Italian Minestrone Soup

 

This hearty minestrone is easy to make and totally worth the effort.
The recipe calls for seasonal vegetables and affordable pantry ingredients you can find in any local grocery store, making it budget friendly. Like an Italian minestrone soup, this recipe is loaded with vegetables, beans, spinach and ditalini pasta. The soup packs great for lunch, and tastes even better the next day. You can make this dish dairy free, gluten-free and vegan friendly. Just see the following  Cook’s Notes.  This recipe calls for about 24 servings, so just know that it also freezes and defrosts well too. It is extra nice to have on hand in the freezer on during those days when you feel like being a lazy cook in the kitchen, especially during the winter months.

Serves 24

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of small diced pancetta bacon
2 peeled and small diced yellow onions
4 finely minced cloves of garlic
2 thinly sliced leeks, optional
4 medium diced stalks of celery
4 peeled and sliced carrots
1 peeled and medium diced turnip
1 peeled and medium diced parsnip
½ small diced bulb of fennel core removed, optional
3 peeled and large diced russet potatoes
Three 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes in juice
Three 15-ounce cans of drained cannellini beans
128 ounces of chicken stock
3 parmesan cheese rinds (See Cook’s Notes)
2 cups of frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach, chopped kale or chopped collard greens
juice of 1 lemon
2 pounds of cooked and cooled ditalini pasta (See Cook’s Notes)
Salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese and fresh oregano and rosemary sprigs, for garnish

 

Directions:
In a very large pot or stockpot over medium heat add in the pancetta and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside the pancetta lardons.

Add in the onions, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots, turnip, parsnips and fennel to the pot and sauté for 10 to 12 minutes.

Add in the potatoes, tomatoes, beans, stock and cheese rinds and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the peas, spinach, lemon juice, cooked pancetta, salt, and pepper.

To serve, ladle into bowl and garnish with parmesan, oregano and rosemary, if desired.

 

Cook’s Notes:
Minestrone soup is subject to change based on what you have and what’s in season. This minestrone soup recipe may look completely different in the summer since things like zucchini, yellow squash and squash peak in are that season. For the Spring, you might want to use peas, green beans and leeks for the soup. As for autumn seasonal vegetables, potatoes turnips, butternut squash, also work for this recipe. Basically, whatever vegetables you have on hand will work in this recipe. Left over vegetables will also work in a pinch too.

Grains or Pasta: Italian minestrone soup can also use things like farro or cous cous as the grain or pasta in the soup, such as orecchiette, elbow or small shell pasta. To make this soup gluten free, you can also substitute your favorite sturdy gluten-free noodle, such as DeLallo’s Whole-Grain Rice Shells.

Parmesan Cheese: The Parmesan cheese rind is not a necessity, but it will add some delicious umami flavors to the soup. You can add grated Parmesan to the soup as a substitute, or shredded Parmesan can be added as a garnish.

However, if you want to make the soup dairy free and vegan friendly, do not use Parmesan cheese or the pancetta. Most Parmesans are not technically vegetarian because they contain animal rennet. As a reliable substitute, Whole Foods 365 and Bel Gioioso brands do offer vegetarian Parmesan cheese, and both will work really well in this recipe.

How to Reheat: To reheat the minestrone soup simply add your desired portion to a small sauce pot and heat over low heat until hot. You can also simply add your desired portion to microwave safe bowl and heat for 2:30 stirring after 1:15.

How to Store: Minestrone soup will hold well in the refrigerator covered up for up to 5 days. It will also freeze well covered for up to 3 months. Simply pull it out as you need it and reheat following the directions above.

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Aozita Porcelain Cappuccino Cups

Lipper International Acacia Tree Bark Cheese Board

Ditalini Pasta

 

 

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Lemon Lavender Berry Cake

Culinary Lavender is an incredibly versatile herb for cooking.  In today’s  home kitchens, fresh edible flowers are making a comeback as enhancements to both the flavor and appearance of food. As a member of the  mint family  it  is also  closely related to rosemary, sage, and thyme.   It is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory.

Lavender has been a favorite herb for centuries. The historic use and recognition of lavender is almost as old the history of man.  As an herb, lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years. In ancient times lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptian’s, Phoenicians, and peoples of Arabia.  The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water and it was from the Latin word “lavo” meaning “to wash” that the herb took it’s name.  Perhaps first domesticated by the Arabians, lavender spread across Europe from Greece.  Around 600 BC lavender may have come from the Greek Hyeres Islands into France and is now common in France, Spain, Italy and England.

The ‘English’ lavender varieties were not locally developed in England but rather introduced in the 1600s right around the time the first lavender plants were making their way to the Americas. English Lavender (l. angustifolia and munstead) has the sweetest fragrance of all the lavenders and is the one most commonly used in cooking.  The uses of lavender are limited only by your imagination.  Culinary Lavender has a sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes.  The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying.

Queen Elizabeth I of England valued lavender as a conserve and a perfume.  It has been said that she commanded that the royal table should never be without conserve of lavender and she issued orders to her gardeners that fresh lavender flowers should be available all year round!  She also drank an abundance of Lavender tea to help ease her migraines and used it as a body perfume. Queen Victoria of England is most notable for making Lavender popular across England and it could be found, in one form or another, in every one of her rooms, as she used it to wash floors and furniture, freshen the air, and had it strewn among the linens. During the First World War, nurses bathed soldiers’ wounds with lavender washes.  To this day, the French continue to send baby lamb to graze in fields of lavender, so their meat will be tender and fragrant.

But I digress……the subject at hand was desserts.

This lemon lavender berry cake is soooooo good. It is not too sweet, but just sweet and savory  enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sometimes, Bundt cakes can end up heavy, dry and tasteless. This one, I promise you, is neither of those things. Buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and plenty of butter make sure the cake remains light and airy and moist and full of flavor. The cake is perfect for tea time or even served for brunch on a Sunday morning.

 

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 egg whites, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lavender extract (See Cook’s Notes)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, optional

Confectioner’s sugar, for  dusting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Using vegetable cooking spray, coat a 10 cup capacity Bundt cake pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Whisk until completely mixed.
In a standing mixer or with a hand held mixer and a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Whisk in eggs, egg whites, vanilla extract, and lavender extract on a high speed until combined, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.

On a low speed, whisk the flour mixture to the egg mixture until just combined.

Still on a low speed, pour in the buttermilk and lemon juice, mixing until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries and raspberries until just combined.

Pour batter evenly into the prepared. Gently tap the pan on the counter top to release any air bubbles. Place the cake in the oven. Bake for 30 -45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of each cake. Set on a wire rack to cool, at least one hour and remove from the cake pan

Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar. Garnish with berries, if desired and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
If you are having trouble finding lavender extract in your area, do not fret. There is a relatively new product by Taylor & Colledge Lavender that manufactures lavender a paste, made from the finest Lavender (Lavandula angustifoila) grown in southern Australia. In January, flowers are harvested and distilled to capture the true essence at its source. Our naturally flavored paste delivers a fresh new taste to try in your recipes. Just recently, the product is being carried in most major supermarkets in the United States and can be bought on line for a fairly reasonable price. The paste comes in a 1.4 oz (40 g) tube, and the beauty of it all is that you only need to use 1/2 teaspoon for most recipes, making it very economical.

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Taylor & Colledge Extract Paste, Lavender, 1.4 Ounce


Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan, One, Gold

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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Turkey Breast Roulade With Garlic and Rosemary

Turkey Breast Roulade With Garlic and Rosemary

Photo Credit: Christopher Simpson, The New York Times, 2020.

 
Lately, most home cooks have been  looking for alternatives to  cooking whole turkey, for the upcoming holidays, especially in the middle of the pandemic. This recipe adapted from Ina Garten provides an elegant presentation of a turkey roulade without having to deal with the left over meat in cooking a traditional turkey.  The recipe included fennel seeds, and  if you don’t like  the taste of fennel seeds,  you can surely leave them out. The garlic, sage and rosemary  that are also used in this recipe will give this roast the flavors of an Italian porchetta, and it will still be fragrant, juicy and delicious without them.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
New York Times, 2020

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
¾ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
6 garlic cloves, minced  
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 4 whole sage leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 whole butterflied boneless, skin-on turkey breast (about 4 to 5 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup dry white wine, such as Chablis (See Cook’s Notes)

Directions:
The day before,  set the turkey breast on a cutting board, skin side down.  Using a meat mallet, pound out the turkey to an even thickness of about 1 inch, and salt generously (dry brine). Place on a plate , cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator over night.

The following day,  heat the oven to 350° F.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel seeds and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the onion is tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the chopped sage and the rosemary; set aside to cool.

Before filling, remove the skin in one piece and set aside. Sprinkle the turkey with  1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Once the onion mixture has cooled, spread it evenly on the meat. Grate the butter and sprinkle it on top.   Arrange the  prosciutto on top, to totally cover the filling and meat.

Starting at one long end of the turkey breast, roll the meat up jelly-roll style to make a compact cylindrical roulade, ending with the seam side down. Arrange the skin over the turkey roulade. This way it’s all crispy skin on the outside and no soft flabby skin rolled up inside. Tie the roulade tightly with kitchen twine at 2 to 2 1/2-inch intervals to ensure that it will roast evenly. Slip the whole sage leaves under the twine down the center of the roulade.

Place the roulade, seam side down, in a roasting pan and pat the skin dry with paper towels. Brush the skin with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour the wine and 1 cup water into the roasting pan, surrounding the turkey with the liquids without pouring them directly over the roulade. Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and the internal temperature is 150 °F.

Remove from the oven, cover the turkey with foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the string, slice the roulade crosswise in 1/2-inch-thick slices, and serve warm with the pan juices.

Cook’s Notes:
If you prefer, you can substitute 1 ¼ cups of chicken broth for the wine.

Also note that you can add a handful of  fresh spinach to the filling, which  will  enhance the flavor profile of this dish.

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