Talk Food Festival: Susan Feniger

Posted on Jan 14, 2014 10:45am

Chef Susan Feniger, owner of Border Grill and the new Mud Hen Tavern, stopped by to cook some amazing dishes for the ladies.  She showed us how to make two hearty dishes with leftover bread.  Here are the recipes!



Bread Soup

Serves 6 to 8


1/4 cup olive oil or 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, diced

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 ripe plantains or bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices on the diagonal

5 garlic cloves, minced or pureed*

1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves only, chopped, or 1/2 tablespoon dried

1/2 bunch thyme, leaves only, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried

small sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves only, chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon dried

1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, diced, with the juices

6 ounces baguette (about 1/3 loaf), cut into 1/2-inch chunks (with crust)

6 cups chicken stock or Vegetable Stock, see recipe

2 limes, cut into quarters, for garnish


Heat the olive oil or butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook the onions with the salt until they start to caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the plantains or bananas and cook 10 minutes longer.  Stir in the garlic, oregano, thyme, and rosemary and cook until aromatic, about 3 minutes longer.  Add the diced tomatoes and their juices and cook 10 minutes longer.


Add the bread chunks and chicken or vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the bread has softened and the flavors are well blended, about 45 minutes.  Ladle the soup into bowls, then squeeze a wedge of lime into each and toss in the wedge.  Serve hot.



* To puree garlic in quantity, break the bulbs apart and peel, by first flattening the cloves with the flat side of a heavy knife or cleaver, then removing skin.  Puree with a small amount of olive oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or blender.  Store in the refrigerator for as long as a week


Grilled Cheese Panini with Roasted Tomatoes 

Serves 4 sandwiches


Roasted Tomatoes

For the tomatoes:

8 Roma tomatoes cut in half lengthwise

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ bunch fresh oregano, chopped

Salt and cracked black pepper to taste


Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper and fresh oregano.


Lay on sheet pan and put onto broiler until it starts to blacken and soften (10 minutes or so).


Grilled Cheese Panini

Rustic somewhat crustier bread-8 halves

4 oz. gruyere

4 oz. Vermont sharp cheddar

4 oz. goat cheese

4oz feta cheese


Butter (option extra virgin olive oil)

4oz salted butter

1 bunch parsley chopped fine

Zest of 2 lemons


Soften the butter, add the chopped parsley and the lemon zest.


Spread the inside of the bread with the butter making sure to coat bread to the corners. If you are using bread that isn't as crusty, coat both inside and out. Spread the cheese mix all over the bread and cover with tomatoes – approximately 4 halves per sandwich depending on size of sandwich.


Place on panini pan when pan is hot and press with panini pan top until golden brown and cheese is completely melted. Cut in half on the diagonal and EAT!

Watercress, Jicama, and Orange Salad 

Serves 4


4 bunches watercress*, stems trimmed, leaves washed and well dried

1 medium jicama, peeled and julienned

2 oranges

1/2 cup Coriander Vinaigrette (see recipe below), to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 ripe California avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced (optional)


Add watercress and jicama to a large salad bowl. 


Slice ends off oranges and stand upright on a counter.  Cut away peel and membrane, exposing fruit.  Working over a bowl to catch the juices, separate the orange sections by slicing with a knife between membranes.  Remove and discard seeds.  Add orange segments and juices to bowl with watercress and jicama.


Add vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste and toss gently.  Divide mixture evenly between chilled salad plates and top with avocado slices, if desired.  Drizzle avocado with a touch of vinaigrette and serve immediately.



Coriander Vinaigrette

1/4 cup coriander seeds

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

2 shallots, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup extra virgin olive oil


Toast coriander seeds in dry sauté pan for about 1 minute, until aromas are released. 


Blend the toasted coriander seeds, vinegar, shallots, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a blender.  With the motor still running, slowly incorporate the olive oil until mixed.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.


* Mizuna, arugula, or any peppery-flavored salad green can be substituted.


Copyright © 2012, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger,

Cafe de Olla 

Serves 4


2 cinnamon sticks

2 allspice berries

2 whole cloves

2 star anise

4 cups water

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar or 4 ounces piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar cones)

1 cup medium grind, dark roast coffee beans

1 cup milk

1/2 cup coffee liqueur (optional)


Lightly crush spices in a mortar and pestle.  In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and spices and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to melt the sugar.  Stir in the coffee grounds, remove from heat, cover, and steep for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium-high heat and carefully whisk until frothy. 

Strain the coffee through a fine sieve or a coffee filter into a pitcher.  Stir in coffee liqueur, if desired.  Serve coffee mixture immediately in tall glasses with frothed milk in a pitcher alongside. 


Copyright © 2013, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger,

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