Tuesday, September 18, 2012


With Joe back doing the train dance five days a week to Manhattan, I decided it was time I step up to the dinner plate and start making a few easy, delicious recipes for our weekday dinner pleasure.  Because there are only so many nights one can tolerate take-out Chinese, I figured it was time to focus on our figures by making healthy meals at home. Meet my new friend; Mark Bittman.  You may have seen Mark on Bravo's Top Chef or his numerous appearances on the Today Show, I saw him strolling the aisles of our local Barnes & Noble.  Actually, I was strolling the aisles of Barnes & Noble wondering what shelf my book will be sitting on next year at this time, when his book, How to Cook Everything the basics, reached out and smacked me across the face.  Mark promises to offer all you need to make great food with simple instructions, great illustrations and relatable stories to help you make it from ingredient number one to the table in no time, with no drama.  I decided to start my adventure with Mark by cooking Minestrone tonight (it's raining, a bit chilly out, so I thought a hearty soup would be the perfect security blanket for this evening).  Despite two power outages and threatening tornado's, I was able to whip this one up with ease and put a smile on Joe's face!
Marks fabulous book takes us from breakfast to dessert and everywhere in between.  I added a few extra goodies to this one (like chopping Parmesan rind and adding it to the mix, which gave a lovely surprise once cooked down):
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium celery, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 cup chopped tomatoes or can of tomatoes with juice
1 medium zucchini, cut into small chunks
1 bunch sturdy leafy greens like kale or escarole (I used kale and wasn't crazy about it)
freshly grated Parmesan for top of finished product
TO START, place oil in a large stock pot and heat over medium.  When it's hot, add onion, carrot and celery. Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, stir frequently about 10-15 minutes
THEN add potatoes and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are brown in spots, 5-10 minutes.
ADD six cups water then add tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil.  Lower the mixture so it continues to bubble steadily.  Cook until tomatoes break down, about 15 minutes.
FINALLY add the zucchini and trees and raise the heat if necessary to keep the mixture at a steady bubble.  Cook until veggies are tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.  Add Parmesan cheese to the top, little pepper and ENJOY!