Monday, August 07, 2006

Organic instinct....

Schnecken from top

Saturday was a day of domestic bliss for me, our home had been neglected for quite a while and the clutter and mess was seeping into my conscience, affecting my state of mind and my sleep. So when I woke up I was eager to get stuck into it but knowing I wouldn’t be able to convince the other creator of this mess to leave the warmth of his slumber at such an hour I took off to Macro, our local organic supermarket and bought some thick and sturdy Kipfler potatoes destined for a large bowl of southern German potato salad, some leek, chicken and broccoli for soup and a few other bits and pieces. I don’t regularly shop organic but I have found Macro supplies the best Kipfler potatoes I have found yet so when I am there I just can’t resist buying a few other items and so the soup idea was thrown together on a whim.

Once The German was up he dutifully joined me in returning our apartment to a livable state before disappearing to the garage for the day to build things, you know, boy stuff. His days in the navy put him in good stead for bathroom cleaning. Although I’m sure the quantity of cleaning solution he used and the subsequent fumes negated all the goodness and health benefits of my organic leek, broccoli and blue cheese soup planned for dinner.


I was blissfully left to play music at will and dance around my kitchen uninterrupted. I have been meaning to try out Nigella Lawson’s Schnecken for a while but had been hesitant to do so on a day when I would be the only potential sampler, the flesh is weak, especially in this girl. Knowing the German would be on hand to gobble them up…he can’t resist anything derived from his homeland…… I proceeded to make a batch of Schnecken (English: snails). While mixing the ingredients for the syrup and filling for these little pastries a growing concern was mounting in my wary mind that there was just too much of everything, the butter, the sugar, the nuts…all too much for only 12 little Schnecken. I paused for a moment of contemplation and decided to proceed, figuring Nigella, self proclaimed domestic goddess that she is should know her stuff and who was I to doubt her. As I put these 12 wonderful cinnamony, nutty smelling little darlings in to the oven I could not shake the overwhelming feeling that such excessive butter and sugar in such shallow tins could only equate to disaster, and upon reflection this should have been the point where I stopped and listened to my inner voice, to acknowledge my own cooking ability, to have faith in my own experience, I couldn’t help but sit in front of the oven to watch, just in case my suspicions were justified and luckily I did…….as the syrup oozed its way to the edges of the muffin pans I had just enough time to slide the grill tray underneath to catch the dripping butter and sugar mix. For the next ten minutes I didn’t move far from the oven for fear of what I suspected, the syrup pooled in the grill pan and began to burn, producing a steady stream of thick sugary smoke, I tried releasing the smoke regularly, but to no avail, it refused to abate and so I was forced to turn the oven off, expel the grill tray to the rain soaked balcony and remove the Schnecken. With ten minutes of cooking time left I had to come up with an alternative, so I removed them from the pans by inverting them, allowing the syrup to run out over them. I allowed them to rest long enough for the goo to disperse, the goo being the culprit of this fiasco. I transferred them to a fresh lined tray and returned them to the oven, I decided not to turn the oven back on but simply let the residual heat dry them out gradually. I felt like saying I told you so, but to whom I don’t know, so I decided it was time to turn my hand to something of my own creation and forget about the little snails…

soup ingredients

I have never eaten broccoli and blue cheese soup, I just saw a blackboard in a café once with it listed and thought that sounds nice but forgot all about it until Saturday when I was standing in Macro and saw the wonderful heads of broccoli all piled up. My memory was triggered…and lacking any recipe to guide me I just decided I would make my own version, keeping it simple so that the main two ingredients would shine. The result was beautiful, deliciously thick, delicately aromatic soup. I was a tad impressed with myself I must say.

There I stood basking in the glory of my successful little creation, the pride counterbalancing all previous disappointment felt over the Schnecken……the Schnecken, I had forgotten about them tucked away in the oven……they had continued to cook, perhaps even a little too much but they were fine……just with a slightly smoky flavour to them……I ate them and so did my unexpected dinner guests…..but I think they enjoyed my soup better…..

upright soup

Leek, Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup

1.5 L water
3 organic chicken drumsticks (skin on)
5 bay leaves
1 onion, quartered
1 tomato, halved
10 peppercorns
2 tsp salt

30 grams of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, sliced
3 cloves of garlic
900 grams Broccoli, chopped into pieces
100 grams blue vein cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the water, add the chicken, bay leaves, onion, tomato, pepper and salt, reduce to a strong simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the water seems nice and stocky.

Drain the pot, keeping the liquid, discard all other ingredients except for 3 bay leaves. In the same pot melt the butter, fry the leek for a few minutes then add the garlic and olive oil and continue to cook until slightly brown. Add all of the stock back to the pot and bring almost to the boil, add the broccoli and let simmer until the broccoli is soft. Using a stick blender or a regular blender, give the soup a good wizz, try avoiding leaving big stalky chunks. Crumble the cheese into the soup a third at a time and taste it after each addition add more according to taste…..I of course ended up putting the whole lot in and it was delicious but I am a huge blue cheese lover. Season with salt and pepper as needed and put the 3 bay leaves back in and continue to simmer for about another 20 or so minutes, stirring regularly. I let this cool down in the afternoon and left it on my stove top and just reheated when it was time to eat.


Blogger Evnike said...

Mmmm... you're making me hungry! Better nibble on my apple before i gorge my lunch at 11am... that soup looks divine.

11:05 am  
Blogger plumpudding said...

Hi Evnike,

I just polished off the last of the soup for my lunch with a slice of German Rye Sourdough, delish!

1:01 pm  
Blogger jenjen said...

Oh I love shopping at Macro, although you can rack up quite a hefty bill afterwards!
That hunk of blue chees looks absolutely gorgeous, I can just imagine what the soup would taste like.

7:57 pm  
Blogger plumpudding said...

jenjen- Thanks for stopping by Rabbit Tales. I agree about Macro, when entering the shop I repeat over and over to myself "just buy what you came for...nothing more!" I do recommend their Kipfler potatoes, I haven't found any better yet.

8:33 pm  

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