Saturday, October 4, 2008

Colorado Onion Sage Soup



Colorado Onion Sage Soup

Serves 8: if you’re sharing

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, or extra olive oil
5-6 sprigs fresh sage, 30-35 leaves, save 16 for garnish
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
8 Large Colorado sweet onions, peeled, and thinly sliced, pole to pole (slice root to stem, and not along the equator, which will give you half circles and we don’t want those).
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc*
* (Or omit this step and add a squeeze of lemon or balsamic vinegar at the end)
1 bay leave
6 whole peppercorns
2 quarts good quality beef, chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher of Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black pepper
8 thick slices of stale bread, toasted
5-6 ounces firm Colorado cheese (Windsor, Haystack, or Mouco)

Over medium heat, add butter or olive oil to a 5 quart, heavy bottom stockpot (it should have a lid for later use). When butter begins to bubble, add 30 or more sage leaves to the pot and stir gently and fry sage for at least 2 minutes. Remove 16 sage leaves and drain them on a paper towel, reserve for garnish.

Next add minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, add all of your onions, about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt (if you HAVE to use regular salt, decrease to 1 teaspoon) and several good grinds of fresh pepper. Give the whole thing a good stir, making sure all the onions are coated with butter/oil.

Turn the heat to LOW and cover the pot with a lid. These onions will need to caramelize very slowly, and it should take about 45-60 minutes. Stir the onions every 10-15 minutes. Once the onions begin to release liquid, take off the lid and turn the heat up to medium, and wait for the liquid to evaporate. This step takes a while. If you caramelize your onions any faster, you are not going to have the depth of flavor we need. The term “low and slow” means LOW AND SLOW… If you find the bottom of pan starts to “color”, this is a good sign, just keep stirring, You may add a few tablespoons of water if you are worried.

When your onions become a deep rich color (think cigar), turn your heat to medium, add your wine and reduce the wine volume by one half (or cook until you no longer smell the alcohol). Next, add your stock, peppercorns, and bay leaf and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste, add additional salt and pepper, and the squeeze of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if you did not use the wine.

To Serve: Preheat oven boiler**. Using oven safe bowls or mugs; ladle soup into mugs, top with toasted slice bread and a few tablespoons of your favorite cheese. Place soup under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from broiler and top with each bowl with two fried sage leaves, notice how mild they taste once they are fried.

** Skip putting bowls under the broiler, by simply placing toast topped w/cheese, on a sheet pan, in a hot oven or broiler. Melt cheese and place toast over soup, garnish as directed.
***Soup freezes well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Simple Food: Roasted Tomato Tartine w/Tomato Vinaigrette

If you forced me to define my style of cooking, I would use one word: Simple.

The beauty of simple food and simple ingredients are you don't have to have years of culinary experience to make something special. All you need to know are a few basic techniques, and how to buy quality, local food.  I won't get into buying organic or not, as the choice is really up to you. My goal is to provide you with recipes and ideas that will fit your life, and bring you back to real food. Local, Seasonal, Simple.

I still have more tomatoes then I know what to do with this year, so here is ANOTHER tomato recipe.  It is a tartine.  Tartine ( Tar. TEEN) is french for an open faced sandwich.   This one is made with a good quality whole grain bread, sliced thickly and toasted.

Roasted Tomato Tartine w/ Tomato Vinaigrette
Serves 4: unless someone eats all your roasted tomatoes

2-3 lbs of mixed variety ripe tomatoes (I like to use small and medium sizes)
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground pepper
Fresh, good quality bread

1 Cup Fresh picked salad greens
2 Tbl Fresh herbs, chopped (your choice; thyme. chervil, parsley, chives, etc)
1-2 teaspoons Red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Tomato water (saved from the recipe above)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh Ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350°

Core tomatoes and cut in half if small, or quarter if medium. Gently, squeeze out tomato pulp and seeds over a bowl fitted with a fine mess strainer, discard the seeds (or save them in the freezer to add to your stock). What you now have in the bowl is called tomato water. Taste set is aside for later use.

Place tomatoes cut side up on a sheet pan, drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven for 40-45 minutes**. Once they appear slightly toasty on the edges, remove them from the oven and allow the tomatoes to cool. Resist snacking on ALL of them!

While tomatoes are roasting, whisk the tomato water, Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, and a few pinches of salt together in a small bowl. Taste. You can add more vinegar or salt if needed, but it should taste like a fresh tomato. Whisk in a few tablespoons of olive oil and a bit of fresh ground pepper. The vinaigrette will separate. Set aside. You will have more then you need, so save it in the refrigerator for another use, or sip it as you make dinner.

To Serve: Toss the greens and the herbs with a few teaspoons of Tomato vinaigrette; Toast or grill bread, top with roasted tomatoes, and finish with dressed salad greens, Drizzle an additional teaspoon of vinaigrette on each Tartine, and add few grinds of fresh pepper. Serve with a nice wedge of your favorite MouCo cheese on the side. Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy!

**If your oven is already in use, double or triple the tomatoes and roast enough to use all week. Just reserve 1/2-cup tomato water, for this recipe and save the rest in the refrigerator or freezer.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Munson's Farm Stand: Pumpkin Bisque

You cannot mistake the signs of Autumn and if you happen to drive by 75Th and Valmont, in Boulder, Colorado, stop in and say hi to the Munsons. Their pumpkins are gorgeous! 

Pumpkins and winter squash are beginning to show up everywhere, and I am  already receiving several requests for fall pumpkin and squash ideas. I promise to keep everyone well stocked with recipes, as long as you do your part and head to the farmer's markets  and farm stands to stock up.

 Winter squash are hearty vegetables and according to Bob Munson, at Munson Sweet Corn,  if stored properly, we can have squash all thru April or May. Properly stored means; a  cool dry place, with no extreme temperatures.  A garage is not safe unless it is heated and refrigerators are not the best place either. Basements are a good choice if you have one, and the boxes need to be on a shelf, off the ground to keep from attracting unwanted furry guests.

Well, let's think about this for a moment. Winter squash all season with no running to the grocery store until mid spring? You bet! Stocking up now supports our local farmers, lowers our carbon foot print, and it's economical too. I see this as a culinary challenge and I am up for the experiment! I plan to buy enough winter squash to last until mid-April, and I will offer one new recipe each week using various varieties of squash.  
Three good things can happen. One, we will test the shelf life of squash and become experts on "squash sustainability". Two, we will be pushed to try creative and interesting ways to use what we have.  Three,  you will spend a little less time running to the supermarket to buy ingredients because you bought and stored your vegetables already this fall! Sounds Green to me.  I see this as a win-win community project. Anyone willing to try? Appetizers to dessert. All simple ingredients with exceptional flavor.

Recipe one: a good faith recipe.
I made this Pumpkin/Squash Bisque recipe for the Longmont Farmer's Market and it was a hit. Use your favorite variety of squash.  Please note, I do not add apples, ginger, sugar, or too many savory spices to this soup. Primarily for one reason, I want you to taste the simple beauty of squash/pumpkin. Too many times, exceptional produce is lost with all the "extra" flavorings of the moment.  It is time we relearn how to taste real food.  This is the perfect beginning. As always,

I will see you at the market.

Chef Deb T.

Pumpkin Bisque
Makes a pot

4 Lbs. pumpkin/squash, cut in half and seeded (save seeds for toasting, yes winter squash seeds work too!)
1 Tbl Olive oil
2 Tbl butter
1/2 onion chopped
2 gloves garlic
1 BG (Bouquet Garni= 1 Bay leaf, 4 stems thyme, 2 Stems of Parsley w/o leaves, & 6 peppercorns) Wrapped in cheesecloth, (I use a large tea strainer that closes) or throw it all in the pot and fish is out later.
4-5 cups veggie stock or water
Heavy Cream (optional, but adds richness) 1/2 cup is a good start
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Good Fruity Olive oil, or walnut oil (optional)

Toasted or grilled croutons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place pumpkin/squash face down on a sheet pan (you can put down parchment or foil to make cleaning easier), add a 1/2-cup of water and bake until tender. Begin checking pumpkin after 20 minutes of baking. The pumpkin is ready when you can insert the tip of a paring knife and it slides in and removes easily. Remove sheet pan from oven and cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and reserve for soup, this can be done several days before soup is made.

In a soup pot, add butter and sauté onions for 5 minutes, and then add garlic, BG, Stock (I use water when I want the pure taste of my squash to come through) and pumpkin. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove BG. Puree soup in batches in Blender/ Vitamix.

Return soup to pot, add more water if soup is too thick, and cream if desired, and add 2 tsp kosher salt. Taste. Adjust seasoning; most likely it will need a squeeze of lemon juice (a dash of dry sherry is nice) and more salt and pepper.
Keep warm until ready to serve.

To Serve: Ladle soup into warm bowls and garnish with a few toasted croutons or roasted pumpkins/squash seeds saved from these pumpkins! Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

**This soup freezes well without the cream, which can be added as it is being reheated.