Tuesday, February 20, 2007

So many ways to spend a day

Another day off with Dean, before heading back to work tomorrow (and leaving Ken to his own two days home with Deanie Dean). I cannot imagine ever being bored at home; there are so many ways to spend a day that it's hard for me sometimes to just buckle down and focus on a given thing. Weirdly, I'm finding that process -- of just sitting down and doing one thing -- harder and harder as I get older (or is it being a parent that brought this on?); I start something and think of something else then jump up to throw in a load of laundry and wonder if it's time to start up something for dinner. I'm not even going to attempt to count current works-in-progress, let alone the stuff I'm ready to start (supplies out and about and calling to me at every moment). Keeps it all interesting, in any case, and I keep feeling good about my resolve to give more handmade gifts (although the things do have to be finished in order to give them...). OK -- I won't start any knitting projects until I finish the quilting projects that are sitting out. At least this will give me time to do a little research into knitting in the round with double pointed needles. I'd bought a set of circulars yesterday, thinking I could cheat my way out of it, but I realized this morning that the circumference of the circular set is too wide for the baby hat (a gift) that I had in mind to start.

Meanwhile, soup. Hmmmm -- I thought I'd started with a recipe found on Orangette, but now it appears she was not my source. I'll have to hunt around to see whom I need to credit, but meanwhile will give my own adaptation of "Winter Soup." [it was angry chicken where I found the original -- she posted it 2/07 under 'sick and soupy'] Ken loved this -- pronounced it his favorite soup, even -- which is huge given that he's not a cauliflower fan and usually prefers Progresso to homemade (I know, I know).

Winter Soup
olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 shallots, sliced (or just throw in an extra onion)
2 or 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled then cubed
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt, pepper, and dried dill
approximately 38 ounces of liquid -- a mix of chicken stock and water (I had about 16 oz. of chicken stock on hand and used that plus water, but any combo, or even vegetable stock, will work)
6 to 8 white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
one cup grated fontina

Saute the onions and shallots in a small pool of olive oil in your soup-making pot until transparent; add the spices (dill to taste -- I used about a teaspoon). Add butter, potatoes, cauliflower and continuing sauteing about 10 minutes. Add the liquid, cover, and simmer for about an hour.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer (in several batches) the solids to a blender then add about half as much of the cooking liquid to the blender as you have solids (by visual measure). Never fill a blender container more than half full when you're working with hot foods, and ALWAYS use the lid! Have a separate, large container at the ready. Puree the heck out of the soup -- you want to get that "tornado" effect going in the blender when the mixture is swirling and continually, of it's own accord, pulling all the contents back down toward the blades. You may need to put in a little more liquid to get this effect going, but always err on the side of starting with less liquid than you think you'll need or you won't get this intense level of puree going. Puree each batch until it's so velvety smooth and liquid that you cannot see a single solid piece of anything, and pour each batch into your empty container. At the end, you'll still have some liquid left in your soup pot and it will have some tiny flecks of solids. I'm not sure it accomplished anything, but I did puree this liquid, too, before adding it to the soup. Let the container of soup cool, cover it, and stash it in the refrigerator until the next day when you'll reheat it.

Saute the mushrooms in a little butter. When the soup is hot, ladle it into bowls, top with some grated fontina and float some of the mushrooms on top. Mmmmmm.

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