The vacation feasting (OK, wretched extra) is winding down – or gone altogether – and I discover myself craving one thing clear and refreshing, like an ideal grapefruit.  I used to assume Texas Ruby Crimson grapefruit was the most effective available, and handed proper by Florida grapefruit as I do Florida avocados. However that was earlier than I visited a grapefruit grower in Indian River nation in Florida, who confirmed me methods to choose an ideal grapefruit. The quarry shouldn’t be gigantic, smooth-skinned, a bit battered, with some brown traces on it in addition to a little bit of inexperienced and heavy for its measurement. I spied a pile of precisely such grapefruit at Meals Lion final week, with a Rio Citrus label from Fort Pierce, Fla. Great!

However I’m not prepared but to stay on grapefruit and cottage cheese, so I’m leaving the feasting behind with some humble however gratifying soups, plus the most effective cornbread I’ve ever eaten. There’s additionally an excellent winter mission, making home made limoncello, the lemon liqueur that ends so many meals in Italy (although this specific recipe comes from Greece). Making limoncello hardly qualifies as a mission, because it’s the work of minutes, and includes solely three components plus a month or extra steeping time.  Preserve a bottle in your 

your freezer – there’s nothing higher after a summer season dinner with associates than a really chilly sipping glass of limoncello – additional factors for home made.  And in spite of everything, it’s a part of the Mediterranean Weight loss program.

I fortunately admit that there are all the time at the very least two containers of the natural tomato and pink pepper soup from Dealer Joe’s in my cabinet.  I normally serve it with grated Parmesan or Asiago or Pecorino scattered on prime or a swirl of pesto, even with a fling of the upscale Lars Personal model Crispy Onions that seem at Weaver Road Market beginning round Thanksgiving. I’ve served this soup to firm and been begged for the recipe.

SENEGALESE PEANUT SOUP (recipe by Leslie Kaul, Bob Spiegel, and Peter Siegel)

Serves 8, freezes superbly

You may think this intriguingly complicated tasting soup was stuffed with exotica like coconut milk, chiles, unique spices, and a few cilantro.  It comprises none of those, except you think about curry powder unique.  However it couldn’t be easier, stuffed with peculiar components you will have available.  The key ingredient is peanuts, a complete pound of them, simmered slowly in a base of onions, celery, tomatoes, and leeks.  The perfume turns into virtually overwhelming because it cooks.  The recipe makes numerous soup, so there must be sufficient for fast peanut soup out of the freezer on some future bleak day.  It’s each consoling and invigorating on the similar time.

1 pound dry-roasted salted peanuts, about 3 cups (you too can use fried peanuts)

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 giant Spanish onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 leeks, properly washed and chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 teaspoons floor cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 28-ounce can entire tomatoes, drained and chopped

6 cups water

½ cup chopped scallions

½ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Chop ½ cup of the peanuts and put aside to make use of as a garnish.  Puree the remaining peanuts in a blender or meals processor till a thick paste types; put aside.

Warmth the oil in a big pot over medium warmth.  Add the onion, celery, and leeks and cook dinner gently, with out browning, for about 4 minutes or till tender.  Stir within the sugar, curry powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt.  Add the tomatoes, water, and peanut paste.  Deliver to a boil, scale back the warmth to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Stir within the scallions, cream, and garlic and simmer for two minutes extra, or till heated by way of.  

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with the chopped peanuts.

Word: You possibly can add cubes of tofu or rooster together with the scallions and cream for a soup that’s a hearty meal in itself.


This super-simple soup is unaccountably scrumptious.  Han Feng is a celebrated Chinese language designer and passionate cook dinner from Hangzhou who likes to refine Western dishes with japanese flavors.  This golden soup combines tender yellow peppers with candy, fleshy pine nuts with a contact of thyme – it’s pure alchemy.

Easy although it’s, the soup makes a chic first course for a cocktail party. 

Serves 6 to eight

6 cups rooster broth

3 kilos yellow bell peppers (6 to 10) – halved, cored, and seeded

1 cup pine nuts

Salt and freshly floor pepper

8 small thyme sprigs

Deliver the rooster broth to a boil in a big heavy pot.  Add the peppers, poking them down into the broth.  Cowl and simmer over medium warmth, turning the peppers a few times, for about half-hour or till gentle.

In the meantime toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low warmth for 3 to 4 minutes or till golden, stirring continually to forestall burning – as soon as they strategy golden, they’ll burn in a heartbeat.

Instantly switch the pine nuts to a small bowl.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers to a blender or a meals processor and add the pine nuts.  Mix till {smooth}, in batches if essential, including a little bit broth if it makes the mixing simpler.

Stir the puree again into the broth and add salt and pepper to style.  Warmth gently.  The soup could be made a day forward and gently reheated earlier than serving.

Prime every soup bowl with a thyme sprig or a number of dried thyme leaves.  

Word: The perfect pine nuts are prone to be Italian.  Low cost ones – from China, Russia, or Afghanistan – aren’t practically as tasty.  Pine nuts are costly and fragile;  retailer them tightly lined within the fridge for as much as 6 months as a result of they flip rancid simply however use them up as quickly as you possibly can – no telling how lengthy they sat within the shelf earlier than you purchased them.

SKILLET CORNBREAD (recipe by John Martin Taylor)

Serves 9

The cornbread wars won’t ever finish, after all, however I’m firmly within the camp of stoneground cornmeal, buttermilk, and no sugar; for me, every thing else is cake. 

This excellent recipe, from an ideal residence cook dinner and researcher/author who virtually singlehandedly resuscitated traditional American Lowcountry cooking, is baked in a forged iron skillet (mine is sq., for cornbread). There’s simply sufficient bacon fats to present a crisp, delectable crunch to the perimeters. Lower in squares or wedges, in keeping with the skillet you cooked it in, and serve it sizzling from the oven, with numerous actually good butter – comparable to Kerrygold, however there are many others.

Sufficient bacon grease to cowl a forged iron skillet – 1 tablespoon or extra

2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

1 giant egg, a little bit crushed

1¾ cup cornmeal, ideally entire grain and stone floor

1 scant teaspoon salt

1 scant teaspoon baking powder

1 scant teaspoon baking soda

Warmth the oven to 450°.  Coat the pan with bacon grease and stick it within the chilly oven.  Whereas it’s heating, about 10 minutes, combine the cornbread batter.

Put the buttermilk in a medium bowl and blend within the egg.  Combine within the cornmeal.  

Because the skillet is getting sizzling, wait till it’s smoking and rapidly add the salt, baking powder, and baking soda to the batter; combine in properly.

Take away the skillet from the oven and add the batter .  Bake for 15-20 minutes, till cooked by way of.  The aroma will change to a scrumptious roasted corn odor when it’s finished.  Lower the cornbread within the skillet into 9 items.  Both load them onto a platter or picket board or flip the skillet over onto a platter and serve with loads of butter.

LIMONCELLO – LEMON LIQUEUR (recipe by Aglaia Kremezi)

There’s one thing fairly thrilling about making your individual liqueur.  On this case, it’s means lower than an hour’s work, then 4 to six weeks of steeping, including a sugar syrup, and filling the bottles.  This recipe comes from Greece, from a very good free publication about Greek meals,, the place yow will discover fantastic olive oil cake recipes in addition to refined riffs on conventional Greek meals.  It’s also possible to go to Aglaia on her island within the Cyclades and take cooking lessons.  Studying her publication and ogling the pictures is a superb winter escape in itself.  

Aglaia provides herbs to her liqueur (and I’m considering of making an attempt lemon verbena) however make it with out herbs the primary time to get the traditional model.  Bulk lemons are coming into the market now – verify Costco, Aldi, even Walmart.  Strive arduous to seek out natural ones; in any other case you’ll want to clean them with cleaning soap and scrub them properly, which takes off a little bit of the flavorful oil.

Makes about 2 quarts

5 very recent, thick-skinned natural lemons

1 quart vodka

2 sprigs recent mint or different fragrant herb, comparable to rose geranium, lemon verbena, and so on. (optionally available)

3 cups sugar

3½ cups water

Wash and dry lemons.  With a vegetable peeler take away the yellow a part of peel in skinny strips, ranging from tip and ending on the stem. 

Place peels in a 1-quart mason jar and fill with vodka. Add fragrant herbs if utilizing. Let stand at room temperature for 4 to six weeks, shaking every so often.

After the 4 to 6-week steeping time, combine sugar and water in a saucepan and cook dinner over medium warmth till sugar dissolves fully. Preserve combination boiling.

Drain vodka right into a clear jar and put aside.

Preserve peels in sieve. Pour boiling syrup over peels and put aside till fully chilly.

Discard peels.

Combine reserved vodka and chilly syrup and pour into clear bottles. Seal and retailer within the fridge.

Rating: At Weaver Road Market there are some particularly scrumptious candy potatoes referred to as Hatteras which can be normally very scarce.  They’re alleged to be the sweetest of the candy potatoes, however additionally they have an fascinating complicated of flavors.  They’re a bit smaller than most different candy potatoes.  

A candy potato grower on Edisto Island in South Carolina as soon as informed me to search for lengthy, slender candy potatoes which can be “pointy each ends,” so I do, although I’m undecided they’re higher than squat candy potatoes – generally there’s solely squat Hatteras they usually’re simply as scrumptious as their leaner cousins.

— Darkish chocolate alert: Each Client Studies and have been going after toxins in darkish chocolate bars, which they’ve present in some surprisingly high-end manufacturers, like Inexperienced & Black’s and Scharffenberger.  These poisons are lead and cadmium, nothing you wish to be ingesting.  The massive single-origin (like Uganada) bars by the upright shows subsequent to the checkout counter at Dealer Joe’s are on the listing however not the Belgian chocolate Pound Plus (HUGE discount) or the small 1.65-ounce bars of the identical chocolate offered in wrapped packets of three within the ground cupboards close to the checkout. These two examined secure. As did Ghirardelli and Chocolove.

Fran McCullough is a James Beard Award-winning editor who has additionally authored a number of books on meals. She lives in Hillsborough.

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