Thursday, January 24, 2013

Orange Crush in a bowl





Hello there friends. Remi and I are back from a whirlwind trip to Grenoble for a photo shoot. Me, tagging along as the winsome assistant, which I do from time to time, most often when there is a large amount of studio lighting (hence equipment) involved. I really enjoyed the entire experience--being in laboratories where several thousand year old objects are being restored, looking up at the light skiing down the snow-covered mountaintops, taking in the jazz-riff reposts of the researchers plus zeroing in on the act of looking and learning from Remi while he worked. But we arrived late last night after picking up our tail-thumper and admittedly both of us (yes, the furry being is excluded) are headachy with fatigue. Time for a little something restorative. And for once, I don't mean yoga.

While I do believe that my theme par excellence dans la cuisine is making up something--poof!--out the jumble of ingredients lolling around, I do love to cook. And I have to say that no one person has inspired me more recently than Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen blog and now, the cookbook. Not only is she extremely funny and down to earth, this is exactly how I like to cook and eat--with an interesting spin on fresh ingredients that are affordable and a process that is enjoyable. She has a mere closet of a kitchen, as do I and will rework a recipe to use as few pans as possible. The flavors and textures are layered without being fussy. So, without further ado, here is the dish that I will make over and over again for this rest of the winter and beyond: Carrot soup with tahini and roasted chickpeas!

The general gist is the following--sauté your carrots in a bit of olive oil along with a diced onion, at least five smashed heads of garlic (I upped the ante to microwave any flu germs), s&p plus your spices (I used cumin, chipolte powder, cayenne pepper, my new chouchou--Baharat Spice and Trader Joe's "Smoke" blend which I am addicted to) over medium heat until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. Add four cups of veggie broth and cook for another 30, let cool a bit. While that is going on, mix your chickpeas with some olive oil, sea salt and cumin (as I live for heat, I added a little ancho chile powder too) and roast them on high heat for about 20 minutes. My favorite element is the tahini dressing with 3 tablespoons of tahini and...well, I doubled the amount of fresh lemon juice to at least four tablespoons, add water and whisk to a smooth consistency. Blend the soup, transfer to pre-warmed bowls, drizzle the tahini dressing and top with the crunchy chickpeas and chopped parsley or fresh coriander. Oh! This being Yee Olde France, I haven't made the pita wedges yet as they are tough to find--yes, pita is exotic here!--but they sound like the perfect sopping up material. The end result of all of this is so easy (you can make most of it with a wine glass in hand, bonus!), so cheap and so utterly good that you will thank me then hopefully hop over to sign up for updates at Smitten Kitchen if you haven't already. I have never made anything of hers that I didn't love. The cookbook has suggestions from breakfast through dinner (including a nice vegetarian chapter) to drinks with the last third geared to those of you talented people that bake--sadly, I do not although I just might need to give the red wine velvet cake with marscapone goo a go... 


If you are being good, you can follow the soup up with more vitaminized liquid orangina...


...And if you are being naughty, well...is that my fault? I don't believe that it is. Just a little power of suggestion...



I think a lot of us are trying to rethink what vegetarian means to us, do you agree? While I am still working my way through Yotam Ottolenghi's "Plenty", I was just given "Simon Bryant's Vegies" by my dear friend Virginia and it looks amaaazing (although I am going to have to do some serious translating for the ingredients I can't get here--I love their exotic names, Shaosing, Bulacan, Silverbeet, the Rapini in the photo). Although I haven't yet had the chance to test run any of it, I still wanted to give a head's up to those of you Down Under. The photography inspired Remi for his photo shoot in Grenoble, which brings me back to the beginning of this post. In a circle. Like an orange. Or an orange crush. 


Please stay happy and healthy wherever you are! 

39 comments:

  1. Hello Heather:
    Is there room for two more seats at the dining table?We love soup. It really is the most comforting and satisfying of foods to take one through the chilliest days and nights of winter. Your 'orange crush' looks both filling and appetizing, we are sure that it tastes divine!

    Alas, we are reading this on a day when Tímea is taking a holiday otherwise she could have been looking at this, translating it into her own methods and means and, hey presto, bowls of this gleaming tangerine gorgeousness could have been ours. Alas, cheese and biscuits it will be....well, you did inspire something after all!!!

    Keep warm and take care. Love to you all, J and L xx

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    1. My dear J and L, there is always and I do mean always room at the table for you both. I started to type "just let us know a bit in advance so..." and then erased it because I don't even want that to be a condition of your visiting--plus, as I mentioned, I love the challenge of making something out of what we have. And oh for a dinner of cheese and crackers! That sounds perfect for a winter evening like this. Best just to bundle up and be still.

      This soup will be laughably easy for Timea and I imagine she will make a fine substitute of paprika for my chile peppers!
      Gros bisous to you both--now popping over as I believe that I saw on my dreaded iphone that you have a new post up which is always something to look forward to--and yes, please stay warm,
      H.

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  2. There is indeed something restorative about certain foods. I make homemade soup on a regular basis (I have a fridge full of veggies picked up yesterday to do just that later today).

    As for the Smitten Kitchen, I was introduced to that site by one of my college kids, who realized when he moved off campus and into an apartment, he'd better figure out how to cook some good (budget-friendly and filling) things! He has surprised me on more than one occasion. (The 9 months living in Switzerland helped, in that he disliked their food and would bike over the border into France, pick up ingredients cheaper or have a meal cheaper there, then bike back into Switzerland.)

    Enjoy your cooking! (I think I need to go make soup.)

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  3. Oh I love this! Yes, Ms. Perelman can make cooks out of all of us. And I had to laugh because, as really wonderful as a cook my Mom is, somehow I didn't learn anything from her while growing up and realized with shock that I didn't even know how to make pasta when I first moved to NYC!! One can only eat Chinese and pizza so often. :) What I would have given for such a resource then. It sounds like your son has his Mom's smarts too...

    And yep, I am a soup-lover as well. I honestly don't think that there is anything as satisfying to cook. However tonight, I am turning over the kitchen to Mr. Benali!
    xo,
    H

    PS. On the lookout for a cabbage recipe that I like, soup or not, if you have one...

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  4. Replies
    1. Holy canoli, coming from you that made my day!

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  5. Wow that looks great - makes me want to be a vegetarian again (I was for about 12 years...then I got remarried to a meat-eating guy and his hungry family and so...I got lost again!).

    Love the images - very yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

    Linda

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    1. Linda, I was a vegetarian for three years and then one day I walked into a diner and bam, the smell of bacon did me in, it was as simple as that. I had more energy as a vegetarian, I certainly smelled better but alas bacon did me asunder. Now I try to be really aware of what meat I eat, when and why.

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  6. Below 70 today; in Florida that calls for a hot and hearty soup. So once again your post was just right and just at the right time.

    My soup making, and more, has been informed by "An Everlasting Meal" cooking with economy and grace, by Tamar Adler, forward by Alice Walters. I warmly recommend it.

    Bon appétit!

    Joan

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    1. Oooh, off to take a look see. One can never have too many soup ideas, thank you dear Joan!!
      Ps. Hope all has been calmer for you of late... :)

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  7. Hello, today in the Midwest it is 16! And windy and of course cold...an excellent day for soup. O love cookbooks and the Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorites. The others you mentioned I do not have but you have whet my appetite to go in search of them. For the most part I am a vegetarian, but I do enjoy a hamburger once in awhile.

    If I can make a recomendation, the fabulous cookbook Once Upon a Tart from the owners(one who is French) of the cafe Once Upon a Tart in NY. Excellent soup, tarts, muffins and more.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and your adventures, Elizabeth

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    1. Oooh, thank you so much Elizabeth, I love suggestions like that! Will take a look tout de suite! And my Mom and Sis are in Ann Arbor, MI so I have been following along with the temps--yowza! Wow. It makes me stop whining about taking Ben out when it is 10°C when you all are doing the same with your puppers at -10°F!!

      And if you love veggie cuisine, at least take a looksee at Plenty which is availble in the US, yummy business...

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  8. As always Heather...I smiled all the way through this post. We are on the same page when it comes to food too! I would have popped a bookmark on this one as I love all the flavours here. I have another cookbook for you..I have been cooking from it all week.. In my kitchen.. My Favorite Ingredients: An Enticing Collection of Recipes by Skye Gyngell amazon.co.uk/dp/1580080502/… via @amazon
    Skye was the Head Chef at one of my favourite restaurants in Surrey, she is Australian and has created a beautiful series of cookbooks..flavours you would love..
    I am going to check out the one you recommended..sounds like my kind of cookbook..and I agree, wonderful photos. :)
    Warm wishes from Saigon to you and Remi...
    Jeanne xx
    PS...I had the same experience with my mother, when I first married, I was in a quandary as to what and how to cook. Let's just say there were lots of appetizers served in the early days. They were easy! :)

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    1. Heeheehee. Well, appetizers are often the best part! In France, we sometimes have "casse-croute"--little bits of this and that, kind of like an indoor picnic and I have to say that I love it. Oh my, having to learn to cook for someone else too must have been a doozy. I at least was able to suffer my mistakes in private--like the first time I tried scrambled eggs I scrambled them in the pan.

      And it doesn't surprise me in the least that we have the same culinary tastes. We would have fun cooking for one another, non? :)

      Can't wait to discover your cookbook suggestion!

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  9. Mmmmm carrots! and chickpeas! This soup will be tomorrow's dinner. I love/hate cooking so whenever I can find a recipe that has some of my favorite foods included it is a "must try" for me. Of course the photo of the luscious orange soup makes my mouth water. Thank you for both!!

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    1. It is like carrots and hummus in a bowl only better! And this is sooooo easy that you won't be able to hate it either. :)

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  10. LOOKS DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!Off to the kitchen to get inspired!

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  11. Soups, chowders and chilis have been simmering on the stove for the last couple of days in this house. Friends are in town for a week of skiing and the hot liquid fares help with reviving those cold, tired and hungry bodies. Though my beef vegetable soup is a hit around here, it's not comparable to that delicious looking orange soup with cream and chickpeas. I'll have to get a copy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Thanks for the great recommendation.

    xo
    Amelia

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    1. Oh how wonderful to have friends in town. But I don't ski! At least not downhill--too scary!!! I am sure you are fussing over them mightily and imagine you as a wonderful hostess. :)

      But Amelia, take a look at her website before ordering the book just to make sure you like what she does--not to mention that there are hundreds of recipes there too!

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  12. Love your suggestions for the meal. Of course I'd be naughty - can't go past French cheese without testing it. Currently my head is finding it difficult to think of soup - it was 27 deg C when I wok up this morning! However, Deb Perelman is very talented in the kitchen. You food photography is wonderful. Being Remi's assistant has served you well. If you ever tire of this position, I would happily lug his equipment around in hope that I could pick up a few photography tips from him. Warm regards

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    1. Oh my--27° in the morning! The only soup I could be eating would be gazpacho! ;) And are you sure about that offer? Heehee...
      Bisous,
      H

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  13. Hold the wire....wait a minute...did I just read the word rapini? As in brocoli di rabe? Cimo di rape?!?!?! The one thing that I CANNOT find in Paris that makes up 50% of my heritage. In NY, I live on this green. Is it available to you where you are?

    Amazing photos! The colors, the bowl, everything. Are these yours or shots from the professional shoot? Either way, excellent work!

    Have a lovely weekend!!

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    1. Heeheehee. I did use the word "rapini" but in the context of "things I will have to substitute since I can't get them here"--buuut, now you have me curious so I will scour the market tomorrow. If I find some I will let you know! And there HAS to be some market somewhere with it in Paris, non? Le Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Marais? The produce section of Le Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marché?

      And the shots are mine! Thank you!!!!
      bon w-e à toi aussi,
      h

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  14. bonjour heather!! i am ordering Smitten Kitchen today!! thank you for the push :)
    and can i trouble you for a recommendation? we are traveling to the south of france this summer (along with the rest of paris i'm sure)...looking for a town to rent in. somewhere that is not too far from the beach and that i can walk to a village market. there are 6 of us! appreciate any input you may have xo

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    1. Oooh, that is more of a challenge than you might think! Hmm...well, first off I would suggest contacting my friend Julie Mautner at the Provence Post. http://theprovencepost.blogspot.fr/ She is an amazing trip planner and her rates are super reasonable. She works her butt off for her clients!

      Now I have to say that my experiences on the Cote d'Azur are pretty limited but there are areas that I like more than others: there are some beautiful rentals in the Domaine de Cap Bénat (I love the beaches between there and Le Lavandou), Beaulieu sur Mer might be an option for you too as there is a fair amount to see and do, there is always St Trop if you want bling and Menton (near the Italian border) could also be an option.

      Hope that is a start and don't hesitate to ask more! Sorry I am not a better help,
      Bon Weekend,
      H

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    2. PS. You will love the cookbook and your kids will too! :)

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  15. I've been wanting to make this one too since it showed up in my in-box awhile back. It looks so comforting.

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    1. We just had the leftovers for lunch and it was even better!

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  16. Quelle dreamy fromage plat.

    Inspired.

    Off to trader joes later when hopefully fatigued by unpacking as Truck is Due to Arrive at 8.30am!

    Secretly popped in here to see if there was news on furry creature visit, hmmm?

    Waving from los Angeles!

    Tg x

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    1. Trader Joe's, how I do love thee...

      The truck arrives tomorrow!!! Yippee!!! Will have my fingers crossed that all arrives perfectly.

      No news yet...demain!

      Waving back from Arles...

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    2. Checking back for News!

      *waitingpatiently*

      Happy Saturday dear

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  17. Cheese...I'm off it for a while but when I eat it, it is pure heaven!

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    1. Isn't it though? We are suuupppooosed to be off it too but we had a guest, what can you do?! Cheese must be served!

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  18. I don't know what it is with me and soups but we really don't get along very well. I do make them, every now and then, but it is a rather rare event. I love hummus though. I think I could eat it every day. I am one of those people who prefers meze than real meals - very typically Mediterranean, I suppose :)

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    1. Yes, although I do too and I am American--but I think it is just because I am piggy and like to taste as many things as possible!! And I am also right there with you about hummus, one of my very favorite things to make--save, alas, the vendor at the market that sells me my tahini is on winter vacation and I haven't been able to find it anywhere else in Arles!!! Heelp!

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  19. Hello Heather


    This looks absolutely delicious and I am planning on visiting the new Trader Joe's in Sarasota tomorrow. Chipotle flavouring is always delicious and I will search for the powder. I assume you used canned chic peas in the recipe. I am behind in my blog reading and commenting, our art show is keeping me distracted.

    Fondly

    Helen xx

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    1. I must be behind too as I did not know that it was already time for the art show!! So sorry about that, Helen.

      And I did use cooked chick peas--I splurge on the bottled ones from Spain as they are so much tastier. How I LOVE Trader Joe's for everything and anything. I would shop there exclusively if there was one here! As for other spice blends, I also like their brown sugar and cinnamon grinder for morning oatmeal and the 21 seasoning salute for just about everything!

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  20. Yum! Yum! Smitten Kitchen looks simply delish! Heading over now for a few recipes...

    Clare x

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