Bear's Garlic Pesto

Wild garlic, ramsons, bear’s garlic….

Whatever you choose to call it, it is delicious and currently in season. In French they call it l’ail des ours (garlic of bears) as apparently this is a brown bear’s Achilles’ heel! Humans also love these wild, garlic flavoured leaves, which are edible and great to use in soups, salads, omelette etc.

Wild garlic is currently in abundance at the local fruits and veg market. Every stall seems to have a large basked of these bright green leaves. I have taken advantage of this and made a basic bear’s garlic pesto, half of which I keep fresh in the fridge and the rest I divide into smaller portion to freeze. There is just too much to use all at once and as the season is relatively short it is a nice way to enjoy bear’s garlic for weeks to come.

Click link  below for bear’s garlic pesto recipe:

BEAR’S GARLIC

BROCCOLI BASIL CREAM SOUP

29 September 2009

SP-Broccoli-basil-cream-sou

Broccoli soup

BROCCOLI SOUP with BASIL CREAM

I have been on a green theme lately, avocado, pesto, swiss chard…. it wasn’t conscious I tell you. I take inspiration as it comes. This time it was from the general direction of the fridge, where two broccoli’s & half of a cauliflower were staring me down. Add to that my lack of inspiration for dinner (happens to the best of us right), plus a lonely bouquet of basil and this soup was taking shape.

I have always felt that cream of broccoli soup was missing something, that it needed a little pick me up to tweak the taste buds. Here’s where the basil cream came in. It is not overpowering, in fact you may need a few spoonfuls to put your finger on just what makes this sumptuous soup so much better than the rest.

BROCCOLI SOUP

PUMPKIN SOUP

17 September 2009

SP-Pumpkin-soup

PUMPKIN SOUP

It is pumpkin season again! I hadn’t quite realised to what extent until last weekend when we were driving through the Swiss countryside and came across huge stalls of every size, shape and colour of pumpkin imaginable. The food bells went off in my head and after much shrieking I had Olivier turning the car around to make a pit stop.

Here things work on the honour system – you take a pumpkin and leave money in the penny jar. If you forget, the headless horseman will come after you that night to remind you. Kidding! So we loaded up the boot, settled the account and drove home with 5 extra ‘friends’.  Now it was a question of what to do with them – soup seemed like a good start.

The secret to this recipe is the use of two different types of pumpkins:

  1. The potimarron (aka Hokkaido squash or kuri pumpkin) a small, intense orange pumpkin with dense bright orange flesh and sweet taste with a hint of chestnut (marron = chestnut in French).
  2. The muscade of Provence which is a large pumpkin, orange/grey in colour with lighter orange flesh, contains more water and has a less sweet taste.

The mix of the two makes the perfect soup. This recipe will also come in handy for my brother who recently bought a second-hand bicycle in Rotterdam which came with a hand blender (don’t ask)!

PUMPKIN SOUP

LENTIL SOUP

20 March 2009

sp-lentil-soup

The DUTCH Series N°5 : Lentil Soup Recipe with Saffron Garlic Roux

It is officially the 1st day of SPRING!

So why am I writing about a winter soup you may ask. Good question. The thing is – the calendar may say that Spring has arrived,  but while it is sunny in Geneva it is still very chilly. I was nearly blown away this morning when crossing the bridge  - literally! It is because of  ‘la bise’ a Northerly wind that comes whistling through the city at a bone chilling rate. It is at these times you really need some stick to your ribs, heart warming food.

Years ago lentil soup was the very last thing on my list of favourite foods. It was something to eat under duress. In fact I was such a terrible child, that once my aunt went to all the trouble of preparing a homemade lentil stew and I turned my nose up and said I couldn’t possibly.  Naughty naughty naughty.

I have since grown up & so have my taste buds.  The first lentil soup recipeI tried will remain nameless, as the spices were all off and it made enough for the Russian army… needless to say, I was not impressed. I have since fiddled and tweaked my way to come up with this version, with a hint of chilly, the tang of lemon, soothed with spices & served with a generous dollop of saffron, garlic roux!

LENTIL SOUP

RUSSIAN BEETROOT SOUP

2 February 2009

sp-russian-beet-soup1

Russian Beetroot Soup

RUSSIAN BEETROOT SOUP – From Russia with love:

Not from James Bond, but from Katya - my gorgeous Russian friend, who definately passes for a Bond girl, but who prefers to spend her spare time in the kitchen rather than being a damsel in distress!

When I asked her about Russian cuisine, she said that ” it is traditionally based on peasant foods because of the extreme climate, and that it is very common for Russian recipes to include simple ingredients such as eggs, flour, milk, sour cream, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and beetroot.”

When I think of Russian beetroot soup the 1st thing that comes to mind is borscht – made with cubes of beetroot, a variety of other vegetables & served with sour cream.

The current recipe is a hand me down from Katya’s friend, a Russian chef, who gave it to her, she then passed it on to me & I am now sharing my version with you :) It is a delicious modern take on the traditional Russian beetroot soup. There are no potatoes or cabbage and the sour cream has been replaced by goats cheese.

The taste is surprising complex - as the ingredients work so well together that you cannot immediately distinguish one from the other. Only after a few minutes does each flavour take on its own persona. The goats cheese* is a nice contrast in colour, taste & texture to the soup, which is warming, rich & smooth, just perfect for the winter months.

RUSSIAN BEETROOT SOUP

Roasted tomato & garilc soup

ROASTED TOMATO & GARLIC SOUP

Two factors influenced this recipe:

  1. The overflowing bowl of tomatoes sitting on my counter-  I went on a shopping spree last weekend buying up every bunch in sight, with views of chopping & freezing tomatoes for the winter months ahead. I think there must have been some pioneer instinct in me that needed to be satisfied. I clearly got a little carried away, as after my 3rd container the pile was only half used…. Luckily there was a plan B!
  2. The fact that it is the cold & flu season, and people are dropping like flies. Is it really any wonder – you leave the house dressed for the north pole, only to find yourself peeling off the layers by lunchtime… just in time for the sun to set early, the temperature to drop and the sweaters to go back on. It’s a vicious cycle. But they say starve a fever, feed a cold, so best to be prepared!

Roasting the tomatoes & garlic, removes the water, concentrates the flavours and accentuates the sweetness. Plus I added a dash of balsamic vinegar to compliment the velvety unctuousness. This dish is perfect as an entrée/starter – due to it’s intensity you do not need a large blow!

Suggestion – I find smaller tomatoes work best as they have less water. Evenly spread them over a baking sheet with edges, as they still release a considerable amount of water when roasted. I use the remaining liquid in the soup. Also do not peel the whole garlic cloves, their skin keeps them tender.

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ROASTED TOMATO & GARLIC SOUP

CARROT & PEAR SOUP Recipe

22 September 2008

EMILY THE GREAT’S CARROT & PEAR SOUP

First there was Catherine the Great of Russia (1729 – 1796), and then a few hundred years later, came Emily the Great, my good friend, who proudly gave herself this name at the ripe old age of 2, for surely one great lady in history deserves another!

And a great lady she is, one who I am proud to know, and who was a lifesaver (the pink kind with a gold star) at my wedding this September 6th. So how does the soup fit in you may ask - well in amongst the dress fittings, dinners, last minute ribbons, welcome packages, speech preparations, vows etc, we all had to eat…. so each member of the family took turns putting something delicious together.

Emily’s contribution to the soup pot – was in fact soup, her version of fresh garden carrot, autumn William pear, and spicy Cayenne pepper. Top that with oven baked, olive oil & garlic croutons, and you have a great fall dish, that I couldn’t wait to put on the blog. Afterall today is the 1st day of autumn / fall.

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RECIPE

{SOUPE FROIDE AUX ASPERGES BLANCHES ET A LA VANILLE} While I know that the asparagus season is officially coming to a close, I wanted to sneak in one last recipe, as there are still bunches of white asparagus appearing in our farmers market, and next spring is a full 365 days away!!

Do not be fooled by my images…. what looks like a sumptuous vanilla cream is actually CHILLED white asparagus soup with the added touch of vanilla bean. This was an intentional trompe l’oeil  (AKA fooling of the eye), which demonstartes my love of taking ingredients, typically used in sweet recipes and using them in savoury ones (& vice versa). The outcome is an awaking of the senses!

Our senses need a wake-up call from time to time, as we all find ourselves EATING THE SAME THING week in week out - does this sound at all familiar???  The problem is not a lack of ingredients or imagination, but more of falling into the cooking comfort zone….  and while I love my traditional asparagus soup, things needed to be shaken up a little – so I removed the onion, added the vanilla bean + white pepper and dropped the temperature to a cool summer chill.  

Besides, it really is too HOT to cook, & heating a saucepan for 10 minutes is my outside limit at the moment!

WHITE ASPARAGUS FACTS

  • AKA spargel – the German name for asparagus (where most asparagus is white!)
  • Grown covered in soil to avoid photosynthesis preventing the shoots from turning green
  • This produces a less bitter, more tender, sweet taste
  • Season is from April to June

VANILLA BEAN FACT

  • Name : derived from the Spanish vainilla meaning “little pod”
  • Vanilla is the fruit of an orchid flower, grown in the form of a bean pod
  • Originated in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Now grown in Madagascar (3/4 world’s supply), Tahiti : see Chocolate & Zuccini blog, Mexico…
  • Over 110 vanilla orchid varieties
  • 1 variety, vanilla planifolia (Bourbon vanilla), produces the majority of commerical vanilla beans
  • Hand harvested, rinsed, & rolled in blankets to “sweat”, then gently dried in the sun
  • Uses: INSIDE – of the bean is used to flavour cakes, ice cream, sweets, drinks etc. PODS – Keep & dry, placing them in a container of white sugar, to give a vanilla perfume. POWDER – finely grind the dried pod and use in cooking!

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RECIPE

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