Posts Tagged ‘soup’

And He Made It All By Himself!

Roasted Tomato Soup

As I’ve mentioned before, I do 99% of the cooking at home.

But several years ago, I got fed up with this arrangement and inferred that the Everyman should cook at least one of our meals a week.

Don’t get me wrong.  Out of the 21 meals we typically eat weekly, I wouldn’t say I prepare all of them.  On the occasional night that I don’t feel like cooking, the Everyman will suggest ordering in rather than cooking anything himself.  Then there are times when we go out to dinner or brunch, at least one of which generally happens once or twice a month.  I don’t go out of my way to cook things for lunches, but I am the one who packs up all of the leftovers with extras in the morning.  To put it simply, I do quite a bit and sometimes the balance seems more than a little unfair.

For a while the Everyman was cooking dinner on a fairly regular basis, and we even christened Thursdays as “survive the Everyman’s cooking” nights, since he’s such a fan of Survivor.  But for the last 9 months or so he’s been taking night school, so these survival dinners fell by the wayside and were more often than not replaced by a suggestion of takeout.  Obviously, not the ideal situation for either of our health or waistlines, not to mention takeout can get boring really fast.

As of this week, the Everyman is finished with his night school courses, so I was only too eager to chide him into returning to this weekly slot in the kitchen.  After a few gentle prods he obliged, so I give you the inaugural meal from “survive the Everyman’s cooking” 2010: roasted tomato and garlic soup!

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Frigid Fare

Sabodet

Gratefully lucky to have the last week of the year off, I spent the morning running around town exchanging other peoples’ presents for them.

A gift for the Everyman was exchanged for several others in a more suitable size, while a duplicate Avedon book for his brother in-law was returned until something better arises.

After braving the calmer-than-expected Eaton Centre, I intended to head over to the AGO to wander around a few exhibits and then have lunch at Frank, but the blisteringly cold weather had other plans for me.  Losing the feeling in my fingertips, I opted to hop a streetcar and head to The Hoof Cafe for lunch instead.

Once I arrived, I noticed that one of Toronto’s favourite food writers (Corey Mintz) was having lunch in the window, and as much as I might’ve wanted to introduce myself, I’m no groupie, so I kept to myself and hunkered down at the bar.

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Comfort Food Times Two

Soup And A Bun

As I mentioned to DMSinTexas the other day, I spent the better part of an afternoon this weekend flipping through How To Cook Everything Vegetarian in an effort to get inspired.

After a bit of random perusal I gravitated towards the soup chapter, which coincidentally is one of my most favourite kinds of vegetarian meals. As much as I generally love poring over a good cookbook and becoming immersed in it, I’ve come to realize that the only time I cook from a recipe is when baking is involved, and even then I’ve taken to winging it more often than not. Of course, since I have such difficulty following a recipe, I didn’t make anything from the book that day, but it did set a few ideas whirring around my brain.

So, it should come as no surprise to my readers that the first recipe I did make was not technically a vegetarian recipe at all (if only because it contained no vegetables) but rather a bread recipe.  With the aid of a little advanced planning, I managed to turn out a fairly decent version of Bittman’s overnight French baguettes.

But, before any of you start getting indignant and accusing me of copping out and picking something that is only inherently vegetarian, allow me to explain;

I picked the baguettes because a) they’re a pretty decent litmus test for the general usability of a cookbook’s recipes and b) I needed something to mop up the vegetarian soup I decided to invent.

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The Hoof Redux

In what was possibly the quickest turnaround we’ve ever made, the Everyman and I made another trip to The Black Hoof last night.

It all started out innocently enough; we were driving home from work and discussing what to have for dinner.  I mentioned some ideas I had for things I was going to cook, and the Everyman sounded mildly interested.  Then, all of a sudden he started smirking, and said, “I got paid today, so I know what we can do…“  Being tired and not fully catching his drift, it took me a while to figure out what he was alluding to.  Once he said it though, I couldn’t not go…

And so, with that, my good intentions to go home, hop on the elliptical and cook a sensible dinner went right out the window and down the street to The Black Hoof.

The place was packed, as it had been on our last visit, and we happened to score the last open 2 top, a fact that happened to make a gentleman waiting on a table for 3 a bit steamed.  As we sat down we both noticed that the menu was still the same, as one would expect when less than a week has passed since your last visit.  The problem we both have with this place is that all of the food is just so incredible and what you haven’t tried sounds so damned good that it’s hard to limit yourself to moderate portions.  All I needed to know was what the dessert of the day would be so I could decide whether I wanted 2 or 3 dishes.

It turned out the dessert was the same (lemon tart with lavender and white chocolate), so I opted (somewhat sadly) for 2 dishes instead.  I revisited the cabbage soup with marrow and toasts, and found it to be just as luxurious and satisfyingly salty as the last time.  I also confirmed that the version of this soup that I concocted at home last Sunday does taste remarkably similar to this soup too (recipe follows).  The Everyman opted to not venture outside of his comfort zone from the last time and instead chose to conduct what he calls the test for consistency.  He ordered the same dishes he’d had (just less of them) in order to see whether they were still being prepared as well as he remembered.  The lamb merguez with queso and tomatillo again stunned him, and he felt that the portion was larger this time.  I, on the other hand, felt that the bone marrow portion of my dish was smaller, and was even inconsistent when compared to other diners around me who had ordered it.  I did still manage to dole out a pile to the Everyman, and it was still delicious, but I just wished I’d had more.  And they really do need to find a more slender instrument to scoop the marrow out with, because that demitasse is just not cutting it and by the end of the endeavor my hands felt like I’d been trying to juice bacon.

Next, I opted to break away and try something new.  The marinated octopus with chorizo had sounded delectable, but I wanted to see it in action.  Unfortunately I was unable to get a glimpse of it before we ordered, so that would have to wait for another day.  The Everyman saw a table near him order one and reported back to me that it was served in a small preserving jar with a snap lid.  I still couldn’t see it, but the face of the woman eating it said enough to make me want to try it the next time.  I toyed with the idea of ordering the small charcuterie board as the rest of my meal, but the Everyman really is the one who loves the cured meats more than I do.  If I had ordered it, it would only have been in the hope that it had that luscious duck mousse on it again.  I lean more towards the cheese side of the board anyway, and since I knew their cheese came from the Cheese Boutique, I wasn’t going to order something I could easily go home and assemble myself.  Unlike the table of girls sitting next to us who were there longer than we were and ate nothing but a small cheese board between them with a bottle of wine.  I mean, really, why wouldn’t you just stay home at that point?  You’re not eating anything made by the actual restaurant (cheeses – Cheese Boutique, bread – Thuet, wine – who knows but obviously wasn’t made in house).  To the Everyman and I, that bordered on insulting the chef.

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A Little Wisdom And Grace

Admittedly it’s long overdue, considering that I visited this particular restaurant about 5 weeks ago, but as I’ve mentioned several times before, I’ve been super busy lately.

It was probably about 6 months ago I noticed that Grace restaurant had opened down the street from our house.  I was intrigued to go for a visit when I read about it on Sweetspot, but the Everyman wasn’t too keen at the time because their menu seemed devoid of things he would enjoy.  So, as I often do, I bided my time and waited for the menu to change enough to something he would fancy.

Flash forward 6 months later, and this is where he decided to take me for my “congratulations on the first week of your new job” dinner.  Grace is a beautiful, warm, homey space, covered with pictures of the owner’s grandmother (who it happens to be named after).  It was also quite a popular place on a Friday night, with quick and friendly service.  Based on the ambiance of the room alone I would be likely to return.  It gave off an overwhelming feeling of comfort.  If I’d been any more comfortable, I’d have to be wearing bunny slippers and my bathrobe I think.

But, on to the reason we’re all here; the food. First off, even though the menu offerings are outstanding, I have to knock the actual menu.  It has no discernible order, and actually makes trying to order a meal quite difficult.  I mean, if the waitress actually has to explain to you where certain items are meant as appetizers and others as mains, then your menu is obviously not well laid out.  Seriously.  It shouldn’t take 5 minutes to explain the mechanics of a menu (especially when none of that time is being used to discuss the actual food).  Anyhow, I’ll stop ranting now.  The menu design is bad.  Enough said.

The food more than makes up for it though.  I chose to order the pork charcuterie of the day, which turned out to be a porcini dusted pork belly on a parsnip puree.  It was absolutely outstanding.  I wished at the time that I knew more about cooking pork belly so that I could replicate that kind of texture and unctuousness at home.  The Everyman had ordered a French onion soup with Gruyere crostini, but being that he doesn’t eat a great deal of French onion soup (or seem to be much of a fan of it) he was a bit flummoxed by the overly hard crostini floating on his soup.  The flavors were definitely there, but -10 points for ease of use.

For mains the Everyman had a striploin with mushrooms, sunchoke and celeriac gratin, and some sauteed greens.  The Everyman was happy; if red meat or bacon are involved, he’s pretty easy to please.  I particularly enjoyed the bite of sunchoke and celeriac gratin that I stole off his plate while he wasn’t looking.  It reminded me of something similar we’d had at Eigensinn over the winter.  My main was a roasted pheasant with a chestnut and parsnip tart and some roasted brussels sprouts.  I’ll start out by saying that I’m not a fan of the parsnip at all, and yet, that night I enjoyed two dishes with parsnips components in them.  The tart was by far my favorite part of the plate, although the brussel sprouts were a close second.  As I’ve gotten older I find that I enjoy brussels sprouts more and more.  I even invented an amazing roasted brussels sprout and squash soup recently which I’ll post a recipe for at the end.  The pheasant was quite nice too, but there were sections of it that I wouldn’t eat because they were much too rare for my taste and frankly tasted weird.  But overall, the meal was entirely pleasant.

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