Kaliflower Soup, Heavy on the Kale…

Every jaunt into the kitchen for me is an adventure.  As mentioned before, in honor of Portus Cale, I wanted to make a kale soup, but got distracted with cauliflower soups on Pinterest.  But when I found a recipe by Martha that used collared greens and dill (not a favorite herb of mine), I thought why not use kale and cilantro and, of course, ROAST the cauliflower?!?!

The result?  Good, but not great.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was tasty and I ate it–because well, anything is good with a copious amount of very garlicky toast!–but it wasn’t everything I imagined.

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The roasted veggies smelled so amazing, they almost went straight into my tummy instead of the soup!

Here’s what I did:  roasted a head of cauliflower, 2 medium onions, and a head of garlic.  While that was roasting, I sauteed a few green onions, 2 diced potatoes, and kale in olive oil, beer, and water.  I added roasted veggies and a large bunch of cilantro.  I pureed, added salt & pepper to taste and then added about a cup of greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon.  Simple and, like I said, tasty but not O-M-F-G!  And yes, while it rarely happens, I always expect OMFG even on the first try.

So here are the things that I’d like to tweak for next time:

  1. More cauliflower!
  2. Less kale (I forgot, because I don’t often use kale, how in-your-face it is–so a little goes a long way in flavor).
  3. The beer wasn’t bad, but I think a nice buttery California chardonnay would be better.
  4. I need to work on the timing a bit more, like adding the cilantro a bit later.
  5. While I love my immersion blender, I couldn’t get my soup as smooth as I’d like it–next time I won’t be so lazy and will break out the ricer or blender.
  6. More lemon!

Alright, I’ll keep tweaking and get back to you.  In the meantime, I think I might just have another bowl.

With just a dollop of extra love on top...

With just a dollop of extra love on top…

PS–when making garlicky toast in the oven, make sure you keep an eye on it lest it get a little too, uh, crispy.

27 Reasons

I know you’re thinking 27 reasons to what?  like soup?  like Portual?  do the hokey-pokey?

While all great answers, nope.  It’s 27 reasons to like cauliflower.  It’s probably one of the most underrated veggies out there.  I can count on one hand the number of people in my life that have actually uttered the words “I love cauliflower.” But you should because it’s related to broccoli–and we all know how healthy broccoli is!–and is high in Vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber.  So stop your moaning and groaning, it was King Louis XIV’s favorite and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for you.

Now you’re probably wondering how I got on the subject of cauliflower and today kids, I thought I would let you into the scary inner workings of my brain (you might want to fasten your seat belts and grab your blankie or teddy):

As you will recall, my last post was Portus Cale and I mentioned at the end that I had an epicurean inspiration, which was…kale!  Don’t panic, we’ll make our way over to cauliflower, I promise! So, Cale = kale…genius, right?!?!? Since January is Soup Month here in the Epicurious kitchen, I thought I would find a kale soup.  A recent post from The Homesick Texan using kale in her chicken posole verde is actually what made me think of it.

So, I got on Pinterest and started looking for soups with kale or other greens in it for a bit of inspiration.  BUT, all I could think about once my Cale/kale genius started to wane is that I have a lovely head of cauliflower in the fridge and how nice it would be to make a cauliflower soup….so I started researching that as well.  But of course, as one does when one is on Pinterest, I got sidetracked and found this great article on Buzzfeed about new and exciting ways to cook using cauliflower (helllllllo, pizza!) and thought I would share it whilst I was creating in the kitchen. Click on the pic below to magically be taken to the wonderful world of cooking with cauliflower!  Enjoy!

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Portus Cale

Sorry.  I, well, I have no excuse.  The thing is: I love research.  In that respect, I’m weird and slightly geeky.  I admit it.  But I got sucked into a wonderful world on the Iberian peninsula, along with trying to decide what I want to do with a rather large milestone birthday coming up later in the year…and then suddenly I realized that lo and behold! NO POSTS!

Of course, as per me and research, I have a lot.  And when I say a lot, I actually mean A LOT!  So let me give you some tidbits to tide you over.

Portugal’s name is derived from the Romans, who relieved the Carthaginians from their beautiful vacation spot (please don’t comment or email me to say that the Carthaginians didn’t vacation there–they lived there.  I know this, we all know this, but some how vacationing sounds more fun).  Anyway, there was a city called Cale at the mouth of the Douro river.  The Romans called this area Portus Cale, which evolved to Portucale, which eventually evolved to Portugal.

I’d like to interject at this point in time, all of my tidbits have been collected, compiled, and loosely translated from a plethora of websites found when I googled “portugal,” “history of portugal,” “port wine,” “things to do in portugal,” “things to eat in portugal,” “interesting facts about portugal,”…and well you get the idea.  The point being: don’t use this as a source for your term paper or your Portuguese test.  Okay?  Okay.  Continuing on…

The capitol is Lisbon (that you can use on a term paper).  And there are 10.5 million people living in a country about the same size as the Texas Panhandle.   It is the oldest European country, with its borders established in 1139.

Portugal is the world’s leading cork producer, contributing about 60% of cork used worldwide (this is important when we get to talking about my favorite thing I know of Portugal: port!).

Apparently The Pirate Code was created by the Portugese, specifically pirate Bartomolmeu Portugues (what? you can’t make this up…because in this day and age someone will call you out on it.  google it.  you’ll see…).

Other famous Portuguese include Henry the Navigator (where did he navigate?  apparently every where), a whole slew of soccer/football players, and someone you might have heard of called Magellan.

Home of the Portuguese Water Dog (shocking, right?), who accompanied fisherman on boats to retrieve nets, guard the boat, and take messages between boats.

I could go on, but I suddenly had a soup inspiration!  But before I go, let’s recap:  Portugal is the oldest country in Europe, home of port and supplier of cork, soccer players, and pirates & explorers (there’s a fine line between the two), creator of The Pirate Code and a cute, fluffy hypoallergenic water dog.  Whether by plane, train, or automobile, Portugal should definitely be on your travel itinerary!

Lisbon

Lisbon

Click on picture to see more great pics of Lisbon!

Pumpkin: Not Just for Drinking…

I was introduced to pumpkin soup when I lived in Australia.  It was intriguing and, honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect because, well, pumpkins were for carving and lattes.  It arrived with a dollop of sour cream and chives and I was hooked from the moment I tasted my first bite.

Until that point in time, every soup I had eaten was either veggie soup or something cheese based (like broccoli and cheese).  So to eat something creamy, but not cheesy was crazy!  And at that crucial moment in time, I realized WE WERE USING PUMPKINS ALL WRONG!!!!

At the time, it never entered my brain that I would want to make it.  Oh no no no…it was probably too hard.  I mean, it was pureed.  And who knows what kind of weird spices were involved.  Nope, I was just happy to eat my pumpkin soup out.  Until, of course, Jaime came along and introduced me to roasting (of course, we have to roast them!).

A note about pumpkins and this soup.  I use baking (aka smaller) pumpkins, but I also make this a lot with acorn or butternut squash.  They’re all in the same family–just mix and match with what you find at the store!

Pumpkin Soup

  • 2 pounds pumpkin/squash, seeded, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 pound of carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off of head
  • Olive oil (I don’t have an amount–eyeball it!)
  • 6 cups of veggie stock
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • course sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • stuff for garnishing

Preheat oven to 500F.  In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, carrots, and onions.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well to ensure all pieces are coated with olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and spread evenly.  Place head of garlic also on baking sheet (I like to put it in the center!), drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 30 minutes.  In a large stockpot, bring veggie stock to a boil.  Carefully add roasted veggies, except garlic.  Remove garlic cloves from skin by squeezing gently at the bottom (careful it’s hot!).  Add to the stock pot.  Once everything has been added, puree soup.  I use an emulsion blender (best soup puree-ing device ever!), but you can carefully use a blender (small batches–no more than 1/2 blender full, leave the cap off, but cover with a towel and blend slowly…otherwise, you risk exploding hot soup over you and your kitchen!) or food processor.  Once soup is pureed, add cream and nutmeg.  Taste and adjust spices.  Serve with a garnish you can be traditional and go with sour cream and chives, but I usually don’t have either on hand and use greek yogurt and cilantro, which in my humble opinion is tastier!  You can also go uber-simple and used freshly ground pepper as a garnish, but the sour cream or yogurt give it some nice tang and adds an extra layer of yummy.  Or you could be uber-fancy and serve it in  a pumpkin!

Those of you who know me, know that I don't have the patience for this!  I found it on the Food Channel Culinary Center website http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/culinary-center-to-open-at-midwest-theme-park/

Those of you who know me, know that I don’t have the patience for this! I found it on the Food Channel Culinary Center website http://www.foodchannel.com

However you like it, you’re gonna love it!

Soup is Simple, Stupid…

Before you yell at me, the title was a quote from a chef at a wine bistro at which I used to work. The chef had a way with food and was the polar opposite with people.  Definitely a bear of a man.  He always only ever wore a black t-shirt, cargo shorts, and vans.  But man, could he create.  I once ate his chicken truffle lasagna every single night for a month.  My eyes still roll back in my head thinking about it…

BUT! that’s not why we’re here (and he never shared that recipe…dammit! probably out of fear that I’d turn into a chicken truffle lasagna!)…we’re here for soup.  Jaime made the best soups–his piece de resistance on his soup line-up was definitely his asparagus soup.

soup is simple, stupid.  you season and roast your vegetables, you put them in stock, puree, add cream and more seasoning and done.  even you should be able to handle that.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jaime.  I went home and tried it and, holy crap, who knew  roasting could make it that much more amazing!!!!!!!!!!

I have always been a lover of soups.  They’re warm and hearty and can be very healthy (unless you add 1lb of velveeta, in which case they’re UBER DELICIOUSLY CHEESY!).  Plus they’re great for clearing out whatever vegetables that need to be eaten!

Here are two of my favorites that I’ve written about so far (yeah, TOTALLY cheating here, but they’re great–so definitely worth a revisit!)

  • Guinness Stew (soups/stews…same thing…ish…it’s good, just try it!)
  • Tortilla Soup (and in revisiting this post, I realized that I’ve already told you that I’m a lover of soups, but eh well…)

So, let’s hear it from you: what’s your favorite soup?  Mine?  Hard call because it’s like having to pick a favorite child.  Okay, maybe not that hard.  Then again…

Probably if I have to narrow it to only one, I’d pick Tortilla Soup (but pumpkin and veggie soups are right up there!!).  One type I’m not a fan of?  Gazpacho.  Weird, I know.  But cold soups just don’t do it for me.  They’re just too cold and uncaring (in my humble opinion–I’m sorry if I just stepped on your gazpacho loving toes!).

Although Jaime did make a cantaloupe soup once…

New Directions!

That’s not a band or a school or something fancy schmancy from GoogleMaps (or whatever might pop into your head).  It’s actually what I want to do with this blog.

Oh sure, when I started out, I wanted to talk about travel and food and drinks and whatever…and that’s not going to change.  What I’m wanting to do is give ET a bit more direction, resulting in more posts (which is one of my New Year’s Resolutions).

I’ll give you a minute to cheer or sob loudly, whichever you prefer.

So what’s the direction?  Well, each month is going to focus on two things:  a place (some I’ve been to and some are still on the To Do list!) and a featured food group (I’m not asking you to pull out your USDA Food Pyramid, I’m just going to focus my recipes a bit more).  Don’t worry, though, there will be plenty of rambling on and on and on and on and…well, you get the idea.

I’ve made my list and I’ve checked it twice, but I’m always open to suggestions–so feel free to comment about some things you’d like to see here–be it certain countries, certain recipes, or even more food and wine pairings. And if you don’t like this new direction, by all means let me know , so I can chuck a U-ie and try something else (I’m easy that way!!).  But please be nice/constructive…because quite honestly, if you’re nasty and mean, I’ll probably just ignore you.

Okay, first up:  January, which is going to feature Soups and Portugal.  Don’t roll your eyes, it’s cold here in New York in January (although not as cold as it is in other parts of the world) and soups are a great (and healthy!) way to warm you on a cold winter night.  Cliche’? Yes, but amazingly tasty!  And no, I’ve never been to Portugal, but I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE me some port (more about that later!), so off I go to do some research!

Adeus!

Ringing in the New Year

It has always been a tradition in my family to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.  Somewhere along the way, I was informed that I needed to add collard greens for good prosperity vibes.  When I arrived in New York City and offered to make peas & greens for New Year’s Day, everyone stared at me like I had 3 heads and just swallowed The Empire State Building!

“We just kiss at midnight,” is what I heard most often.  Okay, so it can’t just be my family and friends.  I feel there are others out there who must have New Year’s Day traditions, other than spreading mono.

Sure enough (whew!), after a quick google search, I found there are lots of NYD traditions out there!  [DISCLAIMER: I’m just sharing what I found from my google search, and we alllllllll know how, ahem, reliable the interwebs are! Feel free to correct…AND add your own!]

For example, did you know that in Equador they burn a scarecrow in an effigy of ending the old and starting anew?  In Spain, it’s eating 12 grapes…at once, because apparently it brings you good luck to look like a chipmunk.  If you’re in the Coney Island Polar Bear club, you take a dip in the icy Atlantic!  In Denmark they break plates–OOOPAH!! oh wait that’s a Greek exclamation!  But speaking of, in Greece they eat cake with a coin baked in and the person who finds the coin gets good luck all year long.  Austrians waltz.  Not to be confused with Australia, where it’s warm and sunny and my new years there seemed to involve a beach and heaps of champers!  In Ireland, they bang Christmas bread on the wall to chase away bad spirits.  If Irish Christmas bread is anything like fruitcake, I think it’s an amazing use for the fruitcake!

Obviously, there are many, many more out there, but regardless of how you celebrate–enjoy the day!

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2014!  Happy New Year!!