I’m not a good cook. My mother was an outstanding culinary creator, my older sister following closely on Mom’s Beef Wellington tracks. Not me. I veered off the path and out of the kitchen to do something--almost anything--else.
When I was married I fed my family, but I have to admit that probably my major cooking achievement was meat loaf. You know, the kind with the goopy raw egg that you squeeze through the meat with your fingers: the loaf that you form and finish off with that strip of bacon on the top.
My family didn’t starve but neither did their eyes widen over my delicate soufflés or my perfectly browned, crispy-skinned, Thanksgiving turkeys. We went out with friends to a local club for our Thanksgiving feast. I confess to never having cooked a turkey in my life.
Then, as the gods would have it, there came a time in my mid-forties when - because my second divorce was pending - I found myself living alone for the first time in 23 years in a rented 200 year-old farm house in a town where I knew no one. So stressed was I that all I could manage to eat was soup and Campbell’s quite quickly lost its appeal.
My mother always had soup on the stove or in the refrigerator waiting for us when we got home from school. Her beef shank based soup was the one that I loved the most. When I make it, it’s like a little visit with her, crowned by eating the marrow from the shank as she watched and smiled lovingly.
Beef and Macaroni Soup
1-two-inch thick beef shank with bone
6 cups of water, enough to cover the beef by an inch
1 - 14.5 ounce can of whole tomatoes, broken up with your hand into large pieces
1 large onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup peeled and chopped carrots, 1/2 inch pieces
Salt, pepper and a large bay leaf
3/4 cup elbow macaroni
Simmer the shank, water, tomatoes, carrots, onion, celery, salt, pepper and bay leaf for an hour and a half with a cover on. Remove the beef shanks and let cool until you can cut it into ½ pieces. Add ¾ cup of elbow macaroni and stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Cook until the macaroni is tender. Add the cut beef back in and simmer for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to marry. The one you love gets the bone marrow.
When I was a young girl, my mother and father packed up the rented mini van and took us four children and usually a few friends for my older brother and sister, my widowed, Aunt Else, on the ferry from England to Norway. We stayed at an idyllic hotel called The Strand Hotel for two weeks every August.
We spent our days fishing for our lunch in a little wooden boat and cooked our catch on a remote island, over a fire, made from collected twigs and dried seaweed.
My parents always said we were too many to feed every meal in a restaurant, and so when supper time came, the prepared hotel feast was always a relief and absolutely delicious after a somewhat usually chilly, but fun day catching fish and swimming in the sea that never dared to go above 65 degrees.
Supper always began with soup. My favorite was the cauliflower... Usually a tasteless soup, but this one was utterly scrumptious. Here is my own, very simple recipe, my comfort food.
Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Clam Jam Dip
Cider Cheese Fondue
BLT and Avocado Bruschetta
Warm and Creamy Bacon Dip
Baked Vidalia Onion Dip
Baked Mexican Layer Dip
Creamy Shrimp, Spinach and Goat Cheese Dip
Maple Walnut Popcorn
Spicy Mango Salsa
Curried Deviled Eggs
Growing up I spent a lot of vacations traveling up the California coast. It always seemed our first stop was a small town just north of Santa Barbara known as Buellton. Here we would stop at Pea Soup Anderson's to have...wait for it...their famous split pea soup.
I don't think it was the best pea soup I've ever had but I do know it is where I became a fan of this hardy, green liquid. There was something about stopping at Pea Soup Anderson's that seemed special. I'm not sure if it was the giant windmill turning out front or going into the gift shop and buying some candy that made it exciting. I just remember loving it.
Split pea soup is so easy to make. It falls into the category of "set it, and forget it" for me. This recipe is quite tasty and doesn't require any additional seasoning. We love it with crusty bread on these beautiful but cold winter days.
I love soups, stews, chilies – one pot wonders that will fill you up and feed you for days! Often when I’ve been writing about food, having a food photoshoot for a book or magazine or discussing menus with clients, the last thing I want to do is go home and cook. Yet, cooking is my therapy too – being a foodie is a tangled web indeed.
My chicken noodle soup is simple. I think it is delicious (toot toot goes my own horn) and it cooks up fast and will feed pharaoh’s army – a highly desirable trait for a dish in my family! I also like that this recipe is basic enough to appeal to year round flavors. Of course, during the winter, I crave this warm soup with some leafy kale and carrots, but I’ve found that basil or lemon thyme are delightful additions in the summertime as are sage and rosemary in the fall and chervil in the spring.
There are two ways to make this soup – neither of which are right or wrong. There is the homemade version where you stew a hen, make your own stock, cut the kale and herbs from your garden etc etc etc and then there’s the quick and easy version – the latter I find myself preparing more often than the former! PTL (Praise The Lord for those not brought up in the Bible Belt) for store bought rotisserie chickens!
Farmer’s Note: This “recipe” is more of a read through, thus you can cook to your liking. Enjoy y’all!
I love ramen soup and I'm not talking about the instant kind—though I did love a bowlful now and then during college. I mean the real ramen that you can get in Japanese noodle bars. Ramen noodles, especially when they're freshly made can be amazing. They are worlds apart from the instant kind. Whenever I feel a little under the weather or I just crave a hot bowl of soup, my go-to dish for ultimate soothing power is a bowl of ramen.
Lately I've become obsessed with having ramen for lunch. My coworkers and I go out to eat ramen at least once or twice every week. We've all been bitten by the ramen bug. New York City has countless noodle bars, ranging from cheap to very pricey. But they all offer the classic broths for ramen, including salt broth, soy sauce broth, and miso broth. They even have cold ramen served with dipping sauces. My favorite is the miso broth, which also comes in a spicy version called tan-tan men. It's the soup I turn to for a good sinus clearing! This is why ramen is the perfect cold weather soup.
A few years ago a press trip took me Spokane, Washington and Moscow, Idaho. The area is well-known for its agricultural products, most importantly lentils. A representative of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council gave us a "Lentils 101" talk that described the many varieties of lentils, their nutritional value and economic importance to protein-starved regions of the world. Each of us was given a copy of The Pea & Lentil Cookbook: From Everyday to Gourmet which has recipes using dried legumes in dishes as varied as appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts.
Cooking with lentils is easy.
The basics are wash and rinse the lentils. Discard any broken or misshapen lentils. Generally speaking lentils are cooked in water at a ratio of one cup of lentils to two and a half cups of water. Simmer covered for 30-50 minutes, tasting the lentils as they cook and removing the pot from the stove when they are to your taste. Cooked longer, lentils will soften and can be used in purees for soups, dips, sauces and spreads.
I like the lentils to retain their shape so I cook them only until they are al dente.
If I told you that I had a fabulous soup recipe with only three ingredients in it, would you believe me? Leeks, potatoes and water or chicken broth. Oh and a little butter to saute the leeks in, that's it.
It seems to be a mantra these days that by using the best ingredients one really doesn't need to do much to turn out a great meal. Leek and potato soup epitomizes this thinking. You can add milk or cream or top it off with a dollop of sour cream if you want to fancy it up, but it's really not necessary. Based on my own research (which is corroborated by the reviews of other cooks who have reacted to the multitude of leek & potato soup recipes posted on epicurious.com) complicated preparations with more ingredients tend to distract rather than enhance.
There is something so comforting about leek and potato soup. Its pale matte green color is comforting. Its smell is comforting. And of course the taste, mellow oniony leeks and potatoes combined together in a thick pottage is, well, comforting. Either smooth or chunky its soft texture and mild flavors are as soothing as flannel sheets. It's a great soup to go with a sandwich or just on its own. And it's the best antidote to a day of gustatory indulgence where you want something just short of another meal. Does this happen to you on the weekend sometimes? If so, you're not alone.
Mushroom soup should be like a good friend -- there for you when you need it, full of understanding and comfort, and spicy enough to make you laugh. Consider this Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup a best friend.
We met rather informally last fall in my kitchen while I was entertaining a number of other friends including tender red bliss potatoes, earthy chestnuts, and aromatic sage. We liked each other instantly, and our friendship has continued to grow.
Meaty, smoky chestnuts and savory fresh herbs add depth to an otherwise ordinary, creamy mushroom soup. Use bottled, dried, or -- if you're up for the challenge -- freshly roasted chestnuts. For a richer soup, I suggest using cream; 2% milk is best if you're looking to save calories.
I'm not a possessive person, so I'd like to introduce you to her. She'll be one of the truest friends you've ever had.
I haven’t been to Paris in a while, but I’ve been to the next best place: Encino.
There are two reasons why I go to Encino, a small city (or enclave or district or borough or cluster or whatever it is) in the San Fernando Valley, north of where I live. One is that I have a superior dentist there. The other is that I know a fabulous cook who lives there, and I like to take advantage of every opportunity to eat at her house.
Last time I dropped by (“Oh, is it dinner time? Who knew? What’s cookin’?”) Suzanne offered me a sample of her French onion soup. While my memory is admittedly badly impaired, I don’t recall eating a better version of it, ever.
For those of you who do not want to go to Encino because you are too busy visiting more glamorous places like, say, Cleveland, I have managed to procure the recipe for Suzanne’s soup. If you know what’s good for you, you will make it.
I love hearty spicy chili, especially during the winter months. This one is quick to make with just basic ingredients and guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day.
The variety of beans – red kidney, black and pinto – gives the chili a nice “meaty” quality. I think it has a nice balance of heat, but you can add extra cayenne or a chopped jalapeño to add a little more “fire”.
Let’s pretend for just a tiny moment that it has not been in the 80s here in Los Angeles over the past few days. We can also pretend that I did not lay outside in shorts and no t-shirt in the sun on a big madras print blanket with a book and three small dogs who insisted on standing on my back, butt and head. And let’s also pretend that yesterday I didn’t get home and fight the urge to run straight to the grill with a beer in my hand.
A roasted chicken goes a long way in our house. It is one of those easy dishes that requires very little prep. Stuffing the cavity with a whole lemon cut in half, a whole garlic bulb cut in half, some thyme, salt, and pepper creates the simplest of flavors. Smear the body with soft butter, lots of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, toss in the oven for about an hour and a half. Serve it with some roasted carrots and some sort of green and dinner is on the table for just a few bucks.
Rarely does all the chicken meat get consumed. Left overs get shredded, made into enchiladas, soft tacos, or thrown into soups. The carcass gets tossed into a big stock pot along with some chicken necks, lots of roots, vegetables, and herbs. Cover with water, bring to a boil, cover it and let it simmer for 24 hours.
If you buy shell on shrimp or fresh shrimp with heads and shell you can make shrimp broth. It’s a very useful frozen pantry item to have for making risotto, fish soup or infusing a seafood pasta, or pan sauce with more flavor. And it only takes a half hour to make. In fact I never actually set out to make shrimp broth, it’s always a by-product of peeling shrimp for another dish, so it’s important to be flexible about what to put in the pot along with the peels in order to end up with a flavorful result.
With this batch I didn’t have any parsley in the house but I had carrots with tops. The tops taste like a combo of carrots and parsley so they’re perfect for any broth. I threw those in. Then I added a few peppercorns, some coriander seed (which for some reason I have in great quantity), a couple green scallion tops and some lemon zest and juice. I could just have easily added Italian parsley, red chile flakes, celery seed (I love the taste of celery in broths), chopped onion and some tomato sauce or fresh tomato instead of the lemon.
by Joseph Erdos
Wings are a major part of any Super Bowl party. For many people, they're just as important as the game. I mean, can you imagine watching the game without a wing in one hand and a beer in the other? I don't think so! Buffalo wings are simply the classic football appetizer, but there's more to good wings than just a coating of hot sauce.
by Susan Salzman
With all the talk on the Internet about Super Bowl food, I am compelled to step up my game and not make the norm. The norm meaning dips with chips, veggies and dip, pigs in a blanket, chili, and dozens of cookies. When I heard that my friend, Brigid was making “50″s junk food” I immediately went to a recipe I have been coveting for some time...Read more...
by Sue Doeden
I seldom watch football. But, I never pass up a Super Bowl party. It’s not the football game that lures me. It’s the food. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the best food days of the year. While the football fans hoot and holler, you’ll find me dipping chips, nibbling spicy chicken wings, loading up a bowl of chili with lots of toppings, slipping...Read more...
by Maia Harari