Monday, January 11, 2010

1st Draft and Cream of Mushroom Soup

I finished the 1st draft of the manuscript of the first chapter of my thesis this weekend. I have been working on it for 1.5 years now...the analysis was complicated and took 6 months of that time to get a handle on...not to mention the 8 months it took to learn MATLAB and write the code to process my data before I could analyze it! I posted about MATLAB a while back. Teaching last term took so much of my time, writing definitely took the backseat. However, now that this term (labs start today!) is essentially a repeat (with minor modifications) of last term, I am hoping to have more time to write my thesis and blog!!! :)
Since I was up bright and early (5 am!) this morning preparing for my class and I finished early...I decided to post the recipe for this AMAZING cream of mushroom soup that I made (in my new enamel cast iron dutch oven, which I LOVE!!!) just before the Holidays!

Ingredients

Half cup of butter
Quarter cup of flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 pound of mushrooms, finely chopped
1 pound of mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 cups of broth (I used capon broth since I had just made it but you can use chicken, veggie, turkey and even beef for different flavours)
4 cups of cream (half and half or whipping – I used 2/3 half and half and 1/3 whipping)
Quarter cup of fortified wine, such as sherry, port or Madeira

Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp of Herbs de Provence

Preparation

1. Melt butter in soup pot on medium low heat

2. Add onions, garlic and salt. Sautee until they are soft.
3. Add mushrooms, and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the fortified wine and cook for one to 2 minute(s). Here you want the mushrooms to take on the flavour of the wine but not to evaporate it all.
5. Add flour in a bit at a time, stirring it in as you do to help prevent lumps.
6. Add broth a bit at a time, stirring as you do to prevent lumps. After enough broth has been added to make everything liquid, add the rest of the broth.

7. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or so. This will allow the flour to thicken the soup somewhat.
8. Add the cream, pepper and Herbs de Provence. Gently simmer the soup without boiling for about ten minutes to allow the flavors to mix completely.
9. Taste the soup and add any salt, pepper or other spices you feel are missing!

This is a very versatile soup...the flavours will change depending on the type of mushrooms or broth or spices you use. So play with it and enjoy!!!

Have a great Monday! :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

T-squared

So obviously this post is about two things that start with T....

We got a big winter storm on New Year's Day here in Halifax. We were having dinner and playing The Settlers of Catan (Christmas gift to ourselves) with some friends.
This is not technically one of the T items but definitely deserved a photo! :) If you have never played this game run out and buy it now it is AWESOME!

What were we eating you ask? We were eating the Tourtiere I made before Christmas!! Which is the 1st T item on my list.
Tourtiere is a meat pie that originates from Quebec (the official French Province in Canada).
It is traditionally eaten as part of the Christmas eve revellion (a party after midnight mass that lasts into the wee hours of the morning), Christmas and New Year's meals. It can be made with ground pork, veal or beef or a mixture! We traditionally eat it with ketchup in our family but it is wonderful with a tomato chutney too. Since Teresa requested the recipe, I will divulge our family secret and give you the Thanase Tourtiere Recipe (with some Alli modifications for extra flavour!).

INGREDIENTS (MAKES 2 REGULAR PIES OR 1 DEEP DISH - crust recipe not included but I can post the one I use if there is demand...let me know)

1 lb of each of ground pork and beef (I use lean)
1 large onion, thinly diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup of water
4 pie crusts (or just 2 for deep dish)
ground cloves
cinnamon
sugar
salt
pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Fry the onions until tender. Add garlic and fry until just before it turns brown (~1 minute). Then add the pork, beef, water and spices and simmer for an hour adding water as necessary to prevent drying. Do NOT overcook the meat or your pie will be dry. So here is the thing with the spices...the recipe says a pinch but I use a lot more than that (not to mention there was no garlic in the original recipe...oh the plain recipes of the past)... I would say at least a teaspoon of each of the cinnamon, salt and pepper, 0.5 tsp of cloves and 1.5 tsp of sugar. Play with the spices to get it to your liking but this is my best estimate. It should be flavourful but not overpowering (especially the cloves)...so definitely add a little and taste as you add more. Once the meat is done, put it into a pie crust, cover with a second and cut some steam vents on top (see my photo below...they are so beautiful, I thought to post it again...).
Place in a preheated oven at 425F and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Bast the top with egg white to get an even brown top. These pies freeze very well. Freeze them in the raw pie crust and do not defrost prior to cooking. Just pop them in at a lower temp (~350F) for longer so the top doens't turn black before the centre is cooked. Monitor the internal temp with a thermometer...you just want to make sure it isn't still cold in the middle without risking burning your finger (trust me, I've done it before and it is not pleasant!).

So after, we finished consuming said pie (among other delicious gooddies brought by our guests), we looked at the HUGE pile of snow outside (like 25 cm!!) and decided it was time to go TOBOGGANING!!! It was the first time the sleds went out this winter and it was a blast!
video
(me on my crazy carpet!)
We went to the Halifax Citadel, a National Historic Site located on the top of a glacial drumlin.
See all that green grass... well all that gets covered in snow in the winter and some areas are really steep. We we flying down the hill on the side with the trees in the summer photo above. It was perfect for an evening of shear FUN! I highly recommend it to anyone living in Halifax! We left our place at 9 pm and came home at 1 am. We sure worked off that pie!

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing you all Health, Wealth and most of all Happiness in 2010. video