Archive for ‘Winter’

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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February 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday | Tapping Maples at Flying J

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Playlist included Mr. Sun, by Kina Granis.

January 3, 2012

Variations on a Theme | Caramelized Endive and Walnut Risotto

It might strike you as esoteric, caramelized endive.  But let me assure you that it is entirely devour-able, and not in the slightest way effete.

And the New Year is a perfect time to delve into comforting vegetarian dishes.  I just know you want to ease into your new-found resolve to eat more veggies, but dammit, it should taste good and be filling.

In this risotto, the endive is left to caramelize in a separate pan, given only a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove and salt to help it achieve its golden color.  Do this and you are rewarded with what looks a whole lot like oxtail and onions, only unabashedly vegetarian.  And simmering in another pot, a simple elixir of water, parsnips (crucial sweetness, in my opinion, to balance the bitterness of the endive), onion, bay and some seeds from the summer’s past garden (corriander in this case) round out the quick stock.

Combine it all and you have yet another version of one of my favorite things to cook for my family: risotto.  It is, after all, my lifetime dish.  One of those things I want to master perfectly before I die.  After all it is resolution season.

PK Tip: This dish is entirely versatile.  Sub kale and pecans for a thoroughly American take on the dish; radicchio and chestnuts for a U.K. variation.

Caramelized Endive and Toasted Walnut Risotto; serves two to three; inspired by this recipe in the Telegraph

For the stock:
1 very large parsnip, peeled and quartered length-wise

1 small onion, unpeeled and quartered

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December 23, 2011

A Christmas Tradition | Santa Cookies

We’ve been making these in my family as long as I can remember.  Even when Momma’s old cookie cutter was almost broken in half, we – but perhaps more kindly she – still managed to turn out dozens upon dozens of these intricate, almond-y cookies.

Fast forward to the age of the internet and a quick Google search can help you turn up just about anything.  Even a replacement (or three – one for her, one for me and one for my sister) for a thirty-year old cookie mold.  The Merry Christmas set has this mold in it.

So start a tradition in your house with these.  Charming as well as tasty, they are entirely worth all the effort.

Playlist included Little Saint Nick, by She and Him.

February 24, 2011

Warmth | Carrot and Corriander Risotto

Spring has forsaken us for a moment here in Ohio.  The 40’s are not really doing it for me.  Yes, I remember it’s still February.  But I long for barefoot weather.  I crave a muddy, just-pulled summer carrot and the sight of my coriander having, once again, gone to seed before I can get a decent couple of salsas out of it.  I yearn for warmth.

In absence of warm outdoors, I made some sunshine in the kitchen with this sweet, herby risotto.  You can take your time with the stock, as it says in the recipe, or you can certainly make a quick and dirty one, starting it only a few minutes before you start the risotto (no whole onion, cloves, juniper berries required).

I will be making this one again, late this summer, with carrots from my garden that is yet to be planted, and the new cilantro plants that will spring unassisted from coriander seeds that found their way into the cracks around my patio.  I will stretch out barefoot on the grass and be content with the warmth.

Carrot and Coriander Risotto

1 bunch of carrots with tops
1 medium onion
2 cloves
Small handful parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
10  peppercorns
4 or 5 juniper berries
1 t whole coriander seeds

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February 9, 2011

Cold Weather Curry | Masoor Dal with Root Vegetables

Just because it’s a weeknight meal and it’s cold, and – let’s face it – you’re a little bit miserable, doesn’t mean that you have to compromise.

We always hear the world is getting smaller.  Things that we once thought were inaccessible, foreign and exotic, even five years ago, are now within easy reach of the home chef of today.  As South Asian food and culture continues to entice new followers, why not adopt these beautiful, time-tested and spice-kissed flavors as your own, even if just for one night?  You might just fall in love with the fragrances and techniques and make them a part of your cooking repertoire and perhaps, your family’s traditions.

Tonight’s recipe is for a dal that adds root vegetables.  Made with a base of quick cooking split red lentils, I added some onions, carrots, parsnips and potatoes.  The pleasure of a dish like this is that if you manage the base technique, you can change up the ingredients, and even spices to make it just to your taste.  Like cumin seeds, but don’t have the black cardamom? Fine. Use what you like and have.  PK tip: The basic trick to getting the flavor right in this dish is heating the oil very hot and frying the whole spices until they are very brown.  This makes a perfectly balanced vegetarian dinner if you serve this with basmati rice that’s been cooked with a cinnamon stick, four whole cloves and a few crushed cardamom pods.  Or if you’re in the mood for meat, serve this, like I did, with garam masala dusted lamb loin chops and homemade naan bread with cumin seeds.

Mansoor Dal with Root Vegetables

2 T vegetable oil

1 bay leaf

1 T whole corriander seeds

1 T whole cumin seeds

1 T whole mustard seeds

4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1 black cardamom pod, lightly crushed

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February 7, 2011

Variation on Dashi | Egg Drop Soup or Tamago Toji

I have met some of the nicest folks because of writing this blog.  One such person is Spenmax.  I first ran across her writing when I was looking for bento box ideas for Cherub.  She posts regularly about the authentic Japanese lunches that she carefully and lovingly packs for her little ones.  I have found a lot of inspiration from her posts to fill the adorable box I bought for Cherub at Tigertree.  She also has a delicious wealth of knowledge about Japanese food and is kind in sharing what she knows.  She gave me the extra details I needed to transform the egg drop soup I had planned for dinner into something similar to what she might have grown up eating.  It was, I’m sure, a pale imitation, but I do always try to honor the heritage of the food I’m making.  And I’m happy to highlight my blogging friend.

Spenmax’s Tamago Toji, serves 2

6 c. dashi broth

4 inch piece of daikon radish, sliced in small batons

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