Apple, Onion and Cheddar Soup

Apple, Onion and Cheddar SoupSoup to Nuts…or Nuts for Soup

Ok, I admit it. I like soup. I am eating some right now, in fact. There is some­thing about that first day when it actu­ally feels like Fall, (My tem­per­a­ture gauge said it was 48® this morning.) that makes me want a cup of some­thing warm and cozy. It also makes me think about what soup I will be making and freezing this weekend.

Canned soup is okay in a pinch, and there are some great ones avail­able these days, but they don’t hold a candle to home­made. (Cheating by making chicken noodle with Swanson’s still counts. Less Sodium than canned, too.) I have found myself grab­bing for the frozen soup a lot lately. Espe­cially after foot­ball prac­tice or after­noon activity. (World Series anyone?) A little soup and grilled cheese, maybe a salad, and you have the mak­ings of a quick and com­forting meal.

I have been trying to branch out a bit with my recipes. I still have my favorites like the one I am eating now, but I can get bored of the same old, same old after a while. So I’ve been on a mis­sion to find the new and inter­esting, and I think I found one!

I have owned a copy of the New Eng­land Soup Com­pany Cook­book for years, but it’s one of those cook­books that I tend to forget about. Last week I ran across it while looking for some­thing else, and saw this recipe for Apple, Onion and Cheddar Soup. I knew I just had to try it. It’s per­fect now that apples are coming into their season.

Apple, Onion and Cheddar Soup
Adapted from Mar­jorie Druker
Chef/​Co-​​Owner, New Eng­land Soup Factory

This soup is per­fect for a Sunday open-​​house party during the cool fall months. It incor­po­rates apples and cheese, which are also an old-​​fashioned com­bi­na­tion for a pie in New Eng­land. The soup builds con­trasting layers of sweet­ness, starting with the apple cider in the stock. Into that go the onions, sautéed slowly until they are per­fectly browned and sweet. Green apples add tartness.

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Traditional French Cassoulet

Traditional French Cassoulet When it comes to cooking, I’m always up for a challenge.

The first time it hap­pened, was maybe my sopho­more year in high school—or pos­sibly even younger, and I was des­perate to make this incred­ibly dif­fi­cult choco­late cake that I saw on Great Chefs. It had dark and white choco­late, choco­late ganache, and choco­late shavings.I had no busi­ness attempting to make this cake but I did it anyway.

The cake was beau­tiful. Though it didn’t turn out exactly as it was sup­posed to, it was still impres­sive. (So was the mess. Just ask my mother!)

Over the years I have attempted many other con­sid­er­able chal­lenges. Fresh but­ternut squash ravioli was one. There were also a couple of dishes from the master, Julia Child. Lately I have found that most recipes from Thomas Keller can be tough to make look “right”. They tasted pretty good, though.

There is one dish I have really wanted to make over the years that isn’t exactly dif­fi­cult, but does require some time: Tra­di­tional French Cassoulet.

The main reason I have put it off is that it usu­ally requires a Confit of Duck that I really don’t have time to make. A few weeks ago, I found a post on Serious Eats, the clouds parted, and the sun shone down. (Cue angelic singing.) J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe made making a cas­soulet so much more approach­able, that I just had to try it. So over the weekend, I did.

It still required work and time, but the end result was worth it. The beans were unbe­liev­ably tasty and creamy. The chicken was tender. My only com­plaint was that it was too salty for my tastes (López-​​Alt warns about this in the post.) The rest of my diners didn’t think so. I include my kids in this—they actu­ally went back for sec­onds. I think next time I will cut the amount of salt pork in half just to see. And there will be a next time.

This is def­i­nitely a Sunday dinner type dish because of the time involved, but the recipe is a keeper and it is the per­fect lazy, rainy weekend dinner. Read more…

Endive & Fuyu Persimmon Salad with Pecans

You Say Per­simmon, I say…Well…Persimmon

We are for­tu­nate to have a Fuyu Per­simmon tree in our back­yard. For those who are unfa­miliar, the Fuyu is the flat per­simmon that you eat while it’s still firm. Not the ones that are teardrop shaped and make you pucker unless they are über soft.

I have never really been a huge fan of The Per­simmon. My grand­mother would make a per­simmon salad for Thanks­giving every year, and every year I would scrape the per­simmon off and eat the rest of the salad. She would also make per­simmon pud­ding. Again, not one of my favorites. Of course, that’s when I was a kid. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have changed.

While per­sim­mons are not exactly what I reach for when I am in need of a snack, I do enjoy them from time to time. My daughter, how­ever, will go and grab them off the tree any­time the mood strikes. I whole­heart­edly encourage this behavior, though she did teach the chickens to do the same thing. Nothin’ like playing in the yard and grab­bing a snack.

The crop this year has been crazy-​​big and ear­lier than normal. I blame it on the cool summer and lack of water. We were eating per­sim­mons in mid-​​September, way before you would see them in the market. Yes­terday, we picked a bunch of per­sim­mons to give to our neigh­bors for use in their restau­rant. This was the third round of har­vesting and it looks like we will prob­ably get one more in before the leaves drop, though I may just pick them and use them as dec­o­ra­tion. The color is per­fect for October…as is this salad.

Endive & Fuyu Per­simmon Salad with Pecans
Recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cook­book by Judy Rogers

A rich, slip­pery, fleshy salad that can sup­plant dessert. Choose Fuyus that are sat­u­rated orange in color and as firm as a slightly under­ripe peach, or the skin of a just ripe banana. (Don’t use the torpedo-​​shaped Hachiya per­sim­mons, which need to be jelly-​​soft before they are edible.) This salad is also nice with a few sprigs of water­cress for con­trast. You’ll get a very dif­ferent flavor bal­ance, still deli­cious and unusual. Read more…

Double Cut pork Chops with Garlic Butter

Double Cut pork Chops with Garlic ButterLucky Thir­teen

My hus­band and I cel­e­brated our thir­teenth anniver­sary over the weekend, and I gotta say while we haven’t really been mar­ried that long, the cel­e­bra­tions are a bit dif­ferent now than they were in the long-​​ago days—when we first got mar­ried, and life was less complicated.

In the begin­ning there was wine, romance, a great night out, and the rare (very rare) piece of jew­elry. These days we’re lucky if we remember it’s hap­pening. We didn’t even remember until it was right on top of us. A gift to each other? We bought a sofa, ‘cause that ripped, dog/​kid/​cat/​gravity stained one had become utterly intolerable.

I know. It’s okay to be jealous. Nothing says love and for­ever than paying a lot of money for a piece of fur­ni­ture that in a few years will end up looking like the one we have now. #livinthedream

If we can’t go out and cel­e­brate, I will often make a spe­cial dinner for all of us. That didn’t work out this year, so we cel­e­brated with a bowl of ice cream. (Do we know how to party or what?)

If I had been able to make a spe­cial dinner, I would have made these pork chops. Recently my hus­band went cuckoo for cocoa puffs over them. It’s the brine that makes them so good.

Full dis­clo­sure; he’s a big fan of pork chops in gen­eral so take that with a grain of salt. But these were really good and very easy to do on the grill. Read more…