All About Roasted Roots Soup

This soup came about after my last batch of pressure cooked broth was nicely cooled and waiting in the fridge, with caps of fat to be removed.  I was thinking what sort of soup shall we make?  There was a bit of broccoli from the market, but more would be needed for a cream of broccoli soup.  Then, back at the market, next day, no broccoli was left.  However there were some nice parsnips, and that spurred me on to the thought of other roots; carrots, shallots, sweet potato and garlic.  Yes, and the idea of a cream of roots soup was hatched.

Some cinnamon sticks were drying in the oven (pilot light only) and 2 were destined for this brew.  You get the picture.  Just add cream and a sprinkle of parsley when finished.  While not quite.  First the roots needed to be roasted.  So, Roasted Roots Soup.  I chopped up the various roots in about 1 inch chunks, tossed with some peanut oil, harissa, salt and pepper.  Then roasted at 425 for 30 minutes, turned and finished them for another 20 minutes or so. Should have gotten a picture at this stage.  Oh well.

Then after cooling a bit, into the blender with the stock.  Added cream (about 1/2 cup) cinnamon stick, more salt and heated it all up  That's it.  Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.

Cream of Roasted Roots Soup

Heat oven to 425F

2 parsnips
2 carrots
2 shallots
1 sweet potato (white)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups homemade (preferably) stock
salt, pepper and Harissa
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup of cream
2 tablespoons parsley

Peel the vegetables and cut into chunks.  Spread onto roasting pan and toss with oil, salt, pepper and dash of Harissa.  Roast about 30 minutes, turn and finish until soft, about another 20 minutes or so.  Cool a bit before blending with the broth.  Reheat gently with cream and cinnamon sticks.  Remove cinnamon sticks and serve with sprinkling of parsley.

I was surprised at the depth and complexity of delicious flavor!  Amazing what just a combination of some roots will do!  We loved it, and I'll be doing repeats in future.  This will be shared over at Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event.


Jubilee and a Cajun Catfish Etoufee

I was recently invited to be part of a review event for Jubilee, Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, a just published, new cookbook by Toni Tipton-Martin.  Thanks Camilla for extending the invite. 

About the book, from the Publishers:
"More than 100 recipes that paint a rich, varied picture of the true history of African American cooking—from a James Beard Award–winning food writer

NAMED ONE OF FALL’S BEST COOKBOOKS BY The New York Times • Bon Appétit • Eater • Food & Wine • Kitchn • Chowhound

Throughout her career, Toni Tipton-Martin has shed new light on the history, breadth, and depth of African American cuisine. She’s introduced us to black cooks, some long forgotten, who established much of what’s considered to be our national cuisine. After all, if Thomas Jefferson introduced French haute cuisine to this country, who do you think actually cooked it?


Various Incarnations of Crack Chicken

My dear grandson came for dinner the other night and happened to mention that he had just cooked up a batch of Crack Chicken in an Instant Pot. (knowing my interest in haute cuisine :))  What? I asked - Crack Chicken?  He tells me, as in addictive. Now in the recent past the boy would cook whole meals in his rice cooker, everything would go in there and he'd have dinner for a few days.  Now it's the Instant Pot.

This was the first I'd heard the term Crack Chicken.  He told me how great it tasted, and how easy it was to make.   So later I asked friend, Duck Duck Go and found a number of recipes for this odd sounding dish.  Very Au Courant I discovered.

Thus, we had to whip up a batch.  A bit like creamed chicken, but with ranch seasoning, cream cheese and bacon.  How could you miss?  One benefit is that it makes a goodly amount.  On various nights, and for lunches, we had it over noodles, with mashed potatoes, in a hamburger bun with tomato and lettuce, on toast topped with melted cheese, on pizza with some sliced olives, and I froze some for another day.


Orange Chicken Koresh for The Temporary Bride

Our latest selection (October/November) for Cook the Books Club is The Temporary Bride - a Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec. A truly fascinating read. I especially enjoyed the account of Klinec's very unusual growing up years, which went a long way toward explaining her extreme courage and independence.   Also the cooking school she ran in London sounded like my kind of fantasy class to take. Eclectic, wide-ranging culinary explorations, learning everything from Oaxacan moles to preparing a Vietnamese-style snapper. She says: "We crimp dumplings between our fingers and mix pickled tea leaves with roast peanuts and lime juice in tiny, lacquer Burmese bowls."

On the other hand, I certainly don't find Persian cooking fabulous enough to take it to the extent she went to, in her determination to learn how to cook their food on site.  In fact, I came away with the impression that it would be an extremely horrific place to live, let alone visit.  You couldn't pay me to go there.  Although everything wasn't totally squalid, enough was, especially when added to the extremely oppressive political atmosphere.  Something like going away to live in Nazi Germany maybe, as a Jew, to learn how to make strudel.  Maybe fearless, maybe stupid. Pardon me.  Just my opinion, coming away from this memoir.  Not talking about some of the people who were kind and helpful, the interesting culture or food here, just the current religious/political situation, particularly for women.


Salade Lyonnaise for Mastering the Art of French Eating

Here's a memoir you might enjoy, even if you aren't a Francophile, which I'm certainly not -  Mastering the Art of French Eating, by Ann Mah.  Lots of super food ideas and mentions!   I had already read and loved two of her other books, The Lost Vintage, and Kitchen Chinese, Mah's debut memoir.

Ann's husband is called away on a diplomatic assignment to Iraq, for a year - no spouses allowed - after being first assigned to Paris, their dream come true. She must get over her disappointment, and as an aid to that, as well as her almost overwhelming loneliness, while he is away, she takes side trips to various of the French regions.  The idea being to feature a specific, representative dish from each area, interview chefs, farmers, marketers and French foodies for an article or book. As Dorie Greenspan remarks, "feasting through France with Ann Mah is a delicious adventure."  

I did think she went on over much about missing her husband, but hey, it's truth and a memoir.  She coped well, meeting new people via her craft of writing and interest in food; getting to know these people, not only their representative foods, but their culture, interests and unique personalities.  She discovers that the French are very serious about their meals.  Lunch is not meant to be carelessly consumed at one's desk, or food eaten whilst walking along the street.  I can only imagine what they would think of eating while driving.  Quel Horreur!


Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Peppers for The Food Explorer

The Food Explorer, by Daniel Stone  is a biography of David Fairchild,  and our most recent Cook the Books Club selection, chosen and hosted by my fellow Hawaiian blogger, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. The full title adds: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats."  I enjoyed the book quite a bit, though this type of historic biography is outside my usual reading purview.  Very informative however, despite some of it being a bit dry, there's enough to keep one interested, with all his travel adventures and mishaps, the variety of seeds, cuttings and plants Fairchild, as well as his protegee, Frank Meyer, and contemporary, Walter Swingle, were able to ship back to the US, or carry themselves.

 From the Publishers:  "The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late 19th-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes - and thousands more - to the American plate

In the 19th century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.


A Night of Miracles and Mango Coffeecake

Having just finished Night of Miracles, by Elizabeth Berg, I've got to say she's got another winner! I've reviewed several of Berg's novels in the past (The Art of Mending and Never Change), but am not letting that stop me.  When they're good, they're good, and you want to share it!

This one calls to mind the sadly late Maeve Binchey, featuring a number of diverse characters in a small town, whose lives are tied together in various ways. The central figure, an elderly woman, Lucille, is a consummate baking queen, who has begun to teach classes in her home, between fending off a few encounters with the Angel of Death.

So mentions of food abound, not just baked goods, but plenty of scrumptious Southern cooking turns up here, with another of the characters working in a local cafe.  Beware of constant temptations from the likes of Upside-down Chocolate Pudding Cake, Praline Cupcakes, and sugar cookies stuffed with raspberry jam.  Oh Boy!


Perfect Cold Borscht for Hot Weather

This is the time of year when cold soups come into their own, and yes, it's still hot here.  I was very happy with the way this version of Borscht turned out.  I've tried others, good too.  There are probably as many variations of this soup as there are nostalgic emigres around.

On a related, sort of, subject?  We must have been in a Russian mood, as I ordered a jar of Shilajit, which if you've never heard of, is a supplement, a mineral rich tar found in high mountain ranges, like the Himalayas, Altai and Caucasus.  You add a small amount - less than 1/8 teaspoon to some tea and voila, energy!  It just came in the mail from Siberia, so I'll let you know how it works.  My brother-in-law, who is sold on the stuff, told me about it.

So, here's a delicious soup to be made earlier in the day, chilled and, then when you don't want to heat up your kitchen, there you have it!


A Meal from Prune, The Cookbook

I've been enjoying Gabrielle Hamilton's cookbook, Prune, based on the recipes featured in her New York restaurant of that name, and which I checked out from our local library.  I didn't renew it though. Bought my very own copy, YES!  A fairly hefty tome.  And looking forward to trying many more of her recipes, methods and creative ideas.

We at Cook the Books Club had just read and reported on Gabrielle's previous book, a memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter, which led me to check out her cookbook. So glad I did.  Gabrielle's background, learning to cook with her French mother, working for various small restaurants, and catering companies, traveling and learning along the way, all informed her unique personal style and conception for Prune.