Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More sue me...

    The recipe that follows is in heavy rotation this winter.  Before you balk at the idea of watercress soup, give it a try.  It is easy, you can make it with things you have lying around ( in particular if you're someone who has watercress laying around...)  You could replace the watercress with Arugula, or Asparagus, or Broccoli...or really anything. It's one of those simple base recipes that could do with endless variation. That said, the watercress is far and away the best incarnation of this soup. I eat it on its own, or with some  gruyere sprinkled in the bottom of the bowl  ( and um, on top too...) or with a batch of gougeres ( french cheese puffs) and a salad.
    When it's time to puree mine I bust out the immersion blender ( mine is an ancient, dirt cheap model...totally does the trick)  but you could use a regular blender just as easily...and carefully. I think I hold my breath for the duration of the pureeing process...wincing and gasping at each splatter, bubble, pop, and glub. What can I say....for me, it's a tense moment.   One more thing, season liberally with salt and pepper.  You'll need a lot....just keep tasting as you go.

Watercress Soup

1 bunch watercress ( as local as you can get it doesn't look all sad from traveling)
3 cloves garlic
1 minced onion ( yellow)
2 potatoes, peeled, cubed. ( any sort you have laying around, growing eyes and begging you to use them)
Olive oil
Cheese optional...

Saute onion and garlic and a pinch of salt in olive oil until onion is soft. Add watercress and potatoes...
( and another pinch of salt) move everything around until the watercress and potatoes seem fairly mixed in and coated. Saute for a few more minutes, then add 3 C water. Put lid on, simmer for 15 minutes  or until potatoes seem cooked.  At that point, puree however you like. Do it well, because while a chunk of potato is fairly non offensive, watercress stems just don't have the same appeal in a soup format.  Salt and pepper to taste...sprinkle ( or don't) with cheese.  

you're gonna thank me.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey and Root Vegetable Soup

The obligatory post thanksgiving turkey soup recipe...yeah. It's good though. Promise!  I think that one of this soup's most winning attributes is that , for a lot of us , all of the vegetables in this recipe are available locally( or at the very least, regionally) right now- at a farmers market, or... maybe in a well labeled produce section?  Even my sea salt is as local as I can get processed in Maine. Have I lost you now? do I sound obnoxious? Listen, I admit, this may or may not effect flavor, but it makes me happy and thats what cooking is all about. Plus, New England is home, and its like putting a little bit of home in ze soup you see.  As for the stock, I will just mention this:  you could easily use chicken stock for this recipe...but it is so easy to make turkey stock ( if you've saved or scavenged a turkey carcass that is...) that that is really the way to go. Here we go!

5-6 C turkey or chicken stock
1 medium sweet potato ( about 3/4 lb) , peeled and chopped
1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped
1 medium parsnip, chopped
2 carrots, chopped ( if your carrots came with tops, chop some and throw them in)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbl fresh OR 1 tsp dried Thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 inch piece of kombu ( seaweed) * optional
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 C cubed or shredded turkey
italian ( flat leaf) parsley, chopped, for topping.

In a large soup pot over hight heat, combine all stock, veggies and seasonings...leaving out only the turkey and parsley.  Bring it to a boil and skim any sludge off the top.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender crisp...about 15 or 20 minutes. Add turkey and simmer, uncovered for another 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with some chopped parsley.  That's it!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Easiest Granola

This morning i felt I should be productive. EW is on a granola kick and I cant keep up with her extreme granola intake!  This morning i gave myself three projects. 1. Figure out how to make dish soap out of things we have here ( I would not call this a success per se...but not an epic fail)  2. make applesauce out of  the remains of EW's partially eaten apples 3. restock the granola supply!  Below is the recipe that we both love.  I am obsessed with coconut oil and the seemingly endless things it is great for.  I tried some in this recipe and am loving it.  Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

4 C Organic Rolled Oats
1 Tbl Butter
2 Tbl coconut oil
1/3 C local honey
1/2 tsp sea salt

Melt the butter, coconut oil, and honey together.  Toss oats and salt together in a large bowl.  Add honey mixture to oats, toss to coat.  spread evenly on a baking sheet. Keep an eye on your granola. After about 15 minutes ( maybe a bit sooner) you should take your sheet out and stir your granola around so that the edges dont scorch. Put it back in and continue to bake until oats are lightly golden brown.  Once browning starts, they get too brown really just hover around your oven for a bit to avoid overcooking.   Remove pan from oven, Cool.  Toss with dried fruit if you in airtight container.

Note:  you could easily add nuts to this recipe.  Reduce Oats by 1C and add in 1 1/2 C pecans before baking.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apple Tart and Elmo

This past weekend, J was out of town visiting family in Scranton. EW and I did pretty well for ourselves. We kept busy baking, cooking, coloring, Going to the Farmers market and ( groan) the Whole Foods...of course. On sunday morning,  E came over for a ladies only breakfast of Rosewater Brioche stuffed with Bittersweet chocolate,  Goat Cheese and Asparagus Tarte Salee, and  coffee coffee coffee ( perked of course)   The morning was lovely, but it EW made it clear that this was a NO NAP sort of sunday.  By the time i got her strapped into the Ergo for Whole foods trip number 2 of the weekend, I was loosing steam.  E looked doubtful as we exited the house towards our respective destinations. " We should go back to the apple orchard" she said- "yes, we should" - me.    We walked a little ways, still on the way to our original destinations...and then, we decided. Back to the orchard it was!  EW could ogle the animals, "chicken chicken chicken chicken!!!!"  and we could indulge in a little "apple squishing"  ( a strange behavior that E and I exhibit at the apple orchard...what is it? Pretty much , it's stepping on a fallen, semi squishy looking apple...and getting satisfaction- on a molecular level...from the resulting moment of squish. Thats all. Anyway, we love it, and hey, we were out of apples.  ( E has been making Gallettes galore...gallettes that would shame even martha stewart. amazing!)  and well, we just generally go through a lot of apples at our place.
   ANYWAY,  upon arrival at the orchard it hit us:  Pick your own apples was sort of an abandoned area....there went our apple squishing dreams. Didnt kill the moment though- after all, there were still donuts, apples to buy, cider to drink, and animals for EW to try and touch through the chain link fence. Right? Right.  So far this week we have enjoyed a couple of baked apples with butter , brown sugar and honey...not to mention the many partly eaten apples that EW is racking up.  E made an amazing apple, cranberry, and marzipan gallette- which means it's my cue to make something special.  Today, after a fairly non offensive ( for once) day at work, i thought Id try to get some more mileage out of my new tart pan ( and use some apples before EW takes bites out of every remaining one).  I admit, that while I was trying to get the dough together I did the thing that no mother wants to admit they did...I said "EW, wanna watch Elmo?!"  "yeah!"  "great! you watch elmo while mommy makes dough okay?" "dough! Elmo!"    Yeah, that pretty much says it.  Dough, Elmo.   i am telling myself that the ends justify the means.  Below is the apple tart recipe...I have to say that baking tarts makes you feel disproportionately good about yourself I think.  It isnt that hard, but man, you feel pretty pleased with yourself when its done.   One more note? The only stressful  moment of tart making for me is when it's time to arrange the apples ( or whatever fruit) That seems like it should be the most satisfying part, but time and time again i find myself putting the apples in, taking them out. putting them in another way, taking them out. etc etc.  All I can say is, try not to overthink it and get all wiggly like i do when that moment comes. however you shove those apples in there, it will be fine. okay thats it...happy baking!

Inspired by
french apple tart
from sara moulton - gourmet magazine

1 recipe pastry dough, recipe below
6 of your favorite baking apples, peeled, cored, halved and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 stick cold butter, sliced thin
1/2 cup apricot jam, heated ( I throw in the cores of a couple apples while heating)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a 13-inch round and fit it into a 10-inch tart tin with a removable fluted rim, trimming the excess.

Arrange the apples decoratively on the pastry shell, overlapping them. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the apples, top with butter slices and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes or until the crust is cooked through and the apples are golden.

Brush with the heated (in a saucepan on the stove - low heat) apricot jam while the tart is still hot.
Serve each portion with a small scoop of ice cream or a small spoonful of whipped cream.

Pastry Dough

1 stick cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes.
To blend by hand: Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal (roughly pea-size lumps). Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.
To blend in a food processor: Pulse together flour, butter, and salt in a food processor until most of mixture resembles coarse meal (roughly pea-size lumps). Add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times, or just until incorporated.
Test mixture: Gently squeeze a small handful: it should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn't, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring or pulsing 2 or 3 times after each addition until incorporated (keep testing). If you overwork mixture or add too much water, pastry will be tough.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie crust or a 10 to 11-inch tart crust
Dough can be chilled up to 1 day.