Autumn makes me want to cook. It’s my favorite season, even though it now coincides with the most awful event of my life, and those things combined are making me want to spend hours and hours cooking up comfort food for the masses. And I do mean for the masses. My happiest cooking experience of the last few months was making ropa vieja for a gaming group, and the minute more gamers come to the house, I’m cooking for them TOO.
And, since I haven’t posted here for a month, I get to talk about all the food at once.
1. Ropa vieja in a crockpot. It’s not hard.
It’s flank steak, and peppers, and tomatoes and aromatics, a few spices, some vinegar, and a whole lot of time. I let it cook on high for about six hours. I’d post a definitive recipe, but I cooked it like I usually cook new things: look up about five different recipes, check the pantry, check the fridge, figure out a few adjustments when we invariably don’t have something, and make. Here’s one recipe, and another, and another. I used sherry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar/Worchestershire, and a ton of red peppers because I loathe green ones.
Were I to make it again, I’d serve it over rice, but we put it in tortillas for the gaming group, and they ate a LOT. Success!
2. Roasted vegetable soup. Also not hard.
I had a ton of root vegetables sitting around: acorn squash, delicata squash, sweet potatoes, carrots. Plus some red peppers. And I find most mashed starchy things way too heavy and bleh, and I love the roasted vegetables served in the Whole Foods salad bar (nom nom nom), so I channeled my inner Barefoot Contessa and roasted up the whole pile. Two realllly laden pans of chopped up vegetables, some oil, some salt, some pepper. Really high heat, 20 minutes. Two trips to the smoke alarm to take out the battery.
I took the whole mass of roasted stuff out, pureed it in the blender with a bunch of good boxed chicken stock, and shoved it in a bowl in the fridge for two days while we instead went out for crabcakes. Then! I heated it up with more stock, a crapton of garlic, some thyme. Simple, really, and by far the best soup I’ve ever made.
When I served it, I topped it with diced Canadian turkey bacon and a bit of fresh spinach sauteed with onion and garlic. Seriously. This was good food. Rave reviews.
3. Chorizo bread pudding. Eh.
Bryant had this at work. He liked it! He found this blog post and thought we should give it a whirl. I love it when we cook together, so yay, fun!
Issue #1: dried chorizo (as the recipe calls for) is not the same as chorizo in the casing that you split open. The chorizo in the casing is, as Bryant put it, “wow, that’s PRIMAL.” I left the room. He cooked the sausage. I returned eventually.
Issue #2: We have a REALLY sensitive smoke alarm.
Issue #3: He forgot the eggs.
Issue #4: I forgot the tomatoes.
So we pulled the thing out of the oven about 2 seconds after we’d shoved it in, added eggs and tomatoes to the casserole dish, stirred like crazy, shrugged, shoved it back in the oven, and waited.
It came out…rich. Very rich. Too rich for me, really. I could do this again – with chopped up slices of dried sausage, perhaps – for a breakfast side dish. As an entree? No. The consistency was good, the spices were dead-on, and even the PRIMAL chorizo was delicious. But the overall thing was just too heavy for me to handle. Then again, Bryant loved it and ate it not only that night, but for breakfast for the next two days. So: semi-success!