Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stop the Presses - Alpine Cheddar Bisque

As happens often, and I am my own worse critic, I was not satisfied with the results of my cooking.  Yesterday it was the Potatoes O'Brien.  It is a simple recipe, just a few basic ingredients, but I was not happy about the over doneness of the onions and peppers. It's fixable, it's a matter of timing ... or maybe its my technique ... or maybe it was the seasoning or I had no damn idea what I was doing.  Anyway, I am annoyed sufficiently to toss the recipe and will therefore not put it out here in print.

Robert and Cory said the potatoes were fine.  I think they're just being nice to me.  Because when they were finally done, they didn't look fine.  The onions and peppers had lost their color, and their presence among the potatoes was noticeably diminished.  To me, at least, the flavor was just meh.

Coincidentally, last night was the premiere episode of "Worst Cooks in America", on Food Network.  Without a doubt, this group of contestants is the worst group ever, and I watch this train wreck every year.  Is that blonde really a teacher?  God help the children of the state of California!  I realize there are certain categories and stereotypes that have to be filled (makes for good television?) but this year they are particularly annoying.

The Chocolate Diva (their phrase, not mine)
The Flamboyant Gay Guy
The Morbidly Obese African American Female
The Sloppy Jewish Guy with Greasy or Welcome Back, KotterHair
The Flirty Cheerleader (female), hitting on the male host
The Flirty Personal Trainer (male), hitting on the female host
The Normal Black Guy
The Comedian
The Stoner Guy/Goth Girl
The Rebel

Sometimes these personality types overlap or merge, which just intensifies the urge to send them packing.  Naturally, the most annoying types are the last to leave;  you don't get a lot of ratings from some pathetic high school dropout with the IQ of an unpeeled turnip.

Speaking of TV, I've never watched "Modern Family" but I understand it has quite a following. (I don't often have the patience for episodic TV, and while I can tell you some of my favorite shows include "Bones" and "Castle", I can go months without watching either one.) The family I am interested in is, of course, my own, and for today's purposes, the focus is on my office family.

I have had a number of office families over the years.  I am an introvert, a loner, painfully shy, disinclined to open my mouth and say the wrong thing, and essentially insecure about my abilities to communicate, especially with people I don't know well.  I lived in my last home in Orlando for over eleven years and never knew the names of any of my neighbors.  Most of my family, those who do know me well, are either dead or not speaking with me.  I am still in the early stages of building a relationship with my paternal relatives.

But I have to go to work everyday, and you can't work with the same people everyday for years and not develop a family-like relationship.  At least I can't.  My office family is important to me.  I like them all; some of them I love, because our friendships go back more years than I can easily remember.  I started working for HRS is 1992, and I transferred to Kissimmee in 1996.  Even after I left to try private practice in 1999, I spent 90% of my time on dependency cases, which meant I continued almost daily contact with my former co-workers.  And then I returned in 2008.  So I think you can see how those bonds formed and strengthened.

Today is a relatively quiet day - no court scheduled this week - but here in our family, there are Issues.  And Concerns.  (I capitalize these because they are Important words in the social work community).  One of our group lost a parent, terribly, unexpectedly, last week, and came back to find her car had been towed.  Another is facing major surgery, while a third is getting ready to start chemo. Come to think about it, just about all of us - there are twelve - have something worrisome going on in our lives.  For example, my fibromyalgia has settled in for the winter, I think (blessedly short in Florida) and I am back in a place that I don't like, where I hurt all the time and have trouble staying focussed.  

What matters is that we naturally slide into family mode and start providing mutual support. The current workplace vogue term for our group is "team."  Like the Orlando Magic, but we win a lot more often.  Better coaches. I mean "leadership".  We don't call them management anymore.  I might as well learn to sling the proper lingo, as I intend to die at my desk.

On that oddly cheerful note, I want to tell you that I do have a recipe I am willing to share.  It is a nice soup, fairly easy to make, and full of those wonderful cruciferous vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower.                                                   

Alpine Cheddar Bisque

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Kosher salt, white pepper, black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 - 16 oz. package frozen Alpine blend (broccoli and cauliflower), defrosted and chopped small
2 cups half-and-half
8 oz. extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
2 - 4 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons green onions, green tops only, chopped
a few drops of hot sauce (optional)

In a medium saucepan, sauté the onions in the butter.  Stir in the flour, salt, and white pepper, until the roux is smooth.  Add the broth, stirring well to avoid lumps.  Bring to a boil, and while stirring, boil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until the broth is thickened.  Add the chopped broccoli and cauliflower and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10-12 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Gradually add the half-and-half, and then add the cheese. Cook and stir until the cheese melts.  Stir in the green onions, the black pepper to taste, the hot sauce if using it, and then the sherry.  Taste and adjust the salt and other seasonings.

You can use an immersion blender to smooth out the bisque, or leave part or all of the vegetable pieces intact.

As a side note, over lunch I cast on and started knitting with my lovely yarn from Hobby Lobby.  I think I am going to frog this little bit and switch to a smaller needle.  The yarn is nice to knit with, and feels good on my hands, as it is an acrylic/wool/mohair blend.  The name of the color is Ravenwood.  Now I really love it!

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