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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Foodie Falooties

Gourmet dinner clubs have become really popular in recent years.  They are  great opportunities for people to cook, gather, and share wonderful food together.  If you are serious about food, these gatherings become obsessively anticipated and alluring.
Ours started almost as a happy accident.  The founding host invited a group of people into her home for a New Year's Day potluck brunch. A lazy hangover-cure potluck. But, she has a gift of assembling the perfect people blend that could rival any professional mixologist. We all arrived on a cold snowy winter morning bedecked with fabulous food. It was a magical day filled with great food, music,and conversation.  The brunch was such a special food-friend-fun-filled day that now our foodie falooty brunch bunch meets once a month to eat, drink and consume marvelous culinary concoctions.  We have standards.  High standards.  Every brunch exceeds the previous one.  It is heaven.  In between bites of food, heady snarky conversations flow as freely as the champagne heavy mimosas.  We trade recipes and secrets; and inspire each other. I have learned that I now love black eyed peas, if cooked properly and lovingly.  I now know the importance of  rich scratch-made succulent butter cream frosting and that great tomato sauce with moist meatballs is best prepared simply and honestly.  We discovered together that outrageous doughnut bread pudding tastes good with a splash of sweet Thai chili sauce and that crisp prosciutto chips can awaken a soft buttery butternut squash soup. We also learned and enjoyed the devine danger of an incoming Hurricane Jupiter.
There was something  sweet and delicious about tiny asparagus tips perched on top of shrimp and grits along side caribbean inspired banana mango bread pudding with rum hard sauce; and chess pie that could bring giants to their knees. Ambrosia.
It was during our last post Derby/Housewarming brunch that our fabulous  friend Sandy and I revisited her epic battle and conquest of turnip soup.  She was so happy with it and I was intriqued by it.  I love turnips and just the idea of turnip soup made me happy. Sandy sent me the recipe months ago and last night I wanted a warm and comforting meal that could heal battlewounds from a hectic weekend, so I rifled through my Facebook messages, found the recipe, printed it, and cooked it. 
It was delicious and simple.
Aside from the fact that I included celery and garlic, I followed her recipe to a tee.  I heated unsalted butter in a saute pan until it  foamed, added thick sliced lean bacon, and fried the bacon until golden brown.  I then tossed in 1 pound of diced turnips,  a small diced onion, thinly sliced celery, minced garlic, and sauteed the vegteables until they were were soft and golden brown.  After adding another tablespoon of  olive oil into the pan to coat the bottom, I sprinkled a cup of Arborio rice into the oil to toast and deglazed the sticky fond with white wine and chicken stock.  Partially covered, the turnip soup simmered for about 30 to 40 minutes before being ladled it into large soup bowls with tons of grated reggiano cheese over the top.  A final drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, cracked Tellicherry black pepper, and a shower of herbs finished it off.  Sandy's recipe called for fresh parsley.  I used  parsley and fresh dill.  To the side, we had lemon, white wine, and chicken stock braised endive.

Beautifully earthy.  Deep deep earthy trunip flavor. Each bite of melting turnips swimming in an unctious broth with spoon to mouth cheese strands was  unbelievably comforting and fantastic. The celery provided crunch and texture while the parsley and dill combination brightened the finish. I actually squealed with soup dripping down my chin.. It was that good. 
Thank you Sandy.  Thank you foodie falooties. I adore being inspired by you.

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