Wednesday, September 30, 2009

San Lori's giveaway has begun!

Click here to enter and be sure to note the entry instructions. Good luck and happy early holidays!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mushrooms Newburg: Warning lights on

Food blogs, and many others have have said every word they could on Junior League cookbooks, church cookbooks, and what have you. But what about golf tournament cookbooks: Shall I issue a treatise in defense?

Alright, I will skip it, this time.

I am aware of the vastly untrustworthy information contained in all of these volumes because, for the most part, they lack a test program of any sort. However, in concept at least, many of these books' ideas have merit. Many of them have dusty pizazz or some fabulous pedigree. I have contributed to them and I buy them, new and at book sales, and I use them for inspiration. No apologies: If you knew how tough in the tooth the left over turkey was that I needed to make use of, you would thank me for this resourcefulness. But since you've no way of being certain, you will just have to believe that this questionable golf tourney recipe helped me dispose of it and a huge drawer full of mushrooms, in an agreeable fashion.

And agreeable is definitely part of what we know of food in the home kitchen, is it not? In large part, we are not trained chefs, we are purposeful jacks of this trade and several others and I do think room should be made in an honest food blog for dishes which service economy, ease, and use of leftovers. I will not tell you it was the drop dead best thing I have made in this lifetime, I am only going to say that is was rich and satisfying and not the everyday use of remaining roast turkey here at Rancho Relaxo. So, welcome this dish, will you? It is serviceable, useful, and lovely. Not unlike the Hostess, come to think of it.

This may not light the culinary world on fire. But that is not my purview. I am here to get you through life pleasingly with a little grace and no wastefulness while transcending pre-packaged foods. In that vein, Mushrooms Newburg avec poulet, or any other worldly nonsense moniker of your choice.

Mushrooms Newburg Casserole
adapted from Tee Time at the Masters, Junior League of Augusta, Georgia

Once again, more of a concept here than truly a recipe. Use leftover chicken, turkey, or pork, all will be very nice and here you have general measurements for roughly 3/4 pound remaining meal, though more or less will be fine, as I've no idea at all what is in your fridge as I am not clairvoyant (though, you really should check the expiration on the salad dressing, eeeeew). Now then.

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 shallot, diced (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
Mushrooms (fresh), 8 ounces or more would be best, cleaned and sliced
1 or 2 tablespoons cognac
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy or light cream
3/4 pound cooked chicken, pork, or turkey, shredded into bite-sized pieces
Thyme, marjoram, or any green herb you favor

Rice or toast points to serve.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and shallot until softened and translucent, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent browning, only until the liquid is nearly, but not entirely, gone from the pan.

Hold the pan off the heat while you add the cognac and sherry. Place the skillet back on the burner and add the chicken stock. Cook another few minutes until the mixture thickens slightly. Now add the meat and stir to combine. Add the cream, thyme, and marjoram (or any green herb you like) and stir again. Serve over rice or toast points, think of me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tandoori Apricot: The Tuesday night save

Tuesday is the night I struggle with dinner. I can no more explain this to you than quantum physics but I have developed an ease of use method which has truly saved me when I also have chicken, pork, or shrimp on hand. This preparation for an exotic sweet and spicy dish always gets raves and not a soul is any the wiser that I was not in the kitchen slaving, but rather, had my nose stuck in the monitor devouring every last word of Crazy Days and Nights (guilty pleasure). Don't judge me, I am immune to it anyway. Obviously.

Alright, then. Everyone ready? You will need to get on the horn and order up a bit of Tandoori Spice from Penzey's or something to that effect. Just be sure it is a good one, as you know, this is a best-in-class blog so, do right by me, okay?

Tandoori Apricot Chicken, Pork, or Shrimp

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the trimmed or clean protein on your board and dust it liberally with the Tandoori Spice, and then salt and pepper. Just remember Tandoori can be mild in small amounts and fiery in large, so take it easy the first time and use more next time if you can tolerate it.

Now, add a bit of olive oil to an oven-proof skillet and over medium high heat, get the oil very hot, until it just begins to smoke. Place the seasoned meat in the pan and brown on both sides, keeping the heat up to be sure it does indeed brown/ caramelize.

Just before the meat is finished, add two heaping tablespoons of good apricot preserves to the pan and a touch of water, chicken stock, or orange juice. Move it a round a bit so that the meat is coated. Place the skillet in the oven and cook the meat until it is complete finished. Slice festively and serve over rice, topped with the pan sauce.

If you wish to concentrate/ reduce the pan sauce a bit, remove the meat from the pan to a warm plate and place the skillet on medium heat on the stove, bring to a simmer and allow it to reduce by half. Pour over the meat and rice as above.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Canyon Ranch: Chinese 7 Vegetable Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing

I am sharing with you my only gently adjusted recipe for Canyon Ranch's unbelievably tasty and filling seven vegetable salad because it is a fabulous easy-transport option for light-fare picnics. And since picnics will be the subject of the day at Blushing Hostess Entertains, I thought you should have this as another great option in the salad category: Home or away.

Chinese Seven Vegetable Salad with Lemon Miso Dressing
adapted from Canyon Ranch Cooks, Barry Corriea and Scott Uehlein (St. Martin's Press)
serves 4

The original recipe calls for snow peas, which I do not care for. In the interest of not adjusting the name of Canyon Ranch's recipe, I continue to call it "seven" although mine is six. Secondly, the original called for the romaine to be placed under the sauteed veg, rather than tossed with it. I prefer it all quickly tossed together and dressed as I have noted below.


1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon grass, minced
2 tablespoons low sodium tamari sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots,sliced
1 1/2 cups red onion, sliced
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
(1 cup snow peas, which I omit)
1 cup sliced zucchini, sliced
1 cup yellow squash, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cup bok choy, chopped
1 1/2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped in bite size pieces

Lemon Miso Dressing (16 servings):
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons water, divided
3 tablespoons white miso paste
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 12 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons garlic minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh parsely

For the salad dressing:

In a small bowl, mix dry mustard with 1 tablespoon water until the mixture forms a smooth paste.

In a separate bowl mix miso paste with remaining 2 tablespoons water. Set aside.

In the blender, combine lemon and apple juices and vinegar. Add the mustard paste and rice vinegar. Add the mustard paste and ginger. Bled for 10 seconds on low. Add the garlic, lemon peel, parsley, and miso paste. Blend on high for 10 seconds or until smooth. Pour into a jar. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to one week.

For the salad:

In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients for the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until mixture is simmering and and allow to reduce to about 1/2 cup.

Heat the canola oil in a wok over high heat. Add carrots, red onion, and broccoli, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add zucchini, squash, mushrooms (and snow peas if you are using them and stir fry 30 more seconds. Add bok choy and sauce and stir fry until until all vegetables are tender but still crisp.

Remove the skillet from the heat and very quickly, toss in the romaine lettuce. Drizzle each with 1/4 cup lemon miso dressing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rose Bakery's Pistachio Cake

I have mentioned this beautiful book to you several times. By now you may be tired of my mentioning the Rose Bakery Cookbook but I will never tire of flipping through those thick, lush pages. Nor will the recipes, so painstakingly cornered for a Parisian Bakery which has gone so far beyond baguettes, croissant, and macaroons ever be tiresome for me to test or repeat. It has carved a path for itself Rose Bakery, and in so doing, a niche of food and spectacular sleeper recipes. The idea is that you probably will not have considered many of these recipes the way Rose creates them: But if you are like me, you might wonder why you never thought all those quick bread recipes might come to something like this cake.

I easily make use of two pounds of nuts in a week. I hide them everywhere I can, along with fish and avocados (not necessarily together) and consequently, I thought I knew every variation on nut-sneaking there was. Not so at all. Herewith, is the most devilish and masterful nut and almond sneak of all time.

Everyone who came in contact with this cake adored it, even though, butter not withstanding, it is largely healthy. And in spite of the fact that the icing is so obviously full of pistachios, which at least one of us claimed they absolutely did not care for and would never touch. Never. Never. Never.

Good? Yes, and I wish some remained.

Pistachio Cake
adapted from Rose Bakery: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery, Rose Carrarini (Phaidon)
serves 8

Rose's recipe called for 2 sticks/ 1 cup of butter, and honestly, I could not bear the thought of it. The 3/4 is fine, the whole cup is luxurious. I also tried it with the 1/4 cup replaced by the same amount of pistachio oil: Good for you, but it did not light my world on fire.

3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) plus more for the pan, softened
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup ground pistachios
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

For the topping:
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped and dry toasted on the stove top
1/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter one standard loaf pan or 8" cake round, then line with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Set aside.

With a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until they are light and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Now add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Now fold in the ground almonds, pistachios, flour, baking powder and salt.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool 10 minutes in the pan, flip it out, and allow it to cool then to room temperature.

To make the topping, gently heat the pistachios, sugar, and lemon zest together in a sauce pan over low heat, once the sugar is dissolved, pour the mixture over the cake and allow it to set while it cools.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What comforts you?

Please swing by Blushing Hostess for What comforts you?, looking forward to seeing you there.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Come on over

Lets talk. Please swing by The Blushing Hostess.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cracked Chocolate Earth

It is a cake. Only in the sense that when you encounter it, it was clearly born from a cake pan. But honestly, the thing has little else to recommend it as one besides the round remnant of the side of the pan from whence it quite literally sprung.

I added up the ingredients and it just does not total ten pounds but when finished, it could easily pass for a soft, ten pound chocolate bar. It is a sterling recipe when you intend to go to absolutely little, frankly - insultingly little - trouble to make someone a cake and would not dream of reaching for a cake box but all the while intend to act very put out and exhausted about the entire endeavor.

It is marvelous and near peerless in its devastatingly unhealthy grandness. Eat it and know that a nutritionist somewhere can hear a bell ringing, I suppose.

But really. I will work it off, this perilous symphony of wickedness, I promise. Can you tell me how long, roughly, it takes to work off four of these? I am concerned it may be longer that I have, entirely.

Cracked Chocolate Earth
adapted from Tyler's Ultimates, Tyler Florence (Oh! How beautiful is that man?)
Serves 8 (easy peasy)

This cake was difficult to get a decent shot of, as is often the case with chocolate, you will just have to take my word for how remarkable the cake truly is. It is inevitable and correct that it rises very high during baking, as a souffle would, and falls when it retreats from the oven. All is as it should be.

Serve it once it has cooled: I used a cake knife but Chef Florence goes for broke with a spoon and just plunges it in, souffle-style as well.

I added orange zest; chocolate and fresh orange are fabulous together. Just remember that with chocolate, adding a little orange goes a long way. Though the original recipe was without orange or flavoring whatsoever.

1 cup (2 sticks butter), diced
1 pound good bittersweet chocolate
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)

Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch springform pan, and set aside.

Put the chocolate and butter into a double boiler (or makeshift) and heat over 1 inch of simmering water until melted. Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Add a little of the warm chocolate into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Once combined, add the remaining chocolate in two additions. Add the orange zest and mix in gently.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pout into the prepared pan and back until the cake is set and top starts to crack, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the cake to stand 10 minutes, then remove the springform sides.

Serve at room temperature dusted with confectioner's sugar.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Emeril's Delmonico's Artichoke Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Recently good intentions around here resulted in someone wielding a meat mallet and muttering un-pleasantries. But, it was my Mom's birthday as I mentioned here and consequently absolutely worth burdening my children with memories of the Butterflied Leg of Lamb War of 2009, as I affectionately call it now.

The struggle for this dramatic presentation was worth it. So much so that this will likely be our new Easter dinner in the future. Honestly, it does have to be a really special occasion in my book because the sum total of all these steps, juggled between the needs of a toddler and newborn, took parts of three days. But a birthday certainly is cause enough and once you eat this roast you will not go back to grilled leg of lamb so I recommend finding or making up a very special day and rolling around on the counter with a huge cut of lamb. Okay?

Moving on. This roast made such a beautiful presentation that it brought the dining room to silence when I brought it to the table: It is big, colorful, and a fabulous showgirl of a roast on the platter. I would make it again just to see a family full of dish-sized eyes and excited glances. It is a luxe thing one never sees anymore, like most of the dishes of Delmonico's, a favorite haunt of mine in New Orleans. Worth trying even once in a lifetime as you note your table of impressed guests when dinner has begun and you simultaneously realize you know how one feels when they summit a very great peak.

New Orleans-style Artichoke Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Garlic-Wine Sauce, Mint Pesto, and Baby Potatoes
adapted from Emeril's Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past
serves 8*

You will need to make the lamb stock first. It is not available in stores generally, here is a decent recipe. If you cannot, use a high-quality beef stock. Then make and trim up the artichokes. And make some bread crumbs, before you do anything, you have a couple of hours of work ahead of you, so carve out time accordingly.

*This recipe stated it will serve 6, in fact, it served that with nearly half remaining, gyros for five the following night and still yielded a decent portion remaining, for which Puppy was very thankful. It is really quite an enormous roast.

4 medium size boiled artichokes, trimmed of leaves and cleaned, hearts only, chopped**
1/4 pancetta (or bacon) in small dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fine dry (unseasoned) breadcrumbs (I made my own, see below)
3/4 cup olive oil + 3 tablespoons for the roasting pan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Regianno
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon creole seasoning
One 4 lb leg of leg (after de-boning), butterflied and trimmed
1 3/4 pound small red (new) potatoes

Mint Pesto* (below)
Garlic-Wine Sauce (requires the lamb stock, will post this recipe shortly)

*recipe follows
** do not substitute canned artichoke hearts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the pancetta from the skillet and place on a piece of paper towel to drain. Add the onions to the remaining fat in the pan and cook for 3 minutes . Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the cayenne and cook, stirring until the bread crumbs are lightly toasted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the parsley and oregano, stir and remove from the heat. Allow to cool 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumb mixture with the diced artichoke hearts, pancetta, cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, and creole seasoning. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and stir until well blended.

Spread the butterflied leg of lamb, boned side up, on a work surface covered with plastic wrap. Cover with a second sheet of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to a 3/4 inch thickness (be patient). Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly across the meat leaving a 1/2 border on all sides. Roll the meat over the stuffing, jelly roll fashion, and tuck in the ends. Tie with kitchen twine every two inches and season the outside of the lamb with the remaining salt and pepper.

Place three tablespoons in a large roasting pan and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the meat and place in the oven to roast until brown and tender and the meat registers your desired level of doneness on a meat thermometer: About 45 minutes for medium-rare, but be careful as different parts of the roast will be cooked sooner.

Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a pot and cover with salted cold water by 1 inch. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes or until soft to a fork. Drain, and throw them into the pan with the roast to brown while the roast finishes cooking, turning them once before you remove the roast from the oven, they will be light brown and a little crispy.

Remove the roast from the oven, transfer the potatoes to a bowl to keep warm and cover. Then cover the roast in the pan tightly with foil, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, remove the twine, and slice in 1 inch thick slices or so. Arrange the meat on a platter and place potatoes around the slices. Garnish with fresh herbs if you care to.

Mint Pesto
makes 3/4 cup

This is a beautiful sauce but several of us do not care for mint in large doses. I substituted half parsley for the mint and it was still overwhelming for them. The original recipe appears here so that you may make your own choice. The recipe also called for the potatoes (and haricort vert I omitted from the outset) to be coated in this mint pesto which would have rendered them inedible here, but mint lovers should douse the potatoes liberally as it is a fabulous pesto.

2 cups fresh packed mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts, which is what I had handy and they were great)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the mint, nuts, cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until well-chopped. With the machine running slowly, add all the oil through the feed tube and process to make a smooth paste, scraping down the sides as needed. Adjust the seasonings to taste and transfer to an airtight container to store until ready to use, within five days.

Garlic-Wine Sauce
makes 3/4 cup

Do not, under even emergency lamb-roasting circumstances omit this sauce. It is critical to this dish and so amazing I would eat it over toast for breakfast if there had been any remaining. Not kidding.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups lamb stock

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a brisk simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking to incorporate, adding more butter as the previous pieces are incorporated into the sauce.

Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning to your taste, and serve immediately. You can either pour it directly over the roast or place it on the table in a sauce boat, which is what I chose.

I photographed the climb for you, and chose to leave out the garlic wine sauce-making photos until another post because this is enough for one post! Anyway, lets go to the photos because even as Emeril says: I really make the food (on this site)!

I made the bread crumbs from some three day old bread I had lingering post-making Vicksburg Tomato Sandwiches.... hummmm, delish. Oh! But I digress.

I threw them in the food processor.

And when I had a good mix of both fine and coarse crumbs I threw them on a baking sheet and toasted them at 300 degrees until golden. This recipe is not suited to box crumbs, so I really had to do this.

Here I have my boiled artichokes which I trimmed and diced for the stuffing. See?

I diced them and set them aside for the stuffing.

Then I made the pesto.

Into the processor went the mint (and parsley, in my case),

then garlic, cheese, nuts, and oil.

Hello, there, Gorgeous.

Then I felt I deserved a little break.
Phew. Stop for a little breakfast.

Then to the stuffing in earnest:

That is the mise (prep) for the stuffing: Bread crumbs, onions, cheese, lemon and zest, and spices. The pancetta was already cooking (rendering) in the pan.

See? I let it drain over there somewhere. Then I added the onion to the remaining fat in the same pan and let cook/ soften for three minutes or until I stopped yammering on the phone and remembered what I was doing.

Then I added the crumbs and spices.

Right. Just like that.

I let it cool. In a big bowl finally, I added it to the artichoke, cheese, pancetta, lemon, and lemon zest and stirred it up really well as you see above. Stuffing is done! Wow, it's only been like two and half days! Sooo great. Alrighty then:

Then the butterflied leg went down between two pieces of plastic wrap and I fiercely beat it. But to get it to the suggested 3/4 inch thickness took my strapping Husband, so when you do this get help or have at the ready the biggest mallet or bully club you can lay hands on. Or a cop, yes, a cop would be very helpful in this situation.

Once I was recomposed to a perfect lady, I took the plastic away and placed the filling on the meat just like so, leaving a 1/2 inch border on all sides.

Now then, I took the butchers twine (which I totally remembered to ask the butcher for and did not have to go back to the market looking for later, or anything like that) and tied it around and around. Holy cow! This was right about the time I was wishing I had gone to culinary school, or yachtsman school, and not a humanities school where they dropped the ball on knots altogether. I had to skewer mine as well because there was just stuffing and lamb sticking out all cattywompus everywhere and I needed to take matters in hand. I was not going to be beaten by a piece of meat.

Then I stopped. Rested. And we ate lunch of mozzarella, farm stand tomatoes, my garden basil, and balsamic vinegar sandwiches with rustic chips. Delish.

Back to work!

I hung around for a while, playing with my children and making a menace of myself in the kitchen garden and after a while I went back inside and coated the roasting pan with olive oil and threw the roast into the oven at 400 degrees until the meat thermometer registered done on all parts of the roast, about 45 minutes or so. After it had cooked for 30 minutes, I tossed the boiled potatoes in next to it and they crisped up nicely (my Grandmother's old "roasted potato" trick).

I removed the pan from the oven, covered it tightly with foil and allowed it to rest for 15 minutes.

On to the board it went and I cut in 1 inch bias slices or slightly larger. Like so.

Beg pardon? Yes! I was doing an end zone victory dance. Oh, how beautiful is this thing? If you think for one second I did not take a cell phone picture of this thing and send it to everyone I ever met including the air conditioning repair guy, you are new here.

How did I do, Peeps?


You made it to the bottom! Great! Now head on over and enter the Blushing Giveaway for
Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basic's! Here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Barefoot Contessa Giveaway at Blushing Hostess

Be sure you drop over to Blushing Hostess before September 11, 2009 to enter the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basic's book giveaway, a perfect gift for this perfect readership.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stop obsessing

That is what I tell myself about this Delita butter I recently uncovered at the market. It is not inexpensive but it is salty and piquant and constitutes my latest bad habit. Consequently, not unlike Starbucks, they could charge twenty dollars for it and I would still have to pay it: It is addiction.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Beet soup with Hot Potato

Morning gorgeous readers (oh, you are, you are). As promised, I am here to fill your coffers with the recipes from my A Birthday Dinner menu over at Blushing Hostess. It was a fabulous meal and I cannot recommend these recipes more highly.

To begin, I served an adaptation of Rose Bakery's Cold Beetroot Soup with Hot Potato. It was well into the nineties that evening and I thought this soup would bring a nice balance to the main course which was quite heavy.

I dare say, if one does not care for beets but is willing to try anything by the spoonful once, they would be so pleasantly surprised that the texture here is very much like a cold melon soup and the contrast of lemon and red wine vinegars takes the beet-ness out of the beast, er, as it were.

Onward, then.

Chilled Beetroot Soup with Hot Potato
Serves 6
adapted from Rose Bakery Cookbook: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery

I should say, right up front, that Rose cautions you to be sure you make this soup the day before. Indeed that would truly allow the flavor to deepen and set but, I made this sometime around the time when vampires rule the night the morning before and it did not fail me. I never use water for soup and always make my own stock, though Rose did call simply for water in their recipe and to use either lemon juice or vinegar, I found I like the brightness of both.

2 onions, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 pounds beets, diced and peeled
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
8 cups chicken (or vegetable stock if you prefer) stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons superfine (caster) sugar
6 medium potatoes, washed and not peeled
sour cream to garnish if you care for it

Place the onions, celery, carrot, and beet in a large saucepan and cover with the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for two hours or until the beet is completely softened. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Transfer to a food processor and puree until very thin. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add a bit of water.

Chill the soup overnight.

The next day, add the lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. The soup must have a sweet/sour balance.

In a large pan covered with salted water, boil the potatoes until soft. Remove and halve them. Pour the could soup into bowls, put two hot potato halves in the middle of each bowl and add a spoonful of sour cream, if you like.