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Week 4?  Already?  It seems that the journey is nearly complete, as we’ve now passed the  halfway mark in the Holy Season of Lent.  This week’s menu required a bit of tweaking…family members made a couple special requests, so I’ll be including those recipes in this week’s menu.  A very pleasant surprise:  Bobby Flay’s Chicken and Dumpling Soup…recipe below!    Enjoy this week’s menu…and once again, feel free to submit your favorite recipe.  As we get further down the line, I’m really struggling for original soups!  God bless you throughout your Lenten journey…

Lenten Menu – Week 4

Wednesday

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Homemade bread with rosemary and garlic

Fruit

Thursday

Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Cabbage Soup

Biscuits

Carrot, Apple and Raisin salad

Friday

Pasta e Fagioli

Homemade Foccacia topped with Parmesan Cheese

Caesar Salad

Saturday – Go Cats!  Tip-off 8:45 p.m.

Chili – Roger’s best!

Cornbread

Apple Fritters

Sunday (Feast!)

Spaghetti and homemade meatballs

Crusty Italian Loaf

Salad

Strawberries and Cream

Monday

SouleMama’s Tomato Carrot Soup

Garlic Toast

Bacon-Tomato Salad

Tuesday

French Onion Soup

French Loaf

Green Salad with Tomato and Avocado

Wednesday

Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Soup…from week 1)

Tortilla Chips and Toppings

Sliced Cantaloupe

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Here are the soup and bread recipes…double as you need to…that’s what I do!  And a special note:  all measurements on my recipes are approximations.  Ask my friends…I never measure anything!  I’d say the approximations are still pretty close…but that’s the beauty of home cooking!  We take a recipe and make it our own…

Pasta e Fagioli – my recipe

 (meatless…though you can add pancetta, bacon or ham if you like!)

6 T Olive oil

2 lg. onions, diced

4 carrots, sliced

2 ribs of celery, sliced

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 lg. can tomato puree

1 lg can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 c. lentils (you may use cannelini beans if you like)

1lb. elbow macaroni or cavatappi

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

3 bay leaves

1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 T balsamic vinegar

16 cups of water

4 chicken bouillon cubes, or stock to make 4 cups…subtract four cups of water if using additional liquid

salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of a very large stockpot, heat olive oil until shimmering.  Saute onions, carrots, celery, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Once vegetables have softened, add water, bouillon (or stock), and all ingredients but the pasta.  Simmer until lentils have softened.  Add pasta.  Allow to simmer until pasta has softened and absorbed a good deal of liquid.  Don’t worry if the pasta “breaks” - this is a rustic soup and actually improves upon the second day!  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a good foccacia!

Kimberly’s Super-simple Foccacia

2 cups of very warm water

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Italian herbs…or a blend of rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano

5 cups (give or take) of flour

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, salt and 1 cup of flour.  Stir until mixed.  Slowly add the remaining flour, cup by cup, until all is incorporated.  Depending upon humidity, you may need more or less flour.  Your dough should be soft and elastic…not sticky, but a little moist prior to kneading.  Knead for 8 minutes, sprinkling surface with additional flour as needed.  Form dough into a large ball and place in a well-oiled bowl.  Cover and place in a warm location, preferably the stovetop where your soup is cooking!    Allow dough to rise for about 30 minutes.  While dough is rising, prepare a pan…I use a 9 by 15 glass dish for a thicker bread, but also have used my lasagna pan for a larger, thinner bread.  Your choice.  Pour about 2 T olive oil in the bottom of the pan and coat the sides, too.  Give the dough in the bowl a good punch to deflate it…don’t worry about kneading or shaping this time…simply press the dough into prepared pan.  Now the fun part…dimple the surface!  Using your fingers, make identations all over the top of the dough…this will provide nooks and crannies for your butter/herb/garlic/cheese topping.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Bread should be golden brown and you should here a hollow “thunk” when you tap the top of it.  Allow to cool for about five minutes while you prepare the topping.

Topping

3 T Parmesan cheese

1/2 stick of Butter

1/2 tsp Garlic salt

1 tsp. dried Italian herbs

Melt  the butter and stir in herbs and garlic salt.  Liberally brush the surface of the bread…use all of the butter herb mixture.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of bread.  Allow bread to cool another 5 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!   You may use this base recipe and add whatever toppings you like:  fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, bits of fresh mozzarella…whatever suits your taste.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup by Bobby Flay

*note:  I used nearly double the liquid for this soup…but then I like a lot of broth!

Ingredients

Soup:

2 to 3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

1/2 stalk celery, diced

Meat from 1 chicken, cooked and shredded

4 to 6 cups chicken broth

1 cup fresh cut green beans

1 cup pearl barley

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

Dumplings:

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cupall-purpose flour

3 eggs

Directions

Soup:

In a small amount of cooking oil sweat the onion, carrots and celery. Add chicken, broth, green beans, barley, celery salt, parsley and bay leaves. Simmer until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes.

Make dumplings:

Bring the milk and butter to a boil, add salt and nutmeg. Remove from heat and immediately add flour stirring until dough leaves the sides of the pan. Incorporate the eggs, 1 at a time, forming a sticky dough.

Season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add spoon sized balls of dumpling dough and simmer until dumplings rise.

Bacon, Bleu Cheese and Cabbage Soup – my own recipe

1 lb. bacon

1 head of cabbage

1 very large vidalia onion, halved and sliced

4 oz. container of bleu cheese crumbles…or crumble your own!

1 cup white wine

6 cups chicken stock

1 qt. cream

1/2 cup cornstarch mixed with 1 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of a very large stockpot, brown bacon.  Remove, drain and crumble…set aside.   Using the bacon drippings in the bottom of the stockpot, saute onion and cabbage until onions become translucent.  Add stock.  Simmer until cabbage has softened.  Lower heat, add cream, white wine, salt and pepper.  Once incorporated, raise heat again, but do not boil.  When soup is very hot, slowly drizzle cornstarch mixture until soup reaches desired consistency.  Stir in bleu cheese crumbles and bacon.  Serve with your favoriate bread and salad!

French Onion Soup

Published January 1, 2008. From Cook’s Illustrated.

Serves 6

Sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, will make this recipe overly sweet. Be patient when caramelizing the onions in step 2; the entire process takes 45 to 60 minutes. Use broiler-safe crocks and keep the rim of the bowls 4 to 5 inches from the heating element to obtain a proper gratinée of melted, bubbly cheese. If using ordinary soup bowls, sprinkle the toasted bread slices with Gruyère and return them to the broiler until the cheese melts, then float them on top of the soup. We prefer Swanson Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth and Pacific Beef Broth. For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.

Ingredients

Soup

3tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces

6large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see illustration below)

Table salt

2cups water , plus extra for deglazing

1/2cup dry sherry

4cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)

2cups beef broth (see note)

6sprigs fresh thyme , tied with kitchen twine

1 bay leaf

Ground black pepper

Cheese Croutons

1small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices

8ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)

Instructions

1. For the soup: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.

2. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.) Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

4. For the croutons: While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

5. To serve: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Another week down, a few more to go! Enjoy the recipes…simplicity and nutrition in a single bowl.

Blessings,

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