Posts in the Soups, salads, and sides Category

Crab and Corn Chowder

It’s not often you hear the question “What should I do with all this leftover imitation crab?”. Yet just last night I found myself saying these exact words. My husband offered his thoughts “throw it out, we’ll never eat it”. Cindy (the nanny, babysitter, house manager, tie breaker, jack-of-all-trades) also had some words of wisdom “you remember that salad you made, a long time ago, with those things in it, it may have had crab, it was really good, you should make that”. I hoped that Mr. Google had some better ideas.

It turns out Mr. Google was not as prolific as I had hoped. But he led me to Mrs. Pinterest and she had several good ideas: Spicy Crab Sushi, a deconstructed California Roll Salad that Gina at SkinnyTaste perfected, Crab Mac and Cheese (yum), Poor Man’s Lobster Roll (double yum), Crab Summer Rolls, Hot Crab Dip, Cucumber Cups with Crab Salad (I made these for the first time when I was 15 and taking adult education classes at the Cumberland School), and Crab and Corn Chowder (winner winner, crab dinner).

So I went back to have a chat with Mr. Google and he introduced me to a few famous friends: Emeril makes a Crabmeat and Corn Bisque (Bam!), Mark Bittman makes a Corn Chowder (I love that he uses the cob to make a corn stock), and Rachael Ray makes a Chicken and Corn Chowder (undoubtedly with EVOO and her famous chop and drop method). All delicious, but not exactly what I was thinking of. Then I found a recipe on Food52 from Kim at Something New for Dinner that looked perfect. I took a bit from column A, a handful from column B and a dash from column C and now I have a great, easy, inexpensive, somewhat light, recipe for Crab and Corn Chowder (that really needs to be pronounced “chowda”).

P.S. So I’ve used all the leftover imitation crab (I keep hoping that if I say “imitation crab” enough it might sound appealing…). But I’m actually interested in trying out some of the other recipes I found. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m headed back to the Asian market to buy some more!

P.P.S. I wrote this post before I actually made the soup. Is this a faux pas? Regardless, what I failed to mention is that no matter the name of the so called “crab”, the soup was delicious. A new personal favorite. I guzzled down a large bowl in a matter of minutes and plan to indulge again for dinner. It was rich and well flavored and filling without any guilt because I used milk instead of heavy cream and about half the butter found in other recipes. Bam!


Serves 4


3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 ears of corn, remove the kernels from the cob and set both aside
1 Idaho potato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon paprika
2 cups of milk
3 cups of corn stock (you will use the corn cobs to make a 10 minute stock)
1 bay leaf
1 ½ – 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (you can always add more later)
2 cups imitation crab, diced (real crab will work too)
3 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish


In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté about 5 minutes. If it is cooking too fast i.e. the onions are starting to brown, either turn down the heat or add a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Once translucent, add the celery, pepper, corn, potato, and garlic. Cook about 2-3 minutes. Add the flour, Old Bay, paprika, salt and pepper and cook another 2-3 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the flour from burning.

In a separate pot, add the 4 corn cobs and cover with water (at least 4-5 cups of water). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook about 10 minutes. The water will smell flavorful. Strain and reserve corn stock.

To the large pot with the vegetables, add the milk, corn stock and bay leaf. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the Worcestershire sauce and crab. Cook just another minute or two, until the crab is hot. Serve with scallions on top.



Roasted Brussels Sprouts

It’s been a long time since my last post. Have you heard this before? My apologies again!  This year has been filled with exciting changes for my family, but those also came with a much bigger time commitment. My three children are now in three different schools all over the county. They all play different sports and have different activities. I will have to learn to write my entries on an ipad so that I won’t be as horribly delinquent in the future. But this is the year of kindness, so I won’t beat myself up for not writing more often. I’ll simply get back on the wagon and move forward.

While I haven’t posted much this year, I’ve been trying recipes from other bloggers and tinkering in my own kitchen. My favorite new dinner is a recipe I found on Buzz Feed by Christine Byrne for Lighter Alfredo Pasta with Mushrooms and Spinach It’s quick, easy and delicious. I make it with a combination of spiralized zucchini noodles and Annie Chun’s Brown Rice Mai Fun noodles. I use low fat cream cheese too. It’s great! I also made S’mores Chocolate Fudge Bars from Cookies and Cups These need no introduction. They are perfect.

At home I made Honey Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. A week after eating dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Cookery, in Dobbs Ferry, NY, I was still dreaming about their Brussels sprouts. Sweet, salty, crunchy, my mouth would literally start watering just thinking about these Brussels sprouts! Who talks about green vegetables with such gusto and admiration? Enough talk more action. Just make them!


1 bag Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons honey
2-tablespoon balsamic vinegar


Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Using a rimmed and lined baking sheet, rub the olive oil, salt and pepper on the Brussels sprouts.  Roast for about 25 minutes or until dark and nicely browned. Transfer to a serving bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the honey and vinegar. Drizzle the sauce over the Brussels sprouts and serve hot.

*These can also be deep fried for a crunchier and more decadent sprout. Please use a splatter top, as even when seemingly very dry, these little sprouts make quite a hot mess.


Roasted Tomato Fennel Soup

I’d like to dedicate this post to my sister-in-law Manuela . . .

A few weeks ago my baby sitter was in a car accident. She is fine, though suffered a bit of whiplash from the impact of the airbag. While the pain abated pretty quickly, her doctor informed her that it would be at least four weeks until she could drive again.

Of course timing is everything, and my husband and I were schedule to fly down to Miami for our once yearly “alone” vacation. I have three kids, in three different schools and only one gets a bus. That means I need two drivers everyday just to get everyone home from school.

Some years if we had to cancel our trip it would be a bummer, but okay. This year I was desperately in need of some time away and had been counting down the last one hundred days, knowing that salvation was just around the corner. I sat down and cried when I realized the trip wasn’t going to happen. I really needed it. I was tired, overwhelmed, and unable to offer anyone anything but the worst version of myself. Then, in a cloud of magic dust, my fairy sister-in-law walks in.

Zio Christian, zia Manuela, and my delicious niece and nephew were in town visiting us for the Thanksgiving holiday. I am very lucky to have such wonderful family and truly love spending time with them.

I was in such dire straights I just blurt out one morning to Manuela “Please, please, please stay for a few extra days and take care of my kids. Please, help me out, please”! Yes, I was begging. She just chuckled, and like the loving person she is, smiled and said “of course”.

I could not be more grateful to her for her selflessness and generosity. She sent her husband home with her kids to LA, so that she could stay in New York with my children. Everyone ended up having a wonderful time (including my husband and I), and this storm cloud ended up having a silver lining. Even my baby sitter felt better (I think she was secretly thrilled to have me away for a few days and that alone made the pain more manageable). Even our friends pitched in to schlep my kids from activity to activity. So while my sister-in-law was definitely my savior, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped us out. Manuela, please remember you have a free pass from me, anytime, anywhere. Grazie mille!


6-8 vine-ripened tomatoes, large dice
1 fennel bulb, reserve the fennel fronds (the leafy top that looks like dill), large slices
1 small, brown onion, large dice
2-3 cloves of garlic, whole
3-tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Whipped Cream
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, Sriracha, or Tabasco sauce (you can always add more!)
1-tablespoon dill fronds, minced

2 slices bead, small dice
1-tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Spicy Whipped Cream


Pre-heat the to 400 degrees. In a medium sized bowl add the tomatoes, fennel, onion, garlic, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix it around so all the vegetables are evenly coated. Spread the vegetables onto a rimmed cookie sheet lined with a silpat. Roast them for about 30 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and add them to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until you have a smooth consistency with a bit of texture. Be mindful that the vegetables are very hot. Add the balsamic vinegar, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

In a medium sized bowl add all the ingredients for the spicy whipped cream. Using a hand blender, whip until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat a medium sized frying pan. Add the oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. When hot, add the diced bread. Toss the bread a few times and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the bread is toasted.

Serve the soup hot with the whipped cream, croutons, and bits of fennel frond.

Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup




Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Wow . . . the 2015 Saveur Best Food Blog Nominations have begun If you are feeling inspired, please nominate castle walk kitchen for best special interest blog. The nominating process takes about 30 seconds. It’s really easy and means a lot to me. The more nominations the better!

In the hopes that Saveur will take a look at my blog, I thought I should take stock of what I’ve done this year. So I took a trip down memory lane and revisited my past posts. What a short trip! What have I been doing all winter? Learning to ski of course (more about that in my next post)! We have had record-breaking amounts of snow this winter.

But, mon dieu, I have neglected you all! I will attempt to remedy that in the next few weeks. Today’s post is for Lightened Up Broccoli Cheddar Soup. I think my class will stage a coup de tat if I don’t post this immediately! Most of the kids really loved this soup (as did their parents, babysitters and siblings who got to sample the soup at pick-up). Remember, the kids are doing most of the cooking here. I slice the onions first to make them easier for the kids to dice, then they cut (or pull apart) the broccoli into florets, measure butter, flour, and stock, and shred the cheese with a grater (and some assistance). I’m so proud of all my young chefs!

Here’s what you can look forward to (though maybe not in this exact order) . . . Zucchini French Fries (this should have been posted at the end of last session’s cooking classes, my apologies!), Easy Guacamole (new this session), Bruschetta (because I had left-over tomatoes . . . this is also one of my personal favorites), Sweet Potato Wedges (ridiculously easy with cinnamon and hot chili pepper), Chicken Posole Soup (I fell in love with this soup from Two Elks Lodge), Porcini Mushroom Soup with a Poached Egg (from Cookshop in NYC) and Eggplant Ragout (this is from a submission to Temple Israel’s new cookbook).  Also on my “to do” list: Curry Chicken, Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding, and Lasagna . . .


1 medium onion, diced (sometimes I use ½ of a sweet Vidalia onion)
1 clove garlic, small chop
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth (feel free to use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
1 can evaporated milk
2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (you want it to cook in 10 minutes)
Kosher salt and freshly group pepper
½ teaspoon mustard powder (you can a bit more if you like some kick!)
8 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded


Heat a large stockpot over a medium flame. When hot, add the butter. Then add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn. Sprinkle the flour on top and let the flour cook for another 1-2 minutes. Pour the broth and evaporated milk over the onion mixture and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the broccoli and carrots. Season the soup with salt, pepper and mustard powder. Gently simmer for about 10-12 minutes. The broccoli and carrots should be tender. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until all the large pieces of broccoli are broken down. Turn the heat off and stir in the cheese. It should melt quickly and smoothly. Serve with a chunk of crusty bread.


roasted tomato soup

Those crisp falls days are here in force. Some days with bright blue skies, billowing white clouds and insanely orange trees. Other days all angry and gray. One word alone heard through the crackling leaves and whirling winds . . . soup. This word calls me, beckoning me to succumb . . . soup. I am powerless against such a mighty force . . . SOUP. I cave in, knowing in my heart the time has come. Good-bye summer. Hello fall.

In a desperate effort to cling to the last vestiges of summer, I choose a roasted tomato soup. A bridge of sorts linking the last dreamy days of summer with the blustery days of fall. It’s easier than I think, chopped tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Heavily drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. I even enjoy the warmth emanating from the oven. The smells start drifting through the house as the vegetables just begin to caramelize. It’s over before I know it. The soup is piping hot, the tortellini dancing around in a pool of orange happiness. It is the same color as the trees.  Hello soup.

6 beefsteak tomatoes
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1-teaspoon kosher salt
Basil, chiffonade (I like to use a scissor)
1 package cheese tortellini, cooked according to the package instructions


Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop the tomatoes and onions. Toss the chopped vegetables, garlic cloves, olive oil, and salt in a bowl. Transfer to a rimmed cookie sheet lined with Silpat (or foil). Bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges of the vegetables just begin to brown. Remove carefully from the oven as there will be a lot of liquid. Transfer to a bowl and then into a blender (I love my Vitamix). I loosen the plastic insert in the top and hold it open just a crack to let the steam escape while I blend the soup. Serve hot with the cooked tortellini and basil.