Even though I love to travel and explore, I am really a homebody inside. I like to be home, gather my friends around me, and cook for them in the warmth of my kitchen. It is especially true these days as my parents are with us once again for a few weeks. It is crowded, noisy with children craving their attention, but most of all, joyous.
My parents really are the best house guests ever – my kids’ faces say it all.
“Did you already make a list?” my mom asked over the phone as she was getting ready to board the plane. She knows I always have a grocery list – of course I do! I am always cooking and shopping for food. “I am craving soups” I told her a few hours later. She had just deplaned and I was already sharing my cravings for food. She agreed. I knew then we would be lots of soups.
We loaded up on celery root, fennel, sweet potatoes, different varieties of winter squash, legumes (we are making my favorite garbanzo and cabbage soup this week), apples, pears, and all things autumn on our first visit to the market.
The rainy weather for the past few days has been the perfect excuse to stay home and cook. Even the kids love to help out in the kitchen as Miren’s new favorite activity is to whisk eggs for me. We let her sit on the kitchen counter while she beats the eggs for waffles and muffins, and Jon carefully stirs the soup. My mom guides them through the process. They seem to listen to her more than they listen to me. It makes me smile.
We cooked a celery root, fennel, and sweet potato soup that we served with almond and parsley pesto. It is one of my new favorites. I can never get enough of celery root.
Also caramelized onion, fennel, and purple potato tarts in a buckwheat crust. So delicious. This buckwheat crust recipe is from the book so I cannot share it with you just yet, but do make these tarts with whatever other crust you like. I beg you — make them. You will thank me. So easy and so good.
For dessert, chocolate and pistachio cakes. We also made fig and red currant custard with hazelnuts. This one is sweet and really silky. Both are adaptations of recipes from the book. Believe me, I am recipe testing every chance I get.
My mom and I will continue with our obsession to cook. We cannot help ourselves. Are you the same way?
Oh and yes… I am still waiting for autumn to arrive. Sooner than later, please.
Celery Root, Fennel, and Sweet Potato Soup with Almond Parsley Pesto
Almond and Parsley Pesto
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
3 Tbs grated Idiazabal cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
In the food processor, finely chop the garlic and almonds. Add the parsley and chop until it turns into a chunky paste. Add the Idiazabal and salt and process until combined. Drizzle in the olive oil while processing until it turns into a thick paste. Reserve.
Celery Root, Fennel and Sweet Potato Soup
serves 4 to 6
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, diced
2 medium celery roots, peeled and diced
2 japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
3 sprigs thyme
1 quart chicken stock
salt and pepper
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and fennel. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the celery root, sweet potato, potato, thyme, and chicken stock. Bring liquid to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to medium low, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Puree in a blender. Add water if soup is too chunky. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the soup with the almond and parsley pesto.
Purple Potato and Caramelized Fennel Tarts
makes six 4-inch tartlets or one 9-inch tart
1 batch of your favorite savory tart dough (see this or this)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3/4 tsp salt, plus more for topping
1/2 tsp black pepper, plus more for topping
2 sprigs thyme
1 lb (450g) small purple potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (with a mandoline)
Sprouts or microgreens, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F (200C).
Roll your tart dough to 1/4 to 1/8″ thickness. Fill your tart pans with the dough. Chill the dough while preparing the filling.
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and fennel. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook the vegetables until tender and slightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
Fill the tarts with the caramelized onion and fennel mixture. Top with the purple potatoes slices overlapping.
Bake the tarts for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are crispy and the crust is cooked. Sprinkle potatoes with a bit of salt and pepper and serve with some sprouts or microgreens. Serve warm or at room temperature.