Cooking extravaganza!!

There are times that I feel like cooking. I mean really cooking.  I see recipes or have a vision of a dish in my head and can’t let it go.  I wake up thinking about ingredients and substitutions. I envision not only what the completed dish will look like but also taste like. Then I work backwards. What am I tasting, what are the flavor combination’s, how do the textures work together,etc. Then that’s all I can think about. I start looking for recipes that have the ingredients I am looking for or a style that I’m seeking.

This last weekend the cooking mania swept over me. Hard core. I was hungry for three things: banana bread, garden vegetable soup, and apple turnovers. Banana bread is no big deal for me. I’ve made it a lot and have a good recipe that isn’t too sweet or use 5 sticks of butter. Now I’ve made a few soups that came out okay. But I needed this soup to come out magnificent. With summer fading and fall in full swing, salads at lunch seemed impracticable, cold, and unappealing. My body craved soup. Not just any soup. I wanted a rich, hearty soup that captured the essence of harvest. I did a quick inventory of my veggies. I had a good assortment: carrots, onions, celery, corn, mushrooms, potatoes, and garlic.

My complaint about vegetable soup is that it is bland, unappealing with mushy carrots and weak watery liquid. But then again, all I’ve had is Progresso and Campbells. I was confident that I could not only do better but totally blow the lid off of homemade soup. I had read Michael Ruhlman’s books and blog postings enough times to know that canned stock was not the best way to proceed. Plus that’s not the way I wanted to go anyway. I wanted a tomato based soup but I did not have any tomatoes and with the budget it had to be cheap. I thought V8!

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

I chopped up a whole onion and garlic, sauteed it with some butter, and then added a little flour to make a roux. Remember I want a thicker soup. I added a little water and then the carrots and potatoes. I let that cook down a bit and then starting adding the V8. I let that the soup come to a simmer and then added corn and mushrooms. I let my concoction cook for awhile and then turned the heat down adding cilantro and jalapeno for the finishing touch. The soup turned out fantastic. The concept for the recipe came from Alton Brown.

The tale of the apple turnovers is not quite so dramatic. When it comes to baking, I stick closely to a recipe and don’t deviate. I’m not good enough at it. Yet. I got the recipe through following the Food Channel on Twitter. They got the recipe from Williams-Sonoma. I followed the recipe but opted not to include raisins. The recipe failed to properly communicate what happens when you over stuff the turnover. Let me tell you: they ooze and the sugary substance then burns on the cookie sheet. Anyway the turnovers came out great and very tasty. Here take a look:

Apple Pear turnovers

Apple Pear turnovers

So at the end of all of this fun, I didn’t make the banana bread. Instead on Sunday morning, I made a few extra breakfast burritos for this week. I’m glad I did because the soup went fast. I thought it would last me all week. I was envisioning hot lunches every day. But now I will have a breakfast burrito for lunch tomorrow. Hey, if I put it in the microwave, it’s a hot lunch!


2 responses to “Cooking extravaganza!!

  1. A few other key things for vegetable soup that isn’t bland that are quick and easy:

    Buy some tasty hot sauce (not necessarily Tobasco–there are many tasty flavored varieties) and add as desired.

    Don’t cook the vegetables down–just firm where they’ll have more flavor.

    Don’t make the starchy vegetables (like John McCain) the mainstay of the soup–they hide flavor.

    Get naked together and make the soup. Then if it’s bland, you’ve got a fallback plan. (I think I saw that on Good Eats.)

  2. Keep the soup and apple turnovers warm, I’m coming over for dinner 🙂 They look sooooooo good.

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