Friday, November 22
Cream of Broccoli Soup, Ciabatta Bread & Salad
So Thursday’s dinner was themed to Catching Fire. Today was a Doctor Who day, with the premiere of An Adventure in Space and Time, but there was no way we were having a dinner of fish fingers & custard, bananas, jammie dodgers and jelly babies. So. No theme tonight. I suppose since the show started in 1963, I could’ve made something 1960’s dinner party-ish, but I have no idea what that would’ve been. Also, I really wanted cream of broccoli soup. Maybe it’s not wibbly-wobbley and timey-wimey, but there you go. There are a couple of broccoli soup recipes that we love, one is the Bistro Broccoli Chowder in Appetite for Reduction, and the other is this one, Cream of Broccoli Deluxe from the Forks Over Knives book (the book that was the companion to the movie, not the cookbook), which uses cashews blended with vegetable broth for the creaminess and is one of my favorite soups ever. There are tons of veggies in it – broccoli of course, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, red bell pepper – and once everything is cooked, it gets pureed (I use an immersion blender) into a smooth soup. Even though the cashews add a certain amount of fat and calories, it’s still really healthy and it’s super filling. If you have a high-speed blender there’s no need to soak the cashews, but if you don’t, I would soak them in hot broth for at least an hour or two, otherwise they may end up a little gritty and not as smooth. Seth asked for some fresh bread to go with it, and since I had time (the soup is really easy to make and takes no time at all) I decided to go with ciabatta, which I’d never made before, but a friend of ours gave me the idea when she told me about how she was making it from scratch. I did a quick search and found this recipe on Holy Cow Vegan. It looked simple enough, so I decided to give it a go. Um. Yeah. Have you ever made ciabatta? It’s really weird and not like regular bread at all. I read through the recipe and knew it should be more batter like at one stage of mixing, but I thought it would firm up a bit more when it was rising. Not so much. I tried really hard to follow the instructions, for shaping it, but when I put mine on the baking sheet for the second rise, it kind of oozed off the edges, I did my best with it, but there was no way I was covering it with a towel and having it get glued to the, well, we’ll just call them “loaves”. Also? The two "loaves", as we're calling them, oozed back into each other and made one giant loaf. I really wish I’d taken a picture to share because they were pretty hilarious, but I was also a little annoyed about the whole thing – I’d put a fair amount of effort into it and really wasn’t sure it was going to pay off. Seth wasn’t as concerned about them as I was, and as often happens around here, he was right. They came out perfect! He even said it was the best bread I’d ever made. The one thing I will say is that if you try the recipe, keep a close eye on it while it bakes. Ours were done after about 17 minutes, as opposed to 25. Then again, anything baking at 500 degrees should be watched closely anyway. We mostly dipped the bread in the soup, but I also made a fresh batch of butter, using this recipe shared by Luminous Vegans. While making homemade vegan butter may seem a bit, well, like too much work, it’s really easy. I’ve used this other recipe for a while now, and we love it. The one I made today was easier in terms of simpler measurements, but they’re both really good and simpler than you’d expect. The only tweak I made was that I put my butter in the freezer to set, instead of in the fridge. If you don’t mind some unsolicited advice, make the bread and then smear it with the freshly made butter when the bread is still warm. You can thank me later. We rounded it out with a nice salad and used up the last of the Caesar dressing from Isa Does It that I had in the fridge. Maybe not a meal fit for a Timelord, but better than fish fingers & custard any day.