Category Archives: Soup

Gourmet Dinner Starter: Cauliflower Apple Soup

Cauliflower Apple Soup

In September we asked some friends up to the house to help us with the site analysis for building our own pizza oven; one is an engineer, and the other a pizza oven owner.  This story and some cups of cauliflower apple soup are a wonderful example of my motto: Eat well and share the love!

September_Pizza Oven Site Analysis

While the guys evaluated the pizza oven location, we noshed and enjoyed some wine……

Pizza Oven Site Analysis_Noshing

We all love food and we have shared some fabulous meals together, including the Gypsy Kitchen Supper Club.  On a whim, I asked everyone if they would be interested in starting up a gourmet dinner club. Thankfully it was a resounding YES and two spectacular dinners have been hosted already.  Fine wines are poured and the fancy pants recipes are pulled out – the bar has been raised very high so I need to step up my game because David and I are hosting this weekend.

Gourmet Dinners 2012

The Schenker menu is written and we tested some of the recipes beforehand.  The first test was a cauliflower apple soup that will be served as a starter.  The recipe is adapted from the cookbook  The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski, a Denver chef who owns several restaurants.  I was intrigued when I saw this recipe because, not knowing any better, I would have added potatoes with the cauliflower – which would create a heavier, denser soup.  The apples lighten up the soup and it is full of rich, velvety flavors.  For the soup base, thinly sliced onions are sweated, cauliflower and apples are added and the vegetables simmer in chicken broth.  To finish the soup before pureeing, milk, heavy whipping cream and a few basil leaves are added (the recipe calls for straining the soup but I omitted this step because I like the texture).  For an elegant touch to serve alongside the soup, an apple matchstick salad with red cabbage, shallots and basil are tossed with a green curry vinaigrette.  It gives the soup some crunch and even more depth of flavor.  I think it will be an impressive hit.  Now I need to figure out which wines to pour.

To incorporate Hanukkah, our gourmet dinner will start with some mini 2011 Hanukkah Latkeslatke appetizers along with the usual fixings (our 2011 dinner shown here) and glasses of Prosecco.  The cauliflower apple soup will start off the dinner feast, three more courses will follow, and individual apple galettes with some Andrew Rich 2008 Gewürztraminer dessert wine will finish off the evening.  As usual, I will snap some photos throughout the night and will share the fun with you later.

Cheers to a wonderful Holiday celebration.  May yours be filled with many delicious treats, loved ones, good friends and happy times.

Eat well and share the love!Logo in Word

Cauliflower Apple Soup (print recipe)
Recipe: Adapted from The Perfect Bite by Jennifer Jasinski
Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Makes about 5 cups

Ingredients:
Soup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ small sweet onion, very thinly sliced
6 oz. (about 1½ cups) cauliflower flowerets, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 oz. (about 1 cup) chopped apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji) – peeled and seeded, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ teaspoon green curry paste (or madras curry)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup 1% milk
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large basil leaves
Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely diced shallots or red onion
1 tablespoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon green curry paste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper
Apple Salad
1 apple (Honeycrisp or Fuji), peeled, seeded and cut into small matchstick pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
2 tablespoons finely diced red cabbage or radicchio

Directions:
Soup: In a medium soup pot or Dutch oven, add the butter and heat over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and sweat until translucent, about 10 minutes; do not brown the onions.

Add the chopped cauliflower, apples and ½ teaspoon salt; stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until cauliflower is just heated through; do not brown. Stir in the chicken broth and curry paste and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the cream, milk and ½ teaspoon salt and let simmer on low for 15 minutes.  Transfer half the soup to a blender, add two basil leaves and place a folded kitchen towel over the lid.  With hand on lid so it doesn’t lift off, puree soup until smooth.  Transfer soup to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup, adding the last basil leaf.  If desired, strain the soup through a fine sieve for a velvety texture.  If you are serving immediately, transfer all the soup back into the pot and gently reheat – add ¼ teaspoon salt if needed.  Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, refrigerate and gently reheat before serving.

Vinaigrette: Add all ingredients to a medium bowl. Whisk together until combined.

Apple Salad: Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and dress lightly with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette.  Toss gently, being careful to not break the apple matchstick pieces.

To serve the hot soup, ladle into bowl or cup (if a starter course) and serve with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the apple salad on the side. Before eating, add some of apple salad to the soup and enjoy!

· Use caution with hot items in the blender; the heat can cause the blender lid to blow off.  Be sure to place a folded kitchen towel over the lid and place your hand on top to secure it before turning motor on.  Do not fill more than half full.

Sweet Boy Murphy_October 2012

Sweet Boy Murphy in his element and sporting the “tough guy” look.

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Book Club: Vegetable Soup On A Foggy, Crisp Night

Wednesday night was book club, with an evening of dense fog and a light drizzle after a day of welcome rain.  I always bring something homemade to our gatherings, and try to make it gluten and dairy-free for one of our members. After taking stock of what was in the house, I discovered that I had everything to make a vegetable soup – perfect for our mountain weather! While it takes some cooking time, it is easy to put this soup together. It is chock full of fresh vegetables (carrots, onion, celery, zucchini, yellow squash, snap peas) and has a delicious, rich and chunky tomato broth. Typically, cooked pasta is added to vegetable soup, but I used garbanzo beans (chickpeas) because of their great flavor and nutritional value – they were a big hit. This is a versatile recipe and even better with spinach; had there been some on hand it would be in the soup. Other substitutions are frozen vegetables, or angel hair or ditalini pasta (Mary and Nada enjoyed their soup with a bed of angel hair pasta). A flavor secret: the longer cooking time allows for a parmesan rind to melt into the soup, giving it a rich deep base. This batch was sans the cheese rind for Sybil, and grated parmesan cheese was served on the side.

What books have we been reading, you ask? Wednesday night we discussed “Someone Knows My Name” by Lawrence Hill, which was September’s selection. And for October, we are reading “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.

For more information about these thought-provoking reads, click on each image.

One of the benefits of being in the kitchen: The cook always gets to do a taste test!

And of course I had to make something crispy to top the soup – a whole grain boule from our freezer was the perfect candidate for some homemade croutons. They are so much better than store-bought and only take a few minutes to make. Any type of bread will do and I use my trusty toaster oven for the task, but the broiler will work just as well. If the bread is frozen and you have a paper sandwich bag, it can be harmlessly defrosted in the microwave (see recipe for details). For salads, the croutons are even better if you brush the bread with your favorite vinaigrette recipe – the same as what you are using to dress the salad. Along with some freshly grated parmesan cheese, the croutons are a delectable garnish.

What good books have you read lately? We’re always looking for  interesting novels to read, so please leave a comment and pass on any of your favorites. I would love to hear your thoughts. I am hosting book club next month and look forward to sharing the love, direct from my kitchen!

Eat well and share the love!

Vegetable Soup with Homemade Croutons (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
For Book Club: Makes enough for 6 servings, or 12 small servings
Recipe can be reduced by half for a smaller portion

Ingredients:
Olive oil
½ medium sweet onion, diced into ¼ inch pieces
1 large zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
Large handful of sugar snap peas, chopped
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence OR Italian herbs
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 medium garlic clove, minced
28 oz. can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
5 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and beans well rinsed
1 small rind of Parmigiano Reggiano, or Parmesan (substitute: 2-inch piece of parmesan)
Croutons
4 to 5 thick slices of any good bread*
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
Garnish
Homemade Croutons
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
In a 6-quart Dutch oven, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium-low heat. Add the vegetables along with the herbs de Provence, ¾ teaspoon salt and a good pinch of pepper; stir well, cover pot with the lid and sauté for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables are soft.

Add the minced garlic, stir well and let cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, vegetable broth (or water) and garbanzo beans along with ¾ teaspoon salt, another good pinch of pepper and the parmesan rind or piece of cheese. Increase heat to medium and let simmer gently, uncovered, for another 1 to 1½ hours.

Croutons: Brush both sides of bread with olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, toast or broil until both sides are lightly golden. Rub one side with the garlic clove and dust both sides with grated parmesan cheese. Return slices to toaster oven or broiler and toast again until both sides are golden brown, let cool slightly and cut into bite-size pieces.

Serve the vegetable soup hot, and garnish with a few croutons and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

* Croutons – To defrost frozen bread in the microwave: Place bread in a paper sandwich bag, fold down top to close and microwave (on half power) for 1 minute increments until just starting to defrost, about 2 minutes for a whole boule. Use a serrated knife to cut into slices.

  • More vegetables to add, fresh or frozen: Bell Pepper (red, yellow or orange), Green or Yellow Green Beans, Steamed or Blanched Cauliflower florets, Spinach (add with liquids).

Last Sunday we took a drive to see the changing colors of Fall……. Murphy and I followed in the SUV (I imagined it was a Porsche 911 while driving through the curvy mountain roads, keeping up with the bikes) while David and friends rode their motorcycles through some of Colorado’s high passes. It’s beautiful here!

A Chilled Soup To Beat The Heat: Gazpacho

Here is another inspiration from our cruise a few weeks ago: Gazpacho, a delicious chilled soup that is refreshing and requires no cooking! Even at our 7,500 foot elevation, we have seen temperatures in the 90’s and the daytime temperature inside the house has reached 85 degrees! We don’t have air-conditioning so as soon as the sun wanes we open all our doors and windows to capture some of the cool air. This is the perfect recipe to help cool things off. Gazpacho hails from Spain and is made with uncooked tomatoes, cucumber, sweet onion, bell pepper, garlic and cilantro. Tomatoes are the star ingredient, a great use for the delicious summer bounty from your garden or farmer’s market. Out of season, my favorite go-to is the vine-ripened variety. This is a super easy recipe that can be made with many variations: for example, if you don’t have cherry tomatoes add some of your favorite Bloody Mary mix!

I like my gazpacho more pureed and smooth rather than chunky, and then I add a chopped vegetable garnish at the end for a little crunch.  And I like to peel the cucumbers because they make the soup darker, which you can see from the photo because I forgot to do that!  The garnish has scallions, radishes, habanero and mint, which adds a bright, fresh flavor. The soup also tastes better if made one or two days ahead of time because it allows the flavors to develop and mingle. Another delicious idea: serve the gazpacho in a shot glass for a mini appetizer – top it with some vegetable garnish and add some chopped, cooked shrimp or some diced avocado to finish it off.

If you want to go for a snazzy presentation to impress your honey (or guests), transfer the soup to a fancy pitcher, add one tablespoon of the garnish to the bottom of each cup or bowl and pour the gazpacho table-side.  You’ll look like a pro!

Eat well and share the love!

Gazpacho (print recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Refrigerate: 4 to 24 hours / Total cooking time: 24 hours
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:
Soup
10 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (Campari), or 3 large, good quality tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes (about 15)
½ cucumber, peeled and chopped
¼ cup chopped sweet onion
3 baby bell peppers (or ½ of one red, yellow or orange bell pepper), seeds removed and chopped
½ small garlic clove
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon lime zest
½ cup cilantro leaves and stems
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion (about ¾ of a scallion)
1 radish, grated
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon finely diced habanero or jalapeno
3 tablespoons finely diced cucumber (peeled)
1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped
Pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzle)

Directions:
Soup: Cut the tomatoes (except the cherry tomatoes) in half and remove the seeds and pulp with a spoon; discard seeds and pulp. Chop the tomatoes into large pieces.

Add all the soup ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and finely chopped, about 1 minute.  If you like your soup more chunky, blend for less time.

Transfer soup to a bowl or large measuring cup and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. 
Gazpacho is best the next day; if possible make one day ahead to let the flavors develop fully.

Garnish: Add the scallions, radishes, habanero, cucumber, mint, salt, pepper and olive oil to a small bowl and mix well.

Assemble: Serve soup cold – In a small coffee cup or bowl add about 3/4 cup of soup, top with 1 tablespoon of garnish mixture and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

A photo memory from the cruise a few weeks ago…..After the zipline in Jamaica, in Chakka Park and enjoying authentic Jerk chicken for lunch.  The male peacock, with his wings spread, tried his best to get the female’s attention while we watched from the picnic bench. 

Valentine’s Day Starter: French Onion Soup

With Valentine’s Day less than one week away, it’s time to start planning something scrumptious from the kitchen.  As a small portion, this classic soup is an intimate start to an evening of food with you and your honey.  The house gets filled with aromas that delight your senses and then you get to dig into this bowl of gooey goodness!  You’ll need to set aside some time to make the soup – about 2 hours – but you will be richly rewarded with the best little bowl of homemade French Onion Soup. The star of this soup is of course the onions, which cook and cook and cook until they have released their natural sugars, get soft and creamy, and develop a rich brown color.

I love that there are few ingredients in this soup but the resulting flavors are incredible.  The onions are thinly sliced and cooked low and slow, with a bay leaf and some fresh thyme to infuse their flavors.  White wine is added, then some roux (melted butter and flour mixture used to thicken), beef stock and then it cooks a little bit more.  The soup can be made a few days ahead of time and reheated before adding the croutons.  The croutons are the highlight of French Onion Soup, with melted Gruyère cheese; the top is crispy and golden, and underneath it’s slightly soft from the juices of the soup.

If you’ve only tried this delicious soup in a restaurant, I highly recommend that you give it shot in your kitchen.  It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day indulgence that is a feast for your eyes and your senses!

Eat well and share the love!

French Onion Soup
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies (makes about 4 cups)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium sweet onions (or yellow onions)
1 large shallot
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 stalks fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large clove garlic, minced
½ cup good Chardonnay wine (one that you would drink)
3 cups low-sodium beef stock
Roux: 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter and 1 ½ tablespoons flour, mixed together
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 to 4 baguette slices, toasted (season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper)
¾ cup grated Gruyère cheese

Directions:
Cut off the ends and peel the onions and shallot.  Cut each onion in half and then cut each onion half (and the shallot) into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick.

In a Dutch oven or large, heavy soup pot, turn heat to medium-low and add the butter.  Let melt and add all of the onions with ¼ teaspoon salt.  Stir a few times to coat the onions with the butter and cook for about 20 minutes without stirring.  Stir in the sugar, and add the thyme stalks and bay leaf.  Cover with a lid and continue to let the onions cook for another hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the onions are very soft and golden brown.

Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium and add the minced garlic, cook for 30 seconds.  Add the wine and cook uncovered until most of wine is evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the beef stock, roux, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and let cook for another 30 to 45 minutes until onions are very soft and soup has thickened.

To serve, turn the broiler to high.  Add ¾ cup to 1 cup of soup in an oven-proof ramekin, soup tureen or mug.  Add the toasted bread slice (or slices) on the top of soup and top with half the cheese. Place the ramekin under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until cheese is melted, golden and bubbly. Serve hot.

Foodie for Two: Top Ten Posts of 2011

My last blog post briefly mentioned a few stats in closing and today I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at Foodie for Two’s most popular posts in 2011.  Starting at ten and counting down to one, here are the top ten most viewed posts from last year.  
Eat well and share the love! 

10. Book Club: Gluten-free Quinoa Salad
Inspired by Good Earth’s Chicken Marco Polo with broccoli, raisins, walnuts, onions and a walnut Dijon vinaigrette.

9. New England Clam Chowder
Well tested and simplified for the home kitchen with rich and deep flavor.

8. Fisheries…Wild-caught… Farm-raised… Sustainability…Huh?
The only informational piece I posted, reviews the basic fish facts with reputable resources

 7. Vegetable Shots at the Bergman’s
Featured in several blogs last year, it’s only fitting the Bergman’s are in the top ten; inspired by an appetizer that Holly served at my belated birthday dinner.

6. Memorial Day BBQ: Buttermilk & Sage Brined Chicken 
Here’s an easy recipe for grilling chicken; the overnight brining keeps the meat juicy and moist.

5. Passover Traditions: Adele’s Matzo Ball Soup 
What an honor that the recipe from my late mother-in-law, Adele, is one of the five most popular!

4. Memorial Day: Grilled Corn with Honey Jalapeño Butter 
Grilling is a great way to get lots of caramelized flavor, and corn on the cob is no exception.

3. Cinco de Mayo: Slow-cooked Carne Seca
Our favorite regional dish from Tucson; London broil is slow cooked, shredded and mixed with sautéed onions, Poblano peppers and tomatoes.

2. Easy Weeknight Meal: Gourmet Tuna Melts 
I have to admit that I was surprised by the popularity of this one!  Inspired from a simple idea for a fabulous lunch.

1. Memorial Day Dessert: Strawberry Granita with Whipped Cream
Considering my love of sweets, I am very pleased that a dessert made the number one spot.  When you combine whipped cream and strawberry granita it tastes just like ice cream, a rich and decadent treat.

I look forward to sharing many more in 2012!