Spinach and Green Garlic Soup.

Green garlic is everywhere right now. It’s just young garlic, with a softer, edible skin and a milder flavor. It’s delicious in scrambled eggs, soups, and sauces (especially pesto). Since I haven’t been feeling well lately, from a combination of allergies and a sore throat from screaming my head off when the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings in a Game 7 of the NHL playoffs, I figured a nice spring soup might perk me up a bit. It’s also a great way to get a good healthy helping of spinach! Adapted from Orangette, this light and easy green garlic and spinach soup is a breeze to make and delicious to boot. Dig in.

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INGREDIENTS

butter and olive oil
3 stalks green garlic, sliced (use the white and the light green parts)
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
5 oz baby spinach
a spoonful of Greek yogurt
pepper

Just the Recipe link: Spinach and Green Garlic Soup

DIRECTIONS

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat a bit of butter and olive oil over medium low. The butter is for flavor, and the olive oil will keep the butter from burning. Once it’s hot, add the green garlic, salt, and cayenne.

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Cook gently, careful to avoid burning or browning, until the garlic is soft and smells sweet, and has lost its raw smell. Add the chicken stock and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the spinach and turn off the heat. Stir it in and let stand just 5 min, so it cooks but keeps its bright green color.

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Now puree the soup in batches, until it’s smooth. Add it back to the pot to reheat. I wanted to reduce my soup and get it to a little bit thicker consistency, so I simmered it a few minutes more.

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Once it’s where you want it, turn off the heat and stir in a scoop of greek yogurt. Serve immediately, with lots of pepper on top. Delish!

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Steamed Artichoke with Harissa Butter.

Let’s use our imaginations for a second. It’s something like 100,000 years ago and you’re a primitive human, walking around and looking for food. You spot a green, tough, pointy-leafed, stringy-stemmed, hairy-hearted and bitter-tasting vegetable. Naturally, you do not eat it. And none of your fellow humans eat it either. It’s clearly a bad food option. You move on and continue your search. Are the berries on that bush non-poisonous? Only one way to find out!

Are you enjoying the imagination game? I find myself thinking about this kind of thing a lot: how many thousands of years had to go by before someone figured out how to prepare an artichoke so that it’s a delicious treat instead of the “problem vegetable” that it is in its untouched state? The artichoke is one of the weirdest vegetables there is, and it’s pretty labor-intensive to prepare, and yet it is all so worth it to get to that delicious heart and eat the meat off the bases of the leaves. Mmmmm.

Despite its baggage, I am a huge fan of these guys, and today I share with you the best artichoke and dressing I have ever eaten. The dressing is a simple combo of melted butter and harissa, a red spiced paste that comes from Tunisia and is usually made from chilis and olive oil. It goes so well with artichokes, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this combo before now. Please please please make this simple recipe as soon as you can – it it magnificent.

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INGREDIENTS (this recipe easily doubles/triples/etc.)

1 artichoke
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp harissa paste (or more, to taste)

Just the Recipe link: Steamed Artichoke with Harissa Butter

DIRECTIONS

Fill a pot with 1 inch of water, toss in the bay leaf, and set it to boil. Meanwhile, prep the artichoke for steaming. Using a serrated knife, chop the stem most of the way, and cut through the middle of the artichoke so that you trim off the leaf points. Pull the small leaves off the base and discard.

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When the water is boiling, put the artichoke in the pot, wide cute side down and stem up. Cover, turn down to a low boil, and cook 20-30 minutes. It’s done when you can easily pull off smaller leaves at the base near the stem. Remove the artichoke from the water and set is aside to cool down a bit.

To assemble the harissa butter, melt the butter and stir in the harissa.

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When the artichoke has cooled enough to touch, take out the choke. Take your tongs and use them to find the middle section of the artichoke, where the purple-y leaves are. Use the tongs to pull this section out of the artichoke and expose the hairy choke in the center.

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Then trade the tongs for a fork. To remove the hairy center, use the fork to gently loosen the hair from the heart. Pull it away and throw it out. Continue to gently loosen the hair and remove it until the heart is clean and exposed.

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Put your artichoke on a plate and spoon about half of the butter over the center, over the heart. Use the rest for dipping the leaves; I like to dip each leaf and scrape the base for the “meat,” and then eat the heart last. These are so unbelievably good!!

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And thank you, oh culinary pioneer of the past, who discovered the glory of artichokes and made this meal possible.

Wonton Soup, Dismantled.

I LOVE this soup! I haven’t been feeling well lately, and I think the reason I finally wrote up this recipe is because I’ve had such a serious wonton soup craving. It’s delish – so warming and comforting. And as much as I really do enjoy putting a pot of soup on the stove and tending to it for 3 or 4 hours – it’s such a labor of love! – there is certainly to something to be said for a great fast soup as well. This is one of those. In about 30 minutes you’ll have a beautiful and easy wonton soup, with deconstructed wontons, of course. I replace long cooking time with layer-by-layer flavor-building: first the seasoned chicken cooks, then the ginger, garlic, and peppers, then the cabbage and stock, then the edamame and noodles, and finally the crowning glory that makes this soup so special: the soy sauce. Mmm. I wish I had a bowl of leftovers right now!

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INGREDIENTS

olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 small chicken breasts, cut into small pieces (think little bitty bite-sized)
3/4 tsp powdered ginger, or 1 small knob fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 bell pepper (I used orange), diced
3 cups chopped cabbage
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 cups water
1 cup shelled edamame
1 1/2 cups egg noodles
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
chopped onion and fresh cilantro, for garnish

Just the Recipe link: Wonton Soup, Dismantled

DIRECTIONS

In a soup pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil and the sesame oil over medium high, careful not to let it smoke (sesame oil becomes bitter if you let it burn). Add the chicken and some salt and pepper and stir, cooking until you can’t see any more pink. Then add the ginger, garlic, and bell pepper, and cook until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

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Add the cabbage and stir, cooking about 3 more minutes to soften.

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Pour in the chicken stock and water and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Add the edamame and noodles and cook until the noodles are done. Remove from heat and stir in the soy sauce, then taste and add salt and pepper accordingly.

Garnish with chopped onion or green onion and cilantro, and more soy sauce if you like. Quick wonton soup in about half an hour!

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Celery Root and Sweet Potato Soup.

I’ve been wanting to try this type of thing for a while. Have you ever noticed, while you wander through the grocery store, a really knobby, homely-looking reject vegetable? One that looks like something went wrong when a normal vegetable was growing and it came out all messed-up? That’s celery root, also called celeriac. It’s notorious in the culinary world as one of those foods that many home cooks tend to shy away from, never knowing its versatility and great flavor. I hope to learn a lot more about celery root and to have some more recipes up here in the near future! For now, this warming, pale orange soup is just lovely, despite celeriac’s homeliness. Thank you to Frugal Feeding for the inspiration.

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INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp butter, divided (or skip the butter and just stick with oil)
olive oil (any oil really will work  – I used sunflower oil. Because I felt like it.)
2 small onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small celery root, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
4-5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
thyme, paprika, salt, pepper to taste (I used a small palmful of each)
bay leaf
1/2 – 1 cup half and half
fresh parsley for garnish

Just the Recipe link: Celery Root and Sweet Potato Soup

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil and, if using, 1 tbs if butter in a large soup pot, and add onion and celery. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. When the onions are nearly there, stir in the garlic.

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Add the celery root and sweet potato and cook 5 minutes.

Next, pour in the stock and add your thyme, paprika, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. If you’re using butter, add the second tbsp here and stir in to melt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato and celery root are totally soft.

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Remove from heat and puree in batches, either using a blender or food processor, or, if you’re lucky enough to have one (I do not!) use an immersion blender.

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Pour in the half and half and stir, and you’re ready to serve! Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. I had a nice little lunch of this soup with a butternut squash and green onion quesadilla.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza.

This recipe is a tribute to a friend who so generously acted as beauty consultant / hair colorist for me yesterday. To thank her, I made these gluten-free pizzas, which are completely delicious whether g-free is your lifestyle (hers) or not (mine). Though gluten is fine by me, I’ve found that a lot of the things I love to cook (and eat) are already gluten-free. So when I find a recipe, like this one, that is totally dreamy and healthy AND fits in with the g-free life, I love to share it. This is one of those! I came upon essentially the same ingenious recipe on 3 of my favorite blogs, and this is my version of that awesomely tasty and healthy pizza. Yum! And thanks Jeni!

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INGREDIENTS

for crust:
2 cups cauliflower stems and florets, grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
oregano and granulated garlic to taste
1 egg
salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp cottage cheese, to hold it together

topping ideas:
1/2 cubed chicken breast, sauteed with salt, pepper, and paprika
shredded mozzarella
grape tomatoes, quartered
green onions, chopped

Just the Recipe link: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 F.

First, put the grated cauliflower into a bowl and microwave for 7 minutes, covered with a washcloth or paper towel. When it’s cooked, mix all the crust ingredients in a bowl. Use more or less cottage cheese, depending on how dry the mixture is and how it’s holding together.

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On a greased baking pan, shape the cauliflower mixture into two flat discs, as thick or thin as you like.

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Bake them for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the top is flecked with bits of golden melted cheese. The thickness of the crusts will affect baking time, so make sure to keep an eye on them.

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Once the crusts come out of the oven, I use a spatula to loosen them from the bottom of the pan and make sure they come off in one piece, because this will be a lot harder to do once they’re topped with cheese and other wonderful things.

Before you start with the toppings, turn up your oven to broil (or to very, very hot!). The pizzas only have a few minutes left to cook, and we want to do it at a high heat.

On to the beautiful toppings. They can truly be whatever you want – we went with chicken, green onion, tomato, and cheese, and they were fantastic!

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Stick back in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and has started to turn a little golden. Sprinkle with some more green onion or some oregano and dig in!

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Rosemary Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Let’s keep this simple: I love Nigella Lawson.

I love her recipes. I love her witticisms. I love her energy.

My approach to cooking is strongly influenced by something she once said: “Don’t worry if bits of eggshell get into the bowl. It proves it’s homemade.”

So when I made her recipe for roasted brussels sprouts and discovered that a few lemon seeds had made their way into my final product, I wasn’t bothered in the least.

All is right with the world. Try these Rosemary Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts a la Nigellissima yourself, and just be sure to mind the pips!

Rosemary Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, lemon zest, 1 clove garlic, 1 sprig rosemary, 100 g brussels sprouts, 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, salt and pepper

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 lemon, zested to taste (I go lighter on lemon zest but Nigella’s recipe calls for the zest of a whole lemon)
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
1 sprig rosemary
a few handfuls of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (you want enough to form a single layer on the bottom of a standard sized cast iron skillet)
1-2 tbsp parmesan cheese (to taste)
salt and pepper
NOTE: this recipe doubles and triples easily if you’re cooking for a bigger group!

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F.

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Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a pan (I used my cast-iron skillet). Grate the garlic and lemons zest into the pan and, tearing the rosemary leaves apart roughly, strew them about the pan. You can leave them large enough to remove at the end if you like. Add the brussels sprouts and toss to coat.

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Roast for about 15 minutes, until starting to become tender. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with parmesan and salt and pepper at pop back in the oven for another 5 minutes. They’re ready when they’re tender but still have a little bit of bite in them.

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Pull out the rosemary leaves and serve ’em up! These make a fantastic side dish to an herby roasted chicken, but we ate almost all of them straight out with our fingers. Yeah, they’re that good!