Showing posts with label autumn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autumn. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Leek and Lentil Soup #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

It’s autumn and I love soup. I love how you can put something together with whatever you have on your shelves or in your refrigerator. Got veggies and leftover chicken? Add some herbs and broth and, ta-da, a meal!

In my recent travels on the Internet, I learned that the word “restaurant” is sort of derived from soup, or rather a bowl of broth.   The French used to sell something like a bowl of broth called a “restorative” in the 1500s.   It was to cure exhaustion.  Then in 1765, someone opened a shop that specialized in bowls of soup, and voila, the word “restaurant” became the place to sit down and eat to get “restored.”

Yep, that’s what soup does for me.  It restores. Even cooking it restores me. I love the aromas, the steam, the tasty sips.

As for this soup that I’m sharing today, I love lentil soup not just because of the flavor but also because of the food value. Raw lentils have 25% protein in them! By the way, lentils have been part of the human diet since Neolithic times. They were one of the first domesticated crops in the Near East.  [Man, I love trivia for “ten” on the Internet.]

So where do your soup recipes come from? Have they been handed down through your family? Or do you remember them from a visit to a special restaurant? 

FYI, I remember a great soup I had in New Orleans that I recreated with Brie and shrimp!   Here’s the link for that soup! Brie Shrimp Soup 

Also perfect for the holidays: Pumpkin Gruyere Soup

Leek and Lentil Soup

Serves 2

2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, white portion only, diced
3 cups chicken broth, more if necessary
1 cup lentils (raw)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoon chives, for garnish

In large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the diced leeks and sauté until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. 

Add the broth and lentils, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, over and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. If necessary, add more broth.

Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives.

Yes, of course you can add chicken or some other meat to this to make it more stew-like. Feel free to tweak as necessary!  I love it plain and simple.

Savor the mystery!
Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
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Plus check out my website.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Ghosts and Goblins #bookclubweek

It's almost that time of year again. The leaves are turning and your book club might be thinking about ghosts and things that go bump in the night! So today I'm offering THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER, which takes place at Halloween. That's right! I'm giving away a copy to one person who leaves a comment below.

A team of ghost hunters arrive in Wagtail to investigate the local ghost stories for a TV show. They're particularly interested in a legend that centers around a deserted hotel. But to keep things honest, a ghost debunker is part of the show to expose any fast tricks they might pull.

I have to tell you that researching this story was fascinating. I come from a no nonsense family that absolutely did not believe in ghosts. That is, not until my father died. Every single one of us saw or heard him after his death. So it was particularly interesting to me to delve into fact versus fiction. By including a ghost debunker in the story, I was able to explore both sides of the question do ghosts exist?

I'm including some book club questions here to get the conversation started. I think questions one and two could fill the entire evening and result in some fascinating stories.

Book Club Questions for

1. Do you believe in ghosts?
2. Have you ever seen, heard, or felt a ghost?
3. Have you ever taken part in a fake haunted house as a guest or a ghost?
4. Did Eva Chevalier expose some ghost hunting tricks you didn't know about?
5. How did you feel about Eva and her personal problems?
6. Do you have a cat? Would your cat have acted like Mrs. Mewer?
7. What was the spookiest moment in the book for you?
8. How did you feel about Mallory? Did your opinion change as you learned about her past?
9. Did you know who the killer was? Who did you suspect?
10. It has to be asked. What's your favorite Halloween treat?

It goes without saying that you're going to serve something at your book club meeting, so today I'm offering pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. These were so yummy that they started disappearing before I even frosted them. So if you're in a pinch, you can just dust some powdered sugar over them and they'll still be delish. But if my friend Betsy is coming, you'd better make the frosting. She claims "the cake is just there to hold the frosting." I bet some of you think so, too.

Krista's Pumpkin Cupcakes
 with Cream Cheese Frosting
(makes 12 cupcakes)

Pumpkin Cupcakes

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspooon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup regular sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake papers in the pan.

Mix together the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugars. Add the egg and beat well. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and beat. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. The batter will be thick.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. (I spoon some into each well, then go back and top them all off.)

Bake 16 minutes. (The number one complaint about cupcakes is that they're dry. Don't over-bake!)

Cool on a rack. Eat plain (at brunch, maybe?), dust with powdered sugar, or top with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat the butter with the cream cheese. Add the vanilla and beat. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating in between.

Thick batter.

After baking.

Don't forget to leave a comment if you would like to win a copy of 
Please include your email address so I can notify you. 
Good luck!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

We have a WINNER for this week’s Mystery Lovers Kitchen contest! And that winner’s name will be announced very soon!!

Happy Fall (sort of)

I’m very excited to be the first person to post in September. I know it isn’t technically Fall yet, but here in the Chicago area the temperatures have been ridiculously low, and with the kids back at school it’s feeling very Autumn-like to me. I’ve always loved this time of year.

I was one of those oddballs who was excited about each new school year. I couldn’t wait to browse through the textbooks (can you say “nerd”?) and wonder about what projects might be planned for that year. All through grammar, high school, and college I always, always enjoyed the beginning of school and was thrilled by the possibilities it held. To this day, a crisp fall day brings back all those feelings, that great sense of possibility. Good thing, because I'm about to embark on a new manuscript :-)

Okay, back to the recipe and today’s “food” posting…

Fall means soup to me. Yum. And, if you remember, I was hoping to recreate two appetizers from a wonderful downtown Chicago dinner. (Update – the mushroom appetizer recipe I posted a week ago, though unsuccessful atop croissants, was *exceptional* when used as a sauce over a beef roast at dinner the next evening. I will use this recipe over and over. It’s a keeper!) You may also recall that my oven died. It’s now fixed (hooray!), but I didn’t need it to create the tomato-gorgonzola soup recipe I’m about to share.

I have to admit, my tomato-gorgonzola is not nearly as good as the one at Marche restaurant. I’m going to have to tweak it, but for now, here are my two offerings:
Tomato Gorgonzola Soup

Option #1 – the more intricate version

3 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
9 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 c heavy cream
1/3 lb. gorgonzola cheese
2 T fresh chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, fry onions in olive oil until soft, not brown. Add in tomatoes and basil and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the mixture is more soup than solid. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until all the chunks are gone. Return mixture to the pot, add cream, and turn heat to low.

Add cheese to the pot, a little at a time. Simmer the soup for about another 30 minutes until the cheese is fully blended into the mixture.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped chives.

Option #2 – the much, much easier version

1 can of Campbell’s Tomato Bisque (Hey, my fictional president’s name is Harrison Campbell, so I figured, What the heck! :::grin:::)
1 soup can full of heavy cream
2 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh chives, chopped
1/8 lb gorgonzola cheese

Heat soup according to package directions, using cream instead of water. Simmer, then add basil and gorgonzola. Heat through until gorgonzola is well blended. Serve, garnished with fresh chives.

You know that the White House Chef often arranges for taste-tests for the First Lady before official functions, right? Well, I decided to hold my own taste-test here at home with my two tomato soup versions. The lighter colored one is the version made with fresh tomatoes. The darker one is Campbell’s based.

We tried them side-by-side and no one in the family knew which was which except me.

The hands down winner?

The fresh-tomato version was tasty, but a little light on body. Too soupy and thin. I think I need to try this again (much later. We’re tomato-souped out right about now), using more tomatoes and allowing them to stew much longer.

The gorgonzola didn’t blend with either version as easily as I expected. Maybe Avery can suggest a better cheese to use that might deliver the flavor of gorgonzola, but melt at a lower temperature? In either case, this was a great experiment. We enjoyed both versions, and I’m happy about the attempt.

If you have any great soup recipes, please be sure to send them my way. You can always reach me via my website, or e-mail me at JulieHyzy (at) aol. (dot) com.

Hope you enjoy!

Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

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Don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We announce the winners right here every week.