Thursday, April 1, 2010

Report from the kitchen: CEM, part one

Reader, I tried. I have a really hard time sticking to recipes!

As I noted earlier this week, a few years ago a blogger decided to call April Cookbook Exploitation Month (hereinafter referred to as CEM). I decided to play along this month, and chose Cooking Light Annual Recipes - 2006.

Tomorrow is my day to bring lunch for lunch group (by the time I finally write about that, anyone with half a brain will have figured it out, and indeed it's no secret). I decided I'd get a jump on this CEM-thing, and picked not one but TWO recipes: Broccoli Soup (page 13) and Sour Cream, Cheddar, and Green Onion Drop Biscuits (page 63).

It's a rainy, drear evening and I wound up running a wine-group-related errand with a friend after work. I was home by 6:30, not terribly hungry but low on fuel. I'd planned to roast asparagus for dinner, but I don't feel like asparagus in weather like this, and I ignored the fact that I had no Plan B. Instead, I started cooking!

 The recipe calls for 6 cups of small broccoli florets. I immediately discarded that as a suggestion: I had leftover roasted broccoli from last night (perhaps 3 cups). I also had a bunch of uncooked broccoli, and wasn't about to throw away/compost all those stems when I could sneak them into soup that was going to be pureed anyway. I suspect the recipe calls for small florets to make it a faster-cooking meal.

The recipe also calls for 2 cups chicken broth; instead, I defrosted 32 ounces of home-made chicken stock, then also put in maybe 4 cups of water and some concentrated chicken flavor made after I roasted a chicken. Slowly my food-deprived brain let me know that I was WAY off-course with this recipe - I'd used at least double the broccoli and triple the liquids called for. But, by the time I figured that out, it was too late, so I figured I'd fudge it. Once the liquid was hot, I cooked the broccoli for a total of maybe 10 minutes (cleverly putting in the stems for a while, then the florets, and then the already-roasted broccoli!) before using my immersion blender to puree the heck out of it.

The next part of the recipe calls for 2 cups of milk with 2T flour; I emptied the carton into a measuring cup and found I had about 2 3/4 cups, so I boosted the flour a bit. Finally, I realized I could eat soup for dinner (duh.. told you I was short of brain power) so I chucked the spinach I'd been wilting into the soup and pureed it as well. I added a dash of nutmeg and called it good.

So, my take on the Broccoli (+spinach!) Soup:
~6 cups liquid, at least some of it broth of some sort
~8-12 cups broccoli, chopped - put the stems in first to give them a head start cooking
~3/4 of a medium-sized onion, diced
~1/2 pound spinach, sauteed/wilted 
cook the broccoli & onion in the borth until the broccoli seems done; puree; add the spinach.
In a separate bowl, combine:
~2-3 cups milk
2-3 T flour
then add them to the soup and let it cook a while longer. Sprinkle in just a bit of nutmeg. I used about 1/4 tsp for my monster vat of soup. Consider adding salt and pepper. Tonight I added Cheddar cheese.

I have been dying to find a use for some really interesting toasted pumpkin seed oil I found, so I may bring that for people to use as a little topper.

 Stay tuned for part two of my attempt to cook from a recipe!

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