Spring Onion Soup

Sun streaming through the breakfast room window on my little Spring Onion Soup!

Don’t be sad thinking you can’t have your beloved French Onion Soup just because the winter is over! I’ve skinnied it up for you! This comes in under 200 calories for a full cup and a half serving. So sharpen your pencil and take note of this. I’m playing for keeps good people, and cooking in a lively Spring has Sprung manner.

1/2 stick butter
3 sweet onions, sliced
1 cup dry sherry
6 cups water
6 envelopes of Herb Ox granulated beef bouillon*
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t salt
1/2 t dried thyme
6 slices French bread, toasted on both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper
6 oz shredded Fontina cheese
Snipped chives for garnish

(This is a duo serving; hence the onions are scarce! Don’t want to mislead anyone.)

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
Add onions and cook 12 to 15 minutes, or until onions are soft and lightly browned.
Stir in sherry and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Bring water to boil in soup pot.
Add in bouillon and stir to combine.
Add onions to broth pot.
Add Worcestershire, salt, and thyme.
Cover and cook on low 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler.
Ladle soup into 6 ovenproof ramekins.
Top with bread slice.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Broil until cheese melts.
Sprinkle with chives before serving.

*I use sodium free broth whenever I can. Do you know that one serving of canned broth can carry 800+ mg of sodium. SNAP. Who needs that? Am I right!

Topping the soup with toasty French bread slice

And then, the cheese please

Asparagus Gratin

Vegetable Asparagus Gratin IIIHaving a dinner party this weekend? Or dinner for two? Or dinner for you! This classic is spot on!

2 lbs asparagus
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 t salt
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Adjust oven rack 8” from broiler.
Preheat oven to broil.
Trim 1 1/2 inches from stems and reserve.
Bring water to boil in skillet.
Add asparagus ends and salt.
Cook covered 5 minutes.
Using slotted spoon, remove asparagus ends and discard.
Add asparagus spears to asparagus water.
Cover skillet and cook asparagus until almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer asparagus to baking dish lined with paper towels.
Reserve 1 cup asparagus water; discard remainder.Vegetable Asparagus Gratin IIVegetable Asparagus Gratin I
Melt butter in now empty skillet over medium heat.
Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.
Whisk in reserved 1 cup asparagus water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat; whisk in Monterey Jack and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
Remove paper towels from baking dish.
Drizzle sauce over center of asparagus.
Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
Broil until cheese is golden and asparagus is tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Serves 8.

Thank you Sarah Gabriel, Cook’s Illustrated, Best-Ever Recipes.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

There is simply no substitute for experience; and family friend Edwina (aka “Pookie”) has her fair share of it! Years ago, honestly 25+ years ago, a group (including moi) cajoled her in to coming to G’Vegas to lead a series of weekly cooking classes.  A believer in hands on participation, she taught us brilliant techniques, and shared bountiful amounts of knowledge, skill, and marvy recipes. I mean, honestly, I was 31 and had never piped anything from a pastry bag in my life; she had me doing that in no time flat! I rely on her trusty recipes all the darn time. Here I present her broccoli salad; I recently began adding cauliflower. Yes, it’s simple and you see some version of it many places, but I just love the slight sweetness in this particular dressing. Literally, I could eat this every day. Enjoy!

©PEGhardee

©PEGhardee

1/2 head broccoli
1/2 head cauliflower
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
8 slices precooked bacon
3 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
3/4 cup sour cream

Cut broccoli into tiny florettes.
Cut cauliflower into tiny florettes.
Heat bacon in microwave until crispy.
Crumble bacon.

Dissolve sugar in vinegar.
Whisk in sour cream.

Combine broccoli, cauliflower, and raisins in large bowl.
Add most of the bacon, reserving a bit for garnish.
Pour dressing over salad and toss.
Place in serving bowl.
Garnish with reserved bacon crumbles.

Serves 8 to 10.

Skillet Succotash

Veggies Succotash

No more old school trash! This is grown up stuff! Sorry Sylvester, no “sufferin’ succotash” here ole cat. Gray and Liam were here for 72 fast and fun hours this past weekend and we stopped by Briley’s Produce Stand to gather the goods for Saturday evening’s dinner. The fresh sweet white corn and lima beans are still in season. Hurry, it’s almost September. Gray made this yummy creation. Can you smell it yet?!

3 Tbs butter
1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 zucchinis cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups lima beans
1 1/2 cups corn
1 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1/8 t kosher salt
1/4 t ground black pepper

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion.
Cook 4 minutes.
Add lima beans and corn.
Cook stirring constantly 5 minutes.
Add zucchini and peppers.
Cook 3 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in oregano, salt and pepper.
Turn heat off and cover skillet with lid.
Allow to rest 5 minutes.

Serves 8.

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

© PEGhardee

This is just so seasonal and yummy.  I suppose it is grand (oh!  that is what my grandson calls me!) on its own; but I will tell you one thing for certain.  I made salsa burgers* and placed this on the side and it was killer!

For Salad:
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado, cubed
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped

The Salad on Side of Salsa Burger

Corn Salad on Side of Salsa Burger

Honey Lime Dressing:
Zest and juice of 1 lime
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs honey
1/8 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of cayenne pepper

Clean corn and cook in boiling water 4 to 5 minutes, until tender.
Cut corn off the cob and let cool.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.

Combine tomatoes, avocado, corn and cilantro in medium size bowl.
Pour dressing over salad and mix gently to evenly coat vegetables.
Let salad sit for 10 minutes to let flavors mingle.

*For the Salsa Burger I combined 1 lb lean ground beef, 1/2 cup salsa, 1/4 cup Panko, 1 t cumin, 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, sea salt and pepper.  Form into 5 patties, and cook in additional salsa in skillet.

Fried Green Tomatoes on Steriods

Ummm Hmmm.  This is what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Georgia Browns’s* former chef Darrell Hughes developed this version of FGT in 1995.  He moved to sister restaurant Paolo’s in DC’s Georgetown in 2009. He’s rocking Italian, “California Style” there! Just a couple more reasons to visit our nation’s Capitol!

GB Fried Green Tomatoes I

3 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4” thick
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 t dried Basil
1/4 t salt
1 t black pepper
1 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups Japanese bread crumbs
1 Tbs parsley, minced
Olive oil for frying

GB Fried Green Tomatoes IIMix cream cheese with basil and half of the salt & pepper.
Place 1/2 Tbs of cream cheese mixture on one slice of tomato.
Press another tomato slice on top of cream cheese to make a sandwich.

Mix remaining salt & pepper into flour.
Mix parsley into bread crumbs.

GB Fried Green Tomatoes IIIDredge tomato sandwich into seasoned flour.
Shake off excess flour.
Dip in eggs.
Shake off excess egg.
Dredge in bread crumb mixture to coat.

GB Fried Green Tomatoes IVHeat oil in skillet over medium high heat.
Sauté approximately 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.
Place on paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Serve with Lemon Cayenne Mayonnaise.

* “Georgia Brown’s…the soul of DC, offering a tailored side of the South.”

GB Fried Green Tomatoes V

Fried Green Tomatoes

My dear friend Lou and I are treating ourselves rather royally this coming Sunday/Monday to a cooking seminar at Fearrington Village with executive chef Colin Bedford. In honor of that upcoming venture I give you this version of a Fried Green Tomato. This initially appeared in the 1987 book by Fearrington creator/owner (now deceased) Jenny Fitch titled The Fearrington House Cookbook. It’s rather plain for my personal taste, but add the sauce from Georgia Brown’s in DC and you’ll be in love all over again. I’ll post Georgia Brown’s exquisite ramped up version of the good ole Southern fried green tomato in the next couple of weeks. And that is a promise that you will beg me to keep!  D.I.V.I.N.E.

Fried Green Tomatoes I6 medium green tomatoes cut into 1/4″ slices
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 t salt
1 Tbs ground black pepper
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t dried thyme
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Fried Green Tomatoes IISoak tomato slices in buttermilk.
Mix together cornmeal, flour and spices.
Dredge tomato slices in cornmeal mixture.
Combine oils in large skillet and heat on medium.
Sauté over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side, until golden.
Drain on paper towels.
Fried Green Tomatoes III