Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.30.39 AM

Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen spinach
8 ounces fresh watercress
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
8 medium fresh mint leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Crème fraîche, for serving

Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Add the spinach and cook until spinach is thawed, approximately 2 minutes. Add the watercress and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool quickly with cold running water. Continue to drain in strainer and squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach and watercress as possible.

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock to the saucepan, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat. Add the spinach, watercress and mint to the blender.  Pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender as well. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon juice, and butter; continue to blend until fully incorporated.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few cheesy thyme crisp. (recipe below)

Cheesy Thyme Crisp

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on a microplane
1/2 cup grated Gruyere, grated on a microplane
1/2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Toss to combine in a large bowl, the cheeses, flour, thyme and pepper.

Place 6 1-tablespoon mounds of the cheesy mixture, evenly spaced apart, on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the mounds of mixture, using your fingers, into 3½ to 4-inch rounds.

Bake for 8 minutes until crisps are light brown in color. Remove from the oven and allow cheesy crisps to cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer crisps to a cookie rack and let cool completely.

Using a cool sheet pan, repeat the process until all crisps are cooked off.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Apple and Fennel Salad

Stay healthy in 2017 with this crisp and bright salad!

apple-fennel-salad

Apple and Fennel Salad with Shaved Parmigiano and Black Currants

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced small (3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 large apple, unpeeled (preferably Braeburn, Fuji, or Honeycrisp)

1 large fennel bulb

¼ cup black currants

⅓ cup toasted, salted walnut pieces

¼ cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot and olive oil, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Slice the apple and fennel bulb into French-fry strips on a mandolin (or cut into matchsticks), for approximately two cups apple and two cups fennel.

Toss together the apple, fennel, currants, walnuts and parsley in a medium bowl. Add vinaigrette and gently fold to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide the salad among 4 large plates and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over each salad. Lastly, using a vegetable peeler, top each serving with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

It’s cozy, flavorful and healthy… a perfect combination for a happy new year!

vegetarian-bulgur-chili

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

4 cups vegetable stock, divided

1 cup bulgur

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

4 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon double concentrated tomato paste

½ teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon ancho chili powder

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground chipotle, or to taste

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste

2 (15-ounce) can beans (combination of red kidney beans, black beans, and/or pinto beans) rinsed and drained

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream, optional

 

Add 2 cups of the vegetable stock and 1 cup bulgur to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 12 to 15 minutes until bulgur has absorbed the water and is al dente. (You may need to drain water out to prevent overcooking or add a little water to prevent undercooking.) Set aside when finished cooking.

Add 3 tablespoons oil, the onions and thyme to a small pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, ancho powder, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, chipotle, 1 teaspoon salt, unsweetened cocoa, tomatoes, Worcestershire, vinegar, remaining stock, and beans. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any brown bits.

Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, while the chili simmers slowly.

Stir in 1 cup of the cooked bulgur and remove from heat. Remove the thyme bundle and season to taste with salt, pepper and an additional dash of apple cider vinegar.

Divide into bowls, top with a dollop of crème fraiche and serve.

Other topping suggestions: fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, avocado…

Hot Mulled Cider

Ring in your New Year with a steaming mug of cider! Adult and kid friendly versions available!

hot-mulled-cider

Hot Mulled Cider

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

½ gallon freshly pressed apple cider

3 sticks cinnamon, plus more sticks for garnish

1 medium orange, unpeeled, sliced thinly

2 whole cloves

½ vanilla bean, seeds and pod: slice down the length of the pod, spread open, and scrape out the flesh by pressing with a butter knife

1 tablespoon honey, preferably orange blossom

⅓ cup brandy, optional

 

In a large saucepan or small pot over low heat, add all of the ingredients, and mix together. Stir occasionally until very warm. Serve in mugs with slices of orange.

Notes:

  • If the mulled cider will be sitting for an exceptionally long time, remove the cloves when the flavor is to your liking.
  • If you are a big fan of spice, combine 3 star anise and 1 inch of peeled, roughly chopped fresh ginger and put them into a tea strainer or mesh bag to steep along with the other ingredients. Much like steeping tea, remove the tea strainer or mesh bag of ginger and star anise when the desired flavor is achieved.

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Purée

This Thanksgiving, forgo the marshmallows, lighten your mash and make my Sweet Potato Puree. Your stomach, taste buds and guests will thank you! (Okay, if you still want those marshmallows, I can attest that they do pair well with this dish ;-))

cinnamon-sweet-potato-puree

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Purée

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

3 medium sweet potatoes (2 pounds), peeled and diced into 2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a Microplane

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Place the potatoes in a small pot filled halfway with cool water.
  1. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, then drain well.
  1. Add the drained potatoes to a food processor with a metal blade attachment (for a super smooth texture) or large bowl (for a more rustic texture).
  1. Process in the food processor or mash with a potato masher, then add the remaining ingredients and continue processing or mashing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

Check out my 1 pot wonder dinner, Braised Spiced Chickpeas with Swiss Chard and Sweet Potatoes, in the latest issue of Clean Eating magazine – hey it’s the cover photo – and it’s available online!

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-10-43-09-am

If you like this recipe, you’ll love what we’ll be cooking up in my new online course, “Mastering Sustainable Seafood, Poultry and Meat!”

ce_masteringsustainable_newsletter

Check out the course trailer and syllabus and enter NLYON75 when you register for $75 off!

Honey Vanilla Ricotta with Fresh Berries

It’s summer! Make use of your stash of berries with this simple and super quick dessert. Sure to be a crowd pleaser (for kids and adults)… Enjoy! Recipe is below (and in my cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, page 110) AND you can also watch me make this on my youtube page. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quJvHnOrIlE

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 12.57.01 PM.png

Fresh Fruit with Honey Vanilla Whipped Ricotta

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Fruit: (feel free to make your own berry combo!)

2 cups fresh sweet cherries, halved and pits removed

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 pint blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a combination

5 large fresh mint leaves, chopped finely (2 tablespoons) plus 4 large whole mint leaves for garnish

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Vanilla Whipped Ricotta:

1 (16-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese, drained

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom

 

In a medium bowl, toss to combine the fruit salad ingredients.

Put the ricotta, vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar, and honey in the bowl of a food processor or mixer. Process or whip until smooth. Refrigerate until it’s time for dessert.

To serve, divide the fruit into bowls, top with a generous spoonful of the Honey Whipped Vanilla Ricotta and garnish with a mint leaf.