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Showing posts from September, 2011

Family Feast September 2011

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September 17, 2011 Oakland
Rubino Italian soft cheese, tomatoes, pistachios, olives
Capresse
Confit Byaldi Wilde Mushroom Risotto
Melon with Key Lime Gelatto











Cream of Cauliflower Soup

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I have not intended this blog become a soup blog, but it seems to have done that lately.  Ah, well.  I love soup.  Often I will declare a week to be soup week, just so I can cook pots upon pots of soup and then tuck in with a good book, a good blanket, and a good spoon.  Given that it's fall now (happy late equinox), it's time to bring the comfort back to cooking.  The level of comfort that soup can bring is cliche, yes, but clear.



This little soup has the lovely taste of tarragon, an herb I do not use nearly enough, but every time that I do, I am delighted by its light and oh-so-French flavor.  Beyond flavor though, tarragon has a wonderful etymology.  Tarragon is also called dragon's wort.  What delight.  In fact, the name English Tarragon itself comes as a corruption of the French name for the herb Esdragon, which itself comes its Latin name Artemisia dracunculus.  This herb, like other Dragon herbs, got its name from its ability to reduce the swelling and pain in bite…

Gazpacho

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Oh, Andalusia.  How I would very much like to visit you.  You boast medieval Islamic palaces and sun-soaked beaches, bull fights and flamenco guitar, donkey sanctuaries and operas based off of your Sevillian barbers.

Birthplace of Pablo Picasso, homeland of Federico García Lorca, you have given the world great art.  Originator of jamón serrano and jamón ibérico, Andalusia, you know how to feed your people.  And most importantly, perhaps, you have given the world gazpacho.

That "liquid salad" that is perfect for a hot summer day, perfect for using up all of the bounty of the garden or the CSA box, gazpacho is light, filled with potassium, and depending on your levels of hot sauce, breaks a sweat on the brow.  Perfect for cooling off in a breeze.

Andalusia, you prompt us to pull out the perfectly ripe tomatoes, or even those that are just on their way to turning.  You encourage a liberal hand with the cucumber.  You say an unabashed yes to the raw onion and raw garlic, and yo…

Mussel Soup with Cranberry Beans, Celery, and Basil

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To many the mussel doesn't seem adventurous.  However, to this Midwest-raised woman, any seafood beyond the bluegill and the catfish was adventurous.  My father, however, taught me how to expand my culinary horizons.

My parents divorced when I was still young, only seven or eight years old.  While such an event is often traumatic for children, it was a bonanza for me.  It meant three hours in the car with my father as a captive audience every other week.  It meant a stepsister, who taught me how to shuffle cards so they made a satisfying fluttering sound.  It meant trips to the top of the Sears Tower where I felt small and insignificant and wobbly and but also a little sick to my stomach from vertigo.  And sometimes, during those weekends, it meant a trip to a family-owned pizza joint, name of which escapes me, near the Fox River that served your standard fare of pizza, but also offered octopus and squid as topping options.  My brother, sister, stepmother, and stepsister all turn…