Monday, April 28, 2008

Speckled Watercress Soup

Another delicious green spring soup! This one couldn't be easier to prepare and is pretty enough to serve at a spring party or Mother's Day Brunch (my plan!).

I love the fresh, peppery taste of watercress, which is added at the very end to maximize flavour and color.

Shallots, a potato, vegetable broth, and a little milk make the simple base. You could purée it all the way, but I love the speckled effect of this partially puréed version.

This recipe only makes two servings, so double or triple it depending on your immediate needs.

Speckled Watercress Soup:
1/2 tsp olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 tsp butter
vegetable broth
sea salt and black pepper
1 bunch watercress, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
2 TBS milk

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Sauté the shallots over low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. Add the diced potato and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add vegetable broth to cover potatoes by 1/2 inch. Season. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer partially covered until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Take off the heat, add the chopped watercress leaves and milk. Stir.

Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until potatoes are smooth and watercress is speckled. Adjust seasoning.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go Green Soup!

I was very excited to find fresh organic green peas at the farmers market. With asparagus also being in season, this Go Green Soup was the order of the day! It also includes green cauliflower, swiss chard, savoy cabbage, pesto, and fresh basil.

Go Green Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup green cauliflower, cut into small florettes
1 cup savoy cabbage, chopped
6 baby chard leaves, stemmed and cut into 1" x 2" pieces
5 stems of asparagus, woody stems removed, cut into 1/4" slices
vegetable stock and water
2 Tbsp pesto
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh English peas
julienned basil leaves as a garnish

Heat the oil over medium low heat. Saute the garlic for 2 minutes. Add the butter, green cauliflower, cabbage, chard leaves and asparagus. Cover and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add vegetable stock and water to cover ingredients by 1/2". Simmer for about 8 minutes, until vegetables are still slightly undercooked. Add the pesto, tomato paste, salt, pepper and peas. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve topped with julienned basil leaves (or a little pesto or pesto-topped crostini).

(4 servings)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Potato-Horseradish Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Potato Skin-Feta Chips

With the unseasonally hot, sunny days we've had this week, I have to admit I've been eating salads like a bunny. But, today, I spent 6 hours outside in our suddenly cold and intensely windy weather, so warm, comfort food was the dinner of choice.

I have to say, I've very proud of this super simple, tasty dish of Potato-Horseradish Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Potato Skin-Feta Chips. It was delicious, pretty - a 15 minute gourmet meal.

I baked a potato in the microwave. I removed the insides of the potato and mashed it with sea salt, butter, and prepared horseradish. I boiled two savoy cabbage leaves in salty water until tender. I then removed the thick end of the stalk and wrapped the mashed potato in the cabbage leaves. I took the skin, brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with sea salt and put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Topped it with crumbled feta and broiled 2 more minutes. Topped the "chips" with snipped chives from the garden

Et voila! No silverware required and full of flavor.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Matzo Ball Soup and Matzoh Lasagna for Passover

Looking for a good Passover dish? Both of these are tried and tested with happy results!

My version of Matzo Ball Soup contains organic vegetable broth, green garlic, leeks, red, yellow, and orange carrots, baby potatoes, and chopped parsley, and a spoonful of green olive paste. Not very traditional, but good!

Farmers' Market Matzo Ball Soup:

I box of matzo ball mix (mine required 2 eggs, and some vegetable oil)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large stalks of green garlic, sliced
1 medium leek, sliced
3 baby potatoes, diced
1-1/2 cups of sliced carrots (I used red, yellow, and orange)
32 fl oz organic vegetable broth (I used Trader Joe's)
I cup water
1 tsp green olive paste
1/3 cup chopped parsley
salt & pepper

Prepare the matzo balls according to the directions. I had to refridgerate mine for 15 minutes. Be sure to make the balls small; they'll swell with cooking.

In a soup pot, heat the vegetable oil and add the green garlic, leek and diced potatoes. Cover and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and vegetable broth, water, and bring the to a boil. Add the matzo balls and turn to a simmer. Add the green olive paste and half of the chopped parsely. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Season, and add the rest of the parsley. Serve!


9 pieces matzo
2 cans spaghetti sauce or Basic Tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1 pound ricotta cheese, part skim if possible
1 cup spinach - chopped fine
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 cup Parmasean cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese

  • Soften the matzoh crackers in warm water before including in this recipe (run under the tap for 2 seconds) - maybe try wine next time?

  • Use more spinach (up to 5 cups) - make this much moister.

    So soak your matzohs and go crazy with the spinach and you'll have a very tasty Passover dish!

    LASAGNA: Put the ricotta in a bowl and mix with the spinach, spices, 1/4 cup of the parmesan and 1/4 c. of the mozzarella.

    Cover the bottom of a baking pan with some of the matza. Cover with some of the sauce. Cover sauce with 1/3 of the cheese mixture.

    Put some more matza on top of the cheese and continue the process until all is used up making sure that top of lasagna is matza and some sauce.

    On the top, spread the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.

    Bake in 350* oven for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.

    Based on a recipe from: Lita (

    Matza/Matzo/Matzoh? I welcome enlightenment on the correct spelling! All three spellings are out there!
  • Thursday, April 10, 2008

    The Portola Restaurant at the Monterey Bay Aquarium #2

    This week is Spring Break for the kids so off we went to Grandma's, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and lunch at The Portola Restaurant. The menu is always a treat that makes the most of seasonal and local produce and, naturally, make seafood choices for healthy oceans.

    Our meal started with the bread basket above. The cheesy crackers are spicy and addictive! Bread is served with butter, EVOO, and butter with charmoula.

    Nearby Castroville is known as "the artichoke capital of the world", so it's no surprise that artichokes feature prominently on the menu. Being an artichoke lover who always prepares her artichokes in the exact same way, I nevertheless can't resist an inventive artichoke dish. Happily, there was an Artichoke Tasting dish on the menu:

    Left to right: Grilled Artichoke with Artichoke Pesto and Crispy Shallots; Marinated Artichoke with Preserved Lemon and Almonds; Poached Artichoke and Fennel Marmalade with Midnight Moon Cheese and Tomato Confit (a close-up of this below). They were all delicious and I'd loved the Midnight Moon Cheese! Other delicious sounding starters included:Three Cheese, Fava Bean and Morel Mushrroms Raviolis (with Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns) and Cypress Grove Fog Light Goat Cheese Salad (with charred asparagus, roasted beets, and mâche).

    Although the menu's focus is on seafood, three of the entrées were vegetarian. I chose the Pan Seared Marinated Tofu with Fava Bean Stuffed Artichoke Heart, Vidalia Onion and Sugar Snap Salad, and Minted English Pea Puree:

    The stuffed artichoke heart was superb!

    I really enjoyed the combination of the soft juicy onions with the crisp julienned snap peas.

    My only issue was there wasn't much tofu, so it seemed overwelmed by the onion salad. That said it was very tasty, inventive, and attractively presented. The two other vegetarian entrées were Vegetarian Whte Bean and Spinach Salad (with English peas, zucchini madeleines and tomato vinaigrette) and Dandelion Greets and Beet Top Strudel (with herb ricotta, swiss chard, and trumpet royal mushroom).

    And, of course, dessert...

    This beauty had a crunchy chocolate crust, a chocolate-caramel cream filling, and caramel ice cream.

    I highly recommend you enjoy the Portola Restaurant on your next visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's a wonderful location and the food is really exceptional. And, check out this special event, Cooking for Solutions, that the aquarium is hosting in May.

    Here's my post from last year's visit.