Thursday, August 08, 2013

Parisian Creamy Green Bean With White Wine And Fresh Herb Soup

I have concocted my personal culinary dream soup.  Of course you can be the judge and add a little of this or a little more of that because after all soup is very personal right?  It's a recipe or maybe you'll even declare it a revelry once you saute, stir, whip, pour and then taste.   My son  called it my signature soup and interrupted a moment of skateboarding with a friend to grab a cup after he'd tried it in it's preliminary stages and what can I say....fell in soup love.  Enjoy my friends.  I certainly am. 

1.  You'll need 2 lbs. of French green beans which you'll need to boil in a pot of salted water until nice and tender (about 15 minutes).  Trim the ends first.  P.S.  I grabbed a bag of perfectly measured French green beans from Costco.  Once cooked, put under cold water so they stop cooking and put aside.

Then you'll need to make a French Mirepoix.  Every country has their "Holy Trinity" of a few vegetables and herbs to heighten a flavour for soups or casseroles.  In North America it's the sautéing of celery, onions, and garlic.  In this case I would like you to saute:

2.  1 onion, 1/2 cup of diced celery, 1/2 cup of diced carrot, and four fresh minced cloves of garlic in a pot of 1/8 cup of olive oil until tender.  Watch to make sure you don't burn garlic.  Put aside with the green beans until you need your family of vegetables.

3.  Make a roux in another pot of 1/4 cup of butter and 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. of flour.  Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, then add all of the flour and stir for about 15 seconds.  Add 2 cups of whip cream and then two cartons of chicken broth and whisk so that it stays smooth.  *****To lighten your soup you can instead add 2 cups of lite evaporated milk).  Add one cup of dry white wine.  You have to bring a roux to a boil and then turn down to simmer.  Add veggies and then all the fresh herbs:

Fresh herbs to add:

3 tbsp. of Italian flat leaf parsley (it's nice and peppery), 3 tbsp. of fresh thyme leaves (no stems), 3 tbsp. of fresh chives, 3 tbsp. of fresh dill.

Add to the pot and continue simmering  for 10 or 15 minutes.

Let cool because you will need to blend the soup.

I put one cup of soup aside and blended the rest.  I then added it all together in the pot.  By not blending 1 cup you get some pretty whole vegetables in your creamy soup and it adds to the presentation.

When serving your soup add more fresh dill and fresh chopped chives as a garnish and if you want spiral some more whip cream over top of the soup in the bowl or some gorgeous chive oil with more pepper.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Steven's Perfect Dungeness Crab Cakes from Etta's in Seattle

I have searched the continent over and for the past 20 years have maybe enjoyed a crab cake or two that was worth talking about.  I've been to high end seafood restaurants that served "fake crab" as a crab cake and I've been to nice little seafood shacks that fried the shit out of them so horribly I actually left them behind as no amount of fresh lemon could redeem my little crabby patties.

And then something happened.  Today I went to Etta's near the Pike Place Market in Seattle and found what I had been looking for all of my crab cake life:  Steven's Perfect Dungeness Crab Cakes.

I bought the cookbook by Seattle's famous chef Tom Douglas who owns Etta's and folded the page immediately.  Here is the recipe for the best crab cake that I have ever had...give it a try.

1 pound of Dungeness crabmeat, drained, picked clean of shell, and lightly squeezed if wet.
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp. of mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann's or Best Foods
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. of grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. of fresh dill
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. of thinly sliced chives
1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
1/4 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of panko plus 2 more cups for dredging
About 5 tbsp. of unsalted butter
4 lemon wedges
4 dill sprigs

To make the crab cakes, put the crabmeat, mayo, lemon zest, dill, chives, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Mix everything together gently with a rubber spatula.  Add the 1/2 cup of panko and mix again.  Pour the remaining 2 cups panko into a shallow container.  Form the crab mixture into 8 patties.  Pat them gently into shape without pressing them too much.  Drop the patties into the panko and turn them to coat both sides, patting to shake off the excess.  If you have time, cover with plastic wrap and chill the crab cakes in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more before frying.

When you are ready to fry the crab cakes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put 2 large non-stick ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat and add about 2 1/2 tbsp. of butter to eat pan.  As soon as the butter is melted, add 4 crab cakes to each pan.  Leave the pans on the burners for a minute or slightly less (the butter should not start to brown), then place the pans in the oven.  Cook the crab cakes until they are heated through and golden brown on both sides, about 12 minutes, carefully turning them with a spatula about halfway through the cooking time.  Remove the pans from the oven and transfer the crap cakes to plates, serving 2 crab cakes to each person.  Serve with a lemon wedge and a dill sprig over top.

At the restaurant they served a very nice mellow green dipping sauce, probably a mayo base, but I never once put my cake in was beautiful without all that "makeup."  Bon Appetite!