By Marcia Pilgeram
Reader Food Columnist
Happy New Year! I missed the epic snowstorm last week, but with all the global updates and photos on my social media platforms, I truly felt the pain of your show shovels. Clearly, it was soup and stew weather here at home, and in sympathy, during my recent holiday trip to Paris, I had daily doses of one or the other. French Onion Soup, Chestnut Soup, Beef Bourguignon and Garbure were amongst my favorites, washed down with liberal doses of French wine that was delicious, cheap and abundant.
I really marveled at the unhurried pace of that huge city, and I did my best to slow myself down a bit too. Dinners and diners seemed to linger forever, never appearing to have anywhere else to go. Smart phones were scarce, and fast food was even scarcer. My own schedule was thrown a bit though, as the Parisians are pretty much just getting to the dinner table and engaging in lively conversation when I am pajama-clad and yawning with my nightcap (and more than once I was awakened in the wee hours by these late-night, wine-filled roisterers).
My early morning wanderings usually found the streets quiet, with only the odd boulangerie ready for customers. It seems that every corner has a bakery or pastry shop. Or both, filled with classic Parisian desserts—tempting, show stopper works of edible art. I’ve always been fascinated by the magnificent creations of these talented French pastry chefs, and once, after returning from a previous trip to Paris, I was even inspired to attend some specialty courses at the French Pastry School of Chicago. To this day, I still dream of baking pastries in my own charming little bakery-café.
Even though I’ve had my own food establishment and clearly remember the long hours and small profit, I’ve never entirely given up the idea of another food business start-up, and I know I am not alone. I’m a member of “North Idaho Foodies,” a Facebook group for food advocates with well over 10, 000 members. Most are hobbyist-foodies, but there are many among us who are former restauranteurs, or current ones, and there’s a great mix of business models: small cafes, lots of new food trucks, home bakers and even a log home dining experience in Athol, Candle in the Woods, where Chef Dave Allard serves a pre-fixed, eight course-wine paired dinner.
Candle in the Woods offers a limo service to and from Coeur d’Alene, but for those of us 7Bers who wish to sample every wine we’re offered (Allard has one of only two Idaho restaurants to win Best of Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for 2016-17), there’s an option to play it safe and add a cozy night’s stay — breakfast included. I’m looking forward to joining them soon, and if you are, you can get additional information by emailing: [email protected]
It’s evident that here in Sandpoint, we are a well-read and well-fed little community. I learned this with all the recent Paris dining recommendations I received before heading to France. There are lots of passionate cooks here too, and I am drawn to them at nearly every gathering I attend. Invariably the conversation turns to ideas such as dinner groups, collaborative cooking, cookbook clubs and classes. Seems these ideas, while great ones, remain just that: idle ideas.
My resolution this year is to help others expand their food knowledge, learn more of unfamiliar cuisines, break bread with old friends and share recipes with some new ones. It’s a resolution I intend to keep, starting by sharing this recipe for Garbure, a classic, but often unfamiliar, peasant French soup (Garbure was the daily sustenance of Gascon peasantry, it’s a thick French Soup/Stew of with ham, cabbage and other vegetables, usually served with cheese and stale bread. The name derives from the use of the term garb to describe sheaves of grain depicted on a Herald Shield of Coat of Arms).
It’s delicious and perfect for this weather! I hope you will make it and share it. I also hope to catch up with many of you in a nearby kitchen. Happy New Year, readers.
•1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil .
•1 cup chopped onion
•1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek
(about 1 large)
•4 garlic cloves, chopped
•4 cups low sodium chicken stock
•1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
•1 cross-cut smoked ham hock (8 -10 oz)
•2 bay leaves
•4 small red potatoes, cubed
•1 medium turnip, cubed
•1 large carrot, cubed
•4 cups thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
•1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-(Italian)
•2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
•2 tbs cider vinegar
•32 oz. canned cannellini beans
•1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•4 -6 slices dry country bread
•1 garlic clove, halved
•1 tablespoon butter, softened
•1 oz Cantal cheese, shaved
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion.
Cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Add leek and chopped garlic; cook -2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add stock, herbes de Provence, ham hocks, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.
Remove ham hock; cool slightly. Pick meat from bones; reserve meat. Discard bones and fat.
Add potatoes, turnip, and carrot to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender.
Drain beans and add. Stir in cabbage; simmer 4 minutes. Stir in parsley, thyme, vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
Rub toast slices with cut sides of garlic clove; spread evenly with butter.
Place bread in bowl and ladle soup over top – or serve on the side.
Top with shaved cheeses