Monday, October 15, 2007

Mixology Monday: Pairings

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3 oz. Gin
1/8 oz. Dry Vermouth

Shake with plenty of ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with olive.

Celery & Stilton Soup

1 head celery, chopped
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3-¾ cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 cup crumbled Blue Stilton cheese (but I use at least twice this much)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large soup pot. Gently cook celery and onion in butter until tender. Add stock and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes. While soup is simmering, mix egg yolks and half-and-half in a small bowl. Stir in egg/half-and-half mixture. Crumble cheese and stir in gradually. When cheese is melted, use an immersion blender to mix everything into a smooth consistency. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, wait until the soup cools, transfer to a regular blender for mixing, then re-heat).

Adapted from The Book of Soups by Lorna Rhodes

Notes on the Martini:

There’s enough info out there on the Martini and it’s various incarnations to choke a rhino, so I’ll save my crackpot ramblings on that subject for another time. For now, I’ll just say I like mine very dry, shaken, and with an olive.

And use gin. Please.

Notes on the soup:

This soup is ridiculously easy to make, and falls squarely within the “dump & stir” category (Since I usually enjoy an adult beverage when I cook, this category is my current favorite).

It’s been my experience that those who enjoy this soup are big fans of strongly flavored cheese, so I really don’t measure the amount of Stilton I add. I usually just double the recipe, buy one of those big wedges of Stilton and throw that in. It’s a very flexible recipe…just adjust the ratio of celery to Stilton however you like.


For this month's MxMo hosted by the lovely and talented Natalie over at The Liquid Muse, I quickly realized what the food half of the theme would be. The Bamboo Babe and I have a very good friend who has declared this soup a mandatory menu item whenever we all get together. Consequently, when we make the drive to her place, the first item in the car is my 16-quart soup pot.

In addition to being a long-time food industry professional, our pal is also well underway to becoming a certified sommelier, which makes her a deadly double-threat on the food & drink front. Needless to say, whenever we find ourselves at her place, the proceedings rapidly shift into a decadent frenzy of food and wine (often before I have the key completely out of the ignition).

A quick note about the wine and where it lives- Her collection is housed in a built-in climate-controlled setup in her basement. But calling it merely a “basement” would be doing it a disservice. The lower floor of her house is a full-tilt, utterly tricked-out bachelorette pad with wet bar, insanely comfortable seating, flat-screen TV and the aforementioned wine stash. Imagine if Batman was female, and she replaced all the crime computers and lab equipment in the Batcave with state-of-the art entertainment goodies and you get the idea. The only flaw is that you have to take stairs to get to Bat-poles yet.

Anyway, when we’re not demolishing her wine stash like grape-crazed locusts, we’re usually indulging in the occasional cocktail. This is how we discovered that a bowl of celery & Stilton soup goes really well with a bowl of loudmouth soup.

I won’t even attempt to break down the how’s and why’s of the pairing - I’d probably botch it. All I can say is that through sheer happenstance we tripped across a great combo. The afternoon I whipped up a pot of the soup we were having Martinis all around and soon discovered a little Stilton with your See-through is not a bad thing at all. Give it a shot- preferably with several of your friends.

Oh, and if the soup isn’t enough to satisfy your cheese jones, get some decent olives, remove the pits, and replace them with some Stilton. Then sterilize them in your Martini before consuming. (For extra fun, wait until everyone has had a couple of Martinis, then start passing around the olive pitter).

(Epilogue: Mere days after the visit, our host mentioned in passing that the surface of her brand-new ceramic-top stove had developed a huge crack, rendering it unusable. I suggested that perhaps a witless houseguest exceeded the safe performance envelope by using it to put a 16-quart vat of soup on the boil. Gracious as always, our host strongly assured me that the demise of the stove had absolutely nothing to do with my antics in her kitchen.

I just think she’s afraid I won’t make the soup again.