Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Flashback Special--5 Fabulous Summer Soups for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays!

Well my friends, I have done what I vowed NEVER to do. I skipped making a soup this week!  I know... I can hardly believe it myself. 

By the time this posts I will be just landed in Toronto for the quickest, longest trip business trip ever. I'm on planes for 12 hours, get in to the city to hook up with one of my favorite blogging friends for some face-to-face girl time that's been over 6 years in the making.  Then it's three packed days of work--including a day and a half teaching a workshop and back on the planes for the 12 hours back to Hawaii on Thursday. Whew! Soup just didn't happen.

Not one to let a Souper Sundays go by, I decided to do a flashback post of five of my favorite summer soups. Some people think soup isn't for summer--but I think it's perfect all year round. Here are five fabulous ones to get you in a souper (Sundays) mood. 

Green Grape and Marcona Almond Gazpacho:  
Gazpacho is the perfect summer soup and I like my gazpacho to be unique like this one full of cool refreshment from the green grapes and cucumber and made creamy from the Marcona almonds.  

Creamy Lime and Coconut Edamame Soup:
This soup was a thrown-together, pantry and fridge clean out creation. It's Thai-flavor profile is tangy with a little kick of heat. It's also good at any temperature making perfect for any kind of summer weather.  

Sure one is made with winter squash but you can always swap it out for a summer squash. Any of these Three "Detox" Soups would be perfect for a summer lunch or dinner starter. My favorite is the Roasted Red Pepper but they are all quick to make and full of flavor. 

There you have it--soups that are quick to make, healthy and taste great on a warm summer day!

We have a couple of friends hanging out with salads in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.

Foodycat shares her Meat-Free Monday salad of Eggs, Peas and Feta and says, "I saw a picture on pinterest, of a dish similar to this, but the link didn't work and my google-fu let me down. So I made up my own version. It has several of your so-called five-a-day and is utterly delicious and satisfying."

Tigerfish of Teczscape - An Escape to Food brings Broccolini and Bean Sprouts in Peanut Vinaigrette Salad and says, "Today, this three-ingredient salad is enjoyed with a newly created peanut-sauce dressing, an upgraded version from this basic peanut butter sauce, which is perfectly balanced - nutty, tangy, salty, sweet, spicy.

Thanks to Foodycat and Tigerfish for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Burger and...Soup? Why Not?! Yogurt Soup with Cumin and Mini Curried Buffalo Bugers in Pita Pockets for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Burgers and fries, burgers and chips, even burgers and salads go together pretty regularly, but burgers and soup might seem like an odd combination. When it is the pairing of a simple light and cold Yogurt Soup with cucumber and tomato, along with a slightly spicy Mini Curried Buffalo Burgers in Pita Pockets, it works. The soup is from Madhur Jaffrey's Spice Kitchen, a little book I picked up at a book sale for $1.00. The curried mini burgers are my own concoction. Together they make a great soup & sandwich combo for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays. 

Jaffrey says about the soup: "For North Indians, the creamy tartness if yogurt and the earthy nuttiness of cumin seeds, which have been roasted and ground, go together like--well--a horse and carriage. Cumin is also considered to be a cooling spice, so this light, delightful cold soup is perfect for a warm summer day. It is very gently spiced, as a lot of Indian dishes are. And it needs no cooking! I use low-fat yogurt, but you could just as easily use the creamier full-fat variety. If you are in a hurry, you can just chop up the tomato, but it is preferable to peel and de-seed it first. I use one large tomato and simply drop it into boiling water for 15 seconds and then peel it. Then I cut in in half crosswise, gently squeeze out all the seeds, and dice the shell. Refrigerate the chicken stock, then strain it so that no particles of congealed fat fall into the soup."

Yogurt Soup with Cumin (Safed Shorva)
Madhur Jaffrey's Spice Kitchen
(Serves 4)

600 ml / 1 pint plain yogurt
900 ml /1 & 1/2 pints chicken stock, all fat removed
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated very finely
75 g / 2 & 1/2 oz cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, and finely diced
75 g / 2 & 1/2 0z tomato, peeled, de-seeded, and finely diced
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin seeds roasted and ground
2 tsp fresh mint or green coriander, or a mixture of the two, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put the yogurt in a bowl. Beat with a fork until smooth and creamy. Slowly add the stock, mixing it in as you do so. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix. Refrigerate until needed. Stir well before serving. 

Notes/Results: Good. It is an easy soup to throw together, just some slicing and stirring and a quick dip in boiling water for the tomato, then put the whole thing into the fridge to get nice and cold, making it perfect for a hot day. As Jaffrey notes, it is a mild, cooling soup with just a little hint of heat at the end from the cayenne. I think on its own it might have been slightly boring but with the spiciness of the burger, a cup of the soup was a good match and made for a nice supper. Especially when paired with yesterday's Hibiscus Tea with Vodka and Citrus and a fresh mango for dessert.

For the burgers, I used my favorite ground buffalo, for its leanness, high protein and rich flavor, but lean ground beef or turkey would work just fine. I spiced them up with onion, garlic, curry, cumin, turmeric and cayenne. Mini whole-wheat pitas, tomato, lettuce, mint leaves and some yogurt-chutney sauce make a light and easy Indian-inspired burger. 

Mini Curried Buffalo Bugers in Pita Pockets
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 Mini-Burgers)

1 lb ground buffalo (or lean ground beef or ground turkey breast)
1 small, sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
cayenne pepper to taste (I used 1/4 tsp as I used a spicier curry powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chutney

6 small whole wheat pitas
lettuce, tomatoes, mint leaves

Place ground buffalo in a mixing bowl and add ingredients through pepper. Mix gently but thoroughly. Divide spiced meat into half and then each half into thirds. Make six small patties. Heat a grill pan over-medium high heat. Brush with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Add patties and cook until done to your liking, (about 4-5 minutes per side for medium). (You can of course also use your barbecue grill)

Mix yogurt and chutney together. Slit whole-wheat pitas lengthwise, carefully opening them wide enough to insert burgers. Spread one side with yogurt-chutney sauce, layer each with lettuce, buffalo patty, tomatoes and mint leaves. 

Notes/Results: Delicious! The curry and spices make a nice change to a regular burger and the sweetness of the chutney combined with the cool, thick yogurt makes a nice contrast to the burger's spice. The smaller size and using the whole-wheat mini pitas, make this a lighter sandwich, perfect with a cup or small bowl of the soup. You can alter these to fit your tastes by changing the spices or adding different condiments. 

We have some delicious looking soups and salads in the Souper Sunday kitchen today, so let's take a look!

Our first soup comes from Heather from girlichef. Tasked with selecting the "Blogger Secret Ingredient" this week for a blogging event, Heather chose "greens". Making the most of her choice, she used some turnip greens and created a Greens & Spicy Sausage Soup. Tomatoes, beans, herbs, and some chili flakes round out this spicy, hearty soup and Heather says to serve it "with a nice loaf of crusty bread for sopping up the juices".

Kim from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet is back this week with a creamy Corn Shrimp Chowder. Although this is "Grill Month" on her blog, she kindly took the time to put together a soup to share at Souper Sundays this week. Preferring a slightly lighter soup for summer, but still wanting something comforting, Kim likes the spicy little kick from the cayenne and says this soup is a "must try".

For L.K. at Healthy. Delicious., having a busy work week means preparing a big batch of something good to eat to take for lunches and dinners. She says this Spinach and Lemon Soup with Goat Cheese Ravioli, works well in the warm weather due to the lemon juice in the broth which "keeps it very light and refreshing, almost like drinking a cup of herbal tea". To round out the soup and make it more of a meal, she added some homemade goat cheese ravioli. Can you say Yum!?!

Finding herself having lunch alone, Ulrike at Küchenlatein, made a small batch of this Fennel, Cardamon and Coconut Soup to enjoy. Nicely spiced with Thai flavors and a kick of chili paste, Ulrike says with some fresh baked bread, it was perfect for lunch. Since the weather in Northern Germany has been so cold and rainy, it is perfect for a warming soup like this one. 

And two wonderful salads to share:

Alisa from One Frugal Foodie is here with a gorgeous Orange-Sesame Chicken Salad, highlighting a delicious salad dressing recipe she adapted from Cooking Light. Knowing the key to enjoying a healthy salad is a great dressing, Alisa found this slightly sweet, slightly spicy dressing to be "fabulously flavorful". She thinks it would also be great as a marinade for shrimp, chicken or tofu too. 

Combining three of my favorite ingredients into one healthy dish is Joanne from Eats Well With Others, who made this simple Mango, Black Bean, and Quinoa Salad. Sauteing the veggies and the mango before adding them to the salad intensified their flavor and made it extra tasty. Joanne says, "each bite was like a whirlwind in my mouth," and adds that this is a great dish for nights when you want to throw something together quickly.

Thanks to everyone who participated in Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sunday this week. As usual, you amaze me with the incredible variety of recipes you come up with!  

If you have a soup, salad or sandwich you'd like to share, click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a wonderful week! 

Friday, June 19, 2009

A "Twofer" for Tyler Florence Fridays: Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce & Cucumber Lychee Sake

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays, I have a little Asian fusion going on, combining this month's optional "Megan's Challenge" pick, Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce and my pick this week, Tyler's Cucumber Lychee Sake. Apologies first for the fact that my picture taking "mojo" wasn't working so well with both of these items--since I didn't get to them until last night after dark, the lighting was a bit bad for the sake drink and my patience was wearing thin by the time I got to the rolls. In any case, you can rest assured that they both tasted great!

Starting with the Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, I was happy Megan picked these for the challenge as in the warmer months, summer rolls are a favorite light dinner of mine. Although I have made them countless times, this is the first time I have ever flavored the ingredients inside the rolls thanks to Tyler. I have always counted on the dipping sauce; (chili or peanut) to add the bulk of the flavor besides the herbs in the rolls, but (Duh!), Tyler has you add lime juice and sesame oil to the noodle-veggie-peanut mixture and it makes a world of flavor difference. I switched out some of the ingredients in Tyler's recipe for things I like/had on hand, (see Notes/Results below) and I also added some cooked shrimp.

This recipe is from Tyler's Food 911 and the recipe can also be found at the Food Network site (here).

Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Food 911, Tyler Florence
(Makes 20 Rolls)

3 ounces Vietnamese cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 cups bean sprouts
2 carrots, julienned
1 large beet, julienned
1 fresh red chile, cut in circles
2 handfuls fresh cilantro, hand-torn
3/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 lime, juiced
Sea salt
20 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers
40 mint leaves

Put the cellophane noodles, vegetables, cilantro and peanuts in a large bowl; toss with sesame oil and lime juice to give the filling some flavor; season with salt and pepper.
Pour 3 cups of hot, not boiling water in a large shallow bowl. One at a time, immerse the rice paper wrappers in the hot water for 10 seconds to soften, then place on a slightly damp towel. The rice paper is very delicate, don't soak them any longer or they will break apart. Keep them covered while you work to prevent them from drying out and curling.

To form the rolls, lay a rice paper wrapper on a flat surface. Grab a small amount of the cellophane and vegetable mixture and lay it across the bottom third. Use less filling than you think you should, if you overstuff the wrapper it will tear. Carefully fold the bottom of the wrapper up to cover the filling. Fold in the left and right sides, then tuck and roll it over once. Lay 2 mint leaves on top, then tuck and roll it over to close the whole thing up like a tight cigar. The mint leaves should show through the transparent rice paper. Arrange the finished rolls on a platter and cover with a damp towel.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste, such as sambal

In a blender, puree the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, hot water, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and chili paste until combined. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the summer rolls.
Yield: 1 cup

Notes/Results: Terrific! As mentioned above, there is loads of flavor in these summer rolls, I found them even better than the ones I get in most restaurants. I reduced the recipe down and made about 6 rolls. In addition to the cooked shrimp I put in, I added "the rainbow" with purple cabbage, red bell pepper, carrots, pea shoots, green onions, mint, cilantro, noodles and peanuts. Then I thought it would be fun to add some of my leftover sea asparagus for a little salty crunch, so I left out the salt, figuring it would bring enough to the mix. The chili dipping sauce, I left the same, other than a small shot of sesame oil, as I like it in my dipping sauce. These summer rolls are excellent, perfect for a warm night and so adaptable to adding what you have on hand. I make them just veggies sometimes or add shrimp, spiced ground meat, shredded chicken or tofu if I want them a bit heartier. Thanks Megan for a healthy, fun pick!

I watched Tyler make the Cucumber Lychee Sake on Tyler's Ultimate a few weeks ago and thought how refreshing it looked and how it combined flavors and ingredients I like. When I saw both fresh lychee and locally grown, seedless cucumbers at the Farmer's Market, the deal was sealed and I knew I had to make this drink. Tyler's recipe calls for canned lychee but I thought it would be fun to use local ingredients (ginger, cucumber and lychee) to make it really fresh.

This recipe can be found at the Food Network site, here.

Cucumber Lychee Sake
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence
(Makes 2 Servings)

4 long thin slices fresh ginger
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 English cucumbers, plus extra slices for garnish
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup lychee juice, plus lychees for garnish

Make ginger simple syrup by combining ginger, and 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool. Peel cucumbers and cut half of 1 into thin slices. Puree the remaining 1 1/2 cucumbers in a blender. In a shaker, combine sake, pureed cucumber, ginger simple syrup and lychee juice. Shake to combine and serve in ice filled glasses garnished with lychee fruit.

Notes/Results: Exotic and delicious. The cucumber pairs nicely with the slight kick of ginger and the sweetly floral lychee. It is refreshing and one of those drinks you could keep drinking, forgetting there is sake in it. Because the drink calls for the juice or syrup that comes in the canned lychee, I threw in some of my fresh, pitted lychees when I pureed the cucumbers, which worked just fine. I found I didn't need all of the sugar syrup and used only about 1/2 in my drink and the ginger flavor still came through. Garnished with both the fresh lychee and thin slices of cucumber this is a great summer beverage. 

I liked both of these recipes and would make them again. You can see what the other Tyler Florence Fridays participants chose to make this week and what they thought of their picks by checking out the TFF site here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Baby Eggplant with Curry and Coconut Milk for Tyler Florence Fridays

Torn between two of Tyler's baby eggplant recipes, I made the Stuffed Baby Eggplant last week and decided to go back to the Thai market and pick up some more eggplant to make Baby Eggplant with Curry and Coconut Milk for this week's pick. I love a good curry and this one sounded delicious with the cashews and coconut milk. It comes from Eat This Book or can also be found at the Food Network, (Food 911--Vegetarian Curries Episode here). I did need to lighten it up a bit, changing the ghee to olive oil, and reducing the amount considerably, as well as using "lite" coconut milk.

Tyler says: "The cooking styles of India vary from one region to another at least as much as the food of the Mediterranean. France is different from the flavors of Alsace. This dish represents the sunny flavors of southern India, where coconut is often used in curries. in this recipe, you can taste the extent to which southern Indian cuisine pulls from the same ingredient shelf as Thai food."

Baby Eggplant with Curry and Coconut Milk
Tyler Florence
(Serves 4)

1/2 cup ghee, (recipe follows) or canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder, homemade or store-bought
1 cup unsalted raw or toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
8 baby eggplants
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried red chile
kosher salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Heat 1/4 cup of the ghee in a large pot over medium flame, add the onions and sprinkle with the curry powder. Cook and stir for a few minutes until the onions are soft. Add the cashews, shredded coconut, coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. 

In the meantime, cut the eggplant into chunks. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of ghee in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When you see a slight smoke, add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until it gets charred and sticky, about 3 minutes.

When the coconut sauce is cooked, puree with a hand-held blender, until it’s pretty smooth. Pour the sauce over the eggplant and toss in the cinnamon stick and chile. Season with salt, to taste, and simmer for 15 minutes or until thick. Give a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavor, garnish with mint leaves, and serve with steamed basmati rice and/or flatbread.

1 pound unsalted butter

Put the butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, swirl the pot around to ensure that it melts slowly and does not sizzle or brown. Increase the heat and bring the butter to a boil. When the surface is covered with foam, stir gently and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Gently simmer, uncovered, and undisturbed for 45 minutes, until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan have turned golden brown and the butter on top is transparent. Strain the ghee through a sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. The ghee should be perfectly clear and smell nutty; pour into a glass jar and seal tightly. Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Notes/Results: Yum! Really good flavor and a nice creamy curry sauce. One note, even with a medium curry powder and popping a couple of extra dried red peppers in it, there is not a lot of spice to this one, so if you want more, use a hotter curry or add some cayenne or more dried peppers. I actually like my creamier, coconut curries to be on the mild to medium side so it worked well for me. (I just know Natashya will want to kick it up a notch!) I cut the oil that I used in place of the ghee down to about 3 tablespoons total for cooking the onions and cooking the eggplant and it worked just fine. The "lite" coconut milk thickened up well too, so no need for the full-fat version. 

I think I could have gotten the curry a bit smoother but I had a bit of a mishap and grabbed the metal handle of a pan that was not on the heat, but that happened to be VERY hot anyway, based on how it was positioned near/over one of the burners. I burnt the bejesus out of my left thumb and index finger and when it came time to use the immersion blender to puree everything, I was using it one-handed with my other hand in a cup of ice water. I kept looking at it going, "is it smooth enough yet? Is it smooth enough now? Finally I just said "---- it!, it's smooth enough for me!" and called it done so I could let it simmer while I nursed my throbbing thumb. I did eventually get to enjoy it, served with brown basmati rice and whole grain pita. A big blister on my thumb and a smaller one on the index finger, I am typing this mostly one-handed but that is semi-normal around here. Max frequently decides that when I am on the computer, I am not worshiping him enough and presents his belly for me to rub so I have gotten kind of used to picking out letters quickly that way. Happily the recipe turned out well and I can at least say that I "suffered for my craft" tonight!

You can find out what recipes the other Tyler Florence Friday members selected for this week and what they thought of them at the TFF website, here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stuffed Baby Eggplant for Tyler Florence Fridays

After finding some baby eggplant at the Thai market, I wanted to find a great recipe to use them in, so of course I went to Tyler. He had two recipes that I was torn between, in what is probably my favorite Tyler cookbook; Eat This Book: Cooking With Global Fresh Flavors. (In addition to the great recipes in this book, sometimes I just like to stare at the cover!) 

The first recipe had the eggplant sliced in a curry sauce and then there was this one for Baby Eggplants Stuffed with Lamb, Lemon and Mint, made with ground meat, tomato and spices. I had a tough time choosing, but the idea of stuffing the little eggplant won out. Ground lamb is a bit "hit or miss" to find here, so I used some ground buffalo which is rich tasting, leaner than lamb and has lots of protein. 

This recipe can also be found at the Food Network site (as Stuffed Baby Eggplant from Food 911) here, and is on page 58 of Eat This Book.

Tyler says: "Lamb and eggplant is a combination that travels across the culinary map from Northern Africa to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This is my take on a Turkish dish of stuffed eggplants called imam bayildi--stuffed eggplant. If you can't find ground lamb, ground beef or pork will work just as well."

Stuffed Baby Eggplant (with Buffalo, Lemon and Mint)
Tyler Florence
(4-6 Servings)

8 baby eggplants, about the size of a lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves
2 pounds ground lamb* (The book says 1 lb)
3 large vine-ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, reserve some for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, sliced paper-thin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a paring knife, cut a wedge out of each eggplant, from stem to base, just large enough to stick a spoon inside and scoop out the flesh inside. Discard the flesh you scoop out.

Coat a large saute pan with the oil and place over medium flame. Lightly fry the eggplants on all sides, until slightly charred and blistered; remove to a platter and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the shallots and garlic, saute for 5 minutes, until soft and golden brown. Add the ground lamb to the pan and brown the meat well, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomatoes, combine well, and let simmer for 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Toss in a couple of handfuls of the parsley, the mint, and lemon juice; continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the stuffing cool slightly. Using a spoon, stuff the lamb filling into the eggplants until they feel full, but not overly packed.

Arrange the eggplants in a single layer in a large saucepan, pour the chicken stock over them and lay the lemon slices on top of each eggplant, drizzle with some more olive oil. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until fork tender.

Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.

Notes/Results: Yum! I loved the lemon and mint and the way it complimented the ground meat, tomato and eggplant. There were no pictures of this dish and I wasn't quite sure how it was supposed to look so I just went for it. My baby eggplants were a bit smaller than lemons (as the recipe specifies), they were more like small limes so I watched the cooking time carefully so as not to have "mushy" eggplant, (A pet peeve of mine). I baked these for just about 20 minutes and they seemed right. I also cut the stuffing recipe in half and still had just a bit leftover from my eleven little eggplant. A note; the Internet recipe above, makes a larger quantity of stuffing than then book does, (the book calls for 1 lb lamb, two tomatoes, 1/2 bunch of parley, etc.) and the book's proportions make more sense based on the size and amount of eggplant you are stuffing with the mixture. 

These were great served with some leftover Israeli couscous  and raita (cucumber-yogurt sauce), that I made from a cookbook I am reviewing, (will post that review early next week). I think that with the smaller eggplant, they would also be fun as an appetizer, passed on little plates. The flavor was good, but I think next time, I would add some cayenne or some hot pepper to the mix--just for a little pop. My raita had some spice and it really added to the flavor. Not the prettiest dish in town but it is tasty and I would make them again. And BTW, since I had such a hard time choosing between this recipe and the curry dish, I bought some more eggplant today and will be making that dish for next week. 

You can see what recipes the other Tyler Florence Friday participants selected for this week and what they thought of them by going to the TFF website here.

Happy Aloha Friday!  Have a great weekend!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Food is Good"--Vichyssoise for Cook The Books: Kitchen Confidential and Souper Sundays

Much as I love to cook, I can say with all confidence, that I will never make my career on the front lines of a restaurant kitchen; frankly, I don't have the chops for it. If only half of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential is even slightly true, I wouldn't last a day, so it is good that I can live vicariously by reading through his many adventures, and why I was happy to see Bourdain's brash culinary memoir as our third Cook The Books Foodie Book Club selection. This round of CTB is being hosted by Johanna at Food Junkie Not Junk Food, and she picked Kitchen Confidential to get a macho male perspective on food, after our two slightly more feminine choices!

This was my second time reading this book, the first was back when it first came out, before Bourdain became well known for eating beetles, testicles and all manner of bizarre foods while cursing his way all over the world. The book is fascinating, especially for those of us who have never experienced life in the "culinary underbelly". Much like Anthony Bourdain himself, most of the book is rude, crude and socially unacceptable but it (and he), are definitely entertaining and if you have ever harbored fantasies of becoming a famous chef in a top restaurant in New York, you should probably read it just so you can change your career goals. I often find the amount of disdain that Anthony Bourdain dishes out in his books and on his television shows to be a bit much, but then there are the glimmers of his appreciation and feelings for good food, cooked well by people who care about it and it is then that I find myself really warming to him. Buried inside all the bluster and the crusty, cursing exterior beats, (although sometimes faintly), the heart of a fellow food geek who truly loves the whole process and production of making and eating really good food. In my mind this is what takes the book from simply entertaining to worthy of a second reading.  

When it came down to deciding what to make to represent the book, I was a bit torn, as this book opens itself up to so many possibilities. I finally decided to pull something straight from the beginning, or "first course" of the book and the aptly titled, "Food is Good" chapter. It is here, as a child, that Bourdain first realizes that food is "something other than substance", on a family vacation to Europe on board the ocean liner, The Queen Mary. Eating his first bowl of Vichyssoise, the first food he really noticed and enjoyed, Bourdain says, "I remember everything about the experience: the way our waiter ladled it from a silver tureen into my bowl; the crunch of the tiny chopped chives he spooned on as a garnish; the rich, creamy taste of leek and potato; the pleasurable shock, the surprise that it was cold." Bourdain goes on to say that the memory of the soup stayed with him, waking up his tongue and taste buds and essentially setting the stage for things to come. (Pretty powerful for a bowl of soup!)

I remember the first time I had vichyssoise, at a little French restaurant for a friend's birthday, back in junior high. I knew what vichyssoise was, but at my house, potato soup was warm and usually came in the form of chowder with bacon and clams. Most of the others there chose the salad for dinner, but being a soup girl even then, I opted for the soup. I remember being impressed with just how much flavor there was in a simple soup and how differently it tasted than the hot soups I was use to. It might not have been the same level of epiphany that Anthony Bourdain experienced but it has stuck with me all these years. A simple, but well-prepared vichyssoise seemed like the perfect dish to make. 

My habit lately is to make things healthier, but I pity the person who would dare set a "lite" vichyssoise in front of Bourdain! This one is full-octane in all its butter, milk and cream glory. For a traditional recipe, I went with my New York Times Cookbook, edited by Craig Claiborne and published in 1961, the era of Bourdain's trip. I got this cookbook for $3.00 at a library sale and I love all the classic recipes and the little notes of them like this one on the proper pronunciation of vichyssoise below:

"Someone should start a campaign to instruct Americans that vichyssoise is not pronounced veeshy-swah! Since the creation of the late Loius Diat has become a national favorite, it seems only just that the final consonant be sounded. It is veeshee-swahze."

Vichyssoise A La Ritz
The New York Times Cookbook, edited by Craig Claiborne, 1961
(8 or more servings)

4 leeks, white part, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1/4 cup sweet butter
5 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
1 quart chicken broth
1 tablespoon or less salt
3 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
Chopped chives

1. In a deep kettle, brown the leeks and onion very lightly in the butter. Add the potatoes, broth and salt and boil thirty-five minutes, or until very tender. Crush and rub through a fine sieve or puree in an electric blender.

2. Return the sieved mixture to the kettle, add the milk and one cup of the cream and bring to a boil. Cool and rub again through a fine sieve. Chill

3. Add the remaining cream. Chill thoroughly and serve garnished with chives.

Notes/Results: Crisp, cold and delicious. The flavor of the potato and leek really come through. Even with all the butter and cream, the chilled, silken soup feels light. You absolutely have to have the tiny little bits of chive on top, and for me, a bit of fresh ground pepper makes it perfect. I just made a half batch, since it isn't figure friendly and tried using the sieve method, instead of a blender, just for fun. A bit more effort but the soup was very smooth. A fun, classic soup to make and perfect for spring and summer. 

If you want to read along with us at Cook The Books, you have until April 25th to read and post for Kitchen Confidential. You can get all the details at the CTB site, here.

Let's see who made soups for Souper Sunday on this Easter Weekend:

Debby at A Feast for the Eyes is feeling spring and made a Spring Leek and Potato Soup to make good use of the beautiful leeks and garlic in her CSA box. Adapting a recipe from Emeril, made with bacon, white wine and creme fraiche, and kicked up just a bit, Emeril Style, it turned out to be the best potato and leek soup she has made so far!

Vacation didn't stop Ulrike from Küchenlatein from submitting her weekly soup, this one is a Ramson Soup. If you are not familiar with ramsons, they are wild garlic, or bear garlic and a wild cousin to chives. Ulrike has some coming up in her garden, where the picture was taken, and with some onions, potatoes and stock, they made a gorgeous soup.

A big welcome to a new face at Souper Sunday, Nurit from 1. family. friendly. food., hailing from Seattle. Nurit welcomed spring with a lovely green Peas and Tarragon Soup that she adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe. Nurit says the soup is both "wonderful" and "so quick and easy to make" and we are happy to have both her and the soup with us this week!

Kim at Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet is spicing up the sweet potatoes this week with her Sweet Potato Soup with Chili Mango Salsa. Trying to lighten up her diet for spring and deciding she should enjoy the health benefits of these tubers year round, she searched her recipe box and found this soup. Kim says this soup is "thick and good but yet surprisingly light", and the spicy salsa on top adds an extra fun touch.

A new tabletop light studio from her husband and her special reserve of dried porcini mushrooms were the inspiration for Kait from Pots and Plots to make this rich, velvety Three Mushroom Soup. Made with the porcini, along with dried shitakes and some fresh creminis, she lightened it up the normal cream a bit with some fat-free half and half. Yum!

From her post about cataloguing cookbooks, I think Christine from Kits Chow has as many cookbooks as I do. She adapted this recipe for Irish Stew from one by Marion Cunningham's, The Supper Book. Christine found that this dish lived up to Marion's claims that it has the "taste of the land--natural and inviting". She says this is an excellent stew. 

Debbie from The Friday Friends says she wasn't sure whether her Seafood Soup was actually a soup, stew or chowder, so she did a little research on the subject and decided it is a soup and a delicious one at that! The recipe for this chiopino style dish came from her "oldest and dearest friend", and it is so good that it has made Debbie famous among her neighbors and fellow soup lovers!

There is nothing like a simple bowl of chicken soup to cure whatever ails you. When a bout of flu went through her house, Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies headed straight for the kitchen "medicine cabinet" to make this Easy-Peasy, Lemon-Squeezy, One Pot Chicken Noodle Soup. Made with plenty of garlic and lemon and served with homemade bread, it quickly had everyone feeling better again. 

More wonderful soups to celebrate spring with! Thanks to everyone who joined us at Souper Sunday this week. If you want to share a soup or soup-like creation, click the Souper Sunday logo on the side bar for all the details.

Have a Happy Easter!