessert”. I thought about pancakes and French toast, but decided it was too much work and couldn’t really prepare beforehand.
I settled on the bread pudding because it was easy. I could make it the night before and finish baking it right before everyone arrived. Even my friend who said she didn’t like bread pudding, ended up going home with the recipe. This dish was devoured by the end of the day! I’m looking forward to making it again around Christmas when family is in town.
Crispy on top and warm in the middle.
10-12 servings

3 eggs
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Zest from one lemon
2 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 loaf (1 lb) French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir in frozen blueberries. Stir in bread cubes; let stand for 15 minutes or until bread is softened. I made mine the night before and then baked it the next day.

Transfer to a greased 13” x 9” baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Top with fresh blueberries and serve with fresh whipped cream or maple syrup.