Sep 21st, 2020
A Farmers’ Stew3 tbsp olive oil
2 big onions, coarsely chopped
a few thyme sprigs
8 skinny eggplants, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 ˝ pounds summer squash, cut into large wedges or lengths
2 tbsp tomato paste
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
˝ cup white wine or water
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other deep pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions, thyme, and oregano and cook over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally while you prepare the rest of the vegetables. By the time they’re all cut, the onions will have wilted and started to color in places.
Add the vegetables, give them a stir, and cook, keeping the heat high and shaking the pan occasionally, until they begin to give off an enticing smell. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste; add the salt and the wine or water. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes. The vegetables should have an invitingly tender appearance and be blushing with a faint glaze of red from the tomato. Season with pepper. Add a few drops of vinegar for sharpness if you like.
-Deborah Madison, Local Flavors
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Sep 21st, 2020
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|Five-Spice Beet Soup|
Jan 11th, 2009
To complete the transformation of this blog into a Soup-of-the-Month forum, I'll follow up last month's Roasted Eggplant Soup with - yes - another pureed vegetable soup. Now that I think about it actually, the two soups would make a stunning duo - contrasting the smokey orange of the eggplant soup with the velvety violet of the beet.
The impetus behind wanting to make both of these recipes was same as well. There are some vegetables that have admirable nutritional profiles, yet always end up languishing in my vegetable drawer. Beets and eggplant both belong to this category of vegetable - those that, to be honest, I just don't love and have to struggle to come up with ways to eat them that sound good. But it's becoming clear to me that just about any vegetable will be delicious when cooked up with some broth and served as a soup. What an easy way to eat your vegetables!
This beet soup recipe caught my eye because the combination of ginger and Chinese five-spice sounded like just the thing to liven up a puree of sweet steamed beets. Plus I had everything I needed to make it hanging out in my fridge (always a plus). The one thing I was out of was vegetable broth, so I tested Mark Bittman's assertion that throwing some carrots and onions in a pan with some water and simmering for ten minutes will give you a better vegetable stock than anything you could pick up in the grocery store. Since canned vegetable stocks tend to be pretty gross, this isn't really a high bar - but I'd have to agree with Mr. Bittman. I didn't have much onion, so I added some leek trimmings from my freezer to some rubbery old carrots and the skin from the onion I was using for this recipe, and indeed in about ten or fifteen minutes of simmering I had a sweet, aromatic stock.
After pureeing the soup and adjusting the seasonings, I felt it needed just a little more tang, so I put in a squeeze or two of lemon juice. This was my only change from the original recipe. The combination of the tang from the lemon juice and the yogurt I stirred in on serving proved to be a great counterpoint to the spicy ginger and sweet vegetables, and the five-spice powder adds an unexpected complexity of taste. Pretty good for such a quick to prepare recipe - plus all the purple stuff covering your blender is sure to freak out the kids if you have any.
Five-Spice Beet Soup4 2- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter beets, scrubbed, trimmed, unpeeled, each cut into 6 wedges (about 3 1/2 cups)
3 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced (2 cups)
1 celery stalk with leaves, stalk chopped, leaves sliced
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp (or more) Chinese five-spice powder
Fresh-squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Place beet wedges in 4-cup glass measuring cup. Add 2 cups broth; cover with paper plate and microwave on high until tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and chopped celery stalk; cover and cook until almost tender and translucent, stirring often, about 12 minutes.
Add beet mixture and 1 cup broth to onion mixture; cover and simmer 4 minutes. Mix in ginger and 1/4 tsp five-spice powder. Transfer to lender; cover and puree. Season soup to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice and additional five-spice powder, if desired; rewarm if necessary.
Serve and top with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and sliced celery leaves.
-Bon Appetit February 2009
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|Roasted Eggplant Soup with Saffron Mayonnaise|
Nov 8th, 2008
In August we took a road trip to a family wedding in California. We drove down the Oregon coast, through the Redwoods and Sonoma, with stops in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. There's something about driving through little towns and discovering small independent bookstores that renders me completely powerless. I must buy. I mean, what if I were to be caught in a motel somewhere with nothing to read? Unthinkable.
Most of my purchases were used mystery novels, perfect for quick summer reads, but I love prowling the used cookbook sections as well. You never know what you'll find tucked in between the Microwave Cookery manuals and the old Sunset recipe books from the '70s. In Florence, Oregon this year, my find was a copy of The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine From The Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison. Deborah Madison is one of my favorite cookbook authors, and I was thrilled to fill this gap in my collection.
When we got home it was high summer and our new garden was flourishing. It was the perfect context to break open this book, full of ideas for vegetables picked at the peak of ripeness. I went on a bit of a Deborah Madison cooking binge, and this is the recipe I wanted to share. To be honest, for all the vegetable goodness included in this soup - it's the tangy, wondrous, goes-great-on-anything Saffron Mayo that really makes this dish.
It's cold and rainy out today, but I felt a little bit of summer oozing out of this picture and this recipe.
Roasted Eggplant Soup with Saffron MayyonnaiseServes 4 to 6Soup:
1 to 2 firm, shiny eggplants, weighing in all 1 1/2 lbs
About 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large red or torpedo onion, halved but not peeled
1 large or 2 medium red peppers, halved and seeded
2 medium ripe tomatoes
4 to 5 thyme branches or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
7 cups water or stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup diced bread tossed with 2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt, preferably coarse sea salt
1/2 cup light olive oil or peanut oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp saffron threads dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
Lemon juice or vinegar to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wipe the outside of the eggplants, halve them lengthwise, and brush the entire surface with olive oil. Salt and pepper the cut surfaces, set the halves on a baking sheet and start them baking. Brush olive oil on the cut sides of the onion, both sides of the peppers, and the tomatoes, and add them to the pan with the eggplant after it has baked 20 minutes. Continue baking another 20 minutes or so, until the eggplant is soft and is beginning to collapse, and the skins of all the vegetables are loose and wrinkled. Remove the vegetables from the oven and cool briefly. Take off what you can of the pepper skins and peel the onions; then roughly chop all the vegetables into large pieces.
Slowly warm 2 tbsp of olive oil with the thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and dried basil. After several minutes add the baked vegetables, salt, and the chopped basil. Pour in the water or stock, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer slowly for 25 minutes.
Cool the soup briefly; then puree it in a blender at a low speed, preserving some texture and small flecks of the pepper and eggplant skins. Return it to the pot and season to taste with salt and lemon juice. Thin with additional water or stock if needed.
Prepare the Saffron Mayonnaise. Just before serving, toast the croutons in the oven until they are crisp and golden brown. Serve the soup with a spoonfull of the mayonnaise in each bowl, along with a handful of croutons. A scattering of chopped basil leaves will give additional color and freshness to the soup.
If the egg is cold from the refrigerator, set it in a bowl of hot water for a minute or so to warm it up.
Pound the garlic with the salt in a mortar until it forms a smooth paste. Add the egg yolk, and stir briskly for about a minute with the pestle. Whisk in the olive or peanut oil, drop by drop at first, then adding it in larger amounts as you go along. When all the oil is incorporated, add the cayenne and the dissolved saffron. Season to taste with lemon juice or vinegar.
Thin the mayonnaise by stirring in hot water by the spoonfull until you have the consistency you want. If it is not to be used right away, cover and refrigerate until needed; then bring it to room temperature before serving.
-Deborah Madison, The Greens Cook Book
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|Dinner with Jay: Salmon|
Sep 5th, 2008
Okay, I'll admit Jay didn't really pick out this recipe as much as I cajoled him into it. Salmon is one of the few types of seafood that Jay enjoys, so when I came across some nice salmon at the store I decided to see if I could find a simple, easy preparation (ideally involving lots of butter) and talk him into helping out.
We actually made this a few months ago when Copper River salmon were in the stores here in Seattle. Despite the fact that I live in Seattle, salmon has actually never been one of my favorite fish, in fact I usually find it kind of boring. I haven't done a lot of taste tasting between types of salmon, and I wasn't entirely sold on the idea of shelling out gold bullion for a few fillets of fish just because it had the title 'Copper River - wild caught' on it. So I bought a smidge of the expensive stuff, and more of your basic farm raised Atlantic salmon, figuring I'd be lucky if I could force this stuff down my kids gullets at all, let alone pause to enjoy the subtle delights of expensive fish.
But you know what, when all was said and done, I would have been better off just buying as much of the Copper River as I could afford and leaving it at that. The difference in color and texture between the two was quite impressive - the Copper River being firm with an actual salmon color while the farmed salmon was an anemic pink and kind of squishy. And the taste - alright I'll admit it - the Copper River was so much better. And I should know because I was the one forced to eat up the rest of the farmed salmon for lunch the next two days. There were no leftovers of the wild-caught fish.
The preparation itself was super easy, and definitely kid-friendly. If you've got some picky eaters who you think might be ready to try seafood, I would recommend buying a small quantity of the best quality salmon out there, and giving this recipe a whirl.
Roasted Salmon with Garlic ButterServes 42 Garlic Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Butter
1.5 Pounds Salmon, Cut into 4 Pieces
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Fresh Minced Parsley
Lemon Wedges for Garnish
Preheat Oven to 400 F. Mash the garlic into a paste witht the salt and pepper on a cutting board. Add butter and mash into the garlic paste.
In a baking dish, arrange the salmon in a single layer and top it with the garlic butter. Drizzle with the lemon juice. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve with the lemon wedges.
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