Friday, October 25, 2013

Fresh Mushroom Soup Tutorial

I keep getting requests from people about my soups. So here is one more, super tested, recipe from my repertoire. A fresh cream of Champignons, made from scratch. Super easy to make and delicious too!


2 Tbsp Butter
700 gr cleaned and sliced mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp flour
2-3 Tbsp white whine or sherry
6 cups stock
2/3 cup milk cream
2 tbsp parsley or chives
lemon juice (optional)
salt & pepper

Here is my mise en place. In place of stock I always use my homemade bouillon and add the desired water. See recipe here

I placed the butter in a stockpot at medium heat, along with the onion, and sautéed it until translucent.

While the onions were sweating, I cleaned and sliced the mushrooms. I never wash mushrooms. That makes them slimy and icky. I have a brush (find it here) that I use to remove debris.

At this point I made a roux adding the flour and mixing quickly (away from heat to avoid clumps).

I added the wine and mixed thoroughly for a few minutes.

Once the wine was boiling, I added the bouillon and water. I used 2 tbsp of bouillon and 6 cups water.

At this point I added the mushrooms, brought to a boil, and cooked for 20 minutes on low heat.

I removed two ladle-full of mushrooms and set them aside.

After it cooled down I blended all the ingredients well with my immersion blender and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

I then brought the soup back to heat, to warm it back up without bringing it to a boil, and scooped it into small bowls, garnishing with lemon juice, the reserved champignons, some cream & parsley. 

* * * * *

This is the soup without incorporating the heavy cream, I only used some for garnishing. If you are counting calories this is delicious as-is, but if you want a richer cream of mushroom, use the 2/3 cup of cream (listed in the ingredients) and incorporate it right after blending, and before final warming.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Vellutata di Zucca e Patata dolce (Cream of Sweet Potato & Pumpkin soup) Tutorial

It is getting really cold in Colorado. We even had the first snowfall the day before yesterday. This is definitely soup-time in my book (although I enjoy soup whatever the thermometer says LOL). So, today I made my MIL's favorite soup: a creamy sweet potato & pumpkin. On hand I had some Delicata squash, so I used IT as my pumpkin. I have successfully made it also with: acorn squash, pie pumpkin, butternut squash and many other type of gourd-like veggies!


1 organic sweet potato or yam
1 small pumpkin or two medium squash
1 small onion (in this case 1/2 large onion)
5-6 unpeeled garlic cloves
4 cups of broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chives or parsley to garnish

Cut in half lengthwise the pumpkin (scoop out seeds), the potato and the onion and brush some oil on the cut areas. Place all the veggies face down on a cookie sheet and roast at 360F for 30-40 minutes. Pierce pumpkin near the stem to check for doneness. Let the veggies cool down for a few minutes.

Scoop out the pulp of the pumpkin. Peel and chop the potato, the onion and the garlic, and place them in a stock pot.

Add the broth, a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Then reduce to low heat, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes - stirring every so often.

Let the soup cool down for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender, or a regular one, blend the soup to a velvety consistency.

Add the cream, adjust of salt if needed, and mix well. Return to low heat for 5-10 more minutes, taking care not to boil it.

I used this cream, but you can also use: heavy whipping cream, half & half or even Mexican cream.

Serve in warm plates, or cups, and garnish with some chopped chives (or parsley in my case) and some heavy cream.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and will be making yourself some heartwarming soup soon!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Coffee & Coconut Scrub Tutorial

As more and more people become interested in homemade soaps and detergent, I get more inquiries about my no-soap shower detergent. I have not used traditional soap in months; ever since one of my BFFs gifted me a jar of homemade sugar scrub! She mentioned that she uses it instead of a shower gel, and I was hooked! 

Ever since we moved to CO, I've had a bad case of 'the dry skin'. I am not much of a moisturizer by nature. I am a bit of a lazy bone, when it comes to primping post shower. So this one-step oil scrub has been very welcome in my routine. I had no reservation regarding the efficacy of this product, my other BFF is a chemist and often says to me: 'the best way to clean oil is with another oil'. So I had no doubt the coconut oil was a winner. It is naturally antibacterial and antiviral, so it helps to fight the bacteria that causes bad odor, and it is a great moisturizer too. Coconut oil cleanses the skin, without stripping it bare, while the granulation of coffee or sugar helps to scrub the skin of impurities. 

I have to admit that, at first, I had my reservations. I thought 'this scrub will make the shower greasy or slippery, and the towels too'. But, after a few months, I am happy to say that it has not turned out to be as bad as I had anticipated. The amount of scrub used is minimal, so I clean my shower with the same frequency as I did before. 

So far I have stuck to the sugar scrub, but I wanted to try something new. The caffeine in this scrub has anti-cellulite properties (caffeine is a natural vasoconstrictor), plus this recipe is a great way to recycle coffee grinds - that may otherwise end up in the trash bin. I love recycling. I took a look at many recipes online and this is what I came up with, using the ingredients that I had on hand.


1 heaping cup of used coffee grinds
1/2 cup of liquid raw organic coconut oil
1 tsp of Vitamin E
1 tbsp of raw honey
1 tbsp of ground cinnamon

I saved my coffee grinds for a few days in a bowl. I used espresso grinds from my moka. I let the grinds dry in an OPEN container, or they will mold while accumulating a cup-worth. I added the honey (top left), the cinnamon (bottom left) and the Vitamin E (bottom right) to the coffee grinds.

I then melted the coconut oil (for less than a minute in the microwave) and added it to the mixture.

I mixed all ingredients well, and left the bowl out to cool for a while before I transferred the mixture to a storing container.

Et voila'. The scrub is ready to be used. Coconut oil solidifies at less than 21 Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) so, during the winter, it will be in a solid state in the shower. However, it melts as soon as I  rub it between my palms. I use only about a teaspoon of scrub at the time. I rub it in my hands for a few seconds, and distribute it around my body scrubbing thoroughly. I grab more as needed, to cleanse my entire body. When I am done scrubbing, I simply rinse off under the warm shower. Once out, I dry myself by patting, rather than rubbing, as I try to leave as much oil on my skin as possible. 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you will give this scrub a go either as a main component, or as a an addition to your shower-time routine!