Everyday Kitchen -
Last week, we travelled to the Far and Middle Eastern regions of the globe via Vegetarian Express. For the second half of our world tour, let's hit the high spots in Europe and maybe stop in at our neighbour's to the south.
Let's start in carnivore heaven - Italy.
Hearty and satisfying, this soup is a great first course if the rest of supper is on the light side, and makes an equally delicious complete lunch with a salad.
It's not often lately that I can't find sausage in a tube or tray, so I rarely have to cut off the casings, but it's not difficult, so hardly the end of the world.
If you prefer another sausage, go with the feeling - there's no way this mixture can be anything but tasty.
Italian Lentil and Sausage Soup
1/2 lb. hot Italian sausages, in bulk or casings removed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried green lentils, soaked in cold water 30 minutes then drained
1/4 cup tomato sauce
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fry sausage meat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot until browned and cooked through.
Remove from pot and discard all but about 1 tsp. of the fat.
Add olive oil to pot and fry celery, carrots and onion until soft.
Stir in tomato paste and cook until mixture is dark and starts to stick to the pan.
Add garlic and cook a few seconds longer. Add lentils, tomato sauce, broth, salt and pepper to pot.
Simmer together 30 minutes. Return sausage to pot and cook another 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Stir in parsley and serve.
The flavours in this salad scream sunshine and beaches and Hollywood skinny hipness. If you've never tried goat cheese, this is a good way to introduce it to your family.
It has the texture of a slightly crumbly cream cheese, but with much more tang; yet it is not as pungent as blue - the perfect combination. The dressing is on the sweet side and just as delicious spooned over a fruit salad, although I would omit the salt and pepper in that case.
California Spinach, Pineapple and Goat Cheese Salad
1 large bag baby spinach
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup pineapple tidbits (canned are fine; drained - juice reserved)
1/2 cup toasted and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (or any crumbly cheese you like)
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
2 tbsp. pineapple juice
1 tbsp. honey
pinch each salt and pepper
Layer spinach, red onions, pineapple, pecans and cheese on a serving platter. Whisk together yogurt, pineapple juice, honey, salt and pepper and drizzle over top.
Growing up, I thought goulash was made with ground beef and macaroni. Here, I face the grown-up truth of the matter. This might not be a great substitute for a trip to Hungary, but you will enjoy it in your kitchen, believe me.
Hungarian Goulash and Dumplings
2 lbs. beef, chuck if possible, cubed
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper (divided)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large onions, diced
2 tbsp. sweet paprika
2 bay leaves
4 cups beef broth
4 medium peeled and diced potatoes
6 tbsp. flour
1 egg, not beaten
Sprinkle beef with about half the salt and pepper and brown in oil. Remove from pan and add onion; brown well, adding a little oil if you need it. Return beef and add paprika and bay leaves. Cover and simmer 1 hour in its own juices - add a spoonful of water if the pan is completely dry. Add broth, potatoes and remaining salt and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in remaining pepper.
For dumplings, sift flour with salt and stir into egg. Allow to rest 30 minutes. Drop by small spoonfuls into simmering goulash. When they rise to the surface cover the pot and cook 5 minutes longer. Serve with sour cream to 6 or 8 people.
Nothing says France like the silky flavour and feel of chocolate and cream. This spectacularly smooth dessert is a bit fussy - perfect for a Saturday afternoon toddling around in your kitchen - but well worth the effort.
French Chocolate Silk Mocha Mousse
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (best quality)
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar (divided)
1 tbsp. warm brandy
1/2 tsp. instant coffee (optional)
2 egg yolks
Melt chocolate in microwave or over hot water and set aside to cool slightly. Whip cream together with half the sugar until quite firm; set aside.
Stir together brandy and coffee until granules dissolve; set it aside as well. Place egg and yolks in a bowl over simmering water and beat until fluffy and hot, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and add remaining sugar and salt. Continue to beat until it drapes your spoon in creamy, custardy smoothness and has tripled or more in volume. Fold in brandy and coffee mixture.
Now you have to move a little faster. On high speed, beat a big spoonful of the egg mixture into melted chocolate to lighten it. On low speed beat in remaining egg mixture. Fold in whipped cream - be gentle, but don't leave any coloured streaks. Spoon into 6 serving dishes and chill at least 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or fresh fruit.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John's. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John's, NL, A1E 4N1.