Wednesday, 10 February 2016 16:46

Late night at the soup kitchen is the place to be

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Ask, and truth-telling women will admit that there’s just something about a man in uniform.

Perhaps it has to do with the gallantry implied in military tailoring.
Or the romance of noble traditions.
Or simply that the smart seaming cuts a knee-wobbling profile.
It’s true, but then there’s more than one kind of uniform. And from my vantage point, I’m looking at some sexy chef’s whites.
Not convinced? Tall paper hats and hounds tooth pants not your thing?
Well, perhaps you’ve not ever watched a chef as he pitches orders from the helm of his kitchen, toa squad of knife-wielding cooks who hop-to better than a mess full of the Navy’s bean slingers.
Or as he plays with ingredients for a new soup recipe, after the kitchen’s been shut down for the night.
Yep, that’s the uniform for me.
So last night, when I got a kitchen call to spend some alone time with my chef husband where he works, I slipped into a pen and apron and arrived 10 minutes later, ready to scribe a recipe for a man who mulishly refuses to use a measuring cup.
And there’s when I discovered a dirty little secret.
Tucked away in the midst of a kitchen full of professional equipment, the likes of which should preclude the need for anything of mine, were about a dozen items that I thought had run away from home. Turns out they went walkabout.
Or, well, they do say the majority of kidnappings are perpetrated by family members.
In the case of my favourite carrot peeler, it seems this is a valid statistic.
But, as the chef explained, I could have visitation rights any time I wanted. Or, at least, whenever my being there wouldn’t interfere with things getting peeled.
It’s a funny thing, though, because I don’t remember signing away my rights to our ice cream maker. Or the mini Cuisinart. Or the Pampered Chef handy chopper I bought after said Cuisinart went missing and I had to bash walnuts with a marble rolling pin.
Come to think of it, there are other things I’m missing, too.
For instance, I’d like to know just where my syrup density meter (small enough to fit in a pen holder) is hiding out?
No doubt it’s shacked up with the ice cream maker.
Ah, well. Since fighting over kitchen sundries doesn’t lead to harmonious flavours, we’ve settled on joint custody. Nevertheless, no matter how much sway that uniform holds, from now on you can be sure I’ll be keeping better tabs on my favourite turning knife, citrus reamer and meat fork.
And heck, while I’m at it, I might as well attach a bell to the Dutch oven, too.
Parsnip and Fennel Veloute
about 3 liters homemade or organic chicken stock
1 1/2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
4 large parsnips, chopped (discard tough core)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered and chopped
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Note: Keep chicken stock hot on the stove in a separate pot.
Add parsnips and fennel to a medium pot and add stock to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until vegetables are just barely tender to the tip of a knife (par cooked).
In a large, heavy-bottomed, pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and leeks and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until tender. Add flour and stir to thoroughly coat onions and leeks and cook the flour. Add a couple ladles of stock, stirring, until it’s a thick, bubbly paste. Add the parsnips, leeks and the stock they cooked in, stirring as it comes back up to a simmer. Keep adding ladles of hot stock until you reach a “creamed soup consistency” (no kidding, that’s what he said).
Allow soup to simmer, stirring occasionally, until veg is very soft. Puree, using a hand blender, and return to heat. Add stock, if needed, and season with salt and pepper.

Pictured with a toasted, smoked gruyere "cracker" and apple garnish.

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