My aunt Florence got on a pastitsio kick at some point in her life…probably right about when she was the age I am now, so, about 42. I always liked it and like Greek food in general. It’s like a greek lasagna. The most recent Cook’s Complicated, uh, Illustrated had a superlatively complicated recipe for it. But you know, complications are a way of life around here and I just had to make it. How often does a recipe call for cooking the pasta in sauce rather than in water. I like to do that and loved that they suggested it. The meat sauce though, called for baking soda which made the sauce more like paste than meat sauce. I like it chunkier. I had to run all over hell and back to find the damn cheese, kasseri, but I think it was worth it.
In the end it was really fabulous even if it was more work than making bread.
This meat was on sale for 1.99 a pound which means it was headed for the garbage. Or so I imagined when I picked it up and threw it guiltily into my shopping cart at MetroMarket. It was a big slab o’ something I didn’t know. It had almost no fat on it. (First “I typed I had almost no fat,” Freudian, yes, but that is not the case). I cut it into 3 chunks and put it in the crockpot before I went to work. When I came home it smelled like my aunt Florence’s house.
It was delicious. It had no carbs. I ate it for days.
I happened to notice that I have 24 unpublished drafts on my blog posting list. So I’ve decided to fill in some empty spaces with some of these.
I don’t know why this soup isn’t more of a star. It is so easy, so good, so healthy (not that I care about that for a second), and so dietetic (which I do) it should be a staple of the weekly meal line up. The only thing I don’t like is cleaning the damn blender.
Peel the bottom of the stalks, (get one with big stalks), chop them up and add them to a pot with some chopped onion in it. Add a cup of chicken broth. When the stalks are soft, add the florets. Boil for a while longer and then blenderize it all together, adding more stock if it’s too thick.
Usually I bring it back to the boil and swirl in a TB of butter.
My aunt Florence used to make a lot of things with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and packets of French’s onion soup. Beef roasts, pork roasts and chops, chicken, and it usually involved both of them and a long time in the oven. Theoretically I don’t have anything against either of these products but since I try to eat without a lot of additives, preservatives and salt, I generally eschew things like that. Plus I prefer to actually cook, not use time-saving shortcuts. Nonetheless, I do get cravings for that kind of throwback comfort food from time to time. My mother’s meat loaf, Florence’s orange cake, tuna noodle casserole, pickle and pimento loaf on Wonder bread. I’m pretty good at a wholesome version of the tuna noodle casserole (OK, it is only passable but close enough to stop the craving). So I thought I’d attempt to make chicken and mushrooms a la Florence but without the additives, etc. I caramelized onions, browned mushrooms and then added the chicken.
And a can of cream of mushroom soup. It was delicious. I got halfway there.