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    Cream of Scallop Soup

    Due to a little accident in a swimming pool involving a flip, a misplaced hand, and a particularly vicious wall, I am current without use of one of my fingers on my right hand. If there are more than the average amount of misspellings for the next few days, let’s feel free to blame the injured finger.

    Since I’m going to be exploring Ireland and Scotland both via books, and in person, I thought it would be interesting if I could produce a few of the recipes from the region that happened to strike my fancy. I’ve touched upon Irish food before, albeit briefly, so I may get a little more in depth.

    The first recipe captured my attention for two reasons – First, it’s fairly simple to make and I didn’t wish to tax myself too much yesterday afternoon. Secondly, it contains scallops, also known as “nature’s perfect shellfish”.

    I really enjoyed this dish. Yes, it’s a little simple for those of us who prefer chowders, but from my point of view, scallops are best when simplified. As an added bonus, this soup is very cheap to make, with all of the ingredients adding up to only a little over 12 dollars (we got the scallops for 7 dollars a pound).

    I found this recipe in The Scottish-Irish Pub and Hearth Cookbook, and altered it just a tad.

    • 1/2 white onion, sliced
    • 3 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
    • 3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
    • 6 cups light cream or whole milk, or any combination of the two
    • 1 Tablespoon Anchovy Paste
    • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
    • White pepper, to taste
    • 1 lb bay scallops, washed, drained and patted dry
    • 3 Tablespoons fresh Dill, chopped

    In a medium sized sauce pan that has been placed over medium high heat, add the onions and butter. Allow the butter to melt and cook the onions until they just start to turn translucent, about five minutes. Add the flour and whisk together and allow to turn a light brown.

    Slowly pour in the cream, just as if you were making a bechamel sauce. Cook between 8 – 10 minutes, ensuring that the soup is smooth. Stir in the Anchovy paste and lemon juice and add pepper to taste.

    Add the Scallops to the soup and then immediately lower the heat to medium/medium low. Cook for another four minutes and remove from the heat completely. Add two tablespoons of the dill and mix in well, and save the remaining dill for garnishing the tops of individual servings.

    Serve immediately.

    Serves 6

    Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné">French Onion Soup – Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné

    The very first recipe that I cooked for someone outside of my family was in my ninth grade French class. For a project that entailed opening a french bistro (for one day), we had to come up with a french recipe, cook it and serve it. My group of four people made the following:

    Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné

    That phrase has stuck in my head for nearly twenty five years now.

    Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné

    For a child of 15, the phrase rolled off the tongue with joy and ease. In my mind, the primary essences of the French language were seemingly all present. There is the gender distinction of the feminine Soupe. There are the common accents found upon the ‘a’ (à) and ‘e’ (gratiné). There is the abbreviated determiner (l’). And then, my favorite, the word oignon itself, which gave a bunch of college bound children from a blue collar neighborhood to use our newly discovered exaggerated French accents. If ever there were a surreal moment in my life, it would be the time when I sat in a classroom of 25 children, each of us nearly shouting the word “Unh-Yunh!! Unh-Yunh!!

    Yes, in my opinion, there is no better phrase in the French language than
    Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné.

    Say it out loud. You’ll see what I mean.

    • 5 Yellow onions, sliced
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups white wine
    • 2 cups canned beef consume
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 2 oz. cognac
    • 2 thyme sprigs
    • 2 bay leaf
    • 2 parsley sprigs
    • 6-8 slices from a day old baguette (or you can toast the slices as well)
    • Kosher salt
    • Ground black pepper
    • 6 slices Gruyere cheese

    Place a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat and allow to come to temperature. Add the butter. Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the pot. Do not try stirring until onions have sweated down for 15 to 20 minutes. Lower the heat to medium/medium-low. Cook the onions for 50-55 more minutes, stirring the onions every five minutes or so. The onions should be a deep reddish brown.

    Cover the onions with the white wine. Turn heat to high, allowing the wine to reduce reducing (this should take about 5 minutes). Add the beef consume, the chicken broth, apple cider, cognac and the herbs. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. When the soup is considered done, remove the herbs.

    To serve, place 1-2 slices of the baguette in an oven safe bowl and ladle the soup over top. Top with a slice or two of Gruyere. Place under a broiler long enough for the cheese to melt and brown.

    Serves 4-6

    Onion-Pancetta Soup

    There’s something about making a soup on a rainy and chilly Saturday afternoon. With the smell of the onions permeating the house, it seems to invite people to stay at home, and allows them to look forward to dinner. In my opinion, nothing says home like the aroma of cooked onions.

    This is an Italian soup, from Umbria. For those of you following along with the cookbooks at home, the use of butter and olive oil would have been the clues that could pinpoint the region.

    This is also the first “onion” recipe, even though I have yet to officially announce that “onion” is the next ingredient up for discussion.

    • 6 oz. pancetta slices, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp. Butter
    • 3 large onions, sliced (should get about 5+ cups of onions)
    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 5 cups chicken stock
    • 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
    • slices of toasted bread
    • Parmesan cheese, shredded
    • Basil leaves, shredded

    Place a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat starts to turn yellow. When the fat starts to run into the pot, increase the heat to medium and add oil, butter, onions and sugar.

    Cook the onions for 20-25 minutes. When the onions starts become soft and golden. Add the chicken stock and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to low. This should bring the soup to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes.

    When serving, place a slice of toasted bread into the bowl. Ladle the soup over top and then garnish with the Parmesan cheese and strips of basil leaves.

    Serves 4 – 6

    tags technorati : recipes, soup, onion soup, Italian Food

    Beef Stew

    beef stew

    It seemed that now was the perfect time to pull this recipe out. First and foremost, Tara mentioned that she had been hankering* for beef stew.

    In keeping with our current theme, it also has carrots. It has onions, which happens to be our next topic. Finally, I used the all great and powerful dutch oven. It’s as if now was the perfect moment to bring this recipe to the forefront.

    As a suggestion, this recipe is the perfect place to use any left over beef bones that you may have been saving. The beef broth would bring some of that flavor to the table, but another bone added to the pot won’t hurt and certainly will add to the taste.

    Additionally, one should consider what kind of potato to use. I chose redskins, because I like the less starchy potatoes, but I did so at the expense of thickening the broth. If you like a thicker broth, choose a potato with a higher starch content.

    *It should be noted that “hankering” is my term, not hers. “Hanker” is a phrase that is as unlikely to come out of Tara’s mouth as “I mishandled the war in Iraq” is to come out of El Presidente’s.

    • 1/3 lb salt pork
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat (cut into 1″ cubes. See Note below)
    • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
    • 6 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 cup Guinness
    • 8 cups beef broth
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons Tomato paste
    • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 sprigs thyme, fresh
    • 1/3 cup butter
    • 3 lbs redskin potatoes, cubed
    • 2 cups carrots, sliced
    • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Place dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Bring to temperature and add the salt pork, allowing to fry. Meanwhile, flour the beef cubes, tapping off any excess flour, and place them into the pot. Brown the beef, which will take approximately 5 – 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

    Add the beer and the beef stock to the pot. Then add the sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, the bay leaves and thyme. Bring the broth up to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for at least 60 minutes, stirring once every seven to ten minutes.

    Meanwhile, after the broth has started simmering, place another large pot over medium heat. Melth the butter and add the potatoes, carrots and onions. Salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the onions start to get soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the veggies over to the broth, and continue simmering , this time uncovered, for at least another forty minutes.

    NOTE: Stew beef can come from any cut that is primarily used for roasting or braising. Think shoulder or shank cuts, and you’ll do just fine.

    Green Corn Soup

    …or if you want the Mexican name, Sopa Verde de Elote.

    One of the many New Year’s resolutions I have this year include understanding Mexican cuisine. And when I say “understanding”, I mean realizing that most of the Mexican Food found in the restaurants in my neighborhood are either more ‘Tex-Mex’ or Americanized versions of Mexican cuisine. Not that there’s anything wrong with these types of food. I simply wish to see more authentic Mexican Food.

    To that end, I picked up Diana Kennedy’s most wonderful book “The Essential Cuisines of Mexico”, which contains this recipe.

    A recipe, by the way, that received a critical ‘thumbs-up’ from the members of my household.

    • 1/4 cup corn oil
    • 1/2 white onion, diced
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 2/3 cup tomitillas, cooked and pureed
    • 4 1/2 cup corn kernals, frozen
    • 5 cups chicken broth
    • 2/3 cup peas, frozen
    • 6 sprigs cilantro
    • 5 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped
    • 2 poblano chiles, charred and peeled
    • salt, to taste
    • sour cream and tortilla strips, for garnish

    In a skillet, heat the corn oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Raise the heat to high and add the pureed tomitillas. Cook for three minutes and then transfer to a stockpot that has been placed oven medium heat.

    Place the corn, 2 cups of the broth, peas, cilantro, lettuce and chiles into a blender. Blend for 1-2 minutes, ensuring the mixture is smooth. Pour the blend through a strainer into the stockpot.

    Take the remnants of the puree mixture and return to the blender. Add one more cup of broth, and blend for another minute. Pour this blend through the strainer into the stockpot. Discard any remaining solids.

    Add the remaining broth and salt to the soup. Lower the heat to low and allow to simmer for up to 1 hour.

    Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips. A dash or two of tobasco sauce wouldn’t hurt either.

    Serves 6

    Technorati Tags: recipes, soup, corn soup

    Yellow Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup

    There are some soups which can stand on their own. Others work best when pared with another dish, be it something as straightforward as a sandwich or as complex as a paella. As an example, when I think about chicken soup I typically think about the soup alone. When I think of Tomato soup, inevitably I also think about grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Because Tomato soup is best served with grilled cheese sandwiches.

    This soup falls into the later category. By itself, it’s okay, but with some other food at it’s side it becomes manna from heaven. Which leads me to believe that there’s a new culinary law I can add to Kate’s Laws. Let’s call it “Kate’s Law of the exponential taste increase of soup”. This law states that one can improve the taste of most soups simply by serving a tasty sandwich.

    The corollary to this law is that the crunchier the crust of the sandwich bread, the more effective the sandwich will be in improving the taste of the soup.

    • 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
    • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
    • 1/4 lb pancetta, diced
    • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
    • 2 star anise
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 2 tsp tumeric
    • 4 cups water
    • 1 cup split yellow peas, dried
    • 6 cups chicken stock
    • 1 medium butter nut squash, peeled and diced
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • Sour cream and chives (to garnish, and thus – optional)

    Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, pancetta, ginger, star anise and cumin. Cook the onions until they start to caramelize.

    Add the bay leaves, tumeric, water and peas. Lower the heat to a simmer (185 degrees F)and cook until the peas are soft, about 90 minutes give or take 15 minutes.

    Add the chicken stock and diced squash. Raise the heat until the soup comes to a light boil (210 – 212 degrees F) and cook for 20 minutes. At this point, remove the bay leaves and star anise. Puree the soup either through a wand or a blender. Return to heat and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.

    Top with sour cream and chives and serve.

    Serves 4-6

    Technorati Tags: Recipes, Soup, Peas, Butternut Squash

    New England Clam Chowder

    New England Clam Chowder

    In your mind’s eye, paint the following picture – it’s a cold, November day. The sky is a dark gray, and rain is spitting against the window of your home.

    Inside, the lights are on, even though it’s three o’clock in the afternoon. The heater turns on for what seems like the first time in months, a light whrrrrrrrrrrrr emanating from deep within itself.

    On a day like this, there is no better meal to make than a New England Clam Chowder….which is exactly what I did.

    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 medium white onion, sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/3 lb salt pork, finely diced
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 cup half and half
    • 1 pound red skin potatoes, diced
    • 2 cups fish stock
    • 1 1/2 cup clam meat, chopped
    • 16 ounces clam juice
    • 1 whole bay leaf
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 Tablespoon chopped dill

    In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic and onions. When the onions get soft, but before theystart to become translucent, add the salt pork. Cook until the salt pork is crisp. Remove from heat. Spoon off any excess fat beyond the two tablespoons intially used.

    Place the onions/pork and oil into a soup pot that has also been placed over medium heat.Allow to sit for 1 minute and then stir in the flour. Add the cream and half and half, stirring them together. Add the fish stock, clam juice, clams, bay leaf and potatoes. Lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook until potatoes are soft (for 30 minutes approx). Add the pepper and dill. Cook for another 10 minutes and then serve.

    Serves 6-8

    Technorati Tags: Food, Recipes, New England Clam Chowder