Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Oatmeal

I was never too fond of oatmeal until I recently tried it and could not believe what I had been missing all these years. It is a very satisfying breakfast and is very healthy. I just got the best deal....a 44 oz. can of oatmeal for $1.50 (at Jewel).
In the spring, when rhubarb was in season, I stocked up on it and made a delicious rhubarb compote that I froze. I added a couple spoonfuls to my oatmeal - perfect combination! Now that my rhubarb has run out, I tried a new and possibly even tastier mix...pumpkin oatmeal. I add a large spoonful of pumpkin (from a can) along with some pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar. Then I top it off with a couple spoonfuls of ...yogurt (have to get the yogurt in somehow). It is a great way to start the day.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

1/2 C Oatmeal
1/2 C Water

Microwave the above for 2 minutes. Then add:

2 T Pumpkin Puree
1/2 t Pumpkin Pie Spice
Brown sugar to taste (I use about 2 t)

And microwave for 1 more minute. Add a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt (optional) and enjoy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beef Daube

I was inspired to cook a beef dish even before I saw the move Julie & Julia (which is a fabulous movie - highly recommended). Several people wrote about making Julia Child's Beef Bourguinon after watching the movie and it inspired me to want to cook a beef dish. In addition, I purchased a lovely package of beef roast from Jewel for only $.99 per pound. I flipped through my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking but all I could think of was that I wanted to make Beef Daube. Ms. Child does have a recipe for Daube in the previously mentioned book which I used as a base but I changed a few things to make it like the Daube I have cooked before. This recipe slow cooks beef, that has been marinaded in red wine, brandy, fresh herbs, garlic and aromatic vegetables, along with bacon, mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes, capers, and anchovies. It is packed full of flavor and delicious.

Beef Daube

3-4 lbs. Beef Chuck Roast, cut into one inch cubes
2 C Red Wine
1/4 C Brandy
2 C Onions, sliced
2 C Carrots, sliced
6 Cloves Garlic, smashed
Several Sprigs Fresh Thyme & Parsley

Combine the above ingredients and marinate for 4-6 hours or overnight.

1/2 lb. Bacon
2 lbs. Mushrooms, quartered
28 oz. Tomatoes
3/4 cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and roughly chopped
3 T. Capers
6 fillets Anchovies

Preheat oven to 300. Dredge meat in flour. Line the bottom of a large dutch oven with bacon. Alternate layers of mushrooms, meat, marinaded vegetables, tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovies, and bacon. The top layer should be bacon. Add the marinade. Cover and bake for 4-5 hours.
After taking out of the oven, skim the fat off of the top and serve with roasted potatoes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Canning Tomatoes

Every year my husband and I look forward to a weekend of canning tomatoes. We make a day of it and start out early at the farmer's market buying the tomatoes, and then bringing them home and doing the work. It is so satisfying to have a bunch of gorgeous jars of tomatoes and brings a taste of summer all year long.
It started about 10 years ago when I was in the Master Food Preserver Class with me canning a mere 25 pounds. We ran out that year so the next, with the help of my husband, we canned 50 pounds. That was sufficient for a couple years but last's a beautiful morning at the farmer's market and my husband talks me into 75 pounds. We still have a couple jars left from last year but last weekend at the market, my husband looked at the 3 boxes (75 lbs.) and decided we needed one more. So...100 pounds of tomatoes.
We are a pretty efficient canning team. The night before we load up the dishwasher with the jars and then sterilize them first thing in the morning while we go to the market (our dishwasher has a sterilize setting - if yours does not, you need to sterilize them in boiling water). When we get home, one of us washes the tomatoes & lids and replenishes the ice in the ice bath while the other boils and skins the tomatoes. Then one of us cuts them up and the other prepares the jars with lemon juice or vinegar (you need to add a little acid in case the tomatoes do not have enough). The several hours of prep work (and please do not let this dissuade you from canning - 100 pounds is a little overboard) are nothing compared to the processing of the 100 pounds. Each batch of jars needs to process in a boiling water bath for 85 minutes.
So, after a long day, we had about 40 quarts of beautiful, delicious canned tomatoes that we will use for the rest of the year for pasta sauces and soups.
I should probably get a word or two in about the frugalness of this activity. Each 25 pound box was $14 (some weeks they are only $10-12) - bargain! Here is the recipe from the Illinois Extension for canning tomatoes. If you only do 25-50 pounds it's a real joy.
Canned Tomatoes

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cauliflower Truffle Soup

The cauliflower that I have seen lately has really been great. Farmer's markets have it and...I just got a couple heads for a fabulous deal (at Stanley's) for only $.29 per pound. Because I bought quite a lot and wanted to use it before it went south on me, I decided to make a soup. I added some pecorino cheese and truffle oil at the end to make it special.
First, I sauteed some onion and a little celery, added a bunch of fresh herbs, then the chopped up cauliflower with some chicken stock and simmered it until the cauliflower was tender. Once it was, I removed the herb stems and pureed the soup with one of my favorite kitchen tools, my hand blender. I added some shredded pecorino cheese and the truffle oil...mmm.

Cauliflower Soup with Truffles

1 large head cauliflower, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
5 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup parsley on stems
2 bay leaves
5 cups chicken stock
2 T olive oil
1 cup shredded pecorino cheese
truffle oil to drizzle

Saute the onion and celery in olive oil until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add herbs and saute for another minute. Add cauliflower and chicken stock (can use vegetable stock or water), bring to a boil for one minute, turn down heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20-30 minutes. Turn off heat and blend using a hand blender or regular blender. Before serving, add several drops of truffle oil to each bowl.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Herb Garden

Now that summer is in full swing (and I just got a job), I'm not doing any cooking that's too fancy but I am using the herbs from my garden and absolutely LOVING them. I have made a sauce using a large handful of various herbs blended into some yogurt that is really good. The first time I made it I used thyme, tarragon, rosemary, parsley, basil, and oregano - a lot of strong flavors that for some reason really worked together. I just pureed them in a food processor and added some plain yogurt with some salt and pepper. I used that sauce on both grilled salmon and grilled vegetables.
Another time I went heavy on the tarragon and omitted the rosemary and basil. I put that sauce on some pan-fried halibut - delish.
I tried another fresh herb sauce that was kind of a chimichurri but with an Asian flair. I used mint, Thai basil, chives, and lemon balm chopped up with some garlic and mixed in some olive oil. It was a nice sauce on some pork that I marinaded in a store bought Asian marinade (the horror)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Farmer's Market

Over the fourth of July, I went to a Farmer's Market in New Buffalo, Michigan that had some great buys. I think many of the farms in that area supply produce to the Chicago area farmer's markets also. We got some really good corn on the cob, fresh peas, and zucchini. Corn on the cob is pretty easy to cook. I usually put it in the pot with cold water and bring it all to a boil for one minute. Piece of cake. I also like to make a little extra corn to cut off of the cob and use for salads (which we had the next day and was excellent).
The great buy at this particular market was the fresh peas. In Chicago they charge $5 for a pint (and I still buy them because they are so good) but here they were only $2. I like to boil them in some water for a couple minutes, drain them and add some butter and a little chopped fresh mint. Of course I add a little salt and pepper and pretty much any other herb will work well if you do not like mint.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Macrobiotic, is it for me?

As I was perusing the Sunday paper, I saw the title of an article mentioning a macrobiotic diet. I then decided that was something I needed to try this week. Now, it was Steak Sunday so we could not start the macrobiotic diet yet. (It was also father's day and my husband, although not a father to a child, is a great dad to a kitty so we had to celebrate, with steak of course.) I did not have a clue exactly what a macrobiotic diet was but I assumed it was a vegetarian diet high in fiber and full of fruits and vegetables.
Monday came and....we had some leftover rib eye that I could not let go to waste so we had a steak salad. Not exactly the healthy vegetarian meal I had in mind but healthy enough. Tuesday, time to go macrobiotic. Now, I mentioned that I did not know what that was so I did some research and immediately saw several worrisome things, among them: everything I was eating for breakfast (including yogurt) was on the DO Not Eat list, each meal needed to include 'sea vegetables', and every recipe listed included unusual ingredients I had never heard of. It did not take me long to determine that the macrobiotic diet was not for me. That said, I did want to start a very healthy vegetarinish meal plan.
I stopped at Whole Foods, a store a frugal person would not generally shop at but they do have some really great things. Whole Foods also donates a lot of food to the food pantry that I volunteer at so I like to give them some business. The great deals one can find there are generally in the bulk section. The dried spices and herbs are a fabulous deal but I went to the dried beans area. I got some Adzuki beans and lentils. The lentils were on sale this week for $1.99 per pound.
I decided to combine the lentils with some spelt in a salad. Spelt is a whole grain that cooks up kind of chewy and flavorful. I cooked the spelt, the lentils, and sauteed some zucchini with some cumin. I added a lot of fresh oregano and the juice of two lemons. The salad turned out great with good texture and flavor. Here's the recipe.

Lentil and Spelt Salad

1 Cup Spelt, cooked according to directions
1 Cup French Green Lentils, cooked according to directions
1 Cup Oregano, chopped
2 Zucchinis, chopped
6 Green Onions, sliced thinly
2 Lemons, juiced
1 T Cumin
1 t Cayenne Pepper

Cook the spelt and the lentils according to the directions. Spelt should be soaked overnight and then simmered for about 1 hour until tender. Lentils cook pretty quickly. Bring them to a boil with water and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Saute the zucchini and sprinkle with cumin and salt until just cooked - about 7 minutes.
Add all of the ingredients together, toss and and salt and pepper to taste.

In place of the spelt you can substitute wheat berries, quinoa, or whole wheat couscous.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cold Cucumber Soup

Stanley's had some really great buys this week. Among them were pineapples for $.99 and cucumbers 10 for $1.00. I do not usually consume 10 cucumbers in a week but...I could not resist. So, I had to think of something to do with them and I thought I would make a cold cucumber soup which happens to be one of my husbands favorites. The really easy way to make this soup is to combine the cucs, some onions, some liquid like chicken stock, and an herb in the blender and blend them up with some yogurt. A much tastier way to do it that is a little more work is to cook some onions, add the cucumbers and then blend them. Here is the recipe.

Cold Cucumber Soup

6 cucumbers, leave skin on but take out seeds, coarsely diced
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken stock (can use veggie stock)
2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon (can use dill but I love the tarragon flavor in this soup)
2 cups yogurt (yay, another yogurt plug!)

In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat and add onions and shallots. Saute for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add chicken stock, cucumbers, and fresh tarragon and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Allow soup to cool, blend using a hand blender or regular blender, and add yogurt. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until soup is cold and readjust seasonings.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I went to my first farmer's market yesterday, joy of joys! They do not have a whole lot of stuff yet but I did pick up some lovely rhubarb. Rhubarb is delicious in dessert like concoctions but I like to cook it as a savory side dish. It goes great with grilled or smoked meats and it just so happens that we were doing some smoking yesterday. We had smoked salmon, pork loin, and chicken. (I know that is a lot of meat but when we are going through the process of smoking meats, we make a lot of extras to eat for future meals.)
Rhubarb is very tart so even as a savory dish one must add a substantial amount of sugar. I cut it up, mixed it with some sugar, and baked it for about 30 minutes in a high oven. It really tasted great with the smoked pork.

Baked Rhubarb

5 stalks rhubarb, washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400. Mixed rhubarb, salt, and sugar together in a over safe baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Homemade Viniagrette

The front page article in the Chicago Tribune today featured several recipes for making vinaigrette. (It was actually the front page of the Good Eating section but to me, on a Wednesday, that is the front page.) I make my own vinaigrette all the time. It is a great way to save money and get a fresh, great tasting, preservative free salad dressing that tastes so much better than any bottled dressing.
There are so many different varieties of vinaigrette one can make. Just changing the vinegar or adding an herb makes a new dressing. I even made my own herb vinegars by purchasing bulk vinegar and flavoring it with herbs from my garden but one has to wait until the end of summer when the herbs are plentiful to do that so I'll save that for another time.
To make it, I start with some vinegar (balsamic, white wine, red wine, Champagne, sherry...the options are endless), add Dijon mustard, chopped shallots, garlic, or onions, a chopped herb if I am using one, salt & pepper, and combine. Then I whisk in some oil. I almost always use a canola oil as it has a very neutral flavor and as I usually make extra to have in the fridge, it does not solidify like olive oil would. The standard ratio is one part vinegar to 3-4 parts oil. Many times I use less oil than that to make it a little healthier. This does make it pretty acidic but it also forces me to use less - even healthier.
The dijon and shallot, garlic or onion act as emulsifiers. Adding those will help your vinegar and oil from separating. It is not necessary to add either of them but they add a lot of flavor also.
Some other additions that I like are lemon, lime or orange juice, chipotle, blue cheese, avocado, yogurt, and black olives.


1/2 cup Vinegar (any good quality vinegar will work: balsamic, white or red wine, sherry, Champagne)
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Shallots, Onions, or Garlic, chopped (you may want to use less garlic)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (optional) - My favorites are tarragon or rosemary
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups canola oil (can use less if desired)

Mix all ingredients except oil together. Slowly whisk in oil and continue whisking until mixture is emulsified (totally combined). Taste and make any necessary adjustments. Let stand for 1/2 hour for flavors to mix. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Any other additions can be added. For example, whisking in some blue cheese and yogurt makes a creamy blue cheese vinaigrette. If you add the citrus juice, you will not need as much vinegar.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Roasted Corn Salad

I just got some really good corn from Stanley's for $.20 and also saw the same price at Jewel this weekend. So, I decided to make a roasted corn salad. I boiled the corn for a minute, threw it on the grill to caramelize a little, and then cut it off of the cob. I mixed it with some cilantro, lime juice, red pepper, red onion, cumin, and salt and pepper. It turned out great and went along well with the grilled flank steak and spicy shrimp we were also having.

Roasted Corn Salad

6 Ears of Corn on the Cobb, shucked
1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
2 Limes, juiced
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1/2 Red Onion, chopped
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the corn in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for one minute. Remove corn and grill it for a couple minutes until it just starts to caramelize and darken. Let corn cool and cut off of the cobb. Mix together with the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
This recipe can easily be doubled of halved.
You can omit the grilling step to make it easier but will loose some of the added flavor.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seasonal Produce

Eating seasonal food is one of the best ways to save money. Food, primarily produce, that is in season is less expensive, tastes much better, and depending on where you live may be grown locally. Things that I've mentioned recently like strawberries and artichokes are harvested in the spring which is why one can get them for a good price now.
Some other great spring seasonal things that are on sale right now are asparagus, peas, apricots, and morel mushrooms. One of my favorite ways to get seasonal produce is going to farmer's markets. The first in Chicago are just around the corner and I cannot wait. Just a couple weeks away...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fresh herb vinaigrette

When things come out of hibernation and start growing in my garden it makes me happy. In particular I love my herb garden. Growing fresh herbs is so easy and is a great way to save money. I try to grow a large variety every year. There is not much action yet but a few of the perennials (those that come back every year) are back in full swing - the chives and oregano. I decided to use these two herbs in an olive vinaigrette to put over a whole roasted red snapper.
A great place to buy fresh fish is Isaacson & Stein Fish Co. on Halsted and Fulton. They have a great selection of very fresh seafood and their prices are good. Last time I was there a couple weeks ago they had a special on frozen whole red snappers for $4 a pound so I stocked up on a couple of them. Fresh is always better than frozen but it is very convenient to have some fish in the freezer that I can defrost whenever.
Roasting a whole fish is so easy and delicious. All you have to do is heat up the oven to a high temperature, add a little salt and optional herbs to the fish, and roast it in the oven for about 20 minutes. That's it.
Here is the recipe:

Whole Roasted Red Snapper with Fresh Herb Olive Vinaigrette

For Fish
1 whole red snapper
salt & pepper
fresh herbs for stuffing fish (optional)

For Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs - Chives and Oregano are great
6 black olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar (can also use red or white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper (optional - taste first)

For fish, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash fish, dry, and place on baking sheet (I put it on tin foil so the fish skin does not stick to the baking sheet). If using fresh herbs for stuffing, put them in the fish and salt and pepper the outside of the fish generously.
Roast the fish in the oven for about 20 minutes. The fish should fall from the bone easily when it is done.
For vinaigrette, combine all ingredients and let sit for 20 minutes to 2 hours.
When the fish is done, spoon vinaigrette over it and it is ready to eat.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


One might suspect that I like yogurt a lot as I have shared a couple recipes using yogurt already: Artichoke Dipping Sauce, Strawberry Shakes, and Yogurt Sauce for Grilled Pork. Well, I do. I make my own yogurt using a yogurt maker. It is so easy and very economical. I use 6 cups of milk to make 8 portions of yogurt. If I can get milk for around $2 a gallon (and I can almost always at Costco, usually at Jewel, and for just a little more at Trader Joe's) it only costs about 75 cents. That is less than 10 cents per yogurt serving.
As frugal as I am, I don't even make my own yogurt to save money but because I get a more natural product without all of the additives that store-bought yogurt has. You can use organic milk to really get a healthier product but the cost will go up quite a bit. Also having a constant supply of plain yogurt (the yogurt is made plain but fruit and sweeteners can be added if desired) allows me to use it for sauces anytime I need one.
  • I add pureed chipotle to the plain yogurt for a creamy Mexican sauce for tacos or fish.
  • I add some dill with a little salt and pepper to the yogurt for a great sauce for grilled salmon.
  • I finely chop some cucumber and a little green onion with some salt and pepper, add it to the yogurt for a sauce that's great with indian flavored dishes or grilled meats.
  • I make smoothies using 1/2 cup yogurt, frozen fruit (that I purchased cheaply at the peak of the season and froze), some milk, vanilla, and maybe some additions like cinnamon, almonds, and flax seed.
I use fat-free milk to make my yogurt. The yogurt is much richer using 2% or especially whole milk but I don't need the extra fat. The process is very simple. You heat the yogurt up to 200 degrees (10 minutes in a microwave), cool it down to about 110 degrees, add some live culture (basically a spoonful of already made yogurt), and incubate it for 10 hours at about 110 degrees. You can make yogurt at home using a quart size canning jar and a cooler that will keep it at the right temperature. There are a lot of instructions for this on the internet. I find having a yogurt maker really convenient and the 1/2 cup containers are a good size for individual portions or making a sauce.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Greek Grilled Pork with Yogurt Sauce

It's raining and chilly in Chicago right now but I'm going to dream of the nicer weather that's coming and talk about grilling. One usually thinks of quick grilled meats but this recipe is for a slow grilling of a pork roast. The roast is marinated overnight in a garlic lemon marinade and then grilled over low heat for about an hour and a half. After the pork comes off the grill to rest, turn the heat up and grill some vegetables like zucchini and red peppers. These are great with the yogurt sauce also. This week pork loin is on sale at Dominicks for $1.99 per pound.

Greek Grilled Pork

One pork loin or top pork loin roast (about 3 - 8 pounds will work, the leftovers make fantastic sandwiches)
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons oregano, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag and marinate overnight or for at least 6 hours. Heat grill to 250 - 300 degrees and roast pork over indirect heat for about and hour and half. When the internal temperature of the pork reaches 155 degrees, remove and tent meat for about 10 minutes. Slice pork and serve with yogurt sauce.

While the pork is resting, turn up heat and grill vegetables such as zuchini, red peppers, or onions.

Yogurt Sauce

1 cup plain yogurt (greek yogurt works well - I use non-fat but any type will work)
2 scallions, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and let flavors meld for at least 1/2 hour.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Steak Sunday

We have an frequent weekly tradition in my house called Steak Sunday. It's basically a way to end the weekend on a tasty note by eating a steak. It's Sunday, we have to go to work tomorrow, might as well eat a steak, you know? We do not do it every Sunday, in particular if we have already had a steak over the weekend. But many Sunday evenings that's what's for dinner. One of my favorite cuts is a rib eye. I can purchase a prime rib eye at Costco for about $7.99 per pound. They don't always have the prime cuts but if they do, I definitely upgrade.

Frugal note on Costco: I LOVE Costco. They have wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables, great meats, really good coffee for dirt cheap, and good finds on other stuff. You do have to buy in bulk and it is hard to get out of there for less than $100 per trip but the quality is great and I really like that Costco pays their workers a living wage and can still sell things at good prices to it's members.

My favorite way to make a rib eye is to rub it with Rib Eye Steak Rub and grill it. Here is the rub recipe.

Rib Eye Steak Rub

3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons black pepper
3 teaspoons dried ground thyme
2 teaspoons finely ground coffee beans

Mix all ingredients together. Rub onto rib eye and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Grill over very hot grill until cooked as wished.
This recipe will make some extra rub and will keep for at least several months.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday Sales Flyer

Ah, the joys of Wednesday...not only does the Chicago Tribune have the Food Guide but also the grocery store sales fliers. You can save a lot of money by purchasing the loss leaders (items significantly marked down to draw people into the store) that are advertised. I like to browse the fliers and then think about some meal planning ideas based on what's on sale.
The things that caught my eye this week that were only $.99 each or per pound were the whole chickens, the cheese, the Barilla pasta, and the fresh flowers from Jewel. Flowers are an extravagance but for a dollar, they are so worth it.
I love to roast a whole chicken. I clean it out, stuff it with cut up lemon, garlic, and fresh rosemary and thyme if I have them, dried if I don't. I salt and pepper the outside and rub on some chopped herbs. Then I roast it in the oven at a pretty high temperature (400 - 425) for about 2 hours, basting occasionally. It always turns out delicious and if it's just my husband and I eating, there are plenty of leftovers. The leftover chicken make a great addition to salads or pasta, and then I use the carcass for a soup.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Strawberry Shake

Another recent great buy I purchased at Stanley's was a case of strawberries for $3.98. I have been making strawberry shakes nonstop. I wash and cut the stem off of the strawberries and add some plain non-fat yogurt, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Then I mix it up with a hand blender which is probably my favorite kitchen item. I use my hand blender all the time, mostly for making smoothies and shakes and for pureeing soups. It is so easy, quick and not as messy as using a blender. I highly recommend the hand blender to everyone.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Artichokes are one of my very favorite things. Not only do they taste great but they come out at the first of spring and one can look forward to warmer weather and growth in the garden. I recently bought some jumbo artichokes at Stanleys. If you live on the north side of Chicago, you should definitely check this place out. It is a fruit and vegetable place on North Avenue that has amazing prices. I can walk out of there with 7 or 8 bags full of wonderful fruit and veggies for less than $20. They had the jumbo chokes for 49 cents each. I usually like to have them with melted butter but I recently saw a recipe for a Yogurt Mayonnaise Vinaigrette in the New York Times that I tried last night. It was so delicious, a touch healthier that the melted butter and much more interesting. I've copied it here for your convenience.

Yogurt-Mayonnaise Vinaigrette

Traditionally steamed artichokes are served with drawn butter or with a mayonnaise. I use a vinaigrette-based sauce thickened with just a bit of mayonnaise and yogurt.

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

Sea salt or kosher salt to taste

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed

2 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Whisk together the vinegar, salt, Dijon mustard and garlic. Whisk in the mayonnaise, yogurt and olive oil, and blend well. Taste, adjust salt, and add pepper. Use as a dip for artichokes or other vegetables.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Variation: Substitute 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice for 1 tablespoon of the vinegar

Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at

Friday, April 17, 2009

White Bean Soup with Ham

Last weekend, out grocery shopping, I bought a ham at Jewel. Using a $7 off coupon I got it for only $2. Not only was I able to make an Easter dinner for 3 and 5 ham sandwiches, but I also did my very favorite thing with the ham bone and residual ham, made a soup. I usually make either split pea or white bean this time I went with the white bean. I made it pretty garlicky and flavored the broth with thyme and bay leaves. Here's the recipe:

White Bean Soup with Ham

1 pound package white beans
1 ham bone with some ham left on it preferably
7 clove garlic, whole
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
3 bay leaves,
1 teaspoon dried thyme or several sprigs fresh thmye

Either soak beans overnight or cook according to package (this involves boiling beans and letting them sit for about an hour). In large soup pot, bring beans, ham, garlic cloves, and about 6-8 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add remaining ingredients. Simmer for about 3 hours, skimming off fat as necessary. You can test the beans periodically for texture and cook longer if you like a thicker soup or shorter if you like firmer beans. Season with salt and pepper. Voila, delicious soup - couldn't be easier.

A word on salt....
I am kind of a saltoholic. I like my things well seasoned. One does need to add a good amount of salt (but do not overdo it) to a soup to get the flavors out. So while it may seem like you are adding a lot, if you make a homemade soup you will never have as much sodium as a canned soup does. So add the salt, taste frequently, no worries.