Friday, July 31, 2009
If you haven't heard about my Wild Uncle Johnny, I'd encourage you to go here. Dude was something else, lemme tell ya. He was also a helluva cook.
Here's a photo from one of his weddings (an adventurous soul like Wild Uncle Johnny was, of course, too big for just one wife). This is his former wife Sheila, and they remained friends long after the marriage had run its course. Which was so very like him...a gentleman through and through. I love the little crinkles around his eyes in this shot--I'm thinking that someone just told a bawdy joke...anyways, he's having fun.
Here's his recipe for vichyssoise, which he sent to me, per my request, when I was in the third grade.
Wild Uncle Johnny's Vichyssoise
6 medium (or 4 large) leeks, white parts only, cleaned and chopped**
28 ounces chicken stock (Johnny used to buy homemade stock from a posh food market near his house, you can use either homemade or canned)
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup cream
1/2 cup fresh chives, snipped or sliced scallion tops
In a large pot, combine leeks, chicken stock, potato, 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer until potatoes break easily, about a half an hour.
Puree soup in a blender, in batches. Do NOT fill the blender all the way with hot soup, young lady! Better yet, let the soup cool for a while before even touching the blender. Better even still, let your mother do the blender part.
Stir in the cream and the chives. Taste for salt and pepper. French people prefer to use white pepper for this soup so there aren't any black flecks in it, but that seems fussy. Throw in whatever you like.
Cover soup and chill until cold, preferably 4 hours or more. If soup seems overly thick, thin with a little milk or water.
Serve soup in chilled bowls.
**How to clean a leek: Leeks are dirty little buggers. Cut the tops and ends off the leek. Slit the leek completely down the middle. Cut the leek crosswise into shreds. Soak the shreds in a bowl of cold water--the dirt will sink to the bottom. Repeat this step 3 times (with fresh water each time) or until there's no more dirt in the bottom of the bowl.