Thursday, February 9, 2012

Secrets of the Gourmet Grocer: Valerie

December 1, 1981

Valerie is the first employee of mine who is not a member of my family. I have decided that I am going to bake breads fresh every day. I have my grandmother's Swedish Rye bread, a good wheat bread, cinnamon rolls, and croissante. I will teach Valerie to make my soups and entrees and I will help her while I am waiting for the breads to proof and bake. Valerie is perfect for the job. I think she looks French. That should add to the mystique of the shop. She is not professionally trained, but has an intuitive sense of how to cook. We start with soups. We make a new soup every day. Most are recipes that I have brought from Spokane. One of the best and most unique recipes is Hungarian Hangover. That was a creation of David Lindeman. I can't remember how he got the name, but he always has a story that makes the soup sound more exciting. I remember him telling me that he was out drinking one night in Budapest and woke up the next morning with a terrific hangover. Thus, the soup was born.

Hungarian Hangover 

2 Qt chicken stock
1 medium can diced tomatoes
1 ham hock; 2-3 small smoked sausage (polish, etc)
2 carrots, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 small bunch celery diced into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced medium
6 new potatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 can sauerkraut
1 T. paprika
1 C. sour cream

Dice the vegetables and saute with the sausage in a small amount of olive oil in your soup pan. Add the potatoes and cook all until slightly crunchy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour to absorb the oil in the pan, and add your stock and the diced tomatoes and the ham hock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15/20 minutes and add the sauerkraut and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the ham hock and strip the meat off and add to the soup. Mix 2 T flour with a little water to make a thin paste. Add a little of the soup stock to the flour mixture and whisk together and add that to the soup. It should be slightly thick after it simmers for a couple of minutes. If not, add more flour and water until it is thickened. Whisk in the sour cream and serve.

The soup goes over well and I teach her another:

Thai Fried Egg and Pork

This is another David Lindeman recipe, and one of the first oriental style soups I made. I like the way the eggs are fried for this soup and then added at the end. I have added a few things to the body of the soup over the years. The pork was originally thinly sliced pork loin, but I like the meatballs in this soup. I also think you should adjust the soup's "heat" to your taste by adding tabasco, red pepper flakes or an oriental hot sauce at the end.

1 quart chicken stock
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
1 rib celery, diced
1/4 bunch green onion, diced
1/2 # ground pork, made into small meatballs
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 C soy sauce
1 t. black pepper

Saute the small onion, the celery and garlic together. Add the soy sauce and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the grated carrots. Take the pork and make small meatballs with a little bit of breadcrumb and milk to bind them and bake in a 375 degree oven until cooked--probably about 15 minutes. Add to the soup. Beat the eggs and add the pepper to the eggs. Heat a large skillet with a little oil until the oil is starting to smoke. Quickly add the eggs and cook until set. Flip if necessary and remove from the heat. Cut up the eggs in the pan with a knife into small squares and add to the soup pot. Thicken the soup slightly with: 2 T cornstarch mixed with a little water.

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