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VEGETARIAN ADVENTURE
With Viviane Bauquet Farre

 

Creative New York chef and food writer Viviane
Bauquet Farre, a lifelong vegetarian, joins
SHOWCOOK with delicious dishes using fruit,
vegetables, salad leaves, grains and pulses. Viviane,
who masterminds brilliant cookery classes in New
York, adds stylish and elegant touches to her
recipes making each dish a culinary adventure! 

 

Viviane Bauquet FarreCarrot Soup

 

THE HUMBLE CARROT 
SIMPLE TO ELEGANT!

 

The humble carrot is a familiar sight in every supermarket, and perhaps that’s why it doesn’t usually command much attention or excitement. But those colorful roots certainly have some exotic origins. Its wild cousin, Daucus Carota, a plant native to Afghanistan, with skinny purple or white roots, was also known to the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, who used them mostly for their seeds and foliage. It was not until the 13th Century that the garden carrot as we know it today, with its deep orange hue and its plump root, made its entry into the Western world and started being cultivated for food.

 

Today, the carrot is one of the most common vegetables grown, with many cultivars coming in different colors and shapes. Young carrots are definitely the sweetest and the most tender of the lot, and spring is the best season to enjoy them.

 

This recipe is a luscious and velvety soup made with young, tender carrots. I serve it with a zesty fennel-green pesto, which adds a mild anise flavor to the soup. All in all, this humble vegetable with exotic roots makes for one elegant soup!

 

 

 

 

 
CARROT SOUP WITH FENNEL-GREEN PESTO

 

For the soup
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large shallots — thinly sliced
1 leek — white and pale green parts only — halved lengthwise and cut in 1/8" slices
3 garlic cloves — skinned and finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoons sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 3/4 lbs young carrots — peeled and cut about ¼" slices
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth in cartons (Pacific Organic)
3 to 3 1/2 cups of spring water

 

For the fennel-green pesto
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds — crushed in a mortar
1 small bunch fennel greens or fresh dill — stems trimmed (about 1 oz)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small garlic clove — skinned
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (use microplane grater)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
fennel sprigs as garnish

(Serves 6 to 8)

 

Step 1: Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium-high heat. Add the shallots and the leeks and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, wine, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until the wine has evaporated and reduced to a syrupy sauce. Add the carrots, broth and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 25 to 30 minutes until carrots are very tender.

 

Step 2: While the soup is simmering, place the crushed fennel seeds, fennel greens, pine nuts, garlic, salt, lemon zest and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until it forms a creamy paste, scraping the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

 

Cook’s note: The sauce will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator, or 1 month in the freezer.

 

Step 3: When the soup is ready, purée with a stick blender or food processor until very smooth and thin, using the balance of the spring water to the desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.

 

Step 4: Ladle the soup in soup bowls, garnish with a spoonful of the fennel-green pesto in the center and a fennel sprig. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

Everyone is familiar with the old saying
"an apple a day keeps the doctor away,"
but for me it’s more a healthy portion
of leafy green vegetables a day that
keeps that friendly doctor away! 

 

In the spring and summer I relish the tender baby greens and the vast array of lettuces I find at our local farmers’ markets, including arugula, minzuma, baby chicory and tender oakleaf lettuces. Come fall and winter I crave more hearty greens, such as the little-known Tuscan kale, cavolo nero (Italian for "black cabbage").

 

Like all kales, Tuscan kale is a member of the Brassica family, a group of vegetables, including cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts, that contain more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around. Tuscan kale is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. It’s also a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium.

 

But no matter how healthy Tuscan kale is, what excites me the most of course is its rich, earthy flavor. 

 

This recipe is inspired by that rustic Tuscan favorite, the bruschetta. First sautéed with a strong olive oil, garlic and a little chili pepper, the Tuscan kale is then braised to deepen its earthy and sweet flavors. Served on top of a crusty country bread, it’s a dream! Serve it as an appetizer, an hors d’œuvre or even as a light lunch. On its own, this dish makes a great side vegetable. When you try this recipe, I’m sure you’ll agree: there’s no better way to welcome the new season! 

 

 

 

BRUSCHETTA WITH CHILI-SPICED
TUSCAN KALE AND CANNELLINI BEANS

 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (preferably strong and spicy)
1/4 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes or to taste
2 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
2 small bunches Tuscan kale (about 7 oz) – remove stems from mature leaves and tear them in 2” pieces;
for young leaves keep the stems and cut leaves in 2” pieces
1/2 cup spring water
1–15oz can cannellini beans – drained
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

(Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer or serves 4 to 6 as a side dish - served without the bread)

 

Step 1: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil, chili pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the kale and sauté for an additional 2 minutes, tossing frequently, until wilted. Add the water, toss again, cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Braise for 8 to 9 minutes until kale is tender. Add the beans, salt and pepper to taste, toss well, raise heat to high and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until beans are warmed through and all the juices have evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

 

Step 2: Preheat broiler. Toast the bread under broiler on each side until nicely brown and crispy.

 

Step 3: Rub the garlic clove on one side of each toast. The toasted bread will act like sand paper on the garlic, allowing it to release its juices. The more garlic you rub, the stronger the flavor, so be careful! Place each bruschetta in the center of a plate. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Top with the braised kale. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve immediately.

 

Cook’s Note: only assemble this dish right before serving otherwise the bread will become soggy.

 

A fashionable mushroom that’s big on flavor!

 

 

FLATBREAD PIZZA WITH FRESH
MOZZARELLA, BABY PORTOBELLO
MUSHROOMS AND FRESH HERBS

 

It was not until the 1990’s that the Portobello (sometimes called Portabella) mushroom became so fashionable. The Portobello is actually an overgrown Crimini mushroom which, in the process of growing, acquires a very large and meaty cap. 

 

Fashionable or not, I love them because they are so big on flavor, especially when roasted, grilled or sautéed at high temperature. Another reason to love them is that they are now available year-round: not only can they be found in just about every supermarket, they are also popping up at farmers’ markets… That is a real treat, because, in my book, there’s nothing better than a fresh mushroom.

 

Speaking of freshness, there are a few
rules to observe when selecting mushrooms. 

 

First, avoid the prepackaged ones: especially when they are wrapped in plastic with no breathing holes. Mushrooms are alive! They will spoil very quickly when packaged this way, and acquire a very unpleasant smell and flavor. The best is to pick loose mushrooms with pale gills (the darker the gills, the older the mushroom). 

 

Second, store them in the refrigerator, in a brown paper bag or in a dry bowl covered with a damp paper towel. Another rule: do not wash or soak mushrooms in water. These fungi are like sponges; they will absorb liquid very quickly-and then, when you cook them, they will release this liquid and become rubbery… A paper towel or a mushroom brush is all that’s needed to brush off any particles found on them. (And by the way, those particles are not dirt, they are simply sterilized peat moss.)

 

This recipe makes the best use of the deep and earthy flavor of these gorgeous mushrooms. Try to find hand-made mozzarella if you can… it’ll make these flatbread pizzas an even more irresistible treat!

 

For the flatbread pizzas
4 — 10" flour or whole wheat tortillas
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

 

For the baby Portobellos
2 fresh rosemary sprigs — leaves removed from stems
6 thyme sprigs — leaves removed from stems
4 oregano sprigs — leaves removed from stems
8 large sage leaves — leaves removed from stems
6 parsley sprigs — stems removed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/4 lb baby Portobello mushrooms (or regular Portobellos) — stems removed at the base and cut in 1/2" cubes
4 large garlic cloves — skinned and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Reggiano parmesan
12 oz fresh mozzarella — cut in 1 1/2" x 1/4" slices
12 large basil leaves cut en chiffonade ( 1/16" strips) or a handful of tiny basil leaves
2 large jellyroll pans — ungreased 
(Serves 4)

 

Step 1: Put rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and parsley leaves on a board and finely chop. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

 

Step 2: Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, butter and Portobello cubes, toss well and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until golden, tossing from time to time. Add garlic, chopped herbs, salt and pepper to taste and continue sautéing for 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

 

Step 3: Preheat oven to 450°F. Lay 2 tortillas side by side on each pan and brush top side of each tortilla with olive oil. Top with the mozzarella slices and the mushrooms. Sprinkle the parmesan and extra salt and pepper to taste.

 

Step 4: Bake until edges are golden brown and crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer each pizza to a large plate, sprinkle with the basil en chiffonade or the tiny basil leaves, cut in 4 slices and serve immediately.

 

© viviane bauquet farre — food & style NY LLC

email:  viviane
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