Soup as Temptress.

There are synchronistic moments when an idea will come along that aligns with what I am needing and craving right now. Like a soup that mandates a long, slow pause in the frenetic activities of the day; something to draw out and accentuate the slowness of things, while simultaneously rewarding one with something of deep satisfaction and flavor.
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I remember tucking away a recipe I’d discovered for a spicy pork soup about a month ago; I was completely drawn to the flavors, however laboring over a soup for two days was simply not something I was in the space for. But there was something about it that held me, and I knew that I would draw upon it for inspiration, when the timing was right.

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Therefore, upon waking up from a hasty nap to find grey Seattle skies and buckets of rain, making an unctuous, warming soup felt like the most natural thing to do.
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What I loved about this soup is the layering of flavors to build complexity. Meaty pork bones are caramelized, then set to luxuriate with umami-rich seasonings and aromatics in a long-simmering broth. I embellished it a bit by adding warming spices like cinnamon, ginger and chile, along with star anise, which imparted an intoxicating aroma and heat.


I’ve never made a stock this sexy, with velvet undertones and a sheen that glimmers like gold in the moonlight.
It was worth every second of my attention and was definitely a labor of love.
For something this good requires time, patience, generosity, nurture; much like that of a lover, along with intuition of what will ignite the senses; bring one to their knees in adulation and appreciation.
And ultimately, begging for more.
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At first glance, this recipe may seem rather laborious, however once the stock is prepared, the remaining components are fairly straightforward and easy to pull together. There’s minimal chopping and actual hands-on time. As usual, I made modifications to suit my taste and intuition, however i highly recommend pounding the furikake with sesame oil into a paste to release the intense bitter-sweet oil that mingles so nicely with the seaweed.

I could see how additional condiments like toasted coconut, slivered black garlic and a healthy squeeze of lime would only add to the delight of flavors coming from this dish.

Enjoy, and much love,
J

Spicy Pork Noodle Soup with Aromatics
*Inspired by Gingerroot’s Spicy Sesame Pork Soup with Noodles

For the stock:
1.5 lb bone-in pork shoulder
1 ham hock, smoked
1 small bunch scallions
1 onion, quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3-4 large pieces
3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp red chile flakes
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp tomato paste

Method:
Preheat oven to 400. Place meat on an oiled roasting pan and roast for ~30 minutes.
Turn, then add to roasting pan the onion, carrot and scallions. Roast further for ~20 minutes, then remove from oven.
Scrape meat and vegetables into stockpot, using a little water to deglaze pan and add any remaining bits to the pot.
Add ~14 cups of water to pan, then toss in the remaining spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered for ~2.5h, or until the meat begins to pull away from the bone.
Remove meat from broth, and test for doneness, if it easily shreds into pieces, then it’s done. If not, continue to cook for ~30-60 minutes longer until the meat is ready. Set meat aside in refrigerator for later soup assembly.
Let broth cool in the refrigerator overnight to allow fat to separate from stock. Setting the pot in a large ice bath will expedite the cooling process. Once cool, remove layer of fat from the surface.

To prepare the soup, you will need the following:
1 tbsp mirin
1/4 cup furikake (sesame-seaweed blend)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp of red miso paste
1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded (~4-5 cups)
1 tsp sesame oil
reserved pork
~8 oz rice vermicilli noodles
chopped scallions
cilantro
sambal oelek (chili paste)

Method:
Set stock over medium high heat and add mirin.
Grind the furikake and sesame oil into a paste with mortar and pestle, then add miso.
Add to that miso paste; whisk into stock. Let simmer for ~30 minutes.
While stock is simmering, prepare cabbage. Place a large pan over medium heat and add sesame oil and cabbage, allowing cabbage to wilt for ~5 minutes before adding the reserved meat. Cook for a further ~5-10 minutes.
In a separate stockpot, boil water for noodles; prepare per package recommendations. Set aside.

To assemble the soup:
Layer rice noodles, then pork/cabbage mixture in large soup bowls. ladle hot broth over each bowl, then top with scallions, cilantro and a healthy dose of chili paste. Add additional condiments, as desired.

Puréed.

Lately, I find myself craving cauliflower soup.

Oh, and chocolate. 

photo 1
  • I’ll explore that later.
Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. I love it roasted; enhanced with a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper and nutmeg, or chopped fine and added to a fragrant lentil dal, or baked with parsnip in a cheesy, creamy gratin. Most recently, I’ve been puréeing it with sautéed leeks to make a light, yet satisfying soup.
photo 4Apparently I am not alone; the weekly reader Notes from the Test Kitchen came out with a recipe for cauliflower soup just this last week. I found striking similarities in the components, as it is such a simple soup, however the Cooks Illustrated version was prepared sans herbs and featured a lovely garnish of browned cauliflower. To my soup, I add sweet, aromatic nutmeg and spritely thyme to complement the mild flavor of cauliflower.  I’d made it a couple of times over the past month or so, and never bothered to post, since it seemed so common. However, when I was suffering a terrible cold last week, I naturally gravitated toward this soup. See, cauliflower contains an incredible amount of vitamin C, as do leeks; not to mention a boatload of other nutritents. Both thyme with nutmeg have germ-killing properties. My body must have intuited the need for immune-boosting elements.
Needless to say, I am feeling better.
You can pretty up this soup with a bit of toasted bread in butter (aka: croutons) and a drizzle of olive oil, or serve unadorned. Either way, it’s delicious on it’s own, or as a first course in a larger meal.
Cauliflower Leek Soup

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Cauliflower Leek Soup

Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
2 leeks, washed
2 tbsp butter
Splash olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp fresh thyme
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat butter and oil in large stockpot over low-medium heat.
Add leeks; sauté until lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Monitor closely and turn down heat if they start to burn.
Add cauliflower, broth, nutmeg and thyme; turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a summer and cover.
Cook for about 20 minutes, then purée in batches.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and croutons, if desired.

Not for the faint of heart.

The stream of life is carrying me along, pulling me into uncertainty, as it ebbs and flows and eventually takes form. It’s happening both in life and in the food I create. My need for security is being replaced by Patience. Presence. Time. These are things that I fight with resilience on a cellular level. I think we all do, to some degree. However sometimes, we get the opportunity to slow down, to savor, to relax into the current and be surprised by the result.
I write this as I sit patiently, waiting for onions caramelize. As my well-intentioned plan is being whisked away by the undertow and evolving into something else, entirely. If this sounds a bit esoteric, I apologize. It just happens to be where I’m at, in this moment.
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later on…
I encountered one minor barrier after another. However, what evolved is only redolent of French onion soup. Rather, it is a hop-infused, sweet, aureus onion soup. The onions were cooked down to nearly a jam, and used as a base for the broth, which was then topped with artisan bread, and possibly the best aged goat cheese I’ve ever had good fortune to sample.
Clementine - Aged Goat Cheese from Yarmuth Farms

Clementine – Aged Goat Cheese from Yarmuth Farms

I’ll offer a template of the recipe, however there wasn’t really one to follow. I started with general encouragement and inspiration from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for onion soup, then transformed it with a bit of what was available to me in the pantry. I hope you enjoy it.
Much Love,
J
Onion Soup

Onion Soup

Onion Soup
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, center removed, minced
salt
6 cups chicken broth (or vegetarian chicken-flavored broth
1 cup beer
4 slices good thick country bread, or french bread
1 cup grated cheese (cave-aged Gruyère, or if you can find it, Yarmuth Farms Clementine)
Method:
Set a 4-quart stockpot, enameled cast iron, if you have one, on low. Warm butter and olive oil over low heat; add onion and garlic. Keep heat on low, and give a stir every 10-15 minutes, until the onions are golden and sticky. Be mindful of the heat, as burnt onion is not ideal. Once the onions have caramelized (this will take a good hour or so), add a tablespoon of flour. Stir for ~1 minute, then add 1/2 of the beer to deglaze the pan. Add broth and remaining 1/2 cup of beer. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and let it bubble away for ~30 minutes. Taste for salt, then give it a few grinds of pepper.
Meanwhile, cut bread to the size of large ramekins, or other oven-safe bowls. toast bread on either side under broiler. When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls, then top with bread and cheese. Place under broiler until bubbly and browning. Serve hot.

Filler.

Funny how a well-planned trip to the store can lead to something different entirely. Just prior, I had been glossing over recipes in my latest aquisirion, ‘Around My French Table’, by Dorie Greenspan. I was inspired by a lentil salad with preserved lemon and thought that adding a little bit of bacon to the mix might be nice.
I also wanted to make a salad with sweet potato and zucchini salad I’d found on one of my favorite website recipe culling sites food 52.com. Alas, the store was out of one thing or another and I had to make a decision. As I was coming home to chill in the air, I thought ‘Soup’! What could be more perfect than a lentil sweet potato stew with smoky bacon on a cold Fall evening?

I have a preference for French lentils however when I was out these tiny little beluga lentils caught my eye. Slightly smaller than the French lentil, the beluga lentils hold their shape well and are great and soups or salads. I like to par-cook my lentils a bit, giving them a rinse before adding to the soup, so as to not muddy the broth. The bacon I sauté separately and then add the bacon fat to the pan in which I sauté the aromatics. The addition of preserved lemons contribute a bit of brightness to complement the more earthly flavors.
Finish it off with a bit of chopped parsley, creme fraiche or yogurt and a slice or two of a good rustic, yeasty loaf of bread.
Lentil Soup with Preserved Lemon

Lentil Soup with Yam and Preserved Lemon

Lentil Soup with Yams and Preserved Lemon
For the soup:
1 c tiny lentils, French, or beluga
4 pieces good peppered bacon (~1/4 lb), diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
5 c vegetable or chicken stock
2 medium sweet potatoes or yams, rinsed and cut into 1/2-1 inch dice
1 small handful fresh, or 1 tsp dried thyme
I stem rosemary (about a tsp)
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
I/2-1 preserved lemon, peel only, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish:
Small handful parsley, chopped
Creme fraiche or yogurt
Method:
In a small sauce pan boil about 3 cups of water with one cup lentils for ~15 minutes; drain and rinse. Set aside.
While lentils are cooking, sauté bacon over medium heat in a large stockpot until fully cooked. Remove from pan and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
Add the chopped onion and sauté for about three minutes until soft, then add in garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add lentils and remaining ingredients, with the exception of kale and lemon. Bring to boil and then lower to simmer for about 20 minutes.
Toss in kale and lemon; give it a stir. Pepper generously. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish and serve.
Oh! There was a bevy of food production last week with Thanksgiving and all. Here’s a teaser of my fabulous pumpkin pie. I hope to post the recipe at some point, however I used a pate sablee for the crust and filled it with (canned) pumpkin in a pinch. Don’t judge.
Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Much Love,
J

Roasted.

What one can do with a tray of roast vegetables? I recall an article in the NYT reviewing this book titled An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler. It seduced me with its practicality and how a bit of advance prep and cooking in the kitchie yield several days’ worth of meals. I don’t know about you, but my tastes can change quite dramatically within the course of a day or so. Exactly how many things can one do with roasted squash and cauliflower? In actuality, quite a bit! I was pouring though my food photos and discovered a bevy of dishes I’d created doing just that.

Roasted veggies, greens, egg and sriracha sammie

Roasted veggies, greens, egg and sriracha sammie

salmon:delicata

Salmon with delicata squash and greens

Egg and delicata squash on arugula

Egg and delicata squash on arugula

I’ll never cook a week at a time; I’m too compulsive. I feel the need to eat it all at once and will perseverate over what to eat first. I found myself doing just that thing last week, with a tray of roasted vegetables, a vat of soup, cooked quinoa and the like.

Melissa Clark’s NYT article on creamy carrot and cauliflower soup was the seedling that tied it all together. I made a simple soup of pureed roast vegetables and coconut milk. Adding curried spices seemed appropriate, as they marry well with the delicate sweetness of squash and cauliflower. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of chili flakes and top with a dollop of creme fraiche or…Greek yogurt – I won’t judge.

Having the veggies already roasted on hand makes for a quick meal, however I’ve included roasting instructions, if you’re so inspired. This soup would also work well with fresh vegetables, however they won’t have the caramelized flavor and complexity that roasted vegetables provide.

Roasted cauliflower and delicata squash soup

Roasted cauliflower and delicata squash soup

Curried Delicata Squash and Cauliflower Soup

For the vegetables:
1 medium-sized delicate squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch crescents
1/2 large head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
olive oil; about 2 tablespoons
a generous teaspoon of sea salt
freshly grated pepper nutmeg

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss all of the ingredients together; the vegetables should have a light coat of olive oil so that the spices can adhere.
Roast for ~40-50 minutes, giving a toss about half-way through to ensure even caramelization.

For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 tsp Madras curry powder
3-4 cups of roasted cauliflower and squash
2 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, or chicken)
1 cup coconut milk
salt, to taste
chili flakes, for garnish
creme fraiche, or Greek yogurt, for garnish

In a large pot, sauté onion in olive oil for ~5 minutes until soft and starting to brown. Add curry powder and sauté for about 30 seconds, then add vegetables, 2 cups of the broth, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer for ~15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree, adding additional water or broth as needed to bring to desired consistency.

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Feed Me, Seymour!

After a weekend being in good company of friends, being nourished in both body and heart, I find myself in the kitchen today. It feels like I’m making up for lost time. The week has been bubbling over with activity, so cooking a meal has been little more than an afterthought.
So, gifted with an extra hour in my day, I found myself laying in bed dreaming up what I wanted to make.
Something hot and stew-y, for sure, something sweet, and something with raw elements.
Garbanzo Bean Stew with Preserved Lemon
I wanted to create an unctuous, meat-free stew and had been pouring over recipes that paired game-y meats with fruit. I’ve had this thing for Moroccan spices lately and was dying to test out my recent batch of preserved lemon. I use garbanzo beans frequently for hummus and in salads, however I rarely use them in soups, preferring the many varieties of lentils available. Garbanzo beans are firm, nutty and can hold their own in a soup with lots of competing elements. Adding a bit of harissa heightens the flavors and adds extra heat.
This stew is stellar, and can be served with couscous, bread or another grain. I served it over quinoa to give it a bit of a protein boost and keep it a bit lighter, as I always like to keep room for dessert!
Garbanzo Bean Stew with Preserved Lemon
2 onions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
3 c cooked garbanzo beans
2 32-oz cans whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
1 preserved lemon, insides removed, chopped
3/4 cup dried Turkish apricots, quartered
1 Tbsp harissa
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
2 cinnamon sticks
2 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 bunch kale, chopped
Method
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and cook ~15 minutes, giving a stir every few minutes to evenly caramelize.
3. Turn the heat up to high, and add all remaining ingredients except kale.
4. Once boiling, turn heat down and simmer for ~40 minutes.
5. Toss in kale, allowing it to steam for ~5 minutes, then fold into the stew.
6. Serve over cooked quinoa or couscous; with cilantro and harissa as garnish.
pomegranate arils

pomegranate arils

I also had this pomegranate I’d been meaning to break into. As I was waiting for my press to steep my coffee, I spotted the pomegranate and popped myself up onto the counter, knife in hand. A colleague taught me a fancy technique for scoring pomegranate so as not to bruise the fruit. I peeled back the flesh to reveal the plump juicy jewels inside. After plucking away for about 10 minutes, I had a nice full bowl of seeds. I could have easily gone with a simple arugula salad with pomegranate and toasted pistachios, however I also wanted to do a bit of roasting and satisfy my squash addiction. What I ended up with was truly gorgeous and flavorful as well; kale marinated in a lovely vinaigrette and tossed with roasted delicata squash and pomegranate seeds.
Kale and Delicata Squash Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Kale and Delicata Squash Salad with Pomegranate Arils

Kale Salad with Delicata Squash and Pomegranate Arils

2 delicata squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch crescents
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large head lacinato (flat leaf) kale
Vinaigrette:
4 T olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tap salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss squash with a bit of olive oil (~2 tbsp), a generous pinch of salt and several grates of pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes, giving a toss about halfway through so that the squash caramelizes evenly.
Wash kale and chop into ribbons. Set in a large bowl.
Combine vinaigrette; massage into kale. Add delicata and mix lightly. Fold in pomegranate seeds and garnish with pistachio seeds and chèvre.
Pear and Almond Cake

Pear and Almond Cake

Moving on to dessert. Initially, I’d planned to do something with pear and ginger, and then I recalled having a bit of almond flour in my larder. I discovered a recipe on food 52.com, which you can find the link here:
I made few deviations from the recipe, with exception of increasing the proportion of almond flour to baking flour and substituting olive oil for canola oil. This made for a dense, moist cake, which I served with some vanilla-scented creme fraiche. It was truly divine.
Much Love,
J

Feed your soul…

It’s good to get a girl out of the city. Just a couple of days, immersed in the awesome wonder and beauty of nature.

Necessary rejuvenation.
White Horse Mountain

White Horse Mountain

White Horse Mountain

Stillaguamish River

And so we drove to Darrington to spend the weekend at the family farm. Nestled on a hill overlooking a small pond, far away from city lights, acres of lush land, trees, nothing to hear but the sound of dragonflies snapping themselves against the glass-paneled walls, denied access to the indoors. Being greeted by the sweet smell of cedar as I enter the cabin. It’s enough to just take a deep breath and…exhale gratitude. It was exactly what I needed; a place of respite, a place to disconnect, to ground, and to eat!
Ooh! and kiss the goats.
Kissing the babies

Kissing the babies

 

Africa
I had a few ideas of what I wanted to make prior to our departure. First, I am obsessed with the new collaboration by Yotam Ottalenghi and Sami Tamimi; Jerusalem. I was gifted this cookbook, full of gorgeous color photos and mouth-watering delights. I aspire to cook every recipe in this book. This weekend I elected to make the Lamb Stew with Cannellini Beans. The broth had an unctuous, mildly sweet profile, and with 20 cloves of garlic (twenty!), surprisingly didn’t leave us smelling like stinking roses for the remainder of our stay. I accented the stew with some crushed cilantro, mixed with lemon, sugar, salt, chile, ground coriander and olive oil. It’s kind of like loose adaptation of Zhoug, a gremolata-style condiment. I must say it was perfect; it brought a citrusy brightness complementing the heft of the soup perfectly.
Lamb stew with cannellini beans

Lamb stew with cannellini beans

I’d been dying to make something sweet and cakey ever since last week’s incredible uber-blueberry cornmeal muffins (of which I’ll try to write a recipe as soon as I recall my method!). David’s mother sent me a clipping from the NY times which served as inspiration:  almond cake with figs; dense, honey-sweetened and rich with eggs and butter. I had a couple of perfectly-ripened peaches on hand, and so the recipe underwent a bit of metamorphosis. this peach-blueberry almond cake is something between a cake and a tart, perfect with afternoon tea, or eaten cold with some Greek yogurt for breakfast. We served it after dinner with a bit of freshly-whipped cream.
With fresh whip!

With fresh whip!

Peach-Blueberry Almond Cake

Peach-Blueberry Almond Cake

Peach-Blueberry Almond Cake
*Adapted from NY Times Fig and Almond Cake
Ingredients:
1 c almond flour
1/2 c unbleached pastry flour (or all purpose flour)
1/4 c fine sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 med-large ripe peach, sliced into 1/4-inch crescents
1/2 c blueberries
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Butter a 9-inch tart tin with removable bottom (line bottom with parchment, if you prefer).
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. To a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, lemon zest and extract, then whisk in melted butter.
  5. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and fold in the wet mixture, stirring until just combined.
  6. Spread batter into tart pan. Fan peaches on top, leaving small amount of space between the slices. Toss the blueberries casually over the top, allowing them to roll into the crevasses.
  7. Sprinkle either a bit of Demerera sugar, or other granular sugar over the top (~3 teaspoons)
  8. Bake for ~30 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch.

Upon our return home, we made yet another of Yotam’s recipes for Cauliflower cake. You can find the recipe online. A savory cake, reminiscent of something between a quiche and a custard, this dish packs tons of flavor and is an excellent source of protein. I served it with a salad and a simple vinaigrette. So good!

Cauliflower Cake

Cauliflower Cake

With love (and full belly).

~J