Tag Archives: cooking

The secret to creamy white bean soup!

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Once again, I don’t really use recipes, but here are the basics, and my special tip!

You can use any white beans, I prefer dried navy beans – they are slightly larger than some of the other white beans. (You can also use canned beans)

Cook the dried beans in water with a couple of bay leaves and some Italian seasoning, (NO SALT), for a couple of hours, until soft but not falling apart or mushy.

Dice one of each : onion, fennel bulb, carrot, 1 bunch of kale, 2+ garlic cloves, and anything else that sounds good to you.  Also chop, or buy already chopped, Pancetta, or you can use bacon, or ham.

Saute onion on low to med heat (never on high!) for a couple minutes, add the pancetta and let it cook a bit, then add the rest of the veggies as you finish chopping them, kale last.  Enjoy the aroma!

When beans are almost done, about 1.5 – 2 hours, (at altitude, you may need 2-3 hours!) ladle out 2-3 cups of beans and cooking liquid and puree in a blender, then add back into the pot. You can make the soup more creamy, or chunky, by the ratio of pureed to whole beans.

Now, Time for my Secret ingredient!

To the pot of beans, add the leftover rind from a chunk of Parmesan cheese. Boil the beans and rind for about 20 minutes, until the soup is looking thick and creamy.  Remove the rind, and I like to scrape off as much of the melted cheese as possible and add it back into the beans.

Now add in the sauteed veggies, pancetta, and some black pepper. Unless you like a lot of salt, you will not need to add any, the pancetta and parmesan give it plenty of flavor, and saltiness.

Enjoy with a Chianti!

Enjoy with a Chianti!






Kale Salade Lyonaisse…

I was recently featured in Edible Reno-Tahoe for their annual “Cooks” issue, where I shared my kale version of the French classique, Salade Lyonaisse.  For the full color, photo’s included version of the article, get the magazine, or click the link above.

I never follow a recipe, I just use them for ideas & rough guidelines on measurements. I am always improvising and substituting, based on what I have on hand. I really want to encourage you to be brave and experiment – take whatever you have in the fridge, and make something up!

This “recipe” was inspired by our travels in France, and one of my all time favorite things – salad with an egg on top. We rarely have eggs for breakfast, I save them for lunch or dinner. We have this for dinner at least once a week.  My husband was raised on the all-American meat & potatoes diet, so salad was never on his list of dinner favorites, until now!

The traditional French Lyonnaise salad, on which this is loosely based, is made with Frisee, lardons and croutons.  For my healthier version, I use kale, spinach, mixed greens, and/or arugula; and chopped peppered turkey lunch meat, leftover grilled chicken, sausage, or salmon, and once in awhile I use some bacon!

For the dressing, you can experiment with bacon grease instead of, or in addition to oil. Other oils work, but a good quality olive oil is the best. It’s typically made with red wine vinegar, but for less acid, use cider or balsamic vinegar, and fresh lemon, lime, or tangerine juice.   Please do add whatever fresh herbs you have around – like tarragon, Italian parsley, or dill (dried are fine too), and chopped shallots or garlic, are also often added.

Sometimes I use grilled asparagus, roasted Broccolini, or Tru Roots “sprouted Bean Trio” instead of meat. And I love potatoes in this salad – you can reheat some leftover roasted potatoes (kinda like croutons if they are crispy), saute diced potatoes, or for a lighter salad, use boiled potatoes. (Add them to the salad warm!)

Top with a poached egg, or if poaching is too much trouble, a fried egg is perfectly acceptable! (Traditionally the yoke should be soft and runny)

To make the dressing:
whisk together with a fork (I never measure, just taste, add more of whatever)
Olive Oil
Red wine vinegar
Dijon mustard
a dash of hot water, S & P,  herbs, shallots or garlic

(As a starting point: roughly 1/4 C oil, to 3+T vinegar & 1T Dijon – it’s best to develop your measurements based on your own taste, size of your salad, and how “wet” you like it)
If using kale, chop it up & sprinkle with some of the dressing (or vinegar & oil) and let it sit for a while to “relax” while you prepare the other stuff.

Add dressing, chopped meat, warm potatoes or beans, and whatever else sounds good, to the greens, toss well, divide onto plates, and top each with an egg.

If you are into presentation, you can decorate with avocado slices, maybe some asparagus spears, with the egg artistically placed on top. I usually opt for serving a delicious, jumbled-up mess with the egg on top. Works for us.

before the egg

before the egg

Have fun experimenting!

My summer “travel”…

As much as I enjoy writing, and sharing my oh-so-enlightening thoughts with all of you, I am a slacker blogger. (I feel much better getting that off my chest)  It is tough to find a better place to be in the summertime than Tahoe. After the “awesome” or “horrendous” (depends on your perspective) winter we had, I am really appreciating this “beach weather”. If Mother Nature cooperates, I can comfortably run around in my sarong and bathing suit for about 4 months, so I make the most of it – work, beach volleyball, outdoor concerts, the farmers market, and cooking keep me busy. I like to say “God didn’t make gorgeous sunny days for sitting at your desk, it is your DUTY to get out and enjoy the day, at least for  little while!”


Because I cherish being home in Tahoe, my travel during the summer consists of COOKING! When I get antsy for far away places, I dig up ethnic recipes, hit the farmers market, and transport myself via taste and smell – Indian & Thai curries, steak with roasted potatoes and arugula, Brazilian cod stew with coconut milk, Salade Lyonnaise with a farm-fresh egg on top (my healthy version, with peppered turkey), quinoa & grilled veggie salad, Moroccan tagine, “Caprese” pannini, salsa fresca, guacamole, fresh lime margaritas … those are just a few of my favorite culinary get-aways.

I keep my cupboards well stocked with exotic spices and I buy lots of fresh herbs at the farmers market. I’d share my recipes, but I typically just google the ingredients I want to use, pick a couple of recipes that sound interesting, and then wing it. (I take what I like from 2 or 3 recipes, I never follow one completely) The more specific and bizarre the ingredients you google, the better the search results. So hit your local market, buy whatever looks good, google, and get creative!

Let me know how it goes!

Bon Appetite!