Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunchoke Soup

79: Spring Treat Share #3

Adam and I were both out of town for our CSA spring share #2 (we had a friend pick it up and enjoy it instead) but here's #3 which I picked up on Wednesday. Check it: spinach, asparagus, eggs, radishes, shallots, scallions, chives, salad mix, sunchokes and yogurt!

(BTW, should you find yourself with an extra quart of yogurt around, perhaps because you bought one two days before your CSA pickup, this cake is a great way to use up a cup of it.)

84: Sunchoke Soup

Asparagus was a great reason to practice my hollandaise, shallots went into a pot of beans and some chicken stock, and I've been sprinkling chives on anything that finds its way into a bowl. Spinach and salad greens are easy enough to find uses for, and we go through eggs like nobody's business, but I was a little puzzled by the sunchokes. We got a few last year that we sauteed and put it an omelet, but with most of a pound kicking around I wanted to do something that would better show off their unique flavor.

Sunchokes, dirty

Lucky for me, I remembered Olga's soup! I scrubbed the dirt off the little 'chokes and got to work.

Sunchokes, scrubbed

I made quite a few changes based on what I had around, and I was really pleased with the results. I love foods that taste creamy without any cream, and the delicate sunchoke flavor comes through brilliantly. If you happen across these weird little tubers, pick up a pound and make some soup.

Simmer simmer

Sunchoke Soup with Caramelized Onions
adapted from Sassy Radish
serves 4

To my palate, artichokes taste expensive... probably because I know how much paring and peeling and dunking in lemon (that is, work) goes into harvesting the hearts! But sunchokes are so much easier to work with - just scrub and simmer - and the flavor is, if anything, even more refined. I can just imagine this soup passed through a fine sieve or tamis to filter out the skins and starchy bits, maybe with a little sweet butter blended in to bump this into fancy-dinner-party territory. 

3 cloves garlic, sliced or roughly chopped
scant 1 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped
3 Tbsp plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb sunchokes, scrubbed very well (a generous pint, if you're not weighing)
1/2 lb (about 2 baseball sized) potatoes (yukon gold or red bliss), peeled, cut in 1 inch chunks
4 cups chicken stock (or use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
salt and pepper
2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 a lemon, juice only
1 tsp cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
chopped chives, to garnish

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil (I don't like to use extra virgin for this, why spend the money on flavors that are just going to disappear when heated?) in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and marjoram and a pinch of salt and sweat for a couple of minutes until it smells good. Add the sunchokes and potatoes and chicken stock, plus another pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring up to a low boil over high heat, then reduce to medium low and cover the pot. Simmer for an hour or until the potatoes and sunchokes are falling apart.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions. Heat a medium skillet (I love my cast iron skillet for this) over medium low heat and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the onions, stir to coat them with oil and then let them cook slowly, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until evenly browned and sweet.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, then adjust the seasoning. You'll need several more big pinches of salt, plus the lemon juice and vinegar. You could also use just lemon juice, but I like the different notes of two acids.

Pile some onions in a bowl and ladle the soup around them, then garnish with some really good extra virgin olive oil and chopped chives.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

30x30 Update: Month Two

55: Cured duck breast

Update two is only a week and a half late! Sorry about that, but the actual month-iversary hit on my last day of work and the night before I flew to Paris.  ANYWAY let's see what I've done, eh?

Culinary Projects: Duck prosciutto! (see above.) Except I've decided that calling it duck prosciutto is silly, because prosciutto is a ham, which is a leg, and this is a cured duck breast. It was delicious. I used this recipe from Bon Appetit.

Professional Projects: None of the specifically listed goals, however, I've left my catering job for a job at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. It's an office job (assisting with job placements and things of that nature) and it's part time to start, but I'm really excited about it.

Godfather II

Personal Projects: Yes! We watched the Godfather Trilogy on April first. All the way through, oof. We propped up the tv on a box since we had no fewer than TWELVE people crammed into our not-that-big living room. I liked Part II the best, and I see why people hate on the third one so much (Sofia Coppola may be the worst actress of all time).


Also I went to Paris with my mom and my sister which was, in a word, delicious. We pretty much walked around and ate every 3 hours. In my opinion, there is no better way to fill your vacation days. All my Paris photos are here, if you care to take a look.

I'm still doing pretty well with Project 365, and I've read 4 more books (No Cheating No Dying, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows.

House Stuff: I guess the hamper we ordered is on its way, because they charged our credit card. Other than that, no progress. Sigh.

Fitnessy Things: Well, I can still only do one chin-up. And now that I've left my super physical kitchen job, I'm a little worried that my arms are going to wilt, so I better stay on top of this one. And I've run two 5k races, one of which I finished in 30:06 and the second one in 28:11, so I hope I'm getting better. Except then I was hobbled by a cold for a week before we left for France and I didn't get a chance to run again until this morning... which was brutal. Time to get back on that bandwagon!

New goals met this month: 3
Total goals met so far: 5