Sunday, March 29, 2015

March Dinner - Soup Night

For our March 2015 dinner we had a soup and hot cocoa night.

Rebecca made White Almond Gazpacho with Grapes.

White Almond Gazpacho with Grapes
from Olives and Oranges by Sara Jenkins

1 cup blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Two 1/2-inch-thick slices stale bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 cups)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup green or red grapes (optional)

Finely chop almonds and garlic in a blender.
With motor running, slowly add 1 cup water, sherry vinegar, and salt, blending to incorporate. Add bread in 2 batches, blending well (some of the bread will not be entirely incorporated until the next step; this is okay).
With motor running, slowly add 1/2 cup oil, followed by remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, followed by remaining 1/2 cup oil.
Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Serve in individual shot glasses, garnished with a grape if using.

Dani made Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Sweet Corn Sticks and Lemon Orzo Soup.

Sweet or Savory Corn Sticks
from Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich

Makes 24 sticks

45 grams unsalted butter
110 grams corn flour
75 grams sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs at room temperature

Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet. Take it off the head, add the corn flour, and stir to coat all of the flour grains with butter. The mixture will have the consistency of slightly damp sand. Return the skilled to the stove and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula or fork; scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, turning the flour, and spread or rake to redistribute it continuously so that it toasts evenly. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture colors slightly and smells toasted; it may begin to smoke a little. Toasting the flour will take 4 to 6 minutes. Scrape the flour into the lined baking pan and spread it out to cool withal preheating the oven.

Position a rack in the loser third of the over and preheat to 350F.

Combine the sugar, salt, baking powder, and eggs in the bowls of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 3-5 minutes until thick and light. Poke and mash any large lumps in the toasted flour and then pour it over the egg mixture. Fold just until evenly mixed. Scrape the better into the lined baking pan and spread it evenly; it should be a think layer only about 1/2 inch deep.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300F. Slide a slim knife around the edge of the pan to detach the baked sheet. Invert the pan onto a rack and peel off the liner, then turn the sheet right side up on a cutting board. Cut in in half lengthwise with a sharp serrated knife. Cut each half crosswise in slices approx. 3/4 inch wide. Arrange slices slightly apart on an unlined baking sheet. Bake at 300F for 20-25 min until slightly golden brown.

Broccoli, Cannellini Bean & Cheddar Soup
from EatingWell: September/October 2007

Makes 6 servings

2-3 14- ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth , or vegetable broth 
8 cups broccoli crowns , trimmed and chopped (I used frozen) 
1 14- ounce can cannellini beans , rinsed (see Tip) 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper 
1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add broccoli, cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in beans, salt and pepper and cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer half the mixture to a blender with half the cheese and puree. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining broccoli mixture and cheese. Serve warm.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
adapted from

Makes 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
8-12 cups of chicken broth
Zest of 4 lemons
Juice of 4 lemons (about 2/3 cup)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste 

1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Add the chicken and heat for about 5 minutes.

3. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve warm.

Note: You can use shredded rotisserie chicken in this soup. If not eating immediately, cook orzo separately and add before serving.

For dessert, Dani made Cocoa mix with Cinnamon Simple Syrup and Nilla Knockoffs.

Nilla Knockoffs

Makes approx 100 tiny cookies

8 ounces flour
4 ounces unsalted butter
3 1/2 ounces sugar
1 ounce honey
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ounce vanilla extract or paste
4 egg yolks
3 ounces cream, plus extra for washing

1. Make the cookie batter: Preheat the oven to 325°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment, set aside. Sift the flour in a sieve. With a hand or stand mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment), cream together the butter, sugar, honey, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract. Cream for about 5 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. About halfway through the mixing, scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. After 5 minutes, with the mixer still running, add the eggs yolks, one at a time. Let each addition fully incorporate before adding the next. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour all at once. While it is mixing, drizzle in the cream. Continue mixing until homogenous. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter to a piping bag, fitted with a 1/2" plain tip.

2. Pipe and bake the cookies: Pipe the cookies into 1" wide rounds on the prepared cookie sheets. Don't worry if they have little peaks, you'll fix those later. Just try to keep the cookies all roughly the same size to ensure even baking. Once all of the cookies have been piped, brush each one lightly with a pastry brush dipped in cream. You're not looking to coat the cookies, but to smooth the peaks down and give them an even, smooth surface texture. Once the cookies have been brushed, bake approximately 18 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch and golden brown. To make perfectly round wafers, use a 1 1/2" cookie cutter to trim each cookie before they cool. Transfer the cookies, while still slightly warm, to an airtight container and seal. This will slightly steam the cookies and give them that less than crisp Nilla texture. If you prefer a crisper wafer, allow the cookies to cool completely before storing. The cookies will keep, at room temperature, for several weeks.

Hot Cocoa

Make 5 1/2 cups dry mix

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pinch cayenne pepper or cinnamon, or more to taste
Hot water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water. Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry. This also works great with warm milk. Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

Cinnamon Simple Syrup
from Real Simple Magazine

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp cinnamon

In a saucepan stir together 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 4 cinnamon sticks, broken in half. Over medium high heat, stir until sugar is dissolved and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and mix in 1 tbsp cinnamon. Let cool. Once cool, discard cinnamon sticks. Store syrup in a glass bottle in the refrigerator.

I (Lauren) made a dessert soup from blueberries, specifically Blueberry-Thyme Soup with Honey Vanilla Mascarpone.

Blueberry - Thyme Soup with Honey Vanilla Mascarpone
From Shared Appetite Website

For the Blueberry - Thyme Soup
  • 6 cups (about 3 pints) fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
For the Honey-Vanilla Mascarpone
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ - 1 lemon, juiced
For Garnish
  • Fresh Blueberries
  • Crushed Graham Crackers or Crushed Shortbread Cookies , optional
  1. In a medium pot, add the blueberries (keep a few of the blueberries to the side for garnish), water, sugar, zest of one lemon, fresh thyme, and a dash of salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat then lower to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until the blueberries start to break down and the mixture thickens slightly, approximately 20-30 minutes,
  3. Allow blueberry mixture to cool, then transfer to a blender (or use one of those fancy immersion blenders I love so much). Puree until smooth (make sure if the mixture is still warm while blending, hold the top of the blender down to prevent the steam from popping the lid off... not a fun mess to clean up!).
  4. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Transfer the blueberry mixture from the blender into the sieve (in batches if your sieve doesn't hold the full amount). Use a spoon or spatula and stir the mixture through the sieve, discarding the solids. Chill the soup until ready to serve (up to a day ahead of time).
  5. Before serving, make the Honey Vanilla Mascarpone. Combine the mascarpone cheese, honey, vanilla extract, and the juice from ½ lemon. Stir to combine and taste. If you taste a hint of lemon, you're good. If you prefer a little more lemon taste, add the juice from the other ½ of lemon.
  6. To plate, add the blueberry soup, a dollop (or quenelle, if you want to be fancy) of the honey-vanilla mascarpone, a couple fresh blueberries, and a sprinkle of the crushed graham crackers/shortbread cookies (optional).