Archive for July, 2013

25th July
written by Arthur

In college, the cafeteria made a potato-leek soup.  It was terrible.  The flavors weren’t blended.  The leeks under cooked.  The broth very water.  Ick.  This recipe has none of those problems.  It’s great to have before a dinner, keeps well in the fridge, and makes a great lunch.

Again, this recipe hails from The America’s Test Kitchen.



  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 pounds of leeks, white and light green parts only (about 11 cups) and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 pounds red potatoes (5 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 2 bay leaves


Trim the leeks and discard the root and the dark green leaves.  Slice the trimmed leeks in half length-wise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.  Rinse the cut leeks thoroughly in a bowl to remove dirt and sand.  Strain.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat.  Stir in the leeks and garlic.  Cover and cook until the leeks are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir in the broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the soup (this step really helps take the soup to the next level!) Discard the bay leave and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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15th July
written by Arthur

It has been hot. Brutally hot. The thought of standing over a hot stove or further heating the apartment with the oven is unbearable. In these dog days of summer, cool meals are critical. Enter cold cucumber soup. You don’t have to heat a thing and the stuff actually makes you feel cooler.

This recipe hails from The America’s Test Kitchen.



  • 4 cucumbers (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, halved, and seeded–to seed run a small spoon inside each cucumber half to scooop out the seeds and surrounding liquid.
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups buttermilk


Cut one of the cucumber into 1/4 inch cubes and reserve.  Process the remaining three cucumbers, sour cream, dill, sugar, mustard, and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl or container.  Stir in buttermilk and reserved cubed cucumber.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes (or up to 6 hours).  Season again with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

7th July
written by Arthur

Last Sunday, Rick and I were finally able to get in a cook. It’s been a minute since the two of us have co-piloted on a cooking project.  Something about 7,800 miles of the Pacific ocean and these United States of America between Taipei and New York. The cooking was a classic affair with an old friend, complete with a series of minor mishaps requiring creative solutions but resulting in a tasty meal.

We decided on a Mexican theme.  After perusing a few cookbooks, we settled on arroz con pollo and zucchini and corn with cream.  Rick took the lead on chicken dish as I worked on the side. Brothers in arms in the kitchen. Just like old times; if only a few others from Minnesota were able to stop by.

The tribulations started with the ingredients and continued until the meal was on our plates. My roommate Nick kindly agreed to add our groceries to his stop on the way home from a Sunday in the office. Unfortunately the store was out of cilantro.  My dish called for a lot of cilantro: one cup, chopped.  The watercress the grocery employee of the month pushed on Nick wasn’t going to cut it.  I would have to do without.  My next surprise came in green flecks growing on the top of my Mexican crema.  I was forced to sub in some yogurt.  The result was a more liquidy dish than might be desired.

Rick’s arroz con pollo started out well.  But 10 minutes after the listed cooking time, the rice was still hard, the chicken still under cooked, and much liquid was unabsorbed.  Another 10 minutes did little to improve the situation.  (I rarely use the cookbook the recipe came from because I don’t trust it.) But this was Rick’s time to shine.  He proved once again that he is a god damn MacGyver in the kitchen.  After brain storming, we pulled out the chicken, shredded it, and pan cooked it as Rick cooked the rice like a risotto.  Another five minutes and boom.  Dinner was served.

The result may not have been what we had in mind when we set out.  But it was adventure to get to the end and a satiating end it was.

3rd July
written by Arthur

In undergrad, one of my professors would invite his current students to his house for a spring semester barbecue. After we’d eaten grilled meats and consumed a few libations, he would asked everyone in the room to describe they’re best summer.  The professor would go last, describing his last summer.  He would start by explaining his philosophy that if last summer wasn’t the best summer of your life you aren’t living it right.  I’ve adopted this philosophy for myself and after years of law school and bar study (studying for the bar not drinking in one) I feel ready to make this the best summer of my life.

I’ve been off to a social start enjoying the thin line between an amazing summer of endless fun and functional alcoholism. Night after night out with old and new friends I walked this tightrope and now have jumped off to explore what else this summer has to offer.  Last night, I was home at a reasonable hour and grilled some simple fish tacos and spent an hour or two with the roomies and the dog in front of the TV.  It was a moment of relaxation as satisfying as my recent late night equatorial adventures. I’m looking forward to mixing in more constructive and/or home based pursuits.

A couple of friends and I have each chosen five goals for the remainder of 2013.  Each person is in charge of planning the execution of their own goals with the others welcome to join in.  My culinary goals include cooking one recipe from Modernist Cuisine at Home, brewing a batch of my own beer, and taking a class on butchering.  Summer is flying by fast and, while it’s already been fantastic, I know there is more to come.