Warm and savory recipes for autumn

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I had the privilege of contributing to the program at a recent Southeast Hospice volunteer meeting. The program was about menu planning and cooking tips for the holidays. As I pulled ideas and recipes together for the program, I just could not believe we are already thinking about the upcoming holiday season. In a few weeks we will be cleaning house in preparation for Thanksgiving weekend. One of the things I emphasized in the program was not to plan too much and stress yourself out. Maybe if I start now I can get our house in order and embrace the upcoming season and enjoy it to its fullest. Until then, here are a few new recipes for you to try.

French Onion Soup with Beef and Barley

Our family really enjoys French onion soup and this recipes raises the bar a bit with the addition of beef and barley, which sticks with the men in the family a little longer.

1 cup boiling water

1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided

2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion

2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups sliced button mushrooms

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 (12-ounce) lean boneless sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch strips

4 cups water

2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley

1/4 cup dry sherry

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can beef consomme

12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Combine boiling water and shiitakes in a bowl. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain the shiitakes in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid. Slice shiitakes, discarding stems. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallots, ginger and garlic. Saute 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the shiitakes, button mushrooms, sugar and beef. Saute 10 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add reserved mushroom liquid, 4 cups water and the next 4 ingredients (water through consomme). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 50 minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Preheat broiler. Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 ovenproof soup bowls. Top each serving with 2 bread slices and 2 tablespoons cheese. Broil 3 inches from heat 1 minute or until cheese melts. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings. Note: This soup will freeze well for up to two months. Pour into an airtight container, leaving enough room for expansion (usually an inch or two at the top). To reheat, thaw completely in the refrigerator. Then place contents in a saucepan over low heat, adding some liquid if necessary.

Lighter Side Pork Chops

This recipe has no breading, making it a low-carbohydrate option for pork chops.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 (4-ounce) boneless pork chops

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

Combine first 5 ingredients in an 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Add pork, turning to coat. Let stand 30 minutes, turning pork occasionally. Preheat broiler. Remove pork from baking dish. Discard marinade. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 minutes on each side or until done.

Bulgur Spinach Side Dish

Prepare this warm bulgur salad while the pork in the previous recipe is marinating.

3 cups hot cooked bulgur

5 ounces baby spinach

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese

Combine 3 cups hot cooked bulgur and 5 ounces baby spinach. Cover and let stand 15 minutes or until spinach wilts. Stir in 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese.

Beet Salad with Orange-Walnut Dressing

By using nuts, salads like this one can be great vegetarian main dishes.

1 can sliced beets, drained and cut into 1/4 inch strips

6 cups fresh greens or spinach

3 medium naval oranges, peeled and sectioned

2 cups watercress

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted in the microwave just until they "sizzle"

Dressing:

1/2 cup canola oil

1/3 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons salad vinegar

1 green onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a serving bowl, combine the lettuce, oranges, watercress, beets and walnuts. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently to coat.

Pumpkin Fudge

The pumpkins have arrived at the Grace United Methodist Church pumpkin patch. It makes me want to make something using pumpkin as an ingredient. Give this delicious sweet treat a try.

Line pan with aluminum foil before you begin to cook the fudge. Once the candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees and the remaining ingredients are added, quickly spoon the fudge into the pan.

3 cups sugar

3/4 cup melted butter

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels

1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 3 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234 degrees (soft-ball stage) or for about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients until well blended.

Pour into a greased aluminum foil-lined 9-inch square pan.

Let stand 2 hours or until completely cool. Cut fudge into squares.

I have a request for a recipe for oatmeal pies, like the store bought snack cakes with the cream filling. Does anyone have this recipe? I would like to find an answer to her request. Have a wonderful week and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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