Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Pure Comfort Food! Gnocchi with Peas, Asparagus and Gorgonzola Sauce

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Pure Comfort Food! Gnocchi with Peas, Asparagus and Gorgonzola Sauce

 

IMG_3885[1]Well, yes it is true that so many of us grow weary and discouraged on FB these days given the chaos of our present political challenges. Taking time out from posting alarms and alerts, some of us eventually resort to alternating posts between our opinions and activism, with Comic Relief (funny cartoons or snarky wit), Beauty (flowers and scenery), Cutsies (kittens, puppies and babies) and  FOOD! (WHAT WE ARE HAVING FOR DINNER!).

Last night I fled to my kitchenette (only 6 inches away from my tiny apartment living room) to free my mind and heart from stress, and to dive wholeheartedly with my hungry tummy into pure comfort and creativity with an awesome Italian recipe inspired by Lidia Bastianich,  I say “inspired by” because she started the whole thing off in her recipe book, but I, Imdependent  and renegade Cooker myself, always have to tweak a recipe to make it mine, ALL MINE! So to be fair, let’s maybe say it was a winning “collaboration”,

When I posted the above picture on FB for good cheer, it must have provided some much needed comfort as more people jumped into my post with comments about this than about anything  elseI have posted all week. Several even sent me private messages asking (begging) for the recipe. Which of course I promised to do…what else are friends for? So wipe your chins dear salivators !…here we go… feel free to make it yours too with your own tweaks.

Ingredients:

1 box/pkg of gnocchi

1 10 oz pjg of frozen peas, defrosted)

5 thin stalks of asparagus, steamed and cut into thirds

4 or 5 small cocktail tomatoes, seeds squeezed out and quartered

1/2 heavy crème OR half n  half OR evaporated mil

1 cup of chicken broth

2 tablespoons of butter salted or non salted

6 oz of crumbled gorgonzola

a dash of garlic powder, a dash of Italian herb blend (I used Penzys Tuscan blend)

a little squeesze..drops really to taste…of lemon. Go very easy on this to taste

salt and pepper to taste

A BIG SOUP MUG and a BIG SPOON

**(Don’t forget a glass of rose (not red! not white!) wine to accompany. (Red is too strong, white is too “white”…I cook with complementary colors..there is enough white in this sauce)

*** Put on some nice music. Preferably by Josh Groban singing in Italian. Shut off the news on tv!

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Preparation:

Boil the gnocchi according to the instructions of the box (Lidia makes her OWN gnocchi from scratch. Not me…one of my ingenious creative tweaks). Drain and set aside

Saute the butter (you can add a little more if you want.) in a large frying pan with  higher sides. When melted, add the combined milk and broth and dash of herbal blend and bring to a boil, then lower heat and let it cook for about 8 minutes to thicken a bit..sort of..stirring often. DO NOT burn or rapid boil and bubble (trouble!).

Add the gorgonzola and stir to melt. Taste and season to your liking.,, salt and pepper, a tiny squeeze of lemon (be careful here) and a dash of garlic powder.

Add the peas, asparagus and cocktail tomatoes and stir.

FINALLY,  add the gnocchi to coat completely.

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IMPORTANT ! Take a picture and post it on FB so your friends can drool, leave lots of comments and then send them the link to this recipe on my blog!

Enjoy!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit a la “The Cook” on https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

***Picture with my granddaughter Giana who is now 11 years old. ( I am the same age as I was then).

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Tempting Tomato/Eggplant/ Basil Teasers (orig. 2013)

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Tempting Tomato/Eggplant/ Basil Teasers (orig. 2013)

IMG_3443Sometimes (often) my culinary creations are a project which I oversee for an evening, or for several hours in preparation..cooking, writing, listening to music, staying between the table where I work and the stove. At those times, I linger and taste and savor and adjust..playing with my food as it were.

But on other nights, it has to be a little quicker but still…sensuous, savory, satisfying and delicious.  And sometimes it has to be a “light” meal as well..simple and without a lot of other accompaniements.

This is one of my very favorite creations. It is is actually a kind of an appetizer, but I would not have too much patience making up 50 of them for a party. But for a light supper for one or two, perhaps a cup of broth, a little crusty bread and a plateful of these are just perfect. Oh, and don’t forget the wine..a lot rose is my preference.

Ingredients

1 small-medium  narrow eggplant sliced in rounds, fresh basil leaves (or dried basil if necessary), a soft mozzarella sliced in rounds, cocktail tomatoes seeded and opened up, or small plum tomatoes seed and cut in thin rounds, black pitted olives cut in half lengthwise,  1-2 finely minced garlic gloves or garlic powder,  a sprinkling of finely-grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.IMG_3440

Preparation:

Lightly spray heated indoor grill with olive oil. Lightly cook eggplant rounds until just a touch soft/translucent. Set them aside in baking dish, place a tomato slice on each eggplant, a LITTLE minced garlic or a sprinkle of garlic IMG_3441power, then a fresh basil leaf (sprinkle with dried basil if no fresh basil is possible..but fresh is the BEST), top with a mozzarella slice, olive pieces, a sprinkle of ground pepper and a sprinkle of finely grated parmesan.

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Broil until cheese starts to melt and brown..serve.

I like this with a light rose wine. Or the light Gallo Paisano Wine...not fancy..just friendly and simple.

 

 

**** I know I have established that I am not Italiano. However, tomorrow I do start a series at the University in Conversational Italian. I have been listening to the practice cd in the car and repeating musical Italian phrases while I drive..Of course I have read and loved the book “Under The Tuscan Sun” which had me longing for the simple life…but for now my reading/handbook is:                                                                     

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CIAO! 

***If this looks good, don’t forget to click “Like”!

I also invite you to check out my blog   http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com and see what a magical world we live in!

From Christine, The Cook

 

                           

Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Turmeric

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Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Turmeric

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It is COLD in the Northeast USA now and I find that cooking with the WARM spices like curries, turmeric, cayenne keep the bodily  “fires” burning from the inside out for a feeling of warmth and comfort. One of my favorite fast and easy recipes for inner heat and delicious eating is this one. There are many variations on this with an added ingredient here or there but this one so far is the one that works for me, allowing for culinary creativity as I am so inspired.

The price of cauliflower varies widely. Yesterday at Belmont’s it was $4.99 for a head, and $2.99 a head at Shaw’s. Both beautifully fresh and white. Shop wisely and economically!

Although a white vegetable, cauliflower is nutrient rich and the powerful brown/red/orange spices in curry (turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne etc) are warming to the body and digestion, protective and anti-tumor as well. This recipe is a winner…good to prepare ahead and take to a potluck also, serving warm or hot.

Basic ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, cut into flowerettes, olive oil, curry powder and preferred extra spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cumin. IMG_8742

Extra ingredients as desired:

tahini, honey, a good chutney (I use Major Grey’s)

Preparation:

1. Cut cauliflower into flowerettes, place in a large bowl and drizzle with  a tablespoon + of olive oil, tossing to coat well. Sprinkle with curry powder to coat as desired and add a sprinkle of one of the extra spices if preferred. I do ot have a measurement here but go by eye, to color the vegetable. Just remember: you can always ADD but you cannot SUBTRACT an ingredient…be discerning…a little at a time. Sprinkle with a little salt (fingertip-taste…do not overdo!) Toss to coat everything evenly.

IMG_87412. Place on a cooking pan. Bake/Roast at 400 degrees for 15 -20 minutes depending on your oven… turn the flowerettes after that time and bake/roast until done…I like them to turn a slight golden color but do not burn!

3. Serve as is, adjusting for flavor   OR….

4. MY Special touches:

~ when in the serving bowl, I add a teeny bit of honey to taste

~ when in the serving bowl, I add a teeny bit of tahini to coat very lightly

~ when in the personal dish, I add a little bit of mango/raisin chutney if desired

This recipe is open for adjusting to your personal taste and preferences but I assure you, it is delicious and won’t last long in the serving bowl.

Stay warm, inside and out!

From Christine, The Cook

Cranberyy 2

A delicious life has many ingredients! Check my other blogs..

For inspiration: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

For music/the arts: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

For the power to create a good life: http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

 

Crunchy Cranberry Relish, Pie Filling or Simply Scrumptious Snack!

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Crunchy Cranberry Relish, Pie Filling or Simply Scrumptious Snack!

Crunchy Cranberry Relish

Every year at Thanksgiving whether we are cooking for a home celebration or for a communal celebratory pot-luck, our favorite and most-requested recipe cards come out of their safe places tocreate specialties that grace our tables, dazzle our eyes and tickle our taste-buds. But really, why only at the holiday? There are some foods that are so delicious, so healthful and nutritious that we might consider NOT filing the recipes away in that for-holidays-only envelope.  Some are more than worthy to keep front and center and to have ready as a condiment, snack or “wellness-while-eating” food throughout the year.

This recipe for my Crunchy Cranberry Relish is requested each holiday and it is simply splendid! This year I have purchased and frozen a number of bags of fresh cranberries to be able to make this on a regular basis as a treat, a side, a pie filling AND for the wonderful healthful benefits that cranberries offer us, along with the orange, orange peel, cinnamon and nuts, even though it does require a fair amount of sugar to sweeten the tartness of the cranberry, which is significant. In my recipe, I do not give andexact amount for the sugar, for I add it cautiously, tasting along the way until I get the proper balance of sweet and tart that pleases me, which is WAY less than standard recipes for cranberry relish  ie TWO cups of sugar per 1 12-oz bag of cranberries! NO WAY!  Taste, taste, taste  as you prepare to counteract the tartness of the fruit but you don’t need to overdo the sweetness.

I also do not cook this relish, but use the berries raw (after a good rinse, picking over and spin-drying) and chopped fine in my little cuisinart chopper/grinder which works beautifully.IMG_7026  Raw cranberries are exceeding healthy and full of nutrients (articles below), and the nuts, if they are not forbidden to you, raisins and cinnamon as well are nutrient rich as well.

Make this as a crunchy relish to eat alongside other foods, either with meat or vegetarian. I will include a recipe in another post about using it as a pie filling, or keep a bowl of it in the fridge, snacking on a tablespoon or two of it when you get a craving to eat something sweet or crunchy that are full of empty nutrients and calories. I do believe your will LOVE this!!

Ingredients: 1-12oz bag cranberries, rinsed, picked over and dried, 1 large seedless navel orange, cut into 1 large wedge with rind and the rest without rind in small chunks to fit in the chopper, golden raisins, chopped pecans or walnuts, cinnamon, 1 cup (more or less to taste) of sugar to taste (I use an organic sugar that has a light tan color) and for a special sparkle, a dash of cointreau or triple sec, if desired. I ask forgiveness for the lack of definitive measurements, as I prepare and cook as I go along..rather like an art project..creating as I taste. So far in my long cooking career, what tastes good to me, taste good to others.. The best I can do, is to encourage you to experiment..add things with a VERY light hand and taste along the way always until you are pleased with the result. You can always add, but you CANNOT subtract…just remember that! Creative and cautious all along the way!

Preparation: Chop washed and dried cranberries somewhat fine in the chopper. Set aside. Chop one large wedge of the navel orange finely, add to the cranberries, and chop the rest of the orange wedges fine and a little soupy in the chopper  There shouldn’t be mushy orange chunks) and add to the cranberries. Stir..slowly sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar into the mixture…stir and taste…add slowly…stir and taste , add more sugar until it is a right balance of sweet and tart that pleases you…add a handful of raisins, sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices (start with 1 teasp), stir, taste adjust..add a small pouch chopped nuts (I prefer pecans) stir gently, taste…adjust. Add a dash of cointreau or triple sec..careful, they are VERY sweet.

I prepare this a day in advance of eating to let the flavors blend and mellow. I cover it and keep it in the fridge. Before serving, stir, taste and adjust ingredients again if necessary. Serve  cold or at room temperature. ENJOY! SAVOR! AND BE HEALTHY! (links for cranberries and nutrition below the picture)

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http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=145

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=226

 

 

Snow Forecast! Need Heat! Get out the CURRY!

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Snow Forecast! Need Heat! Get out the CURRY!

 

 

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Last night the forecast was for our first snow showers of the season and COLD and whoa! Not quite ready with beautiful multi-color Autumn leaves still on the trees, but the cold and the chill was arriving making the impending approach of winter very clear to the senses.

I was still so busy last night after facilitating a centering meditation circle in the afternoon and preparing for an all-day retreat (having nothing to do with cooking) coming up this Sunday. Things to do here at the computer but you can’t concentrate when tired, hungry and chilled. I needed sustenance, comfort and it had to be fairly quick and easy!

Bring out the CURRY! And a most delicious supper of pure sensual delight and deep-healing comfort! Diced chicken breast, a jar of prepared mild curry sauce, white or basmati rice, 1 package of frozen mixed veggies, honey, unsweetened coconut flakes (optional), a splash of cream or half n’ half and you have a feast!

Instructions:

Dice chicken into small-ish pieces. Saute unttil lightly golden in a combination of olive oil and butter. (I find that a pad of butter rounds our the flavors).

When golden, add the box of mixed veggies, which have been un-frozen by running cool water over them in a colander. Shake to drain. Stir with the chicken  a bit to warm them.

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Place the chicken and veggie mixture in a baking dish, being sure to include the sauteeing juices in the frying pan to the baking dish mixture.

IMG_8601Pour your preferred jar of curry sauce over the mixture. Stir. Sprinkle with about 2 teasp of  shredded coconut, sweetend or unsweetened.

I have used “Kashmiri Curry (Indian Sumer Sauce) by Maya Kaimal…”MILD”.  There are so many brands and one must experiment with what is available where you live.  NOTE: It is important to know that Indian Curries are warm to hot even if “mild” so I recommend that you always start with “mild”. I have had to toss away meals that were simply too fiery to eat. You can always add a little more dried cayenne pepper powder to your “mild” curry if you need more heat for your adventurous taste…but you can never backtrack the heat of “too hot”!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.

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  When finished, add to taste 2 teasp-1 tablesp honey…stir into to mix…taste and adjust. Add a touch…just a touch!… of cream or half n’ half to lighten..stir…

 

 

 

Serve over cooked white, basmati or whole-grain rice.

I am told that this Sanskrit word  “AsvAdavat” means “delicious”.  If I need to be corrected, don’t hesitate to do so!

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This is very comforting and SENSUOUS food with the elegant and exotic spices that make up varieties of curry powder: cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cloves, fennel seed, fenukreek, nutmeg, black and cayenne pepper. The most wonderful thing is that all of these spices and herbs are powerful healing herbs and strengthen the body’s immune system, cardiovascular system, especially during the cold season.

Sensuous,  Fragrant, Warm and Healthy is the way we go with CURRY!

Be daring and enjoy!

From Christine, The Cook

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_o  Want some good reading material when captive inside the house during bad weather?  (or any kind of weather actually!) Check out my other blogs:

For positive thinking, talking and positive life experiences:  http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

For inspiration, beauty and lovely photos: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

For love of music and music memoirs: http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe List! Update!

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Eat

 

Hi there! Now you can find what’s on this blog more easily. Click on the “Recipe List” page in the header  or link below  to find something good to prepare!

 

https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/recipe-list/

 

There is also a new  page  for cooking  stories and memoirs

https://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com/memoirs/

From Christine, the Cook  (organizing this blog. Now to clean and organize the fridge)

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_o Other wonderful blogs of mine:

Music and Piano:  http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

Law of Attraction:  http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

Inspiration and Beauty: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com

 


Memoirs: The Treasured Spatula

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Memoirs: The Treasured Spatula

IMG_8154 For many of us who love to cook, our kitchen tools hold stories for many years. Some of those tools…utensils, pots, pans, and cookbooks come and go as we come and go ourselves to different houses and places,  moving into and through different phases (and crazes) of our lives experimenting with the new along the way. One thing that stays the same probably is that no matter where we go, we most likely always have a “kitchen”…either our own or someone else’s and the things we use in that room can be very personal and important in the success of our creative culinary efforts.

I remember my very first cookbook given to me by a college friend at my wedding shower: A hardbound copy of Betty Crocker’s “Dinner for Two”, which at that time sounded very romantic…visions of long, lingering dinners by candlelight with my new husband. (Well the book had a picture of a table set for two with flowers and candles and very easy and basic recipes  taking little time to prepare as it was assumed that the kitchen time had to be divided between itself and that other important newly-wed room). Cookbook That book served us well for the first year or so, making me feel very accomplished and grown-up. (I married quite young..)

 

I just looked up that cookbook this morning on Amazon. It seems that it has increased in value over the years as one can order a used copy for $41.36 and a NEW copy (they still print it? Copywrite 1964) for $992.28! And that .28 doesn’t go towards the shipping! Do people still give that as a wedding shower gift????

How many sets of “the perfect”pots and pans have come and gone? Blenders, food processors, toaster ovens, potholders of different patterns, towels and wipers, sets of dishes, crockpots of various sizes, innumerable Tupperware pieces (many with missing lids), wine stoppers with the artsy top decoration broken off, fizzle makers, wooden spoons, glass measuring cups with chips…? They have come and gone and been replaced and the cooking goes on.

Except… Except for each long-time, long-term cook, there are one to several kitchen tools that can NEVER be replaced! A culinary tool or utensil that has been with us from the beginning.  A kitchen companion hat has been with us through all our travels..the different houses and kitchens and life situations ongoing… one without which we could quite possibly never cook another meal again successfully.

It, for us, has the patina and magic of the years, the familiar feel and unique shape that has been used in all kinds of situations and which is irreplaceable for our creations and the comfort of familiarity that is necessary for our grounding!

Sounds silly? Once is a great while over the years panic set in when for one of those crazy un known reasons, my special utensil disappeared…diving deep into a drawer hidden by other less saavy tools. I would feel myself go white…WHERE IS MY SPATULA??????

Not just any spatula. THIS spatula that has been with me from the beginning, a wedding gift as part of a set of cooking utensils from our friend Mike Corn. The rest of the set has gone…but this…THIS spatula has always been with me and it is special. The weight of it, the feel of it, the sturdiness of it and most importantly the unique and unusual slight tilt to the blade of it that allowed me to work certain flips and stirring in the pot that other ordinary totally straight edge spatulas wouldn’t do.

Spatulas are very different from each other. How often I have been SO frustrated when visiting others and needing a spatula for something I would be cooking as a guest, I would be fighting with a soft and floppy blade or a thick plastic blade that pushed food around the pan rather than slide under to pick it up or flip it over. “I can’t cook with this thing!!” I would groan. “I should have packed and brought MY SPATULA with me!!”, but never thought about it, packing eye makup, slippers and my vitamins instead.

Well, this is a cooking blog and our cooking is FILLED with the nourishing ingredients of MEMORIES, making the act of preparing food very personal and intimate. No recipe today, but I invite you to think about the treasured utensils that have been with you forever and which help you to create your best culinary magic. Thank them for their good service!

My special spatula has been with me for 46 years now, can you believe. I would be lost without it. The friend, Mike, who gave it has passed on many years ago..but I wouldlove to have him know that his gift is still here and treasured.

What is your favorite cooking utensil?

Christine, the Cook