Monday, 30 January 2012 | 26 comments

Charred carrots with griddled goat cheese

While Ben and I were browsing the most amazing bookstore I’ve ever seen in Buenos Aires, I stumbled upon an absolute gem of a cookbook. Siete Fuegos, written by famous Argentine chef Francis Mallman, draws on his upbringing in Patagonia, cooking over outdoor fires with gauchos. It’s fresh and authentic, and I loved it as soon as I flipped it open.I didn’t have room in my carry-on only luggage to buy the book and carry it home, but I jotted down a few ideas and vowed to look it up when I got back. It was beautifully photographed and I sighed a little, jealous of people whose lifestyles let them spend whole days, weekends even, cooking over outdoor fires. Back in the States, Ben’s emails started arriving, describing the Uruguayan vineyard in which he’s spending the harvest. Everything sounded a little familiar, and I realized that Ben is living the Uruguay version of Siete Fuegos.

We went for a swim after work, and then lounged around in the shade of the courtyard […] At this point, they started getting the fire ready in the massive parilla (giant outdoor grill) and we soon enjoyed the smell of onions, eggplants, chorizo, morcella (blood sausage) and huge cuts of beef grilling slow and steady. By dusk, we all sat out in the courtyard at one long table and ate and drank for the next two hours.

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Thursday, 3 November 2011 | 11 comments

A week of soups: Fennel soup with julienned carrots

Ben and I have recently been toying with the idea of scrounging up an enormous, cast-iron kettle that can hang over a fire (think pioneer-era Americana). We’ve somehow latched onto this notion of a vessel in which we could simmer and ladle out a bottomless supply of good soup for a crowd of friends. The autumn air, especially, has us dreaming of a “BYOB” lunch or dinner—“bring your own bowl.” Is it weird to admit that you and your significant other want to buy primitive cooking paraphernalia for your next dinner party? The more I think about it, though, the more it seems to appropriately embody the reason soups are so great. There are few dishes that come together as gracefully, with such simple ingredients and easy effort, as soups. Soups and stews exemplify my favorite kind of cooking: deeply sensory, as minimal or dressed up as you like, and most importantly, easy to share (en masse, if necessary). Moreover, everyone equates soup with comfort. I like that. One of my resolutions this year was that I’d start making more foods to freeze. I am not the kind of girl who has trouble finding the energy or making the time to cook for herself, but cooking-for-later is a bit addicting. It may seem like work with no gratification when you make something to put away, untouched—-until the day when you reap the benefits. The first forkful of whatever you made for yourself ahead of time is a little pat on the back. It’s kind of like magic! Good job, self, you think, grateful to the past-you for having the foresight to store away. In that vein, I’ve been planning to take a few days to make a lot of soups to keep through the winter. » Click to read more

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