Many people I know -- including Avo, Dori, my dad, and my brother -- find cooking relaxing. It's the perfect antidote to a long, stressful day at work (or in my dad's case, a long, relaxing day of horseback riding and dog walking).
Me? I almost had a nervous breakdown yesterday trying to make broccoli soup. I am not exaggerating. Let me explain.
I was halfway through Giulia Melucci's recipe for Broccoli soup when I realized I hadn't yet added the 1/4 cup of cream required. I scanned the directions, but didn't see anything specified about when to add the cream.
Take a look for yourself:
Giulia Melucci's Broccoli Soup
1 tablespoon butter, plus another for finishing (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
cups broccoli florets
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup cream
1 lime, juiced
1. Melt the butter in a large heavy pan over medium heat, add the onion and carrot and salt. Saute until soft, about five minutes.
2. Add the broccoli, stir to coat, then add the chicken broth and cumin. Raise the heat to medium high, bring to a simmer, return heat to medium and cook until broccoli is very soft, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in a food processor, or with an immersion blender. (My preferred method, so much easier than transferring to a machine, if you don't have one, you should.) You might want to add another tablespoon of butter here for a richer soup--that's not where I'm at today but I think it's a good move. Add lime juice and a few grindings of pepper and your virtuous meal or first course is ready.
Perhaps a cooking pro would innately know when to add the cream, but I'm still a novice. Panicked, I e-mailed Giulia, whom I met recently after stalking her on Facebook. My broccoli was already pretty soft and I was ready for step 3, but I didn't want to proceed without the cream. What to do?
Things were rough going before they took a turn for the worse. I realized with horror that the cream leftover in the fridge from when I made my parents chocolate mousse a week and a half ago had curdled. I'll spare you the description, but it was not a pretty sight.
I hurried out in the rain and stopped at several bodegas before finding one with cream. Would Half and Half do? I wondered.
Still, no word back from Giulia, so I made a move and dumped in 1/4 cup of cream.
The next challenge was transferring the soup into the food processor since -- no surprise here -- I don't have an immersion blender. In fact, I don't even know what an immersion blender is. It sounds like some sort of SCUBA gear to me.
I poured the entire pan full of soup into the food processor before noticing that the soup was seeping out onto my kitchen counter.
By this point, I was dripping sweat into the soup. Taking a deep cleansing breath, I mopped up the mess and managed to salvage some of the soup. Good thing I moved my laptop off the kitchen counter before this step!
I tried the soup and it's pretty tasty (I didn't add lime to it). But I'm not sure it was worth all of that stress. And I realize now that Avo is probably sick of broccoli dishes -- especially since I just made orecchiette and broccoli with walnuts yet again!
Maybe one day I'll find cooking relaxing. But for now, I'll stick with Tension Tamer tea.
Update: I heard back from Giulia who was baffled by my message. "What cream? I didn't say to add cream, did?" Apparently, she made the soup with cream last week, but this week, she cut the cream and added lime. All that stressing for nothing! Well, not nothing -- I have the soup to show for my efforts, and it IS nice and creamy. I'm just pleased that I knew better than to add the lime to the cream. "You've got natural instinct," said Giulia. Well, I'm getting there.