Day three of Snowmageddon and it turns out that becoming a hermit in my warm flat means a massively increased appetite. Having spent the last two weeks eating small portions and snacking on fruit and unsalted nuts (the inferior kind if you ask me) my body has finally cottoned on to my new ways and seeing the snow and ice has gone into full on panic mode. Snow = winter = fat needed to keep warm. No matter how many times I’ve told my body that I have layers, scarves, gloves and a coat (lies, I have no gloves but what it doesn’t know doesn’t hurt) and excess body fat is no longer needed in the battle against the cold, I find myself reaching for the foods that are good for the soul but most definitely not the waistline. Stupid body and its greed that evolution can’t seem to phase out despite the invention of long johns, Ugg boots and hot water bottles. Should probably stop talking about my body like its a separate entity too, before everyone thinks I’ve developed schizophrenia or multiple personalities. This prehistoric greed is what led me to a distinctly American approach to food and that is why have one lunch when you can have two? If you’ve been to the fast food chain Panera in the States you’ll know what I’m talking about as they offer the ‘Soup & Sandwich’ deal, and very good they are too. Maybe in England a tin of Heinz tomato soup and a cheese sandwich isn’t that outrageous, being quite modest in size, but in America just the soup would suffice for a hearty, filling lunch. Justifying my decision to go down this path by reasoning that I wasn’t having a big Sunday lunch like most people in Britain would be today, I set about my gluttonous task. From this months edition of Delicious magazine (Feb 2013) I made leek and potato soup and from French Brasserie by Daniel Galmiche I made the classic Croque Monsieur which you can find anywhere in Paris and is most delicious. I was hesitant about returning to Daniels book after a pretty disastrous and watery attempt at French onion soup which was completely tasteless but this time around the boy done good. The slices of bread are soaked in whisked egg and milk and then fried in butter (music to my ears), eventually becoming topped with cheese and ham and sandwiched together with more bread until the cheese is just beginning to melt. You don’t really need a recipe, but its reassuring to follow the lead of a Frenchman who knows what he’s talking about. Heston Blumenthal rates him on the cover quote, so if its good enough for Heston then it’s good enough for me. You’ll be unsurprised to hear the sandwich was freaking delicious. The bread was moist and eggy with a crunch on the outside (I did slightly burn it, my timing was a little off) and the Comte cheese melting with a nutty taste that complemented the salty ham. All in all, it was a banging cheese and ham toastie with a touch of French decadence thrown in. Dunked in the soup, it was even better. Soup just seemed like the right thing to cook on a day like today, and having picked up the new edition of Delicious earlier in the week I decided to put it to work. I’m a big fan of Delicious, it has a great mix of easy weekday meals but also throws in some fancy dishes for special occasions, and a lot of my standby dinners hail from my archive of these magazines. I don’t buy one every month but every now and then it catches my eye on the shelf and I have to have it. Other food magazines don’t elicit the same reaction, they aren’t quite as adventurous or interesting, or look as elegant. Favourites from previous editions include a gorgeous Morrocan lamb stew, a spicy sausage pasta, a beautiful rum and banana soufflé (still the proudest I’ve ever been in the kitchen) and a rich Baileys rocky road. It’s cheaper than a cookbook every month too. The leek and potato soup doesn’t particularly live up to these delights but was tasty, thick and rich and went perfectly with the Croque Monsieur. The recipe states that this makes enough for two, but you’d have to be a very generous host for that to be correct, this will provide me with lunch for at least two, maybe three days. Again, it was very simple to put together and had me getting my blender out, which I love. It wasn’t a patch on last weeks sweet potato and squash soup, but when the cold needs to be kept at bay any soup will do. Suffice to say after today’s extravagance it will be back to small portions and healthy snacks, nowhere near as fun but its got to be done. After all, you earn yourself a few treats by being good in the first place.
Soup And A Sandwich