Saturday, March 26, 2016

Soup or stew?

It's finally spring! There has been gorgeous days with endless sunshine balanced with dreadful rainy ones that are unseasonably chilly. For days where I happily stay indoors with Luna, I enjoy one of my homemade soups (that always turn out more like a stew) while watching lightning storms. 

I have two stewy soup recipes to share with y'all. The first one is actually a special case of red beans leftovers remade with lots of local veggies, such as okra and kale. The second is my rendition of cabbage soup. I used my tomato sauce as a base, so it's a little reminiscent of Chinese style borscht soup. And though I didn't make it to the parades this year to catch my own cabbage, I think I made up for it by serving with homemade flax Irish soda bread. 

Soups/stews are easy because once you prepare everything, you just toss it all together in a pot and let it do its own thing while you can do yours. I'm all about the low maintenance cooking. I hope you enjoy these hearty recipes to get you through until the rain clouds part and the sun shines brightly again! 

Red beans okra kale stew (serves 4)
1 cup cooked red beans (feel free to use a can of Blue Runner beans)
4 oz chicken, sliced into chunks 
4 oz chicken sausage, sliced uinto chunks 
1 cup kale, chopped
1 cup okra, chopped
1/2 cup kitchen vegetable scraps, chopped (I used carrots, celery, tomato, and onion) 
1 cup vegetable / chicken broth 
2 oz canola oil
1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama

1. In a saucepan, sautee chicken and sausage in canola oil until browned. 
2. Add the vegetable scraps and kale.
3. Once everything is sizzling, add the okra, red beans, and broth. 
4. Bring to a low boil and allow to simmer for at least thirty minutes to an hour. Add Slap Ya Mama.
5. If stew is too thick, add more water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat once desired consistency is reached. 

Creole cabbage soup (serves 4-6)
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 red potatoes, chopped 
1 cup tomato sauce 
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama

1. In a pot, allow butter to melt. Brown garlic. 
2. Toss in cabbage and mix thoroughly.
3. Once sizzling, stir in tomato sauce and vegetable broth. Bring to a low boil.
4. Add carrots, potatoes, and bay leaves. 
5. Allow soup to simmer for at least 2 hours. Mix once every 20-30 minutes. 
6. If soup is too thick, add more water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat once desired consistency is reached. 
7. Serve with a side of Irish soda bread! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Farm fresh salad

A few days ago, I was heading towards Camp Hope out in Arabi. As I was pulling up, I saw a familiar face. It was Jimmy of Parish Farms walking his dog. I met him a year ago when I had my internship rotation at Hollygrove Farmers Market and he was delivering his salad mixes and arugula. Since then, I've always returned to Hollygrove for the arugula because that's the only place where I can get the spicy mature green (the supermarket boxes taste bland after you try his).

I waved Jimmy down and he offered to give me the "50 cents tour" of his plots in the area. He took a knife and a large bag out of his little pick-up and I followed him around his after-rain muddy half wild rows. As he chopped me pounds of broccoli, several types/colors of romaine, baby bibb, frisee, and what seemed like endless amounts of his famous sharp peppery arugula, we chatted extensively about the health of our country and the obesity epidemic. At the end of walking through five out of seven plots, I had a hefty bag of garden fresh greens that I could not wait to go home, rinse off and eat. I thanked him for his generosity and he encouraged me to call him whenever I was in the area in the late afternoon because he has so much produce that he may not be able to sell, but would love to share so it won't go to waste.

After lots of rinsing and drying, Henok put together a green mix with all the fresh salad greens we got from Farmer Jimmy. He tossed it with fresh Ponchatoula strawberries and cherry tomatoes from the Crescent City Farmers Market, while I roasted carrots with honey and baby portobello mushrooms with balsamic vinegar. They all went together with some pecans, walnuts, and I topped it off with mozzarella pearls. With a drizzle of my homemade Creole mustard vinaigrette and a side of rosemary (fresh from volunteering with Edible Schoolyard) biscuit pancake, oh goodness, what a perfect lunch!

Farm fresh salad (serves 4)
2 cups mixed lettuce
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup frisee
1 dz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 dz strawberries, sliced 
1/2 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts) 
6 carrots, sliced and roasted with olive oil and honey at 400F for 15 min
1 dz baby portobello mushrooms, roasted with olive oil and balsamic vinegar at 400F for 15 min
1/3 cup mozzarella balls

1. Prepare all ingredients 
2. Toss together and serve 

Creole mustard vinaigrette (serves 4)
1 tbs Creole mustard
4 tbs olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp black pepper 
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Mix all ingredients 
2. Drizzle over or toss with salad 

... still working on my biscuit shaping, hence biscuit pancake!