17 July 2012

Hearty Soups, Scandinavian Dreams

A cold worked its way through the office, eventually finding its way to myself. I don't know if it made its way to me through coworkers or through E, who picked it up the week before. Now, what does two weeks of people with colds mean? Soup. Not as much as one might expect, but not as many as in this post. One was an interesting experiment, but not worthy. But first, look at this baby corn I found at the farmers market. It has a tiny little husk and everything!
Also, a foray into bread from last post. I now have a "dutch" oven cast iron, instead of my jury-rigged cast iron pot and brownie-pan lid. Before I got that, I made one last loaf in the old style. This was a tiny loaf - 90g flour. It was cold-proofed, 20% whole wheat, 70% hydration. It was good stuff - by itself, with jam, with butter, and a la Scandinavian future dream. I haven't quite worked out toasting bread in a cast iron for maximum awesome, but I hope to hit that style soon.
Two soups were worthy of this post. The first is yet another recipe from The Herbal Kitchen for avgolemono. No recipe for this one, but the idea is simple - heat broth, cook some rice in it, whip lemon juice into eggs, and add them to the soup without curdling. That last bit is the hard one - the soup not featured in this post was an egg-thickened broth that went too far. You must ensure the soup temperature is well below simmering, the mixture is stirred constantly, and it is only heated for just long enough to thicken. Ignoring that part, however, its a simple 20 minute soup of incredible depth, especially when herbed, that uses 4 ingredients as a base (broth, egg, rice, lemon).
The other soup, though it really isn't one, was a return to jambalaya. I haven't cooked this in a few years, but it is a favorite dish of mine. The idea is simple - take the trinity of celery, onion, and pepper and sautee them in oil. You can make a roux at this point, but I'm not entirely sure on the tradition. At this point, add all the other ingredients - rice, stock, tomatoes, meats - and let it cook for a while. Seasoning is up to you, though "cajun" should be the name of the game. The meat, bowing to tradition, is most likely a combination of andouille sausage, shrimp, and chicken. I modified that for laziness in this recipe, using just andouille. What you get out of this is anywhere between a stew and a rice dish, depending on taste and hunger level, that hits the spot like none other. You can substitute meat-free sausage in this recipe, but be mindful of flavor. That andouille spice is hard to match.
Mikey's Jambalaya (more suggestion than recipe)
Serves 4 or so
4-6 stocks celery
1 white onion
few cloves garlic
1 green bell pepper
2 cups stock
1 cup rice
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 andouille sausages
crushed red pepper
cajun seasoning
extra cayenne, to taste
olive oil
green onion for garnish

Dice the celery and onion. In a large pot over medium heat, add a tablespoon or more of olive oil, onion, and celery. Season with salt and cajun mix. Mince the garlic, and add it after 5 minutes. Cook for another 5 minutes - the onions should be clearish - then add the pepper, stock, rice, tomatoes, and sausage. The sausage should be sliced and the pepper diced. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 (stew) to 50 (rice-dish) minutes. You may need to replenish the liquid if you cook for too long. Taste intermittently and add more seasoning as desired.
Place in a bowl and top with diced green onion. Optionally, serve with mustard greens like in the above shot - sauteed with a dash of sherry and oil, salted, and topped with fresh-ground ginger and horseradish.

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