Sunday, 24 March 2013


In her novel “Love,” Toni Morrison explores the different facets of love, its proximity to hate, and its destructive effects on the psyche when it is missing from one’s life, especially the life of a child. She examines the different varieties of love: self-love, romantic love, parental love, platonic love, and love that is sadomasochistic or perverted; if it's sadomasochistic or perverted it's not actual love is it? It's just referred to as such. 

The novel, written with exceptional artistry both in style and content is a book one needs to read at least twice in order to fully understand its meaning.  

"Love" is set in the fictional town of Silk, located somewhere on the Southern East Coast. According to the plot, the town was once famous for Cosey’s Hotel and Resort, “the best and best- known vacation spot for coloured folk” on the Southern East Coast. The resort was founded during the depression by the larger than life Bill Cosey, and it thrived because it offered prosperous black clients a place to vacation in style without fear of discrimination. Following integration, the resort began to lose business. Bill Cosey died, and eventually, the property was closed and boarded up. 

What remains of the Coseys is the large house on Monarch Street that Bill Cosey had built for his family. This family includes his daughter-in-law May, who died deranged, his granddaughter Christine who was sent away and stayed away until she returned penniless, and his second wife Heed, whom he married when she was eleven years old.  Looking over everyone is the spirit of L, the former cook of the Cosey’s, who provides commentary on the story, thereby providing a bridge between the Cosey’s of the past and the Cosey’s of the present. L is also the moral center and philosopher of the novel. 

The action takes place in the 1990’s, but the characters reminisce of time each spent in the presence of Bill Cosey, and we see how he influenced their lives and how he continues to be an influence even some 20 years after his death.  We also see how close the distance between love and hate can be.  Christine and Heed, who had been loving childhood friends have a wedge driven between them by the adults around them when Bill Cosey decides to take Heed as his wife. Their relationship turns to one of hate, and it is not until a newcomer, a girl named Junior Viviane enters their lives, that events occur which melt their hate instantly, and they realize how strong the love each has for the other still is. This knowledge comes late, after their lives are wasted because they were not nurtured as children.  

In contrast, Romen, a teenage character in the novel, has in his life the guidance and love of an intact family. The guidance he receives molds his character in such a way that he can act heroically when needed. 

Because Vida, who is Romen’s grandmother likes pineapple, I decided to make a pineapple smoothie. In this way, I am contributing to Novel Food, the literary/culinary event hosted by Simona from Briciole.  Read something, cook something inspired by the work, and then write a post about it. That’s Novel Food!



2 cups fresh pineapple cut into chunks
2 oranges, peeled, broken up into segments, seeds removed
1 banana, peeled, cut into chunks
½ cup 2% Greek yogurt
1 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons shredded coconut


Add all the ingredients except the shredded coconut into a blender.  Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and sprinkle the top with shredded coconut.

IT'S REFRESHING!!!  And it's smooth as silk, which reminds me of Silk, the fictional town in which the novel "Love" is set. 

Friday, 22 March 2013


I got the idea to make pasta puttanesca with shrimp and feta cheese when I was reading Andrea Camilleri's novel "The shape of water," featuring the character of Inspector Montalbano. I was reading the book for my participation in Cook The Books Club, and I had to think of something nice to make that reminded me of the book. The shrimp, the briny sauce, and the briny feta cheese bring to mind the seaside where inspector Montalbano likes to stroll. 

This is an enjoyable dish and very easy prepare. I love how Greek and Italian ingredients are combined here: strong Mediterranean roots! This dish depends on freshness, therefore, working quickly when preparing it is a must. I had the idea of garnishing the pasta with some fresh grape tomatoes which are very abundant at the market this time of year. They are imported all the way from Mexico and are very tasty. 

Linus happens to love pasta and today he is waiting patiently for his share.

olive oil
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound linguini
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, plus a little more for garnish. 
two or three sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes cut into chunks (seeds and skin removed)
some grape tomatoes cut in half, to be used for garnish
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 teaspoon red pepper seeds, or use more if you prefer
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
10 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped


  • First, prepare the pasta and shrimp: 
  • Fill a large pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the linguini and cook according to package directions. 
  • Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle some olive oil on the pasta, and mix.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. 
  • Add 2 cloves of garlic and sauté for one minute. 
  • Add the shrimp and thyme and cook for about 3 minutes, until the shrimp have turned pink. 
  • Remove from the heat, add the feta cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper. 
  • Add the shrimp mixture to the pasta.
  • Add some parsley and mix well. Cover and set aside.
  • Now make the puttanesca sauce:
  • In a pan heat some olive oil and add the rest of the garlic along with the anchovies, red pepper seeds, and capers. Cook for about one minute, stirring. 
  • Add the olives, the oregano, the Roma tomatoes and the sun-dried tomatoes. 
  • Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the sauce to the pasta and shrimp and mix. 
  • Before serving garnish with the grape tomatoes and the rest of the parsley and feta cheese.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


"The Shape of Water," written by Andrea Camilleri, featuring the dauntless inspector Montalbano. 

We’re going to Cook the Books again, and this time the vehicle we are using is Andrea Camilleri’s novel “The Shape of Water.”  After reading the novel we are making something to eat. Something delicious.  Something inspired by the book. In my case, I’m choosing to make pasta puttanesca with shrimp! I know, I know, the novel is set in Sicily, and pasta puttanesca is a dish created in Naples. Nevermind. Have you read this book? There are so many ladies of the evening living in its pages that it would be a shame not to honour them with the very popular pasta puttanesca, a truly delicious dish that is purportedly named after these hardworking women.  
The fictionalized Sicilian town of Vigata is the setting for Camilleri’s novel “The Shape of Water.” The town comes complete with a “pasture,” which is the name for the al fresco red light district of Vigata. A dead body is discovered in the pasture by local trash collectors, and that sets in motion the action of the novel. That pasture is by no means a pastoral place! No sheep graze there. By the way, did you know that sheep herding is the second oldest profession in the world?   

Pasta  Puttanesca with Shrimp: This post is my contribution to the current edition of Cook the Books.  This round is hosted by Rachel of The Crispy Cook. 

I made this version of pasta puttanesca with linguine, which I mixed in a briny tomato sauce that was flavoured with anchovies, capers and olives. I also added shrimp, which is not traditional, but I wanted to combine the briny taste of the sauce with seafood, a combination which can serve as a reminder of the beautiful seas which surround the achingly beautiful island of Sicily. While dinner was being prepared, I snacked on a mouthful of some crunchy càlia e simenza that I had made the day before.   

Càlia e simenza: lovingly described by the author, here is how our hero, Inspector Montalbano, enjoys this snack:  

“taking the stroll he customarily allowed himself …  along the eastern jetty, out to the lighthouse.  Before he set out however, he always stopped at Anselmo Greco’s shop, a hovel that clashed with the clothing boutiques and shiny, mirrored cafés along the corso…  Greco also sold càlia e simenza, a mixture of roasted chickpeas and salted pumpkin seeds.  Montalbano would buy a paper cone full of these and then head out.”
I myself have eaten lots of  càlia e simenza, and it's a wonderful way to pass the time especially when taking a slow, scenic stroll.  Eat some chickpeas, crunch on some roasted pumpkin seeds, look at the scenery, contemplate your navel ... heaven! To make this snack, just open up a can of chickpeas, rinse and dry them really well and place them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle some olive oil and salt over, add whatever other spices you really love, then bake in a 375  F oven for at least 30 minutes, or until they are crunchy. Roast the pumpkin seeds separately, mix with the chickpeas, and you're in business! Truthfully though, there is no way to make the perfect càlia e simenza at home. The real version is roasted and dried in an industrial setting, and it's something one buys from the street vendor or the corner shop. I spent many happy childhood summers snacking on bags of càlia e simenza. The Greeks (of which I am one) and the Sicilians have many things in common. Shared foods and recipes are one commonality. I was thrilled to read about inspector Montalbano's habit of eating càlia e simenza; it brought back memories.
Camilleri’s "The Shape of Water..." Following are some of my impressions of the novel, but first I include a type of prologue:

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who wanted a pony for Christmas. He started asking for it around September and didn’t stop asking ‘till Christmas Eve. That boy wanted a pony! Early on Christmas day he woke up, got dressed in a hurry, no breakfast, and he ran to the barn. He was sure there would be a pony waiting for him. However, all he saw was a large pile of manure. His father went to the barn and found the boy shovelling the manure. “What are you doing, son?” the father asked. “Looking for my pony,” said the boy. “With all this manure, there has to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Just like the boy in the anecdote, I did quite a bit of shovelling as I tried to find the pony in Andrea Camilleri’s novel “The Shape of Water.” Throughout the pages of the book, I met pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, hoodlums, and corrupt politicians. I heard more than enough base and obscene language, and I failed to laugh at numerous crude jokes. I found out that the novel included inferences to incest, one of the most reprehensible types of human behaviour. As I shovelled along, guess what happened? My pony appeared!  It arrived on the scene in the persona of the dauntless Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano, who ploughed through layers of corruption in order to solve the murder of a politically and socially prominent man who… died from natural causes. 

The action of the novel unfolds in Sicily, unrecognizable in Camilleri’s rendering. The scenery is mostly limited to trash-strewn vistas and dilapidated buildings, and there is a meagre supply of likeable people.  Montalbano is described as a man in love with his native island, but there’s not much that's described to love here. Except for the food. When the inspector takes a break from police work, he usually finds something very interesting to eat, and what he has to eat always gets a favourable description.

Montalbano dined on boiled shrimp and pasta, which can be easily transformed into pasta puttanesca with shrimp. Just add the puttanesca sauce on top of the shrimp and pasta, mix and enjoy!  

People like Montalbano, who are involved in solving crimes, have to contend with sordid circumstances and disreputable individuals.  The details of this unsavoury type of work are clearly narrated by the author. I came to develop a liking for Montalbano.  Underneath a tough exterior, he hides a heart of pure gold. He doesn’t always follow the letter of the law, but that’s because he prefers to protect the innocent from the claws of the corrupt kingpins, the latter of which can shape the law to fit their own needs. The law of the corrupt can take on any shape, just as a volume of water can take on any shape depending on its container. Hence, the title of the novel makes sense.  Montalbano is a man of the people. Of the struggling,  sometimes fallible Sicilian people. Despite the pressure put upon him by his superiors, our inspector does not give up until he figures out the details which led to the victim’s death from nothing but ... natural causes. Yes, the fellow did die flagrante delicto, but as Montalbano discovers, the dead body was moved around a few times between the time of death and the time of discovery. In the end, the inspector is able to help and protect some people who would have otherwise gotten framed. However, nothing can be done about the kingpins. They go on. 

This novel was written in 1994, during a time of great unrest in Sicily. Mafia wars had caused a significant amount of bloodshed. The politicians were on the take, the average people were scared, and unemployment was high. In the novel, the island is occupied by soldiers from the mainland. This, in fact, was a reality. The Italian government had sent peacekeeping troops into Sicily following the murders of prominent anti-mafia judges. The troops remained in Sicily until 1998; the military operation was dubbed "The Sicilian Vespers" (I Vespri Siciliani, after Verdi’s opera). 

In “The Shape of Water,” Camilleri points his finger at the political and criminal upheaval of 1990’s Sicily. I suppose that was Camilleri’s way of pointing his finger at what was going on, and his way of prompting average Sicilians to keep fighting back in order to reclaim their island. It's not merely a murder mystery Camilleri wrote. Through a subtext of social criticism, he exposed the repulsive nature of a corrupt society. 

Finally, since I did mention Verdi’s “I Vespri Siciliani,” how about some Sicilian fun?  For our enjoyment, a clip of “Mercè, dilette amiche,” Elena's aria from Act V of "I Vespri Siciliani." I listened to every rendition available on YouTube, from the best to the not so good. I loved this version, recorded in 1955. Maria Callas sings, with Tullio Serafin conducting. Of course, I could also mention Sutherland, who is superb in it, but what makes this version different is that Callas feels each word she is singing!

Enjoy listening to Verdi and Maria, and I hope you smile when you hear that beautiful E at the very end. This difficult aria is rendered so, so beautifully! 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Looks good, doesn't it?  Covered with fresh vegetables, low-fat feta cheese, low-fat turkey sausage, a low-calorie thin crust in the form of pita bread, all topped with a luscious egg to give us that extra supply of protein.  Some freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and a few shakes of freshly ground black pepper, and there it is:  A crunchy, irresistible and quick treat for breakfast.  This will make a wonderful breakfast, but I've had it twice now for dinner.  So it's my version of breakfast for dinner, and I love it!  Easy to prepare. Here is how:

pita bread
turkey breakfast sausage, casing removed
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 mushroom sliced
a handful of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
a few fresh sage leaves, chopped
some freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, taken out of the shell and left whole

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the sausage.  Cook it while breaking it up, taking it off the heat when it's no longer pink.
To the skillet add the tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms, and mix.
Place the pita bread on a baking pan and sprinkle the feta cheese over it.
Layer the sausage mixture on top of the feta cheese.
Place the egg in the middle of the pita pizza.
Place the baking pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny.
Take out of the oven, season with the black pepper and sprinkle the Pecorino cheese over the whole pita.
Eat hot and enjoy! 

Variation: cook the pizza for about 10 minutes without the egg, take it out of the oven, add the egg and then finish cooking it. This method will yield a very crispy crust. 


Saturday, 9 March 2013


Behold the croissant. One of humankind's greatest inventions. Flaky, buttery, irresistible. Kind of like me. Oops, I said it, and I am not taking it back. The picture above shows an almond croissant. Purchased from Whole Foods. It holds a surprise inside.  It has an almond paste filling.

A while ago I hosted an "after church" tea. I made some really nice tea sandwiches: chicken, cucumber, AND my special minis with ham, cheese and turkey on whole wheat. I had a fruit salad and some phyllo and feta wraps too. I had cheese and bagels, and a store bought dessert. Why am I telling you all this? I'm just thinking back, reminiscing. That day I wanted to offer croissant, raspberry and Nutella bites, for dessert but I ran out of time. I ran out of time, plus after making all the other sandwiches I was too exhausted to speed up and make anything else. I think everyone who came to the tea had a good time. There were no leftovers to speak of. Just a few pieces of cheese. The Nutella I had bought for the croissants sat on a shelf in the pantry until I remembered it last week and used some of it to make these really tasty and moist Reeses, Nutella and banana bars.

Then I remembered all about the croissant sandwiches I hadn't made. So I bought a single croissant and some raspberries and I invited myself to tea. A nice cuppa and a bite of a croissant, raspberry and Nutella sandwich. The raspberries I bought were grown in Mexico: they were shipped from Mexico all the way here to the cold Northeast, and they were magical! They brought sunshine into the house. Best raspberries ever!
Here is how to make Croissant, Raspberry and Nutella Tea Sandwich Bites:

Get yourself some croissants. Butter or almond or chocolate. Say no to the broccoli ones. Get some raspberries or strawberries. Cut the croissants in half lengthwise.

Arrange raspberries on one half of the croissant.  
Spread some Nutella on the other half of the croissant.
Here is my kitchen rooster posing with the croissandwich. Bring the two croissant halves together by folding the Nutella half over the raspberry half. It feels like rocket science, doesn't it? Keep at it, if I managed it so can you!

Cut each croissant into quarters. If you're serving these to company, stick a sandwich pick or some such implement into each piece to keep it from falling apart and to make it look prettier than it already is. Place the bites on a nice serving platter, and dust the tops of the croissants with a little powdered sugar.  

If the bites are just for you and yours, just enjoy them. They are sweet and flaky. As am I. Seriously though, these darlings make fantastic little treats for a tea, and they are so very easy to make!

Thursday, 7 March 2013


It’s 10:00 pm on Sunday night. Tomorrow is a workday. All your co-workers are chocoholics. You promised you’ll help them start the work week by bringing in a chocolate cake. Not store bought, but homemade. Don’t you think it’s time to go to the kitchen? Yes, go there, that’s the place in the house where cakes get made.  Gather up all your ingredients and get started.  

That’s the conversation I had with myself before making this dessert. Which was supposed to be a chocolate cake ... Until I discovered that I had no cocoa powder in the house! Catastrophe? You bet. Major. I ruled out a quick trip to the grocery store.  Why? Because I roll with the punches. I move on to Plan B. I have a drawerful of Plan B. I collect Plan B: Plan B says to substitute Nutella for the cocoa powder. And to get on with it, because it’s getting late.  Clean up the kitchen, too. What are those brown bananas doing there, still sitting on the counter?

I couldn't make chocolate cake, so I improvised and came up with banana-peanut butter-chocolate bars! They were incredibly moist, filled with the delicious flavour of ripe bananas and they had peanut butter and Nutella mixed into the batter. Oh, they even had Reeses peanut butter chocolate cups decorating the top (why did I buy those? I can't remember). I say Plan B worked out well. The bars stayed moist for the next few days, and they were enjoyed by one and all! 


1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons Nutella chocolate spread
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces miniature peanut butter cups, crumbled

  • Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.  Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  • Into a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • Add the peanut butter, cinnamon and Nutella.  Mix well. 
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  • Stir in the bananas.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture and combine.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.  
  • Spread the peanut butter cups over the top.  
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the batter comes out clean. 
  • Remove from the oven and cool. 
  • When the dessert has cooled cut it into bars, small ones or larger ones, depending on preference.
  • What we couldn't eat we just froze. We took pieces out of the freezer as needed. The bars thawed in no time and were just as moist as when they were first baked.

Monday, 4 March 2013


This is Callie's  "Mom, pay attention to me!"  pose.
I've been wanting to write about this for a long while now, but I have found it difficult, because telling the story involves an issue I find really painful.  I am referring to the neglect and abuse puppy mill dogs are subjected to.  Three years ago I adopted a dog that was rescued from a puppy mill.  Her name is Callie. 
This is Callie in the foreground and Misty in the background.   Both dogs were rescued from a puppy mill breeder and went to foster homes.  This was their first picture after they were cleaned up and groomed.  Not looking very happy, and probably really scared too.  Neither one was used to human contact.  Both have been adopted into forever homes .  Callie’s home is with me.  I am proud to be her mom.

Callie is a smart, feisty and pampered Bichon Frise.  I adopted her from the Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue, an all-volunteer organization which does an incredible job finding homes for neglected Bichons. At the time of her rescue, Callie was approximately five years old, she was being used as a breeder dog, and she had spent all her life up to that point living in a crate. The rescue took Callie to the vet where she was spayed. She also required 13 tooth extractions. Lots of pregnancies, poor nutrition and a lack of proper medical care took a toll on her teeth. Even though Callie is on a well balanced diet today, and even though she takes vitamin supplements, she still has issues with her teeth, and I have taken her to have subsequent extractions.  Other than that, her health has been fine, thank goodness.  Callie was fostered in the state of Delaware by a wonderful husband and wife team named Conni and Jesse. They are active volunteers with the Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue, and they have fostered many dogs, some of which have been puppy mill rescues. Conni and Jesse have a special knack for bringing these dogs back to life. Everyday, Jesse would drive Callie and another puppy mill dog to PetSmart. He would put the dogs into a cart and wheel them around the isles in order to get them accustomed to people and to new noises. Callie loved (and still does love) going for car rides. When I adopted her, I too started taking her to PetSmart.  It was just as Jesse described it:  she liked the car, but she was afraid of people and of the the experience in the store.  I first met Callie at Conni and Jesse's house.  That's when I was introduced to all the other lovely dogs who lived there. Maggie, Spike and Jake were the three little bichons that were Conni and Jesse's kids.  Callie and two more puppy mill rescues were there waiting for forever homes.  I approached Callie and the other rescues and petted them.  I was surprised at how tight their muscles felt. Muscles hard as rocks.  All three dogs were on alert, they were shaking and they were so tense that they would not relax a single muscle.  
Callie's first picture in her new home.  She is lounging in her dogie bed.  A toy she loves playing with is that little green squeaky tennis ball.  She actually has a number of them hidden in various places throughout the house. 
I brought Callie home that first day I met her.  It took about a month for her to relax and learn to trust me, but it took her a lot longer than that to learn how to be a happy pet.  She had to learn how to go up and down stairs.  It was hard to see her struggle with that, but she finally got it.  Going outside was also a struggle.  At first, she wouldn't even let me put a leash on her.  Today, she absolutely adores going for walkies.  She still adores car rides.  She appreciates going to PetSmart, because she knows that’s where greenies  come from, and for those who don't know, greenies are a healthy chewy treat dogs go wild over.  Good for their teeth.  I am so glad that I was able to give her a better life.  I know that she loves me and I love her also.  Very much.  Linus, my other dog, is crazy about her also.  He looks out for her.  She likes to play hard to get with him during the day, when she is busy with other things, like waiting for the mail carrier.  Every evening however she curls up next to Linus on the sofa.  Callie and Linus are great company for my mother, who is somewhat frail.  The three of them hang out together during the day.  I don’t really know what they do, because I am at work, but I know they have a good time and I just know it involves treats, although I can't prove it.  Callie has learned to sprint downstairs every time the refrigerator door opens. Would she have learned to do that if there were no treats involved?

Callie and her best friend, Linus.

Callie deep in thought.  No doubt reflecting upon something of extreme importance.

Callie at her first ever costume contest.  She went as a Hawaiian  princess.  She came in second place.  
Every year the Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue hosts a "Bichon Bash" picnic at the home our fantastic president Dr. Susan Dare, and every year there is a theme cake.  The cake in this picture showed the puppy mill rescues, one of which was Callie. Her picture is up in the corner, posing with the Phillie Phanatic.  The picnic is great fun, and is also a fund raiser for the rescue.  All bichons can attend free of charge, and if they wish they can participate in a costume contest.  
Callie checking out the scenery from her patio.  Notice she is wearing pink ribbons. 
Callie does not like pink ribbons.  

Why did that groomer put pink ribbons on my ears?

Callie and Linus on the cover of "Life" magazine.

Another year, another costume contest at the "Bichon Bash."  Callie went as the "Black Swan."  She came in third place, but by the time this picture was taken, she had shaken off most of her headpiece and had done her best to discard her tutu.  
A dapper costume contest participant is eager to discover exactly what aromatic delights emanate from the posterior of the first place winner.  Arnie, a dog of many disguises, won first place by coming as a gladiator.  
Arnie, gladiator bello victorem!

Callie at the bichon bash, drying out after a dip in the pool.  Perhaps the dip was refreshing, but it was quite unplanned.  Callie has never gone near a pool since then.

Going to watch the Oscars, February 2013.  Wearing a simple grey frock with stripes at the bust line.  Designed by Callie's favorite couturier, PetSmart! 
So that's the story of my little love, Callie.  I am glad she is with me.  Thank you Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue, thank you Jesse and Conni, and thank you Dr. Susan Dare for all you do.  To find out more about our rescue, to see the dogs available for adoption, to purchase a Bichon related gift item, or to make a tax deductible contribution, please check this link:  DELAWARE VALLEY BICHON RESCUE.

Saturday, 2 March 2013


This is a hearty winter kind of soup. Thick, tasty and creamy, but without dairy. Rosemary and parsley add green flavours and give the soup a light green colour. Vegetable broth adds another dimension of flavour, making the soup irresistible. You just want another and yet another bowl. You want to enjoy those potatoes and pasta mixed in the delicious thick broth. Carb heaven! Comfort food!

It's an inexpensive meal, made with ingredients everyone almost always has on hand and it has a long history in my family. This was one of my maternal grandfather’s favourite soups. We don’t know where he came across the recipe, but he taught my grandmother how to cook it. Unusual, because pappou, as we, his grandchildren called him, was never known to go near a stove. He farmed, he made prize-winning wine, he was a beekeeper, but he never cooked. Pappou often asked my grandmother to make this soup for him, and she did, but eventually, she started adding more ingredients to enhance its flavour. 

World War II was a time when most Greeks were close to starvation.  Grandmother often prepared a version of this soup by using water, potatoes and a little rice or pasta. The soup helped ease her family’s hunger during the Axis occupation.

I learned to cook pasta and potato soup by watching my mother, and now I make my own version, especially when, like today, it’s very cold outside. Eating it nourishes me, but it also connects me to my past.  This soup is really quick and easy to make, but it’s a life-giving soup because a long time ago it sustained folk during unfortunate times.  So thumbs up for this pasta potato (and onion) soup, and please pass me another bowl.


4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic chopped well
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 nice size Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut in half - it will be used as a garnish
salt and pepper to taste
leaves from one sprig of rosemary, chopped
1/4 bunch of parsley
4 cups vegetable broth or water
1/2 pound vermicelli pasta, broken up - for best results you will need a thin pasta! 

  • In a large soup pot heat the olive oil and add the diced potatoes, the onion, the rosemary leaves, the celery and the garlic.  
  • Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, mixing well to incorporate the ingredients with the olive oil.
  • Add the liquid and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add the salt, the pepper, the Yukon gold potato and the parsley. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  • Drop the pasta into a pot of boiling water and cook according to directions.
  • Remove the Yukon gold potato from the soup and reserve it.  When it's cool enough to handle cut it into small cubes. 
  • With an immersion blender puree the rest of the soup.
  • Add the cooked pasta and the reserved diced Yukon gold potato. 
  • Garnish with some rosemary and olive oil.