I think in the States, if I multi-ton trash collecting truck was backing up using a warning voice, it would be something like, “Hey! You! Stop texting or playing Angry Birds and move your dumb-ass outta the way before I rub you into the pavement!” Here in Edinburgh, you will hear in a calm and gentle voice, “Attention, this vehicle is reversing.” Very different approaches to a common goal.
So on my way to cooking school I managed to live another day and make some darn tasty dishes, two of which I’d like to share with you. Now I know some of you might be dismissive about soup and more specifically Mushroom Soup, but please give this easy and flavorsome soup a try! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The second dish I will post is Swiss Meringues. The irony here is that I really like soup, just about any soup so I was excited about our first dish but when our instructors told us we’d be making meringues my nose wrinkled and I thought I’d be wasting a lot of time on cloyingly sweet little ‘precious’ puffs that would go directly into the compost after my critique. Not so! Yes, meringues of course are very sweet but prepared in bite-size portions and cooked properly they are a delightful treat. On to the soup! Then the Meringues!
55g/ 2oz Butter
340g/ 12oz Button mushrooms, chopped
3 T Parsley, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, very finely chopped or, preferably, pasted
2 Bread slices, crustless cut into small pieces
860ml/ 1 1/2 pints Chicken stock
Pinch of Nutmeg or Mace
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 T Heavy (double) cream
Fresh herbs for garnish
Melt the butter in a medium sized pot. Add the mushrooms and chopped parsley and cook on medium high heat until mushrooms are completely cooked through and a little caramelized. Add the garlic and bread and mix well, then pour in stock, nutmeg or mace and salt and pepper. Bring to low simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste to see if it needs to be reduced a bit more. Pour into a blender or use a immersion stick blender and whiz. Pour pack into the same pot and reheat adding the cream. Place in heated bowls and garnish with herbs.
Makes about 50 small or 12 large meringues
4 Egg whites
Pinch of salt
225g/ 8oz Baker’s (caster) sugar
200ml/ 7 fl oz Heavy (double) cream, whipped
Preheat oven to 225°F/ 110°C
Place parchment on 2 baking sheets. Whisk egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar whisking until stiff and shiny. Continue adding sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time. Drop meringue onto prepared sheet pans using either a small or large spoon – just make sure they are all about the same size. Leave space between each meringue as they puff up during baking. Depending on the size of your meringues bake from about 1/2 hour to 1 hour and a bit What you’re looking for is to be able to peel the bottom of the meringues from the parchment easily and firm to the touch. The color of the meringues should only go slightly off white otherwise they will be overcooked.
You can choose to sandwich the meringue (bottoms) two together with the optional whipped cream in the middle. Lecker!