Oh, I think it’s snowing, cool, a reward for all this dark cloudiness today. GLOOMY. I’d rather it were this day…
Fourth of July, fireworks, with Susie, Sullivan, me, Vivian, John, and Stacey (Cory’s snapping the pic). Ah, it was a spectacular night, after a spectacular afternoon of bike riding for John and me. Warm, but not hot; breezy, but not windy. We ended our bike ride with a picnic – cold fried chicken, fruit, wine, music playing from the car… So romantic. The IDEAL moderate epicurean’s day, such balanced joy, it was almost nauseatingly perfect. Exercise, food and wine, fresh air, music, laughing with friends, even a little patriotism. Sigh. A gloomy winter’s day reminiscence. Wish it were summer. But, honestly, the mosquitoes were brutal out there that night (therefore the hoods on Sullivan, Vivian, and Stacey, despite the balmy temp). OK, remembering that makes me feel a little better. It may be cold and, frankly, shitty outside, but there are definitely no mosquitoes, woo hoo! I mean, woo hoo. It IS still January in Minnesota.
So a quiet MLK day. Nathan had his friend Thomas over to play, they were busy building Legos for hours. I wrote recipes (posted in comments for January 14) and had a hilarious IM chat with Suz – it’s good for the soul, laughing with Susie. We even somehow covered eating raw hot dogs! No recipe required for that… No wine recommendation either. Ew.
So tonight, a quick potato leek soup, a la Julia Child, Potage Parmentier. (Recipe in comments, below. I added a couple of other simple soup recipes too, GOOD ones.) Just John and me, and we’re up for something light. Or, I am, and I’m cookin’. Cook’s choice, man I love that rule.
From Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way
Jacques puts many of these sort of summary, quick ideas at the beginning of this book. Since I’m on simple soups, here’s another:
For this soup like one my mother used to make, prepare croutons by baking slices of leftover bread in a conventional oven or toaster oven until brown and crisp. Divide the toasted bread among soup bowls, breaking the slices into pieces if they are too large, and grate a generous amount of Gruyere or Jarlsberg on top. Bring a good homemade chicken stock or canned broth to a boil and pour over the croutons and cheese in the bowls. Sprinkle with cracked pepper and a few chopped chives and serve.
(Sooooo MFK Fisher, love it.)
Instant Vegetable Soup
Adapted from Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way
In the same restorative/quick/healthy/peasant (cheap) soup vein as Julia’s Potage Parmentier, here is a delicious, simple soup. You can use whatever veggies you have in the fridge. You can cut it down to serve one (I do this all the time). Jacques is a genius with simple food. I HIGHLY recommend this cookbook. And this recipe. A fantastic weekend lunch.
Shred the veggies on a box grater – doesn’t work to grate them in a processor. Trust me. Get out a box grater, and just grate the veggies one after the other, no need to keep them separate, they all go in the pot together.
2 cups water
½ c. shredded peeled carrot
½ c. shredded cauliflower
½ c. shredded potato (new potatoes work fine)
½ c. shredded onion
½ c. shredded white mushroom
2 Tbsp. minced scallions
1 c. chopped salad greens (sometimes I have romaine, sometimes butter lettuce, sometimes arugula, it all works)
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. instant grits (it’s a thickener; you can skip it, or add pasta, oatmeal, or yellow cornmeal instead)
2 tsp. butter
2 Tbsp. shredded cheese (Gruyere is best)
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add all the vegetables to the boiling water, along with the salt. Bring the soup back to a boil, sprinkle the grits on top of the soup, and cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes.
Serve hot in bowls, spooning about 1 tsp. of butter on each serving and topping each of the bowls with 1 Tbsp. of the cheese.
Leek and Potato Soup
Julia Child from The 40th Anniversary Edition Mastering the Art of French Cooking
My notes are in ( ).
3-4 c. or 1 lb. peeled (russet) potatoes, sliced or diced
3 c. or 1 lb. thinly sliced leeks including the tender green (that means, when buying leeks, buy MORE than 1 lb., because you toss the dark green part)
2 quarts of water
1 Tbsp. salt
minced parsley or chives (or scallions, or chervil, or frankly, any fresh herb)
Simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40-50 minutes until the vegetables are tender (really, 20-30 is plenty, test for doneness). Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork, or pass the soup through a food mill (or potato ricer; or, as I did, coarsely puree most of the vegetables in a processor. I think it’s not supposed to be perfectly smooth, this is peasant food, so you want some texture).
Off heat and just before serving, stir in the butter by spoonfuls. Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with the herbs. (I ladle the soup into bowls, stir in a small amount of butter, give it a teeny grind of pepper, perhaps a sprinkle of coarse salt, voila. A very low calorie, healthy, and delicious bowl of homemade soup. As Julia says: an excellent lunch or light supper need be no more than a good soup, a salad, cheese and fruit.)