I like football. This is surprising because I generally hate watching sports on teevee. I don’t know if its the tight-ends or the hairless arms, but football is a-okay in my books. Every Sunday, we dress baby Otis in his football onesie and have football family time. My friends love a good ol’ fashioned food competition, so I thought, why not host a soup competition for superbowl. Get it, Soup-erbowl. Turns out I’m not that genius and grantland hosted the king of all head-to-head souperbowl competitions online days after I had sent out my invite.
Superbowl custom dictates chili eating, so I decided to forgo the opportunity for soup supremacy and take myself out of the running by making a venison chili with skillet cornbread. I used up some of my black beans (thus continuing to fulfill my new years resolution) and used some fantastic Deer Valley venison from the Brickworks market. I wanted to be on theme, so I made Brooklyn based Baked’s tomato soup cupcakes with mascarpone icing. The batter was a horrifying shade of orange from two whole cans of tomato soup, the finished cupcakes were…Mmmm wow…unexpected…moist, spicy, tomatoey – genius!
Our friends are so impressive – almost everyone brought soup, with garnishes! Fancypantses. There was a creamy cold “tailgate” vichyssoise with croutons and a perfectly soft boiled egg from Ferran Adria’s new home-cooking book, a parsnip soup with toasted mustard seeds and parsnip chips, and a 101 cookbooks cheddar broccoli soup with crispy croutons. We each tried the soups and had a secret ballot drawing at half-time – the winner by a landslide was the “tailgate” vichyssoise, oh and that creepy slackline dancer.
Skillet Cornbread (makes one skillet)
1 cup All-Purpose flour
1 cup old cheddar
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1) Preheat oven to 400F. Grease seasoned cast-iron with shortening.
2) Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cheddar and salt in a bowl.
3)Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients until just combined.
4) Place empty cast-iron pan in heated oven for 5 minutes.
5) Remove and pour batter into pan.
6) Bake for 25 minutes, let stand 15 minutes before serving.
*I like to top cornbread when it comes out of the oven with a maple syrup butter sometimes. You know, to gild the lily.
These are my pulses, my legumes, my dried old beans, my sad, lonely, lentils. I compulsively buy legumes from bulk stores, put them in pretty jars and rarely use them. I own an entire book on heirloom beans, pages tagged at deliciously pulse-ridden recipes that I have never made. Having an influx of legumes has caused me to create a singular New Year’s resolution – to cook my way through the stockpile. Big goals, big dreams – that’s me.
I take great satisfaction from using things up that may otherwise go to waste. At the market, I have grand illusions that I will be able to cook more than I have the time for, and now, with a newborn, this situation is only compounded. So, I cooked up a big pot of soup to use some of the beans and the veggies that were sadly deteriorating in my icebox.
Ribollita is one of my favourite soups; it reminds me of a lunch I enjoyed in Firenze with two of my dear friends. We had just climbed above the city to San Miniato al Monte, heard Gregorian chanting monks and explored the gothic graveyard while a black cat followed us. We descended back down into the Oltrarno, soaked and hungry, we saw Osteria Antica Mescita – a picturesque osteria that happened to have the slow food symbol on its door. Perfecto! I ordered ribollita, my friends ordered zuppa di ceci con farro e porcini– the meal lasted hours, living up to its “slow” distinction – thankfully the deliciousness made up for the service.
Recipe adapted from epicurious and my mind.
1 1/4 cups dried canellini or white kidney beans
6 fresh sage leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves, fresh
5 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup pancetta, cubed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 leeks, sliced thin
5 leaves sage, fresh
5 sprigs thyme, fresh
1 bay leaves, fresh
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 large unpeeled Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 small butternut squash, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered through core, sliced crosswise
1 small bunch black lacinato kale, cut into ribbons (about 6 cups)
1 small bunch green chard (about 4 large leaves), center stem removed, cut crosswise into ribbons (about 6 cups)
4 cups thinly sliced savoy cabbage
5 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1 2-inch square Parmesan cheese rind
1 ham hock, smoked, whole
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
10 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 lemon, juiced
Parsley, fresh, for garnish
6 1/2-inch-thick slices crusty white bread, torn into croutons
1) Combine 8 cups water, beans, sage, thyme, bay, pancetta, and garlic in large saucepan. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover, simmer until beans are tender, adding more water to keep beans submerged, about 1 ½ hours.
2) Add 1-teaspoon sea salt; simmer 10 minutes. Uncover and cool beans in liquid.
1) Heat 3 tablespoons oil in cast-iron pot over medium heat. Add onion and leek; sprinkle with sea salt. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
2) Add chopped garlic, safe, thyme and bay; stir 2 minutes.
3) Add celery, carrot, potato, squash, and fennel; cook until vegetables are tender and begin to caramelize in spots, stirring often, 15 to 18 minutes.
4) Add kale, chard, cabbage, tomatoes, Parmesan rind, whole ham hock. Cover with chicken stock, and add 1 teaspoon sea salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
5) Add beans with cooking liquid and crushed red pepper. Add 2 cups broth.
6) Remove ham hock – let cool and remove meat from bone. Add back into soup.
7) Season with salt and generous amount of pepper.
8) Add bread to soup and simmer, stirring often to break up bread into smaller pieces and adding more broth if needed to thin, if desired.
9) Season with sea salt and pepper, and squeeze juice of lemon into soup.
10) Divide ribollita among bowls, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and parsley.
2) Combine popcorn, bacon and nuts in a large bowl.
3) At medium heat, bring sugar, corn syrup and butter to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir
occasionally for 10-15 minutes until dark golden.
4) Add vanilla carefully, it will sputter.
5) Spray a spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Remove mixture from heat and pour into
large bowl over the popcorn. Using the spatula, work quickly to coat the popcorn with the
molten hot sugar.
6) Spread mixture onto baking trays. Sprinkle with kosher salt. The sugar will harden
quickly. Allow cool and break into pieces.
7) Store in sealed container for up to 2 weeks – but it won’t last that long, I promise!
|Butterscotch Scotch Eggnog|
Eggnog with Beer (Biersuppe)
Butterscotch Scotch Eggnog
|June 2010 – Vodka & Vanilla Beans|
|December 2010 – Vanilla Extract!|
My husband is a caveman. Or is currently eating like one. It drives me crazy. It is an ongoing battle in our household with the battle-lines drawn over the consumption of pasta, beans and grains. In university, I was a tad bit obsessed with the Neolithic revolution, the time in history when we began to domesticate crops and finally settle in one place, when we were no longer nomadic hunters and gatherers. My husband, although not a nomad, would like to see us all return to our Paleolithic roots, some 2000 years before the Neolithic. Although he hasn’t made me give up my knives for knapped stone tools, I am half expecting this will occur sometime soon. The irony of ironies is that I have just been hired at a high-end Italian restaurant to be one of the pasta makers. My husband gets to live with an Italian trained cook and does not want to eat pasta. The Paleo diet is driving me crazy.
Suffice to say, there has been a lot of happy, grass-fed meat consumption in our household. I seem to find empty beef jerky packages at every turn. This is not happy meat. This is salty, processed meat. In an attempt to make happy, healthier jerky, my husband and I bought a locally raised tri-tip piece of angus beef from a nice butcher shop, Medium Rare. Using a recipe for Mexican Lime Jerky from Food and Wine magazine, we marinated the thinly sliced beef in lime juice, steam-whistle beer, and jalapenos overnight. In the morning, while we were at the market, the beef was cooked low and slow until we came home and it was chewy and beefy and all the things happy jerky should be. Personally, I do not like beef jerky, but my resident caveman gave it a wholehearted thumbs-up.
Espresso, mascarpone, chocolate. How can you go wrong with this combination? The name tiramisu comes from the phrase tirami su, which means pull me up, or pick me up. Or fatten me up?