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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

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: