January 12, 2008

"Wild Burros, Chicken Livers, and Broccoli Soup"

Ol' "What's-his-name" and I have been wanting to have a fun over-night trip for just the two of us since before the holidays. Schedules have been hectic, so rather than schedule yet another thing to do, we agreed that one morning we'll just wake up and do it! Something totally spontaneous! We tried many times, but it was always, "oh, I have this", or "oh, I can't get out of work", or something. So finally, yesterday, all the planets aligned, and it was that day! We knew we didn't want some elaborate trip that required a plane, too much driving, or clothes that needed to be dry-cleaned. We wanted to wear jeans, sweatshirts, take at least one good hike, and not make any reservations. Just wing it!
Seemed a little daunting, until we pulled out our trusty (and crusty) Arizona road map. We decided to go south, out of the snow and cold. But we didn't want to go near Phoenix, because we go down there all the time. So we found a road, neither one of us have been on...the Castle Hot Springs Road, northwest of Phoenix. It takes you through a remarkably beautiful desert canyon, and drives by the famous (but closed) Castle Hot Springs Resort. There was water running in the creeks (such a rarity!) and the temperture was perfect. We came upon three little wild burros, just hanging out in a wash. Wild burros are indigenous to this part of the southwest, and it's hard to find them...they are elusive little guys. They wouldn't let me get any closer than the above picture, but we spent several minutes all staring at one another. Further down the road, we took a long hike down a canyon, hopping over boulders and waterholes....just one of those perfect days that just happens out of no planning and no expectations.

We end up in Wickenburg...a fun western town west of Phoenix....and got a very reasonable room at a 61 year old Best Western. It was dated for sure, but comfortable and right in the middle of town. We had a great Mexican food dinner at a restaurant we walked to and slept like little burros tucked into our bed, tuckered out from the hike. In the morning, we tried out the very small, and very good local breakfast cafe recommended by our waitress from the night before...and "what's-his-name" had a chicken liver omelet that was really really good! I was not down with the whole idea of liver and eggs, but it was delicious. I, of course, had the truck driver's special...sausages, eggs, biscuits and gravy...I think my arteries seized up right there and then. I LOVE local diners. Especially ones that have old pictures of Roy Rogers on the wall, and waitresses named "Dot".

We drove on home and feeling still stuffed with chicken livers and about 5 pounds of gravy, I decided to make a healthy and light soup out of whatever I would find in the refrigerator...which was green onions, broccoli, and a few mushrooms. And an almost expired bottle of heavy cream (well, there goes the healthy soup idea!)...what I came up with was surprising...like finding a charming little burro in the middle of nowhere! I loved this soup! I couldn't wait to write it down and post it. The amounts might be off, but just adjust to what looks right to you. I didn't take a pic, didn't think it would be .jpg worthy! But, it's dang good!

Cream of Broccoli and Green Onion Soup with Pan Roasted Mushrooms

Serves 2, very generously

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ cup sliced mushrooms (more or less)
3 cups of chopped broccoli (florets and peel stem)
3 cups of chicken stock (and add water to cover broccoli, if necessary)
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil and swirl pan to coat. Add mushrooms and sauté, turning once, until mushrooms are golden brown. Remove from heat.
2. Place the broccoli and chicken stock (and water if necessary) into medium-sized, heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, lower heat to simmer and cook broccoli until fork tender, about 8 minutes.
3. Using an immersion blender, or using conventional blender, add broccoli and liquid, 2/3’s of the chopped onions, and puree until smooth. Return to saucepan.
4. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring back to simmer. Add cream and brandy. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and thyme and stir. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
5. Ladle into deep bowls and garnish with remaining green onions.
Unplanned surprises....the very best!


Emiline said...

Sounds like a fun trip! I've never seen wild burros before. We have deer, here.

Broccoli soup is perfect for this time of year. I've gotta try that soon.

Jenny said...

What fun you and your husband had. Hopefully he made up for bashing your stroganoff! Those burros are too cute in your picture.

You know I'm a sucker for a good heavy cream soup! I've even got some broccoli that needs to be used up. Sounds delish!

Creative Commons License
"The Dish" by Catherine Wilkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.