Wednesday, February 12, 2014

On Top of Ol' Smokey

This won't count as these week's blog - it's more an observation and I guess an object lesson of making rice wine outta spoiled rice...

My mother-in-law likes eating food she hasn't had to cook. She likes eating out, having Amy bring her take-out or restaurant periodically I'll make her a pot of soup. Often she eats this up right quick, other times it languishes in her freezer. For months. And a stockpile builds up.

Recently I went on a clean-up schtick - making a point of using all the stuff sitting in my freezer and my wife's freezer (yeah, we both have fully outfitted kitchens) and asking Amy to check and see if any soup was clogging up her mom's freezer and indeed there were two batches of soup I likely had made last Spring that she brought back.

The first one turned to be a "creamless" soup (see blog installment #1 re: soups) made with butternut squash. The first time I had some I could smell that it had been slightly burnt and I recalled that when I was making this, I started by steaming the squash and that (as happens, I left the pot untended so that the water all boiled off and the sugary juices that'd run off the squash carmelized and smoked a bit. Also the bottom layer of squash burnt a little. And ya know what -- the results were GREAT - the soup had just a touch of smokiness and the carmelized bits added a different kind of sweetness than the rest of the squash had.
The lesson here is - if something apparently goes wrong with a dish, don't automatically trash it - check it out - it might well be acceptable and in fact your accident might have added a special twist.

In the meanwhile, a good friend who's been making his own bread for the past month or so brought over a loaf of sourdough that he'd made. We've had his bread before and it's topnotch, but this one turned out to be overdone and hard as nail - basically it was probably what "hard tack" was back in the daily of ocean travel by sailing ship. It tasted fine - but was really tough to chew up.

SO...I sawed off a piece of bread, put it in a bowl, spooned over a some of the soup -- which was kinda concentrated so I thinned it with some water -- and nuked it for 2 minutes.

At the end, the bread soaked up enough liquid to soften up to the consistency of corn bread and I sprinkled the whole thing with some Chile Morita (a present a friend send from Spice Station in Silverlake). The smokiness of the Morita complimented the smokiness of the soup, offsetting the inherent sweetness of the squash...and frankly I can't imagine having a finer lunch.

Second lesson - if some foodstuff is perfectly fine on some levels and problematic in others, try and think of preparations that ameliorate that problem - and in this case improved the other dish as well.

MUSIC WHILE EATING New York Dolls Too Much Too Soon

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