Saturday, March 28, 2009

TGRWT #16 - Really Rosie Chicken Soup with 'Rice'

When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember a day at school when we watched the TV Special, Really Rosie - a story of a confident little girl with big dreams, who decides to cast her friends in a play to entertain them all on a rainy day. The show was based on a series of books by Maurice Sendak called The Nutshell Library, and features music by Carole King.

The song that still stands out the most to me, after all these years, is Chicken Soup with Rice- a song Rosie (voiced by King) sings about her little brother 'Chicken Soup', and about eating chicken soup with rice each month of the year. It became my favorite because that day at school we all ate chicken soup with rice together, and sang the Chicken Soup with Rice song.

A year or two ago, our friend D'arcy was talking about the show and the songs, and about her idea to produce the play version with adults. Given that those of us who grew up on Really Rosie are now in our 30's and 40's (the books were published in 1962, and the TV special was aired in 1975), it seems like a great time to revisit that great work - and I decided to buy the CDand the bookfor D'arcy, to help keep her inspired.

All that might explain why, when this month's "They Go Really Well Together" challenge was announced at Supernova Condensate as Chicken and Rose, it took me little time to make the connection: Chicken & Rose. Chicken Soup. Really Rosie. Chicken Soup with Rice. Perfect!

I've been playing around with the technique Ana from Céu da Boca described in her TGRWT post last month, about making simple spheres of any liquid using agar powder, and decided to apply them to rose water (tinted with a little red food coloring).

Thus, for my TGRWT #16 entry, I've created rose water 'rice', which I've placed in a bowl of chicken consomme, creating my Really Rosie Chicken Soup with 'Rice'.

The golden broth by itself is very beautiful, but when I added the rose 'rice', I was surprised to see that they floated in the soup, just below the surface, giving the consomme the look of being lit up by dozens of tiny glowing pink lights, as the edges of the orbs became fuzzy under the surface. It gave off a rich chicken aroma, with only the slightest hint of rose - it being mostly trapped inside the spheres.

I put the first spoonful in my mouth and my tongue was immediately enveloped by the silky smooth broth with a strong chicken flavor - then the rose 'rice' began bumping into my tongue. As the broth slipped down my throat, my tongue was left cradling a pile of spheres, and the aroma of chicken began to blend into a rose scent - the latter becoming more distinctly identifiable. The balls gave some resistance before breaking as I chewed them, the sound of their bursts popping in my ear, at which point the rose flavor and odor became much more prominent, like a second wave of flavor and scents. It was a fun experience to eat, and the flavors, and perhaps more significantly the scents, seemed very complimentary.

For a control, I sipped some of the leftover consomme which hadn't touched any of the rose 'rice', and found the chicken flavor to be good, but more 'bawdy', not nearly as delicate as it was with the subtle rose perfume balancing it.

Rose Rice
100ml of Rose Water
1 g of agar powder (a little over 1/4 tspn, in my case)
Red food coloring

Prepare a small bowl of oil, a fine mesh strainer, a medium bowl, and a large bowl of cold water. Bring the rose water to a quick boil in a small saucepan, then whisk in the agar and 1-2 drops of red food coloring. Lower the heat to medium and, using an eye dropper, suck up some of the liquid and begin dripping it into the oil, being careful not to let the drops touch. Continue until you run out of space in the oil. Set the strainer over the medium bowl and gently pour the oil and rose spheres into it. Rinse the spheres in the cold water to remove oil. Repeat as needed.

Chicken Consomme
1 chicken drumstick
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1/4 of a white onion
2 egg whites
2 cups of chicken stock

Remove the skin of the drumstick and discard. Remove the meat from the drumstick and combine in a food processor with the carrot, celery, and onion into a paste. Crack the bone in half and set in the bottom of the pan. Mix the two egg whites into the paste, then spread the paste in the pan evenly. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring a bit. When the solids have formed a 'raft' on the surface, lower the heat to retain a very low simmer (with only periodic bubbles), gently poke a hole in the center of the 'raft', and allow it to simmer uncovered for 1-2 hours. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth to remove any solids.

(I read several consomme recipes, which varied greatly in ingredients and technique, but I combined them and did it my own way to create a very small volume for this purpose - my first attempt at consomme, so I'm sure I have a lot to learn. Any tips from the pros out there would be much appreciated.)

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