Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pretending It's Deep Mid-winter

For lunch, I made Creamy Cauliflower Soup Sans Cream (pg 68). I'd like to preface my ruling that this is the best plate of cauliflower I've ever eaten by saying that cauliflower is something I merely tolerate. I hate people who say they can't tell the difference between mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower. Liars! Besides trying to mash it, the only other way I've fixed cauliflower is in a stir-fry, where it takes on the flavor of the spices. I got a little antsy as I watched the cauliflower, onions, and celery boil away, because the only seasoning called for is salt, white pepper, and two sprigs of fresh thyme. If this didn't turn out well, I was going to have a whole lot of bad soup to eat.
This does not look delicious.
The recipe's title should have tipped me off, but I was still surprised that once pureed, this soup was so creamy in texture and taste. In a blind taste test, I would definitely think that cream and more than 1 TB of butter were involved.

First spoonful was mighty cauliflowery. Initially, I thought that was a bad thing, but as I finished my second bowl, I decided that cauliflower soup SHOULD taste like cauliflower. It shouldn't pretend to be mashed potatoes or hide behind a curry. This is cozy food that warmed me up from the inside with the back-heat of the white pepper. It would be the perfect bowl of soup to have when you're bone-tired and freezing from shoveling snow. It's 85 degrees in Texas today, so some of that appeal was lost on me, but it was still fun to imagine it.
Conclusion: I liked it. It's a good way to trick yourself into eating loads of veg without adding many calories, and if you toned down the white pepper and threw enough cheese on, you could probably get kids to eat it too.

For dinner, we had Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux (aka, Lazy People) from page 200. I wasn't expecting a ton from this, because I already cook a pretty mean roast chicken. This recipe is super-easy--quarter an onion, quarter some potatoes, throw in carrot chunks, herb sprigs, a splash of oil and one of wine--which is exactly what I needed tonight, after taking my wee boy to the doctor for shots this afternoon. The most interesting and unusual element, that takes no time at all, is to cut a head of garlic in half horizontally, then stick half in the chicken and half in the pot. YUM.

The chicken turned out beautifully browned, and after tilting it breastside-down for ten minutes, the breast was juicy. When I roast a chicken, I usually smear butter and seasoning under the skin. I prefer that, because this meat didn't really take on the flavor of the herbs and garlic shoved inside its cavity. However, smearing sweet roasted garlic on top made up for it's lack of seasoning. I'm keeping this garlic trick for every future chicken I roast.
That's a good looking bird.
One thing that I don't think worked out right was that the recipe says to place a thick piece of bread under the bird before roasting. Dorie implies that this bread will be delicious, post-roast. All I had was a slice of whole wheat sandwich bread. I don't think this is what she had in mind...
Conclusion: Love the garlic trick and the standing the chicken upside down trick, but as a whole, I would have to put this in the "like" column, because I prefer the way I usually do it. This WAS easy, though, so if I'm feeling lazy, I may go this route in the future.

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