Posts tagged ‘Soups and Stews’

October 5, 2011

Local Foods Week | Rabbit

 

Sometimes dinner is completely off the grid.  Tonight’s rabbit was an example of that.  Not purchased at a store or farmer’s market, simply gifted to me from generous friends who have local farmer friends.  The dinners, over two nights, could not have embodied the essence of local more than that.

Spot the backyard bunny. No, this was not dinner.

For the squeamish, let me tell you that a beautifully raised, local rabbit might strike you as tasting a whole lot like turkey.  For the more adventurous, it is light, meaty and absolutely delicious.  It is a protein entirely worth hunting down (albeit grocery shopping or the actual in-the-woods kind) to find responsibly-raised meat.

I wasn’t home last night and Hades took it upon himself to braise our rabbit with leeks and carrots and some decidedly non-local French vermouth.  He served it with warm red cabbage, beet and apple salad and a butternut puree.

I cannot begin to express my bitter disappointment at not being home for this meal.

Freakishly, there were leftovers. 

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September 22, 2011

Farewell, Summer Garden | Gazpacho

Every so often you run across a recipe that begs to be made just as is, such as Spanish maestro José Andrés’s recipe for gazpacho.  Not a more perfect dish than this can be found to send summer off into its nine month hiatus.  Celebrate all that we are losing before the clock strikes 5:05 a.m. tomorrow.  Well, perhaps this post is a bit late for that, but rustle up some of these ingredients this weekend for a quick, albeit belated, goodbye.

I used some gorgeous, juicy yellow tomatoes from a Green B.E.A.N. Delivery box along with peppers and cucumbers from my back yard.  All gone now.

Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.

Playlist included Quiet Town, by Josh Rouse.

March 15, 2011

Irish Cooking | Pork Rib Stew

So much of Irish cooking was born from necessity.  But from Ireland’s extraordinary hardships came simple, delicious farmhouse dishes that rely on cheap, available ingredients.  In this case, there are a mere four ingredients – pork ribs, bacon, onions, and of course, potatoes.  Then, with a little heat and a little time, they transform themselves into a comforting, nourishing, almost healing stew that makes the house smell beautiful.  Plus, its inexpensive and bountiful – it easily makes enough to feed a sizable group.  So make the most of not very much and bring the family around your table.  And that’s a lot more Irish than green beer.

Irish Pork Rib Stew, Serves 6

2 lb pork ribs (not baby back), cut into six pieces

3 slices bacon, chopped

1 large onion, sliced

4 large potatoes, approximately 2 lbs, two peeled and sliced, two peeled and cubed

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add bacon.  Cook until lightly browned, then add ribs and cover with four inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Skim off any fat and foam that rises to the surface.  Add onions and potatoes and cook for another three hours.

Serve with brown bread and homemade butter.  (The easiest recipe which I’ll post tomorrow.)

Playlist included Only Shallow, by My Bloody Valentine.

November 22, 2010

Tennis with Escoffier

This past weekend, I picked up a couple pounds of oxtail from Bluescreek Farm Meats.  There were a number of ways I could have prepared them, but I was itching for a challenge.  Every once in a while, I need to stretch myself, culinarily speaking.  And while none of the ingredients were particularly exotic (ok, aside from the oxtail), I used a very old recipe from my copy of the Escoffier Cookbook as a guideline.  I made oxtail soup.  It’s not what you would call a “quick” recipe.  But that wasn’t really the point on Saturday. 

A perfectly imperfect brunoise.

There were several techniques within the recipe that I felt like trying out, not only to say that I had, but to see how well I could manage them.    Do I regularly cook what amounts to a light first course over the course of six hours?   No.   But I wanted to take a shot at making a raft (an egg white mixed with diced white parts of a leek and a small bit of very lean ground beef) to clarify the soup.  And I wanted to practice my brunoise with some carrots.   As it turns out, I’d be fired pretty quickly from any professional kitchen for how slow and inconsistent I am.  But was it better than I had done before?  Yes!  (And heck, I thought they looked pretty.)

Cooking a difficult recipe like this is for me, a lot like playing tennis with Roger Federer.  You should play tennis with someone who’s much better at it than you.  Otherwise, how can you expect to improve your serve?  Cooking this way teaches me new things about myself as a cook.  I like learning.  And I learn a lot when I make a recipe like this.  I will omit how I can’t actually play tennis anymore because of a torn labrum from a backhand, but you get my point.

What it all boils down to for me is that cooking is a pleasurable way to spend time.  The fact that at the end of all of it, you get to eat something that might not be textbook perfect but tastes pretty great?  Well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

Playlist included Heaven Can Wait, by Charlotte Gainsbourg, featuring Beck.

October 6, 2010

Simple Supper

Because we had a lovely filling lunch at Skillet, I couldn’t exactly bring myself to make a full on dinner.  Which was fine by everyone.

So for a quick, satisfying meal, I made the old fall standby, butternut squash soup.  It doesn’t have to be filled to the brim with cream, it can be rich and silky with just the squash and some good stock.  Garnish with bacon or don’t; it’s flexible for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Whipped Cream

1 medium to large butternut squash

3 oz bacon ends, chopped 

4 green onions (or a small chopped onion)

2 cloves of garlic

1 T bacon fat, butter or olive oil

3 to 5 cups of good quality (i.e., homemade) chicken or vegetable stock; if you don’t have it, please don’t use boxed stock, just use water

4 or 5 fresh sage leaves, julienned

1/4 c heavy cream

Olive oil, salt, pepper

Begin by peeling your butternut squash.  PK tip: peel it twice.  If you do it once, it will still be somewhat pale and starchy looking.  You want to peel to the nice orange part.  Cut the ends off, cut it in half, remove the seeds and cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes.  Space cubes evenly on a roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, mix with clean hands to coat evenly.  Slide into a 400˚ oven for about 30 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, in a large sauce pot render some bacon (if using).  When crispy, remove to a paper towel and save about a tablespoon of the fat to soften the onion and garlic over low heat.  When the squash is soft (a fork pierces it easily) either add to the pot with the softened onion and garlic along with 3 cups (to start) of stock and use an immersion blender to puree.  If you don’t have one, combine all in a food processor or a blender.  Return the puree to a sauce pan to heat through, adding more stock to thin to the consistency you like.

For a garnish, whip the cream until it’s stiff (but not butter!) and add in the sage and a pinch of salt.  Another – even quicker – method is to use a small food processor or an immersion blender with a whisk attachment.  Super fast whipped cream.  I like that.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls, garnish with a generous sprinkling of bacon and a nice spoonful or a quenelle (if you can do that – I still kind of stink at making them) of whipped cream.  Serve immediately as the whipped cream begins to melt quickly.

The only ingredients that weren’t local were the olive oil, salt and pepper.  For complete sourcing, see the Farms and Producers page.

Playlist included Carry Me Ohio, by Sun Kil Moon.  Sounds like falling leaves.

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