I've written before about the memories and emotions that food can evoke for us. Last week, I wrote an article (published here and in the Broad Ripple Gazette) that included my recipe for potato soup. I thought I'd share a letter I received and some fun old images of Weiss's Deli in Indianapolis:
About a year ago we shared some family recipes for Persimmon Pudding after you published one in the BR Gazette.
Recently, you published a recipe for Potato soup which we tried and found it excellent.
Many years ago there was a Deli in downtown Indy on E. Market Street, the first block off the Circle on the south side of the street, Weiss’s Deli. Frequented by legislators and Federal and local judges from the courthouses, it was a popular spot. It closed about 50 years ago. They had, by far, the best potato soup, but available on only certain days.
Your recipe is the closest to that one that we have tasted.
Thank you for sharing.
Rod & Diane Pickett
I'm pleased as punch that any recipe of mine is well-received, especially when it brings fond memories. Thanks, Rod & Diane
for telling me about Weiss's.
One of my favourite things to do on Halloween is to have friends and kiddos drop by for something hot and savoury. I thought how much fun this would be after football games, or really anytime you’d like to casually entertain and have plenty of time to visit with pals.
I have this triple crockpot/warmer that is perfect for such a theme (I picked it up on Amazon for less than $50). What I do is make a different, hot and satisfying soup or stew for each well. Then, I set out all the “fixins” so guests can make a bowl that suits them exactly. Think of it as a soup bar.
I love to offer creamy potato, tomato bisque and chicken chowder. Serve shredded cheddar, Parmesan and jalapeño jack cheeses. Then, fresh herbs: scallions, basil and cilantro. Finally, the true embellishments: crumbled bacon, garlic croutons, toasted pepitas and corn relish, sour cream, Tabasco, hot corn bread and dinner rolls or even a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches. So much fun to see everyone loading up their mugs/bowls and best of all, it’s self- serve, so you can enjoy the gathering, too.
Here are two of my favourite soups for cold weather:
Creamy Potato Soup
3# Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1” pieces 1/2# bacon, diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups chicken stock or broth
1 large onion (yellow or white), chopped 1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup sour cream
A few dashes of Tabasco, to taste
1. Fry bacon over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven, removing to a plate lined with paper towels when browned (reserve the bacon to use as a garnish)
2. Add the chopped onion and butter and continue cooking over medium for about 3 minutes.
3. Add garlic and stir for about a minute, then whisk in flour.
4. Constantly whisk for another minute to combine.
5. Add remaining ingredients (except potatoes) and continue to whisk while bringing the
mixture to a boil.
6. As soon as it reaches a slow boil, reduce heat to medium and add potatoes.
7. Cook for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.
8. At this point, you can remove (carefully) about half the soup to a blender and process until
smooth. I personally prefer to use my immersion blender and give the whole thing a few
pulses right in the pot. Let your personal preferences for chunkiness be your guide.
9. Let the soup simmer a few more minutes (10ish) before serving.
Pro Tip: When re-heating, be sure to stir constantly so the milky soup doesn’t scorch your pan.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium-sized carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, lard, with leafy bits if you have them 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 large can of whole tomatoes in juice (28 oz) 1 cup stock (I use chicken or veggie)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, as needed
1. Heat butter and oil in a soup pot or dutch oven.
2. Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Add garlic and sauté another minute, stirring so garlic doesn’t burn.
4. Add tomatoes, stock and spices.
5. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
7. Puree soup in a blender (again, I use an immersion blender for this step and leave a few
chunks of tomato for texture.)
8. Add the heavy cream to the soup and serve.
Pro Tip: This is excellent with croutons and Parmesan, but also really good served in a toasted bread boule.
Pulling out sweaters and jeans this week has reminded me that with the change in weather, new, bolder wine selections are in order. With cool temps, we often want something that’s going to “warm us up.” In wine speak, that translates into heavier bodied, full-flavoured reds. For local readers, there’s a great little wine shop at the North East corner of 116th and Olio Road in Fishers called @TastefulTimes. You can find each of the wines I’ll mention at their place. They also have a fun selection of artisanal, local fare, which I love. Tell ‘em I sent you.
One of my very favourite varietals is inky, toffee-full Petit Sirah. For me, fall is permission to indulge! McManis ($12) makes this scrumptious, value-driven bottle. Dark black fruit is nearly overpowered with caramel and cocoa. Think about a dried blueberry covered in dark chocolate milk duds. The flavours are big, the finish is looong and the price is low. If you’ve never given Petit Sirah a try, this is a great jumping-off point. #
2017 “Fidelity” Red Wine, Crazy Creek, Alexander Valley will set you back just over $15. A Bordeaux-style blend (Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon), is a great value from California. The Merlot contributes flavours of ripe blueberries and cordial cherries. The Cab adds structure and a nice long finish while the Petit Verdot brings colour, tannin and a pretty whiff of violets to the table. New French Oak adds warm vanilla to this bright little number. #yummy
“Vindicated” Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County ($18) stands out as a deal. If you’ve traveled to this area, you’ll know what I mean when I say that this wine SMELLS like Sonoma. Bright and brambly right off the bat (think ripe with blackberries & raspberries) with a little cocoa and lots of warm wood in the background. And the tiniest hint of eucalyptus. Medium tannins and strong structure with 14.4% ABV will warm you right up. This wine tastes way more expensive than it is. #winning
As always, let me know what you think and Happy Fall, Y’all.
While I love the smell of freshly turned earth, spring onions and the emergence of tiny seedlings, Fall is actually my favourite season in the garden. That’s harvest time and where the efforts of the spring and summer come to fruition. Literally.
I love eating seasonally but I’m a canner and put away veggies in the forms of spaghetti sauce, eggplant caponata, pickles and salsas all summer long. I love filling up my freezer and my pantry shelves with foods that I create and that I know my
family will enjoy.
BUT (and this is the big “but”) no matter how much I serve and stash away, I ALWAYS celebrate the bounty of my annual garden with an old fave. Here’s to an abundance of squash, eggplant, ripe tomato, herbs, onions. I give you: Ratatouille.
I served this recipe annually at Corner Wine Bar. After simmering a cacophony of veggie goodness, we’d pile it into a toasted sourdough bread boule, top it with a bit of shredded Parmesan and fresh basil. Hearty, a gorgeous meal and brimming with the bounty of the season. Ratatouille is a bright and chunky vegetable stew.
One large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 T olive oil
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 yellow squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 each of red, orange and yellow bell pepper, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2# fresh, ripe tomato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small can of tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped for garnish
Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional for garnish
Plenty of salt and pepper, to your taste
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add eggplant and cook until it begins to brown, stirring constantly. Add onion and continue to cook over medium until the onion becomes translucent.
Next, add the squash, carrots, bell peppers. Continue to cook, over medium heat, stirring for about four minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, stirring periodically until the stew comes to a gentle boil. At this point, reduce heat to low and simmer until all veggies are tender, about 25 minutes.
You can cool the stew and chill it to reheat later, but I prefer to serve it hot.
It is excellent ladled over a buttered baked potato Or served in a hollowed out and toasted bread boule.
Either way is fantastic, but be sure to drizzle a bit more olive oil over the top, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Pro Tip: This dish is very freezer friendly. After it has cooled completely, freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to three months.
My pizza oven project came to fruition over the last year. For those who haven’t seen me carrying on about it on FB, I’ve built a wood-fired oven in my backyard as an addition to my outdoor kitchen. I’ve spent a few months now perfecting my dough and though it would be fun to share the results with you. And who doesn’t love a pizza party? My apologies! I've been up slacking big-time with my blog posts since I've been so busy making pizza. I'm back in the saddle and have pie-making tips to share.
No matter where you plan to cook you pie(s), a great crust is essential. I like one that is chewy, flavourful, pretty thin and gets those lovely big air bubbles. The following recipe is what I’ve come to like best. You can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for a few days, making it even more versatile. I prefer it after it has proofed in the 'fridge for at least a day. I also normally don't use much sugar when I cook, but I like it here. Not only does it really get the yeast active and bubbly, but it creates a nicely browned crust.
4 cups flour (I’ve used both a “OO” Pizza flour and all-purpose- both work)
2 cups warm water
2 t active, dry yeast
2 T sea salt (using a smoked salt is also tasty)
2 T granulated sugar
Combine in a large bowl, or stand mixer. Mix until the dough forms and knead for 8 minutes- if kneading by hand, in the bowl or on the counter is fine. The dough should have “picked up” all the flour and the bowl should be clean. Your dough should be pretty firm and smooth.
Drizzle a little oil (I like olive) in your bowl and place dough ball in to rise for about an hour.
At this point, divide into portions ( I can get 8, 10’ pies from this recipe) and on a floured surface, begin to tap out the dough with your finger tips.
Place the dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and top as desired. Bake in a preheated (500 degrees) on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.
I like to have dough set out and ingredients so that everyone can make their own pie. Of course, taking turns means that you have to man the oven for a bit, but it is a fun party and always a hit.
Great combos that I love include:
This is a great party to host on football nights with a few beers or a good bottle of red wine.
Isn't it funny how new friends come into your life? My friend, Lamiaa is the mom of two teenage boys. Like me. Her younger son, Adam is the bestie of my younger son, Malcolm and that's how our friendship began.
Lamiaa and her husband, Tarek are Egyptian, a culture and cuisine that I know little about. Of course, during one of our first meetings when we were learning about one another, we discussed our jobs. She is in graphic design while growing and preparing food is my art. We made tentative plans to cook for each other. Full disclosure, I'm inviting her fam over for pizza in my new oven IF it ever stops raining in Indiana long enough for it to be finished. She promised to cook Egyptian food for me.
A few days ago, Lamiaa's elder son, Youssef graduated from high school and she and her husband surprised him with a graduation party. My Malcolm was in attendance and when I picked him up, he came bearing gifts from the hostess. Check out the amazing array of goodies above! From top left (clockwise) there was roasted rice, baked turkey, rolled cannelloni, stuffed grape leaves, cheese and olive golache and negraresco pasta squares in the center.
Let's talk about that rice. VERY delicious. Crunchy and nutty, filled with almonds and golden raisins. Incredibly flavorful. The baked turkey was simply prepared, juicy and perfectly cut into thick slices. Cannellonis were either filled with ground beef or cheese and fruity olives. The wrapping is a bread similar to crepes, made with flour, water and eggs. Think Egyptian burritos.
I think my favorite of all were the stuffed grape leaves. The leaves themselves were pickled and filled with the delicious roasted rice. The perfect balance of sweet and sour. Light and incredibly filling all at once.
The golache looked and smelled amazing. My kids loved it. I'll have to take their word for it as they polished it off without sharing. It was a phyllo pie baked with cheese and olives, then cut into squares.
Finally, the negraresco in the center is popular in modern Egyptian cuisine (I researched this as it surprised me that a dish that seemed so continental hails from the Middle East). A baked pasta dish with a sauce similar to Béchamel and plenty of cheese. Very rich and satisfying.
What is it about sharing a meal that brings people closer together? Cooking is a vehicle for sharing culture. We offer our heritage through food and give each other nourishment. Sharing a meal is communal and can unite people of all ages, religions and classes. It's nourishing for body and soul to share knowledge, culture, perspective and mutual respect. Meals can be a chance for elders to pass along stories to children and for families, friends and neighbors to gather for fellowship.
The famous opera singer, Luciano Pavoratti once said: "“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Amen, brother. That you so much, Lamiaa Moustafa for sharing not just your boys with me. I'm looking forward to more visits and dinners.
@EgyptianFood #foodandfriendship @penzeysspices #healtheworldcookdinnertonight
So my garden is in and beginning to grow. I've been sharing some progress on Facebook, but will write a bit in the upcoming weeks as harvesting starts. So far, it's been a whole lot of asparagus and little else :)
In the interim, I thought I'd share a few fun wine selections with you. School’s out, kids are home and warm weather is in full swing. Here are some great wines to try. Two whites: a value-driven option and one that’s more splurgey. I’ve also added a red that is nice with a tiny bit of a chill.
First, Campuget 1753 Syrah Vermentino. This blushing beauty is a French rosé from the easternmost appellation of the famed Languedoc region. A dry, feminine wine offering up whiffs of grapefruit and orange. In the mouth, it’s a berry bomb with a bright finish. You can’t help an uplifted mood with a glass of this. Great as a “patio pounder” and also a nice option with strawberry salad or light seafood. 80/20 Syrah/Vermentino. $20ish
Feeling a little fancy? Give Cakebread’s 2017 Sauvignon Blanca swirl. $39 A gorgeous, perfumey nose filled with melon, citrus, jasmine and grapefruit is just the beginning. Ripe melon and grapefruit keep coming through to the glass with an interesting hint of lemon thyme. A lean wine that pairs perfectly with grilled shrimp, crab, artichokes and asparagus. This baby lives up to the hype of its famous moniker. #CaliforniaDreaming
You only drink red? Well, how’s about trying something interesting that is also appropriate for warm weather? Maison Joseph Drouhin’s 2017 Chorey-Les-Beaune(Pinot Noir). A bright red wine that smells and tastes a lot like blackberries. As it matures, it begins to boast that lovely French “stinky” that’s a perfect companion to earthy mushroom dishes. Truffled paté, anyone? This wine should continue to improve over the next 4 or 5 years. You can give it a tiny bit of a chill before serving or enjoy at room temp. Aged in French oak and deeelish. $33
#Campuget @RoseWine #Cakebread #JosephDrouhin @FrenchWine @CaliforniaWine
A new season is finally here! How about a few wine suggestions to go with Spring? I’ve got a red, white and sparkler for you to kick off warm weather. Give these California dreamers a swirl:
[Bubbles] Gloria Ferrer Sonoma County Brut, NV $18ish (I believe you can find this baby at Trader Joe’s for around $15). A gracious sparkler with great taste and a surprisingly low price. Bright spiced apple with golden pie crust flavors and a smidge of strawberry. Made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, she’s a spirited little sparkler by herself or with food. Serve with sushi or roasted chicken.
[White] 2018 Gundlach Bundschu Estate Vineyard Gewürztraminer, $25. GB is one of my favorite wineries to visit in Sonoma. Their historic tasting room, like their wines, is steeped in tradition. Check it out if you find yourself visiting California wine country. This wine smells like fresh peaches and blooming jasmine- heady and fragrant. With 10% oak aging it is a subtly round and rich glass with flavors reminiscent of Charentais* melons. Crisp and Dry.
[Red] 2017 Benziger Family Winery, Monterey Pinot Noir. OK, so this might be my other favorite Sonoma Winery. I was lucky to stay there as a guest many years ago. As a gardener, I LOVED visiting their vineyard and learning about bio-dynamic farming. Super kind folks with a collection of consistently good wines. This one has the lovely earthiness you’d hope for in Pinot Noir. It also tastes like strawberries. With a little warm spice in the mouth, this one’s a crowd-pleaser. Perfect with grilled meats. $20
*Pro Tip: Charentais is a French musk melon. Kind of like cantaloupe but better.
Beans and rice are inexpensive, nutritious foods that, when combined, form a complete protein. Your body needs protein to build and repair tissue AND you need to eat. This simple but satisfying dish is high in protein, iron, dietary fiber and B complex vitamins. When visiting New Orleans this month and still very limited in what I can eat following bariatric surgery, I chose a cup of beans & rice at most restaurants I visited. (#BariHack- loads of protein and the soupiness makes it very easy to eat.) The dish is available everywhere, very tasty and usually offered in the small portion I was looking for. It was less than $5.
In researching the origins of the dish, I discovered that Mondays have historically been the day associated with Red Beans and Rice in the Crescent City. Why? Well Mondays were traditionally laundry day. Since this was a weekly chore and completed by hand in olden times, it took the greater part of the day. Ladies needed a nutritious dinner that they didn't have to devote much attention to. A culinary masterpiece and tradition were born.
The restaurant who's version I enjoyed the most was a fun but touristy joint on Julia Street: Mulate's. Billed as "The Original Cajun Restaurant" it was packed late on a Sunday night and filled with live Zydeco music. To be fair, it was the only version I had that was made with spicy sausage, but I loved it and tried to recreate it below. Give it a whirl and see if you don't start adding it to your Monday routine, too.
Red Beans and Rice (A Nod to Mulate's Restaurant in NOLA)
1 lb. spicy cajun sausage (I like Aidell's Cajun Style Andouille), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. red beans, rinsed
11 cups water
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups cooked rice (Mulate's used white, but I like brown and wild a little better)
In a stock pot, brown sliced sausage over medium-high heat, remove from pot. Add onion and sauté until it begins to brown. Add bell pepper, garlic and celery to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook until veggies have softened. Add beans, water, salt, and cayenne. Boil gently, uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add browned sausage and 1/2 cup warm, cooked rice to each bowl before serving.
Pro Tip: While I LOVE the spicy sausage, smoky Tasso ham would be a great substitute for sausage.
Pro Tip: RB&R freeze well.
@Mulates @NOLA #redbeansandrice #barihacks
I’ve been in New Orleans all week, enjoying some excellent food and wine. One of the loveliest parts of fine dining that most of us don’t think to include normally is an after-dinner drink. Many have properties to aid in the digestion of food and some are just a lovely treat. One such wine is Madeira and it’s popularity has been growing in the last few years. Again.
Madeira is a fortified wine that’s made in Portugal. They are made of different grapes and labeled with accordingly. From driest to sweetest they are: Sercial, Verdehlo, Bual and Malmsey.
When serving Madeira, be sure to have it at room temperature and never serve it over ice. Pour a few ounces into a glass, ideally with an elongated, tapered bowl. This provides plenty of room for wine to display its aromas for you to enjoy while sipping.
If you’re new to Madeira, these three are winners!
Blandy’s NV Alvada 5 Year Old Rich Madeira, $15. Not too sweet, this one boasts walnut and dried fig flavors. With a somewhat acidic finish, this would be delish served after steak or with some strong blue cheese. Amber in color.
I love the Broadbent NV Malmsey 10 Year, $49. Reminds me of Raisinettes: grapey and chocolatey with just the right amount of sweetness. This one is rich and full bodied and an excellent choice with dessert. Golden. I enjoyed a few sips after an exceptional dinner @GWFins.
My very fave is from a series of highly stylized Madeiras. Rare Wine Company NV Historic Series Charleston Sercial Reserve Madeira, $40 (pictured above). The idea of the series was to replicate America’s deep history with Madeira and each wine is named for a city where the wine was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not sweet and like an enormous mouthful of caramel.
Try a glass after dinner. Cheers!
@BlandysMadeira @Broadbent Madeira @RareWineCompany
#MadeiraWine #Portugal #NOLA #GWFins
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.