Monday, December 02, 2013

Best. Party. EVER.

My friends, Joanna and Donnie Jackson of Woven Meadows Farm, threw a FABULOUS party over Thanksgiving weekend! The food was great (potluck) as was the fellowship, and we had LOTS of fun playing parlor games. One was a movie mashup game that was the brainchild of Professor Jackson.

She gave us two--or even three--movie descriptions where the ending of one title shared a word or letters with the adjacent movie title. An example would be if Kevin Spacey and John Cusack stared in a low-budget gore fest directed by Sam Raimi where antiques dealer, Jim Williams, encounters spirits inhabiting a cabin deep in the woods in Savannah, you would have Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Dead! Get it?

The rest of the night, we played a game that was like an extreme version of Celebrities called Salad Bowl. You fill a bowl with names of famous (or locally-known) people, then break into teams, and each player gives verbal clues to their teammates, trying to get them to guess as many answers as possible in one minute. Then the second round, you put the papers back in the bowl, and go again, but this time, you can only give one-word clues. For the third and final round, you do it one more time, but you can only act out the clues, like Charades. It was a RIOT! (Yes, we North Country folk have to work hard to make indoor fun when we have seven months of winter. Tee hee.)

Anyhoo, as I said, it was a potluck. And as I blogged before, I made some weirdly-addictive cracker candy thingies that both befuddled and delighted the guests. I also took a crock pot of my famous turkey wild rice soup, and it was very well-received (I had several recipes requests, as I always do). Though I was deeply offended when my (former?) friend, Tracy Guynup, declared it the "second best" soup he'd ever eaten, then started babbling about some Bookbinder Seafood Soup he'd had at a local deli (Broadview Deli) before it closed.

So I searched the interwebs and discovered that Red Snapper Bookbinder Soup is the signature dish of the Drake Hotel in Chicago, and the recipe has been widely circulated. I made some tonight for dinner. It was very good--but not even in competition with the beloved turkey wild rice, day-after-Thanksgiving soup! HMPH! (To be fair, my soup only had tilapia in it, and the one Tracy had was reportedly brimming over with different types of seafood. Maybe I'll try adding some shrimp and scallops next time.)

Red Snapper Bookbinder Soup
(Source: adapted from The Chicago Tribune)
Yield: 8 servings

Soup base:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 each, chopped: carrots, celery ribs, garlic cloves
1 onion, chopped
1/2 each, chopped: red and green bell pepper
12 crushed white peppercorns (I used multicolored)
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons each, chopped: fresh thyme, rosemary, cilantro
8 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt to taste

Red snapper:
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 to 2 fillets (10 ounces total) red snapper (I used tilapia)
1/4 cup sherry (I used cream sherry)

1. For soup base, heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, garlic, onion and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Stir in peppercorns, bay leaf, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary and cilantro. Cook 2 minutes. Add 7 cups of the broth: heat to boil.

2. Melt butter in small saucepan; add flour and cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in remaining 1 cup broth until roux is smooth. Add roux to soup base; cover, simmer over medium-low heat 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Strain through fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth; discard solids. Return broth to pot.

3. For snapper, heat water to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery; blanch until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon; add to broth. Boil fish in same water until cooked through. Remove fish from water; flake very finely with fork. Stir snapper and sherry into soup base; heat through.

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