Sunday, April 24, 2005

Spring Stuffing with Leeks & Mushrooms

There's no messing with Thanksgiving's favorite stuffing, no-sir-ee. I only-only-only make the same turkey dressing that my mom and her mom made. But other times of the year? I'm happy to experiment with other recipes. Here, the stuffing is lightened for spring, it's packed with celery, leeks and mushrooms. It's easy enough for a weeknight, perfectly delicious for a holiday meal. My last notes read, "VVVG" (that's code for Very Very Good) and "Make More Often!"

Spring Stuffing with Leeks & Mushrooms ♥ KitchenParade.com, lighter for spring, perfect with roast or rotisserie chicken.

Many families happily stuff with tradition at Thanksgiving.

I love to try new dishes. But on the fourth Thursday in November, there’s no debate or deliberation: no recipe but my mother’s will do. And Mom’s recipe came from her mother! Sausage Stuffing it will be, no other!

Is our family recipe so special? Not really. It starts with pork sausage so is quite rich. It has the requisite onion, celery, sage and thyme.

No peppers, fruit or cornbread: none of the must-have ingredients in other families’ traditions.

But it’s April not November. The leaves are turning green not drifting down. So let’s experiment now, without risk of dashing long-held tradition.

For an easy weekend supper, serve SPRING STUFFING with a roasted chicken. Since chicken roasts at a high temperature for an hour, add the stuffing’s baking dish to the oven for only the last 30 minutes or so. Even then, watch carefully to avoid burning.

Or here’s another idea. Look for a whole turkey breast, then mound the stuffing beneath the meat before roasting. The turkey juice will drip into the stuffing – delicious.

ALANNA's TIPS Any stuffing will turn into a gelatinous mess when over-cooked so use your heating time judiciously. For this stuffing, I am partial to a whole-grain bread, My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe is excellent, so is the Healthnut bread from Arnold/Brownberry. Just be sure to add the bread all at once, not a few pieces at a time, so each piece gets the chance to soak up the eggy liquid. Leeks are a half-pain to rinse and cut up on a busy worknight. I have great luck with frozen leeks from Trader Joe's and add them to the skillet still frozen. They do need a little chopping once they're softened a bit, but still, the convenience is appreciated. Taste-wise, fresh herbs such as parsley brighten the flavors but also add color to an otherwise distinctively "brown" food. Or just eat with your eyes closed! Or by candlelight! Serve the stuffing with Slow Cooker Turkey Breast or Fast Roast Chicken.

SPRING STUFFING with LEEKS & MUSHROOMS

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Makes 5 cups
  • 5 slices (about 8oz/225g) heavy whole-grain bread, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, cleaned, white and light-green parts only cut into half moons (see how to clean leeks)
  • 3 ribs celery, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 16 ounces (454g) fresh mushrooms, stems trimmed, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or other herbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Arrange the bread cubes in single layer on baking sheet. Place in 350F/175C oven without preheating. Dry the cubes until slightly toasted, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a Dutch oven on medium high, cook butter until foamy. Add the leeks, celery and mushrooms as they’re prepped, stirring in each addition to coat with fat. Stirring often, sauté until soft and golden. Add garlic, cook 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in sage, thyme and parsley and cook about 1 minute.

Separately, whisk the eggs, broth and salt and pepper in a large bowl, then fold in the bread cubes. Turn the egg/bread mixture into the vegetables, stirring just until combined. Reduce heat to medium, cook 4 – 5 minutes until the egg cooks and the liquid is nearly absorbed.

Serve immediately.

Alternatively, transfer to greased baking dish, refrigerate and reheat at 350F/180C 30 – 45 minutes until heated through.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes 1/2 cup: 123 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 48mg Cholesterol; 451mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 3g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 4 This recipe has been "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat, carbs and portion size and increases in low-to-no-calorie flavorings and nutrient- and fiber-rich vegetables.

More Savory Side Dishes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits Red Rice with Tomatoes

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!




Sunday, April 10, 2005

Three Easy Vegetables

The Recipes: Three easy vegetables recipes for weeknight suppers, Roasted Cauliflower, Lemon Asparagus and Honey Carrots, each one cooked with a different method.

The Conversation: What if it takes a bit of butter or sugar to encourage kids to eat their vegetables?

Three Easy Vegetables ♥ KitchenParade.com, Roasted Cauliflower, Honey Carrots & Lemon Asparagus

My mom was a young mother during the 1960s. In many ways, she was a woman before her time. Her Kitchen Parade columns are now yellow and tattered. But a frequent topic, teenage nutrition, would fit the agenda of any 2005 food magazine.

Long before food pyramids and obesity crises, Mom's meals included one, two or even three vegetables. And they were all delicious.

No wonder! Each one was topped with a hefty pat of butter!

My own vegetable style is purist: savor vegetables for their own subtle flavors without adornment or distraction from butter or sugar.

But if a bit of butter or sugar is encouragement enough for kids to try and enjoy vegetables, it’s a start, right?

With that in mind, here are a trio of kid-tested vegetables, one steamed, one roasted, one boiled.

Vegetables! Readers readers know I love 'em and in fact, I'm known as much as the "veggie evangelist" at A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables, as I am for Kitchen Parade, this my food and recipe column.

The funny thing is, this column was written just a couple of weeks before I started A Veggie Venture and became completely obsessed by vegetables!

I've learned so-so-so much about vegetables, including how a vegetable is trimmed and how it's cooked affect our experiences with portion size, whether the serving feels generous or skimpy.

First, it pays to pay attention to how much of a vegetable goes to waste. Start with a pound of asparagus, about 46% of the weight is lost to the woody ends; with cauliflower, about 25% is in the heavy leaves and core; with carrots, about 21% is lost when trimming the tops and peeling the carrots. (Yes, I really have tracked this so often over the years, now, I have real insight into how much goes into the compost bowl.)

Second, steaming and boiling cooks vegetables without shrinking (in fact, adds water weight to the vegetables) but roasting, perhaps the favorite way to cook vegetables, shrinks vegetables, cooking off much of the water weight to concentrate flavors. (Want to learn more? Check out How to Roast Vegetables.)

Third, I've learned to standardize serving sizes for vegetables. For example, I recently found a recipe calling for two pounds of carrots to feed four people. Wow! Two pounds of carrots would easily serves eight, not four, well, unless the four people are rabbits or really hungry. Since 2005, my rule of thumb is that a pound of vegetables (that's 454g) serves four. Some times, especially with vegetables that shrink or with potatoes, when a pound of vegetables for four feels skimpy but nine out of ten times, it's right on, something to count on.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Hands-on time: 5 minutes + occasional stirring
Time to table: 50 minutes
Serves 4
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, about 2 pounds (900g), trimmed, cored and cut in small florets

Set oven to 425F/220C. Stir together all the ingredients in large bowl until the cauliflower is uniformly coated with oil. Transfer to baking sheet in a single layer, use two sheets if needed, arranging the florets cut-side down. Roast for 35 – 45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes for the last 15 minutes, until cauliflower is golden to dark brown but not burned.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes trimmed and cored cauliflower loses 25% of its weight, leaving 1-1/2 pounds edible cauliflower that will shrink in size during the roasting process: 101 Calories; 7g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 50mg Sodium; 9g Carb; 4g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 3

LEMON ASPARAGUS

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 4 generous servings
  • 1 pound (454g) fresh asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon is likely enough)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the woody portion at the bottom of each asparagus spear and discard. (There's so much waste with asparagus! Those woody ends account for about 46% of the purchased weight.) Place in a vertical steamer over boiling water for 5 – 8 minutes. Transfer to serving dish, toss with butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

No Asparagus Steamer? No problem. Just cook the asparagus in the microwave, here's how.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes asparagus loses 46% of its weight to woody ends, leaving just 8.8 ounces of edible spears: 38 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 7mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 1g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 2

HONEY CARROTS

Hands-on time: 8 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 8 generous servings, easily halved
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 pounds carrots (sorry, frozen and so-called "baby" carrots don't work)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water and salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, peel the carrots. Cut off and discard the ends, then cut the carrots into bite-size pieces on the diagonal. Add the carrots to boiling water, cover and cook 15 minutes or until just beginning to soften. Drain, then stir in honey and cilantro. Cover and let rest 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving, assumes carrots lose 21% of their weight in trimming and peeling: 52 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 61mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 3g Fiber; 9g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points .5 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 3


More Vegetable Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Caraway Cabbage Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Grilled Vegetables in Foil

Quick Links to This Page

(for easy bookmarking and searching)

Friday, April 8, 2005

Everyday-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup

One of spring's great classics is a steaming bowl of asparagus soup. This is the recipe I've followed for many years, in part because it's so simple, in part because I change the recipe, just slightly, to move from an everyday and almost rustic asparagus soup to a richer, smoother, more refined and elegant soup made to impress. This one's a keeper!

Everyday-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup, one recipe for either rustic or refined asparagus soup. ~ Weight Watchers PointsPlus 3 ~ KitchenParade.com


COMPLIMENTS!
"Seriously yummy!" ~ Amy
"Just made this for my sick boyfriend. He loved it!" ~ Sonia
"I love food-saving recipes, but they are rarely as tasty as this one." ~ Cordel
"... it was delicious!" ~ Stephanie via Facebook
"My first time making asparagus soup and I found the perfect recipe ..." ~ LeeAnn


A few years back, a foodie friend and I shared a patio supper with a new acquaintance. The spring night was unseasonably warm and the conversation soon turned familiar.

When the woman boasted about her husband’s kitchen prowess, we asked if he had a specialty. Soup! she answered and we were suitably impressed.

She elaborated then, with apparently genuine enthusiasm, that the so-called specialty entailed nothing more than opening a can.

Now, please, before making assumptions about food snobs, please know that my sister and I were raised on Campbell’s (tomato and mushroom) and that my pantry always includes several cans of both.

But homemade soup is so easy – and fast and healthful – to make, I wonder, really, why that’s so.

If you’ve not made soup for awhile, start with EVERYDAY-TO-ELEGANT ASPARAGUS SOUP, one version for comfort food on a weeknight, the other to impress friends on the weekend.

Homemade Crème Fraîche

Velvet-textured crème fraîche (pronounced krem-fresh) is easy to make at home! Simply stir two tablespoons of buttermilk into a cup of cream. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 8 – 24 hours or until it thickens. Unlike cream, crème fraîche can be boiled without curdling.

ALANNA's TIPS This is a good use for fat spears of asparagus, save the skinny spears for a Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad or Stir-Fried Shrimp with Asparagus. When asparagus is plentiful, make a double batch of soup, one for the freezer. If you’re in a rush, pre-heat the chicken broth in the microwave. For a very spare and simple soup, skip the yogurt, crème fraîche or cream entirely. Don't skip the balsamic vinegar, somehow it's the perfect contrast for the earthy asparagus. I'm always disappointed when asparagus soup turns out a pale, drab green versus the bright asparagus green of the quick-cooked spears. To bring back some of the green, drop in a handful of fresh spinach leaves to cook for just a minute or two before puréeing.

EVERYDAY-TO-ELEGANT
ASPARAGUS SOUP

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 5 cups
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for Elegant: 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2-1/2 pounds asparagus
  • 5 cups chicken broth or Homemade Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 cup non-fat yogurt or buttermilk (Elegant: crème fraîche or cream)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar (don't skip)

Melt butter over medium high in a large pot or Dutch oven. Meanwhile, chop onion and celery, add to butter and sauté until golden, stirring often.

Meanwhile, cut off and discard the woody ends from asparagus, here's how (Step-by-Step Photos & Video). There's a rhythm! Cut the remaining spears into one-inch lengths. (For Elegant: Cut off top inch or so of each spear. Separately, steam until almost cooked and reserve for garnish.)

Sauté the asparagus for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer about 20 minutes or until asparagus is soft.

Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender or, in batches, in a blender. (For Elegant: Purée, then press through a strainer.) If making ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate or freeze. Before serving, reheat and continue.

Stir in yogurt or buttermilk. (For Elegant: stir in crème fraîche or cream.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with a splash of vinegar. (For Elegant: Top bowls with steamed tips, then a dollop of crème fraîche or a swirl of cream.)

NUTRITION INFORMATION EVERYDAY Per Cup: 110 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 17g Carb; 5g Fiber; 929mg Sodium; 7mg Cholesterol; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 This recipe has been "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat and portion size and increases in fiber- and nutrient-rich vegetables.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite soup recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

CAN YOU MAKE SOUP
FROM THE WOODY ENDS OF ASPARAGUS?

Frugal cooks know that one good way to save money on groceries is to use every last bit of the food we buy, never wasting a thing. I pay real attention to the "real cost" of vegetables, measuring what's edible, what goes to waste. (Okay, I know that composting would prevent waste entirely. But I'm not there yet and suspect that others aren't either. UPDATE We're composting! Check out My Most-Used Kitchen Tool.)

Much to my surprise, asparagus are one of the most wasteful vegetables! By snapping off the woody ends, we throw away 40-50% of the spears. This means that if we're paying $2 or $3 or even $4 for a pound of asparagus, our "real cost" is far higher than obvious.

But then I thought, can we use the woody ends for asparagus soup? So I saved the ends from three big bunches of asparagus and made soup. Voila! Very little waste!

Now know this. I wouldn't serve asparagus soup made from the woody ends to guests: it's "very rustic" and can be a little bit fibrous, depending on the asparagus. But it is a technique to try, see if it works for you!


More Recipes for Spring Asparagus

(hover for description, click for a recipe)
Stir-Fried Shrimp with Asparagus Roasted Salmon & Asparagus Asparagus Custard Tart

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Quick Links to This Page

(for easy bookmarking and searching)
~ Homemade Crème Fraîche ~





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