I have an odd confession to make: I’ve never eaten buttered crackers before. Peanut buttered, yes – my mom used to sandwich saltines with peanut butter, and some of my clearest childhood memories are of squeezing them together so that it oozed out the holes on top, and that the all-natural just-peanuts butter my parents bought never squirted out as smoothly as the Skippy of my dreams.
So why did I start, after hearing sad tales of friends downing entire sleeves of crackers with cold butter on the couch in front of the PVR? Do I need another buttery carb in my life? No… but I do like to know what I’m missing out on. So I utilized some of my stash of unsalted butter – which I like for eating, not necessarily for baking – and a sleeve of salted crackers, and got to nibbling.
And so I tweeted about my snacky new find, and someone tweeted back: don’t stack them in the bottom of a bowl and pour mushroom soup over top! Don’t do it!
And so I did. As good an excuse as any to make a pot of mushroom soup, don’t you think?
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Ham is divine in mushroom soup – if you have a chunk left over, chop it and stir it in along with the mushrooms. Or if you have a ham bone, simmer it in the soup.
a drizzle of olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 cups sliced mushrooms – any kind
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
a splash of sherry or white wine (optional)
3-4 cups (or a 1L container) chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/2-1 cup cream (heavy or half & half)
Heat a drizzle of oil and about half the butter in a pot set over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and cook it for a few minutes, until it’s soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then the mushrooms, the rest of the butter, and pull the leaves off thyme off their stems and add them. If you like, add some chopped ham, too.
Cook until the mushrooms get soft, then the moisture cooks off and they start to turn golden. Shake the flour overtop and stir to coat the mushrooms with flour. If you like, add a splash of sherry or white wine, and let it cook off.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for a few minutes, until smooth and thickened, then season with salt and pepper and stir in the cream. Serve over buttered crackers. Serves 4.
February 20 2013 | freezable and one dish and soup | 28 Comments »
The calendar tells me it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow – I wouldn’t believe it, but it tends to be righter than me – which requires parents to produce heart-shaped foods for their offspring. If this sounds like you, here’s a tip: you can cut soft pitas with scissors into hearts to make heart shaped pizzas.
In other news, my mother in law is back home from the hospital, her broken right arm in a sling. (She’s OK with me sharing this news, and in fact would love for me to share my iphone photos of her epic purply-black bruise with friends far and wide, but that’s not exactly food blog fodder.) She’s right-handed, of course, which means learning to do everything with her left, including eating, and there won’t be much cooking for awhile. So my dinnertime decision making has come to factor in what can do double duty as future meals for her, too.
I roasted a pork loin for dinner one night, then sliced the remainder and divvied it between 6 shallow rectangular dishes that have been in my basement for years, without much practical purpose. (I’m sure there are plenty of small lidded baking dishes out there, but I don’t want her to struggle with a sealed lid – plastic wrap is far easier to remove.) I filled the gap with some leftover cooked rice and frozen mixed vegetables, which I must note are her favourite – especially this “California” blend of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. (She was over the moon about the hospital food, and wondered what all the negative fuss was about.) I added the requisite TV dinner gravy and a pat of butter on the rice/veggies, covered and froze them, and the entire process of assembling 6 meals took 10 minutes.
On the night I made chicken and sausages for dinner, I tucked a few extra thighs in a baking dish generally reserved for baked artichoke dip, alongside a few halved potatoes, drizzled the lot with olive oil, added thyme, salt and pepper and baked it alongside. A second batch of one-pot mac & cheese was doled out into ramekins – $1 for 2 at Dollarama – to freeze. Ditto tortellini doused in bottled tomato sauce, then dumped into a casserole dish and a couple individual baking dishes, scattered with cheese, then baked – the big one for us, small ones for her.
There was a curry made for a story with sauteed onions, red pepper, ginger, garlic, a big spoonful of curry sauce, a can of chickpeas, a bit of leftover roasted chicken, a glug of salsa, a big handful of chopped fresh spinach and another of cilantro and a can of coconut milk, with a big pinch of salt, simmered down until thick. It was so good we ate the whole thing by the spoonful, standing at the stove. It would have made a great freeze-ahead meal, if not a little exotic for this particular patient.
Of course you don’t need someone to break their arm to do this; if your leftovers are often left to languish in the fridge, freezing them in individual servings to bake or nuke later seems to make them somehow intentional – and more palatable to anti-leftoverites.
February 13 2013 | freezable and leftovers | 22 Comments »