Cauliflower and Mushroom Bisque

This is a sturdy soup that you can make as thin or as thick as you like, depending on how much stock you add. It passes for potato soup but no potatoes were harmed in the making! For serving with dairy, feel free to add some cream or thinned yogurt. This also makes a good sauce for rice, couscous, pasta, chicken, pargiot or even mini hamburgers, which I made tonight.

And it got one kid vote at supper tonight, even though said child burned her mouth on it ( I don't want any McDonalds coffee type lawsuits so, WARNING: This soup is very very hot when you first make it, so blow on it before eating and don't put the bowl between your knees while driving a car. Thanks!)

Hattip to my mother. She gave me the original idea for the recipe.

Cauliflower and Mushroom Bisque
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 zucchini, washed and cut into chunks (if you want to maintain a lighter color and you're not in Israel, peel some or all of the zucchinis).
1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 basket of mushrooms, sliced
3-4 Swiss chard leaves or 1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
Chicken, veggie stock or water to cover vegetables
Pinch of nutmeg

Saute onion and garlic until soft. Add mushrooms and saute until they start to cook down. Add the rest of the vegetables except chard/ spinach and stir. Cover pot and cook on low, without water for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables start to make their own stock (this really brings out the flavor in the vegetables, so don't skip this step). Cover with stock or water, season to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add chard or spinach and cook for 10 minutes longer. Let cool for a bit and blend with a hand blender.

Note: Feel free to leave out the greens if you think it will freak your kids out or if you want a mellower, more potato/leek soup type flavor.


(photo credit: Glenda Kay's Gifts. I think you can actually buy a doll like that)

Did You Know About the North Korean Famine?

Ok, not really related to the usual themes of this blog, but I've been a little obsessed with this topic since I read an article about it in the New Yorker last week. They don't have the article online for free but here's a link to a slide show about the article. Apparently, there was a famine in North Korean in the mid-90's that killed 2.5 million people, conservatively. No one has definitive numbers because it was a crime to report "starvation" as a cause of death. I never knew about it until reading this article and when I ask other people who are usually up on current events, no one else had heard about it either. I think it's amazing that an entire country can keep a secret like that. Here is a link to an article in the New York Times in 1996 about the "upcoming famine".

The New Yorker article was mind blowing, especially for someone who loves to eat, like me. She focuses on this one woman, Mrs. Song, who lost her mother, husband and 25 year old son to starvation. She describes the horrible things they were forced to eat, including porridges made out of ground corn cobs/husks and bean stalks. Flavoring soup with grass. And mostly all of her doomed attempts at making money and procuring food for her family.

Here is an excerpt from the online abstract (you need a sub to read the whole thing online):

Even after three members of her family died of starvation, Mrs. Song believed that North Korea was the greatest nation on earth. Mrs. Song used to go twice a week to a food-distribution center near her apartment, in the coastal city of Chongjin. Mrs. Song would hand over her ration book, a small sum of money, tickets from the garment factory, and the clerk would calculate her entitlements: seven hundred grams each per day for her and her husband, three hundred grams for her mother-in-law, and four hundred for each school-aged child living at home. For all its rhetoric about self-sufficiency, North Korea was dependent on the generosity of its neighbors. By the early nineteen-nineties, the Russians, impatient with North Korea’s failure to repay loans, raised their prices for food, fuel, and raw materials. Enduring hunger became part of one’s patriotic duty. 

As I prepared my Shabbat food on Friday, I really appreciated the meat I was able to buy and prepare with such ease, the olive oil I was able to drizzle on my fresh vegetables (oil became completely unavailable at any price in the North Korea in the late 90's), the oven I was able to just turn on with the flick of a wrist.

Here is a link to the author's upcoming book.

הילדה הכי יפה בגן

For those who aren't familiar with this great Yehudit Ravitz song, here's a link.

I think my middle daughter might win the title for her gan this year. I'm not trying to brag, (of course it feels great that my daughter is so loved) but I'm more amazed than anything else. I know that she's made a lot of friends as we've had quite a few playdates this year, but the reaction of the boys when I bring her in the morning is unbelievable. They literally start whooping and shouting and going into a frenzy when I bring her in. Today, they started when I came in (she was putting up her name on the board by the door), because they know I'm her Ima. They shout "T is here! T is here!". I don't think she really knows what to do with the attention, because she can actually be quite shy. She doesn't even really acknowledge them, because she likes to settle into gan at her own pace in the mornings.

I just think it's quite amazing. She's only four now. What's going to be when she's actually a teenager...?

Baby Survival Kugel

Breaking news at the Startup Wife home: My husband's startup was mentioned int his BusinessWeek article.  (His is the second company mentioned, SolarEdge). Woo hoo! Nice to have the media recognize the millions of hours he (and I, picking up the slack at home) have put into this business.

On to the recipe:

So, I've recently been complaining  about how E, my little one, doesn't eat a blessed thing ( I really did offer him most things in Hannah's post here but even from a young age he turned up his nose at the simplest foods). Well, he almost doesn't eat anything. He did take a shine to my carrot kugel (rather, the Kosher Palette's carrot kugel recipe. Remember that oldie but goodie cookbook?). I decided to play with the kugel recipe to turn it into a well rounded meal, since he refuses so many other foods. Here's what I ended up with and it's  still a huge hit with him.

Baby Survival Kugel
5 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
1-2 zuchinni, washed well and sliced
1 cup whole wheat/white flour (depending on preference)
2 Tbs wheat germ
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 small container white yogurt, higher fat the better (3-4%)
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (you can try 1/2 as well, if you would prefer less sweet)
1 tsp vanilla

Steam or boil vegetables until soft (steaming will retain more vitamins). Drain and mash in a large mixing bowl with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients, in any order you prefer. Mix lightly with a spoon and then blend with a hand blender (alternatively, you can put all the ingredients into a traditional blender and whiz there.) Pour into a lightly greased rectangular pan and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 40-45 minutes, until golden on top and firm.

Let cool completely and refrigerate. Cut into squares or "fingers" and serve warm, room temp or cold. Goes anywhere you child does. Can be served even as a breakfast treat!  Feel free to sub in different vegetables- works especially well with pumpkin and sweet potato.