21 November 2008
Leather District Gourmet
Okay – first let me thank everyone for their patience waiting for the new site. It’s looking great but we’re just *this close* (that’s painfully close) to being ready to launch. Solving a few lost-in-translation issues, then we’re good to go. I have come to believe “Joomla” is Dutch for “Hidden Spellcheck” but that’s a story for another day…maybe it’s Swahili for “Every draft WordPress autosaved is new again.” But really, let’s not get me started here.
In the meantime, you will see (someday, I have confidence) that I’ve been posting in two places so that the transition will be seamless and so that you continue to have fresh content here, while I post there. So you will be gracious and pretend not to notice the new and improved bags under my eyes, dear friends. This is a sacrifice I made for you. (Those of you who know my developer will be kind to her, too! She’s been cheerful with each new challenge, and doing a beautiful job.)
I’ve got the Teach a Man to Fish Round Up all ready to go! It’s done! And, just in time we have Mark Bittman and Michael Ruhlman both opening up their fora to discussions on sustainable seafood and the “shoulds” we need to pay attention to.
With your help, I compiled a great resource list which includes articles, websites, pocket guides, a movie clip, a visit with Alton Brown in Alaska, and more. That’s ready, too. This year, participation in TAMTF was WAY up. The information I gathered was so voluminous that I have decided to post the resources in a separate page. Okay, soon. Promise.
Turning our attention now to Vegetables
Leeks are in the markets now and they’re just gorgeous. You can buy tender baby ones or large ones, they will be reduced to smithereens in this soup, so either size is fine. Trim the frazzled ends, but as you trim the dark green from the pale green and white, keep the dark green tops for making vegetable stock. Just pop them into a zip top bag and into the freezer. I do this with good onion peels and parsley stems, too. All three will lend flavor and vitamins to your next broth or stock and once they’ve given you their all, then you can remove them from the stock and discard them. Remember, food waste accounts for a huge amount of our greenhouse gas emissions. Reduce food waste.
I have a quick, seasonal soup and a pre-Thanksgiving recipe to share. You do know it’s next week,don‘t you? I’ve also asked the Tofurky people for a product sample to review for you. Fingers crossed on that one (not saying which way). Talk about sacrifices, between Joomla and Tofurky, I’m approaching sainthood here…just sayin’.
Soup’s On and it’s S/O/L/E fully good
The easiest soup in the world is vichyssoise, or potato-leek soup. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and can be extremely simple to prepare and simply elegant in its presentation. One can gussy it up a bit, too. If you have an immersion blender or stick blender, use a deeper pot so you can blend right in the pot. Otherwise, you’ll be pureeing in batches in the blender.
I’m breaking this w a y down for the new cooks out there (Yes, M., that’s you). Really, this is a three-step soup. Boil potatoes, sweat leeks, combine and blend. That’s it.
- Peel potatoes (about two per person for a dinner size portion of the soup, including seconds.)
- Slice leeks in half lengthwise, remove sand and grit with several running water rinses and a good long soak. Then another rinse. Leeks grow in such a way that there is alwaysaccumulated dirt in the leaves.
Here’s the truth. You can make this soup with nothing more that these two items, water and S&P. Literally.
Or, you can add a bit of this or that. Here’s what I do:
- Peel potatoes, cube them, and put them on to boil. Water is fine, but I do like chicken broth as well. Sorry Ruhlman. Add a bay leaf or two.
- Sauté your beautiful un-sandy leeks in some butter. Sweating them over medium heat is actully more accurate, you don’t want them to brown. A bit of shallot is nice, too.
- The potatoes are done when you can test them with a paring knife, it should slide into the potato with no resistance. Deglaze the leeks with some white wine or Vya Vermouth. Pour the winey-leeky goodness into the potatoes.
- Hit it with generous white pepper and salt.
- Remove the bay leaf and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Or blend in blender. (Careful with hot stuff in blender, M. Put folded towel on top and hold with your hand or you’ll be wearing rather than eating this lovely soup.)
- Taste, adjust S&P.
- Add cream, milk, creme fraîche to taste.
- Fresh herbs that work nicely include either chervil or chives or tarragon.
You could garnish with tiny little crisp bacon or pancetta if you were to serve in a non-vegetarian meal, or with croutons. Any of these would add a textural element.
We had this on a night when the temperature dropped and had no accompaniment, no dairy in the soup, other than bread and butter. Totally satisfying simple supper. Did I remember to take a photo? Non.
Do try this and enjoy the simple flavors in the velvety warming bowl of comfort.