The Cook is back-well maybe!

Greetings to all you readers and food lovers out there. The Cupboard Cook has been hibernating but the tummy started growling so the Cook is awake, out of the deep coma, and ready for some good eats. The sad thing is that the Cook has missed the annual trek to the south, as all of the normal stops and friends along the way have been recalled back into doing their respective jobs around the globe. One can never predict what worldly events will crop up. The Cook was greatly anticipating the Gator Sarny that awakens the Cook’s spirit and soul.

[Read more…]

The Cook’s Cookies

The sun is gone by 5:00 pm and is not showing back up until 7:00 am. It is cold and snowy! What do you do to fight those blues? Sorry… the Cook forgets that there are people out there that love these conditions and the Cook was one of those…but not now. Spend one winter in north-central Russia, yet alone many, and that is a love never to return.

So what does one do to find comfort from the cold and dark? The Cook goes to baking and soup making. Comfort food is what it is now called. What is your favorite?

Cookies, (aka: biscuits, keks, biscotti, galletas) small flat baked treats, according to a few sources, where originally invented rather by accident than by design. It is claimed that [Read more…]

The Cook ‘s Trivia Challenge

You are all familiar in the States with the NPR show Car Talk with Click and Clack- the Tappet Brothers. They play a Stump the Chump puzzler game, where listeners are given clues and are to guess the answers to win some spectacular prize or another. Well, while visiting some of the Cook’s foodie friends, they decided we should play a similar game using all things related to foods and food history. After having a few glasses of great wine, some cheeses and fruits, the Cook was not faring well with the trivia presented by his fellow peers. The Cook suspects that there was some game fixing involved, but was none the less, soundly drubbed.

The Cook asked from what planet that the chosen questions came from, but the Cook was assured that the questions were all common knowledge food related facts here on good old mother earth. Hum!

Help the Cook feel good about the resounding defeat that the Cook suffered — or not. Below are some of the questions. See how you do. The Answers are at the bottom.

 

1.  What cake was a staple for both the Redcoats (Brittish army) and the Continental army of the American Revolutionary war, and a particular favorite of George Washington?

 2.  What beverage did George Washington like to have while eating his cake?

                  A. cream

                  B.  mint julip

                  C.  tea

                  D.  coffee with a touch of brandy

3.  During the same American Revolutionary time period, what was Salmagundi?

 

4.  What is Garbure?  (French)

 

5.  What is the common measurement value of a Speck?

 

6.  A HOT oven refers to one at a temperature of 450 to 550 degrees. – True or False?

 

7.  Can you remove excess salt from soups and stews by adding a few raw potaotes and       allowing to boil for 10 -15 minutes – True or False?

 

8.  What is the name for the cut of meat that includes the backbone? 

 

9.   Fleurons are:

                  A.  small particles of food that are atomized during the process of high speed blending

                  B.  French flowers similar to poppies and valued for their seeds by pastry chefs

                  C.  a Zydego band in New Orleans

                  D.  light puff pastry shapes served as garnishes with meats, soups and fish.

These where just a few of the questions that made up our little game of Stump the Cook.  If you had the correct answers to all of these, let the Cook know. You should change occupations to a game show professional. Missed one- you have stumped the Cook. Missed two- you have joined the Cook. Missed more than 2- you have made the Cook feel good and the Cook thanks you!

Thanks for reading and as always….eat well and eat local.

The Cook

 

answers:        1. gingerbread;    2. B;     3. a favored colonial supper dish consisting of minced meats, onions, herring and  eggs;    4. vegetable soup consisting of beans, cabbage, and potatoes;     5. less than 1/8  teaspoon;     6. False (400-450);     7. True;     8. chine;     9.D

The Cook's Soup

The Cupboard Cook’s Butternut Squash-Apple & Curry Soup

Pumpkin and squash soup recipes tend to leave this cook wanting a bit more in the flavor department. This cook wants a soup that can stand on its own for a meal, accompanied by hot cornbread or baked polenta and a green salad or vegetable dish. This recipe for the ubiquitous butternut squash soup takes flavor influences from the south of France and the Near East to yield a more memorable entrée.

 

The Cupboard Cook’s Butternut Squash-Apple & Curry Soup   

Yield:  3 meal-sized portions or 6 first course servings 

 

Equipment List: 

A medium –large pan or stock pot
Immersion (stick) blender or regular blender

Ingredient List:

1 pound of roasted butternut, acorn, pumpkin or any other hard winter squash scooped      out of the skin.
1 granny smith or tart apple peeled, cored and cut into pieces
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter for the pan
2 sticks of celery cut into small dice
2 peeled carrots cut into small dice
½ white or sweet yellow onion cut into small dice
1 clove of diced garlic
28 ounces of homemade or quality low sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon of Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon of Vietnamese lemon curry powder (optional but recommended)
2 ounces of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1-2 ounces of diced Murica Curado other mild hard goat cheese
1½ teaspoons of diced fresh marjoram or ½ teaspoon of dried.
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes:

Lightly toasted pecans, freshly diced marjoram, and croutons (Substitutions: paprika, parsley, thyme, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds)

Method:

In a medium-large pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter then add the celery, carrots, onion, apple, garlic, and a pinch or two of salt, and cook until just fork tender. (Approximately 8 minutes) Do not allow this to burn. Then add ½ of the stock, stirring while allowing this to come to up to heat but do not boil. (~3 minutes) Add the cooked squash and marjoram and incorporate it into the mix.

With the stick blender, process the mixture using a slight up and down motion, being careful not to lift the blender out of the soup while it is still running. Makes a mess! Process until it is somewhat smooth. Then add the remaining stock and the curry powders and process once again for about 1 minute. Allow this mixture to come to heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

(Note: This base soup can be held at this stage for later service or allowed to cool and stored for a day in the refrigerator. It also could be put in the freezer for later use.)

A few minutes before service, reduce the heat to low and add the butter, cream, and cheese stirring constantly until the cheese and butter melts. Then process with the stick blender for 30 seconds to 1 minute to incorporate the ingredients and give the soup a bit of body. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Service:

Put a handful of croutons into warmed soup bowls and ladle soup over the croutons. Garnish and serve.

 

NOTE:  The Cupboard Cook will be at the Fort Collins, Colorado store on October 14th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm, to help celerate the Cupboards anniversary. The Cook will be demonstrating the preparation of this soup along with some other tasty treats. Those in the area please  stop by have a taste and learn something too.

The Cook is Back- Coffee making a difference and creative cooking!

     Welcome back to the blog. Summer is now officially moving back to the southern hemisphere. The Cook’s travels have come to a temporary end, but what great travels they have been. The Cook’s never ending search for the best foods of the world has substantiated the Cook’s belief that the best foods come from products which are grown local to the region.

     Case in recent point, while the Cook was traveling in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, the Cook found wild blackberries growing everywhere. After picking and consuming many kilograms of these huge blackberries, it became evident that these fresh berries tasted nothing like the varieties available in the supermarkets. They were soft, sweet, aromatic, and extremely flavourful. The same can be said of the local salmon. Wild salmon fresh off of the boats, is a whole taste experience different than the store bought steaks and fillets. It is amazing what an extra day or two of processing and shipping does to food tastes and textures.

     Bottom line: eat in season, eat fresh, eat local, and eat sustainable.

     The Cook was introduced to a coffee that is grown in Laos (Southeast Asia) and is marketed in the local Fort Collins, Colorado, USA area by The Coffee Registry. Laos has been a region embroiled in war for decades. The majority of the population lives in poverty. Bolaven Farms formed a cooperative that helped local residents become farmers; an undertaking aimed at providing jobs, not aid. The resulting coffee beans are organic and akin to many of the Sumatran and Indonesian beans, produce a coffee that has lower acidity, is very distinctive in flavor, fruity, yet full-bodied. This has become the Cook’s favored coffee. Not only is the coffee great, but by supporting this project, the consumers provide jobs to these people; provide them with a sense of worth and dignity. We all want that do we not? (thecoffeeregistry.com)

     A new coffee…my oh my, the Cook never imagined that there would be a deviation from the Italian coffee roots, but never say never. Open the palate to all possibilities!

     The Cook has been asked this question numerous times: “How do I become artistic and inventive in the kitchen?. This is a great question, as we all become patterned or habitual in the ways and menus that we cook. Some people are gifted with creative spirits and some are not. The Cook was not one of those gifted with creativity even though the Cook comes from a family of very talented artists and performers. The Cook had to learn and practice.

     The Cook’s answer is two-fold. Most importantly: learn the basics of cooking with all of the products that you and your family enjoy eating. It may be a bit boring but hang with it. Learn what foods and spices work together. A great book to use for a reference is: Culinary Artistry by Dornenburg and Page, published by Wiley&Sons. Develop a “taste palette” and experiment with your newly acquired basic skills. Once you are comfortable with your favorite menus and no longer need the recipe cards, practice with increasing the artistic look or presentation. Keep it simple! Look at the pictures in the food magazines and try to duplicate them. This will lead to your own ideas. If you are a creative person, then have a go. Who was it that said: “we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”? (Bob Ross-artist)

     Open the palate to all possibilities! Once you have a good working knowledge of the basics, you can now experiment with foods not so familiar to you. When you have a success, add that to your basic menu set and try with another food product. Do not be timid. Experiment by tweeking seasonings and garnishes or cooking methods to your basics. Practice makes perfect!

 

Well – the Cook is out of space so thanks for re-joining the Cook. Next time we’ll get into a few things that the Cook learned. See you then.

 

The Cupboard Cook