Artichoke and garlic

Creamy Artichoke Soup For Easter Brunch

Asparagus soup

I love the concept of serving a soup in a demitasse. It whets the appetite just enough for the next course. I worked in a place known for luxury that served every patron a small demitasse of chicken consommé. Perfect for the ladies that lunched, or just a soothing balm on a cold rainy day. When you start think of your Easter brunch ideas, dust off the collection of demitasse and fine tea cups you hardly use, and greet your guests with an elegant cup of soup to offer a warm welcome.

Artichoke and garlic

I had some artichokes that were screaming to be used in my vegetable bin after serving as models for an illustration. If you don’t have raw artichokes you can use canned bottoms or hearts. It will easier, but I love the process involved in this soup with roasting and coaxing the flavors. Don’t be afraid of the process in the kitchen. It can be very Zen . Use the recipe as inspiration and enjoy. I hope you enjoyed the featured illustration. Its one of many food illustrations I’m working on  for Coco Collection and a book project.

Creamy Artichoke Soup For Easter Brunch
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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A creamy artichoke soup with roasted garlic and leeks.
Ingredients
  • 2 whole raw leeks
  • 2 whole raw artichokes
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large russet potato
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • pink peppercorns crushed for garnish
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • > and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Break down the artichokes but slicing off tops and stems.
  2. Trim to get to the center. Halve and remove any fuzzy center( the choke)
  3. above the stem and purple leaves if any. You want the
  4. tender heart of the artichoke.
  5. Soak in cold water with half a
  6. lemon to prevent discoloration and browning.
  7. Slice entire leek ( white and green part) and soak I cold water to remove
  8. dirt and grit.
  9. In a roasting pan toss the artichokes and
  10. leeks with olive oil and the remaining half of lemon juice.
  11. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Slice tip of garlic fist and drizzle with olive oil.
  13. Wrap in foil and roast with the other veggies.
  14. Roast on high at 450FPeel and boil the russet
  15. potato.
  16. When deeply browned, remove vegetable and start
  17. pureeing with the chicken stock.
  18. Squeeze the garlic out of its papery skin and pulse with the other vegetables.
  19. Peel the skins off boiled potato.
  20. Add the potato to the blender for puree.
  21. Now take a strainer and strain the fibrous soup
  22. through a fine mesh strainer , forcing the liquid out with a
  23. stirring motion, with a pot or bowl underneath.
  24. You can use a food mill too.
  25. Once all strained, transfer the soup into a clean pot.
  26. Simmer on low.
  27. Add heavy cream.
  28. Reheat gently.
  29. Garnish with pink peppercorns and a bit of minced chives if you have some.

 

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Williams – Sonoma Smoothie Week…Aloe Vera ,Hibiscus & Lemon Non Dairy Smoothie

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January is all about cleanses and new starts. I’m not one for  cliche resolutions, but I do know when I need to recalibrate after periods of over indulgence. These days its about hydration for my body.My mornings consists of smoothies on occasion, but mostly herbal infusions or teas for the commute to work. As for sweeteners I’m not one to shun it, but gravitate towards the most natural sweeteners possible. One could debate endlessly about natural sweeteners, sugars, etc. I will always choose my Swedish neighbors beautiful raw honey or a gorgeous subtle non refined crystallized German Rock Sugar. Natures natural unrefined enhancements. So whats this about? The Williams – Sonoma community wanted to know what I would consider for a Not Your Typical Smoothie theme.

I love dairy but it doesn’t love me unfortunately. So in thinking of a smooth emulsified nutritious drink that’s not your typical smoothie, I came up with the jelly like aloe vera gel, which I had always enjoy in a fruity drinks from the Asian stores, lemon , which cleanses and hydrates me, and my favorite colorful herbal infusion, hibiscus. I knew the aloe vera gel would create a silky icy smooth lemonade type of quencher, a Soothie, as opposed to a Slushie.  For sweetener I melted some pieces of German Rock Sugar with the hibiscus infusion, which is derived from beet juice, and lets the true flavor shine, rather than mask it. So if a smoothie in the classic definition is a emulsified blend of fruits, veggies, ice, dairy and sweetener, this is it. Sweetener from beets, aloe vera juice, lemon, and the beautiful hibiscus. I see a lot of questionable things pass for smoothies in commercial  establishments these days. It’s so easy to make your own goodness. While their are some amazing blenders on the market, this smoothie/soothie is pretty low tech. A powerful blender which crushes ice is all you need.

Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel

Digestive Aid

Supports Joints

Regularity

Reduces toxins

Benefits of Hibiscus

Aides in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol

Antioxidant

Benefits of Lemon

Aides weight loss

Stimulates digestive tract

Potassium

Throat soother

Anti cancerous liminoids

Benefits of German Rock Sugar

Unrefined and less sweet

Doesn’t alter taste as much as refined sugars

Beet derived

Smoothie Week...Aloe Vera ,Hibiscus & Lemon Non Dairy Smoothie
Cuisine: Drinks
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon of dried Hibiscus
  • ½ cup hot water to steep hibiscus
  • 1-2 tablespoons of German Rock Sugar
  • ½ cup Aloe Vera Gel
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup of crushed ice
Instructions
  1. Steep Hibiscus and German rock sugar in hot water for several minutes and until sugar is dissolved. Cool down naturally or with a bit of ice. Strain.
  2. Add the aloe vera gel, lemon juice, ice, and strained hibiscus infusion to a blender with crushed ice.
  3. Blend until frothy .
  4. Serve immediately.

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Mango Caipirinhas

One of my favorite drinks is a Caipirinha. I remember being introduced to them by an old friend named Andy ,who had a Brazilian girlfriend and sought to educate me on many things Brazilian. We were at a Brazilian music event in Chicago and I drank eagerly  much to my hung over  regret the next day. They taste so good, but will sneak up on you.This cocktail had found a way into my cocktail repertoire.

In Rio de Janerio recently , I stayed hydrated with a variety of juices from the Sucos Bars scattered on every street,excellent icy cold beers, Mate Tea served from a steel drum containers that blend lemon juice and yerbe mate , plenty of water, and wound the day down with  nice Caipirinhas in traditional or exotic fruit varieties like passion fruit or mango. I felt like a Carioca ( native of Rio de Janerio). The abundance and profusion fruits in Rio amazed me. I wish I could have sampled more. Hortifruti has a amazing selection of fruits and vegetables  indigenous to Brazil. The food,climate, and lifestyle make this the perfect destination to visit. I really felt a connection in Rio and will return.

caprhrina 3

Caipirinhas are considered Brazil’s national drink. This pleasant sweet yet acidic cocktail with a kick, consists of limes, sugar, and cachaça ( a spirit made from sugar cane juice,as rum is as well)served over plenty of ice. The original simple form is wonderful, but many like to add a fruit infusion, based on the abundance and variety of fruits. If you don’t have cachaça, there is always a Caipiroska  or Caipivodka using vodka in place of cachaça.

caprihana

Mango Caipirinhas
Recipe type: Cocktails
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 shots cachaça
  • 1 lime cut into wedges, then quarters
  • 4 tsps sugar, preferably raw sugar.
  • half of a mango cubed and cut into small pieces.
  • Crushed Ice
Instructions
  1. Muddle lime, sugar, and mango fruit together.
  2. Add crushed ice to shaker.
  3. Pour cachaça over fruit and ice and shake to blend,
  4. Serve in a chilled glass with the ice.

 

 Influences and Perspectives : Brazil

Farmers Market Vegetables with Old El Paso® Mexican “Hummus” Dip

Old El Paso® Mexican “Hummus” Dip and Simple Summer Entertaining

I don’t know about your summer, but mine has been a whirlwind of entertaining and being entertained. When shopping for clients, or traveling in new locals, I always love to visit the farm stands and Farmers Markets in addition to my usual purveyors. Out of all the markets I have been too , I have to say the Ferry Plaza one in San Francisco is one of my favorites. Chicago doesn’t slouch in that category either. Green City Market attracts locals and the movers and shakers of the culinary world . But my all time  favorite one is in Vienna , the Naschmarkt.

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There is nothing so pleasing to eye and taste buds than fresh produce and food, and the farmers and artisans, and chefs who present them. Simple , beautiful, pure taste. One thing I’m noticing from my clients and the parties I attend, is they simple classic down home fare.  Nothing complex, just the good food speaking for itself without any hocus pocus and additional fanfare. I went to a well known philanthropists annual birthday fete, and the most memorable dish was a simple shrimp and clam boil stand with new potatoes and fresh chucked corn. My clients have been requesting simple roasts, root vegetable gratins, fried green tomatoes sliders, artful salads, and fruitful desserts.

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In another assignment for Old El Paso, I was tasked with using Old El Paso products to complement the wonderful bounty form the summers Farmers Markets. Taking an everyday trendy staple, with Middle Eastern Roots, I played on the legume theme of a classic hummus , using Old El Paso traditional Refried beans instead. Forget Pita, and use Old El Paso Flour Tortillas , deep fried as your tasty chip sprinkled with Sea Salt. A sprinkle of sumac on top of the hummus and WOW. Be creative with your crudite. Give a quick blanch and ice bath to keep its crunchiness. Use various small glasses or verrines, and cutouts to make an artful display and impress your guests with a healthy starter .

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Old El Paso® Mexican “Hummus” Dip and Simple Summer Entertaining
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There is a beauty and nature and summers riot of vegetables available at the local Farmers Market. When we shop at them , we feel connected with our earth and community. The past decade, hummus, a Middle Eastern dish of pureed chickpeas, lemon, garlic and chickpeas has become a household staple in American homes and parties. Why not take this recipe and use Old El Paso Refried Beans for a tasty twist on this exotic , and healthy recipe? Serve it up in a spectacular arrangement of vegetables from the farmers market and deep fried soft Old El Paso tortilla wedges seasoned with Sea Salt. Your guests and family will be wowed!
Ingredients
  • Mexican Hummus
  • 1 can Old El Paso Traditional Refried Beans
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup Tahini
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 cloves garlic minced finely
  • ¼ cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. The fruitier the better.
  • Additional olive oil for finish drizzle
  • 1 teaspoon Sumac for garnish ( found in Middle Eastern section of grocery)
  • Vegetable Tray
  • 1 head cauliflower (blanched and plunged into ice water)
  • 1 /2 lb green beans (blanched and plunged into ice water)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 Sweet Red Pepper
  • 1 pot of boiling salt water
  • Deep Fried Soft Tortillas Wedges
  • 1 package Old El Paso Soft Tortillas
  • Canola Oil For frying ( approx 2-3 cups )
  • Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. Make an ice bath in a large bowl.
  3. In a glass bowl combine all ingredients, except finishing oil and sumac, for the Hummus. Take and immersion hand blender and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Place in serving dish. Drizzle with oil and sumac. Cover loosely and keep refrigerated until serving.
  5. Prep and cut vegetables. Be creative and use cutters for carrots, ripple slicer for squash and zucchini, etc. Add cut vegetable to ice bath to keep color and crispness.
  6. Plunge cauliflower florets and trimmed green beans in to boiling water to blanch for a few seconds. Quickly remove from water with strainer, and add to the ice bath to stop cooking and retain color.
  7. Arrange on platter with dip.
  8. Heat up Deep Fryer at 350-375°.
  9. Cut small piles of soft tortillas into eights wedges.
  10. Fry in small batches until golden. Drain on paper towels and salt.
  11. Serve with vegetable platter.
Notes
Use your favorite vegetables that inspire you. Get creative with presentation. I use bud vases inside glasses to create a more dimensional serving effect. Add some spice of powdered chili instead of sumac, if you prefer your dip on the spicy side. Substitute fresh jalapenos for sundried tomatoes too. Keep it all chilled as the party goes on. Use trays on top of ice.

Happy Summer Eating. Visit the New Old El Paso site for other great ideas and see my recipes here.