Monday, May 23, 2022

Rosie Makes A Mushroom Soup.


  It's May on the Outer Banks.  That means it May be in the high 70s or 80s today.  Or it May be in the 40s with a Nor'easter ablowin'.  Or it May be thunder bolts and lightning.  Very very frightening.  One just never knows down here.  (And by the way, if you're ever on a road trip and Bohemian Rhapsody comes on the radio, I AM THE ONE you want in the car with you singing that song.  Trust me.) 

 Oh, now where was I?  Oh yeah.  It's May.  And it was cold and windy the other week.  A Nor'easter blew for like 5-6 days.

And I wanted SOUP!  So we're having Mushroom Soup today.  I'm making this up as I go along and I pulled it all together in under 30 minutes from start to finish.  Didn't measure anything, but I can give you thereabouts and you can have a fine time making this and enjoying it.

Rosie's Mushroom Soup

2 - 3 TB unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
assorted mushrooms, chopped  (Probably 6-8 ounces of shiitake, portabello, cremini, and oyster mushrooms)
1 garlic clove, minced
fresh thyme
3 TB flour
2+ cups beef broth 
about 1/2 cup cream
liberal splash cream sherry (maybe 3 TB)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
small cubes Brie cheese 
torn focaccia or croutons
truffle oil
freshly cracked pepper

Melt butter in medium (2 quart) stock pot over medium heat.  When foamy, toss in onions and mushrooms.  Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.  Add in minced garlic, about a teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, and flour.  Cook, stirring, another minute.  Slowly, pour in beef broth, stirring constantly, allowing mixture to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour in cream and sherry.  Heat through.  Check seasoning.  Ladle into small bowls.  Drop in a few small cubes of Brie and serve with focaccia wedges on the side or croutons on top.  Sprinkle with more thyme leaves and drizzle some truffle oil over top.  Just a few drops.  A little goes a loooong way.  More pepper, if desired. 
Now for the how-to's:

We want about this much onion and mushrooms.

Mel the butter and let the shiitake hit the pan!

I cooked the mushrooms about 2 minutes, then added in the garlic.
You don't want garlic to burn - it gets bitter.

Add in another tablespoon of butter and let it melt.

Sprinkle in the flour and cook another minute to get the raw taste out.
You're making a "roux" here - fat and flour.  It's your thickening agent.
You just don't see it because of all the onions and mushrooms.

Slowly stir in the beef broth.
If you like, you could use vegetable broth.

Probably two cups of broth.  Let it thicken.  Not too thick.  Not too thin.

Taste test and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Now here's a little trick for you.
If it's still not thick enough for your tastes (and this is all personal),try a beurre manié, AKA "kneaded butter."  
Now, you've already made the roux when you added the flour to the butter in the pan.  A roux is basically equal parts flour and fat and, in this case, it's cooked just long enough to eliminate the raw taste of the flour. FYI, there are different categories of roux, ranging from light and blonde to dark and brown.  A light roux is used to thicken sauces (like a béchamel, cheese sauce, gravy, and soups).  A dark roux is cooked longer and is commonly used in Cajun or Creole cooking to  flavor the dish, like a gumbo or jambalaya.
Back to the beurre manié.  Say you've already made your roux and added your liquid, but you might have added too much liquid and you want your soup thicker.  If you just add in flour at this point, it will clump and you'll get doughy lumps.  What you do is make a beurre manié.  Take equal parts butter and flour and knead them together by hand until evenly incorporated.  Add a small chunk of the beurre manié to your soup and stir it in.  The butter coats the flour and as it melts, it distributes the flour evenly, thickening your soup without clumping.

Next add in the cream.

And the sherry.

Taste test again and seasoning accordingly.

Ladle soup into bowls and add small diced Brie cheese.
I had some homemade focaccia which I tore up, but lacking that, toss in some croutons.
Top with fresh thyme leaves and enhance your taste experience with a drizzling of truffle oil.
Not too much!  A little truffle oil goes a LONG way.  Just give a few drops and taste test.

I like a
few extra
grinds of pepper.

Truffle oil!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Maxine's Birthday Brownies.


Every year for my friend Maxine's birthday, I make her something chocolate.  I've done several different brownie and fudge recipes and for this birthday I'm going with a fudgy brownie that's sandwiched with caramel, then has more caramel poured over top. 

 Heat 'em up a bit, give 'em a scoop (or 3 or 4) of ice cream, drizzle on some more hot caramel sauce ... well, you get the idea.

For the Brownies:
2 sticks butter, unsalted
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 TB vanilla
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 325°.
Lightly butter a 9 x 13 baking pan.
In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the two sticks of butter.  Add in the chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, and salt and whisk until smooth.  Remove bowl from heat and whisk in eggs.  Add flour, stirring until just incorporated.  Pour into buttered pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs on it.  Transfer pan to rack and let cool completely.

For the step-by-steps:

Melt butter.

Melt chocolate.

Add sugar.

Add cocoa.

Vanilla in.
Stir until smooth.

Whisk in eggs.

Stir flour until just combined.

 Pour into prepared pan.

 Ready to bake.

 Let cool completely.

Invert onto rack.
Then slice into two rectangles.

For the caramel:

Caramel ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 TB unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat, swirling pan frequently, until you the mixture develops a deep amber color.  Slowly drizzle in the cream. Mixture will spit, sputter, and steam. All normal.  Whisk in butter and salt.  Refrigerate caramel until thickened, about 2 hours.

For the step-by-steps:

Combine sugar and water.

Cook over medium heat, swirling.

You want a dark amber color.

Add in cream.

Bubble and steam.

Add in butter.

Swirl it around to melt.

Add in salt. 

Pour into bowl and refrigerate to thicken.

To assemble:
Invert brownies onto a cutting board and cut in half to form two rectangles.  Spread chilled caramel over one rectangle, then top with the other rectangle, pouring more caramel over top.  Cut into bars or squares.