Favorite recipes and stories about home cooking. We love comfort food and dishes that warm the heart. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Chestnut Soup

Roasted Chestnut Soup

The first time I had chestnut soup was at a small French Bistro in the West Village. It was mid-December in New York City and I looked like a living snowman when I entered Bouchon Bistro and Wine Bar. My friend was a regular there and insisted I try their chestnut soup. It was love at first taste!

However, I moved to San Francisco the following year and couldn’t find this delicious dish on a menu anywhere. And after a two-year-long chestnut soup craving, I decided to figure out how to make it at home.

In the winter months, especially when it’s extra cold outside, this velvety rich soup is the perfect dish to warm you up. I guarantee you’ll love it!

Ingredients for Roasted Chestnut Soup- 6 cups stock: would suggest half duck and half beef. I usually make the duck stock from scratch.
  • 5 whole Star Anise
  • 2 cups Roasted Chestnuts: packaged is fine, but just to be clear, water chestnuts are NOT the same thing as chestnuts. Here’s a great link for easy chestnut roasting instructions.
  • ½ cup of brandy
  • Dash of Clove
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Salt to taste

In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce heat so that the soup is brought to a simmer. Add the star anise and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chestnuts and simmer for approximately 20 minutes – or until the chestnuts begin to break apart. Remove the stock from the heat.

Using a ladle, spoon soup and chestnuts into a blender – this may take 2 rounds. Hold the lid down firmly and start the blender on low, increasing the speed to high gradually (note: starting the blender on high may force the very hot soup to strongly impact the lid and possibly burn you – that would be bad). Blend the soup until it is completely smooth and one solid color – you can strain it if necessary.

Return the well-blended soup to the stove and simmer again. Add the brandy and stir thoroughly. Simmer for no more than 5 minutes. And now for the easy part:

Ladle the chestnut soup into soup bowls, add 1 Tb. of heavy whipping cream and…


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spiced Apple Ricotta

Spiced Apple Ricotta
This recipe was just the product of a week-long brainstorm and a dire craving for something warm and spicy. The credit for the dessert's name goes to my friend, Marie French.

The first time I made it, I used Bartlett pears and it was just as delicious. The second time I made this (just to be sure it wasn't a fluke and to get a few external opinions) was last night for a few friends.

The response was a success! Everyone was blown away and one friend even licked his plate.

I still feel like it need to refine the recipe, but would really love to share it with you now.

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients for the Apple layer:
  •           3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  •           3 cups red wine
  •           2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
  •           1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  •           3 Tbs. granulated or raw sugar
  •           1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  •           1 tsp. salt
  •           2 Tbs. Crushed granola or whole oats
Combine the wine, cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl. Blend well. Add the apples and let them marinate for 30 min in the fridge. Preheat oven at 375. Sprinkle the granola or whole oats in a buttered pie pan and arrange the apples on top. Pour ¼ cup of the liquid over the apples. Bake for about 20 min.

Remove the apples and let them cool. (approximately 20 min)

For the remaining liquid, I would suggest reducing it by at least half in a sauce pan, over the stove and using it as a side-syrup. If you’re serving this dish cold, the syrup helps to tie everything together. Or you can serve it over vanilla ice cream for another delicious treat.

Ingredients for Vanilla Ricotta
  •           1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
  •           1 Tbs. vanilla extract (powder works as well)
  •           2 Tbs. granulated or raw sugar
  •           A dash of nutmeg
  •           1 tsp. salt
        Combine ingredients in a bowl, by slowly folding them in. Chill for 15 min in the fridge.

Ingredients for Crunchy Topping
  •           ½ cup Crushed granola or whole oats
  •           1/3 cup of coconut
  •           1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
  •           1 Tbs. flour
  •           2 Tbs. bacon fat (can sub w/butter and a dash of salt)
        Combine ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly.

The final step:
Pre-heat oven to 450. After the apples have cooled, spread the ricotta mixture evenly over them. Then sprinkle over the crunchy topping – try to coat evenly. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 10-15 min, or however long it takes to crisp the topping.

Remove your spiced apple ricotta from the fridge and let it cool for at least 20 minutes.

Slice, serve, enjoy!