Monthly Archives: February 2009

Getting ready to use Celery Root

Next week, I’m going to do a recipe using celery root. In the meantime, here’s a video from Gourmet’s test kitchen to get the gnarled ball rolling.

Frittata with Gruyère and Thyme

Frittata

Frittata

While working out at the gym a couple of weeks ago, I caught an episode of Tyler Florence’s show on the Food Network, Tyler’s Ultimate. He did an ultimate Saturday breakfast with a blood orange mimosa, a home-made granola/yogurt parfait and a frittata with smoked ham and Gruyère cheese. Check out his recipes on the Food Network website: Tyler’s Ultimate: Episode TU0413H.

I’ve been tinkering with my frittata recipe for years and after watching his interpretation of the dish, I decided to give mine one last go and share the results with you. So much for my 45 minutes on the treadmill.

I first fell in love with the frittata on a trip to Spain, where it is called a Spanish tortilla. I was confused at first because I thought a tortilla was that flour thing you stuffed your burrito into, but it turns out that the word tortilla is derived from the word torta, which means “round cake”. A Spanish tortilla is typically a round omelette made with eggs, sautéed potatoes and onions. It is served at room temperature in cafés or Tapas bars. I was startled when it was served lukewarm, but that’s the tradition. Here in the States, we tend to like our frittatas hot out of the oven or off of the stove, but in Spanish Tapas bars, the frittata sits on the counter all day long waiting for the next customer.

My goal with this frittata is to make sure that the potatoes have just the right texture. They need to be fully cooked, but not overly cooked and it helps if they aren’t too starchy. You don’t want them to go “mush” when you cut through the frittata with your fork. For all of these reasons, I choose the waxy Charlotte potato. Another variety that works well is the Maris Peer. (Want to know everything there is to know about potato varieties? Visit the Potato Council website. The trick is to sautée the onions first and add the potatoes until both are fully cooked. Then you’re ready to cook the eggs with the potatoes.

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Asparagus Soup

Chopped asparagus

Chopped asparagus

It’s Asparagus season in Northern California. Bunches that normally go for $5.99 or $6.99/lb now go for $1.29/lb. That’s when I know it’s time for my favorite soup recipe: Asparagus Soup.

I’ve taken this recipe from the book Celebrating the Impressionist Table, by Pamela Todd. Published in 1997, it is now out-of-print, but it is full of sumptuous recipes. I love the premise of this book: to provide recipes for the foods seen in the paintings of Renoir, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet and others. Part art history, part cultural history, part cookbook, it satisfies the curiosity of anyone interested in understanding the day-to-day lives of these artists and their families as well as the role food played in their 19th century French lives.

Most important, though, is the fact that this soup is darn tasty.

Potage Argenteuil – Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

3 Tbsp butter
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and chopped with tips reserved
2 leeks, rinsed, trimmed and chopped
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken stock)
6 Tbsp light cream
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives (I didn’t have any this time, but I recommend using them)
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
fresh chives, to garnish

Instructions

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the chopped asparagus, leeks, and potato, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth. (You could even strain it through a fine strainer).

2. Return the soup to a clean pan. Stir in the cream and chives and season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper; keep warm.

3. Blanch the reserved asparagus tips in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh immediately under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

4. Spoon the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the asparagus tips and chives.

Potage Argenteuil (Asparagus Soup)

Potage Argenteuil (Asparagus Soup)

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