Archive for ‘Chicken’

December 11, 2012

Simple and Heartfelt | Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball SoupSometimes, you just want soup. When it’s rainy (no snow?) and cold and dreary and grey, you need something that says, “Bubbala, where are your mittens?”

This fantastic soup is something that anyone can make, with the most simple of ingredients.  And it’s pretty much the single most biggest bang for your buck kind of thing you can make.  People love it.  It’s funny like that.  Because you say to yourself, “Really?  This is that good?”

But it is.  You might even get a bit greedy for the leftovers.  But then, you won’t, because you know better and because this is wonderful to share.  Because the leftovers are even better.  And this, in the season of giving is a wonderful thing to give: warming, comforting and 98% love by volume.

This particular recipe/method uses every possible bit of the soup, even the fat that you skim off the top of the stock.  Because thrift is what takes this soup from ho hum to oh nom.  Yeah, I went there.

Matzo Ball Soup, Serves two for dinner, plus five for leftover lunch, so, yeah. Lots.

For the stock

1 split chicken breast, bone in, skin on

2 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on

2 chicken drumsticks, bone in, skin on

2 carrots, quartered

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August 19, 2012

Thinking Ahead | Avgolemono – Lemon Chicken Soup

I stood in this kitchen this morning knowing that I wanted a traditional Sunday dinner.  I was in the mood to let something cook, take a bit more time preparing something.  I pulled out one of my favorite books that I hadn’t looked at in a while: Heart of the Artichoke, by the wonderful David Tanis.  In it, the summer menus tugged at me and I decided to roast a spatchcocked chicken and make up a rice salad with some of the beautiful Carolina Gold rice some dear friends brought back from a summer vacation in South Carolina.

And, as luck would have it, none of this was actually time intensive.  I love it when I have the time to give to something and the fates tell me not to worry about it.

In addition to being a really nice guy, Mr. Tanis is such a clever chef and cook, in the book he offers numerous variations on many of his recipes, adding or omitting an ingredient or two and giving you a whole new way to enjoy a dish, transitioning from side dish to satisfying lunch in a short jump.  Really good stuff.  It’s a way to start thinking about what you have in the pantry and the fridge to re-purpose yesterday’s dinner into a wholly new meal.  It’s leftovers, elevated.

So tonight, after devouring half a lemony roast chicken and having just the teeny-ist bit of the herb rice salad leftover, I eyed the golden fond in the chicken roasting pan and remembered my favorite soup from Tasi: a lovely lemon chicken soup. 

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July 24, 2012

Despite the Heat | Tortilla Soup

Eating soup when it’s hot out can strike people as odd.  But think French-inspired Pho in steamy Vietnam, or British-influenced Mulligatawny in India.  There’s a point to eating something hot and spicy when it’s hot out: it makes you sweat (I glow).  And that helps you cool off.  So while it may seem counter-intuitive, now is certainly the season to give some spicy soup a go.

It’s always hot in Texas.  So it’s not surprising that tortilla soup is on just about every menu you peruse in San Antonio.   There’s something about it that San Antonians can’t seem to get enough of, no matter the season.   Perhaps it’s the mix of textures, but like Pho and Mulligatawny, it’s spicy and hot and a treat to eat.  (It also happens to the be the exact thing I was eating when Hades first fell in love with me fifteen years ago.  I even spilled it all over myself and he still loved me.  Magical stuff this is.)  And summertime is when the produce that comprises the bulk of the ingredients for tortilla soup are at their peak.

I like to play around with ingredients: if there’s corn, add some, if there’s not, no worries.  Zucchini and summer squashes work wonderfully, too.  Tomatoes, however are a requirement. 

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June 4, 2012

Two Light and Easy Nights | Summer Miso Soup

This past weekend the most recent Top Chef winner Paul Qui was in town at Market District to do a demo and answer questions.  Honestly, I don’t think there has been a nicer, more unassuming winner of that crazy show.   He’s just such a humble, talented guy.  His dishes were lovely light versions of chicken rice (his with lots and lots of a lemony ponzu) and a summer miso soup.  Things, he says, are his comfort foods.  I can completely see why.

His cooking got me thinking about dishes I had made in the past but could bring together for the perfect, almost no effort summer dinner.  Granted, you’ll have Asian food a couple of days in a row, but I don’t think that ever hurt anyone.  Plus, this is the time of year that you can gather just about everything locally, aside from the kombu, katsuobushi and a couple of pantry items.

But perhaps the thing that makes me happiest about this kind of dinner is that since everybody gets to choose what to include in their bowls, it’s lots of fun for Cherub.  She amazed even me tonight by her choice of tofu, zucchini, carrots, green onion, bean sprouts and snap peas.  But she passed on the fresh sweet corn.  (What kid does that?)  And she even had seconds.

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December 7, 2011

Diary of a Dinner | Anglian Soup

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t really planned, per se.

And lately I’ve been trying to formulate a way to express just how meals come together at our house.  Because I think it’s kind of important.  Cooking is a part of almost all that I do.  But not in an intrusive, takes-up-all-my-time kind of thing.  It’s easy.  I keep saying that because I think everyone can look at how they use their time and fill in a spare five or ten minutes with a few small tasks that really elevate meals into something special.  Even if a portion of it is takeaway from a grocery store.

Yesterday I picked up some crab cakes from Fresh Market (December is buy one get one free salmon fillets and crab cakes on Tuesdays).  And I knew that I had a good piece of butternut squash in the fridge.  A whole roasted pie pumpkin from over the weekend was in there, too. 

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August 20, 2011

Simplicity from the Farmers’ Market | On the Grill

Honestly in the summer I can’t be bothered with much.  Dinner of a meat and a veg.  Perhaps a second veg.  If it doesn’t require cooking.  And if Cherub loves it.   Only then.

So if you’re like me and don’t feel up to much, stop by the farmers’ market in your town on Saturday morning and pick up two or three things for a Saturday night grilled dinner: some chicken thighs with the bone removed but the tasty skin left on, some fresh sweet corn and some grape or cherry tomatoes.

If you buy your ingredients from reputable and local farmers, you can be assured of freshness and flavor you wouldn’t normally get at the grocery store.  And if you’re a lazy cook in the summer, these are the greatest things you can buy because you have only the slightest work to make something really tasty.

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Grilled Corn and Lime Butter, serves four

6 chicken thighs, bone removed, skin left on

1 garlic clove

1 T chili powder

1 T whole cumin seeds

1 T brown sugar

1 t salt

2 T olive oil

4 ears sweet corn

4 T butter

1 t chili powder

Zest from 1 lime, juice from 1/2

Salt

Prepare grill (I prefer a charcoal).

In a mortar and pestle combine garlic, all spices and olive oil and mash to a consistent paste.  Rub onto chicken and allow to marinate from 15 minutes to two hours.

Grill chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.

While chicken is cooking, gently peel back husks to remove silk from corn, carefully replacing husks to cover back over the corn.  Mix lime zest with juice and spices along with softened (not melted) butter to create an even mixture.  Place corn in husks over cooler coals after chicken is cooked and resting and cook for approximately 10 minutes, turning frequently.

To serve, eat outside, for God’s sake.

Remove husks from corn and slather with butter mixture.  Serve with chicken.  And perhaps some of those tomatoes that you didn’t bother to cook, merely wash.  And a wine, maybe an A to Z 2009 Pinot Gris.

Playlist included Thursday, the mixtape by The Weeknd.

May 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend | Greek Mezedes

This started with my current obsession, which is oddly and plainly, roasting potatoes.

From which rose a lovely collection of small plates that we passed and shared over a couple of glasses of wine. Well, Cherub didn’t have any wine.

It was all easily pulled together a Monday night on a long weekend, Memorial Day here in America and Bank Holiday for those across the pond.  It’s a leisurely way to enjoy a meal or entertain.   It’s basically the more familiar tapas only with Mediterranean flair.  In fact many a Greek meal begins and ends entirely with mezedes.

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