After the sugar overload of December, I promised healthier eating in the new year. For me, that usually starts with soup. I love soup, especially soups that fill you up for lunch. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a smooth one made with beans or vegetables and then pureed – no cream required. Other times, I crave a brothy bowl filled with vegetables or beans.
So far in 2019, brothy soups have been the star. I started the year with a wonderful onion soup made with sweet red onions offset by the tang of Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. It was easy and delicious. Cheesy toasts on top made this a perfect lunch.
Cook the Book Fridays’ first recipe from Everyday Dorie this year is another hearty brothy soup: Potato Chowder, Lots of Ways. Dorie Greenspan gives a basic formula along with suggestions on tweaking the ingredients depending on the season as well as other ideas for giving the soup your own flair. Though called potato chowder, the soup includes an almost equal (or maybe greater) amount of alliums. There are onions, leeks, shallots AND garlic. I even used leeks I grew in my garden last summer (they’re storing well in the fridge).
I didn’t have any bacon on hand, but I did have a jar of bacon fat, so that’s what I used to sauté the alliums. Once they’re soft, broth and the requisite potatoes are added to the pot. I had some containers of corn stock in the freezer, made this summer from corn cobs. I thought that would be nice with the bacon undertones. I also added a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning to evoke memories of childhood summers in Maryland. Once the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes), they are mashed in the pot to give the soup some body. You could optionally add some cream, but it didn’t seem necessary. And I’m focusing on less decadent eating for January.
It’s cold outside, but this soup warms you from the inside. The stock was sweet, and the flavor of corn was distinct, more than I expected. It complemented the bacon and Old Bay perfectly. The soup is rather beige, but sliced scallions and chopped parsley added the needed color to the bowl.
This is a perfect recipe to have in your back pocket. The basic ingredients are always on hand, at least at my house, and the ways to vary the pot to use other things in your pantry are limitless. I’m looking forward to having fun with other combinations as the seasons evolve.
To see how others in Cook the Book Fridays dressed up their chowder, check out there links here. And to try it yourself, you can find the recipe in page 63 of Dorie Greenspan’s newest book, Everyday Dorie.
The end of the year is coming fast, and November has been crazy! I had a quick visit to Philadelphia to meet up with my sisters for a happy family event. We packed in the activities, as we always do. Our mother was not one to sit still, and she trained us to be the same way.
I really like cake, plain simple unfrosted cakes. I could take or leave birthday cakes or other layered cakes, but I always enjoy a pound cake, a Bundt cake, or any kind of one layer cake. A simple glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar makes them complete, no fussing required. For Howard, I think it’s all about the frosting as he never gets excited when I make a cake, so they are usually relegated to occasions where I’m having just my friends over or bake something to bring somewhere else.
My favorite bakery cake is the Vanilla Bean Pound Cake made by Hi-Rise Bakery in Cambridge. They are regulars at the Lexington Farmers’ Market and, in season, I treat myself to a slice about once a month. The genius of their cake is that it’s soaked in vanilla-infused simple syrup, making the outside crust magical. Eating an end piece with its extra crust is just heaven. I’ve never made it myself, but here’s the recipe.
Right before I left, I made David Lebovitz’s Bay Leaf Pound Cake, the first November challenge recipe for Cook the Book Fridays. I did NOT need a whole cake. I had nowhere to bring it that week. So, I minified it. I made one-third of the recipe (dividing by the eggs, of course) to fill one small loaf pan – a personal pound cake.
This cake is a little different than a traditional pound cake recipe because rather than creaming the butter, the butter is melted. In this case, the butter is then infused with bay leaves to add some depth of flavor. A couple of bay leaves are also set on the bottom of the pan to add more bay flavoring.
We are also instructed to squeeze a line of soft butter on top of the cake to enhance a decorative crack. It could be because of my smaller pan, but that didn’t happen on my cake.
The final touch was an orange glaze. The cake’s predominant flavor was orange. Even with the infused butter and extra leaves, I didn’t notice the bay flavoring at all. Overall, this was a lovely cake, small enough for me to eat a daily slice for a few days. It wasn’t interesting enough to make again, though I did enjoy it while it lasted.
The second recipe for Cook the Book Fridays is Panade de Butternut (Butternut Squash Bread Soup). To read the C&C (comments and concerns) post for this recipe, it wasn’t getting a lot of love, so I was a bit wary.
The recipe took a bit of advanced planning. David recommends homemade stock for this one. We were finishing up a whole chicken, so that was easy enough with a carcass on hand. I’ve been making stock in the slow cooker for the past few years which is so simple. Sourdough bread was also required. My sourdough starter needed a workout this week, so I managed to bake my own loaf to use. Stock? Check! Bread? Check! I was ready to go.
This panade is a layering of caramelized onions, toasted sourdough bread, sliced butternut squash, chopped thyme and sage, and grated cheese doused with the homemade chicken stock. I halved the recipe for our household. I must have sliced the bread too thickly because there wasn’t nearly enough to fully cover the pan for even two layers, and the recipe called for three. That means I had three layers of squash and just two of bread, which was fine.
As the panade baked, the bread absorbed all the stock, so the result was more like bread pudding than soup. It also reminded me of a lighter version of the filling for a stuffed pumpkin I’ve made. Whatever it was, it was delicious! All the flavors of fall combined into one hearty dish. It would be a wonderful alternative to stuffing for the Thanksgiving table. On the downside, if I’m being honest, even though I really liked it, in my opinion, it was a lot more work than it was worth.
Judge for yourself! Recipes for both the pound cake (page 296) and the panade (page 163) can be found in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. My friends from Cook the Book Fridays made these too. You can find their reviews for the cake here and the panade here.