Vegetable Chermoula Soup

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I love making soup, especially during winter (and yes, it’s winter. Spring doesn’t start until March 19!). This vegetable chermoula soup is very hearty. The white beans and faro make it completely satisfying while the chermoula takes it over the edge in flavor. I put chermoula, a garlicky, herby sauce, on everything. It’s divine.

This recipe was taken from my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties. I know when people think of parties, they tend to think of really decadent food, but there are actually many healthy recipes in my book. People want to leave full and satisfied, and belly-warming soup is a great way to achieve just that.

Vegetable Chermoula Soup
Serves 8

You will need:

– 2 garlic cloves minced
– 1/2 medium onion
– 1 cup diced carrot
– 1/2 cup diced celery
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 cup diced zucchini
– 1 cup diced sweet potato
– 1/2 cup red peppers *optional
– 2 cups chopped kale
– 8 cups vegetable stock + water as needed
– 1 can white beans or 1 cup soaked overnight, then rinsed
– 1 cup farro
– 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
– salt and pepper

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, saute garlic, onion, carrots and celery in olive oil, over medium heat until tender.
Add the vegetables and saute for 2 minutes. Next add stock, beans and water if needed, salt and pepper and chopped herbs. Simmer for 3 hours and add faro for the last 30 minutes.

Charmoula
You will need:

– 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
– 1 cup fresh cilantro
– 2 inch piece of ginger
– 3 cloves of garlic
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 cup of oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

To prepare:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all ingredients and pulse until it forms a loose smooth sauce, about 1 minute.

 

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Winter Staple: Chicken Noodle Soup

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While spring is just around the corner, we are still receiving our fair share of cold, blustery and rainy days in Atlanta. I mean, I have seriously never seen so much rain! This chicken noodle soup recipe is the perfect exclamation point for a chilly winter day. It’s bound to warm you up from the inside out.

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. In fact, it’s from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties. Can you believe that I’m actually in Italy as we speak working on my third cookbook and my fourth book overall? Life is a dream.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves  8
 You will need:

– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 clove garlic minced
– 1 small yellow onion chopped
– 1 cup celery chopped
– 2 cups peeled carrots cut into coins
– 1 cup chopped parsley
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon pepper
– 6 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups of water
– 1 3-4 lb roasted chicken (speed up this recipe and use a rotisserie chicken!)
– 2 cups egg noodles

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, place olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsley and salt and pepper. Sauté on medium heat until translucent. Add stock, water, and entire chicken.

Simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Once the broth is golden, remove the pot from heat, and with a slotted spoon pull the chicken out of the soup. Pull all the meat off with a fork and tongs (careful not to burn yourself on the hot meat) place all the meat into the soup, add more stock if needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes with noodles.

Serve warm

*This can be made a couple of days ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Photograph from Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

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Fresh Artichoke Salad

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This recipe for fresh artichoke salad is zesty and delicious. I also love how surprising the ingredients are. It makes an excellent side for Juice January, and more details about the salad and its origins can be found in my book, Cocktail Italiano! Tip: make sure that the artichokes are very fresh and tender.

Roberto’s Fresh Artichoke Salad
Serves 8

You will need:
– 2 pounds (about 20) tender baby artichokes Note: you may substitute the interior soft leaves and heart of larger artichokes, but do not use the tough outer leaves
– 2 lemons, halved
– 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
– 2 ounces Parmesan

To prepare:

Trim away any tough outer leaves of the artichokes to expose their tender pale green interior. Using a knife with a serrated blade, cut off the spiky top 1/3 of the artichokes. (Note: baby artichokes will not have the spikes.) Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layers around the base and stem.

Using a mandolin, slice the artichokes paper-thin and transfer to a medium bowl.

Squeeze the lemon halves over the artichokes, and toss with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, and use a potato peeler to shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve in small bowls.

 

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WOW them with dessert:: make pumpkin bread pudding!

This pumpkin bread pudding is so easy to make and is a great alternative to pumpkin pie. Prepare it ahead of time to wow your guests at the end of the meal.

This pumpkin bread pudding is so easy to make and is a great alternative to pumpkin pie. Since it makes a large batch, you can easily make as much as you need to fit your crowd. Plus, you can alleviate some stress by making the raisin bread ahead of time. Or, simply use a good-quality store bought bread. Your guests will never know the difference, and you’ll be a stress-free hostess.

Assemble this dessert first thing Thanksgiving morning, cover it with foil, and place it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. You can pull it fresh from the oven and serve it warm. You can also bake it in personal ramekins, so everyone has their own dish. It’s a cute and memorable presentation.

Don’t forget a dollop of fresh whipped cream (or even ice cream), too. Look for this and more recipes plus great entertaining tips in my book Picture Perfect Parties. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Makes 8 servings

You will need:
– 1 cup heavy cream, *milk can be a substitute for cream
– ¾ cup canned solid-pack organic pumpkin
– ½ cup sugar
– 6 large eggs
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
– 6 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old raisin bread
– ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
– 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Whisk together cream, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, salt, and spices in a bowl.
Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Decadent Grilled Cheese

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Is there anything better on a fall day than sitting down to nosh on grilled cheese? Honestly, I’m not sure there is. Grilled cheese is one of those comfort foods that is always good, but it can be made even better if you gather top-notch ingredients. I like to use unexpected cheese and unique condiments. Oh, and bacon…because everything is better with bacon. Meet the decadent grilled cheese.

This sandwich would be perfect with a bowl of soup or chili on a crisp fall day. If you have guests over, set-up a station allowing them to create their own sandwiches mixing and matching ingredients while you man the grilling station. Interactive foods are always so much fun for a party.

You can also cut these into quarters and serve them as an appetizer or finger food. How fun is that?!

This recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and the photo on this post is from a fabulous party that Design Sponge threw a few years ago using Picture Perfect Parties as a guide.

Decadent Grilled Cheese with Brie, Crispy Bacon, and Apricot Jam
serves 6

You will need:
– 1 loaf challah bread
– 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
– 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
– 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
– 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich

To prepare:

Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut sandwiches into quarters.

Serve at room temperature.

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