Cream of Asparagus and Wild Rice Soup
Boil ½ cup of wild rice with 1 ½ cups water until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, break off the tough bottoms of ½ pound of young asparagus spears. (If you gently bend the spears, they will naturally break at the point where the toughness begins.) Discard the tough bottoms, then cut off the tips of the spears and reserve. Chop the remainder of the stalks into small rounds.
Next, finely dice 1 small shallot, 1 small carrot, ½ stalk of celery, and 1 small potato.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large soup pot, and sauté the shallot, carrot, celery, asparagus rounds, and potato for about 5-6 minutes over medium-low heat. Add 1 ½ cups water and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Transfer this mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (If you use a blender, take care to vent the top.)
Return the pureed vegetable mixture to the soup pot and add the wild rice, along with 1 cup heavy cream and ½ cup water or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and then add the asparagus tips. Cook for a few minutes over medium low heat just until the asparagus tips are crisp-tender.
Watch the progress of the soup carefully. You may need to add additional water or stock. When the mixture meets with your preference of consistency (either thick or thin), add 1 tablespoon dry sherry or brandy for extra flavor (optional, but highly recommended.) Adjust with salt and pepper as needed before serving. Makes 2-4 servings depending on appetite and accompaniments.
Copyright © 2013 by Eddie Kent Tallent
Spring is what spring is. Only a week or so ago we had temps in the high 80’s but today we are not predicted to rise above the 60 degree mark, so tonight’s menu features items to fight the chill of the day: soup and homemade bread.
While I know I have not posted much recently, I hope you will persevere. I am in the midst of packing for a move and that project is taking up a great amount of time. While I still cook meals every day, I often at this point don’t have time to document them. Today, I’m taking a break to do so. The bread is my rendition/revision of a recipe that my Mother gave me many years ago. I had trouble making it work based on her instructions, but I have come to realize that the rising time was the issue. Because the bread is a softer dough, the amount of time it takes to rise both in the bowl stage as well as the pan stage takes a lot longer than what was suggested in the recipe that Mom shared with me. No doubt she instinctively knew this, but since we never discussed the recipe, she didn’t have the opportunity to share here insights on how to really make it work.
You can find the no-bake cookie recipe (and many variations), all over the web. Easy, quick, and oh so delicious!
Vegetable soup of aromatic vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery), with cabbage, canned organic tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, a diced turnip, and roasted red pepper
House-made yeast cheddar cheese batter bread
No-bake cookies of oatmeal, coconut, cocoa powder, and peanut butter
For many years, the proliferation of various small turkey products has added a wonderful boost to menu planning and a great (and more flavorful), alternative to chicken. Turkey is now marketed in ground breast, ground thighs, breast cutlets, wings only, tenderloin roasts, half breast roasts, and any number of other options which negate the necessity of needing to buy an entire turkey or even a whole turkey breast for that matter. Tonight I am using breast cutlets for this simple meal. There is a bit of prep work, but it shouldn’t be too overwhelming.
My dessert suggestion is a bit out of my norm, since I rarely have carbonated beverages on hand, but I made an exception in this case because I recently remembered a childhood favorite which I wanted to revisit.
Turkey breast cutlets dredged in herbed breadcrumbs, sesame seeds, and parmesan cheese sautéed in butter and olive oil
Steamed brown rice with spicy Cajun seasonings, diced apples, and raisins
Yeast rolls Chez Edouard
Ice cream soda Chez Edouard: house-made vanilla ice cream spooned into a glass and topped with Fresca (original citrus variety)
To my faithful followers, I apologize for the lull in my recent posting to the blog. Never fear however, because I am dedicated to this project even if there are occasional lapses. Tonight’s menu may seem a bit ubiquitous on the surface, but you have my assurance that this is rather different than what you might think at first. The tuna salad is probably not your mother’s rendition (since I decided to be a bit creative with tonight’s version). And the sides are easy, quick, and filling on a night when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. Not gourmet cuisine by any stretch of thought…simply a good meal.
Tuna salad featuring diced, hard-boiled egg, minced onions, dill pickle, and spicy peppers, with cubed pepperjack cheese and house-made mayonnaise seasoned with ground chipotle served in a split mini baguette
Quick baked beans Chez Edouard: canned Great Northern beans seasoned with catsup, dry mustard, paprika, black pepper, and minced onions and garlic slow-baked in the oven
Organic potato chips seasoned with sea salt and black pepper
A tsatsuma tangerine topped with sunflower seeds and a drizzle of melted chocolate
O.K. I know that most folks reading this are going to say why on earth would he propose this menu to us? Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich?
Here is why. The soup is homemade “from scratch” and doesn’t remotely resemble anything that would be tossed out of a can into a pot with a cup of water added. A couple of years ago, I made my “homemade tomato soup” in a large quantity for an office gathering, and so many people asked for the recipe I knew it was a big hit. There wasn’t even a tablespoon of my soup left at the end of that luncheon.
And the “grilled cheese sandwich” is also updated a bit—including pepperjack and cheddar cheeses as the filling along with a slice of crumbled, crispy bacon.
So, ubiquitous as it may seem, a dinner of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwhich can certainly be revisited, updated, and made more interesting as a casual weeknight meal.
Eddie’s house-made tomato soup
Pan-grilled sandwich of pepperjack and cheddar cheeses on house-made cheese bread
Fresh lettuces with vinaigrette
Ice cream and cookies
Today, some dear friends came over for brunch, and to view my latest paintings. I wanted to prepare a menu that would allow for as much advance preparation as possible requiring a minimum of last-minute work. The cheese bread for the strata was made yesterday; the assembled strata actually must sit in the refrigerator overnight before baking so that the bread soaks up the custard; and the tropical fruit bread can be made several days in advance—actually the better for it. That left nothing but the apples to attend to before my guests arrived and only took a few minutes of prep.
The strata is pretty close to the traditional sausage-bread-cheese-egg custard casserole but as you know I tend to fiddle with things…so I made my own cheese bread to use as the base layer of the dish, and also substituted pepperjack cheese for half of the cheddar.
The quick bread is also my variation on a classic banana bread recipe, but instead of nuts I add finely diced dried pineapple and shredded unsweetened coconut. There was a three year old among us who declared this his “favorite.” And before you puzzle over whether this was too much bread for one meal, remember that the bread in the casserole which is yeast-based soaks up so much of the custard, it’s really not evident that you are eating bread at all. The quick bread is actually almost more like a cake.
Breakfast strata with house-made cheese bread, sausage, cheddar and pepperjack cheeses, and egg custard enriched with mustard powder and smoked paprika
Apple wedges braised with honey and butter
Eddie’s Hawaiian tropic quick bread
Mimosas and coffee
This is not the dinner I had planned to cook tonight, but when the D.C. area was suddenly hit with a major snow event today, I decided that a comforting stew was in order. So, I searched through what was available in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry—carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, turnips, a small amount of ground beef, canned tomatoes, garlic, beef stock, and some leftover braised cabbage. I cut all of the vegetables into large chunks and heated them in a bit of olive oil before adding the rest of the ingredients, and let everything simmer very gently on the back of the stove until the vegetable components were just fork tender. To my mind a true stew
requires that the finished dish should be “chunky” in nature and the vegetables,
in particular, should not have been cooked into a mushy texture.
I made some Irish soda bread which included whole wheat flour to accompany the
And for a sweet ending, the simplicity of a small wedge of milk chocolate was
It can be a bit challenging during the winter to create meals that are seasonal and rely on fresh ingredients sourced from nearby, but it is possible. And the use of dried and preserved ingredients supplement a well-rounded meal with sufficient variety in tastes and textures to insure an interesting gastronomic experience. Tonight, I take advantage of using the leftover black beans from last night’s menu, locally-grown cabbage and vegetables, and artisan cheese from a producer in nearby Maryland only a short distance away. I also used the last of the chili-tomato sauce that I preserved last summer as an accoompanient to the main course.
As for dessert…many years ago my mother gifted me with a food dehydrator and I have put it to good use during the summer months when locally-grown fresh fruit comes to the farmer’s stands. Although dried fruits certainly are very different than fresh, they provide a wonderful burst of sweetness to a winter meal.
Polenta wedges enriched with Chapel’s Country Creamery cave-aged cheeses topped with braised black beans and a drizzle of Eddie’s chili-tomato sauce
Sauteed organic mushrooms from Mother Earth Farm in Pennsylvania
Cabbage and aromatic vegetables from Lois’ Produce farm in Northern Virginia braised with Virginia-based Naked Mountain Vineyard Riesling
Eddie’s dried summer fruits (peaches, plums, blueberries, and nectarines), poached with filtered water and honey served over house-made cinnamon ice cream with crisp walnut cookies