Saturday, July 22, 2006


There is no doubt the French can cook. Grant it, one can say this about most any people, but I take a special leaning towards French cuisine.

I began learning French in elementary school, in part, because I loved French food-- A food snob before I knew it, one of my favorite restaurants was La Boheme, an upscale bistro. To encourage my love of all things French, whenever my family traveled, my father stalked out the local French establishments (hotels, restaurants) even with his abhorrence to it all. I would walk in and grandly correct his forgotten Spanish-esque pronunciation of a French word so that all could hear me, the French-spewing-girl-wonder.

Finally my family went to Paris. I attempted to disassociate myself from my rambunctious brothers as they hollered and tumbled through parks, museums and grand avenues. I believed myself to be of more noble blood, I spoke French afterall. Appalling to the masses (mostly me), in broken Spanish my father would ask for directions: “Whatever, it’s close enough, just change an ‘e’ to an ‘a’!”. Of course, this did not help his love of the country, nor the Frenchman’s love of Americans and they promptly tuff-tuffed their way out of the situation.

“Um, moment!” I ran after countless groups. In what I believed to be perfect (though limited) French, I asked for and repeated directions that were offered with accolades for my fabulous accent.

In restaurants when my younger brother wanted butter I taught him the word and made him ask for it. I checked us into hotels. I owned France—I was a sixth-grade Francophile.

In junior high school I met a girl who’s father was French—and a chef. Worlds collided and I latched onto her. Our friendship survived but my desire to learn the language was extinguished when three horrible high school language teachers dissuaded me from fluency. I thought the girl could cook and might teach me some skills, but was soon disappointed when I found her greatest feats included boxed cakes and microwaves (still pretty good). Regardless, we remained friends.

In the end, I still love the French and the food and can mangle my once-perfect accent into a phrase or three. I tell myself I will take a language course, a French cooking course, move to Paris… In the meantime, having D’s fluency in the language helps my lack of it, knowing how to read a recipe fills the cooking course gap, and the desire to step on a plane and move to France at the moment can be filled by my local (and reasonable!) French restaurant.

This recipe is a play on the classic Vichyssoise (I have added Swiss Chard). It is traditionally served cold and is surprisingly easy to make- the perfect summer soup.

Active time= 20 minutes. Cook time= 40 minutes. Inactive time= 2 hours.
* 4 leeks, whites only
* 1 large bunch of Swiss chard
* ½ bunch of parsley (optional)
* 6 russet potatoes
* 6 cups chicken stock/ broth (or vegetable)
* 2 cups cream (or milk)
* 2 Tbl unsalted butter
* salt/ pepper to taste

1) Coarsely chop the leeks (whites only), Swiss chard and parsley. Chop the potatoes into 1-2 inch chunks.
2) In a stock pot on medium-high heat, melt the butter. Once warm, add leeks, Swiss chard and parsley. Cook until wilted, stirring occasionally; 8-10 minutes.
3) Add potatoes and chicken stock; cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Cook for 30 minutes; or until potatoes are soft.
4) Using a handheld blender (or carefully in a blender in batches) purée the soup. Add cream, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until cold. Serve garnished with parsley.
NOTE: The pink over the soup pictured is sea salt.

Don't forget to check out Kalyn's Kitchen for a little WHB action.

In non-food related news Eat Stuff is back with WCB! Below we have Whisky pictured with a stuffed dog. This could be wrong on many levels, none of which I want to investigate.

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