Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cook N Soup: Spanish Garlic Soup

Years ago, I wrote an essay for my college nutrition class on the healthy properties of garlic. I remember it well because it was one of my first college papers, a topic I enjoyed researching, and sadly the teacher gave me an F on it because she didn't think it wasn't "scientific enough". She did give me the opportunity to rewrite for a better grade, but I was in the middle of a divorce and finals at that point and I had just gotten a lay off notice at work (an especially bad week!) and I could not be bothered. I took a "C" in the class and moved on.

Like many of my college papers it was misplaced over the years, but a few points of garlic interest come to mind:

  • Garlic is an antioxident, antiseptic and antiinflammatory.
  • An immigrant friend of mine said that mother's in her very poor Mexican neighborhood used to serve their children garlic by adding it to milk because it would stave off infection and illness.
  • An old superstition says that if you want to deter an unwelcome suitor you simply sprinkle crushed garlic at an intersection and lure the unsuspecting to cross over it.

This is another soup from the Williams Sonoma Best of Taste cook book.

The book suggests that it is more appropriate to serve this soup as a starter, than as a full meal. I would agree with that.

Honestly, it didn't exactly knock our socks off, but it was a new recipe and its ingredients: olive oil, almonds, garlic and baguette, did make it sound tempting and - undeniably- very healthy.

The soup contains just 4 cloves of garlic, and that is the prominent flavor you experience. I served the soup with a spinach salad, some extra baguette and chorizo sausages (not shown). Simon went back for seconds -which could have just meant that he was hungry- but definately, it is an indication that the soup is palatable.

I am hearing several of my facebook friends and family complain this week that colds are hitting their homes as the weather is changing and fall is in the air. This soup may be just the ticket for keeping the bugs at bay.



2 cups chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/4 cup blanched almonds, whole or slivered

4 garlic cloves, chopped with a pinch of kosher salt

4 egg yolks at room temperature

3/4 cups olive oil

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1/2 stale baguette, torn into chunks


In a saucepan, combine stock, bay leaf, marjoram, salt and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain and let cool slightly.

In a food processor, pulverize almonds. Add garlic and puree. Add egg yolks and process to blend. With themachine running, slowly add oil to emulsify. Stir in vinegar.

Add 1/2 cup stock to the almond mixture in the food processor and process to blend. Pour the almond mixture back into the stock. Portion soup into bowls, garnish with bread and drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bake N 4 Jake: September Cookie of the Month - ANZAC Biscuits

It is difficult for me to believe that my "baby" just turned 19- where on earth does the time go? Today he is a grown man. Attending Boise State and working prep in a small restaurant there. Simon and I are just beginning to adjust to this whole empty nest thing.

Jake came home for a quick trip last week, We went out to lunch and went shopping for his birthday, picked up a few "staples" (socks, underwear, a couple of sporty shirts...), and I decided to enroll him in the "cookie of the month club" whereby I bake and send him a batch of homemade cookies each month. As far as I know, Jake has never met a cookie he didn't like, and I thought this would be a great way to let him know on a regular basis that I am thinking about him.

This month I threw together one of his favorites : ANZAC Biscuits.
The story of ANZAC biscuits is that they were sent to loved ones in the Austrailian and New Zealand Army Corp during WWI.

This recipe for ANZAC Biscuits is from Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook. These oatmeal and coconut cookies turned out really nice and they are puported to travel well too.

Makes about 3 dozen.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Lyles Golden Syrup
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, and coconut. Set aside.
2.In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with syrup. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine. (Be careful; if the butter is hot, it will bubble up considerably.)
3.Add butter mixture to dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice-cream scoop, drop onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart (be sure to pack the scoop tightly so the mixture doesn't crumble). Flatten cookies slightly with the heel of your hand.
4.Bake until golden brown and firm but not hard, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

(I will put them in the mail on Monday, Jake! Love, Mom)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Keep It Simple Saturday: One Great Foodie Site.

While I had intended for this Keep It Simple Saturday post to contain simple recipes, I am taking a bit of a detour this week to share with you a helpful little website I discovered yesterday...
The website is called
When you arrive on the site, you can search on any food item that you might have in abundance this time of year (zucchini, tomatoes, pears...) and you will get a pages of pictures extracted from food sites all over the web that contain recipes for your searched item.
Try it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cook N Soup: William Sonoma Cream of Tomato Soup with Pancetta

The bad news is that the weather has turned a bit colder this week. The good news is that colder weather and soup go very well together. I suddenly have an urge to pull out the crock pot and bake bread.

My mother sent us home yesterday with a huge quantity of home grown tomatoes and I cannot think of a better way to use them up than to make soup! I have made this particular tomato soup a few years ago when I had my own bountiful garden of ripe tomatoes. The recipe for croutons with pancetta and gorgonzola have been served many times over the last few years with salad and other types of soups, but they are a must have with this soup.

This is a recipe adapted from a William Sonoma cookbook. I added a bit more sugar and cream in my version and used a blender to puree the soup.

Cream of Tomato Soup with Pancetta


4 thin slices pancetta, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for brushing
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 1/4 lb. tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh marjoram
1/4 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 baguette slices
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
In a large pot over medium heat, fry the pancetta in the olive oil until crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes and marjoram. Bring to a simmer and add the rice. To provide enough liquid for cooking the rice, add 1 to 2 cups water, depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes. Cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Place a food mill over another large pot. Transfer the soup to the food mill and puree. Reheat over low heat and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a broiler. Brush the baguette slices with olive oil and top each with 1 Tbs. of the Gorgonzola. Broil until the cheese bubbles. Top each with some of the pancetta. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve each with a Gorgonzola and pancetta-topped baguette slice. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma TASTE Magazine, Garden Varieties, by Sara Deseran (Fall 2001).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Keep It Simple Saturday: Chocolate and Bacon

You may think after reading this week’s simple Saturday combination, that I have taken things a bit too far this week. “Chocolate and Bacon?” you say, “what will they think of next?”

However, I am always willing to try new things. Even if they sound a bit strange, and especially if they include chocolate. This week I am highlighting Vosges Haute Chocolat “Mo’s Bacon Bar”

I first read about Vosges Haute Chocolat in 2006 while staying at the Four Season’s in Las Vegas (on one very luxurious and romantic weekend away with my man). I was sitting by the pool, reading the Four Seasons magazine (while sipping a fru fru drink and being misted with Evian by a very handsome pool boy) when I came across an article on Vosges. Being in a very pampered, very luxurious state of mind, I was immediately drawn to chocolat (with no e) and it seemed- at that moment - all that was really missing from my life might have been a good box of chocolats.

Vosges is not just chocolat…it is chocolat with exotic ingredients. Suffice to say, there are ingredients in this chocolat from all over the world that I had never even heard of. The gourmand in me was intrigued. I told Simon that all I really wanted for my birthday was a box of Vosges Haute Chocolat.

This is not inexpensive chocolat. The specific package that piqued my interest most was a fairly diverse assortment of about 20 candies…for $60 (plus shipping and handling).

It seemed a bit extravagant, and at the last minute I decided against it. (okay, secretly, I was hoping he would surprise me…but I recognize he is not a mind reader and he did get me a nice necklace that year)

So- fast forward 3 years to now. Simon and I like to shop at a store in Mill Creek called Central Market. This is a fabulous market that we reserve for special occasion shopping. It is easy to spend a lot of money there because they have so much good stuff. I end each visit at this store in the chocolate aisle, where I pick up several pieces of good quality chocolate. Always a few Fran’s macadamia nut gold bars and always something new.

You can imagine my delight to discover that Central Market now carries a small assortment of Vosges chocolat bars. These bars are .5 ounces and they cost $2.50 Still a bit pricey, but cheaper than a latte. (I find that I generally gauge my indulgences by whether or not they are more expensive than a coffee at Starbucks).

Mo’s Bacon Bar smells of chocolat and bacon. It contains applewood smoked bacon bits and alderwood smoked salt covered in deep luxurious milk chocolat. The flavor is better than you would expect. Salty and smokey and sweet. Very Interesting.
I shared the bar with my mother. She thought it tasted pretty good as well and expressed my sentiment exactly when she added “there really isn’t much that doesn’t taste good covered in chocolate…bacon…ants…yum”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recipes to Rival - August: Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto

This was my first Recipes to Rival challenge and my first attempt at risotto.

All in all, it was a great success. The lemongrass and the asparagus are a nice combination.

This was a dairy and gluten free risotto. Very flavorful despite the absence of cheese. While the goal of this challenge was vegan, I could not serve my meat-and- potato-loving hubby tofu and expect to get a favorable review...I also cannot have it for health reasons. I used pine nuts instead of peanuts. The risotto was very nice with a piece of wild salmon and we had leftovers the next day for lunch which was wonderful.

In the future I might try this with different vegetables- I saw one post with zucchini that sounded great, and I might sneak in some parmasean (don't tell anyone)

Asparagus & Lemongrass Risotto
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero from Veganomicon

"Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish. It is also one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Its origins are in North Italy where rice paddies are abundant. While this is not a traditionally prepared risotto, it is pretty close. You really want to use Arborio rice, but you can substitute any short grain rice and get a similar dish."

Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Serves 4-6
This one does have peanuts in it, so if you are allergic, just leave them out. Personally, I liked pine nuts in it best. Fresh lemongrass is available in most grocery stores, but if you can't find it, you can use dried. If using dried, you will want to use a cheese cloth or tea strainer. Place the dried lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Don't worry about the heat of the serrano pepper, it only adds a nice hint of flavor.

Lemongrass Broth:
3 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
1” piece fresh ginger, sliced into ¼” slices
1 small stalk lemongrass, or 1 TBSP dried, chopped lemongrass
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
3 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce, or more broth)

½ cup cooking sherry or white wine (D'Aquino Pinot Grigio is a good choice, any dry white wine, or just water)
1 lb asparagus
2 TBSP vegetable broth
1 cup basil leaves (Thai, if you can find it), sliced into thin strips
2 TBSP chopped fresh mint
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano red chile, sliced very thinly (or ½ – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 TBSP lime juice
Chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, for garnish (you can use pine nuts or sliced almonds instead of the peanuts)

1.If using fresh lemongrass, peel away and discard any brown stems from the stalk. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and cut into 3” to 4” lengths, then julienne.
2.Give the garlic and the ginger a could whack with the side of your knife, keeping them whole. Prepare your herb pouch, if using.
3.Place all of the broth ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Pour the broth back into the pot, cover and simmer over as low a heat as possible to keep warm.
4.Slice the asparagus into ½” pieces, removing any tough parts from the bottom of the stem. Separate the tips from the stems and place each in separate bowls.
5.In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, saute the asparagus in 1 TBSP vegetable broth over medium heat until bright and crisp tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the basil and mint, saute for 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside.
6.Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable broth to the pan. Saute the shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the serrano and rice, saute for about 8 minutes, until the rice smells slightly toasted. Add the cooking sherry (or white wine) and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.
7.Now, time for relaxation and stirring. Get a glass of your favorite beverage, turn on some soothing music, or a good movie. Ladle about ½ cup of the broth at a time into the rice, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Stir and cook until the rice is creamy but still somewhat firm in the center.
8.When the broth is almost gone, stir the sugar and lime juice into the remaining broth before adding it to the risotto. You may add more water or vegetable broth in ¼ cup increments if needed. This will take about 35 minutes.
9.Stir the asparagus stems into the risotto and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the asparagus has reached desired tenderness.
10.Garnish each serving with the asparagus tips, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.