Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How do you know when a recipe is really yours?

Recently, I've been making a lot of cold soups.  Our summer has been particularly hot and chilled soups really cool things off.  Finding a good recipe however can be a challenge and when I researched chilled soups via the internet and my vast array of cookbooks I was faced with disappointment.  Most of the recipes were either fruit based (blech) or had incredible quantities of dairy.  Some of you might remember that I've mentioned that I'm severely lactose intolerant so this creates a problem.  I find a cool recipe but now I have to adapt it.  I have a love hate relationship with this process.  I do love to create new recipes but sometimes it's nice just to recreate someone else's work.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have lazy days too where I just don't want to put mental energy into having to start from the ground up. 

This situation came up a few days ago when I made a Vichyssoise (aka cold potato soup).  This soup has heavy cream and I was excited to make it and adapt it.  It takes a lot of work and experimentation on my part.  On this particular day I was o.k. with that and the result was a brand new recipe that was all mine!  My recipe.  My baby.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine. 

When you love to cook these are the moments you saver.  This moment was really cool.  Not only did I create something of my own but it was a serious hit in our house.  My husband loved my Vichyssoise.  My boys gobbled it up and asked for seconds and I was quite pleased with myself.   I don't have formal culinary training so these moments are particularly poignant for me.  Then it happened.   Glum from the 70's popular cartoon version of  Gulliver's Travels opened his mouth in an attempt to question and possibly be helpful.

Enter the wet blanket. 

Don't get too distracted but here's a clip  of some Glum classics.  I don't know if any of you grew up with this but you will identify with people who are Glumish.  You know.  Those people who always have to insert the critical into a happy situation and bring you down.  My husband had a Glum moment but he's not normally like that.

Here's how the conversation went.

Me:      I'm so glad that everyone likes the soup.  I love that I created this myself.  This recipe is my   
Matt:   Hmmm.  Really?
Me:     What?
Matt:   Well, haven't people bee making Vichyssoise for years?  Hasn't someone else done it before?
Me:     Well, yes.  But this recipe is mine. 
Matt:   Why? 
Me:     Why what?  (getting agitated and cranky)
Matt:   Why is it yours?
Me:     We've been over this before.  What don't you understand?
Matt:   You've got to be careful saying what is yours and then writing about it.  You're accountable.
Me:     Well, thank you for the lecture.

It went on like this for about 10 minutes before I realized that he actually had a point.  I mean, I know why a recipe is MINE but no one else does.  I haven't really talked about it on my blog and I figured that this was just the time to do it. 

So here goes.  The big question. 

How do you know when a recipe is really yours?

I get inspired by many recipes out there as many people do, but I have two factors that influence what is really MINE. 
  1. Ingredients:
    I have many reasons for changing the ingredients of a recipe of which I am inspired.  Most of the ingredients I can find in said recipes either don't suit my personal/family tastes or they aren't in season.  As you know I buy as local as possible and this usually means buying food/veggies/fruit that are in season.  That is, this is what can be harvested now and is growing in my region.  Not only does this make food cheaper to purchase but it also makes the dish taste better.  Also, sometimes I just don't prefer the flavors or ingredients that other people use.  You can be sure that if I claim a recipe as MINE then I will have changed at least 3 ingredients.  However, usually it's much more.  I like that part the best.  The making it my way part. 
  2. Process:
    This is the really important part of making a recipe MINE.  You know I have a food intolerance and it's an inconvenient one.  So much so that some people question whether or not it's real. (Jerks)  Well I can tell you from personal experience that they symptoms of severe lactose intolerance are quite real.  Thankfully, I have found a way to still eat real dairy and I have another website and an accompanying cooking blog dedicated to it (  Sadly and happily, I cannot cook like other people do.  Dairy is a fickle food and often requires me to change HOW I make a dish.  Sometimes it's easy by just replacing regular milk with lactose-free milk.  However, often (like in my Vichyssoise recipe) I have to change the whole dang process.  Creamy soups are the toughest.  I can't just add whole milk in place of cream.  I want that soup to be really rich and creamy.  I have a few ways to doing this.  One is fast.  Another takes time (almost 48 stinkin' hours) and the last one takes patience.  I have a fussy intolerance and it requires me to be mindful about my cooking.  
In the end I think it is polite to remark who inspires you.  Every once in awhile I create something completely new that I've never seen before and it's usually the time I forget to write it down, take pictures etc.  Those times are truly magical but know this.  If I am inspired by something I found online or in a cookbook I will source it.  I will tell you who inspired me and I think that we are all better of knowing that.  If someone was inspired by something I created then I would want some credit too.  It's also what keeps the creative process moving and it why I cook in the first place.  It's my creative outlet and I believe that we as human beings require such an outlet. 

Now that you know this, here's how I made that really good Vichyssoise. 

Vichyssoise (inspired by Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen) 
Basically this is just cold potato soup with a fancy name.  I like the fancy name and I feel fancy when I make it and fancy when I eat.  Yep.  I really do.

Ingredients:  My local ingredients are highlighted and were obtained by my CSA or Joes Gardens.
  • 1 tbs. butter (Darigold)
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 3 cups leeks (chopped and rinsed) 
  • 5-6 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable/chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup lactose-free sour cream (I buy this at the Co-Op)
  • 1 1/2 cups lactose-free whole milk
  • salt/pepper (black) to taste
  • Optional:  fresh basil or other herb
  • First melt the butter and add the olive oil and heat until hot.  Add leeks and a pinch of salt and sauté them until they are soft. 
  • Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and simmers until the potatoes are starting to fall apart. 
  • Let the soup cool for about 10 minutes and blend.  I prefer using a hand blender but you could use a regular one or a food processor.
  • Chill the soup in the pot in the refrigerator for about an hour. 
  • Whisk the sour cream and milk until frothy.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  It's really important to completely mix these two together.  If you don't everything will get clumpy.  It will taste fine but it won't look right.
  • Stir in the milk/sour cream mixture until it fully combines into the soup. 
  • Chill for another hour or so.  You want this soup very cold!
  • Serve in chilled bowls and top with fresh basil.
*Please note:  You cannot use vegan sour creams for this process.  Not only does it not taste well but because of the chemical nature of these sour creams they won't combine properly with milk (regular or otherwise). 
**I am taking this opportunity to advocate for this specific sour cream product.  It is made by Green Valley Organics and is truly an amazing product.  I rave about it on web links section of my other website,  If you can't find it ask your local grocer if they can order it for you.  This isn't like regular sour cream.  It's much more like crème fraiche and sometimes I eat it with a spoon.  It contains real dairy but is naturally lactose-free AND it's organic.  It's perfect and I'm so grateful that this company makes this product.  They allow people with my condition to enjoy real food.  

For you visual people, here is a photo tutorial. 
Sauté those leeks in olive oil and butter.

Peel and chop those potatoes.

Cover with veggie stock and boil.

Let cool, then blend.

Whisk that sour cream and milk.  Work it!

Add the creamy goodness to your soup and chill.

Top with fresh basil and chow down.

If you want to see a different chilled soup that I recently made, click to my other blog and try it out.  Here's the link.
Enjoy and have fun on theses hot days. 

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