From the monthly archives:

January 2012

Cream of Celery Soup

by Michael on January 31, 2012 · 0 comments

in Recipes,Soup,Technique

I originally posted this cream of celery soup recipe years ago. What was I thinking; or proofreading. Anyway, the first pass was cookable but just barely.. This one is fool-proof. This recipe will work for any kind of soup. Just replace the 5 cups of celery with any vegetable or mix of vegetables and you are good to go. Cooked protein can be added at the end. For the celery soup, I added fried proscuitto strips as a little ham kick.

Experiment. Use broccoli instead of celery and add shredded beef and a dash of soy and sesame oil for a Chinese takeout flavor. Any leftover meat could be added.

This is a base soup. For a more brothy  soup just leave out the cream. You could also leave out the flour and butter mix (roux).

This is a basic version of a cream soup. By adjusting the time and components, you could make about anything. The ratio of  6 cups vegetables to 6 cup stock is what makes it work with the thickener. The thickener ratio is 3 parts fat (butter) to 4 parts flour. So a 6 cups stock, 5 cups veggies, 1 cup onion, 1 cup cream and the rest will get you there. it’s as simple as could be. If you want to make the soup ahead and save it, just make it to the point where you need to add the cream. Reheat the soup on medium and the cream and serve.


5 cups finely chopped celery (about 1 head).
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
6 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1-cup half & half or light cream
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon herbes de provence (or other green herbs – experiment)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup vermouth or white wine (optional)
2 shots of hot sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil


Melt butter on medium in a soup pot.
Add flour and stir until the mixture starts to bubble.
Cook stirring for one minute – do not brown.
Remove from pot and set aside.

Add olive oil to pot.
Add vegetables, salt, pepper and herbes de provence.
Cook and stir for ten minutes on medium.
Add hot sauce and wine.
Add stock and bring to a low boil.

Add cooked flour mix and stir with a whisk for 3 minutes
Cook for ten minutes at a simmer whisking occasionally.

Optional step: blend until smooth or use a hand blender.
If blending in a blender, do it in small batches.

Reduce heat to low.
Mix in the cream and stir.
Adjust salt and pepper and serve.

Here is a good link to all things celery: 



More Kale! Duh-Lightful!

by Michael on January 25, 2012 · 1 comment

in Recipes,Side Dishes,Vegetarian

I was going to write about meat tonight. Meat! Instead I write about kale.

Kale was so last night. But then there were leftovers. I nuked them up and gave the kids the choice of veg for dinner. Homemade cilantro slaw or leftover kale. Kale wins. “More kale!” “It’s Duh-lightful!” is the word from my little girl.

Most everyone has had kale. Boiled to death for reasons unknown. What did this little green leaf ever do to anyone? Collards get more respect! Spinach. Spinach! Ok, I love spinach but still. We can do better for misunderstood kale.

Just like there are many ways to cook chicken, there is more than one way to cook kale. My favorite way is in soup. And to be fair to the South, I love boiled-to-death greens. All of that porky goodness.

But here I will cook the greens almost dry, with lots of garlic, chili and lemon. I think that idea of canned vegetables has stuck well past the 1930’s. I was not around then, But I have to imagine that in the 1880’s, the economics of fuel consumption would have prohibited cooking green for hours and hours. But the canned food that became so ubiquitous in the States after the big wars just changed our palate. More salt, softer food and a milder taste. Crunchy or toothy hot vegetables just freak people out. Mushy is the clear winner.

Bleh! Let’s go the opposite way.

Basically I am going to cook garlic in olive oil, add red pepper flakes then the kale. Cook on medium high tossing every minute or so for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste at about 5 minutes in. At 15 minutes add 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss the kale for a minute. Taste for salt, pepper lemon and tenderness and adjust. this will be slightly chewy and it should be. Try it!

Kale cooked  almost dry, with lots of garlic, chili and lemon.


32 oz Fresh kale or about 3 bunches with the hard center stem trimmed out.
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon  pepper
5 Cloves garlic – 1 clove kept separate
1 Teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons  olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice


In a large soup pot, add the olive oil and set to medium high.
Add  4 cloves of the garlic  and chili flakes (or sirracha or Thai chili garlic paste – it’s your party).
Add the kale and turn every minute or so with tongs for 5 minutes.

Really keep tossing the kale. Don’t let it sit or the bottom will burn.

Add the salt and pepper and toss for another 10 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and reserved on clove of garlic and toss for a minute.
Taste for salt, pepper and lemon and adjust to taste.

More Kale! Duh-lightful!

Check out NPR’s story “Superfood Kale in the Limelight.”

{ 1 comment }

Thaw that steak in 11 minutes or less.

January 23, 2012

I’ve done it and I suspect that you have done it. But I always thought that I was breaking the rules. The talking heads on the food shows are always telling us that if you deviate from the Golden Rule of thawing – 12 – 24 hours in a closed container in the fridge – […]

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Marinara Sauce – THE Basic Tomato Sauce

January 20, 2012
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Any stereotype of an Italian Grandmother will include Nonna cooking the marinara sauce all day then yelling out the window for the kids to come in. Well I have first hand knowledge that they do yell at the kids. And they did cook those fresh tomatoes forever. Today however, there is no reason to cook […]

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Cheddar Corn Biscuits

January 19, 2012
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These are basic drop biscuits. Just a simple  “quick bread.”  With the basic ingredients, you can go anywhere. Just watch the density of the batter/dough when you add wet or dry  ingredients. I’ll get to that later. Feel free to vary the add ins and the flour/corn flour ratio or just use one. It’s just […]

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Sous Vide Event Horizon

January 18, 2012
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Check this out. Norm king is determined to bring this technique home. Long (very long), low (129 degrees anyone?) and full of opportunity. What is Sous Vide, or, at least, what is the big deal? Sous Vide offers several desirable features. It tenderizes meat, without diluting or destroying its nutritional qualities. It actually improves the […]

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Egg Bowl (the famous Egg Bowl)

January 17, 2012
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This is almost as simple as the last dish. Two soft-boiled or poached eggs over saltines with butter and pepper and salt to taste. This is basic food. This “I am pregnant  and not happy,” food. This is “6 beers too many,” food.   One order: 2 large eggs. 3 inch stack of saltines crackers. […]

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The simplest thing – chickpeas

January 15, 2012
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I tried to think about the simplest thing that I make. At first I thought of eggs, really my Mom’s egg-bowl – two soft-boiled eggs over saltines. Easy as eggs right? But then the kids asked for the simplest thing ever for lunch. Chickpeas heated up with garlic salt and olive oil. It’s really that […]

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About me.

January 10, 2012
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I have been writing recipes for the past two years. Around 600. Actually I have written them down in notebook for over 25 years, But I decided to formalize it in 2010.  I don’t cook from recipes. So to do this, I cooked the dish and worked backwards to write the recipe. Then I cooked […]

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Just starting

January 6, 2012
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OK, I wanted to get started on the writing part but the PHP directory thing took forever. Soon I want to talk about why Mom was a good cook despite not one cookbook in the house. And yes, no internet either. I have an idea why this worked.

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