When pondering what to make for dinner, I often think of how best to show Michael I love him. It’s important to me to create a special, welcoming and inviting home atmosphere. Not only for him, but I think about it when I’m entertaining as well. It all boils down to personal preference and what creates that homey feeling for you. Sense appeal is huge!
Smell and aroma are important. Smells can trigger our deepest memories and communicate a great deal to us. It’s darn near impossible to cook without creating some sort of aroma. What is better than coming home to smell something wonderful cooking? Just think what kinds of feelings the thought of warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies bring up. I bet you have a smile on your face.
I’m also big on lighting. Maybe it’s my theater background or the fact that I have sensitive eyes, but soft warm lighting has always been a favorite. Lighting can help to create a mood or also communicate a feeling. A few accent candles are never a bad thing! If it’s particularly cold outside, I make sure our gas fireplace is on as well.
On to taste: I often don’t think of soup as comfort food, but it is. Nothing is better than a warm bowl of soup and some crusty French bread on a cold day. It warms your soul, your heart and sooths your weary mind. It’s like a liquid blanket, enveloping you in a comforting caress, easing the day away.
I knew this soup was a bit more time consuming, however the dessert was quite quick, so they kind of balanced each other out. Most often when Ina says to use homemade stock I use premade stock instead such as Kitchen Basics. Someday I’ll get around to trying it, but it’s quite a lengthy process and for this step, I’m about convenience. However, since Top Foods doesn’t sell mushroom stock, I had to make my own (being facetious).
This mushroom soup is certainly a step up from the canned version. Wonderfully big hunks of fresh mushroom (shiitake, portobello and cremini) cut to bite sized pieces. The recipe advises not to use dried mushrooms, as texture is paramount. White wine and leeks help to deepen the flavor range, while the cream component is not over powering.
The Brandied Fig Vanilla Pudding is a smooth and creamy balance of flavor and texture. The brandied fig sauce is put on top of the chilled pudding. One could certainly have the pudding solo, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The fig sauce brings out the vanilla in the pudding, and also add it’s own unique depth of character.