Gourmet Soup

Posted: October 13, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

For those of you that don’t know, I live in Ohio, and while they say hell is full of brimstone and fire, I have to disagree.  Hell is NE Ohio between the months of October and May.  First it starts with rain, then moves on to freezing rain and sleet, then the full on snow (the words ‘lake effect’ will haunt me until I die) and then back to freezing rain and cold rain.  Now, I’m sure you are asking yourselves by this point, but surely the sun must come out some time….FALSE.  We go months on end with no sunlight.  Why, dear readers, am I subjecting you to this tirade on the weather in this tragic location?  Because I need to get you into the right mind set for todays dish.  This lack of sunlight came a couple weeks early this year, so for the past two weeks or so, we have had nothing but gray dismal rain.  I don’t know about you guys, but on days like that all I want to do is stay at home, curled up in bed or on the couch and read or watch TV…and I really want comfort food.  So this week when I was planning my meals I decided to pull out one of my ‘new’ recipes from Gourmet Magazine (RIP).  This recipe wasn’t new by any means, just had yet to be tested in my home.  It seemed like the perfect recipe for the weather and my mood: Cheddar Potato Soup with Bacon.  I don’t know about all of you, but anything with bacon and cheese HAS to be worth a shot, and I have always LOVED potato soup, but rarely eat it because I’m fairly certain my thighs would hold a record if they got any bigger.  This soup is perfect because it tastes like a really creamy potato soup, but doesn’t use any milk or cream at all, which still baffles me.  Even better, it was a recipe from Gourmet Magazine…also known as my amazing recipe bible, so of course it would be super tasty.  Luckily the recipe is at Epicurious, so you guys can link to it here.

What I really like about this was that it was super creamy and delicious, but didn’t make me feel like I had eaten a rock after half a bowl.  It was also pretty light, and really comforting in the rain.  The bacon is sprinkled on top, so it stays pretty crispy and you still get the bacony flavor.  I also liked it because if you leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of chicken, it is an amazing vegetarian dish, so its super versatile (I’m pretty sure it could be converted to Kosher fairly simply as well, but I’ll rely on our resident kosher chick to help me out with that one, or tell me that I’m wrong :) ).

A few words of advice on this recipe:

If you are anything like me, you have a tendency to ‘over crisp’ bacon when you cook it like this (some people call it blackened, I call it ‘sh-t not f-ing again!).  The easiest way to avoid that it to not over crowd it in the pan, and make sure you cook it over medium heat.  I tend to get impatient and want to turn it up, but I fought the urge on this one and it worked in my favor.

I know I have said this in previous posts, but when you are using wine, or any alcohol in a recipe, make sure its something you LIKE.  A lot of people tend to use cheap ‘cooking wine’ but keep in mind that you aren’t getting drunk off it, so all there is left is the flavor, and if you don’t like that, then why are you putting it in food?  I used a Sauvignon Blanc for this.

When using cheddar cheese in recipes like this, I usually go for the super extra inappropriately sharp cheddar, because its my favorite.  However, I have discovered that the sharper the cheese, the chunkier it is when it melts, so what I have started doing is using half extra sharp for the flavor and balancing it out with a much less sharp cheddar to help keep the creamy texture rather than a grainy feel.

Finally…the chives add great flavor, they are not just a garnish, so if you love chives like I do…go wild!  I probably went through 3 times the amount of chives they recommended for my bowl of soup :) .

With the downfall of Gourmet Magazine, I’m trying to make sure I have all my recipes and back issues because I will no longer have a source for all those delicious and amazing gourmet recipes I have come to love.  Somehow, searching a recipe like this at epicurious.com just won’t feel the same…and unlike guys and Playboy, I really do like it for the articles too.  :(  If you are upset about the loss of Gourmet check out this blog even coming up to celebrate the magazine and mourn our collective loss.

As always, thanks for reading


Save gourmet cooking…start with Gourmet

Posted: October 6, 2009 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: | 1 Comment »

When my cohort, the improviser, told me that Conde Nast was planning on shutting down Gourmet, I was not particularly pleased.  However the more I’ve been thinking about it (and 6 hours on planes and in airports today let to a lot of ‘think time’)  the less angry I get and the more disappointed and frustrated I get.  I know, I know…’ in these economic times’…blah blah blah blah.  But this isn’t just an economic decision, this has been a long time coming and I am pissed about it.  These days, when everyone has to eat nothing but whole grain, high protein, sugar free and high fiber, I think that most people have forgotten how AMAZING food can be.  I know it might mean an extra hour or two at the gym, or (god forbid!!)  a pair of jeans above a size 8, but it is totally worth it to me to use whole milk instead of skim (and don’t even get me started on soy milk) or sugar instead of Splenda in a recipe.  Gourmet magazine is one of the few places I have been able to turn to get recipes that truly fit into the category of GOURMET.  These are recipes that I am more than willing to spend a little extra on ingredients to feed someone a meal that makes them close their eyes and make that happy food noise, that we all make, whether we admit it or not.

Now, don’t get me wrong…these are not everyday recipes by any means, but I think thats what makes them so important and special to me.  Whenever I have a special occasion, a holiday, or just feel like being impressive ;) , I always turn to my saved issues of Gourmet and flip through all the dozens of turned down pages to decide which one to try this time.  And while I love my Cooking Light and Food Network.com, my culinary life will not be the same without Gourmet.  In my mind this isn’t just the end of a magazine.  In a world where we put soy crap in EVERYTHING, and even damn Lucky Charms are whole grain, taste is always the first thing that is sacrificed.  The number of gourmet lovers seems to be decreasing precipitously,  and the loss of this magazine will only further that trend.

A message to Conde Nast: Killing Gourmet, means killing a love of food in future generations….don’t let it happen just to better your bottom line.


Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.