Cheryl’s Cuisine: January 2018

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

One of the most rewarding things I’ve been doing since retirement is volunteering in the kitchen at  Corpus Christi, Church West Pittston, where my brother, Msgr. John Sempa, is pastor.    

soupFor years, I’ve been helping in the parish kitchen for brunches and the annual picnic in June, however, this past fall the Social Concerns Committee started a Soup Ministry. Once a month a group of volunteers meets to help  prepare 40 quarts of soup for the home bound of the parish.

We meet on a Thursday  when we peel, chop, and prepare  the soup.  The next day we skim the soup and pack it in quart containers. The soup and baked goodies, which are made by parishoners and requested through the church  bulletin, are delivered on Saturday by members of the Social Concerns Committee.  

The event has become so successful that my brother felt I should do a column on it to give other parishes the opportunity to start a Soup Ministry during these winter months.  Yes, it took a bit to judge amounts for 40 quarts of soup, however, the church has 40 homebound members, so it was a “must.”

We began this ministry in October with our Chicken Noodle Soup.  We boil the noodles and pack them separately.  November offered Beef Vegetable Soup, and December, Ham and Cabbage with Potato Soup. The volunteers who help in the kitchen are always bringing new ideas for new soups…a family’s treasured recipe for Tuscan  Bean  Soup is on our agenda.  All of us leave on Friday feeling such satisfaction that we have done something meaningful for those unable to venture out.

To give you an idea of ingredients, for the Chicken Noodle Soup we used  whole chickens, carrots, celery, onions, garlic,  parsley and seasonings.  We opted for small pasta such as ditalini, so it would be easy for the homebound to ingest. We cut beef chuck roast into small chunks for the Beef Vegetable Soup and sauteed it before adding vegetables, which included canned tomatoes.  We used orzo for this soup.  The Ham and Cabbage Soup is a recipe my Polish grandmother used to make.  You can use half of a ham, shredded cabbage, chunked potatoes and cans of baked beans.  Each has its own cooking time, but those are the ingredients.  

Winter, and especially this frigid winter, is a great time for soup.  As a matter of fact, this week I made Sausage Tortellini Soup for my husband.  This is also a great dish. We both like meat, so  I made sure to use plenty. Here is the recipe:

Sausage Tortellini Soup:

tortellini1 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
4 cans College Inn Chicken Broth
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 large can Italian peeled tomatoes, chunked
1 pkg. frozen tortellini, cooked al dente

Saute’ sausage in large soup pot until brown.  Add chopped garlic.  Cook a few minutes, but do not brown garlic.   Add chicken broth and  tomatoes.  Let simmer together about 30 minutes.

Cook tortellini separately, according to package directions. Drain. Put a heaping spoonful of tortellini in soup bowl and ladle soup on top.   

NOTE: Taste for seasoning.  I did not have to add any salt or pepper due to using both Italian sausages and canned broth.  It was perfect.  

***

 Now for a few more of my favorite soups:

Hungarian Mushroom Soup:

2 Tbsp. butter
mushrooms2 cups chopped onion
1 lb. mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh minced dill
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1  1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2-1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute’ onion in 2 Tbsp. butter for 20 minutes or until soft.  Add mushrooms, dill, soy sauce, and paprika.  Stir.  Add just enough of the chicken stock to barely cover the vegetables.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  

Make a roux:  In saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp. butter, then whisk in flour.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes, then add the milk.  Stirring constantly, cook this until the roux has thickened.

Pour into the soup and blend.  Add more stock if needed.  Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  

***

squashMaple Butternut Bisque:

3 oz. butter
2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups canned butternut squash or fresh, cooked and mashed
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup

Melt butter and saute’ onion until soft and translucent, about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over the onions and cook for 2 or 3 more minutes.  Slowly add milk and cook, stirring constantly.  Add chicken stock and squash.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.  

Season with cayenne pepper and salt.  Add cream and maple syrup and blend well.  Let simmer a few minutes longer.  Taste for seasoning. 

***

parsnips-3Sherried Parsnip Soup:

4 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. minced parsley

Melt the butter and saute’ parsnips, carrots and onions for about 20 minutes or until soft. Add just enough chicken stock to cover, and simmer another 30 minutes.  Puree’ vegetables in blender, immersion blender, or food processor.  

Return to stove and reheat, adding cream and rest of chicken stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add sherry just before serving.  Sprinkle with parsley.

***

Tomato Cognac Soup:

1535530401 large Spanish onion
3 oz. butter
3 lbs. canned, peeled plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 pt. heavy cream
1-2 Tbsp. brown sugar
5 Tbsp. cognac
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop onion and saute’ in butter for 20 minutes until soft and translucent but not brown. Squash tomatoes with your hands and add them with all the liquid in the can to the onion.  Add basil and stir.  Bring soup to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Set aside and cool slightly.  

Puree’ soup in processor or use immersion blender.  In small saucepan, heat cream with brown sugar, whisking often.  Pour this mixture into soup.  Reheat, but do not boil.  Just before serving, add cognac and season with salt and pepper.

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Cheryl’s Cuisine: September 2017

Cheryl's Cuisine

Sands Casino Executive Chef Victor Bock displays two dishes from Emeril’s Fish House he prepared at the recent Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival.

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Chatting with Sands Casino Executive Chef Victor Bock is truly one of the highlights for me during the annual Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival.  Bock oversees six restaurants and manages over 400 food and beverage employees.   I can’t even imagine what his daily routine consists of.    He arrived at the Sands after a  career which began at the Culinary Institute of America, Accomac Inn, Windows on Steinman Park in Lancaster,  Hotel Hershey, Greensboro Country Club, Bent Creek Country Club and Woodstock Inn and Resort.  Part of his culinary duties include not only overseeing the restaurants and food services, but also demonstrating his expertise during the annual festival.

This year Chef Bock highlighted some of the most popular dishes served at Emeril’s Fish House.  The menu at the Fish House offers a variety of chilled and raw seafood appetizers including Clams on Half, King Crab Legs and Tuna Poke Lettuce Wraps.

Now for the  dishes shared by Chef Bock during the event:

Asian BBQ Salmon Poke with Green Onion Pancake with Sesame:

Asian BBQ Salmon:
1/2 lb. wild salmon, cut into half inch cubes
1/2 cup green onions, minced
1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
1 tsp. ginger root, minced
2 Tbsp. white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp. lemongrass, minced
1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced

Combine all ingredients and allow to marinate for 1 hour.

Poke Dressing:
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 oz. hoisin sauce
1/2 Tbsp. dry chillies or red pepper flake
2 tsp. rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients.  Makes approximately 2 cups.

Green Onion Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup minced green onion
1/2 cup and 1 1/2 Tbsp. hot water
1 Tbsp. vegetable or coconut oil
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, to fry

In a large bowl sift flour.  Add 1/2 cup and 1 1/2 Tbsp. hot water and stir until the ingredients are blended well.  Sprinkle flour over a kneading board or other appropriate kneading surface.  

When the dough is still hot, knead the dough for about 3 minutes or until it becomes soft and elastic.  Shape dough into a ball and place back in the bowl, covering with plastic wrap.  Let dough rest for about 30 minutes.  Place dough on lightly floured surface and cut dough into two sections.  

While making sure that the dough does not stick to  your kneading surface, roll dough into a 14″ circle.  Spread 1/2 Tbsp. coconut or vegetable oil on the dough.  Next, spread 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil.  Sprinkle 1/4 tsp. salt.  

Finally, Sprinkle 1/3 cup chopped green onions on the dough.  Roll dough into sections and make each section into a spiral/snail shape.  Flatten spiral with the palm of your hand.  Roll it out into a 5″ disk.  Repeat with other 3 pieces.  

Heat 1 Tbsp. salad oil in a frying pan.  Put one of the pancakes in the pan and immediately flip it over to coat the dough with oil evenly.  Cover with a lid and cook each side about 3 minutes or until nicely browned.  (Makes approx. 2 cups).  Serve salmon on top of pancake and top with dressing.

***

Charred Octopus Salad:

2 cups cooked octopus tentacles
1Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. sliced smoked green olives
2 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. celery leaves
1 cup charred cauliflower florets
4 fresh figs,  grilled, if possible
2 Tbsp. crumbled Greek feta cheese
2 cups arugula
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. honey
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red pepper-curry emulsion

In cast iron skillet or grill, char the octopus, approximately 5-8 minutes, remove and hold warm.  In a mixing bowl, combine lime zest, lime juice, Dijon mustard, honey.  Drizzle in olive oil to emulsify.  Place red-pepper-curry emulsion on plate.  

Combine arugula, olives, figs, cauliflower, and octopus with lime dressing.  Arrange on plate and garnish with crumbled feta.

***

Pan-Seared Red Snapper and Tuna Bolognese:

Pan-Seared Red Snapper:

2 Red Snapper fillets (pin bones removed, skin on, approx. 6-7 oz. each)
4 oz. Ahi Tuna Belly, minced
3 oz. pancetta, coarse grind or  fine minced
1 oz. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 cups canned diced tomatoes with juice
3 oz. white wine
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grape tomato confit
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. whole butter or 1 oz. extra virgin olive oil (to finish)
Grilled lemon for garnish

Sear fish fillets in olive oil, skin side down first.  Cook 3-4 minutes.  Turn and cook 3-4 minutes or until firm.  Remove and hold.  To saute’ pan, add pancetta.  Cook until golden brown.  Add garlic, tuna, diced canned tomatoes.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add in grape tomatoes, oregano, basil.  Finish with butter.

Arugula Herb Fennel Salad:
2 cups Arugula
1/2 cup thin shaved fennel
1/2 Tbsp. basil leaves
1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Lemon oil
Kosher salt/pepper

Mix all ingredients together and serve with snapper.

5th Annual Dunmore Summer Festival Set for August 17th through 19th

Dunmore Summer Festival

The 5th annual Dunmore Summer Festival at Sherwood Park will be held Thursday August 17 through Saturday August 19. Shown in photo are officers and members of the Sherwood Youth Association at last year’s festival.

By Emily Fedor

For months, members of the Sherwood Youth Association have been preparing for the 5th annual Dunmore Summer Festival at Sherwood Park, and finally party time is right around the corner. This year, the festivities will take place from 5 to 11 p.m. on August 17 and 18, and from 4 to 11 p.m. on August 19.

The festival got its start when the borough of Dunmore celebrated its Sesquicentennial back in the summer of 2012. Ever since, the annual event has become a tradition for many in little old Bucktown a tradition filled with good food and good friends. And the cherry on top is that all that fun benefits a wonderful cause.

“The park’s mission is, and always has been, to keep the children playing,” said Sherwood Youth President Matt Fedor. “The proceeds from the festival will be used to upkeep and improve the park’s facilities.”

Every year, it seems more folks come out to catch up with friends and enjoy a bite to eat. The festival hosts a wide array of vendors, who offer all kinds of sweet, spicy and savory foods.

Villa Maria Restaurant has been a part of the summer festival since it first began five years ago. The American-Italian style eatery is based on Washburn Street in West Scranton, but the business first got its start in little old Dunmore back in 1982.  

Owner Joe Macciocco says he likes coming back to Bucktown each year to pay a visit to those who have helped make his business a success.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s a great time of the year. They raise money for the park, and there’s something for everybody,” said Macciocco.

Members of the Sherwood Youth Association also man a stand, from which they serve up beverages, potato pancakes, wimpies, pizza fritte, fresh-cut french fries, clams and more.

This year, homemade hot wing bites will also be on their menu.

“The success of the festival and the continued improvements at the park would not be possible without the association’s hard-working and faithful members, said Fedor.”  

Members of Keystone UNICO, the Dunmore High School Crimson Company and other non-profit organizations will also be part of the festival.

Another big part of the annual event is the musical entertainment. This year’s line-up features two new-comers and one returning act, who will take the stage at 7 p.m. each night.

Tony Bouselli, Mike Bertha and Dave Arneli make up the band known as Take 3. Together, the rock and roll trio will open the festival on Thursday, August 17.

On Friday, August 18, the Luongo Brothers Band will take the Show Mobile stage. The band features Pat and Nick Luongo, who are founding members of another area band called The Poets, as well as Alan Shields and Rich Marmo. They play a variety of hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

The Fabulous Fortunes will return to the Dunmore Summer Festival for the fifth year to close out the festival on Saturday, August 19. The rock group has been performing for decades in Dunmore and beyond.

The Dunmore High School cheerleaders and marching units will also make an appearance at the festival on Friday, and gymnasts with the United Sports Academy will perform Saturday.

“There will also be a bounce house, horseback riding, face painting and lots of games for the kids,” said Fedor. “We hope the community comes out to support our festival and the park.”

Scranton Shakespeare Festival Ends Season with Cast Party

La Cucina pic

Paolo Lepri, seated at left, owner of La Cucina Restaurant, Dunmore, is shown with host John Hart and members of the Scranton Shakespeare Festival at a season-ending cast party.

La Cucina donated food to the event which followed a successful SSF season that included Measure for Measure, Two Gentlemen of Verona, the musical Damn Yankees, and two one-act original plays, Cheeks and Skin of the Teeth.