Stuffed Celery with Cream Cheese and Green Olives

Celery stuffed with cream cheese and olivesMy husband grew up with this recipe and it is a staple at any party–especially the holidays–of his family’s households. From the very first time I tried it, I knew I would be making it often too, yet.. as usual adding a touch of myself (the smoked paprika).

INGREDIENTS

1 celery stalk / bunch
1 8oz. soften cream cheese
1 cup of green olives stuffed with red pimentos
cut up celery1 tsp of smoked paprika
salt / pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a bowl mix the cream cheese with paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Chop the olives real small then add to the cream cheese.
  3. Use a potato peeler to  softly peel the outsides of the celery sticks (this way you will not feel the strings when biting on it).
  4. Cut the celery stick to about 2 inches in length.
  5. Fill each stick with the cream cheese mixture and they are ready to serve.

celerycreamcheeseolives1 celerycreamcheeseolives2

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Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Cream of Cauliflower SoupMy grandmother was the very best at making soups. She could make delicious soups out of anything. I am fortunate to have her cooking books which slowly but surely I want to try to make every recipe she wrote throughout her live. Some are her own creations, others are family recipes and lastly others are traditional recipes she adjusted to her taste.

As I am going through them all, I am also creating a document so that all of her great-grandchildren and cousins will be able to cherish for years to come. This one is a favorite of mine, it has a velvety taste and oddly enough it barely tastes like cauliflower.

My daughter’s reactions? The little Princess ONLY had 3 cups of it!! OHHH and as I was preparing the soup, she kept on wanting “little bites” of the soup. So I guess this was a winner for her. My Dancer? Well I first did not tell her it was cauliflower as for whatever reason she says she does not care for it, but ended up eating a FULL bowl of it and this morning asked if she could have some cold for breakfast.

Indeed, this cream is also very good cold. Finally I asked her. By the way… do you like cauliflower? And her nose frowned right away and said noo. Hmmm well you LIKED the soup. As usual I got that look I usually get as if saying… I hate it when you trick me!

INGREDIENTS

1 cauliflower
2 cups of beef stock or vegetable stock
1 cup of whole milk or heavy cream

1 tbsp butter

parsley leaves
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil the cauliflower in water and a pinch of salt until well cooked
  2. Remove the water and pass the cauliflower through a food mill
  3. Place it back in the pot and add the stock and milk
  4. Bring it to a boil for about 6 minutes
  5. Prior to serving add the butter
  6. Serve it garnished with a few parsley leaves

Mac & Cheese #1

Mac & cheeseBack home in Europe we do not eat mac & cheese. I was first introduced to it from the box and I must say it was never up there in my list of yummy food. It tasted plasticky and not much flavor. Since, and thanks to becoming a recipe tester for Leite’s Culinaria, I was introduced to what REAL mac & cheese is about. I still had a few boxes at home, mostly for the kids, but from the moment I tried what Mac & Cheese is to taste like, I filled a bag with those boxes along with other canned and boxed items and brought it to the local food pantry (I know… if I would not eat it why bring it to the food pantry? well unfortunately they cannot accept home made goods, if not, trust me… I would be there EVERYDAY sharing our cookings with them!)

So here is one of the recipes I tried and since have made it many times. This is an awesome and easy recipe to make for a weeknight. Everyone absolutely loved it and the best part is that you can use this as a base then add whatever pleases your heart.

But no worries, this is not the only one. Hence the reason I call it #1 as there will be more!

Lettuce Soup

Lettuce SoupThis is one of my GrandMother’s favorite soups. So simple yet the taste is amazing and very delicate and just as good hot as cold for a warm summer day. If we ever have leftovers, the Dancer will go to the fridge first thing in the morning, grab  and drink it cold for breakfast!

INGREDIENTS

1 large iceberg lettuce head or 2 small ones (if you are to use other ones adjust their taste with a little extra sugar)
1 medium onion
2 tbsp of butter
1.5 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you are vegetarian)
1 cup of milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp of heavy cream OR Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1tsp of sugar
salt , pepper
1 cup of croutons (if desired)
a small bunch of parsley to decorate (if desired)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill a medium pan with water and salt, and bring it to a boil.
  2. Wash the lettuce leaves, slice them up into strips and put them for about 5 minutes in the boiling water.
  3. Remove them from the water and pass them through cold water.
  4. Mince the onions.
  5. In a medium size pan melt the butter add the onions and stir until they are translucent.
  6. Add 3/4 of the lettuce strips and add the stock and let it simmer in medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  7. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and the sugar.
  8. Stir for about 2 to 3 minutes then remove from heat.
  9. Put it in a blender to create a nice smooth cream.
  10. Add the milk then bring it back to a low boil for about 5 minutes.
  11. In a bowl beat the egg yolks and heavy cream, then slowly add a few spoons of the soup while mixing well.
  12. Add the whole thing to the soup and stir continuously until the the soup thickness up.
  13. Prior to serving add the leftover lettuce strips.
SUGGESTIONS
You can also add a few croutons, parsley leaves and a touch of heavy cream prior to serving.

Lemon chutney and paste for grilling

Lemon Chutney

My Mother taught me this absolutely amazing lemon chutney. She learned it from a Mozambican man while living in South Africa. It is extremely easy to make but usually requires hot sun. Yet living in a cold area such as Wisconsin I figured out how to make it on the stove top.

This chutney is awesome to eat it alone with a nice juicy grilled steak or creating a paste, then basting whatever food you will be grilling or broiling! And no worries it certainly is not as crazy spicy as you may think, when looking at those chili peppers, just cut them small and enjoy.

Oh, and another thing. If you are going to do it in the sun, therefore outdoors, PLEASE keep an eye for chipmunks! Believe it or not they love this chutney! Not sure it is good for them, but I ended up to throw away two jars as they opened the cheese cloth and enjoyed its contents!

Now I have no exact measurements for this recipe, so bear with me.

INGREDIENTS

Dry red hot chili peppers

Lemons cut in quarters (you can also use limes)

Coarse sea salt

empty 8-ounce glass jar with cover

cheese cloth

kitchen twine

DIRECTIONS IF COOKING IN THE HOT SUN

  1. In an empty 8-ounce glass jar create layers with each of the ingredients. 
  2. I usually start with lemon quarters, nicely snug, then cover it with a thin layer of salt, then about 20 chili peppers and so on.
  3. Make sure to always pack it well, so there is no space whatsoever.
  4. Once all the layers have reached the top, fill it with as much lemon juice as you can. Using a thin stick, such as a barbecue skewer, move things a bit around so to avoid air bubbles.
  5. Prior to covering the jar with cheese cloth and kitchen twine, make sure to fill to the brim with lemon juice not to dry up.
  6. Fold a cheese cloth two or three times to create a square, then place it over the top of the jar. Tie the twine tightly around the cheesecloth.
  7. Place it outside somewhere you know will always be under the sun, or at least have a good 6 hours of direct sun per day.
  8. Every two days, remove the cheese cloth, add more juice and keep an eye on air bubbles. Recover with the same or different cheese cloth and tighten it again with the kitchen twine.
  9. This process should take about 28 days to cook if you live in a really hot area. You will notice the ingredients starting to blend together and the lemon darkening.
  10. Once ready, bring it back inside and use the jar’s original cover. As long as there is a bit of lemon juice on the top, you do not have to refrigerate it.

DIRECTIONS IF COOKING OVER THE STOVETOP

  1. In a medium size sauce pan, create layers as described above, all the way to the top.
  2. Bring it to a low boil, then reduce the heat to gently simmer, covered for about 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Check it from time to time and stir as much as you would like. Make sure to add lemon juice if it becomes dry.
  4. The end result should look darker in color and sort of mushy.
  5. Once cooled off pour it in a glass jar, check for air bubbles and add more lemon juice.
  6. Cover it with its original cover.

CREATE A PASTE FOR GRILLING

Chopped up lemon chutney

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of lemon chutney

10 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of minced garlic

DIRECTIONS

  1. Soften the butter and place it in a medium size bowl.
  2. Chop the chutney finely and add it to the butter.
  3. Add minced garlic to the butter and mix it all well.
  4. As you are grilling your meat or seafood, continuously keep on basting with this paste.

Lemon chutney paste for grilling

Cauliflower au Gratin

Cauliflower au gratinA very simple and cheap recipe that fills lots of stomachs. This is a recipe I grew up with and absolutely love making it as soon as the weather gets colder. Kids love it as it is cheesy and has lots of ham. You can easily substitute the cauliflower for brocoli if your kids prefer that. Or even better add both of them.

INGREDIENTS for the béchamel

1 stick of salt butter
2 cups of all-purpose gluten-free flour
6 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

INGREDIENTS for the gratin

Béchamel
3 cups of shredded cheese
5 cups of diced ham
1 cauliflower cut into small pieces

Extra cheese to use over the the top

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot add water with a bit of salt and cook the cauliflower for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium size pot melt the butter then add the flour and consistently mix to create a nice doughy well blended paste.
  3. Slowly add the milk and keep on incorporating it until forming a creamy sauce.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375.
  5. Strain the cauliflower and add it to the béchamel along with the ham and cheese and mix it all together.
  6. Pour the whole thing into an oven-safe deep dish and place it in the oven for 25 minutes.
  7. Change the oven temperature from 375 to high boil (or about 475) for about 5 minutes then remove from the oven, let it rest 5 minutes and serve.