Archive | April, 2009

Oyster Stew

27 Apr
This how family helps you make soup
Alayna’s email to her sister:
Do you know mom’s oyster stew recipe? I want to make it tonight.
Sister’s email to Alayna:
Mmm… no. I asked mom once and she was like, you know, just throw in potatoes, onion, butter, celery, cream, oyster and call it a day. I’d ask her for a more specific recommendation.
That sounds delish, though!!
Alayna’s email to her mother:
Hey Mom,

Can you send me the oyster stew recipe? I know it’s easy!

Mother’s email to Alayna:
Ok, no recipe. Use a can of oysters- add it to: onion/celery/potatoes that have been sauted and cooked and then add milk/butter and pepper to taste.
Today’s soup?

I’m sorry I wasn’t so talkative last night… last 10 minutes of new Law & Order….
Love,
Mom

Alayna’s email to her mother:
Haha! Definitely understandable. There was some good Law and Ordering happening last night.

Do you think the stew will be bad if I add some stuff to it? Like maybe spinach for iron? I guess that’s it.

Love you!

Mother to Alayna:
I think it would be delicious!!! Love, mom

Thanks for understanding.
Alayna’s Mom’s Oyster Stew

Set 2 handfuls of red potatoes chopped into bite sized pieces to boil in a separate pot
Saute 1 medium sized yellow onion chopped in olive oil (in soup bowl)
and 1/2 a stick of butter
Add 2 or 3 leeks cut into bite sized pieces (just the white parts)
Chop 5 celery stalks, with the stringy ends cut off, into bite sized pieces and add to saute
Add 1 box of baby portabella mushrooms

While that’s cooking add another 1/2 of butter
Wait until the veggies aren’t all the way soft, but still sort of crunchy (same with potatoes) Drain the potatoes and add to the soup.
Pour in 2 cans of oysters with their juices
And top it off with whole milk just so you cover all the stuff you put in
Add salt and pepper to taste
Add an additional 1/2 stick of butter (optional but Alayna really likes butter)
Presto!

We also made roasted eggplant, asparagus and brie sandwiches on whole wheat pitas.
Follow up:
(Tuesday, lunchtime of leftovers, at work)
Alayna: Mary! I just found a wee pearl in my oyster stew
Mary Lorraine: ??
Alayna: By biting it
Mary Lorraine: liar!
Alayna: no! true. i will photograph for evidence with camera phone
Mary Lorraine: holy heck!
Alayna: I took a picture of it next to my pearl earring
Mary Lorraine: We will figure out how to transfer camera phone picture to blog.
Turns out, we could not figure this out.
We just make soup.
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The Veggies in Your Fridge Soup & Pizza

21 Apr
Well, well, well, wasn’t last week an exciting Monday? For reasons unknown Alayna had the Monday after Easter off. Did anyone else in the world have that day off? I haven’t heard of a soul except for the Easter bunny… ba-da-bing… but I was still excited because that meant she could start cooking earlier.
Sometimes Alayna and I worry that we aren’t going to be fed enough so we make things in addition to soup. Turns out we’re always fed enough. But still. So we made soup, and a pizza because she had a vat of left-over pesto she made last week. (That I would sometimes stick various objects in, cover entirely, and eat.) And a sheet of brownies.
We ate all of this within an hour. Granted we had Lindsay’s help. And Kate’s meager attempts at slicing off the smallest brownie sliver I have ever seen. But still. Everything was eaten. And we were merry. Even after we realized Gossip Girl was a repeat.
Sigh.
Mmmmkay, now that you’re getting the hang of soup you should have realized that veggies can be swapped pretty easily. Especially for soups like these which are mostly a hodgepodge based on what we have a lot of in the refrigerator and what we worry is going to go bad.
So ladies and gentlemen, cats and kiddies, here you go…
The Veggies In Your Fridge Soup … & Pizza!

Start by heating 2 cups of water in the microwave for 3 minutes
and then adding 1 oz of dried porcini mushrooms for 30 minutes

chop up 1 yellow onion and saute in olive oil
add fresh rosemary and thyme, a few shakes of red pepper
add in 3 celery stalks, also chopped
add in a large handful of chopped carrots
add 1 smallish eggplant, cut into pinky sized pieces (Alayna always likes to compare her veggie slices to parts of the human hand.)

Cover the pot to catch the steam
cut up 1 box of baby bella mushrooms,
2 porta bella mushroom caps (optional)
& a handful of shitake mushrooms (with bottom of stems cut off)
& add to the mix once the eggplant is becoming more cooked
let it all hang out together until things are becoming cooked through.

Once they’re almost done,
add in the porcini mushrooms WITH THEIR SOAKING JUICE
add chicken broth (or water with cubes) to cover the rest of veggies
bring to a light boil
toss in several handfuls of spinach and cook until wilted (about five minutes)
stirring occasionally
blend (in a blender) chunky and serve!


Adding milk (whole) is optional (but good).

Here is the lovely pizza we had in addition to the soup.

Alayna put on (store bought pizza dough) home-made pesto, andre cheese, tomatoes and broccoli
and it was all DELICIOUS


Look at that. I just learned how to make fuzzy things around the edges so it looks like a postcard from long ago.
While we enjoyed our soup, Zizi enjoyed her shoes.

Impress the Ladies with an Almost Carb-less Quiche

13 Apr
When Alayna’s lady friends requested a low-carb dinner, Alayna had to write to me at work to ask what that meant. No bread sort of horrifies me but the idea of a dinner party challenge was pretty exciting.

Alayna decided on “Almost-No Carb Salmon Quiche, Yams and Salad.” 

Alayna got home from work around 6-ish. Napped. Woke up and began cooking around 7pm. Guest arrived around 7:45pm. Carrie asked in astonishment, when she walked into our highly cozy apartment with a set table and food coming out of the oven, How long have you been cooking?

Not so long. 

Let’s begin:
Pre-heat the oven to 425 F
In a large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp of butter
2 chopped leeks
1 bunch of skinny asparagus  cut into small pieces
1 or 2 caps of portabello mushrooms

While this sautes whisk, in a separate bowl, 1 and 1/2 cups of regular milk
with 1/2 cup of half and half and
4 eggs
Add 2 generous spoonfuls of pesto

Butter up a pie pan
Lightly coat it with dried bread crumbs (hence, the “Almost” No-carbs quiche. This is important though otherwise the eggs will stick to the pan)
Once your sauteing veggies are crispy but mostly cooked through pour them in the pie pan like this:

Lovely.
Now…
Cut up a 14 ounce packet of smoked salmon

Add salmon tears to the veggies

And finally pour the milk mixture on top of that.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until the middle has set. 

Take out and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Now for the salad
Mix together whatever you want, spinach, baby tomatoes, carrots, radishes, zucchini. 
You know, whatever you have sitting around.

To impress with an easy Home Made Salad Dressing mix together (to taste):
balsamic vinegar with olive oil
Add stone ground mustard
a pinch of sugar
and a few sprinkles of fresh rosemary

Alayna also boiled yams and mixed them with Saint Andres cheese (this can be substituted for mild fresh goat cheese). 
Look how impressed they are.

Asparagus Squash Soup

13 Apr
aPoor sad and wonderful Harold Brodkey the dead author I discovered in the smallest used bookstore with the most books in Camden, Maine, concludes arguably his most famous story First Love and Other Sorrows with the love of soup.
I was reminded of this while I was re-reading this story on a walk to a friend’s apartment in the East Village. I mastered the art of walking and reading long ago. Even after I arrived at the apartment’s walk-up I stayed outside in the crisp early evening Saturday leaning on the railing to finish the story as couples and crazies passed me by.
The story is set in the late ’50’s. A daughter is about to get married to rich man she probably doesn’t love. The father is long dead. And there is the pre-teen son observing it all.
“I’m hungry, too,” she said. “I don’t know why.” She drifted over to the table, and bent over the chicken. “I guess emotion makes people hungry.”

The mother pushed open the swinging door, from the dining-room side. “There you are,” she said. She looked flustered. “Are you eating at this time of night?”

My sister said she was hungry, too.

“There’s some soup,” my mother said. “Why don’t I heat it up.” And suddenly her eyes filled with tears, and all at once we fell to kissing one another- to embracing and smiling and making cheerful predictions about one another- there in the white, brightly lighted kitchen. We had known each other for so long, and there were so many things we all three remembered… Our smiles, our approving glances, wandered from face to face. There was a feeling of politeness in the air. We were behaving the way we would in railway stations, at my sister’s wedding, at the birth of her first child, at my graduation from college.

This was the first of our reunions.

Perhaps This Was Their Soup

In soup bowl saute
1/2 an onion chopped
2 leeks chopped
1 yellow squash chopped
1 bunch of asparagus cut into inch pieces or smaller
Add in olive oil and 1/2 a stick of butter
with a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary

At the same time boil a handful and a half of red potatoes (with skins) in separate pot
When the veggies are crispy but mostly cooked through add the potatoes into the soup pot
Add a squeeze of one lemon
And add enough chicken broth to cover the veggies
Take off heat, puree in a blender.

French Country Soup

7 Apr
In the south of France sleeps a quaint and serene town called Aix-en-Provence. This is the town where Cezanne was inspired by the mountains and light and where Alayna and I were inspired by the soup and bread.

The inspiration of our French Country soup came from a little French restaurant right below the old town on Rue Vanloo with red canopies and outdoor patio tables. It was owned by a sweet Brazilian woman who gave us small shot glasses of carrot ginger soup before our meal. And there was very good bread. AKA soup lover’s heaven.
As promised last week, this soup’s goal was to dispel one reader’s belief, who admitted that although he liked the blog, why would he ever make a soup for forty minutes when he could make a Trader Joe’s Frozen Pizza in fifteen?
At first I wanted to lie and say this soup only took 15 minutes also, but Alayna said that would confuse our soup-making followers when they were making the recipe. I realized my competitive side was getting the best of me. The soup takes thirty minutes, unless you cut stuff super fast.
However, in the ‘ol Great Recession of ’09 making a soup that produces roughly five or so meals for $11 isn’t too bad.
And there is, of course, that overall nutrition factor which I feel like I’ve been intensely harping on recently so I’ll just let you decide what the healthier dinner option for yourself and our planet might be…
Okay, my inner-hippie is going away now.
The Soup!

But first, Alayna’s inner-hippie and her new pottery creation. The soup pot. Brilliant.

Chop between 6 and 8 cloves of garlic
saute in olive oil with a few shakes of red pepper
1/2 a yellow onion
Add in the following:
a handful of baby carrots (chopped),
half a head of broccoli
Either half of a large eggplant or a small one cut in… and I quote “pinkie sized sticks, unless you have small fingers then pointers,”
Cut in the same manner, 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash (regular sized or again, half of those weirdly giant ones),
5 vine ripe tomatoes cut in bite sized pieces.

Keep it on medium/low heat as you add everything.
Wait for the squash and egg plant to get cooked most of the way through (fork test).
Add a big handful of fresh basil (chopped) and a couple sprigs of rosemary and thyme (which you should first de-stem).
(If you want to cut down on the price you can use dried “Herb de Provence” from the jar. Though a small bunch of fresh herbs are a dollar. Your call.)

When the squash and eggplant are cooked through add enough water to cover the veggies
Add 2 packets of chicken cubes.

Presto!

Alayna’s observation: “This soup is essentially ratatouille with broth. Since ratatouille apparently means random assortment of vegetables put together… As far as I can tell.”