Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carrot ginger soup, poached pears

My midterm is over thank goodness. Theoretically it wasn't hard, but we learn things so quickly in class, it's easy to miss steps or details. For the practical part of the exam we were required to make a creamy carrot soup, a vinaigrette for a salad and poach a pear. All sound simple and they are, but there are tricky details you can get marked down for. For example, I was marked down for blending all my soup. I should have reserved some in the event that I needed more liquid (which I did.) I also added the olive oil to my vinaigrette to quickly and even thought the chef said it tasted perfect, he caught me doing it and it's not the proper technique. I learned from this, and got an A anyway, so we move on.

Here are the recipes anyway. They really are surprisingly good.

Creamy Carrot Soup
This version is thickened with butter, other options are potatoes, Aborrio rice or oats. The butter version is so mega easy and tasty, I highly recommend. I don't honestly see what the butter does to make it so creamy so try it without any added ingredients for a veegs version.

2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 t. sea salt
2 Lbs. carrots, about a 1/4 inch thick
5 Cups vegetable stock (no salt added)
2 T. butter
1 T. ginger juice (grate ginger and squeeze out juice)
1/2 T. lemon juice (fresh is best)
dill or parsley to garnish

In a medium stock pot heat olive oil. Add onion and a pinch of salt to sweat the onions (make sure they don't brown.) After about 5 minutes, add carrots and cover pot to soften the carrots. After another 5 minutes add stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and leave soup simmering for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are completely soft. Blend about 3/4 of the soup in a blender or with a wand blender. Add butter. When creamy consistency is achieved (it should be like cream)add ginger and lemon juice. Serve hot and garnish with dill or parsley.

Poached Pears in Apple Reduction
This is so simple and tasty it's hard to believe. Serve with any kind of ice cream, vegan ice cream, whipped dairy or nut cream.

2-3 cups apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks, star anise pods or cloves. Try to keep it simple.
2 pears, peeled, halved, seeds and core removed

In a small pot, bring apple juice and spices to a boil. Reduce heat (poaching liquid is 160-180 degrees F. and since you probably won't have a thermometer, just make sure it's not boiling anymore.) Add pears and try to keep them submerged in the liquid. After about 15 minutes check for doneness with a toothpick, they should be soft but not falling apart. Remove from the liquid and set aside. Raise the heat on the liquid and cook for another 20 minutes or so until liquid is reduced but not quite syrupy. Pour over the pears and serve with whatever creamy stuff you like.

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