Miz Chef

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Creamless Broccoli-Gouda Soup

Broccoli-Gouda Soup

Broccoli-Gouda Soup

This is one of those recipes that came from wanting to satisfy a craving with what was already at hand. I had purchased a head of broccoli because I wanted some in a veggie quesadilla. But there’s only so much broccoli you can put in a quesadilla.

I looked at the leftover broccoli and cheddar cheese (also purchased for the quesadilla) and I instantly thought “broccoli-cheddar soup.” Then I remembered that I had a piece of Gouda cheese that needed to be used and I thought, “Okay, broccoli-Gouda soup.”

Traditionally, broccoli-cheese soup uses milk or half-and-half, but I didn’t want to use any dairy (apart from the cheese). So I thought to use a technique I learned in culinary school for thickening cream soups: oats. It thickens it up without adding the extra fat and calories and keeps the soup light and filling without being overly rich.

I just threw all these ingredients together and I was immensely pleased with the result. This soup is hearty and filling, but less heavy than cream-based soups as well as healthier. The flavor is deep and pleasing, and it looks really appetizing. It would be well complemented by croutons or toast, and a side of green or bean salad.

By the way, if you want to go completely dairy-free, the soup was already delicious even before I stirred in the cheese. So go ahead and omit it—you’ll enjoy it just the same.

Creamless Broccoli-Gouda Soup

Makes 4 servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped white onion
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 medium head broccoli, chopped (florets and tender stems)
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons flour
4 oz. Gouda, shredded


Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium pot. Add onion and saute over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add garlic and nutmeg and saute another minute.


Add broccoli, carrot, salt, and black pepper to taste and cook, stirring often, until broccoli turns bright green.


Add broth and oats; stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.


Make a roux by heating the remaining oil in a small skillet. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until it cakes up and becomes slightly stiff. Keep whisking until it turns a nutty brown. This will take only a minute or so.


Stir it into the soup until it’s well blended.


Puree the soup, either in a blender with an immersion blender, to the consistency that you like―fully blend for a smooth soup, or leave some pieces for a chunkier soup (I like it chunky). If you’ve used a blender, pour it back into the pot.









Stir in the cheese and continue stirring over low heat until it’s melted in. Check for seasoning and adjust, if desired.


Serve hot.


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Avocado Slaw Canapes

I love avocados. They’re so rich, buttery, and delicious, yet healthy. There are so few things in life that can’t be said to be decadent and heart-healthy at the same time. This is one of them.

Avocados—technically, fruits—are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium (more per weight than bananas), folate, B5, B6, and B9. One avocado contains more than one-third the daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K. People often avoid avocados because they think they’re high in fat. And they are. But the good kind of fat—monounsaturated, in the form of oleic acid, which reduces levels of bad cholesterol and lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Avocados have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and, due to their phytochemicals, prevent cancer. Studies have also found that people who ate avocados were more likely to have a lower body weight, BMI (body mass index), and waist circumference. An average avocado contains around 4 grams of protein, more than most other fruits, and only .4 grams of sugar, less than most other fruits.

I didn’t have my first avocado until I was an adult. We didn’t eat avocados in our family—it simply wasn’t a typical Italian ingredient. I was probably in my 20s when I had my first taste. Initially, I didn’t care for them; I didn’t appreciate their butteriness. It felt to me like I was eating…well, a stick of butter. Then I was introduced to guacamole, and my world changed. Guacamole became the secret treasure I would seek out at parties. And if there wasn’t any, I was very disappointed and marked that party off as a failure. I then began to appreciate avocados on their own and in other dishes.

Avocados go well with so many other ingredients, including cabbage. I was inspired to create this recipe by a dinner I worked to fulfill a class requirement at The Natural Gourmet Institute. By using your hands to squeeze the ingredients together, the cabbage softens and it creates a tender, creamy slaw. You can put your own swerve on it by adding other ingredients, such as poppy seeds, chopped pickle, or shredded carrot.

Avocado Slaw Canapes

Makes 16.DSCF0039

1 large ripe Haas avocado, diced
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 (6-inch) tortillas (corn or wheat)
Olive oil for brushing
2 medium plum tomatoes, diced small

1. Combine the avocado, cabbage, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. With your hands, squeeze the ingredients together until cabbage has softened and ingredients are well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste.

2. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut out 2 circles from each tortilla. Brush the circles lightly with olive oil and brown them on both sides on a grill or in a frying pan.

3. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the slaw onto each tortilla round and garnish with the tomato.





Papalo, the Unsung Cilantro

I just love finding new items to try. I was at the farmer’s market one day and saw something called papalo. I’d never heard of it and had no idea how to use it, but I bought a bundle and did some research.

Papalo leaf

Papalo leaf

Turns out that papalo is an herb that grows wild in Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Most popular in Mexican cooking (although it’s also used in South American cuisines), it’s been compared closely to cilantro. It looks nothing like cilantro but its flavor is mildly cilantro-like with citrus overtones. In fact, it is often used in dishes in place of cilantro. It tends to be used in raw applications more than cooked ones, and is especially popular in salsas and guacamole.

There’s a traditional Puebla sandwich made with meat, avocado, and chiles, varying with tomatoes, cheese, and onions, and always papalo. As far as I’ve been able to determine, this sandwich is called a cemita, which is also a general word (in Spanish) for “sandwich.”

The word papalo comes from the Native American Nahuatl word for butterfly, papalotl. (Interestingly, it’s similar to the French word for butterfly, papillon.) But I’ve come across numerous names for papalo, including Bolivian coriander (coriander being the word for cilantro in many countries), butterfly weed, pápaloquelite, tepegua, quillquiña, quirquiña, and killi.Papalo

Despite the prevailing belief that papalo should not be cooked, I used it in a batch of vegetarian chili and, predictably, it gave it a citrusy note. The chili seemed somehow “fresher” and more summery. That’s obviously my own association with the flavor profile of the chili but the papalo definitely gave it a nice little zing.

Here’s a recipe for a simple tomatillo salsa, using papalo. Let me know what you think.

Simple Tomatillo Salsa with Papalo

½ lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely minced
¼ cup minced papalo leaves
¼ cup finely minced white onion
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Sea salt to taste

Finely chop the tomatillos and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill for at least ½ hour to allow the flavors to blend.


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12-Piece Bucket

This week, I thought I’d do something a little different. I decided to put together a “bucket list” of dishes that I want to make at some point. The reason that these things are on a list (as opposed to my just making them) is because they require some time, some organization, and some patience.

Now, I have the organizational skills to carry these out, but the time and patience…not so much. I have so many projects going on that I often find myself overwhelmed. I actually find myself sometimes just sitting on my couch and staring into space because I have so much to do that I simply don’t know what to do next.

These dishes are things that I’ve either tasted somewhere and want to replicate or that I’ve seen—in a book or magazine, on TV, or online—that struck me as so beautiful or creative or intriguing in some way that I just have to try my hand at them. And once I make them, I will consider them real accomplishments, partly for the skills and techniques involved, but also for my being able to discipline myself enough to spend the time on them and focus long enough to achieve those results. (Whether or not they turn out good is another issue.) And, looking over my list, I realize there’s a lot of baking involved—I guess winter will be a busier season than summer.

So, you might call this my “one day” list—things that I will set my mind and hands to one day, when I can set aside the time and muster up the patience. I’m sure that so many of you have similar lists. Maybe they contain only one or two things, or maybe it’s a long list that grows with each passing year. I’d love to know what yours are.

So, without further ado, here’s my 12-piece bucket list of food accomplishments, in no particular order.

  1. Mondrian cake
Mondrian Cake (Blue Bottle Coffee/Caitlin Freeman)

Mondrian Cake (Blue Bottle Coffee/Caitlin Freeman)

2. Opera cake

Opera Cake

Opera Cake

3. Marzipan fruit

Marzipan fruit

Marzipan fruit

4. Napoleon cake

Photo: Georges Seguin (Okki)

Napoleon Cake. Photo: Georges Seguin (Okki)

5. Something Wellington (not beef)



6. A dessert with a spun-sugar cage

sugar cage

Sugar Cage

7. Croquembouche

Photo: www.croquembouche.com.au

Croquembuoche. Photo: http://www.croquembouche.com.au

8. A true mole sauce

Mole Sauce. Photo: Nbclatino.com/Mariluz Gonzalez

Mole Sauce. Photo: Nbclatino.com/Mariluz Gonzalez

9. Baked Alaska

Photo: Stef Yau

Photo: Stef Yau

10. Croissants

Photo credit: Sundar1

Croissants. Photo credit: Sundar1

11. Zebra Cake

Photo: cookiescupcakesandcardio.com

Photo: cookiescupcakesandcardio.com

12. Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise (evidently, I have a thing for layers)

Photo: Americastestkitchen.com

Dacquoise. Photo: Americastestkitchen.com

Bonus: A gluten-free, multilayered cake that I had to help with at culinary school. It had an avocado cream, raspberry cream, was and topped with chocolate ganache. It was a complicated affair, and I suspect that it was the chef’s gluten-free, dairy-free version of an opera cake.

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Put de Lime in de Coconut

If you’re still looking for a cool, refreshing, but yummy drink to serve at your IMAG1802Memorial Day picnic or barbecue, look no further. I’ve got you covered right here.

I had this little bottle of coconut vodka that I wanted to use, and while I was out shopping the other day, I came across one of those coconut juice drinks with the little pieces of coconut in it. Hmm, I said to myself. I think this would be a great mixer for that coconut vodka.

And that’s what I did. I poured the vodka over a little ice and added the coconut drink. It was okay but it needed something. So I squeezed in some lime. That was it. Let me tell you, coconuts and limes are often paired together for a reason! They’re like Antony and Cleopatra, beans and rice, Abbott and Costello—they just belong together (well, at least the beans and rice and Abbott and Costello).

So, here’s my recipe for a Coconutty-Limey Drink. It serves one but can be batched, and it works well with coconut rum, too.IMAG1808

Coconutty-Limey Drink

2 oz. coconut vodka (or rum)
1 1/4 cups coconut juice drink with pulp
2 wedges from a medium lime

Place a couple of ice cubes in a glass. Pour in the vodka and coconut drink. Squeeze in the juice from one wedge of lime. Squeeze in the juice from the other wedge and add the wedge to the glass Serve.




Apple-Bottom Drinks

A few weeks ago, I bought apple slices canned in syrup. I used the apples in apple corn muffins (recipe HERE) and saved the syrup (because of its sugar content, it can stay quite a while in the refrigerator).IMG_2512

One of my suggestions for the leftover syrup was to make drinks with it. I finally had a opportunity to try a couple out. I must say, they turned out deliciously, so I wanted to share them with you.

If you can’t find canned apples in syrup, you can make your own: Slice 2 apples and place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil; lower the heat and let simmer about 20 minutes, covered. Then strain the liquid out over a small bowl.IMG_2802

So here are my successful apple syrup recipes. Both make 1 serving.

Spiced Apple Shooter

1 ounce Captain Morgan rum
1 tablespoon apple syrup (strained)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients, except cinnamon stick, in a shaker with ice. Strain out into a shot glass. Place the cinnamon in the glass and serve.


Spiced Apple Shooter

Apple-Cacao Aperitif

1 ounce white rum
1 ounce white crème de cacao
1 tablespoon apple syrup (strained)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Lemon zest

Combine all ingredients, except zest, in a shaker with ice. Strain into a small aperitif or cocktail glass.


Apple-Cacao Aperitif



Liquid Gold from Greens

My friend, Linda, asked me recently for suggestions on what to do with the water she had used to cook kale. This water, known as pot liquor (sometimes spelled potlikker), has set many a cook’s heart aflutter because it’s loaded with flavor. Not only that, it’s also packed with nutrients from the kale, or whatever greens you have cooked in it.DSCF0005

Pot liquor is a U.S. Southern speciality, usually made from collard, mustard, or turnip greens, and can be used in place of water or broth in almost anything. Here are some ways to use it:

* In soups, stews, or chilis

* To cook rice, quinoa, or any other grain

* To braise vegetables or fish

* In a vegetable casserole

* In a vegetable smoothie

* In place of broth in a pan sauce

* If you have enough of it, you can reduce it and add a roux for a sauce, too. This would go very well with grilled/baked/sauteed tofu or tempeh.

* Add it to your pet’s food—it’s nutritious for our furry friends, too!

So, get yourself a nice big bunch of greens—any greens—and cook it down. The best way is to sauté greens in a pan with garlic and oil. But you can also use a small amount of water to boil them. That way, you get the nutrient-packed water without leeching everything out of the greens themselves. Place the greens in a large skillet or dutch oven and add about a cup of water and salt. After the greens are cooked, remove them and save the liquid. To sauté in oil, follow the recipe below, then reserve the pot liquor. It will have incredible added flavor from the garlic and spices.

(By the way, I was very tempted to call this blog “Pot Liquor,” but I was afraid it would draw the wrong kind of traffic. :-) As it is, I expect to get a lot of garbage from spammers who are keying in on the words “pot” and “liquor.”)

Sauteed Greens

1 large bunch greens, washed, drained
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Coarsely chop the greens.

2. Heat the oil in a wide pan; add garlic and cook 1 minutes. Add paprika and red pepper lakes and immediately add the greens.

3. Add ½ cup water, salt, and pepper and mix well. Cover the pan and cook until greens are tender. The time will vary, depending on the type of green it is. Add more water if it starts to get dry.

4. Use tongs to remove the greens and garlic. Reserve the pot liquor for use in other recipes.






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