This week’s theme is apparently television. After sucking dry every last bit of Revenge I could find last weekend, I just so happened to have a girl’s TV night with a couple of college friends this Monday. Not just any TV night either, but a Dawson’s Creek themed TV night (that might be the lamest sentence I’ve ever written). Dawson’s Creek held a lot of power over how I viewed the world in my late teens and early twenties. I blame it for [nearly] all of my overly-dramatic girl moments circa 2000-2008. Damn you, Joey Potter.
…but not really, cause I actually kind of love Joey Potter. And Pacey. Especially Pacey.
Early on in freshman year of college, a good friend and I discovered that we shared an equally embarrassing love of the teen drama; We knew every episode, we could quote the characters, and we even had Joey’s facial expressions nailed. Now, 8 years since we first bonded over our fascination, we finally have another friend who’s begun dabbling in Dawson’s life. When we got wind of our friend’s new Netflix go-to choice, we saw an opportunity for another [much needed] person to bond with over absurdly dramatic teen moments. For our Dawson’s Creek get-together, we decided to dive right into the heart of the drama when, at the end of season three, Joey and Pacey admit their feelings to each other (FINALLY OMG). This most-dysfunctional love triangle results with poor Dawson, that well-meaning boy with no lady luck whatsoever, getting dumped by his soul mate, and betrayed by his best friend.
With this theme in mind, we decided on a dinner of chunky vegetable soup topped with “Dawson’s Dumps.” Comforting and laden with puns, it seemed like the perfect meal to slurp up while watching Dawson’s heart get shattered into a million pieces…yet again.
Since the boy and I were having a full-out Fall weekend at “Deer Camp” last week, I felt the compulsive foodie need to make things that were cabin and cold-weather appropriate. The first morning started off with pumpkin brown butter waffles, but for dinner my mind went directly to soup and bread.
Soup, because it warms me from the inside out and makes me feel cozy. Bread because, well, I’m pretty obsessed with bread in all forms: sliced bread, flatbread, bagels pizza dough, naan, english muffins…you name a bread, and I probably love it. Especially biscuits, which hold a special place in my heart. Buttery, flaky, sky-high biscuits. I went through a phase in high school where I would eat a biscuit every single morning. I’d eat it alongside my cereal, of course, because carbs power you through the day (this is my logic and I’m sticking to it).
For this Deer Camp soul-food occasion, I decided that the soup would be a spicy tortilla variety with black beans and crispy fried tortilla strips. And as you may have guessed, the bread wouldn’t be your average sliced bread (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but buttery biscuits filled with shredded sharp cheddar and black pepper. Both of these things are perfect on their own, but together? They’re a Fall soul-food force to be reckoned with.
There are certain ingredients that reel me in immediately. They turn this indecisive girl into a real go-getter. Sometimes these dishes aren’t vegetarian, so I need to be the girl who orders, “The chicken penne without the chicken” just so I can get the herb goat cheese, or the roasted tomatoes, or the artichoke hearts. Artichokes especially, with their buttery layers, disarm me entirely. I use them at home frequently, but often without variation or creativity. For me, artichokes add to the old standards: pizzas, dips, or that chicken penne recipe without the chicken. One Saturday morning a few weeks ago an episode of Giada at Home rocked my world with a recipe for puréed artichoke soup with fresh mint and lemon. Puréed artichokes? That’s crazy, but brilliant. In my artichoke trance, I decided I needed to give the recipe a try.
Being a somewhat superficial food lover, I had some qualms about this soup’s appearance. Artichokes usually add visual appeal to dishes, but an artichoke puree mixed with spinach results in something very…green. But not a vibrant, beautiful green…kind of a dulled, yellowish green. While I knew I’d have to come to terms with a less-than-beautiful dish, it was clear the superficial part of me would need to act in some way.
To add to my need for slight adjustments in appearance, I knew I’d need to give the soup a bit of “oomph” to overcome the boy’s internal struggle over eating a bowl of puréed vegetables. To help us both, I made just a few adjustments to Giada’s recipe. As the soup simmered, I baked bread into buttery, crunchy croutons to give some aesthetic, yummy appeal. Since thyme has a lemony flavor that mixes well with mint, I baked the croutons with thyme, and added a half teaspoon to the soup base to tie it all together. To make the soup more decadent, I added a scoop of creamy cheese, which melted easily into the otherwise nutrient-packed soup. With a plan to meet both our beauty and taste needs, I thawed my artichokes and prepared to fall back into my trance.