Posts Tagged ‘Sage’

I had an early morning shoot today and not thinking ahead, I arrived fresh from the shower with sopping wet hair (tucked into a tidy bun), to St. Jack’s patisserie. It’s 29 degrees out. I know that’s not cold for some of you…but it’s pretty cold for us. While shooting the outdoor environmentals, (hoping that my hair won’t freeze and that I couldn’t possibly get pneumonia, right?), I thought about this soup waiting for me at home. Thick with hearty beans and bursting with winter vegetables, brothy enough warrant the pleasurable need for crusty bread to sop up the juices. A perfect soup to come home to on a brisk winter’s day.

© Dina Avila

I had more food pictures for you, I really did. But something happened and I haven’t quite figured out what. I was in a hurry yesterday and I either uploaded the images to a strange and remote location, or not at all. Instead, I offer you a glimpse into yesterday’s Christmas tree hunting adventure with Adam’s folks, and, fortunately, at the very least, the soup.

© Dina Avila


Kale and Pumpkin Ministra

Inspired by a recipe in Food and Wine

The original recipe calls for butternut squash pasta and gently wilted kale. I decided I wanted a heartier and richer flavored soup, so I used some of stash of fancy Peruvian Christmas Lima beans in place of the pasta and roasted the veggies in the oven.

What you’ll need~

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 small pumpkin, or squash of your choice, seeds rinsed and reserved and cut into quarters

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper

1-2 cups beans, cooked

Parmesan for shaving

Heat the oven to 375.

Toss the pumpkin and onion with half of the olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of pepper and the crumbled dried sage. Place on half of your baking sheet.

Place in the oven and bake until the pumpkin is tender. About 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the onions here and there so they don’t char too much.

Toss the kale with the rest of the olive oil, the reserved pumpkin seeds and sliced garlic.

After about 15 minutes into cooking, add the kale to to the other half of the baking sheet.

Stir the kale every 5-10 minutes until it’s nice and crisp. About 15 minutes.

Once the kale is cooked and the pumpkin is tender, remove from the oven and set aside until the pumpkin is cool enough to handle.

In the meantime, warm chicken broth in a large saucepan and add the beans. Add the kale and onions.

Scrape the pumpkin meat out of its skin, and cube up the meat as best as you can. Toss into the broth.

Let simmer gently for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Serve warm with a generous serving of parmesan shavings on top and some crusty bread for sopping on the side.

© Dina Avila

© Dina Avila


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Adam and I met while I was working in a dumpy little coffee shop in downtown Portland. He’d come in get a cup of tea, then sit in a corner and listen to Bach. Giant headphones on and eyes closed. Within months, and after being held-up at the bank he worked at, I managed to convince my boss to offer him a job.  We worked side by side at the espresso machine talking books, music and life. Apparently, it was when I spoke of Ella Fitzgerald’s silky voice that he fell for me.

Six months of courting, flirting and building a tight bond of friendship, led to our first kiss on Christmas night. That will be three years ago this Saturday. Sigh. And I still can’t get enough of him.

During the early months of our relationship, one of our favorite things to do on a blustery winter’s day was to wander up to Elephants Delicatessen and pick up a bowl of matzo ball soup. That was my first introduction to matzo ball soup and I was immediately hooked. When my spoon dipped down and pressed up against the doughy little balls, it was like a little prize at the bottom of the bowl. Kind of like when you poured a bunch of sugar on top of your cereal when you were a kid and excitedly anticipated the mountain of wet and creamy sugar at the bottom of the bowl. Or was that just me?

I tried to make matzo ball soup a couple of years ago, and it sort of turned out. I was too cheap to buy actual matzo meal and tried it with saltines. Definitely not the same. I got the real deal for this recipe, but still kept it simple. Loads of chicken broth, a bit of parsley and paprika, and leftover game hen from dinner with Adam’s folks. Did you know that game hen are baby chickens? Poor little guys…


Matzo Ball Soup

I used a recipe in Amanda Hesser’s The Essential NY Times Cookbook, a book of which I’m totally addicted to by the way, as a guide. As usual, I tweaked a few things here and there. You’ll find matzo meal on the grocery shelves, as well as matzo crackers. Feel free to use the meal, but know that they often add spices and seasonings. I bought the crackers, broke them in pieces and finely ground them in the food processor.

One more note, the balls tend to absorb a lot of the broth as their cooking, so it’s also a good idea to have some extra stock on hand to add to the pot as the balls are cooking. You can also use water.

What you’ll need~

6 large eggs

2+ tablespoons chopped parsley

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4-teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups matzo meal

1/4-teaspoon baking powder

1-cup club soda

2+ quarts chicken stock

Optional: 1 shallot, thinly sliced and caramelized

Optional: Leftover chicken bits, if you have them on hand

Pepper to taste

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in parsley, sage, salt, pepper and paprika. Whisk in the melted butter, matzo meal and baking powder. At this point, the dough was clumping up between the wires of the whisk, so I switched from whisking to stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir in club soda, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. I let mine chill for about 1 & 1/2 hours.

Once the dough is chilled, bring broth to a boil on the stove. Moisten your hands and roll dough into 1-2 inch balls. Drop the balls in your broth in batches and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes until balls are tender and double in size.

Line a large plate or platter with a clean and dry kitchen towel. Using a slotted spoon, remove balls from stock and place on kitchen towel to drain.

Add broth or water to the pot as needed and drop in second batch of balls and cook. Once the second batch of balls are done cooking, add the first batch of balls back to the soup to reheat.

At this point I added the caramelized shallot and leftover bits of game hen to the pot. You certainly don’t need to add anything else, but I found the soup to be a good vehicle for leftover poultry.

Ladle soup into bowls and place two matzo balls in each. Serve hot.

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