Showing posts from January, 2011

Butternut Squash, Kale and White Bean Soup

Most of the country is again digging itself out of snow this week.  Here, in the Bay Area of California, it is drizzling rain and fogging up--my favorite kind of weather only to be found in January, February, and August (minus the rain).  I spent the day with longtime California friends, and I am grateful that I have come to a point in my life where I have longtime California friends.  The husband and I have lived here nine years now.  I remember when I told my Colorado friends I was leaving for San Francisco; one said that she remembers her residency at UCSF as one of the most wonderful times of her life.  I thought such an utterance to be hyperbole, which it may well have been.  Nonetheless, there is something about this city in the fog that is more than charming or romantic; it is mesmerizing, even haunting.  

Such a day calls for a warm soup, something hearty, something comforting.  So I took inventory of the refrigerator, consulted the CSA box, and came up with a white bean soup t…

Raw Beet Salad with Carrots and Ginger

Adapted from Cookbook #54: How to Cook Everything (2008, 10th Anniversary Edition)

Recipe: Raw Beet Salad with Carrots and Ginger

Well, look at this--a page 210 recipe.  And I get to cook with the contents of the CSA box.  If you're joining me late, page 210 was my commitment all of 2010.  I cooked every page 210 from every cookbook I own in honor of 2010 (I was hard pressed to find cookbooks with over 2000 pages in them, so I settled on 210, and even then, I had to resort to page 120 for many cookbooks).  And I vowed this year that if I acquired any new cookbooks--which I (predictably) did--I would continue the tradition of cooking page 210.

So here we are with page 210 from Mark Bittman's wonderful and comprehensive cookbook, How to Cook EverythingMark Bittman is an amazing man.  He is not a chef, but he is a cook.  He is a journalist and a food lover, and as such, he writes a weekly column ("The Minimalist") for the New York Times.  He is an advocate of mindf…

Potato, Leek and Celery Root Soup with Orange Creme Fraiche

It almost seems as if this recipe from Fields of Greens (the second Greens Restaurant cookbook) was fated to be made.  It uses celery root, leeks, potato and orange:  all four ingredients to be found in this week's CSA box.

I am in love with celery root, also known as celeriac.  If you can find it, I recommend it over what we think of as celery in almost every cooking occasion (however, if you need it raw, celery is almost always better than celeriac).  Celery root is cultivated for its potato-sized root, rather than its woody stems and leaves, while celery is cultivated for crisp stems and leaves rather than its shrivelled root--thus, they are distinct vegetables all together.  Celery root has a tough outer surface that needs to be sliced off or peeled before cooking, and the flavor of the vegetable itself is distinctly celery, but a bit lighter and perhaps paradoxically more pungent.

Okay, here's the kicker with celery and celery root.  They are oldPeople believe that ce…

Brine-Cured Pork Chops with Warm Red Cabbage Salad

I love a cruciferous vegetable.  I do.  And I particularly love a cruciferous vegetable with toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese on top of it.  Even better is a cruciferous vegetable alongside a brined pork chop.  

It's the middle of winter.  It's time to warm up some of those belly-filling vegetables and toss them together with some sweet, crisp fruit and drizzle some vinegar and oil atop of it all.  I love The Greens cookbook--while often the list of ingredients is long, Deborah Madison always comes through with a rockstar effort.  And the lovely surprise with this salad is the marjoram.  Don't skip it or substitute.  Yes, oregano would be yummy, but marjoram adds that special twist of flavor that is identifiable and unexpected.

The recipe for the pork chops, from Chez Panisse Cafe and Alice Waters, fared a little worse.  It was confusingly written (and I tried to clarify below), and it turned out I couldn't get the pork chops to cook thoroughly just on the sto…

Moroccan Couscous with Beef and Vegetables

In late graduate school, I dated a man who was friends with the poet Craig Arnold.  Thus, I cannot say that Craig and I were friends, but we were friendly, and our circles overlapped, or at least our orbits would sometimes cross.  I liked him; he was funny, smart, and sometimes quite silly.  Later, when I moved to Denver, I went to see him read at the University of Colorado.  Craig didn't really read as much as he performed his pieces--often closing his eyes, moving his hands as if he were signing the words rather than speaking them, and then sweeping one hand over his bald head.  After the reading, I said hello to Craig, and he hugged me as if we were long-lost friends.  That was the last time we ever spoke.  Since I began teaching a Literature of Food class, I have always included two of his poems, "Hot" and "Saffron," on the syllabus.  These two poems are full of a seductive longing for what either has been lost or was never really even had in the first pla…

Mushroom Soup with Kale and Potatoes

The first recipe of the new year. Each week, I will be posting here the ingredients of the week's box and I will be adding the recipes here.  Okay, are you ready?  Here we go:  2011.

I am cooking my way through bounty.  How luxurious. 

Two years ago, we subscribed to the box from Full Belly Farms for the first time.  Oh sweet Jesus, the kale.  Kale this week, kale next week, kale all the time.  We didn't know what to do with all the kale.  Thus, I began to search out kale recipes.  And this recipe from Thomas Keller is a fantastic way to tear through some of it.

Let's learn a little about kale, shall we? Kale is a form of cabbage, which might be why I like it so much.  I am a fan of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower.  You know, all the things you were supposed to hate as a kid.  I didn't.  I loved them.  Kale is high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, indole-3-carbinol, and calcium.  I cannot even pronounce some of those words,…

Family Feast January 2011

January 01, 2011 Oakland
Ad Hoc Green Bean and Potato Salad
Cioppino   Acme Pain au Levain
Sweet Potato Pie with Bourbon

What a Year for a New Year

Well, here we are.  Time for some musing and then some time for projecting.

I did it.  I have cooked every page 210 in every cookbook I own.  What have I learned?

1.)  I don't like squab.
2.)  I like lamb.
3.)  I am also quite fond of duck.
4.)  I still have a soft spot for Irma even though many others have guided me wisely and well this year. 
5.)  Often I have cooked after or during momentous occasions--during one meal, we got the phone call that a job offer for the husband did not come through.  For another, we celebrated that one did.  I love that there is this record of the meals surrounding these events even if I haven't always been forthcoming in the details.
6.)  Only a couple of recipes have beenbombs.  This is fine by me.
7.)  I cannot make dosa.
8.)  I am slowly learning to bakebread.
9.)  I like liver, especially if it is sauteed in cream and whiskey.
10.)  In fact, I did a lot more cooking with cream and whiskey this year than I ever imagined I would (or have ev…