Monday, April 20, 2009

The Despereaux's Soup

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Now if you have kids you probably can quote whole conversations from the movie to the word, but if not, you can take a look here:
The Tale of Despereaux

Kids love movies. Kids love food. Kids love movies with food in them.
But my kids LOVE LOVE movies with food in them, because I usually make them the exact same recipe as in the movie!
You can't imagine what it means for a kid to be able to watch the movie and eat the exact same thing they are showing on the TV!
It's taking watching movies to a whole new level, like a 5D experience!!!
And you can't beat that! :-)

So, I was thinking, why not share this with you?! I have couple of recipes I already posted that are from movies ( like Garfield's Lasagna for example) but I can make this thing a regular!
I am making the Ratatouille from Ratatouille movie, the Noodle Soup from Kung Fu Panda, the Pea soup from Harry Potter etc, and the kids just love them! Sometimes I even invite the neighbours kids and movie+food is always a winning combination!

So let's talk about Despereaux Soup.
Chef Andre is a genius, but I've watched him closely and I think I have the perfect soup, a true gem from the kitchens of the Kingdom of Dor.

The Despereaux Soup: A spring tureen with a melange of roasted vegetables and wild mushrooms.
( I even bought a tureen for authentic touch, the kids just flipped!)

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You will need:
( Yields 5 qt-6qt soup)

4 qt water ( or chicken stock, but I prefer water)
3 cups diced wild mushrooms( you can use Portabella)
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup cut celery
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 cups butter squash
1 onion
1 leek ( the white part)
1 cut green bell pepper ( not hot!)
1 sliced zucchini
3 cups diced yellow potatoes
6-7 garlic cloves
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Marsala wine ( don't worry, the alcohol evaporates while cooking, it's perfectly safe for kids!)
1 large can tomato sauce ( or crushed tomatoes for thicker soup)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp saffron
2 tbsp olive oil
bunch of parsley ( you can skip that if you don't like it)

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1. Set aside 1 cup diced potatoes, the sliced carrots, 1 cup sliced wild mushrooms and all the white button mushrooms ( 1 cup). You are going to need them later.

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2. In a large skillet ( I used cast iron, because you get the best taste from roasted vegetables from there, but you can use whatever kind of skillet you have, it just has to be big enough, so the vegetables don't stew, but roast) place the 2 tbsp olive oil, spread it evenly with a brush. Roast the 2 cups diced wild mushrooms, 1/2 cup celery, 1 cup cauliflower, 2 cups butter squash, 1 onion,1 leek ( cut), 1 green pepper, 1 sliced zucchini 2 cups diced potatoes and 6-7 cloves garlic for 3-4 min, as you turn them around with a spoon regularly. Add the salt and pepper ( you can increase/reduce to taste.

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3. After nicely roasted, the vegetables are going in a large pan to boil. You have to put as much water as it needs to ONLY cover the vegetables, aprox. 3 qt! ( see the picture)

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4. Boil until tender, then strain and mash with a food processor. Add 1 qt water and the strained bulion to the mashed vegetable melange ( here you can add 1 tbsp browned flour, I didn't this time but I think it would come out better with it), stir well. Taste and add more pepper or salt if it needs. Add the can of tomato sauce ( or crushed tomatoes), the Marsala wine and the saffron.

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5. Add the vegetables you've set aside at the beginning- 1 cup diced potatoes, the sliced carrots, 1 cup sliced wild mushrooms and all the white button mushrooms ( 1 cup). Boil until they are nice and tender, then 5 min before taking the pot off the stove add the heavy cream ( if you are on a diet you can use half and a half or plain milk, but do not use skim or reduced fat!)

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6. Serve hot with garnish of parsley.
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Yields A LOT...it depends on how big are your bowls, but not less than 10 servings, so it's perfect for a party or a kids birthday! You can serve it in a cup with a string of celery if you want too!

Enjoy the perfect comfort food!

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P.S: I am trying to make the food from movies with the same ingredients they use in the movie and to make it look like exactly as does in the movie.

P.P.S: And remember, if you want to see a recipe form your favorite movie, just let me know! I'll make it step-by-step and post it here! :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter 2009

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Easter and Palm Sunday are two of my favorite holidays.
Now, if you are like me and you prefer to make your own Easter breads, this time of the year looks more like inside view of the time when the Egyptian Pyramids were build. When I say inside view, I mean more of a slave-dragging-all-these-stone-blocks point of view (the Pharaoh's point of view would be slightly different, I'll ask my kids to fill you in sometime).
It's not a leisure time for sure, but I still love it!

I grew up in an apartment building right next to a bakery.
As far as I can remember, this time of the year was just miraculous!
I would get up very early( 6 am), get my bag and prepare to go to school, but as soon as I get out of the door...nothing, not even the fog outside could make me forget what time of the year it is!
The unbelievable aroma of the lemony Easter breads...
Aaaaah...
Just amazing!!!

So, for me the magic of baking Easter breads is not based on the recipe or how good of a cook you are. It's the flour of love you put in the bread, the emotion you knead in and the joy you sprinkle on top!

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I flatter to think of myself as a cook of the soul.
I don't cook with my hands, but with my heart and my mood always transfers to the food I make.
This is a blessing...and a curse.
Whenever I am distressed...things are just not the same as they are supposed to be.
This year I've seen that with my first Easter breads, unfortunately.
The first day ( Thursday before Easter) when we bake Easter breads in Bulgaria I started out in a hurry, I was upset about something and of course my breads didn't came out the way I wanted them. Not that they are not delicious, they came out good, but that's just it. They were good, not exceptional.
And I hate ordinary food!
Maybe nobody else would see the difference, but I do and it bugs me.
So I decided to bake new breads again, Saturday before Easter.
These couple of days were very tough on me, I have stuff going on that really bothers me and I just don't feel the same but I was adamant it wouldn't show in my breads again!
I started out early, around 8 am.
But as soon as I opened the fridge I knew- I am simply not myself, my heart is not in place and if I don't fix it, all would be in vain again.

I sat down and I said to myself- I can stop now and leave the average breads for Sunday or I can go on, and do what I know I can- make magic!

" Is that what you want? Are you going to let it win and defeat you and spoil the making of your perfectly magical breads?" I asked myself.
Guess what was the answer!
Now, there is a point in everybody's life, when you start talking to yourself and asking questions, but when you start getting answers, then it's a time to slow down a little bit and think about triple L (life, love, laughter), all the good stuff and Winn-Dixie.

So I pulled myself together and I made new breads.
In fact, I resurrected my breads and my soul in the same day. Which was first, I can't tell but I feel good about it. And the breads were amazing as I hope would be this whole year.

It's Easter and HOPE is in the air! And a ton of pollen that makes you crazy for that matter, so God bless our souls and the holy Benadril!
Happy Easter all!!!

If you want to check out my Easter breads recipes, try here:

- Easter Croissants

- Easter Breads recipe

- My Easter breads from 2008

-More pictures from 2009

Trio
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Filled Easter bread with walnut, coffee and chocolate filling
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Our eggs mostly made by my two little ones!
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Flowers from my garden ( yes, the one I did not manage to distroy last year)
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