Valentine’s Day week, 2021, remember that?! The Big Freeze! Snowmageddon! The Snowpocalypse! The events seem blurry to me now but it was big deal, at the time. Here, in the deep South, we were crippled by the massive arctic blast.
My wife and I somehow found a way to commute to work, when others couldn’t, or were too scared to try. We’re just rugged, that way, I suppose. We came home, tired and hungry each day and our dinners were slapped together quickly with whatever food we had in the house and we went to bed early, only to face another day of bitter cold and icy roads.
It wasn’t until the end of the cold snap that I decided to make this suitable “cold day” meal.
1 large yam
2 medium yellow squash
3 green onions
1 cup broccoli
2 Tbs butter
¼ cup milk
2 Tbs heavy cream
1 cup turkey or chicken broth
Wash and rinse vegetables. Chop the vegetables into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the vegetables to the pan and sauté for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the turkey or chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Pour the vegetables and broth into a mixer and puree.
Return the pureed mix to the sauce pan and simmer at low heat. Add a the milk and cream and simmer for a few more minutes, while stirring gently.
Last night I made steamed broccoli as a side dish to the main course. When I steam vegetables I strive for an even texture throughout the pieces. This is a challenge when it concerns broccoli because although the florets are fluffy and not very dense the stems are dense and thick. One solution to the problem is to cut the dense pieces into smaller sizes that will soften at the same rate as the florets. Another solution is to not include the thick stems at all.
I chose the latter option, but that didn’t mean I was going to waste perfectly good broccoli.
I rummaged around the kitchen and searched for vegetables that were on their way out. Wilted vegetables might lose their visual appeal but they still retain their nutritional value. I found some green onions that were wilted and a few potatoes that were smaller than the rest.
I rough cut the vegetables and tossed them into a pot.
I added 2 cups of chicken stock and simmered at low heat, covered, for one hour.
Once the vegetables had sufficiently softened, I poured everything into a blender and pulsed to puree.
I strained out the remaining little pieces of potato skins and was rewarded with a creamy, hearty soup.
Anything can be added to the soup at this point. Maybe some leftover sausage scraps or some lunch meat that has been relegated to the back of the meat drawer.
I chose to chop another wilted green onion for the topping and then added some dried Parmesan cheese. After a few twists from the pepper grinder, the soup was ready to eat.
Nothing warms the soul like a bowl of good, hot soup. Pozole is much more than just a bowl of hot soup! Pozole is the heart and soul of family and tradition in Mexico. It is often served during holidays and special occasions. It’s a cold remedy during the fall and winter months and it’s the sort of thing contains everything that is good for the body, mind and soul.
The warmth of the broth is essential. The heat of the chiles restores drained energy. The depth of flavor from the vegetables and meat make it a meal by itself.
It’s a strange thing, posting recipes on a food blog. I prepare food and then I post the recipes and pictures, sometimes right away and sometimes days and days later. This post is the last in a series of posts from a dinner party that my wife and I hosted nearly two weeks ago. The memory of the party is still clear in my mind. Good friends and family gathered around to share stories and we had some laughs and we learned just how much we mean to each other. The food that I served seems so distant now but the memories of our visit remains fresh, like homemade bread, warm from the oven.
As with previous posts in the series, I did not capture all of the process with pictures. The most glaring omission, in my opinion, is that I didn’t take a picture of the finished dish. Heck, I didn’t even take a picture of the pozole after adding the hominy, which is a real tragedy, since hominy is the key ingredient in pozole.
The pozole was sort of an afterthought as I planed the meal. I had already decided to serve green enchiladas and red enchiladas, along with guacamole and Mexican rice. I thought it would be nice to open with a soup. Pozole seemed right for the occasion.
2 lbs pork shoulder
¼ onion (no need to cut)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
4 to 8 guajillo chiles (4 for mild heat, 8 for caliente!)
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
6 garlic cloves
4 Tbs flour
4 Tbs butter
2 cups vegetable stock
1 large can of hominy (30 ounce can)
Cut the pork into large pieces.
Sear the pork in a Dutch oven at high heat for a few minutes. Stir to lightly brown the meat.
Add water to the Dutch oven to cover the pork by about two inches. Add the onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Set the heat to low and simmer the pork for two hours. When the pork is tender enough to shred with a fork, remove to a platter and reserve the liquid.
Steam the guajillo chiles for 20 minutes, until softened.
Puree the chiles, tomato, oregano, garlic and 1 cup of the hominy and 1 cup of vegetable stock in a blender.
Strain the mixture to remove the seeds and pulp.
Add the butter and flour to the Dutch oven and prepare a roux. Add the remaining vegetable stock and about 3 cups of the broth from the cooked pork. Whisk to incorporate the mixture.
Add the pork and pureed vegetable mixture.
Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the hominy and simmer for another 15 minutes.
Serve in bowls. Prepare a platter of condiments including sliced iceberg lettuce (or cabbage), cilantro, sliced onion and sliced jalapeño. Place the platter in the center of the table so that guests may add what they like to their soup.
Helen might approach this soup using her painterly
style. What is it the first thing we
think of, when we think of creamy tomato soup?
The bold red hue? The silky
smoothness? The depth of flavors? Perhaps all of those. And how will we achieve that goal?
In my mind, I see Helen approaching this project in
phases. First, establish a suitable
foundation and, with that foundation firmly in place, add complexity and
vibrancy. Obviously, the tomatoes will be
the foundation. The tomatoes provide the
base color and key flavor. The onions
and carrots will provide an unseen, subtle accent. The oil and garlic are essential, but they will
stay in the background. The chicken
stock adds a new dimension to the rich body of the tomato. The cream, oh, the cream is the finishing
touch that turns this into a masterpiece.
Basil brings the vibrancy with the magician’s trick aimed to appeal to
the eyes and palate. Salt and pepper to
taste, because spice is the spice of life!
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
4 garlic cloves, whole, but mashed
6 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbs salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
a little bit of julienned fresh basil, for garnish
Heat a large, stainless steel pot to medium/low heat. Sauté the onions and carrots for about 10
minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic
and cook for about one minute. Remove the
garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes,
chicken stock and basil. Bring the soup
to a boil and then lower to a simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered for about 30 to 45 minutes, to
soften the tomatoes and thicken the soup.
Stir in the cream and simmer for one more minute. Pour the soup into a blender and puree. Pour the soup through a strainer and discard
the solids. Pour the soup back into the
pot and simmer for another minute or two.
Turn off the heat and ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with slender, slivers of basil leaves.