December 30, 2014

Sweet and Sour Beef Brisket - 100th Post!

Happy 100th post to us!  We've been through our ups and downs with this blog over the years but Mostly Soup is still kicking.  Thanks to all those who read our stuff.  We like keeping this blog up for a reference journal of our own accord and those who follow along are icing on the cake.  So raise a glass to you - THANK YOU!

I made this classic beef brisket when the rain first started in and paired with some red wine and a warm fire it was just the trick for coziness.  It would be the perfect dish to make for a stay at home New Years Eve celebration.  It feels decadent and rich but is really hands off and easy.  I didn't feel the need to make any sort of adjustments to this recipe; it was great just the way it is.  Just a heads up that you do need to start this recipe the night before you plan to serve it, or in the morning time so you have the whole day to rest it.

I roasted up some carrot and potato "coins" to go along with it.  If you have the Smitten Kitchen cookbook this recipe is in there but it's as easy as cutting up the potatoes and carrots in coin shapes and roasting until done with your favorite seasonings.

In any case I hope you get to try this out before winter is over.  Have a very happy New Years (with or without this brisket)!!

Sweet and Sour Beef Brisket
not adapted at all from Smitten Kitchen cookbook

•  4-to-5-pound (1¾ to 2¼ kg) piece beef brisket
•  1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for initial seasoning of meat
•  Freshly ground black pepper
•  1 cup (235ml) beef stock
•  3 tablespoons (50 grams) tomato paste
• 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, light or dark
•  4 teaspoons paprika
•  2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
•  1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
•  1 teaspoon garlic powder
•  2 tablespoons (15 grams) onion powder

Season the meat generously on both sides with salt and pepper.  Whisk all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Place the meat in a dutch oven (or any other sturdy pot with a lid) and pour the sauce over it.  Put the lid on and roast for 3 hours, or tender enough to pull apart with a fork.

Chill the entire dish in the fridge for several hours or up to one day.  This resting time will enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.  An hour before you are ready to serve it heat the oven to 300 degrees and remove the dish from the fridge.  Skim off any fat that has congealed at the top of the meat.  You can leave some if you like but I skimmed it all for a less oily finish.  Remove the meat and slice into 1/4-1/2 inch slices and put back into the sauce in the pan.  Replace the lid and put into the pre-heated oven.  Reheat until the sauce is bubbly around the edges.  Serve immediately with sauce on the side to pour or spoon over meat.

2014-11-10 19.45.59-1

December 29, 2014

Quick-Braised Chicken with Fennel and Endive

It is officially winter, and I have comfort food on the brain.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how I found this recipe, but it was probably from some one-pot meal round-up which I always love because who wants to clean more than one pot?  

Other things that I liked about this: I had never used endive in a soup before, I am slightly obsessed with fennel, and I love anything with white wine and cream, so this was a no brainer.  

This actually isn't a soup, but because I used boneless/skinless chicken thighs, I probably should have used more or reduced the liquid a bit more.  We ate it just as is with some bread, but it would be great over mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice to soak up the yummy juices.  If I make this again, I would add some mushrooms and saute some of the veggies a bit, maybe caramelize the fennel.  The endive was great, it held a bit of crunch and surprised me!

In any case, this was super tasty and really hit the spot, as far as winter comfort goes.  Here is the recipe as I made it.

Quick-Braised Chicken with Fennel and Endive
Serves 4

2 pounds skinless/boneless chicken thighs
2 Tbls butter 
1 Tbls canola oil
2 medium fennel bulbs
4 heads belgian endive
1 large shallot
4 small carrots (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Italian parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 1 Tbsp butter with the oil. Add chicken in a single layer and cook, without moving, until browned underneath, about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook until second side is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, drain fat from pan. (This is where I wish I would have browned the veggies up a bit but it did not even occur to me.)

While the chicken is browning, trim fennel bulbs (reserve 1/4 cup fronds) and cut bulbs into quarters, core and thinly slice. Trim ends of endive and quarter heads length­wise. Chop shallot. chop carrots into bite sized chunks.

Return pan to medium-high heat. Add wine and broth and stir, scraping bottom, to release browned bits from pan. 

Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add chicken, fennel, endive, shallot, carrots and re­­maining butter. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.

Add cream to pan, increase heat to high, and cook uncovered, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a shallow bowl and sprinkle with parsley and reserved fennel fronds.

2014-12-09 Quick Braised Chicken 008

December 23, 2014

Savoy Cabbage Soup with Meatballs

Meatballs! I love them so much. I used to buy a bag of frozen meatballs at Ikea on every visit but then sometime in the last couple years they started to seem different, different texture or something. I stopped buying them but I never bothered to figure out a replacement to the handy little dinner-savers! Sunset saved me!

This soup was delicious, but I am super excited about the meatballs included in the soup!  They are pretty dang close to those Swedish meatballs I miss so much and I highly recommend doubling the meatball portion of this recipe and freezing them for later (you better believe that I did)!  Throw them into a soup or warm them up in the oven to have with roast veggies, or with mashed potatoes, gravy, and lingonberries!

Okay but back to the soup.  This was in the December issue of Sunset, in a feature that was singing the praises of the under appreciated Savoy Cabbage.  I fixated on the meatballs and decided to make this immediately.  Requiring few ingredients (even the meatballs are simple) and a super satisfying end result, I will be making this again for sure.

This recipe does make a lot of soup so you could freeze half (like I did) or just cut it in half. I made the full amount but doubled the meatballs.  Here is the original proportioned recipe.

Savoy Cabbage Soup with Meatballs
From December 2014 Sunset
Serves 8-10

1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs 
1/4 cup milk (I used half and half)
3/4 teaspoon salt divided
3/4 teaspoon pepper divided
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
5 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
medium carrots, sliced into half-moons to make 1 cup
medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), trimmed, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and sliced into half-moons
head savoy cabbage (about 1.5 - 2 lb), quartered, cored and thinly sliced
7 cups chicken broth (reduced-sodium if store-bought)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

First things first, make the meatballs!! Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, stir together bread crumbs and milk. Add 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1 Tbsp. parsley, the pork, and the beef. Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands. Scoop mixture by slightly rounded teaspoons and roll into small balls, plopping them onto a cookie sheet as you go, about an inch or so apart.  Cook in the oven for about 12-15 minutes until internal temp is 160. (Double this part if you want to stockpile them in your freezer!)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots and leeks and cook, stirring, until leeks are soft but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in cabbage and remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper and cook until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.  (It looks like way too much cabbage, but it shrinks down I promise.)

Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let simmer until cabbage is quite tender, about 20 minutes.

Gently stir browned meatballs into soup and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are warmed up and flavors are blended, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream, 3 tbsp. parsley, and remaining 1/8 tsp. nutmeg (take a microplaner to a whole nutmeg if you want an extra flavor boost!) and ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. parsley. 


2014-12-21 Savoy Cabbage Soup 006

November 19, 2014

Black Bean Stew

This is no groundbreaking feat of a stew, but it was easy, quick, cheap, just a tad spicy (my mister did not even kick up a fuss), and super comforting on a freezing cold November night.  I tend to think of black bean soups as either too boring-just a cup full of beans, or super Mexican flavored.  This was somewhere else on the spectrum.  Not too spicy, not too much of my beloved Cumin, no chili powder to be found, no cilantro or lime either. What really grabbed my interest was the addition of orange zest right at the end, it just sounded so good and different and I just had to make it right away.

I found this recipe on a random round-up of one pot meals, and the original source was Runner's World, which I am not an avid reader of, or practiced runner.  In any case, I always love the idea of one pot meals, and saved a bunch of soups from this page to make later.

This Black Bean Stew in particular, was noted as a quick stew to help you shed pounds, as this stew is packed full of protein and fiber from the beans and then the spiciness from the chipotle is supposed to be good at curbing appetite and boosting calorie-burning.  Who can say no to that? Add in some other fresh veggies and you are golden.

I made a few changes and additions, but nothing too crazy. Instead of roasting the pepper and slicing it up, I diced it up and cooked it in the pot. I liked this change because the peppers kept up a bit of their crunch.  I also threw in a diced sweet potato that I had laying around and it also was a great addition, due to the texture and slight sweetness, but I would not have missed it much if I had left it out (and if I did leave it out, I would have used two bell peppers, one each of orange and red). This is a great base soup that could easily be modified in tons of ways.  The absolute best part is the orange zest, it really livens up the dish, adding a hint of summer to this cold weather staple.

Black Bean Stew
Serves 6

2 tsp Canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced thin
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, diced
2 15 oz cans drained and rinsed black beans
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock (or veggie broth)
1 Tbls minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 Tbls cumin
1 Tbls fresh thyme
Zest from one orange
1/2 bunch of shredded dino kale
salt & pepper to taste
Diced avocado (optional)

Heat Canola oil in a Dutch oven or other soup pot over medium heat.

Add the onion and carrot, sauteeing for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potato and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Add the diced red pepper and let all of this cook about 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes are just barely tender.

Add to the pot the black beans, tomatos, broth, minced chipotle, and cumin.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Taste broth and add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Toss in the shredded kale, fresh thyme, and orange zest.  Ladel into bowls and top with diced avocado.  Enjoy!

2014-11-12 Black Bean Stew

p.s. This photo looks terrible. I think I must have accidentally changed some setting without noticing, but I was so anxious to eat that I didn't bother messing with it. Forgive me?

October 31, 2014

Burmese Noodles

When I saw this recipe I am pretty sure I squealed with joy.  There used to be this fantastic Burmese restaurant in The Castro District of San Francisco where I ate noodles on a magical jungle patio as often as possible, and I was dying to try this recipe immediately and slurp delicious noodles in a nostalgia haze.

The recipe was easier than I expected it to be, with the payoff of a very flavorful sauce at the end.  The hardest part was probably finding shrimp paste (belachan), which I admittedly did not try too hard to track down, assuming it would be anywhere.  I was wrong, and so instead of trekking to an Asian market, I googled to find a substitute and it worked out fine. Blending up the spice mixture as the base of the soup is different, but it was a lot faster than dicing and sauteing everything separately.

These noodles are hearty and delicious, not quite a soup, but still a bit saucy, with sort of a mild curry flavor (though it did not have the exact right flavor that I was dreaming of).  I will probably make this again but I will try to track down the shrimp paste and see if it hits closer to home.  I loved the chicken in this dish, it was super tender and delicious from cooking in the coconut broth, and next time I may add some mushrooms and spinach, which probably wouldn't be considered Burmese at all anymore, but I just think they would taste good with this delicious sauce!

Burmese Noodles
Slightly adapted from Food52
Serves 4 - 6 hungry people

2 medium yellow onions, chopped roughly
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp shrimp paste (belachan) or 2 Tbls fish sauce or 2 Tbls anchovy paste
1 Tbsp water (if using fish sauce, omit this ingredient)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp chili powder (plus a little extra to serve)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces.
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
2 tsp salt
12 oz packet of rice noodles
1 shallot, thinly sliced and fried to a crisp
3 eggs, boiled and chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped fine
2 limes, quartered
sambal olek chili sauce (optional)

Place the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, and water (or fish sauce)  in a blender or food processor. Pulse well until you have a smooth paste.

Heat canola and sesame oils in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion/garlic/ginger blended mixture and saute for about 5 minutes to get the rawness out of the onions.

Add 1/4 tsp turmeric and 2 Tbsp chili powder, stirring to distribute throughout the onion mixture.

Add the chopped up chicken to the pot along with the salt.  Cook the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring well to coat with spice mixture.

Add coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Stir well and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and reduce soup to a simmer.  Cover and let the soup simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the other components are ready.

While the soup is simmering, juggle these other tasks:

Cook the rice noodles to the package directions.  Drain well and set aside.

Fry up some crispy shallots by heating enough canola oil over medium heat to cover your sliced shallots. Toss the shallots in and stir them around until they are golden brown and crispy.  This took about 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel.

Boil a few eggs, peel them, and chop them up.

If the chicken is cooked through by now, taste your broth. Adjust salt if needed.

Assemble by scooping a large helping of rice noodles into a soup bowl. Top with ladlefuls of soup. The noodles should swim in coconut broth. Add pieces of chicken. Top with crispy shallots, chopped egg, a sprinkling of chili powder, some cilantro, and a large squirt of lime juice.  I also added some sambal olek which was really good with this dish if you like a bit more spice!

2014-10-25 Burmese Noodles 011

October 23, 2014

Avgolemono with Chicken, Rice, and Spinach

Avgolemono is a lot harder to spell and to pronounce (Ah-vo-lem-oh-no) than it is to make, at least that's what I discovered this week.  This is a Greek soup, the name Avgolemono translates to Egg-Lemon. I know, I know, it sounds a little weird. But if you have ever tried this delightfully comforting soup, you know how great it is!  I have only ever had this at a sort of 'fast food' version of Greek food, but I loved it so much. I always imagined it to be much more difficult to create at home and I am so glad that I was wrong!

This is comfort food for sure, a Greek version of chicken noodle soup, perfect for rainy days.  Requiring few ingredients that you probably already have on hand, perfectly creamy from the eggs, and bright with lemon, this soup is comforting as well as light and refreshing! This is one of my favorite soups that I have made, and I would not change a thing. 
I was inspired to make this by a recipe that was in a local grocery store ad booklet that came in the mail.  I cut it in half and combined it with some elements from a recipe I had seen on The Kitchn.  Below is the recipe as I made it.  

Avgolemono, with Chicken, Rice, and Spinach
Serves 4 hungry people as a main course

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 of a medium onion, diced (about 1/4 cup)
1 carrot, shredded (about 1/4 cup)
2 celery sticks, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
fresh spinach, I used all of a 5 oz package
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your taste)
1 cup of cooked jasmine rice or other white rice
1 cup cooked chicken, diced (I used some breast and some thigh meat from a rotisserie chicken))
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 egg yolks (room temp if you can!)
1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp of lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped (to serve)

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery.  Cook until the onion is slightly translucent.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for about a minute until fragrant.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, broth, and diced chicken.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

While the broth is simmering away, cook the rice.  This should take about 20 minutes, depending on the type of rice you use. (I used 1/2 cup dry jasmine rice, and ended up with just about 1 cup of cooked rice. It was the perfect amount. )

Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and set aside.  Reduce the heat of your broth to the lowest heat your stove allows.

Now to temper the eggs.  Whisk the egg yolks vigorously in a medium bowl until they are frothy.  Take a small ladle full of the soup broth and slowly pour it into the yolks while continuously whisking.  Do this a few more times, allowing a minute or two between each new addition of hot broth, all the while whisking.   (I was super nervous of ruining this step, so I was super cautious, adding a very little bit at a time, but I don't think you can be too cautious.  You are not making egg drop soup, you want this to just create a frothy, creamy texture, and you are trying to bring the egg yolks to a temperature close to the temp of the broth, so that you can combine them without them curdling/cooking.)   Once you have whisked in a fair amount of broth and the temperature of the yolk mixture is pretty warm, nearly hot, add it slowly into the soup pot, whisking in the soup pot this time. 

Add the spinach to the soup. Don't bother chopping it or anything, just throw it in and stir.

Let the soup cook for about 10 minutes on very low heat, until slightly thickened and the spinach is wilted.  Adjust seasonings.  Serve immediately and top with fresh chopped parsley.  We ate this with a delicious olive bread which was a perfect accompaniment.

***One more note: If you do not eat this all on the first night, be aware that it does thicken up overnight because of the rice, but ours was still pretty soupy, and did not need additional broth.  If you need to, yo could add a bit of broth when heating up.  But,  be careful when reheating! Heat the soup over very low heat, in a pot with a lid, so that the eggs don't curdle.  Not sure how well a microwave would work in this situation.

I cannot wait to make this again!

2014-10-20 Greekish Lemon Chicken 010

October 22, 2014

Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Acorn Squash

Yes the name is quite a mouthful.  However this recipe, oh this recipe.  It was definitely one of my favorite meals I've ever made.  To quote DP, my eyes while eating it looked like "Call of the Wild meets Top Chef".  It left me kind of speechless.  I think I was actually dancing with anticipation while caramelizing the pork, because I mean, is there anything better than pork that's been caramelized in sesame oil and a sprinkle of brown sugar after slow cooking it all day long?  I'm beginning to think not.  We made a couple of small edits to make the recipe gluten free but we mostly stuck to the script.  I found this to be just a tad salty for my palette so next time I might ease up on the soy sauce element but I'm very sensitive to salt.  DP thought it was perfectly salty.

The recipe itself is not hard at all but I would say it's a little involved.  For a leisurely Sunday though I didn't mind sporadically tending to it throughout the day, step by step.  Since most of the cooking time happens in the crock pot you could pull this off on a weeknight if you planned well.  Whatever the case may be I highly encourage you to make this ramen.  It is, by far, the tastiest version I've had outside of the real deal.  Enjoy! (and maybe invite me over when you make it)

Crockpot Crispy Caramelized Pork Ramen with Roasted Acorn Squash
modified ever so slightly from Half Baked Harvest

  • 3 lbs of pork butt (shoulder)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tblsp of low sodium soy sauce (Bragg's if you're gf)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tblsp of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tblsp of red curry paste
  • 1 tblsp of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tblsp of sambal oelek (chili paste)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tblsp chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tblsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tblsp of brown sugar
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, left whole
  • 4 packs ramen noodles (we used gf ones and they were great)
  • 4 soft boiled eggs for serving - I used this method
  • chopped carrots, cilantro, jalapeno + green onions for servings
Curry Roasted Acorn Squash
  • 1 medium acorn squash, seeded and diced
  • 2 tblsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tblsp curry powder (we used garam masala)
  • 1 tblsp white miso paste
  • 1 tblsp brown sugar
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  1. Add the pork to the bowl of the crockpot.  Pour the chicken broth, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, fish sauce, red curry paste,  ginger, sambal oelek, lime juice, five spice, pepper, and 1 tblsp brown sugar into the pot.  Flip the pork around so it's all evenly coated and mixed together.  Cover and cook over low for 7 hours.
  2. About 40 minutes before the pork is set to be done preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the coconut oil, curry powder, miso, brown sugar, and pepper for the squash.  Add the diced squash and mix to evenly coat.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until soft, tossing a few times so the sides of the squash get a little crispy.
  4. Remove the pork from the crock pot once it's done and place in a bowl to shred with two forks or your hands.  Add mushrooms to broth in crock pot and cover again.
  5. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat.  Add 1 tblsp sesame oil and once hot add about half of the pork.  While cooking sprinkle brown sugar over pork and 1 tblsp of soy sauce and rice vinegar.  Let the pork caramelize for 3-5 minutes stirring only once or twice.  Repeat process with remaining half of pork.  Keep the pork warm - I used the residual heat from roasting the squash to keep mine in the oven.
  6. Add the ramen noodles to the crock pot, cover and cook until soft.  At this point start your soft boiled eggs.  After noodles are soft, add half the pork to the crock pot.  Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with extra pork, carrots, green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, and boiled eggs.  Try not to let your jaw drop with amazement!

October 16, 2014

Chinese Style One Pot Beef Stew

Being in the mood for stew a lot recently is sometimes tough.  Tough in that it can often take forever to get that fall apart texture to your meat when it's a week night and you just don't have all day to make it.  I live for that meat texture - it's definitely my favorite when the meat seems to melt away.  This Chinese style one pot meal makes for a good rendition of a week night stew recipe.

It doesn't take too long, the meat texture was good, and there's minimal chopping which seems to get your meat a-stewin' quicker. I also liked doing something a little off the beaten path as far as flavor profile. The shot of greenery in the form bok choi is also a nice touch and I think broccoli would work just as well.  Hope you enjoy!

Chinese Style One Pot Beef Stew
from BBC's goodfood blog

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • good thumb size piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1 red chili, seeded and thinly sliced (I used a jalapeno since I couldn't find a red pepper)
  • 3 1/5 lbs stew beef, cut into large pieces (I used
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon chinese five spice powder
  • 2 star anise 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine or cooking sherry
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 bunch bok choi, chopped and steamed
1.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in large dutch oven or stock pot.  Sautee the garlic, onions, ginger and chili until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Put onto a large plate.  Toss the beef in the flour and salt and pepper generously.  Add 1 more tbsp of oil to the pot and brown the meat in two batches, adding the last tbsp of oil in between batches.  Put on the plate with the garlic sautee mixture.

2.  Add the five spice and the anise to the pot, fry for 30 seconds, then add the sugar.  Keep the heat high and add the wine or sherry, scraping up any meaty bits.  Put the meat and garlic sautee mixture back in the pot, add the stock and soy sauce (it won't cover the meat completely), and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is very soft and sinewy bits have melted away.

3.  When the stew is close to finished, steam your bok choi and make some rice to serve stew over.  Add the bok choi to the plate with stew and rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.


October 13, 2014

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the best dessert I've eaten in a long time, let alone made.  It was seriously good.  This might have something to do with my palate craving fall flavors and this being one of the first fall items I've made this year.  But I also have some serious back up in thinking this cake is the jam.

It also was insanely easy to make.  I made it a little harder by making my own applesauce from scratch, which is not a requirement, but probably made this cake that much better.  Plus making your own applesauce may seem like it's a crazy thing to do when store bought is pretty legit but honestly it's so easy and the fall bounty of apples is upon us.  I got mine at $1/lb at my local farm stand and I've seen grocery store prices hover not too much higher than that.

I have to say that for such an easy cake to make, it's pretty impressive looking and tasting.  So if you have some folks you'd like to impress or a loved one then whip this up and let them think you slaved away.  Happy fall everyone!

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze
made from Food52; applesauce recipe was made up on the fly


  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •     1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  •     2 teaspoons cinnamon
  •     1 teaspoon ground ginger
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1/2 cup light brown sugar
  •     1 1/2 cups unsweetened (preferably homemade) applesauce
  •     2/3 cup vegetable oil
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla

Caramel Glaze:
  •  4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar    
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 lbs of apples.  I used gala but feel free to use a mix of sweet/tart apples
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup apple juice or cider
  1. If making the homemade applesauce, start with that recipe.  Core apples and cut into medium size chunks.  Add to a large dutch oven or stock pot.  Add lemon juice and apple juice.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer until apples are broken down and soft, about 25 minutes.  Using a hand blender or regular blender, blend the mixture until smooth.  Jar up anything you don't use in the cake recipe.  Feel free to add spices or sugar at this point but you don't need that for the sauce you use in the cake.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter/flour a bundt pan.  Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices and set aside.  In large mixing bowl of a stand mixer beat the eggs with both sugars until a light color. Mix in the applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Using a spatula fold in the dry ingredients - don't over mix.  Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out on a rack to cool completely.  Make sure the cake is cold before glazing.  
  4. Put the butter in a medium saucepan with brown sugar, cream and salt and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil while stirring constantly.  Boil for one minute exactly then pull off the heat.  Leave the pan to cool for a few minutes.  Then gradually whisk in powdered sugar until you have a thick but pourable consistency.  You might not use all the sugar.  If it becomes too thick then add a splash of cream to thin it out again.  Immediately pour over the cooled cake.  Let the glaze set for a few minutes, or longer, before serving the cake.

October 6, 2014

Jalapeno Corn Soup with Seared Scallops

After getting back home from a two week long trip overseas I was dying to cook, bake, clean.  Basically all things domestic were calling my name.  I was also expecting to get home to some chilly fall weather here in Portland.  But as it turned out it's still fairly sunny and hot here so I decided to milk a little bit more summer fare out of the dwindling days.

As you can see here; I'm pretty into corn.  Especially summer corn.  So I saw this recipe and decided to go for it.  I also am such a novice when it comes to scallops.  I'd never even eaten a scallop until probably 3 years ago and I've never cooked them - until now.  Turns out they are super simple and the satisfaction you get from searing one off and seeing the caramelization is deeply gratifying.

I changed a couple of things on this recipe.  Mainly I used coconut milk instead of cream and subbed olive oil for the butter to make it dairy free.  I also cut down on one of the jalapeno peppers thinking it'd be too spicy but in retrospect that was a mistake so I've listed it back to the original two.  I hope you enjoy this, be it these last weeks of summer, or maybe save it for next year!

Jalapeno Corn Soup
adapted from Food 52

  • 9 ears of corn, kernels removed and 4 cobs reserved
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  •  Salt and pepper
Melt the oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Add in the onion and jalapeño and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft but not brown. Add in the garlic and the corn kernels and cook for another minute or until fragrant, making sure that the garlic doesn't burn.  Pour in the chicken stock and coconut milk and add the corn cobs. Season with a few large pinches of salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook for about 45 minutes.  Discard the cobs and blend the soup until smooth. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Ladle the soup into a shallow bowl and top with seared scallops. Soup can also be cooled and refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a couple months.

Seared Scallops
  •     12 large sea scallops, preferably fresh and/or dry-packed
  •     1 tablespoon olive oil
  •     1 tablespoon neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  •     Salt and pepper
Melt the butter and oil together in a large heavy skillet until very hot, but not smoking.  Rinse the scallops, pat very dry, and season generously with salt and pepper.  Add the scallops to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until caramelized on the outside and just slightly translucent in the center.


October 1, 2014

Beginning of Fall Bounty Salad

This was a huge surprise and revelation to me, though it may seem an obvious sort of dinner to throw together. I am not usually very successful in my thrown together ideas, at least in my mind (my mister always thinks I am nuts).  But this one, cobbled from a recipe I had in the back of my brain and using up things in the fridge turned out great and I can't wait to make it again.

The abundance of ingredients beginning with B was absolutely not planned and I did not even realize it until I was trying to think of what to call this feast while devouring it.  Bacon, Brussels, Butternut, Broccoli, Balsamic... believe me, this is a combination from the heavens, and was a great way to welcome Fall!

Beginning of Fall Bounty Salad
Adapted from here
Serves 4
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, washed and sliced in half (or quartered if they are big ones)
  • 1/2 of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets 
  • baby spinach
  • 4 slices of thick-cut bacon, sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • lemon (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the squash is tender but not too mushy.

While the squash is roasting, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and cook the chopped up bacon until about halfway cooked.

Add the sliced shallot and let it get a little bit soft.  Add the brussels sprouts, broccoli florets, a bit of salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally until the brussels and broccoli are just tender and the bacon is fully cooked.

When your brussels and broccoli are cooked to perfection, add the roasted squash and toss it all together.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Put a handful of baby spinach into each bowl. Add a scoop of the bacon, brussels, broccoli, butternut, shallot mixture.

Drizzle balsamic over each bowl, and squeeze a bit of lemon on also if you wish.
Serve immediately!

not the most photogenic thing, but so tasty!

September 24, 2014

Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

When that first fall chill hits the air, out comes my dutch oven for a big pot of stew.  

This was a crockpot recipe, but I wanted to do it on the stove top because I was worried it would turn into a big pile of curry mush. I am glad I did it my way because all the vegetables turned out perfect!  The curry gives it a warm comforting vibe, like a big hug from the inside. 

If you use vegetable broth, this would be vegan!  If you don't like one of these veggies, just leave it out or sub something else that you do like--green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, cabbage, etc.  Add some shrimp or shredded cooked chicken if you have some on hand.  If you like things spicy, add more cayenne or top it with hot sauce when you eat it.  We ate this as a soup but it would also be delicious over rice or cous cous.
Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew
Adapted from TheKitchn

Serves 8 - 10

1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 large onion, diced 
2 medium sized red potatoes
1 small sweet potato
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
10-ounces baby spinach
1 cup frozen peas  1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 tablespoon)
4 garlic cloves, minced 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices

2 cups chicken stock
2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon salt 

2 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup coconut milk 

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the diced red potatoes and sweet potato and a tablespoon of salt.  Saute until the potatoes are slightly translucent around the edges.  Add the broccoli, cauliflower, red and green bell peppers and saute for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the curry, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.  Cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant.

Pour in the stock and the tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine.   Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer.  Let simmer for 45 minutes until the vegetables are just barely soft.  

Add in the chickpeas, spinach, frozen peas, and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender, the spinach is wilted, and the chickpeas and peas are warmed through.   Stir in the coconut milk, taste, and adjust seasonings.  Fall comfort in a bowl!

August 12, 2014

Garlicky Kale Pasta Salad

This is really the most delicious pasta salad I have ever had.  We ate it all week and I didn't even complain.  

The magic of this simple sounding recipe is in the garlic-infused olive oil.  It just flavors everything so perfectly.  The little creases in the bowtie pasta catch all the little bits of garlic/pepper/pine nuts/cheese and it is so so good. We ate this all week with various things on the side (salmon being a standout) but even just tossing in some tuna, smoked salmon, shredded chicken, or even garbanzo beans would be a great way to fill out this dish.  One night I added in some chopped fresh basil and it was a nice way to add some freshness. 

This is a great, fulfilling pasta dish full of greens and super comforting, perfect for a summer night and so easily adaptable, mostly made from pantry items! You could really use any other greens you have on hand instead of kale--spinach, Swiss Chard, or arugula would go great.  When I tasted the pasta after tossing it with the garlic/oil/salt/pepper mix before adding any of the other stuff it was pretty dang good just like that. So use your imagination!

Garlicky Kale Pasta Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pound Bowtie Pasta (Farfalle)
  • 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts (chopped if you want)
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Salt, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper, more to taste
  • 2 smallish bunches Kale, finely sliced (I had about 6 cups once it was sliced up)
  • 6.5 oz can of sliced Black Olives, or fancier olives if you prefer
  • 4 ounces weight Parmesan Cheese, shaved
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    Cook pasta according to package directions including a healthy dose of salt. Drain, rinse with cold water, and add to a large bowl. Set aside. 

    While the pasta cooks, add pine nuts to a small skillet over low heat. Toast slowly over the course of 8-10 minutes, tossing regularly. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

    In a large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic over low heat so that the garlic slowly infuses the oil. When the oil starts to cause the garlic to sizzle, stir around so the garlic doesn't get too brown. When garlic starts to turn golden, add salt and pepper, stir, and set aside for 5 minutes. 

    After 5 minutes, pour the oil mixture (scraping the salt, pepper, and garlic) all over the bowtie pasta. Toss to combine and set aside.

    Set the same skillet (without cleaning it) over medium-high heat. Add the kale and cook for 5 minutes, or until partly wilted. 

    Add kale, olives, pine nuts, and lemon juice to the pasta and toss it all together. Check to make sure it's no longer warm, then add Parmesan shavings and toss. Taste for seasonings and add more salt, pepper, and lemon if needed. 

    Chill for at least 1 hours before serving. 

August 6, 2014

Stuffed Eggplant with Pork

This is not exactly a summer meal but it turned out so good I decided to post it anyhow.  My mom and I have a standing Saturday date at the farmer's market and this time of year in the PacNW it's a bounty that is all for the taking.  Every single stand looks like a picture out of a cookbook.  I had a hard time restraining myself.  One of the things I did end up with in my basket was some beautiful small eggplants. I always feel good buying these because they are DP's favorite vegetable.  To which I had two people exclaim to me on that same day, "Who's favorite vegetable is eggplant?!?"  He's an odd bird that one.  Fortunately, I like eggplant too so I was on my way to something good for dinner.

In the summertime I feel you can't go wrong with veggies and protein so I thought a meat stuffed eggplant sounded great.  I ended up finding a recipe out of the beautiful cookbook Jerusalem.  This one was for lamb stuffed eggplant and I'm not such a huge lamb fan, unlike Michelle.  So I substituted ground pork in its place.  I made a few other small adjustments.  Next time I think this would be even lovelier with a nice yogurt sauce spooned on top.  Come fall I'll be giving it another go around. Here is the recipe as I made it.

Stuffed Eggplant with Pork
adapted from Jerusalem cookbook
  • 3 small eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  •  1/2 ground pork or any other ground meat you prefer
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425.  Place the halved eggplants in a roasting pan with sides and brush with 2 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let roast for 20 minutes, until golden brown and then allow to cool slightly.

While the eggplants roast start making the filling.  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Mix together the cumin, paprika and cinnamon and add half of this mixture to the pan, along with the onions.  Cover over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes. stirring often.  Add the ground meat, pine nuts, parsley, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and salt and pepper.  Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes or until meat is cooked through.

Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind paste, cinnamon sticks, a sprinkle of salt and the remaining sugar.  Stir well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375.  Pour the spice mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Spoon the meat mixture into each eggplant, heaping.  Cover tightly with foil and return to the oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Twice during cooking baste the eggplants with the sauce and add more water if it starts to dry out.  The eggplants should be completely soft at the end.  Serve warm or even at room temperature.

2014-07-28 18.33.26-1

I totally failed at taking a final picture - whoops.

July 22, 2014

Fresh Corn Polenta - with a side of BBQ Chicken and Balsamic Pepper Flake Chard

Let's just get one thing straight right off the bat.  This post is all about the Fresh Corn Polenta.  When I stumbled across this recipe I thought - must try, immediately.  This recipe is the epitome of summer.  I'd say if it didn't require turning on the stove (for like 10 minutes, tops) it might be the king of the summer recipes.  But we can't all be perfect, can we?  Anyhow, please do give this recipe a go.  It requires little work, few ingredients, and a huge pay off.  Summer corn is one of life's simple pleasures and this, this my friends, is the way to highlight it.

As I grated the corn for the polenta I had one of those "no duh" moments with the realization that the starch that's hiding in the cob of the corn pockets is what naturally thickens this polenta right up.  I mean, where the heck did I think corn starch comes from? Tomatoes? Don't answer that.

I decided to top my polenta off with some super simple chicken marinated in BBQ sauce and a sautee of rainbow chard.  I dressed the chard with red pepper flakes and balsamic to give it some heat and acid to bounce off the super sweet corn polenta.  This meal was so good.  I give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Fresh Corn Polenta
from here
Serves 3

  • 5 ears of corn - I used sweet white but feel free to use the less sweet yellow
  • 1 tablespoon of butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parmesan, grated (optional)

Clean the corn, removing all husks and silk threads. Working over a bowl, grate the corn using the large grate side of a box grater.  You will end up with a pulpy wet mixture.  Melt the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the grated corn, stir in some salt and pepper. Allow mixture to cook over medium low heat, stirring it often so it doesn't burn, until it becomes thick.  Serve immediately with some grated parmesan, if using.

To make a full meal of this, add whatever sauteed green suits your fancy and some protein.  Really you can't go wrong with whatever you decide to whip up and add on top.  Happy Summer!

2014-07-21 19.33.43

July 2, 2014

White Bean Summer Soup

This soup was super easy and fast to make, not to mention very light, flavorful, and fresh!  A perfect soup for summer. I even ate it after it got cold because I took too long trying to take a picture, and it was still slurptastic. 

The original recipe called this Green Minestrone, but I am not too sure what makes it a minestrone. Also, I was pretty set on eliminating the pasta entirely and wanted either potatoes (would be delicious) or white beans (was voted in by my mister) instead, so a renaming seemed appropriate.

White Bean Summer Soup
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped into half moons
  • ½ small fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • ½ small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used home made stock)
  • 2 small carrots, peeled, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cans white beans (Cannelini or Great Northern)
  • cups (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ shallot, roughly chopped
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Shaved Parmesan (for serving)

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Toss in the leek, fennel, yellow onion, and celery, stirring occasionally, until softened but not taking on any color, about 5 minutes. 
Add broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are just tender, 10-15 minutes.
Add carrots, peas, and beans, and simmer until carrots are just tender and peas and beans are warmed through, about 5-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
While your soup is simmering, blend parsley, the remaining 4 Tbsp. oil, and the chopped shallot with an immersion blender into a paste.  Season this pesto with salt and pepper. 
Serve soup topped with a scoop of pesto, sliced red onions, and shaved parmesan.  Don't forget a good loaf of bread for dunking!

One more note: 
When I put away the leftovers, I mixed the rest of the pesto into the soup and when we ate it on the second day, I made parmesan croutons to put into the soup with the leftover bread, which worked wonderfully and would have photographed better than the shaved parm. To make these, dice up your bread, toss it with olive oil and a tiny bit of salt. Spread on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and shred some parmesan on top.  Put into a 425 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese is all melty and slightly browned. I almost ate all of the croutons before they had a chance to go into the soup!
2014-06-28 004

June 1, 2014

Coriander Chicken Lettuce Wraps

When the weather is nice for three days and then turns rainy suddenly, as May in Portland is wont to do, your grilling plans can be shattered.  Luckily this delicious marinade turned out beautifully in the oven and aside from the chicken and fresh ginger, I already had all of the ingredients on hand.  

This chicken is super flavorful and just spicy enough, and turned out extremely tender chicken.  It satisfied a craving for Indian food without a super long marinating time or slow cooking or anything like that.  It came together quickly, cooked easily, and was so extremely satisfying.  I will likely grill the chicken next time and I am positive it will be even more delicious that way, and I may not make any other type of chicken for quite some time. 

We ate this tasty treat wrapped in Boston lettuce leaves, topped with a few chopped red onions and a spicy cilantro walnut sauce.  On the side we had roasted sweet potatoes tossed with fresh lime zest which worked perfectly to balance the spiciness.

2014-05-27 Coriander Chicken 002

The chicken recipe is modified from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen and here is the recipe as I made it:

Coriander Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Potatoes

For the chicken:
(serves 6-8)
3 lbs boneless chicken thighs 
1 heaping tsp Cumin
2 heaping tsp ground Coriander
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
fresh ginger, a 2 inch piece, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1 heaping tsp Cayenne pepper (use more if you love spice, less if you don't)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/4 cup water (if needed)

For the sweet potatoes:
(serves 2)
2 smallish sweet potatoes
olive oil
salt & pepper
zest of 1 lime 

For the Cilantro Walnut sauce:
(makes about 1 cup)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro (cut off most of the stems)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded if you want a less spicy sauce)
1/2 cup unsalted walnut pieces
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

First, get your chicken marinating.   Rinse the chicken, blot dry, and place in a baking dish or tupperware that allows the chicken to be in a single layer.  

Using a blender or hand mixer, blend all of the other ingredients for the chicken (minus the water) to a smooth paste.  Add water if needed to obtain a pourable consistency. Spread the paste over the chicken, tossing to coat all over.  Place in refrigerator and let marinate for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours.

When you are almost ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into 8 wedges, and then cut those wedges in half. Toss on a parchment-lined cookie sheet lined with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

When the oven is hot and you are getting hungry, take the chicken out of the fridge, and put it onto a foil lined rimmed cookie sheet in a single layer.  Place the sheet of chicken and the sheet of sweet potatoes into the oven.

After 10 minutes, toss the sweet potatoes and flip the chicken.  Check the chicken and potatoes again after another 8 minutes or so.  

While the chicken and potatoes are in the oven, blend up the Cilantro Walnut sauce with that handy hand blender (or regular blender) and taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.

The chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees internally and the sweet potatoes should be fork tender but slightly crispy on the outside.  When the potatoes come out of the oven, toss them with the zest of one lime.

Chop up some chicken, place it into a fresh crunchy Boston lettuce leaf with a few slices of red onion and a scoop of cilantro-walnut sauce, and eat it like a taco! The sweet potatoes were so so good on the side, and crunchy enough to eat with your fingers like french fries. We ate the leftover chicken in a salad over the next couple of days and it was also so so good.  


May 26, 2014

Turkey Green Pepper Chili with Masa Dumplings

For some reason that's never been explained to me DP is constantly suggesting chili when I ask him what he wants for dinner.  I guess when I think about it it doesn't need much explaining other than chili is a delicious thing to eat.  However, it does leave me in the position of needing to come up with different ways of making chili, which I'm all too happy to be tasked to do.

So on such an occasion of a chili suggestion I decided that I'd made this dish often enough to not need a recipe for the base of it.  That I could wing no problem but what I did need was a clever pièce de résistance.  So having a huge bag of masa in the cupboard from a recent tortilla making spree I went in search of a masa related idea.  I had heard of adding masa to chili before to thicken it up but making a masa dumpling was so much more interesting and happened to thicken the chili at the same time.  It was certainly a win-win.  I also used turkey instead of beef to lighten the caloric intake.  Add in some veggies, beans and tomatoes and you're on your way to a great chili night.  I hope it's one of many for you just as it is for us.

Turkey Green Pepper Chili with Masa Dumplings
chili improvised. masa dumplings from here

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (or any other ground meat you fancy)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tblsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, de-seeded and minced
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans of cooked black beans, rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 (28.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of roasted tomatoes with juices
  • 1 tblsp. cumin
  • 1 tblsp. ground ancho chili powder
  • water
  • salt and pepper
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • 3/4 cup masa
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and saute until translucent.  Add garlic, bell pepper and jalapeno and saute until bell pepper is soft.  Add turkey and break up into small pieces with spoon until most of the pink is cooked out of the meat.  Add cumin, chili powder and S&P until fragrant.  Add black beans, pinto beans, diced and roasted tomatoes and cover with just enough water that all veggies and beans are submerged.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer until soup thickens just slightly.  Check seasonings and adjust if necessary. 

While that simmers make the masa dumplings.  In large bowl combine masa, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add butter and work into flour mixture with a pastry cutter (or fork) until butter resembles corn meal with a few large chunks.  Stir in buttermilk just to combine.

Add dumplings by the tablespoon to the simmering soup.  Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve soup with a dumpling or two in each bowl and garnished with cilantro.  I also slipped in a few avocado chunks and some cotija cheese I had on hand for good measure.  Enjoy!

2014-05-19 20.54.11

May 14, 2014

Soup of the Bakony Outlaws

First things first, this soup has an outstanding name that comes not from the bacon in it, but from a region of Hungary called Bakony.  I picture a bunch of rough looking dudes eating this feast around a campfire in the mountains after just having stolen the bacon that's used in it. Besides that, the ingredient list is a lot of my favorite things all piled into one very rich, hearty, comforting soup. Not the most "springy" soup, but it sure did hit the spot on a cozy Friday night spent at home.  If you like Hungarian Mushroom soup and if you like bacon, you will most definitely enjoy this soup. 

One important aspect of making this soup (and most soups) is that the vegetables are cooked perfectly. Not too mushy, not too hard, but just perfect. Chopping them up small and consistent in size (before you begin making the soup), as the recipe indicates, helps with this and also keep an eye on your pot to make sure it doesn't boil too heavily but stays at a low simmer.  I felt a little guilty chopping up the gorgeous beef tenderloin to put in this soup forgot all about it once I tasted those tender little chunks in the finished soup.  This soup takes a lot of chopping but believe me, it is worth the effort.  I will definitely be making this again on a cold winter's night in the future.

Soup of the Bakony Outlaws 
Adapted from Fine Cooking and I made very few changes. 

Serves 6 +
  • 3 Tbs. oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon, about 1/4 lb or slightly les, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 8 oz. beef tenderloin, cut in 1/4-inch dice (the original recipe calls for veal) 
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 skinny carrots, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice 
  • 2 medium turnips, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, cut in 1/4-inch dice (I used cremini but a fancier variety would be swell)
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch dice (medium=about three inch diameter)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded, and cut in 1/4-inch dice  (a can of diced would also work well)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, ribs removed, sliced into ribbons (optional)
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and cook the onions and bacon over medium heat until the onions start to color, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes to release and develop its flavor. Add the beef and just enough stock to cover it. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped carrots, turnips, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, and enough stock to cover the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, another 20 minutes. Add a little more stock if the soup looks too dry during cooking, bearing in mind that more liquid will be added later. (I did not need to add more stick, used 3 cups total.)

Put the sour cream and cream in a small bowl and stir in the flour with a fork or whisk.  Pour this into the pot and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the chopped chard and fresh dill and dish it up!

We ate this with a seedy baguette and could not stop oohing and aahing! It is extremely rich and I think the amount of cream/sour cream could be reduced in half and still be just as inspiring. 

Soup of the Bakony Outlaws

P.S. This soup tastes about a zillion times better than it photographs!

April 25, 2014

Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

Ham bone sure is fun to say isn't it? Let's see how many times I can sneak it into this post. Like many a family we made a giant ham for Easter.  This was of course after my brother told me he was bringing ham to Easter brunch and yet I still felt the need to purchase a 9 pound monstrosity.  I think I have that Girard gene for sure - no matter how much food people are bringing it's never enough - must. buy. more.  Maybe it's more like a disease. 

This subject matter is not a new one for this blog, see here.  However this version is more a rich man's version.  It's got the luxurious addition of chunks of ham and the bone as well as some fancy tri color potatoes and leeks.  Usually I'm leery of recipes that say to add water instead of broth and I end up subbing broth in every time.  But this one I trusted to be flavorful at the end because of the bone cooking right in the soup for almost 2 hours.  It didn't disappoint, I really loved this soup and am coming to realize that I like these creamy/chunky versions of soup the most.  If you saved your ham bone from Easter or come across one in the near future you should definitely make this soup or at the very least ham stock because the ham bone is prolific my friend.

Split Pea Soup
adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb tri-color potatoes (or yukon gold), diced
  • 1 cup leftover ham, diced
  • 1 ham bone
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups split green peas
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Sour cream and whole grain mustard for garnish, optional

Heat oil in large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, leeks, celery and garlic; season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.  Add potatoes and ham.  Cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are soft.  Add ham bone, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and split peas.  Add enough water to cover all ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer until split peas are very soft and falling apart, about 1.5 hours.

Remove ham bone,thyme sprigs, and bay leaves.  Add Worcestershire sauce and season with any additional salt and pepper needed.  Serve with sour cream and mustard, if desired.

(ham bone count = 9)

2014-04-24 20.43.55-1

April 14, 2014

Charred Cauliflower, Potato and Kale Soup with Gremolata Breadcrumbs

I know what you're thinking.  That this recipe sounds either too boring or exactly like something you've made before.  But hear me out because I happen to think this is one of the most perfect soups I've ever made.  That's a bold statement, yes, but it's true. 

When I think of my most perfect soup I have a lot of items that need checking off the list.  First, it must be fairly easy because let's be real here, soup should not be something that you slave for hours over. Which in and of itself might be why it's one of the more perfect dinners to make.  Then I want it to be healthy, lots of veggies and not too much fat.  But at the same time it needs to be rich and interesting and flavorful.  Then, and I know this makes me sound crazy, but I want the soup to be creamy and have some bite to it all at the same time.  I am one demanding soup eater.  But this recipe, well it has it all.  It even has just the right amount of spice to it as well.  Have I hooked you yet?  I hope so because I waited until the end of this post to tell you that this recipe is also vegan and gluten free.  Hook, line and sinker.

Below is the recipe as I made it but if you don't care about being vegan I think adding some ground sausage to the recipe would work marvelously.  Just brown the meat as the very first step, set it aside, and add back in at the very end.  You can use the fat rendered from the sausage in place of the oil to char the cauliflower in.  And also, I used gluten free bread for the gremolata because I had some left over but regular day old bread works just as well here.  Enjoy!

Smoky Charred Cauliflower, Kale and Potato Soup
adapted from here

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 quarts veggie broth (or any other broth you like)
  • 2 lbs of yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb lacinato kale, thick stems removed and julienned
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in dutch oven over high heat.  Add cauliflower and cook, stirring often until charred on most sides, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat if it starts to burn or smoke.  Reduce heat to medium low and add onions.  Cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and chipotles and cook 2 more minutes.  Add half of broth and bring to a boil.  Cook until cauliflower is soft, about 5 minutes.  Using a hand blender puree mixture completely until all chunks are gone.  Add remaining broth, potatoes, kale and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes can be easily smashed, about 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and smash potatoes with a spoon to your liking.  Serve with the gremolata below, and maybe some Parmesan cheese if you'd like.

Gremolata Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 loaf of stale crusty bread, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil, or more as needed
  •  1 large garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
Add bread to a food processor and process until it turns to breadcrumbs.  Add garlic, lemon zest and parsley.  Pulse until mixed in and chopped fine.  With the processor on slowly stream in olive oil until bread crumbs are coated but not drenched. 

2014-04-01 19.28.59-1