Thursday, June 2, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie: Warm Weather Vegetable Pot au Feu

I don’t get mad very often, but yesterday I felt the steam coming out of my ears.  

We have two large refrigerators.  I know, the kids are all on their own and it is just hubby and I, but because we are foodies we need to keep 2 fridges well stocked with a variety of about everything.  I can’t imagine that we’ll ever downsize.  One fridge, the one that only I am allowed to use, at least that’s what I tell everyone, is part of our outdoor kitchen.  One advantage to living in sunny Arizona is that we dine on the patio almost every day.  Ten years ago we added a complete outdoor kitchen where I love preparing our summer meals.

Because I feed so many people almost every day, (just because the kids have moved out does not mean that they don’t love coming home for dinner)  I need some organization.  The inside fridge is a free-for-all.  Whatever is there is up for grabs.  But whatever is in “my” fridge is waiting for my planned cooking through the week.  It is off limits.   If I have shopped for a special “Dorie” cooking item, it is put away in my fridge and it had better be their when I go to get it.  “My” fridge also has the most fun items: the cookie dough, special cheeses, fresh it is often raided by gremlins, but never by my children.

Well, yesterday, I went out to get some lovely fresh green beans that I had planned to use for dinner.  Somebody...and no one will confess...filled “my” fridge with cans of soda that must have needed quick chilling because the temperature was turned down so cold that everything had turned to ice.  All my lovely fresh fruits and veges...carrots, strawberries, peppers, cukes, beans, etc were all hard as rocks and covered in ice crystals.  I almost screamed.
The veges would either need to be tossed or turned to soup.  I turned to our FFwD recipe list and what do you know?  Warm-Weather Vegetable Pot-au-Feu.  Well it is warm weather...just over 100^ today.  And vegetable soup is exactly the recipe I needed.  Thankfully Dorie gives leeway ... so I retrieved frozen veges from my fridge and made this lovely soup.  My cooking process was very similar to the recipe...just that egg thing again.  I know that many folks love runny yolks, but no one here fits that category.  So, with one hour before 5 extras would arrive for dinner, I decided to try Dorie’s vegetable soup and to use some of my frozen peppers I chose to fry corn cakes as a side.

After preparing and chopping all my veges, I drizzled a little oil in my heated pot before adding minced garlic.  Then I added the veges that would need the longest cooking time: carrots, onions and sweet potatoes.

Next, after adding the broth and seasonings of parsley, salt, and pepper, I washed six eggs and added them to the broth, bringing the mixture, with the whole eggs to a boil.  I had learned to boil the eggs in the broth from the Amish people who we used to visit in Lancaster County, PA, which is close to York where Hubby grew up.  Just cooks everything together without dirtying a second pot.  (I had decided to try adding hard boiled eggs to our soup.)

Then I added the potatoes, mushrooms, and cabbage.  When these veges were almost soft I added the leek.  Last, I added chopped chard from my garden.

I did not want my asparagus to get too cooked so I steamed it separately, then placed a couple of spears in the bottom of each soup bowl, and finally added the soup topped with garnishes.

While the soup simmered for just a few minutes (it cooked quickly as I had chopped my veges into small pieces as some of my tasters would be my little grandkiddies) I made my corn cakes.

The soup was almost done when I gave it a taste and removed my hard boiled eggs which I peeled.  The strongest flavor was the garlic...overpowered everything else.  Not what I wanted.  So I added more broth and a few more a each of the fast cooking vegetables.  The soup simmered for an additional 5 minutes, and when finished it was excellent.  I think the soup would have been prettier if I had cut the veges, such as the carrots, into larger pieces.

I had been a little nervous about serving a hot soup and a hot AZ day.  But everyone really liked the it and enjoyed a healthy meal.  And if I dream up something else to make with the rest of those frozen-now-thawing veges tomorrow, I will have used most of them rather than letting them go to waste, and  that helps me feel lots better.

If you’d like to try the corn cakes which are a great summer item, I have included the recipe.

This recipe makes 16 corn cakes...enough to feed whoever might drop in for dinner.  These cakes go well with Mexican foods, BBQ, chili, and they were actually really good with today’s vegetable soup.

6 C         fresh or frozen corn
1 ½ C     butter, softened
2/3 C      sugar
2 t           salt
2 C         masa harina (corn flour)
½ C        flour
½ -3/4 C    red and green peppers, diced
1/4 C     onion, diced
fresh ground pepper to taste

Additions of items like  jalapeno pepper, lime juice, chopped cilantro, are also tasty.

Also need a couple of Tablespoons of oil to grease the skillet (my cast iron skillet works best).

Place 4 C of the corn in food processor and puree.  Add butter, sugar, and salt; mix.  

In a large bowl, place masa harina and flour, whisk together.  Stir in remaining corn.  Fold in wet ingredients from the food processor.  

Heat the skillet to medium, form corn cakes by hand using about ½ cups for each.  Drop into heated, greased skillet.  Cook each side until golden brown.  Depending on size, each cake will take about 5-10 minutes to cook and be browned on both sides.  (Too high of heat will blacken the corn cake outsides without cooking the middle due to the butter will burning quickly.)


  1. I wish I'd cooked my asparagus separately. I prefer when they retain a little crispness. That's a neat idea to boil eggs in the soup, and it makes total sense!

  2. I was chuckling when I read your adventures about the fridge - I was on the edge of my seat thinking someone ate something from the "stash"....but drinks ? Too funny. And how lucky it was Soup Friday anyway ! Your process photos are great and thanks for including the corn cake recipe. I wanted that from your opening shot :) Nana loved this one but I was not sure how it would fly in my house. As usual, Dorie prevailed and the family loved it.

  3. Oooh... I'd be so upset. I'm glad you were able to salvage them, though. The soup looks perfect with your side of corn cakes!

  4. Good for you for making soup out of too icy veggies! You soup looks good and I like your egg cooking trick. Great idea with the asparagus too!

  5. LOL, I'm glad the frozen veggies didn't ruin the day! Nice twist on the eggs...I just skipped them :) Love your corn cakes...thanks for the recipe!

  6. You need to put a lock on your private fridge!! The corn cakes are a wonderful addition. I was also wondering about cooking the eggs in the soup, and apparently it works!

  7. Thank goodness for soup. Glad that you were able to use your frozen vegetables , I also hate wasting fresh produce! Your corn cakes look delicious - the soup is so light it really does need a little starchy side if you're going to stay full.

  8. I also have gremlins at my house, Kris, and I have to loudly proclaim that certain items are off limits because they are for FFwD and BAKED. :) So sorry that happened to all your fresh veggies, but thank goodness for frozen. How wonderful that you have an outdoor kitchen - I want one of those someday! Your corn cakes look delicious!

  9. Oh, how frustrating! My husband and I have an ongoing argument as to whether it is ever okay to change the thermostat in the fridge and the winning argument is no, never, ever! Thank you for posting the recipe for the corn cakes. They caught my eye as soon as I opened your link.

  10. Oh - I hate it when "not me" and "I don't know" take things out of the fridge or mess things up like that. Those monsters just don't know how to behave sometimes!
    Glad you were able to salvage as much as you were. Maybe it's time for a padlock!

  11. Aw! I hope you find out the soda can culprit! Ha! Your corn cakes and soup look amazing. And, I'm jealous of your outdoor kitchen! Fun!