Monday, February 13, 2012

UnRecipe: Shhhh -- Downton's On...

We finally fell down the rabbit-hole a few weeks ago, giving into the social pressure to watch the mega-super-all-the-cool-kids-watch-this-popular British series Downton Abbey. It's basically Upstairs, Downstairs, heavy on the suds and a righteous-sized set dressing/wardrobe budget. It's also addictive like sugar-coated crack with bacon bits on top. This picture is not, in fact, sugar-coated crack with bacon bits, more like a spicy curry squash and peanut soup with fried chickpeas. Why feature it with Downton Abbey? Because it's so dang civilised (notice I use the hoity-toity "s" spelling) and it's quick to make, ready in time to watch the latest episode and slurp the soup without catching a sidelong disapproving stare by Lady Violet.

Lady Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham would not approve of this "exotic" soup - Photo by Wasabi Prime
Give it up for Netflix Streaming, as we spent a weekend watching season one of Downton, almost back to back, which got us primed for PBS Masterpiece's current airing of Season Two, which they've been good about keeping episodes online, FYI. Amazingly, it was Mr. Wasabi who suggested we give it a go. I knew I'd get obsessed with it, so I was putting it off, and it was a pleasant surprise the Mister was keen to watch. I think it was because we rewatched the old Mystery! series, Cadfael, with the I, Claudius-fantastic Derek Jacobi, we're still waiting for season 2 of Sherlock to get its booty shakin' and we were on Brit-withdrawal (Brithdrawal?). It's a twisted, complex path that led us to the sprawling estate of Downton and the Earl of Grantham's melodramatic household, but I'm sure those squirrelly Crawleys wouldn't have it any other way.

In order to really absorb all the drama of this series, you don't want a fussy meal to distract from whatever hour-long intrigue that's afoot, so I suggest a creamy, rich squash and peanut soup. It's quick, delicious and looks all fancy-like if you garnish it up nicely. I admit, it's nice to have some pre-roasted squash that was frozen and set aside for a rainy day, but if you had a can of plain, unsweetened pumpkin, that would work dandy for this. I had a particular hankering for the spice of curry and the sweetness of peanut butter, so I combined the two in this soup. You can use your favorite curry powder or a small spoonful of curry paste to mix in with your squash puree, a heavy shake of chili or cayenne powder for heat, and about a quarter cup of smooth unsweetened peanut butter. Add in enough chicken or vegetable stock to give it the consistency you want in the soup, and if you have a stick blender, run that through as well, to give it a super-creamy consistency. Season to taste -- add salt and pepper accordingly, and if you want to highlight the sweetness, add a little sugar or honey to it.

My favorite soup topping is pan-fried chickpeas. Simple enough to make -- take a can of well-drained chickpeas and toss lightly with canola oil and some of the curry powder before putting them into a pan heated to medium. They'll sizzle and pop a bit, you just want to cook out as much of the liquid but not burn the beans. They'll get seasoned, smoky and lightly crisped, and be a bit lighter with so much of the water cooked out, so they'll top a thick soup rather nicely.

Downton-Harry Potter meme-osity by the Mister... and crispy chickpeas! - Photos by Wasabi Prime
You know something's good if it's worth doing a meme-mashup. Brock kept saying how the actor that plays the infuriatingly berzerker footman, Thomas, looks a lot like a young Voldemort/Tom Riddle from the Harry Potter movies. It's true! Think about it... Maybe it's the soft, eerily calm voice; the lazy, sociopathic stare when he's speaking with the Upstairs folks, or the fact Thomas just reeks of pure scheming eeeeevil. So, the Mister put together this clever meme, since whenever Thomas shows up in a scene, Brock whispers, "horcrux." I laugh, miss half the dialogue in the scene, and we have to rewind it.

But enough fussing!! Downton's starting -- shhhhhh!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh that Downton. I watched it last night but really it was so exasperating! I'll take pan-fried chickpeas any day. GREG


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