Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Moroccan Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew #FoodieExtravaganza

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month. This month Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is hosting. She urged us: "Let's continue our celebration of the New Year with delicious, fiber filled, heart healthy recipes. How are you going to sneak more fiber into your diet?" 
She even suggested some soluble fibers - barley, oats, beans, figs, and sweet potatoes - along with some insoluble ones - lentils, avocados, strawberries, and apples.

Posting day for #FoodieExtravaganza is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

The Heart-Healthy Round-Up

I was inspired to make a thick, vegetarian stew with sweet potatoes and black beans. To counter the sweetness of sweet potatoes, I love adding spices.

Ingredients

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 C organic white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 C organic carrots, diced
  • 1 C organic celery, diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1" knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 6 C vegetable broth
  • 1-1/2 C fresh tomatoes, diced (or one 14 ounce can)
  • 3 to 4 C organic sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 C cooked black beans (here's a how to cook dried beans...or you can use canned)
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped

Procedure
Heat 2 T olive oil in a large souppot or Dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until the onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute or two. Pour in remaining olive oil and stir in cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and cinnamon. Cook until fragrant, approximately one to two minutes.

Pour in vegetable broth and stir in tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and cooked black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are softened to your liking. Mine cooked for 35 to 40 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in half the cilantro. Serve hot with remaining cilantro sprinkled on top as a garnish.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Moules au Crémant #FoodNFlix


For the first Food'N'Flix of 2017, Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen asked us to watch, or rewatch, French Kiss.* You can read Heather's invitation: here.

Heather wrote: "The majority is actually filmed in France, so there's some beautiful scenery. This isn't a particularly food-heavy film, but there are a few scenes that will offer obvious inspiration, and hopefully a whole movies worth of ideas to draw from (location, location, location!)."

On the Screen...
Okay, maybe I was not in the mood for this film today. Maybe I was already grumpy because my plans for a yoga class on the beach were foiled. But I actually found this film cringe-worthy.

French Kiss stars Meg Ryan as Kate, a slightly neurotic goodie-two-shoes. Does that look like a familiar character for her? Yep. She made millions in the 80s and 90s playing exactly that character. While it was adorable in When Harry Met Sally, I just couldn't stomach it in this movie. Her antics, her line-delivery...it was all too familiar.

In any case, American Kate is engaged to Canadian Charlie, played by Timothy Hutton. He goes on a work trip to Paris and Kate stays home because she's in the middle of getting her permanent Canadian resident status. She's not allowed to leave the country while her citizenship is in process. Remember: goodie-two-shoes.

Charlie calls, from Paris, and breaks off their engagement, telling her he's fallen in love with Juliette. Kate battles her fear of flying, decides to break the immigration rules, and hops on a plane to Paris where she is seated beside Luc, played by Kevin Kline, who is a French thief who hides two things he's stolen in Kate's baggage - a diamond necklace and a grape vine.

Kline is somewhat believable as a French scoundrel, but veteran French actors Jean Reno and Francois Cluzet are cast in fluffy roles as a cop and a crook. You can probably see where this goes. Predictably, Kate falls for Luc while trying to win back Charlie and Luc buys his way back into his family estate to continue the wine-making tradition with the vine he smuggled into France. Okay, that's it for the spoilers. If rom-coms are your thing, you might enjoy this fun, bubbly one set in France.

On the Plate...
Speaking of bubbly, I was inspired by the bottle of Crémant de Limoux I had in the fridge.

While I didn't care for the movie, I did see lots of food inspiration. I considered making something with the Blue Hubbard pumpkin on my counter. Kate had two pumpkins on her counter in Canada when she was cooking dinner with Charlie's sister.


Inspired by lactose-intolerant Kate's cheese binge on the train, I did serve some brie with rose petal confit. But it wasn't really a recipe and I didn't have time to research, or verify, if France actually has 450 different kinds of cheese.


I also thought about some French desserts...like the one Kate ends up wearing after she trips over a dessert cart while spying on Charlie and Juliette. In the end, though, I opted to go for a family favorite: steamed mussels. I steamed these in French bubbly, Crémant di Limoux.

Moules au Crémant

French bubbly was what Juliette was drinking when Kate spots an engagement ring on her finger and realizes that not only did Charlie dump her, but he's proposed to his new girl.


Ingredients
  • 2 pounds mussels, soaked, scrubbed, and dried
  • 1 stick of butter, divided in half
  • splash of olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 C Crémant di Limoux
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C fresh chopped herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, tarragon, and thyme)
  • sliced baguette for serving (I used gluten-free for Jake)


Procedure
Place 1/2 stick of butter and garlic in a large, flat-bottom pan with a lid. Add a splash of olive oil to keep the butter from burning. Heat until the butter is completely melted and foamy.

Pour in the bubbly. Once the wine begins to simmer, place the mussels in a single layer in the pan and add the remaining butter. Cover and steam until the mussels open, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. They are cooked and ready when the shells are completely open.

Remove the mussels to your serving platter. Turn up the heat on the sauce until it bubbles. Let it bubble until it thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the herbs. Pour the sauce over the mussels. Serve immediately with slices of baguette to mop up that delicious sauce.


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chimichurri Pork Meatballs #Whole30

I am of the mindset that chimichurri makes everything taste better! Seriously. Who doesn't love that herby, tangy condiment from Argentina that is equally complimentary to meat as it is to veggies?


These chimichurri meatballs used ground pork and with pork sausage and were the perfect addition to my Wine & Fine Swine birthday dinner party. They are easy to make, yet impressive. I braised them in beef broth, but you can also bake them in the oven. And - even better for me this month - they are Whole30 compliant.

Ingredients
Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground pork sausage (I used an Italian-spiced sausage)
  • 1/2 C ground almonds
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 2 T fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 t fresh oregano, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C beef broth

Chimichurri

  • 1 C fresh parsley
  • 1/2 to 3/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, but I have used red wine vinegar in the past)
  • 1 T fresh oregano, minced
  • 2 T fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 T lemon juice
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper


Procedure
In a large mixing bowl, all of the ingredients up to the egg. Mix to combine, then form mixture into meatballs. I use about 1 T per meatball. But feel free to make them any size you like.

In a large skillet, let the olive oil. Add the meatballs and sear them on all sides until they are nicely browned, but still soft when you press on them, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil. Let the meatballs braise until they are firm to the touch, approximately 15 minutes.

While the meatballs braise, make your chimichurri. Place all of the ingredient in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until desired texture. If it's too thick, add more oil and more vinegar. If it's too think, add more herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*I am linking this up to Sid Sea Palm Cooking's First Monday Link-up. View that here.*

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Balsamic Green Beans with Bacon


These were my 'something green' for the Wine & Fine Swine birthday dinner, but it's something that I make quite a bit because it's easy and tasty. Note that this is not compliant with my current Whole30 adventure. Boo. Though I have read that the balsamic vinegar is allowed so long as it doesn't have any added sugar, the honey is not compliant. 

Ingredients serves 6
  • 1½ C diced bacon
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C white onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • ½ C balsamic vinegar
  • 2 to 3 T honey
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper



Procedure
Blanch green beans and set aside.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat 1 T olive oil. Sauté the bacon, onion, and garlic together until the bacon has rendered its fat but it not crisped, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour in the vinegar and whisk in the honey. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened.

Toss in the green beans and stir to coat with the balsamic sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Salted Juniper-Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta


Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts to make for a dinner party for several reasons. First: it's easy to make. Second: it's a recipe that is easily adaptable to fit whatever creative bent you're on. Third: it's not too sweet. Fourth: you can make it ahead of time so you're not scrambling to finish a dessert at the end of a party. Oh, and I did mention easy, right?!?


Your basic panna cotta can take as few as three ingredients. I decided to make this one a little bit more fancy with a juniper infused cream and some chocolate.


Ingredients makes sixteen 2-ounce servings
  • 2 envelopes gelatin
  • 1/2 C cold milk
  • 4 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 2 T juniper berries
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 C dark chocolate, chopped (use a good quality chocolate with, at least 64% cacao solids)
  • fleur de sel for serving



Procedure

Crush the juniper berries with a mortar and pestle. Set aside. Pour heavy cream into a medium sauce pan and heat until bubbles begin to form along the edges of the pan.


Add the crushed juniper berries and let steep for at least thirty minutes. Strain out the juniper berries and set cream aside. *NOTE: Most of the people at my table couldn't pick out the juniper flavor. I could, but maybe you will want to let it steep for longer for a more pronounced flavor.*

Pour the milk into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Let bloom for 5 minutes.

Heat the infused cream until it begins to steam. Do not let it boil. Add in the chocolate and make sure all the pieces are submerged. Let stand for 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture over the gelatin and stir until completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture into your serving containers, leaving a little bit of space at the top - in case you want to top it with any sauce - and let chill until set, but at least four hours. Serve cold. Just before serving, sprinkle with some fleur de sel as garnish.


This was a great dessert to end our Wine & Fine Swine dinner for Brian. I didn't have a cake with candles. But the dapper dudes sang with a tray full of panna cotta in front of them!

Ochazuke (Green Tea Over Rice)

In Japanese cuisine, this dish is called ochazuke. It’s a simple rice sidedish made by pouring hot green tea over steamed rice. 


I chose to put this on our Wine & Fine Swine menu because the pork dishes accompanying this course were Asian-inspired and - truth be told - I really wanted the chance to use my pink cast iron teapot.


Or, I should say, I really wanted to make Brian use my pink teapot. He happily obliged!


Ingredients serves 8

  • 4 C cooked rice (I used jasmine rice cooked in vegetable broth for more flavor)
  • 1 to 2 C green tea
  • pinch of salt
  • black sesame seeds for garnish

Procedure
Brew the green tea and add a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Place the cooked rice in a shallow dish with a lip to hold the tea. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds as garnish. At the table, pour the green tea over the rice and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Shimeji Mushroom Noodles for Foodie Reads


As January continues, I am forging ahead with my renewed Foodie Reads Challenge. My copy of The Vegetarian by Han Kang* was next on my nightstand. So, over the course of a few evenings, I read it.


On the Page...
While the book was provocative, I can't say that I really enjoyed it. Honestly, I almost put it down.

Marital rape, a father force-feeding a grown daughter, attempted suicide...and that was only in the first part of the novella. This book is comprised of three parts. Part one is told from the standpoint of the husband of the vegetarian; part two is narrated by the brother-in-law of the vegetarian; and part three follows the sister of the vegetarian. And all of them were uncomfortable.

I will not say too much more - just that the people in her life are baffled by Yeong-hye's abrupt decision to give up meat. This was one passage from a dinner party to which Mr. Cheong brought Yeong-hye.

"People mainly used to turn vegetarian because they subscribed to a certain ideology...I've been to various doctors myself, to have some tests done and see if there was anything in particular I ought to be avoiding, but everywhere I went I was told something different...in any case, the idea of a special diet always made me feel uncomfortable. It seems to me that one shouldn't be too narrow-minded when it comes to food" (p.31).

I had thought Yeong-hye might have some cogent arguments for vegetarianism, but, she didn't; she attributed her drastic lifestyle change to a dream. It was more of a nightmare.


On the Plate...
Yeong-hye questioned the need to eat and, even, the need to live. So, food wasn't high on her list of priorities. Still, I was inspired into the kitchen to make stir-fried noodles with mushrooms. Her husband was lamenting the menu shift at his home. "Her fragrant, caramelized deep-fried belly pork was achieved by marinating the meat in minced ginger.... Her signature dish had been wafer-thin slices of beef seasoned with black pepper and sesame oil" (p.22).  "On weekends, she prepared seasoned vegetable side dishes for us to eat during the week, and even made stir-fried glass noodles with mushrooms, instead of the usual meat" (p.25).


Ingredients
  • 1 bunch organic green onions, trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 t sesame oil, divided
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 2 C mushrooms (I had shimeji mushrooms)
  • 2 C spinach leaves, rinsed at least three times
  • 1 C green peas
  • 1 C stock
  • 1 package rice noodles
  • 1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 t gluten-free soy sauce

Procedure
Cook noodles according to package directions. Set aside.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat 1 t sesame oil and 1 t olive oil.  Cook the green onion and garlic until softened. Add in the mushrooms. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Add in the spinach and peas. Cook until the green of the peas brightens and the spinach just wilts.


Add in the drained, cooked noodles. Toss with 1 t sesame oil. Fold in fresh herbs and season with soy sauce. Serve warm.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.



Here's what everyone else read in January 2017: here.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

#Nourish2Flourish: Olive Oil-Poached Salmon Over Cauli-Rice Curry for #SundaySupper


This month, we catapulted into a new adventure. We are now a robotics team family; translation – our lives now revolve around a robotics team’s schedule. Our older son joined the robotics team at school. And, for six weeks, they have an absolutely grueling schedule. They plan, build, troubleshoot, and create a robot that will compete in a series of challenges. This means that for two days during the week, he stays at school until seven in the evening. On Saturdays he’ll be at school from nine in the morning till six at night.

Not only has this meant shuffling our schedules to align with pickup and dropoff logistics, but it has caused me to make some significant changes to my meal-planning. We sit at the table to eat, as a family, at least two times a day. Everyday. During the week, we share breakfasts and dinners. On the weekends, we sit down together at lunch as well. For us, mealtimes are social. Sitting around our table is when we talk about our days – either about what is going to happen or what did happen. We joke, we laugh, we share, we learn, and we teach. I can’t picture my days without that time together.

So, imagine the mental-shift required for me to feed R at the end of a robotics day. I don’t want to be eating at 8 o’clock at night, but I also don’t want to sacrifice nutrition. Enter Mann’s Nourish Bowls.* These are individual servings that provide a warm meal chockfull of fresh veggies that are ready in less than five minutes. Now, if I prep, my protein ahead of time, we can simply heat the Nourish Bowls in the microwave for three to four minutes and – voilà! – dinner is ready.

If you have dietary restrictions in your household – my husband is gluten-free, for example – Nourish Bowls are clearly labeled. You can easily see which ones are wheat-free, gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, and tree nut free. The Smokehouse Brussels contains no allergens at all!


The Nourish Bowls are available in five different, delectable options: Monterey Risotto, Smokehouse Brussels, Sesame Sriracha, Southwest Chipotle, and Cauli-Rice Curry. I have had the chance to try the latter two, Southwest Chipotle and Cauli-Rice Curry. Both were delicious and fresh. I can’t wait to get my hands on the other varieties!

The Sunday Supper Tastemakers Get Creative with Nourish Bowls
Plus meet Gina Nucci, aka Gina Broccolini, one of the third generation family owners of Mann Packing - the creators of Nourish Bowls - in a Sunday Supper Movement Interview

Olive Oil-Poached Salmon 
Over Cauli-Rice Curry

Today, I’m sharing a way to prep salmon ahead of time that stays moist even through reheating. It’s perfect to lay on top of a Nourish Bowl for a healthy, speedy dinner. I selected the Cauli-Rice Curry for my recipe because curry rice bowls are a family favorite. But with the Nourish Bowls, and a little advance planning, our “rice” bowls can be on the table in less than five minutes now…versus the thirty or so minutes it usually takes for me to cook rice.

Poaching fish—gently cooking in a liquid over low heat—is a classic French technique. Usually, the poaching liquid is water, wine, or a broth; but I love poaching in olive oil. The fish comes out of its olive oil bath with an incredibly silky texture that’s difficult to achieve with any other cooking method.


Ingredients serves 4
  • 2 Cauli-Rice Curry Nourish Bowls
  • 4 wild-caught salmon filets, approximately 6 ounces apiece
  • olive oil as needed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1 organic lemon
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper


Procedure 
Select a large enough pot that the salmon filets can sit flat without touching each other.

Pour olive oil into the pot so that it’s about ½” deep. Add garlic and thyme. Bring the olive oil to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.


Lower the salmon filets – skin-side down – into the warm oil. Poach for 10 to 12 minutes.


Flip the filets and poach for another 5 to 6 minutes. If using immediately, serve warm. If using later, let salmon cool. Drizzle with lemon juice and refrigerate.


To serve, heat Nourish Bowls according to package directions.


Spoon warmed Nourish Bowls into individual serving bowls. Though the bowls contain a single portion, they are generous servings, so we split them in half.


Top with warmed olive oil-poached salmon. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed. Serve immediately.


Up Close...
One of the perks about being local to this sponsor: I got to go on a tour of the factory and watch the Nourish Bowls being made.


One afternoon last week, I headed to Salinas and met with Gina Nucci, Director of Marketing. We talked for awhile about the company before heading over to the processing plant where I was able to see them packing up the Southwest Chipotle Nourish Bowls. 

That's when I realized that the bowls are more than just a quick meal; they are the embodiment of Mann's mission: Fresh Vegetables Made Easy™. Nucci told me about how she mixed the Southwest Chipotle Nourish Bowls into some browned ground turkey and used that as the filling for her homemade enchiladas.

Now, why didn't I think of that?! Thankfully some of the other Sunday Supper Tastemakers made that leap and are sharing how they used the washed, chopped, and sliced veggies to create quick healthy meals.

So, not only can I use the bowls as a quick meal when R gets back late from robotics, I can use the bowls as prepped veggies for other dishes. Veggies made easy, indeed. What a timesaver!

Getting Social and a Chance to Win
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

There will be a Facebook live on the Sunday Supper page at 4 p.m. ET. on January 22nd where Family Foodie will be making one of her famous breakfast bowls using Nourish Bowls. At the end of the video, a winner will be selected from the comment section to win a prize pack from Nourish Bowls! Just visit the Sunday Supper Facebook page during that time.


You can find Mann’s Nourish bowls…
On the website

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Nourish Bowls in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.

Wine & Fine Swine for Brian's 44th Birthday

Another year, another birthday dinner for one of my favorite carnivores: Brian. Tonight we feast! This menu was inspired by my share of a pasture-raised Berkshire pig from a small, artisanal purveyor in Aromas: Wayne’s Fine Swine.


After the party, either tonight or early next week, I'll add hyperlinks to the menu here. You'll just need to click on the title to go to the recipe post or the wine's tasting notes. Enjoy!

 Chimichurri Pork Meatballs
Crisps, Crème Fraîche, & Caviar
Paired with Patrick Bottex Bugey Cerdon La Cueille
  
Vietnamese Pan-Seared Pork Chops
Ling Ngau Tong (Pork, Lotus Root, Peanut Soup)
Paired with 2014 Abbatucci Valle Di Nero Rose
   
Vanilla-Fennel Lard Caramels
[I had to change my menu a bit as I couldn't find my candy thermometer. We served two ice creams from Revival Ice + Cream instead. Candy Cap and Beet. Yum!]
Paired with 2015 Pheasant's Tears Saperavi Republic of Georgia

And D has been learning to tie a tie, so he asked if we could make it a fancy party and ask everyone to wear ties. He was happy to tie extra ties in case they forgot! Here are the dapper dudes...

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Savoie Pairing: Soupe aux Cailloux + Gonnet Chignin #Winophiles


Here we are at the first 2017 event for The French Winophiles, a wine-swilling, food-loving group started by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva and, now, jointly coordinated by Jill of L'occasion and Jeff of Food Wine Click. Here's Jill's full invitation for this month: here.

The French Winophiles are headed to Savoie which is a wine region on the eastern edge of central France.


What Everyone Else Poured...


 In My Glass...
Okay, so, here we are again at a wine event during my very restrictive Whole30 Adventure. Boo. But, since I went to all the trouble to track down a bottle of wine from the region before I committed to the Whole30, I decided that I would taste one teeny, tiny sip and not consider it a cheat.

This wine from Domain Gonnet is a single varietal, being made entirely from 40-year-old Jacquere vines. I loved learning that this vineyard uses sustainable growing practices. And the grapes for this wine are harvested by hand before being pressed and fermented in a stainless tank.

On the nose it's fresh with a hint of melon. And its crisp finish was a nice contrast with the heavier, hearty soup I made.


In My Bowl...
While I was researching traditional recipes from the area, I came across a recipe for Soupe aux Cailloux, or stone soup. I knew I had to make it because it's a book that my family loves and something we cooked several times when the boys were smaller.

Stone Soup is an folktale in which hungry out-of-towners manipulate the locals into sharing their food. In the version we have*, soldiers arrive to a village, carrying nothing more than a large, empty pot. The villagers, unwilling to feed strangers, have squirreled away their food. The soldiers fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire.

The curious villagers inquire as to what the soldiers are cooking. "Stone soup!" The soldiers say that it tastes wonderful, but it just needs a few things to improve the flavor. This conversation repeats as the soldiers trick the villagers into bringing out onions, carrots, cabbages, potatoes, and more.

Finally, the soup is done and the stones are removed. Everyone in the village feasts, including the soldiers. Though we've always just imagined the soup had stones in it, this time I actually put our whiskey stones in it...just for fun!


Ingredients
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 leek, trimmed and diced
  • 1 bunch of celery, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 4 carrots, cut into coins
  • 2 pounds pork (I used boneless ribs)
  • 1 green cabbage, cored and sliced into wedges
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed and cubed
  • 4 to 5 C stock (I used homemade vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 C fresh herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, oregano, and thyme)
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • stones! (just for fun)*

Procedure
In a Dutch oven or large souppot, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and leeks. Cook until they begin to turn translucent and start to caramelize. Add in the pork and brown on all sides. Remember: The more you sear the edges, the more flavor you get!


Add the celery, fennel, and carrots to the pot.


Add in the cabbage wedges and potato cubes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The pork should be tender and falling apart. Stir in the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with stones, if using. Just be sure to remind diners that those are not edible.


Next month, we'll be exploring the foods and wines of Corsica. Join us!

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more, but it helps support my culinary adventures in a small way. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

   

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