Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Legend of William Tell

Today, in 1307, William Tell shot an apple off his son's head making way for his son to go on living and Rossini to write the William Tell Overture (probably best known as The Lone Ranger's theme song).

The legend of William Tell is that Hermann Gessler, a tyrant who was ruling over Switzerland, ordered that a tall pole with his hat on it be placed in the center of town. All who passed were ordered to bow to it. Tell refused and was arrested. Knowing of Tell's skill with a crossbow, Gessler thought it would be cruel to order Tell to shoot an apple off the head of his son, knowing it might kill him. Fortunately, Tell's ability did not fail him and his son's life was spared. Gessler was not so lucky as shortly after this, Tell trained his crossbow on him, killing him and setting Switzerland free for future watch and chocolate makers.

This roasted garlic apple soup from Soupsong is a wonderful way to commemorate Tell's legend and warm up on a brisk day. It's a perfect blend of sweet and savory. I've also included a recipe for Garlic Cheese Fondue from Bon Appetit if you'd prefer to honor Switzerland's hero that way.

Roasted Garlic Apple Soup

4 whole heads of garlic, rubbed in olive oil
4 small apples
4 small potatoes, diced finely
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
12 peppercorns
fresh sprigs or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: toasted walnuts and green onion, finely minced

Cut off the tops of the garlic bulbs, about 1/4-inch deep, then rub the bulbs lightly with olive oil. Seal the garlic bulbs and whole apples in tin foil--then seal them in another layer as well. Put on a cooking sheet and bake in a 375 F. degree oven for 45 minutes, until they are soft.

While the garlic and apples are roasting, bring the stock to a boil and toss in a bouquet garni of thyme, peppercorns, and bay (if you don't have modern technologies, just seal these ingredients in tin foil and poke little holes in the foil before tossing in). Reduce heat and simmer.

When the garlic and apples are done, unseal and let cool for a few minutes. Squeeze the garlic out of their clove packages and discard the skin. Mince the paste finely, in all directions, then add to the simmering broth. Do the same with the apples, discarding the core and skin. Toss in the finely diced potatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the soup well flavored. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 5 minutes. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the mixture of minced green onions and toasted walnuts.

Here's a recipe for an uncharacteristically garlicky cheese fondue. (When I lived in Switzerland, I was warned never to eat fondue with cold water as you'll get sick. Alas, white wine (or warm tea) are the recommended beverages of choice. Oh well.

Garlic Swiss Fondue

1 pound Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 Gruyère cheese, grated
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/4 cups (about) dry white wine
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1-pound crusty French bread or sourdough bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch  cubes

Combine both cheeses, flour, nutmeg, and white pepper in large bowl; toss to coat. Bring 1 cup wine and garlic to simmer in a heavy large saucepan over low heat. Add cheese mixture by handfuls, whisking until melted and smooth after each addition. Mix in more wine by tablespoonfuls to reach desired consistency. Transfer to fondue pot.
Set fondue over candle or canned heat. Serve fondue with bread.

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