Saturday, December 10, 2011

What a Cook Wants, 2

This is rich.

A Baked Potato Bean Bag Chair

Have you ever looked deep within the fluffy white folds of a steaming baked potato and wished you could curl up inside its warm starchy walls and take a nap? Come on, people. For God's sake, it has A BUTTER PILLOW. This piece shows a true commitment to the foodie lifestyle.

Now I want you to channel your inner nineteen year old for one minute- seriously, close your eyes, focus on the exhale, and ask the crazy teen that still resides within. They will tell you: This is awesome!

Plus, it's hand made by an artist in Philadelphia (with a BFA from the Taylor School of Art). Shop small businesses! No children in China suffered for your carb fantasy. Ahhhhh.

The Baked Potato Bean Bag Chair is made from hand-dyed cotton and stuffed with more cotton; the butter pillow is made of silk. $300.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What a Cook Wants, 1

Dear readers. After last year's Hiatus of Despair, I'm back with a great series of gifts for the cook in your life. Buckle up! I'll post fabulous ideas every day.

Great Pot for Less
Did I say Pot? I meant Pots. Hee hee. (Sorry. Too much time in California, I can't resist the weed jokes.)
Anyway, both Le Creuset and Staub offer a great, recession-friendly deal on two fabulous pots. For this price, you'd think they fell off a truck.

Le Creuset
1) Le Creuset is offering a 3 1/2-qt. wide oval French oven for a mere $129.95. That is peanuts in the world of Le Creuset. They're made in France, which means there's serious quality control and the workers are paid an actual living wage. When I got my first Le Creuset pot I thought, "This is pretty, but why the hype?" Now I reach for those first, every time.
2) Staub is also a line of French, cast iron enameled pots and pans. For the holidays they're offering a 4-qt. Round Wide Cocotte for $129.95, also an incredible bargain. The amazing thing about enameled cast iron is that it's nearly non-stick, but without the terrible Teflon chemicals.

Either one will impress and delight the cook in your life, and probably guarantee the giver some lovely dinners in the new year. Bon appétit!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Why Care About Celery Soup?

Indeed. Unless you grew up with your mom cranking open that can of Campbell's (all WASPs please raise your hands), why would you care about celery soup? I'll tell you why: because Thanksgiving just happened.
But Tory, you say, I didn't serve celery soup for Thanksgiving!
Of course you didn't. Nobody does (until you've tried mine). No no, you care because if we are anything alike, your celery sits in the crisper after you use the three stalks needed for Thanksgiving and slowly rots until you throw it away in mid-December.
Happy Holidays.
In this time of recession and hungry people, I feel extra guilt for wasting food. This is my humble answer to what to do with that celery.
Because you can only eat so many ants on a log.

(Leftover) Celery Soup
This recipe originated from The Moosewood Cookbook. It was vegetarian and a bit bland for my taste, but I'm grateful to Mollie Katzen for getting this soup party started. It's low calorie, not that it matters- you're already beautiful! But it's a warming, healthy soup in the midst of our season of over-indulging. I'll give you the recipe, then the prep photos.
Serves 6

2 tbs. butter
1 cup finely minced onion
4 1/2 cups celery, divided: 4 cups in 1-inch chunks, 1/2 cup chopped very fine
2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tbs. dry white wine (dry vermouth works in a pinch)

3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 big Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
dash nutmeg

1 cup milk
2-3 tbs. Greek yogurt or sour cream
white pepper to taste
2 tbs. minced fresh parsley or snipped chives

In large pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onion, 1/2 cup finely minced celery, celery seed, ground coriander and 1/2 tsp. salt. Saute about 8 minutes, or until vegetables are golden and just tender. Add wine; stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Set vegetable mixture aside in bowl.

In same pot, bring chicken stock to boil. Add 4 cups celery in 1-inch chunks, potato, remaining 1 1/12 tsp. salt and pinch nutmeg. Return to boil, then lower heat and cover. Simmer about 18 minutes, or until potato is easily pierced with fork. Transfer to blender or food processor. Puree, in batches if necessary. Return to pot with reserved vegetable mixture.

Whisk in milk, yogurt, and salt and white pepper to taste. Serve warm and garnish with chopped fresh herbs.

And now the pictures!

I love beautiful prep:

Very finely chopped, indeed.

Go, celery, go!

Never fill your blender more than 2/3 full. TRUST ME.

Ahhhh. So lovely. I forgot the garnish and it's still delicious.