Thursday, November 06, 2008

Cozy Soup & Crazy Sparklers

All the ingredients for a great Bonfire Night: HFW, shroooms and a cozy scarf

So, on Wednesday it was November 5th. Yeah, ok, so tell me something I don't know right? But! November 5th in England is a special day, because it's Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawke's Night.  I'm not about to give you a detailed history lesson on why we crazy English celebrate this: suffice to say, essentially, some crazy guy tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament with gunpowder hundreds of years ago on November 5th, but was foiled at the last minute. He was burnt at the stake. 

Or at least, I presume he was, because otherwise our tradition of making a fake Guy Fawkes (or just "guy") and chucking him on the bonfire at this time of year is a little fucked up and quite frankly, weird. Other ways we celebrate this momentous occasion in our nation's history include letting off a pant-load of fireworks at an organized event.  Back in my childhood days, we were allowed to do this in our own back yards, but health and safety laws seem to be making this more and more impossible, or at least frowned upon. 

And also, we play with sparklers! (But more on this later).

On Bonfire Night, (which I love, and was sad I missed out on last year, because America has no clue what it is, and why would they to be honest..), I also enjoy all the cozy food that people seem to make to warm you up for standing out in the cold watching all the pretty lights and bonfires... like hot dogs, burgers, soups and toasted marshmallows.

This year, my family were taking it easy, after the exertions of the Ween party, so just the sparklers for us.  So I decided I would make a nice lovely seasonal mushroom soup as the preamble to said sparklers.

Shroom soup, to be found on page 202, apparently

I had been re-reading one of my favourite cook books this week: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'The River Cottage Year', saw his recipe for mushroom soup in the autumn chapters, and realised it was so easy, and therefore perfect for tonight. 

Here's how it all went down:

Step 1: Persuade brother to walk with you to the shop to buy the vast amounts of mushrooms needed for the soup. Seriously, I've literally never seen so much fungi...

Step 2: Enlist your father to chop up the, what can only be described as, mountains of mushrooms, whilst you attend to other things such as finding the non-existent thyme in your dismal herb garden

Step 3: Watch father walk off when he gets bored, shout out "You loser! Get back here!". Be ignored.

Step 4: Continue chopping mushrooms on your own.

Step 5: Tip all chopped mushrooms into a nice big massive pan with some garlic..

Step 6: Think, "That is a pantload of mushrooms". Take a picture.

Step 7: Stir around so that all the mushrooms get to do their share of time on the bottom, heated, warm part of the pan.

Step 8: Season with salt, pepper (pictured), lemon juice, bit of parsley, and thyme. Or if, half way through chopping the mushrooms you are told by a relative "Oh, that's right, we planted rosemary not thyme!", grab the next best thing. Which in my case was a packet of Herbes des Provinces. I have no idea what that means. And I did French at school.

Step 9: Peer into pan. Have your glasses steam up. Wipe glasses off, and see that lots of nice lovely shrroooom juice is appearing. Take pan off the heat.

Step 10: Now for the fun part! Hold your hats. I was making like, double what the recipe was for, because I have a large family, so not all of my shrooms were able to be zsuzshed (yes, its a word.. its the sound a blender makes) at one time. So I had to go in shifts. Put about 3 ladles-worth of cooked shrooms in the blender, add a nice amount of stock, a knob of butter, and a tablespoon or so of cooked rice (I have no idea why, but HFW told me to, and it didn't fuck anything up). 

Step 11: Zsuzsh. Until it's as smooth as you like it.

Step 12: Pour into another pan. Lather, rinse and repeat until you've got through all your shrooms.

Step 13: Admire your mad zsuzshing skillz. Realise you didn't zsuzsh enough, and add more stock. Decide you want to live life in the fast lane, and add some sherry. 

Step 14: Watch as your father tries to take over and adjusts the seasoning. Your father will make it too peppery. Send brother to the store to pick up some cream. This will counteract the pepper. 

Step 15: Serve before anyone else can interfere. With toast if possible.

Step 16: Finish then run outside to play with sparklers:

Actual love.... from me to you..

My sister has fireballs for hands!! Wicked cool...

My bro-fo is mad crazy with a sparkler... watch out..

Don't try this at home folks, that's a sparkler... by my face. Don't call health and safety: I'm a professional..

Step 17: Be sure, when you are done with your sparklers, that you put them in a bucket of water. Else I'll call Health and Safety on yo' ass...

Bucket.. Very important.


carrie / wishwishwish said...

aw, cute sparkler action! haha
shame i hate mushrooms! haha

Daddio said...

Get it right - It was a training exercise.
I sliced nearly half to demonstrate how it should be done and then allowed you to practice the ancient art of adding finger tips to mushrooms.

Little Lj said...

Carrie: I'm sorry you didn't like the mushrooms! I never used to when I was little, but then I think somehow over time I acquired the taste for it... Next time I'll try and make something you do like! :o)

Dad: I'm sure you offered to help... and then wandered off...