Happy New Year! May Your 2014 Be Bright!

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come
Whispering, ‘it will be happier…'”
Alfred Tennyson

photo

After the ice storm.

I’ve never been one to be superstitious, but I am beginning to believe in the unlucky Number 13. While this year has had the highest of highs (trips to Florida, Newburyport, Maine, and New York City; a springtime visit from my friend, Kats, from Switzerland; hiking all over the state; and MVK’s collaboration with Cooking Light magazine), it also has had some incredible personal lows. A special thank you to my friend, Catherine, and the Eater of the House who have allowed me to keep on writing in the interim.

So cheers and Happy New Year! I, for one, am excited to turn the calendar to a new year. And on Wednesday, I am going to make a double batch of my black-eyed peas and collard greens that I posted last January for good luck, just in case!

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Good Luck Peas
Just omit the ham for a vegetarian version and it will taste just as good! Spinach or Swiss chard can be substituted for the collard greens.

2 teaspoons olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ medium onion, finely diced
3 cups of collard greens, chopped
1 14 oz. can black-eyed peas
1 ¼ cup chopped ham (optional and gluten-free)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft.

2. Add the collard greens and sauté until they are wilted.

3. Add the peas and ham, if using. Stir and turn heat to low. Add salt and pepper and serve!

Week Night Dinner Series: Shrimp and Bean Salad

DSCN0419This is one of those delicious dinners that doesn’t take a lot of time to make and is what my nutritionist would call a “balanced” meal: a good protein, good fat, and good carbs.

I had been thinking for some time of creating a salad including the shrimp I had in the freezer and a can of beans I had in the cupboard. So one lazy Friday night when I didn’t feel like cooking, this came together nicely and actually fits into the “Speedy Gonzales” category of last week’s blog and the Work Night Dinner series I began in the spring!

Don’t worry if you have frozen shrimp; when I got home from work, I pulled some out and put them in a bowl of cold water and went about doing stuff around the house. When it was time to make dinner, they were defrosted. Of course, you can buy fresh or frozen cooked shrimp, and that would make it even easier and quicker! This recipe is a cut, chop, throw everything into a bowl, and stir. Dishes like these are the best because they’re so easy!

Helpful Kitchen Tip: I always buy my frozen shrimp raw, because I think the frozen, cooked shrimp can sometimes be tough, even though for convenience sake they’re great. But if you have raw shrimp, they are super simple to cook. Warm a little bit of olive oil in a skillet, add the shrimp, and any seasonings you’d like (wine, garlic, onion) or nothing at all, and let it simmer for about three minutes. When they turn pink, they are done!

This is a perfect summertime dish to share with friends, so make it soon before the coolness of fall is upon us!

Shrimp and Bean Salad
A lot of this recipe is based on how you would like the dish; if you want more beans, more shrimp, more lime juice, let your own creative dishes flow with this! My recipe is just a baseline, go crazy and add other veggies or spices to this!

2-3 cups cooked shrimp
1 can Great Northern or cannellini beans (or another white bean), drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
About one cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
About ½ avocado, diced
Some scallions, to taste
½ jalapeno pepper chopped, if desired
A little bit of cilantro, if desired
The juice of about ½ lime, or to taste

In a large mixing bowl, add the shrimp, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, scallions, pepper and cilantro, if using, and stir gently. Add the lime juice. Serve!

I Went to a Garden Party…

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This happy yellow iris was given to me by my friend, Deb, a few years back. It greets me with its bright color every time I come home.

And a couple of weeks ago, I did just that! It was my longtime friend Chris’s birthday. She invited me over to her friend Annie’s house for a garden birthday dinner before heading out to hear music that evening. It was hotter than blazes that day, but we had a spot in the shade with some cool dishes to eat that was just perfect. Small salads that require no cooking and “finger sandwiches” were served alongside sun tea and white wine. It was the perfect dinner, and it got me thinking of garden parties and how much fun they are, mostly for the variety of food!

Annie served these “sandwiches” that were delicious, so of course I had to go home and recreate them. I always am looking for quick ideas for weekday lunches or dinner during the week when I don’t feel like cooking.

I’ve gotten in the habit recently of poaching a couple of boneless chicken breasts on Sunday or Monday for the coming week. This is great, so you have fresh chicken available to add to salads, make chicken salad, or to make these delicious sandwiches. Once the chicken is cooled from baking, I either dice or shred it so it’s ready to go.

I have no idea what to call these, Chicken Rollups? Chicken Cigars? Chicken Finger Sandwiches? Whichever name you select, it doesn’t require a “recipe” per se. Take one tortilla and add some pesto sauce. (My homemade recipe can be found here or you can use store-bought.) Cover it with some shredded chicken and some lettuce. Roll up like a cigar and slice in half. If you’re gluten-free, substituting Boston lettuce leaves for the tortilla shells would be perfect, you might need to use a toothpick to be sure everything stays in place.

As I was making these, I thought some shredded carrot would make a nice addition for some added crunch. Or maybe some nuts? But the pesto has such flavor and the lettuce adds a bit of crunch, you don’t really need to worry about adding anything else if you don’t want to. Serve with a side of fruit or another cool salad. These would be perfect to take along on a picnic, to the beach, or a short hike this summer.

Reminisce we did that evening, as we were with Chris ten years ago when she celebrated another milestone birthday. This year’s party was more intimate, but I admit, more fun. We celebrated until the temperature broke and then made our way home in the cool of the evening.

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Week Night Dinner Series: Bean Burritos

Sometimes, just sometimes, you are rewarded for waking before dawn.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you are rewarded for waking before dawn.

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding dinner is coming later and later with the terrific weather we’ve been having these days. So when I get in the house, I want to eat–STAT!

I created this one evening after mowing the lawn and was home alone for dinner. It’s quick and easy to make, and is basically cobbling together ingredients together, putting it in the oven, and eating! Just open up a can of black beans, drain and rinse, and in a large bowl add the beans and a dash or two of dried cumin for flavor. You can also add a little spritz of fresh lime juice if you have it. Take a flour tortilla shell, add a couple of tablespoons of grated sharp cheese (or slice off thin slices instead), add ½ cup of the beans, ¼ cup of frozen corn, roll, and place in a baking pan. Add a little more cheese on the outside, cover with foil, and heat at 350 for roughly 20 minutes or so.

I try to make these work night dinner recipes just five ingredients, but with this recipe there are lots of additions that could make this even more fabulous: avocado, lettuce, green scallions, salsa, and sour cream. If you want to bypass the beans and have leftover meat in the fridge, this would be terrific with leftover chicken, pork, or steak.

My recipe makes one burrito, so you can either whip up a batch for leftovers, or you can add some scallions and grape tomatoes to the remaining beans and have it for a  later meal as a side salad!

This photo doesn't really do the dish justice, but trust me, it's delicious!

This photo doesn’t really do the dish justice, but trust me, it’s delicious!

Bean Burrito for One
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
A dash or two of cumin
Fresh lime juice, optional
5 Tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup frozen corn
1 flour tortilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Take the drained and rinsed black beans and place in a mixing bowl. Add the cumin and lime juice, if using.

3. Place the tortilla shell on a baking pan. Add 2-3 tablespoons of cheese, ½ cup of black beans, and the corn. Roll and place seam-side down. Top with the remaining cheese.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes. Serve atop a bed of lettuce, with avocado, salsa, and sour cream on the side. Add green scallions if desired.

Cooking from the Larder

Looking at the calendar and finding myself on three trips in the next six weeks has made me a bit more careful about money these days. In times like these, I start creating and making meals with what I have in the cupboard and freezer. I don’t know about you, but I tend to have the same dried beans and grains in my cupboard for months, only using them when I need them for a recipe, instead of using them in every day cooking.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite food writers, Melissa Clark of the New York Times, had a recipe and a tutorial video for braised beans in red wine. I call these soup beans; long-cooked beans that still stand up after a long braise with a faint bacon and deep, red wine flavor. It was perfect, a few ingredients made a huge pot, enough for several meals and lunches. And best part it is incredibly inexpensive, because most of the ingredients you already have on hand.

The original recipe calls for pinto beans, but I still had in the cupboard some Jacob’s Cattle Beans I picked up last fall, so I used those instead. You can soak the beans overnight, or in my case, for the day, but make sure it’s for at least 8 hours. Some diced bacon, carrots, onions, and celery, some reduced red wine in the end (you can, of course, leave this out if you prefer), and you’re done.

Here is a tip from me: Don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink yourself. Whenever I need cooking wine, I go to the wine section of the supermarket and pick out a less than expensive bottle for cooking. Don’t ever use what is called “cooking wine,” it is filled with lots of salt and preservatives.

I served this over baked polenta, but I think cooked polenta would be even better; the creamy corn mixed with the beans and red wine would be comfort in a bowl. You could also serve this over noodles, mashed potatoes, or just by itself. It’s still cold outside, so a bowl of this will make you warm and fill you right up.

Clark cooks like I do, throwing stuff in a pot, with no real measurements. I watched the video and just took notes. Below is how I made it. Of course, you can always add more veggies if you like; the dish won’t suffer because of it.

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Braised Beans with Red Wine
Recipe adapted from Melissa Clark of The New York Times

1 1/2 cups pinto beans, soaked for at least 8 hours
2 slices of bacon, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small rosemary stalk
2 cups of red wine, reduced to about  ⅔ of a cup

1. In a warmed Dutch oven, add the chopped bacon and cook until done. Remove from the pan, and place the bacon on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb the grease.

2. You shouldn’t have a lot of bacon grease left in the pan, but if you do, drain and leave about a tablespoon or so. To the pan, add the carrots, onions, and celery, cook until just soft.

3. Meanwhile, drain the soaking beans over a colander and rinse. Add them to the pot of veggies, add the bacon and rosemary, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour or until the beans are soft, but not mushy.

4. While the beans are cooking, take another saucepan and add 2 cups of red wine. Bring to a simmer and cook until it is reduced to about ⅔ of a cup, about 20-30 minutes, depending on your stove.

5.  When the wine is finished reducing, pour it into the beans, and bring the beans back to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Cook’s Note:
This is totally self-serving, but I just wanted to note that this week marks two years of “My Vermont Kitchen!” Through more than 100 recipes, you’ve been cooking with me through the seasons, seeing me through successes and failures, and (hopefully) been enjoying the journey. This little experiment of bringing my cooking and recipes into your kitchen has been wonderful, and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I have. So, cheers! Here’s to another year of cooking!

Lentil Mushroom Soup with Barley

A few weeks back I was sitting with a friend in a bakery and he was eating what looked like a mushroom and lentil soup with maybe some barley in it. It looked and smelled delicious, so good I actually pondered grabbing a spoon and joining him! I actually never caught the true name of the soup, but since I was on my way to the grocery store, I added lentils and chicken broth to my list, making a mental note I had some barley in the larder.

During the month of December which is dark, cold, filled with way too many sweets, a hearty and cozy soup like this is just perfect for lunches and even dinner. I found this a perfect comfort soup; warm, flavorful, healthy, and the best thing of all, super inexpensive!

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Lentil Mushroom Soup with Barley
Makes 4-5 cups, but can easily be doubled.
Takes 30-40 minutes from start to finish

I like the heartier flavor of baby bella mushrooms in this soup; it adds a certain earthiness to the broth. To save money on the grocery bill, buy just the right amount of lentils and barley in bulk.  

2 teaspoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, large, finely minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced finely
2 cups chopped mushrooms
½ cup brown lentils
½ cup pearled barley
4-plus cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water
A splash of white wine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. When warm, add the garlic, onion, and carrots, cook until the onions are transluscent and the carrots soft. Add the mushrooms and stir until they start to lose their juices. Add the broth, and lentils and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the lentils and barley are finished cooking. Add more water or broth to the soup to thin it out if needed. Add a couple splashes of white wine for flavor to the broth if using.

Cook’s Notes: While this is tasty without herbs, I thought perhaps some thyme might be a nice addition. Also, if you have any spinach or kale in the fridge, it wouldn’t hurt to add those as well.

A Comforting Vegetarian Casserole For a Chilly Night

Thanksgiving morn. Started out chilly and ended up being in the 50s! The kitchen windows were opened to let out some of the heat!

With the Thanksgiving holiday over but Christmas right around the corner, I find now is the time to delve into lighter meals for dinner. I try to make this time in between the holidays to be about healthy, yet comforting meals. Less on the meat, more on the fruits and vegetables. Your waistline will thank you in April!

A couple of months ago I noticed a picture of a dish in a copy of Eating Well magazine that looked very similar to my own Chris’s Chi-Chi Beans with a few additions. I didn’t bother looking at the recipe, I decided to add those extra ingredients and try it! The dish I created was a warm and comforting vegetarian recipe (and gluten-free, too) that will be good on any night. Plus, it made lots of leftovers for lunches!

“Frost” the top of the casserole with the squash!

Chickpeas and Squash Casserole with Quinoa
I like to have a box or two of frozen squash on hand in the winter. Along with being a quick side dish, I find it utterly comforting; it’s much smoother than I can ever get squash I roast. With no additions, it’s just pure squash and it’s delicious!

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked quinoa*
1 package of frozen winter squash, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the olive oil. Sauté the onion, garlic, and carrot until the the carrots are soft and onions soft and translucent. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, quinoa and stir to combine. Place in a casserole dish and top (or “frost”) with the thawed winter squash. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until you’re ready to serve dinner.

*To cook just one cup of quinoa, add one cup of water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add ½ cup of quinoa and cook until soft and the water is absorbed.

Cook’s note: When setting some of this aside for my lunch, I thought a dash of cinnamon would be a welcome spice and it was! Just a tiny bit really gave it much more flavor and melded well with the beans and tomatoes.

Thanksgiving Redux

I thought I’d check back with this year’s Thanksgiving recipes. I made four new dishes (including the aforementioned Astor House Rolls), some were repeaters, some not. (For those of you wondering, I chickened (turkeyied? yuck yuck!) out and cooked the stuffing on the side instead in the bird; I didn’t want to take any chances!)

I followed most of my pre-dinner tips, although I skipped making the pie on Wednesday afternoon in favor of seeing “Lincoln” (which was great, by the way). Along the way amongst the many cooking podcasts, websites, and magazines, I also collected a couple more tips to add to my entertaining arsenal!

More tips

• When making pie crust, put the stick of butter in the freezer for a little while and take out your hand grater and grate it like you would cheese or a carrot, thus making small pieces of butter to start making crust! This worked great; I keep butter in the freezer, so my stick took some elbow grease to shave, but it certainly beats chunks of butter that you need to work into the flour. This tip came from Amanda Hesser of Food52.

• Take out the crock pot! With just four burners and an oven, I heard on “America’s Test Kitchen Radio Show” to use your crock pot for whatever needs warming, leaving one more available burner. I decided to do this with mashed potatoes; not wanting to make them at the last minute, I made them the night before with the intention of warming them in the crock pot. I just added a little liquid and they tasted like they were just made!

• Remember the paper towels! Noticing the windows in the November light hadn’t been cleaned in months, I used up most of my paper towel roll and had just a couple of sheets left. Lucky for me, my dad carries them in the car, so we were saved!

Madeira-Sage Turkey Gravy

I thought I was lucky when I snatched a 2012 holiday catalog from Williams-Sonoma. I love perusing and dreaming of all the cookware and they sometimes have recipes interspersed. And this recipe for a dark coffee-colored turkey gravy in a turquoise Dutch oven looked really yummy. Unfortunately, mine wasn’t that dark and the flavor was just ok. But full admission, I made this before the turkey was done, so I didn’t get a lot of pan drippings, probably less than a quarter cup, and it was quite thin. And I found the Madeira was on the strong side. If I make this again, I will definitely follow instructions!

Canal Street’s Cranberry Port Gelée 

If you have a bag of cranberries, some sugar, and ten minutes, then you can make this recipe! This came together quickly, although once you start to serve it, I noticed the “gelée” sort of lost its gel. This was definitely one of the better homemade cranberry sauces I’ve made, with just the right amount of sugar to lose the sourness and bitterness of the cranberries. I used Madeira, since I had it on hand and they said that was a worthy substitute.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

This recipe, from The Essential New York Times Cookbook was the sparkling gem. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a bad pecan pie, but this was tops. Just those two tablespoons of bourbon lent just a slight flavor in the rich filling. I’m not sure what happened, but the tart totally collapsed, so my fluted edges sank. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was delicious! A definite repeater, but perhaps an ending for a less filling and rich meal!

While delicious, my beautiful fluted crust sank when put in the oven.

 

Comfort in a Bowl

You know those days you just want to crawl under the covers and not face the world again? Or your best friend moves away? Or your candidate loses an important election? Those are the days I make a big pot of Hungarian Mushroom Soup, as it’s the perfect way to end a bad day. The slicing of the mushrooms and dicing of the onions allows you to get out your frustration, anxiety, or whatever is bothering you. The soup harkens back to my Eastern European roots; it’s a comforting bowl of creamy soup with just the right amount of spice to make your nose run and nice big slices of mushrooms. If I’m feeling blue or feel a cold coming on, I’ll buy two boxes of mushrooms on the way home from work and right away I know where I’ll be that evening–hunkered over a steaming bowl.

I discovered this soup when I ordered takeout for lunch one day. It was delicious and creamy, but as is my usual way, I knew I could find a way to make it cheaper than what I paid for a small takeout container. And I did.

This recipe is originally from The New Moosewood Cookbook, but many years ago I found online a lower calorie and more flavorful version. So forgive me for not giving proper credit; I use the basic outline, but go off on tangents from there.

Try making this soup over the winter when you have a case of the mean reds. Snuggle up on the couch and put on your favorite movie. Whatever is bothering you, trust me, you’ll feel better!

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

• 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (you can always use more if you like)
• 2 cups onions, chopped
• 2 Tablespoons butter
• 3 Tablespoons flour
• 1 cup milk
• 2 teaspoons dill weed
• 1 Tablespoon hungarian paprika (you can use either sweet or hot paprika, I like it hot and spicy!)
• 1 Tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
• 2 cups chicken broth (for a vegetarian version, use water or vegetable broth)
• ½ cup sour cream
• ¼ cup parsley, chopped
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (I find I never add salt to this, as the tamari adds just the right amount.)

1. Sauté onions in a little bit of broth until soft. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of dill, ½ cup of broth, tamari, and paprika. Sauté and simmer for about 15 minutes.

2. In a small saucepan, add the butter. When melted, whisk in the flour to make a paste. Add the milk, and whisk over low heat until thick.

3, Add the milk mixture to the mushrooms as well as the remaining broth. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

4. Just before it’s done, whisk in the sour cream, remaining teaspoon of dill weed, parsley, and salt and pepper.

Farro Salad with Chicken and Summertime Herbs

No, this isn’t a spinach leaf, it’s a basil leaf! I couldn’t resist sharing. It made for a tasty batch of pesto that evening!

If you are a longtime reader, I’m sure you’ve noticed a couple of things; I love to make soup in the winter and salad suppers in the summer! So please bear with me, for yet another salad that can be made ahead of time in these lazy, hot days of summer!

Farro seems to be the golden child of grains these days; both Cooking Light and Eating Well recently had a few recipes on different farro salads. Gone are the days when I received a quizzical look when I asked if it was available at the coop. This grain is high in protein and delicious; I’ve used it a couple of times before, here and here, but in case you’ve missed it, it’s like a large grain of barley, but without the barley flavor. It’s an easy grain to cook with and I find it incredibly versatile; you could add it to salads, soups, you could even add some fruit and eat it for breakfast! But, while being the golden child, it is not a gluten-free grain, so if that is the route you would like to take, quinoa can certainly be substituted for this dish.

So on that note, I decided to create my own salad with a little bit of chicken, a few vegetables, and some fresh herbs I bought at the farmer’s market. (I even snuck in some dill; we’ll see what the dill hater of the family thinks!) This time of year, you can add whatever protein and vegetable you like. Some beans or cheese for  vegetarian version, and I thought about fresh zucchini or summer squash would be tasty, too; it will be delicious any way you make it yourself! I did find the olive oil and vinegar were absorbed after sitting for a few days; an easy problem that can be solved with a dash of the two before serving.

Farro Salad with Chicken and Summertime Herbs
1 ½-2 cups farro, cooked (substitute quinoa if you’re making this gluten-free)
1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 small shallot, minced (red onion or scallions could be substituted)
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup or so, fresh green beans, snapped in half
3 large basil leafs, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1-2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 capfuls champagne vinegar (or another light vinegar–white wine or rice)
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, add the ingredients and mix together, adjusting to taste!

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Marion Cunningham: A Tribute
I was very sad to hear about the death of cook and award-winning food writer, Marion Cunningham, last week. I am always inspired by people who take on the second phase of their life with gusto; a stay-at-home mother, Cunningham overcame agoraphobia and alcoholism at age 50 and began her cooking career with the famed James Beard. New York Times writer, Kim Severson, wrote a lovely piece in memory of her friend and this true champion to the home cook. You can find the story here.

Cream of Fiddlehead and Asparagus Soup

I mentioned last week that springtime to me means rhubarb. But there is something else that also means springtime, fiddlehead ferns! These little curly ques of green have a certain flavor I find similar to asparagus. The season is quite short, so I try to take advantage of them as soon as I see them.

Now, there are some fiddleheads that are OK to eat, others are poisonous, so I never take chances foraging in the back field or in the hills and just buy them at the coop. Since I had both fiddleheads and asparagus in the vegetable bin, I thought the flavors would meld well together and decided to make a combo soup one night for dinner.

I first minced a small shallot with a couple cloves of garlic and put it in a Dutch oven with a couple teaspoons of warmed olive oil. I was too busy prepping the vegetables to notice it burned a little, leading me to remember two tips I’ll pass on to you. First off, try to have most things prepped before you start cooking, but if you don’t and you’re sauteing garlic and/or onions and not ready for that next step, add a little bit of water to the pot to slow down the cooking process. You’re not hindering anything aside from allowing the alliums to cook slower.

I added the fiddleheads and asparagus, tossed them with the shallots and garlic, and added some leftover chicken broth and water. A splash or two of white wine and I set it on its way to boil. I simmered the soup for about 15 minutes until the veggies were really soft.

I find both asparagus and fiddleheads quite “woody,” and despite several pulses in the blender, it never became completely smooth. Adding a bit more liquid would help this, but then, I like soup with a little bit of oomph and not completely pureed. Also, on some evenings, I’m impatient. Back to the pot went the soup. I had some half and half that was nearing its expiration date, so I added that, about a quarter cup. I live with someone whose least favorite herb is dill, and it’s one of my favorites, but tasting this it was just crying out for some dill and lemon. I added a half-teaspoon of dill weed, but if I were to cook this for myself, I’d add a full teaspoon. A few squirts of fresh lemon and some salt and pepper and it was ready to eat!

This recipe is fairly simple and easy variations can make it palatable to lactose and vegetarians. For dairy-free, leave out the cream; for vegetarians, vegetable broth or water can be substituted. If you don’t cook with alcohol, you can always leave out the wine, too.


Cream of Fiddlehead and Asparagus Soup
Makes 4 servings, for a light lunch or dinner

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced (or about 2-3 Tablespoons minced red onion)
1 ¼ cups fiddleheads, ends trimmed
2 cups asparagus, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 1/2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water
A couple splashes of white wine (optional)
1/4 cup cream or milk (optional)
½-1 teaspoon dried dill weed
A couple squirts of fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, add the garlic and shallots to olive oil warmed over medium heat. Saute for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the fiddleheads and asparagus and stir, combining all the ingredients. Add the liquid and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let the vegetable simmer until very soft. When the vegetables are soft, in batches, puree the vegetables together in a blender or food processor. (*Have patience, it takes a while for these vegetables to be completely pureed.) When the soup is smooth, add back to the pot and add the cream, if using, dill weed, lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.