Sunday, February 27, 2011

BlogCrush: Feasting on Art

Mondrian Pound Cake Assembly

Food is integral to our daily living, and I would argue that so is the interaction with art. This does not mean you have to be creating art or overtly involved in the appreciation of it, but (without getting into a conversation on the definition of art) it taps at our senses and exists alongside us whether or not we take notice. Through the beauty of a sunrise, the tapping of a foot or swaying of a hip to rhythm, the lacing of cream through a fresh cup of coffee, the adornment of a necklace...and if we keep counting and collecting with each step we take, we might just get dizzy. At least I do from time to time.

This is why I think it was absolutely genius for art historian and food lover Megan Fizell to strike up an educational conversation on the interaction of food and art in the format of her blog Feasting on Art. She leads this conversation with poise and intrigue, and I have been drawn to her posts ever since discovering the blog just over a year ago.

Beer Soup: a recipe I have made and loved!

I am not the only one to get hooked. Her comprehensive treatment of the site and each art piece, recipe, and photograph have earned her a lot of well-deserved publicity. If you have not seen her beautiful work, this is what each of these new BlogCrush featurettes is all about: sharing blogs that please and inspire me, in hopes that you might encounter more inspiration and pleasure in your life.

Giorgio Morandi, Still Life (The Blue Vase), 1920
Oil on canvas, 49.5 x 52 cm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen

[I love Morandi!]

I love the taste of art history included in each post, taking me back to the lecture room in my university's art department where I spent many hours jotting down dates, cultural trends, and questions while viewing projected image after image under dim light.

Currently, Feasting on Art is in the midst of its second annual recipe contest, and I would encourage you to check it out. The topic this year is cheese, based on the painting below.

Floris Gerritsz van Schooten, A Still Life of Cheese, c.1585
oil on oak panel, 39.3 x 55.2 cm, Private collection

I couldn't possibly decline such a challenge with all the hours I spend working behind the counter of my city's fine cheese shop. It will be fun, and there are some great incentives, including the opportunity to win a hardcover copy of the cookbook Food of the Louvre (Musee Du Louvre)!

Note: All photography is by Megan Fizell and used with her permission.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christchurch Quake: Food, Security, Love


Tonight my heart is with the city of Christchurch. My heart intertwined with the nation of New Zealand at the age of four, when my family of six transplanted our lives there, and though my connections are mostly sewn to the North Island, friends who moved to the South Island hosted my sister, mum, and me when we visited last year. Our longest extension of time on the South Island was with these friends in Christchurch, and my sister and I nudged each other and sighed together in knowing ways throughout our time there. We had work visas that would allow us an additional eight months in the country if we chose, and it was easy to imagine ourselves spending those months in this city. It was grey and drizzly like the northwest corner of America we know so well, and it has the historical spires that remind us of beloved England. Additionally, it is thoroughly Kiwi, and that's the best part.

As my thoughts and prayers turn toward Christchurch's communities and the effects of the devastating earthquake upon its nation, I have a somewhat relevant recipe to share. Ironically, I have been planning to share this recipe all weekend, though I wonder if the descriptor "relevant" would in fact more appropriately be "trivial". We all must eat, but an elaborate recipe at a time when some families are simply grateful to not have any empty seats around their tables? And what of those people who must face the gaping hole of a missing mother, father, brother, or baby?

Food alone cannot heal, and its solace is only temporary, but I am reminded of the connectedness it still brings. I love this quote by M.F.K. Fisher I read in Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef recently:

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it; and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied; and it is all one.

Tonight I write of savory muffins, an unusual concept to many Americans but well handled and abundantly enjoyed by Kiwis and Aussies alike.


I have been quite swamped with sweet baked goods recently, so when my apples were going mealy and soft even a claufoutis or an apple galette did not sound quite right. I loved the apple and gruyere muffins I had made in December but remembered a different recipe I had been wanting to try and decided to adapt it.

These muffins ended up being a lot of fun to create. Working with what I already had in the kitchen, I tweaked the recipe with a French flair of aromatic brie and gentle lavender. The batter was truly the most gorgeous muffin batter I have ever worked with, and its flavors carried right through in a melding hearty way, as I hoped. These are dense muffins chock full of flavor and color that leave the senses satisfied and stomach nourished. I found their most pleasing pairing in a bowl of classic celery soup.



Frequently, when I mention celery soup, I am met with skeptical or outright disgusted responses. Who would turn the common celery stalk into the star of a soup recipe? Apparently someone was daring enough to do this, and my mom was wise enough to follow their lead, making this a favorite meal at the family dinner table. It naturally earned a place in our compilation of family recipes that each child now keeps in his or her adult kitchen. Creamy, rich, and warming, the celery is thickened by silky potatoes and enhanced by a dash of fresh nutmeg.

One of my Christchurch-dwelling friends asked for this soup recipe earlier in the week when I mentioned it on Facebook. I dedicate my blog post to these friends and all New Zealanders who may be considering the basic needs of food, security, and love from new perspectives now. Perspectives temporarily shocked. Perspectives that are forever shifted. They are not alone.



Roasted Apple and Brie Muffins
Adapted from 101Cookbooks (adapted from Martha Goes Green)

Striving for a heartier muffin, I knew I wanted to replace a reasonable amount of the flour with a whole grain type. I used whole wheat pastry flour and found the batter a bit dense and dry, which is where the additional tablespoons of milk came in. You may omit this addition by your own discretion, especially if using entirely all purpose flour.

Makes 12 muffins

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups apple, 1/2-inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1 cup all purpose flour
1 large handful salad greens
1 tablespoon dried lavender
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup Brie cheese, roughly cubed
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 large eggs
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk (see recipe)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 12-hole muffin tin with butter. Set aside.

Spread chopped apples onto single layer of rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss and stir, and bake 15 minutes or until tender and browning. Set aside to cool.

Transfer two-thirds of apples to large mixing bowl, adding salad greens, lavender, pumpkin seeds, Reggiano, two-thirds of brie, and mustard. Gently fold.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs and milk together and add to apple mix. Sift flour and baking powder onto mixture. Top with salt and generous dose of freshly ground black pepper and fold together until all ingredients are just incorporated.

Spoon mixture in prepared muffin pan, filling each hole three-quarters full. Top each muffin with remaining apple bits and brie cubes. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are barely golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for a couple minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Delicious eaten while still warm. Perfectly revived a day later dunked into a hot soup like the one below.


"Our Favorite" Celery Soup
Used with permission of my mother, Rachael Jewel Bates

Serves 6

1 large bunch celery
1 medium potato, diced
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh)
5 cups water
2 teaspoons salt

Taking celery, cut off and discard its root end and then wash thoroughly. Chop celery coarsely (including celery leaves on stalks - now would be the time to reserve some leaves for garnish if you like). Set aside. Peel and dice potato.

In a heavy saucepan, heat butter. Saute chopped onion and garlic until onion is softened. Stir in nutmeg, anise, and thyme, and cook for one minute.

Add chopped celery, toss to coat with butter and saute for three minutes. Add water, salt, and diced potato and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until celery and potato are soft.

Next, puree in blender or food processor. Serve immediately or gently reheat if necessary. Garnish each serving with celery leaf clusters.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chronicling Days Off I

I love my job, but, oh, I love my days off. They are not all leisurely, but I certainly try to make them as much so as possible. Capturing their little details through my camera lens helps stretch out their pleasure and remind me of all that was enjoyable when I am in the midst of a tiring week...

[Days off are for] baking bread.

bread dough in bowl

bread dough

(My latest favorite recipe for everyday bread.)

oatmeal sandwich bread

[Days off are for] admiring the stark lines of bare branches against winter grey.

slants and peeks

[Days off are for] eating Red Velvet Cake for an afternoon snack.

red velvet cake

[Days off are for] wearing warm fuzzy slippers from New Zealand wool.

wooly slippers

[Days off are for] digging into my sister's stash of Lavender Earl Grey tea.

lavender earl grey

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

To the Business of Cheese


I started this blog over three years ago as a college student craving a varied form of creativity from my numerous art courses. I found solace and inspiration among the web pages of Orangette, Smitten Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks, Foodbeam, and Chocolate & Zucchini. Today I still enjoy these blogs and more, but my own participation in food blogging has ebbed and I have wondered if that's what I want.

Let me state that is not what I want at all. Of late my desire to food blog has turned to resolve and determination and, thus, some discipline is going to have to come alongside. Initially, post-college, maintaining One Hungry Soul as a food blog simply was not possible as I nomadicly lugged suitcases around the West Coast for two months and then on to New Zealand. I did not have a kitchen of my own, and food blogging was forced into travel blogging with a good dose of musings and photographic snapshots contributed.

It worked, and I enjoyed it. However, I have now had a kitchen for eight months, and just last week I was gifted my very own KitchenAid mixer. It's time to get down to business.


It is rare that my sister and I get the same window of time off work, but on Wednesday we spontaneously managed to get two hours of the afternoon together. Being near Quel Fromage, we had to stop and properly refurnish our refrigerator's cheese box. Arriving home with hungry bellies, we laid out our cheese assortment and popped open a particularly barnyard-y bottle of French cider. To accompany, we took turns reading out-loud from my copy of Best Food Writing 2009.


I am finishing the remainder of Idiazabal and Bonne Bouche as I write this post. Both are absolutely lovely, but the Bonne Bouche, the grey brainy looking round, is always a certain palate pleaser for me. I have a weakness for well developed creamy mold-ripened cheeses, and this young goat cheese by Vermont Creamery is soft and oozy around the edges of the interior (at the age I enjoyed it) with a musty aroma from the ash and humid aging environment. I would love to experience it at a further ripened more piquant point but also love the fresh chèvre acidity combined with subtly developing notes of floral and nutty maturity.

As for that cider I mentioned, I would not recommend it with this Bonne Bouche. I knew they were not right for each other, but since I had both on hand they ended up together briefly. Second time around, I nibbled on an aromatic Brie-type that was the closest I could come to an authentic Camembert and found that the alternating of sips with slices helped me appreciate the cider.


I am quite inexperienced in the realm of ciders, especially traditional French styles and this unpasteurized version, Cidre Bouché by the Dupont Family Estate and its orchards in the Pays d'Auge region of Normandy, surprised me with the undeniable barnyard characteristics of its nose. The flavor contained deep cooked apple and savory leather that grew on me, especially when paired with that satisfying hunk of Brie. My sister preferred not to finish her glass, but I would like to keep tasting Normandy ciders in order to compare and contrast them and ever broaden my palate.

I have learned so much about cheese in the past year. Working at a fine cheese shop has done this for me, and yet every day at my job, whether conversing with customers, researching, or thumbing through one of Max McCalman's superb books, I am reminded how little I know. I hope to set aside a regular space in this blog in which we converse about a certain cheese.

As I appear more regularly again as a food blogger of sorts, I cannot help including the "of-sorts" portion. I love to food blog because I love to converse and share ideas and collaborate with others. Gastronomy is a very accessible arena, and yet I do not want to limit this space to this one topic. Food is one of many beauties in life that I desire to be ever grateful to enjoy with the ease and abundance I am able to. I want to savor other rich aspects of life within these white scrolling pages as well, so beyond recipes and favorite food and drink you can expect mentions of art, travel, relationships, and the many little details of life. Please lend your voice to my humble notations.