Sunday, November 15, 2009

Creating comfort one failure at a time

Growing up, nothing said winter like my grandmother’s vegetable soup.  The rich broth with hunks of meat, potatoes, and carrots was the perfect way to end a rough day in chilly weather.  Living in the south, chilly weather isn’t an issue, but rough days still visit, and comfort food still does its job. Thus, soup night with good friends! 

After marinading my stewing beef overnight in a bottle of cab with a few sprigs of rosemary, I set forth to make my version of grandma’s soup courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa.  About three hours later, I had a wonderfully layered pot of goodness, and was sure we were destined for a perfect night.  However, after adding an extra cup of flour to the biscuit recipe, I have decided to start sipping espresso in place of pinot during prep.  

Homemade mayonnaise and aioli are my nemesis.  After two attempts at whipping together egg yolks and oil I had a runny mess at room temperature. With a gorgeous plate of asparagus, radishes, and Belgian endive ready for serving, I was determined to come up with some kind of aioli dip... I give you Lolo’s aioli:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup white onion finely diced
2-3 TB Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
2 teaspoons dill weed
Stir and serve!

Amazingly, I was able to finish the above dip, a fresh batch of biscuits, and have the kitchen in good shape before my first guest arrived.  I did not, however, remember to restrain my ferocious dog beforehand, and unfortunately Little Brother was met at the door by Kujo.  As guests arrived and traded a bottle of wine for a seat at the breakfast bar, each dug into some aioli and reported favorable reviews.  Determination: it's amazing what it can create. 

Considering the nights theme of comfortable ambiance, I forwent a centerpiece made of flowers, and placed a large cutting board with the pot of soup, and biscuits in the center of the table.  It seemed a welcome addition as guests helped themselves to seconds and thirds as we chatted through the night.  Poe is convinced that there is a screenplay in this group somewhere... More information to come. 

I have never been so happy to have a no repeat rule than I was after baking an apple pie.  Peeling, coring, and slicing 4 pounds of apples is hell on the ADD, but was appreciated in the end, and even more appreciated after my husband made a trip to the corner store for vanilla ice cream.  I found the pie a bit on the tart side which I assume was due to the lemon juice/zest.  Perhaps a lighter hand with this ingredient when I make it next year.  

In the end, I must declare this meal as my favorite midweek fix.  It was simple, it was tasty, it was a great way to spend a Thursday night.  Next time you’re having people over for Grey’s Anatomy or some Real Housewife action, I recommend you give it a try. Pizza and Chinese takeout will never comfort you like this! 

The Party in Numbers:
Parties Completed: 10
Weeks before deadline: 42
Bottles of Wine consumed: 4
Justified Purchases: 2.5 inch biscuit flute
Wish List: Espresso machine 

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