Creamy Asparagus Soup: Hold The Cream

My husband and I have what we call Jew stomachs. We're not super lactose intolerant, but if given the choice, we avoid cow milk when we can. Luckily, this soup gives you all the velvety satisfaction of a cream soup, without the bloat. (or the extra calories for that matter). There is some butter in the roux but since it's low in lactose, we can both enjoy it just fine. 

It also freezes super well, so I've been taking full advantage of Asparagus season to make large batches. Then, when the fall hits, and all that's left at the market are roots and onions again, I'll still be able to warm up a bowl of spring. 

Here it is relatively step-by-step. (oh baby). 

Trim and cut the stalks, leaving tips in separate bowl. 

Trim and cut the stalks, leaving tips in separate bowl. 

It gets prettier after this. 

It gets prettier after this. 

I'm still amazed by how velvety smooth my Vitamix makes the soup. 

I'm still amazed by how velvety smooth my Vitamix makes the soup. 

It freezes extremely well, and holds together when reheated on the stove. I freeze in containers with a few of the asparagus tips in each one. Enough to have a couple in each bowl.

INGREDIENTS:

2 pds Asparagus
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
1/2 cup green onion finely chopped
chicken stock
butter
flour
egg yolk (optional)

METHOD:

1. Trim and cut the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces, reserving the tips.
2. In large saucepan, boil chicken stock and salt (I use low sodium stock). Add asparagus tips and boil       slowly for 5-8 min until just tender. Drain stock into a bowl and reserve tips. 
3. In same saucepan, melt the butter, stir in flour and cook over low heat 1-2 min. Pour in stock and whisk till blended. Simmer till base comes to a boil, smooth and thick.
4. Continue to allow soup to simmer on low heat.
5. Melt the remaining two tbsp of butter in another skillet. When the foam subsides, add onions and asparagus stalks. Cook for about 3 min then add mixture into the soup base. Cook over low heat for about 15 min, or until asparagus are tender.
6. Puree soup in a blender, then strain back into pot. (No need to strain if using a Vitamix or something super powerful). At this point, it's already delicious, but if you want an extra touch of richness, see point 7.
7. With a whisk, blend egg yolk and add in a small amount of soup, keep adding soup till 1/2 cup has been added, then add mixture back into the bigger pot. Bring to a boil for another 30 seconds then remove from heat. 
8. Top each bowl with a few asparagus tips, and serve hot or cold.

Adapted from original recipe passed to me from my mom. 

Adapted from original recipe passed to me from my mom. 

Meatless Monday: Arctic Char

This takes so little time and prep to make, I can’t believe I was intimidated. The fish itself takes about 6 minutes, and the bok choy the same. I pan fried the fish thanks to some direction from the guys at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster.

The skin gets so crispy and tasty, it’s like fried chicken skin. I can’t wait to make it on the meat days as well. 

I'm working on the night photos. I know. 

I'm working on the night photos. I know. 

There isn't really a recipe here per say. Just get some fresh Arctic char, bok choy, garlic, salt, and pepper. I used some of my leftover celeriac mash, but it's really optional. 

For the METHOD: Salt and pepper on the skin side, pressing it in pretty good to make sure it sticks. Add a little to the other side as well. Using a stainless steel heavy bottom pan, heat a high temp oil (I used grapeseed) on med-hi and place the fish, skin side down on the pan. I pressed down on the fish a bit to make sure the skin was making total contact. Wait till the fish looks almost cooked through (5-6 min) then flip over and turn off the heat, letting it sit for 45 seconds or so. 

The bok choy was sauteed in garlic and olive oil, then steamed while the fish was cooking.

Now go impress a friend. Or a date. Or yourself for that matter. 

The leftover report: rib roast.

Here’s a collection of what became of the rib roast leftovers. Of which there are now no leftovers. 

Sometimes you need a little gluten. Roast beef sandwiches for 2.

For the day after, I sliced the meat thin to turn into sandwiches, added some lettuce, swiss, mayo, mustard, on fresh whole grain buns. 

Steak tacos. Just cube the meat and toss in pan with some seasoning and onion. 

For the tacos, I used some extra celeriac I had and made a slaw with red cabbage. Then I cubed what was basically a small steak cut from the roast and tossed in a pan with some cumin and onion. Topped with avocado, goat cheese and greek yogurt. 

I really need to get a light for night shots. 

I really need to get a light for night shots. 

One more time with feeling. If you take the most rare part from the center of the roast, you can reheat it carefully and slowly, covered at 250 to serve again. This time with leftover celeriac puree, and some beautiful red chard.

This morning, I used the last little bit in an omelette with some spinach and tomato, and just like that, the roast was done. With not a leftover complaint in the house. 

 

Drunk on meat.

I’m starting to learn that I need some balance between the meals I cook and post, and those I just want done quick so I can eat and not be shooting and propping the whole time.  It’s just that the promise of turning a meal into a post inspires me to make something better, and since I’ve just left my full time job, I need something to fill my time and keep me writing. 

So I made this boneless rib roast for a meal that will keep on giving - leftovers for a week. Which makes this expensive piece of meat downright economical when you make it just for two. 

I also learned a food blogging lesson while I made this: when you (I) drink while cooking you (I) forget to take shots, and when you (I) do remember, the shots turn out a mess. Here is what I managed to capture of the meal below. 

The roast turned out kick-ass. Even if the photos didn't.

The roast turned out kick-ass. Even if the photos didn't.

Our dog Ludwig, was lurking in half the shots. We may have given him a tiny nibble. 

Our dog Ludwig, was lurking in half the shots. We may have given him a tiny nibble. 

I made a celeriac purée, recipe included below. 

I made a celeriac purée, recipe included below. 

I served it with some steamed broccoli, which was a bit uninspired because well, wine. 

I served it with some steamed broccoli, which was a bit uninspired because well, wine. 

Second lesson learned. A boneless rib roast is crazy easy to make. And if you don’t mind leftovers, just fine to make for 2. Stay tuned for leftover roast beef sandwiches, leftover roast beef with swiss chard, and leftover roast beef tacos later this week! 

ROAST BEEF RECIPE:
(Inspiration taken from the Pioneer Woman <3)

1 boneless rib roast  (about 4 pounds)
1/3 cup coarse sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to your liking
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Garlic
2 tsp Herbs de Provence dried mix
Olive Oil 

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 500
2. Pre-mix salt, pepper, chopped garlic and fresh herbs in a bowl. 
3. Sear roast on all sides till golden brown in heavy bottom pan.
4. Let cool slightly, cover with the seasoning mixture on all sides.
5. Place fat side up on a roasting rack in oven, with a generous amount of the seasoning all over the top. 
6. Roast at 500 for 20 minutes then turn temp down to 300 and roast till thermometer reads 115 for medium rare. (with resting). 

*It was about another 50 minutes to an hour before mine was at medium rare. I took it out when the thermometer read 115 and let it rest under foil for 20 minutes. Next time I would take it out a touch earlier to have it be a little more rare. 


CELERY ROOT PURÉE RECIPE

The photos don’t do it justice (oops), but the celery root puree gives the feeling of a mashed potato, but the flavor is brighter and it feels less heavy as a side. 

1 large Celery Root
1 medium russet potato
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup Milk
Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste


METHOD:

1. Peel the celery root and potato and cut into 2 inch pieces.
2. Boil till soft in water that has the cup of milk added and salt. 
3. Remove from water/milk but save some of the liquid for blending.
4. Blend with the butter adding chicken stock, or extra liquid from boiling. Adding a little bit at a time till smooth but not soup. We use dairy sparingly so used mainly chicken stock – about 1/3 cup, and about 1/4 cup of the boiling mixture.

Too many leeks. Balls.

At the market last weekend, I bought a bunch of leeks: way too many for a household of two to do anything with without getting sick of eating them. And since I didn’t make an extra quiche to freeze, I had to find another use for the extras.

I came across a recipe online, that directed me to a recipe in a book I own: the Jerusalem cookbook. It’s been one of my faves since I picked it up a couple years ago. The recipes are generally a little time intensive for weeknight meal when you get home from the office at 8, so I would usually do more reading and salivating than cooking from it, but I’ve used it as a guide for technique for sure. In the vegetable section there’s a recipe for Lemony Leek Meatballs. Reading the word lemon in a recipe title elicits a Pavlovian response in me, so I used it as a guide for the balls I made today.

I served them on top of a bit of greek yogurt and with some chopped cucumber. They’re really soft and light and remind me of something we would have made for my Zaidy in his later years (cause it would have been easy for him to chew). It’s not my favorite texture, but I can see the appeal.  If I were to do again, I would go with more meat, less leek. But a good use of the leftover leeks nonetheless.

DSC_0521.JPG

RECIPE:
 
3 (and a bit) Leeks
1 pound ground beef
1 cup Bread Crumbs
2 large eggs
2 tbsp high heat oil – I used safflower
1/3 cup fresh sqeezed lemon juice
¾ to 1 ¼ cups Chicken Stock
salt and pepper to taste
 
Optional:
Greek Yogurt
Flat Leaf Parsley
Mini Cucumbers
 
 
METHOD:


1. Chop leeks into centimeter long pieces.
2. Steam till soft, let cool and do a few quick pulses in the food processor.
3. Add to bowl with egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and beef and stir till evenly mixed
4. Make into two-inch balls slightly flattened and refrigerate for half hour.
5. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan to med/hi and sear the balls on each side till golden, working in batches.  It’s helpful if you have a lid for this pan.
6. Wipe out the pan when done and place balls back in, overlapping if necessary.
7. Fill the pan with the chicken stock and lemon juice, enough to just almost cover.
8. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down to simmer for about half an hour.
9. Remove lid and cook down the sauce till desired amount is left in pan. I like a bit extra to pour over.
 
Serve the meatballs room temperature to warm, and over the yogurt, parsley, and cucumber if you want. I liked the crunchiness of the cucumber as a contrast to the softness of the balls. Giggle.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

No leftovers left behind.

There's some much potential to be inventive when you look at your fridge at the end of the week. Last weekend I picked up beets from the market and did a goat cheese and beet salad with my leek and bacon quiche. Towards the end of the week, I made it again with some additions to turn it into a crunchy, soft, sweet, salty, sensory-rich, healthy meal. 

LEFTOVER SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

Pea Shoots
Chèvre
Almond Slices
Avocado
Grapefruit
Roasted Beets

 

DRESSING: 

1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1.5 tsp Honey
Squeeze of half a fresh lemon
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
Finely chopped shallots

Whisk together in bowl - will make extra for the week. 


Enjoy! 

In private of course.

When the market gives you leeks, make quiche.

This past weekend was the first weekend where it was warm enough for the weekly greenmarket near my apartment to be enjoyable again. There isn't much in season yet, but after a winter of potatoes, apples and onions, it was nice to see a bit of green. I grabbed some beautiful leeks, and gold and red beets, and came home to figure out what to make. 

First up: Bacon Leek Quiche

Balance out the richness of the bacon and cream and pie crust with a good serving of salad.

Then sneak a few extra bites of quiche when you're done:)

Recipe for the salad coming up in the next post.   

Recipe for the salad coming up in the next post. 

 

RECIPE:
Makes 1  9-inch quiche. In hindsight, I would have doubled the recipe to have one to freeze.

CRUST: 
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup cold butter
4-6 tablespoons cold water

METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 375.
1. Mix together the flour and salt.
2. Mix in the butter. I kept the butter in the freezer then grated it into the bowl, mix it in with the flour till it's evenly distributed and crumbly, I used my hands for this. 
3. Add the water slowly, one tablespoon at a time, just until it's wet enough to hold together in a ball, refrigerate for 30 min. (can make the filling at this time)
4. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and lay into a pan. 
5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes - till edges just start to brown. 
6. Let cool while you finish preparing the rest of the quiche.

FILLING:
5 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into centimeter long pieces (there will be extra)
2 large leeks, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 ounces shredded cave-aged Gruyère
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup half-and-half

METHOD:
1. Cut up the bacon, slice the leeks.
2. Cook the bacon till not too crispy, set aside to cool.
3. Leave some bacon fat in the pan, and sweat the leeks in it. 
4. Stir the bacon and leeks together in a bowl, let cool slightly and stir in the grated Gruyère.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half.
6. Fill the shell with the leek mixture, pour the egg mixture over the top and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway. 
7. Remove and transfer to a rack to let cool.

 

 

When Babbo met Terroni

I had a false start of a life in New York about 8 years ago. For my last supper, my roommate and I went to Babbo. Before I left, he gave me a copy of the cookbook and I've been trying to recreate the bolognese as best I can ever since.

When I moved back to New York last year, my last supper was at Terroni in Toronto. They have a mushroom salad there that I've been trying to recreate as best I can ever since as well.

So for a recent Sunday night framily dinner with our other Brooklyn via Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto friends we introduced them to each other.

 Babbo Pappardele Bolognese, meet Terroni Funghi Assoluti Salad.

For the Terroni salad an official recipe didn't exist, so I did my best to make it up, with some help from other eager Terroni lovers who have attempted the same thing. (Thanks Lillies Lattes and Lace, and A Perfect Day for Bananafish.) 

The bolognese calls for a mixture of veal and pork. I've only been buying organic meat for the past couple of years, and find it really hard to find veal at any of the shops near me. Which led me to Mario and Sons Meat Market at Metropolitain near Lorimer. Mario didn't have the veal I wanted that day, but convinced me to get beef and ground it fresh with the pork while his wife told me it would work just as well. I spent an hour in the shop learning about how Mario's wife and son prepare their Sunday sauce, while their grandson played with our dog, and some other cousins fed him pizza crust. It's my new fave in the 'hood. And the sauce turned out great with the beef. 

FUNGHI ASSOLUTI INGREDIENTS:

Freshly grated Parmigiano Regiano
Breadcrumbs: fresh made bakery ones, not the canned ones filled with weird stuff. 
Dried oregano, parsley, salt, pepper 
Arugula
Olive Oil 
Balsamic Vinegar

 

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 425. 
2. Mix breadcrumbs and Parmigiano together - I did about half/half of each. Then add oregano, parsley salt and pepper to taste.
3. Brush mushrooms with olive oil.
4. Dip mushrooms in the bread crumb/cheese mixture and lay out on parchment on baking sheet. 
5. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, till crispy around edges.
6. Toss arugula with olive oil and balsamic
7. Top with the mushrooms right before serving. 

*To time with the meal, I made the mushrooms 80% of the way, then tossed them under the broiler a few minutes before serving. 

 

BABBO BOLOGNESE INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound each fresh ground veal and pork (or beef in this instance)
1/4 Pound ground pancetta (I used finely chopped)
2 medium carrots – peeled and finely chopped
2 medium onions - finely chopped
4 stalks of celery - finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic - sliced
1 can tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
Patience

METHOD:

1. Heat the oil in heavy bottomed sauce pan. 
2. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sweat till vegetables are translucent but not brown. 
3. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables and brown over high heat.
4. Add the tomato paste, wine, milk and thyme and bring just to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 1-1.5 hours – or as long as you can. 

When ready to serve with pasta, put serving of sauce in pan then add pasta with a little extra pasta water to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve, and eat immediately. 

 

Kosher Not Kosher

So it's Passover, and although I don't keep kosher, I still enjoy a good ceremonial meal around the holidays. My old friend Sarah had us over a couple of years ago for a passover brunch of matza brei (basically matza french toast) with bacon mixed in.

It was the perfect kosher-for-passover-not-kosher-at-all meal.

We weren't able to go home and see our immediate families or old friends this holiday as I'm stuck in the states while waiting on a fresh work visa, but we did whip up a batch this morning. 

Soak broken up matza under cold water. 

Soak broken up matza under cold water. 

Toss the damp matza with egg and cooked and cooled bacon pieces. 

Toss the damp matza with egg and cooked and cooled bacon pieces. 

Toss mixture in pan and fry. I left a bit of the bacon fat in the pan. 

Toss mixture in pan and fry. I left a bit of the bacon fat in the pan. 

Matza Brei with Bacon and Maple Syrup

INGREDIENTS:

4 pieces regular matza (not egg)
3 large eggs
3 pieces of bacon
1 serving guilt
Maple syrup, jam, salt, whatever you like like to garnish

METHOD:

1. Break up the Matza into bite sized pieces.
2. Rinse under cold water in a colander.
3. Mix up the eggs in a bowl, add the matza and stir to coat.
4. Cook the bacon and let it cool.
5. Chop it into pieces and stir in with the egg and matza.
6. Drop it all in a non-stick pan and toss over med-hi heat till a little soft, a little crunchy.

*Note: some people prefer to leave in pan to form almost like a pancake, but this was the conversation when I asked how I should make it:

"You like it broken up right?"
"Yes, this is why we're married." 

But hey, it's up to you. Enjoy. 

Moving Nothing

Almost two years ago, my husband, dog and I picked up to move to NYC for a change of scenery, and job. We left behind a house we had bought less than two years earlier, and sold almost everything in it. We had no idea where we were going to live, and figured that wherever it was it would be tiny and that we were best to start from scratch. So we rented a minivan, and took only what would fit. Here's what made the cut:

  • Coffee table 
  • Rug
  • A duffle bag of clothing each, bedding
  • Record Player
  • One box of records
  • One box of books
  • Our dog
  • His stuff
  • Bikes

Aside from a Cado wall unit and Hoosier cabinet that remained in our house when we rented it out, I miss nothing. It's been a year of treasure hunting and it's starting to come together. 

Here's what the apt looked like before we moved in: it was being used as live/work for an editing company, the living space an office space filled to the brim. 

IMG_6274.JPG

 

Here it was upon move-in: we were surprised to see how much space there was once all the office stuff was cleared. 

And so the project of rebuilding a home from scratch began.  I'm doing this about a year after the fact, and we still have a ways to go. Though here's a few weeks in, after we found a sofa on craigslist, and picked up a table and chairs. 

More to come. 

Home Sick and Homesick

One of the things that still surprises me about living in New York is how after living in Toronto my whole life, (and living downtown for ten years before the move) my cravings for a taste of home aren’t for dishes at my favorite hip neighborhood haunts, but for food from the neighborhood where I grew up.

So as I spend the first weekend of spring home sick, I’m craving a taste of childhood. In particular, a taste of lentil soup from a Middle Eastern restaurant called Jerusalem. I was able to find the recipe online from an article in a local paper, so today I share it here for a home sick taste of home.

First rinse the red lentils and Arborio rice. 

Then sautée a small chopped onion. 

Add lentils, rice, and water to onions and let simmer. 

Add lentils, rice, and water to onions and let simmer. 

Till it looks like this. 

Add salt, pepper, cumin, parsley and green onion and simmer for a few more minutes. 

Serve with lemon, extra parsley and Maldon flakes because salt. 

Serve with lemon, extra parsley and Maldon flakes because salt. 

Jerusalem Restaurant Lentil Soup

INGREDIENTS:
3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups red lentils
1/2 cup Italian rice
7 cups water
1 tbsp chicken bouillon powder (I used organic Better Than Bouillon)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice

METHOD:
1. In a large pot, sauté the onion in oil until lightly browned.

2. Place lentils and rice in a sieve, and rinse them thoroughly under cold running water.

3. Add lentils and rice to the onions, cover with 7 cups of water, bring to a gentle boil, stir occasionally and simmer for 45 to 55 minutes or until lentils and rice dissolve and become creamy.

4. Add bouillon powder, salt, cumin, pepper, parsley and green onions, and let soup simmer for 5 minutes longer. Stir in lemon juice just before serving.