Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Alessi Pasta Fazool Neapolitan Bean Soup

Pasta Fazool (Minestrone) is synonymous with the Southern region of Italy. 
"Fazool" is from the Italian word "Fagioli", which means "bean". 
The Neapolitans perfected this thick, three bean, multi-vegetable pasta soup. 
This entitled them to rename the dish in their own dialect, and it thus became known as"Pasta Fazool."


4 1/2 Cups water
(What I added:
Celery 5 stalks
Barley, quick cook, about 1 cup
Half or 3/4 of a Sharp White Onion
Handful of baby tomato
Handful of cooked porcini mushrooms
2 x5 inches of Parmesean Cheese
Splash of Red Wine
1 Tablespoon Irish Butter)

Analysis at bottom of this page/post.

Cooking Directions:
Bring water to a boil in a 3 quart pot.
Add mix and stir for one minute. Stir frequently to avoid possible overflow.
Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 12 minutes. Soup should bubble during cooking. Stir occasionally.
Remove from heat. For authentic Italian taste, stir in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Serve and enjoy.

Dehydrated Beans (Red, Pinto, Navy), Pasta (Durum Semolina, (Niacin Ferous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin added)), Dehydrated Vegetable (Potato, Tomato, Onion, Zucchini, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Peas, Broccoli, Parsley), Corn Cereal Solids, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Natural Flavor (Hydrolized Corn Gluten, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil), Spices, Dehydrated Chicken Meat, Turmeric, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/3 cup (42g) dry mix
Makes 1 cup prepared
Serving Per Container: About 4
Amount per Serving        
Calories     140    
Calories from Fat     5
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.5g     1%    
Sat. Fat 0g     0%    
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg     0%    
Sodium 680mg     28%    
Total Carbs 29g     10%    
Dietary Fiber 6g     24%    
Sugars 7g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A     4%    
Vitamin C     10%    
Calcium     4%    
Iron     10%    
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

ADD spices such as rosemary, a tad of garlic, bayleaf, and maybe, just maybe a leaf of lemon balm... if you like that sort of flavor.  I refrain from stating to add salt... but truth be told I sure was craving a  bit.   The soup mix didn't add any additional yummy flavors as if one used homemade chicken stock and just barely pre-cooked three or four types of pasta.  The celery, the onion, and the mushrooms added something different to the whole.   But after a while if all one uses is homemade chicken stock, mirepoix, and pasta... it begins to all taste the same.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Time Whisks by... a walk down a recipe from memory lane...

Sick Soup...

So mom was ill and wanted some weird veggie soup.  Canned.  From Tomato Juice one drinks at breakfast.  Canned.  Vegetable Medley mixings.  Canned. Dried Chicken Bullion cubes...  Oh come on.. really?  But I put it together... get the picture?

Anyway, I couldn't do it.  Didn't tell her but what I did was gather some sundried tomatoes, put them in the Cuisinart and blended the heck out of them until smooth paste was formed.  I supplemented that to the Tomato Juice.  As for the VEG*ALL, I dumped the two into the pot, after straining the juice from them.    Then I ran Fresh carrots through the Cuisinart in order to form a mush of sorts.  I was adding thickness to an otherwise dull lifeless soup.  Thirdly I added a paste of white northern beans.  I set aside a small handful to add whole, but mostly I ground up a good portion I had cooked from scratch.  Used homemade chicken broth with lots of garlic and onion in the base... added three chicken legs to the mix and simmered... added Fresh Cut Celery (organic) to the mix toward the end so there would be crunch and firmness.   What happened was a thick soup, which had depth of flavors was formed.  It could still be poured, but at least it didn't look like tomato juice one has in a glass in the morning...with some vegetables thrown in it.  It looked and tasted a bit more complicated.  Not perfect mind you, but something which I was proud to give her and maybe help her heal faster, too.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Favorite Chili

Just the other day, New Years, I made, or rather, began making chili.  My favorite chili is made with Chili-O from Frenches.   Well, to make a long story short here's what I do...

the packet calls for...

1 pound of Beef
1 small can of Tomato Sauce
1 can Red Kidney Beans
1 packet of Chili-O

But What I Do is this...

First a brown the beef, and instead of one pound of beef I try to make it almost two.  Beef which is grass fed is my favorite.  But it tastes even better when the grass fed beef is on sale.  While browning
I rinse the beef.  Yes, I rinse the beef.  A friend of long, long ago taught me that little bit of weight loss tip.  (You're going to be adding water, so just rinse the beef... down goes flavor, but if the beef is of better original quality not matter the fat content, the taste will remain.)  So during the cooking process the beef is rinsed one third of the way through and then the last third.   Then when cooled I put it through a mixer/cutting blade, having the beef become the size of large grains of sand. The same goes for a large can of WHOLE STEWED tomatoes.  Forget a can of sauce...  I use fresh roasted tomatoes if I have them.   In lieu of fresh, I use a whole 8 ounce tube of roasted tomatoes for each packet of Chili-O mix I use.    the kidney beans are drained, and half the beans are run through the bladed mixer.

After grinding everything through a bladed mixer ... the consistency of the Chili is more soupy and less bulky.   Now it is thick! don't mistake extra beef and whole tomatoes as being thin ooze... it is a thick chili, just tiny pieces on the tongue...

Friday, April 08, 2016

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Adventures in Cheese and other yummy things.

For the past three weeks I have been wishing to create a Broccoli Cheddar Soup, having spent a tiny fortune at Panera Bread eating their concoction.  It is delish!   So I looked on the internet and found several "copies" and somewhat "award" winning recipes.  Then, I opened up my hardback American and French Cookbooks.   (Choosing among recipes from Ina Garten, Alton Brown, and The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, as well as French Chefs Alain Ducasse, Jacques Pepin, and Georges Perrier... simply took the best of them into a new "receipe." )

Basically, Ree Drummond includes a can of cream of celery in one of her three versions of the soup, Georges Perrier insists on a classic roux, and Jacques Pepin and Alain Ducasse favor adding a base of chicken or vegetable broth.  Alton, though not often favoring Velveta, has been known to include it in some of his recipes, though I can find no Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe in which he suggests the use of Velveta.  Ina Garten, known for chicken cooked a 100 different ways, has inspired me to keep on hand small and large portions of homemade chicken stock... stock, not broth.  Stock is from bones, broth is from meat.

Wishing only to create a small test portion, I chopped a small, even, amount of carrots, onion, and the stalk only of a broccoli head, reserving the florets.  Sweated the batch with butter (not margarine).  After the pan looked like a nice mirepoix (but with broccoli rather than celery), I added flour in the amount of about 1/5 to 1/7 of the volume of "mirepoix" in the pan.  Thoroughly cooked the flour in the pan which still contained a liberal amount of butter.  When dry and forming a good roux, I added heavy whipping cream and whole milk. (Had not half and half on hand.)  The amount of liquid was enough to make a thin paste, not soupy, more like a thick dip.  Then, a few minutes later (about 3 min.) I added the homemade chicken stock to create a runny soup.  Checked for taste using various herbs...added no salt.  Then added White Cheddar, (my sharp cheddar was used two nights previous) a bit of velveta for smoothness and to create golden yellow color.  Finally, I garnished with golden, mild cheddar and let it melt in the pan.  Stirred all that together, and then added two soup spoon sized portions of cream of celery soup.     Warmed all this and removed servings of soup for those who wanted extra thick soup. Added small florets which were cooked the previous evening. Then, once these individuals who desired super thick soup were served, more chicken stock was added to that remaining in the pot, creating a more fluid and pourable soup.

Result?  Two thumbs up, with individual preferences satisfied as one gracefully is allowed to adjust thickness of the soup while cooked.

Stalk of Broccoli, reserving florets.
Stick of butter, first using about half of the butter, adding more if one chooses to make a roux with flour.
1/4 cup flour for the roux
(I tend to cook a lot of broccoli florets at one time, and put them up in a container about the size of a 5lb bag of flour....then I save the stalks... your order of events may be different, but the main thing is save the florets for later and use up that stalk now.)
1-2 cups of half and half, your preference
3 cups more or less of chicken stock
1/8 cup or 2 soup spoon sized dollops of cream of celery soup
White Cheddar Type Cheese ... I used Irish Dubliner, add volume to taste
4 Slices of Velveta Cheese more or less, to your taste
Garnished with mild cheddar cheese (as that was what was on hand.)

Touch of Garlic
Touch of Nutmeg
Bay Leaf if you're cooking thin,
but remember to remove it after cooking
soft salt such as Himalayan, or Celtic type salts, or
any salt low in sodium but higher in calcium and magnesium.
Regular Table salt is high in sodium, with Kosher
salt having similar compounds, but formed in flakes.

That's the "recipe" ... Bonne Chance!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cranberry Shortbread Hearts from Martha Stewart's Recipe

Today is Wednesday and mother had an appointment where I was to accompany her.  I took medicine which made me sick as a dog and told her to go on and I would catch up... well..  It was too late by the time I arrived and, it was for naught.  Running from one side of the city to the other, and wishing I was in Florida, attempting to make it there, and back without hurting mom's feelings is taxing.  I don't know why I am crying all the time...  I now know what my grandmother meant...   Mother's sick, Mariluz is sick, Pat is sick, and I am sick, and seeing all of them and trying to get to florida is .. well... making me sad as I am afraid my granddaughter sees so little of me I am merely a butterfly that enters her little world and floats away again without reason... in her estimation.  I'll think of a solution soon.  My here and her there... we have to share a space soon so that BOTH of "here's" and BOTH our "there's" are the same ... at the same time.    Cooking... when I feel better it makes me feel better.

Made these Cranberry Shortbread Cookies about a two weeks ago with  tahitian vanilla and they tasted.. well, old.  Perhaps the flour in this house was old?  I am going to make another attempt with a different vanilla.  The recipe is on my "Christmas Cookies from Others" blog  (sub-section) located at

To all reading... Remember.  This recipe is attributed to, and credited as a Martha Stewart Recipe found on her website back in 2008.   Today's date is February 10th, 2016.  She may take the recipe off in the future, but at one time this was her link ...


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries or cherries


  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees with rack in center. Combine butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt in large mixing bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until combined but not too creamy. Stir in dried cranberries.
  2. Pat dough evenly into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Place pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, about 20 minutes. Run knife around edges, remove shortbread, and transfer, right side up, to work surface. Use 1 1/2- to 2-inch heart cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Use a paring knife to trim stray bits of cranberry from edges. Cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

January 2016 - Lamb

It is January, and my nephew's birthday passed with me thinking of him, as well as my sister and niece.  These last two weeks I have attempted several times to utilize these nice purple sweet potatoes.

The beets in December were sliced, cooked, but not eaten.  The turkey turned out fine.  It froze really well, too.  The stuffing was fine, but best the day of rather than frozen.  Thawed well, just the freshness of the herbs were brighter day of and after day cooked.       Mom tried to make Christmas as nice as could be I hope I delighted in it to have her feel happy.  My thoughts were with my son, daughter in fun, and granddaughter.... and their Christmas and extended family celebration... as well recalled Christmases with family and friends and prayed for them this year as I missed them.   Roast turned out fine... I liked it a lot, but the two other parties here just preferred turkey.... so on New Years Eve, they had thawed turkey and stuffing  while I feasted on standing rib roast.   Funny Christmas was so hot, but by New Years I was able to put the rib roast outside in a tub of ice and it was practically frozen after cooking.... nice fridge... as the fridge was full and scents mixing.

There was a quick lamb I cooked.  Awful.  The lamb was quite, quite gamey...   usually I soak and salt the lamb overnight... it helps to reduce the "game" in the lamb.   WOW does it... because this lamb was made with virtually NO salt added, there was no bone, no soaking, and I even kept most of the fat on the lamb as I had no salt... (fat adds flavor, but with no salt to remove the "game"...  fat only enhances the gaminess... and not in a pleasant way, either.)  Did not use rosemary either...rosemary,  another  classic  addition,  releases  antioxidants  that  hinder  oxidation  of  certain  fats.  Those fats  can  give  even  the  finest  lamb  a  mutton-like  flavor.     But the purple, yellow, and white  carrots were kinda neat.

Richard Cianciolo tasted of the lamb and thought it was gamey, too.  Mariluz, gracious friend, asked me to look at the lamb she ate and thanked me.  WOW ... how sweet.  What an encouraging friend to concentrate on the effort put into cooking and bringing a meal, rather than merely the taste only.   Bless her.   But thanks for Richard, because that lamb was awfully gamey...  Glad to have someone give accurate taste opinions, as I feel I benefit from an other's perspective.  It also, Sian, if you are reading this, .. realize that benefits occurred from polling friends and experts will diminish rapidly with too many opinion.  People's opinions, in matters of taste, must be viewed with respect to the values of the person giving them... and yours receiving them.   Just make sure the fella saying it is in good taste... has the same taste as yours... or at least a better sense of good taste!

My plan tomorrow is to make cookies, pomegranate fudge, and mashed potatoes.  Hopefully some risotto will be cooked, depends on if I feel like standing and stirring...   maybe while I cut up fruits and vegetables needed for juicing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another Turkey (Without grandparents, and without Dad)

This is the first Thanksgiving without my father, as he passed away in April.  This  2015 Thanksgiving Mom and I avoided the rituals of the national holiday and went to Cracker Barrell.  Don't laugh, yes, Cracker Barrell.  She found some neat clothes, you ought to go there and see their retail items.  Better than Macy that night.

Anyway, today is December 22nd and I began the Turkey Brine.  Earlier I would have began, but was delayed by being so angry I wasn't watching my step (Dad and Mom always believe if you keep the lights outside it will make it more difficult for the burgler... I guess they think the fella will carry a flash light so one can see him coming a far off... )  anyway I fell into the pool, holding my cheap cell phone and all.  We'll see tomorrow if the thing works.  But as far as cooking, there was a delay in getting started.   Currently the bird is resting inside a sugary, gingery, vegetable stock brine.

It also happens, this is the hottest Christmas on record for a number of years, maybe in recorded history for North America.   You'll have to check back on that as the years pass.   Anyway, my mind is with my grandchild and son and his family in Florida.  I wonder what they are doing and my mind drifts their way. Was thinking of making that pumpkin pie I never completed... Stephen/Sam loves pumpkin pie.  I think I'll make something else which requires a good crust.  Will make the crust tomorrow.

Christmas Eve:

Well, From December 22nd until December 24th awful circumstances turn.  Somehow I became all upset and disgusted.  Back to food issues... with other issues I put cooking on hold.  Tonight I attempt to continue.  The bird has soaked in cold, very cold, brine, vegetable stock, ginger and sugar water.   Additionally I have the purple sweet potatoes and candy cane beets... looking to do something with them.  I'm cooking up the dressing as well.  It is 1:00am on Christmas Day ...  I wish mom felt better and my patience was longer, as SHE may not have very many more Christmases remaining.    My fever is slight and my body aches, but I'll get over it.  I just hope an atmosphere of hope and love can be generated for the remaining parts of Christmas and throughout the rest of the year.