Let’s get cooking!

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Santa was good to me over the recent holiday season, filling my stocking with three cookbooks and a set of chef’s knives. I got Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child (and don’t forget Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck); Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, by Guy Fieri of the popular Food Network show of the same name; and Maze, recipes from a Gordon Ramsay restaurant by the same name, with recipes by chef Jason Atherton.

I told you in early December I was going to try a batch of Ragoût de boulettes for Christmas, and I did. Made a test batch in the middle of the month and then another batch for Christmas Eve. The family was impressed. I even had a Ragoût de boulettes cook-off (of sorts) with my friend Pat Finucan, who also made his first batch ever over the holidays. The result: a tie!

Back to the cookbooks, now, where I have started working on Mastering the Art of French Cooking. To date, I have made a Sauce Béarnaise, roast chicken à la Mastering the Art, and a type of pesto that you add to soup for lots of flavour.

Let me tell you how I made a pot of soup last week with the “pesto” from Mastering the Art.

First I made two quarts of broth with some frozen leftover turkey; pork bones; leftover mashed potatoes to give the broth body; an onion, halved, skin left on; a couple of cloves of garlic, skins left on; and celery, carrots, cabbage (cleaned out the vegetable crisper), bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper.

When the broth was ready, I strained it into another soup pot, and chopped up the turkey and returned it to the broth. I added half a can of romano beans, drained and rinsed, and 2/3 cup cooked soup shells, brought the soup back to a boil, and then simmered it while I made the pesto.

To make the pesto, place 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 3/4 tablespoon dried basil, and 1/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese into a medium size bowl. With a wooden spoon, blend to a paste; then a few drops at a time, beat in 1/4 cup olive. Add a cup of hot soup broth to the paste and mix well; then add the paste to the soup pot and stir in. Cover and let sit for awhile; serve with crusty bread and extra grated cheese. Tastes even better the next day.

Now, let’s get cooking!


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