Monthly Archives: January 2015

New Moon Resolutions

Miss the year, get it together by the moon.

Today, January 20th is the first new moon of the year and it’s a SuperNew moon. Evidently, that’s even better than a regular ole new moon.

resolve 2015This poster from the Humanities Nebraska is my inspiration for Resolutions 2015.

  1. Read a classic work of literature. Jane Austin’s Emma was already on my list to re-visit in June. emma-jane-austen Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the 1996 versionI just love the strawberry picking party. I laughed so hard the first time I read it. I didn't know serious books could be funny.
  2. Instead of writing poetry, I’m going to read a few more a little more often. If I do write poetry, it’ll probably be Pie-ku.
  3. I’m jumping around, I admit, but the chart doesn’t have cooking or eating, and I intend to do both – another Pie in the Sky pie and I’m looking forward to join the South Shore Locavores to make pies again for the Food Pantry
  4. Attend, choose, listen – yep, on the list
  5. Ponder soups
  6. Explore flatbreads on a griddle
  7. Learn five sentences in different  language….if that language were Italian …..
  8. I feel like I’m forgetting to mention something really obvious – I guess that’s what the Next New Moon is for.

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Making Sunday Soupier

Because I work in a place with a garden, I sometimes score some lovely produce…..like beets.

Great, big, red, big, really large beets.I know that beets aren’t for everyone, and that means…more beets for me!

Beets will keep for quite a while, especially the big ones, especially in the back of the fridge. Although, being these were very large big beets – I’m talking nothing smaller then a pound, most around 2 – pounds, that is – and several checking in at 3 – they were hard to forget and get lost in the back of the dark cold place. I’ve been pulling out the smaller ones, one by one throughout December, but a nice beet soup was defiantly in my future. I’ve long been intrigued by borscht and other sorts of beety soups, maybe since Moosewood Cookbook, which has a vegetarian borscht, variation of which I’ve made in the past.

moosewoodBUT

new year, new recipes and when Bon Appetit had not only a Get Healthy headline and a recipe for Beet Caraway Soup,

Bon Appetit January 2015 New Years Cleanse and Big Batch cooking

Bon Appetit January 2015
New Year Healthy and Big Batch cooking – of BEETS

I had to think, Why don’t I pick up Bon Appetit more often? and Beets AND Big Batch Cooking, I’m soooo in !

Detroit Red  beet from Burpee Seed catalog

Detroit Red beet from Burpee Seed catalog – these are probably fist sized or slightly larger – maybe 1/2 pound a piece. A three pound beet – bigger – cradle in your arm big.

To get to the  Get Healthy  part of the story (with the menus and the shopping list and the pantry list), you have to go to the Bon Appetit website, which 1) isn’t the magazine and 2) has lots of moving parts and is an exercise in (I accidentally wrote ‘stupidity’ instead of ‘futility’, but stupidity isn’t completely wrong) exasperation , because there are links within links and for heaven’s sake, YOU ARE A MAGAZINE, PUT IT ON PAPER. LAYOUT IS IMPORTANT AND POPUPS ARE THE WORK OF THE DEVIL.

I went back more then once, on different days and I may never go back there again, which is a pity because beneath the flash and dazzle jumpiness, which may pass as edgy, but comes off as far to much caffeine, there a a really good recipe data base. Just not for me.

And the Big Batch stuff serves four. FOUR. That’s right, 4. I may not be good with numbers, but 4 is a batch, no big. For Big it should be 6-8 ; a Crowd should serve 8-12, all of which are smaller numbers then what show in my mother’s church cookbook from 1968.

Now I’m remembering why I don’t pick up BA as often as I used to……because we live in very different worlds.

BUT…. to steam-roast a big batch of beets…first, I made the batch bigger.

BIG BATCH STEAM ROASTED BEETS

4-6  pounds beets

2 Tbl olive oil

1 sprig rosemary or several sprigs fresh thyme or 2 bay leaves

1/4 cup water

  1. If the beets are very large (over 1 #) or uneven sizes, peel and cut to make them the same size.If you have a bunch and they’re pretty uniform, wash and trim the tops and tails and you can peel them after. If you have large ones, peel them now. The red will wash off your hands, I promise.
  2. Put them in a large heavy bottom pot/Dutch oven.
  3. Add the oil and toss all around.
  4. Salt and pepper.
  5. Put in the herbs and the water.
  6. Cover tightly.
  7. At this point you can put it in a 425° oven OR
  8. Put it on the stove top on high.
  9. Stir every now and again.You want the roasty/searing thing, not burning – adjust accordingly.
  10. Beets are done when a knife pierces easily – 30-60 minutes depending on the size of the beets and their age (and whether or not it was a dry or wet season when they were growing).
  11. Cool. They’ll keep at least 3 days in a covered container in the fridge. They can be used as is in salads, or in smoothies or soups.

adapted from Bon Appetit January 2015

Now for the soup.

BEET  SOUP with caraway

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 medium onion

1 leek

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 # cooked beets

2 cups buttermilk, more for serving

cracked pepper (for serving)

  1. Chop the onion and slice the leek.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add caraway seeds and cook, stirring, until they start to pop and dance around in the pan, about 1 minute.
  4. Add onion, leek, and a little water to keep seeds from burning; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, 5–7 minutes.
  6. Add beets and 4 cups water to pan.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15–20 minutes.everything should be pretty soft.
  8. Let mixture cool slightly, then purée in a blender in 2 batches, adding 1 cup buttermilk to each batch. Gently heat soup, adding water to adjust consistency if needed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
  9. Serve drizzled with buttermilk  and more cracked pepper.

adapted from Bon Appetit Jan 2015

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Another Souper Sunday

It started with a leek….

Well, there’s almost never just one of them….

Leeks in the garden - some are flowering and forming seed heads - this is not the optimal time to harvest them. Looks like August to me. If you plant them in September, you can eat them all winter, you just have to wait for the ground to thaw to harvest them. Or plant them in a hoop house. They grow in the cold, just slowly.

Leeks in the garden – some are flowering and forming seed heads – this is not the optimal time to harvest them. Looks like August to me. If you plant them in September, you can eat them all winter, you just have to wait for the ground to thaw to harvest them. Or plant them in a hoop house. They grow in the cold, just slowly.

except sometimes in a painting

Still Life with Copper Pan - and one leek - Jean-Simeon Chardin - 18th century

Still Life with Copper Pan – and one leek – Jean-Simeon Chardin – 18th century

I had thought to make the bright green leek soup that had been in the New York Times last Wednesday.

leek soup NYT Jan 2015 07KITCH-articleLarge

This just looks so fresh and GREEN…so I went looking for leeks a the Farmer’s Market

I found leeks at the Farmer’s Farmer’s Market, and of course, couldn’t remember anything else that was in the soup…it was fresh spinach, but I’m pretty sure that I didn’t see any of that. Fresh pea shoots, yes, and fresh other greens, but not spinach.

Since the Soups of Italy was still out on the table…and the Ancient Romans ate leeks  or porri I was sure there’d be at least one recipe.

I was surprised that there was this one, that judging from the smudges I have made at least once, that I had no memory of making at all.   And if you can see something in your mind’s eye, can you taste something in your mind’s eye, can you taste something in your mind’s mouth? Anyhow, it looked like it would taste good.

AND

I already had everything on hand – no need to go out in the cold for a grocery run!

This week’s soup:

Minestra di Patate e Porri

Potato and Leek Soup

Ingredienti:


Potatoes – 1-1 ½ #

Leeks – 2 #

Broth – 5-6 cups (or water)

Fettucinne – 6 oz dried/12 oz fresh

Bacon (2 strips smoky), water, butter, oil, celery rib, onion, garlic, sage leaves, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Elementi:

Sapori

2 strips smoky bacon

1 # potatoes

1 # leeks

Salt

  1. In large heavy bottom pan, cook the bacon over medium high heat.
  2. Wash, peel and dice the potatoes. (Save the peels for broth making)
  3. Rinse and thinly slice the white and light green parts of the leeks.
  4. When the bacon strips are crispy, remove from the pot and put aside. Add the potato and leeks to the bacon grease and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Mix everything well and then add enough water to cover.
  6. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot, keeping to a simmer, for 30 minutes. A hard boil is going to make the potatoes pasty, as in wall-paper paste pasty, so keep the heat gentle throughout.
  7. When they are cooled somewhat, puree them before adding them to the soup pot, although I often forget this step and have never regretted it. The potatoes are pretty cooked down and the leeks soft and lovely, and the back of a wooden spoon breaks things down and keeps things interesting at the same time.

Battuto

1 # leeks

1 medium onion

1 celery rib

1 garlic clove

2-4 sage leaves

1 Tbl butter

2 Tbl oil

  1. Rinse well and thinly slice the 2nd pound of leeks, white and light green parts.
  2. Finely dice together the onion, the celery rib, the garlic clove and the sage leaves.
  3. Heat the oil and butter together in a heavy bottom soup pot. Add the leeks and the diced onion, celery, garlic and sage. Give them about 5 minute a few quick stirs until things softens and get fragrant.

Brodo

5-6 cups broth

  1. Add the broth to the pot. Add the cooked potato and leeks to the pot. Stir everything well. Bring to a gentle simmer, and keep partially covered at a simmer for 30 minutes.

Condimenti

6 oz dried fettuccine or 12 oz fresh, cut into 2” pieces

¼ C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cooked bacon, crumbled

  1. Put on a pot of salted water to cook the pasta – OK – reality check –IF you are going to serve and gobble down every last drop of this soup in the next hour or so, by all means, drop your store-boughten boxed dried little noodles bits into the soup and serve away….but IF you went to the bother of making noodles or the expense of buying fresh, take the time and trouble to boil them separately, and IF you’re looking at more soup then will be eaten at one meal and will have a leftover plan, then boil them separately. The combination of long cooked potatoes and cooled down pasta leads to a fairly nasty blob of starchy food-like-stuff by the time it cools down. If on the other hand, you have no interest in flavor or texture, just calories when you eat, I can’t imagine why you’re reading recipes in the first place and there are plenty of cans and containers of things on the grocery store shelves that you can heat in the microwave and eat directly from in less time than it took you to read this far. But it takes all kinds, and there’s room for everyone at the table who will please observe the Clean Hands/Clean Behavior Rule.
  2. Back to the recipe- put a pot of water on to boil, cook the fettuccine al dente, drain well.
  3. Add the fettuccine to the soup.
  4. Serve the soup with the grated cheese and crumbled bacon.

4-6 servings.

Adapted from Minestra di Lasagnette e Porri in Soups of Italy, pp. 170-1.

Soups of Italy

Soups of Italy

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Block off the Ole Chip

Chocolatebrownie

Block of brownie goodness made from chocolate chips – and  few other basics.

Basic brownie history from New England Recipe website – click it

Basic Brownie

1/3 cup butter

¾ cup sugar

2 Tbl H2O

1 12-oz bag chocolate chips, divided (whatever kind of chips you want – mix it up)

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

¾ cup flour

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

  1. Grease a 9×9 pan and preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. In a large saucepan combine butter, sugar and water. Bring just to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add ½ of the chocolate chips and the vanilla; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time.
  5. Gradually add flour, soda and salt.
  6. Stir in remaining chips.
  7. Spread in the greased 9×9 pan.
  8. Bake 30-35 minutes.
  9. Cool completely before cutting.
  10. Makes 16 2 ¼ inch squares.

Adapted from the back of a Nestlés packet, c. 1985

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Souper Sundays

Since Winter is once more upon us, and Since that means colddddddd weather, and Since Soup is Good Food….

And a pot of soup made on Sunday is lunch and quick supper through the week. Or freezer fodder, to be mined and microwaved at nearly a moment’s notice.

Soups of Italy

Norma Wasserman-Miller Soups of Italy. William Morrow and Co 1998. I’ve had my copy since 2000.

130 soup recipes, each with a story…and sooo many happy endings

Soup for the year round, but I spend the most time with this book in the Winter

Norma writes:

Above all else, soup remains una cucina di casa, “a cuisine of the home.” Indeed, it was the homes and kitchens of so many gracious Italian friends and professional cooks that inspired the recipes and techniques for this book. The numerous recipes I came across had a notable lack of measurements and a heavy reliance on the words in stagione, “in season.” Perhaps this is what I love most about Italian soup cookery – a reliance on simple, good ingredients along with the inventiveness to effortlessly turn them into flavorful soups with character and individuality.

Itroduzione, p. 3.

Norma Wasserman-Miller

Norma Wasserman- Miller . She paints in London now.

Here are the component parts of the soup story:

Battuto – often soffritto – that is the aromatic/ soffritto just means ‘fried’. There are 3 universal solvents – one of them is oil – onions, garlic, celery, fennel, carrots, peppers, even parsley heated in some oil, smells good, tastes, good, this is the base

Sapori – the main ingredients, the big taste.

Brodo – the liquid – don’t overlook water as a broth ; broth, meat or veg  -Water is the second universal solvent…alcohol is the third, so a little wine can boost everything else up

Condimenti – the things added at the end, but also the garnishes and accompaniments – fresh herbs, slices of bread, freshly grated cheese; a dash of vinegar, balsamic or otherwise, or a squeeze of citrus liven things up nicely … also, the things you often add to the bowl and not the pot.

But the lentil soup I made on this first weekend of the New Year, was from somewhere else, but follows the Soups of Italy game plan.

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Tomato

3 Tbl olive oil

1# fresh Italian sausage, either sweet or hot

1 onion

2 carrots

2 celery ribs

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

4 garlic cloves

2 Quarts low sodium broth (I used 2 boxes of the chicken broth with wine and herbs. You can also use homemade broth, just add a slug of wine (say 4-8 ounces)

1 28 oz can diced plum tomatoes (or whole, and then break them up)

2 C lentils – pick through them and rinse them

1 Tbl Dijon mustard

½ C chopped fresh parsley (the bunches in the grocery store have been all over the place this winter – I’ve had some bunches that were big enough to be a bride’s bouquet and others closer to boutonnière size – flat or curly, cook’s choice, and save the stems for soup stock)

  1. Heat 1 Tbl of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add the sausages and cook them until they are brown all over, 7-10 minutes.
  2. Mince the onion; peel and chop the carrots and chop the celery – you can include the leaves.
  3. Remove sausages to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Add the remaining 2 Tbl of oil to the pot and then the chopped onion, carrot, celery. Add the bay leaves and ½ tsp salt.
  5. Stir frequently, until it is all light golden and fragrant.
  6. Mince the garlic (I confess, I use a press) and add to the pot, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the broth (wine if you’re using), the canned tomatoes (squeeze the whole ones through your fingers so they don’t turn into little red rubber balls bobbing along in the soup, and the juice of the tomatoes), and the rinsed lentils to the pot.
  8. Add 1 tsp salt and pepper (this salt is to season the lentils – if you are not using a low sodium broth you can skip this step)
  9. Increase heat and bring to a boil. When boiling, cover and reduce heat for a simmer.
  10. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  11. Meanwhile, cut the sausages into ½ inch thick slices.
  12. When the lentils are tender, remove and discard the bay leaves.
  13. Stir in the Dijon mustard, add the sausage slices and cook until the sausage is heated thoroughly, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add the chopped parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Adapted from Stand-Up Soups, Adam Reid in the Boston Globe Magazine, 2-2-2014, p. 22, which was adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Drucker and Clara Silverstein.

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Flat Bread Journal

A year of baking flatbreads – on the griddle. That’s what I want to do this year.

English Muffins are probably the flat-bread that has most recently been on your plate

English Muffins are probably the flat-bread that has most recently been on your plate

Part of my inspiration was the reading this

52 loaves

He bakes every week for a year, trying to perfect one recipe – but I’m looking for range, not just depth

And that inspired me to pick up this….

The Bread Journal

The Bread Journal -A Year of Weekly Baking CHART YOUR PROGRESS toward baking the perfect country loaf in this weekly baking journal. Lists, check boxes and prompts provide a satisfying record of every decision. That’s what it says, I kid you not.

Which begs the questions:

  1. When did bread become perfect?
  2. When did the country loaf become the ideal?

But I digress…

I’ll start with English muffins and move on to oatcakes and farls, to tortas and testa and spend some time with Johnnycakes – these are my jumping off points,  the beginning, so  it’ll be interesting to see where this will go.

I’m starting with English muffins because I’ve made them before, and I have a variety of recipes for them. Some call for more of a batter and muffin rings, which I’ve pretty much left behind, and others call for rolling and cutting with a biscuit cutter, which I can easily live without, and most of the rest are a dough that is cut into pieces that are rolled into individual little loaves that are them cooked up.

And then there’s the griddle issues…..

mine is cast iron

cast iron griddle - 12 " - I bought this either at Charlie in North Plymouth or at the Bradlee's that was in Kingston - it was over 30 years ago, so it all blends together

cast iron griddle – 12 ” – I bought this either at Charlie in North Plymouth or at the Bradlee’s that was in Kingston – it was over 30 years ago, so it all blends together

Even if it weren’t perfectly fine and familiar, the temptation for a soapstone griddle…

Isn't this pretty?

Isn’t this pretty? How much would this weigh? I could lift griddles instead of kettle-balls as a get-fit program…

is tempered by the expense of something new, and expense in time as trying to figure out how it works, and how to make it work better, as well as the cash outlay – and then there’s whatever the shipping would be to move a hunk of stone to my doorstep….all expenses I can well do without for the now, and for a good piece of now to come.

And this is the first English Muffin recipe I”ll be trying. It may be the first English muffin recipe I ever tried.

The Better English Muffin

1 C milk

2 Tbl and then 1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

3 Tbl butter

1 ¼ C warm water

2 packets dry yeast

2 ½ C whole wheat flour

2 ¼ C AP flour

¼ C wheat germ

Cornmeal

  1. Scald the milk and add 2 Tbl of brown sugar, the salt and the butter. Put aside and cool to lukewarm.
  2. Stir the 1 tsp of brown sugar into the warm water. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir again and wait for it to bubble and froth.(about 5 minutes)
  3. Mix the flours together with the wheat germ in a large bowl.
  4. Gradually mix in the lukewarm milk mixture and then the yeast mixture.
  5. Knead until it forms a soft dough. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.
  6. Put the dough in a covered bowl and let it rise in a warm place 15 minutes.
  7. Punch the dough down and divide into 16 pieces.
  8. Roll each piece into a ball.
  9. Place each little dough ball on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet.
  10. Press down on the dough to flatten them, about 3” diameter circles. Cover and let rise for another ½ hour.
  11. Heat a griddle on high and grease lightly with butter.
  12. Place dough circles on hot griddle and cook for 5 minutes each side.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.
  14. Before serving, split each muffin in half with a fork, toast thoroughly and butter.

Ruth Ann Manners and William Manners. The Quick and Easy Vegetarian Cookbook. M. Evans and Co: New York. 1978. Pp.118-9.

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