I'm not sure why I went on a cooking spree but I knew that I had a bunch of doctor's appointments this week and knew that I probably wouldn't want to do much cooking. Plus, it's much more convenient to get the kitchen extremely messy once instead of every night.
The first recipe I decided to make was Beef pot roast (p. 477). I had really good luck when I made Stracotto (Italian pot roast) so I was optimistic. I don't tend to love pot roast. I don't hate it but it's certainly not one of my favorite "big chuck o' meat" recipes. That being said, I think it's a great use of tougher cuts of beef that are usually cheap. I even got my chuck roast on sale (which is why I decided to make pot roast).
The first step was to brown the meat in a little vegetable oil. TJOC recommends browning for twenty minutes--I think that is WAY too long. I browned the meat for about 5 minutes. The meat is removed from the pot, celery, onions, and carrots are added in and cooked for a while, and then the meat is returned to the pot.
Looking at my pictures and re-reading the recipe, it seems like I may have messed it up. Apparently, I was supposed to add a cup of chicken stock to the vegetables, bring it to a boil, and then add a bay leaf and thyme, before adding the roast back to the pot.
This picture sure doesn't look like the broth was added...so I'm thinking I added the meat and then the broth. I don't think it made any difference.
The roast was cooked for hours and then the meat was removed from the pot. The sauce was strained and the gravy is returned to the pot.
A mixture of flour and butter is then added to the gravy to thicken it. I didn't know this method of thickening but it really worked! '
In fact, it might have worked too well, my gravy was pretty thick. Attractive though and there were no lumps at all.
For some reason, I have no after picture of the final product! It was good but still a little tough. The gravy was really good. The best part was that Josh and I managed to eat a full meal, Josh brought another serving for lunch the next day, and I had enough left over for another meal. I don't think the pot roast cost me more than $8 for all of those meals--really cost effective. I will probably make some version of this in the future.
Is this similar to other people's pot roast recipes? Mom's always had potatoes, carrots, and celery in it--this one had no vegetables (they were all diced up and then I threw them out).
I love soup! So because I had such great luck with the cream of broccoli and asparagus soups I decided to move on to the Cream of cauliflower (p. 144) recipe. This recipe was really easy. I didn't take a picture of the sauteeing celery and onions in butter because it's pretty much the first step for almost every recipe in TJOC. The cauliflower is then added to the pot and it's cooked. I wasn't sure if I cut the cauliflower small enough but I figured it didn't really matter.
Flour is sprinkled on the top.
I don't think I've shown a picture of this yet but I never bother to skim my chicken stock as it's cooking. I just wait for it to make a solid layer and I pop that out before using the stock--it works really well and it's easy (exactly what I like).
The chicken stock is then added and the soup is simmered for quite a while.
When the cauliflower is tender it's time to blend! And heavy cream is stirred in...
Absolutely delicious! This vat of soup was eaten in less than 24 hours and it was the first soup I've made that Josh took for lunch. It was INCREDIBLE. Almost so good that I want to make it again this weekend (but I won't because I have 7 more TJOC cream soups to make).
I have no idea why I decided to make two different types of cream soups but I'm guessing it's because I love cream soups and have had fairly good luck with them. I moved on to Cream of spinach soup (p. 145).
I often think that COS soup is a beautiful soup but sometimes can be a little much (and I LIKE spinach).
The first step was a common one--sautee onion in butter. You aren't supposed to brown them--uh oh. I couldn't find my camera's battery charger so I was running all over the house while starting this recipe and it may have gotten a bit overbrowned. How I can possibly lose both chargers (which are interchangeable since I have two matching cameras--long story) is beyond me.
A little flour is then added and that is cooked for a while.
And into the butter/onion mix a couple cups of both milk and chicken stock are slowly added.
TJOC says that after 10 minutes this mixture is supposed to be thickening. I don't know how it is for those of you who live at normal altitudes but it took the mixture WAY longer to thicken than 10 minutes. I would say at least 25 minutes--but I had it at too low a temperature for at least part of that.
While the cream mixture was cooking, I started with the spinach. There was a sad lack of decent looking fresh spinach at the grocery store so I used the frozen spinach in my freezer (which took FOREVER to defrost--even placing the boxes in a water bath-- and drain).
The spinach was then cooked, covered, with no oil, for about 15 minutes (TJOC says 5 but the spinach wasn't even thinking about being cooking at that point), rinsed with cold water, and pressed to remove that water. This is a step that I would undoubtedly cut in the future because I don't believe it would matter very much if the spinach continued to cook a bit.
The spinach was then dumped in the milk mixture...
The whole concoction was immersion blended (I LOVE my immersion blender) and a cup of heavy cream was added.
So how was it? Like all TJOC cream soups it really, really, really needs a lot of salt. And like all spinach soups, I thought it was a bit much. That was before I spiked it with feta cheese--which made it absolutely delicious! If you make this soup, I really recommend sprinkling in a little (or an enormous amount) of feta. And it was a really beautiful soup--such a pretty green!