August 19, 2012
I stood in this kitchen this morning knowing that I wanted a traditional Sunday dinner. I was in the mood to let something cook, take a bit more time preparing something. I pulled out one of my favorite books that I hadn’t looked at in a while: Heart of the Artichoke, by the wonderful David Tanis. In it, the summer menus tugged at me and I decided to roast a spatchcocked chicken and make up a rice salad with some of the beautiful Carolina Gold rice some dear friends brought back from a summer vacation in South Carolina.
And, as luck would have it, none of this was actually time intensive. I love it when I have the time to give to something and the fates tell me not to worry about it.
In addition to being a really nice guy, Mr. Tanis is such a clever chef and cook, in the book he offers numerous variations on many of his recipes, adding or omitting an ingredient or two and giving you a whole new way to enjoy a dish, transitioning from side dish to satisfying lunch in a short jump. Really good stuff. It’s a way to start thinking about what you have in the pantry and the fridge to re-purpose yesterday’s dinner into a wholly new meal. It’s leftovers, elevated.
So tonight, after devouring half a lemony roast chicken and having just the teeny-ist bit of the herb rice salad leftover, I eyed the golden fond in the chicken roasting pan and remembered my favorite soup from Tasi: a lovely lemon chicken soup.
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June 4, 2012
This past weekend the most recent Top Chef winner Paul Qui was in town at Market District to do a demo and answer questions. Honestly, I don’t think there has been a nicer, more unassuming winner of that crazy show. He’s just such a humble, talented guy. His dishes were lovely light versions of chicken rice (his with lots and lots of a lemony ponzu) and a summer miso soup. Things, he says, are his comfort foods. I can completely see why.
His cooking got me thinking about dishes I had made in the past but could bring together for the perfect, almost no effort summer dinner. Granted, you’ll have Asian food a couple of days in a row, but I don’t think that ever hurt anyone. Plus, this is the time of year that you can gather just about everything locally, aside from the kombu, katsuobushi and a couple of pantry items.
But perhaps the thing that makes me happiest about this kind of dinner is that since everybody gets to choose what to include in their bowls, it’s lots of fun for Cherub. She amazed even me tonight by her choice of tofu, zucchini, carrots, green onion, bean sprouts and snap peas. But she passed on the fresh sweet corn. (What kid does that?) And she even had seconds.
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February 24, 2012
This is truly and honestly my most favorite soup of all time. It is creamy and comforting, spicy and flavorful. It is African-influenced. It is at once modern and familiar. And while you’ll need a handful of spices (have you been building your spice cabinet?), the technique is simple and fairly quick.
I first came across this soup years and years ago when I lived in New Jersey. Montclair, with its “winter views” of Manhattan, had an outpost of what was, for a brief shining moment, a wonderful little soup shop. Initially, it was really great. But then, the original owners dropped out after making a cookbook, someone else took over. You know the story. This shop was in a teeny what-used-to-probably-be-a-closet-for-maintenance-equipment underneath railroad tracks.
But this soup. The combination of leeks and curry and peanuts and spice and goodness, well, it was worth it what I seem to recall being like nine bucks a bowl.
Here’s my take on all the warm toasty soup goodness with none of the pesky cost. Enjoy it when it’s chilly and you want to skip the meat for a night or four. This makes plenty.
Spicy Senegalese Peanut Soup, makes a whole bunch (inspired by a recipe in The Daily Soup Cookbook)
1 12 oz bag of roasted, salted peanuts (this is the size of a bag from Whole Foods)
2 T vegetable oil, (or preferably peanut oil)
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December 7, 2011
Tonight’s dinner wasn’t really planned, per se.
And lately I’ve been trying to formulate a way to express just how meals come together at our house. Because I think it’s kind of important. Cooking is a part of almost all that I do. But not in an intrusive, takes-up-all-my-time kind of thing. It’s easy. I keep saying that because I think everyone can look at how they use their time and fill in a spare five or ten minutes with a few small tasks that really elevate meals into something special. Even if a portion of it is takeaway from a grocery store.
Yesterday I picked up some crab cakes from Fresh Market (December is buy one get one free salmon fillets and crab cakes on Tuesdays). And I knew that I had a good piece of butternut squash in the fridge. A whole roasted pie pumpkin from over the weekend was in there, too.
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October 24, 2011
It’s simply the best of the last of the garden. Eight ears of the last of the sweet corn. Cobs scraped completely clean, releasing all that sweet corn “milk.” I think it’s what makes this soup special.
But perhaps, too, it’s that I added in the last few peppers still standing on my counter. Another handful of tomatoes that were picked green in the back garden, but managed to ripen despite that deep insult. And green onions picked up at the farmer’s market. Plus two palmfuls of teeny purple potatoes (that were a growing experiment by me) from a more experienced gardener friend. Generous pinches of fresh thyme from the terracotta pot on the patio. Twists of pepper. A blessing of salt.
Poach a few shrimp in the hot soup to make it more substantial. Or some smoked haddock would be perfectly at home. Or if you have leftovers, top bowls of soup with a crumbled a link of andouille and some sauteed shrimp for a take on a gumbo. That’s what I’m going to do.
Corn Milk Soup, serves 6 to 8
4 strips bacon, sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
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March 14, 2011
In addition to being in love with Indian cuisine, English cuisine, Spanish cuisine, Mexican cuisine, Japanese cuisine and – I’m sensing a pattern here – all manner of cuisines, I figured it’d be a kindness to share a few Irish recipes that I love as well, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
This cream of scallop soup took nearly no time to cook (easy enough for lunch), had just a few ingredients (many already in the pantry and fridge) and tasted deliciously complex. I’m banking on that it was the anchovies.
Yes, I know, you told me last time, you don’t like anchovies. But here I am again, giving you another recipe that uses them and telling you, you’ll like it. It’s delicious. As my bowl was being licked clean, it occurred to me, that this soup base is fantastic for all manner of seafood; lobster would be equally at home here. It would also serve as a perfect broth for a few potatoes and clams for a clam chowder.
Cream of Scallop Soup, Serves 3, Inspired by The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook
1/2 pound small bay scallops
2 T butter
2 T onions, minced
1 1/2 T flour
3 c whole milk (I used Snowville, since the milk is crucial in this recipe)
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February 7, 2011
I have met some of the nicest folks because of writing this blog. One such person is Spenmax. I first ran across her writing when I was looking for bento box ideas for Cherub. She posts regularly about the authentic Japanese lunches that she carefully and lovingly packs for her little ones. I have found a lot of inspiration from her posts to fill the adorable box I bought for Cherub at Tigertree. She also has a delicious wealth of knowledge about Japanese food and is kind in sharing what she knows. She gave me the extra details I needed to transform the egg drop soup I had planned for dinner into something similar to what she might have grown up eating. It was, I’m sure, a pale imitation, but I do always try to honor the heritage of the food I’m making. And I’m happy to highlight my blogging friend.
Spenmax’s Tamago Toji, serves 2
6 c. dashi broth
4 inch piece of daikon radish, sliced in small batons
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