Tag Archives: Cowgirl Chef

Broccoli Basil Soup

broccoli basil soup

Welcome, welcome! I’m extremely thrilled to post the very first installment of my new Week Of… blog series, where every week’s recipes revolve around a stated theme. Without further ado, this week’s theme is BROCCOLI!


If you just groaned, it’s okay. I don’t judge you one bit. The reason I picked broccoli is because it seemed very appropriate for the beginning of the year, when people are making New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier. And while I’m not really making any per se, one of my food goals is (and has been) to like broccoli. While I’ve done very, very well at eating and liking my vegetables since my mid-twenties, broccoli is one that has kept not working for me. But it is so incredibly good for you that I feel I have to give it another try.

So that’s what this week is all about. Finding new and interesting ways to cook broccoli so that I might actually enjoy eating it! First up, we have soup. Reason being, the broccoli is pureed, so I cannot possibly complain about the texture (something I have vehemently done in the past).

broccoli basil soup + goat cheese toast

But instead of the more common broccoli cheese soup, I wanted to find a soup I would like that didn’t drown the vegetable in cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). I’m always fond of basil, so this soup was really enjoyable for me. Win! Oh, and the goat cheese toasts on top didn’t hurt anything, either. Of course. But, in all seriousness, I did really enjoy this soup. I hope you will too, regardless of where you fall on the broccoli spectrum. And stay tuned, for on Wednesday I shall bring you broccoli in the form of a delicious Asian appetizer – you don’t want to miss it!

Broccoli Basil Soup

Quick recipe note: the recipe does not call for adding any dairy. I swirled in a touch of heavy cream to improve the pictures. While quite tasty, the soup without the cream is a shade of green that just doesn’t photograph well. You food bloggers know what I’m talking about. So I added the cream to change the color. Taste-wise, I actually preferred it without the cream. Go figure!

Source: slightly adapted from Cowgirl Chef by Ellise Pierce

1 large head of broccoli, florets removed from the stalk
Olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 cups vegetable stock
A good handful of fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper
Small crusty bread slices, such as a sliced baguette
3-4 oz. goat cheese

Prep the broccoli by chopping the florets into small-ish pieces. Then peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler, trim the ends and chop into 1-inch pieces.
Drizzle a little olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until softened. Next add the broccoli florets and stalks and stir a few times just to coat them with the oil and sauté just a tad. Add the vegetable stock. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Once it boils, turn the heat down and simmer until the broccoli is tender but not mushy, about 15-20 minutes. Test the doneness – a sharp paring knife should slide easily into the stalk pieces.
When done, shut off the heat and add the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then puree the soup with an immersion blender or carefully in your regular blender, working in batches if need be.
Meanwhile, toast your bread slices and then immediately smear them with a generous amount of goat cheese.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with 1 or 2 goat cheese toasts on the side.

Tex-Mex Cheesy Chicken Tart


I returned home from spending a few great days in Texas late last night. I had planned to share a blog post with you yesterday, for a macaroni and cheese no less, and I figured I would have plenty of time to write it in transit. See, I booked my flight somewhat last minute, thus dooming myself to a non-direct flight, and I had what was supposed to be a three hour layover in Philadelphia.


But the general northeast experienced heavy winds and snow yesterday, and my plane sat on the runway for ninety minutes in Houston, after being delayed over forty-five minutes already. So I literally had twenty-five minutes to catch my flight in Philly, and if you’ve ever been to the Philly airport, you know that is quite a feat to undertake. Good lord that airport is awful. But undertake it I did, by sprinting with a large backpack and carry-on suitcase, and made my flight to New York with five minutes to spare. All this to say, my blog post did not get written!


So I’ll blog that one later today, and give you this one in the meantime! Travel troubles notwithstanding, I had a lovely time visiting my sister and brother-in-law, my nephew, and my newest niece, three-week-old Claire (or Baby Care, as she is known to her two-year-old big brother). It was so fun and I’m so glad I could help out a little. I’m a tad exhausted though – I don’t know how all you parents do it! I think I’ll stick to being an aunt (for now anyway).


Being an aunt really is the best, though. You can break all the parenting rules with impunity, like bribing them with presents so they’ll think you’re cool, and letting them run in the living room or throw rocks at you simply because they think it’s fun. They are so sweet and adorable, even when they lie to you and tell you that they are allowed to use that word or that Mommy does let them jump on the guest bed. I don’t care, I love them all. 🙂


Since I was recently in Texas, I thought Tex-Mex fare would be appropriate for today’s post. I suppose this is really French and Tex-Mex fusion, since it’s kind of like piling up traditional nacho toppings in a tart shell – a tart shell that happens to resemble a corn tortilla more than pie crust! Seriously, it’s the simplest tart shell you’ll ever make. Mix masa harina with warm water and salt, then press it into your tart pan and … ta daaaa! You have a tart shell! No rolling pin necessary. Try this one, it’s delicious. And think fondly of your nieces and nephews when you do!


Source: slightly adapted from Cowgirl Chef by Ellise Pierce

2 1/2 cups masa harina
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste, divided
1 1/4 cups hot water
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, well drained
2 tbs canola oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups shredded plain rotisserie chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
A small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Good-quality jarred tomato salsa, for serving

Make the crust first. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease an 11-inch tart pan.
Whisk the masa harina and salt together in a medium bowl. Slowly add the hot water and mix until combined. The dough should be firm yet moist, and not dry, crumbly or sticky. Add the dough to the tart pan by pinching it out and spreading the little balls of dough all over the bottom of the pan. Using the bottom of a sturdy, flat-bottomed drinking glass, flatten the dough into an even layer onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper. Add dried beans or pie weights, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is firm. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Make your refried beans. In a medium bowl, smash up the drained beans with a potato masher. It’s fine if they’re still a little chunky. Preheat a skillet large enough to hold all of the beans over medium heat. Add the oil, then the garlic and cook for one minute, just until fragrant. Now, add the beans, cumin and a pinch of salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until the beans are dry, about 5 minutes. Set aside to let them cool a little bit.
Assemble the tart. Evenly spread the beans on the bottom of the tart shell, then add the shredded chicken. Top with the cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.
To serve, top with the chopped cilantro, then cut into wedges. Serve the salsa alongside.

Adobo Salmon Salad Tartines


I still have the flu. It’s getting better. My fever broke yesterday morning, which is great news, but I am still fatigued and dizzy and generally not terribly coherent, so we’ll see how blogging goes.  If it’s just too painful to read my illness-induced prose, at least you can look at the pictures.


A tartine is simply a fancy French word that means open-faced sandwich. Adobo is a crazy good Mexican sauce/marinade usually seen with chicken, but it also works with fish, shrimp, and pork quite nicely. It’s made with dried red chiles and garlic, and it turns this lovely brick-red color.


Now, this salmon is poached. And in the past, I have found poaching salmon to be quite a scary undertaking. The first time I tried it, it was so bad that I swore off poaching for good. I spice crusted the fish with Indian flavors, then overcooked the salmon and basically made us some Indian-spiced cat food. And thanks to the garam masala, my cats wouldn’t even eat it.


Fortunately, I ventured back into the land of poaching, initially with chicken, to discover that it’s a very useful kitchen skill to have in one’s arsenal of tricks. It produces a moist, tender protein and it’s really quite easy once you figure out the method. So don’t be afraid of the poached salmon – it’s wonderfully moist and flaky in the end.


So go out and cook this one. It’s a lovely, elegant treat that is light and flavorful and will maybe, possibly, trick your mind into thinking you’re somewhere warm and festive during this longest, coldest month of the year.


Source: slightly adapted from Cowgirl Chef, by Ellise Pierce

14 oz. salmon fillets
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup water, maybe more
3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small shallot, sliced
2 (3-inch) strips lemon zest
10 black peppercorns
A big pinch of kosher salt
2 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs Adobo (recipe to follow)
2 tbs minced scallion
Handful of fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
4-6 slices good quality sandwich bread, like a Pullman loaf, toasted and cut in half on the diagonal
1 medium avocado, sliced
1 tbs fresh dill, chopped

Place the salmon fillet(s) in a medium saucepan. Add the wine, water, parsley, sliced shallot, lemon zest, peppercorns, and salt. Bring the heat to a simmer, then turn it down to medium-low to low heat. Poach for 3 minutes, then test for doneness. It will likely take a bit longer; mine took around 8 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan, place in a large bowl, and cool.
Using a fork, gently flake the salmon into large pieces. Add the mayo, Adobo, scallion, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to eat, heap a couple spoonfuls on each toast point and smooth out. Top with two avocado slices and sprinkle on some fresh dill. Serve immediately.



5 dried guajillo chiles
3 dried ancho chiles
2 dried cascabel chiles
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste

Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Preheat a medium saucepan to medium heat. Toast the chiles for about 30 seconds per side, just until they are fragrant. Don’t let them burn. Cover the chiles with hot water and return to high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and shut off the heat completely. Let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the softened chiles to your blender, along with the rest of the ingredients and about half a cup of chile soaking water.
Puree until completely smooth – give it at least 5 minutes.
This makes about 2 cups. Use the rest to marinade chicken, pork, or shrimp later in the week.