In an effort to force myself to actually make some recipes from the cookbooks I buy (instead of watching them collect dust on the coffee table), I'm committing to a once-monthly blog post I'll call "Cook The Book." Not to be confused with my other monthly "If I Liked It, Then I Should Have Put A  Ring [Binder] On It" posts, these dishes may not necessarily be ones I've made again and again (yet). This is just my effort to try out some cookbook recipes and share the results with you.
Recipe: Sweet Corn and Wild Mushroom Soup from Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen
(because I'm a bit uncomfortable just copying the recipe from the cookbook, please buy the cookbook, check it out at your local library, or do a quick Google search for the recipe).
Background: Making hot soup in the middle of the summer is inherently weird. However, due to an unseasonably cool July here in Michigan, and the fact that the only right time to make soup with sweet corn is the summer, that's what I found myself doing last week. I've been a huge fan of Michael Symon for years - watching him on Iron Chef, first as a competitor, and then as an actual Iron Chef. His restaurant in Detroit, Roast, is definitely my favorite restaurant in the city - I've never had a bad bite of food there. Every dish, and every component of every dish, is carefully crafted and outstanding. Symon's cookbook has yielded similar results in my home kitchen.
Outcome: Flavor-town. The effort this soup requires yields an end result that can't be beat. It really highlights the sweetness of the fresh corn - it almost tastes like corn candy or something, but there's not a grain of sugar in sight, just the natural sweetness of the corn. The crispy bacon and seared mushrooms add meaty, earthy counterpoints to the sweetness to make a perfectly balanced summer soup.
What I Liked: While home cooks will certainly have great results with this cookbook, I kind of believe that it was written with a restaurant-industry crowd in mind. Symon utilizes many of the tips and tricks I learned in culinary school, particularly, getting all of the "free flavor" out of the corn cobs (not just the kernels) by making a corn stock before starting the soup. He emphasizes taking your time to sear the mushrooms in batches, because it will be worth it in the end. Seriously, look at those beauties.
What I Didn't: Along the lines of it being written in a "restaurant cooking" style, almost every recipe in the book requires preparing 2 or 3 other recipes, from elsewhere in the book, first. While I don't mind this (sometimes), it does prevent me from picking up the cookbook when I need a quick weeknight meal - things need to be planned in advance for these recipes. For this soup (p. 53), Symon wanted me to make homemade Chicken Stock (p. 69, but luckily, I already had some in the freezer), make a batch of Seared Wild Mushrooms (p. 158), cook and crumble bacon, and toast coriander seeds (p. 69). This is truly how from-scratch restaurants cook - nothing comes in the door pre-made, so the prep cooks are doing this all before each night's service. Is it a lot of work for a home cook? Sure. Is it worth it, once in awhile? I think so.
Are you a fan of Michael Symon's Live to Cook? What recipes have you tried from the book, and how did they turn out?
All entries in the "Cook The Book" Series:
- Martha Stewart's Cookies: Iced Hermits, Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches, Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing, Chocolate-Ginger Brownies, Pecan Tassies, Gingersnap-Raspberry Sandwiches
- Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Creme Brulee
- Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: Chocolate-Salted Caramel Cupcakes, Stout Cupcakes, Triple-Citrus Cupcakes, Blueberries and Cream Cupcakes, Streusel Cupcakes, Raspberry Marble Cheesecakes, Chocolate-Mint Cupcakes, Mocha Cupcakes, Strawberry Cupcakes, Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes, Mint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes
- Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts: Coffee Cream Pie, Chocolate Pear Tart, Strawberry Icebox Pie
- Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen: Sweet Corn & Wild Mushroom Soup
- Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi: Asparagus Mimosa, Very Full Tart
- Tyler's Ultimate: Chocolate Banana Bread