Love To Eat V-Day Treats?

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My husband thinks I’m silly for decorating the house for Valentine’s Day. He tolerates Christmas and Easter but he can’t help making snarky comments about this Hallmark holiday. I tell him, “But… it makes me happy!” I enjoy rearranging and switching things up in the house. Re-designing makes your living space feel fresh and It’s also an incentive to clean! Or, in Matt’s words “Yo this is corny.” Whatever.

In addition to seasonal decorating, I also love seasonal cooking. My mother-in-law Maureen dropped off a bunch of old magazines a few weeks ago. She knows I like flipping through with my morning coffee. In the Savory, May 2019 edition, I found a whole section on strawberry recipes, which would be in season at that time. It just so happens strawberries are perfect for Valentine’s Day desserts too.

The magazine had some tips worth sharing. “Pick like a pro” – look for bright, shiny strawberries, skip containers with smashed or shriveled ones. The color should be deep and even, without white or green patches and they should smell fragrant. “Wash and wait” – (This one I’m familiar with), water increases mold on strawberries (and most fruits). So leave the berries in their original packaging and rinse in cold running water just before serving or cooking. Their shelf life is short, use within 2-3 days of purchase. “Get your vitamins” – despite their sweetness, strawberries are relatively low in sugar, they provide fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. In fact, strawberries contain more vitamin C per serving and oranges!

The recipe that caught my eye was “Easy Strawberry Almond Tart ”. I think it was the ”easy” part that appealed to me. Using a flour tortilla you can make a delicious seasonally appropriate Valentine’s Day tart. Mine came out great. I could smell the strawberries as they came out of the hot oven. The butter, sugar, and berries formed a glaze. Make sure you slice the strawberries thinly, mine could have been a little less chunky. Use a pizza cutter to slice it up, that worked well for me. It looks impressive and is a quick dessert to make that will impress guests or your significant other.

As I was preparing the dish, I realized you can make this with blueberries, raspberries or experiment with other fruits. Maybe honey or maple syrup can be a nice sugar substitute. Shaved milk chocolate?!

Ingredients:
(Serves 4, ready in: 30 min.)
8-16 oz. strawberries
4 tbsp butter, softened
2, 8-inch flour tortillas
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Hull and thinly slice the strawberries. Spread the butter onto both sides of the tortillas and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops of tortillas with the sugar. Arrange strawberries on tortillas. Bake 20–25 min., until golden and crisp.

While the tart is cooking, lightly brown the almonds in butter on med-low, in a small frying pan on the stovetop. Occasionally stir. Remove the tart from the oven. Top with the almonds. Cut into quarters and serve. Eat hot, right out of the oven!

There are a few other noteworthy strawberry dessert recipes  in that edition of Savory. Find them here. If you try any of them, let me know how they turn out.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers, I love ya!

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strawberries dessert recipes

Here are some strawberry dessert recipes that look worthy. Check out my post here, where I tried the Easy Strawberry Tart recipe.

Recipes from savoryonline.com.com 

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Perfect Pea Soup at The Restaurant

At The Wave, the art department has a long-standing tradition of ordering split pea soup for breakfast on Thursdays. And it must be from The Restaurant. Our former office was just across the street from the luncheonette, located in the shopping center at 8605 Rockaway Beach Blvd.  Veteran graphic designer Janette Rappo would pick up the soups for everyone, taking the headcount the night before. But I never thought to partake. After all, pea soup for breakfast?

While we’re enjoying the new amenities on Beach 129th Street, the designers have been missing their warm pea soup breakfast. Then a few weeks ago Janette called out, “Who wants pea soup tomorrow?! We’re only 10 minutes away, we can still get it”. With all the renewed soup excitement, I decided to give it a shot.

So last Thursday I volunteered to pick it up before work. “5 large split pea soups please,”  I said to the waitress at the counter. “This must be for The Wave.” She replied. I explained how everyone was going through “split pea withdrawal” since the move and the team is in desperate need of the coveted cup. I added, “And this will be my first time!”

While I was waiting for my order, I spoke with Nick Plevritis co-owner of The Restaurant. Along with his parents, Peter and Kathy Plevritis,  they have owned the diner for almost 30 years now. Nick grew up in the restaurant industry, learning everything from watching his parents put in the hard work it takes to run a successful small business.

Nicholas Plevritis Kathy Plevritis and Waitress Sarah Gearin
Nicholas Plevritis Kathy Plevritis and Waitress Sarah Gearin of The Restaurant

I asked Nick about the pea soup recipe, “It’s my father’s recipe. You’d have to ask him about the ingredients.” I got the feeling that it was a secret recipe so I didn’t want to push it! I did learn there’s no ham, it’s vegetarian.  I also asked, “If the pea soup is so good, why only sell it on Thursday?” Nick explained each day of the week is a different soup and different customers have their own favorites. I was told the lentil soup is stellar and maybe the most popular is the cream of turkey soup served up on Saturdays.

The Famous Split Pea Soup

Hot soups in hand, I drove up to Beach 129th Street. Everyone was excited about the steaming delivery.

I spooned my first mouthful and it all made sense. The split pea soup is absolutely delicious! It was hearty and full of flavor. It has just the right amount of salt. There must be onions, carrots, and celery in the mix. The soup is pureed for a professional creamy texture. It comes with a large portion of homemade croutons which seem to be deep-fried for an excellent crunch – a perfect complement to the smooth soup.

Mark Hogan, our cover designer and ad man extraordinaire saw me fumbling with a  small spoon. He explained it’s better to just drink the soup straight from the cup. He was right. This technique is easier and you get a bigger gulp of flavor.

Stay warm with a hot cup of split pea soup from The Restaurant, or try their other tasty home-style eats.  The Restaurant is located at 8605 Rockaway Beach Blvd, Far Rockaway. Call for pick-up or delivery – 718.634.5809. Find The Restaurants on Facebook  here

Previously, The Wave wrote about The Restaurant and the Plevritis family for our Monday Motivation series, Check out the article here.

 

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Vegetarian Lentil Soup

Fresh spinach adds even more nutrition to this recipe.
Fresh spinach adds even more nutrition to this recipe.

We are in the thick of winter now and the soup is on. I’ve always enjoyed a steaming bowl of lentils, even before legumes became so trendy. To some these seeds are a new superfood but lentils are crazy old!  I’m talking caveman old. The lentil plant has been around for five million years. Once domesticated, this crop became known as  “the poor man’s food”, because they were cheap to harvest and available worldwide. Today a 16 oz bag is only $1.42. You can’t beat that price.

Additionally, lentils are packed with nutrients like plant protein, fiber, iron, calcium and they’re low in fat.  More and more I’m hearing of people reducing their meat intake, whether it be for health or environmental reasons and the go-to replacement is legumes for the nutritional benefits I mentioned.

Any seed that grows in a pod is a legume. All of the following are considered as such: peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soy, sugar snaps,  cranberries, alfalfa, peanuts and other nuts.

Lentils come in an assortment of colors, all containing  generally the same amount of protein. Brown and green ones are better for soups or for veggie burgers. Red and yellows are often split. They cook faster and are great for puree or Indian dal. Black lentils are less common and  work well as toppers in salads.

I put an Italian twist on my lentil soup by adding a healthy amount of pecorino romano. If you omit the cheese, it becomes a vegan recipe. Either way this recipe is flavorful and hearty, packed with protein. I do have an Indian style version I make with red lentils that I’ll share with you before winter’s end. For now, give this easy brown lentil soup a try, it won’t disappoint!

Sitting down to a hot bowl of soup in the winter is a delicious treat

Vegetarian Lentil Soup
(6 servings)

1 – 16 oz bag of Iberia brown lentils (find these in the international aisle in the supermarket)
1  large red onion
5 cloves garlic
1 bushel of fresh spinach
3 carrots
¼ cup Colavita olive oil
¼ cup pecorino romano
Salt / pepper / red pepper flakes to taste
12 cups water

Directions: Dice onions, garlic and carrots by hand or for a smoother texture, in the food processor. Heat the oil in a large soup pot and simmer the above ingredients on low until the onions are translucent. Fill the pot with water (about 12 cups.) Put the heat to high and add in the lentils, spices and cheese. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes until the lentils are soft. Chop the spinach and add it to the soup. Cook for 5 minutes. I add the spinach last so it doesn’t boil down to nothing. It will also retain more vitamins if its cook for less time. When serving, top with extra romano cheese.

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