I am a sucker for Italian cooking. My childhood memories are filled with sensory impressions like: the rich bubble of homemade marinara sauce simmering on the stove; the sweetly-savory, herby scents of garlic, oregano, basil and fennel seed filling our home; a golden crust of melted mozzarella draped luxuriously over the lip of a pan of fresh-from-the-oven lasagna. My mother’s love for all things Italian, was unequaled and many times we found her happily munching away on cold pizza for breakfast or leftover spaghetti.
My parents were not Italian and though they had experienced travel outside of the US, it was not to Italy but instead Germany, where my father was stationed as a border guard, back in the days of East and West Germany and “The Wall”. My mother, had a love of cooking and a natural inclination towards exploration in the kitchen but the times were different. The amount of information they had about world cuisine back then was not what it is today, nor was the availability of ingredients. I scarcely think my mother would have been able to find or have known what broccoli rabe was in those days.
Fresh broccoli rabe
But had she been exposed to Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe, featured in Emeril’s, Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders , I’d like to think that, maybe, she would have made this a hearty alternative to the giant pot of pinto beans topped with tomato sauce and served with the ($0.15 a box) Jiffy cornbread mix that we ate regularly, during the lean years.
For me, the most memorable version of a Tuscan white bean soup I’ve ever tasted, was at a little mom and pop Ristorante in Siena, Italy called La Circe. Twice-cooked, is how they described their richly-flavored cannelini bean stew with tender wilted greens. Occasionally, when I make the dish at home, I will sometimes add mild Italian sausage, prosciutto or even leftover bacon grease to the mirepoix — the extra flavor bump lets this busy working mom reduce the cooking time, without skimping on richness or taste.
Emeril’s version uses baby lima beans because he says, “we just love their tender, creamy consistency.” You can use whichever white beans are your favorites or that you happen to have on hand, but as Emeril notes, “the cooking time will vary slightly.” So without further ado — here is the first of the three Emeril recipes that “The Cooking Party Bloggers” are able to preview exclusively to our readers:
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe Courtesy of Morrow
RECIPE: Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups small-diced onion
1 cup small-diced celery
1 cup small-diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds dried white beans (cannellini, baby lima, or great Northern), rinsed, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, about 1 × 3 inches
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1 ½ pounds broccoli rabe, tough stem ends trimmed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 ½ cups)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1. Heat the olive oil in an 8-quart soup pot or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, dried Italian herbs, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, beans, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to simmer gently and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of the beans from the pot to a small bowl and mash them with the back of a spoon. Return the mashed beans to the soup and add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and continue to cook, uncovered, until the broth thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining black pepper, the broccoli rabe, and rosemary sprig and continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove the Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and rosemary sprig and discard them. Serve the soup in wide, shallow bowls, garnished with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
The winner will be chosen at random and announced next Friday here on the blog!
Oysters and artichokes — I’m a crazy about them both. So imagine my delight when I opened Emeril’s New cookbook, Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders and found a recipe whose ingredient list contained, not only, those two favorites but mascarpone, shallots, dry white wine, butter and cream — sinful!
“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.
— Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
Very large oysters cut in half (and this is only half of what the recipes calls for!)
According to the rules of Emeril’s cookbook launch none of us previewers are allowed to give you the recipes (the cookbook is available for presale now!) But I will give you a few preview pics, a tease of ingredients and a bit of poetry to whet the appetite — for what is sexier than oysters, artichokes, cream, wine and poetry.
Artichoke hearts await
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention, it built
A small helmet
Under its scales
— Pablo Neruda, Ode to an Artichoke
IN OTHER NEWS:
Know what goes great with soup? Popovers — but not just any popovers, smoked Gruyere popovers. I make mine quick and simple by using a basic choux pastry recipe and stirring in the grated cheese of my choice, once the batter is mixed. Then spoon out 1/4 cup fulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet — 25 minutes later, you have light, cheesy perfection!
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup flour
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat water and butter in a saucepan, once the butter has melted add your flour, stirring vigorously over low heat or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs all at once, beating until smooth. Drop by scant 1/4 cup fulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet for 25 to 30 minutes, unitl golden and cooked through. Cool away from draft. Serve while warm.
Got my Box O' Emeril
Here it was Day One of Emeril’s One Pot Cooking Party but Day 6 of over 90 degree temperatures in the, usually temperate, Pacific Northwest. I had planned to make Emeril’s Artichoke Soup with Poached Oysters (sounded so sinful) but after an unusually busy Sunday (seeing our German houseguest off, landing a handful of major writing assignments, dealing with a restless, talkative toddler, and wrestling with feelings of loss on the 5th anniversary of my father’s death) I was left feeling like a wilted lettuce leaf.
What to do? Do I suck it up, trudge off to the fishmonger and Whole Foods at 6pm on a Sunday night and then come back to work in the heat of the kitchen for another couple of hours?
Nope, not a chance.
This is where I think many busy working moms trying to cook at home make a mistake — they either carry on with their plans, even when the day has been too challenging and after a few days like this, ultimately end up feeling as if cooking at home is unrealistic or say forget it and pop out for fast food. I know my limits — but you won’t find me queuing at McDonald’s anytime soon.
No, on a night like this, I opted for Anti-Pasto. My husband is a fiend for anything deli and toddlers love fingers foods and loads of variety. At my house this makes Anti-Pasti and Ploughman’s big favorites. But alas, Anti-Pasti is not covered in Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets and One-Pot Wonders. In fact, the dishes in this book are wonderfully comforting, hearty and hot –perfect for the fall and winter months. But they just seemed too heavy for a hot summer’s day. So Anti-Pasti it was, served up in these beautiful, Emeril – by zak! Table Art 7-piece Flame-Shaped Serving Bowls (courtesy of Morrow Cookbooks— thanks Morrow!)
Quick and Easy Anti-Pasti
1 package nitrate-free Mortadella
1 package Applegate Farms (nitrate-free) prosciutto
1 package Applegate Farms Organic (nitrate-free) Genoa Salami
7 oz container of Galbani Mozzerella Fresca Medallions (love these!)
1 pt grape tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cans Crown Prince smoked oysters in olive oil (or Trader Joe’s version)
1 head organic Romaine lettuce
1/2 pt bleu cheese stuffed olives
1/2 pt garlic stuffed olives
1 loaf crusty olive loaf
salt and pepper to taste
- Cut tomatoes in quarters, dice red onion and toss with vinegar and oil — let chill.
- Rinse and chopped lettuce — chill.
- Open the oysters and prosciutto, cutting the prosciutto in thirds lengthwise. Wrap each oyster tightly, in a third of prosciutto, covering the oysters completely and placing on a lipped baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees or until prosciutto is lightly crisp.
- Plate the meats, olives, cheese.
- Put lettuce into bowls, topping with the tomato, onion and balsamic mixture.
- Remove oysters, insert serving toothpicks and plate.
- Slice olive loaf into chunks.
Contest — Win Emeril- by Zak! Flame Serving Bowls!
And so, because I spent my first day of the Cooking Party, barely cooking, but instead assembling and presenting a cool and fun to eat dinner, in serving dishes that made me look good, I thought, maybe we should kick things off with a contest! If you like what you see and you wanna look like a celebrity chef in the kitchen (even on days when you feel like a wilted lettuce leaf) you can enter to win this 7-piece Flame-shaped serving bowl set for yourself.
A set like this could be yours! Enter to win in the comments section.
How to Enter:
In the comments below, share your story about a challenging day, in which you still found a way to cook at home. The winner be drawn at random by my precocious three-year old.
Best of luck and Happy Eating!
UPDATE: The winner of our 7PC Zak! Set is busy, supermom and foodie, Lacey Ferrero. Lacey is a resident of Beaverton, Oregon who spends her days managing a household of 5, including two teen sons and her disabled mother, yet still manages to make a home-cooked meal each day for her family. Congratulations Lacey!
That’s right, Emeril Lagasse chose me to cook with him — well, me and an elite 19 other bloggers. How did this happen? Well, the folks over at William Morrow (Emeril’s publishing company) were looking for bloggers who wanted to get be part of a “One-Pot Cooking Party,” to help Emeril launch his new book Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders. I applied (what the heck, right?) and after having to submit my traffic stats and Klout score, I thought, “With all these fabulous food blogs — I’ll never have a chance!”
Then on September 6th, I was notified via email that I had been chosen as one of Emeril’s bloggers. (Thanks Em!) The winners were announced officially, yesterday, on William Morrow’s cookbook blog, The Secret Ingredient. Twenty bloggers in all were chosen. We have already connected with each other on Facebook and Twitter and are beginning our cooking journey, with the arrival of our boxes yesterday and today. Over the course of the next three weeks, I’ll be posting about the recipes I’m making from Emeril’s newest cookbook. The book is gorgeous with recipes and pics that look positively mouth-watering.
I’m looking forward to the fun and can’t wait to get started. I like exploring new recipes and finding ways to make them my own, so I may even be telling you substitutions or changes I made to fit our family’s tastes or lifestyle. Since there are loads of recipes in this book (and I’ll never get to all of them in 3 weeks) feel free to check out the other 19 One-Pot Partiers– I’ve listed all their sites to the right in my Blogroll.
It’s no secret that Emeril Lagasse has won over the hearts (and stomachs) of America. As Host of Food Network’s “The Essence of Emeril” and “Emeril Live,” as well as a regular culinary correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and the owner of 13 highly rated restaurants, Lagasse has brought the sass and the heat to the kitchen with his passion for real food. Though most well-known for his Cajun and Creole spiced flair and a few charming catchphrases (“Bam!”, “Kick it up a notch”), Lagasse is more than just a celebrity chef sitting atop a food empire. He is a regional James Beard award winner and possesses a deep range — a varied culinary repertoire built on a classic French foundation, Emeril explores interesting flavor combinations and world cuisine deftly.
Join the One-Pot Cooking Party
The party kicks off this Sunday and continues until October 1st. Though I’ll be cooking from the book, I’ll only be releasing one recipe a week from it (with Emeril’s permission, of course!) I hope you’ll try one along with me and if you like it — grab the book and do it right alongside me. It would be great to get your feedback and comments about your experiences with the recipes as well.
What’s in it for YOU?
Apart from kicking off the flavors of fall with stick-to-your-ribs recipes , I’ll be hosting a couple of contests where you’ll have the chance to win a copy of Emeril’s new cookbook or a set of Emeril – by zak! Table Art 7-piece Flame-Shaped Serving Bowls.
What’s in it for Me? — Full disclosure: For my commitment to this event, I received a copy of Emeril’s new cookbook Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, as well as a set of Emeril – by zak! Table Art 7-piece Flame-Shaped Serving Bowls, and Emeril Seasoning. Upon completion of the event I am eligible to receive a $50 grocery reimbursement and the library of Emeril cookbooks. The top performing blogger, as selected by T-Fal, will be awarded an Emeril by T-Fal Slow Cooker.