Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

It’s Taco (Soup) Tuesday!

March 5, 2019

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!  What could be better than a Taco Fat Tuesday?!  I’ve been busy stuffing myself with the things I’m giving up for Lent (chocolate and Coke), so honestly, a not so fat dinner is pretty appealing.  This is one of those dinners that can be adjusted to pretty much any level of fat or spice and with any kind of toppers you want.

The recipe calls for beef or pork stew meat, but I used ground beef just like I would in tacos.  Well, actually, I cut the fat by using half Boca crumbles and half ground beef.  You could use all veggie crumbles to make it vegetarian.  Or chicken if you’re not a red meat person. Or extra beans and thrown in some shrimp at the end.  See?  You can do just about anything with this.  I’ve used black beans, but any beans you like, or no beans, will do just as well.  I used canned corn and canned tomatoes, per the recipe.  Then I realized there were no green chiles or jalapenos called for so I dumped in some salsa.  Finish with the taco seasoning packet of your choice.  Or use a home blend if you’re feeling industrious.

What else do we love?  This is a slow cooker recipe so you dump everything in the pot in the morning and come home to a house that smells like tacos!  Ground beef frozen?  Totally fine.  Throw it in there.  You’ll have to break it up when you get home, but that’s no big deal.  Using shrimp?  If they’re frozen, throw them in when you get home.  They’ll be done by the time you get your clothes changed and everyone gathered up for dinner.  If they’re fresh (or thawed), throw them in about 7-8 minutes before you want to eat.

What’s even better?  I keep Boca crumbles and salsa in the house pretty much all the time.  I got everything else at Lidl, including the toppings, so this whole pot of soup cost me about $5.

What about the toppings?  Sky’s the limit.  Sour cream, cheese, olives, hot sauce, pickled jalapenos, tortilla chips.  Think of this as a big bowl of nacho topping!  I’m using some chopped romaine lettuce, avocado, and plain yogurt.  I hear it’s good eaten with Scoops instead of a spoon!  Sounds like a crowd pleaser to me.

This is eighteen different kinds of good.  How could it miss?  It’s tacos in a bowl!  And it doesn’t disappoint.  Don’t wait for next Tuesday.  Make it tomorrow!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb (equiv) Boca crumbles
  • 1 can beans, drained
  • 1 can corn, undrained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 C salsa

Here’s what you do:

  • Dump everything in the Crock-pot
  • Cook on low 6-8 hours
  • Top with your choice of toppings

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Green Turkey Chili with Corn Two Ways

January 28, 2019

I’m back!  I’ve been traveling for work (again).  I ate out 21 meals in a row.  I did pretty well with my choices for the first few days.  The last half of the week was a dietary train wreck.  Now I’m at home and starting my “do over.”  I need something to fill a few requirements:  1)  low fat, low calorie, low WW points; 2) enough leftovers to eat a few times this week; 3)  something to help my fight the polar vortex that’s about to descend on central Virginia.  Turkey chili!

I know that a lot of people lighten up their regular red beef chili by substituting ground turkey for ground beef.  To me, turkey chili is white chili.  No tomatoes.  If I want tomato chili I’d rather combine beef with veggie crumbles than abandon the beef.  This is green chili because I use a bunch of diced green chilis and a jalapeno instead of red chili powder.  It looks a tiny bit green.

Want to make really green chili for fun?  Add some of the green chilis and a bunch of cilantro to your bean puree.  A tip about the bean puree.  Most recipes will tell you to put all the beans in the pot and cook them with the rest of the chili.  Then you have to spoon a bunch out, add a little liquid, and puree.  I spend a lot of time chasing beans around the pot and picking out the other stuff.  I get it.  If you do it that way the bean puree has the same flavor as the rest of the pot and you won’t have to adjust the seasonings much.  But it’s kind a pain.  It’s much easier to just save some of the beans out from the beginning.  Besides, this way, if you’ve over-seasoned, you have a chance to use the bean puree to correct that.  Never a bad idea to give yourself an out like that.

Is bean puree the only way to thicken this chili?  Nope.  You could make a slurry of masa or ground corn and water.  Let it sit a little while before you add it, but that should work.  A regular corn starch slurry would work too.  Just remember to bring the pot to a boil if you’re using corn starch.  Otherwise it won’t thicken.

So, what’s with this corn two ways thing?  I add hominy and white corn.  What is hominy?  It’s just corn kernels that have been soaked in an alkali solution.  The solution removes the hull and puffs up the kernel.  You start with field corn, which is different than the sweet corn you buy to eat as is.  The hominy adds heft and just a hint of corn flavor, more like masa or ground corn than like kernels.  And the kernels add sweetness.  Normally I’d use frozen corn.  It keeps its texture a little better than canned.  Today I could only find the white corn in a can.  Feel free to use yellow corn instead.  I just prefer the look of the chili with the white corn in it.

There are lots of options for topping this chili too.  It’s great with sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice.  If it’s not chili for you until you add the cheese, add some grated pepper jack.  Add some diced avocado and chopped cilantro or a dollop of guacamole.  And don’t forget the pickled jalapenos and green Tabasco for folks who need some extra heat. Or make a whole bar of toppings and let everyone dress their own!    Great addition to your Super Bowl party next weekend!

“This sounds amazing, but I’m a vegetarian!”  No worries.  There’s enough stuff in here you won’t even miss the turkey if you leave it out.  Add an extra can of beans and use vegetable stock instead of chicken.  Or throw in some tempeh to add another texture.

Here’s what you need: serves 4-6

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  • 1 1/2 T canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cans white beans, drained (cannellini or great northern)
  • 3 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 bag frozen pearl onions
  • 1 can white hominy, drained
  • 2 small cans diced green chiles
  • 1 can white corn, drained
  • ground cumin and salt to taste
  • cliantro, sour cream, pepper jack, avocado, limes for garnish

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot
  • Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos.
  • Saute until they begin to soften, stirring constantly.  Do not brown.
  • Add the turkey.  Break it up with a wooden spoon as it browns.

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  • Add the beans, reserving 1/3 of a can for the puree
  • Add the stock, reserving 1/8 C for the puree
  • Add the onions and the hominy

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  • Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered 1 hour, stirring occasionally
  • Season with cumin and salt
  • Puree the reserved beans and stock

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  • Add to the pot
  • Adjust seasonings to tastee
  • Add the corn
  • Simmer 15 more minutes

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  • Serve with toppings

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Clam Chowder

January 12, 2019

It’s a sort of snowy evening in Central Virginia.  We can see a few flakes anyway.  And in preparation for the coming storm, I had a craving for chowder.  More importantly, I braved the grocery store to get provisions to make it!  Always a huge gamble here, especially if you need milk, bread, or toilet paper.  I needed potatoes, clams, and corn so I was in the clear except for the parking lot and the checkout line.

I’ve never made clam chowder before, as far as I can remember.  Honestly, my exposure to it is almost limited to the lovely bowl you get from Legal Seafoods.  Given my current attempts to reduce my fat and calories, in hopes of narrowing my waistline, it’s an odd choice.  But I found a recipe on foodnetwork.com that didn’t seem so bad.  More broth than cream.  I actually used a little half and half, because I had it, and some skim milk.  I’m sure it’s not as thick as intended, but it’s definitely chowder and not soup.  I added some corn for sweetness.  And some bacon on top to make it seem slightly more decadent.  Having my first beer in 2 weeks made it seem downright festive!

What would I do differently?  Well, I added too much salt, which is a bummer.  The corn helped balance that out, but still.  I’m super paranoid about not salting the water for potatoes, grits, and pasta.  In this case, since the potatoes are staying in the broth, waiting until the end to salt is probably a better approach.  Lesson learned.  On the leftover bowls, I’ll add some green onions as well.

UPDATE:  I decided to address the too much salt issue.  I chopped a few more potatoes (about 3 small red potatoes); boiled them until they were soft; drained most of the water; and pureed them with an immersion blender.  The added potato puree helped balance the salt and made the chowder a little thicker.

Here’s what you need (plus some flour, which I forgot for the photo, but managed to get in the dish): serves 3-4 as a main dish

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  • 1 T oil or bacon grease
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 T flour
  • 2 C vegetable stock
  • 1 C milk/cream or a mix
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 C chopped potatoes, about 1/2 inch in size
  • 1 10oz can clams, whole or chopped
  • 1 C corn
  • 1/2 slice of bacon per bowl for garnish

Here’s what you do:

  • In a heavy pot, heat the oil.  If you’re cooking bacon to top the bowls, feel free to use the bacon grease
  • Add the onion and garlic.  Cook until soft
  • Stir in flour
  • Add stock, milk, and bay leaf.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly.

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  • Add potatoes, reduce heat to a simmer
  • Add salt
  • Simmer 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender
  • Add clams and corn, simmer another 5-7 minutes

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  • Serve topped with crumbled bacon

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White Beans and Greens Soup (with or without ham!)

December 22, 2018

It’s been another long while since I’ve posted.  It’s the holidays so I’ve been cooking up a storm, but not very inclined to be on my computer.  I’ll try to catch up over the next week or so.  Well, not only have I been cooking up a storm, I’ve been eating (and drinking) like there’s no tomorrow.  Just this morning I had a HUGE brunch and mimosas with my friends from the SPCA.  Then I had a nap.  I knew I was going to want something for dinner, but decided that a non-potato vegetable might be in order.  Something light.  SOUP!

I spent some time this afternoon with Ruth Reichl and Melissa Clark, their cookbooks anyway.  I had it narrowed down to Thai noodle soup or avgolemono when I stumbled upon a recipe for Navy Bean and Ham soup with collards.  I know, navy bean and ham soup isn’t so light.  Usually it’s thick enough to eat with a fork and nary a vegetable in sight.  This one is different!  Melissa Clark delivers again.  And, of course, I made some adjustments.

While I didn’t need it to be super thick, I knew that mashing a few of the beans from a single can, as the recipe called for, wasn’t going to cut it.  I turned a second can of beans into a puree and added that to the soup to give it a little more heft. It’s still pretty light, but feels more like a winter main dish soup.

Now, traditionally you couldn’t possibly leave out the ham in a white bean and ham soup.  It supplies pretty much all of the flavor.  I had some country ham in the house, so I did throw that in.  However, because the primary spice here is paprika, you could use a smoked paprika and dispense with the meat altogether without giving up that smoky flavor!  With the vegetables and beans you’d still have a complete meal soup.

This is a 30-40 minute dinner start to finish, depending on your chopping skills.  Took me 40.  My knife skills are decent, but not speedy.  Because it’s soup, feel free to use pre-chopped frozen vegetables if you want. In fact, if you bought chopped vegetables and diced ham, this is a 25 minute dinner!

Here’s what you need:

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  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 1/2 C diced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C finely chopped carrot
  • 2 C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 C water
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 C chopped greens (kale and chard here, but collards, would work too)
  • 4-8 oz diced ham (optional)

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  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can white beans, drained, rinsed and pureed

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  • 1 T paprika (or smoked paprika)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot sauce garnish (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat olive oil in a stock pot
  • Add onion, celery, garlic, carrots
  • Saute until softened, about 10 minutes

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  • Add stock, water, ham, peppers, greens, beans, puree.  Bring to a simmer
  • Add paprika, salt, pepper.  Simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Garnish with hot sauce if desired.

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How’d it turn out?

So, so good.  I feel almost healthy!  The recipe called for me to make cornbread croutons coated with hot sauce and butter.  I had no cornbread so I tried it with a potato roll.  Not so good.  Fortunately, I make cheese straws as part of my Christmas baking. They were perfect alongside my soup!

The greens and peppers maintain some nice texture against the creamy beans. The paprika is the perfect flavor to bring the soup to life.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers already!

 

Snow Day Lasagna Soup

December 9, 2018

It’s been too long!  I’ve done some cooking, some traveling, some eating out in the meantime.  But today is a snow day, which means kitchen time and binge-watching tv.  And, of course, taking video of the puppy’s first snow.  I love days like this!

An ad for something called “Instant Pot Lasagna Soup” came across my news feed last week.  I don’t have an Instant Pot.  I feel no need for one.  There was a link to a slow cooker version.  Getting closer.  But on a snow day, I don’t need a hands off solution.  I’m here.  I have time to stir.  And in this case, that’s the only difference between the slow cooker version and the stove top soup pot version.  The stirring.

How do you make a soup version of lasagna?  Basically, you make the goopy filling you’d make for a regular lasagna and add a bunch of liquid to it.  Soup.  The great thing about it is that the filling part can be anything you want. I used a combination of sausage, beef, and turkey in this one.  If you’d usually make a vegetarian lasagna, by all means, do that. Sub in veggie crumbles instead of the meat. This would be great with zucchini and mushrooms.  And what’s even better is that you don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to fall apart when you cut it.  It’s supposed to be soupy!

Now, let’s talk noodles.  Lots of options here too.  What kind of noodles?  I decided to use lasagna noodles broken into pieces.  You could use rotini or radiatore or baby shells, whatever.  You can cook them in the soup.  You can cook them ahead of time and add them to the pot.  You can cook them and portion them into individual bowls.  What you need to consider is your leftovers plan.  If you’re sure you won’t have leftovers, cook the noodles in the soup.  They’ll take on the flavor of the soup.  If you’re mostly sure you won’t have leftovers, but then again maybe, cook the noodles separately and add them to the pot. They’ll take on some of the soup liquid.  Beware that the noodles in the leftovers might be a little mushy.  If you’ve planned for leftovers, cook the noodles separately and put them in individual bowls.  You can either cook all the noodles you’ll need and just store them separately or you can cook fresh ones each time you have leftovers.

This stuff looks, tastes, and smells amazing.  Coming in from playing in the snow to this aroma is a gift.  Truly.  But I noticed that I didn’t have any vegetables.  And since I’m still not convinced that lettuce won’t jump up and kill me at any moment (Google romaine and e coli if you want more info on that), I decided to add some kale to the pot.  I got some end of season lacinato kale at the farmers’ market yesterday so I chopped and added most of the bunch to the pot.  If you’re going to add a hardy green to the pot, just make sure the soup is at a solid simmer.  You want the greens to cook, not just wilt.  If you’re using a softer leaf like spinach, a wilt will do just fine.

Hey now, you’re saying, the best part of a lasagna is the cheesy goodness!  Worry not.  You have a lot of options in the cheese department too.  You can add a dollop of ricotta to the bottom of each bowl before you ladle the soup in.  You can (and should) top each bowl with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Or both!  In this case I used SausageCraft Della Nonna sausage, which has some cheese mixed right into the sausage.  Yummmm.  If you want to make it extra special, use oven safe crocks so you can brown the mozzarella in the broiler before serving!

If you don’t have a lasagna recipe that you’re already using, feel free to follow this one.  This will make 4-6 servings.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lb each, italian sausage, ground beef, and ground turkey
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 oz) or pint jar peeled tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 C dry red wine (save the rest for dinner!)
  • 1-2 t dried oregano
  • 1-2 t dried basil
  • 2-3 C stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • In a medium pot, cook the pasta; set aside

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  • In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil until it shimmers
  • Add the onion and garlic
  • Cook until the onion is soft
  • Add the meat; cook until it’s browned

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  • Stir in the tomato paste

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  • Stir in the tomatoes, wine and spices

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At this point what you’ve got is lasagna filling.

  • Add the stock

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Now it’s soup!

  • Bring to a simmer
  • Cover the pot and cook 30-60 minutes
  • Increase the heat to achieve a low boil
  • Add the kale

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  • Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Add pasta to each bowl; ladle soup over the noodles
  • Add some mozzarella and parmesan

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How was it?

First, it’s exactly as advertised.  It’s lasagna in a bowl!  Nothing to complain about there.  I really like the broken lasagna noodles. My advice – leave the pieces big enough that you really notice them.  It’s much more like lasagna that way.  And as delightful as the mozzarella is, it sticks to the spoon as much as anything.  I don’t like having to scrape it off with my teeth. I might try the leftovers with just the parmesan.  Or maybe cubes of fresh mozzarella instead.

If you’re going to add a kale or chard, add some extra stock or water as well. The greens soak up a lot of liquid and you still want it to be like soup.  I really liked the kale addition though.  I’d definitely do that again.

I’m super happy with my meat choices.  The beef and turkey were very lean and the sausage added just enough fat to add amazing flavor and a silky texture to the broth.  So, not a lot of fat and I didn’t miss it.  But I think I’d be happy with a vegetarian version too.

All in all, the perfect snow day dinner!  All the food groups; warm and comfort-y;  and only a bowl to wash.  I might even have some in the morning after the snow shoveling!

Farewell Fresh: Potato and Corn Chowder

November 17, 2018

It’s gotten cold here in Virginia.  And I worked pretty hard today – run this morning; housecleaning; and I braved the Kroger the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  There ought to be a badge for that!  But as usual, I bought the stuff I need to make Thanksgiving desserts, but no actual food.  Fortunately I had one more Hello Fresh meal!  Chowder was exactly the right thing for tonight.

There’s a fair amount of chopping in this one, and a fairly long cooking time, but it’s not hard.  The only challenge is adding the milk to the floury vegetables and getting a smooth base.  You’re making gravy here.  Just add a little milk.  Stir until it’s incorporated.  It’ll be thick and glumpy still.  Add a little more.  Stir it in.  There’s a cup of milk and I added it in 5 stages.  By the end it’s very soupy, but it doesn’t have any lumps!  And be sure you bring it all the way to a boil before you start to simmer.  It’s the boiling that helps thicken the chowder.

I simmered it for 12 minutes.  You want the potatoes to be tender, but not soft.  They need to hold their shape.  The corn is yellow and had very large kernels, almost as large as the potato pieces.  It adds a very nice hit of sweetness against the heat of the poblano.  Hello Fresh provided a medium cheddar, which was fine.  On my own I would have used extra sharp. I just like that extra tang.

What’s my favorite thing about this chowder?  The smoked paprika.  It’s a fantastic way to add to add some smoky, almost meaty, depth to a vegetarian dish.  Chowder often has bacon or ham to elevate a dish that’s otherwise mostly potatoes and milk.  No need here.  The smoked paprika does its job.

This is another recipe that makes way more than 2 people need for dinner.  I had a bowl and a half tonight and there are easily 2 and maybe 3 servings left in the pot.  Between this and the orzotto from yesterday (and Thanksgiving!), I’ve got lunch taken care of for the week!

My only word of caution – the poblano isn’t a very hot pepper, but it still stings if you get the juice on your fingers and touch your face.  I speak from experience.

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Thai-ing to Beat a Cold: Coconut Rice Noodles with Ginger and Eggplant

November 5, 2018

I’ve got a few things working against me this week – end of daylight savings (I hate the time change); cold and damp to warm and rainy weather; and some nasty sinus stuff.  Add to that a pretty busy schedule over the last few days and I’m feeling a little run down.  Gotta get myself together before my half marathon on Saturday.  Time for some soup!

I’ve had eggplant on the brain for a week or so, but I’ve never made a soup with eggplant in it.  Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game to the rescue again.  I found this recipe for a Thai soup with rice noodles.  It’s a little bit strange in that it’s designed around summer vegetables.  I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around a Thai coconut curry with corn and tomatoes so I made some omissions and substitutions.  No corn or tomatoes.  Added mushrooms and green onions.  I stuck with the spinach because I had some left from last week.  I used chicken stock because I had that leftover too, but vegetable stock would have been my preference.

I only made a half a recipe, two servings, which I think I might be sorry about!

Here’s what you need: 2 entree servings

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  • 2-3 oz rice noodles, prepared according to the package
  • 1 hot chile, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 t curry powder
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C cilantro leaves
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2-3 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 C stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 1 C coconut milk (lite is fine)
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 1 large green onion, chopped
  • 1 T fresh basil, chopped

I know.  It’s a long list.  The good news is that you don’t have to mince the garlic, ginger, chile, and cilantro because you’re going to stick them in a food processor or blender and make a paste.  That will save some time.  Buy the mushrooms pre-sliced. And you don’t have to chop the spinach at all.  So, it’s not as bad as you think.

If you have a wide, deep pan, that will work well.  You want to have a big enough surface to brown the eggplant and other vegetables in a single layer, but you need it to be deep enough for the soupy part.

Here’s what you do:

  • In a blender or small food processor combine garlic, ginger, chile, curry powder and 1 T oil.  Pulse until it’s well blended.  Add the cilantro leaves and lime zest.  Pulse until it becomes a paste.  Set aside.

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  • Heat 2 T oil in a large pan.  Add eggplant and saute until browned. 6-8 minutes.  Remove the eggplant from the pan.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  Saute until they soften.  5-6 minutes.  Stir in the spice paste and cook 1 minute.
  • Add the stock and coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the eggplant back to the pan along with the fish sauce.  Saute 5 minutes, until eggplant is soft.
  • Stir in spinach.  Cook 1 minute.  Add lime juice and basil.

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  • Divide cooked rice noodles among the bowls and top with the soup.
  • Garnish with green onions and cilantro leaves

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A few tips.  When you’re making the spice paste, go ahead and include the cilantro stems.  They’re tender and they have a lot of flavor. No need to waste them since you’re making a paste.  Also, measure the fish sauce.  The best way to describe the flavor of fish sauce is funky.  It’s a great addition, but too much is really too much.  Make sure you get a good sear on the eggplant.  That will help it keep its shape in the broth.  Finally, if you have leftovers, store the noodles and soup separately or your noodles will be mushy when you reheat it.  You can heat up the noodles by dunking them briefly in hot water.  That will also separate them.

Here’s how it turned out:

So good.  Really, so, so good.  When I make it next time, and there will be a next time, I’ll use more chile.  The thai chiles didn’t look good at the store so I bought jalapenos. (I’m making Mexican later in the week).  Jalapenos are much milder than thai chiles so I should have used more of them.  Better to have too little heat than too much, but more heat would really add something to this dish.  Still, there’s something truly wonderful about the mixture of coconut milk, lime juice and fish sauce.  The eggplant is soft but not slimy and not bitter at all.  The spinach is optional, but add it if you have it.  It looks pretty, doesn’t have a strong flavor, and adds an extra vegetable.

This was perfect for an evening that’s cold and damp and that got dark at 5pm!

A Very Fond Farewell to Greenway: Beef and Butternut Chili

October 14, 2018

Frequently you hear me reference things I got at the farmers’ market.  That’s no mistake.  I buy as many things as I can from local farmers.  I like knowing the people that provide my food.  I like knowing that it comes from nearby.  That it wasn’t trucked from hundreds or thousands of miles away.  I like being educated about what’s in season when for my region.  I have a great appreciation for the tremendous amount of work that goes into running a farm.  And a great admiration for the families that take it on.

I have been buying beef from the Clark family at Greenway Beef for a good many years now.  Anyone who has eaten pot roast or London Broil or short ribs or hamburger or chili at my house has eaten Greenway Beef.  The Clarks are lovely people, local to me, and also distribute pork, chicken and vegetables for other local providers.  I’ve grown quite fond of them.  Mike taught me that cooking grass-fed beef requires different things than grain-fed beef.

Recently I learned that Mike Clark has decided to retire.  Well deserved for sure.  Cattle ranching is hard work.  Being committed to providing hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat is no easy thing either.  Getting ready for and showing up at farmers’ markets weekend after weekend is hard work.  But I’m having a hard time imagining not having Greenway Beef around.  Where will I get the best bacon in the world now? (Crabill’s)  Who will sell me white acre peas?  Hamburgers made with some other beef?  Hard to believe.  I stocked up yesterday because it was Mike’s last day at the market.

So, to the Clark family I say, thank you.  I know that the work was hard, but it mattered.  I don’t know that you can ask more than that.  Your life’s work mattered.  Feeding people matters.  I’ve enjoyed supporting your family while you were supporting mine.  Know that you will be missed.  Enjoy your retirement!

So, tonight we have Beef and Butternut chili, thanks to Greenway Beef.

Chili is one of those things that doesn’t really have a recipe.  You can make it any way you like:  beef, pork, chicken, with or without beans, only beans, with veggie crumbles, whatever you like.  This is a tomato chili with beef, onions, garlic, and beans and butternut and green chiles.  Throw in a pumpkin beer, some chili powder and cumin and you’re done.  I make my chili on the mild side so that it works for everyone.  You can always add Tabasco or Texas Pete or jalapenos to kick up the heat if you want.  I serve those things on the side.

A couple of things about the ingredients.  I am very fortunate to have many quarts of home canned tomatoes in my basement.  Canning is a hobby of mine.  The tomatoes are background in this chili, so feel free to use cheap ones.  Save the San Marzanos for something else.  I used an Aleworks Pumpkin beer.  It’s my favorite of the pumpkins.  nice sweetness and pie spice.  It goes well with the butternut.  Use whatever you like.

You’ll see I also used pre-cut butternut.  I almost never buy pre-cut vegetables.  I like being in the kitchen so the chopping doesn’t bother me.  Except for butternut squash.  I hate cutting a butternut squash.  They’re super hard and tend to roll.  And then you have to cut the rind off.  If you’re going to cut your own, use a large and very sharp knife.  No shame in buying the pre-cut though.  I did cut this a little finer so it wouldn’t overwhelm the beef and beans.

Here’s what I used tonight (listed above):

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Here’s what you do:

  • Start with a big, heavy pot
  • Drain and rinse the beans
  • Brown the beef, garlic and onions
  • Mix in 2-3 T tomato paste, cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently

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  • Add a quart of canned tomatoes, with juice
  • Add salt, chili powder and cumin
  • Add beans and green chiles
  • Add cubed butternut squash

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  • There’s not enough liquid in here to cook the butternut well.  Add 1 bottle pumpkin beer or water or stock if you prefer.
  • Bring to a simmer; put the top on the pot, slightly askew
  • Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens
  • If the butternut is too firm, put the top fully on the pot and simmer until it’s done

This is good chili, though not spicy enough for me.  I should have added slightly more chile powder at the beginning.  I like the slight sweetness of the butternut.  The mix of textures with the beef and beans and butternut is really nice.  I served mine with a little Tabasco and some plain greek yogurt.

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Seafood Sunday Fish Chowder

August 26, 2018

One more kitchen adventure for today.  (See earlier posts for today’s fried green tomatoes and quiche). I honestly have no idea when Seafood Sunday became a thing in One Woman’s Kitchen, but it seems to be a thing.  Tonight it’s fish chowder.  Yesterday I bought a beautiful piece of grouper at the farmers’ market.  I planned to have a lovely dinner last night, but I had no recipe in mind and I was way too tired to deal with it so I had crab dip (also purchased at the farmers’ market) and pita chips instead.  As it turns out, it works out well since I also bought a box of potatoes at the market and some corn.  Chowder it is!

Chowder might seem a little weird for August.  Heavy soup when it’s 80+ degrees?  But actually it’s exactly the right thing for summer.  The seafood is fresh and so is the corn and the new potatoes were dug 48 hours ago.  Can’t beat that.  I threw a salad on the side to make it a little lighter.  Some artisan lettuce, mandarin oranges, and olives.  Nice sweetness, citrus, and brine to balance out the creamy chowder.  Yum!

There are only a few ingredients in chowder so they should be good ones.  The fish, potatoes, corn, and broth should all be top notch if you can swing it.  I give myself an A on everything except the broth.  I bought a can of chicken broth.  Sometimes sacrifices have to be made for convenience sake.

What’s interesting, and great, about this chowder is that the fish mostly steams in the pot with the heat turned off.  That means you’re at much lower risk of having over cooked, rubbery fish.  Always a risk for me in seafood soups.   That 10 minutes when it’s just sitting also gives you time to put together a salad or have a little wine or slice some bread.

Amazingly enough I made a relatively small batch of this so only another meal or two.  This is key in seafood dishes since the leftovers only last so long.

So, here’s what you need for 3-4 servings:  you don’t really need the rose, but it’s a nice addition for the cooking process!

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  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • kernels from 1 ear of corn
  • 2 C cubed potatoes
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1 T herbes de Provence
  • 1/2-3/4 lb of firm white fish
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 2 slices cooked bacon for crumbling

Here’s what you do:

  • Melt the butter in a medium soup pot
  • Add onions and celery, saute 5-6 minutes
  • Add corn and potatoes
  • Add chicken broth, making sure it covers the potatoes.  Add water to cover if needed.
  • Add the herbs and some salt.  You’ll want to add more salt than you think you need.  It needs to penetrate the potatoes and fish.

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  • Bring to a boil.  Boil 10 minutes.  Until the potatoes are tender on the outside and firm in the middle.
  • Add the fish.  Reduce heat to achieve a low boil.  Boil 5 minutes.
  • Cover and turn off the heat.
  • Let the soup sit 10 minutes.  The fish will finish cooking.
  • Stir in cream.

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  • If the chowder is too thin, whisk in 1 T of flour and bring the chowder to bubble.  When the consistency is right for you, turn off the heat.
  • Ladle into bowls and crumble bacon over each one.  Add chives or green onions if you like.
  • Serve with bread or crackers and a salad.

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How was it?

I love hearty chowder.  The potatoes and fish go so well together.  The corn adds a little sweetness and the bacon adds a smoky, salty finish.  And the salad with oranges and olives is a terrific balance.  Works for lunch or dinner.  Or serve the chowder as a first course with a seafood platter or nicoise salad.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Umamen! Ramen Take 2

April 29, 2018

I spent my morning standing out in the cold and wind waiting to start an 8K.  Just one part of a very busy weekend.  Comfort food needed.  If possible, comfort food not full of fat.  I know, you’re thinking, um, ramen?  Ramen noodles have plenty of fat.  Thus, the Umamen.  These are udon noodles!  And rich miso and mushroom broth.  And lots of vegetables.  Comfort food.

This is kind of a combination of two recipes, with my own twists thrown in.  Check out the originals here and here.  The first is a vegetarian ramen recipe from umamigirl.com and the second is a buckwheat bowl from Cooking Light.  My version is partly “what I had left in the vegetable drawer” and partly “what looked good at the grocery store.”  I wanted to use bok choy, but it looked awful.  This may be the first ramen with swiss chard in it.  No idea why I picked up the leeks, but here they are.  I had a box of shiitake mushrooms and some carrots left from last week.  I had some udon noodles left from God knows when.  Throw in some green onions and soft boiled eggs and there you have it.  Vegetarian comfort food.  (A little Hardywood Gingerbread Stout added some comfort too).

Honestly, this isn’t easy.  It has a lot of parts and needs a fair amount of tending.  There’s a lot of “bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.”  The eggs are a little fragile so peeling them takes some care.  You have to pay pretty careful attention to the order in which you add things or you’ll have mushy things or under-cooked things.  Not something to make while you’re doing laundry or packing lunches or talking on the phone.  So, pour yourself a beverage and settle in when you start this.  Of course you can do your chopping ahead of time.

Here’s what you need for the broth: 

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  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 T red miso paste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 C vegetable stock (stock, not broth – if you use broth use 8 C broth and no water)
  • 4 C water
  • 1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 2-4 eggs

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the sesame oil in a soup pot
  • Saute the onions, ginger and miso until the onions are soft
  • Add the ginger.  Saute 1-2 minutes,
  • Add stock, water dried mushrooms and soy sauce to taste
  • Bring to a boil
  • Add eggs in shell
  • Reduce broth to a simmer.  Cook 7 minutes.

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  • Remove eggs to an ice water bath.
  • Peel eggs and set aside.

Here’s what you need for the umamen: (use whatever you have or like)

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TIP:  Add vegetables in decreasing order of cooking time.  Hardest vegetables first and soft ones at the end.

  • 1 C sliced carrots
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cups chopped swiss chard
  • 8 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 C sliced green onions
  • 2 bundles udon noodles

Here’s what you do next:

  • Bring the broth to a boil.  Add leeks and carrots.

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  • Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 10-12 minutes.
  • Bring the broth to a boil.  Add chard, mushroom and noodles.

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  • Reduce heat slightly.  Cook until the noodles are done.
  • Serve with a soft boiled egg and top with green onions.  Add more soy sauce to taste.

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Here’s how it turned out:

Rich and comforting.  I honestly wouldn’t have said that a vegetable stock could be this rich and creamy, but it absolutely is. The starch from the udon noodles thickens the broth just enough that this dish feels hearty and a little light all at the same time.  The miso and mushroom broth has lots of depth and complexity.  You could use a variety of vegetables here.  Bok choy or napa cabbage instead of chard.  Red bell pepper instead of, or in addition to, carrots.  Maybe a drizzle of sesame oil on the top.  Definitely more ginger.  Maybe some rice wine vinegar.

Take out the egg to make it vegan.  Add some beef or tofu or edamame to bring up the protein.  The options are endless. Umamen!