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Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This is a wonderful recipe, adapted from former Cooking Cottage guest chef and culinary extraordinaire, cookbook author Pam Anderson. The fabulous blog she keeps with her two daughters, Three Many Cooks, is here.

The genius in the vegetarian conversion of this French Onion Soup recipe is found in its broth. Miso & red vermouth mingle with a high quality vegetable stock (we recommend the Kitchen Basics Organic line for all of your store-bought stock needs) to create the trademark depth of the rich beef broth we’re accustomed to in this classic soup. A high-quality crusty baguette will help elevate your soup into the out-of-this-world-delicious territory a good FOS should always inhabit.

*A note about cooking with Miso: I bought the red miso called for in this recipe at the Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Whole Foods stocks it in their refrigerated soy product section, and it comes in a plastic carton similar to a cottage cheese container. Miso is a staple in Japanese cooking, and comes in three basic varieties: white or yellow, red and black. It’s composed of fermented soybeans – as a general rule, the darker its color, the longer it spent fermenting and more intense its pungency. Because it’s a fermented product it will keep in your fridge for a very long time.. think a year plus. Miso is a nice addition to nearly any soup, it can be used in sauces and also makes very tasty salad dressings.

Recipe: Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Summary: This recipe, adapted from Pam Anderson’s, makes a deeply satisfying vegetarian version of the classic French Onion Soup by incorporating red vermouth and miso with a hearty vegetable stock.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra oil for brushing bread
  • 4 large onions, about 2 ½ lbs, thinly sliced (a mandolin works well for this)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 quart high quality vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • ¼ cup sweet vermouth
  • ¼ cup red miso
  • Salt to taste
  • 18 slices nice crusty baguette bread (1/2 inch thick)
  • 6 slices Swiss, Gruyere or Provolone cheese
  • 6 Tbsp grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Heat the butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil in a soup pot over high heat. (Don’t use a coated or non-stick pot, or you’ll have a very difficult time caramelizing your onions!)
  2. Add the onions and sugar and cook over medium to high heat, stirring every couple minutes but being careful not to burn, until dramatically reduced and a light caramel brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook onions, stirring frequently, until rich caramel, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  3. Meanwhile, heat broth in a saucepan until piping hot.
  4. When the onions are fully cooked, sprinkle with the flour, mix it with the onions until a paste forms.
  5. Stir in the vermouth and then the hot broth, using the liquid to deglaze the pot – scraping the bottom and sides with a wooden spoon to remove the tasty stuck-on bits and incorporate them into the broth.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  7. Whisk in the miso, allowing it to “bloom,” and adding water as necessary to achieve a lightly thickened soup. (This is important – now that your miso is added, do not let the soup boil. Like yogurt, in contains living probiotics and enzymes and you don’t want to kill them.)
  8. Taste the soup, and if it needs it add a little salt.
  9. When ready to serve, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and turn the broiler on high.
  10. Lightly brush both sides of the bread slices with oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Toast under the broiler, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, a couple of minutes per side. When broiling something, keep an eye on it – it will go from perfectly toasty to charred very, very quickly.
  11. Place 6 ovenproof soup bowls on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls. Top each with 3 toasts, a cheese slice and then grated Parmesan. Broil until the cheese is melted and spotty brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

The Best of the Lowcountry: Charleston 2013!

The Cooking Cottage Experiences the Best of the Lowcountry
Charleston, SC
April 7-11, 2013 ~ April 14-18, 2013

Let’s travel to the city everyone’s talking about:

Charleston, South Carolina…

Ask someone if they’ve been to Charleston and watch their eyes light up….

Founded in 1670 and originally called “Charles Towne,” in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston is one of America’s most beloved cities. In both 2011 and 2012 the city was named “Best U.S. City” by Conde Nast Traveler, receiving the additional distinction in 2012 of “Top World Destination.” The city is known for it’s rich restaurant scene, hospitable and kind people, vibrant architecture and historical significance.

We’ll stay in the heart of Historic Charleston at the French Quarter Inn, a hotel consistently ranked as one of the nation’s finest. From our elegant home base we will travel to the islands of Charleston County to experience a real Southern roadside BBQ shack, a tea plantation, winery and distillery. Another day we’ll visit Fort Sumter and then dine at a restaurant called “Best New Restaurant in the Country, 2011” by Bon Appetit. Our first night there we’ll dine at the exclusive Chef’s Table at one of the city’s most celebrated fine-dining restaurants. We’ll get to know Charleston from carriages, pedicabs, ferries and luxury transportation. We’ll take a cooking class in one of the city’s most stately historic homes; another day we’ll take one in a modern cooking school. Experts on local culture and food will share their city with us over and over again. Won’t you join us?

Trip Fee: $1,975, based on Double Occupancy (Single Supplement $600)
– Includes hotel accommodations, daily breakfasts and most meals and beverages, cooking classes, and admission and transportation to all activities. Taxes and gratuities included.
– Please inquire about assistance with air & airport transportation.
$500 Non-Refundable Deposit Upon Booking ~ $1,475 due by Feb. 28, 2013

Gnocchi with Lemon, Peas & Spinach

This year’s meal at our Holiday Cookie Classes was a simple salad with Cooking Cottage house Italian dressing (sorry, that recipe is a secret!), followed by Gnocchi with Lemon, Peas & Spinach.  Some people were asking for the gnocchi recipe – so we’ll share it here.  We actually found the original recipe from Gourmet magazine on Epicurious.com, it’s one of their top-rated recipes, and we can see why.  We picked it because it’s an absolute breeze to prepare and tucking into a dish of lemony-cream coated gnocchi feels a little special – so this recipe could become a treat in your weeknight dinner rotation, or something nice to serve to guests (who will never guess it only takes 10 minutes to get the finished dish on the table).  Look for this recipe in the new Epicurious cookbook as well.

The gnocchi served at Cookies was from Bova on County Line Road, but you can also find nice gnocchi at Altomonte’s in Doylestown or in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores.  To cook gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add them, and cook until they rise to the surface, about 3 minutes.  Remove with a large slotted spoon or gently pour into a large colander in the sink to drain.

We served our gnocchi topped with sliced roasted chicken and roasted red pepper, shrimp would also be delicious.

Recipe: Gnocchi with Lemon, Peas & Spinach

Summary: Adapted from Epicurious.com/Gourmet Magazine.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen baby peas (not thawed)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. dried hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach (3 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound dried gnocchi
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Simmer peas with cream, red-pepper flakes, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add spinach and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, stirring, until wilted. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and juice.
  3. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain gnocchi.
  4. Add gnocchi to sauce with cheese and some of reserved cooking water and stir to coat. Thin with additional cooking water if necessary.

Preparation time:

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Our Family’s Favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

Tonight is the first of our Thanksgiving Done Right classes at The Cooking Cottage this year.  We’ll be making some twists on old favorites to update your Thanksgiving table and add a little extra flavor to your joyous celebration.  This year Molly, Peggi’s youngest daughter, will be hosting Thanksgiving at her home in Michigan, and Peggi and Herb will be joining her there.  Kate, Peggi’s middle daughter, will be staying in PA to celebrate with her fiance’s parents, and Winnie & Pete will join that holiday feast.  And Alysia, Peggi’s oldest, will stay out on the West Coast for Turkey Day – joining her boyfriend’s family in Tahoe (not a bad place to go for holidays, huh?).  So while we regret that we won’t all be together for the holiday, we will all still be in the company of people we love, and there’s one recipe that we will all make sure shows up on our tables this Thanksgiving as it does every year:

 

Recipe: Golden Creamed Onions

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. pearl onions, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes, drained and peeled (if using frozen pearl onions you can skip this step, but be sure to drain the frozen onions well)
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup minced parsley leaves

Instructions

  1. In a deep skillet large enough to hold the onions in one layer combine the onions, butter, sugar, salt and enough water to cover the onions by 1/2,” bring the water to a boil and boil the onions until the liquid is almost evaporated. Cook the onions over moderate heat, swirling the skillet, until they turn golden and begin to brown.
  2. Add the cream, bring the liquid to a boil and boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened slightly.
  3. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.

Quick notes

The onion mixture may be made one day ahead, kept covered and chilled, and reheated in a skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is hot.

Number of servings (yield): 8

The Cooking Cottage wishes you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving, with much to be thankful for and, of course, delicious home-cooked food on the holiday table!

Hurricane Cook Off (Florida Style)

Last week Peggi and four of her girlfriends (including Leigh and Susan from the Cooking Cottage) went to spend a few days at her vacation home on Anna Maria Island, FL. The girls were scheduled to depart on Sunday evening a few hours after Peggi’s husband and two of her daughters arrived to join her for the coming week. The return flight was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy so the little house on the Gulf Coast was packed with guests for the next three nights. What to do but have a cook-off?

Molly wrote the Rules & Sign Up Sheet

First up was Team Peggi & Susan J. in the Brunch-Lunch category.

The lovely team of Peggi & Susan J!

They went more the Brunch route with a delicious Bacon, Tomato & Cheese Egg Puff served alongside Fresh Fruit Cups with Toasted Coconut, Whole Grain Toast & English Muffins (with Cherry Preserves – highly recommended if you’ve never tried) and, of course, Mimosas.  Peggi had also brought a little Chocolate Babka from Zabar’s down south, which was just the right sweet treat to round out the meal!

A Delicious Brunch!!

Dinner on Night 1 was handled by Team Kate & Dad.  After a round of Cosmopolitans mixed by the master bartender himself, we all tucked into three big bowls of Steamed Clams with White Wine and Garlic paired with Sauvignon Blanc.  Not just any clams, they were local FL Gulf clams Kate had procured earlier in the day from the famous Star Fish Fishing Market over in Cortez, and they were just so out of this world delicious.  Using a whole head of garlic didn’t hurt either.  I will dream of these mollusks.  Ok anyway here they are:

I’ll probably frame this picture and hang it on my wall someday.

Next, Team Kate & Dad served burgers with a big salad as the main course – but not just any burgers, these are the “Simple, Perfect Fresh-Ground Brisket Burgers” you may have seen in the November issue of Cooking Light, their “beefiest” recipe in the last 25 years (p.156) – and we would all recommend them!  (Kate had the butcher grind the brisket for her, no problem.)  Everyone sipped a little Full Sail Amber Ale (OR) with their burger.

The salad was jicama, sweet corn, tomato, avocado & sunflower seeds with spinach & romaine in a garlic meyer-lemon olive oil & sherry vinegar vinaigrette.

And for dessert, Milk Chocolate Souffles with Nougat Whip & Toasted Almonds, paired with a heady Zinfandel, oh yum!

The Master Bartender mixing pre-dinner cocktails; Chocolate Souffle for dessert.

And that was just Day 1!!

On Tuesday, Molly and Donna were up for Lunch and they decided to jazz up the traditional Salad-Soup combo. Here they are with their Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Crab (recipe from our Soup’s On! classes this fall). The curry smell just filled the house as they made the soup and I could not wait to get to the table!

Team Molly & Donna with Day 2’s Lunch.

The soup was served alongside Molly’s favorite salad: Apple, Blue Cheese and Avocado Salad tossed in Honey-Cider Vinaigrette.  We’ll actually be making this salad later this month in our Hudson River Valley class.  Soup and salad were accompanied by artisinal sourdough and multi-grain breads from a local bakery.

Apple, Blue Cheese, Avocado Salad with Honey-Cider Vinaigrette… so good!

For dessert this creative duo served a tart Frozen Lemon Granita and they actually hollowed out halved lemons, froze them and used them as individual serving dishes.  It’s easy to do and makes an impressive and adorable presentation.  This dessert was so refreshing!

Leigh enjoying the Frozen Lemon Granita from Team Molly & Donna.

Last up was Team Susan Z. & Leigh, and they prepared an amazing Fish Taco Dinner.  To get us ready for the tacos, they served a wonderful, creamy guacamole accompanied by blue corn tortilla chips, salsa, and the best Margaritas!

Margaritas were available on the rocks or frozen. Flamingo glass or regular glass.

Then we sat down to the most gorgeous spread of taco-makin’ fixin’s accompanied by what else but Corona beer.  Leigh & Susan Z. did not prepare just any fish to fill these tortillas, but locally caught Grouper Cheeks.  Yes, cheeks.  Big fish (like grouper, haddock, halibut, etc.) have big cheeks, yielding meat that is just delicious and a perfect choice for tacos because the pieces are already smaller than the large filets you usually buy – and you’re just going to cut them up anyway.  Also, some people (like me) actually enjoy the meat of the cheeks more than the filet, it’s more succulent and tender. Fish cheeks are often found on the menus of upscale restaurants, so keep an eye out and, if you haven’t yet, you should try them sometime! But I digress.  Look at this table of tasty taco trimmings:

Tangy lime dressed slaw, two kinds of salsa, sour cream, smooth guac, homemade chipotle mayo, Spanish rice & beans, tortillas, Coronas, and a big plate’o Grouper cheeks. Ay caramba!

Predictably we needed a break after that, before the absolutely decadent dessert that was coming our way.  So we draped ourselves around the living room and enjoyed watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – what a lovely film, I recommend it to anyone.  As we were watching, Leigh and Susan Z. served up some Oreo-Crusted Chocolate Pudding Heath Bar Crunch Pie.  A truly indulgent ending to our two day cooking marathon.

The most decadent of pies; Team Susan Z. & Leigh platin’ their pie.

The cook off was a lot of fun during a couple of days when bad news was pouring in from the phone and the news.  Luckily on Wednesday morning the girls were able to catch their flight home and go back to their families.

So the next time you’re on vacation with a large group of people, we recommend holding your own cook-off.  We didn’t keep score, but as they say…. we were all winners!  Thanks for reading! :)

 

More Holiday Classes & KIDS Classes Added!

The holidays are an exciting time at the Cooking Cottage.  In fact, we can’t think of many places that are cozier or more bursting with holiday cheer!  We’ve added two more holiday classes to our holiday season as well as kids classes.  More information and registration is available by clicking “classes” on the top of our homepage.

Cocktail Party Favorites: Mon. 12/3 @ 6:30pm
This fun class was so popular that we decided to add a second one.

New Years Eve a la Cooking Cottage: Thurs. 12/20 @ 6:30pm
Peggi’s youngest daughter, Molly, will be back to help with this menu her middle daughter, Kate, made last New Years Eve for her grandparents (Cooking Cottage founder Winnie and husband Pete), and Kate says the thinly pounded filets baked with mushroom gravy, prosciutto and mozzarella called Beef Scallopine Casalinga is the best thing she’s ever cooked.  But first we’ll have Clams Casino and a Holiday Champagne Punch in the kitchen, followed by a Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Dressing, the filet will be accompanied by Italian Green Beans and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and for dessert a scrumptious Cranberry Mousse will top it all off.  It’s a wonderful menu for any special evening!

Kids Classes

We’ve brought kids classes back to our holiday season this year.  If a child is registered for both classes on Dec. 16 they are invited to enjoy a complimentary lunch in the farmhouse between sessions.  Classes are appropriate for elementary to middle school aged children.

Gifts from the Kitchen

Each child will take home three handmade and lovingly wrapped holiday gifts to proudly give to friends or family members.  

Gingerbread Houses 101

We’ll be constructing the holiday classic out of homemade gingerbread and icing, complete with all the candy fixin’s.  Each child will take home their own gingerbread house, a great decoration throughout the season.

Recipe: Thai Shrimp & Coconut Soup

Here is the recipe for the extremely tasty Thai soup we made in last week’s Soup’s On! classes.  This soup is a meal in a bowl, especially if paired with a nice Asian inspired salad (think mixed greens, Asian pear, sunflower seeds, cucumber, red bell pepper in a soy-sesame vinaigrette).  Also, a lovely presentation, this would be a wonderful dish to serve to casual supper guests.  If you want to make ahead, remove from heat after shrimp are just cooked.  Reheat to add remaining ingredients and serve.

 

Recipe: Thai Shrimp & Coconut Soup (Tom Khaa)

Summary: This is a delicious, authentic and easy to prepare soup – a great recipe to use if you want to cook more exotic, restaurant-style dishes at home!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups medium-grain white rice, cooked according to package directions
  • ½ lb. large shrimp (21-30 ct.), peeled & deveined
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup shallots, sliced
  • 1 T. garlic, minced
  • 1 T. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T. lemongrass, minced
  • 4 cups Asian Flavored Chicken Stock*
  • 2 14-oz. cans coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1-2 Thai or Serrano chiles, thinly sliced in rings
  • 1 cup cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced into half moons
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup torn fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup whole fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and lemongrass.
  3. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar; bring to a simmer and cook 5 more minutes.
  5. Stir in the shrimp and chile rings; simmer just until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes, taking care not to overcook them.
  6. Remove soup from heat and add the cucumber and red pepper.
  7. Divide cooked rice among bowls and ladle soup over it.
  8. Garnish each serving with peanuts, fresh herbs, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 18 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

*To make Asian Flavored Chicken Stock, add 3 quarter sized slices of ginger, smashed, and one 4″ stalk of lemongrass, smashed, to your regular chicken stock recipe, OR lightly simmer the ginger and lemongrass in pre-prepared chicken stock for 20 minutes.

Hong San Duo : A Chinese Dish for Tomato Season!

Last night for dinner I prepared a traditional dish from the Chinese province of Yunnan and thought I’d share it here.  Yunnan is a fascinating region located in the southwest part of the country, sharing its borders with Tibet, Burma, Laos and Viet Nam.  The province is home to many minority groups and a cuisine that scrumptiously combines the flavors of South East Asia and greater China.

Hong San Duo with brown rice and blanched bok choy with garlicky oyster sauce.

A friend of mine, with the very fitting English name of Jazzy, hails from Yunnan and, now in Beijing, she has been giving me cooking lessons in her home kitchen the way her mother and grandmother taught her.  This dish, Hong San Duo – best translated as Red Triple Mince – will be absolutely delicious in the U.S. this time of year as one of its three principle ingredients is the tomato.  In Yunnan, Jazzy tells me, the utmost care is given to select the finest ingredients and they are prepared without too much fanfare or spice, the focus instead is on fresh, natural flavor.  In this dish, the tomato does the work.  Well, you do the work, too, because there’s a lot of mincing involved but it’s an easy and delicious dish – and not what you think of when you think Chinese!

       

Recipe: Hong San Duo (“Red Triple Mince”)

Summary: A fresh and simple dish from Yunnan Province, China.

Ingredients

  • One 1/4 lb tomato
  • One long green pepper
  • 1/4 lb pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 t. + 1 T. vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. First, mince the pepper. Cut the stem off, but leave the seeds. When you think you’ve minced it enough, keep going for a minute or two until you’ve got a pile of teeny tiny pepper bits. Move to one side of a plate.
  2. Next, peel the tomato and mince. Move to a bowl.
  3. Dry your cutting board.
  4. Now for the fun: mincing the pork. Cut off and discard any very fatty bits and slice the pork very thin, then just start whacking away until you achieve a very fine mince. A cleaver will come in handy for this!
  5. It’s time to cook! Make sure all of your ingredients are handy because this part goes fast.
  6. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat until it is “smoking,” then heat 1 1/2 t. vegetable oil and stir fry the pork until it is not quite cooked, remove from pan.
  7. Add 1 T. vegetable oil and when it’s hot, add garlic, cooking for 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.
  8. Next add the pepper and cook with the garlic for about a minute, then add the tomato, leaving its juice behind in the prep bowl.
  9. Add the salt and mix it all together, then return the pork to the pan, add the soy sauce and stir fry for about 2 minutes until the pork is cooked all the way through.
  10. Have a little taste and add more salt or soy sauce if necessary, and then it’s ready to serve hot with rice.

Variations

Long green peppers have a little bit of a kick to them, if you can’t find one substitute a green bell pepper and add a pinch of chili powder if you’d like to make up for the spiciness.

Please note, there is no need to be terribly specific when it comes to measuring ingredients for this dish. Equal parts tomato, pepper and pork with seasonings to taste and you’ll be fine.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Diet tags: Reduced carbohydrate, High protein, Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 2

Culinary tradition: Chinese

Calories: 207

Fat: 14

Protein: 13

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

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