Life has taken over me.
My nights now would start with heavy sigh,incomplete assignments, yet another deadline and the rush to get things done, hundreds, millions of them, all within the twenty-four hours. How could anyone have it all? Those words were drumming in my head and sings to me like lullaby when my schedule gets chock-a-block.Yet, such is life. You just have to go along, and when the going gets tough, all you do is sigh.
I knew I have missed the Daring Cook's challenge for this month, by TWO days..and I cheated my way through..but surrender I won't. This month's challenge is courtesy of the lovely Peta Stuart of Peta Eats, homemade consomme/soup and bread, the supple comfort food that never seems to betray me, warm and hearty. Bread, I bake on regular basis nowadays as it seems to work very well with The Baby's diet. Soup, on the other hand, has been neglected for a while due to the sizzling summer, and I'd rather have something cold instead. I must admit I never tried my hands on consomme before, and after seeing so many successful but lengthy completed tasks posted, I thought I'd chicken out and opt for my classic feel-good therapy: Oxtail soup.
I know this soup will well make up for the loss of attempts on consomme as this is a really good dose of homemade therapy. Do you know that soup is well likened to penicillin during the ancient days? Well, this seems to work for me every time when I catch a cold or just feeling a bit blue. One time, The Husband ordered this soup of similar name in Seri Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur during our vacation to that side of the world. He instantly fell in love with it, and has requested me to recreate the same magic at home. I think the magic that he wants lies in the lemon grass. I added some spices, go slow on tomatoes, a bit of herbs, and plenty of lemon grass. The soup was re-created and the magic has not left us yet. We still crave for a good bowl of it when the occasion calls, winter warmer, a quick supper on rainy days and a lazy lunch pot that simmers herbs and aroma to the air.
I must confess.
I did not knead the baguette. I have become one of those snobs who rely too much on bread maker, but why wouldn't you, if it produces good result all the time? Sometimes I do miss the therapy of kneading dough but definitely not for the past week or two. The bread maker became my saviour, and probably will be the case for a long, foreseeable future;-)
I promise, once my schedule is not up to my neck, I shall try to make the consomme, but for now, let me present you the tantalising oxtail soup with baguette.
Aromatic Oxtail Soup
3 medium sized onions
5 shallots-sliced thinly
1 cinnamon bark
1 clove garlic
2 inches ginger
3 tomatoes-chopped coarsely
3-5 baby new potatoes-cut into chunks
1 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp cumin powder
2 stalks lemon grass
1 tbsp salt
a handful of coriander leaves
4 tbsp olive oil
1. Blend 1 onion with ginger and garlic with some water until it becomes fine paste.
2. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the fennel seeds and cinnamon. Once it is fragrant, add the remaining sliced onions and the blended paste. Fry until the onions are golden brown.
3. Add in the coriander powder, black pepper, cumin and chopped tomatoes. Once the tomatoes become mushy, add the oxtail pieces and cover well with the spices.
4. Add the lemon grass, vegetables and salt. Pour about 4-6 cups of water. Cover the pressure cooker and cook for 8 whistles. If not using pressure cooker, simmer the soup on low heat for minimum 2 hours.
5. Meanwhile, fry the shallots until golden brown.
6. Once the soup is done, garnish it with chopped coriander and fried shallots. Serve warm.
250g strong white flour
15 g butter
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Place all the ingredients in the bread maker (I use Panasonic Breadmaker, recipe courtesy of its own catalogue), and press 'french-dough' cycle. The dough will be rested for 3 hrs 35 minutes.
Once dough is formed, punch down to release air and form two oblong shaped baguette. Rest for 40 minutes before baking them at 190C for 20 minutes, or until crust becomes golden brown.
Serve warm as slices.