Friday, November 22, 2013

Confessions of A Food Snob (Recipe for Cheddar Apple Ale Soup)



     It's been a week since my last post.  Kind of been hit with "writer's block".  Between personal stuff, (dealing with loss of loved one recently, hit with missing my mom and dad and other loved ones) along with news, and the daily family errands, posting a new post was put on the back burner.  Rest assured that I have been working on several different posts, so hopefully they'll start appearing like popcorn.  How's that for a food reference?  Little kernels that after cooking in a fat and seasoning, puff up to sight; some salty, some sweet.  For starters, let's talk about what I mean when I say I am a food snob.
     I grew up in a family that loved food.   Today, it is one luxury that I refuse to do without.  I want real butter, real sugar, real salt, and real cream.  Gimme, gimme, gimme.  If my ass gets too big thanks to eating this, then I conclude that I need to move my ass a little more.   But that's for another  post.
      Car trips are fun, and in our family a given.  However when we stop for coffee at a gas station or such, rarely is actual cream offered as the "creamer"!? Come on... I drink coffee, I like it with sugar and cream.  I used to work with my coffee till it tasted like coffee ice cream; these days I prefer it to be reminiscent of espresso ice cream, but you get the gist.   I don't want to put anything in my coffee, that I couldn't feasibly (in my mind) render myself.  I have milked a cow.  I have no idea what goes into non dairy creamer, nor to I want to imagine that process.  Bleh.  Along that stream of thought is my reasoning for butter over margarine, or any "can't believe it's not butter" product.  Here's your sign:  if you're trying to make it taste like butter, why the hell not just go to butter?  Wanna less saturated fat?  Olive oil.   Wanna amp it up?  Bacon fat.  Pork bacon that is.  Again, know how pork bacon is made? In the US usually from the pig's belly.  Skin is removed, then the belly seasoned, then sliced.  That's it.  Know how turkey bacon is made?  When's the last time you saw a turkey with a nice plump belly?  Think about it.  Lots of processing needs to happen to make turkey into bacon, not to mention what needs to be added, that if I can't pronounce, fogetaboutit.   The less processing the better.  Keep it simple sweetheart.
     My thought is that old saying, "everything in moderation, especially moderation."  My Grandpa Bob, Sadie's husband, used to say, "your body craves what it needs- can't be that bad."  Obviously he never met an addict, but again, that's for another post.
     Another thought: if I can imagine that I could make the product, great,  if I haven't a clue, no go.
Better yet if my imagining includes a lovely setting, such as picking olives in Italy that go to the press to make extra virgin olive oil, versus being in a sanitized, no windowed, processing plant with me wearing a hair net, lab coat and such... well, what would you pick?
     I also don't think it's rocket science.  I know everyone is super busy these days, so I get that.  Organic is swell, but usually pricey.  Restaurants have a huge opportunity to cook food simply and well, but not all do that.  I prefer to cook at home, if it's quirky American fare, steaks, and some Italian.  Sushi and Asian fare, usually require me to go out, because I don't have fresh Ahi tuna and many of the other ingredients hanging about.  Someday maybe.
     In searching for a great breakfast place, I want coffee that tastes like more than brown bitter water, real cream, real butter, and for the love of God if you offer pancakes, there better be real maple syrup.  Yes it's expensive: FACTOR THAT IN WITH THE PRICE.   Or make a simple syrup with dark brown sugar.  Also, please offer home fries.  Thank you.
     On the other side of the table, I am also a snob when I consider some restaurants and their staffs.  
Food should be enjoyed.  By everyone.  So let's all play nice.  Temper should only refer to the method of cooking, and intense should only refer to flavor.   If either of these words come up when describing a staff member, someone needs to cut back on the caffeine.
     In a nutshell, (another food reference) I believe food is to be enjoyed and to give you sustenance.
Ideal: good food, good music in the background, and good conversation with loved ones.  Does it get any better?  Hard to imagine.
     In closing, I am sharing my recipe of a soup I whipped up last night.  Yummy and easy.  I had been hankering for a cheesey soup with beer and apples.  Thanks to Hook's Cheese Company, I have lots of great cheese on hand, as well as lots of apples from apple picking last month.  The soup is very good; all the flavors come together and it's rich but not uber thick like a chowder, or a rarebit.  Knowing me, I will probably play with it more and I will post any note worthy changes in the future.
Hint: will probably include bacon.  Enjoy!
Cheddar, Apple, Ale Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
-1 cup of diced celery
-1 cup of diced sweet onion
-1 1/2 cup of diced apple (recommend, McIntosh, Cortland, Jonathan, or Empire)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
-6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
-1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
-2 cups of chicken stock
-1 cup of half and half
- 1 cup of Bass Ale
- 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese; I used Hook's 8yr and 10 yr Cheddars
pinch of cayenne, nutmeg, Worchestire Sauce, and cracked black pepper.

Melt butter in large soup pot.  Add celery, onions, apples, and garlic and cook until soft over medium heat, 5-8 minutes.  Add flour, stir till combined well, and then cook for about 5 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to boil, making sure all combined well.  If you have a wand mixer, blend with a few pulses, if not, no worry, just will have a little more texture.  Reduce heat to medium, adding half and half and beer.   Stir regularly as you add cheese, so as not to burn on the bottom.  Add cayenne, nutmeg, Worchestire Sauce and cracked black pepper.  Garnish with diced apple, shredded cheese and hearty croutons such as Rye or Pumpernickel.