Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Souperdouper Pictures! Finally!

My XD card reader reappeared sometime last week (or so), but that whole uploading photos thing just happened. And, while it's old news, I made the effort to take picture while cooking, so dammit, I'm going to post about it!

All of the photos I took during prep are now on Flickr, so don't be shy - check them out!

So... my basic order of operations were:

Start boiling mint, water, sugar together to create a mint simple syrup. The original soup recipe I used as a reference added yogurt to the soup, but my mini test batch resulted in yummy, but mainly fruit yogurt. So, having my large container of yogurt that I wasn't going to otherwise eat, I thought mint would be a nice counterbalance to the sweet. Mint simple syrup + yogurt = problem solved. More complex flavors, less waste! Let the stuff cool on the counter once boiled - it never thickened much for me, but I don't seem to have luck with my syrups.

Then, on to the fruit. Basically, I hulled and chopped one one pound container of berries at a time, and was able to get them pureed in two batches on my little baby Magic Bullet. Each batch was strained through my mesh strainer - a step I didn't want to do at first but I was SO glad I did. Once all six pounds were pureed, I divided the one big batch, in the giant aluminum tray, into two trays, to equally add the massive amounts of vinegar.

(That's before dividing, adding vinegar.)

From there, basically I had to figure out how many ounces of liquid I had, and how much watermelon I needed to puree. It was all an eyeballing game. I was so worried about having enough (which ended up being TOO much for the final crowd). I eyeballed the sugar, a little at a time until it was sweet enough without being too sweet. Fortunately, making a slurry of powdered sugar with soup isn't so difficult and then just add it to the big batch and mix up.

I tried to knock out the soup and yogurt so I could get them refrigerated and cleaned up before tackling the sandwiches, but I know I was sort of multitasking. I finally got the soup into, um five or six containers - three big squeeze bottles, two or three random plastic containers. The yogurt, I minted to taste and attempted to whip it. It actually became much thinner, and I was unhappy about that, but that ended up being perfect for the thin fruit soup. It went into smaller squeeze bottles.

And now, the endearingly named "Oh SNABB!" ("Oh snap!") sandwiches.

I cooked a lot of bacon. A LOT. More than I ever want to see again in a long time. Enough that I don't even want to post a picture. You can see them on Flickr. Recommendation: don't cook lots of bacon if you don't have lots of cookie sheets or plates to drain them on. I live in NEW YORK. Massive quantities of kitchen supplies does not exist here. So, yeah, the bacon was a bit greasy, but oh well.

Sandwich composition was simple. Thin layer of nutella on one slice of sourdough bread, thin layer of brie on the other slice. Cover the nutella with thin slices of green apples, and then add bacon. I calculated eight slices per sandwich, but you could easily use six slices and it would be plenty of bacon.

Pretty, right?! So, from there, they were cut into eights. Which is harder than you think with fairly hearty ingredients and a generally completely inept knife in my kitchen. And each eight was toothpicked, usually having to be recomposed before picking. I had lots of sandwiches. Lots. Four smallish aluminum trays full of bites - 150+ bites. Way more than needed. The image below is less than half of what I made.

I was able to get all of the food made in time for about a... 30 minute nap and a shower, and I called a car service. Once I got to the location, I realized a few things.

1. We were outside. FUCK. Cold soup + yogurt + hot day = fail.
2. I should have brought the ingredients and prepped sandwiches there.
3. I really didn't need to cut my sandwiches so small.
4. Who knew people would bring panini grills to the location?!

I was unaware of what kind of prep time we would have, or I guess really, what pace we would be going at. I would rather bring the brie, nutella, pre-sliced, lemon juice soaked apple slices and cooked bacon along with a cutting board to compose sandwiches there. Then, I would also be able to judge sandwich size better, once I saw and realized that the people flow wasn't quite as high as hoped for.

The soup was ok, in terms of temperature. The bar the event was held at brought me a metal container and ice to store the soup in, but as the afternoon went on, the ice melted and I didn't have time to go in and get more.

Anyway, it was a great day even if I wasn't a winner, as I blogged about before. I mainly wanted to share with you all the photographic evidence of my creations. I have a few half-assed photos from the event that are also on Flickr here.

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