Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Online Cooking Group Week Four...Cooking it Out

I realize that this is technically week five of the cooking group, but since I was struck with the Swine flu, I totally skipped last week, so I'm a week behind...sorry.

Honestly I've had a bit of a cooking hiatus I suppose. I could blame it all on the flu (and the fact that all I wanted to eat for a week was oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, go figure) but truth is, save a few batches of killer pancakes thanks to our rockin new griddle (more on that later), I've been in a cooking dry spell for a couple of weeks.

It's taken everything in my power to churn out one measly new thing a week for our cooking group, so thanks for your virtual peer pressure, otherwise my family would literally be eating nothing but the aforementioned pancakes and quesidillas.

So I'm happy to report that last Sunday was my turning point. I channeled my friend Kristie, who is a formidable cook and as such, anytime she's in any sort of major funk, has a seemingly unsolvable problem or can't get going on a project, she "cooks it out".

So Sunday morning I pulled out the cookbooks and old issues of Gourmet (sigh) and started flipping through for inspiration. We've had blissful Fall weather, so I knew I wanted to make a soup of some sort and bake a bit, but it's not too cold yet, so I also wanted something "fresh" to sort of temper the "warm" Autumn food.

I decided to ease in with a couple of things I've made before (Alice Water's cornbread and carrot soup) and a new salad from an old Food and Wine to serve on the side.

It was all divine. I love the salad (it's definitely going into heavy rotation this fall), and really I can't say enough about how amazing (and super easy) the carrot soup is. It's definitely one of my favorite.dishes.ever.

As for how the girlies liked it all, well...they wouldn't touch the salad (no surprise there), gobbled up the corn muffins (again no surprise) and each took a single bite of the soup and promptly gagged, which frankly was a surprise as they both love carrots. Oh well, I'll try again at some point. That soup rocks my world.

Celery Salad with Walnuts, Dates and Pecorino -- adapted from Food and Wine
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bunches celery (2 pounds), thinly sliced on the bias
  • 3/4 cup dried pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
  • 3 ounces dry pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Let cool completely, then coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, combine the shallot with the sherry vinegar. Whisk in both oils and season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the toasted walnuts, celery, dates and pecorino. Add the dressing and toss. Serve at once.

Alice Water's Carrot Soup -- Adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 pounds organic carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cups organic chicken stock

Melt the butter into a pot set over medium-low heat. When butter has melted add the onion and thyme. Continue cooking on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the stock and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, add the salt, and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor and return to pot. You may need to do this in several batches and be careful, as hot liquids will expand in the blender.

Serve plain or with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of crumbled bacon.

1 comment:

  1. this all looks SO delicious! i'm in the (slow, slow) process of putting together a scrapbooky collection of recipes and i suspect this is definitely one i'm going to have to try out for expanding the repertoire!

    (any ideas if the soup freezes okay?)