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Out with the old and in with the new for 2013 | WHIDBEY RECIPES

We’re off and running, already more than two weeks into our bright new year, full of possibilities and optimism, right?

Well, perhaps. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to make the possibility of firing all of the incompetents in Washington, D. C. who aren’t doing their jobs a reality. How long would you last, I wonder, if you’d been hired to do a job, were well paid to do that job, then didn’t perform? We are, after all, the employers, and we shouldn’t have to wait until next elections to fire those not doing the job they were hired to do. Should that be a real possibility, however, I also shudder to think of the equally unqualified rabble that might rush in to fill the job vacancies.

Personally, 2013 for me will be the year of learning to go it alone, after the loss in October of my husband/friend/constant companion/fellow traveler/lover/tennis doubles partner/Mr. Fixit and kitchen competitor. Already I’ve had to learn how to fix the shower handle that came off in my hand one morning, the electric outlet in one bathroom that suddenly failed to provide electricity, a backed up kitchen sink drain, tires on one car that needed some inflation, and a few assorted other odds and ends that Mr. Fixit always took care of. Who knows what else lies ahead that will remind me of how much the other one always handled that was taken for granted. I used to be a fast learner; optimistically, I can only hope I still am.

RECIPES

So, as they say, out with the old, in with the new; in this case new twists on some old favorites, such as hamburgers. A fat, juicy “everything on it” hamburger is one of my top favorite foods, so I don’t take lightly to anyone messing around with that. This hamburger, however, was made for me by my son-in-law just last week, and it could probably become my hamburger choice for 2013. He told me he got if from Food Network some time ago!

TURKEY SPANAKOPITA BURGERS

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling

1 T. butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red onion, ½ chopped, ½ thinly sliced

1 box (10 oz.) frozen spinach, defrosted

1 t. dried oregano, lightly crushed in your palm

¼ lb. crumbled feta cheese

1 1/3 lbs. ground turkey breast (or ground chicken, if preferred)

1 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning

1 cup arugula, coarsely chopped

1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise

2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 crusty rolls (or hamburger buns, if preferred), split

For topping: 2 roasted red peppers, drained

Generous handful of flat leaf parsley

10-12 pitted kalamata olives

Hot pepper rings or pepperoncini (optional)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over med. heat. Add the T. of extra virgin olive oil and the butter. When the butter melts, add chopped garlic and chopped red onion; cook 5 min., then transfer to a bowl to cool. Move the pan to the side until ready to cook the burger patties.

Wring the defrosted spinach dry (twist in a clean kitchen towel). Separate the spinach as you add it to the bowl with the onion/garlic mixture; season with oregano. Add the feta, then the turkey, Montreal seasoning and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well (your clean hands do the best job). Form the mixture into 4 patties, 1-inch thick. Raise the heat on the skillet to med.-high; add patties when pan is heated and cook 6 min. on each side.

Season the sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with salt and pepper. Toast the roll, if you prefer.

Place red peppers, parsley and olives in a food processor, season with salt and pepper to taste and process until a paste forms. Place cooked burgers on roll bottoms, top with sliced cucumber, tomato, reserved red onion slices, shredded arugula and peppers/pepperoncini, if using. Slather roll tops with the red pepper/olive paste. Serve burgers with oven baked french fries or chips of your choice. Makes 4 burgers.

I’ve never been partial to parsnips and rarely have them around, probably a childhood prejudice I’ve never let go. But, one of my stepdaughters loves them and insisted I try a bowl of her favorite parsnip soup. I told myself 2013 would be a learning year, and I’ve already done a 180 turn with my parsnip attitude. I think what did it is the generous amount of ginger, a favorite ingredient in many things. This is a delicious winter soup.

PARSNIP SOUP WITH GINGER AND ORANGE

2 t. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large leek, cleaned and sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 lb. 12 oz. parsnips, peeled and sliced, or scrubbed and sliced

4 T. grated fresh ginger

2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Grated rind of ½ orange

6 cups water

1 cup orange juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Snipped fresh chives, for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over med. heat. Add onion and leek; cook about 5 min., stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft.

Add the carrots, parsnips, ginger, garlic, grated orange, water and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 40 min., stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are all very soft.

Allow the soup to cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth, working in batches if necessary. (If you use a food processor, strain off the cooking liquid, set aside, and puree the solids with enough of the cooking liquid to moisten them, then combine them with the remaining liquid.)

Return the soup to the rinsed out pan; stir in the orange juice. Add a little water or more orange juice if you prefer a thinner consistency for the soup. Taste, adjust seasoning as necessary and simmer for about 10 min. to heat through. Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with chives. Serves 6.

Note: I put a small dollop of Greek yogurt in the center of my bowl of soup; delicious! She serves this with slices of crusty Italian bread to dip into the soup as desired, and a tossed green or spinach salad. So will I.

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