Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September Recipe: Ratatouille

A Pinch of Salt
Add Flavor and Simplicity to Your Kitchen.

Ratatouille                                                                                          Serves 6
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 can of low sodium diced tomatoes
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes or 3-4 tomatoes
2 onions, diced
1 red bell pepper—stemmed, seeded and diced
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn
olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Toss the eggplant with 1 teaspoon of the salt and allow to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel and set aside.
2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot add eggplant and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes, adding more oil as needed to prevent sticking. Remove eggplant and set aside in a medium bowl.
3. Add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil to the pot and cook the zucchini until golden but not completely tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove and transfer to the bowl with the eggplant.
4. In the same pot heat ¼ cup of the oil over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, thyme and bay leaf.   Cook until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add garlic/red pepper flakes if using, cook for 30 seconds.  
5. Add diced tomatoes and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved eggplant, zucchini and grape tomatoes.  Stir well.  Season with salt, cover pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook until all the vegetables have softened, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning as needed and discard thyme and bay leaf. Top with fresh basil, serve and enjoy!

Chef Raquel Rivera-Pablo

Friday, August 28, 2015

August Recipe: Eggplant Bolognese

A Pinch of Salt
Add Flavor and Simplicity to Your Kitchen.

Eggplant Bolognese                                                                                Serves 6-8
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 Tbs. dried oregano or Italian seasoning
1 onion, minced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons, low sodium/no salt added tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed or diced tomatoes
2/3 cup of whole milk or 2% milk
3 tablespoons fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 pound whole wheat or regular spaghetti
Couple of sprinkles of parmesan cheese, optional
Salt & pepper to taste

1.      In a pan add 1 TBS. of olive oil.  Allow to warm for 2 minutes then add in garlic, cook for 30 seconds then remove garlic. 
2.      Add eggplant and oregano and cook until softened, approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
3.      In the same pan, add onion, carrots, celery to the pan and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cooked for 3-5 minutes more. 
4.      Return eggplant to pan. Add crushed tomatoes and ½ cup of water and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer pasta for approximately 20-25 minutes until thickened.  Add in 1 TBS. basil.
5.      Remove from heat and add in milk, gently stir.  Reserve sauce until ready to use.
6.      When ready to eat, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 1 tbs. of salt and return to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. 
7.      Drain pasta, but keep ¼ cup of the pasta water.  Add pasta to eggplant sauce and toss to coat.  If needed add a few tablespoons of pasta water to thin out sauce. Stir in cheese and remaining herbs if using. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately and enjoy.

Chef Raquel Rivera-Pablo

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July Recipe: Corn Chowder

A Pinch of Salt
Add Flavor and Simplicity to Your Kitchen.

Simple Corn Chowder                                                                       Serves 6-8
2 tbs. unsalted butter or olive oil 
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 russet or Idaho potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and diced
1-10oz bag of frozen cauliflower, thawed or 1 head of fresh cauliflower 
Few springs of thyme or 1 Tbs. Dried thyme
1-16oz bag of frozen sweet corn, thawed or 6 ears of corn, reserve 1/2 cup of corn 
1 box of low sodium chicken or vegetable stock or broth
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. In a large stock pot melt 2 tablespoons of butter or heat 2 tbs. of olive oil.
  2. Add onion and cook until golden approximately 8 to 10 minutes over medium low heat.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Next add potatoes, corn, cauliflower, thyme and chicken or vegetarian stock/broth.  If needed add enough water to just cover the vegetables.  Cook until potatoes and cauliflower are tender, approximately 25-30 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour soup in batches into a blender or use an immersion blender to purée the soup.  If the soup is too thick add a bit of water, milk or broth.  Add reserved corn kernels to soup.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

Chef Notes:
You can make this completely dairy free by replacing butter with olive oil and adding water or broth to loosen the consistency of the soup if necessary. 

Helpful hint:
The cauliflower in the dish adds creaminess.  Add cauliflower the next time you make mashed potatoes from scratch!

Chef Raquel Rivera-Pablo

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Black Rock Farmers Market Demo: Collard Greens, Lentil & Squash Soup


Hi Black Rock Farmers Market Visitors,

It was the perfect day for soup and a fire and the Black Rock Farmer's Market had both today! Thank you all who visited my table for a sample of my Collard Greens, Lentil & Squash Soup highlighting Sport Hill Farms Collard Greens and Delicata Squash.  I appreciate everyone's support and humbly share my recipe below.  

Collard Greens, Lentil & Squash Soup
Serves 6-8

1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery, thinly sliced 
1 onion, minced 
couple of sprigs of fresh thyme 
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bag of lentils 
1 bunch of collard greens, ribbed and cut into thin ribbons
1 delicata squash, peeled and cubed 
1 14oz can of your favorite crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste 


1. In a stock pot add 1 tbs of olive oil and sauté onion, carrot, celery and thyme.  Cook until ingredients soften and flavors develop. Approximately 10 minutes.  Then add garlic. Stir.

2. Add lentils, stir and toast for 3-4 minutes. Then add collard greens and squash. Mix well. Season with salt and fresh pepper.

3.  Add in crushed tomatoes and enough water to cover ingredients.  Cook for 40-50 minutes until lentils have softened and flavors have developed. Adjust seasoning and enjoy!

Chef Raquel

Owner/Chef A Pinch of Salt 
Hands-On Cooking Classes, Cooking Parties & Catering

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Black Rock Farmer's Market Demo: Apple & Broccoli Soup

Hi Black Rock Farmers Market Visitors,

Welcome to autumn!  Today I prepared an Apple & Broccoli Soup.
A few of you were iffy about the combination, so I appreciate your willingness to trust me and try! One person in particular mentioned, "Well I like apple and I like broccoli, so let's see!"  Needless to say I was happy (and relieved) that the combo was well received.  The first spoonful was followed by "yums" "delicious" and "wows" by even the toughest of skeptics!

For those of you who don't know, every Saturday is like an an episode of Chopped.  I get to see all the beautiful ingredients that Patti of Sport Hill Farm brings from her farm and then think of something yummy to make out of it.  When thinking of what to make I think of simplicity.  I want to highlight and not mask the freshness of the veggies and fruits.  I also think of simplicity for the home cook as well.  I want people to feel confident in recreating these recipes.

Below I share with you the recipe of the strangely, delicious soup.  Remember soup is very forgiving so feel free to play with the measurements based on your preference.

Look forward to feeding you in the weeks to follow,

Chef/Owner of A Pinch of Salt

Apple-Broccoli Soup 
Serves: 6-8

1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced into relatively small pieces
2-3 stalks of celery, sliced thin
1 apple, McIntosh, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
few sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 heads of broccoli, about four cups total, (if fresh blanched first, if frozen then thawed)
cold water or 1 box of vegetable stock (or broth)
salt & pepper as needed
1/4 cup of heavy cream or 2 tbs. of unsalted butter, optional

1. In a stock pot drizzle in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add onions and cook until translucent.    
Approximately 5 minutes over medium low heat.

2. Add carrots, celery, apples, bay leaf and thyme.  Cook until softened, about 15-20 minutes

3. Add in broccoli, mix through and cook for another 10 minutes to combine flavors.

4. Next add liquid (water or stock) just enough to meet the level of vegetables in pot.

5. Cook over medium heat until broccoli is softened and mixture seems to come together,
approximately 15-20 minutes.

6. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly.  Next pour ingredients into a blender or food processor. An immersion blender is even simpler!  The soup will thicken, if too thick add more water or stock. Return soup to heat if necessary.  Otherwise proceed.

7. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add a drizzle of cream or butter to add some richness,
serve warm and enjoy!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Black Rock Farmer's Market Demo Recipe: Eggplant-Cranberry Bean "Hummus"

Hi Black Rock Residents,

A lot of you inquired about the recipe for today's Eggplant-Cranberry Beans "Hummus" so here it goes:

Eggplant-Cranberry Bean "Hummus"
Makes 1 quart, but can easily be halved

1 small Eggplant, peeled and diced 
2 pounds of Cranberry beans, shelled 
2-3 cloves Garlic, more if desired 
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley, chopped, garnish
Lemon zest, garnish 

1. In a pot add cranberry beans and cover with at least 2 inches of water.  Bring beans to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool. 

2. Meanwhile in a sauté pan over medium-high heat add olive oil.  Add eggplant and sauté until softened, approx 15-20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can also roast the eggplant.  Allow to cool.  

3.  In a food processor add cranberry beans, eggplant, garlic.  Drizzle in olive oil until you obtain consistency desired.   Adjust seasoning.  Garnish with parsley and lemon zest. Enjoy!

Monday, August 4, 2014