Fairy Tale Pumpkin Soup

I tried soup various ways with this thing and the one I liked best started with roasting the pumpkin sliced side down in something like a 375 oven (you never really know what temperature your Magic Chef will choose).

Ingredients

  • pumpkin (see picture for size, that is not actual size though, so guess as best as you can)
  • quart chickie stock
  • loads of onions, sliced thin
  • lantern pepper (or a milder pepper like a habanero), minced
  • crushed black pepper & coriander seeds

bouquet garni of

  • cinnamon
  • peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • coriander seeds
  • cloves

to finish

  • 1/4 c bourbon or whisky (not optional)
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup (optional)
  • salt

Method:

Bring stock to low boil uncovered. Once hot, turn off heat, put lid on.

In a large stock pot, sweat onions in butter and – once they have expressed half of their sweating workout – add loads of salt. After they have sweated to their fullest, add stock, minced hot pepper, roasted pumpkin, bouquet garni, crushed black pepper. Bring to a simmer over med heat then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 min.

Remove the bouquet garni. Puree soup in blender. You can use a processor, but that will result in a giant mess (according to Leslie Land) and so I have never tried that. You can make a mess out of the blender method too, this is how: fill up the blender and turn it on high. It’ll explode across the kitchen. Return soup to a pot on the stove top and heat it back up, add bourbon (not optional) and maple syrup (optional). Check for salt savoriness. Serve in bowls with good bread. Unless you’re a weirdo who does not eat bread. Then you should just give up eating soup all together.

 

 

Current Favorite Eggy Breakfast


Rating: Complicated

Since we’re totally broke having chickens is pretty handy. This morning I discovered my current new favorite breakfast: Soft Boiled Eggs with Salt and Tabasco in an a White Bowl Eaten with a Sterling Silver Spoon.

Method

  • Inherit silver
  • Buy cheap white bowls at discount Williams Sonoma store (alternately Chinatown white and blue bowls decorated with fish are acceptable especially if they are chipped)
  • Buy expensive salt at specialty store (Maladon is good or you could get wild with a volcanic black)
  • Tabasco
  • Place eggs into small pot, cover with cold water, set Magic Chef setting to “Hi”. Bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat, cover for 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on how well done you like your eggs.
  • Peel/scoop out egg from shell and put into bowl (this takes practice and concentration. This is what gives this recipe a complicated rating)
  • Sprinkle expensive salt
  • Shake up Tabasco, unscrew top and shake onto eggs

Eat.

Jammin’ at home


The plums had good enough flavor but they were terrible texture, so I decided to turn them into jam…. and it worked really well.

  • 5-7 small plums
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS water
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 TSP Orange Blossom water (optional)
  • 1 TSP Grand Marnier (optional)

Method:

Put everything into a small saucepan and cook until the fruit is soft, the sugar melted and a jam line situation is happening. Remove star anise and put the rest of it through a food mill.

Spread on buttered toast.

 

Young green garlic scape souffle

We’re about to launch into chicken ownership so I decided I’d better add souffles to my cooking repertoire. I hunted around for recipes and landed on Fanny Farmer for a standard base recipe. From there, I improvise.

What I discovered this time is that the standard souffle is a great way to use up really old hard cheese in the cheese box. Just grate it up and toss it in.

  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 cup hot milk
  • 1/2 t salt
  • pinch cayenne
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 5 egg whites
  • approx 1 – 1/2 cups grated parm and some other really old hard cheese in the cheese drawer
  • 5 young garlic scapes cut up
  • 1/4 yellow onion small dice
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme
  • butter for sauteing and coating souffle dish

Preheat Magic Chef to 375º. Butter a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish or what ever else you have in that size and shape. As you can see from the picture I used my Le Creuset blue thing instead of souffle because I wanted to use the blue thing. Add 2-3 T of grated cheese to coat bottom and sides.

Gently cook the onions for about 3 minutes in the butter, add the garlic scapes and continue cooking until soft. Don’t let them color and if they threaten to add a little water. I put a lid on to speed up the process.

Heat the milk with the thyme leaves over low heat.

Make bechemel: put the Magic Chef on #4 and melt the butter, add the flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or so. Add the hot milk and stir constantly for about 2 minutes until thickened. Add garlic-onion combo, salt, cayenne, cheese and over low heat gently combine it all. Add 3 T of hot bechamel to eggs and combine. Add that back into into hot mixture and stir over #2 on Magic Chef for a minute to combine. Remove from heat, pour into large bowl.

Beat the egg whites on high until totally stiff but not dried out.

Add 1/4 of whites to bechemel-egg yolk and incorporate. Gently! Fold in the rest of the whites in and after it is all combined, pour into prepared dish and place in the middle of the oven.

Cook for 35 minutes.

Remove and eat immediately.

With the extra egg yolk, I made a really excellent salad dressing for the accompanying salad.

Sweet ricotta tart


The thing I love about this recipe is the dough. It’s silky smooth and luxurious to handle. We get wonderful fresh ricotta here.

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15- to 16-ounce container ricotta cheese (preferably whole-milk)
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Special equipment: tart pan with removable bottom

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp orange peel, salt, baking powder in the food processor and pulse for two seconds. Add butter and blend until a coarse meal forms. Add 2 eggs and blend until the dough starts to clump and then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about a minute. It is a great texture. Divide it the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other and wrap and refrigerate the smaller one. Press the larger piece into the tart pan, working your way up the sides of the pan covering it.

Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta and cream cheeses together with the cornstarch and vanilla. Then beat in the remaining sugar, remaining orange peel and last two eggs. Beat it for probably 10 seconds or so. It does not need to be over beaten, just smoothish.
Pour into the prepared pan. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to about 10” diameter and place on top of the tart and trim the edges. Cut several slits in the top and cook for about 1 hour. But check it after 45 minutes. Mine was done a little early and I could have removed it about 10 minutes prior. It will be a beautiful golden color. Cool completely.

Miso marinated salmon steak with sauteed chard & sushi rice

Washoku-style miso marinated fish

Cooking the fish is a relatively quick preparation providing you have mirin, soy, miso on hand. There are many kinds of miso, more than I ever imagined, and I had to go with the one I had on hand which was a brown rice miso.

Cooking the chard is also quick if you have pre-made seasoned soy. If you don’t have that then you’ll want to add an hour to the prep time and start the meal by making this first.

Enough marinade for 1-1/2lbs fish

Marinade

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 c miso
  • 2 T mirin
  • 1 T sake or dry vermouth because I forgot to get sake
  • Grated lemon peel

Method

Rinse the fish, pat it dry and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let it rest and sweat for 5 minutes then dry it again. Put a double layer of cheesecloth over a baking dish. Place the fish on it and cover the fish with another layer of cheesecloth.

Combine ingredients of the marinade mixing well then brush it evenly over both sides of the cloth covered fish. Marinate for 20 minutes or more. It can stay out if it is cool but if it is hot in the kitchen put it in the fridge and allow it to marinate at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.

Preheat the broiler. I placed the fish skin side up in a cast iron skillet about 3″ from the heat source for about 3-4 minutes until the skin starts to char (takes a little longer in my idiotic Magic Chef). Flip it and broil for another 2-3 minutes. Remove, place on place and serve with sushi rice, sauteed chard and pickled ginger.

Sauteed Chard with a seasoned soy sauce

Wash and shake out a head or two of chard. remove stems and reserve for another use. Cut it into long thin strips (chiffonade).

Mince about a tablespoon of ginger and garlic (more if you like)

For the seasoned soy mix together:

  • 1 dried shitake mushroom
  • 8 square inchs of Kombu (kelp)
  • 1/3 cup sake (or dry vermouth)
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T water
  • 2 T mirin
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup katsu-bushi (dried bonito flakes)

Place first four ingredients into a small sauce pan and let sit for 30 minutes. Add the sugar, mirin, water and fish sauce and over low heat and bring to a simmer and reduce it for about 15 minutes – the volume should reduce by about 1/4. Move from heat and add katsu-bushi. Let stand until the flakes sink (about 5 minutes) then strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

Method

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat and when hot add the ginger and garlic stirring and cooking for about 30 seconds. Add about a 1/4 cup of the seasoned soy and let it bubble then add the chard a handful at a time turning and stirring with tongs until it is all in the pot, reducing in size and cooking. Cook until all the chard is completely limp and has reduced in size to an amazingly small amount of vegetable given what you started with. Taste.

Time to count the beans

white beans

When I am feeling broke, I eat beans. Today it is white beans because they feel really rich, especially when combined with sage, asiago cheese and kielbasa. Rich, warm and delicious. I believe in dried beans, not canned beans. This dish may be the inspiration for a new category called: Super Simple Dishes that are Not Fast.

Cook the beans:

  • 2 cups dried white beans
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons FAT: I used duck, you can use olive oil or goose fat or bacon fat
  • bay leaf

Pick through the beans to make sure you don’t have any rocks in them. Then put everything into a heavy bottom pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and on very low heat, partially covered, cook the beans until they are tender but not completely mushy. Approximately 1.5-2.5 hours. If you need to add water, add it.

Remove bay leaf.

Add salt. Probably a lot of it.

Now when you’re ready to have a side dish do this:

  • 1/2 c yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • few slices kielbasa cut into little squares
  • 1/4 cup asiago shredded
  • fresh sage
  • salt & pepper

Saute the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat (#4 on the Magic Chef). After 5 minutes, add the garlic and chopped kielbasa and turn up the heat to medium (#6 on the MC). Saute for about 4-5 minutes then, using a slotted spoon add a few spoonfuls of beans from the pot. Turn the heat back down to med-low (#4MC) and cook until heated through. Add the sage and cheese stirring to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

Gooseberry sorbet

gooseberry sorbet

I love this recipe because I don’t have to top and tail the berries. I make a juice, then a syrup, then a sorbet.

Juice

  • quart of gooseberries
  • enough water to cover berries

In a heavy bottomed pan bring it to a boil on Magic Chef setting 6. Gently boil until berries burst. put mixture into a sieve lined with cheese cloth to drain for 24 hours in refrigertator.

Makes about 1 1/2c juice

Sorbet

  • 1 1/2 c gooseberry juice
  • 3.6 oz sugar (approximately)
  • lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cassis liqueur

Squeeze as much juice from cheesecloth then heat it gently. Add sugar to taste. It should be sweeter than you’d like for a juice, but not insanely sweet. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the cassis liqueur. Refrigerate until cool. Put into the ice cream machine and churn according to maker’s instructions. When done put it into a container, place a piece of plastic wrap snugly on top of the sorbet then put the top of the container on to keep it from absorbing freezer smells. Freeze for 2-3 hours prior to eating.

Foraging for weeds of choice: lambs quarters

My first year living in the country, I viciously tore out the prolific lambs quarters that invaded my garden thinking they were annoying horrible useless weeds. Now, I respect them as one of the greatest and most excellent tasting green leafy vegetables available. If I am lucky enough to get them super young as in the picture above I will:

  • In a large sautee pan, heat 2T olive oil over medium  (#5 on the Magic Chef) add a few crushed/minced garlic cloves to gently cook for a minute then add the greens.
  • Pile them into the pan, heaping! With tongs gently turn them in the oil and heat until they are wilted.
  • Add a very conservative amount of soy sauce.
  • Add salt to taste.

Eat!