Tag Archives: Onions

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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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.

Quick Lobster Ravioli with Tarragon Butter Sauce

My grocery store recently had frozen wild-caught lobster tails on sale so I bought a few for a later indulgence.  These guys are small, 4.5 to 5 ounces each, and the perfect size for a scaled-down serving. The trick that makes the ravioli “quick” is using wonton wrappers instead of homemade ravioli dough.  Along with the lobster, the filling is the typical carrots, celery and onions with some corn and tarragon. But the taste is anything but typical!  The sautéed vegetables are a wonderful compliment to the rich, sweet lobster.  And the tarragon butter sauce puts them over the edge of goodness.  For future batches, I would give the butter a few more minutes in the pan for a brown butter sauce (gives a nuttier flavor).

To help with the task of getting the lobster meat out of the shell, I rely on my kitchen shears.  Just turn the lobster over and cut down the sides of the thin shell.  Then you can bend the shell open to reveal the wonderfully delicious treat waiting inside.  To quickly cook the meat, I chopped it up, tossed it with melted butter and broiled it for 4 or 5 minutes.  After the vegetables are sautéed, the lobster meat is stirred in and the filling is ready – all in less than 10 minutes!

The ravioli assembly goes quickly so you’ll want to have your water boiling and the butter melting before you start. To keep it simple, I use water instead of an egg wash. Brush the entire wonton surface so the top layer sticks to it (and doesn’t burst open during boiling).  Press the edges firmly closed with either your fingers or the tines of a fork.  The ravioli can be left as whole squares, or use a cookie cutter (2¾ inch diameter) for an elegant presentation.
In my book, these lobster raviolis are a perfect treat for either lunch or a light dinner.

Eat well and share the love!

Lobster Ravioli with Tarragon Butter Sauce
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies – makes 6 ravioli

Ingredients:
Lobster Tail
Meat from 1 small lobster tail, 4.5 to 5 ounces in weight
½ tablespoon butter, melted
Vegetables/Filling
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely diced carrots (about 1 small)
2 tablespoons finely diced celery (about ¾ of stalk)
2 tablespoons finely diced onion (about ¼ of an onion)
1 tablespoon frozen corn, chopped into smaller pieces
3 to 4 fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Pinch of kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper
Ravioli and Sauce
1 tablespoon flour (for dusting cutting board)
12 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 to 5 fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Garnish: Sea Salt, Fresh-cracked pepper

Directions:
Lobster:  Turn broiler to high, add ½ tablespoon butter to oven-proof dish and put in oven to melt. 

Using kitchen shears (or a sharp paring knife), turn the lobster over and cut along the edges of the thin shell and pull it back to expose the meat.  With both hands, grasp the sides of the lobster (fingers underneath, on the hard part of the shell) and bend out to break the sides and free the meat: if needed, gently cut away any connected meat on the sides.  Pull out the piece of meat, rinse well and remove any tamale (green) or remaining shell; pat dry with a paper towel. 

Roughly chop the lobster meat, add to the oven-proof dish and toss with the melted butter. Place under broiler (about 8 inches from element) and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until meat is white and no longer opaque.

Vegetables/Filling:  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the carrots, celery, tarragon and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add the onions and corn and continue cooking, stirring often, for 3 or 4 more minutes until onions are translucent and vegetables are soft.  Turn off the heat and add the cooked lobster meat.  Stir to combine and transfer to a bowl; let cool slightly.Reserve the skillet to make the butter sauce.

Ravioli and Butter Sauce:  Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Dust your cutting board with some flour and set up your assembly line: a ramekin filled halfway with water and pastry brush, a cookie cutter (2 ¾ inch diameter), the bowl of filling with a tablespoon measuring spoon, and the wonton wrappers (keep them covered with a damp paper towel).

When the water has come to a boil, return the skillet used for the filling to medium-low heat and add the butter and chopped tarragon.

Lay out 6 wonton wrappers on the cutting board, 2 rows of 3 wrappers, and brush the entire surface of the bottom (3) wontons with a light coat of water.  On the bottom row, place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each wonton.  Cover with the top wonton wrapper and gently press it on, making sure it’s well-sealed without any air trapped inside. Cut out a round shape using the cookie cutter; use your fingers or fork tines to firm press edges together. 

Add the ravioli to the boiling water and let cook for 3 minutes.  While the ravioli are cooking, increase the butter to medium-high heat and swirl pan often.  Transfer the cooked ravioli to plates and pour the butter sauce over them.    Garnish with sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper.

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A visit to Phoenix earlier this month to celebrate Mom’s 70th Birthday:
Picture below: Mom after a great steak dinner on her birthday day (isn’t she beautiful?!)

Picture below: Mom and I at her dinner party buffet with family and friends (my job was the food; that’s a Brandy Old Fashioned in my hand, post kitchen duty!)
With Love, Happy Birthday to Mom!!

New Year’s Day Breakfast: Individual Yummy Eggs

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday celebration with lots of joy and good food.  New Year’s Eve is just a few days away and it’s hard to think about more planning after Christmas and Hanukkah.  My vote is for a feel-good Sunday breakfast that is easy to prepare.  We have a family recipe called Yummy Eggs that is deliciously dense with eggs and cheese and always a favorite on weekend mornings.  I have modified the ingredients a bit and use a muffin pan (instead of a casserole dish) to ensure even cooking, with less oven time.  The individual Yummy Eggs are perfect for New Year’s Day breakfast because they’re simple to make (the oven does the work for you) and packed with rich, savory flavors. Along with the eggs, these little treasures are flavored with onions, green chiles, sharp cheddar cheese, fontina cheese, cottage cheese, butter and jalapeño.  And they’re finished off with some chopped chives, sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper. 

To dress up our breakfast plates, I added some fruit skewers tossed with honey and chopped basil (or mint).  We received some pears for the holidays so I used one along with some watermelon cubes.  The pears were too fragile to skewer so next time I will use pineapple chunks or strawberries.  The Yummy Egg casseroles are just as good the next day and reheat well in the microwave (low heat) or toaster oven.  And for a special lunch, add a spinach salad dressed with some balsamic or Italian vinaigrette.

Best wishes for a prosperous and peaceful New Year in 2012.  This has been a wonderful year with much to be thankful for, especially lots of delicious food and readers of my blog posts!   Thank you – I sincerely appreciate your interest, support and encouragement.  For those who like stats, this is my 49th post of the year, and year-to-date Foodie for Two has had over 7,300 views since I started posting in March of 2011. Wow!  Here’s to many more engaging conversations about food next year!  Cheers!

Eat well and share the love!

Individual Yummy Eggs
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies plus leftovers, makes 6 individual casseroles

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon soft butter, for greasing muffins tins
5 large eggs
1 ¼ cup (combined) grated sharp cheddar and Fontina cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
One 4 oz. can of chopped green chiles
¼ cup finely diced onion (yellow or red)
1 tablespoon chopped Italian Parsley (flat leaf)
1 tablespoon diced jalapeño
2 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper
Garnish
Chopped Chives
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F and well-grease a 6-muffin pan with butter.

In a medium glass bowl, add the eggs and beat with a wire whisk until eggs are mixed well (about 30 seconds).  Add 1 cup of the grated cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping), the cottage cheese, green chiles, onion, parsley, jalapeno, melted butter, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients together.

Add ½ cup of mixture to each muffin tin and top with reserved grated cheese.  Place pan on center rack of oven and cook for 18 to 20 minutes until casseroles are golden brown on top and firm to the touch.

Let rest on the stove top or cooling rack for 2 minutes.  Remove casseroles by running a butter knife around edges and gently lifting out.  Garnish with chopped chives, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

We had fun at home last weekend and didn’t have to hassle with any Holiday traffic; with over a foot of snow still on the ground, we cut some sled trails on our property and laughed it up! 

A Once-A-Year Hanukkah Treat: Potato Latkes

Tuesday was the first night of Hanukkah and we celebrated with some golden, crispy potato latkes. The first time I ever tasted a latke (pronounced lot kuh) was at David’s parent’s house, many years ago.  Just like matzo ball soup at Passover, I was quickly hooked on this new delight made during Hanukkah.  You have probably seen recipes using sweet potatoes or zucchini, but in our house they are made the old-fashioned way.  David is a latke purist (I get it, there are some things I like to keep traditional too) so my tried and true recipe is just grated potatoes and onions, eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper.  For more flavor, I use a package of matzo ball mix in place of plain matzo meal and a lot of onion.  In my food book, a plate of latkes wouldn’t be complete without some sour cream and applesauce to dunk the scrumptious potato disks; they are crispy on the outside but nice and moist on the inside.  To szoosh them up, I like to garnish the latkes with some fresh dill and chives.

Don your apron and open your windows or turn on your exhaust fan for this delectable once-a-year treat.  Oil is symbolic with this holiday so don’t shy away from frying (click here for more information about Hanukkah).  I use canola oil and less than a quarter of an inch deep in the pan.   The trick for crispy latkes is hot oil that stays consistently hot, so you may have to adjust your heat source a few times.  When the edges turn golden brown they are ready to turn.

To keep the cooked latkes warm while finishing frying the rest, store in a 200° F oven on a platter. There is no better surprise than to open your refrigerator the next day and find some latkes waiting for you (Boston Cream pie would be nice too), so I always make extra. This batch makes about 18 latkes and we were surprised that we ate 10 of them by the end of dinner! Any leftovers should be refrigerated in a sealed container – reheat in a 300° F oven or toast in a toaster oven.  They freeze well; just don’t microwave them because they will get rubbery. They are also delightful for breakfast or lunch!
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas from David & Melissa! 

And a belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Holly Bergman!!!

Eat well and share the love! 

Potato Latkes
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies plus leftovers, makes about 18 latkes

Ingredients:
4 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled
1 large onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 package matzo ball mix
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper
Garnish:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Sour Cream
Applesauce
Optional Sides:
Sliced cucumber
Olives

Directions:
Heat oven to 200 degrees F (to keep latkes warm while frying) and place an oven-proof platter on the middle rack.

Add about 1/8 inch of canola oil to a large skillet.  Turn heat to medium-high; when the surface of the oil lightly ripples it is ready.   Test oil by adding a small piece of batter; if it browns on each side within a minute, it’s ready.

While the oil is heating, make the batter.  Grate potatoes and onion into a large bowl.  Add beaten eggs and mix well, making sure all the potatoes are coated.  Add matzo ball mix, salt and pepper and mix well.

When the oil is hot, add batter by spoonful (about 1/3 cup) into oil and flatten out with the back of spatula.  Cook for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown, and gently turn latkes away from you.  If needed slightly increase heat source to maintain consistent hot oil.

When both sides are golden brown, transfer latkes to a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Spoon more batter into oil and repeat process.  Transfer the cooked latkes to the platter in the oven to keep warm.

Serve latkes hot with fresh chopped dill and chives, and a pinch of salt.  Serve with a side of a dollop of sour cream and applesauce. 

Optional sides: sliced cucumbers and olives.

Pictures from our recent weekend trip to visit Beth and Steve in Chicago.  Sorry we missed you, Sara!