Drop me off in the cookbook section of say Peppercorn in Boulder and I could probably spend days without needing food or water. I love them. I love seeing them all stacked together, organized in sections, shining from the shelves, easy on the eyes, inspiring, exciting, appealing. Some so appealing that they nearly scream to come home with me.
My strategy in the cookbook section is restraint. Browse, flip pages, think of recipes, remove yourself from the situation. It works- most times. This is not a quantity-type fetish. I don't care to collect them. Actually, it is a bit the other way: I want fewer books that will provide me with more inspiration. I have one shelf dedicated to cookbooks in my loft and plan on trying to keep it at that for a while.
There are 22 cookbooks I kept over the years, plus a Romanian cookbook, a couple baby-food ones and a small binder of clipped recipes. The books I kept (to the exclusion of many that were exiled to better homes), I connect with on some existential level, I believe in their philosophy, in the approach, the attitude. The only reason Bobby Flay stayed on the shelf is because I wrote a nice note when I gifted it to my husband years ago. Batali's book is not stellar either but sometimes it is a nice source of inspiration for simple grilled summer treats. The rest I just love and cannot part with.
And that is where the confession comes in- or perhaps a better name is a resolution or a NEW RULE: no new cookbooks can be admitted on the premises until we have made at least 5 recipes out of each of the cookbooks that already live here. This is a small goal- I started thinking 10 but then got cold feet thinking it will be way too long till that happens. At least half of the cookbooks have not made it to 5; some haven't made it to 3; two are still at zero. But that has just changed with this recipe.
Beetroot Soup, a Moro recipe
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons olive oil; 1/3 large yellow onion thinly sliced; 2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced; 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin; 1 pound golden beets, peeled and diced; 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced; 3 1/2 cups cold water; 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; a few branches of flat leaf parsley; 1/2 cup greek yogurt; salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Sweat the onion for a couple of minutes and sprinkle a pinch of salt over it. Cook the onion for another 8-9 minutes, until it begins to color but not brown. Add the garlic and the cumin and cook for 2 more minutes. To the onion/garlic mixture, add the beetroot and potato. Coat with the oil and mix all the veggies briefly then add the water.
Bring to a gentle boil on higher heat then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes and the beets are cooked. Check for softness with a fork.
Put everything into a blender and whizz up your golden beet smoothie. If your blender is not large enough, do this in batches. Always remember to take the little plastic top cap off your blender and cover with a clean cloth when you blend a hot liquid. Save yourself the burn.
Return to the pan, add the vinegar, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Plate it in your desired bowls and portion-sizes.
Serve with Greek yogurt, a grind of pepper, and a sprinkle of pepper flakes.
Photography by Jennifer Olson.