We had an unexpected snow day yesterday and since our offices at Oxmoor House were closed, my husband and I decided to enjoy it to the fullest. Took the dogs for walks in the snow and around the neighborhoods to check if we can help anyone. Tidied up the house floor to ceiling, caught up on our reading and watched a couple of movies. Oh, and had a couple of cocktails in front of the fireplace.
Things are slowly going back to normal today and we’ll have to catch up on our photo schedule the best we can. I secretly wished the roads were still undrivable just so that I could watch the pup frolic in the snow. Bailey is like a kid with a new toy everytime he steps outside (5 year old lab-pit mix), while Tippy (17 year-old collie-sheltie) enjoys the freezing temperatures on his old bones.
It’s been a fun day also spent in the kitchen making soups to keep us warm and cozy. Lunch was an old Food&Wine recipe I had clipped a while back (Bon Appetit also has a version of it in this month’s issue that I have not tried yet), Spicy Pork And Kale Soup With Harissa. It’s an interesting blend of Asian flavors (soy sauce, galangal,..) and Moroccan ones (harissa). It works really well together and we polished off a couple of bowls with joy. The original recipe called for ground chicken but without the possibility to go the store, I used what I had in the fridge. Dinner was super aromatic Root Vegetable Soup, thick and creamy, that I served with Croque Monsieur.
Growing up, root vegetables were not something my mom would cook often. Except for potatoes and carrots it was pretty much never actually. Too many turnips and rutabagas during the shortages of World War II made my mother a little reluctant to use them, even decades later. I don’t think my dad would have minded at all. He never minds anything he can eat. That’s what I like about him. He’s always game to try new things. Mom too don’t get me wrong. Even pink soup.
Yes, looks like I did channel my inner Bridget Jones when I put a bunch of roasted vegetable in the blender and walked away for a minute to turn some dough. You see, after an ok venture into blitz gluten free puff pastry with Shauna in Seattle a few weeks ago, mom and I have been working on cracking our own puff pastry code. Her health condition benefits from a little less gluten too and it’s been really fun to come up with gluten free versions of her favorites. Seeing what Jeanne did, I know we’ll get there.
Here I was, giving our doughs one last turn when I heard my mom go "hmmm…sweetie. The soup is pink. Did you make it pink on purpose?" Ugh no…shoot! Wait! What did I do? Who is going to want to eat pink soup? "Oh no! Les betteraves rouges! (the red beets!) I forgot to remove the red beets!" I had roasted a mix of root vegetables for soup, pushed some red beets to the corner of the pan for a salad and instead just dumped the whole thing in the blender. Hence, the pink soup and B. calling me Bridget when he saw it.
There is always one kitchen blooper when my parent come visit. Too many things, too many languages going on at once. Too many jokes and giggles. And there you have it, one of us has a brain freeze. Or two.
But they love me, discombobulated or not, and ate the pink soup. Yes, Bill ate beets. People in Charleston surely did not feel the earth shatter from it but we did. Actually we held our breath as he looked hard at the soup in front of him. "Interesting. I don’t think I have ever had pink soup before." I told him it was a bunch of roasted root vegetables, including roasted red beets. "not pickled? not boiled? not raw?" he asked. As I shook my head negatively three times in a row, he exclaimed "Well then. It’s lovely. Just as it is. Bridget."
The soup is a mix of parsley roots, celery root, sunchokes, golden and red beets, potatoes. To add some depth, I added roasted garlic and oregano from our garden. I saved one sunchokes that I sliced thin and pan fried in a bit of olive oil until golden brown to garnish the soups with and served them with gluten free English muffins. The nex day we had leftover with freshly picked crab and gluten free puff pastry croutons (!). It was a hit with everyone which made me wish I had made a bigger batch right from the start.
P.S: My brother says "thank you" for all the birthday wishes. You really made his day! Roasted Root Vegetable Soup:
Serves 4 to 6
6 parsley root, peeled and diced
1 medium celery root, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and dice
3 golden beets, peeled and diced
3 red beets, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed, skin removed
1 spring oregano
6 sunchokes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Place them all in a large roasting pan and roast at 375F – 400F until tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove the oregano (discard) and let cool completely.
Once cooled, place all the vegetables in a blender and add as much as little water as you like to reach the soup consistency that you prefer (we like ours on the thick side) and puree until smooth.
To serve, reheat as needed and serve with bread, croutons, oregano leaves, etc…
I hope you all had a wonderful times during the holidays. Like most of you I always feel blessed, loved, grateful, refreshed, relaxed but I also caught myself wishing for a little spring in my step the other morning. Beside the rich(er) foods, we also did indulge a bit more in lounging on the sofa late a night. And you know how that goes: the cozier you get, the cozier you want to stay, Unfortunately it’s not conducive to getting things done. But dang, aren’t holidays nice?
I like when holidays are short and sweet like this. I like working a lot more than I like lounging around (for now) so when I need to raise my mental and physical ressources I tend to pile tons of colors and clean, fresh foods on one plate. Dinners revolve around a big pot of soup and lunches are most often a big "Salade Composee" (composed salad) of some of my favorite vegetables. Roasted golden beets, fennel, radish, savoy salad, mixed greens. I admit that I have never met a vegetable I did not like and I love to build salads and meals by color.
I don’t live with a picky eater, on the contrary, B. is alright with trying just about anything. Unless it’s beets. Just say the word beets and I get the face, the swinging head, the tapping feet, the clenched fists…Ok, maybe not this bad but beets are definitely ground for heated discussions. So what is a stubborn Taurean like me to do when faced with a stubborn Leo? Yes, get golden beets instead of red and roast them instead of pickling them. And cross all fingers hoping he’ll like them while not revealing my secret vegetable.
I tried to sit as normal as I could, and eat at my normal (fast) pace but really I was carefully looking at his fork aiming for the beets, missing them, diving in, missing them. Come on man! Finally it happened. He ate a beet. A roasted golden beet. And he liked it. But I had to promise to never do this again. Ahahah!
I tend to stay with simple vinaigrettes but I do like to add toasted nuts or crumbled cheese. This time I went with dried cranberries and a little bit of feta for a complete "salad as a meal" idea. There are no strict rules for the vegetables or greens to use, add-ins and extras like nuts or fruits. Add a couple of bread slices or some gluten free polenta croutons one day and you have everything covered. Use what you enjoy and what makes you feel happy to eat and share.
Besides, getting refreshed after the holidays, this type of meal is ideal to prepare for a two day marathon of sweet samplings like the one I am about to undertake. All in the name of research of course. I am completely psyched to be a keynote speaker in an event called Sugar Coma. Shameeka from The Broke Socialite is the mastermind behind this event dedicated to sampling the best of Atlanta’s sweet spots and you can bet that I jumped "yes" when she asked me to contribute to the event!
If that wasn’t good enough already, my pal Tami asked if I’d be interested in teaching a macaron workshop at some point during my stay as she knew quite a few people, bloggers and non bloggers who wanted to learn how to make them. As the super efficient girl that she is, she had a dozen people signed up in less than 24 hours. Add another sweet surprise to the mix: Bakerella herself is taking the class/workshop! I am currently coming up with little surprises of my own and swag bags to give out to all the attendees.
B. thinks I am having way too much fun planning this whole trip. Yep! The macaron workshop is full but registration for Sugar Coma is now live!. If you are in Atlanta or surroundings, I hope you will come join us for one fun day of bakery touring in the city! Sweet surprises guaranteed! Salade Composee:
Serves 2 hungry people
For the salad:
4 golden beets
1 large handful mixed greens
1 large handful savoy salad
1 bunch radishes, washed, stems cut off and quartered
1/2 fennel bulb, washed and sliced thin
1 small handful of Italian parsley
Preheat oven to 350F. Wash the beets and cut the stems off. Place them in a piece of foil and close it tight. Roast the beets for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and carefully open the foil packet. Peel the beets and set aside.
With your hands, tear the salads and parsley in small pieces and divide all the vegetables evenly among 2 large plates. Top with the some dried cranberries and some feta. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.
For the vinaigrette:
Check David’s post on how the French like and make their vinaigrette. I nod in complete approval.
This time I used some pink salt (the bits of broken rocks are salt crystals), freshly ground mixed peppercorns and garlic instead of shallots.
Le p’tit coin en francais:
Pour la salade:
4 moyennes betterave orange
1 belle poignee de salade melangee
1 belle poignee de salade chou rouge (ou equivalent colore)
1 petit bouquet de radis, lave et coupes en quatre
1/2 fenouil, lave et coupe en tranches fines
1 petite poignee de persil plat
cranberries seches (ou autres fruits secs)
feta, en morceaux (ou chevre, feta salata, etc…)
Prechauffez le four a 350F/175C. Mettez les betteraves dans un morceau de papier d’alu et les faire cuire 20-30 minutes. Laissez le paquet refroidir avant de l’ouvrir. Epluchez les betteraves et coupez les en quatres.
Partagez les salades et legumes dans deux grandes assiettes et ajoutez les cranberries seches et le fromage. Ajoutez quelques cuillieres de vinaigrette suivant votre gout.
Vinaigrette moutarde – echalotte. Traduit de David Lebovitz:
une pincee de sel
une cuilliere a soupe de vinaigre
1/2 echalotte, pelee et emincee
1/2 cuilliere a cafe de moutarde
3 a 4 cuillieres a soupe d’huile d’olive
Dans un petit bol, melangez le sel, vinaigre et echalotte et laissez reposer 10 minutes. Ajoutez la moutarde et ensuite 3 cuilleres a soupe d’huile et melangez bien. Si la vinaigrette est trop forte, ajouter de l’huile.
Si vous desirez ajouter des herbes, faites le au dernier moment pour qu’elles restent aussi fraiches que possible.