Hey, did you know there are these awesome things called Cookbooks? No - really - they are full of awesome recipes and instruction and tips and sometimes even really amazingly gorgeous photos or illustrations. I guess you probably knew that - but evidently I have been living under a rock. While I was in the US over the holiday however, I visited the cooking section of Borders and almost couldn't leave. If there wasn't a weight limit on my baggage I might have left that store with an empty bank account.
As it was, I got just a few books that really stood out to me. But just one of them has stolen my heart. There is just one that I have now read through twice - one that has in the space of just a week or two improved my cooking skills and inspired me to eat so much better and cook more at home - and that one is The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Now, you may know all about this wonderful lady already, but I am new to all this foodie stuff and had no idea what I was in for (you can read all about her and her work here). This book has wonderful instruction on how to do just about all the basic cooking from scratch you would ever want to do - laid out so its simple and easy to read and helps you incorporate it into your normal cooking routine. Its full of great recipes (that truly are simple and accessible) that are fit for every season and are written out in wonderful step-by-step way - not to mention that include important details to let you understand the cooking process being used and how to vary the recipe. Without a doubt, I think everyone should have this book.
This soup recipe was one that jumped out at me to try first simply because I already had so many of the ingredients on hand and I love soup - and of course it didn't disappoint. It is warm and rich and soothing, not to mention hearty and satisfying. It is indeed so simple, but it all comes together in a perfect combination of textures and flavors. It was the perfect meal for a cold snowy day in Berlin.
White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup
from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Soak in water overnight:
1 cup (225g) dried white beans
Drain and put into a large pot with:
3 cups (675 ml) chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
4 cups (900ml) water
Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the beans are tender. Start checking after 45 minutes (it took mine more like 2 hours, which means I used more liquid than she called for also). Season to taste when cooked.
Heat in a heavy-bottomed pot:
2 tbs olive oil or duck fat (I used olive oil)
2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 1 very large onion)
3 or 4 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
Cook over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-cm cubes*
Cook for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and add 1.35 liters of their cooking liquid to the squash and onions. Cook at a simmer until the squash starts to become tender. Add the beans and keep cooking until the squash is very soft. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
-Serve hot soup over thickly sliced country-style bread that has been brushed with olive oil and toasted until crisp and golden brown. (I did this, it was delicious)
-Use other varieties of winter squash such as acorn, onion squash, the green Crown Prince squash and gem squash (which is the size of a tennis ball).
*In another part of the book, she instructs that a butternut squash (and most squash) can be peeled using a normal swivel-headed vegetable peeler. It worked pretty well for me - not as easy as peeling a carrot - but it worked.
I heart film. - A little over a year ago I bought a Canon Ae-1 and last week I found the first roll of film I shot on it and finally had it processed (Its been a crazy year ...