One Last Wintry Soup

21 03 2013

Lately, I’ve been working on clearing out the stockpile of root vegetables from the CSA in my refrigerator.  I turned a backlog of potatoes, turnips, black radishes, parsnips, and leeks into a lovely vegetarian tartiflette (or veggiflette, as it was dubbed around here).  I’ve got plans for the approximately five kilos of carrots – I’m going to make this lentil hummus and serve it with a mountain of carrot sticks for a party this weekend.  I’d been meaning to make this Jerusalem artichoke soup for a while – I remembered that I had once made one with a little miso and that it was delightful – and then I got a box of shiitake mushrooms and their fate was sealed with the topinambours.

I glanced at Robuchon’s recipe for topinambour soup, and he suggested caramelizing a bit of honey with them before adding the liquid.  I thought a touch of sweetness sounded right, but I only have really strong, unique-flavored honeys at the moment, and I didn’t want to muddle the flavor too much.  A flash of inspiration hit me, surely by way of my dear friend Hannah: maple syrup!  I think it hit just the right note.

topinambour-shiitakesoup

It is probably one of the healthiest things I’ve made all winter – with so much flavor from the topinambours and the shiitakes, and a velvety texture from the potatoes (yeah, I snuck some potatoes in there, too… and some leeks) it didn’t even need a drop of cream to finish it off, just a sprinkling of wonderful meaty mushrooms.

In slightly related news, I am pleased as punch to announce my participation in Ann Mah’s fun and helpful Tuesday Dinner series on her blog.  I shared one of my favorite clean-out-the-vegetable-drawer recipes, a mouthwatering spicy Indian dal.

Now here’s to warmer days and spring vegetables!

Sunchoke Soup with Miso and Shiitake

Earthy, hearty, and oh-so-healthy, this soup warms chilly nights. If you wanted to serve it with poached eggs or grilled tofu to up the protein content, well, I think that would be a lovely idea. Jerusalem artichokes are also known as sunchokes or, in France, topinambours.

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced
1½ lbs. / 700 g Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed clean and cut into chunks
3 small potatoes, scrubbed and roughly diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. miso
2 tsp. maple syrup
1½ quarts / 1½ liters water

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
9 oz. / 250 g shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
splash of sherry
splash of soy sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes, season again, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown. Add the miso and maple syrup and stir to coat the vegetables evenly. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms release their water, the water evaporates, and the mushrooms begin to brown. Deglaze the pan with a splash each of sherry and soy sauce, and continue cooking until the liquid has once more evaporated. Scrape half the mushrooms into the soup pot and save the rest for garnish. For the most mushroom flavor, pour about ½ cup / 120 ml water into the skillet and scrape up all the brown fond from the bottom of the pan. Tip this into the soup pot as well.
  3. When the vegetables are soft, purée the soup, either in batches in a traditional blender or directly in the pot with an immersion blender. (You know which way I go.) If it’s thicker than you want, thin it out with a little water. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve piping hot with a few of the reserved mushrooms spooned on top.

Serves 4-6.

On this day in 2008: Baking Extravaganza, Act III (in which I make molten chocolate cakes in a toaster oven)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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It’s About Time!

20 05 2010

For all my moaning about the lack of cheeseburgers in Paris, I’ve never written a single post about them.  Sure, I’ve gone out for them a few times, but they tend to be either outrageously expensive, downright mediocre, or both.  But the fact is they are not really a difficult menu item to come by in Paris – in fact, just last Sunday the brunch special at the café downstairs from my apartment was a bacon cheeseburger with a coffee and a fresh-squeezed orange juice.  For eighteen euros.  Now, the dollar is getting stronger and everything, but that still seems pretty steep.  That cheeseburger sounded mighty good, though.

burger patties, handmade by Nick

So what happened?  Well, I ventured a little further down the street, to my nearest Turkish butcher/convenience store and the closest open vegetable shop and picked up everything I needed to make some top-notch burgers, as well as some chicken and vegetables for dinner, for less than the cost of one brunch special.

Steaming and sizzling

As delectable as that bacon cheeseburger sounded, bacon (and cheddar, for that matter) is a bit thin on the ground in this neighborhood on Sunday afternoons, what with the French butchers being closed and the Muslim ones not so into swine.  The consolation prize was mushroom-swiss burgers.  (Although, strangely, the Emmenthal was hard to find, too.  If I’d wanted a feta burger, I’d have been all set.  Note to self.)

White on white on white

Nick and I have been known to make burgers from time to time.  He makes the patties, mixing the ground beef with Worcestershire sauce and whatever else strikes his fancy – onions, cumin, herbs – and I make brioche for the buns.  This time, what with the last-minute craving, there was no time to wait for dough to rise.  So we made our burgers on thick slices of “Turkish bread.” It’s a big, soft loaf sold at all the Turkish stores on our street, and is extremely reminiscent of the “French” or “Italian” bread sold at most American supermarkets.  We grated the cheese for maximum meltability, and spooned sautéed mushrooms over the cheese piled on the bread.  then came the burgers themselves, and a quick toast in the oven.

Mushroom-Swiss Burger

Obviously, we served them with plenty of ketchup, and washed them down with Cola Turka.  Yeah, nothing like cooking the American classics in Paris.

On this day in 2009: The Basque Cheeses That Shall Remain Nameless

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Remembrance Risotto

2 01 2010

The Christmas goose may be gone, but its memory lives on in the two quarts of stock I made from the carcass.  Périgord month may have gone the way of 2009, and porcini (aka cèpe, another gourmet classic grown in Périgord) season may have wound down for another year – as evidenced by my fruitless search of Paris’ biggest outdoor market a couple of weeks ago – but at least they can be a year-round treat if they’re dried.  The season for fresh peas was so long ago that it’s once again in the near future, but their spirits lie dormant in the freezer, awaiting only a little warmth to bring them back for a meal.

Pea and Porcini Risotto

Throw some short-grained Italian rice into the mix, and these memories become very much a part of the present, as a warming dinner for a cold winter night.

I find the more often I make risotto, the less it seems like a big deal.  In my kitchen repertoire, risotto is edging its way into the “weeknight quickie” category, because really all you need is some stock, rice, and something fresh (or frozen, or dried) to give it personality.  It can serve as a hearty first course, but I like to scoop up a heaping bowl and make it the main event.

One-dish meal.

Happy 2010 to all.  May it bring joy, luck, new discoveries, and delicious memories.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





My Dijon Photo Album

29 10 2009

Sadly, we are running out of October.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween, and Thanksgiving even more, but I wish I had more time to explore the rich culinary heritage of Bourgogne.  There were two pretty stellar lunches, featuring Burgundian classics like kir, oeufs meurette, and all kinds of mushroom dishes (we picked the right time to go to Burgundy – just as mushroom season was getting into full swing!); and one rather disappointing dinner, which I didn’t bother photographing.  We did a lot of walking around the city, admiring the timbered houses and colorful tiled roofs.  Since I’d be here all night if I tried to cover it all in one post, instead I have built a mosaic of my favorite pictures from the trip.  Click on the title of the photo at the bottom if you want a better view or a little more info.  Enjoy!

Good views and good eats in Burgundy
1. Kir in its Natural Habitat, 2. St-Begnigne Cathedral, Dijon, 3. Velouté de Poireaux, 4. Lentil Salad with Ham at L’O, 5. L’O – Chicken in Mushroom Sauce, 6. Entrecôte at L’O, 7. Pear “Biscuit” at L’O, 8. Boules de Glace at L’O, 9. Hôtel de Vogüe, 10. Place de la Libération, 11. L’Eau d’Origine Contrôlée, 12. Oeufs Meurette at Café Gourmand, 13. Mushroom Tatin at Café Gourmand, 14. Crumble au Potiron at Café Gourmand, 15. Veal Burger, 16. Pompon Boar, 17. L’Assommoir, 18. Gargoyles

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Inspiration

18 12 2008

It always pops up in the unlikeliest places, the most unexpected times.  I often find myself wandering the market aimlessly, without a clue as to what to do with any of the gorgeous produce on display.  And then I’ll be lying in bed, or standing in line at the post office, and all of a sudden my brain shouts, “Shrimp and chorizo frittata!  With green salad and sweet onion vinaigrette!”  This can be brought on by pondering the contents of the still-malfunctioning fridge (which, as of this afternoon, FINALLY, has been fixed – hooray!), but that takes a little more focus.  And then there’s the time you read a recipe in a magazine, cookbook, or food blog, and you realize you have all the ingredients in the kitchen already.  This is rare and awesome.  Usually it’s more like you read a recipe, decide you must have it right now, and run to the store for ingredients despite the rapidly wilting spinach in the fridge.

an enduring favorite

This dinner definitely falls into the latter category.  I read this post on [eatingclub] vancouver, and I loved the sound of a creamy fennel sauce on pasta.  Plus I am a total sucker for wild mushrooms, so it was a done deal.  I’m glad they didn’t post an actual recipe, that way free interpretation is much easier.

These girolles were straight from the forest

Like when I realized I didn’t have any roasted garlic, didn’t feel like making any, and didn’t care.  I just caramelized the fennel a bit to get that deep sweet flavor, then braised it in white wine until it was very tender.  With the aid of my trusty immersion blender, I puréed the fennel into a thick sauce.

Braised fennel sauce

I finished it with a little cream, and kept it warm while I sautéed the girolles with a little fresh parsley.

Sautéeing girolles

I stirred it all up with some whole-wheat spaghetti, garnished with some reserved fennel fronds (I just love how delicate they are!) and dinner was served.

Pasta with braised fennel cream sauce and girolles

Thanks for the inspiration, ladies!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Thanksgiving in Pictures

1 12 2008

My Thanksgiving week in 12 pictures

1. Supermarket Spoils, 2. Steaming Chestnuts, 3. Mushrooms at the Market, 4. Fresh Porcini!, 5. Potimarron Peels, 6. Washed Fingerlings, 7. Exploded Garlic, 8. Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding, 9. Buttered Turkey, 10. Nick’s Mad Carving Skills, 11. Potimarron-Fingerling Gratin, (recipe here) 12. Candlelight Crisp

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Spaghetti and Fried Eggs

10 11 2008

Sounds weird, I know.  I’ve had this recipe filed away in my mental recipe box for months now.  Every time I brought it up in the past, Nick would give me this look and say “So it’s just pasta?  With a fried egg?” in such a way that eventually discouraged me from pursuing it.

Frying eggs

So I was very surprised one day last week, when, while assessing the contents of our still-not-fully-operational fridge, Nick asked me, “didn’t you have some pasta-fried egg thing you wanted to try?”  Seizing on what was surely a rare opportunity, I agreed to make it the next night for dinner with the caveat that I add something to liven it up a bit.

A trip through the produce section of the supermarket the next day proved somewhat fruitless.  I had hoped to find some mustard greens, dandelions (I have yet to try them but am quite curious), or even arugula or spinach, but they were sorely lacking in the fresh greens department.  (Spaghetti with fried eggs and lettuce doesn’t sound the slightest bit appealing, does it?)  As I meandered through the aisles, searching for inspiration, I came to the realization that I had everything I needed for a great pasta dish at home.  Contemplating the pasta and fried egg concept, I recalled that I had seen it referred to as “poor man’s carbonara.”  Further reflection dragged up some memory of peas in carbonara dishes.  Well, I have a bag of frozen peas that need to be used… but what else can I put in there to make it more seasonally appropriate?  A quick mental scan of my pantry revealed some fresh rosemary and a jar of dried porcini mushrooms.  Now we’re talking!

A jumble of ingredients

This is a perfect dish for busy weeknights.  Fast, filling, infinitely variable – I will certainly be turning to pasta and eggs for future emergency dinners.  I started rehydrating the mushrooms and boiling water for pasta, and 20 minutes later I had dinner!

Stirring the pasta

The eggs were fried in a rather large amount of garlic-infused oil, just like the original recipe.  I threw the peas in with the pasta, timing it so they would be done at the same time, and meanwhile chopped up the rosemary and mushrooms.  I saved the mushroom soaking liquid to adjust the consistency of the final dish, which turned out to be necessary as the runny egg yolks combined with the oil to create a thick, rich sauce.

Quick, tasty, filling, and cheap - what more can you ask for?

For future reference, four eggs, when combined with the pasta and other ingredients, is a lot more than two people can eat for dinner.  Not that we didn’t enjoy trying.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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