Tag Archives: Mario Batali

Farro Soup and Sadness

serving soup 625 sqTurns out that contrary to what you might expect, listening to sad songs when you’re feeling blue can actually make you feel better. You would think that bopping along to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off would give you a lift, but actually, listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide turns out to be more beneficial. 

A recent German study has revealed that listening to sad songs can improve a person’s emotional well being as well as make you feel at peace and nostalgic. Liila Taruffi, one of the authors of the study was interviewed on todayhealth.com. She summarized the findings, explaining that essentially there are four benefits to be reaped through listening to sad songs.

1. Sad songs allow you to feel sadness without any of its “real-life implications.” In other words, you can safely explore what it’s like to be a little blue without experiencing the intense grief of mourning a loved one, for example.

2. “Emotion regulation” was another important reward. Many respondents said that when they were in a bad mood, experiencing sadness through music made them feel better afterwards and provided an emotional boost. That may be because the songs help them to express and release their emotions.

3. The reward of “imagination” allowed listeners to feel as though they could express themselves as richly as the mournful music.

4. The “empathy” reward made the listener feel good by allowing him to share the sadness of another human being through the song.

Reading the results of this study, I couldn’t help come to the conclusion that there may very well be a culinary equivalent to sad songs.  Sure, playing Pharrell William’s Happy at an ear splitting volume while downing a pint of Salted Caramel Ice Cream will make me feel better in the short run, but tomorrow I will regret my decision to finish the whole tub. Seems like a better choice would have been a bowl of soup. Soup has the ability to soothe and comfort. It warms your soul.

This hearty Farro Soup is based on a traditional soup (Minestra di Faro Lucchese), which hails from the walled town of Lucca, in Tuscany. My version of it is slightly adapted from Mario Batali’s interpretation.a squeeze of tomato psteadding farroI usually buy large wedges of Parmesan cheese for grating. When the cheese is done, and all that’s left is the rind, I toss it into a ziploc bag in the freezer. I toss the frozen rinds into a pot of soup. The umami properties of Parmesan cheese add a real depth of flavour to the broth.

Parmesan rind for flavour

A good cry while listening to Carly Simon’s “Haven’t Got Time For The Pain“, and a big bowl of this soup may just get you through your latest round of heartbreak or grief. Not quite the same as a hug from your mom, but close.bowl of soup with toasr

Click here to print recipe for Farro Soup.


Chili Hand Pies

Just the words “Hand Pie” make me smile. Could there be anything more adorable and appealing than a little pie you eat with your hands? To be honest, I’m not a huge fruit pie fan. Perhaps it’s because of my peach pie blunder.   Or maybe it’s just that if I’m going to ingest copious amounts of butter and sugar, I’d rather partner it with chocolate or caramel rather than fruit. Plus, there’s something about a fruit hand pie makes me think of McDonald’s deep-fried apple pies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But stuff something savory in pastry and I’m all over it!

I was watching The Chew last week and Carla and Clinton teamed up to make Chili Hand Pies. They had way too much fun making them, and I wanted in on it. I think it would be so much fun to have the cast of The Chew over for drinks! Cooking dinner for them would be too much pressure, but I know that certainly after a few cocktails, they’d all be in my kitchen with me cooking away. Michael would be laughing while he prepared some porky goodness, Mario would be grating Parmesan Cheese over everything and Clinton would surely keep the cocktails flowing.

My sisters just read the last paragraph and I know they are thinking that I am turning into my mother, having imaginary parties with my TV friends.

Carla and Clinton did a Beef Chili. I decided to do a vegetarian version, substituting Veggie Ground Round for the beef. I also added some onions to the chili and ramped up the heat, using 3 kinds of peppers: fresh jalapeno, diced pickled jalapeno and ancho chili powder. You want the filling to be quite spicy because the pastry crust is quite mild.

The dough is made with cornmeal. They recommended cutting the butter into small slices, but I took it right from the freezer and grated it into the dry ingredients. This is a wonderfully supple dough and rolls out without any problems. I used a 5 inch tin to cut out my circles. Use whatever you have on hand. Smaller ones would also be a wonderful hors d’oeuvre. You can make the chili and the pastry a day ahead and refrigerate them separately. I rolled out all my pastry circles and stacked them between sheets of waxed paper, before chilling. That way, the next day it was all ready to assemble and bake.

Onions, garlic, red pepper, jalapeno pepper, cumin, chili powder and salt form the flavour base.

Make sure you let the chili cool before mixing in some grated cheddar.

Don’t overfill them or you will have trouble sealing them. You can simply press the edges with the tines of a fork, or get fancy and roll the edges like a rope. 

Cut a few slits so the steam can escape. 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and they are ready to serve.

Click here to print the recipe for Chili Hand Pies.