Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ice Ice Baby

So when you're up until 4:30am and you have not just one, not two, but three portions of your meal that require extensive time in specialty cooking devices ... you awake rather frantically and hope to begin cooking in time.

Luckily, nothing really required extensive prep-work, so I was able to jump in quickly. I ran into my first puzzlement with the parsnips for the soup: were they supposed to be peeled? Deciding that it looked visually like a carrot and after a quick search on Google, I decided to go with yes. I also realized the chicken stock needed to boil, so I started on that before chopping the ingredients.

Everything went into the slow cooker for the first hour while I turned to the bread machine. By now, I was starting to wonder if I was going to run out of counter space for the gadgets. Since the machine directions don't specify, I figured the non-water liquid - extracts, vegetable oil and yellow food coloring - went in with the water. This turned out well enough, so I must have made the right choice.

Final verdict (bread): This is a very good, serviceable poppy seed bread. Perfect amount of seeds and other flavor. Want the recipe, poke me.

Next, I started on the sorbet, which meant boiling and then simmering a mixture of the non-juice elements on the stove. At this point, I noticed that the mixture didn't go directly into the ice cream maker, but had to chill for three hours first. Well, at least, thinks I - more counter space! I discovered that a single lemon was not enough for a third of a cup of juice (I was surprised, because the lemon, it was massive), but luckily, I had a squeeze bottle at hand. Then in hand. Either/or.

Final verdict (sorbet): This freezes up fast after hitting the ice cream maker, and it is unbelievably good. I don't credit the reviewer who said it was too sweet - the lime and ginger balance it out with an addictive tartness.

After an hour, one is supposed to skim the scum off the soup. I opened the slow cooker and stared suspiciously. No scum. I poked around anyway, gave up, then returned the soup to its resting place for the next three hours. Chop the chicken, stir in the herbs and ... start on the matzoh balls.

This step was far easier than I had expected. The meal is simple, mixes easily, and chills fast. Once introduced to boiling water (hi, boiling water: meet knaidlach) and reduced to a simmer, it's merely a matter of wandering away for fifteen to twenty minutes, then removing them to the soup bowl. Voila.

Final verdict (chicken soup): I haven't been too impressed with recipes from this book, but this one was a pleasant surprise. The soup is simple but hearty with just the right herby tang. The knaidlach / matzoh balls are springy, filling and just avoid being gooey - though I'm sure they could be improved. Recommended.

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