June 2014

BRFM June, 2014


I’ve been waiting for blueberry season ever since Mother’s Day, when my daughter-in-law Amy Gant Fitzgerald served an amazing brunch casserole that I just couldn’t have believed if I had seen it on paper first.  As a 50+ year Home Economist and food writer, I have learned to “taste” most recipes by just looking at them.  Not so this Blueberry French Toast Casserole.  I wouldn’t have guessed it in a million years, but since it is so good, I am happy to pass it on to you for your next brunch.  While it calls for Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon bread, there are several bread bakers at the market whose sweet breads could work for this recipe, including some from Full Heart Farm, Schwartz Berry Farm, and sometimes Gypsy Ridge, which also has maple syrup.  This recipe wants slightly sweet quick breads or a yeasted sweet bread.  With the addition of maple syrup, you would think that the casserole would be very sweet, but it is not, though you may reduce the amount of maple syrup if you want.


Blueberry French Toast Casserole


1 ½ cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and tossed in 2 tablespoons flour

1 loaf Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Bread, cut into large cubes

8 eggs

¾ cup maple syrup

6 tablespoons melted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 ½ cups milk

Extra cinnamon


Coat a 9” X 13” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray

Place half the bread cubes in the bottom of the baking dish.

Place dollops of cream cheese over the bread until it is evenly distributed.

Drop lightly floured berries on the bread..

Layer the rest of the bread cubes on top of the berry layer.

Sprinkle cinnamon generously on top.


In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, maple syrup, and milk.  Pour mixture over bread and press into the bread with a spatula to soak up the eggs.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until brown on top.  Serves 6 or more.


Zucchini:  There are a million ways to prepare zucchini, and I love most of them, even though zucchini is not one of the most nutritious veggies.  Not that it’s negative, but when compared with broccoli, greens, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, it’s a light weight.  That’s OK. .  It has an amazing quality to remain crunchy in a lot of dishes, as long as you take care not to overcook it at the beginning.  This soup was also served recently by my (wonderful) daughter-in-law Amy.


The reason I love this soup is that kids love it.  A couple of my grandchildren—but not most— are picky eaters, and I’ve never seen a kid turn up her nose at this delicious Tortellini Soup.  Two words of caution, depending on when you plan to serve it:

·      Don’t overcook the zucchini; you want crunch in this soup.

·      The tortellini will get mushy if you have to re-heat it.  If you are not going to serve it right away, cook the tortellini separately, and add them just as you serve.


And know that the wonderful bulk Italian sausage from DreamCatcher Farm makes this soup absolutely fabulous.  If your family is small, you will love the leftovers, which are even better the next day.


Too Good Tortellini Soup

1 pound bulk Italian sausage 
1 cup chopped onion 
2 garlic cloves, sliced 
5 cups beef broth 
1/2 cup water 
1/2 cup red wine 
2 cups canned diced tomatoes with juices 
1 cup sliced carrots 
1/2 teaspoon dried basil 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce 
8 ounces fresh tortellini 
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini 
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
Grated Parmesan cheese

Brown sausage in a large pot. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl. Disacard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot.  Add onion and garlic to pot. Cook until tender. Add sausage, broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Skim fat from surface of soup. Stir in tortellini, zucchini, parsley and bell pepper. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls.   Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.   Makes 6 serving.  This recipe is from Best of the Best Ohio Cookbook.

Meal in a Roaster, Including Kale!  I love it when you can cook a whole meal in a soup, stew, casserole, or a roasting dish.  This Miso Chicken dish was shared by Sarah Fritschner, who adapted it from one of Ronnie Lundy’s cookbooks.  Both of them know their way around the kitchen when it comes to great food.  I also love it when you can get almost everything—well, not the seasonings & bourbon—at the Farmers Market:  chicken, mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, & kale.  I also love the fact that this is a very different kind of recipe using kale.  The chicken & spices/seasonings actually flavor the kale in most unique ways.  Since this serves 12, it’s easy to cut in half for family dinners.



Miso Chicken

12 chicken thighs with skin and bone

1/2 cup dried wood ear, shiitake or Chinese black mushrooms

4 medium carrots

3 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable oil

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger

3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 cup bourbon

½ cup dark miso

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 ½ teaspoon Chinese garlic chile paste

1 ½ pound (or more) kale

4 cups chicken broth or water


Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle. Place chicken on a large, shallow baking pan big enough to hold the pieces in one layer. Roast 30 minutes, until golden. Reduce heat to 300 degrees

In the meantime, boil 4 cups of water and pour it over the mushrooms. Set aside to soak.


Remove and discard stems from kale, wash kale and chop the leaves. Set aside. Cut the carrots in fourths lengthwise, then cut in 1-inch lengths. Set aside.


Heat oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then add onions and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 15or 20 minutes, stirring often and reducing the heat if necessary. Add ginger and garlic and cook 5 minutes more, stirring. Add bourbon and boil, stirring, about a minute. Stir in miso, soy sauce and chile paste and stir to distribute miso.


Drain mushrooms, squeeze dry and cut off any hard bits. Slice mushrooms in slivers.


Transfer roasted chicken to a bowl and pour pan juices into a class measure. Spoon off fat and add broth back to the roaster. Put kale in the roaster; sprinkle carrots and mushrooms over the top. Pour onion mixture over the kale, followed by the chicken broth. Place chicken on top of kale. Cover the roaster snugly with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Serve kale and chicken with boiled rice.  Serves 12.


Lemony Carrot Fettuccine' with Toasted Walnuts

Sarah Moulton featured this recipe in the New York Times, but I have seen it numerous other places.  When I served it, my guests were amazed that they had never thought of cutting carrots lengthwise-with a potato peeler, to make very thin, long strips.  It is quite attractive, and cooks very quickly.  Now that carrots are back, this could be your new favorite dish.


Lemony carrot 'fettuccine' with toasted walnuts


Start to finish: 25 minutes;  Servings: 4

½ cup chopped walnuts

2 pounds large carrots, peeled, stem ends discarded

1¼ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Salt and ground black pepper

2 ounces Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Heat the oven to 350 F.

In a shallow baking dish, spread the walnuts in an even layer and bake on the oven's middle shelf for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they smell fragrant. Remove and set aside.


Meanwhile, using a swivel blade or a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into long fettuccine-like strands, discarding the core (or saving it for a snack or a stock).

In a large skillet, combine 1 cup of the chicken broth with the lemon zest, a hefty pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. Whisk the mixture until the lemon is well distributed.


Cut up the cheese into small pieces and add it to the skillet along with the carrots. Cover the skillet tightly and bring the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the carrots, covered, for 3 minutes. Remove the lid, and stir the carrots gently with tongs to make sure the cheese is well distributed. Cover and simmer, adding the additional broth if the mixture seems dry, for another 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the carrots are tender.  Stir in the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Divide the carrot "fettuccine" between 4 serving plates, then top each portion with a quarter of the toasted walnuts and the chives.


Check out our radio show, “La Vida Local” on Crescent Hill Radio:www.crescenthillradio.com, with former Courier-Journal food editor, Sarah Fritschner, Patty Marguet and me.  If you know a great cook, please recommend them for an interview.  You may stream the show on the CHR website at 1 p.m.Saturdays or find it on the sound cloud or Facebook.. Bardstown Road Farmers Market vendor Charles Hambley will be a guest on Saturday, July 5.  Check for other recipes on my website, www.phyllisfitzgerald.com, and you may contact me at phyllisfitzgerald@yahoo.com.


Healthy Eating!

Phyllis Fitzgerald