“First things first, but not necessarily in that order.”
– Doctor Who
Buenos Aires – There was much speculation, much buzz, much questioning… just exactly what were we going to do at Casa SaltShaker to celebrate 45 years since the pilot of Doctor Who aired – celebrating the longest running science fiction show on television – a show that every sci-fi technogeek nerd has watched untold episodes of – except me. It was very odd. I got all excited about the idea as a theme – it’s one of those wacky ones that basically make no constraints on what I do in the kitchen, they’re more of an excuse to simply play around with pots and pans (okay, a faint hint of English thrown in to this one, but very faint) – and then I realized, here I consider myself a sci-fi type of guy – it’s what I read for enjoyment most of the time (I’ve had a running subscription to Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine since its inception in 1977 – it’s one of only two magazines that I’ve kept my subscriptions to after moving to BA!), my preference in films and television, this particular one started up when I was five years old and has therefore been running consecutively with me most of my life, and… umm… err… I’ve never seen the show. I didn’t even know what it was about. Really. I think I’ve caught a few minutes of various episodes here and there, but no more than that. Crap. Now I have 45 years worth of episodes to start downloading and watching… not that I did that prior to this last weekend, but they’re now on my download list.
So, enough about all that – on to the food, right?
For the soup, I decided on a chowder. I’m not sure why. It’s really more of a cold weather soup, and it’s steamy hot here right now. But, I made a chowder, and to give it that slight britishism, it’s a curried chowder. The broth – in a pot, I simmered together: 1 pear, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 4 sprigs of thyme, a teaspoon of curry powder and one of turmeric. When nice and flavorful I pureed it in the blender and then strained it. Meanwhile, I sauteed together: diced bacon, potatoes, carrots and celery, and finely chopped shallots, flavored with fresh thyme and bay leaves. When the vegetables were starting to soften, I poured a cup or so of white wine over the mixture and cooked it until the liquid was mostly absorbed or evaporated. Then I poured the broth over it all, brought it up to a simmer, cooked it until the vegetables were done. I added about a pound each of chopped mussels and clams, cooked for just a minute or two, and then finished the soup with about a cup of heavy cream. Really good, but really, much too heavy for this time of year.
Next, I was thinking about the English dish cauliflower cheese – yeah, it’s about as appetizing most of the time as those boil-in-the-bag cauliflower and cheese sauce things I grew up with. Maybe less so. So I turned it inside-out. Remember those baked, puffed, golden agnolotti from our recent northern Basque dinner – I filled the agnolotti with cheese – mostly cheddar, with a little mozzarella and parmesan for balance – and then made a cauliflower cream to serve it with – a head of cauliflower cut up in florets, a large white onion, some coriander and sweet paprika, and cover the whole thing with milk, simmered until the cauliflower was soft, then pureed the whole thing – it becomes a medium-thick sauce. Season with salt and white pepper, ladle on the plate, place a couple of baked agnolotti atop, a few scattered chives…
Now, I’m off to watch eight zillion episodes of Doctor Who….. well, not really, I’m off to research a couple of articles coming up….