Saturday, January 29, 2011

Butternut Squash, Kale and White Bean Soup


 Most of the country is again digging itself out of snow this week.  Here, in the Bay Area of California, it is drizzling rain and fogging up--my favorite kind of weather only to be found in January, February, and August (minus the rain).  I spent the day with longtime California friends, and I am grateful that I have come to a point in my life where I have longtime California friends.  The husband and I have lived here nine years now.  I remember when I told my Colorado friends I was leaving for San Francisco; one said that she remembers her residency at UCSF as one of the most wonderful times of her life.  I thought such an utterance to be hyperbole, which it may well have been.  Nonetheless, there is something about this city in the fog that is more than charming or romantic; it is mesmerizing, even haunting.  





Such a day calls for a warm soup, something hearty, something comforting.  So I took inventory of the refrigerator, consulted the CSA box, and came up with a white bean soup that feels just about right.  I happened to have both onions and one leftover leek from last week's CSA box, so I used them both; however, I think this soup would be just as good with one or the other.  I also think this could be a mighty fine soup entirely pureed entirely, but I wanted something that was chunky through and through.  


After sipping a glass of red wine and munching on some olives,  I am happy to tuck into yet another warm, full feeling with this soup.  It's nice to be home--with friends--in foggy California this winter.



One Year Ago: Potatoes and Chanterelles Baked in Cream

-------------
Butternut Squash, Kale and White Bean Soup
Yield:
4-6 Servings

Ingredients:  
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot, chopped
1 leek, sliced (white part only)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 cans of cannellini or white kidney beans
1 bunch kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:
1.  Cook onions in 1 tablespoon oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until soft, about 1 minute. Add garlic, carrot, and leek.  Cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

2.  Add squash, broth, rosemary, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and beans and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Mash some of squash and beans against side of saucepan to thicken soup.

3.  Stir in kale and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.





Monday, January 24, 2011

Raw Beet Salad with Carrots and Ginger

 Adapted from Cookbook #54: How to Cook Everything (2008, 10th Anniversary Edition)

Recipe: Raw Beet Salad with Carrots and Ginger


Well, look at this--a page 210 recipe.  And I get to cook with the contents of the CSA box.  If you're joining me late, page 210 was my commitment all of 2010.  I cooked every page 210 from every cookbook I own in honor of 2010 (I was hard pressed to find cookbooks with over 2000 pages in them, so I settled on 210, and even then, I had to resort to page 120 for many cookbooks).  And I vowed this year that if I acquired any new cookbooks--which I (predictably) did--I would continue the tradition of cooking page 210.

So here we are with page 210 from Mark Bittman's wonderful and comprehensive cookbook, How to Cook EverythingMark Bittman is an amazing man.  He is not a chef, but he is a cook.  He is a journalist and a food lover, and as such, he writes a weekly column ("The Minimalist") for the New York Times.  He is an advocate of mindful eating, and his book Food Matters urges us to become more aware of the impact our food choices have on our bodies and our environments.

His latest column is on whole wheat pancakes that I may have to give a try, if only because Bittman and I share the same sentiment that pancakes are little more than a vehicle for maple syrup and butter.  These featured pancakes however, he says, are much more than that--they are chewy, wholesome goodness.  So much so that you won't really miss the maple syrup or butter.  If a pancake can produce that kind of conversion, I may have to become one of the faithful.




But let's get back to the recipe before me today.  Raw beets.  Ooh, those are nice.  They're less sweet than the boiled or roasted (or, gasp, the canned) versions, and the cooking time on this salad is, well, nonexistent, as there is no cooking at all.  Instead, grab the food processor and let it do all the work.  This salad took fewer than 15 minutes to make.  And most of that time was spent peeling the beets and carrots with the hand held peeler*.  Well, I guess I did have to take the time to unscrew the lid from the mustard.

*perhaps you'll want to wear kitchen gloves as you do this as your fingers will be stained a fantastic vermilion, which I kind of like.



Eating this salad made me feel somewhat rabbity, as the raw vegetables were fresh and crisp.  Such a feeling is quite pleasant mid-winter.  It also made me feel somewhat virtuous.  I ate this for lunch on Saturday and am taking the leftovers to work on Monday, so I get to extend this feel-good feeling all the way into the workweek.  Which makes me happy.  Now if only that Monday didn't come so quickly.

Here's to a good, healthy, and fresh week!




One Year Ago:  Potatoes and Chanterelles Baked in Cream

-------------
Raw Beet Salad with Carrots and Ginger
Adapted from  How to Cook Everything

Yield:
4 servings

Ingredients:  
1/2 pound beets, preferably small
1/2 pound carrots
2 large shallots
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced ginger 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Instructions:
1.  Peel the beets, the carrots and the shallots. Combine them in a food processor and pulse carefully until the beets and carrots are shredded; do not purée. (Or grate the beets by hand and mince the shallots; combine.) Scrape into a bowl.

2.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the ginger, mustard, oil, and lime juice and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Toss in the cilantro and serve.




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Potato, Leek and Celery Root Soup with Orange Creme Fraiche



It almost seems as if this recipe from Fields of Greens (the second Greens Restaurant cookbook) was fated to be made.  It uses celery root, leeks, potato and orange:  all four ingredients to be found in this week's CSA box.

I am in love with celery root, also known as celeriac.  If you can find it, I recommend it over what we think of as celery in almost every cooking occasion (however, if you need it raw, celery is almost always better than celeriac).  Celery root is cultivated for its potato-sized root, rather than its woody stems and leaves, while celery is cultivated for crisp stems and leaves rather than its shrivelled root--thus, they are distinct vegetables all together.  Celery root has a tough outer surface that needs to be sliced off or peeled before cooking, and the flavor of the vegetable itself is distinctly celery, but a bit lighter and perhaps paradoxically more pungent.


Okay, here's the kicker with celery and celery root.  They are oldPeople believe that celery and celeriac are the same as selinon mentioned in The Iliad (book 2)--which the horses are chomping on.  I am currently teaching The Odyssey, so I am enamored of these 3000-year-old books.  Both books are filled with food, and I find my mouth watering whenever Telemachus or Odysseus sits down to another lavishly-described meal--perhaps a different blog might be "Cooking from The Iliad and The Odyssey." 


Anyway, celery and its root in their wild forms, as they would have been 3000 years ago, were intended as a medicinal or flavoring plant and as equine feed.  With humans, it was used to treat colds, flu, digestion problems, and water retention.  It wasn't until the 1600s that the French and the Italians risked thinking that the whole vegetable was edible.  Thus ensued much cultivation to find just the right taste.  Since then, this poor vegetable has suffered the sad position of mainstay in the Negative Calorie Diet and the tragic role of The Log in the Ants-on-the-Log lunch menu.  This is a vegetable with a history; celery deserves so much more, people.





So I say, let's sing the praises of celery and celeriac and use them both more often. I liked this little soup--as it was a fine twist on the standard potato and leek.  But, for all my heralding of the celery root, the crème fraîche was really the hit--the sweet acid from the oranges was just right with the soup.  I admit, I did not have any crème fraîche and didn't feel like running to the store, so I made a sour cream/yogurt concoction.  It was hardly authentic, and many might gasp and clutch their pearls to hear that I sacrilegiously destroyed the creme base.  However, it was still tasty.  And I stand by my decision, just as I stand by celeriac.  Here's to warm winter soups.  Enjoy.



One Year Ago: Four-Cheese, Three-Onion, Four-Herb Pizza

-------------
Potato, Leek and Celery Root Soup with Orange Crème Fraîche
Adapted from  Fields of Greens
Yield:
8-9 cups

Ingredients:  
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium-size celery root bulb, about 1 pound, peeled and sliced  [2 cups thinly-sliced celery will also work]
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 t. salt
pepper  [white pepper would look better in the soup, but black pepper works fine]
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium-size leeks, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced, and washed (3 c.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoon cream
1/2 cup crème fraîche  [sour cream with a little buttermilk or yogurt will do in a pinch]
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon minced orange zest

Instructions:
1. Put 4 cups stock, potatoes, celery root (or celery), salt, pepper, bay leaf, and garlic in pot and simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are very soft.

2.   While potatoes and celery root are cooking, heat olive oil and butter in frying pan. Add the leeks, salt, and a few pinches of pepper. Saute over medium heat until the leeks begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Cover pan and lightly steam for about 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer uncovered until the pan is almost dry.

3.  Remove bay leaf from the potato and celery mixture.  Add the leeks to the potatoes and celery, and blend in a food processor. Return to pot, 1-2 cups stock to reach the desired consistency. Cover and cook over low heat 20-30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream just before serving.

4.  Combine the crème fraîche, orange juice, and orange zest.   Garnish each serving with a swirl of the orange crème fraîche.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brine-Cured Pork Chops with Warm Red Cabbage Salad


I love a cruciferous vegetable.  I do.  And I particularly love a cruciferous vegetable with toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese on top of it.  Even better is a cruciferous vegetable alongside a brined pork chop.  



It's the middle of winter.  It's time to warm up some of those belly-filling vegetables and toss them together with some sweet, crisp fruit and drizzle some vinegar and oil atop of it all.  I love The Greens cookbook--while often the list of ingredients is long, Deborah Madison always comes through with a rockstar effort.  And the lovely surprise with this salad is the marjoram.  Don't skip it or substitute.  Yes, oregano would be yummy, but marjoram adds that special twist of flavor that is identifiable and unexpected.


The recipe for the pork chops, from Chez Panisse Cafe and Alice Waters, fared a little worse.  It was confusingly written (and I tried to clarify below), and it turned out I couldn't get the pork chops to cook thoroughly just on the stove top.  So I warmed up the oven, and put them in the oven for a little while.  What's lovely about the pork chop is that it is getting leaner (but not meaner), and it doesn't take too long in the oven--and it was oh so juicy.



Brining the pork chop, the French way according to the headnote in the recipe, makes it quite salty and juicy--sort of like a ham.  We ate only one pork chop--those suckers were big--and the next night I diced up the remaining chop and used it to flavor a pot of brown lentils. All of this just feels so belly-warming, so mid-January.



One Year Ago: Four-Cheese, Three-Onion, Four-Herb Pizza

-------------
Brine-Cured Pork Chops
Adapted from Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook
Yield:
6-8 servings

Ingredients: 
1 cup salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 bay leaves
A few peppercorns
1 clove
6 allspice berries
2 small dried chili peppers
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 pounds boneless pork loin or shoulder
Optional: chopped parsley and garlic

Instructions:
1.      Pour 2-1/2 gallons cold water in a large, nonreactive container that will hold the meat and brine. Stir in the salt and sugar. Slightly crush and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, clove, allspice, and chili peppers. Add the garlic and thyme. Add the pork and put a plate on top to keep the meat submerged. Refrigerate for 5 days or more.  Pork chops will take 2-3 days.  [Keep this in mind, as I brined the pork chops for 5 days--hey, I got behind... and they were salty.  But the over-bined pork chops were superb in lentils the next day.]

2.       Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry. If you're using roast pork loin for about 1 hour or grill over a medium fire.  For pork chops [which is what we used] brown them in a cast-iron pan; then put them ins 450 degree oven for 7-10 minutes or until the interior registers 125 degrees on the thermometer. [The cookbook suggests that pork chops will cook very quickly, about 1 minute per side.  We did not find that to be the case and added the oven roasting]. Finish with a good fistful of chopped parsley and garlic if you wish.


Warm Red-Cabbage Salad
Adapted from The Greens Cookbook

Yield:
4-6 Servings

Ingredients:  
3/4 cup walnut or pecan pieces
2 teaspoons walnut or olive oil
salt and pepper
1 red cabbage
2 crisp red apples  [The recipe calls for 1, but 2 is definitely better]
1 clove garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3-4 ounces goat cheese, broken into large pieces
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon marjoram, finely chopped [use this under utilized herb; it tastes so good]

Instructions:
1.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the nuts with the oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Let cool.

2.  Quarter the cabbage and remove the core. Cut cabbage into thin strips no longer than 3 inches.

3.  Cut the apple into six wedges, remove the core, then cut the wedges lengthwise into thin fans.

4.  Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the balsamic vinegar and the garlic, stirring briefly. Add the onion and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes until the cabbage softens and brightens in color. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

5.  Briefly toss cabbage with apple slices, herbs, nuts, and goat cheese and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moroccan Couscous with Beef and Vegetables



In late graduate school, I dated a man who was friends with the poet Craig Arnold.  Thus, I cannot say that Craig and I were friends, but we were friendly, and our circles overlapped, or at least our orbits would sometimes cross.  I liked him; he was funny, smart, and sometimes quite silly.  Later, when I moved to Denver, I went to see him read at the University of Colorado.  Craig didn't really read as much as he performed his pieces--often closing his eyes, moving his hands as if he were signing the words rather than speaking them, and then sweeping one hand over his bald head.  After the reading, I said hello to Craig, and he hugged me as if we were long-lost friends.  That was the last time we ever spoke.  Since I began teaching a Literature of Food class, I have always included two of his poems, "Hot" and "Saffron," on the syllabus.  These two poems are full of a seductive longing for what either has been lost or was never really even had in the first place.  Craig died almost two years ago.  He was hiking a volcano rim, and it is presumed he fell.

Whenever I make something with saffron, I think of this poem--even if I am not making paella.
Saffron
by Craig Arnold

The recipe is written in your voice:
Saute the rice to the color of a pearl 
in oil flavored with pepper, cinnamon bark,

bay leaf and cardamom, the small green kind.
Simmer until the spices have all floated
up to the top--if you want to, pick them out.

Just before it's done, stir in the saffron
crumbled and soaked in milk.  Such frail red threads,
odd how they bleed so yellow, so contrary

to what a purple flower's genitals
should look like.  It was in a dirt-poor dive
somewhere in Spain that I had my first taste

of paella--how anything could cost
so much, I couldn't bring myself to believe
until you brought me out into the fields,

the ragged sweeps of autumn crocuses.
Not like the ones I've seen breaking the frost,
clumps of three or four, with the forced cheer

of things made to wake up too early
--these were a paler purple, less audacious.
The harvesters were children, mostly girls,

working their way in no special pattern
from bloom to bloom.  One of them let me plunge
my hand up to the wrist in what she'd gathered

--they felt like bird's tongues sticking to my skin,
spotted with pollen, limp, bruised and damp,
with no smell to speak of.  That handful dried

would not have covered my fingernail, and that
from a whole acre.  Maybe it ended up
in your kitchen, in one of the many dishes

you taught me how to make, and which we never
ate more than half of--our tongues couldn't absorb
that much, so dense and yet so delicate:

we'd dull the taste with smoke, knocking the ashes
into the champagne flutes you had shipped back
from Murano, on our way up to bed.

There can't be that much saffron in the world
--as if to think it passed through my hands twice
would make it all appear less of a waste,

the wild, endlessly nuanced fugue of flavor,
so much variety, so much to spend.
Later, at the end, when I asked you what

you wanted if it wasn't me, you smashed
the dark brown vial across the counter, swept
spice and glass into your hand and said

This is my gold standard, my one measure
of value, the smell of money burning
--anything more expensive would be illegal.

I couldn't even begin to afford your taste.
My fingers, stained gold with its dirty sting,
still look to me like those of a small brown hand

drifting across a field, spreading the petals,
the womb pinched out like an unsightly hair
a thousand times a thousand times over,

all for a fleeting pungency, a touch
of yellow, all to prove how much
attention you command.



And so, I had the opportunity to remember this wonderful poet a little bit as I made another saffron dish.

The recipe that follows is hardly authentic, but I took a class on Moroccan cooking many years ago, and this is one of the recipes that has endured as part of our repertoire.  While it does take a little while--set aside an hour and 45 minutes for cooking--it is not a difficult recipe at all, and it's a nice twist on the somewhat standard beef stew, this one with raisins all plumped up with cinnamon and saffron.



And while the stew simmers, you have time to read the poem again. And then again.  It's that beautiful.



One Year Ago:  Potato, Leek and Fennel Gratin 

-------------------
Moroccan Couscous with Beef and Vegetables

Yield:
Serves 8

Ingredients:  
2 pounds beef chuck or lamb, cut into large chunks
1/2 cup (plus extra)  butter, divided
Kosher salt
Pepper
Pinch of saffron
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium yellow onions quartered
2 sticks cinnamon
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered or 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1quart water
1 pound (3-4) carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
1/2 pound sweet potatoes or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small fresh chiles (Thai birds eye), minced
1 cup black raisins
1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas (or 1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
2 cups dried, instant couscous
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Instructions:
1. Place the meat in the bottom of a large saucepan along with 1/4 cup butter, salt, pepper, saffron, turmeric, garlic onions, cinnamon sticks, and tomatoes.  Cover and cook over low hear for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 1 quart of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium-high; simmer for one hour, adding more water if necessary.

2.  Add the carrots, ginger and potatoes or squash to the meat broth and continue cooking another 30 minutes.

3.  Add the chiles, raisins, and chickpeas to the broth.  Return to a simmer and cook, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.

4.  When the meat mixture is close to being ready, either steam the couscous directly over the simmering meat mixture or drain 2-4 cups of broth from the saucepan.  In a small saucepan, boil the broth, add the couscous.  Immediately turn off the heat, cover the couscous, and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, add remaining butter and chopped herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5.  Serve by mounding the couscous onto a large serving platter; spread it out to form a large well in the center.  With a perforated spoon, transfer the meat and vegetables to the well.  Taste the remained broth for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.  Moisten the couscous with the broth.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mushroom Soup with Kale and Potatoes


The first recipe of the new year. Each week, I will be posting here the ingredients of the week's box and I will be adding the recipes here.  Okay, are you ready?  Here we go:  2011.

I am cooking my way through bounty.  How luxurious. 

Two years ago, we subscribed to the box from Full Belly Farms for the first time.  Oh sweet Jesus, the kale.  Kale this week, kale next week, kale all the time.  We didn't know what to do with all the kale.  Thus, I began to search out kale recipes.  And this recipe from Thomas Keller is a fantastic way to tear through some of it.

Let's learn a little about kale, shall we? Kale is a form of cabbage, which might be why I like it so much.  I am a fan of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower.  You know, all the things you were supposed to hate as a kid.  I didn't.  I loved them.  Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, indole-3-carbinol, and calcium.  I cannot even pronounce some of those words, so I am charmed that kale can provide them for me.  Kale is a pretty old veggie predating cabbage and thought to have been around for at least 2000 years.  (See here).  What delights me is that collards, kale's kissing cousin, is a corruption of the word coleworts or colewyrts, two Anglo-Saxon terms meaning "cabbage plants."  (I love the sounds of those words.  They're almost like playground insults.)  Kale itself has a good deal of variety--Scotch kale has curled and wrinkled leaves; Siberian (or Russian) kale has flat and finely divided edges; Heirloom kale (Cavolo Nero, Tuscan kale, Dinosaur kale) has wide, crinkled blue-grey leaves; and Japanese kale is almost strictly ornamental.  Kale:  it's good for you, has been around for a long time, comes in many varieties and is quite versatile.  I imagine you will want to stay tuned as I am sure there will be many more kale recipes this winter.


To start the year off right, I turned to Ad Hoc.  I have detailed my own delirious introduction to Ad Hoc here, and to begin this new year, I decided to take on another recipe from this beautiful cookbook.  Sometimes I welcome my own willingness to set aside reality, for I made this dinner on Thursday night.  A weeknight.  A school night, if you will.  And as with all Ad Hoc recipes, you need to set aside some time.  But it's worth it.  The one thing I didn't do is make my own stock, and I can imagine that making either a mushroom of vegetable stock would not only make the soup vegetarian but also make  it even lighter and yummier.  However, the substitution of boxed chicken stock was just fine.


Keller reminds us to make each of the main ingredients--the potatoes, the kale, and the mushrooms--separately before adding them to the soup base.  Such diligence and patience is rewarding because the soup boasts a simultaneous lightness as well as complexity--each ingredient is immediately identifiable and oh-so tasty.  Further, the broth remains clear without the starchiness of the potatoes or the cloudiness that can come from kale.


The addition of the garlic puree and the vinegar may seem extraneous, but I tell you, people, they are necessary, necessary components to this recipe.  Do not skip them. And enjoy the kale!


One Year Ago:  Potato, Leek and Fennel Gratin

-------------------
Ad Hoc Mushroom Soup with Kale and Potatoes

Yield:
Serves 6 (about 10 cups)

Ingredients:  
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced leeks
1 cup diced onion
Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1 bunch kale
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
10 black peppercorns
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Sachet (see below)
2/3 pound hen-of-the-woods or oyster mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced thyme
8 cups stock--mushroom, chicken, or vegetable
5-8 tablespoons Garlic Puree (see below)
1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil, for serving

Instructions:
1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add carrots, leeks, onion, and a generous pinch of salt, and reduce the heat to low and cover.  Cook very slowly for about 25 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 10 minutes, or until carrots are tender.

2.  Meanwhile, remove and discard the stems and ribs from the kale.  Set aside.

3.  Meanwhile, make a sachet of the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and garlic clove in cheesecloth.  Peel the potatoes, quarter lengthwise, and cut crosswise into large pieces.  Put the potatoes, sachet, and a generous amount of salt into a large saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Discard the sachet.

4.  Trim any woodsy-ends from the mushrooms and break into bit-sized clusters.  Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add mushrooms, season with salt and cook for about a minute to allow for the mushrooms to  absorb the oil.  Add butter, shallots, and thyme, and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned.

5.  Add the stock to the stockpot and bring to a simmer.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

6.  Blanch the kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted ad just tender.  Drain the kale

7.  To serve, stir the garlic puree into the soup.  Add the mushrooms, kale, and potatoes.  Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar.  Pour into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

Garlic Puree
Ingredients:
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
About 2 cups canola oil

Instructions: :
1.  Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves.  Put the cloves in a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1 inch--none of the garlic cloves should be poking through the oil.

2.  Set the saucepan on low to medium-low heat.  The garlic should cook gently:  very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface; adjust the heat as necessary and/r more the pan off the burner if cooking too quickly.

3.  Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.

4.  Puree garlic (only the cloves not the oil).  Refrigerate the remaining garlic and oil in a covered container.  [Use leftover garlic cloves or the oil in vinaigrette, brushed on baguette slices, or spread on toast).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Family Feast January 2011

January 01, 2011
Oakland

Ad Hoc Green Bean and Potato Salad

Cioppino  
Acme Pain au Levain

Sweet Potato Pie with Bourbon














Saturday, January 1, 2011

What a Year for a New Year


Well, here we are.  Time for some musing and then some time for projecting.

I did it.  I have cooked every page 210 in every cookbook I own.  What have I learned?

1.)  I don't like squab.
2.)  I like lamb.
3.)  I am also quite fond of duck.
4.)  I still have a soft spot for Irma even though many others have guided me wisely and well this year. 
5.)  Often I have cooked after or during momentous occasions--during one meal, we got the phone call that a job offer for the husband did not come through.  For another, we celebrated that one did.  I love that there is this record of the meals surrounding these events even if I haven't always been forthcoming in the details.
6.)  Only a couple of recipes have been bombs.  This is fine by me.
7.)  I cannot make dosa.
8.)  I am slowly learning to bake bread.
9.)  I like liver, especially if it is sauteed in cream and whiskey.
10.)  In fact, I did a lot more cooking with cream and whiskey this year than I ever imagined I would (or have ever done in the past).  I like whiskey and cream.  Both separately and combined.

I have reorganized around my cooking.  This blog has reignited my love of cooking and writing and has happily paired the two.  I have broadened what I am willing to make--on a weeknight, even.  I have been writing again, which is something I have missed and still love.  I have had an excuse to seek out boar, squab, chanterelles, fresh pasta, and nopales.  And I continue to think about the ways in which food marries memory, friendships, family, and creativity into something wonderful and baffling and elusive.  For all of this, I am grateful.
 
So, I am excited about what's coming up:  as I mentioned, I will be cooking inside the box.

This idea came one August night over dinner of fish stew with two wonderful Berkeley friends and their adorable boys (one of whom is my undeniable pal because he absolutely gasps with glee when he sees me and I find I do the same when I see him--plus lately he has taken to doing my hair in elaborate and sometimes painful ponytails).  We were pondering what my next step would be, and I mentioned that I missed my CSA box.  By the end of the evening, I vowed to reinstate the box (shout out to Full Belly Farm) and had a name for the blog for the new year.  Hence the change in upholstery and the name change (but not the address change--I have to keep my roots and all).

So some new ideas and some avowals:
1.)  Cook what's inside the box.  Even if it is a five-pound bunch of daikon radishes.  (First delivery of the box is January 11.)
2.)  Post at least once a week.
3.)  Try new recipes, attempting to find most recipes within the cookbooks I own or making some recipes of my own.
4.)  Cook page 210 (regardless of the year I receive the book) should I acquire any new ones.  (I must justify the new additions to our library--I did get the husband Bittman's How to Cook Everything for Christmas.  He got me Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World.  We're nothing if not predictable.  I did take three cookbooks to the used bookstore to make some room on the shelves.  So I have 52 cookbooks, still.)
5.)  Talk about food and literature.  I cannot help it. 
6.)  On a side project, we and the husband's family have undertaken the project (for the past year) of cooking meals for one another once a month.  Inspired by Cucina Nicolina's Wordless Wednesday, I will post here only the date, menu, and photographs as documentation.

And so, what you will find in my next post is the January Family Feast installment...

One year ago:  Greek Salad