I love soup! Any day, any time. I seriously ate a bowl of shrimp bisque a friend offered me at 7:45 in the morning once (and it was fabulous!). However, as the days warm up, I am well aware that people’s hot-food threshold will be reached as we all look for stuff to make for meals that won’t cause us to further crank up the air conditioner, so here’s my farewell to soup for the season post, featuring the BEST soupy meal I’ve had in a really long time!
My friend, Randy, has a passion – no, obsession – for French Onion Soup. He’ll order it no matter where he is eating, looking for an awesome bowl. It only makes sense that he perfect his own recipe and, after some badgering, he gave it to me! I love his take on the classic:
One rainy day last week was a perfect soup day:
…so after The Redhead and I made a dash to the grocery store (after playing in puddles), I followed his instructions and made the BEST French Onion Soup ever, just like Randy promised!!!
The recipe calls for four large onions of any type – Randy says that he has used Walla Walla onions, other large Spanish onions or even small organic onions from the Farmer’s Market. I chose a mix of white and red onions – just the normal, grocery store variety – with a few shallots mixed in because I LOVE shallots.
I also made some really easy croutons out of sourdough bread by just tearing the loaf into smallish pieces, tossing with melted butter, a little salt and pepper and toasting them in the oven at 350 degrees for about ten minutes – yum!
In my opinion, a good bowl of soup is lonely without an equally delicious sandwich, so I put together some toasted ham sandwiches with some fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil – aren’t ingredients this time of year so pretty?
I asked Randy if I could share his toiled-over recipe and he said definitely, so here you go if you want to rebel against the warming weather to recreate the magic in your kitchen!
Incidentally, I just found out that Randy has recently made a dream move to Maui! I wish him luck and the time of his life!
I’ve got a different kind of adventure going on this week at my table… the crafty bug has bitten be hard lately and I’m so excited to be almost done hand-making a present for my Mom who is celebrating her birthday next week! It’s supposed to be a surprise, so I can’t post a picture (hi, Mom!), but it IS kitchen/food related, as most of my gifts tend to be….I can’t figure out why….
Anyway, I’ll post some pictures next week after I see her for her birthday and let you know how it turns out!
Today is grey and rainy, but it’s nothing but Spring here on my couch as I look forward to the epitome of celebrating life and beauty – Easter! It’s got to be one of my very favorite holidays – the vibrant colors, the promise of flowers and sunshine and – let’s be honest – baskets of candy.
As I am doing my Easter-treat planning, I came across these super easy, absolutely adorable and free printable decoration for an easy dessert here and had to share!
I can’t wait to use these in a couple of weeks and thought they could double – sans lollipop sticks – as gift tags or even a cute napkin ring with a colorful ribbon threaded through holes punched in the cardstock.
I hope that you are enjoying the Spring transformation outside of your window and that we’ll soon see blooming flowers – until then, we can make our own!
Wow! The last two weeks have been so incredibly busy for us…The Husband had some minor surgery, we spent some quality time at the State Fair (one of my most anticipated events of the entire year!), we’ve spent some extra time with family and school has started back up – whew!
All the while, my poor little blog hung out quietly alone in the corner waiting for me to have a moment to cook something. I have to admit, my kitchen’s been a little lonely for the past couple of weeks, too, as we’ve either shared meals with friends or family at get-togethers or opted for convenient restaurant options on our super-busy days. I swear my oven thinks I’ve abandoned it.
For whatever reason, it always takes me just a little bit of time to readjust and get back into the groove when my routine changes – I guess I’m not as flexible as I always think I am! But it’s time to get back on track – and back in the kitchen!
The only really delicious thing to have come out of my kitchen in the past few days was this really yummy berry cobbler. I snapped pictures right before The Redhead decided to try to do some unofficial “taste testing” with her fingers – luckily for the visitors we had over to share dessert, I caught her right in time.
We all really enjoyed it – too bad I also had to enjoy scrubbing out the oven after we were done! Word to the wise (I totally knew better and should have done this in the first place): if you’re gonna cook delicious, juicy, ripe berries in the oven and you don’t put a cookie sheet under your baking dish, you’re gonna end up with disgusting, dried out, burned berries in the bottom of your oven…and you’re gonna get real friendly with the steel wool. Uggg.
On the bright side, maybe I scrubbed away the calories from the cobbler (?!). Speaking of calories, I’ll be posting the delicious and the not so delicious food I had fun eating at the fair shortly.
Blog, it’s good to see you again!
I was thinking the other day about being adventurous with food and what that means…for some, like Minnesota’s own Travel Channel star Andrew Zimmern, adventurous might mean noshing on barely-edibels; for others, it might mean going for the title of “Most Juicy Lucys'” eaten at Matt’s.
For me right now, being adventurous means challenging myself to step out of my cooking comfort zone to learn new recipes and techniques and it also means not being afraid to fail. A huge aspect of cooking that I realized that I don’t know a whole lot about is one of the basics of all good cooking – spices. And I don’t mean your usual oregano and parsley!
Papreeekah….Paprahkah – however you say it, the only thing I’ve ever used paprika for is to garnish deviled eggs, so this is the first adventurous spice I’m tackling in this delicious recipe for Paprika Rubbed Pork Tenderloin! The bright red powder I’ve been taking for granted is made by grinding chili peppers or bell peppers and is a much used ingredient in Hungary, where it originated….no clue as to whether or not Hungarians use it to top their eggs…
I’d had a pork loin in the freezer that I wasn’t sure what to do with and some fantastic looking carrots from the farmer’s market. Don’t they look vibrant and delicious?! I love that the carrots cook first with garlic and honey and get a slightly sweet and savory glaze before they finish cooking with the pork – I loved how they turned out!
Although it is mixed with other spices, paprika is definitely the defining ingredient in the sightly spicy rub that is massaged into the pork loin before searing it on the stove. I used a smokey, Spanish paprika that smelled absolutely delicious, but there is quite a variety to choose from – from the typical mild to rather spicy – and whichever appeals to you will work fine!
The pork loin is pretty lean, but searing it on all sides before placing it with the carrots in the oven to finish cooking will create a fantastic crispness on the spice-coated edges (yum!).
I absolutely enjoyed this dish – then, I enjoyed the left overs! And, I can say that I gained a new passion for paprika!
Here’s the Recipe!
- 2 pounds baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, leaving 1/2 inch of green tops attached
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small jalapeño (preferably red), seeded, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 1-to 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloins
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika**
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Arrange carrots on large rimmed baking sheet. Whisk 2 tablespoons water and all remaining ingredients in small bowl; pour over carrots and toss to coat. Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Toss to coat before continuing.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast carrot mixture covered until just tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, arrange pork tenderloins on another rimmed baking sheet. Stir oregano, cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in small bowl; rub mixture all over tenderloins. Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Return to rimmed baking sheet.
Remove foil from carrots. Nestle pork among carrots on baking sheet, arranging carrots in single layer around pork. Roast uncovered until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, stirring carrots occasionally if beginning to caramelize, about 18 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer pork to work surface. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange carrots on platter. Top with pork slices, drizzling any pan juices over.
* Available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at Latin markets.
** Sometimes labeled Pimentón Dulce or Pimentón de La Vera Dulce; available at some supermarkets or at specialty foods stores
As a girl growing up in Mississippi, my favorite place to be as a child was with my grandparents – Memaw and Pepaw Jay. I used to spend as much time at their house as I could manage and loved exploring their big backyard, listening to music in the kitchen and enjoying my Memaw’s old-fashioned, southern comfort-food cooking. One of my very favorite food memories is sitting at their kitchen table enjoying one of Memaw’s freezer staples: Peach Ice Cream. The cold, rich cream flavor on my tongue and biting into bits of chilled, vibrant ripe peach…..Mmmmmmm! Funny – I’ve never met anyone since who’s ever stocked peach ice cream. Super-chunky-fudgy-monkey-cookie-dough varieties have become the norm, but I like a more minimalistic approach to my favorite flavors: clean, simple and fresh. So this is how childhood memories have become the catalyst for trying to make my very first batch of homemade ice cream!
I decided on a recipe from an ice cream cookbook I’ve had on my shelf for a while – the recipe didn’t call for a lot of extra sugar and took a simple approach to the ice cream base instead of the slightly more complicated, traditional creme anglaise base made by cooking down eggs and cream.
The heavy cream and peaches have been bought and the ice cream maker bowl has been in the freezer for 24 hours!
1. I peeled and sliced four large, ripe, beautiful peaches and cooked them down until they were soft, but not mushy; then I cooled them thoroughly.
2. I pureed most of the peaches and all of the peach syrup with 1 1/4 cups of evaporated condensed milk.
3. I forced the mixture through a sieve to remove brown flecks of peach – it’ll be pretty thick. Then, I diced the remaining peaches and added them into the strained mixture – you can make the peach pieces as big or small as you’d like them.
4. In the meantime, I used my stand mixer to whip the heavy cream on high speed until it holds its shape (but don’t let it fully get to the whipped cream stage – it should be slightly only slightly stiff.)
5. Lastly, I folded the whipped heavy cream into the puree’ mixture and poured it right into my ice cream maker – you will just want to follow your manufacturer’s directions on this part!
Taa-daaaa! Peach Ice Cream, just like I remember! Everyone in my family really loved it – I even made a little batch of crumble topping, just like you might have on peach cobbler with oatmeal, brown sugar and a little cinnamon and vanilla and crumbled it over the top…..it was such a delicious treat in this crazy hot weather we’ve been having, and I think my Memaw would be proud!
Wilde Roast Cafe
North East Minneapolis
Other than getting a caffine fix and indulging in tasty treats, the thing I love most about coffee shops is that when you find just the right one for you, it becomes more than just a place to sit and sip – it becomes a personal part of your identity…a place that feels just a little like “home”. And that’s why I love it when someone shares a recommendation with me – it’s kind of like sharing a bit of themselves – and that’s exactly how I happily found myself at this week’s featured shop – the Wilde Roast Cafe’!
This place is a definite hot spot – from the moment I walked in, I felt the buzz of people at every table, corner and cushion, laughing with friends, reading by the fireplace or clicking away on their keyboard. The vibe was energetic but comfortable, laid back yet somehow a bit regal with its contemporary-Victorian decor. Based on the eccentric personality of 19th Century playwright, Oscar Wilde, Wilde Roast Cafe’ has been featured in local and national publications for everything from their atmosphere, to their menu and wine list.
Seating was in high demand, so I put in my order and then booked it to a table – Here’s my spread: Small (seriously, how big is the large?!) Mocha Frappe and an Obama Bar.
This frappe was like a first flame, or first kiss or, heck, first mini-doughnut – I do not think I will ever be able to drink a frappe anywhere else without comparing it a little bit with this one. It was the frappe to end all frappes – cool, blended cream, chocolate and espresso, so rich it was more like an old-fashioned milk shake. So delicious!
I was so glad that I took the advise of my server and tried the Obama Bar – I’m guessing that someone in the kitchen, challenged to make an amazing update to the classic Rice Krispie Treat, chanted “Yes We Can!” as he created a truly fantastic combination of peanut butter Rice Krispies with a Chocolate and Espresso Topping.
As you can see, I made short work of the Obama Bar:
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of shots of the seating or decor – it was so busy in the shop that I wasn’t able to get a lot of pictures that turned out well so you’ll have to visit to get the full effect, but Wilde has an environment that’s magnetic and a menu that’ll entice you come back for more (breakfast, lunch or dinner!).
Thanks, Nate, for sharing your pick for Coffee Shop Sunday with me – I will definitely be tempted to make my way to the North East side to visit again soon …and in the words of the late Oscar Wilde himself, “I can resist everything but temptation.”