I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Showing posts with label Soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soup. Show all posts

Friday, March 7, 2014

Potato and Leek Soup

Take two ingredients that are less than glamorous: potatoes, knobby and dirty, and leeks, full of grit, and blend them together and somehow what emerges is a soup that sings with elegance. It's a peasant dish that I would be comfortable serving at the fanciest of dinner parties.

Slowly cooking the potatoes and leeks side by side and then blending them together releases something magical into the soup. It is creamy and decadent--a far cry from it's humble beginnings. Each time I make it I am surprised by the stunning result despite the lack of effort in its creation.

The secret lies in first poaching the ingredients in butter, infusing and fusing the flavors into one. Water is all you need to thin it out, but a bit of cream increases the indulgence. Though it needs no accompaniment a drizzle of basil oil or a green onion pesto can lend contrast.

As winter clings on, head to the kitchen to prepare a pot: for guests or just for yourself. Then settle in and indulge on classy simplicity.

Potato and Leek Soup
serves 6
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 leeks (white and light green parts only), cleaned and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 TB butter
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3 c. + water
1/2-1 c. heavy cream (optional)

Melt the butter in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the potatoes, leeks, garlic, salt and pepper before it starts to sizzle. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, turning down the heat to low after a moment or two. The goal here is to essentially poach the vegetables in the butter to meld their flavors together. You don't want the butter to start to brown or burn.
Add 3 cups of water to the pot, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and leeks are very tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Working in batches, carefully puree the vegetables and broth in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot over medium heat. Add in the cream, if using, and then add in enough water to thin the soup to your desired consistency. I like to keep mine fairly thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Once the soup is heated through it is ready to serve. Garnish with green onion and parsley pesto if desired.

Green Onion and Parsley Pesto
1/4 c. parsley, finely chopped
1/4 c. green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
2 TB walnuts, finely chopped
juice from 1 lemon
2-3 TB extra virgin olive oil

Mix together all of the ingredients. Serve a dollop on top of each bowl of potato and leek soup.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Corn Soup

The husband and I just got back from a wonderful few days visiting the mother-in-law in Albuquerque. We spent the days exploring Santa Fe, hiking through the tent rocks, basking in the magnificent views. Nights were passed lounging with wine and conversation, often on the back patio with a fire burning and the stars twinkling above. What a relief to step out of the overbearing heat of NYC for a few days and feel the calming effects of open air and uber-friendly strangers.

Now we are back to the grind and the close to 100 degree temps that are making New York even more difficult to handle this week. Luckily I can still throw together a simple dinner to be shared with Joe at our dinner table that lends itself to lingering over discussions of our days and helps us remember to slow down a bit.

This soup takes full advantage of summer at its best: peak in-season corn lends a sweetness that you won't get from it at any other time of year. Chopped scallions can add some bite, a drizzle of parsley oil or pesto an added freshness, and a dollop of creme fraiche brings it all together with a tangy note on your tongue.

Corn Soup
about 3 servings
3 large ears of sweet corn
2 TB butter
1 TB olive oil
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper

parsley oil
creme fraiche

Slice the kernels off the ears of corn, reserving as much of the liquid as possible (sometimes it's easier to do this by slicing off the kernels inside a large bowl).
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until transparent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute then stir in the corn and its juices for 3-4 minutes. Pour in the stock and the heavy cream, bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for about 15 minutes to meld all of the flavors.
Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Then pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids, pressing down to make sure to get all of the juices out. Return the strained soup to the stove, heat through, and add salt and pepper to taste.
I garnished ours with a ramp pesto thinned with extra virgin olive oil and a dollop of creme fraiche, but parsley oil, regular pesto, or chopped scallions would be just as nice.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Watercress and Scallion Soup

The healthy side of my body/brain always breaths a sigh of relief once the spring produce starts hitting the greenmarket stalls. It knows that many meals full of fresh veggies are on the way and that heavy dishes or junk food will be a little fewer and farther between for a while. It's not that I never eat these things which aren't quite as good for me, but it's hard to ignore the piles upon piles of fresh things that are on offer through the warmer months. It's easier for me to say no to a bag of chips (yes, a whole bag sometimes) when I can make myself a fast heirloom tomato salad or saute a bundle of asparagus.

Though the weather is turning, the market isn't at it's booming point just yet but last week I did stumble onto a huge pile of wild watercress and some gorgeous scallions. With my soup binge I seem to be on around here, it seemed the most natural conclusion. 

This is fresh and bright and truly tastes of Spring and the promise of all that is to come. With a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil and a dollop of creme fraiche, it becomes truly elegant. I would be proud to serve this as a starter at a fancy dinner party.

Watercress and Scallion Soup
about 4 servings
1 bundle of scallions, washed and trimmed of roots
2 TB olive oil
2 bundles watercress, thoroughly washed and any rough stems and roots trimmed
32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
3 TB fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
creme fraiche
extra virgin olive oil

Finely chop the white parts of the scallions. Chop the green parts into large pieces and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the white parts of the scallions and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the green parts of the scallions and the watercress and toss in the hot oil for about 1 minute. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes, letting the watercress and scallions become tender but not completely overcooked. Remove from the heat and then use a blender or immersion blender to puree the soup. If you are ok with a coarse texture you can leave as is, but if you would like a smoother, more elegant soup pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
Return the soup to the pan and heat through. Stir in the lemon juice and then taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Dish into soup bowls and garnish each with a dollop of creme fraiche and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tortellini in Tomato Broth

I know it's technically Spring but we can't seem to quite kick the colder temps here yet. My fingers are crossed that when the husband and I return from Paris those warmer winds will have made their way to New York City and touch us with blooming flowers and trees and promises of lounging in the park.

Yet one more soup recipe to help get us over the hump. This one is a touch lighter than some, making it a nice choice for the changing seasons, when we aren't quite there with the spring produce yet we want something bright in flavor. I made a homemade tortellini filled with ricotta and spinach, which I think paired well with the acidic yet rich broth. I think any cheese tortellini would work well, but a meat version may be too much.

This recipe was toying around in my brain after seeing a recipe somewhere for a tomato water bloody mary, but really came together after seeing the version made by Smitten Kitchen (she always does it prettier, doesn't she? Gorgeous work over there, as per usual). I saw it in my head as a meatier, richer flavor so utilized beef stock instead of the veggie. I loved using tortellini in the broth as I tend to pair them with a heavier sauce and enjoyed the lighter version, but now after visiting SK's page again I'm actually really craving those gnocchi. Her version will probably be hitting my table before the warmer temps finally settle in...

Tortellini in Tomato Broth
serves 3-4

1 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
32 oz. beef stock
1 bay leaf
4 servings worth of tortellini, fresh or dried

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the carrot and celery and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then add the whole can of crushed tomatoes, the beef stock and the bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or so. Strain the whole mixture through a fine mesh sieve, and place the liquids back into the pot (the solids can be used as a marinara type sauce).
Bring the mixture to a simmer. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Add in fresh tortellini and cook until warmed through and tender. If using dried tortellini, cook first in boiling water, then strain and add to the tomato broth. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Matzo Ball Soup

I feel so lucky to live in such a well-traveled location. New York City is so often on peoples' lists of places to travel that we get friends passing through frequently. Last week I was fortunate enough to have one of my closest and oldest friends in town for the week.

We've known each other since grade school, but somewhere around middle school really discovered the depths of our friendship. I think I'd never met anyone so much like me in so many ways, yet different enough to keep things interesting. She challenged me to learn more and explore new things, introduced me to many great people, and always made my day brighter when I heard her (very loud) infectious laugh. We became close through photography camp, trips to the State Fair, driving around (and getting lost), and by skipping out on classes--not to do anything bad, but to go for a walk around the track and talk about our problems. She is that friend that, no matter how much time has passed, will never feel awkward or changed in ways we can't overcome. My lifetime companion, no matter how many miles separate us--and right now there are many.

When Kendra was planning this trip we knew we wanted to eat a lot--especially those things that she can't get in her current home in Mexico. Most notably this was Asian cuisine: ramen, Korean fried chicken, dumplings. But Kendra also had a request to try a New York deli classic: Matzo Ball Soup. I thought about the different places we could go to get it (which were multiplied by the fact that it was Passover) and then decided the best thing to do would be to make it at home. It would give us a chance to cook together, catch up, and have a relaxing evening in (plus save a bit of money in the process).

I'm not sure quite how traditional this version is, but turned out well enough that I look forward to having it again (which I can soon thanks to some frozen leftovers), hopefully shared once again with an old friend.

Matzo Ball Soup
serves about 4

2 large full chicken chicken legs (including thighs), skin on
salt and pepper
2-3 TB cooking oil
1 onion, quartered
6 small carrots, divided and washed
6 stalks of celery, divided and washed
2 large parsnips, washed
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 package matzo ball mix (should make 9-12 balls)

Sprinkle the full chicken legs with salt and pepper. In a large soup pan/stock pot heat the cooking oil over medium high heat. Once hot add the chicken and sear until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes or so per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and pour the cooking oil and accumulated fat from the pan into a small heat-proof bowl.
Return the pot to the stove and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion, 3 of the carrots, 3 stalks of celery, the parsnips, garlic, thyme and bay leaf to the pan along with the chicken and any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Pour in about 10-12 cups of water. Sprinkle in about 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Bring the whole mixture to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 1- 1 1/2 hours, until the chicken meat is falling off the bone.
Meanwhile, chop the remaining 3 carrots and 3 celery stalks into 1/2" cubes. Make the matzo balls according to the directions on the package, but substitute the chicken cooking oil/fat for any oil called for in the recipe.
Once the chicken has become extra tender, remove to a platter and then strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquids and discarding the solids. Return the broth back to the large soup pot.
Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and shred the meat. Add the meat back to the broth and return to a boil. Add in the matzo balls and the chopped carrots and celery. Cook for about 20 minutes until the matzo balls are ready and the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve hot.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pork and Soy Ramen

Joe and I often talk about all of the things we would miss if we were to move out of New York City. High on the list are the theatre, the abundance of museums, the fact that it's virtually impossible to be bored. But I think the thing that actually makes me fear for that day, if it were to ever come, is the loss of huge variety of great Asian food. The soup dumplings, dim sum, yakitori, Korean BBQ, Korean fried chicken, ramen, great pad thai, etc. etc. have all opened my tastes buds through our years here and I can't imagine living where they aren't readily available.

I have some moments of extreme panic when I think of leaving all of this behind (despite the fact that we have no plans to leave anytime soon) and feel myself drawn to the kitchen to hopefully recreate a dish or two to be able to always carry this cuisine with me, no matter where I go.

With the cold temps and even colder wind blowing through these parts lately my biggest craving has been huge bowls of ramen. We are lucky to live very near an excellent joint in our neighborhood called Chuko that I find myself drawn to over and over again (if you make it there yourself don't miss out on the kale salad as well as the ramen--probably my all-time favorite salad ever). Last night, however, I decided it was time to try a version of my own.

Shoyu ramen tends to be my favorite--I love the salty, unami filled broth, but I also love anything involving pork so decided to do a blend of styles based on a recipe from David Chang in the first issue of Lucky Peach (the tare recipe is basically his). It also involves mostly ingredients I could  find at my local grocery store (where we don't have a huge spread of Asian ingredients). My favorite thing about this recipe is that it is really very easy to play around with and change based on your own taste preferences. The ingredient list looks large and intimidating, but it really isn't much hard work--just a bit of waiting time.

Pork and Soy Ramen
(serves 3-5 depending on add-ins)
For the broth:
1.5 lb. pork necks
1 TB oil
2 carrots, peeled and cut into a couple of pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
white and light green parts from 1 bundle of green onions
1/4 c. dried mushrooms
2 large sheets nori*
10 c. water

*many ramen recipes I found called for konbu, which is an edible kelp. Since I couldn't find any in my local grocer I decided to add a bit of "sea" flavor with sushi wraps. These broke apart a lot during the cooking but were mostly strained out through a fine mesh sieve after the broth was finished. The tare for this soup is so dark that I didn't mind the darker color of the broth.

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot add the pork neck pieces. Sear these on all sides until they have a nice brown color all over. Then add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat to low and allow the mixture to barely simmer for 3 hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and skim off any fat/scum from the top.

For the tare:
(recipe adapted from David Chang's Lucky Peach)
.25 lb (1 medium piece) of pork neck
1 TB oil
1/2 c. sake
1/2 c. mirin
1 c. soy sauce
2 slices thick cut bacon, cut into thirds

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Add the pork neck and sear until it is nice and caramelized and dark brown all over. Remove the pork neck from the pan briefly and turn the heat off momentarily. Add the sake to the pan (careful as it will pop and splatter a lot) and stir to deglaze the pan and pick up the porky bits stuck to the bottom. Turn the heat back on and add the pork neck back to the pan along with the remaining ingredients. Bring the liquid to the barest of simmers and then turn the burner to the lowest heat possible and cook for 1 1/2 hours. You don't want the mixture to really reduce--you are just infusing the flavor into the liquid. Then strain, allow to sit for a little bit of time and then skim the fat layer off the top.

Once both the broth and the tare are finished you are now ready to mix them together. I like an extra strong, salty broth so I used all of the tare. I would suggest adding a bit at a time and tasting to make sure you have a soup base to your liking. If you want it even stronger you could add even more soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, etc. to the liquid for flavoring.

Now you are ready to build the ramen:

noodles (I used these, which are about 3 cups and are fresh/mostly cooked. If you can't find anything similar you can just use the noodles from a couple of packages of instant ramen without the seasoning packages)

cabbage, shredded
bok choy, shredded
green tops of green onions, sliced
bean sprouts
enoki mushrooms
meat (perhaps braised pork, cooked ground pork, chicken? I used thinly sliced smoked duck breast that I get at my farmer's market)
poached or soft-boiled eggs

Cook the noodles: I cooked mine for a couple of minutes in the broth, but you could cook them separately, drain, and then assemble.
Take a large, deep bowl and place a pile of the cooked noodles at the bottom. Top with any of the ingredients you would like and then spoon over a good portion of the broth. If using, top with a poached or soft boiled egg. Add some heat with chili garlic oil (recipe below). Serve with chopsticks and a large spoon. Feel comforted and warm and happy as you lean over the bowl to devour and the broth facial invades all of your senses.

Garlic Chili Oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 t.+ red chili flakes
1/3 c. olive oil

Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan. Place over low heat and slowly cook, stirring frequently, until the oil is infused and the garlic has become very slightly browned and crispy. Remove from heat and use to stir into your ramen.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Provencal Lamb Stew

Sunday evening rolled around and I walked through the streets of the East Village. The temperatures were warm compared to what we have been experiencing and the fresh air felt new and invigorating. I came upon the husband waiting for me outside of a teeny Japanese restaurant. We ordered, eyes wide and intimidated by the intensely efficient manor of the counter person, hoping to not step out of bounds and feel his wrath. With number in hand, we returned outside to wait as the order was prepared (not being enough space indoors to wait there). We caught up on our days, recounting the hours since we had last spoken until the sound of our number being called drifted through the restaurant door.

Chopsticks in one hand and plastic trays in the other we attempted to feed ourselves on the sidewalk while not making a huge mess. The okonomiyaki (cabbage pancakes) and takoyaki (fried dough balls with octopus) were piled high with mayo, sauces and bonito. Full of umami and novelty.

After the wrappers were tossed, we made our way up the block and then down an almost hidden set of stairs to a bar that appeared even smaller than the restaurant, if that was possible. With a word to the host and a flash of IDs, the rope in front of us was lifted and we were guided back to the slightly larger, yet still cramped, back room. It was dark and dingy yet full of character as the walls were littered with the scrawled names of those who came before us. We were shuffled into a booth towards the back along with five of our friends. 

The server helped guide us through an exhaustive list of sake to those that were his favorite and a bottle was ordered. After it was poured we raised our glasses to toast the gathering and welcome the fun the night would bring. Conversation tumbled about, flipping and turning on itself in the way only the best talks do. As the bottles we purchased got lighter our souls got fuller, feeding on the knowledge and laughter being shared. 

What seemed like not enough time later it was time to wrap up the evening. Hugs were passed about and promises made to make this happen again soon. Each went their own separate way, being swept back up into the swirl of the city's energy as they disappeared down the street. 

It was a night of joy and learning and happiness that keeps one feeling full for days to come. A gift from the city to make up for rough days. A bright spot in the midst of gloomy winter.

Though the blog has been suffering a bit this month I have been cooking up a storm. But I've also allowed myself to be caught up in friends and the joys of the city as above and let some responsibilities lag. Sometimes a break can be just what you need to springboard into the next big thing.

Today I'm bringing you a simple Provence-inspired lamb stew. Simple yet filling and warming. I served it with crash hot potatoes on the side (because I can't seem to resist them) but you can feel more than welcome to just add some new potatoes to the stew itself to make an even heartier version.

Provencal Lamb Stew
serves 8
 1 c. dried cannellini beans
1 bay leaf
zest of 1 orange
3 springs rosemary
4-5 sprigs thyme
1 lb. lamb stew meat
2 TB olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
6 c. beef stock
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small bulb fennel, chopped
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in the beans and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 1 hour (or you can soak the beans in cold water overnight, but I never remember to do this).
Take a square of cheesecloth and fill with the bay leaf, orange zest, rosemary and thyme. Tie the package shut with twine and set aside.
Sprinkle the lamb meat with a bit of salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and then add the lamb once hot. Brown the lamb on all sides and then remove to a plate. Add the onions and the shallots, turn the heat down to medium, and cook until they onions are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute. Stir in the diced tomatoes and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Add the beef stock, carrots, celery and fennel to the pan and bring to a boil.
Drain the beans and rinse them and then add them into the pot along with everything else. Drop in the bouquet garni (i.e. bundle of herbs). Cover and allow to simmer until the beans and the lamb are very tender, around 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. Remove the bouquet garni and taste for salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Inspiration from around the Web

The world has been offering up some truly inspiring recipes these days, so I thought it was high time I passed on a few recipes from others that I've loved lately so you can get in on the delicious action. These are all foods that will find their way onto my table again and again.

April Bloomfield's Oyster Pan Roast (from John Dory Oyster Bar)--if I died today, I would be happy that at least I had gotten the chance to eat this. One of the best dishes I've had, perhaps ever. This recipe from the NYT gets you pretty close to the actual dish served at the restaurant. I'd add a bit of butter at the end to finish it off.
Honestly, though? Just buy A Girl and Her Pig already. There's not a bad thing I've tried from this one and it is all simple, lovely fare that you can't get enough of (yes, even the veal kidneys. No lie.).

While we are on the subject of cookbooks--please also pick up a copy of Plenty from London's Ottonlenghi. You won't ever struggle with eating vegetables ever again. One of the best cookbook purchases I've ever made.

Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon from Savour Fare. She takes a slightly complex David Chang recipe and simplifies it so it is a breeze to prepare and let me tell you--you will be buying every ear of corn you see from here on out to make this again and again.

So, so easy refrigerator pickles from A Way to Garden. For some reason the husband and I have been on a pickle binge and these may be the best ones yet.

Brown Butter Tomatoes from food52. Can you even call this a recipe? Somehow, though, the caramel notes of the cooked butter coating the fresh tomatoes will make this one of the greatest simple treats you've tasted all summer long.

What have you been loving lately?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vegetable Tortilla Soup

My little sister got married last week. It's still hard for me to believe. Despite the fact that we are both grown ups and I have been married for 5+ years myself, I think I still see her a bit as a kid. But it fills me with so much joy to see her settling down with a man who makes her laugh and who is brimming with love for her. I've been smiling all week with remembrances of moments from the wedding and the busy week leading up to it. It was lovely to pass the time with my sister and mom checking off all of the little last-minute tasks. I even got to sleep in the same bed as my sis for a couple of nights--something we haven't done since the night before my wedding--and talk and catch up as we drifted off to sleep. The quality family time was just the peaceful jolt my soul needed.
My beautiful little sister and her husband.

Joe and I arrived back from Austin to an extra rainy, dreary week here in NYC. To settle back in and to waste away a relaxing Monday off together, we whipped up a batch of tortilla soup. This is my favorite version we've made to date, so I'm sharing it with you even though I didn't get any pictures to go along with the recipe. I hope you get the opportunity to prepare this comforting soup and share it with your own loved ones soon.

Vegetable Tortilla Soup
serves 6-8
2 TB cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks green garlic or green onions, whites and greens chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
1 c. water
32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 c. sliced kale
10 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 t. seasoned salt
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin

1 avocado, sliced
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips

Heat the cooking oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and cook until slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Add the green garlic and bell pepper and cook until these are also slightly tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the frozen corn and stir for a minute, then add in the enchilada sauce, water and chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Then add the cremini mushrooms, kale, kidney beans, seasoned salt, chili powder and cumin. Cook until it all comes to a boil and the mushrooms are slightly tender and the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as you please.
Serve in bowls topped off with the sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, a good handful of cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Corn Bisque

We’ve had a slew of gorgeous spring weather here in New York City. Luckily I’ve been able to take advantage of it with a picnic in the park with the husband, some nice long runs, days off to bask in the sunshine and warm winds. As a matter of fact, right now I’m lounging right next to the window with the fresh spring smells drifting in. I could take a nap and be perfectly content, but choose to plod through and update my blog for my loving readers instead!

In actuality, though, the clean, crisp air is making me feel productive and refreshed.  I love the energy that those first really warm days bring with them. They also bring along a craving for lots and lots of vegetables. Unfortunately we still have a bit of time to go before spring produce starts to show up at the markets and honestly I’m a little worn out on kale and the rest of the winter bounty. So to satiate my cravings I turned to some frozen veggies.

Frozen corn may not be as sweet and succulent as the fresh stuff come July, but it will do in a pinch and will transform itself into a creamy, delectable soup that just fits that in-between seasons mood I’m in.
As a creamy soup like this just isn’t quite hearty enough for a full meal around our place, I paired this with Chicken Wings with Mushrooms from Ferran Adria’s The Family Meal. A to-die for, fast, deeply flavorful dish that I started craving again as soon as it was gone. Anyone who needs some inspiration for easy weeknight meals should pick up a copy of this cookbook. It’s my newest go-to fave.

Corn Bisque
5 servings

2 TB olive oil or cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
24 oz. frozen sweet corn, thawed and drained*
1 t. fresh thyme
3 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 c. cream
4 TB butter
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Once hot add the onion and cook until transparent, about 4-5 minutes. Then add the celery and carrots. Cook until they are tender, about 6-8 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the corn and thyme, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes more. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Then remove the pan from the heat and use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. 

After it is pureed, pass it through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Return the strained soup to the dutch oven and return to the stovetop at medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and then add the butter. Stir until melted, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
*If desired you can save back 1/2-3/4c. of the whole corn kernels before beginning the recipe to add to the soup when you add the cream to give added texture.

Ferran Adria's Chicken Wings with Mushrooms

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tortellini Soup

'Tis the season for colds and flu's....so therefore also the season for brothy soups. The husband was home sick from work yesterday so I wanted to make him something comforting and easy to eat, but I knew that I needed something that would be hearty enough to help me make it through a long Friday night at work. So I came up with this tortellini soup. It is so simple to put together, is flavorful without being overpowering, and is just as delicious for a weekday lunch or dinner as it is for a sick-day meal.

Tortellini Soup
2 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
32 oz. chicken stock
2 1/2 c. water
8.8 oz. dried tortellini (I went with spinach and ricotta)
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender and translucent. The add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the carrots and celery and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and water to the pot and turn the heat up to high to bring the liquid to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook until tender, about 13-15 minutes. Salt and pepper the soup to taste and serve.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I know by far I'm not the first blogger to say this lately, but this weather we've been having is crazy! We'll get a couple of gorgeous days, perfect for long walks or even for a little park lounging, followed by days of rain, cold and grey. Those few moments of sun are just a tease. I long for the days of fresh produce at the farmer's markets and needing only one layer of clothing to be comfortable. Yet the chill lingers on.

For these days in between seasons I offer this chicken and wild rice soup. Comforting and hearty to confront the cool air, with lots of veggies and a hint of lemon to remind you that the warmth (and spring produce) is right around the corner. It's a huge portion for two people because this dreariness makes me feel unmotivated to do much, meaning leftovers are a big plus. This recipe can easily be modified with any extra vegetables or grains or meats (or lack thereof) you would like to add, so play away with it. Tell me how you'd change it up...and then tell me how you are staying sane until spring finally arrives...

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
6-8 servings
1 c. wild rice
1 TB olive oil
6 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
1 lb. chopped chicken breast
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. diced tomatoes
1 t. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 c. chopped spinach
1 TB lemon juice
salt and pepper

Add the rice, olive oil, broth and water to a large pot and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. 
After about 30 minutes add the chicken meat, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot. Return to a boil, then cover and simmer again.
About 20 minutes later check to see that the rice is cooked. If so add the crimini mushrooms, tomatoes and rosemary to the pot and again return to a simmer and cover. If not continue to cook until the rice is tender then continue with the recipe.
After 5 minutes add the chopped spinach and lemon juice to the pan. Stir for a minute, then taste to check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if necessary, stir and serve.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Oscar Party Menu

In case you want to know what I made for the fabulous event this past Sunday.

**Ruth Reichl's Gougeres (note that the ingredient list leaves out the 1 1/2 c. flour that is needed)
**Marcella Hazan's Bagna Cauda with Endive and Watermelon Radishes
**Popcorn with lemon zest, smoked salt and extra virgin olive oil
**Serious Eats' French Onion Dip (please make this soon--heavenly!!)
**"Black Swan" Pudding (chocolate pudding layered with vanilla pudding)

**Chive Deviled Eggs with Salmon Roe
makes 24 deviled eggs
 12 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 TB Dijon mustard
juice from 1 lemon
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3 TB finely chopped chives
1/2 c. salmon roe

Chop the eggs in half. Carefully remove the yolk to a medium bowl and place the whites on a platter. In the bowl with the yolks, mix in the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chives. Mix together well and then scoop the mixture back into the centers of the egg whites. Top with a small spoonful of salmon roe to serve.

**Fregola Vegetable Soup
10-12 servings
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 TB olive oil
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, cleaned and chopped
1 10oz. package frozen spinach, thawed, with the water squeezed out as much as possible
1 1/2-2 quarts vegetable stock (depending on how brothy you want the soup)
3/4 c. fregola
1 can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the carrots, celery and leeks and continue to cook until these vegetables have softened as well, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for about 1 minute. Then add the vegetable broth, raise the heat on the stove to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Add the fregola and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the cannelloni beans and cook until the fregola is al dente and the beans are cooked through, about 6 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cream of Celery Soup

When I was studying abroad in Spain I lived with an amazing host family. My lovely host "mom" had a couple of other women staying there for a couple of weeks each during my semester who were also studying Spanish at the language school I was attending. One of these women was an older Englishwoman. She had recently purchased a home in the Spanish countryside and was working very hard to learn the language. Although my Spanish wasn't fluent at the time, it was definitely better than hers and I think she appreciated having someone around who could help translate back and forth during family time.

After her few weeks at the school were up, she invited us to come see her new place. We took a winding road through the mountains to the secluded paradise that was her home. It was small, but very open with a large kitchen and dining room table, plus a huge rambling garden overlooking the surrounding mountains. 

She had prepared a very simple lunch for us that we ate on the patio next to the garden. I don't remember much about that meal except for the soup. I took one bite and it was a revelation. I asked what it was and she seemed surprised by my enthusiasm as she replied that it was just a simple celery soup.

At that point in my life I had never made my own soup and the idea of eating a celery soup straight instead of just adding it as an ingredient in casseroles never occurred to me. That enchanting, simple flavor has stayed with me for all of these years.

Last week as the temperatures dropped and the cravings for comforting food rose, I dug through the fridge in search of something to eat. I came across a bunch of celery that was in need of use before it went bad and the memory of that celery soup came to me. I decided to try my hand at it.

This may not be exactly like the version I had on that Spanish fall day so many years ago, but it is delicious and tastes complex despite the few ingredients. And now with this recipe I can relive that perfectly lovely day over and over again.

Celery Soup

4-5 servings
1 bunch/bag of celery
3-4 cloves garlic
1 large shallot (about 3 TB chopped)
2 TB cooking oil
1 box chicken stock (32 oz)
salt and pepper
2 t. cumin
2 t. coriander powder
1/2 c. heavy cream
3 TB flour 
3 TB water

Coarsely chop the celery, garlic and shallots. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add the vegetables. Saute until the celery has softened (turning down heat if the shallots or garlic begin to brown), about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, a bit of salt and pepper (you will add more later to taste), the cumin and coriander powder. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 12-15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and then puree the soup using an immersion blender. Then press the soup through a fine sieve to remove the tough bits of the celery.
Put the strained soup back into a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. 
Mix together the flour and water in small bowl and then whisk this into the soup. Stir until the soup has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tomato Soup and Gruyere Grilled Cheese

It is a-snowin' out there. Even though it is coming down fairly hard we have been pretty lucky here in Brooklyn and haven't been hit as bad as many other places along the East Coast lately. Regardless, I still just want to curl up inside the apartment with comforting, warming food. Of which I believe the ultimate is creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

The great thing about this tomato soup recipe is that it uses many things that you probably keep on hand in your pantry/fridge. Which means no unnecessary trips out int the blustery weather for extra ingredients. It is also very easy to substitute or change around the ingredients depending on what you have. As for the grilled cheese, it isn't anything complicated but it is made special with cave aged gruyere (which has a wonderful deep flavor that holds up well to the tomato soup) and crusty, but soft, Pugliese bread. The loaf I bought (from Bklyn Larder, my new favorite specialty food store in my neighborhood) was baked at Grandaisy Bakery. They make damn fine bread, maybe some of my favorite I've had in the city. And this particular loaf becomes perfectly crunchy and flavorful when cooked in a good quantity of butter in a skillet.

As the snow continues to fall whip up a batch of this soup and sandwiches, curl up on the couch with some good wine and good company, and stay warm!

Tomato Soup
5 servings
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 t. fresh thyme
3 TB olive oil
1 can (28oz.) San Marzano tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) vegetable stock
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3 TB butter
1/4 c. cream

Finely chop the carrots, celery, onion and garlic into uniform pieces. Coarsely chop the thyme. In a dutch oven or soup pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and thyme to the pan. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth, cook for another 5 minutes, and then remove the pot from heat. Use an immersion blender to puree all of the tomatoes and vegetables. Once the soup is smooth, return to the stovetop over medium-low heat. Stir in salt and pepper, butter and cream. Taste to check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve once soup is heated through.

Gruyere Grilled Cheese
4 sandwiches
1/3 lb. cave-aged gruyere cheese
8 slices (3/4" thick) of Pugliese Bread or country bread
4 TB butter

Grate the gruyere cheese. Divide the cheese onto 4 slices of the bread and top with remaining 4 slices. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 2 TB of butter. Once the butter has melted place the sandwiches on the skillet and cook until toasted on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the sandwiches to a plate. Add the remaining 2 TB butter to the skillet and allow to melt. Return the sandwiches to the skillet, non-toasted sides down. Toast this side of the sandwich, again about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the skillet and serve immediately.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tried and True

As much as I enjoy creating my own recipes or only using others' recipes as jumping-off points when I cook sometimes there is nothing so nice as having a recipe that is already there in front of you to use. Especially one you know works. It takes away any guesswork and any stress that may come from off-the-cuff cooking. I want to share a few recipes that I have found around the web lately that I love and will be returning to again and again.

From Serious Eats: Quick Poached Asian Pears

From Baked Perfection: S'more Cookie Bars

From Vanilla Sugar (and maybe one of my favorite things I've eaten this winter): Mushroom Bisque with Crispy Shallots

From Saveur: Sauteed Ramps and Bacon

From Jaime Oliver via The Kitchn: Milk Braised Chicken

From Furey and the Feast (seriously, wow): Gorgonzola and Leek Creme Brulee

From Giada de Laurentiis: Chicken Piccata

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rainy Day Beef and Mushroom Stew

Sometimes I love when it rains on my day off.

I know I am probably in the minority there, but the rain is the perfect excuse for a lazy day. If it is nice outside, I feel like I should be out taking advantage of it. But on a rainy day I can curl up under a blanket with Joe on the couch with a drink in hand while something slowly simmers away in the oven. Something hearty and filling. Like this beef and mushroom stew.

One of the great things about this dish is that it is completely versatile. If you don't have an ingredient you can usually leave it out or substitute it with something else. You can also toss in anything extra that you may be craving that day. This particular version is especially rich thanks to the dried mushrooms: you soak them in water and add them to the vegetables and then use the soaking water as part of the stock. And the couple of cups of red wine in the base don't hurt, either.
So the next time the weather isn't so hot on your day off, look at it as a blessing. Put on a pot of this stew and curl up with a glass bottle of wine and someone you love, and relax.

Beef and Mushroom Stew

1/2 c. dried chanterelles
3/4 c. hot water
1 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
salt and pepper
4 TB olive oil, divided
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 TB fresh herbs, such as rosemary and thyme
2 c. red wine
1 c. beef stock
3 TB tomato sauce (or 1 TB tomato paste)
1 bay leaf
1 parmesan rind*

Remove the beef from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place the dried chanterelles into a bowl and pour the hot water over them and allow to soak for 30 minutes while chopping and preparing the remaining ingredients. Once ready to use, drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Toss the beef cubes with flour to coat. Heat 2 TB olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the beef on all sides, working in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan and then remove to a plate.
Add remaining oil to pan and toss in carrots, celery, onion, garlic and herbs. Allow to cook until they become tender, about 6 minutes. Add the drainied mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Add red wine, beef stock, tomato sauce and reserved mushroom soaking liquid to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the bay leaf and parmesan rind, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, about 2-2 1/2 hours, checking and stirring the stew after about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the stew from the oven, remove the bay leaf and parmesan rind and serve. Especially good served over egg noodles, mashed potatoes or sopped up with crusty bread.

*When you have a good hunk of Parmesan cheese and you get down to the rind where you can't grate it anymore, hang on to this piece. It can be thrown into stocks and soups to add extra flavor and depth. Remove it at the end of cooking--it will look like a soggy sponge, so not pretty, but the flavor is worth it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Celeriac Soup with Scallops

I miss blogging.
Honestly though, the break has been nice. Being able to just make dinner and not have to worry about writing down every ingredient's measurements and not worrying about trying to take photos. Just cooking, pouring a glass of wine and sitting down to savor the meal with my husband. I've enjoyed it.

It's also been great to step back and take a look at what I'm doing here on the blog. Is it something that I want to continue with? What purpose does it serve? Does anyone even read it? (and even if they don't, do I care?)

I haven't come to any grand conclusions but I know that this blog serves a purpose, even if it is just for me. It makes me put thought into what I'm cooking and inspires me to try new things. And by putting down recipes I have a record for when I want to try them again, which I love. In the past I would just try to remember and guess what went into my recipes and the results weren't always stellar! And, perhaps, someone else out there will find something useful among the mess. Really, isn't the best part of cooking and food is how it can bring people together? The joy of sharing it with one another? Learning from one another? So I will plod on. The posts may stay few and far between for a bit, but I will continue to return because food and its community are my passion.

This celeriac soup is basic and straightforward yet completely satisfying. It reminds one that with great ingredients, simplicity in cooking is rewarded. Joe and I had this dish at Eleven Madison Park for our anniversary dinner and it was so beautiful there that I had to try to recreate it at home. It may not have lived up quite to the restaurant's standards, but was delicious nonetheless. The addition of scallops is unnecessary, but lends a luxurious touch and makes the dish hearty enough to be an entree. Next time I prepare this I will add sauteed shallots and garlic for extra flavor, but for a simpler approach it is not necessary.

Celeriac Soup with Scallops
(serves 5-6)
3 small bulbs celeriac, peeled and chopped
2-3 c. chicken stock
1-2 c. water
salt and pepper
1 t. celery salt
1 t. season salt
1 c. heavy cream
2 TB butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
6 large diver scallops, cooked
2 TB Olive oil

Place the celeriac, stock, and water in a large pot. You want enough liquid to cover the celeriac. Bring to a boil and simmer until celeriac is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Push the celeriac through a ricer back into the stock and water or use an immersion blender to blend all of the ingredients together. If the soup is very thick, add water to bring to consistency of your liking (remembering that you will be adding cream as well). Add celery salt, season salt, and pepper. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a simmer. Stir in the heavy cream. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in the butter and serve over the cooked scallops with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This is one of those recipes that I have had bookmarked for a long time. Just reading the name of it makes my mouth water. But after making it, I am kicking myself for not making it sooner. Seriously: this is so, so good. And it's easy! Plus, you can throw in kind-of whatever you like.
I got this recipe from my friend Trish. I do have to say that Trish feeds a whole family, so this is a lot of soup for two people, but it reheats well. In fact, I'm going to have some more for lunch today. Thanks for this recipe, Trish!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
(recipe from Trish--changes noted in red)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, chopped
2 TB rosemary, thyme, oregano (fresh), chopped
1 bay leaf
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
1 6.5 oz. pkg. Uncle Ben's Long grain and wild rice (fast cooking, with seasoning packet)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
2 c. heavy cream

Mix together the chicken, mushrooms, celery, carrots, garlic, fresh herbs, and chicken broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the rice (without the seasoning packet), reduce the heat and simmer with a lid on for 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat, leaving the lid on for 5 more minutes.
In a small bowl mix together the salt, pepper and flour.
In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the seasoning packet. Once the butter begins to bubble, slowly add the flour mixture a little at a time. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Slowly stir in the heavy cream. Cook until the mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the cream mixture into the soup. Heat the soup over medium heat 10-15 minutes and serve.