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Jane Henegar

Welcome, readers. We have just inches left of February, and soups are still on the stovetop and in the mail.

Joyce Stanbery wants to make cream soups without using flour. "Can you publish a thickening with no grains that would make a good substitute for the cream soups called for in so many recipes, such as cream of chicken soup and cream of celery soup?"

We have been going through requests from columns past and pass them now to you, hoping for answers this go-round. Here are today's challenges: sour cream coffee cake made with Splenda instead of sugar, salmon burgers similar to the ones made at Publix, chicken thighs prepared in a crock pot and, finally, vegan soup.

 

CREATIVE SALADS

Note the multicolored appeal of this healthful salad recipe contributed by Linda Leake from Chez Piggy Restaurant. The description begins, "This variation of a Greek salad is served on a seasoned slice of grilled eggplant and dressed with a light, lemony vinaigrette."

Mediterranean Salad

Dressing:

Scant 1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Combine lemon juice, oils, garlic, thyme, oregano and salt and pepper to taste in a jar or a shaker, and mix. Set aside.

Salad:

1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 4 to 8 slices

Olive oil

1/2 English cucumber, cut into chunks

1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks

1 green pepper, cut into chunks

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks

2 large red onions, cut into chunks

1/2 cup chickpeas

1/2 cup pitted and sliced kalamata olives

4 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Salad greens

Brush eggplant slices with oil, and grill on both sides until lightly browned. Brush with dressing, and set aside.

Place cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, olives and cheese in a large bowl, and toss with enough dressing to moisten. Set aside.

Arrange greens on individual plates. Place 1 or 2 slices of eggplant on top. Spoon on salad ingredients.

Another creative salad and a pickled green bean dish sprouted from the vast collection of E. of Henagar, Alabama. Both recipes came from "Fast and Fresh." As it turns out, there are green beans and there are haricots vert. What's the difference? Haricots vert, or French beans, are thinner and shorter than, say, Blue Lake green beans — 4 inches long as compared to 5 to 7 inches. The shorter ones cook in half the time and are more tender.

 

Green Bean Pasta Salad

1/3 cup olive oil

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

12 ounces casarecce or gemelli pasta

1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup each chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and basil

1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers from a jar

In skillet, cook first 5 ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes start to burst, about 6 minutes; season with salt and/or pepper to taste. Transfer to large bowl. In pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente; add green beans during last 2 minutes of cooking. Rinse under cold water until cool. Toss with tomato mixture and remaining ingredients. Makes 4 servings.

 

Quick Pickled Green Beans

3/4 pound haricots vert, trimmed

1 red jalapeno chili, thinly sliced

1 1/3 cups rice wine vinegar

2/3 cup sherry vinegar

Requests

* Cream soups thickened without flour

* Sour cream coffee cake made with Splenda

* Salmon burgers a la Publix

* Crock-pot chicken thighs

* Vegan soup

2/3 cup mirin (a sweet rice wine widely used in Japanese cooking)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, sliced

Toasted sesame oil

Sesame seeds

In shallow dish, arrange haricots verts and chili. In saucepan, bring next 6 ingredients and 2/3 cup water to boil. Simmer over medium until reduced, 8 minutes. Pour over vegetables; let cool. Cover and chill overnight.

To serve, drain, drizzle with oil, and top with sesame seeds.

 

TRIO OF CAKES

From the Janice Hixson cake collection, here are three more. The first two appeared in Fare Exchange in long-ago 2003. The third is from "Archie Campbell Friends of Tennessee Cookbook," 1983.

 

Coconut Pecan Bundt Cake

1 yellow cake mix (prepared according to package directions until the last minute of beating)

1 can coconut pecan icing

1/2 cup nuts

Mix yellow cake mix according to instructions on box. In last minute of beating, add the can of icing and finish beating. Stir in nuts. Bake in Bundt pan according to the instructions on the cake mix box.

 

Orange Pound Cake

Cake:

1 box orange pound cake mix (Duncan Hines)

1 box orange instant pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 cup orange juice

Combine ingredients, and beat well. Put in a pan that has been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Poke holes in the cake while it is still hot and pour on glaze (recipe follows).

Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

5 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or orange extract

Combine well and pour on cake while it is hot.

Lemon Pound Cake

1 stick margarine

1 stick butter

3 cups sugar

1/2 cup Crisco oil

6 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons lemon flavoring

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

Spray large, Teflon-coated tube pan with Pam.

Cream margarine, butter, sugar and oil in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add baking powder and lemon and vanilla flavorings to mixture.

Fold in flour, a little at a time, alternating with milk. Beat until creamy. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Do not open oven door while baking.

What makes food taste good? Is it the presentation, the lively seasoning, the balance of ingredients? Sometimes it's simply a matter of the company you keep. A proverb from the Living Bible reads, "Better is soup with someone you love than steak with someone you hate." Good company — a person or people you love — is the best seasoning. So here's to food you get to share with your favorite people.

And here's to next week. Please do come back.

 

TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com

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