Thursday, March 1, 2012

Challenge: Cowboy Kickin' Soup

I like cowboys.  I like their work ethic.  I like their look.  I like their appetite. 
I also like love my boyfriend, who could pass for Daryl Singletary if he had a sweet hat:

(photo from google images- Daryl Singletary) do cowboys have to do with my cookbook challenge?   Well, the cookbook I used tonight is full of recipes that are "cowboy approved".  How do I know?  It is Texas Cowboy Cooking by Tom Perini.  The man is not only the owner of Perini Steak House, and a steak genius, and the author of the cookbook, but he is a cowboy.  So, who would know better what cowboys like to eat than an actual COWBOY.  


Now, when I think of cowboys and what they might like to eat, soup is NOT the first thing that comes to my mind.  However, I like soup.  And I had previously frozen some butternut squash.....that worked perfectly for this dish!  Plus, with the little kick in the pants that this leaves in your mouth, it is indeed: Cowboy approved!

Winter Squash Soup
By: Tom Perini
3 pounds of winter squash (butternut, delicata, Hubbard, or even pumpkin)  
1 Large unpeeled onion, halved
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/4 cup water
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (the cowboy kicker)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
(I also added a shake or two of sage)

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Oil the cut surfaces of squash and onion and place them in a large baking dish cut side down.  Bake at 350 until tender and soft, about 1 hour (note: I had already cooked my squash and froze it, so I did not do this part.  Because of that, I simply sauteed my onion in olive oil.)  Remove from the oven and allow to cool until vegetables can be handled.  Scoop out the squash pulp (<3 that word) and place in food processor.  Remove the papery outer skin of the onion and add cooked onion to the squash.  Puree vegetables until smooth.  Add a little broth to make a smooth mixture.  Place the pureed squash in a saucepan, add the remaining broth, milk, and seasonings.  Simmer for a few minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Serve with a spoonful of cream, sour cream, or Cre`me fraiche.  (that is my favorite ending to any recipe....serve with some sort of cream....please!!!)

Now, I am no professional food blogger or pictures are just pictures of what my food looks like right before I consume it.  What you see is what you get kinda deal.  However, I was lucky enough to have my amazing food stylist friend visiting from out of town.  Love her. Love her style.... honored to be her friend and laugh with her....and with her!!! 

Nicole workin' some sour cream and pepper art :)

She makes things beautiful....she makes life beautiful!!!

This soup was super yummy.  Loved the texture.   Really liked the flavor.  The red pepper gives you a little cowboy kick in the pants.  The sour cream apologizes for the slight kick.  It tastes nice the day after a blizzard!  

Enjoy good food!!! 

Challenge: Magical Souffle

Third day of my challenge!  A snow day!  A foot of snow and LOTS of wind makes for a good reason to "work from home".  What a delight!  Today, I made two recipes from two different books!  You'll notice that all the cookbooks I am using this week all have a similar theme....but the sparks are worlds apart.  They are all very "country".  And, if you know know...this fits well.

Tonight's main course was Cabbage Rolls.  I've never made cabbage rolls....but I like cabbage and hamburger...and rice!  So, off I went!  They were harder than I expected.  I think the hardest part was peeling layers of cabbage off without ripping them.  I used the recipe from Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood.  These were not your grandma's cabbage rolls.  Well, maybe they are your grandma's.....but I don't think they were mine.  They have the most interesting of spices: Cinnamon and cloves.  In cabbage rolls, you ask?  I know...I was asking the same thing.  But, I didn't dare run it past momma before just makin' the recipe....wanted to try it in it's proper form.  Mother spied the cloves right away....and was not impressed.  I LOVED the addition.  Mom said she used to make cabbage rolls and just throw some prego in there.  So, the sauce of simple tomato juice was not thick enough for her.

Also.....just now as I sit and type, I realize that I forgot an entire ingredient which would have certainly maintained the spices better and added more goodness: tomatoes.  REALLY.. must understand; not only was I making cabbage rolls for the first time.....but cheese souffle's.  CHEESE SOUFFLE's.  They WILL change your life, give you goose bumps and make you want to do cartwheels (something I've NEVER accomplished).  So, needless to say, I was distracted.  Alright, enough of my gabbing....on to the recipes.

Cabbage Rolls
By Trisha Yearwood
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup rice, cooked
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 8 oz can stewed tomatoes (the one I forgot)
2 heads green cabbage
9 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice   
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 12oz can tomato juice

Preheat oven to 350

In a large bowl, mix the beef, rice, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and TOMATOES.  Set aside.  

Wash and core the cabbage.  Bring a large stockpot (missed that word too...I used a dutch oven and it wasn't tall enough)  filled with 8 cups of water, the sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, and bay leaves to a boil.  Blanche the cabbage for 5 minutes.  Drain the cabbage, let it cool, then carefully peel 12 leaves from the cabbage.  (much harder than it sounds, in my life)

Place 1/4 cup of the beef and rice mixture onto each leaf.  Fold in the sides of the leaf wrap and roll, enclosing the filling.  Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, closely together in a 9x13 pan.  

In a small bowl, combine the tomato juice with the remaining one cup of water (I probably wouldn't do this next time, because it makes the sauce too watery....but it might also help in the steaming/cooking process) pour the mixture over the cabbage rolls.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Cheese Souffle Supreme
A french classic: By Laura Ingalls Wilder

3 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 Cup flour
1 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
4 eggs, separated

1.  Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour, and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add milk slowly, stirring over low heat until sauce thickens.  Add seasonings and cheese, continue stirring until cheese is melted.  Set aside to cool.  

2. Preheat oven to 325.  Grease 6 cup souffle dish (I made half the recipe, which resulted in two perfect ramekins of personalized souffle's)

3. Beat egg yolks until light in color.  Stir into cheese mixture.  

4.  Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.  Fold into cheese mixture until just mixed.  

5.  Pour into prepared dish(s); set dishes in pan of boiling water and bake 50 minutes.  When done, the souffle will be well puffed with firm outer edges.  The center will wobble slightly when shaken gently.  Serve immediately. 

I've never made a souffle......but I would do it over and over simple.... the ingredients, the process, and the taste!  Mmmmm.... it so soft and fluffy and cheesy!  I would recommend trying this. 

Oh....Also, there just happened to be some cupcakes in the freezer!!!  So, I whipped up some delicious chocolate whipped cream to put on first thought was a powdered sugar frosting.....which I don't actually I was excited to whip up a tasty creation that wasn't too sugary. 

I used 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 cup Hershey's Dark Chocolate morsels (does anyone else just really enjoy that word?). 
Heat the cream, pour over chips, let set.  Stir.  Pop in the freezer for about 5-10 min.  Whip like nobody's business....for like 3-4 minutes, until it's thick and chocolaty and needs to be eaten ASAP!!! 

With great LOVE and anticipation.....from my kitchen!!!