Biere-Gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast

I’m on a soup kick and this Indian summer that’s been in Boston for the last 8 days is driving me crazy.  Hellooo Mother Nature,  I’ve put most of my summer duds away and the AC is out of the window, so could you please change the leaves, turn down the temps and make it fall already!   There is a rumor it’s coming. The ever-so-non-accurate Dylan Dreyer (our local Boston meteorologist who cares more about her Banana Republic outfit than accurate forecasting) is predicting fall like temps and rain this weekend so I hope she’s right.  Sunday sounds like it’s going to be rainy with a high of 61/ low of 47, so it will be a perfect day to try and replicate Sel de la Terre’s Biere-Gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast. HOLY CRAP, this was pure taste bud ecstasy.  If you don’t like cheese,  stop reading.  If you don’t like beer, stop following me all together.

This past Sunday, Dan picked me up from the airport and took me to a place he’d been wanting to try out, Sel de la Terre on the Wharf.   A bottle of wine, some apps… it was a perfect Sunday evening. We started with their Petit Gouters; (bread accompaniments)  Balsamic roasted shallots and garlic confit, french olives, and an Eggplant-goat cheese puree with toasted walnuts.  We were starving but not blown away; they were however, nice little nibbles to start with.   I like to ease into meals, I like to take my time, and I like to take in the flavors while enjoying my company.  I’m the slow eater, pain-in-the-ass servers do not like to wait on, but I’m polite and I also order bottles that I most often tip you on, so whatever.  Since I like to take my time and enjoy a night out to dinner, I’m often frowned upon by management as I do not provide them the burn and turn rate they’d like.  I’m also not often an entree orderer because I get full fast and then wind up being the jerk who’s taken two bites of her meal. I’ve parted ways with entrees for sometime now. I’m all about small plates, taste variety, and eating until I’m 80% full, so I can go out that night, duh!

Because I gravitate towards  small bites, apps and soups, I am a firm believer that if you have good soup, everything else on your menu will be good.  It’s hard to make a good soup.  It requires an enormous amount of time to carefully simmer a stock to the right taste and in a big enough batch. Soups, in some cases also require a lot of straining, which in large volumes isn’t easy! Having the right consistency, flavor profile and depth of flavor can also be tricky.   If you make a soup from scratch (not one poured out of a Cisco bag), you more often than not care about what you are cooking, take pride in your culinary skills, and have the chops to give me hope for the rest of your menu. This may be a biased opinion, but out of all the soup I have had in my life, I can think of one other that is memorable and a favorite: The Sherwood Inn’s French Onion.

Sel de la Terre’s  Biere-gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast, described as ecstasy above. is. just. that.  It is a creamy, clean, perfectly seasoned puree of cheesy goodness with a pale ale finish.  After the first spoon full I had an instant vision of my feet up, in ski gear, next to a fire after a few beers, with this soup in hand.   It was amazing and for a moment it felt like real fall. I’ve been scouring the internet for a recipe remotely similar and after a few twitter convo’s back and forth with someone who updates the @SeldelaTerre feed we are now in negotiation for the real recipe. If I don’t get it, I think I am going to try a version of the following:

  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle ale such Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada or Harpoon pale ale
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb grated Gruyère
  • 4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled  (optional)

Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander. Get the dirt out!

Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.

Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Discard bay leaf.

To make the beer foam you need:

  • 1 Cold pale ale beer
  • Immersion Blender
  • 1 gram of Lecithin

In a cup, combine 1/2 of the cold beer, sprinkle in the lecithin, and blend with the immersion blender.  The foam will begin to form and the lecithin acts as a stabilizer, keeping the foam intact.   Drink the rest of the beer.

Dollop the foam on top of the soup and serve with grilled sourdough points drizzled with truffle oil.

If you decided to try this out, I hope you like it.  I plan to give it a shot this weekend, so I cannot attest to the complete accuracy nor amazingness that this recipe may or may not offer.  It does however sound very close to the flavors I enjoyed. As a side note, I would strain the soup and serve it as a creamy, fluid, puree without the vegetable chunks.  Good luck!

Thanks for reading! xo-G

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MODERNIST CUISINE IS FINALLY HERE!

I have never in my life been so excited to read a book!  If Mr. Booker from my 2nd, 3rd, AND 4th grade “special”  reading class could only see me now!   Last night was a version of Christmas morning and I channeled my inner 7-year-old self as I ripped through the many MANY layers and careful packaging that this beauty came in.   It sorta went something like this: 

Okay those kids are a little crazy… let’s just say I was excited.

Since I started following Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal, I began to learn about a book that was being created solely in the realm of modernist food.  To learn what Modernist food is, you have to know where food, since quite literally, the beginning of time, came from. Molecular Gastronomy is defined as : A style of cooking in which scientific methods and equipments are used. This type of cooking examines, and makes use of, the physical and chemical reactions that occur during cooking. The term was coined in part by French chemist Hervé This…Examples of molecular gastronomy include cooking sous vide, flash-freezing with liquid nitrogen, and making foams and froths with lecithin and a whipped-cream canister (source).

Hearing of this book instantly intrigued me!  However the price deflated my bubble rather quickly, almost $800 for the series!  Within days the first printing was sold out, probably a blessing in disguise at the time, as I was just starting school and developing my passion for the MG field. 6 months later it is finally here!!  I’ve got about 3000 pages to get through, and I have never been so excited to learn about something in my whole life! There will be A LOT of blogging along the way.  To get my feet wet, I’ve laid out a few things I plan to try this weekend:

On deck:

  • Tomato Caviar (spherification technique)  using agar agar.
  • Bacon Powder!  using Tapioca Maltodextrine
  • Loaded baked potato gnocchi, made with ricotta, bacon powder, sour cream, flour, potato and chive.  Thinking I might try to pair it with a peppery white wine cheddar sauce.  (No MG here- just the use of the Bacon Powder!)
  • Jellied celery root and parsnip puree cubes, could be weird, or delightfully tasty.
Hopefully I don’t run into too many problems trying to find these products, but just in case I have a bountiful amazon.com cart filling up.  MG tests are sure to break the bank!
I’M SO EXCITED TO TURN CHATEAUX JOY STREET’s KITCHEN INTO A MAD SCIENTIST LAB! MUAHAH

Ferran Adria is a f***king badass

Brash of me to use such a title, I know, but there is no better way to put it.   The guy is a genius,  an innovator, a master at his craft,  and at the top of his game.   Over the weekend I had the pleasure  of viewing of El Bulli: Cooking in Progress at the Museum of Fine Art.  I’ve been fascinated with the world of molecular gastronomy for some time now, and as I plan to embark on a few experiments of my own, this documentary came to Boston at the perfect time.

It was fascinating, inspiring, and helped me realize that my true passion is… food-like-this.

Creative.

Spontaneous.

Mysterious.

Few chefs are cooking like this, and those who are; Grant Achatz, Jose Andreas, Homaro Cantu (LCB Grad!), Wylie Dufresne, and Heston Blumenthal (just to name a few)  are offering foodies a magical experience, one that envelops all the senses;  sight, smell, taste, touch, and in some cases sound.

What-a-cool-fucking-way-to-eat.

As I become more intrigued with MG, I am anxiously awaiting my copy of the Modernist Cuisine, set to arrive this Thursday.  It has been a long awaited collection and I cannot wait to spend hours reading, scanning, and bookmarking future ideas and projects.  I will first be dabbling in series of spherification techniques: tomato caviar with a deconstructed play on a classic wedge salad, and a strawberry caviar with a nod to strawberry shortcake.  Blogs to follow, so check back!

To learn more about Molecular Gastronomy, a great article can be found here:  The basics of Molecular Gastronomy