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Archive for October, 2009

Just a thought…

…loosely associated with the Puerto Rican boy band, Menudo. First of all, did you know that menudo is tripe soup? Seriously, guys. I get that it’s a catchy Spanish word, but tripe soup?

So it got me thinking, what if every nation had a boy band named after tripe soup? In Italy I loved bollito and tripa from Mercato Centrale. Bollito is boiled meats, but it’s always the mystery bits, especially at the central market. So obviously there needs to be an Italian boy band named Bollito.

Imagine… a coliseum full of people and the em cee booms over the hushed crowd, “Ladies and Gentlemen….BOLLITO!” and out comes a guy dressed as tripe, one as a bun and the third as a bowl of salsa verde. And they sing and dance around.

I never said my thoughts made sense, just that I have them.

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Meatless meal

I’m going to try and start a new tradition in chez Cecile (my nom du francaise from middle school french class, natch…no it doesn’t mean Christina, I just picked it out because I liked it. I was a brilliant twelve year old), and that tradition is eating better and having one meal a week be meatless. Why? It’s not so much that I want to eat less animal protein, it’s that by pointedly changing my eating habits, hopefully I’ll forge some new, better ones. Ones that will help me lose the weight I’ve gained this semester, weight caused by lots and lots of ice cream. This evening I made rice and black beans and a slow-roasted sweet potato. I started with a favorite salad of mine, marinated cucumbers. It was simple and delicious, and lovely washed down with the last of the apple cider.

So Simple Sweet and Sour Cucumbers

This receipt is more of a ratio. You take any number of Persian (hothouse) cucumbers, peel, halve and seed them, then chop them into slices. For each cucumber you take a 1/4 cup each red wine vinegar and sugar. Add to this salt and pepper to taste, and sometimes when the whim moves me I add minced dill. It’s lovely and refreshing. I’ve never met a soul who didn’t like it. It needs to marinate for at least two hours before service.

Simmered Black beans

Olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tins black beans, rinsed
1 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
Pinch of chili powder
Bay leaf
Vegetable broth, 1 c.
Cilanto garnish

Saute shallot and garlic, add beans, seasonings and broth. Simmer for 20 minutes while your rice cooks. For the rice I made a pilaf with almonds and saffron.

For the sweet potato, I roasted it in the oven at 350*F for about 90 minutes until it was tender. At that length of time the very outside of the potato carmelizes inside the jacket and you can practically peel the skin away. I added butter, salt and cinnamon. Delicious.

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Bumper crop

I have a ton of kale. I’ve eaten kale about six times in the last two weeks. I should be so healthy from all the vitamin C, K and zinc that I could run a marathon.

I love soup in the autumn. Last year I purchased Lidia’s Family Table, and inside she has a chapter on soups based on three “bases:” a garlicky white bean broth, a potato broth, and a turkey broth. Tonight, rolling with the various iterations she presents, I made a garlicky white bean broth, added potatoes, and finished with, you guess it! kale.

Zuppa

Cannelini, Potato and Kale Soup

3 slices Ossian bacon, cut into lardon
1/2 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 T. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz chicken broth
2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed
4 white-skinned potatoes, sliced
4-6 cups water
1 large bunch kale, chiffonade and well rinsed of dirt/sand
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino romano

Start the bacon in a cold pot to render, then sweat onion and carrot with a bit of salt. Add the garlic in the last 30 seconds, then deglaze with the broth. Add your beans, potatoes and water and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. The potatoes should be cooked but not falling apart. Add the kale and simmer for 15 minutes longer until tender. Adjust the seasoning and serve with a generous snow of pecorino and some hearty bread.

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