Monday, May 31, 2010

Soupe et salade

I know I said I needed to take a break from la cuisine française, but I just had to try Julia's Soupe á l'Alil aux Pommes de Terre, or saffron-flavored garlic soup with potatoes.

The recipe for Aїgo Bouїdo was the first recipe that caught my eye in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and it sounded simple enough; until I got to the part when Julia says "Beat the egg yolks in the soup tureen for a minute...Drop by drop, beat in the olive oil as for making a mayonnaise." No, it was not the word "mayonnaise" that deterred me, it was the instruction to "drop by drop beat in the olive oil."

Luckily, one of the beautiful things about this cookbook is that Mrs. Child provides a "basic" recipe, and then some variations. A variation of Aїgo Bouїdo is Soupe á l'Alil aux Pommes de Terre. Garlic soup is supposed to "be very good for the liver, blood circulation, general physical tone and spiritual health."

The soup is different, and is a nice change from the tomato-based soups I normally make. To go with the soup, I made a Baby Spinach Salad from the Food Network.

Overall, dinner was quite nice. It wasn't a heavy meal, but it was tasty. I forgot to say that the garlic soup, is not garlicky, and you can't really tell that it is the recipe's main ingredient.

Soupe á l'Ail aux Pommes de Terre
by Julia Child

1 separated head or about 16 cloves of garlic (whole, unpeeled)
2 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cloves*
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 bay leaf
4 parsley sprigs*
3 T olive oil
3 cups diced potatoes
Pinch of saffron

Drop garlic cloves in boiling water, and boil 30 seconds. Drain, run cold water over them, and peel.

Place the garlic and the salt, pepper, cloves, sage, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and olive oil in 2 quarts of water. Boil slowly for 30 minutes.

After the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, strain it. Press the juice out of the garlic.* Return the strained soup to the pot. Simmer the potatoes in the soup with the saffron for about 20 minutes or until tender. Add seasoning to taste.

*The recipe calls for 2 cloves, but I only had ground cloves, so I used 1/8 tsp of the ground cloves.
*I can't seem to figure out if "parsley" means regular parsley or Italian parsley. I settled on regular parsley.
*Before I actually made the soup, I wasn't sure what to do with the garlic cloves once I "pressed the juice" out. It turns out that there isn't much left after you press the garlic in the strainer. Some of it falls back into the soup.

Baby Spinach Salad with Roasted Red Onions, Pecans, Dried Cranberries, Crumbled Goat Cheese, and Citrus Dressing
from The Food Network

1 medium red onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Citrus Dressing, recipe follows
8 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped*
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the onion into thin wedges, through the root end. Toss with the olive oil, season with salt, to taste, and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast until just soft and brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Put the spinach and onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with some of the dressing and toss. Add more dressing as needed; spinach should just be lightly coated. Divide salad among 4 chilled plates. Top with pecans, goat cheese, and dried cranberries. Serve immediately.

1 tsp lemon zest
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
1 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, Dijon, honey, thyme, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk in the oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream, to make a smooth, slightly thick dressing.*

*I made a mistake with the dressing and added everything to the olive oil, rather than the other way around. It turned out just fine. Seth actually liked the salad; which is saying something since he always chooses to get Caesar Salad at restaurants.

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