Tag Archive: olive oil


Borscht

Twice I have had borscht, a traditional Russian soup – once from a fine restaurant in Chicago and then at a crowded deli in New York City. Both times I enjoyed it immensely. The Soup Sisters will be making borscht at their web cook-along this weekend using the recipe here. We’ll let you know how it turns out.

From Food Network Kitchens

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches red beets, tops trimmed and scrubbed (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into eighths (about 8 ounces)
  • 4 medium carrots, halved crosswise (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 ribs celery, halved crosswise
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup light buttermilk
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce (a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Makes 8 servings (about 1 1/4 cups per serving)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Put the vegetables and garlic on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or a doubled piece of regular), drizzle with olive oil, and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Add the rosemary. Seal the foil to make a tight package. Put the package in a roasting pan. Roast until the beets can be pierced easily with a knife, about 1 to 1.5 hours. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them—the skins should slide right off with a bit of pressure from your fingers. If they don’t, use a paring knife to scrape off any bits that stick.

Put half of the vegetables in a food processor with half of the broth and purée. Transfer the purée to a saucepan. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and broth. Stir in remaining 3 teaspoons salt, season with pepper, and simmer over medium heat until the flavors come together, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the buttermilk and Worcestershire sauce.

Ladle borscht into bowls and garnish with dill. This soup is also delicious served chilled.

Garden Minestrone Evaluation

My sister HoosierRoots and I made the Garden Minestrone soup together on a Sunday in January during a Skype session. I thought it was quite successful – very delicious, as did my Dandy husband. There were some things that I want to remember to do again, and there were a couple of things that I might do differently next time.

Roots and I began the night before by putting the white beans to soak. I am glad that I used dried beans. Next time I might use even more. Then, on Sunday, we started by microwaving the first ingredients together, as per the directions. I can’t say that I have ever used the microwave for this step before. Instead I have always sautéed the onion and other flavorings together on the stove. But this worked quite well and was easy to do. I will try to remember to use this technique when preparing other dishes. I found that I did not have any red pepper flakes, and so I had to leave that out.

We stirred the ingredients into our slow cookers as directed in step 2 of the recipe. I found that I had 2 cups of leftover beef broth, and so I decided to use it up, combining it with the chicken broth. That meant the soup stock was made of one-third beef broth and two-thirds chicken broth along with the tomato sauce and flavorings. And I will say that it was especially delicious!

After the soup cooked for several hours, Roots and I again joined together for step 3. I had a yellow summer squash already, and so I used it instead of a zucchini. It was a bit more mature than I would have liked, and so perhaps I should have cooked it a little longer. At any rate, it seemed somewhat underdone in the end. I also wish I would have cut it into smaller pieces. I quartered it, as the recipe directed, but since it was too big, the pieces were not really bite size. Maybe, too, if the pieces had been smaller, the squash would have cooked more completely.

I was happy that I was able to find swiss chard at the grocery store. Actually, I realized as I began that I could not remember ever having cooked with swiss chard before. I washed it, cut out the central ribs, stacked the leaves, and sliced them as directed. That all went well and was not too difficult, and the swiss chard was wonderful in the finished soup – one of my favorite parts! I will definitely be using it again, although next time I will probably cut the slices in half across their width so that the pieces are more bite-sized. I did not put the pasta in, as I was trying to make the soup as low-carb as possible.

When the soup was finished I stirred in the basil, but as I did not have fresh, I used dried – about 2 teaspoons. Perhaps I should have added the dried basil earlier in the cooking – maybe way back at the beginning, but it tasted fine. If it were summer, I would have loved to have used fresh basil straight from my garden. In fact, as Roots has already pointed out, it really would be best to prepare this soup during the summer, when garden produce could be used. I served the soup with grated Parmesan cheese – a nice touch. The recipe also suggests serving it with extra olive oil, but I was not sure what to do with it, and so I did not do that. I wonder if one is supposed to just drizzle some on top of the soup after ladling it into the bowls. Anyway, the soup really was quite delicious and not too difficult. And I am sure that any number of other vegetables – whatever one had on hand – could be added.

Boiled Water

Bethany called me on her way home from class and requested that I cook something.  I have an app on my iPhone called How to Cook Everything.  It’s based on this book.  The top rated recipe in the app is called “Boiled Water.”

BOILED WATER

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 10 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices French or Italian bread (slightly stale bread is fine)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

I thought to myself, “Hey!  I have all that stuff. It’s boiled water time!

1. Combine 4 cups water with the garlic, bay leaf, and some salt and pepper in a saucepan or stockpot.

OK, so I put the water in the pot and put the burner on high.  I got out some garlic cloves and stuck them in our garlic press.  After pressing a couple cloves, the garlic press exploded:

Hmm. That didn’t work so well.  Then I noticed that the recipe said to use “crushed garlic.”  Maybe that means I just do the thing where I squish it with the side of a knife.  So I did that for the rest of the cloves.

Next, I looked for the bay leaves in our giant pile of spices:

The bay leaves were nowhere to be found.  I later found out that Bethany had thrown them away when they started looking rotten.  While I was looking for the bay leaves, a giant cloud of smoke started coming out of the burner:

Bring to a boil, cover partially, and turn the heat to very low.  Let the liquid bubble gently for 15 minutes.

I was afraid that the smoke detector would go off, but somehow it didn’t.  I went around and opened up all the windows to try to prevent smoke inhalation.

2. Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, brown the slices of bread in the oil, turning once, for a total of about 5 minutes.

This step went pretty well, except I burned the bread pieces and had to scrape all the burned part into the sink:

3. Put the bread in bowls and top with the grated cheese. Strain the soup into the bowls, garnish with parsley, and serve.

This part struck me as kind of weird.  I’m supposed to dump the soup on top of the bread?  I didn’t have any grated cheese, but I did have a can of Parmesan cheese powder in the fridge:

I used some kind of metal object for a strainer.  It has a lot of holes in it and looks like a satellite dish.  I think if you hook it up to your TV you can pull in HBO.

Here’s the final product:

All in all, with 1 being the worst soup I’ve ever had, and 10 being AWESOME, I’d have to rank this soup in the negative numbers.  It completely fails at bearing any resemblance to a tasty soup.  Here is Bethany enjoying the bowl I made for her when she got home from class (while the koala on my monitor looks on):

Luckily, she already knows about my cooking skills, so she stopped on her way home to pick up some backup food.  She will post her review of my soup in the comments.