Asparagus Soup

On May 7, 2016, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This is simple, quick recipe that only takes about 20 minutes to prep and make. Add a salad with some cut apples and red onions and some crusty bread to make it a meal.

Asparagus Soup
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 bunch asparagus, tips and mid section cut into 2 inch pieces
1 quart vegetable broth
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
Lemony Pesto (recipe follows)

In a large pot saute onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown. Then add the asparagus, reserve the tips.  Cook for another minute.  Add the vegetable broth and let the pot come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes at a simmer.

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Add the beans and blend the soup with a immersion blender to get a creamy texture.

When ready to serve, add the asparagus tips and lemony pesto. Cook for about 2 minutes and then serve.

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Lemony Pesto

1 tablespoon garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black crushed pepper
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley

Grind all ingredients together in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle.

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Grilled Corn Asparagus Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

On September 15, 2013, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Our family is moving closer to becoming vegetarian. For the past several years we have made it a point to eat 2 to 3 vegetarian dishes a week for dinner. The past year it’s been 4 or 5 dinners a week. Finding recipes that don’t use meat is not easy in a society that consumes so much of it.

When I find new vegetarian dishes that make me forget I’m not eating meat and thereby not missing it, it’s a good thing.

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This dish sounded a bit odd, but I had bought some corn this week and wasn’t sure what do with it until I saw this post from one of my fellow Sunday Supper bloggers, Paula at Vintage Kitchen Notes. The thought of anything other than a marinara sauce on spaghetti noodles just feels foreign, which is pretty funny considering how experimental I am with food. Also, the dish really doesn’t have a sauce, it uses the brown butter and breadcrumbs to coat the noodles. And what no Parmigiano-Reggiano?  Feta? Feta on spaghetti? Sacreligious.

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The dish does take some time, about 30-40 minutes. It is great for a quick weekend meal than a rushed after work meal.

The full recipe is below. I followed it with one exception. Stephanie doesn’t like jalapenos so I substituted red chili pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon.

Full Recipe: Charred Corn Asparagus Pasta with Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

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Mother’s Day Vegetable Tart

On May 12, 2013, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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It’s been a good month plus since I’ve participated in a Sunday Supper event with my fellow food bloggers. The theme this week is Mother’s Day. I had the perfect recipe picked out after asking my wife what she wanted me to make for her this weekend. She had her eye, or is it stomach, on a vegetable tart she found on Pinterest placed on her aptly named “Cook (or things Chris needs to make because I don’t cook)” board. I gathered the ingredients and was going to make it Saturday so we could enjoy Sunday spending time throughout southern California.

Saturday came and went pretty quickly. We spent the day at the Long Beach Queen Mary Barbecue Festival and ended a long day enjoying some taco truck tacos in Pasadena.  The vegetable tart had to wait until Sunday lunch.  Fortunately this is a fairly quick recipe, helped by my already having a finished pie crust in the freeze that was thawed out for this weekend.

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I added some asparagus to the recipe and the pie crust is Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee recipe. The pie crust makes for buttery, flaky “tart.”  It’s good, but I think I prefer a basic tart recipe or perhaps some filo dough. That said, this is still a great recipe with the pie crust and makes for a great way to use some leftover pie dough.

Full Recipe: […Spring Vegetable Tart]

While I didn’t get to do Sunday Supper this weekend, I definitely will make my return next weekend with the group’s Slow Cooking theme. For now, be sure to checkout all of the excellent Mother’s Day recipes from the other food bloggers.

Mother’s Day Brunch:

Mother’s Day Entrees:

Mother’s Day Sides:

Mother’s Day Desserts and Drinks:

Don’t forget to join the #SundaySupper chat on Twitter today to celebrate Mother’s Day! We’ll tweet throughout the day and share our delicious recipes. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more delicious recipes and food photos.

Do you have your ticket to the Food and Wine Conference yet? If not, there will be a special $100 discount available tonight only on the full conference pass if you participate in the #SundaySupper twitter chat from 7 to 8pm Eastern Time, and purchase your ticket during the chat. The discount code is: SundaySupper.  We hope to see you there!

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Asparagus Risotto

On April 27, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love risotto.  It is incredibly flexible where a wide variety of combinations can combine to create some amazing dishes.  In fact, last month when I was in Chicago for work I was in a cooking competition. Our team had flank steak, bell peppers, and potatoes as our ingredients. I led our team choosing between a Southwest or Asian flavored plate. We chose Southwest and went witha beer marinated flank steak, roasted potatoes and to top everything off stuffed bell peppers.

I had found some risotto, cilantro, tomatoes and onions that we used to stuff the peppers with then topping them with a slice of Manchego cheese. One of my coworkers had never made risotto and so I worked with her on adding chicken stock to the risotto and she came away proud she made it for the first time. Hopefully, she tried doing it again at work.

Here’s a video of my sharing our team’s creation that evening.

We came in second behind the creative team that had a couple food bloggers. Plus they had chicken, asparagus, and potatoes for their ingredients. Flank steak takes a lot longer to flavor so it was difficult getting something that would challenge the chicken option; though, that team did a great job with a wonderful balsamic vinegar sauce.

It was a fun evening an another example of how versatile risotto can be.

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Tonight though I wanted a simple though flavorful risotto for dinner.  I found some great asparagus at Erewhon market in Los Angeles this afternoon.  Perfect for a risotto.

 

Asparagus Risotto

Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 30 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked risotto
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Parmasen cheese
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cooked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot heat the butter on medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for a couple minutes until the onion is translucent and do not burn the garlic. Pour in the white wine and add risotto.
  2. Let the risotto absorb the white wine and then cook the risotto adding the vegetable stock 1 cup at a time and continue stirring. Each time let the risotto cook absorbing the stock and add more stock as the liquid cooks away. Eventually after all the vegetable stock has been added taste the risotto. It should be soft. If necessary add another 1/2 cup of broth or water.
  3. Add the cooked asparagus and Parmesan cheese. Mix together and cook with cooked risotto for 1 minute.
  4. Serve with some grated Parmesan cheese and sourdough bread.
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Lemon, Sage and Asparagus Rigatoni

On February 17, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Fresh pasta is one of those things that sounds time consuming, especially on a work day evening. It certainly can be but there are ways to reduce the time and my secret weapon is the KitchenAid mixer with the pasta extractor accessory.

The pasta dough is simple to make and then a small ball of pasta dough is placed in the extractor and in seconds beautifully shaped rigatoni (or 8 other shapes.)

This recipe is a great use for fresh pasta and yes even on a work night it is possible.

Lemon, Sage and Asparagus Rigatoni 

Prep Time: 30 Mins Cooking Time: 10 Mins Total Time: 40 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 4 leaves of sage, chopped
  • 1 lb fresh rigatoni pasta

Directions:

  1. Heat a pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, fill a saute pan with water and add asparagus once it begins to boil.  Drain after 3 minutes of boiling. Wipe pan dry and add bread crumbs heating on medium-high heat for 4 minutes tossing to brown all of it without burning. Remove bread crumbs, set aside.
  2. Pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and then heat garlic slivers for about 4 minutes then add  butter, sage and parsley. Let it all combine for a minute then add lemon juice.
  3. Cook pasta for about 2-3 minutes, if freshly made (follow instructions on package if using store bought.) Drain pasta and then add to saute pan.  Return the asparagus and bread crumbs.  Pour in the remaining olive oil and parmesan cheese.
  4. Toss it all together and serve.
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Blacked Cajun Chicken with Wild Rice & Asparagus

On September 29, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This weekend’s #SundaySupper challenge is making a dish limited to 5 ingredients.  Being a fan of food author Michael Pollan I am very familiar with the 5 ingredient mantra.  See Pollan did a book called In Defense of Food that looked to provide some guidance for today’s conscience eater.  With so many foods, especially processed foods, having more ingredients than the Space Shuttle has parts, Pollan added a Rule that said to not eat anything with more than 5 ingredients as a way to avoid all the chemicals, added sugars, etc that affect our food choices more often than not.

Funny thing is Pollan backed off the 5 ingredient rule after he found Big Food pushing processed foods they made with 5 ingredients or less as healthy choices, even if they were not.  The best example of retarding this rule is Haagen Daz Five ice cream which repackaged their product as “Five” even though they didn’t change the anything and used it as a way to position their product against other ice cream as a smarter food choice.

Another great example is a TV commercial for Tostidos tortilla chips touting it as better chip decision over Pringels even though both chips are high-fat, high-calorie choices.  The ad confuses the issue and Pollan himself backed off the 5 Ingredient rule since the marketers found a way to pervert it.

So Pollan created a replacement rule, Don’t Eat What You See on TV:

The good news is no matter how many ingredients you use at home you can choose items that are healthy and considerate for your family.  Simply use real foods, not processed, and you’ll be fine no matter if there are 5 or 20 ingredients in your recipe.

If you want simple though here is a whole meal that requires only 5 ingredients

 

Blackened Cajun Chicken with Wild Rice & Asparagus
Serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 Tablespoons Cajun spice blend
3 Tablespoons butter
2 cups wild rice
1 bunch asparagus

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Coat the chicken breasts in a bowl with the Cajun spice blend.  Heat a saute pan over medium high heat using 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the chicken breasts letting them “blacken” in the pan for about 5 minutes on each side.  Place the chicken in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is in the oven…

Boil 2 1/2 cups of water and add 1 cup of wild rice once the water is boiling.  After adding the rice, reduce the heat to a simmer and heat uncovered for 15 minutes. It’s done when the water is all evaporated.

Heat some water in a small pan and add the asparagus once boiling and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and toss the cooked asparagus with 1 tablespoon of butter.

Remove the chicken from the oven and plate with the rice and asparagus.

 


For more 5 ingredient recipes from other #SundaySupper bloggers:

If you would like to CHAT with us personally….Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm(Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite 5 Ingredient Recipes! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat! We’d also love to feature your easy go to recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

Breakfast, Starters, Butters and Jams:

Main Dishes:

Desserts:

Beverages:

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Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

On May 27, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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In our family’s quest to try to eat 3 to 4 vegetarian dinners a week, I have turned to blogs like Emily Levenson’s {Custom Made} Life.

Tonight I attempted a rather peculiar recipe that uses a lot of balsamic vinegar and butter (in this case Earth Balance) to make a pasta sauce. Of course with any recipe that calls for balsamic as a key ingredient for success a quality balsamic vinegar is necessary. For tonight, I went with an Organic local selection that we found at the Addison Farmer’s Market late last year.

The balsamic vinegar is made by Texas Hill Country Olive Company. Their Terra Verde Traditional balsamic is a really fruity, rich, thick balsamic that has such an amazing sweetness to it that it really made for an excellent choice for this dish which calls for a 1/3 of a cup of vinegar. Plus Terra Verde’s vinegar is reasonably priced at $16 for a 250ml bottle and can be ordered online too.

The only change I made to Emily’s recipe was using lumaconi pasta shells instead of whole wheat penne which I thought I had, but did not. The shell shape of lumaconi did great and the thick syrupy sauce adhered to the noodles nicely, only downside is lumaconi means “giant snails” in Italian so that’s not so appetizing. Also, I recommend adding some imported Parmesan-Reggiano to add to the dish’s nutty, rich flavor.

For the Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

Homemade Ravioli with Ricotta and Asparagus

On March 27, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This dish was requested by my wife. Years ago before we had our twin boys I had made this dish one evening in Northern Michigan staying at my in-laws cottage in Lake Leelanau. It was in my Mario Batali phase where I was watching his cooking show on FoodTV and had even had a few meals at his restaurant Babbo’s in New York City.

Two key things I learned from Batali during this phase. One, don’t over-sauce your pasta. Just gently coat the pasta. Two, use fresh pasta because dry pasta just doesn’t make a great pasta dish.

I took a course at William-Sonoma’s at the Somerset Collection a couple years ago that showed me how to make great homemade pasta using our Kitchen Aide mixer with the optional pasta attachment.

Basic Pasta Dough

2 1/3 cups flour
1 cup semolina flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil
4 eggs
2 Tbs water, plus more as needed

Combine the first three ingredients in the mixer and mix for 30 seconds on a low speed. In a separate bowl, combine the last three ingredients using a whisk to combine.

Pour the liquid mixture slowly in phases to the flour mixture with the Kitchen Aide using the flat beater to combine. Do this until the dough can be formed, but not sticky. Add a little extra water, 1 tsp at a time as needed to get right consistency.

Separate into two balls then wrap in plastic and flatten into discs (see image below.) Let them rest room temperature for 30 minutes.


Dust a cutting board lightly with flour. Cut off a 1/4 of a piece from the wrapped discs of pasta dough and roll out with a rolling pin in a rectangular shape until flat enough to go through the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment on setting #1 (thickest setting.)

Have the pasta pass through the extractor each time lessening the number by one until you pass it through on #7. Fold the pasta over two times and then repeat the process two complete times and now you should have a long, almost see-through piece of pasta. Cut and set aside.

Repeat this process with remaining pasta dough.


Cut each pasta sheet so that you can fold over a piece with a dollup of the ricotta mixture. To make the ricotta mixture combine 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and blend with a fork. Place 1 teaspoon of mixture on each pasta square. Wet the edges with a little water and seal each ravioli.


Bring a pot of water to boil, salt, and cook the pasta for about 5 minutes until tender.

In a separate saute pan make the sage butter sauce.

Sage Butter Sauce

5 Tbs of butter
3 Tbs of chopped fresh sage (do not use dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Add the butter and brown it on medium-high heat. Once all melted and getting a dark color add the sage and cook for 15 seconds and then add the cooked ravioli. Toss in some cooked asparagus too (optional) and serve immediately with some grated Parmesan.

Enjoy!

 

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Real Home Cooking: Shortcut Ravioli

On March 26, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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One thing I wanted to do with this blog was to make it about home cooking, not just gourmet cooking. Home cooking isn’t about doing everything by scratch, well at least the non-idyllic version isn’t. Home cooking is often about finding shortcuts and having dishes that are easy to make after a long day at work.

The following dish is all about shortcuts. First, I started with fresh frozen ravioli from Alcamo’s in Dearborn. The ravioli I like from Alcamo’s is the chicken portobello mushroom. It has diced all-white meat chicken breast combined with diced mushrooms. They are excellent, but run $10 for a package that serves two. If you don’t have Alcamo’s in your neighborhood, than any store bought cheese ravioli works.

I was going to accompany the pasta with my homemade Alfredo sauce, until I realized my heavy cream expired last week. So, I went with a backup sauce packet. Knorr’s garlic herb white sauce actually works very well for store bought ravioli. I did add some fresh asparagus and Parmesan Reggiano to bring some fresh elements to the dish.

There are a lot of dishes that come together without much effort. This was just one of them. I hope you find it useful if you ever are in a pinch.

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