Flaming Lips...

...And I don't mean the band.

A deceptively simple soup which makes a quick lunch is Mithila's Mushroom and Onion soup*. Mithila was my family's exchange student from India two years back. Unfortunately I was already living in Geneva so I only met her on one occasion. Mithila has a thing for spice. She is the only girl I know who could easily go through one of those large red bottles you find on the table of authentic Vietnamese restaurants. Girl puts chili sauce on her turkey sandwich. I'm just sayin' is all...

Anyhow, one thing she introduced me to (besides the wonder and amazement that IS frozen roti), that I love to whip up on the spur of the moment is her Mushroom and Onion soup. I had a bowl for lunch today with some of the Dukkah nut dip that Morven sent me in my Box of Kiwi.

*This is NOTHING like a typical onion soup (which is yet to come). This is mostly a broth, a very spicy broth, made from a few key ingredients.

Mithila's Mushroom and Onion Soup
one bowl serving size

1/2 onion
1 mushroom (more if you like, of whatever variety you like
pat of butter
salt and pepper

It is just that simple. Slice up your onions as thin as you possibly can. In your soup pot fry onions until golden with a decent amount of butter. While they are happily sizzling away slice your mushrooms as thin as possible (at this point if I want a fast soup I have my water boiling in one of those rapid carafes) and then add to onions. The pot will accrue some browning at the bottom of the pan, don't worry, this goes away once you add the hot water. Let the ingredients cook together for awhile and add a lot of pepper, just this side of too much pepper. If your lips don't burn when you eat it, add more pepper. There should be pepper dregs at the bottom of your bowl. Also, be sure to be generous with your salt shaker as that is what is really going to bring out the flavors. Beware, this soup is not for the faint of heart. Enjoy! Mwhahahahahah.

Box of Kiwi

Yay! It's here!

Is there anything like the feeling of getting a goodie package full of surprises? I think not! Especially when it's full of EDIBLE suprises! This was my first go around at Blogging By Mail, hosted and managed by the always magnificent Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness. I didn't know until today where in the world my package would be coming from. I'm very thrilled to have received a box of Kiwi from Morven in New Zealand.

My box of goodies includes the obligatory Marmite as well as many other tasty things : passionfruit in sweetened syrup, tamarillo chutney, fruits of new zealand (kiwi and feijoas) jam, the neatest kiwi spoon i've ever seen, a cd of Brooke Fraser, a bottle of sauvignon blanc, dukkah nut and spice dip, several type of New Zealander chocolate (lemon cheesecake among them), feng shui green tea (with carrot flakes, pineapple cubes, papaya, lemongrass, sunflower blossoms and raspberry) and a bottle of pohutukawa lotion. With two weeks of winter holiday coming up I think I am very looking forward to nibbling my way through the box. Thank you Morven! And thank you Stephanie for making it happen. Happy Holidays all.


Icy and Sour Soup

It's gotten cold in Geneva. Damn cold. Hence, I bring you a week (if I can manage it) of soups. I admit freely, there will probably not be so many soup photos as soup is a slippery beast (heh) to catch on film, much like the Loch Ness monster.

Tonight was Practically Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup. Without further ado....

Is that Nessie behind that cilantro leaf? Naahhh.

Practically Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup
serves two as a starter

4 c. chicken stock (if you want it to be truly vegetarian, use veggie stock...i digress)
1/2 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. salt (optional)
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. seasame oil
1 tsp. chili oil (to taste)
premix 4 T. water
2 T. cornstarch

in addition : canned corn, waterchestnuts, tofu, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, egg, etc.

A very simple soup. Bring your stock to a boil and add ingredients in order listed. At the end feel free to throw in veggies of choice and either solely the egg whites or the whole egg (blended) to form an egg blossoms. While the soup is hot slowly pour in egg mixture with stirring soup with a fork to break up the strands.

I can still feel my lips tingling from dinner. Mmmmm, who needs to suck on icicles?


Speak no EVOO

So, in the last post we learned about Rachael Ray's abbreviation attaining 'dictionary status'. The trivia question I pose to all of my little blog readers (all 5 of you, come on, let's hear from you all!) is what olive oil you recommend. I have tried quite a few from tiny bottled costly ones to industrial sized no-name oils. This is actually a rather important questions cause I use A LOT of olive oil, absurd amounts of olive oil. Brownies in a box call for oil? Why not make it olive oil?!

I kid you not.

Anyhow, if you could please leave comments on a good cooking oil (not too olive-oily tasting and able to be bought in large quantities for a reasonable price) as well as yummy eating olive oils (not too bitter, not too fruity, light and fresh and delicious) I would really really appreciate it. So would my pestos and stir frys and brownies, oh my!


'Tis the season to be SHOPPING

It's that time of year again. The time when everyone is scrambling around searching for Just The Right Gift. Foodies are easy to please, sure enough. Some new goodie we've never tasted, a novel ingredient to cook with, a real novel with food as a recurring theme (yes I am looking at you Joanne Harris). That said, why give the foodie you love yet another subscription to Bon Appetit or Nigella's new cookbook or even a cheese of the month subscription? Here are some innovative ideas for not only the holiday season but any other special occasion you might have. Sure you've seen the Bologna rug...but there are so many more! Without further ado I give you....Gifts for Foodies.

Bad ice cream....This is not a gift you ought to buy your foodie.

Good ice cream. These bowls from Rachel Sebell are. Oooh, just imagine them with those lovely little gelato shovels...I mean spoons.

Also for those long cold winter shot glasses! What you thought I was going to say hot chocolate?

Honey is like liquid gold. Especially this gift set at $78. Mmmmmm, liquid gold.

Allow me to hawk my own wares for a moment with this honeycomb two finger ring.

And nothing goes better with honey than tea. Not that you ought to put the honey set above into tea by any means!!! Here are two different and designerly ways to drink your cuppa. You can brew a batch with IngenuiTea...

or with the oh so sleek and industrial TeaStick.

Let's continue with the theme and move on to ways to port around your meals. Paper bags are so passe...and not very environmentally friendly. Here are several hip alternatives...

A colorful and bento-like stackable set from Pearl River

A more modern take on the thermos and lunchbox idea we had as school kids from Built NY. They make fantastic wine totes as well.

How about a special 'work' lunch box including a foldout plastic placemat. My don't we feel all adult?

Back to the kitchen blogger! Perhaps they'd rather like to show off the tools of their trade (or hobby...make that obsession) with a pair of whisk earrings (chef knives are also available)

Maybe your foodie doesn't cook so much as visit fine 4 star Michelin establishments like a WFED-er. No need to be shy about well developed tastebuds. Spoil them with a set of portable chopsticks from Vilmain and Klinger

Or perhaps a fold and go classic with a Swiss Army knife with fork and spoon.

Heck, forget the knife and spoon, the fork is pretty good looking on its own as a bracelet.

These babies are for everyone everywhere. Instant cutlery. Give them to a college student. Take them on a picnic. After you finish, remove them and enjoy the apple you speared it on.

Do you remember when twinkies tasted good and wouldn't survive with the cockroaches after a nuclear fall out? Me neither. But supposedly our folks do. Why not whip them up a batch of delicious chemical free bits of their childhood with a Twinkie pan.

Speaking of Twinkie pans....there are also snuggly warm food theme scarves made by the talented and food obsessed Twinkie Chan....

Toast of course leads us to a tasty BLT ring...hold the mayo.

...and is that bacon kosher??? Well, since this one goes ON you rather than IN you I suppose it doesn't really matter.

Perhaps your sweetie is more of a dessert sort of person or maybe you just want to get them a Mrs. Haversham like cake they can enjoy FOR-EV-VER.

Although it's winter let us not forget the warm summer breezes and vibrant summer foods. Nothing to perk up long dismal grey days than a pair of uber realistic cherry earrings.

Summer gardens also call for peas straight from the pod. Don't try to eat one of these though.

I have nothing against Rachael Ray...then again I have never seen her show. But how can you not love a shirt pimping the nectar of the gods? Plus it makes for good trivia. As in, guess what pop culture foodie acronym just made it in to the dictionary. Really. Maybe you'll finally win at Trivial Pursuit this year.

We like vegetarians. TO EAT! Just kidding. Ha. Ha. But we prefer to make fun of them. So easy when they take themselves so seriously, no? Speak your mind with this sad little artichoke. If only I could remember where I found this shirt....

Now, really, this is just silly but I felt it necessary to mention the Bananaphone. I's a banana. And you put it on your cell phone. Get it? Huh? Huh? Eh, nevermind.

The Octodog is also remarkably silly but very cool and will keep those little brats, I mean angels, of your sister in awe...for all of about 10 seconds before they try hurling it across the room or letting it 'swim' around in their chocolate milk. Don't say I didn't warn you.

A bit more ambitious as a gift. You need to really know your foodie and their tastes...not everyone wants fungi on their walls. But what pretty fungi they are.

Or, if we are talking about interior decorating, why not give them the choice of one of the many beautiful food paintings that Jonathon Nix (also the painter of the UglyFruit banner above) does?

And to wrap it all up you have the option of simple wrapping paper with a luxurious vegetable ribbon adorning it....

...or some simple sushi wrapping paper. Nothing says Merry Xmas and Happy Hanukah like dead fish.

And what's the holiday season without a little gratuitous blasphemy? No pagan kitchen is complete without the JesusPan or Holy Toaster.


Bread Wagon

Let me take this opportunity to hop on the bread wagon (what? band wagon you say? noooo, surely you must have heard wrong). The blogger community has been swarming all over the NY Times article about Mr. Lahey's 'No Knead Bread' for quite sometime now. Clothide, David, NotMartha and many more have succumbed to its siren call. As has yours truly. I first attempted this baby for my Layers dinner a few weeks back and gave it another go around this weekend. For very little effort and a whole lotta time you too could be eating this rustic crusty chewy loaf for lunch. Here's the video on how it's done : Bread a 4 yr old could make

Just look at this happy bubbly dough!

A little unorthodox, yes, but I used a rubber spatula to 'fold' the dough. It saved a whole bunch of clean up.

Here is the sacrificial flour covered dishtowel. R.I.P dear little towel, you will be missed.

....Aaaand voila!

There are still some kinks to be worked out (the bottom crust is thicker than the top, although really, I am a 'la mie' girl at heart) plus I need a La Creuset ;) but I foresee many future loaves of this. The variation with rosemary and olives sounds promising. Which leaves us with this thought....what sound DOES bread make anyways?


Eye Candy

Admittedly, these are cookies, not candy. But just LOOK at how beauteous they are, I think they deserve the title. All jewel-toned and full of rich silky creamy fillings. Geneva, please welcome La Duree. Maybe I haven't been down Rive in awhile but this was the first time I saw the boutique nestled amongst its ilk nearby.

The inside is like a step back in time. All hushed and reverent. Dark wood display cases showing off goods to their best advantage, dimly lit by a glittering chandelier. I recommend you visit for the ambiance if nothing else.

These edible treasures are presented in an opulent sea foam green box, not unlike a Tiffany's jewel box. A melange of flavors, just an amuse bouche really, three will do nothing to satisfy your rapacious hunger for these light as air delicacies.

Here is a small sampling of Rose, Citron Vert (lime) and Mille et un Nuits (Thousand and one nights, spices from the Far East). The rose was very delicately flavored, the lime a fresh burst of zesty citrus and the Thousand and One Nights brings to mind hidden spice shops in far away locales. I warn you, these macarons may very well be addictive. After perusing the La Duree site, I may have to try one of every flavor at some point. Any partners in crime out there?

La Duree
7, Cours de Rive

Be sure to visit their website and join their club to receive announcements about events at the boutiques and new flavors as well as recipes from their chefs. I know I will.