Tortilla soup has become a standard of tex-mex menus here in the states, becoming another pillar of the glorious international chicken soup pantheon. While its origin is shrouded in mystery, food historians can pinpoint its arrival to America somewhere around the 1890s. The combination of slow simmered chicken, tomatoes, and fried tortillas is a simple blend of flavors that seem as if they were always meant to be together. Crazily, the myriad chicken tortilla soup fails come in the way of people bastardizing this formula, inundating the soup with unnecessary toppings (or worse, using cheese to cover up a watery broth or lack of chicken and vegetables). Continue reading Mexican Chicken Vegetable Soup (Caldo Tlalpeño)
Let’s talk about food worth lauding over. The kind of dishes that don’t mess around with excesses and hit a balance of flavor and texture right on the nose. Ingredients that are versatile – equally sassy doing the roger rabbit by themselves or the kid ‘n play with a friend. This dish wants to rock right now – it’s Ginger Beef and it came to get down. It’s not internationally known…okay, that’s probably enough of that.
Keeping the cooking on this one a breeze involves doing all of your chopping before even thinking about heating up your wok. Call it your mise en place. Call it your OCD. Either way, you’ll be ready to wok and roll (and spout out bad puns, apparently). Also, to get the beef to cook quickly, you’ll want to slice it so thinly, it’ll seem as if your shaving off pieces. A trick to make this process easier is to slice the flank steak while it’s partially frozen. The meat holds it’s shape and gives your knife stability as you cut away. Yes, yes y’all. Continue reading Ginger Beef with Snow Peas
If I told you that this soup takes a mere 10 minutes to simmer for the taste of a soup labored over for a day (or two), would you brand me an infomercial? Because it’s true – every word of it. And it doesn’t come at the hands of any crazy Ron Popeil device, although you do pretty much “set it and forget it.” This baby is simmered to perfection in a pressure cooker, and for that great savings of time and effort and the steaming up of the household, I am eternally grateful. Continue reading Italian Sausage and Rice Soup
In the powerplay for key plate location and eating supremacy, stuffing is my champion well beyond Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong – I adore mashed potatoes, roast turkey, string beans and a biblical-worthy proclamation of gravy over all. But at the end of the day, the one dish that I jones about above all others is glorious stuffing.
For a goodly while, I’ve been taking part in (if not orchestrating) the Thanksgiving meal. I can remember the first time I was allowed in the kitchen to help out my paternal grandmother make sweet potatoes, and what a gift it was. It was like a vote of confidence that I was old enough to help out with the cooking (and thus, not going to eff things up). The meal itself was full of such history, from the family recipe for Carolina-style cornbread to two special versions of dressing, my favorite one with oysters. When it came to my making the meal myself years later, I carried with me the memories as much as the flavors and ingredients. This stuffing was less a recipe and more an extension of my favorite type of cooking – completely unfussy ingredients turning into deliciousness with fail-proof techniques. My hope is that if ever you end up cooking this meal for you and yours, and you don’t already have a beloved stuffing recipe, that maybe you’ll try this one out for inclusion in the pantheon of cherished Thanksgiving favorites. It’s really that simple and lovely that you’ll be happy to make it a part of your fam.
2 bags of Pepperidge Farm stuffing (I prefer the crumbs to the cubes, but either works)
2 stalks of celery
1 large onion
1 cup of craisins
6 c. of chicken stock
2 sprigs of sage
4 sprigs of thyme
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
1 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 stick of butter plus 2 tbs.
1 tbs. of olive oil
Begin by chopping your carrots, onion, celery and apples – I like to just throw everything in the food processor and chop into a rough dice. Stem and chop your sage and thyme. Set the herbs and veggies aside.
In a saucepan, warm your stock with 1 stick of the butter, white pepper, black pepper and salt. Add the craisins and allow to reconstitute. Let it hang out while you prep your veggies.
In a large skillet, add the 2 tbs. of butter and 1 tbs. of olive oil. Add the veggies and herbs and cook until softened, but not browned. Add the veggies to a large mixing bowl and stir in the stuffing. Pour the broth over the stuffing and stir to moisten. Turn out into a greased casserole dish.
Bake stuffing on 375° for 35-45 minutes, or until browned on top. Serve on a prime spot on your dinner plate.
From an early age, I’ve been a sucker for blubbery noodles in chicken soup. Doughy and dumpling-esque, these treats could be a meal of their own, languishing in a bath of shredded chicken, carrots, celery and light broth. We used to go to this restaurant in the mall near our house that was an all-you-can-eat soup and salad buffet. The main draw for me was always the chicken soup, and I cursed the little crocks there to use for the soup because they just couldn’t contain all the noodle majesty that I was looking for.
Years later, a trip to the substandard Sweet Tomatoes (I know, I should have known) brought back memories of my earlier favorite. They make a Chicken Noodle that brags about just being chicken and noodles, which would be fine if the soup weren’t flavorless. And yet, it comes so close to awesomeness with their perfectly doughy, homemade noodles. I actually had my husband get me two takeout containers of the stuff and scoop out mostly noodles, bring it home and add it to homemade broth of carrots, onions, celery and parsley. Divine!
But not worth setting foot in a Sweet Tomatoes. Why couldn’t I make these wondrous babies at home? Well, after a little research on the web and a little inspiration from For the Love of Cooking, I was able to recreate happiness in a pot. I’ve officially had my cake and eaten it too. If by cake, we’re talking about a big ol’ bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Chicken Soup with Noodles
1/3 c. of milk
2 c. of flour
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
ingredients for chicken soup (chicken, celery, carrots, bay leaves)
In a standing mixer, add egg, milk, salt and pepper. Mix until blended and then add flour. Mix on low to medium setting until a dough is formed and a ball gathers around the bowl. Remove dough from the mixer and knead a bit on a flat surface to gather up dough – very briefly, only about 30 seconds. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into three portions. Using a pasta roller (or for me, the pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid) roll out the dough on the widest setting until silken and 1/8 of an inch thick. Move dough to a sheet of wax paper and cut into strips with a cookie cutter. Know that your noodles will double in size once cooked, so for blubbery ones like I like, I cut them into 1/4 in. by 2 in. lengths, for 1/2 in. by 4 in. noodles once cooked. Let noodles rest on the wax paper for an hour or so (you can let them hang out while you tend to your soup) to dry a bit.
Make a pot of chicken soup by either following this recipe for homemade chicken soup or by warming 4 quarts of chicken stock with 2 finely sliced carrots, 2 finely sliced celery stalks and a few fresh bay leaves. Shred the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken and add to the soup.
Drop the noodles into a pot of hot broth and cook until tender all the way through, about 45 minutes. If you’ve cut your noodles thinner, they will cook faster. I sometimes cook the noodles up to an hour to get them super tender like dumplings. The longer you cook, the more broth that is absorbed and the more tender your noodles.
Hot Fun in the Summertime
Called goi cuon in Vietnamese, these fresh rolls offer a light and refreshing alternative to their oil-laden spring roll cousins. Although these are traditionally made with steamed shrimp and slivers of roasted pork, I like mine vegan with lots of crunchy veggies and no meat or seafood. I even spike them with a few shitake mushrooms sauteed in a bit of oil and then cooled – this addition makes the rolls even more filling as a main dish. Complete the non-meat meal with a tasty dip in some peanut sauce (find a version with no fish sauce) or hoisin sauce. Welcome to the ultimate in coolness.
You’ll note that there are no amounts in this recipe – fill the rolls to your liking with the veggies of your choosing and dunk away. It’s your show and you get to cast the characters. That means you’re cut, bean sprouts! Continue reading Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon)