Simple Soup

We don’t get real seasons in Los Angeles, in fact up until a few years ago , I don’t even think we had real restaurants here. We just had fast food joints, hole in the wall places, and celebrity hot spots that served something that looked a lot like real food, but didn’t taste like it. Anyway my point is that despite the coming and going of the holiday season, that brisk winter chill has only just now hit me.

So naturally, I made soup. Which is actually kind of odd for me, because I’m not typically a soup person. In fact, there are only 3 soups I order regularly when going out: miso soup, corn soup, and hot and sour soup. But I didn’t have ingredients for any of those in the house, so I made a potato and broccoli soup instead and it was delicious.

The thing about soups, is that there’s an easy way and a hard way. You can either spend 20 mins or 20 hrs. And if you can spend 20 hrs then you’re soup/curry/chili/stew will probably be freaking amazing. But if you’ve only got 20 mins there are a few tricks you can use to develop enough flavor to get a pretty delicious outcome.

Here’s how I did it with my potato broccoli soup, and yes I’m still not measuring anything, so you’ll just have to use your instincts.

Potato and Broccoli Soup

1. Take a Ziplock Steam Bag, toss a couple potatoes and some broccoli in it. The ratios is up to you and your pantry really. But the more potatoes the creamier the soup will be. Don’t cut the potatoes yet, and try to keep as much of the broccoli whole as possible too. I leave on the stalks of broccoli and skin of the potatoes just because there’s no reason not to when they’ve got extra nutrients and flavor. Toss the steam bag into the microwave and heat until potatoes are fork tender.

2. Mean while take a sauce pan, on medium low heat, add butter, chopped onions, and chopped garlic. Remember everything’s going to get pureed later, so as long as everything’s chopped to about the same size so it can cook evenly, the size of the chop really doesn’t matter. Stir often so the garlic doesn’t burn while the onions become translucent.

3. In another sauce pan, heat up some reduced/no salt veggie broth.

4. Chop up the contents of your steam bag, and add them to the sauce pan, turn the heat on low and stir for a min or two just to allow the flavors to muddle a bit.

5. Add some broth into the pan. Usually just enough broth to cover the mixture works well, but you may want to add a little less than that. That way if the soup gets too salty you can just add hot water and you can still control the creaminess.

6. Turn the heat up and simmer. Like I said the longer it simmers the better, but this is a pretty simple soup so some where between 5-15 mins should be just fine.

7. Take the pan off the heat, and use an immersion blender or a regular blender, to puree the soup. But be careful, because when hot stuff splatters it hurts. If you want a thinner soup, add hot water. If you want a creamier soup you can add some parmesan cheese while you’re blending it, or blend it and then put it back into the pan and reduce it further.

8. Season to taste, and top it like you would a baked potato. For me some cheese and veggie bacon.

I was watching cooking channel,  shocker right? Anyway I kept noticing a couple shows commenting on french fries.  Now I’m a big fan of the classics, I think the best way to judge a chef is see how the elevate simple foods. But potato wedges fried in duck fat…wow. I almost want to start eating meat.  

For those of you who don’t speak foodie, let me break it down. Think of the oil from duck confit. ( Duck is cured with salt, herbs and spices for about 36 hours; then it’s washed and dried and placed in a deep pan filled [enough to submerge the duck] with oil. From there it cooks for at least an hour at a very low heat.  ) But that’s the last step. First the potatoes are frenched (cut in to strips you moron), and soaked in vinegar for 30 mins. Then they’re patted dry and fried once in regular oil, till they’re only half cooked. Then just before you are ready to devour them the half cooked fries are tossed into the pan of confit and fried again at a lower temperature. Basically what you get is really fluffy mashed potatoes on the inside and crispy salt crunch on the outside.

Now obviously those fries featured are rather french in origin, since the french are the ones that confit things like duck and pork. But when it came to the feature on proper chips from the UK…well lets just say it was an epic fail and though they made an effort at it, by putting it next to cod; I don’t understand how they could have over looked the fact that PROPER CHIPS are meant to be eaten with vinegar.

So as a result I decided to try my hand at making crisps (English to English translation: chips are fries, crisps are chips. got it?). And they turned out horribly burnt, so I tried again and the result is what you see below.

Ya okay I admit it , they’re baked with barely any oil, (some coarse sea salt and obviously a little vinegar)…but they still taste good I promise. Deep frying is delicious but when you don’t have a proper deep frier chances of you being burned are way higher.

Its the same thing I do when I make french fries at home cut the potatoes in to thin slices for crisps or wedges for chips. Drizzle oil and sprinkle seasoning on baking sheet, lay out potatoes, more oil and seasoning on top. And then bake for  10 mins if you have a toaster oven. The crisps YOU HAVE TO WATCH like a hawk, and I’d keep em at 325. But the chips you can do at 375.

In case you’re wondering duck fat fries aren’t cheap or easy to make so it’s not likely you’ll see them that often unless you’re at a gastropub, or a high end burger joint but I’ve got a feeling Umami and Father’s Office might be featuring them soon.

Chips… Proper & Otherwise

Doing it all…for the right reasons.

I’m obsessed with TED right now. For those of you who don’t know , I’m not talking about the dude, although if your name is Ted and you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re cool too.  So anyway TED is Technology +Entertainment+ Design , and basically they’re non-profit that’s dedicated to spreading ideas. No really that’s their tagline “idea’s worth spreading.”

I’m graduating and despite the fact that I’m looking for a better 9-5 , cubicles are not my friend.  So I was on TED, and I clicked Happiness as a topic and I scroll through all these pictures of speakers and the headlines of their talks. So I’m totally judging a book by its cover , but nearly everyone who was speaking was wearing a suit; and that to me says they care too much about formalities, (Don’t judge me, the devil is in the details) which to me in regards to happiness doesn’t seem logical. So I keep scrolling until I see GARY VAY-NER-CHUK, dude’s in a jeans and a tee; ding ding ding we’ve got a winner.

Now if you’re sick of reading me , go youtube him @ Web 2.0 or better yet RailsConf 2010. Careful there’s profanity….just saying.

If you’re still reading (thanks); I beg you to check those out , because I really do think it will make you want to be a better person. Anyway  I spent 90 mins that I had allocated for studying watching Gary speak. Firstly not to kiss his ass, but he is one of the most compelling speakers I’ve ever heard. I’ll admit I’m  kind of a product of my generation add to that there’s the fact that society has been teaching me that every action should be a means to an end; and it’s amazing that I could retain his message and that I really respect him because of his ideas. And the dude isn’t even paying me.

Although to be honest, if given the opportunity I would totally work for him for free. Dude’s a genius, again I hate to make it sound like I’m idealizing him (that might be because he reminds me a lot of my big brother). Maybe you won’t like him , and I’m sure there are people smarter than him that I haven’t heard about. But fyi I’d totally love to learn about them too, so reply with that info if one person in particular pops in your head. Kay ? Thanks!

Back to the point though, I went through high school trying to do everything I could to get college admissions to notice me, and I’ve spent a good portion of college trying to get employers to notice me.  And it’s NONSENSE, because the corporate environment is rubbish, and it’s not where I thrive.  So I’m going to find a way to do things I love everyday, because Gary said that  anyone who wants it bad enough, can make a living doing what they love and I trust Gary.

Another reason why Gary is freaking amazing is because he totally justified my savior complex by making me understand how I can use it to make money. That’s right you can be a good person, keep the values Mum and Pops taught you and still earn a living. Internal conflict, resolved !

If you know me, you probably know I care about people and if you’re a friend and something isn’t going your way, my first instinct is to rack my brain do everything I can to try to help you. I believe in Karma, and that making others happy will ultimately make you happy. That’s reflected on my CV as well I’ve done things like volunteering and  event planning even the menial tasks I do now days are considered “customer service.” And the crazy thing is, I used to think that caring too much about real people that could be effected by my decisions, would be my ultimate down fall in business.

So okay the economy sucks, whatever! Work with what you have, right now business is personal !!! And in my opinion if you’re genuine, business just got a hell of a lot more interesting.

Sorry if this is super primitive, but I don’t really want to steal his thunder or give you the cliff notes, because my version won’t be half as good.  So don’t be lazy go watch those videos or read his books.

Let’s bottom line it, myself like many of you want a lot out of life. But the big question is do you want it for the right reasons?

Here’s the thing, I much rather spend 3 hours a night sleeping , because my passion keeps me up at night. Rather than because I’m trying to find an excuse to get out of work, or because I feel so stifled by the BS bureaucracy of the corporation I work for.

So guess what? I’m done trying to figure out which one career path I want to get on.  I’m going to do whatever I have to do to chase my passions and use those to make a life for myself. Or at least try to….cause you know I’m young and naive but hopefully not too easily manipulated.

PS- if you’re doing something that makes you genuinely happy, please tell me about it. I’d honestly really love to hear about it.

PPS- talking about ROI check out the Halfway Sky Project , also on TED and how others can seriously benefit from non-profits like the Heifer Project.

Take Care,

Dini