Monday, April 30, 2012

Two Things Involving Immersion Blenders

I love my immersion blender.  I remember not quite knowing what it was, or why people seemed to whip it out and immerse, without fear, into whatever-it-was that needed pulverizing.  But now that I have one, everything has changed.  I use it for black beans, for hot chocolate, and, now, for spinach soup and Vietnamese iced coffee ice cream.

One of those sounds slightly fancier than the other, but fear not!  The spinach soup has the added benefit of a parmesan custard from which you shave off cheesy, eggy curls that transform the spoonful of soup into something special.  Something delightful.  Something that makes you want to add a second custard to the bowl because they're really not that big and the first one is mostly gone...

I digress.  But since I'm already on the topic of soup, I'll start with that.  It is a simple recipe, one to use if you have an overload of spinach and a potato lying around.  (This is rare for me, actually.  Not the spinach - the potato.  I have a difficult time purchasing white vegetables.  If you have ever read Bunnicula, you'll know why.)  To be honest, it is more of an outline than a recipe and flexible enough to include the old head of broccoli that's been staring at you for the last week.

Spring Spinach-Potato Soup:

2 Tbl olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped small
2 small potatoes (I used yellow wax), cut into thick (2mm) slices (really, you just want them chopped so that they don't take too long to cook)
10 loose cups of fresh spinach (loose like you dumped them in the bowl loose)
3 cups of vegetable stock (I used this recipe)
other green vegetable odds and ends (broccoli, kale...)
salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste

3 parmesan custards (or half of this recipe)

Heat the olive oil in a large-ish soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until it starts to become translucent and begins to brown.  Add the potatoes, and continue to saute until the potatoes are cooked.  Stir frequently.

Add the stock (my stock is inherently very salty, so I didn't add much extra salt.  Salt at your discretion).  Once the stock begins to boil (you can accelerate this process by heating the stock in a pan before adding it), add the spinach (in parts, if necessary), and simmer until the spinach has wilted.  Blend the soup (if you use a blender, don't do too much at a time, and definitely use the lid.  Then, go out and buy an immersion blender.).  If the consistency is to your liking, excellent.  If not, feel free to add more stock until it's how you like it.  Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I like a lot of pepper (say 2 teaspoons or so), but you're free to adjust.

Prepare the bowls:
Warm your bowls.  (Please warm them.  It is so much nicer.)  Unmold a parmesan custard, and put it in the center of your bowl.  Pour soup around the custard.

Serve with a crusty bread.  And parmesan cheese, if you are like me and can't get enough of it.


Now, for your dessert.  This mix is intended for ice cream, but I think it would be perfect just to sip (provided you enjoy Vietnamese iced coffee), possibly with a few coffee ice cubes.

Vietnamese iced coffee ice cream:
From David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop
1.5 cups sweetened condensed milk
1.5 cups espresso or very strongly brewed coffee
.5 cup half-and-half
pinch of ground coffee

Mix all ingredients together (the condensed milk is thick, so I used the immersion blender), then chill thoroughly.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Bam!  Delicious, delicious ice cream.  Very good for ice cream sandwiches.

Note: if you want to infuse the coffee with some extra flavors (I used mint and cardamom), heat the half-and-half in a small sauce pan.  Remove from heat, and add the freshly-brewed hot (hot!) espresso, and then add your spices.  In my case, I added 2 cups of loosely packed fresh mint leaves, and 4 green cardamom pods.  Put the lid on the sauce pan and let sit undisturbed for an hour or so.  Strain out the spices/herbs, add the condensed milk and the ground coffee, and proceed as before with chilling.

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