Cristina Ferrare

Tuscan Bread Soup

A satisfying bowl of comfort, tomatoes in a savory soup!

Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene which is responsible for their red color. Lycopene improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, which helps prevent coronary heart disease, fights toxins in the blood, and helps keep your eyes healthy. Lycopene has pain-inhibiting abilities for those suffering from neuropathy, and it is good for brain health by counteracting future cell damage. It also helps keep your bones strong by helping relieve stress on the bones. 

It’s important to increase your potassium intake and to decrease your sodium. That will help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Besides all that it is simply a delicious bowl of goodness. On cold winter nights it the perfect soup to serve. It’s quick and easy to prepare. I can make this soup any night of the week because I always have, olive oil, garlic,  organic broth, canned tomatoes, and 2 to 3 day old bread in my pantry:)  

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Artichoke Flowers

I have a love hate relationship with these little orbs because they always manages to prick me with their tiny thorns not once but several times while I’m cleaning them! The needles are so fine that I have difficulty finding and pulling them out. Ouch! I do it though because it’s so worth it after your done!

Artichokes are rich in fiber, potassium and iron, I eat three to four every week. One of  my favorite ways to serve them is boiled and served with a cucumber vinaigrette. This presentation is beautiful and will impress everyone!

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 cucumbers peeled, seeded, diced and placed in a glass bowl, set aside.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 scallions, chopped fine

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped fine

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped fine

Directions

Make the vinaigrette:

In a glass bowl whisk together mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and salt. Add the scallions, dill, basil and whisk. Pour over the cucumbers and toss together well. Correct seasoning adding more salt if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Use a serrated knife to slice an inch and a half off the tip of the artichoke.

Take a kitchen scissors and cut off the thorns on the tips of all of the artichoke leaves.

Pull off smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.

Cut the excess stem so that the artichoke can stand on its own. Carefully pry open in the middle to expose the heart, then rinse in cold running water and place in a large pot, fill with cold water halfway up the artichokes.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off and a small paring knife can be inserted into the middle of the choke and slides easily in and out. Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is, the larger the artichoke the longer it takes to cook.

Carefully lift the artichokes with tongs from the water and turn upside down on a large platter lined with paper towels to let the excess water drain. When they are cool enough to handle remove from platter and place on individual serving plates.

Gently remove all of the leaves from the artichoke and place in a bowl.

Take the heart and using a paring knife on an angle gently cut out the tiny leaves with the thorns and tiny hairs all around the heart then use a teaspoon to scoop them out and discard. You should be left with a perfectly round artichoke heart with a clean inside.

Place the heart in the middle of your serving plate and arrange all of the leaves you placed in a bowl around the center of the heart to make it look like a flower.

Fill the center of the heart with the cucumber vinaigrette and serve. Make sure to have a bowl on the table for the discarded leaves. Serve any left over cucumber vinaigrette on the side.

NOTE: You can prepare the artichokes and vinaigrette the day before and keep in the refrigerator until ready to assemble and serve.

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FOODS TO EAT WHEN YOU ARE SICK WITH THE FLU:(

I posted this once before but FLU season is in full swing so I thought it be important to put this out again! It’s that time of year again, FLU SEASON! YUUUUCK! Influenza begins to increase in October and increases all the way through to April.

Because I have to do a lot of traveling in the next few months my doctor said for sure I need a flu shot because of my compromised immune system from the stem cell replacement. If I catch the flu I would be in trouble. I haven’t had a flu shot in over 25 years because of the reaction I get from the shot. Some people have a reaction, most do not, I gave in and went last Friday for the shot. Well, I’ve been in bed for 3 days flat on my back, not able to move because I feel like I have the flu! Terrible headaches, body aches, my back and hips hurt when I’m still and walking. I curled up into a big ball on my bed with ginormous warm blankets and so many pillows no one could find me when they came into the bedroom. I have no appetite at all. I have to eat something because of the medication I still have to take for my Myeloma to keep my blood sugar level , head clear, and over all  strength. Here are some foods that worked for me, it’s heart, brain and gut healthy and helped me feel so much better! Iv’e included a recipe for a smoothie from “Food for Thought” to lift your spirits! 🙂  Read more »

THANKSGIVING TURKEY WITH FAMOUS MARINADE!

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving feast to feed the soul! Here are the recipes you will need to make an outstanding meal! Things like the stuffing, sweet potatoes, creamed spinach and desserts can be made two days in advance or kept frozen for over 3 weeks covered  in an air tight container in the freezer! I share lots of tips and secrets to help make this special day a joy for everyone!

I’ve tried so many ways over the years to prepare turkey so it will have lots of flavor and not turn out dry. I’ve wrapped them in cheese clothes, soaked them in brine, deep fried, put butter over the skin, under the skin, cooked it stuffed, unstuffed, none of that works like this simple marinade. Everyone who has tried it swears that by using this marinade they end up the the most tender and juicy turkey ever. Not to mention the wonderful flavors that penetrate the turkey from the fresh herbs. The fresh herbs usually come in bundles with rubber bands wrapped around them. These fresh herbs are the secret to the most flavorful gravy.

I introduced this recipe on a local talk show I was hosting in Los Angeles called, “A.M. Los Angeles” over 25 years ago and to this day I have strangers stop me in in the streets and grocery stores to tell me how much the love it and now I have new converts! Preparing the turkey with this marinade will insure you will have plenty of gravy that you will want to put on everything!

Happy Thanksgiving! Read more »

Zucchini Cakes From Kokkari Restaurant in San Francisco

I married a Greek man and along with that came all the wonderful family traditional family recipes. One of my favorites is the Zucchini Cakes that his YAYA would make. I thought Tonys’ family recipe was the best until I had the Zucchini Cakes at Kokkari Restaurant in San Francisco. I ordered them as an appetizer but then ended up ordering them for my entrée with a salad. They are light, delicate and full of flavor. The Mint-Yogurt Sauce added just the right amount of tang and creaminess!

Here is the recipe from the Restaurant! Read more »

FAJITAS WITH MARINATED GRILLED FLANK STEAK, GUACAMOLE, SALSA, AND WARM TORTILLAS!

I grill my vegetables because as they begin to caramelize under the intense heat it brings out full flavor and natural sweetness.When weather forces me inside I pull out my trusty indoor cast iron grill pan.

Not only are these Fajitas great the traditional way with peppers and onions but I also include other veggies such as grilled zucchini and asparagus.

Grilling vegetables are a healthy choice, easy to prepare and are super low in calories.

It’s fun to gather around the table while everyone is making their own personal fajitas. It opens up conversation with one another and everyone gets to be their own chef. I over stuff mine with plenty of grilled onions, peppers and juicy marinated thin slices of flank steak. Top with guacamole and salsa and you have a “smokin” Fajita! Blend up slushy Margaritas and have a great time! Read more »