Sunday, January 15, 2012


I can tell you that it ain't true: Asians don't eat everything, and if you want proof, take my sister. When she comes over for dinner, it's easier to go through a process of elimination as to what she won't eat, and work with whatever's left over. The safest route to go is with vegetables, and so this week we've a couple of items to share with you.

Nigel Slater's Soup with Toasted Roots and Porcini Toasts

As we mentioned last week, Nigel Slater's really written an opus on veg with Tender, and so we went back to it for this week's parsnip soup. Instead of a pale, white soup, Slater's version really goes for a deep, rich yellow, toasting the parsnips for what he calls a "heather honey" yellow. It's a thick meal, so don't sweat only having soup for dinner.

For the soup:

A handful of dried porcini mushrooms (we used dried matsutake pine mushrooms instead, mostly 'cause they were cheaper)
2 medium onions
3 tbsp olive oil
a large knob of butter (which Google confers is about a "walnut sized lump," sounding cancerous)
2 large parsnips
1.2L stock
a celery stalk, chopped
a plump clove of garlic, peeled and squashed

For the toasts:

A handful of dried porcini mushrooms (see above for our sub)
leaves from a small bunch of parsley
a small clove of garlic
a handful of chopped walnuts
50g butter
6 pieces of "interesting" bread, toasted

Soak the mushrooms in about 300ml water for 30 minutes.

Peel the onions and chop them roughly. Heat a heavy pan with the oil and butter, and cook until soft and translucent, stirring regularly. Peel the parsnips and cut them into large chunks. Add them to the pan, and let them colour lightly on all sides (about 7-10 min). Toast them until they're a pale honey gold - if they're a mahogany brown, you've gone too far.

Pour in the stock, then add the celery, garlic, mushrooms and the water they were soaked in. Season and bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 40 min. After, puree the soup in a blender and check the seasoning.

While the soup is simmering, soak the other handful of mushrooms for 30 minutes. Squeeze them dry, then chop with the parsley and garlic. Stir in the walnuts. Heat a pan with the butter, then add the mixture and stir until warm and fragrant. Spoon onto the toast, and float them in the soup.

Jonathan Waxman's Zucchini Crudo with Hearts of Palm and Pecorino Romano (as modified in Nancy Silverton's A Twist of the Wrist)

2 medium zucchini
one 14oz. jar of hearts of palm
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp (about 1 oz) grated Pecorino Romano (if you have good cheese, feel free to go a little crazy with it...I sure did, and to good effect)
2tbsp finely-chopped flat parsley leaves
sea salt

Using a mandoline, slice the zucchini lengthwise (we sliced into coins, mostly because...we were distracted by the television) into very thin slices (about 1/8 inch thick) and place into a large bol. Using a knife, slice the hearts of palm into similarly thin slices, and add to the bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle in the cheese, parsley and salt. Toss to generously coat, and add more salt if necessary (it likely won't be necessary if you added some extra cheese).

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