Creamy Asparagus Soup (from Jamie Oliver, slightly adapted and cut in half)*this recipe is quick, easy, cheap and really healthy
1 lb asparagus, woody ends snapped off
1 piece celery, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
some olive oil
salt and pepper
good crusty bread like ciabatta
To prepare leek remove green tops and discard. Cut leek in half and slice. Place in large bowl of cold water and use your fingers to wash the leek well. Let it sit 10 minutes then remove leek with slotted spoon onto paper towel. The reason for this is leeks grow in really sandy soil and a lot of the sand and dirt works up into the leek. Letting the leek sit in cold water the sand falls to the bottom.
Remove the nice tips off the asparagus and set aside. Chop the stalks.
Heat the olive oil in pot. Add celery, onion, and leek. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes stirring frequently till soft. Add the asparagus stocks (not the tips) and the broth. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Transfer soup to a blender or food processor and puree till very smooth. Return to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper (it needs kind of a lot of salt and pepper just keep tasting till it tastes right). Bring back to boil, add tops of the asparagus that were set aside. Simmer for a few minutes till tender. While soup is simmering toast some bread in oven. Serve soup with bread.
*optional: poach some eggs and serve each bowl of soup with a piece of bread and an egg on top. Mr. P liked this a lot. I thought the soup was so good on it's own I just ate it with the bread.
Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (from my Dad )
*This recipe is less healthy but worth it for a special occasion. It's one of Mr. P's favorites and he wanted it before he leaves. It's a family recipe. My Dad learned how to make it at Camp Baker, the boy scout camp he went to every summer. The secret to is in the gravy and not skimping. I think there are some foods that you can't try to make healthy or low fat and this in one of them. This recipe isn't difficult but it is a little time consuming. A good weekend dinner.
4 pieces of Round steak
milk (you can use 2% or 1% but don't try skim
6-7 Yukon gold potatoes
some more butter
carnation canned milk
Pound steak with meat mallet until they are thinner and larger and look pretty beat up. Heat olive oil (a good amount) in large skillet about med-high. They should grow by a good inch. Get out two pie plates. In one but a bunch of flour and break crumbs, fairly equal amounts, and salt and pepper. In the other beat two eggs and add a splash of milk. Dredge the meat in the egg then the flour then place in skillet. Let the meat brown a few minutes on each side then turn heat down to med low and let cook 20 minutes turning frequently. Make sure you don't burn the meat. The drippings in this pan make the gravy and if you burn it you can't make good gravy. Pre-heat oven to 350.
While meat is cooking peel and chop your potatoes. Bring water to boil for those. Bring to boil and turn town a bit.
After 20 minutes knock off a little of the breading from the meat and transfer the meat to a baking sheet and throw in the oven. To the skillet add a pat of butter or margarine. Once melted add some flour. Be careful not to add too much flour just 1-2 TB is good. Mix flour and fat well then slowly start adding milk stirring constantly. Let milk thicken then add a little more and so on until it's a good gravy color, not white but not brown. Turn heat down to medium low and cook 20 minutes stirring frequently. If it gets too thick or too dark a little more milk.
When potatoes are done drain well and add 3 Tb of butter or margarine. As you mash add canned milk until you have the right consistency. You shouldn't add more than a few TB of the milk. Add salt and pepper to potatoes and keep warm.
When gravy has cooked 20 minutes taste and add salt and pepper to taste. If it tastes too bland try adding more salt. Careful not to make it too salty but the salt brings out the flavor of the gravy.
I like to serve this with steamed pees, it just seems to go.