Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sudden Death VIII: Guacamole

From the beginning, this recipe did not instil much faith that the result would measure up to our usual household guacamole.

For one thing, the ingredients called for a paltry teaspoon of garlic, which in my book, is far too passive for my taste.  The jalapeno it called for would have certainly lent some flavour, but not like the warm, slow burn of my usual red pepper flakes.  And then, the recipe asked for a tremendous amount of sour cream.  Not on the side, but IN the guacamole.  WTF?

Nonetheless, despite my concern, I followed the recipe verbatim.  The result was visually indistinguishable from a St. Patrick's Day milkshake, a nauseating pastel green reminiscent of hospital paint jobs.

The guacamole was so unappetizing, I consciously put away the camera, so as to spare the internet of its undelightfulness.

And somehow, despite the jalapeno, the guacamole even managed to be bland.  How?

Moreover, the blender was absolutely the wrong tool to get the consistency I seek; humble fork, I will never again abandon you in my guacamole-making.

The Verdict is an emphatic FAIL for Breville's guacamole recipe.

The Score for Breville Instruction Manual: Since there can be no more than two fails among the six attempted recipes for a book to receive a passing grade, this recipe book is wasting no time in nearing the precarious edge of the give-away bin.

Can it pull itself together to deliver three more hits?  Or, at least avoid failing more than once more?  Stay tuned to find out!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sudden Death VII: Butternut Squash Soup

The first recipe on the chopping block was one for a butternut squash soup, which sounded promising.  There's nothing like a tasty, lightly-spiced blended soup on a chilly winter afternoon!

I was also pleased to have a means to use up a random pumpkin that had wandered into my house.  It had been sitting in the fruit bowl awhile, glaring at me accusingly for my general cluelessness about how to cook it.  Pumpkin soup sounds just as delicious as squash, and no doubt they cook similarly enough, so into the soup you go, judgey-pumpkin!

I admit, however, that the rather sparse list of ingredients quelled my enthusiasm.  Where are the spices?  There's only so much that can be accomplished by a post-cooking pepper and salting.  But nonetheless, we are judging the recipe on its own merits, and I've already used up my one permissible modification.  So I proceed as is written, taking comfort in my kids' lack of objection to bland food.

The instructions were straightforward -- saute the onions & garlic until fragrant, add the pumpkin until soft, add the stock until boiling, and then blend.  Voila, bone-warming soup!  I also added a tablespoon full of heavy cream to get that cool effect you see in high end restaurants.  ;-)  (Yes, I watch the cooking channel too much.)

As suspected, the result was a bit bland.  Some dried chili flakes woke up my bowl, but everyone else seemed happy with a bit of salt and pepper.

I also surmised that the dish in no way suffered from the pumpkin substitution -- if anything, the pumpkin supplied more flavour than the suggested squash.  In the future, I might even try roasting the squash beforehand, and maybe monkeying around with my spice rack.  Cumin makes everything better.

The Verdict:  While not a "wow!" recipe, the overall ease, versatility, and edibility of this dish earns it a passing grade.  I look forward to improving it with my own spin in future iterations.

The Score for Breville Instruction Manual:  One success of one attempt so far, with a maximum of six possible recipes to try.  Once again, the cookbook requires four passes to be kept -- anything less, and to the give-away pile it goes!  (Or in this case, the filing cabinet with the rest of the household manuals....)

The next recipe will be a guacamole -- will it be a success?  Stay tuned to find out!