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Sweet Pepper and Lentil Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, or 2 leeks, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly purchased paprika or smoked paprika
1-3 sweet peppers, depending on their size, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup dried brown or black lentils, picked over and rinsed
5 cups broth or water
S & P to taste (at least an entire teaspoon of salt for this one)

1-2 Tablespoons champagne or sherry or rice vinegar to finish the soup

Cook the onion in 1 Tablespoon oil over medium heat in a skillet until the onion/leeks begin to soften.

Stir in paprika and allow it to cook for about a minute more.

Add the chopped sweet pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until everything begins to soften. Scrape all this into a slow cooker. Add the lentils and broth (or water) and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low until the lentils are completely soft, 7-9 hours. Season the soup with S & P (more salt if you used water, less if you used purchased broth), and last Tablespoon olive oil.

Stir in 1 Tablespoon of one of the vinegars, adding more if needed. Serve hot.


Adapted from: Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Hensperger and Kaufmann



Morristown Mushrooms

Years ago I purchased a cookbook called “A Matter of Taste” from the Morristown Junior League and this is a recipe that I had prepared quite a few times for a simple appetizer, something like the mushroom turnover without the preparation of the pastry.  Use as a spread on crackers or a filling for crepes or croissants.

Yield: 8″ pie
4 slices bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
white pepper
fresh dill sprigs

Preheat the oven to 325

Fry bacon, crumble and set aside.

Reserve drippings. Sauté onions in bacon drippings. Drain, and add cream cheese to the onions. Heat and stir until the cheese is melted

Add mushrooms and heat thoroughly. Stir in the sour cream, bacon and a pinch of pepper

Spoon mixture into an 8” pie plate and bake for 30 minutes. After baking transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with fresh dill sprigs and serve with firm hearty crackers or breads.

From: A Matter of Taste-Morristown Junior League




White Bolognese

Many thanks for this recipe, from CSA member Vivienne West

 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef
1 1/3 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/3 cups finely chopped celery
1 1/3 cups finely chopped parsnip
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 bottle (3 ½ cups) dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup whole milk (used 1% and half &half)
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish.

Heat oil in very large skillet and brown meats until cooked thoroughly.
Remove meat; leave liquid in skillet.  Add vegetables, garlic, pepper and salt to skillet; cook, stirring, until browned, about 12-14 minutes.   Return meat to skillet, add wine and reduce until almost evaporated.
Add stock and reduce until almost evaporated.  Add milk and sage; simmer until thick, about 10 minutes.
Serve over pasta; garnish with cheese.



Spicy Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings

1 pound spicy Italian sausage chicken or pork)
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
2 large bunches of kale, stemmed and chopped, about 4 overflowing handfuls
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 medium or 2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced
8 cups chicken broth or stock, 2 boxes
¼-1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat a large heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat. Once the pot has heated through, add the sausage, which you removed from the casing. Using a wooden spoon, begin to break up the sausage and allow it to cook, stirring occasionally, until it has fully browned. Remove the crisped sausage from the pot and transfer it to a plate or bowl. Set aside.
Lower the heat to medium, add the butter or oil and throw in the onions and garlic. Stir, scraping down the bottom of the pot picking up the browned bits of sausage with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook until soft and translucent about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Continue to sauté until the onions have caramelized. Add the chopped kale in batches, allowing it to wilt down as it cooks. It might seem like a lot of kale but it will cook down, just like spinach! Add the nutmeg and stir. Cook the kale for another 3 minutes until it has turned bright green and completely wilted down. Throw in the sliced potatoes and cooked sausage.
Pour in the chicken stock or broth and bring it up to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer until the potatoes are cooked tender and soft. Taste the soup for seasoning, at this point you may add more salt, pepper or red pepper flakes, if desired. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, stir in the heavy cream. Serve right away with some bread on the side.





Roasted Winter Squash and Leek Soup

2-3 small winter squash Sweet Dumpling or 1 large butternut
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus a bit more for rubbing on the squash before roasting
3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced (white part only) (Save the greens for the stock)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot (for stock), peeled and roughly chopped
4 parsley branches for stock, plus 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
6-8 fresh sage leaves (or a pinch dried)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or a bit of fresh thyme, if you have it on hand)
2 quarts water for stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. cream or half and half (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Cut squash in half.  Scoop out seeds and strings and set aside.  Lightly rub squash with olive oil, then place cut-side down on the foil-lined baking pan.  Roast for approximately 30-40 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when a fork  goes through it easily.

Meanwhile, take the seeds and strings you set aside and put them in a large saucepan or small stock pot.  Add about a cup of the green part of the leeks (rinsed and chopped roughly), 1 chopped carrot, the 4 parsley branches and a teaspoon of salt.   Add 6-8 cups of water.  (You will need 4-5 cups of stock for the soup.  I usually like to make a bit more stock than I need so I’ll have extra, either to thin the soup with if necessary or to use for something else like risotto.)   Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for approx. 30 minutes (or until your squash is roasted and you’re ready to make the soup).

Strain out the vegetables and set the broth aside. While your squash is roasting and your stock simmering, you can start the vegetables.  Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the leeks and onion.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft.  Add the garlic, making sure it doesn’t brown or burn.  Add the diced potato and your herbs (parsley, thyme and sage).  Once your squash is out of the oven and cool enough to touch, scoop the roasted squash out of the skin and add it to the onion/leek/garlic/potato.  (Make sure the burner is on low while you’re doing this so nothing sticks or scorches.)  Then add about 4 cups of stock to the pot.  If it looks too thick, you can add another cup.  Bring to a boil, then lower and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point, I puree the soup in the pot with my immersion blender.  You could also use a regular blender or a food processor if that’s what you have.  (But really, if you plan on making a lot of soup or sauce in the future, an immersion blender is an invaluable kitchen tool.)  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you want to add a bit of cream or half and half, it’s a delicious variation. You can also thin it further with more stock if it’s still too thick.
A few notes: use whatever squash you have on hand.  If you only have a big butternut squash, use that–the only difference is that you might have to let it roast longer in the oven.  If you’re not partial to sage and parsley, feel free to change up the herbs.  Squash goes well with ginger and lemongrass and Asian flavors also, for example.  If you don’t have any leeks, use 2 or 3 onions instead.  If there are no leek greens in your in your stock, then use an onion there as well.



Sweet Potato Latke with Lime Crème Fraiche

For lime crème fraiche:
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
1 cup crème fraiche

For latkes:
2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 large Spanish onion, very finely chopped
Kosher salt
Pinch of ancho chili powder
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup matzos
1/3 cup flour

For lime crème fraiche:
Make this by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl and placing in the fridge, allowing all the flavors to combine.

For latkes:
Shred the potatoes with the fine shredding attachment of your food processor or hand grater. Place in a colander and squeeze out the excess moisture as much as possible.  Put the shredded potato in a bowl and add the onions, eggs, matzos, flour and salt to taste. Mix in desired spices, in this case cinnamon, chili powder, nutmeg and baking soda.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 1/4 of canola oil over high heat until very hot but not smoking.  Measure 1/ 4 cup of batter at a time and drop into hot oil. Flatten gently with a spatula. Don’t put more than a few in the pan at one time. Lower the heat to medium.  Regulate the heat carefully. Fry until golden brown on one side, then turn over and fry the other side. Don’t turn more than once or they will start to get soggy.  Put finished latkes on dry paper towel.
Serve immediately with lime crème fraiche or homemade applesauce

From: Chef Nikki Cascone   


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