where the wild things are . no 21. chilled wild watercress soup and welsh rarebit with wild ginger

I used the last of the wild watercress for this soup. It has now become leggy and has flowered so it is sort of done for the season but it was lovely while it lasted. This recipe is from Alice Waters but I used two kinds of Sorrel instead of one. A wood sorrel and a sorrel I picked up from the Greenmarket.

 Chilled Wild Watercress and Sorrel Soup and Welsh Rarebit With Wild Ginger

 Adapted from Alice Water's Watercress and Sorrel Soup 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

1/2 pound yellow Finn or red potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 1/2 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or canned low-sodium

chicken broth

1 pound watercress, tough stems discarded

1/2 pound sorrel, stems discarded

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion add cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about

Stir in the watercress and sorrel, cover and simmer over low heat until the greens are wilted, about 5 minutes. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the saucepan and re-warm over moderately high heat; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the croutons.

NOTES Sorrel is a perennial herb with a sour flavor. It is shaped like spinach, but the color of the leaves ranges from pale to dark green. Look for sorrel with bright, crisp leaves. The stems should not be woody. While sorrel is available year-round, its peak season is the spring, when it's at its mildest.

 Welsh Rarebit With Wild Ginger

The key to good Welsh Rarebit is a really good cheddar cheese. I like one with a bit of a bite. Don't worry no rabbits were harmed in this process!! Welsh Rarebit is just another way to say fancy cheese toast and it does not in fact have anything to do with rabbit!!

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

3 tablespoons of AP flour

1 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

1/2-teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup of heavy cream

1/2 cup of any dark beer

2 cups of grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon grated wild ginger or fresh horseradish

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Toast 4-6 pieces of bread. I used a raisin nut loaf from Balthazar and the fruit in the bread was perfect with the bite of the Rarebit.

Grate the cheese

Grate the Wild Ginger or Horseradish

Melt the butter over LOW heat in a small sauce pan and whisk in the four stirring constantly and taking care not to burn the butter or the flour. Add the cream, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, wild ginger, salt, pepper and beer and combine until smooth.  Slowly begin to add the cheese stirring constantly for 5 minutes or so until the sauce is smooth. Pour over the toasted bread and pop under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese is bubbly. It is often served without broiling but I like it better with a little crisp.

watercress

watercress

watercress, wood sorrel and sorrel

watercress, wood sorrel and sorrel

wild sorrel 

wild sorrel 

broiled rarebit

broiled rarebit

120601_HGFT_WILD_SPRING_ES-4373.jpg

strawberry rhubarb cardamom shortcake. maple whip cream.

Nothing signals the beginning of summer for me like strawberry shortcake. I love the smell of strawberries and sun!

This is  an adapted twist on the classic. The cream biscuits have just  hint of cardamom and the rhubarb adds a bit of tartness to the sometimes cloyingly sweet strawberry. It is topped  with a hit of woodsy maple whip cream!

 

 

 

  Alice Water's Cream Biscuits (With Cardamom)

 

Adapted from Alice Water's Cream Biscuits The Art of Simple Food

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Stir together in a large bowl.

 

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

4 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of cardamom

 

Add

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter

cut into small pieces

 

Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or a small pastry blender until they are the size of small peas. Measure:

3/4 cup heavy cream

Remove 1 tablespoon and set aside. Lightly stir in the remainder of the cream with fork until the mixture just comes together. Without overworking it, lightly knead the dough a couple of times in the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into eight 1 1/2 inch circles or squares. Rerolll the scraps if necessary.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchement paper and lightly brush the tops with the reserved tablespoon of cream and a sprinkle os sugar.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until cooked through and golden.

 

 

Strawberry Rhubarb

For the Fruit

Halve 4 cups of  washed strawberries 

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of sugar and set aside

Cut  2 cups rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar

Place rhubarb and sugar mixture in a pot on low heat with 1/4 cup of water

Heat on low stirring occaisionaly until the rhubarb is completely broken down

Add more water if needed

Set aside to cool

Once cool, combine the rhubarb and the strawberries and mix together well. Set aside.

 

 

Maple Whip Cream

1 pint of heavy cream

3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup

Whisk  together in a bowl until a light whip cream forms

fava bean ragout

 Fava beans are one of the fleeting mid-Summer vegetables that are quite easy to miss. They show up at the market for a short time only. They start appearing in the late Spring and are gone by mid to late July. I was just on the cusp of not finding them this year and may have found the last of them. The Fava bean, sometimes called the Broad Bean is popular in Europe and the Middle East. It has long been a staple in the Mediterranean diet. I was first introduced to the Fava bean as a kid by my grandmother, as Fava Beans and Chicory is a popular Puglian dish. You can find them dried year round in many US. markets. They are a long oversized fuzzy  grean bean and require quite a bit of work to prepare, this may account for thier somewhat obscure status.

 

When looking for a recipie for the odd or unusual vegetable. I always turn, with out fail, to Alice Waters. One of the cookbooks I cannot live without is Alice Water's Chez Panisse Vegetables. If i were only allowed one book, this is the book I would choose.  I love it because I can look up any seasonal vegetable in the index and go to a complete section of recipies using said vegetable. Today, I chose Fava beans. After two long weeks of work and catering everyday, I really wanted to be in control of my own food choice. I had some fava beans I needed to use from last week's farmers market upstate.

I was a little torn between Fava bean ragout and Fava bean puree but decide to go with the former. I used Alice Waters recipie as my guide and then improvised a bit as I usually do.

I substituted  fresh lemon balm and fresh mint for the rosemary as that is what I had on hand. I sometimes find rosemary to be a bit heavy in the summer.  I used far less beans because I didn't have as many as the recipe called for. I added a little bit of Bhutanese red pepper at the end and lime instead of lemon and some shavings of pecorino.

 

FAVA BEAN RAGOUT FROM ALICE WATER"S CHEZ PANISSE VEGETABLES

3-4lbs of young fava beans

1 large clove of garlic

1 small sprig rosemary

olive oil

salt and pepper

1/2 lemon

 

Shell the fava beans and discard the pods.

Bring a pot of water to boil, add the fava beans and simmer for 1 minute.

Drain and cool immediately in cold water ( i used an ice bath)

Pierce the outer skin with a thumbnail and squeeze each bean out of it's skin with thumb and forefinger.

 Peel and chop the garlic very fine.

Put the fava beans in a suacepan with a mixture of half water and half olive oil enough to just cover them.

Add the garlic and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the beans are tender, 5 minutes or so more or less. finish with a squeeze of lemon and another grind or two of pepper.

 

This ragout is great over pasta or on toasted crostini.

 

My improvised version is below.

 

Fava Bean Ragout

Follow above steps for shelling and cooling

Add shelled peeled fava beans to a large cast iron skillet, cover with 1/2 olive oil 1/2 water until just covered

Add  1 clove of finely chopped garlic and 1/2 cup of finely choped mint and lemon balm

salt to taste 

Simmer for 5 minutes or so or until the beans are tender and some of the liquid has eveaporated

 

Remove from the heat

Add the juice of 1/2 lime and some red pepper flakes

 

 If seving with pasta:

transfer to pasta and add some shaved pecorino romano.

 

For Crostini

Cut a nice crusty loaf of bread into thick slices

Rub each slice with a garlic

Brush with olive oil and toast under the broiler for a minute or until just brown

Add the fava bean ragout add a drizzle of olive oil and a shaving of pecorino.

strawberry shortcake.

Well, someone in my house is feeling better! The magic of medicine can lift a 14 year old from the depths of despair, sick with strep only to be inspired by a photo of strawberry shortcake on the back of a box of bisquick.

The appetite has returned.

Though I pleaded with her to use Alice Waters Cream Biscuit recipe from the Art of Simple Food (my favorite) she refused. She was completely and utterly swayed by the power of advertising. So it is, that she stands in the kitchen cutting up strawberries and humming quietly to herself. 

Tomorrow is another day and I can fight the cream biscuit battle then.

For a more grown up version of a shortcake biscuit, see Alice Waters recipie below.

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Stir together in a large bowl.

 

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

4 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

 

Add

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter

cut into small pieces

 

Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or a small pastry blender until they are the size of small peas. Measure:

3/4 cup heavy cream

Remove 1 tablespoon and set aside. Lightly stir in the remainder of the cream with fork until the mixture just comes together. Without overworking it, lightly knead the dough a couple of times in the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into eight 1 1/2 inch circles or squares. Rerolll the scraps if necessary.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchement paper and lightly brush the tops with the reserved tablespoon of cream. Bake for 17 minutes or until cooked through and golden.