Asparagus Soup

asparagus soup, asparagus, soupJust when you think you are tired of soup, comes this fresh and easy seasonal recipe that uses what is plentiful at the market these days. If you need another excuse to pick up an extra bunch of asparagus, well here it is. Just a few simple ingredients make this a quick dinner option – especially when the days are longer, warmer, and the last place you want to be is cooking in the kitchen. The asparagus really shines in this light and earthy soup that tastes of spring. Serve alongside fresh, crusty bread, or a grilled cheese sandwich.

asparagus soup, asparagus, soupIngredients:

  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup loosely packed spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • salt, pepper

Heat butter and olive oil in a large stock pot. Add the shallot and a generous pinch of salt, and cook until softened and translucent. Add the chopped asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and continue cooking until asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add the spinach and parsley and blend with an immersion blender. Return the soup to the stove and heat through, season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

asparagus soup, asparagus, soup

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Spring Pea Risotto

risotto, spring risotto, peas, asparagusI know peas are not everyone’s favorite vegetable, but for me they remind me of two things – spring and my childhood. Growing up, my grandmother grew peas in her garden, and we used to eat them freshly picked when they are at their sweetest. As soon as peas are picked, the sugars quickly turn into starch. For this reason, peas are most commonly available frozen, as that is the only way to quickly preserve their sweetness. peasFresh peas need to be cooked as soon as you buy them, and to me it is worth the hassle of shelling them. Sure you can always buy frozen peas, and asparagus is available year round, but the short time of the year when these two vegetables are at their peak of freshness is like Christmas to me. This springtime risotto highlights the sweet and fresh flavor of English peas and fresh asparagus – mint and lemon zest add the perfect flavors to round out the dish. All I am saying, is give peas a chance.

Ingredients:

Peas1

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 5-6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas, shelled
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the chicken stock in a pot, keep at a simmer. In a large stock pot, or any heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced shallots and a pinch of salt, sauté until translucent. Add the rice, stir for about one minute until the grains begin to become translucent around the edges.

Pour in the wine, and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add one ladle of stock, stir frequently until liquid is absorbed. Add another ladle of stock, and stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed again. Repeat this process until almost all the stock has been used, and the rice is cooked but still al-dente. The entire process should take about 20 minutes.

About five minutes before the rice is done cooking, stir in the peas and asparagus. Add more chicken stock as necessary to continue cooking the rice. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and mint. Season with salt and pepper, serve immediately.

risotto, spring risotto, peas, asparagus

Penne with Roasted Asparagus, Broccolini, and Goat Cheese

penne, asparagus, goat cheese

Asparagus season is in full force and I eat it just about every way possible. Roasted, steamed, raw, in soups, in salads – by the time June hits I am ready to not look at it again until next spring. Asparagus is tender and sweet, so it doesn’t need much more than a quick roast in the oven to make it ready to enjoy. Here I roasted it with broccolini and scallions, and tossed everything together with penne, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese. It’s a complete meal that is hearty, seasonal, and full of delicious healthy vegetables.

Ingredients:

penne, asparagus, goat cheese

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 3 scallions , white and light green parts
  • 1 small jar sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • salt and pepper , to taste

 

 

Preheat oven to 425º. Cut asparagus, broccolini, and scallions into 2 inch pieces and place on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and starting to brown.

Cook the penne in salted water, and reserve 1/8 cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the roasted vegetables, water, parmesan cheese, parsley, and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top the pasta with the crumbled goat cheese.

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Roasted Radishes

radishes, roasted radishes, roasted vegetablesThis time of year, along with the fall, are the best times to cook. You can have your windows open with your oven on high blast so that:  A) your apartment doesn’t smell like a diner in the winter, and B) you aren’t hot-boxing yourself in the summer. So needless to say, I am roasting every vegetable that comes my way.

radishes, roasted radishes, roasted vegetables I know we’ve all tried the basics like roasted potatoes, carrots, turnips, and asparagus. But have you ever had roasted radishes? When blasted in a hot oven, their peppery bite mellows and their flavor becomes fuller. They become tender and sweet – nothing like the crisp, sometimes bitter flavor raw radishes have. I used their leafy green tops as a garnish, and finished them off with a squeeze of fresh lemon and flaky sea salt. These roasted radishes are great alongside grilled steak, pork, or fish. Try them topped on toasted bread with goat cheese and herbs, or mixed in with other roasted vegetables and quinoa, pilaf-style.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • sea salt

Separate the radish roots from the leafy greens, and cut the roots in half lengthwise. Chop about 2 tablespoons of the radish greens and set aside. Place the radishes on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Roast in a pre-heated 425° oven for about 15 minutes, or until the radishes are tender and begin to brown around the edges. Remove the radishes from the baking sheet, and in a serving dish toss with the radish greens, lemon juice, and sea salt.

radishes, roasted radishes, roasted vegetables

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

grilled cheese, apple grilled cheese, brussel sproutsEveryone knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. But not everyone has perfected a grilledgrilled cheese, apple grilled cheese, brussel sprouts cheese that turns the ordinary into extraordinary. Until now. I came across this recipe from Mrs. Dorsey’s Kitchen, and I have to say, Ron Johnson has perfected the gourmet grilled cheese. And considering April is National Grilled Cheese Month, I thought there is no better time to share the recipe with you. grilled cheese, apple grilled cheese, brussel sproutsMy favorite cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich, is Jarlsberg – hands down. It melts perfectly, and has a mild enough yet persistent flavor that just works so well between two slices of buttery white bread. So when I saw this recipe from Mrs. Dorsey’s Kitchen, I knew that this concoction of flavors would definitely be worth trying. grilled cheese, apple grilled cheese, brussel sproutsSliced apples and shaved brussel sprouts are dressed in a light and vibrant combination of lemon, honey, and apple cider vinegar. A pinch of red pepper flakes adds a nice kick to the slaw that will make this the best version of a grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever had.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegargrilled cheese, apple grilled cheese, brussel sprouts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups of shaved brussel sprouts
  • 1 Gala apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl whisk lemon juice, honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes. Remove the outer layers of the brussel sprouts and chop off the roots. Slice sprouts as thin as possible, and then pull slices apart into shreds. Add brussel sprouts, apples, and red onion to bowl, and toss gently (makes about 6 servings).

To make one sandwich:

Take 2 slices of fresh white bread and spread softened butter across one side of each. Place the bread, butter side down, on a hot grill pan or panini press. Add either grated or sliced Jarlsberg cheese to each piece of bread. Allow the bread to toast and cheese to melt for a few minutes. When the cheese is almost completely melted, add the apple/brussel sprout slaw to one piece of bread. Top the sandwich with the other piece of bread and continue to grill on both sides until the bread is golden and cheese is oozing.grilled cheese, apple grilled cheese, brussel sprouts

Roasted Baby Artichokes

artichokesThe best part of spring, in my humble opinion, is when the fresh, new crop of seasonal vegetables grace us with their presence at the market. When I start to see artichokes, spring onions, English peas, asparagus…I know there is light at the end of the winter tunnel. Artichokes are one of my favorite spring vegetables, especially baby artichokes because they are so easy to prepare. They don’t have the tough fibrous choke that the larger ones have, and for the most part, can be eaten whole. Just trim the tops and a few outer layers of the leaves, and they are good to go. You can roast them whole or split them in half, eat them as a side dish, or do what I did: roast garlic with the artichokes, toss with pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese for a complete meal. roasted artichokes, roasted vegetablesIngredients

  • 12 baby artichokes
  • 8 garlic cloves , peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • salt, pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400º. Trim the artichokes: cut 1 inch off the top of the leaves, remove a few layers of the tough outer leaves until you reach the light green leaves, and with a pairing knife trim the stem up to the base of the artichoke. Add the artichokes and garlic cloves to a small baking dish. Toss them with the olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 35 minutes, uncover and cook for 5 more minutes.

roasted artichokes, roasted vegetablesAren’t they so beautiful? They look like little gems.

Chicken Thighs with Meyer Lemon Salsa

chicken thighs, roasted chicken, meyer lemon salsa, meyer lemon, roasted chicken thighsThis recipe is to. die. for. The chicken is so flavorful and tender, and the lemon salsa is the perfect compliment. The marinade for the chicken is simple yet the flavors are outstanding – yogurt, cilantro, garlic, fennel seed, and turmeric. The key to the lemon salsa is using Meyer lemons. They are sweeter, more aromatic, and less tart than regular lemons. Meyer lemons are only available in the Northeast for a short period of time; when I see them at the markets I buy a ton of them at a time (moderation is not my middle name), and pray the season lasts as long as possible. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, just use one regular lemon, and don’t forget to add a pinch of sugar to the salsa.lemon salsa, meyer lemons, meyer lemon salsa

This recipe serves only 2 people, so feel free to double the chicken and marinade, but you probably don’t need to double the salsa. I served this with Basmati rice that I toasted slightly in coconut oil before adding the water, and then finished it off with chopped cilantro, scallions, and a squeeze of (Meyer) lemon juice.

 roasted chicken thighs

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 scallions sliced thinly, 1 tblsp set aside
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 1 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds lightly toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp tumeric

Directions

Place chicken in a dish and season with salt and pepper. In a mini food-processor or blender, combine 1/4 cup cilantro, yogurt, vegetable oil, garlic, ground fennel seeds, and turmeric. Pour marinade over chicken, coating well. Marinate for at least one hour, up to 12 hours. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking.

Using a pairing knife, cut all peel and white pith from lemons; discard. Working over a small bowl, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl; squeeze in juice from membranes and discard membranes. Strain juice into another bowl.

Combine segments, 1 Tbsp. strained lemon juice, cucumber, 2 Tbsp. scallions, and jalapeño in a small bowl; mix well. Stir in sugar; season salsa with salt and set aside.

Preheat broiler. Place chicken onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, watching closely to prevent burning, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. Turn the oven to 350 degrees and finish cooking in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to plates, and spoon Meyer lemon salsa over chicken. Garnish with remaining 1 Tbsp. scallions.

chicken thighs, roasted chicken, meyer lemon salsa, meyer lemon, roasted chicken thighs

Lentil Barley Soup with Escarole

lentil soup, barley, escarole, soup, barley soupWe are ending the last week of winter (thank God!), and although we’ve had some nice spring teaser days, a warm bowl of hearty soup still fits the bill this time of year. As I am fully ready to start seeing wonderful spring produce at the markets, I can’t help but to make my last rounds of winter greens. I bought a head of escarole, had lentils and barley in my pantry, and figured a little soup would do me good. Escarole is great because it holds up nicely when added to soups, as it retains its body and adds wonderful texture and contrast of flavor. It’s great when paired with sausage, although if you wish to make a vegetarian version just leave it out and it will still be delicious and hearty.

Ingredients:
  • 2 sweet Italian sausage links , removed from casing
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, choppedescarole
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups escarole leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup green lentils
  • 1/3 cup pearled barley
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt, pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized dutch oven or stock pot. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute longer.

Add the tomato paste and stir until combined with the vegetables. Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then add the lentils, barley, and cooked sausage. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, partially covered, until the lentils and barley are tender. Add the chopped escarole and stir in until wilted, cook 2 minutes longer, remove the bay leaf and serve.

lentil soup, barley, escarole, soup, barley soup

Hickory Dickory Smoke Burger

cheeseburgerThis just might be the best flavor combination to hit a burger…ever. Hickory Smoked Jarlsberg melted into spicy jalapenos, topped with crunchy onions, and spiked with sweet bourbon ketchup.

cheeseburgerThe inspiration for this burger comes from Dan Petersen of That Burger Tent, who makes one of the best burgers in New York City. Dan’s burgers are made from a special, proprietary blend of meats from meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda. I attended a beer, bourbon, and cheese pairing event at Idle Hands Bar here in New York City, where Dan cooks up these burgers nightly. He came up with this all-star combination of toppings inspired by the flavors of the night: Hickory Smoked Jarlsberg, and a delicious, smoky, craft beer called Rauchbier by Kelso. Dan shared his recipe for the toppings on his ‘Hickory Dickory Smoke Burger’, and I couldn’t be more excited to highlight Hickory Smoked Jarlsberg in this way. This savory burger packs a combination of smoky and sweet flavors that exceeds perfection, and is sure to become a favorite.

cheeseburgerHere’s what I used to re-create the Hickory Dickory Smoke Burger:

  • 1 lb ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 4 oz. Hickory Smoked Jarlsberg, sliced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced and sautéed
  • Shoestring fried onions
  • Bourbon spiked ketchup
  • 4 potato hamburger rolls

cheeseburgerAnd of course a cold brew to finish off the meal…enjoy!

Honey Mustard Roasted Radicchio

RadicchioThis is the perfect side dish to just about anything. Roasting radicchio mellows its sharp, bitter flavor, while retaining that nutty delicious crunch. The honey mustard dressing is so easy to throw together; only a few simple pantry staples are needed to make this vegetable sing when roasted. After all, aren’t those the best recipes?

RadicchioIngredients:

  • 2 heads radicchio
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp mustard (I used Lars mild & sweet, or Dijon)
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the back of a knife
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400º. Cut the radicchio heads in half, then into quarters, keeping the core intact.

In a jar with a lid, combine the olive oil, honey, mustard, crushed garlic clove(s), rosemary, salt/pepper. Shake vigorously until the ingredients are well-combined. Remove the garlic clove(s). Coat the radicchio with the honey mustard mixture, place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until wilted and the edges have started to brown.

radicchio, roasted radicchio