Thursday, April 6, 2017

Soup and Chocolate - Ultimate comfort foods

It's April, and we woke up to a blanket of snow.  I haven't blogged about food in a long while.  With the weather being so unpredictable, I thought the best comfort for today has got to be a nice pot of soup and for dessert, what's better than a warm cup of Italian hot chocolate?  There is a cookbook in my collection that I truly love and use more often than any other.   I bought it from a bookshop in the UK about 6 years ago.  It's called, "New Covent Garden Food Co. - A Soup for Every Day".  When I purchased it I had no idea how good and valuable these recipes would be.    Today I made Celery, Potato and Mature Cheddar Cheese soup. It's amazing and like most all soups, it's extremely easy to make.

Celery, Potato & Mature Cheddar Cheese Soup
Serves 4-6
50g. (3Tbsp) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large head of celery, finely chopped (I only had 4 stalks left in my produce drawer)
450g. (2 large) potatoes, peeled and sliced (I used 3 large russets to use up what I had on hand)
725 ml. (about 3 cups) chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
750 ml (3 cups). double cream (I used 1 cup of 1% milk)
To Garnish:
50g. (2-3 Tbsp) mature cheddar cheese, grated (I omitted the cheese)

Melt the butter in a soup pot, add vegetables and cover.  Cook gently for 10 minutes without browning.
Add the stock, season well.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Blend 1/2 the soup finely with a stick blender and the other half blend coarse.
Return the soup to the pan, stir in the cream (or milk) and season to taste.  Reheat and serve with grated cheese.

I am watching the Masters Golf tournament this week.  Most of the time people talk about the awesome fare offered at the Masters and how cheap it is.   For decades, they've hand made their egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches for $1.50 each.  These are easy to make and satisfying in that southern climate along with lemonade or iced tea (sweet tea if you're southern).  For me, the sandwich has got to be cut into quarters and served with hot English tea.    I know, you can't take the Brit out of me.

Egg Salad

6 hard cooked eggs, diced finely
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 stalk celery, diced
salt and ground pepper to taste
3-4 Tbsp. Mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
1 tsp. stone ground prepared mustard or Dijon mustard
Whole Wheat or White sandwich bread (I use Delightful Multi-grain light loaf by Sara Lee)

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Spread about 2-3 Tbsp. onto 1 slice of bread. Top with a plain slice of bread and cut into quarters, maybe even cut the crusts off?  Not me.

As I mentioned above, I love English tea, but sometimes I gotta have a cup of coffee.  Italian coffee is superior to me.  They really know what they are doing.  Who doesn't love Espresso or Cappuccino?   I've started to find Illy and Lavazza coffee in my supermarket, but you can find them online.  The smooth, not bitter taste is not like almost every national brand and I love it with a bit of foamy milk.   Sidetracked...anyway, one day I purchased a can of Illy and it came with a free box of Italian hot chocolate.  It's thick, rich chocolaty taste just brought back memories of sitting in a cafe I used to frequent where I had a chocolate taster tray for dessert once.  Yes, only once, darn it!   On it was a small demitasse of hot chocolate along with a selection of chocolate pastries and confections.   When I tried the hot chocolate, it was like having a rich dark chocolate bar melted in a cup.   As you can tell, memorable and worth trying if you should ever come across it.  Here, my cup of hot chocolate is topped with a little whipped cream and cinnamon.  Oh yes I did!

Well, enough about food, it's time to get back in the studio.  I'm finishing up kennel quilts to mail off next week.  Then, it will be time again to clean up the studio and update my UFO list.   :o)

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