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Five (or Seven) Quotes from Julia Child

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Julia Child (née McWilliams)
August 15, 1912 — August 13, 2004
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
“Everything in moderation… including moderation.”
“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people’! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”
“To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating.”
“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”
More Five Quotes

Ratatouille!

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Ratatouille is the perfect summer vegetable dish. The ingredients are at peak season, and are easily grown in a home victory garden…I in fact grew these. The main ingredients–zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and basil–need very little tending, they almost grow like weeds.


With its tongue-twisting title it may come off as a somewhat intimidating recipe, but on the contrary; it’s a simple and versatile country dish that is based on using seasonal vegetables. Its name is said to come from the archaic French word, touiller, meaning to stir or toss.


It’s a versatile recipe that can be served hot, at room temperature, or even chilled; it will taste better the second day after its flavors are allowed to “marry.” Ratatouille is excellent as a side dish, an entrée, or tossed with pasta. With the addition of a little wine or broth, it also makes a flavorful braising base for chicken or seafood (I ate it for dinner this evening tossed with penne pasta and plenty of Parmesan). It’s really simple to make, very flavorful and healthy, and it keep well also.
Ratatouille

Yield: about 4 cups

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 medium bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 small eggplant, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

8 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, bell peppers and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the zucchini and eggplant; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, stirring as needed. If it becomes too dry add more broth. Stir in the basil a few minutes before serving.

Moules Marinière!

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I’ve posted this recipe before but not in a while. It is really delicious and so easy to make…quite literally put everything in a pot and place it over a fire. Anyhow, I made a large pot of these at work this evening (a scoop of them is pictured straight from the pot) and thought I’d post this recipe again. Here it is…

Moules Marinière

Makes 4 servings.

3 pounds mussels, washed, rinsed, and de-bearded

1/2 cup white wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 plum tomatoes, diced

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1 handful flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped


Place all of the ingredients except the parsley in a low-sided pot or a very large skillet. Cover the pan and place it over a fast flame. Cook the mussels, shaking the pan occasionally, until they open, then cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the parsley across the mussels.

Confit d’ail

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The French name for this two-ingredient but flavor-packed recipe translates simply as preserved garlic, but what it is in the literal sense is garlic that has been slowly simmered in olive oil. And this has many great outcomes. The most obvious is that it removes the garlic’s sharpness (but I like that, too). It also makes the cloves as soft as butter (literally). Once cooked in this fashion the garlic can simply be spread on toast points (if you’re not planning any close tête-à-têtes). But where this really shines is an ingredient in other recipes. Mash it into the pan when making pasta recipes, puree it with sauces or dips, and use it in soups or stews (I use this garlic method when making Lebanese lentil and lamb soup/stew). And while I keep mentioning on what to do with the garlic, a bi-product of this recipe is the oil. Initially this recipe was likely meant as a confit (a way of preserving the garlic) by packing it in oil. Today, of course–with modern refrigeration–this is no longer necessary. But the oil itself is delicious. Use this garlic-infused oil to saute vegetables, chicken, or fish for added flavor, or simply dip bread in it. I could go on about this simple recipe but I’ll stop here with just one more simple comment…this is good stuff; try this, you won’t be sorry.

Confit d’ail
peeled garlic cloves
olive oil
Lay fresh peeled garlic cloves in a single layer in a small skillet. Add enough olive oil to the pan that the garlic cloves are sufficiently covered. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and cook it until the garlic begins to simmer in the oil. Lower the heat so the garlic is very slowly simmering. Cook the garlic for about 10 minutes, or until it is golden brown and very soft. Allow the garlic to cool in the oil. It is ready to use as is or it can be stored in the oil in refrigeration. 

Urban Simplicity.

Tapenade!

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Tapenade. Mmmm. Delicious. I haven’t made this in a while but it once was a staple on multiple restaurant tables where I was chef. And I made this for a dinner I served this evening. It is basically an olive puree seasoned with anchovies, capers, and lots of garlic. It’s of Southern French origin and takes its name from the Provencal word for capers, tapeno. Mainly it is used as a dip or spread on bread the same way one would use any other spread, but it can also be used as an ingredient for a recipe. I try to make most of the recipes on this blog relatively simple to make (so people actually make them) and this could not be simpler…place everything in a food processor and puree. If you’ve never had this I hope you make it. You’ll be glad you did.

Tapénade
(Provençal Olive Spread)
Yield: 1 cup
2 cups pitted black olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Use as a dip, spread on toast, a small dollop of poached shrimp, or a garnish to a canapé.

 
Urban Simplicity.

La Quiche…

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 Mmm…Quiche Lorraine. Incredibly decadent and delicious; simple to make, too. The beauty of this is that you can have all of the ingredients ready (including the pre-baked shell) and put it together and bake it a half hour before serving. Heck, you can pre-bake and slice the entire thing–if you think you’ll be pressed for time later–and re-heat it when needed. The cheeses and other ingredients are, of course, interchangeable to your liking as well. And contrary to what some may think…real men do eat quiche. I’m jus’ sayin’…

Quiche Lorraine

Serves 8

1 par-baked tart shell

4 ounces lean ham or cooked bacon, diced

4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded

1 cup cream

7 large eggs

¼ teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat an oven to 325F. Layer the ham (or bacon) and cheese into the par-baked tart shell. Mix the cream, eggs and salt together in a bowl and pour it over the ham and cheese. Bake the quiche for about 30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set. If it begins to brown too quickly, cover the quiche with foil or parchment as it bakes


Pâte Brisée

(Tart Dough)

Yield: 1 (10-inch) tart dough

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup cold water


Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor and pulse for about 15-20 seconds, or until it resembles coarse cornmeal. With the motor running, add the water. Remove the dough from the machine and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. 

Four Photos of Food

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OK, so I’m not sure what these have to do with the subject of Urban Simplicity other than the fact that they are photos of some of the things I do at work, which of course is a big part of my life (whether I like it or not). I took these over the last two days and thought they were interesting enough to share. Anyhow, from top-to-bottom, they are: semi-crudite sans sauce; jellied beet and goat cheese terrine; petite sandwich comprised of roast garlic and fig sausage (pork), topped with red onion marmalade and mango chutney, on a whole wheat roll; and lastly, chicken and duck mousseline flavored with curry and smoked paprika, and studded with ham, green peppercorns, and dried black currents.

Urban Simplicity.

Salade Niçoise

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Mmm…I love this salad; delicious; one of my favorites. I’ve also been fortunate enough to visit the beautiful city of Nice on a couple occasions, which of course is the namesake of this particular recipe. Anyhow, we served this salad for a luncheon today and thought it appropriate to post the recipe…it is also the 100 birthday of Julia Child, the person who not only influenced much of how America cooks today but also introduced this salad to us as well. While it is an easy salad to assemble–tuna, cooked egg, potato (the potato in the foreground were boiled with a bit of turmeric for added color), green beans, olives, etc–it is also a really delicious and healthy meal. The original recipe also includes anchovies, which I love, but for some reason the average American recoils at their mere mention. This is usually served with a simple vinaigrette sauce, but I prefer if with a light but garlicky aioli or spicy rouille; recipes are below.


Aïoli
(Garlic Mayonnaise)
Makes about 2 cups
6-10 peeled garlic cloves
1 tablespoon cold water
The juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups olive oil

Combine the garlic, water, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the egg yolks and continue to process until the yolks become frothy and much lighter in color. With the machine running, begin to pour the olive oil through the feeder tube in a thin steady stream until all of the oil is incorporated into the aïoli. Store the aïoli in a refrigerated and covered container for up to 3 days.

Rouille
(Spicy Red Pepper Mayonnaise)
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemonjuice
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 leaves fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Combine the eggs, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, basil, cayenne, and roasted peppers in a food processor. Puree until smooth and aerated, and with the motor running drizzle the olive oil into the mixture. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse the food processor until they are combined. Transfer the rouille to a clean container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Le Nouveau Tarte Tatin

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This recipe is a play on the classic Tarte Tatin, which of course is normally made with apples. I’m currently researching and testing recipes for an article I’m writing about Tarte Tatin for Buffalo Spree Magazine and thought I’d try a couple savory recipes (the poor Tatin sisters must be rolling in their graves); this one is made with portabello mushrooms, figs, and brie cheese. It’s sort of a savory rustic pie that is baked upside-down then turned right side-up to serve (and isn’t that what the original is only made with apples and caramel). Anyhow, it’s really delicious and easy to make…and you’ll likely impress your friends with it as well. When the article is published–with history, lore, and more recipes–I’ll post the link.

Savory Fig, Portabello, and Brie Tarte Tatin
Makes one 10” tart
3 ounces unsalted butter
2 medium portabello mushroom caps, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
½ pound dried figs (about 8), sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces brie cheese, sliced
1 sheet puff pastry
Preheat an oven to 350F. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a 10” oven-proof skillet. When the butter begins to bubble add the mushrooms, then the onion. Stir and cook the onion and mushroom for about five minutes, or until most of their juices are released and evaporate from the pan and the mushrooms just begin to brown. Stir in the sliced figs, the salt, then the cheese. Remove the pan from the heat and gently lay the puff pastry across the pan, trimming and folding it as necessary to fit. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake it for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden-brown. Rem0ove the pan from the oven and allow it to rest for a couple minutes, then loosen the edges of the pastry with a knife and gently but carefully invert the tart onto a plate. Lift the inverted pan from the plate slowly, guiding any pieces of tart onto the plate that may have stuck to the pan. Allow the tart to cool for 5 minutes before slicing. It is delicious warm or at room temperature.



Urban Simplicity.

Fish Meat(less) Balls

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This is a play on traditional spaghetti-and-meatballs…in place of meat I used fish for the balls. I could have called it by it’s fancy-sounding Italian name, polpette di pesce, or it’s French cousin, boulettes de poisson, but in English it is what it is…fish meat(less) balls. Anyhow, these are so easy to make and really delicious. If you like fish and pasta (as I do) then you will love these. I used tuna but you can really use any fish you like (so long as it is fresh), and while I finished cooking them in tomato sauce and ate them with pasta, they are great on their own or served with a side of rice pilaf. To make them you simply puree all of the ingredients in a food processor, shape them into balls, and saute them in olive oil. Delicious. The recipe is below.

 Fish Meat(less) Balls
Serves 4

1 pound fish, diced
2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, diced
2 large eggs
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until a smooth paste. Shape into balls. Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet with a few tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the fish balls on all sides until browned and cooked through or finish cooking them in sauce.

Urban Simplicity.

Quiche Lorraine

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I made this today at my job (for 120 people actually) and it looked so beautiful and was so delicious I thought I’d post a few pictures and share a very simple recipe for it. The classic recipe calls for bacon, but in this version I use ham (both are equally delicious). I also included a simple recipe for tart dough below, it’s the one I used today and if you have a food processor it literally takes 30 seconds to make. You can, of course, also use a store-purchased shell (but it’s not quite as satisfying). When you par-bake the shell remember that it is baked-blind so you will have to weight it down while it bakes. And yes, Bruce Feirstein, contrary to what you may have written, real men do eat quiche.


QuicheLorraine
Serves 8
1 par-baked tart shell, store bought or use the recipe below
4 ounces lean ham or cooked bacon, diced
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 cup cream
7 large eggs
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat an oven to 325F. Layer the ham (or bacon) and cheese into the par-baked tart shell. Mix the cream, eggs and salt together in a bowl and pour it over the ham and cheese. Bake the quiche for about 30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set. If it begins to brown too quickly, cover the quiche with foil or parchment as it bakes

Pâte Brisée
(Tart Dough)
Yield: 1 (10-inch) tart dough
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cold water

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor and pulse for approximately 15-20 seconds, or until it resembles coarse cornmeal. With the motor running, add the water. Remove the dough from the machine and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Hearty and Meaty Spring Ragout

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I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that while I am far from being vegetarian I have been making efforts to eat less meat for a variety of reasons…but sometimes I crave it. Today was one such instance. Maybe it was that I swam 1/2 mile and hauled concrete blocks about 5 miles (one way) on my Mundo–what, do I think I’m Jack Lalanne or something–but I really had a hankering for lamb, which is my favorite meat, by the way. Anyhow, I made the pictured recipe for Lamb Ragout and ate it tossed with whole wheat penne. Like most of what I post here…it is really easy to make, nutritious, and really delicious. It would also be great over rice or as a pizza topping.

Tomato, Carrot, andLamb Ragout
Makes about 4 cups
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lamb, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1 teaspoon basil leaves
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
2 cups tomato puree
½ cup red wine
2 cups chick broth
Heat the olive oil over medium-highheat in a heavy sauce pot. Add the lamb, onion, and carrot; cookuntil the lamb and vegetables just start to brown, then add thegarlic, sugar, salt, fennel, pepper, basil, and oregano; cook anotherminute. Stir in first the red wine, then the tomato and chickenbroth. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook the ragout forabout 30 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened, and the lambis tender. Toss with pasta, serve over rice, or use as a pizzatopping.

Ma recette préférée de moules

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This is by far my favorite mussel recipe. It is so delicious and so easy to make…simply put everything in a pan and cook it for a few minutes. I made this for staff lunch today at work. They can be eaten alone or served over pasta or rice (the recipe yields a delicious broth). Or if you want to be a Francophile you can eat them with French fries (moules frites). The only diversion I did from the recipe below was that I added a sliced lemon simply because I had it at hand.

Moules Marinière
Makes 4 servings.
3 pounds mussels, washed, rinsed,and de-bearded
1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
Sea salt and cracked blackpepper to taste
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, washedand chopped
Place all of the ingredients except theparsley in a low-sided pot or a very large skillet. Cover the pan andplace it over a fast flame. Cook the mussels, shaking the panoccasionally, until they open, then cook for an additional minute.Remove from the heat and sprinkle the parsley across the mussels.

Four Unrelated Photos and a Few Words to Describe Them

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The only way these photos have any relation to one another is that they were all taken today. Other than the one  directly below–which was taken earlier in the day while at work–the other three were all taken within about 20 minutes of one another. Here’s a bit about them, from top to bottom:

I was waiting on a street corner for my son to come out of his music lesson this evening when I saw motion in the sky that drew my eyes up. There was a veritable river of birds (crow, I think) traveling directly overhead (click the image for a better view). My son came out and we stood there for a few minutes in silence and just watched them pass.

Directly below is a dessert we were testing this morning…triple chocolate napoleon.

A set of stairs that caught my attention.

A hood ornament to a car…seems like that one needs a caption.

Urban Simplicity.

Two Cream Soup Recipes

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Vichyssoise
(Serve warm in the winter months and chilled in the summer)
Yield: 4-5 cups
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch leeks (white parts only), cutcrosswise, and washed three times
2 cups chicken stock
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomedsoup pot over medium-high heat. When it begins to bubble add thesliced and washed leeks. Sautéthe leeks for abut 2 minutes, or until they are tender andtranslucent. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper, and bring thestock to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cook the soup for about20 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily mashed. Transfer thesoup to a blender or food processor, and process it until it issmooth. Return the soup to the pot and bring it again to a simmer.Stir in the cream. This soup may be served hot or cold. 
(I posted this recipe recently but made it again today and it is a crowd pleaser…so in the even you missed it, here it is again.)
 
ButternutSquash Bisque with Apple and Toasted Walnuts
Yield:6 cups
2tablespoons butter
1small onion, peeled and diced
2tablespoonsflour
2tablespoonssugar
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4teaspoon allspice
1/4teaspoon nutmeg
1/2teaspoon salt
1teaspoon black pepper
2pounds peeled and diced butternut squash
2cups chicken stock
1cup heavy cream
1/4cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2cup small diced apple

Meltthe butter in a small pot over medium heat and add the onions. Sweatthe onions over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they aretranslu­cent. Add the flour and stir over medium heat for 2minutes. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, pepper,and diced pumpkin; sauté another minute. Add the stock and simmerfor 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Add the creamand simmer for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Puree in a blender or foodprocessor. After ladling the soup into warm bowls, garnish it withthe toasted walnuts and diced apple.

Stuffed French Toast is Anything but "Lost"

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Pictured on this post is a breakfast I made for my son (and a friend) and it’s his favorite…French Toast. I’ve posted numerous pictures and versions of this simple but delicious recipe in the past (click here), but what sets this one apart is that the toast is stuffed. As usual, I used homemade whole wheat bread (click here for a recipe) and made the syrup using a pineapple juice/sugar reduction into which I dropped a few blueberries just before serving (this adds not just flavor but also a bit of color to the syrup). I “stuffed” the bread with thin slices of ripe banana, and I use the word stuffed loosely because it it really more like an egg-dipped sandwich…slice the bread thinner than usual and dip it in an egg-mil mixture before making a sandwich with the fruit. And an important thing when cooking this is to do so over a very slow flame…you want the sandwich (toast) to heat through thoroughly not only to cook the raw egg but also this is what will hold it together. Lastly, what I meant by the title of this post–that this is anything but lost–is that it is really extravagant, and unlike it’s humble origins. The original French toast in New Orleans/Creole patois was called Pain Purdue, or “lost bread”…implying that it was made with old or stale bread (as not to waste it). Well, this bread was neither old or stale–nor were any of the other ingredients–hence, it was anything but lost. Urban Simplicity.

Chaudrée (deux recettes)

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Many American foods have their rootsfirmly planted in Europe and have developed in this country in a sortof convoluted fashion. The recipes were often brought to our countrywith immigrants when they migrated here, and usually adapted toutilize ingredients that were readily available. Chowder, forexample, had its beginnings in France, then was brought to FrenchCanada before finally evolving into the chowders that are famous tothe New England region of our country. The English word chowder, infact, is said to be derived from the French word chaudière—thepot in which chaudrée, or chowder, is cooked. The root wordfrom which these are based is chaud, French for hot; chaudièretranslates literally to cooker or heater. And if there were such athing as a family tree relating to foods, chowder’s first cousin onceremoved would be, in my opinion, Louisiana gumbo. That hearty dishtakes its name from the West African word gombo, meaning okra,and seems to be a sort of abstract of a chowder recipe that hasevolved with the conglomeration of peoples in Southern Louisiana,including some of the French that fled Eastern Canada to that region.
The chaudrée of NorthwestFrance is a sort of fisherman’s stew, which consists of seafood ofthe region simmered in broth along with vegetables and herbs. Alisting in the French cookery encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomiquetranslates chaudrée to English simply as “fish soup.”It goes on to state the various seafoods that can be included in thedish, including eel! When the French of that area migrated to Canada,not surprisingly, they brought with them their beloved recipes forchaudrée. A 1970 edition of the bi-lingual book Food-À LaCanadienne lists two recipes for chaudrée; one is basedon fish and the other potato. When some of these French migratedsouthward, into New England, the language of course was English andchaudière, or chaudrée, began to be pronounced as—andeventually known as—chowder. There, the chowders were based onclams simply because of their regional abundance. It wasn’t until theearly 1900’s that a creative restaurateur at Coney Island replacedthe milk in chowder with tomatoes to create Manhattan Clam Chowder;this was, at the time, a travesty to a New Englander.
Chowder today can be based on almostany meat, fish or vegetable, though many purists will probablydispute this. There are a few guidelines that should be followedthough. Chowder is usually a rather rustic soup with coarse-choppedingredients; though it is often thickened naturally, traditionalchowder does not contain flour as a thickening agent, but a littleflour will give the soup a certain viscosity. Most importantly, thetwo defining ingredients that denote chowder are diced potato andcured pork, such as salt pork or bacon.
Potato Chowder
(Chaudrée de Pommes deTerre)
Yield: 3 quarts
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces diced lean ham
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2-1/2 pounds peeled and diced potatoes
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup milk (optional)
Heat the butter in a large heavy souppot over medium high heat, when it begins to bubble add the ham,onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté the vegetables and ham forapproximately 5 minutes, until they are soft and translucent but notbrowned. Stir in the potatoes, chicken stock, thyme, salt and blackpepper. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat to a low simmer;skim any impurities that may have risen to the surface of the soup.Simmer the soup for 45-60 minutes, stirring often.
Using a wire whisk, gently break apartsome of the potatoes to give the soup some viscosity. If adding themilk, do so directly before serving the soup and do not boil it oncethe milk has been added.
New England ClamChowder
Yield: 4 quarts
2 dozen chowder clams(quahogs)
2 quarts water orchicken stock
1/4 cup diced salt pork
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup diced potato
1 teaspoon freshthyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon blackpepper
1 quart milk
Place the clams in a pot with the wateror stock. Cover and steam them for about 10 minutes, or until theyare fully cooked and completely open. Strain the broth and reserveit; remove the clams from their shells and discard the shells. Chopthe clams and reserve them.
In a heavy soup pot over medium heat,sauté the salt pork until it is golden brown, crispy, and all thefat has rendered from it. Add the onion, celery, and carrot; sautéanother 2 minutes. Stir in the flour, lower the heat slightly andcook the vegetables and flour for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.Add the potato, thyme, salt and pepper, stir the potatoes to coatthem with the fat and flour. Add the clam broth to the pot a littleat a time, while stirring, to avoid any lumps. Bring the soup to aboil to a boil and add the chopped clams. Lower the heat, skim anyscum that has risen to the surface and simmer the chowder for 15minutes.
Stir in the milk, but do not boil it.If desired, garnish the chowder with a sprinkling of chopped parsley,paprika, and a pat of butter.

Three Photos and Six Recipes

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Did you know that January is NationalSoup Month? Well it is, and rightly so. It’s perfect for the cold weather and seemsto nourish both body and soul. Soup is delicious and nutritious,and it’s easy to make. If you can boil water you can make soup. Andthere’s something about a simmering soup pot…it’s the originalcomfort food. Soup is, in fact, one of the simplest and oldest foodpreparations there is…cooking food in liquid to tenderize it andinfuse both nutrients and flavor to the ensuing broth. The word soup, in fact,is derived from the Middle English, sop, or sup,referring to a stale piece of bread onto which hot broth was poured,thus giving a slight meal some substance. To eat in this fashion was“to sup;” which is from where the modern word “supper” isderived. Thus, the classic French Onion Soup is one of the trulyancient soups remaining today, and its ingenuity lies in itssimplicity: broth, onions, and bread (cheese is a modern and moreluxurious addition). Anyhow, soup is about the simplest recipe one can prepare, it’s nutritious and flavorful…and you only have one pot to clean.
French Onion Soup
Yield: 5-6 cups
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large onions, peeled and slicedthinly
2 cups beef broth
2 cups chicken broth
6 slices French bread, toasted
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter and oil in a heavysaucepan. Add the onions and sauté over low heat until onions aregolden brown, about 40 minutes. Stir in the beef and chicken stock,bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the soup for 30minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup intooven-proof bowls and top each soup with a slice of French bread andthe grated cheeses. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes,or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
CurriedVegetable Soup
Makes about 12 cups
3tablespoons canola oil
1small onion, diced
2carrots, diced
2stalks celery, diced
1parsnip, diced
1turnip, diced
2cloves garlic, minced
2tablespoons curry powder
1teaspoon turmeric
1teaspoon cumin seed
2teaspoons crushed hot pepper
2teaspoons kosher salt
1cup diced cabbage
1cup chopped cauliflower
1cup diced tomatoes
1cup chopped kale
8cups chicken broth
1/4 cup lime juice
Heat the oil in amedium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery,parsnip, and turnip. Cook the vegetables in the oil for about fiveminutes, allowing them to realease their flavor but not brown. Addthe garlic, curry, turmeric, cumin, hot pepper, and salt; saute foranother couple minutes. Stir in the cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoesand kale; stir to coat the vegetables with oil and spices. Stir inthe broth. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cookthe soup for 30-60 minutes, skimming as necessary; if it becomes tothick add more broth. Taste it for seasoning, and add the lemon juicejust before serving.
SplitPea Soup with Garlic and Smoked Sausage
Makes about 12 cups
3 tablespoons canolaoil
2 cups diced smokedsausage
1 small onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic,minced
1 pound split peas,cleaned and rinsed
1 potato, diced
8 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in amedium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook itfor a few minutes, until it releases some of it’s fat and begins tobrown. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; cook the vegetableswith the sausage for a few minutes, until the vegetables begin tocook but are not browned. Add the peas, potato. Broth, and salt.Bring the pot to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cook the soup forabout an hour, stirring frequently. If it becomes to thick add morebroth.
ButternutSquash Bisque with Apple and Toasted Walnuts
  Makes about 6 cups
2tablespoons butter
1small onion, peeled and diced
2tablespoonsflour
2tablespoonssugar
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4teaspoon allspice
1/4teaspoon nutmeg
1/2teaspoon salt
1teaspoon black pepper
2pounds peeled and diced butternut squash
2cups chicken stock
1cup heavy cream
1/4cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2cup small diced apple
Meltthe butter in a small pot over medium heat and add the onions. Sweatthe onions over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they aretranslu­cent. Add the flour and stir over medium heat for 2minutes. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, pepper,and diced pumpkin; sauté another minute. Add the stock and simmerfor 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Add the creamand simmer for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Puree in a blender or foodprocessor. After ladling the soup into warm bowls, garnish it withthe toasted walnuts and diced apple.
 
Roast Red Pepper Bisque
Makes about 12 cups
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced onions 
1/2cup diced celery
1/2cup diced carrots
2teaspoons minced garlic
2teaspoons salt
2teaspoons black pepper
1/2cup flour
4cups chicken broth
3cups diced roast red peppers
2cups heavy cream
Sautéthe onion, celery, and carrots, over medium heat in the butter orolive oil for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for anotherminute or two. Stir in the flour and cook over medium/low heat for5-10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, stir with a whisk to remove anylumps. Stir in the diced peppers. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10minutes. Add the heavy cream simmer 2 minutes. Puree in a foodprocessor or blender. Strain if you desire a smoother consistency.
PotatoChowder
Makes about 12 cups
3tablespoons unsalted butter
12ounces diced lean ham
1cup diced onion
1/2cup diced carrots
1/2cup diced celery
2teaspoons minced garlic
2-1/2pounds peeled and diced potatoes
6cups rich soup stock
1teaspoon thyme
1teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon black pepper
1cup milk (optional)
Heatthe butter in a large heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. When itbegins to bubble add the ham, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.Sauté the vegetables and ham for approximately 5 minutes, or untilthey are soft and translucent but not browned. Stir in the potatoes,chicken stock, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Bring the soup to aboil then lower the heat to a simmer; skim any impurities that mayhave risen to the surface. Simmer the soup for 45-60 minutes,stirring often. Using a wire whisk, gently break apart some of thepotatoes to give the soup some viscosity. If adding the milk, do sodirectly before serving the soup, and do not boil it once the milkhas been added.

Handmade Pasta

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Homemade pasta is not only simple to make but also fun. And besides that I really believe it is one of the most brilliant foods there is. Think of it’s versatility, nearly every culture has a version of it, and its most basic form it is nothing more than a paste made with flour, and sometimes eggs. The word pasta is in fact the Italian word meaning “paste;” Spanish is the same, and in French it is often called pâte (paste) or pâtes à l’œuf (paste with eggs)…but it does sound more appealing to eat pasta than paste. When cooked with other meager ingredients, pasta becomes not only delicious but a delicious meal…the paste–or pasta–absorbs the flavor of whet it is cooked in. We made this for employee meal today for the simple reason that I enjoy making it, but more importantly, love eating it. Anyhow, I originally had the below text and recipes published in Artvoice some years ago, but I also posted on this blog previously (where you can see additional pictures of the dough being made).

On Making Dough


In today’s world that so often seems to be racing and spiraling out of control, and in a time when restaurant food performs gravity defying feats on a daily basis, there is no other therapeutic food to create with your hands than pasta. This is not to imply that pasta has curative properties, but rather, the act of making pasta can actually be a form of relaxation and meditative medium. It’s a humble and inexpensive food, and can easily be an entire meal; in its most basic form pasta is simply a paste of eggs and flour.

The art of making pasta dough by hand is one that should be relished—ditto for bread dough. But with the proliferation of mechanical means—fancy electric mixers, food processors, bread machines, etc.—the age-old process of producing silky smooth pasta by hand is often overlooked and forgotten. Though it would be untrue to state that pasta mixed manually was an easy task, once mastered the process is quite enjoyable. The dough has to be mixed enough to develop the gluten in the flour, and then kneaded further until it starts to break some of the gluten down to a certain extent and incorporate some air into the dough, which, in turn, will yield a perfectly smooth and workable dough. One should not approach this task in an anticipated state of drudgery, but hopefully, with appreciation.
 
For inspiration while cooking, I’ll often set before me the ingredients at hand, in the case of pasta this entails flour and eggs, and sometimes water, oil or salt. It’s interesting to look at these few items and visualize their origins, functions, how they change when combined with one another and what the resulting product will be. Try to imagine the grains of flour swelling to accept the liquid, and the proteins aligning and clinging to themselves, almost fighting against the force of your hands to create structure in the dough. Ultimately, the ingredients will not be distinct and separate any longer, but something new, one single component or mass: dough. And though, I’m sure, that all of these ingredients were harvested separately with the use of mechanics, when they are set out in their most simple and basic form, it often seems unsuitable to mix the dough with anything other than your hands.  

Pasta is, as its name suggests, a paste. The paste is most often made with flour and eggs, water sometimes replaces all or a portion of the eggs; vegetable purées can be added, and also salt, oil, herbs or spices. There is no need for special equipment; your hands are the best tools that you can ever own. The finished dough can be rolled and cut using a simple rolling pin and large knife, or with the aid of a hand-cranked pasta machine, the latter taking less effort and offering more consistent results.

There is no denying that for a beginner, to make pasta by hand takes practice—the making of the dough is actually very easy, it’s the kneading and rolling that takes quite a bit of effort. The incredibly inspirational writer and culinary educator Madeleine Kamman states the benefits of making pasta entirely by hand in her voluminous book The New Making of a Cook. One of the benefits, she says, is that you will be 1 or 2 pounds lighter in weight upon completing the task.

To make a basic egg dough begin by mounding an appropriate amount of flour on a counter or table, and make an indentation, or “well” in the center of the mound; crack eggs directly into the well. If you decide to use water, oil, salt or other flavorings, add these ingredients now. Using an ordinary dinner fork, start to beat the eggs as if you were scrambling them. As you do this, begin to

incorporate some of the flour into the eggs. When enough flour has been combined with the eggs to form a loose paste or batter, mix in the rest of the flour with your hands and bunch it together to form a crumbly ball. Begin to knead the dough by pushing and stretching it away from you with the heel of your hand, then fold it and pull it back towards you with your fingers. In a very short while you will have before you a homogenous ball of dough, that’s the easy part. The more difficult process is to knead it for another 15 minutes. What you have to do is develop the gluten in the dough which will give it strength, and then knead it beyond that point until it starts to break some of this gluten down, which will make a smooth dough that is easy to work with. Eventually, after a sufficient amount of kneading, you’ll note a change in the dough—it will become much smoother, slightly lighter in color and more pliable. Wrap the dough in plastic and set it aside for 30 minutes, the gluten needs to relax.

After the pasta has rested it can be rolled out to a desired thickness (roll it thinner than actually needed as it will swell when boiled). This done, it can be cut into any number of shapes, or used for lasagna, ravioli or tortellini. Raw sheets of dough can also be floured and layered between sheets of parchment then frozen for future use.

Cooking fresh pasta takes a fraction of the time as dried. It needs only 3 or 4 minutes to thoroughly cook in rapidly boiling water; stuffed pasta takes longer to cook for obvious reasons.

The next time you’ve time on your hands and are searching for culinary inspiration, make pasta by hand. It will be good for you.

Basic Pasta Dough
Yield: 6 portions

   3 cups all purpose flour
   4 large eggs
   1 tablespoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place 2-1/2 cups of the flour in a mound on a worktable and make a well in the center. In the well, place the eggs, water and salt. Using a fork, beat the liquids and slowly incorporate the flour.

When the liquids are fully incorporated into the flour begin to knead the dough. Knead the pasta dough for 15 minutes while working in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, refrigerate it and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before using.
                       

Roast Red Pepper Pasta Dough
4 portions

      1 large red pepper
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      2 large eggs
  1/4 teaspoon salt

Roast the pepper by placing it directly over an open flame, either on stove indoors, or for a smokier flavor, over an outdoor grill. Cook the pepper until the skin is almost entirely black, then place it in a paper bag. After the pepper has been resting in the bag for 5 minutes, remove it from the bag and rinse it under cold running water and rub the charred skin away. Gently tear open the pepper and remove and discard the seeds and stem. Purée the pepper in a blender until it is perfectly smooth, then pour the purée into a measuring cup. The purée should measure 1/2 cup, if it does not, add enough water to compensate. On the other hand, if the purée is greater than 1/2 cup, remove the excess portion and reserve for future use.  

Mound the flour on a worktable and make a well in the center. In the well, place the eggs, pepper purée and salt. Using a fork, beat the liquids and slowly incorporate the flour.

When the liquids are fully incorporated into the flour begin to knead the dough. Knead the pasta dough for 15 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, refrigerate it and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before using.

Whole Wheat Pasta Dough
Yield: 6 portions

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
      4 large eggs
      3 tablespoons cold water
  1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the flours together in a small bowl, then mound 2-1/2 cups of the mixed flours onto a worktable and make a well in the center. In the well, place the eggs, water and salt. Using a fork, beat the liquids and slowly incorporate the flour.

When the liquids are fully incorporated into the flour begin to knead the dough. Knead the pasta dough for 15 minutes while working in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, refrigerate it and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before using.

Urban Simplicity


Whole Wheat French Toast with Pineapple Syrup and Caramelized Apple

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This is a simple-to-make hearty and flavorful breakfast, and it also happens to be my son’s favorite (somewhat of a Saturday morning tradition). French toast can be made in any number of ways, but the key to a really good one is great bread and flavorful syrup…of course the syrup can be purchased but it is just as easy to make it at home in about 5 minutes. And to make homemade syrup is as simple as boiling fruit juice (I used pineapple juice toady, but any juice will do) until enough moisture evaporates and it becomes syrupy and the flavors are concentrated…this, after all, is how the maple syrup companies do it, but only on a large scale. Sometimes (often) I’ll “boost” the syrup’s sweetness with a tablespoon of sugar or honey; today I added sugar. While most of us recognize this recipe as French Toast (likely because of the custard the bread is soaked in), if you are a true Francophile you may know this as pain purdu, or “lost bread” because it is a great way to utilize stale–or lost–bread…but trust me, made with really good bread this is anything but lost. To see other versions of this with many more pictures f it being made, click here.

Urban Simplicity.

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