Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sunday Special: Soup, Bread and Dessert

Puppies and I hid inside from the howling winds that are threatening to bring winter back to us. There has even been talk of snow for this week. Sigh. It ain't over 'til it's over.
What's a poor chilly gal to do? Just put on a soothing pot of soup, bake up some delicious bread and settle down with the blinds shut. Don't forget dessert!

Mushroom Soup for Souper Sundays
Nigel Slater, Real Fast Food

4 tbsp butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. When the onion becomes translucent, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes to cook out the taste of the raw flour, which would show in a soup of this sort. Pour in the stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Tip the soup into a food processor or blender, and whizz with the cream and milk and a grating of nutmeg until fairly smooth. Correct the seasoning and eat with crusty bread.

Who's a cute little fougasse?
My changes:
I added a bit of Worcestershire sauce to the sauteing veggies, tripled the garlic, I skipped the milk and poured in a couple of glugs of white wine, and I just used my immersion blender to puree the soup. I tossed a handful of baby spinach into the bottom of each bowl, before adding the hot soup.

I served the soup with the Herbed Fougasse from the Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet, pages 83 and 84.

It's funny, every time I try a new recipe for fougasse, it comes out completely different from the last. This recipe has it puff up light and crispy like a French stick. It was a great pairing with the soup and had enough personality with the texture, herbs and sea salt to really wake up the soup dinner. I have had excellent luck with everything I have baked from this book so far, I highly recommend it.

And for dessert....
For the first day of Sweet Melissa Sundays, we made Honey Beescotti as chosen by Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets. The Beescotti can be found on page 70 of The Sweet Melissa Baking book, and on Lorelei's site - today's date.

I loved this recipe, this is only the second or third time that I have made biscotti - and the flavours of this one were amazing. Candied orange peel, caraway seeds and nuts - such an interesting combo and it just works. I didn't have a half cup of almonds as called for in the recipes, so I combined the almonds with hazelnuts and pecans - yum! Perfect with a cup of herbal tea.

One of the most fun parts of making the Beescottie was making the candied orange peel.
I used this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis:

Candied Orange Peel

1 large navel orange
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Using a vegetable peeler, cut the orange part of the peel from the stem end of the orange down to the navel end, forming long 3/4 to 1-inch-wide strips. Bring a heavy small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the peels and cook for 1 minute. Drain and then rinse the peels under cold water. Repeat cooking the peels in the saucepan with fresh boiling water and rinsing under cold water.
Stir the sugar and 1/2 cup of fresh water in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Add the orange peels and simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the peels to a sheet of parchment paper to dry slightly, about 1 hour.