One of my favorite radio programs is Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Splendid Table. So much so, that I signed up to receive her Weeknight Kitchen newsletters.
Here's her latest edition:
October 13, 2010
In my humble opinion (truth be told I haven't had one of those since I was 9), there's a group of food writers whose recipes are worth your time and money. Their dishes work, taste good, and many of the dishes demand little time.
"Fine," you're thinking, "so who are you talking about?" A short list should include Melissa Clark, Raghavan Iyer, Sally Schneider, John Willoughby, Deborah Madison, Steven Raichlen and Dorie Greenspan. Do this soup and you'll see why I think Dorie is one of those cooks you can follow almost anywhere because she'll never let you down.
SPUR-OF-THE-MOMENT VEGETABLE SOUP
Reprinted with permission of the publisher from Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 8, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Dorie Greenspan.
Makes 8 servings
Whenever it looks like there's nothing in the house to eat, I declare that I'll make stone soup. The reference is to a children's story about a beggar who comes to a house and offers to make soup from a stone in exchange for being invited in. His host and hostess are intrigued by the idea, welcome him, and the tale begins. First the man places a stone in a tall soup pot. He adds water and suggests that the soup would taste really good with a little onion. When the onion is added, he suggests some carrots. And, so it goes, until he's got a thick, savory soup packed with vegetables simmering on the stove.
My "stone" is a couple of always-in-the-kitchen ingredients plus one starchy vegetable, and the soup is built on the traditional French formula for a soup made with ingredients from the market or potager, the kitchen garden. The base of the soup is slowly cooked aromatics: onions, for sure; garlic, if you'd like; and celery, if you have it. The liquid can be water – in a French home, it would likely be water flavored with a few bouillon cubes or maybe a bit of whatever cooking juices remain from a roast or a chicken – or it can be canned chicken broth (an ingredient that's hard to come by in French supermarkets) or soup from a dried mix (an often-used French shortcut). The thickener is optional, but the standard is one smallish potato. Or, if there's rice leftover from dinner the night before, the potato will be spared, and the rice will get tossed in.
As you can see, it's more an idea for a recipe than a real recipe, and it's meant to be kept in mind when you're in the market and at your wits' end wondering what to cook.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, or a combination
1 pound carrots, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced
1 big onion (I like to use a Spanish onion), coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and thinly sliced (optional)
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 rosemary sprig (optional)
1 thyme sprig (optional)
6 cups chicken broth (plus perhaps 1 cup more, for thinning)
1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground pepper
Put a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat and add the butter and/or oil. When the butter is melted, or the oil is hot, toss in the carrots, onion, celery, and, if you're using them, the garlic, ginger, rosemary, and/or thyme. Season with salt, reduce the heat to low, and give the ingredients a couple of turns to coat them with butter or oil. Cover the pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring a few times, until the vegetables are very soft but not colored.
Remove the lid, pour in the chicken broth, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil. Toss in the potato cubes and adjust the heat so that the soup is at a simmer. Partially cover the pot and let the soup simmer gently for another 20 minutes, or until the potato can be mashed easily with a spoon.
Now you must decide if you'd like to serve the soup just as it is or if you'd like to puree it – I usually opt for the puree. In either case, do the best you can to fish out the rosemary and thyme sprigs, if you used them. If you're serving the soup in its chunky state, taste it and season as needed with salt and pepper. Or puree the soup in a blender (which will give you the silkiest texture) or food processor, or use a food mill or an immersion blender. Taste it for salt and pepper and reheat it before serving. If you find the soup a little too thick for your taste, when you're reheating it, pour in enough additional chicken broth (or water) to get the texture you like.
Serving: If you'd like, top the pureed soup with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream or a spoonful of unsweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of chopped fresh rosemary or thyme. The soup is also good with a swirl of basil pesto or a drizzle of olive or nut oil.
Storing: The soup can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or packed airtight and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Dorie's improv here welcomes so much of what you might find right now for little money in the market. The only thing to remember is balance. For instance, cabbage and onion are two of the mellowing agents in a soup. Generous amounts of these two make it possible to add the assertive characters, such as turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, kale, curly endive, spinach or chard. Figure two parts onion and two parts cabbage to one part of any three of the others. Since tomato is packed with umami (that special protein that lifts the flavors of everything it touches) and brings a tart-sweet, rich undertone to soups, use it in modest quantities, too – perhaps one part tomato to all the others mentioned.
Of course, beans were meant for this kind of soup, too, and different blends of herbs and spices can go on forever. The point is you can transform this idea into so many different soups you'll have the entire winter taken care of.
THOUGHTS FROM LYNNE
Judy Graham, who works with me putting Weeknight Kitchen together every week, tested out a recipe you might want to try. As she said, "When you hear gluten-free pancakes, gummy cardboard comes to mind." According to Judy, we should not jump to conclusions. She's over the moon about Karen Morgan's pancakes from her new book Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free: 75 Recipes for Irresistible Desserts and Pastries (Chronicle Books LLC) coming out in November 2010. Here they are, and I say give them a try. The special flours can be found in "natural" food stores, some well-stocked supermarkets and online.
Sunday Morning Pancakes
Reprinted with permission of the publisher from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free: 75 Recipes for Irresistible Desserts and Pastries by Karen Morgan (Chronicle Books LLC, to be published in November 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Karen Morgan.
Makes 8 big pancakes or 16 small ones
My search for the perfect Sunday morning pancakes has been a lesson in patience more than anything. I have to say that the waiting has paid off tremendously, as these babies are the ideal version of the weekend morning staple! They rise up and hold their height with a soft, fluffy texture. Their flavor is so phenomenal, and you'll glow with pride when you see that every last one has been devoured by your hungry guests.
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
1/2 cup millet flour
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup organic buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Safflower oil cooking spray
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter and stir until smooth.
Heat a large skillet or a griddle over medium-low heat. Spray the pan with safflower oil spray. Run your hands under the faucet to wet your fingertips and then shake them over the hot griddle. If the water dances across the pan, the heat is just right to begin making your pancakes.
For each large pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter into the pan; for small pancakes, use 2 tablespoons batter. Cook until bubbles form on the top of each pancake; turn and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200°F oven while cooking the remaining batter.
To save time, mix all the dry ingredients in advance and keep in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 months.
Blackbird Baking Tip: This versatile recipe can be customized into whatever type of pancake you are craving. Try adding fresh fruit, such as 1/2 cup of blueberries or bananas, and a few dashes of cinnamon or 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Add ground spice directly to the batter and whisk to incorporate. When adding fresh fruit or chocolate, simply sprinkle some on top of each pancake before you flip it. After your first batch, you'll find yourself thinking, "Gluten? Who needs it?"
Have a great week,
Copyright 2010, Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
All Rights Reserved