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From Mirepoix to French Onion Soup, Hearty Tomato Sauce, Mixed Bean Chili and Asian Stir Fry!!

For our Virtual HEA graduation, in just over an hour Chef Nick demonstrated how to start with Mirepoix to make these 4 different favorite dishes!  He shares his recipes and cooking tips for this blog.   You can also watch Nick enjoy cooking all of these for HEA graduation on this video.

Mirepoix is a commonly used aromatic flavor base made by combining onions, carrots and celery (2:1:1) –sautéed as a base for stocks, soups, soups, stews and sauces.  It’s named for the French employer of the mid 1700’s chef who popularized it. Chef’s have their own favorite variations on the ratio of ingredients.  It’s easy to learn to use Mirepoix and greatly expand your cooking “repertoire”!


Mirepoix sautéing with cube of frozen stock

Each of Nick’s Recipes in this Blog Starts with this Mirepoix: 

  • 1/2 Cup Diced Celery

  • 1/2 Cup Diced Onion

  • 1/2 Cup Diced Carrot

  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth (or water or wine)

Put carrots, celery, and onions in a pot and cover with the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer until all the aromatics are translucent (cooked through). Add more liquid if needed.


(The picture shows using a cube of home made frozen vegetable broth – read how)

Recipe #1 – Mixed Veggie Asian Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • *Mirepoix for your base

  • *Additional 1/2 cup broth

  • *1 heaping tsp of minced fresh garlic (1/2 tsp of garlic powder)

  • *1 Tbsp of fresh finely minced ginger (it is OK to pulverize in a blender). (1/8-1/4 tsp powdered)

  • *1 cup broccoli florets

  • *2/3 cup sliced red bell pepper (1/2 thick strips)

  • *1 Pound of fresh steamed Greens – (Bok Choy is ideal, sometimes hard to find. We used collard greens, but mustard or turnip greens would also work very well.)

  • *One small can of sliced water chestnuts rinsed very well.

  • *About 6 stalks of sliced green onions

  • *One small can of sliced (or shredded) bamboo shoots rinsed very well

  • *One ½ pound of extra firm tofu that has been cubed (we used a marinated tofu – read how, but that is optional)

*Seasonings:

  •         2 tsp of “Chinese Five Spice Powder”  (source – Asian market, Wegmans, Giant… You can   make your own – Fennel, peppercorns, Anise (key), Cinnamon, Cloves)

  •         2 fermented black beans (optional – not critical)

  •         Pinch of toasted black sesame seeds.

  •         1 short splash of low sodium soy sauce

  •         3 ~ 4 ounces of a prepared bottled Asian Stir Fry Sauce. Ours was orange flavor and both sodium and fat free

  •         Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Method of Preparation (a wok is fun, but not critical)

1. Start with your Mirepoix base, and stir in the garlic and ginger

2. Add all the remaining vegetables a little at a time – keep stirring constantly, until they are tender and thoroughly cooked. But don’t overcook – they should still have a bit of a bite in them.  Add the additional liquid as needed, as mixture starts to brown.

3. Add the cubed tofu and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Add all the seasonings and simmer for a minute or two.

Asian Stir Fry Over Noodles

Enjoy straight or serve on your favorite whole grain Asian Noodle or whole grain rice.

Recipe #2 – Mixed Bean Chili

Ingredients

Mirepoix for your base

  1. * 1 heaping tsp of minced fresh garlic

  2. * ½ cup tomato paste (salt free)

  3. * 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (salt free)

  4. * 2/3 cup dried green lentils – cooked thoroughly. This should yield about two cups of fully cooked green lentils.  I like the texture lentils add to the chili.

  5. * 2 cups total of cooked beans. You can mix and match or just use one kind.  Our demo included a cup of cooked black beans and a cup of chickpeas.

  6. * 2/3 cups of roasted red or green bell peppers – cut into approximately 1-inch squares. Roasting the peppers is optional.  If you desire to roast them, cut them into one-inch squares, rub with the chili herb mixture, and roast at 385, till tender.

  7. Seasonings:

  8.   1 Heaping Tbsp of paprika (any kind will work, Hungarian, Plain, or my favorite, smoked)

  9.   1 tsp of each of the following – cumin, cilantro, oregano, if you want a spicy hot chili, add some cayenne pepper.

Method of Preparation:

1. Start with your Mirepoix as the base

2. Add the tomato paste, stir thoroughly and cook for another 2~3 minutes. Keep stirring.

3. Add the canned crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

4. Add the lentils, beans, and roasted peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 3 minutes or until all the veggies are nice and tender.  Stir constantly, or else the chili may burn.

5. Put all the spices into the chili and let simmer for a few more minutes while stirring.

Enjoy over brown rice, mashed potatoes, or just straight.  Serve with your favorite salad! 

Recipe #3 – French Onion Soup

Ingredients:

  • Mirepoix for your base

  • 1 heaping tsp of minced fresh garlic

  • 6 cups of vegetable broth

  • 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast

  • 2/3 cup dried green lentils – cooked thoroughly (follow package instructions). This should yield about two cups of fully cooked green lentils.

  • Approximately 2 lb of thinly sliced along the grain Spanish Onions (it’s OK to use other types of onions – Red onions, Vidalia onions or Yellow onions will work great) (2 medium onions = 1 lb)

* Seasonings

  • 1 Tbsp of Tarragon

  •   1 tsp of Sage

  •  ½ tsp of ground black pepper French Onion Soup


Method of Preparation:

1.Add garlic and nutritional yeast  to your Mirepoix and cover with 1 cup of vegetable broth.  Stir thoroughly, bring to a boil and let simmer another 2-3 minutes.  Keep stirring.

2. Add the remaining vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

3. Add the lentils and stir. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes – stirring occasionally.

4. Add the onions and stir thoroughly. Cover and allow to simmer until the onions are translucent, and thoroughly cooked.  This should take about 30 minutes of simmering.

5. Put all the herbs and pepper into the sauce and let simmer for a few more minutes while stirring.

Enjoy on a cold day with some toasted multigrain bread. Ezekiel has a great low salt, multi grain bread, often found in the freezer section.  Note that the onions sliced thinly along the grain hold their shape, adding to the flavor.


Recipe #4 – Hearty Tomato Sauce with Veggies

Ingredients:

* Mirepoix for your base

1 heaping tsp of minced fresh garlic

1 cup tomato paste (salt free)

2 large cans crushed tomatoes (salt free)

1 large can of diced tomatoes (salt free)

1 medium size zucchini sliced and roasted. Roasting the zucchini is optional.  If you desire to roast it, cut one-inch slices, rub with a blend of basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram.  Roast at 385, till tender.   You can use any veggie you want in addition to the zucchini, or in place of the zucchini: cauliflower, butternut squash, eggplant, all work particularly well.

2/3 cups of roasted red or green bell peppers – cut into approximately 1-inch squares. Roasting the peppers is optional.  If you desire to roast them, cut them into one-inch squares, rub with the chili herb mixture, and roast at 385, till tender.

½ cup well rinsed and sliced Kalamata olives

 Seasonings:   1 Heaping Tbsp of Basil

  1 tsp of each of the following – Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram.

  Small pinch of Rosemary

  ½ tsp of ground black pepper

Method of Preparation:

1.Start with your Mirepoix

2. Add your tomato paste, stir thoroughly and cook for another two to three minutes. Keep stirring.

3. Add the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

4. Add the peppers, zucchini, sliced olives and return to a simmer. Allow to simmer for at least two hours – stirring occasionally.   If you have the time. You can simmer up to four hours ******* Read below why this extra time adds to the flavor - a Q&A with Chef Nick

5. Put all the herbs and pepper into the sauce and let simmer for a few more minutes while stirring.


Enjoy over whole grain pasta or on top of a pizza.  

Add a colorful salad!

Leafy Green Salad with Artichoke Heart, Orange, Strawberries


****Q: Does the tomato sauce  have to cook for 2-4 hours?

A: Nick’s Reply – ” There are two reasons why tomato sauce is cooked for a longtime: 1) The longer you cook the sauce, the thicker it will become.  This is because the water cooks off.  In addition to the sauce becoming thicker, the flavor gets more concentrated.  2) Tomato products (fresh or canned), are usually acidic.  [Many] folks dislike the acidic aftertaste in a tomato sauce.  The longer you cook the sauce, the more acid gets cooked off.  As a result, the sauce tastes less acidic and more sweet.”

Q: Are there any safety reasons to cook the sauce for a long time?

A:  Nick’s Reply – “As long as the sauce simmers for at least 15 minutes, it will be perfectly safe to eat.  There is no harm to cook the sauce for only 30 minutes.  But from a culinary perspective, a longer cooking time improves the texture and flavor.”

Q: Top on or off?

A:  Nick – ” I keep the lid partly ajar.  Just a small amount of the sauce is exposed.  Having the lid slightly ajar, allows the steam to escape and encourages reduction.  A slow simmer is perfect, and stir as needed so the sauce doesn’t burn in the bottom of the pan.  I usually stir every 10-15 minutes, making certain to scrape the bottom of the pan.

Many Thanks to Chef Nick for a Wonderful Demo for our Virtual HEA!!


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