Archive | June, 2010

Rosy Beet Soup & Rosemary Bread

29 Jun

When Mary and I met in France in 2004 there were two very good reasons (other than our sparkling personalities) that we became friends. First, the painting studio where we both took classes (she full-time, and I, part) was 30 minutes outside of town… and while this may not have been before iPods, we certainly didn’t have them, so a walking buddy was necessary. The second was that Mary had her own apartment. It was essentially two rooms and bathroom (a studio that most New Yorkers would kill for), but didn’t really have a kitchen. Yes, there was a hotel sized mini-fridge in the kitchen room, and yes, there was a real sink, but the “stove” consisted of two hotplates. And man, how I coveted those hotplates.

I had somehow ended up with the only host mother in Aix-on-Provence who just could not cook. We got served fish sticks and chicken fingers and plain white bread toast. Food was half the reason I’d GONE to France and somehow I was in freezer aisle 7 instead of gastric paradise. To make matters worse, my host mom hated it if we were in the kitchen for anything more than making an instant coffee (instant coffee!!!!!! BAD instant coffee!), so my options for deliciousness became to go out, or, once the reality of being on a budget set in, to cook on Mary’s hotplates. And man… we cooked on those hotplates. It started out just the two of us, but eventually our dinner parties maxed out at about twenty people. I’m not 100% sure how we did it, but it always ended up being a good time.

In the years since college, I’ve used cooking more and more as a stress reliever… In Mexico I cooked a five course meal at 11 o’clock at night to help me figure out how to deal with an assault case in one of our communities. A particularly stressful day, more often that not, will end in a very chopped or hand-whipped dinner. And yesterday, when I woke up at 7:20 already anxious about leaving New York and finding an apartment in DC for August 1, I did the only logical thing… I decided that it was time to make the bread recipe my mom had sent me the week before. The one that requires going to the bodega in my pajamas at 7:30 in the morning (why are the high schoolers still hanging out there that early? Isn’t school out?) because it has to rise for twelve hours and baking at 450 degrees on the hottest and muggiest day of the year, even though my apartment is barely air-conditioned. Then I decided I should make a roasted veggie soup that can’t be in the oven at the same time because my oven is too small and some salmon, quinoa and sautéed greens while I was at it (although those are for another day).

I’m not going to lie, a few sweaty hours later, I was still nervous about school and leaving New York, but now at least I have some darn good leftovers.

Oh, and a punny soup thing, in the hopes that everything comes up roses in the end.

Rosy Beet Soup

  • Chop about 6 parsnips, 2-3 large carrots and 4-5 beets into pinky width slices and place in a Pyrex brownie pan with a handful or two of chopped parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil
  • Cover with tinfoil and bake at 400-450 for 30-40 minutes (until you can easily fork the veggies), stirring once or twice
  • Take out the veggies and let them cool off (potentially while you’re baking your bread)
  • When adequately cooled, but veggies into a blender in batches, adding water (and ice if you were impatient… cheap trick, but it works!) to each batch to make it mixable
  • Once everything is blended, add more water if necessary, salt, pepper, the juice from one or two lemons and another handful of chopped fresh parsley and serve!
  • Could also be served with a dollop of greek yogurt, sour cream, some goat cheese crumbles or warm

Rosemary Bread:
  • Mix 3 cups of flour with 1/2 a package of yeast, some fresh chopped rosemary (optional) and about one tablespoon of salt (I was making salty bread, if you don’t want salty bread, use only 1.5 teaspoons…. I also still don’t own measuring spoons, so…. yeah). Add 1.5 cups of water and stir until it makes a dough
  • Let rise for 12 hours in the bowl
  • When your twelve hours are up, heat up your oven to 450 with the dutch oven inside (or, if you’ve already been cooking, heat it up on low on the stove top with the lid on), then pick up the dough from the bowl, coat it in olive oil and place the dough in the dutch oven (covered) and the dutch oven in the regular oven
  • Cook 20-30 minutes with the lid on, and 10-15 with the lid off

Not Just Greens

22 Jun

This Monday’s Soup was so emotionally exhausting there was a period when Alayna and I just gazed at Zizi, deeply sighed, and said something like, “Thank God for cats.”

In other news, Alayna had her pottery show on Saturday night! Look at that dinner set! I asked her if it took her more than 80 hours to make, she looked at me like I was nuts. So yeah, apparently making an awesome 8-seat dish set and serving wear which are all different creatures and flowers, you know, takes a long time.

That’s all I’ve got this week, friends. I dropped off about 3 pounds of various greens which were severly stressing me out at Alayna’s last night. I might just miss picking up my vegetables from the CSA this week because I feel like radishes and baby onions are taking over my home. This soup was a delight. We used new and exotic spices. It made the soup orange instead of green, which was awesome. I also commented that I think this is the most beautiful soup we’ve ever made because it had all the colors of the rainbow.

Enjoy the rainbow.

Not Just Greens

  • Saute six cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil
  • When fragrant, add one chopped white onion and cook until about halfway wilty. At that point, add a generous amount of tumeric, some cumin, garam masala (if you have it) and powdered chili
  • Add about a handful of chopped carrots and cook covered until they begin to soften
  • Add one chopped yellow squash and cook another few minutes until they begin to soften
  • Add one cup of quinoa and fill in your soup pot, bringing up the heat to cook at a simmer/low boil for 10-15 minutes until the quinoa is done (it will no longer look like dry seeds, but like, oatmealy seeds…. but appealing).
  • Since we used home-made broth that had lemon in it, we already had a lemony scent, but if you’re NOT doing that, just squeeze in the juice of 1-2 lemons here.
  • Add two bunches of swiss chard and some torn up chicken (optional) from that roast you made yesterday, and serve!

Leaf Top Soup

16 Jun

If I had any direct interaction with you this week or last week this will be old news because this was literally all I talked about: My first CSA pick up of the season was Thursday. This is my first CSA and folks, let me tell you, they’re amazing.

I paid $320 in the winter, this went directly to my farm- I know it’s not “my farm” but I call it that. And I call Farmer Zaid when he emails about the cucumber beetles he’s worried about or how wonderful the mint looks, “my farmer.” Anyways, so I paid this amount and now from last Thursday until late November I go to a community center on 28th and Madison once a week and pick up my farm shares. I also have to volunteer once. Which I’m completely pumped about because I’m going to wear my overalls. Even though it’ll probably be, you know, on 28th and Madison, not on Farmer Zaid’s cozy farm upstate. Which I literally imagine in my head like Babe’s farm from yeah, the movie Babe with that lovable pig.

What could be more fun than every week getting the weirdest assortment of vegetables and then figuring out how to utilize them most efficiently, healthily, and deliciously? And is it just me or is everyone getting more involved in all this? I spent two hours hanging on an outdoor patio at some cool Williamsburg bar at 2 in the morning on Saturday discussing garlic scapes and frittatas (what up Soupie-Julie?)

But it’s not all being healthy and conscious and eating more deliciously, it’s also about being cheap. All my life I felt like I really missed my time by not being born Depression-era. There is something about this weird old nightgown I should stop wearing and thin brown hair where I feel like, slap some dust on my cheeks and I’m Hooverville-hot (seriously, what’s happening to me?). EITHER WAY, I was walking home from my writing class in Chelsea last night when a classmate, remarking on my tote overflowing with beet greens and chard, which I had sitting at my desk all day from the Union Square farmer’s market (this is becoming my soup-blog-unravel post, I swear), asked if you could eat beet greens– and you know, I just went off. Because it’s so wild what you can eat. We can eat so many different parts of plants that I never realized before and they are so healthy for you. Like this soup I’m making right now, it has beet greens, RADISH GREENS, field greens, chard. Beat that. When Winston reads this tomorrow I can already imagine his face, like Just Cool Down Mary, where he puts up both hands and sort of slowly backs away from me as if I were a raccoon he stumbled upon during the day.

Yeah, so this soup recipe is great. It’s my go-to soup/stew I make when I’m overwhelmed with vegetables and greens because it’s always good. And I’m adding my roasted radish recipe. Two for one! Alright, I have to get a beer and freaking relax. Enjoy.

Roasted Radishes & Friends

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Peal and cut a bunch of beets to bite sized pieces, cut radishes in half, cut an onion in chunks
  • Throw everything in a baking dish, dose in olive oil, throw on salt, dried thyme (1-2 teaspoons), pepper and a sprig of rosemary
  • Let roast for 45 minutes, or until you can easily stick a fork in the beets.
  • Enjoy!

Leaf Top Soup

  • Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a big soup pot over medium-low heat
  • Add 1 onion chopped, let cook for 2-ish minutes
  • Throw in 1-bunch of red chard stems, garlic, red potatoes all chopped up into bite sized pieces let cook for 5 or so minutes
  • Throw in 2 cups of barley, cover in water (this is really your call if you want more of a stew less water if you want more of a soup more… just check on it as the barley absorbs and add water accordingly throughout)
  • Add 2 vegetable bullion, salt, pepper, at least 1 tspn of thyme, 2 bay leaves
  • Let it come to a boil then bring it down to low heat and let cook for 20 minutes
  • If a fork goes into the potatoes easily add greens. Really whatever you want. I added radish, beet, field greens and chard. But it doesn’t make any difference…
  • Let cook for another 10 minutes until the greens have wilted.
  • If you have time you can have it simmer for longer, it’s been simmering here for the last hour as I’ve written this partially insane blog post.
  • Throw on parm cheese if you feel like it, you might also like a squeeze of lemon.
  • Enjoy!

Coconut and Pumpkin Soup

8 Jun

(So you are imagining the proper “I,” this is Alayna’s mind, I had an unfortunate scheduled writing class and had to miss. Sad face.)

So this weekend I went a little crazy on buying leafy greens at the market. (M.L. interjection, Story of my life, Alayna) I know, I know…. leafy greens? Again? But don’t worry, this week’s recipe is different, as is the reason I bought so many greens.

After a long hard morning of cleaning my apartment, I went over to the local market. Essex Street Market is called a farmer’s market, but it’s not your traditional farmer’s market. You’re much more likely to see someone paying with a welfare card than picking up organic arugula, and while there are some excellent specialty meat and cheese shops, the market still caters mostly to the Dominican and Puerto Rican populations in the area. Cheap plantains and avocados to spare!

In fact, the market highlights on of the things I’ll miss most about my neighborhood when I head down to DC for grad school: a market that sells kale, collard and mustard greens for 89 cents a bunch, but labels them ‘keo’, ‘colargrín’ and ‘mussargrín’ since that’s what a native spanish speaker who wasn’t crazy about greens would think you were saying.

Either way, I’ve had this idea for a soup for a little while, and thought it would either be really good or really gross. Luckily, it turned out on the great side…. a little taste of thai without being too aggressive. And a great way to use your gríns.

Coconut and Pumpkin Soup (A new way to use your gríns)

  • Defrost a package of frozen peas and set aside
  • Saute about 5-6 roughly chopped garlic cloves in olive oil with about an inch of chopped fresh ginger and a few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • Add in the chopped white parts of 3-4 leeks and saute until translucent
  • Add in a bunch of chopped collard greens and stir until dark green
  • Stir in one large can of coconut milk, another can and a half full of water and one can of (un-spiced!) pumpkin puree with a packet or two of chicken bouillon
  • When the broth heats up, add in one bunch of chopped mushroom greens, your de-thawed peas and one large red pepper, chopped into smallish pieces
  • Enjoy!

California Biscuits

2 Jun

You know when I realized I’ve got to move to San Francisco? After Kate picked us up at the airport at 1 in the morning with fresh biscuits. That was it. It took 3 minutes. And biscuits.

Monday’s Soup took a vacation to the west coast for this Memorial holiday to visit our old favorite roommate ever, Kate. We hiked through forests, toured wineries, slept in parks, but mostly, we ate. And as I play through all those wonderful meals in my mind I’ve got to say, these biscuits were way up there. Kate goes to business school and ends up a baker. Who knew? Who cares? Lets just enjoy the baked good byproducts.

Like these balls of wonder. They are easy to make and really, really delicious and comforting. (They are so easy to make in fact, that she made a second batch while we packed for our flight home… Which we ate entirely, minus one, on the flight. It was a great flight.)

Biscuit #5 and #6 of the day, flying over Lake Michigan

Butter Biscuits

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, hardboiled, yolks only
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream

  • Chill the butter, cut into little pieces start water to hardboiled eggs, boil eggs
  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar, crumble butter into flour and roll with fingertips to create a coarse meal
  • Crumble egg yolks into flour/butter and mix thoroughly
  • Add cream and mix together to form dough
  • Knead for a few minutes until dough forms
  • Roll out on floured countertop and cut into 6-8 pieces
  • Shape biscuits and place on baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal. Place biscuits close together to create soft sides
  • Bake at 400 for 5 minutes
  • Lower temp to 375 F and bake for 10-15 minutes
  • Enjoy!

Leaving you with a Napa Valley photo shoot called, If You Tickle Kate: