Monday, January 31, 2011

Mushroom Farro Soup

OK, this is just soup porn. I adore mushrooms and had a nearly disastrous experience with my last attempt at a Polish style dried Boletus stew.  Seems they weren't as free of dirt as I thought they were and being an inexperienced mushroom cleaner I merely gave them a dry-cloth brushing when they were in need of a good, long soaking.  The end result was gritty and bland, such a disappointment since I used up an entire bag of imported mushrooms delivered to me from an out-of-state Polish deli.
But I feel confident, this looks fairly straightforward and I'm salivating just after reading the recipe.

Thanks for sharing Smitten Kitchen, I'll let you know how it turns out!

Mushroom Farro Soup
Adapted from Marian Burros’ mama, via The New York Times

Makes about 7 cups
1/3 cup dried mushrooms like porcini
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms (white, cremini, shiitake or a mixture thereof; I used 100% brown/creminis)
1/2 cup farro, pearled barley, or spelt, rinsed
6 cups low sodium or salt-free beef broth or stock (vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock can be swapped)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water, and set aside for 20 minutes, or while you prepare the rest of the soup. 
Trim and slice mushrooms, then give them a rough chop to your desired texture.
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed deep pot. 
Sauté onions and carrots over medium heat until onions begin to color, about 10 to 15 minutes. 
Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. 
Add fresh mushrooms, and cook until they begin to release liquid, about 5 to 10 minutes. Raise heat and add barley; sauté until it begins to color (this didn’t really happen for me, because the mushroom liquid was still sloshing about).
Add broth, sherry and tomato paste.

Drain porcinis and finely chop; strain mushroom-soaking liquid to remove any grit and add to pot along with the reconstituted mushrooms. 
Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until barley is tender. 
Stir in sherry vinegar; adjust seasonings and serve.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

California Winter Sausage Fennel and Lentil Stew

Photo from Simply Recipes
The entire process of making this soup took about 6 hours, including making the beef broth from scratch, but was well worth the effort.  The soup turned out hearty and delicious with a hint of minestrone-like sweetness and nice, earthy smokiness from the sausage.  Dip a thick slice of a peasant style bread and freeze the leftovers - this recipe makes enough to feed a village.
  • 8 1/2 cups beef stock or canned broth
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
  • 1/2 cup soaked barley
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (or 1 1/2 cup freshly chopped Roma tomatoes)
  • 4 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped fennel bulb
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2-5 teaspoons Creole seasoning to taste (or combine Smoked Paprika, 3 cloves chopped garlic, cayenne pepper, marjoram)
  • dash or two of rich Italian Balsamic Vinegar
Combine stock, barley and lentils in large pot over high heat. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat medium skillet over medium heat. Add fennel; sauté until seeds are light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove seeds from skillet.
Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add celery, carrot and onion; sauté until onion is translucent and celery and carrot are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add toasted fennel seeds, sautéed vegetables, sausage, thyme and Creole seasoning to soup. Cover and simmer until lentils are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Indian Style Cauliflower Soup with English Peas

photo from The English Kitchen
Indian-style Cauliflower Soup with English Peas
by Ameila Saltsman
Makes 6-8 servings
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 head cauliflower, cleaned and trimmed into florets
4-6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock for a non-veg meal)

1 cup shelled English peas
Fresh lime
2 Tablespoons each chopped mint, chives, and cilantro
In a wide pot, heat oil or ghee over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, stir and cook until brown, 1-2 minutes. Add turmeric, coriander, cumin, red pepper and salt and cook until fragrant 30-60 seconds. Add onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute more.
Stir in cauliflower and about 1/4 cup water and cover pot to par-cook the cauliflower.
After 5 minutes add the broth. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer soup until cauliflower is very tender, 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Puree the soup, adding a little water if it seems too thick, and season to taste with salt.
Return soup to medium-low heat, add the peas, and simmer just until they are tender but still bright green.
Give the soup a squeeze of lime and serve the soup topped with a sprinkling of chives, mint, and cilantro.

Thanks Good Food!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Perfect Egg

This is a slight deviation from the usual soup content but a perfectly cooked slightly runny egg makes a lovely topping for ramen or even a thick bowl of chicken noodle soup.  It's also the first step of Momofuku's Ramen , otherwise known as Food of the Gods.

From Epicurean Debauchery 

Here is how it goes:

1. Place cold eggs in a pan or pot with apx 1 cm of cold water. Yup, that's right, the eggs will not be fully immersed in the water. One cm deep of water is plenty for this method. Put the lid on the pan/pot and don't take it off until the very last step.
2. Bring water to a boil on High Heat.
3. As soon as the water boils, turn heat down to Medium.
4. Cook at Medium Heat for 4 min.
5. Immediately after these 4 min, remove from heat and let eggs sit in hot water, 3 min.
6. Quickly chill eggs in cold water briefly to cool down the eggs for easy peeling.
7. Peel and enjoy!

I swear by this recipe. As long as the timing is followed carefully, the eggs come out extremely consistently. The decadent creaminess of the soft boiled yolk is beautifully maintained while the outside white is firm enough to contain the goodness.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Carrot Parsnip Barley Puree

This puree turned out so much better than I'd thought! An overabundance of carrots in the fridge inspired some creative mixing and magically turned into the perfect cold weather soup.  All you need is a good blender, a Kyocera Adjustable Mandoline also comes in handy to slice the carrots paper-thin .
4-8 cups chicken broth
6-10 carrots, peeled and grated or thinly sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1 potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large onion chopped
1 garlic clove minced
2 cups Mother's Instant Barley
salt/pepper/parsley for taste 

Combine carrots, potato, parsnip, onion, garlic with boiling broth (homemade is always best).  Cook slowly over 1-2 hours.  Let soup cool then transfer to blender and mix in small batches to your desired consistency.  Return to pot and add barley, cook 20 minutes.  Finish with salt, pepper, chopped parsley and maybe even top it off with a little parmesan.  Serve with crusty Sourdough bread spread with garlic butter, yum.

photograph by Bozena Barton.