This is going to be a space for us to share our thoughts on all things urbane, domestic, and, most especially, gustatory. You can look forward to weekly recipes and their related musings as well as semi-seasonal offerings for home design, housekeeping, holiday planning, the works. Ever the aspirational and ardent dilettantes, we think we have a lot to offer in these areas.
The old blog? Well, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. As it turns out, after making that first, tremulous, exploratory post, my non-cyber life got a bit more hectic. With three years, a career change, and a transplant to Pennsylvania under my belt, I think I'm ready to buckle down and actually start handing out some recipes.
The proof, so they say, is in the pudding, so let's get down to business:
|Watch out for dementors|
Now that's a much less pleasing image. That's what brings us to our talk of warming. The first weekend of Autumn gives us each our gifts & challenges. Like many people, A and I need to set our garden in order and prepare for the long winter ahead. In today's case, however, that didn't mean outdoor gardening so much as repotting a violet to go upstairs and into the lounge.
Even so, that brought me out onto the back deck and into the drizzly, gray-skied, and charmingly 50-degree weather Williamsport has been enjoying for days on end. I hopped back inside, besodden and shivering, faster than masculine dignity may have allowed and set myself to cooking something to warm the place back up.
|Scout, of course, had to help|
There's no chicken soup for the soul, in my opinion, like actual chicken soup. Now, I'd love to say today's item shall be a time-honored tradition handed down from my mother, a sovereign panacea for convalescence. Such is not the case today, but I offer up instead a personal favorite of mine adapated from the copious works of Rachael Ray.
Rachael takes her knocks and is probably among the first to remove herself from the "gourmet" echelon, but as a budding cook-to-be in 90s Mattapoisett, it was the Food Network that offered my primary access to the world of haute cuisine. Rachael is great at being accessible and encouraging people to get started and that, at least, should be admirable to all. In that spirit, I did what I usually do with a recipe: I tweaked it to be more my style.
|Strive for five|
Normally, I'd be all about starting things out with some pancetta, but every now and then I try and make things a little lighter, and a rotisserie chicken from Wegman's is easy protein with half the hassle. We may be gourmet, but that doesn't mean we can't take any shortcuts. For a flexitarian, I just really love pork fat, maybe because my parents always watched Emeril, maybe because we're part Portuguese. A good chicken, however, isn't exactly unappealing:
|A little help from my friends|
Chicken soup, white beans, escarole
Adapted from 30 Minute Meals
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots and their greens, chopped
6 ribs of celery and their greens, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
2 quarts good chicken stock (I use homemade or Kitchen Basics), warmed
3-6 sprigs fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 heel of Parmesan cheese (slice off the thick, rindy side from a wedge)
1 15-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skinned and separated
12 oz. escarole, washed and chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add the extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of a large, heavy Dutch oven or soup pot and warm over medium heat. Add your mirepoix (chopped onions, carrots, and celery), I use a rough, irregular chop for heartier pieces and a more varied texture. The oil should greet your mirepoix with an enthusiastic sizzle.
Pour in the chicken stock and add the herbs, bay leaf, white beans, and the heel of Parmesan. This is your secret weapon. A hard, dense cheese, the Parm will develop a somewhat mushy surface as it cooks but maintain its structural integrity. Unbeknownst to many soup-makers, this handy addition provides a rich, full flavor and satisfying umami note in the background.
|Mint, the silent conqueror|
If you're preparing a large pot of soup to portion out over several days, I like to divide fresh escarole among the individual bowls, ladle the hot soup on top, and give them a quick stir before immediately serving. That way the greens retain more body and their bright, verdant color.
Serve with some crusty bread and fancy, higher-fat butter like Lurpak or Plugra, to those in need of warming.