Recipe of the week

Roasted Cauliflower, Cumin & Coconut Milk Soup by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

I taught classic French cuisine at the famed and now defunct Cordon Bleu Cooking School.  In our curriculum was the classic ‘Madame du Barry’ Cauliflower Soup. Her special relationship with Louis XV accorded her sufficient status to have a dish named after her.

 

The classic cauliflower soup involves several French cooking techniques, ample prep time and generous amounts of butter and cream.   The result is a pure white, rich, creamy and delicious soup.

 

My version is centuries more modern.  It’s vegan, gluten-free, has fewer ingredients and derives its depth of flavor from pre-roasting & caramelizing the cauliflower and the addition of the earthy spices:  cumin & coriander.  Coconut milk adds dairy-free richness.

 

And best of all, it’s quick cooking (comparatively)!

 

 

Beef, Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

This is a straightforward enchilada recipe with a bit of a twist:  I’ve used sweet potato puree to replace some of the cheese (reducing some saturated fat and increasing the fiber content).   The sweet potato can be roasted ahead of time.  I roasted it the day before, peeled the skin away, mashed it with a fork and refrigerated it.  Doing this step ahead will definitely save some ‘day-of’ prep time.

Plum Ginger Almond Cake by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

This is an easy cake to put together and get into the oven.  There’s no frosting to make; the wreath of sliced plums and toasted almonds circling the top of the cake provides sweetness, crunch & contrast.

 

 I have swapped in some almond flour, which gives the cake a bit of a pound cake like texture. 

 

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream.

 

 

Smoked Salmon, Corn & Potato Chowder by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

I enjoy salmon in all its preparations:  grilled, poached, smoked, roasted & pan-seared. 

 

I especially like smoked salmon in a chowder with corn, peas and potatoes—a classic combination.

 

Here, I offer a lightened version: I have omitted the bacon and eschewed heavy cream for a combination of half-and-half, chicken stock and water.  A couple of tablespoons of flour along with the starch from the potatoes, binds the soup just enough to keep it from separating.  I have also employed a ‘chef’s technique’ of pre-cooking the diced potatoes and then adding them to the chowder at a later stage of cooking.  Pre-cooking the potatoes gives you more control over the ultimate thickness of the chowder and ensures the potatoes keep their shape and texture.

 

 

KALE TABBOULEH with ISRAELI PEARL COUSCOUS by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

Warning:  Poetic License Invoked!

 

‘Tabbouleh’ is THE iconic parsley & bulgur wheat salad, of course.  It swept the country in the seventies and is obviously here to stay.

 In this version, I have swapped in kale for most of the parsley and used Israeli/pearl couscous in place of the traditional bulgur wheat.  The Israeli couscous is a chewier grain (also made from wheat/semolina flour) and a better match with the sturdy kale. The rest of the ingredients are common to tabbouleh:  scallion, tomato, cucumber, lemon and olive oil.  I have paired the salad with grilled chicken.  Serve with flatbread or toasted pita chips as well.

 

Quick Stir-Fry Rice with Smoked Salmon Bits, Broccoli & Corn by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

This was my recent Maine vacation’s contribution to dinner one evening.  And we ate the leftovers for breakfast the following morning with scrambled eggs. 

 

It both preps and cooks quickly.  If you plan ahead and have leftover, cooked rice on hand, the dish can come together in 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Summer Tomatoes with Ricotta & Brown Butter by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

A great summer appetizer:  Sliced ripe tomatoes are fanned out on a bed of ricotta flavored with basil, lemon zest and chopped pistachios.   

To finish: ‘Nutty’ and aromatic browned butter is drizzled over the top. The flavor of the fresh tomatoes with the browned butter is a surprising and delightful treat.

 

 

AGUA FRESCAS: “Refreshing Waters” by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

These are beverages made with fruit purees that are strained and mixed with sparkling water, flavored seltzers, coconut water or almond milk and lots and lots of big cubes of ice.

Spanish Potato Salad by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

My Irish-German aunts made potato salad without mayonnaise.  As a curious kid, I found it intriguing because it was not what we did at our house.

 

There was bacon fat and vinegar drizzled over the hot potatoes and crumbled crispy bacon and chopped hard cooked eggs mixed in as well. To be sure, it was delicious and there was nary a drop of olive oil or any other unsaturated fats to be found.

 

Fast-forward many decades later, a mayonnaise-less potato salad is still not very common.  It makes an early summer appearance in the food magazines, but mostly remains the provenance of restaurants and/or family traditions.

 

This recipe with olive oil, smoked paprika, green olives and sherry vinegar give this potato salad its Spanish flair and its improved nutrition. The recipe is vegetarian and with a nod to my aunts; the addition of paper-thin slices of smoky ham would not be amiss.

 

 

Southwestern Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

 

When it’s too hot to turn on the oven or the stove, here’s a quick and savory melted cheese sandwich that can be done outside on a grill in a pre-heated cast iron pan. 

 

Use a delicious, firm cheddar cheese and the kernels, shaved from two (2) pre-cooked ears of corn.  Choose a ‘sturdy’ bread, thick-sliced if possible, but at least ½-inch.  Grate the cheese on the largest holes of a box-grater and mix with a ‘binder’…I used chipotle ranch dressing, but any creamy dressing would work, as would mayonnaise or a combo of dressing & mayo.

Additionally, thin slices of tomato and/or cooked bacon would be yummy additions.