16 December 2010

Celariac Soup

1 large celery root, peeled and cubed
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 quarts vegetable stock
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Dry sherry

Slowly saute onions and celery root in olive oil, stirring often, for about 20 minutes.  Add stock and boil until thoroughly cooked, about 45 minutes.  Remove from stove and puree in batches in a blender and season with salt and pepper to taste.  To serve, place a dash of sherry in each bowl and top with cream or garlic crouton (shown.)

Bleu Cheese Souffle

I had never made a souffle before.  And the only reason I finally did is because I needed an excuse to buy more ramekins.  I served this as a 3rd course and put it in the oven just as we sat down to our 1st course.  Perfect timing.  Couldn't believe it.  I forgot to take the picture when they came out of the oven, so that's why this one isn't puffy. 


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the ramekins
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, warmed
5 eggs, separated
Pinch salt
Ground white pepper
1 T dry mustard
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
Pinch cream of tartar

    Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 4 (8oz) or 8 (4oz) ramekins by greasing them with softened butter.  Make a bechamel sauce base by melting the 3 tablespoons of butter over low-medium heat in a thick-bottomed pot. Just as the foam subsides, add the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until flour is "cooked." Add the warm milk to the mixture and continue to whisk until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat. Beat in the egg yolks 1 at a time. Season with salt, pepper, and mustard.  Stir in the cheese until incorporated evenly.  Very small lumps ok.  Chill the mixture while whipping the egg whites.  In a separate bowl beat the egg whites and cream of tartar just until soft peaks form.  This takes a while.  Fold 1/3 of the beaten whites into the bechamel mixture.  Then gently fold in the rest.  Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and distribute the batter evenly.  Do not overfill!  Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes.  The souffle is done when it has puffed above the rim and the outside is golden. 

    14 December 2010

    Quartet of Bruschetta

    While in Montalcino last month, we had a very unexpectedly enjoyable lunch at a little wine store that you wouldn't even expect served food.  We had riboletta, bruschetta and a cheese plate, and it was one of the best meals we had in Italy.  So that's what inspired this little plate. 
    Two are recreations and two are my own inventions.  Clockwise they are: 1) mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with thyme and sea salt 2) white beans and garlic seasoned with rosemary 3) chopped green olives, tomatoes and gorgonzola 4) artichokes with parmesan and little bit of mayonaise.  

    Tomato and Barley Risotto

    I recently discovered an extremely elegant vegetarian blog called The New Vegetarian on the The Guardian website.  And I'm always on the lookout for an alternative risotto like the cauliflower one I had at this amazing New York restaurant.  So while browsing through all of Yotam's beautiful recipes, I found this one, and it was going to make a perfect 5th course at my upcoming dinner party.  However, I really only used the recipe for inspiration, as I left out the sugar, feta and coriander, and added spinach and delicata squash.  And I only used 12 cloves of garlic, not TWO WHOLE HEADS like the recipe calls for.  Is he crazy?  I would have to stay in solitary confinement for a week.

    Carrot Fennel Soup

    I've been making the same curried carrot soup for so long that almost everyone I know has had it.  So I thought I would mix it up when I had my in-laws over for dinner.  I had a bunch of fennel in the fridge so I figured I would either make a fennel salad or soup.  Then the oven broke, and I needed another hot course, so that was that.  I was going to wing it, which has never done me wrong with soup, but then I found a Gourmet recipe and followed it (mostly.)  I added an apple I had laying around and I didn't bother making the fennel seed oil.  I used pumpkin seed oil I already had instead.  And a little sprinkle of paprika to top it all off.