Cream of Mushroom Soup

November 12, 2021

When I was little, I loved Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Pouring the thick white base with lines from the can still formed onto its sides that was studded with chewy mushrooms.  Adding the milk, and whisking until they were sort of combined, bumps were fine. It was heaven.

To an eight year old.

As a grown up, it’s pretty gross.

The good news is that it is very quick and easy to make a cream of mushroom soup from scratch that is filled with the creamy umami goodness that it’s canned cousin slightly possesses.

You start with browning a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms, and after reserving a cupful for later, you add the aromatics of shallots and garlic…

Then you add the dried tarragon, which goes so well with mushrooms I pretty much add it whenever I am cooking with them.

Then add broth, simmer for 10 minutes…

At this point you have some options that are all based on personal preferences. You could eat it like this, or to have a bit more of a refined soup, you can insert your immersion blender and go. Some people like to completely blend the soup so it is a thick, creamy base with the reserved mushrooms added back in. But I guess as a nod to my Campbell’s soup days, I like little chewy bits of mushrooms in my soup.

So I like to process it until it is chunky, not creamy.

This is the perfect dish to serve to guests who may be visiting for Thanksgiving, or to have a steamy bowl set at each place setting to set the meal off. If you want to get really fancy, you could thicken it a little (find out ways to thicken sauces here, my favorite is to mix a little flour and butter together to make a roux) and use this as a base for your green bean casserole, which is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Or just make it on a rainy Friday in November like today.

It’s the perfect recipe for when you walk by beautiful mushrooms in your grocery, and it only takes a few more minutes then the stuff from a can. But your inner child will still love the stick-to-your-ribs comfort food feeling you get. I promise.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups mushrooms – a mix of cremini (or button) and shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, roughly chopped or sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 4 shallots, minced (about 3/4 -1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat oil on medium heat. When hot, add butter, and once it has melted add the mushrooms, tossing to coat in the butter and oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove one cup of the mushrooms to add back in later.

Add shallots and garlic to pot, and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Add the tsp. salt, tarragon, and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then remove from heat.

Once soup has cooled a bit, use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (You can also use a standing blender, but I like my soup with chunks rather than totally smooth, so I prefer the immersion blender.) Once it is your desired level of thickness, stir in cream, pepper and add extra mushrooms and parsley to the pot. Taste and check for seasonings and serve.

 

 

Mussels with White Wine, Leeks & Chorizo

October 30, 2021

 

I love ordering mussels at restaurants. Fortunately there are so many restaurants near us in Portsmouth NH and Portland Maine that have them on their menus. They are sort of an interactive food, since you are eating the sweet, meaty mussels and then using the shells or some crusty bread or a spoon to scoop up the aromatic broth they are cooked in which tastes like heaven- acid from the wine, aromatic garlic and leeks, and the earthy taste of the ocean from the mussels. I love the spicy kick from the chorizo so much that I love adding it but they are good without it if you don’t have it or don’t love spice.

They are also really easy to make at home. Once you find a good fish monger who carries them like Whole Foods or specialty stores all you need to do is sort through them to make sure you are only cooking healthy, living mussels (aka the ones that are tightly closed and smell briny and not fishy). Then find some yummy base flavors like onions, leeks, garlic, wine, herbs, and you’ll end up with something delicious.

Then put a lid on them and they cook very quickly.

They are easy, fast and cheap to make at home, but they feel like a bistro/restaurant quality meal. I think the main reason home cooks shy away from them is the difficulty in figuring out if they are good or not. So here is a quick guide to help and once you do it a few times you get the hang of it (adapted from this post here if you want to learn more).

I hope you get to make them soon! Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

BUYING FRESH MUSSELS

  • Prime mussel season is from October to March.
  • Mussels are alive and are kept on ice at the market. They will often come in a mesh bag with a tag indicating harvest location, date, and use by date. If the mussels are loose in the case, you can ask your fishmonger to show you the tag.
  • Let your nose be your guide! Mussels should smell like the ocean and sea air: briny and fresh. They should not smell overly fishy.
  • The shells should be closed tightly. If you find any mussels in your bag with open shells, gently tap them on the counter, wait a minute, and see if they close. Discard any mussels don’t close, or those with chipped or cracked shells.
  • Transport mussels home from the market in an open-topped bag that can breathe. Tightly tying them up in a plastic bag without air circulation will risk smothering and spoiling them.

 

Mussels with White Wine, Leeks & Chorizo

Ingredients:

2 pounds of mussels

1 Tablespoon butter

2 leeks, light green and white parts washed and sliced

3-4 garlic cloves

1 cup chorizo, sliced lengthwise and then in 1/2 inch sliced or crumbled

1 cup white wine

2 cups stock (chicken, seafood or vegetable all work)

3 stalks fresh thyme leaves

3 Tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Sort mussels, removing any that are open. Soak in a bowl of water with a 1/4 cup of flour for 10 minutes.

Melt butter in wide pan, then add leeks. Saute for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add chorizo and cook 2-3 minutes, then add white wine and cook a few minutes, then add chicken stock, thyme, parsley and mussels and cover. Cook 8 minutes. Remove lid and stir in cream, then pour into a serving dish. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

 

 

Apple Kale Salad with Honeycrips, Cheddar & Cinnamon Vinaigrette

October 14, 2021

I first saw this salad on How Sweet Eats and it is just so pretty I had to try it. And it was so good I had to blog it! It is the perfect fall celebration and since we just went apple picking last weekend we have lots of apples to make more. Its the smokey pepita clusters that do it for me. If you are having any trouble finding the pepitas try the bulk section of your local grocery store.

The smokey-sweet-salty combo is so good I’m thinking of trying it on everything. And the pecans are good enough to make for the holidays.

And I love getting my kale already washed and sliced. It made this salad come together so quickly.

The earthy kale, sweet apple, cinnamon vinaigrette all come together with a delightful crunch from the toppings. It feels amazingly healthy and a symphony of fall flavor at the same time.

This fall has been totally glorious, and after the fresh, easy cooking of summer I am craving having time to cook cozy cold weather meals. But it has been so warm this salad works perfectly. This is definitely happening again soon at my house, and I might even mix it up with some goat cheese or sliced chicken breast on top. I hope you get to try this one because it is going into our annual fall recipe pile.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Apple Kale Salad with Honeycrips, Cheddar & Cinnamon Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS

SMOKY HONEY PEPITA CLUSTERS

  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of salt

SWEET AND SPICY TOASTED PECANS

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

CINNAMON SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

SALAD

    • 4 to 6 cups chopped tuscan kale
    • 2 honeycrisp apples thinly sliced
    • 3 ounces freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

SMOKY HONEY PEPITA CLUSTERS

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Microwave the coconut oil and honey together until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir the pepitas in a large bowl with the honey mixture, salt and smoked paprika. Place them on the baking sheet and smooth them out with a spatula – you still want them clustered so you can break them apart after baking!
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and toss slightly. Let cool completely before breaking apart.

SWEET AND SPICY TOASTED PECANS

  • Heat the pecans in a nonstick skillet over low heat, stirring often, until fragrant and toasty. Stir in the honey, red pepper flakes and nutmeg. Let the honey bubble and stir for a few minutes, then transfer the pecans to parchment paper and let them cool completely.

CINNAMON SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE

  • Whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, shallot, garlic, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. This keeps great in the fridge for a few days!

SALAD

  • Massage the kale with a tablespoon or so of the dressing and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. I like to season the kale at this point with salt and pepper too. Slice the apples and combine the apples, cheese, pecans and pepita clusters with the kale and toss well. Serve with the vinaigrette!

Recipe reposted from How Sweet Eats 

French Onion Chicken Meatballs

October 6, 2021

 

Recently someone asked me what my food philosophy is, or my POV. And I thought about it and realized it is somewhere between that romantic rustic country kitchen – one with a fire going, with some dogs and a bowl of rising bread nearby – and ‘I have 20 minutes in between getting home from the grocery store and leaving for football practice to make dinner’. What do we call that POV? Old world meets new world? Classic meets modern? Anyone else feel that way?

Either way, this dinner perfectly fits this food philosophy. The feel of a slow cooked french onion soup with the stick to your ribs in a healthy way chicken meatballs? Yes please. I actually wanted to make this recipe because it combined my husbands two favorite things and let me tell you, he was thrilled with the leftovers.

But the best is that it is a pretty quick recipe since it has you bake the meatballs while the the onions are cooking, cutting your cook time in half. Multitasking is the middle name of whatever we’re calling my food perspective. Can I get an amen?

Our crew was split down the middle for a carb vehicle for these meatballs – team egg noodle vs. team mashed potatoes. I was part of the later and loved how the gravy soaked into the potatoes, but both teams pretty much won since everyone loved this dish. This would also be AH-mazing in between some crusty bread for a twist on a meatball sub.

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If you haven’t already memorized your favorite meatball recipe, may I suggest that it is a huge help when you are rushing and you just need to get food on the table? We put meatballs into our favorite simmer tomato sauce, into soups, and into the oven to bake so frequently that it helps to memorize certain ratios – for every 1 pound of the meat of your choice, it is 1 tsp. salt, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/4-1/2 cup cheese, 2 cloves of garlic (use that garlic press and it is so easy) and a handful of chopped parsley. This is also pretty close to how I make mini-meatloaves too. So whether you are making chicken, turkey, beef or other meatballs, it is always the same format, and once you have it down it goes really fast. Also, stale bread in the Ninja blender makes the best breadcrumbs.

This is the perfect busy night, crowd pleasing dish. We’re so excited to add this to our dinner rotation, hope you get to try it soon!

French Onion Chicken Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MEATBALLS

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, for baking sheet

1 lb. ground chicken

1/2 c. shredded Gruyère

1/4 c. bread crumbs

2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

1 large egg, beaten

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

FOR THE SAUCE

4 tbsp. butter

2 large onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 c. low-sodium beef broth

2 tsp. freshly chopped thyme, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 c. shredded Gruyère

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Line a large baking sheet with foil and rub with oil.
  2. Make meatballs: In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Gruyère, bread crumbs, parsley, egg, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Form into 16 meatballs, then place on prepared baking sheet and bake until golden and cooked through, 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile make sauce: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and cook until very soft and golden, 25 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add broth and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until slightly thickened, 10 minutes.
  4. Add meatballs to skillet and sprinkle with Gruyère. Cover and cook until meatballs are warmed through and cheese is melty, 5 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with thyme.

Recipe from delish.com

Teddie’s Cinnamon Apple Cake

September 28, 2021

Happy Fall, friends! It is peak apple season here in New Hampshire and like the rest of New England we can’t get enough.  I keep buying huge bags from my favorite local farmer (where I get my eggs, vegetables and flowers all summer) and I have to go back and get more because we’ve eaten them all.

I have some healthy recipes for you coming, but I thought I would just start with this Apple Cake that originated in the NY Times Cooking section and found its way to Alexandra Cooks, and then into my kitchen with our twins. They love to cook! We make a lot of muffins and cookies, but they got very excited when I asked if they wanted to make Apple Cake. We have no idea who Teddie is though.

I really wanted to try it because it sounded similar to the blueberry cake I posted about last summer that was a recipe my mother in law makes often for family get togethers. I have really grown to love how a fruit cake is just as good with coffee in the morning as it is with ice cream for desert. And that is just what Alexander said she loved about this cake too.

Turns out it is fall in a slice of cake.

So moist, sweet, and filled with the warm spices of cinnamon. And I added a twist from what what we love about the blueberry cake which is to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. It makes it slightly crunchy with a sugary cinnamon crust. I highly recommend.

As I was making this I thought of a ton of variations – it would be so easy to triple this recipe and put it on a big sheet pan to feed a crowd. It would also be great with a drizzle of a maple frosting, but it is so simple and moist on its own and really lets the apples shine.

This recipe made me want to invite neighbors over and sit down and chat and drink coffee. It is the perfect thing to make for a neighbor or a get together (still so glad we have those now! I don’t take them for granted!).  Or just make it for your crew for dessert.

Teddie’s Cinnamon Apple Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter for greasing pan
  • 3 cups(384 g) flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cupsvegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar (+2 Tablespoons for topping)
  • 3eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (+ 1/2 teaspoon for topping)
  • 1 teaspoonbaking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, I used Cortland & they were great*
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I omit)
  • 1 cup raisins (I omit)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

*Alexandra used a mix of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji, York and Cameo with success — use whatever you have on hand or whatever variety you prefer to bake with.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.
  2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts (if using) and raisins (if using) and stir until combined.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.  Mix together the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar and sprinkle it over the top. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe from NY Times via Alexandra Cooks.

Smokey Croque Monsieur

September 15, 2021

Last week I took out the last of our cheese bread from Riley’s Market that I bought on our last trip to Pemaquid. This bread is legendary. It is the perfect combination of fluffy white bread that is almost like challah or brioche, and it gets craggy (is that a word?) when you cut into it, and when the little craggy bits sticking out get toasted they yield the perfect crunchy bite with the softness of the doughy bread. On top of that, there is sharp cheddar cheese swirled throughout the bread. The little spots melt a bit when they are toasted, and well you all know how good melted cheese is. I might just have to work on a recipe for this bread. In the mean time, I thought about what I could do with this beauty.

One of my favorite things to do with challah is to make french toast (especially with egg nog at the holidays – my husbands favorite breakfast!) so I thought about making a savory french toast which led to croque monsieurs.

I wanted to put a twist on it, and when I saw smoked gruyere at the store, I knew it would match so well with smokey ham.

Guess what?

It really did. These were delicious – I know all croque monsieurs are, with their wonderful mix of textures and creaminess and toasted bread and you can’t go wrong with the original. But these had their own character and made me think this would also be delicious with smoked gouda or any smoked cheese, and those might even be easier to find, so don’t hesitate if you go that route.

These sandwiches are very easy to make, with a basic béchamel sauce the only ‘cooking’ necessary. It comes together so easily, and the melted cheese in it just adds to the smokey creaminess.

It is just basic assembly after that, and it is one of those dishes that is very simple but the combination makes something magical. The hit from the Dijon mustard is also the best kick and makes these mouthwatering.

Don’t worry if you can’t find cheese bread – these ingredients will be delicious with any white bread. And there will be plenty of cheese either way.

This hot and gooey sandwich came out of the oven and my family was hovering around it, waiting to dive in. It is easy enough for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for a special meal too. They are great for parties with tiny bread or cut into fourths.

I hope you try these and love them! Or put your own spin on it – use smoked turkey, or add your favorite veg like spinach or kimchi so that it feels like a reuben. Or just stick with the classic which is classic for a reason.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

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Smokey Croque Monsieur

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups hot milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch nutmeg

12 ounces Smoked Gruyere or Smoked Gouda, grated (5 cups)

(Note: the original calls for ½ cup parmesan but I omitted to keep it smoked)

16 slices white sandwich bread

Dijon mustard

8 ounces baked or black forest ham, sliced but not paper thin

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated smoked Gruyere. (Note: if making the original add the ½ cup parmesan).
  3. To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
  4. Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.