Autumn Soup – a Very Reliable Form of Soup

My mom, Marilyn Hunter used to make Autumn Soup from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and we loved it.  It was a pretty simple soup – but filling and delish.  I was pleased years later when I came across a reference to this soup while reading “A Girl Named Zippy” which is a wonderful autobiography by Haven Kimmel.

Haven grew up in Mooreland, Indiana and approached life with an irrepressible spirit.  She mentions that her friend’s mother made Autumn Soup, which she called “a very reliable form of soup.”  So if you get a chance, order the book, read it and make Autumn Soup to celebrate Marilyn, Haven Kimmel and reliable food!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 cup each chopped carrots and celery
1 cup diced potatoes (peel first if needed)
2 tsp salt
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
2 fresh tomatoes, diced

Heal oil in a dutch oven. Add ground beef and brown. Add onions and cook stirring frequently for several minutes. Add all other ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

Note: The original recipe called for six fresh tomatoes completely intact added to the pot. Each bowl would get a giant tomato smack in the middle of the bowl, but my Mom never made it like that, and six diced tomatoes would just be too much.

 

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Po’ Boys for a Crowd

how-to-make-a-po-boyThere was Moon over Bourbon Street at our house recently, and we served Po’ Boys for a crowd.

Making Po’ Boys is quite easy, and they are so tasty! We offered a choice of beef brisket or Cajun Roasted Cauliflower for fillings, along with fresh, sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, Remoulade Sauce or Mayo and hot sauce on a split french roll.

We served the Beef Brisket in one 1/2 catering tray, and the roasted Cauliflower in another 1/2 catering tray. Both trays fit in one large tray, with 1/2″ of water in the bottom to keep them warm, with two tins of chafing dish fuel.

Each Beef Brisket 1/2 catering tray makes 16 – 24 sandwiches, depending on how much brisket people use. The Cauliflower is probably the same.

For each half tray, you’ll need

5 lbs. of sliced beef brisket (We used 2 packages of beef brisket from Costco.)
10 cups cauliflower florets, seasoned and roasted
3-4 sliced tomatoes
3-4 cups shredded tomatoes
Remoulade Sauce or Mayonnaise
Hot Sauce
18 French Rolls (Again, we used the french rolls from Costco.)

To heat the brisket, just add two packages (5 lbs.) of brisket to a 1/2 catering tray and add 1/2 cup water. Seal tightly with aluminum foil and bake at least 30 minutes. We warmed out trays up ahead of time and kept them in a warming oven.

For a vegan version, make only the Cajun Roasted Cauliflower, and serve with Remoulade Sauce or vegan mayo.

To serve, we kept a little sign by all the Po’ Boy fixings and let our guests assemble them. People loved them!

Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon

This is a somewhat time-consuming dish, since it has to cook on the stove and in the oven, but well worth it on a cool, Fall evening. I’ve actually made this amazing dish twice in the last month! You may want to make it the night before since it takes a while to cook, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ lb bacon or turkey bacon, cut into ½” slices
2½ lbs chuck beef cut into 1″ cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb carrots, scrubbed and sliced diagonally into 1″ chunks
2 yellow onions, cut into good sized chunks
2 tsp chopped fresh garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup dry brandy (Ina calls for Cognac, but I didn’t have any.)
1 bottle dry red wine (Three buck Chuck worked fine.)
2 cups of beef broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1½ tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried  (I used several stems of Thyme and fished out the stems later.)
6 Tbsp butter at room temperature
3 Tbsp flour
2 more yellow onions cut into quarters (Ina uses frozen pearl onions)
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced. (I used two containers, pre-sliced.)
A nice rustic bread, thickly sliced (I used an Herbes de Provence loaf.)
garlic cloves

Directions

In a big dutch oven, heat oil and saute bacon until lightly browned. Remove from pot. Dry beef cubes with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add beef to bacon drippings. If you’ve used turkey bacon, you’ll want to add a little more oil at this point.

Cook meat in batches, browning on all sides. (Actually, I did dump it all in and just stirred it occasionally, until the water had reduced and the meat was all nicely browned. I suppose a proper cook would be more patient. Alas…)

Remove the beef to the plate with the bacon. Add the carrots and the two onions cut into chunks to the pot. Add 1 Tbsp salt and 2 tsp pepper and cook 10-15 minutes until onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the Sherry (or Cognac) and be ready with a lighter. Hold the flame just above the mixture and watch the blue flame burn away the alcohol. It’s pretty cool. Just be careful to have the pot away from anything flammable!

Add the bacon and beef back in along with any juices from the plate. Add the bottle of wine, and the beef broth. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, then cover and place it in a 250 degree oven for about 1½ to 2 hours until the meat and veggies are nice and tender. Remove pot to stove.

Mash together 2 Tbsp of butter and flour until you have a smooth paste and stir into the stew gently. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp butter and saute the second batch of onions for several minutes until they turn translucent. (Normally you would just add frozen pearl onions at this point, but I don’t really like them and my family is pretty picky about onions, so sauteeing them helps cut the oniony bite. Add the onions to the pot.

Wipe out the pan, and add 2 more Tbsp of butter. Saute the mushrooms for 10 minutes or so, until they are starting to brown and the water they have released is mostly dried up. Add to the stew pot.

Finally, give everything a nice stir, and check seasonings.

Toast the bread under the broiler until nicely toasted, then rub a raw clove of garlic on the toast. Place it in a flat bowl, ladle the stew over and serve. (Ina adds fresh parsley as a garnish, but I forgot and it was still pretty delicious.)

Spinach & Cheese Quiche

We had a full house in August, and for brunch one Sunday morning, I decided to make quiche. But I needed a hearty vegetarian version, as some of our guests don’t eat meat. This one was quick, delish and disappeared in no time!

I’ve posted a spinach and cheese quiche previously, but this one is a little different, and uses a lot more spinach and cheese.  (Whenever possible, I like to double or even triple the normal amount of vegetables in a dish, without compromising on the flavor.)

If you have the time, you can make a home-made pie crust, adding some of the same seasonings that are in the quiche, but a pre-made crust is so much quicker.

1 Pre-made pie crust, thawed

5 eggs
1 cup milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (a microplane makes it super easy!)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
4-5 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2-3 cups of sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Lay pie crust in a quiche pan and set aside. (It will be too small, but that’s fine.)

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

In a large frying pan, melt butter. Add onion and saute until translucent and slightly golden. Add garlic and saute a couple of minutes more. Start adding spinach by handfuls, stirring as it wilts.

Scoop onion/spinach mixture into crust and smooth out in a fairly even layer. Sprinkle cheese over spinach. Carefully pour egg mixture over the spinach and cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if done by wiggling the dish slightly. If it is still “sloshy” in the middle leave in a few more minutes. It will continue solidifying as it cools.

Let cool 10 minutes and then serve.

Note: if I’d had them, I’d have sauteed and added a package of sliced mushrooms.  You can also try a different cheese – Gruyere or even part Gruyere would be delicious.  And you can use almost any vegetable, but make sure to dry it out through sauteing, or squeezing liquid out so it doesn’t dilute the egg mixture.

Enjoy!

Spinach, Bacon and Cheese Quiche from Paula Deen

Something about the combination of spinach, cheese, bacon and eggs just sings to me, and this is a great dish for Sunday morning brunch because it comes together so easily. Paula uses Swiss cheese, heavy cream and less spinach, but the recipe is pretty flexible and we like this version a lot.

Ingredients

7 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups half ‘n half
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
a little freshly grated nutmeg (just a good pinch, really)
1/2 package bacon (or turkey bacon) diced, cooked and drained
2 1/2 cups chopped raw spinach
1 cup each Cheddar and Mexican cheese (Paula uses all Swiss Cheese)
Ready-made pie crust (or homemade) placed in a quiche pan

Mix eggs, half ‘n half and spices well in a medium sized bowl. In the quiche pan lined with pie crust, place the bacon, spinach and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Yum!

Caprese Toast!

I’ve got beautiful tomatoes, basil growing like crazy in the garden and fresh mozzarella – so naturally I think of Caprese Salad. But we wanted something a little more for supper.  We love BLTs and I thought, why not Caprese Toast?

We made this for supper and it was to die for. The Balsamic Mayonnaise is ridiculously good.  (We were all sneaking back into the kitchen and dipping the leftover tomatoes and Mozzarella into the Balsamic Mayonnaise to eat right over the counter – it was that good.)

Love when something turns out so delish and so easy!

Ingredients

Good, hearty bread for toasting (whole wheat or oatmeal)
Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
Fresh Basil, roughly sliced
Ripe tomatoes, halved and cut into slices
Arugula

Balsamic Mayonnaise:

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup good Mayonnaise
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sugar  (add less and taste to see if it needs more)
1/8 tsp kosher salt
several grinds of black pepper

Mix balsamic mayonnaise ingredients well in a small bowl, and set it out with bowls of Mozzarella, basil, tomatoes and arugula.

Toast bread and smear with the Balsamic Mayonnaise. Top with a layer of Mozzarella, then tomatoes and basil. Drizzle a little more mayonnaise, and then add a layer of Arugula. Spread more mayonnaise on a second piece of toast, and top the sandwich.

This is a rather messy sandwich to eat, with the mayonnaise dripping out, but soooooo good!

We’ll be eating this often – I can guarantee that!

Tex-Mex Black Bean, Roasted Pepper and Rice Supper

A great vegetarian skillet supper that was simple, delicious and hearty. I didn’t really have anything much in mind for supper tonight and threw something together from what I had in the pantry and fridge. Maya loved it and I’d definitely make it again.

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp crushed Garlic
1 bag frozen fajita peppers from Trader Joe’s, or 2 fresh peppers cored and sliced into 1/4″ strips
2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix  (I used McCormicks.)
1 can black beans, drained but not rinsed
1/4 cup salsa
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup Mexican or cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a skillet and saute onions until softened. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add frozen fajita peppers and taco seasoning mix and saute until the liquid from the frozen peppers is mostly gone. Add the black beans, salt and pepper and the salsa. (You can add a little water if anything is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.) Cook for another 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally until the black beans are warmed through. Dump in the rice and fold the bean mixture and rice together, cooking for a few minutes until the rice is warmed. Sprinkle the cheese on top, remove from the heat and cover for a couple of minutes.

Serve hot with a simple arugula salad. Yum!

Leave off the cheese for a vegan version.