Why is it that when it’s cold and icky outside, hot food tastes so much better in liquid form? When I say it’s “soup weather’, what I really want is to be enveloped in soup. I want a soup hug. I told my father on a particularly gray and unpleasant day last week that I was making a cheddar, cider, and leek soup. He said it sounded “disgusting.” My father is wrong. This soup is GREAT – it’s like a lazy afternoon in a warm pub when it’s chilly outside, in a bowl, for lunch. Continue reading
There are few flavour combinations that I like so well as garlic and paprika. Married to one another, garlic and paprika have a greater-than-the-sum-of-their-parts appeal, a briny, lingering, and distinctive aroma and flavour that work equally well with seafood and meat, with pulses and with vegetables. I am, of course, immensely fond of Spanish food, which some might say has its foundations in this happy union. Paprika, or pimentón, supposedly was brought to Spain from the Americas by Christopher Columbus, and it has become such an integral part of Spanish food that in Spain, paprika is rigorously regulated for quality, with denominations of origin, like wine and olive oil. When cooking with paprika, invest in high-quality Spanish paprika (it makes such a difference), and keep both sweet and smoked in your cupboard – you’ll use both. Continue reading
Apparently the propitiation of the sun gods has worked: London has finally gotten a real hit of summer this week, and what a glorious week it’s been. People here are giddy; delirious even. Bathed in lambent sunlight, the narrow passageways and brick soften. The city at once feels broader and more open, and more risqué. London’s decided to show some milky-white leg. My flat has windows that face east and west. In the winter, when the sun sets at four o’clock, these windows are a lifesaver. These past few days, however, the afternoon sun has baked my front room to a sub-tropical heat. Working at home, I douse my top in water (a trick I learned from a friend who had family in Death Valley) and type until the water evaporates.
When I lived in Seattle, during the hot summers (they can and do get hot) I’d make a soup that I knew of only as my mother’s cold summer beet soup. I’d make it by the pitcher, pour it into glasses, and drink it. When the pitcher was empty, I’d make another batch. Soon friends in the know would drop by for some in the afternoons. Vividly pink-magenta, this soup is delightfully sweet-tangy and refreshing; it gives gazpacho a run for its money. I only learned its Polish name when I decided to make it for this blog. Continue reading
Eastern Europeans have been foragers since long before ‘foraging’ became synonymous with Rene Redzepi and trendy $160 copycat tasting menus. I grew up in New York City, but my Polish mother has a Northerner’s intolerance for heat and a Pole’s love for woods and mountains and cold lakes to swim in. In the New York summers, when the humidity index crawled up to 95% and the air was thick with the stench of gingko and the sidewalks beat with a steady heat, my mother would escape to upstate New York with me and my sister, while my poor father commuted up on the weekends.
Carless, my mother would take us for walks through cow pastures and up grass-covered ski slopes into quiet woods of maple and pine. Continue reading
I am sorry for the long hiatus since I last posted a recipe. I’ve been gallivanting around the west coast (Seattle to San Francisco) and cooked hardly at all (although I ate plenty). San Francisco is having a summery winter with unseasonably mild sunny t-shirt-and-flip-flop weather, but since my return to London this past Monday it has been FREEZING outside, and last night we even had snow. Soup weather I call this, when I’m not calling it something more unprintable. I’ve been craving a yam and coconut soup with a bit of tropical heat, but my complaint with such soups is that they often taste like holiday desserts – too light and sweet without any sonorous depth to round out the flavour. On a particularly cold day this week I trekked (i.e., took a bus) to the farmers market at Swiss Cottage. It’s wee, but one of my favourite veg sellers is there, and I came home laden with root vegetables and good ideas. Continue reading
This post is part two of the series that could be subtitled, “Delicious Things I Cooked Using Homemade Beef Stock.” About a week ago the Guardian food blog ran a piece on comfort food. It was a nice musey piece; good ‘food for thought.’ What defines “comfort food?” Certainly it means something a little different for each of us. I agree with Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall (the post’s author) that comfort food doesn’t need to be heavy stodgy stuff like shepherd’s pie, although I’m not totally persuaded that it can really extend to anything you’re in the mood to eat. I may be ecstatic about the beautiful salad I’ve just made, but that doesn’t make me want to call it “comfort food.” For me, sometimes comfort food is spicy Asian noodle soups like pho or Szechuan beef tendon soup. But usually when I think of “comfort food,” it is something that evokes a feeling of nostalgia. So I think I liked best what my friend Sabrina said, which is that comfort food is food that feels like a hug. Continue reading
I am jetlagged. Yesterday was my first day in Seattle (I flew in from London Sunday night) and my brain feels like Cheerios. Which means that last night I stared dumbly at the vegetables at the Madison Market for at least five minutes feeling not simply indecisive, but incapable of decision. Picked up some yellow cauliflower (cool looking, but $4.49 a pound. A pound!), put it down. Picked up some white radishes, put them down. Looked at the beets, felt like I was going to cry. When I wandered to the baking aisle I couldn’t deal with all the bags of things. So many packages! All with letters on them, all in a row, so OVERWHELMING. So it was with a feeling of weepy relief that I decided to make split pea soup.* Split pea soup was a staple of my diet Continue reading
To those of you who know me, it will come as no surprise that before writing this post I spent a considerable amount of time pondering whether I could call this soup a velouté. In classical French cooking, a velouté sauce is a combination of a blond roux (equal parts butter and flour) and a white stock (i.e., a stock made from bones that have not been roasted), and finished with cream. A velouté soup, at least back when the French were doctrinaire about such things Continue reading
I think everyone in London woke up today thinking, “Cripes, it’s winter.” It was COLD, RAINY, and WINDY. Since it is, in fact, technically still summer, I refused to turn on the heat, even though my flat was freezing and my elderly arthritic cat was looking at me reproachfully. Instead, wearing a hoody over my pajamas and big ridiculous fluffy slippers, I decided to make soup. Continue reading