Posts Tagged ‘Megan Larmer’

Soup cooks March 2

February 24, 2011

Next week! (File under,”Oh my gosh, is it March already? Yikes.)

Our fabulous soup cooks include:

Writer/performer  David Kodeski (check this week’s Reader for a great cover story on his latest project, an opera)

Chicago Rarities Orchard Project member and theater artist Megan Larmer

Private chef Won Kim, who’s also marketing event chef for Whole Foods/Lincoln Park,  and  food blogger Jeanelle Hayner, associate in-store educator at Whole Foods/Lincoln Park (they’re collaborating)

Political organizer Julie Sampson

Patisserie D pastry chef Deana Burrows

Pastry chef Kitty Tataryn

All proceeds from next week’s Soup & Bread benefit Bridgeport’s most excellent Benton House. See you there!


Ham hock and habanero soup with cornmeal-plantain dumplings

March 6, 2009

From Megan Larmer

Ham hock stock:
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 lb ham hock
5 peppercorns

1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bunch green onions, white part minced and green part chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 limes, zest two of them
2-3 inch hunk of ginger, minced
1-4 habaneros (depending on spiciness), minced
2 tbsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground thyme

2 cups cornmeal
2 eggs
2 ripe plaintains (black peels), diced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp sugar

Make the stock:
Rough chop the veggies and put them into a hot stock pot with a glug of olive oil, add a dash of salt (not too much), and let that sweat together for a couple minutes.  Cut the excess skin and fat off of the ham hock and set that aside. Put the rosemary and peppercorns in with the veggies for a moment, add the ham hock, cover everything with cold water — at least 6 cups, but more is fine.  Bring to a simmer (don’t let it boil!).  Let it simmer at least an hour, or as long as you’ve got, skimming the fat and scum of the top periodically.  Remove ham hock and set it aside.  Strain the broth through a fine sieve and let it rest.  If you’ve skimmed it thoroughly, not too much fat should rise to the top as it cools, but if it does, skim that off.

Make the soup:
When you’re ready, put the stock on to warm up.  Put another pot over low heat with the trimmings from the ham hock to render the fat off of them. When the bits are good and crispy and you’ve got a good little oil slick in there, remove the bits.  Then add carrots, garlic, ginger, lime zest, the white part of the green onions,habaneros (I used frozen, so they’d lost some of their heat, and I used four, but if they are fresh fewer should do the trick) and the dry spices with a dash of salt.  Let that all sweat together over low to medium heat until the carrots are tender but not mushy. Pull the meat off of the ham hock, throwing out cartilidge and such, add that to the mix. Pour your hot stock into the pot.  If this doesn’t look like enough soup to you, round it out with some chicken stock or boiling water, or beer, whatever.  Bring to a high simmer.

Make the dumplings:
Mix the cornmeal with enough boiling water to make a very stiff dough, maybe 1/2 a cup.  While that sits, dice the plantains.  Add the flour, spices,sugar and a dash of salt to the cornmeal.  Break the eggs in a bowl and mix them up with a little water.  Stir the eggs into the cornmeal.  If the dough looks too loose, add more flour or dry cornmeal; too stiff, add water.  It should look like a dense cornbread batter.  Stir the plantains into the dough. 

Finish it up:
Squeeze the limes’ juice into the soup.  Taste your broth and correct the seasonings (it probably needs salt), then bring it to a high boil.  Drop the dough by teaspoonfull into the broth.  You may need to let a batch cook, then drop more in to keep them from sticking together.  When all the dumplings are cooked (you can tell because they will float) turn off the heat.  Taste the broth again, add a dash of vinegar if you like.  Throw in the chopped green parts of the onion. Eat!

Turning up the heat

March 6, 2009


We’re pulling into the Soup and Bread home stretch — only four nights left! — and the cooks are getting competitive. This week saw our first DESSERT SOUP, a decadent cream of walnut puree infused with Sauvignon Blanc-poached pears courtesy of Jen Moniz (above, right).

Meanwhile, Megan Larmer (center) turned out a complicated ham hock-habanero stew full of plump, chewy cornmeal-plantain dumplings. This woman cooks for a living — and she’s looking for a job.

Also on the market, our favorite chef on the dole, Hugh Amano, brought three loaves of crusty “free-range bread” made by harvesting wild yeasts from the air in his apartment and slooooowly cultivating a sourdough starter. Detailed instructions coming soon.

Back on the soup rack, Nancy Kim — the third member of the Megan-Jen-Nancy cooking club — brought a hefty pot of firey beef chili; Vanessa Mendicino dished up a light pasta e fagiole (and brought with her a friend who said he used to hang out at the Hideout 40 years ago, when the old owners set out their own Italian lunch spread for the Goose Island factory workers who were the bar’s original regulars); and Jill Barron came through with a vegan yellow split pea complete with cilantro relish on the side. “Vegan, but still delicious!” the vegetarian-chef-who’s-not-really-a-vegetarian made sure to write on the tag.

Also this week, we made $164 dollars in donations, bringing the total thus far to $1,343. The new goal? To clear $2K by April first. That doesn’t seem that unreasonable, does it?

Lastly, for your pleasure, here are a few more miscellaneous photos, from this week and weeks gone by — because it’s about the people, not the insides of a bunch of soupy crock pots, right?

Recipes coming soon!

ryan and jessica

happy soup eaters

more soupers

she and LP

back room


Guest soup chefs, March 4 edition

February 27, 2009

Dang — next week’s cooks are ORGANIZED. They’ve already coordinated their soups to avoid overlap. I think this is a first.

And they are:

Vanessa Mendicino, with pasta e fagioli

Mana Food Bar chef Jill Barron, with (probably) a veggie Indian yellow pea soup

Jen Moniz, who is promising our first dessert soup, in the form of cream of walnut with poached pear puree (!!!).

Megan Larmer, with “something with cornmeal dumplings.” (Megan’s also a cofounder of this nifty project to establish heirloom community orchards in Chicago.)

And, lastly, Nancy Kim, whose soup remains shrouded in mystery.

Add to that bread from Whole Foods and from Hugh (assuming he’s over the flu) and we are good to go!

See you there: 5-8 PM at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Yay.