carrots, easy appetizers, escargot, herb butter, Jerusalem cookbook, quick meal, soup, watercress chickpea soup
Something about entering the heart of winter has affected my ability to recognize what is share-worthy. I shrunk into myself just a little more and have felt somewhat unmoored, perhaps because I never really took a break. This weekend though, I am ramping up to go ice fishing with my brother upstate on a lake. I’m aching to breathe in the cold air in a wide open space and sit quietly to have that time I’ve been craving. I will revisit the still parts of myself. Somehow I have forgotten a little bit that I am in love with all things culinary and how they connect me to the very people and places I long for.
My last post seemed to resonate with people and I really took personally all of your warm responses letting me know that you do indeed want to see what’s going on in my kitchen and that, oh yes, this is something to be celebrated! The elevated dishes, the everyday concoctions, they all tell a story. No need to pass judgment or edit out the ugly meals. It really brought back the joy and excitement for me in making something new. All week I’ve returned to old classics and new experiments and remembered what I love so much about the kitchen. I returned to one of my biggest sources of joy from last year, the Jerusalem cookbook and made a really easy soup from it and, as promised, I’m sharing these wonderful herb butter escargot that showed up at my regular market over the holidays. They were delicious! I’ve combined the two for a meal since both are so simple to make.
When it’s a rushed night and I’m tired and hungry you reminded me that it still serves my purpose to share the mundane vignettes from my life and show what I actually eat as life gets in the way. When I’m working late on a case at the firm that won’t let me go, basking in the white light of the computer screen, when I’ve crushed it at the gym and have an incredible appetite that won’t wait longer than the time it takes to boil water, when I sleep in on the weekend and just barely make it from the bed to the couch or when I’m up before the sun running around to visit family and friends. These are the meals I turn to and I will share them with you. Nothing wrong with indulging and nothing wrong with the haphazard throwing together of things. Life is what you make of it.
So without further ado, check out these awesome snails. So easy, so quick, bright and acidic. You just need to find a place that sells them and some fresh herbs and butter, the salt seems to take care of itself and you’re good to go in 15 minutes. Serve with this wonderfully comforting, spicy North African inspired soup imbued with the spices from afar and where the chickpeas take center stage among the fresh watercress and spinach. So easy and so restorative. This is the kind of meal that reminds me of why I cook, why I eat and why I share. It makes me so grateful for all the people who do the same.
Herb Butter Escargot
- 1 pound escargot, in shell
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Rinse the escargot under warm water, pat shells dry with a paper towel, then set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, shallots, garlic, parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Mix all ingredients well with a small spoon. Lightly season butter with salt and pepper, until desired taste is achieved.
When butter is at desired flavor, begin to scoop a small amount of herb butter in each shell of escargot.
Put the stuffed shells into the fridge and allow to sit for about 20 minutes, giving the butter enough time to solidify in shells. While the shells are in the fridge, set the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the butter is solid in the shells, remove from fridge and transfer shells into an oven-safe pan butter side up so the butter stays in the shells. If possible, avoid placing shells on a sheet tray, as we want the snails to cook in the butter as much as possible. Cook snails for 15 minutes, max.
Serve snails, in shells, on top of toasted pieces of baguette, or in a fresh tomato-based sauce.
“Jerusalem” Watercress Soup
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s watercress and chickpea soup with rosewater and ras el hanout recipe.
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch piecees
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¾ tbsp ras el hanout
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (dried or canned)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 head of watercress
- 1 cup spinach leaves, washed
- 2 tsp confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp rose water (optional)
- Greek yogurt, to serve
Heat the oven to 400F. Mix the carrot with a tablespoon of the oil, the ras el hanout, cinnamon and some salt, and spread flat in a roasting tin.Place in the oven, roast for 15 minutes, then add half the chickpeas, stir well and and cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot is soft but still has some bite.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and ginger in the remaining oil for about 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the remaining chickpeas, stock, watercress, spinach, sugar and some salt, stir and bring to a boil. Cook for a minute or two, until the leaves wilt, then blitz in a food processor or with a handheld blender until smooth. Stir in the rose water, taste and add salt or more rose water as required.
To serve, divide the soup into four bowls and top with the hot carrot and chickpea mix, and about two teaspoons of yogurt per portion.
That soup looks kick-ass!
Thanks. It was really good! Quick and dirty.
Mad Dog said:
Wonderful I could definitely eat both for supper!
One day I’m going to go out and collect wild snails, then purge them for eating 😉
Hilarious, MD! I can see you doing it. You have one of the most diverse palates I’ve known. Thanks for you comments as always. Some good food up in this post.
You get better and better. Awesome.
Thanks, David. You’re one of the people I’m so grateful to have met. I want to see some of your Jerusalem meals!
As you already know, I adore snails, and your recipe sounds really delicious; it actually more sophisticated than the traditional French recipe, which doesn’t call for shallots, lemon, or cilantro! Cilantro in the compound butter is “très” untraditional, but I am not a purist, and know I would love it! Cilantro makes anything taste delicious.
As for the soup, I have made it several times before, and really loved it. I would never have put any of those ingredients together, but I trusted Ottolenghi and it worked; it was unusual, and very flavorful. I am glad you decided to share these recipes, they are really worthwhile!
Thanks so much, Darya. Yes, none of the recipes I saw for compound butter called for cilantro, just parsley, but I love the taste so I just did it. I’m sure they’re wonderful without shallots or lemon as well. Honestly, butter and parsley alone do the trick, but I figured I’d play around. I agree with you about the soup. I would follow Ottolenghi’s palate wherever he wants to take it. I’ve been putting off this soup because…watercress? But it was really good. I actually added a touch of cumin as well for depth, but I didn’t want to steer people away from totally traditional for 2 recipes in a row. Thanks so much for your encouragement. I’ve still got the kale recipe coming for you and then the meatballs and my very favorite, a Mexican taco that I just LOVE. 🙂
Wonderful! I cannot wait. I know absolutely nothing about Mexican food! And I did like kale, I just don’t get the whole “obsession” with it! Looking forward to seeing your recipe though 😉
I think your playing around with the ingredients for the snails was a good idea, anybody wanting the more traditional stuff can find it on any other blog, but knowing that it is not the ONLY way, and that you tried and liked your own version makes it more interesting!
Do you not like watercress? It is one of my favorite greens, I could eat it every day, raw or cooked!
I do like watercress a lot. I actually just don’t know what to do with it. I never thought to use it in a soup. I usually have it on a sandwich and it enhances just about anything I put it on, but sandwiches are kind of boring. Maybe you need to do a post and teach me! Do you put it in salads? When you cook it is it just like cooking chard or spinach? I have a lot left over from the soup and I’m looking for ideas!
I love it in salads! I’ve got two recipes on the blog already (one is adapted from Plenty). Watercress soup is very, very French (they don’t really eat it raw actually). We make a thick soup with potatoes and watercress, blend it, and add cream. It is quite tasty!
Ah, I had no idea! I’ll go check out your posts. I think this revelation calls for a little more traveling on my part!
Twisted Chef T said:
Loving the pictures 🙂 The soup looks amazing. Always on the look out for yummy soup. Going to have to try it 🙂
Thanks…it’s like the antithesis of your wonderful mushroom soup. It’s a little lighter, but the heat of the spices is what warms you up!
Twisted Chef T said:
I love spices in my food and like you said soups can keep us warm during this polar vortex 🙂
Jovina Coughlin said:
This is a great soup recipe, Amanda.something different to try and very appetizing.
Thanks, Jovina! The flavors are so different, yet very delicious.
Exquisite Amanda. A delightful post not many would venture out and create. Love your escargot recipe and they photographed so beautifully. I had to look up ras el hanout. Do you find it “premixed” at the market? I am very interested in making your soup so I’ll have to go on a spice hunt to find it. Your table was adorned with this beautiful supper.
Aw thanks so much. You’re so kind. Yes I find the ras el hanout premixed. You can probably find it in the spice section of any store or supermarket that has a decent selection. It’s a unique flavor. It’s great on baked vegetables, chickpeas, etc or grilling meats. I should have posted how to make it, but since I get the premixed version, I didn’t think of it. It’s some sort of combination of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, chili peppers, corriander, cumin, peppers, paprika, fenugreek and turmeric, but i’ve read it can contain tons more than that. Here’s an easy looking recipe for it if you can’t find the premix: http://www.food.com/recipe/ras-el-hanout-moroccan-spice-mix-262189. I may actually use this next time since I’m running out and I do have all of these at home!
That combination sounds incredible. When I looked it up I read it could have up to 30 ingredients! I’m very intrigued and will find it. Thank you!
I just saw on my FB feed that Beth who runs Tasting Jerusalem cooking club featured the spice this month and the recipe. She’s great and very generous with her knowledge and passion: http://omgyummy.com/2014/01/14/tasting-jerusalem-january-2014-ras-el-hanout/
Oh good. I’ll take a look now….I really should be working! 🙂
Joseph Michael said:
Wonderful, Ms. Amanda! I’ll have to try this!!!!
Beth (OMG! Yummy) said:
What an absolutely lovely post Amanda. Love everything about it. Thanks so much for the shout out to Tasting Jerusalem. Yes this is the January ingredient so we are talking about and cooking with ras el hanout all month. There is only the one recipe using the blen in Jerusalem, but we’ve included many more. I haven’t made the spice mix from scratch yet but have two blends at home – one from a Moroccan restaurant and one from an Israeli spice market that my son picked up this summer. I am hoping to compare. I also hope that one of our members (maybe Hannah from @BlueKaleRoad) will conjure up one of her own because she is so very good at it!
Thanks for dropping by, Beth. You guys are my heroes. Hannah doesn’t mess around! Im surprised it’s their only recipe with this amazing spice blend. Can’t wait to see what you have coming up next.
Fae's Twist & Tango said:
I don’t eat escargot, but this whole post is divine and culinary education, including comments exchanged.
I cannot imagine the taste of this exotic soup, but do imagine that is must be fabulous. I heard of ‘ras el hanout’ for the first time (I checked out). For now, I will enjoy as a feast to the eyes.
Thanks, Fae. You and I both tried new things this month. I’m new to snails like you are to crab. You constantly teach me new things.
“mundane vignettes”, I beg to differ. I shall risk repetition by saying your images have more character than you’d find in most food bloggers’. Snails, I don’t know (Haven’t ever eaten an invertebrate) the soup and the spice blend however sound exciting. Thank you for the Jerusalem Cook book too, I am sure the culinary history is as interesting as the socio political history of the region. Cultures have met here so must have cuisines and new ingredients.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. Oh the cookbook is amazing and the two authors are just so kind and creative. They are the kind of people that make you happy to know that you exist in a world with people like that in it. Thanks for finding value even in the mundane 🙂
I just got Jerusalem and had this soup bookmarked — yours looks fabulous! I’m making the roasted chicken with clementines & arak tonight! And maybe the yogurt pudding. Bravo on the escargots – they look so enticing and are beautifully photographed. I haven’t had escargots since I first visited Paris more than 20 years ago – even as a young high schooler, I loved the garlicky bite and interesting texture. The addition of herbs as you have here sounds perfect!
Thanks! You are going to love the cookbook. I’ve made the clementine chicken. I used bourbon instead of arak and it came out so delicious and classic. I have yet to try their sweets. Enjoy enjoy and definitely post your trials and tribulations with it!
Beautiful photos, especially of the escargots. I’ve never been “brave” enough to cook them myself, maybe this is in the road to inspiring me to do so. Have a great Friday!
Thank you, Sofia. What’s funny is that I think when you think of them as they are, it’s unappealing, but because I found them in the seafood section I just felt like I was eating clams or mussels. I have also had them in certain paellas and approached then the same way. It’s a mental trick. They are yummy!
Cheesy Biscuit said:
Enjoy your weekend! And thank you for sharing these recipes. I love these pictures, the colours look so joyful! I was given Ottolenghi’s Plenty for Christmas, and am looking forward to trying out some of his recipes. This soup looks fantastic – earthy and grounding. I don’t mean to sound mystical here, I’m just getting at the power of vegetables to bring back our equilibrium… Sometimes! I’m feeling a little drained, so tomorrow I have just three objectives: to sit on the beach in the sun (albeit whilst wrapped in blankets) and to make soup and parsnip bread. Sometimes the simplist things feel the most important!
Aw! I love your three goals. I totally agree with you about vegetables and food in general. Good food done right has the power to soothe the soul. You’re going to LOVE Plenty. I just can’t say enough about their recipes. Sun is so important too. I sit in a windowless office most of the day fighting legal battles :]
Mary Frances said:
The soup sounds delectable and nutritious! I love the contrast of the bright greens and the orange carrots! So pretty!
Thanks, Mary Frances! It really is delicious. I’m sure you’d love it.
chef mimi said:
Ooohhh, I love the addition of cilantro in the snails! Fabulous photos.
Thanks, Chef! Coming from you it means a lot.
Great post, Amanda! I have never eaten snails cooked this way, but they look absolutely delicious. Btw, mucha gente no sabe lo que se pierde por no atreverse a probar caracoles 😉
Thanks for your comment! Estoy completamente de acuerdo! No tengo mucho miedo de la comida pero hay cosas en que es un reto de comer como comer los pies de gallina en la comida china. 🙂
I’m so glad you’re realising the value of every aspect of your life – NOTHING is mundane, and with the amount of things you seem to be involved in, if your life is mundane mine is dead already!
A fabulous post, delicious sounding recipes (I haven’t had snails since I was little and on a trip to France with the family, and the soup looks divine) and gorgeous photos!
Keep blogging everything 😀
Aw you are so sweet. Thanks so much. I think something about this weather makes you lose sight of how great things really are. I totally want to bake like you do!
The grey skies are stupid sometimes. Chin up and know that you bake spectacularly 🙂
You are so sweet. Your comments really hit home. Thank you.
Two wonderful looking and sounding recipes. I love escargot and am intrigued by the added flavor of cilantro.
Thanks, Karen. Interesting combos indeed.
your snails look extra tasty. i’ve been a fan for a long time, but they aren’t exactly easy to find in most of the places i’ve lived. over here in japan, we tend to eat most sea mollusks. my favorite are horned turbans (the japanese call them sazae), but there are all kinds to be found everywhere you turn.
it is always great to see tasty recipes which implement some really fresh, local ingredients. keep up the awesome work.
Thanks, Misha. What’s funny is that I found these in the seafood section so I think as I was eating them I was imagining some sort of sea creature. They aren’t usually available here but during the holidays all sorts of cool things show up in the market. Thanks for dropping by! Keep eating well!
Fig & Quince said:
But both the escargot and the soup are divine, Amanda! I love chickpeas and am used to variations on this soup’s recipe and it’s one I know and know I’d love, but the escargot I rarely eat and yet, if someone served them to me like this: would gobble them up. How could this be among the mundane? They look so pretty and perfect for a dinner party and you wrote so beguilingly persuasively that I am almost out of my chair heading out to the nearest seafood store to get me some escargot. Not. Kidding!
Azita! You’re so sweet. I’ve actually never seen them before I found these and I haven’t seen them since. The mundane really is my kale recipe, which i have yet to post. I can imagine you do amazing things with chickpeas. I’m still trying to get the courage to attempt your pilau. If you find them you have to let me know how they turned out. The flavor of the soup was absolutely amazing.