pot au feu (minus theo)

March 25, 2010

I have been talking with my friend Theo about making pot au feu since we made pho a few months ago. A sort of pot au feu anyway. Something vegetable and warm, and roasted, with mushrooms, etc. We even looked at the recipe the other day. And I got inspired to do it, unfortunately while he was away at a whiskey tasting convention…

It all started out with the broth. A hearty mushroom based broth that is so thick you can’t see through it. With that already made, I didn’t have much to do. Cut up and roast the vegetables, with aromatics and red wine. Turnips, carrots, portobello mushrooms, potatoes, and several sprigs of thyme.

The vegetables were easy to roast. I stuck them into my large le creuset pot, tossed them with olive oil, poured in a little red wine, put the lid on, and stirred them occasionally. After about 20 minutes I took the lid off, and cooked them until they were tender and caramelized.

Meanwhile I mixed up the batter for, and cooked the dumplings. They were rosemary dumplings, with an egg, some flour and a lot of fresh rosemary chopped very finely. For some reason the dumplings ended up too mushy, and full of water. I am going to have to look at the recipe and maybe compare it to some other ones to see what to do differently next time. Also, I salted the water as I do pasta water, and this turned out to make them a little too salty. That said, I still liked them in the soup..

The finished bowl, before adding broth. I heated the bowls in the warm oven before putting the food in. I arranged the roasted vegetables, dumplings, and a wedge of steamed cabbage.

The broth, poured on top. It was so thick and rich, that one big bowl of soup left me stuffed!

Yesterday I got on a broth kick. I went to the grocery store while hungry (always either great or a mistake, depending on how you look at it). My friend Ayni was telling me about how she loves chicken broth, and how simple it is to make. I somehow forgot how labor intensive vegetable broth is to make, and told her that it was super easy. Then, I came home with two very heavy bags of vegetables. I spent the entire afternoon washing, peeling, chopping, stirring, and straining vegetables for broth. Making broth takes a lot of work. But it is definitely worth it.

I made two batches of broth. Both were recipes from Deborah Madison, the first from the Greens Cookbook, and the second from Vegetable Soups. I love Deborah Madison’s recipes, they are simple, easy to follow, and consistently delicious. The first recipe was for Winter Broth. My favorite basic broth recipe.

The vegetables start off bright and beautiful. I am always inspired by their cheerful colors and shapes.

As they cook, the color disappears, and I think that it sinks into the broth…which ends up with a beautiful mellow color, and bright flavor.

The lentils add a nice bit of body, and depth to the flavor. The colors of the vegetables are already fading as they cook down..

Above are the left over cooked vegetables, after the broth has been strained out. They are tossed into the compost pile, with a little regret…

Meanwhile, I started the hearty mushroom broth. I realized that I wouldn’t have enough time to cook the broth (about 45 minutes), so I prepared the ingredients to be able to make the broth more quickly (cooking show style) when I came home.

This mushroom broth recipe has tomato paste, flour, and red wine to add body and flavor. The mushroom broth is currently brewing in my kitchen, and the entire house smells delicious! Strong, hearty mushroom flavor. I can’t wait to try this one!

Here are the dried shiitake mushrooms soaking in warm water. The soaking water becomes the water for the broth.

After the vegetables and herbs were lightly browned, I added tomato paste, flour, wine. The alcohol is burned off by boiling, then I added the dried, soaked mushrooms and their water, and simmered the whole pot for about 45 minutes.

The result was a single jar of mushroom broth. One quart.

soup for bait.

February 26, 2010

Sometimes it is rather tricky to get my mom over to my house. Especially in the winter, when it is cold (14 degrees), snowy (I can’t even drive down my little lane..), and dark (8 pm).

But, when I have a jar of home-made soup, and a promise to heat it up, she does somehow make it over. My dad and I made dinner for some friends of his, and I made soup from a wonderful soup cookbook, Vegetable Soups, by Deborah Madison. My mom brought the cookbook home from the store a few days ago and we have made two delicious soups from it already. (She made a black bean soup with cumin, lime, and cilantro.) I saved a jar of soup for my mom, and heated it up for her when we got home.

I started the soup with a bunch of fresh vegetables, and made a stock. I like to make home-made stock, although sometimes I just don’t have the time to do it. This particular soup calls for chickpeas, so I added the chickpea broth (made with garlic, onions, bay leaves, parsley, and peppercorns) to the soup as well.

The main ingredients were broth, chickpeas, and farro (for which I substituted soaked spelt, with a slightly chewier result).

We garnished the soup with fresh parsley, olive oil, salt pepper, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten things up.

Anyways, I got home, heated up the jar of soup, gave my mom an eider down comforter, and the hot soup.