Archive for March, 2013


Here in the western burbs of D.C., it was yet another winter day that started with snow in the early morning hours, transitioned to a lull during which no precipitation occurred, and then ended with a dreary drizzle of rain with temps never climbing above 40 degrees F. So, I decided to make something I had not made in a while and don’t think I have posted before—Vegetarian Jambalaya Soup.

The ice cream is my creation, featuring a mix of vanilla ice cream custard and orange juice blended together before being chilled and then frozen in the ice cream maker.

Chez Edouard veggie jambalaya soup of aromatic vegetables, diced red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, black-eyed peas, vegetable broth, and rice, seasoned with paprika and a dash of hot sauce
Baby lettuce salad with my sister’s homemade pickled okra and my house-made
buttermilk ranch dressing
Cornbread muffins

House-made creamsicle ice cream with walnut cookies

Soup Night

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

Brunch tableToday, 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
soup.

And for a sweet ending, the simplicity of a small wedge of milk chocolate was
satisfying.

Winter Vegetarian Plate

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

If you have been following my blog for a while you know that I like to explore cuisines from many different parts of the world. Outside of the cuisine of my Southern U.S. upbringing, I am particularly inspired by French, Italian, Mexican, and Asian influences, along with what has often been labeled “California Cuisine.” Tonight I return to Mexico.

The burritos are composed of classic Mexican cheese sliced and melted in a shallow earthenware casserole dish with pre-cooked chorizo sausage and then stuffed into heated taco-sized flour tortillas and served with the sauce, rice, and beans.

The dessert fritters are a classic Sonoran dish. The flour-spice-egg dough is dropped
by rope-sized pieces through a pastry bag into hot oil and fried until crisp on the exterior. After draining on paper towels, they are lightly coated with granulated
sugar while still warm. These can be made ahead.

Queso Chihuahua and chorizo burritos with onion-lime-sour cream sauce
Arroz Verde (green rice) with cilantro and poblano chiles
Braised black beans

Mexican fritters

I developed this soup many years ago and often make it when the weather is cold out. It starts out by boiling some finely-diced potatoes, carrots, shallots, and the trimmed, peeled, and chopped stems of broccoli together until soft. This mixture is then pureed in a blender (or processor), and returned to the stove with some milk and a small portion of heavy cream. Bring another saucepan of water to a boil and quickly blanch small florets of broccoli until tender and add to the overall soup just before serving.

This dish is certainly filling and the only accompaniment I need is a bit of bread. The cornbread muffins I suggest are enriched with other great flavors to compliment the meal and will be used later in the week in an unusual dressing recipe that I have developed. So stay tuned!

Eddie’s cream of broccoli soup thickened with pureed potatoes, carrots, and shallots, enriched with milk and cream
Cornbread muffins studded with sauteed red peppers, and cheddar and pepperjack
cheeses

Poached prunes with walnut cookies

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