Surprise!

organes for spiced orange date cake

By this blog’s namesake, you might think that my kitchen only turns out soup this and soup that, but I assure you we are not floating away. I probably bake enough to change the title to Glass Jar Baking Company. I say that I bake primarily for others, but when honesty prevails I engage in it because it equally rewards me….I feel good about my making others feel special with a homemade treat that was made expressly for them. Sometimes baking can even elicit memories and powerful emotions. Take my late Oma’s rhubarb streusel….. in my mind it’s sweet sour aroma floats through the air like a seductive siren while she stands guard insisting it must cool before we dive in…Oh, would my heart overflow with joy and gratitude if someone surprised me with this confection one day. Hint, hint! Anyone listening?

Christmas Eve I gave someone, a special friend of ours, that very gift. The saying goes “home is where the heart is”, but until you move and are forced to make new connections, I don’t think you can really appreciate the saying. M’s friendship has helped Texas feel like home and it doesn’t hurt that he is a food enthusiast, a dedicated home cook, a superb dining companion and a considerate, attentive friend that is always up for a culinary adventure. He recently shared with me a recipe from his “sito” (Lebanese grandmother) for an orange date cake that was by all recollections akin to the attention my Oma’s rhubarb streusel garnered in our family. He offered it with the generous invitation to “play around and make it your own”. Let the games begin! I knew that I wanted to perfect my version and take M by surprise, so I never mentioned the recipe again. In fact, I’m quite certain he disappointedly thought it was lost on my desk. But the truth was that I was figuring out how to stay true to sito with a few slight enhancements.

First, Grand Marnier was introduced to the dates and then added to the glaze…yes, I know what you are thinking…Game Over. But I wanted to incorporate warm spices, both for the season and because M is a big fan, so in went cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of cloves. Again, I could have stopped there…but I wanted to ensure the cake would be moist and have a super tender crumb so I swapped a portion of the buttermilk for crème fraiche.

We shared Christmas Eve dinner with M and his daughter at our favorite Dallas restaurant where the staff kindly “surprised” us with sito’s Spiced Orange Date Cake for dessert. I must brag that we’d snuck it in with the prowess of 007!! I’m pretty sure M teared up a bit and even more perfect was the fact that he could share the cake with his father and uncle on Christmas day…..as sito was their dear mother.

Spiced Orange Date Cake

Spiced Orange Date Cake

Ingredients

    Cake
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 lb dates
  • ¼ c Grand Marnier
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 2 T orange zest (from two large oranges)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup crème fraiche
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 T Grand Marnier (you could use ½ T as the alcohol will be strong if you enjoy right away, however, it dissipates a bit on the second day)
  • 3 T freshly squeezed orange juice

Instructions

    Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 15-cup Bundt pan.
  2. Chop the dates in a food processor until right before they clump into a ball. They will be a paste with chunks of dates scattered throughout. Put them in a bowl and pour the Grand Marnier over them, breaking up the clumps. Set aside and stir occasionally.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy- about 4 minutes.
  4. On low, add the eggs, vanilla and orange zest and mix until just combined.
  5. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices then add to the sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk and crème fraiche.
  6. On low, pour the walnuts and dates in the mixer and mix until combined.
  7. Pour into Bundt pan and bake for 85 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
  8. Remove to a wire rack and poke holes into the cake with a long wooden skewer. Spoon half the glaze over the warm cake.
  9. Remove the cake from the pan after 15 minutes and poke more holes into the top of the cake and spook the remaining glaze over the cake.
  10. Glaze
  11. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk until smooth.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2015/01/20/surprise/

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Anniversary Dinner

eggs for Garlic and Chicken SoupBack in September, while shopping at my go-to store, a sales associate who we’ve known for about a year inquired as to how long we’ve been married. Surprised at the answer, she remarked that we still regarded each other as newlyweds and would never have guessed that we’d been married so long. But it’s true! As of December 1 we were officially 13 years and counting, but apparently and happily so, not acting our age.

To commemorate our special day (as you can tell I’m a bit tardy getting this posted!) I wanted to honor my sweetie pie (sorry if this is making you gag) with one of his favorites- roast chicken. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t request it, especially since I’ve tweaked the recipe to taste bud perfection.  The secret is simple. Brine. Butter. Blast. The brine not only ensures a drippingly juicy bird, but it will penetrate deep into the meat to ensure it’s seasoned throughout, not just on the surface.  By buttering the outside and blasting it in a scorching hot oven, the skin turns a deep golden brown that is C-R-R-R-I-S-P-Y! I never ever went near chicken skin until this and now I blissfully risk 3rd degree burns going after it the minute the little birdie is out of the oven. Of course, there are a few other things along the way to pay attention to which I’ve noted in the recipe. And, yes, this is a soup blog not a roast chicken blog, but I feel kind of guilty and secretive not sharing something so unbelievably delicious. I promise your whole chicken world is about to change…and leftovers….M-O-I-S-T!….for days!

garlic for Garlic and Chicken SoupCertainly there are no shortages of perfect sides for your little beauty, but if you are looking for something a little special (maybe like for an anniversary) and out of the ordinary make Perigord Tourain while the chicken is in the oven. It’s a classic French garlic and chicken soup with a soothing lushness that makes your shoulders relax and your eyes close….an experience beyond taste that simply feels good. And although its origin is French, its easy preparation might mistake it for having American roots.  The main ingredient is chicken stock so be sure to use the best you can get your hands on, preferably homemade. It’s traditionally served (from what I read, not by experience…so sad) with bread which we found to be perfect for getting every last bit of the soup out of our bowls and into our mouths! Not to mention sopping up the chicken juices from the roasting pan…….

Perigord Tourain (Garlic and Chicken Soup)

Perigord Tourain (Garlic and Chicken Soup)

Slightly adapted from Tasting Table who adapted it from Sebastien Archambault, L’Epicerie, Los Angeles.

Don’t tell Chicken Noodle, but this soup may just be the next innovation in defending against cold & flu.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock
  • ¼ cup rendered duck fat
  • 10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I make mine like matchsticks)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup egg whites (3-4 eggs depending on the size)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt (more or less depending on the saltiness of your stock)
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan until it reaches a simmer. Reduce and keep warm.
  2. Heat the garlic and duck fat in a large pan (I used a 6.75 qt Dutch oven) cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes until the garlic turns a golden brown. Stir frequently.
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the warmed chicken stock, ladle by ladle, stirring to dissolve the flour.
  5. Add the salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil then aggressively simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to low, pour in the egg whites and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes until they become white. They will look elegant and wispy when done.
  8. Taste for seasoning.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/05/11/anniversary-dinner/

Brine. Butter. Blast. Roast Chicken

Brine. Butter. Blast. Roast Chicken

A recipe is only as good as the ingredients, so don’t skimp when selecting your chicken. For obvious reasons go organic, but also make sure it’s been air chilled vs dunked in a disgusting chlorinated water bath. Do these two things (and Brine. Butter. Blast.) and you’re guaranteed to have a chickeny chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken (4-5 lbs); air chilled if you can find it
  • 1 ½ cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 cups cold water
  • ½ TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. In a 6 quart stock pot or large bowl, whisk the sugar and salt with cold water until they are dissolved.
  2. Place the chicken in the brine, breast side down. You may need to place a plate on the chicken to keep it submerged.
  3. Refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours. I generally leave it in for 8 hours. I would not leave it overnight or the meat will get mushy.
  4. Two hours before you intend to roast the chicken, remove it from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
  5. Let the chicken come to room temperature for two hours (1 hour at the least).
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 or if using convection, 425.
  7. Rub the butter and oil over the chicken skin and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the lemon and garlic in the cavity of the chicken.
  8. Place the chicken on a simple sheet pan.
  9. Roast for 45-60 minutes until an instant read thermometer placed at the thigh joint reads 165. Remove from the oven and cover with foil for 20 minutes to allow the juices to be retained in the meat instead of running all over the carving board.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/05/11/anniversary-dinner/

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Change of Plans

beans for Creamy White Bean and Chorizo SoupDoes the simple mention of this spontaneous course of events send you reeling with excitement into the adventure ahead or does it fill you with dread or maybe irritation that your well laid plans have been disrupted? Perhaps you are cool as a cucumber and so laid back that you simply go with the flow. I’m definitely not in the third camp….no sir! Unless that is I’m feeling inspired and striving to be a better person by working on my “issues” and attempting to be pleasing to those I’m with….rather than being a whiny stick-in-the-mud. I’m more of an obsessive planner. In fact, I’m that annoying person on vacation that has every second of the day accounted for and precisely outlined in a neatly composed, distributed-in-advance itinerary. It’s not complicated to understand, for better or worse I always want to be in control. For me, planning provides a sense of power….like I’m in command of my universe. Yeah, right.

carrot celery onion for creamy white bean and chorizo soupOne of my new gal pals just broke her leg on a skiing trip….talk about change of plans. Learning the news I immediately began playing out how utterly inconvenient this was about to become for her. Everything in her world and her family’s world would have to be altered, modified, shifted, you name it. Routines would become a mere ghost of their former selves. Uh! My stomach is turning right now just thinking about it.  Worse yet….I was selfishly relieved that it wasn’t my plight. I know this is horrible and is one of those “issues” I must work if I am to become that better person. Seeing her for lunch I was amazed at her resilience and downright cheerful stance on the matter. My big spontaneous accomplishment that week had been deciding to switch out the Bacon Date Scones I was planning on bringing her with a Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto version. Whoa…hold me back…I’m on fire!

rosemary for creamy white bean and chorizo soupI’m guessing that my well-organized self is probably the reason I love recipes. They are carefully curated plans that culminate into something beautiful that you set out to do. Of course it doesn’t always go as planned and cooking has gone a long way to teach me flexibility and patience. I’ve also learned that a change in plan can often result in something even better than originally expected.

I’ve barely modified this soup from the original recipe, but the enhancements are what make it so satisfying to me. More herbs, extra garlic, special beans.  Its puréed, but you hold back some of the soup to add in later for texture, along with some crumbled spicy chorizo sausage (which I’m sure I don’t eat enough of!). I’ve enjoyed this soup many times over and yet it never tasted as good as it did with the addition of my new favorite savory scones. They go together like tomato soup and grilled cheese…it’s that perfect.

Parmesan Prosciutto Rosemary Scones for creamy white bean and chorizo soup

 

Creamy White Bean and Chorizo Soup

Creamy White Bean and Chorizo Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

This is truly one of the most flavorful soups I've ever tasted...you'll find yourself making it over and over until you've shared it with just about everyone you know.

Ingredients

    Beans
  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans (I used white emergo beans from Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • Soup
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots, peeled (about 3-5)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 quart homemade chicken broth
  • 1 lb fresh chorizo sausage (links, casings removed)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in, then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours).
  2. Drain and rinse the beans then return them the stockpot with 8 cups of water, 1 TBSP olive oil, smashed garlic, rosemary and bay leaves.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Add 1 TBSP salt and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes until the beans are just tender. At this point they will be so flavorful that you will want to gobble them with some olive oil and freshly grated parmesan…but, please, try to resist for the sake of your soup.
  5. Drain the beans, but be sure to reserve the cooking liquid. You are going to add it to the soup later. It’s the secret ingredient!
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large pot (I used a 9 quart Dutch oven) over medium heat. Then add the onion, carrots and celery and sprinkle with 1 tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Sauté for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
  8. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. The garlic and thyme will bloom and scent your kitchen.
  9. Pour in 2 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid, as well as the chicken stock and cooked beans.
  10. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  11. Meanwhile, sauté the sausage in large skillet (I used a 12” Le Creuset) over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until no pink remains. Be sure to break the sausage up so you end up with crumbles. Transfer it to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  12. Transfer the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly (5-10 minutes).
  13. Remove 1 ½ cups of the soup from the pot and set aside. Then use an immersion blender to purée the soup until it is creamy and no chunks remain. Return the reserved soup to the pot, along with the chorizo sausage and cream.
  14. Gently reheat and serve with Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto Scones.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/03/23/change-of-plans/

Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto Scones

Rosemary Parmesan Prosciutto Scones

Adapted from Bon Appétit and Coastal Living. When these come out of the oven, the smell alone is almost as good as eating one. Almost…..

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 6 oz prosciutto di parma, thinly sliced and pulsed into a crumble in the food processor
  • 1 generous TBSP of freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, diced and chilled
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • Egg wash (1 TBSP milk lightly beaten with 1 egg)
  • Fleur de Sel

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the chopped rosemary, grated cheese and crumbled prosciutto. Mix with your hands to break up any clumps.
  5. Using a pastry cutter, quickly incorporate the chilled butter into the flour mixture. Blend until the butter is the size of peas and the dough resembles a coarse meal.
  6. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until large clumps develop; then use your hands to knead a few times and shape into a ball.
  7. On a floured surface, pat the dough into an 8” round and cut into 8 wedges. Sometimes I make smaller scones; just divide the dough in half and make 16 smaller wedges instead of 8 large ones.
  8. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet and chill for 2 hours. This ensures light, flaky scones.
  9. Before placing in the oven, brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel.
  10. Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the scones comes out clean. Visually the scones should be golden brown.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2014/03/23/change-of-plans/

 

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Sweet Pea

It’s a boy! A sweet little pea just in time for spring blooms, little lambs and fluffy golden chicks. He took some coaxing (due date, schmue date) but Cooper finally made Amber a mommy a few short weeks ago.  A delicate little thing that unknowingly holds the power of eternal hope…..Cradling him in my arms I began to comprehend his precious bond to my dear friend and without pause I loved him instantly and silently vowed to be there if the time ever came.

Our introduction was not without celebration and in my book or blog rather, celebration is not without food. Amber’s gentle demeanor endears her to so many that I was only one of a parade of well-wishers bringing dinner and the likes for the new parents.  Pondering the options I discounted soup after soup striving for one that would pair with other dishes to culminate into something equally special for the momentous occasion. Sweet spring peas burst to mind as did the royal lusciousness of Parmegiano- Reggiano and truffles. We are a wee early in Carolina for fresh peas, but luckily the little frozen orbs perfectly suffice when preparing soup…AND they are infinitely more convenient. My philosophy on shelling peas (not that you asked) is that it is a task best served outside with a frosty mug of fresh pressed lemonade recounting the weeks gossip or swapping new recipes found and foods tried with someone you can chat away a lazy afternoon with…or simply sit quietly shelling and sipping.

I almost always find pea soups so basic that they scream baby food (hmm…how appropriate). Green, gloppy, watery, bland….no wonder those itsy bitsy tongues work overtime to push it back out.  Yet should you be fortunate to unearth the perfect bowl in some obscure restaurant you almost discounted on account of an uninspiring first impression, you still probably won’t be satisfied with only a bowl of puréed peas for dinner. I know I wouldn’t and I’ve given it the college try more times than I’d like to remember. Well….I haven’t exactly cracked the code, but I HAVE come up with a decadent version and a fabulous easy pairing that is wholly satisfying, the latter being  a little more elegant than a grilled cheese, but I promise equally dunkable. Introducing….drum roll please…….Gruyere and Rosemary Ham Tart. Celebratory baby arrivals aside, this lovely combination is quite appropriate on a brunch menu or for a simple elegant dinner. A glass of champagne expertly cuts the richness of the meal and provides an opportunity to toast. In our case it was for a new little “Sweet Pea”….welcome to the world Cooper!

Sweet Pea Bisque with White Truffle Butter

Sweet Pea Bisque with White Truffle Butter

The heat from the soup will be enough to release the distinct truffle aroma which is responsible for the pungent flavor. Too much heat will destroy the aromatics and subdue the flavor. In other words, don’t cook the butter.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup chopped shallots (about 3 large)
  • ½ cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 5 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 8 oz Yukon Gold potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2” chunks
  • 2 lbs frozen peas
  • 2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 8 oz crème fraiche
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • White truffle butter for serving, softened

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots and cook 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the wine and cook for 3 minutes. It will have reduced by about half.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the potato, broth, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
  5. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat and maintain a simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour in the peas, add 1 tsp salt and return to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and using an immersion blender, purree until silky smooth. No lumps!
  8. Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve that has been placed over a large bowl. Use a spoon to stir the soup and push it against the sides of the sieve. You will be left with about 2 cups of pulp to discard.
  9. Return the strained soup to the pot (I like to clean my pot first, but it’s not essential) and over medium-low heat begin to gently reheat the soup.
  10. Whisk in the crème fraiche followed by the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Do not boil.
  11. Taste for seasonings.
  12. Serve with freshly cracked pepper and swirl in a generous spoonful of white truffle butter.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/20/sweet-pea/

Notes:

  1. In case you aren’t familiar with truffles, they are irregular shaped fungi that grow beneath the ground on the roots of trees, primarily in Italy and France.  They take years to grow, are painstakingly difficult to harvest and cannot be cultivated. Add the fact that there is no other flavor like it in the world and you’ve got an uberexpensive ingredient. White truffles are said to have more intensity than their black counterparts, however, their delicate aroma dissipates fast (which is where the flavor comes from). They are best enjoyed fresh and shaved over things like eggs and pasta, but since a pound can cost in the thousands, truffle butter is a delicious substitute for us commoners.
  2. Whole Foods sells both white and black truffle butters as does the online gourmet retailer D’Artagnan  http://www.dartagnan.com/.
  3. If you don’t have a pepper grinder now is the time to buy one. The richness of this soup and the distinctiveness of the peas beg for assertive pepper, which with the uniqueness of the truffle butter, brings it all together.

Gruyère and Rosemary Ham Tart

Gruyère and Rosemary Ham Tart

If you can’t find rosemary ham, simply use your favorite ham and finely chop some fresh rosemary and sprinkle it over the ham.

Ingredients

  • 14 oz sheet frozen puffed pastry
  • 1/3 lb Rosemary Ham (I used Fra’Mani from Whole Foods)
  • 8 oz aged Gruyère, freshly grated
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 2 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 TBSP of milk)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Thaw the pastry according to package instructions.
  2. Preheat oven to 425.
  3. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  4. Roll the pastry out on a floured silicone mat into a 10” x 14” rectangle.
  5. Transfer the silicone mat to the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Use a sharp knife to score a ½” border on the pastry being careful not to go all the way through. Brush the border with egg wash.
  7. Use a fork to prick the pastry all over inside the border.
  8. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  9. Spread the mustard evenly inside the border.
  10. Lay the ham over the mustard followed by the gruyere and then the parm.
  11. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffy and golden.
  13. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/20/sweet-pea/

 

 

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New Friends

Doesn’t it just figure that I meet new, fabulous friends right when I’m getting out of Dodge? If you’ve been reading this blog you know I’m quite partial to Savory in Raleigh. Their spices are the finest I’ve encountered and sustained by an immensely knowledgeable staff that is always eager to oblige. Many receipts later, the girth on my circle of friends (thankfully not my waist!!!) has blissfully expanded, so you can imagine my delight upon discovering that one of these new mates lives directly across the green from me! Perhaps if we were 10 we might tether a string adorned with matching soup cans and whisper secret messages from the prying ears of nearby adults. Certainly, a few decades separate us from such youth, but the camaraderie persists. Like me, Lindsay is an avid home cook and with my dear husband away more than not, a few weeks ago she thoughtfully extended an invitation to join her and her family for dinner. When I learned that black garlic was to be the star ingredient, in my exuberance I nearly tackled her (quite uncivilized…and probably would not have won me second invitation). You see, it’s been on my long list of “must trys” that sits right next to my bulging folder of soup ideas….. Neither the fermented allium, nor the dinner left room for improvement. It was a fantastic evening on all accounts. Lindsay even sent me home with some garlic to “play around with”. Now that’s a friend!

Alone again and hoping to return the treat, I invited myself over…. with dinner in tow. I’m sure it was a sight……me crossing the green as if it were a live minefield. Fiercely concentrating, I gingerly walked this way and that way as I lugged a brimming pot of hot soup…….so sorry, no pictures. Years ago I attended a cooking class at A Southern Season and left absconded with the most glorious recipe for a Garlic Parmesan Broth which has since served as the base for many delicious meals in our home…..can you imagine this in risotto!!!! This time I added baby kale, tender cranberry beans from Rancho Gordo and finished it with a generous helping of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. That’s it! Lindsay’s mother Bonnie, AKA my massage therapist extraordinaire, kindly raved about the soup, but I’m willing to bet she adored dessert…Rich Homemade Ricotta. We set up a make-shift tasting bar with buttered crostinis, raw acacia honey, ridiculously aged balsamic, lavender vanilla sugar, strawberry preserves and soooo much more. Lindsay’s little boy surprised us all by diving right into the ricotta after bravely eating his greens and beans. Had onlookers witnessed this scene, instead of laughing as they might have at my awkward jaunt, they would have yearned to be part of our merry kitchen gathering. With each crostini sampled (and there were a lot) we continued to feed our friendship. Come to think of it, dessert lasted much longer than dinner.

Baby Kale and Cranberry Beans in Garlic Parmesan Broth

Baby Kale and Cranberry Beans in Garlic Parmesan Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried cranberry beans
  • 1 cup yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 1 cup celery, small dice
  • 12 cups Garlic Parmesan Broth
  • 5 oz baby kale
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in, then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours). I used Rancho Gordo beans and soaked them for 18 hours. Beans will have plumped up so add more water if necessary to maintain the 2” water bath.
  2. Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until tender (about 10 minutes). Stir into the beans.
  3. Place the pot of beans on the stove and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours until the beans are tender and soft all the way through. Half way through the cooking you should start to smell a distinct bean aroma; this is when you add 1 TBSP of salt.
  5. Meanwhile, over medium heat warm the broth in a large pot (I used a 6.75 quart Dutch oven).
  6. Add the cooked beans, baby kale, pepper and stir until the greens are wilted (about 3 minutes).
  7. Taste for seasonings.
  8. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/04/08/new-friends/

Garlic Parmesan Broth

Garlic Parmesan Broth

Adapted from A Southern Season cooking class.

When used in soup the pronounced flavor of the broth allows for simplicity in the other ingredients. In fact, it demands it.

Ingredients

  • 14 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 8 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds (about 5)
  • 16 stems Italian parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 16 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp whole allspice berries
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Separate the garlic cloves from the head and crush them with the flat side of a chef’s knife to remove the skins. This is a sticky job!
  2. In stock pot (I used a 6 quart) combine all the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil.
  3. Cover and over medium heat bring to a simmer.
  4. Once a simmer has been reached, only partially cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.
  6. Stir in the oil.
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Rich Homemade Ricotta

Rich Homemade Ricotta

Homemade ricotta can be dessert or a savory snack. Try the sweet toppings above or enjoy it with fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, roasted red peppers, a special finishing salt.......

Ingredients

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Line a fine mesh sieve with two layers of dampened cheesecloth (to remove lint and help it stick to the sieve) and position it over a large bowl.
  2. In a 4 quart saucepan (a stock pot will also work) combine the milk and cream.
  3. Stir in the salt.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Stir a few times during the heating and boiling.
  5. Once it reaches a full boil (about 15 minutes), reduce the heat to very, very low and stir in the lemon juice.
  6. Cook for 3 minutes. You will start to see some separation of curd-like particles and whey (liquid).
  7. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to stand for 30 minutes.
  8. Gently ladle the mixture into the lined sieve and drain for 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes of draining you will probably need to discard the collected liquid so that it can continue to drain. For a thicker consistency let it drain for 45 minutes.
  9. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and enjoy any number of ways!
  10. Serve immediately (my favorite) or at room temperature.
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Notes:

  1. I’ve been told to use the least pasteurized dairy you can find because the more pasteurization the less curdling success you will have. Here in NC, I use Maple View Dairy which can be found at Whole Foods.
  2. Try not to over stir. This disrupts the curds.
  3. ENJOYING THIS WARM RIGHT AFTER IT’S MADE IS AN ALMOST INDESCRIBEABLE PLEASURE. THERE IS NOTHING SO DECANDANT, CREAMY AND PURE.  Room temperature also works, but don’t miss an opportunity to taste it in its most fresh form.
  4. If you don’t have fresh lemon juice, 3 TBSP of white wine vinegar can be substituted.  The texture, however, will not be as creamy and the flavor will be less delicate.
  5. Provided you don’t devour it within the first 24-hours it will last about 5 days.
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Soup and Salad

I recently read that the more options there are the more unhappy human beings become.  At first blush this defies logic because we are conditioned to regard options as positive, empowering and opportunities for self-expression. However, when the bulk of the options presented are attractive (like the menu at my favorite restaurant) we often feel like we’ve somehow compromised, which detracts from the winning selection leaving you a bit unfulfilled.  My husband and I are fortunate to be in the process of building a new home and are taking great pains to design it in a way that will cradle us, and if the vision prevails, become our sanctuary. The challenge? Those pesky options…

It can be strange where you stumble upon parallels, but this weekend I found myself comparing making soup to building a house. With all we have going on (did I mention we are relocating to Texas?), I envisioned a simple “soup and salad” as salvation from the chaos. Yet, my attempt to bring this calm to fruition became thwarted by options (creamy, brothy, kale, spinach, healthy, cheesy, beef, chicken…Ahhh!!!)….my mind wouldn’t focus. I guess with the realization of moving, selling a house, temporary housing, construction, saying too many good-byes, life as we know changing forever, I simply couldn’t make any more decisions. But to be clear, I DIDN’T WANT ANYONE ELSE MAKING THEM EITHER.

I finally pulled it together and went to my safe place…Ina’s cookbooks.  Her Roasted Potato Leek soup is the definition of upscale comfort food…and comfort is what I yearned for. To balance its decadence, I gravitated (in a strangely subconscious manner I have yet to identify….) to Deb Perlman’s Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans. I was so tickled with the dinner, so lost in the rich, nourishing flavors that about half way through I realized I’d found peace. I was no longer hungering for what could have been, but wanted just what was in that moment. I found that switch in my head that allows you to commit to a decision and not lament it.  We aren’t perfect. Our decisions aren’t perfect and we live in world that increasingly expands our options not limits them, so we must find a way to own them and not the other way around. I want to be grateful for what’s available to me and enjoy it presently versus living in fabricated disappointment.  There is always something else you could have chosen or “more” to consume, but what is enough. I think it’s something you have to keep reminding yourself of….over and over….and over… and over…..especially when we it’s time to select furniture!

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics Cookbook….. and one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. We prefer this soup thick and hearty, however, it can be thinned out by adding 1-2 cups of additional stock. I stuck to the recipe and went with arugula, but I’m thinking spinach next time….

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
  • 4 cups chopped leeks (about 4 large), white and light green parts chopped into 1" cylinders
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • ½ cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 5 cups homemade chicken broth
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz crème fraiche
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for garnishing
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fried Shallots for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place potatoes and leeks on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Mix with your hands to be sure each piece is coated. They should be in a single layer.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes. Stir.
  5. Roast for another 20 minutes. Stir.
  6. Meanwhile, gently warm the chicken broth in a saucepan over medium heat.
  7. Add arugula to the baking sheet with the potatoes and leeks. Roast for 5 minutes. The vegetables should be fork tender and the arugula wilted. Remove and place in a Dutch oven (I used at 6.75 quart) along with the chicken broth.
  8. Using an immersion blender, blend to your preferred consistency. Return the pot to the stove and gently reheat over medium.
  9. Stir in the wine, heavy cream, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
  10. Whisk in the crème fraiche and Parmigiano Reggiano.
  11. Taste for seasonings.
  12. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and shallots.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/03/03/soup-and-salad/

Crispy Shallots

From Ina Garten's Back to Basics cookbook.

And, yes, my crispy shallots are a bit more "golden" than yours should be.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups canola oil
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 5 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, heat oil and butter over medium-low heat until candy thermometer measures 220 degrees.
  2. Add shallots and cook for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. The temperature will initially drop when you add the shallots so you must increase the heat slightly to maintain the temperature.
  3. While cooking, do not go above 260 degrees; try to maintain a range of 230-250 degrees.
  4. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.
  5. They will store covered for a week.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2013/03/03/soup-and-salad/

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Craving

The Black Eyed Peas may have a feeling, but I have a craving. A big one. HUGE! Leaves me wondering if this is what it’s like to have a pregnancy craving, an incessant desire that gone unanswered grows in compounded fashion, dominating your thoughts until obliged to its satisfaction.  I need some cannellini beans….mingled with aromatics and puréed into a smooth earthy goodness. Laced with garlic and rosemary… I envision a finishing swirl of olive oil dripping over toasted rosemary breadcrumbs ………

Unfortunately this craving hit like a freight train while I was sitting in a hotel room far from my kitchen, a fact that probably only served to make me want it more. You know the old saying, “you want what you can’t have”. Luckily the trip was short one (narrowly saving my husband from hearing about this for the one millionth time) and upon our return I made dash to the grocery for necessary provisions.

My initial attraction, years ago, to this soup was rooted in health. Beans, garlic, olive oil…all high on the “good for you list”. It’s funny, this elixir hasn’t changed, but over the years my attraction has. I crave it not for its wholesomeness, although I do appreciate it, but for its pronounced flavor and rustic charm.  It conjures visions of candlelit country kitchens with marred farmhouse tables that I find quite romantic…..and am starting to crave.

 

Rosemary Cannellini Bean Soup

Rosemary Cannellini Bean Soup

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Rosemary White Bean Soup.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans
  • 4 cups yellow onions (about 2 large), medium chop
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 TBSP minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
  • 8 cups homemade chicken broth (or 6 cups for a thicker consistency)
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, rolled in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in. Then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours).
  2. Drain and rinse the beans. Set aside.
  3. In a 6 quart stock pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. If the onions start to brown reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute until beautifully fragrant.
  5. Add the beans, broth, bay leaves and rosemary.
  6. Increase heat to high and cover. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat enough to maintain a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 60-70 minutes until the beans are tender.
  8. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary.
  9. Remove 2 cups of the soup and place in a small bowl.
  10. Off the heat, use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your preference.
  11. Return the pot to the heat, add the reserved 2 cups of soup, salt and pepper and gently reheat over a low flame.
  12. Garnish with Toasted Rosemary Breadcrumbs (recipe follows), freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil.
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Toasted Rosemary Breadcrumbs

These are so versatile that you’ll find yourself sprinkling them on pasta, salads, eggs, roasted vegetables….

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 ½ TBSP olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Turn the broiler to Hi.
  2. Pulse ¼ loaf of day old bread in a food processor until it’s reduced to medium to fine size breadcrumbs.
  3. Put 1 cup of the breadcrumbs in a bowl and use a fork to mix in 1 ½ TBSP olive oil until fully combined and all of the crumbs are coated.
  4. Finely mince the rosemary leaves and stir into the breadcrumbs.
  5. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
  6. Broil for 2 minutes. Watch them! They brown fast.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy.
  8. These are best the day you make them, but can be may a day ahead if necessary. Store at room temperature.
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Pumpkin Turkey Chowder

I’m sucker for anything pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin latte, pumpkin scones, heck, I’ve even made a funky pumpkin macaroni and cheese, although I’ll concede that I was the only one left licking my lips. This weakness may have something to do with the fact that my Aunt Emlyn still calls me “Pumpkin” or “Punkin” for short. It’s a treasured interchange that harkens to my childhood where Auntie Em (as I called her then….dah….maybe that’s why I never miss a broadcast Wizard of Oz) played sentinel, ready to cover me with a blanket of comfort and refuge when I needed it most. Or maybe it’s that I seem to be forever enchanted with fall and there couldn’t be a more appropriate symbol than The Great Pumpkin. Blazing foliage, crisp air and crunchy leaves, root vegetables, mulled cider, visions of Halloween and anticipation of Thanksgiving….I’d like to just melt into it all!

Years ago I found a pretty terrific recipe for a Chicken Pumpkin Chowder in the strangest place- a flyer from our car insurance company. Considering the source, other skeptical souls may have disregarded it, but at the first sighting of “pumpkin” I plunged in! And we are glad I did. It’s loaded with homey ingredients and reminds you of something your grandmother would make for an after-school snack on a blustery day. Better yet I could whip it up after work without much to-do. Sometime around the beginning of October this favorite started to creep into my mind, pleading to be made and truth be told I felt a bit guilty for neglecting it…..and cheating on it with all those other soups!

My atonement? Transform Thanksgiving leftovers into Pumpkin Turkey Chowder! Yes! Perfect! Better start making turkey stock! Do we have any bacon? Sausage? What about gruyere? My mind started swirling with excitement, although it could have been that extra glass of rosé with dinner. I was bombarded with delectable trails of bread crumbs enticing me to take the chowder in this direction and that direction or maybe even around the corner…….In the end I resolved to present my family with traditional tastes of the Thanksgiving table. I just didn’t want to leave Thanksgiving behind so quickly. If we could linger in a bowl of this festive soup, perhaps we could linger in the moment as well. It’s a small way we can keep the holiday embrace with us as we enter the work week and go our separate ways…reclaimed by the responsibilities of life.  So tonight, I’ll drift off nourished, in body and soul, thankful for a beautiful life filled with love, and of course, thinking of my majestic pumpkin….I will follow you wherever you may lead…….

Pumpkin Turkey Chowder

Pumpkin Turkey Chowder

Serve with fried sage leaves. PERIOD.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups onion, small dice (1 large)
  • 12 oz sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, medium chop
  • 3 cups shredded turkey
  • 16 oz frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 cups homemade turkey stock
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • Freshly grated gruyere for serving.
  • Fried sage leaves for serving (recipe follows).

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven (I use 6.75 quart) over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes until no pink remains and it is browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
  2. Deglaze the pot with a few splashes of chicken broth.
  3. Add the butter and onions and sauté until tender and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the corn, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir a few times.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree, potatoes, stock, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Stir to loosen up the pumpkin.
  6. Bring to a simmer.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  8. Return the sausage to the pot, along with the turkey and half and half.
  9. Slowly reheat (about 5-10 minutes). Do not bring to a boil or the dairy will curdle.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/23/pumpkin-turkey-chowder/

Fried Sage Leaves

Great with cocktails. Unique and so easy.

Ingredients

  • Large sage leaves (stems attached)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Panko
  • Olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a small skillet, heat about 1/2 inch oil over medium-high heat until hot. Test to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a few Panko crumbs in to see if they sizzle.
  2. Dip clean, dry sage leaves in egg.
  3. Coat them in Panko.
  4. Slip a few leaves (don’t crowd them) at a time into the oil and fry for 3-5 seconds per side using tongs to flip. Watch carefully as they become golden very quickly!
  5. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and while they are still hot sprinkle “generously” with sea salt.
  6. Best served hot.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/23/pumpkin-turkey-chowder/

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Like Father, Like Son

When I was first married I relied on a few recipes and made them over and over until they were exactly to our preference. This stocked me with a collection of dishes that I had a comfort level with and could make with relative ease and on short notice. New England Clam Chowder was one of them. In fact, I haven’t tried a new version in over 10 years and when I broke the news to my husband that a new clam chowder was on the horizon, I had to pull out the “remember that Thanksgiving” card. The one where a week before we found ourselves in a hushed, very uncharacteristic hostile disagreement (surprisingly fine dining establishments frown on public displays of aggression) over why I was “tempting” disaster and trying an alternate turkey preparation. Ultimately, I went ahead and made the turkey my way (was there any question) and he graciously proclaimed it was the best he’d ever had. So, armed with this historical victory I tempted disaster once again.

My father-in-law was in town for a brief visit and turns out that like his son, he also has an affinity for clam chowder. Ina Garten boasts a silky, homey version that intrigued me because of its simplicity. It was different from our usual in that it didn’t have the smoky bacon flavor or juicy kernels of sweet corn, but different can be good and in this case great. We were treated with simple straightforward flavors that really deferred to the clams. I love recipes that exhibit restraint and work to maximize the flavor of the ingredients …..letting them standout versus becoming part of a muddled mess. Ina’s chowder delivered on this tenet and could only be enhanced by serving it with these darling mini soup biscuits. Just crush or crumble into your bowl and start digging for clams!

East Hampton Clam Chowder

East Hampton Clam Chowder

Ina Garten’s East Hampton Clam Chowder.

Slightly modified to preference. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts and use store-bought chicken stock or dried thyme. It’s the limited ingredients and their quality that makes this soup so wonderful.

Ingredients

  • 12 TBSP (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large)
  • 2 cups medium-diced celery (about 4 stalks)
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots (about 6 carrots)
  • 4 cups medium-diced boiling potatoes
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart clam juice
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup homemade chicken broth
  • 2 cups half-and-half, room temperature
  • 3 cups clams

Instructions

  1. Melt ½ stick butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. I used a 6.75 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven. Throw in the onions and cook over medium-low heat until translucent (7-10 minutes).
  2. Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. In a small saucepan, make the roux. This isn’t technical; it just means you are cooking the flour so you don’t get a raw flour flavor in your soup. Melt the remaining stick of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. It will transform into a beautiful golden hue. Whisk in a cup of the warm broth (if it is too hot it might become lumpy) and then add it to the soup. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.
  5. Add the half and half and clams and gently reheat if you are using canned clams. If you have fresh clams, just simmer for a few minutes to cook them through.
  6. Taste for seasonings.
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Notes:

1. You have three options for the 3 cups of clams.

If you are fortunate to live near a fish market you will be able to get these already shucked. If not, most groceries sell fresh clams that you can shuck yourself. If you go either of these routes it will be about 1 ½ lbs shucked chopped fresh chowder clams. You can use cherrystone or littleneck if you can’t find chowder/quahog clams. Finally, you can also use canned baby clams in water, which is what I ended up doing. I used three 10 oz cans which yielded exactly 3 cups; I was able to use the water to supplement my clam juice needs (it gives you about 1 ½ cups).

2. After opting for canned clams, I had persistent craving for fresh ones…..not to mention I’m partial to how enticing a few shells look bobbing in the soup. So, while the vegetables are simmering, steam some extra clams if you have time.

To prepare, first inspect the clams to be certain they are edible. They should give off a mild scent and the shells should be tightly closed. If the shell remains open after you give it a tap, discard the clam.

Soak the clams in the sink to clean while you prepare a brine to remove grit. Mix 1/3 cup of kosher salt (iodine will kill the clams) with a gallon of water and soak the clams in the mixture for about 15 minutes. Pour the clams into a strainer, rinse with cold water and scrub the shells.

Place the cleaned clams in a large pot with a cup of white wine, a few springs of thyme, and 2 bay leaves. Cover and turn the heat to high. Steam the clams for 3-10 minutes. As they pop remove them from the pot. If after 10 minutes some still haven’t opened, discard them. Watch your clams carefully; if you overcook them they will taste like rubber bands.

Put a few atop each bowl so the soup can seep in and coat the beauties. I put the remainder of the clams in a big bowl family style so everyone could pluck them out at will. And if you really want to give your guests (or yourself) a treat pour the cooking liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. It will have developed into a light, delicate briny broth perfect for dunking bread. I reheat it so it’s slightly warmer than room temperature.

Mini Soup Biscuits

Adapted from the blog The Cooking of Joy.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, diced
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Work quickly in order to keep the temperature of your dough down. Combine dry ingredients in food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  3. Add butter and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Add milk and briefly process until it starts to come together.
  5. Dump on to a floured surface and knead (only a little) to bring the dough together.
  6. Form into a round ball and chill for about 30 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough in half (leave the other half in the refrigerator) and roll to 1/8” thickness on a floured work surface.
  8. Prick the dough all over with a fork and cut the biscuits out with a small cookie cutter.
  9. Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water) and sprinkle with sea salt.
  10. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until light brown.
  11. If you are not going to enjoy them right away store in an airtight container once cool. Before enjoying, toast under the broiler for about 3 minutes on a baking sheet to crisp up.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/15/like-father-like-son/

 

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First Came Bacon Date Scones

 A few years ago Bon Appétit  published a recipe for these scones. There wasn’t even a whiff of fanfare. It was simply tucked among their “reader’s favorite restaurant recipes”. I’m convinced that not a single staffer made them otherwise a full spread would have graced the issue beckoning readers to STOP and make these scones immediately. As you can tell, they were an instant hit in my house, but it is my girlfriend’s husband who has become obsessed. His wife and I actually conspire to protect him from himself by rationing how many are readily available at any given time. They came for dinner this week, so of course this savory sweet delight was on the menu, but the unanswered challenge had been to find an equally special soup.

I initially settled on corn chowder figuring that the creamy sweetness of the corn would be a match made in heaven, and it might, but not this time. I wanted something that would contrast the scones through intense flavor versus an arsenal of ingredients…. less we forget the exulted. I’ve actually been pondering this potential union for months, constantly scouting for a recipe or inspiration that would lead to a soup worthy of Bacon Date Scones. My “ah ha!” moment came unexpectedly while paging through an issue of Garden & Gun as I waited  patiently for my turn (WHEN? WHEN WILL IT BE MY TURN?) to see the doctor. Finally! A solution to my pairing AND deliverance from the excruciatingly tedious waiting room.

Chef Tyler Brown of The Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville prepares a Sweet Onion Bisque that pretty much only requires onions and patience…the former are simmered in butter for 5 hours!!! The aroma is downright alluring and tauntingly foreshadows the greatness yet to come. The soup is actually quite a contradiction considering its refined persona and rather basic preparation. However you choose to describe it, this Sweet Onion Bisque was worth the stove time and flattered the scones as hoped.  The Obsessed also left with his personal ration of Bacon Date Scones.

Sweet Onion Bisque

Sweet Onion Bisque

Adapted from Chef Tyler Brown.

The flavor of this soup is so “professional” that your guests will assume you picked it from the back door of your favorite local farm-to-table establishment. It is also a very thick puree and too rich to be consumed in great quantities, therefore making it an impressive first course.

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet onions, medium diced (about 2 ½ lbs) Vidalia onion
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of homemade chicken broth
  • 3 oz of unsalted Plugra (European Style Butter)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet (12-13”) then add the onions.
  2. Simmer over very low heat for five hours!!! Stir occasionally and be sure to brush down the sides to incorporate any onions that are sticking to the side. Don’t brown the onions.
  3. After 3 hours you will start to see a significant change. The onions will have reduced in size, concentrating their flavors, and become golden.
  4. After 5 hours transfer the onions to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and puree for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary. If you want a more silky smooth texture use a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. Add the cream and puree to incorporate.
  6. Transfer to a small saucepan, add the salt and pepper, and whisk in 1 cup of chicken broth. It is a very thick soup. If you like it thinner add another ½ cup of broth, but not too much more as you don’t want to dilute the sweet, intense onion flavor.
  7. Taste for seasonings and be prepared for ecstasy.
  8. Serve with Bacon Date Scones.
http://www.glassjarsoupcompany.com/2012/11/02/first-came-bacon-date-scones/

Note:

I sprinkle my Bacon Date Scones with Fleur de Sel versus raw sugar. I find it’s a better balance between the savory and sweet.

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