In the past, the Emeril recipes I've tried have come from foodnetwork.com searches, one of which is a now a favorite of mine: Gingerbread with Spiced Creme Anglaise. So it was exciting to have a real cookbook in my hands again! After thoroughly perusing the cookbook, I would categorize it as advanced for 3 reasons.
1. Most of the recipes call for many steps, like soaking, refrigerating overnight, and baking one part while whisking another.
2. The recipes are ingredient-heavy. Things like white peppercorns and grapeseed oil aren't items I have in my house regularly and some of the ingredients would need to be found at a specialty store.
3. Many of the recipes call for cookware I don't own. I have a small kitchen, so I don't buy a lot of cooking accessories. (Not that I don't pine for ALL of them!) In the recipes I read through, there were mentions of Tagines, Woks, and Springform Pans.
That said, if you love to cook, and you love to take the time to cook some amazing food, this is the book for you.
The first recipe I made was Gigante Bean Soup with Arugula Pesto. Read more (including recipes) after viewing some pretty photos of this yummy soup in the making.
Most of the ingredients for this were accessible, except for the white peppercorns which I skipped and just used ground pepper. No harm done. I even got to use some ingredients from my CSA and from my own garden, which is always exciting! I skipped the pancetta, since I don't eat meat. If I did add it, I'd probably have cut down on the salt in the recipe, since that would add more salt.
I've made a lot of soups in my time, but it's mostly the kind where I have a bunch of stuff that's about to go bad so I put it in a pot and boil for 10 minutes and voila! Soup. This time, I followed the recipe closely and didn't take the shortcuts I normally would, and I'm happy that the extra work paid off! This is filling and wonderfully substantial, even when made vegetarian, and would be great for all seasons. The fresh vegetables meld well together and the herbs shine through. I didn't think I'd care for the peppers, but they really did add flavor and color.
I garnished with a little extra Parmesan cheese and ate it as soon as I was done shooting. Even lukewarm it was still super tasty!
I think my favorite part of the recipe was the "garnish". Emeril added an Arugula Pesto recipe that is fantastic! I would never have thought of adding pesto as a garnish to a soup, but it was perfect. I will now make it all the time, as I love arugula. I'd put it on a sandwich (ooh, a breakfast sandwich!) or crackers and cheese, or as a veggie dip....It's nice because it doesn't have any garlic in it, so there isn't the huge bite pesto usually has. It does have lemon juice which adds it's own zing without overpowering everything else. Yum. Take a look at the photos below!
While they aren't the easiest recipes in the world, they are wonderfully complex in flavor and you'll be glad you took the time to put such a great meal together. Better yet, freeze a bunch of it and have them for multiple meals! Both of these recipes probably had closer to 7-8 servings vs. the normal 4-6.
Stay tuned for more recipes from Emeril's new book coming this week!
Gigante Bean Soup with Arugula Pesto
Gigante beans are very large white beans with a creamy, almost buttery texture. They are also known as hija or gigande beans and are a staple in Spanish and Greek cuisine. Feel free to substitute large lima beans (or in my case, Fava Beans.)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
5 white peppercorns
4 oz. pancetta, diced small (here, optional)
2 tblsp olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 onion, diced small
1 small fennel bulb, diced small
1 lb dried gigante beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
3 c. chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 c. Arugula Pesto (recipe follows) for garnish
1. In the center of a piece of cheesecloth, combine the thyme, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Gather the ends together and tie securely with a piece of kitchen twine to form a sachet. Set aside.
2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, cook the pancetta in the olive oil until it is brown and crispy and has rendered most of its fat, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pot using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
3. Add the carrots, celery, onion and fennel to the pot and saute until the vegetables begin to wilt and caramelize lightly, about 10 minutes. Add the beans, herb sachet, chicken stock, and enough water to cover the beans by one inch (about 4 cups). Season the beans with 1 1/2 tsp salt. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat so that the broth just simmers, and cook uncovered until the beans are almost tender, about 1 hour. Add the bell peppers and pancetta and cook until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Remove the sachet from the pot and discard.
4. Season the soup with the pepper and the remaining tsp of salt.
5. Serve the soup in large bowls, garnished with a generous spoonful of the pesto, to taste. Serve with a loaf of warm, crusty bread.
4 oz baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1 oz fresh mint leaves (about 1 packed cup)
1/2 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 c toasted pine nuts
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1. Combine the arugular, mint, parmesan, pine nuts lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor. Puree until smooth, then add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Process just until the olive oil is incorporated. Add the salt and pulse just to blend.
2. Transfer the pesto to an airtight container until ready to use. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 6 months. Makes 1 cup.