Sunday, October 26, 2008

Envy, Courtesy Williams-Sonoma

Enjoy the above photograph of the gorgeous hand-hammered copper soup pot from Williams-Sonoma, made in Italy "especially for them"...I had the pleasure of watching it used this morning for the first and only time in my life, because the day I can afford the Ruffoni Hammered Copper Stockpot with Acorn Lid is the day my wildest dreams have come true, and that means the world has probably ended and eternity has begun.
I signed up for my local Williams-Sonoma cooking technique class and the subject was Fall Soups. There is nothing better than soup! It's the perfect food. Our culinary expert/chef who led the class demonstrated how to make two soups: Pasta e Fagioli and Creamy Butternut Squash. I learned some good, practical tips from the class that I will most definitely use. Here's a few that stood out in my mind.

1. When you are making a bean-based or cheese-based soup/stew, add the rind of a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano and let it work like a bay leaf. It will impart a superior flavor into the soup and you just remove it when done cooking. Genius! They sell it by the pound at Whole Foods so a small piece of rind shouldn't be too spendy.

2. You can infuse flavors into homemade chicken stock. For the butternut squash recipe, he used the WS mulling spices, put them in an infuser-ball, and let them simmer in the stock until he got the flavor that he wanted. The subtle flavoring in the soup was delicious and you couldn't quite put your finger on why.

3. Another stock tip. Instead of finely slicing your onion, cut it in 1/2 and stud it with a clove on each 1/2. Another way to impart more complex flavors!

4. My favorite tip of all. "Recipes are merely a suggestion, unless you're baking, and then it is a formula". Ok, well, I passed college math sheerly by the grace of my teacher. In chemistry, frankly I just wasn't interested in chemical reactions of any kind. Maybe that's why I don't take to baking like I do to cooking. Lit'l bit o'dis, lit'l bit o'dat, and tada, you have a wonderful and palate pleasing meal!

I can't wait to use these tips next time I have the hankering for soup. As I look out the window and see the leaves changing colors and feel a distinct chill in the wind, I know I will be looking forward to a steaming bowl of homemade soup quite often.

Friday, October 17, 2008

One Year and Six Months

It was our one year and six month anniversary this week! Andy surprised me and took me out to dinner to this downtown Greek restaurant that we had been wanting to try. We got a new printer at Costco and he's a little print happy - he made a sign that covered the door that said "Will you go on a date with me? Check yes or no". Of course I checked yes because I knew food was involved...He also gifted me with a lily blossom stem with two HUGE blossoms on it. They're so huge it's almost a little creepy - too many movies about man-eating plants I guess. They are gorgeous and our house smells so good! We both had lamb at the restaurant - he roasted lamb and I lamb in a phyllo dough with veggies. OOPA!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Side Note...

I made a roasted tomato basil soup that was out of this world...using fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes from a friend's garden, my homemade chicken stock, and delicious fresh basil and onion. My camera was/is dead so I did not get to document it, which is tragic. I will just have to make it again because it is the best soup in the world!

On another note, I have the best husband in the world. Who else would let me lounge and watch Sex & the City after dinner while he washes the pile of dishes I left in the kitchen? As far as I know, no one! I'm so blessed :)
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