Talk Takeaway: Cooking with Chef Susan Feniger

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 10:45am

Chef Susan Feniger shows us how to make winter soups and an Asian Pear Salad. 

Lentil Soup with Plantains
Serves 8 to 10

2 large onions
10 cloves garlic
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 bunch fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 gallon vegetable stock
3 cups lentils, washed and picked over
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
2 ripe (black) plantains, peeled, cut in half, and diced
3 medium carrots, peeled, cut into quarters lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 bunches cilantro, chopped

Cut 1 onion into chunks and the other into dice.  
Mince 5 of the garlic cloves and keep the remaining 5 whole.

Place the onion chunks, whole garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in the center of a medium square of cheesecloth.  
Tie the ends together to form a package.  
Place the fresh thyme in another square of cheesecloth and tie the ends together to enclose.

Combine the stock and the spice and herb packages, or dried thyme, in a large stockpot.  
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes.  
Stir in the lentils and continue cooking until they are cooked through but still firm, 15 minutes.  
Strain the lentils, reserving the liquid and the thyme bundle.

Heat the olive oil or butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  
Sauté the diced onions until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  
Add the plantains, carrots, and salt.  
Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the plantains are soft and golden, 15 minutes.  
Stir in the minced garlic and allspice and cook about 5 minutes longer, being careful not to scorch the garlic.

Add the lentils, their reserved liquid, and the thyme bundle.  
Bring to a simmer and cook another 15 minutes.  
Remove from the heat, and remove and discard the thyme bundle.  
Stir in half of the chopped cilantro.  
Ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro.

Fideo Soup
Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup olive oil or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces fideo, vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken into 1-inch pieces
3 to 4 dried or canned morita or chipotle chiles
2 pounds Roma tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups chicken stock or Vegetable stock, see recipe
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into 8 slices, for garnish
1 bunch cilantro leaves only, chopped, for garnish

Heat the olive oil or butter in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-low heat.
Sauté the pasta, stirring frequently, until golden brown, being careful not to burn.  
Then stir in the chiles and cook 2 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, water and salt in a blender.  
Puree until smooth.

Add the tomato puree and chicken stock to the pot with the browned pasta.  
Cook over medium-low heat until the noodles soften and the flavors meld, about 15 minutes.  
Serve hot with the sliced avocado and cilantro as garnish.

Plantain Chips
Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds green plantains (do not peel)
1 quart peanut oil
Salt, to taste

Using a mandolin or food processor fitted with a 2-millimeter slicing blade, cut into 1/16-inch slices, lengthwise.
Heat oil in a large stockpot or saucepan to deep-fry temperature (350 degrees F).  
Fry plantains, a handful at a time, until pale golden and crisp.  
Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt.  
Serve immediately or reserve a day in sealed plastic bags.

* The plantain chips will be long wavy strips after they are fried.

Asian Pear and Celery Salad
Serves 4
3 inner ribs celery with leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 Asian pears, peeled, cored, and sliced ¹⁄8 inch thick
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup mirin (rice wine)
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Pick off all the celery leaves, keeping the leaves whole.
Put the leaves in a medium bowl.
Thinly slice the celery ribs on the diagonal, and add them to the bowl.
Add the scallions, pears, olive oil, mirin, lemon juice, and salt.
Toss gently and serve

Asian Pear:
Crisp, with a grainy texture and high water content, this is sometimes called an "apple pear," though it is not a cross between them.
It is best eaten raw, rather than baked into pies or cooked into jams.

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