March 27, 2004
wild rice & porcini soup

Mike & Meredith gave me a truly excellent cookbook (and I'd never heard of it!) for the holidays this year - the CIA's The Book Of Soups.

Just before Russell & I left for our whirlwind visit to Norfolk and NYC, I made a soup & salad lunch for Miss Mo & myself. This is a hearty, creamy soup - perfect for a cool but bright day. I served it with caesar salad and a 2002 Navarro rosé. This soup is an adaptation of the CIA's Minnesota wild rice soup.

1 tsp butter
3 carrots, diced into quarter-inch cubes
3 leeks, white & light green parts, finely diced
3 celery stalks, also in quarter-inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2.5 to 3 quarts chicken stock
3/4 cup wild rice (I used a wild rice blend, and it worked nicely)
3/4 cup cream (heavy, half & half, or soy creamer. I used soy creamer.)
1/4 cup white vermouth
2-3 oz dried porcini
salt & pepper
chopped parsley, for garnish

Rehydrate the porcini mushrooms in some of the hot chicken stock. After 15-20 minutes, remove the porcini & chop them. Strain the mushroom-infused stock to get rid of any sand from the mushrooms.

Heat a soup pot over medium heat; add the butter, carrots, and celery. Cook until softened.

Reduce the heat to low, add the flour & stir well. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.

Start adding your stock in small batches, starting with the porcini stock. Stir well during the additions to prevent flour clumps. Bring to a simmer. Add the wild rice, and a bit of salt. Simmer until the rice is tender, but a little chewey (around 45 minutes).

Stir in the cream and vermouth. Adjust the salt & pepper to taste, and serve garnished with parsley.

(The original recipe calls for sherry instead of vermouth, less stock and slightly different vegetable proportions, and no porcini mushrooms. I like the rich mushroom taste with the nuttiness of the rice.)

Posted by shock on March 27, 2004
March 13, 2004
black bean quesadillas with corn salsa

Apparently I don't know how to use my broiler. I waved away the plumes of smoke, ripped off the quesadillas' burnt tops and voila! Mexican pizza. Kinda. Sure heating all of the quesadillas at the same time in the oven is faster than cooking them one at a time in a skillet but watch out!

All the quesadillas are gone, but no one ate the salsa. What gives?

To prepare the quesadillas, preheat the broiler.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic; saute 30 seconds. Add 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed; cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Place 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup bean mixture and 3 tablespoons preshredded Mexican blend cheese; fold in half. Lightly coat tops with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts and tortillas begin to brown. Cut each tortilla into 3 wedges.

To prepare salsa, combine 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic, and 1 red bell pepper, chopped, in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve with quesadillas. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea on March 13, 2004
March 09, 2004
mediterranean vegetable stew over soft polenta

I realized tonight that I haven't cooked at all since I got Richter, because I had definitely not yet witnessed the Richter Can Opener Dance. No, kitty, not for you.

Tonight's embarrassingly easy "dude I'm still recovering from my winter" dish was from the March 2004 issue of Cooking Light and would be hated by at least two people I love due to the high tomato content. I served it with a nice green salad for a fully yet unintentionally vegetarian meal.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups (1/4-inch) slices zucchini and 1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic, and saute 30 seconds. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, 1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained, and 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While stew cooks, bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup dry polenta, stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) preshredded fresh Parmesan. Serve stew over polenta. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea on March 09, 2004
March 07, 2004
burning blog: triptych of tartines

We had our tartines for supper this evening. After Derrick's fashion, I plumbed the refrigerator for the remains of last weekend's wedding reception, and created a lovely set of tartines for dinner.

I used Acme Bread's herb slab, cut in half & then into triangles. The topping combos were:

Asparagus pesto, crispy fried pancetta, and a quick grating of fresh parmesan

Tofu spread with chunks of pepper & garlic smoked salmon

Muhommorah with white anchovy filets

I toasted them for a scant minute under the broiler, and voila! Breakfast for supper. (I had planned a salad, but suddenly the tartines were just done! I paired mine with a Greenwood Ridge Sauvignon Blanc. Unfortunately, my camera recently disappeared - so I am photoless, as well.)

Posted by shock on March 07, 2004
March 06, 2004
blog burning: tartines!

There's a nifty new game going around the food blogging community: a food blogger sets a date and an idea, and folks make something along that theme and posts in their own blog on the given day.

With my normal short notice, I'm here to tell you that the next event is TOMORROW: Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini (A daily read of mine. Gorgeous photos and prose.) has thrown down the gauntlet around making tartines. Gourmands, I challenge you to participate! I'll be making a post...

Posted by shock on March 06, 2004
March 04, 2004
Heather & Tim's Wedding Reception

This Leapsunday, we hosted Heather & Tim's wedding reception here at the wabe. We put together a cocktail party spread of finger foods, assisted by my trusty sous-chefs, Patrick & Todd. A few photos by Mo (click for the popup):

shorttablethumb.jpg table1thumb.jpg salmonthumb.jpg endivethumb.jpg cakethumb.jpg

Domaine Chandon Brut Classic
Chocolat Royals
Hansel und Gretels

Puff pastry bites with asparagus pesto, smoked salmon rosettes, créme fraiche & cavair

Ahi tartare with ginger-infused caviar & shallots on cucumber rounds

Endive spears stuffed with crab, mango & mint salad

Shrimp & scallop etouffee tartlettes

Cotswald scones with thyme

Pt. Reyes Blue scones

Pita with muhommorah & tofu spread

... and the ever-present cheese board.

Weekend Cake, Carrot Cake, and Chocolate Cake from Just Desserts

Mascarpone & goat cheese cheesecake with pistachio brittle

Posted by shock on March 04, 2004
March 03, 2004
hansel und gretel

Here's a little cocktail I whipped up in Tim & Heather's honor to serve at their wedding reception. I wanted to do something with vanilla vodka and gingerbread syrup - two things that Tim quite likes in his cocktails. They turned out to be a big hit with Tim, and with many of the guests!

Kudos to Aimee, who helped me with the name. The key is in the garnish...

2.5 parts Stoli Vanil
0.5 part Monin Gingerbread Syrup
2.0 parts Pellegrino
Freshly squeezed lemon juice - about a half a large lemon per glass. Definitely taste and adjust.

Mix and serve over crushed ice in your choice of vessel. For Heather & Tim's wedding, I served these in wine goblets. For a smaller party, I might use pilsner glasses.

Garnish with a lemon wedge for a Hansel, and with a cherry for a Gretel.

This recipe lends itself well to mixing up a pitcher, and pouring through the evening.

Posted by shock on March 03, 2004