Monday, May 30, 2022

Mushroom Risotto for Cook the Books April/May Selection: Taste: My Life In Food by Stanley Tucci

So, we will get the elephant in the room dealt with right away in this post. I am the host of this round of Cook the Books, our virtual foodie book club where we read a foodie book and cook something inspired from it. I didn't cook a dish, I ordered in. Honestly, I am still healing from a bout with COVID that has me hitting the wall every day about 3:00 PM, and still has my "taster" out of whack--I never know what will taste good to me, or taste at all. Since Stanley Tucci seems to have a healthy respect for restaurants and chefs, I am hoping he won't mind that I celebrate the treasure of him and his book with one of my favorite mushroom risottos. I'll get to that, and a couple of mushroom risotto recipes I did make, after my thoughts about the book.

Taste: My Life in Food by Stanley Tucci will go down as one of my favorite food memoirs and memoirs in general. For me, it's the combination of his passion for food, the glimpse at celebrity life, and how a person who seems like a generally nice guy, has overcome some serious health hardships in his life--his first wife's death from cancer and his own oral cancer in 2018. Tucci is the kind of person one imagines they would like to be friends with--not just to be invited over to dinner for the food, but for the interesting conversation as well. 

I loved his stories of growing up with a mother who could have been a chef, in a big Italian foodie family and how he became the foodie he is. I enjoyed hearing about his experience on movie sets as they related to food. (He did lose a few points from me for eating puffin in Iceland as all I could think about was one of my favorite bird characters, Neil the Puffin from Jenny Colgan's Little Beach Street Bakery series and that made me sad--despite the preponderance of them in that country. I have forgiven him.) The celebrity stories are fun and a bit endearing, making me love Colin Firth and Ryan Reynolds even more than I do for the roles they played when Tucci was going through cancer treatment. And finally, the food--there is so much glorious food and recipes peppered throughout the book that it is impossible not to crave food and Italian food while reading it. Speaking of reading, I went back and forth between my e-book and audiobook and I have to encourage you to listen to the audiobook, even if you have read the printed version. It's like listening to your most interesting and slightly eccentric friend tell stories, and leads one to want to binge favorite Stanley Tucci movies and his series, Searching For Italy. A delightful experience.

OK, so the food. I actually tagged several recipes that I planned to make namely the Spaghetti con Zucchine all Nerano, Spaghetti with Lentils, his mother's Risotto Milanese, Felicity's Roast Potatoes, Salsa Maria Rosa (or any of the other pasta sauces) and finally his Pasta Fagioli (My Way). 

In the end, I was set for the soup, yesterday, but then it just didn't sound good--mainly the beans and kale, and really, I just didn't want to cook. I wanted to be on my couch with a book and the fan blowing on me and so I ordered Mushroom Risotto from a local restaurant where it is made with Hamakua Mushrooms (hon shimeji or brown beech mushrooms), truffle and nori. Not traditional, but delicious. And, friends, I was so lazy that I didn't even replate it, I just ate it out of the container and enjoyed about half of it last night and the rest will be dinner tonight. 

Mushroom risotto is mentioned in the book as the "adult" meal on Tucci's menu in his quarantine "day-in-the-life" chapter and also risotto is mentioned a few other times throughout as something he could eat both with gluten intolerances and then later after his cancer treatment. I will make his mother's Risotto Milanese one of these days.  

Here are links to three Mushroom Risotto Recipes I did make:

The deadline for this round is today, and I will be rounding up the entries for Cook the Books on the website in a day or two. If you missed this round and you like books and food and foodie books, join us for our June/July pick, A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain hosted by Claudia of Honey from Rock.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Three Recovery Soups for COVID and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

After chasing me down for two years, COVID finally caught up with me last week, It knocked me out for a while and it's still kicking me as we speak. The exhaustion is real and I find myself wanting to drop and take a nap every few hours. I have been eating a lot of soup, canned, deli, from my freezer, it's been a relief for my stuffy nose and cough. So in honor of restorative soups, here are three to get you through a cold or COVID. 

(6/5 Update: I am feeling much better but still not cooking/tasting much so I have put the Souper Sundays ink back up for yet another week and will recap everything next weekend.)

The Cure-All Lentil Soup from Sweet Potato Soul by Jenné Claiborne who says that she calls this soup the "cure-all" because of how nutritious it is. She notes that she modeled it after her Nana's chicken soup--replacing the chicken with lentils. I added extra potato because I had two Yukon Golds I needed to use and used the smaller Puy green lentils because I had them in my pantry and like the firmer texture they add.

A flashback to 2010 and a Oregon classic, Elephant's Cure Chicken Soup, has enough ginger and spice to kick the germs out. From the Oregonian: For centuries, chicken soup has been a trusted home remedy to fight colds and flu, and though science has never nailed down its exact medicinal value, there are some things we know: Warm stock helps ward off chills; its vapors help loosen nasal and respiratory congestion; and it's an easy way to get some calories and nutrients into your system when your appetite is droopy. One of the most soothing chicken soups around is Elephants' "Cure," a rich and spicy broth that's loaded with ginger, garlic, lemon grass and serrano chiles, a potent blend of ingredients that have known curative powers. "There's no real proof that chicken soup can cure the common cold," says Scott Weaver, the executive chef of Elephants Delicatessen, where Elephants' "Cure" is on the menu throughout the winter and available in the freezer case year-round. "But there is proof that a lot of these ingredients that are in here can help your immune system."Like the serranos, which are loaded with vitamin C. Or garlic, which has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, and helps fight cholesterol and high blood pressure."And there's just something about chicken," Weaver says. "It's something you grew up with. Your mother probably made it, so it takes you back. It's a real comfort thing, and when you're sick and miserable you want something that's soothing and comforting."The ample use of ginger and lemon grass gives Elephants' "Cure" a hint of Asian flavors, evoking the spicy Thai soups that take the sting out of a sore throat. It's a nod to the global reach of chicken soup, which spans continents and cultures."

Finally, Giada de Laurentiis' Pastina Soup is perfect when you need a simple, comforting bowl of soupy pasta goodness. Giada says that the "final 'soup' is a cross between a risotto and a very thick stew" since the tiny pasta soaks up all of the flavor and liquid when they cook. 

Any of these will make you feel better, half the battle when you are recovering.

We have a couple of dishes waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look! 

The link up below will be open for a couple of weeks, so feel free to add a soup, salad or sandwich creation and I'll highlight them soon.

Melynda of Scratch Made Food shared a Quinoa Tabbouleh salad saying, "Full of fresh vegetables, lemon, and parsley this salad is perfect to serve alongside grilled meat for a light dinner. Quinoa Tabbouleh is going to be your new favorite this summer, I can already tell! There is a bit of prep work to make this salad, but it goes quickly and the flavor of Quinoa Tabbouleh is worth it!"

Thank you, Melynda for joining me. 

If you'd like to join in Souper Sundays, I am opening up the below link for two weeks while I try to finish deciding what my go-forward looks like. 

Anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the two weeks and I will post a recap of the entries on Sunday in two weeks.) 

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.  

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Current Link through 6/12/2022:

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