Friday, October 22, 2010

Cooking from Mr. Latte, or, beet salad and carrot-fennel soup: two recipes

As a food writer wannabe, I love to read real food writers' stories. As I've mentioned before, what really appeals to me is being involved in an engaging, well-written story while also scoring some great new recipes.

Earlier this year I read Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte, the story of her courtship with her now-husband, replete with recipes for things they ate along the way. I pulled out my much-dog-eared copy this week and tried my hand at a couple of her recipes (some of them come across as pretty snooty, so I focused on the ones that seemed more accessible ... you know, the ones that can be made with ingredients that don't require that you live in New York City and shop only at obscure multicultural markets).

Two were standouts (the third was a lovely green sauce for fish, but my pictures didn't do it justice), so today you're getting a Ninja Double Whammy: two recipes in one post!

Feel the love, my friends, feel the love.
Beets, Apples and Ginger with Clementine Vinaigrette (Amanda Hesser)

6 beets
3 tablespoons olive oil (more for coating the beets)
2 small apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 clementines
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Kosher or sea salt and pepper, to taste

1) Roasting the beets:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the beets on one half of a large sheet of foil. Sprinkle with some olive oil. Fold over the foil and seal the edges. Place the package on a baking sheet and roast until the beets are tender (about an hour). Mind the steam when you open the packages. While still warm, run the beets with paper towels to remove the skins and then dice. (Note: wear disposable gloves if working with red beets!)

2) Preparing the salad:
Combine the beets, apples, tomatoes and ginger in a serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, clementine juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in 3 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is smooth. Pour the dressing over the beet mixture and stir gently to coat. Cover and let sit, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours.

Note: I loved this salad, not just for the great combination of flavors, but also because it should be made several hours before serving, which frees up more time to concentrate on preparing your entree.


Carrot and Fennel Soup (adapted from by Hesser's friend "Jennifer" -- nice and vague to protect the innocent!)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium fennel bulb, stems removed, bulb coarsely chopped, fronds reserved
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and thickly sliced (approx. 4 cups)
1 large garlic clove, crushed or sliced
4 cups water and/or broth
Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste (at least 1 tsp. of salt)
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sour cream

Melt the butter in a soup or stock pot. Add the chopped fennel and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened and beginning to turn golden. Add the carrots and garlic and cook for another minute. Pour in enough water and/or broth to cover the vegetables (about 4 cups, but use more or less as needed), season with 1 tsp. salt and simmer, covered, until the carrots are very tender (about 25 minutes).

Add the orange juice, sour cream and additional salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to your favorite consistency (I like it very smooth, but apparently "Jennifer" often left it chunky). Chop fennel fronds and stir into soup before serving.

Note: I used light sour cream and the soup was still quite creamy and delicious.

No comments:

Post a Comment