12 November 2008

Creamless "creamy" leek soup

Back in September we went to a BBQ at Steve and Becky's farm and toured their beautiful vegetable garden, I was amazed at the amount of leeks they had, they looked really healthy (compared with mine who suffered the Beaver spell) and I exclaimed "leek soup, you have to make leek soup with these beauties".
Fast forward and every time I see Steve he reminds me I have to send him my leek soup recipe. So finally it is here, the weather we are experiencing at the moment is very conducive (5 days of non stop rain) to having soup and curling up by the fire.

Creamless "creamy" leek soup
For 4 servings
2 TBSP olive oil
2 lbs leek (approx.)
4 cloves of garlic
1 shallot
1/2 cup dry white wine (I always keep a stock of these small wine bottles for cooking)
3 to 4 cups chicken broth (or water and 1 bouillon cube)
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the root and trim the top off the leeks (if you buy them usually they are already trimmed, in this case just cut half an inch off to remove the dried out part), wash the leeks then slice/chop them.
In a cast iron (or other) pot pour 1 or 2 spoon full of olive oil and turn on the heat to medium, pour the cut out leeks over and sweat them for 20 mn or so until tender. Half way through add the garlic and shallot peeled and thinly sliced.
When the bottom of the pot starts browning add the white wine to deglaze and stir. Then pour the chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste and let the soup simmer for 30mn or so.
Taste to see if cooked through.
At this point you can either serve as is or, as I did, use the immersion blender and blend the soup.
You obtain a very thick and creamy soup without the guilt factor of the cream.
Serve with a sprinkle of freshly cut parsley.
Bon appétit!

08 November 2008

Melting Honey and Almond cakes

Bees are amazing little creatures, they work incessantly to collect pollen from all the flowers that will ultimately become delicious honey. I grew up watching my Dad take care of his honey bees, I forgot about them a little as life went on until my last visit to France this past Spring when it was time to collect the honey made by those wonderful workers. Out of 10 hives we collected about 80 kilos of the golden liquid, this was a lot of honey. If you are ever so lucky to have that much honey here is a very nice gluten free cake that you could try, but you don't really need that much honey.

Melting Honey and Almond cakes
For about 40 mini muffin tins or 1 circular 24 cm / 9" diameter spring form
125 gr / short of 9 TBSP Unsalted Butter
70 gr / 1/2 cup & 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar
30 gr / 3 full Tbsp corn flour
30 gr / 3 normal Tbsp rice flour
105 gr / 2x1/3 cup raw almonds finely grounded
100 gr / 2 heap Tbsp lavender honey (if no lavender honey is available any other one will do too)
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder

Mix egg yolks and softened butter.
Add honey, flours, almond powder and confectioners sugar, mix all well.
Whip the egg whites till stiff and delicately incorporate them to the mixture.
Pour in the moulds, you could also use 1 big circular pie dish, it is best to use silicon moulds, if not line your tin with parchment paper.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 170 C / 340 F for 25 to 30mn (depending on the size of the mould you are using, smaller = less time)
When baked let the cakes cool down for 5 or 10 mn before removing from the silicon molds, with the spring form it will be easier and you won't need the rest time.

This is delicious served with a hot fruit salad of honey glazed pineapple and pink grapefruit (add the grapefruit to the pan at the last minute so it doesn't over cook but just warms up and flambé with brandy before serving).

07 November 2008

Lemon Risotto

There is no 2 ways about it, I love all things citrus, and when I tried a lemon risotto on a recent outing I had to reproduce it. Here is my recipe that I served with a grilled veal chop.

Lemon risotto
For 2 people as a main course
2 cups chicken broth
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 shallot
3/4 cup risotto rice (I used Il riso BERETTA that I found at http://www.bigjohnspfiseattle.com/, great resource for an expat like me!)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan + 1 TBSP for serving
1 pinch of lemon zest (you can add more depending on how "lemony" you want your risotto to be)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Lemon thyme to add that extra zing

Warm up the broth and half of the lemon juice (it has to be hot when poured on the rice).
Sauté the shallot in a drop of olive oil (don't brown them), then add the rice and toss it so it gets covered in olive oil, at this point add the wine and half of the lemon juice, stir continuously until most of the liquid is gone.
Add half a cup of chicken/lemon broth and stir continuously until almost all absorbed, continue this process with the rest of the broth half a cup at a time (very important).
The total cooking time is about 20mn of continuous stirring on medium heat.
Half way through add the lemon thyme to taste.
When the rice is cooked and all the liquid used remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, butter, salt, pepper and lemon zest to taste.
You should have a creamy risotto.
Serve with a topping of Parmesan and a sprig of fresh lemon thyme.