The Literate Chef

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

My Cousin Vinny to the Rescue

In General Articles on October 15, 2012 at 7:42 PM

As the daylight hours grow shorter here on Cape Cod and the autumn chill creeps in, my thoughts turn to soup; and when I think of soup, I naturally think of Uncle Fred. Fred always made big batches of soup, broke them down into 1 and 2 quart containers and froze them for quick, nutritious and delicious meals for Aunt Jo and him to enjoy during the long, cold, New England winter. He usually kept one in the back of the freezer as a welcome for when my wife and I would arrive with our children for our annual August vacation in Falmouth. Even though it was mid-summer, that soup would become our first night’s meal.

One of his favorites, reflective of the large local Portuguese speaking community, was Kale Soup. It’s an amalgam of chopped kale, white beans (I used canned beans, which saves time and effort, just be sure to rinse and drain them first), Portuguese sausage and potatoes; delicious, nutritious and sticks to your ribs.  I know that Fred wrote down the recipe for me, but I was unable to find it yesterday when I went to the market to pick-up the main ingredients.

However, I did find a batch of recipes and notes from my cousin, Chef Vincent, Fred’s son. Vince’s Kale Soup is a little different from the version I concocted yesterday, he doesn’t use beans.   Nonetheless, we share a penchant for good eating, something obviously inherited from our fathers and grandfather. But I don’t ever remember Grandpa in the kitchen, Grandma did all of the cooking, so whatever skill Vince and I have in that regard, must have been passed down from her.

Here’s Vince’s take on soup:

‘There’s nothing like a nice hot bowl of hearty soup on a cold winter’s day!  I love cooking soups in the cold months (and it gets cold – for a long time – in Massachusetts!).  The aroma fills the house, and the stove keeps the kitchen warm.  It’s such a cozy feeling.  It’s even more comforting when you get to eat the finished product!  My soups are a meal in themselves.  Eat them with a nice loaf of warm bread.  Man, that’s living!’

I can’t improve on that testimony, so without further ado, check out Portuguese Kale Soup and do cook up a batch as the Autumn Leaves  start to fall.

Portuguese Kale Soup

In Recipes, Soups on October 15, 2012 at 7:40 PM

Portuguese Kale Soup

(Yield – about 5 quarts. Active preparation time 1 hour, unattended cooking time 2 hours)


1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
7 cloves garlic, minced
6 15oz. cans Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
3 lbs. Chouriço, or Linguiça sliced about ¼ inch, or less, thick
4 qts. water
1 cup Beef or Chicken Broth
1 & 1/2 lbs. Kale, (2 medium sized bunches) remove leaves from stems, rip leaves and discard stems
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced and diced in 3/4 inch pieces


1.    In an 8 quart pot, heat olive oil on medium.
2.    Add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes.
3.    Add 3 cans of the beans, stir well and cook 5 minutes.
4.    Add sausage, raise heat to medium, cook 3 minutes.
5.    Add water and broth, stir well and bring to a boil.
6.    When soup is at a full boil, add kale and potatoes, stir well and return to a boil.
7.    Reduce heat to medium and boil uncovered for 1 hour.
8.    Mash 1 can (2 cups) of the beans in a food processor and stir into the soup.
9.    Add the remaining 2 cans of beans to the soup and stir.
10.    Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for an additional hour.

Serve as a meal along with warm, crusty bread. Leftovers may be frozen in 1 or 2 quart containers to serve as additional meals during the long, cold, winter.

Please see: My Cousin Vinny to the Rescue

Discoveries at The Shore

In General Articles on October 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM

On a visit to friends in Cape May on The Jersey Shore last month, I learned something new about the use of Parchment Paper. I had used Parchment Paper before, and was familiar with its non-stick properties, as well as how it allows for an easy cleanup after baking. I also knew of its use in preparing dishes en papillote. However, I did not know that it also aids in the browning of vegetables. This new use was revealed to me by our friend Lenore in her beautiful new kitchen.

Later that week as we visited with other friends farther north on The Jersey Shore, in Spring Lake, Margie served an appetizer of marinated tomatoes, which she had purchased from a local gourmet shop. They were delicious and I began thinking about how they might have been prepared. They were plum tomatoes, obviously roasted, then marinated in oil and garlic with a little parsley and basil, and probably some salt.

All the way home, after this restful and enlightening visit with friends at The Shore, as it is known, I kept thinking about the marinated tomatoes and how I would execute their preparation. First I needed to buy the parchment paper and Mason Jars.  That task accomplished I stopped at the market for the ingredients. Not being sure how far they would cook down, I bought 3 lbs. of plum tomatoes. I found the answer soon enough, they cooked down to about 1 qt., even with all of the added ingredients. I also discovered that they need to marinate for a couple of weeks in order to reach their full flavor.

The versatility and flavor of these Marinated Roasted Tomatoes makes them well worth the wait. Their rapid disappearance, however, convinced me to double the recipe in the future.

Marinated Roasted Tomatoes

In Appetizers, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables on October 14, 2012 at 10:35 AM


Roasted Tomatoes Marinating in a 1 quart Mason Jar

       (Makes about 1 quart: 15 minutes preparation, 1 hour roasting, 2 weeks marinating)

12 ripe plum tomatoes, about 3 lbs.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling and for marinating
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt, about 2 tsps.
1 small head of garlic, about 10 cloves sliced thin
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Special Needs: Parchment Paper and a 1 quart Mason Jar


1.    Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.    Slice off and discard the stem ends of the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise.
3.    Arrange the tomato halves on the parchment paper, skin side down and drizzle each lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle Sea Salt or Kosher Salt over each half.

Roasting the Tomatoes: Second Step-Skin side up

4.    Place baking sheet on top rack of the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
5.    Turn each tomato over and roast, skin side up, for an additional 30 minutes.
6.    Remove tomatoes and any liquid to a large bowl, add the garlic, and let cool.
7.    Add the basil and oregano, mix well, transfer to a 1 quart jar and cover with about ½ inch of olive oil, stir well. The olive oil will tend to disperse throughout the jar, so make sure there is always about ½ inch on the top.
8.    Cover tightly and let marinate at room temperature overnight, then refrigerate.
9.    Let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more. Stir every few days, taking care to always leave about ½ inch of olive oil on the top, as a protective layer.

Serve at room temperature as an appetizer on Italian bread toasts,

Served as an appetizer on Italian Toasts

or serve at room temperature over spaghetti or angel hair pasta.

Marinated Roasted Tomatoes served over Pasta

Please see: Discoveries at The Shore

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