Sunday, November 28, 2010

Soup Stock

Hardly anything is more satisfying (or better smelling) than a big pot of something simmering on your stove. Sauce, stock, soup, stew…

That reminds me.

I saw a commercial this week that really got my goat. It promoted Lean Cuisine's latest brainchild, Market Creations. Have you seen it? It starts of with the sound of a knife chopping against a cutting board and goes on to dismiss the idea of using cooking to de-stress after a long day.


There is nothing more relaxing for me than cooking. OK, honestly? A massage would probably beat chopping in an arm wrestle… But come on!! Can advertisers dumb up the American public any more?

I think the eras of convenience (enter the 50's and 60's) ruined most American home cooks. Ads shouted at our moms and grandmas, "Hey, you! Yeah, you lady! Don't get stuck in the kitchen a minute longer than you have to! Leave it up to the professionals." Yeah, the guys in lab coats who crafted condensed soups, tv dinners and who now genetically engineer our food. Those professionals.

We all know we are smarter and more capable than any commercial portrays, but we are consistently inundated with messaging that claim otherwise.

Cooking CAN be a stress-reliever and cathartic. Cooking puts you in touch with the ingredients that enter your body. It allows you to care for yourself, and offer nutrition to those you love. And it results in deliciousness! Yes, it can take longer than "a few minutes" (the time-frame Lean Cuisine claims your dinner will be ready), but it probably won't take longer than 30-40 mins.

I made stock for the second time this weekend. It brought me full circle. Creating stock empowers you. It shows you that you can take a raw product and create several delicious, healthy meals with your two hands with no pre-conceived spice packets or powders.

We are all busy, and we all deserve time-savers. But our society has robbed us from one simple truth: We can cook healthy, flavorful meals at home, and they do not take hours to prepare (after the two hours on Saturday afternoon when you simmered your stock, of course :).

It's easy and worth the time. Dare I say, it feeds your soul.

Do you agree? Disagree? I'd really like to know what M&M readers think (use the comment section to post your thoughts).

Well, here's Tracey's recipe if you have (or plan to have) a turkey or chicken carcass hanging around.

Miss out on the turkey remains? Roast a chicken! ;)



1 chicken or turkey carcass (don't ya love that word?)
Any veggies you might have roasted with the bird (and reserved)
And/ or some fresh veggies, like: halved onions, celery stalks, carrots, smashed garlic
Herbs. I used dried rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Bay leaves
Peppercorns -0r just some ground black pepper
Healthy sprinkling of salt

Cover everything with water
Bring to a boil
Lower to a simmer and cover
Pour a glass of wine
Put your feet up

After 1 or 2 hours (whenever you feel the broth has a rich color and flavor) turn of heat and let cool

Strain then pour into multiple containers and refrigerate or freeze.

P.S. Since I'm currently obsessed with chipotles in adobo, I added one when I made turkey soup (pictured above) using this soup recipe today. I just used shredded turkey meat instead of meatballs and the homemade stock. The chipotle added the appropriate kick in the pants. Highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Barefoot Onion Rings

Fried food makes me weak in the knees. My willpower hides around the corner when it sees a french fry coming. Don’t even ask me what happens when a plate of calamari hits the table. It's weird that I've never fried anything at home before a few weeks ago.

So what was the catalyst for our foray into the crispy unknown?

I'm so glad you asked.

When we moved in January, Rich and I decided to just get basic cable. My beloved Food Network was the only part of this decision that gave me pause. I could literally watch Tyler, Bobby and Giada cook for hours. Ok, I watch Giada on mute. Her random "authentic" Italian pronunciations make me crazier than when people say "EXpresso".

In case you where wondering, I haven't picked up knitting or mending to fill my time now that food tv isn't readily accessible. I have, however, picked up my unbelievable obsession for food blogs. So it's safe to say that I'm still wasting the same amount of time. But at least now I'm reading, right!?!?

Rich recently came across a few Barefoot Contessa episodes on hulu and we jumped at the chance to sloth and drool for a few hours. Ina Garten is of course the queen of all things fabulous and fantastic. During one of the episodes she made FABULOUS (said in her posh, Hampton-esque way) steak with sides.

Crispy, sweet, salty onion rings were on the list of sides. She soaked them in buttermilk and encrusted them with cornmeal. They looked ridiculously delicious, and it didn't even hit me that these beauties were attainable at home until Rich said, "We are so making those tomorrow." What? We don't have a frier. Fry something? We can’t make THOSE! We don't have the right "stuff"!

Truthfully, all I needed; vegetable oil (check), vidalia onions (check), cornmeal ( check), a deep pot for the oil (check) where all in my kitchen! Wow, we can totally do this!! I felt empowered.

Now? I'm feeling very frightened...

These little babies are only 30 minutes away...




  • 2 large Spanish onions (or 3 yellow onions)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (medium) yellow cornmeal
  • 1 quart vegetable oil (I think we used far less than a quart)


Peel the onions, slice them 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick, and separate them into rings. Combine the buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the onion rings, toss well, and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. (The onion rings can sit in the buttermilk for a few hours.) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

When you're ready to fry the onion rings, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large pot or Dutch oven. (A candy thermometer attached to the side of the pot will help you maintain the proper temperature.) Working in batches, lift some onions out of the buttermilk and dredge them in the flour mixture. Drop into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown, turning them once with tongs. Don't crowd them! Place the finished onion rings on the baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with salt, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch. Continue frying the onion rings and placing them in the warm oven until all the onions are fried. They will remaincrisp in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Source: Food Network, Ina Garten

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicken Mole

Mole, pronounced 'moh-lay', is elusive. The concept varies greatly from recipe to recipe. Some cooks pride themselves in the literal days of preparation for this deep, rich, and traditional sauce, but there are plenty of quicker versions for us normal people. I mean, really.

Traditionally, the dark color of the sauce comes from the charred remains of burned chiles and unsweetened chocolate. The complexity of the flavor comes from the variety of ingredients, sometimes 20 or more. There is a deep family history behind many mole recipes, each one different to one degree or another. The most common ingredients in the recipes I have found are chiles, spices, chocolate, nuts, and tomatoes. Catch your interest yet? Well, I promise this won't take you three days, and it's a tortilla-sopper-upper.

I remember first tasting my Little Grandma's mole when we were quite young. I was thrilled to hear we were having chocolate on our chicken that night! All I remember of the taste is being disappointed that it wasn't more like hershey's syrup. Crazy kids. If only I had known what a treasure it was eating such a dish from her hands. Luckily, Abel likes this version and ate up most of his helping before declaring it "a bit too spicy." I thought it was perfect.

Here were our mole results:

First night with rice…

Second night in enchilada form, even better…

We trucked the leftovers to Lora's and created these oh so yummy enchiladas together. And thanks to our dear friend Zaida for the cilantro and lime cabbage recipe!

Recipe adapted from J.M. Hirsch, Food Editor of The Associated Press

Chicken Mole

2 T canola or vegetable oil
1 chipotle chile in adobo (canned), chopped; taste for heat after simmering
½ tsp mexican chili powder
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 T cocoa powder
½ tsp each ground cinnamon and red pepper flakes
¼ tsp each ground cloves and ground black pepper
1 cup smooth almond butter
1.5 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
salt to taste
1 slice soft bread or tortilla cut into small pieces
1.5 lbs chicken (breast or thigh) cut into ½" chunks

In dutch oven type pot over medium-high heat:
Combine oil, chile, onion, garlic, cocoa, and spices. Saute for 5 min.
Add the almond butter and mix until it melts.
Add the tomatoes, broth, salt and bread; bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken and return to a simmer.
Cover the pot and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

If using the entire pot of mole it would probably make close to 20 enchiladas. We rolled a small amount of the mole sauce with sauteed onion, grated parmesan cheese, sharp cheddar/Colby jack mixed into a flour tortilla. Line in edged baking tray and top with excess sauce and cheese. Bake at 350°F for 15–20 min, or until heated through.

Top with shredded cabbage and chopped cilantro, tossed together with fresh lime juice.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Guest Post: Tomato Basil Bisque

Ladies and Juggamen (Sorry, that's how Vi says it. I couldn't resist), I give you M&M's first ever guest post!

This post is from my lovely friend, Erin. She's a sassy redhead (okay, it's really auburn), with a heart of gold. She's also a SUPERB cook, and bakes like a pro (as well as excessively modest, as you will see in a moment). She and I share a love of all things foodie, and we have fantasized about starting a supper club on several occasions. Maybe, one day, Erin. Maybe.

I'm so glad she's sharing this recipe. We've eaten it, and I think it's not only a winner, but it's one for the weekly recipe planner. If I may be so bold as to suggest a grilled cheese sandwich to accompany it...

Everyone, I give you, ERIN:

Hi Everyone! I met Lora I can’t remember when (is that bad?), but I know that it was at church many moons ago (2006? 2007?). We clicked pretty much from the beginning, and a friendship full of laughter began. (Awww....) I think Lora’s one of the best people around, and I’m envious of her mad culinary skills.

I am by no means the best cook in the world. The extent of my technical knowledge pretty much amounts to knowing what chiffonade means, and I know what a stiff peak looks like when you’re beating egg whites. But, I love it. I love creating something with my hands that can bless someone else or make my husband say, “You should really make this again.” Especially in the fall, I love being in my kitchen, baking and cooking and filling the house with warm, inviting smells that just feel like a giant hug. To me, there’s almost no better feeling than having friends over for dinner and talking and laughing and living while sharing a meal. Memories can be made at the dinner table, people! Likewise, cooking with’s so much fun for me to share cooking with friends and my mom and sisters.

My mom taught me to cook when I was young and so most of the things I make that are “specialties” are really rip-offs of things she would make. I also, gasp!, don’t like to measure. Unfortunately, this means that when I create something that mightalmostcouldquitepossiblybe original, I guess at the amounts for when I want to re-create it. This recipe, however, is the exception. My mom found it when she was sick one day and asked me to make it for her. I have since made it many, many, many times, and my 18-month old will eat this up every time I make it.

You can make it as healthy as you like, but let’s be real. Who doesn't love using real cream when the opportunity presents itself? Like when making truffles...mmm...truffles. Oh wait, this is a soup recipe.

So, bon appetit!

Tomato Basil Bisque
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
2 tbsp. butter
3 cups tomato juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
3 oz. tomato paste (1/2 a small can, essentially)
1 tsp. dried basil 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup half-and-half (ahem, HEAVY CREAM)
4 tsp. sugar (I don’t add that much because I find it makes the soup too sweet for my taste, but add as much or little as you want. You will want to add some sugar though, to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.)

In a large saucepan, saute your veggies (including garlic) in the butter till tender (not brown). You will want them pretty tender. Add the tomato juice, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or till slightly thickened. *Now, here’s the slightly tricky part...and as complicated as the recipe gets.* Puree till smooth. If you do not have a handheld blender/immersion blender, tell your loved ones you MUST have one for Christmas, and then pull your food processor or blender down. Only puree HALF of the soup at a time and then return to the cooking pot. If you have a handheld blender, plug that baby in and start stirring away right there in the pot. (Turn the heat off.) Once your soup is pureed (it probably won’t be perfectly smooth and that is okay), stir in the half/half (HEAVY CREAM) and sugar. Heat your soup through and voila! You have made bisque! Pat yourself on the back, reach for a glass of wine and enjoy. I have topped this with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Both are unnecessary, but add tastiness. Also, feel free to serve this with a salad and crusty bread and you will have a meal that will impress. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Night

Before we headed out yesterday to stuff our molars and gullets with refined sugar and chocolate, we ate vegetables. Yes, I HAVE turned into my mother. Although, I don't think my mom was so cruel as to serve us swiss chard and spinach salad before trick-or-treating. I remember warm soups and stews. Turns out I'm not as nice as my mom.

Halloween coincided with the collection of our last share of harvest from Mud Creek Farms (sniff). The last haul brought us a rainbow of swiss chard, yellow cauliflower, tender spinach, and celeriac root. My mom and Tracey were here, and we worked every single one of 'em into our menu: roasted veggies, spinach salad with apples and penne with swiss chard and cider.

I was placed in charge of the chard. What to do...
I've eaten it before but never prepared it before this fall. The last time I prepared it, I served it over mashed potatoes. We knew we had to incorporate pasta into the deal somehow since Poppa G was here. So that's where the penne came in.

Now, I'm convinced the organic methods used by Mud Creek produce the best tasting vegetables I've ever eaten. This swiss chard was so fresh and delicate tasting it could have been a salad green! It did present some bitterness though, so to be sure the kiddies would gobble it up I added some cider to the mix.


P.S. I also promised Karie that I would share this recipe I used for the Jalapeno Popper dip I made for a Halloween party this weekend. It's soooooooooo bad (bad meaning good).

Penne with Swiss Chard and Cider

A large bunch of swiss chard (about the size of the bunch above)
1 lb penne
1 largish glug of olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1-2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider (maybe more if you are using store-bought chard? just taste as you go and if you need the bitterness cut more, add another splash)
pinch red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste
Generous handful of Parm cheese (although my mom and I agreed that crumbled goat cheese would be even better)

Put pot on to boil for pasta.
Glug olive oil into a deep, saute pan.
Add minced garlic and turn on the heat to low-med.
Let the garlic bubble away for a few minutes until the scent fills your kitchen (or the deepest corners of your bedroom closets, like at my grandma's house).
While the garlic is getting toasty, tear the chard away from the stem and begin to toss bite-size pieces into the pan.
Mix to incorporate with oil and garlic as you go.
Add 1 cup of stock, cider and turn up the heat to med-high. Cook until wilted and tender and then turn down to low. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flake to taste and simmer for a minute more (this is when you would add more stock if you need it. This IS the sauce for the pasta so it needs to have some looseness to it).
When pasta is cooked, add to the pan and simmer together until ready to serve.
Add cheese and mix and then sprinkle more on top.