Feeding the Infirm

I think the most difficult part of my hip surgery recovery has not being able to be in the kitchen. I think the best part of my hip surgery recovery has not being able to be in the kitchen.

Needless to say, we have been eating well - either in spite of or because of - my absence in the kitchen.

We all know that Victor is a fantastic cook - and he has not disappointed these past 5 days.

The other fun has been local delivery from family! You can't get food this good from Door Dash or a Michelin-starred restaurant!

Niece Katie made an Artichoke Tart that was just out of this world good! Artichokes, cheese, fresh herbs, sesame seeds along the crust... It was outstanding in its simplicity. I have a tendency to overdo things like this and this was my wake-up call that less is more. Totally delish amd something I shall try and replicate in the future.

And then she made a soup that proved the opposite!

It was like a Sausage Chowder for lack of an official name, with Italian sausage, potatoes, sweet potatoes, orzo, and, lots of different vegetables in a wonderfully light, creamy - and ridiculously flavorful - broth. I can eat soup regardless of the weather and this is one that I could eat daily.

Anyone who has ever had surgery or was prescribed narcotics knows that they can wreak havoc on the digestive tract. [I have a very humorous story about my most recent adventure but a food blog is probably not the best place to share it...] Roughage and fiber are key things to ingest - along with your Colace.

Knowing this, Phoebe and Nancy came over with the perfect salad.

Marinated grilled Chicken, marinated grilled shrimp, and a bounty of fresh vegetables and leafy greens to keep the plumbing flowing and the tastebuds singing.

Every bite was a new flavor experience with the food gods whispering 'take another bite, take another bite...' until my plate was empty and I was smiling and pleasantly full.

Anyone can have a good surgery, but their ability to recover is how well their post surgery experience is.

And I have to say that I may be one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth and this shall definitely be a speedy recovery - thanks to all of you!

♥♥♥


Chicken Rice Soup with Lemon

Victor came into the office yesterday afternoon and said he was making a pot of soup.

He was looking after me because I had had a bit of a rough night with my legs keeping me tossing and turning for most of the night. [My hip replacement will not come soon enough!]

The caveat was I had to make some cornbread to go with it.

It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

He had seen a soup on one of the cooking shows a while back - a Greek Chicken Soup with Rice, Lemon, and Egg. It may have said Greek, but it spoke to his Sicilian genes... Sans recipe, he headed to the kitchen.

Chicken Rice Soup with Lemon

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast
  • 3 qts chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • Zest & juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Place everything but eggs into a soup pot. Bring to boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit for about 20 minutes for rice and chicken to cook.

Remove chicken and set aside to shred.

Place 1 cup of the rice in blender with the eggs. Blend until creamy smooth.

Return soup to a good simmer and add shredded chicken.

Stir egg/rice mixture into pot, stirring until well mixed and egg is cooked through.

Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper, as desired. Squeeze additional lemon juice if desired.

 

Really good. Simple with clean flavors. And totally filling without being heavy.

The perfect dinner!

I cheated with the cornbread - my mobility is a bit lacking, at the moment - but I did doctor it enough to be better than just the box!

 

I always have a couple of boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix in the cupboard. It's like 55¢ a box at WinCo and ready in 20 minutes. I used buttermilk and added minced jalapeño. 2 boxes make a perfect 8x8 pan. It does the job quite well.

It was the perfect lunch, today, and I'm planning on finishing it for lunch, tomorrow.

My stomach is smiling!


Żurek - a Polish Rye Soup - and a loaf of Rye Bread

We were invited over to Phoebe and Nancy's for dinner, last night. Phoebe was making a soup they had eaten in Poland that they really liked - Żurek. a soup made with a fermented rye starter - Zakwas Żytni. (Do not ask me to even try to pronounce any of this.)

We were the guinea pigs. Anyone who knows me knows I'm first in line to try a new food, so we were there with the proverbial bells on! And since we were having a soup with rye, I asked if I could bring a loaf of rye bread.

I must admit I had never heard of fermented grain soups. Evidently, they are quite common in the west Slavic countries - where my culinary knowledge is pretty bleak.

In doing a little research after the fact, I found that hardly anyone in Poland makes their own Zakwas Żytni, anymore... it's available in just about any grocery store. But... since there are not a lot of Polish grocery stores in Beaverton, Oregon, Phoebe made her own.

And I must say I am quite glad she did! The soup was excellent! Slightly sweet and sour, it was rich and flavorful - lots of root vegetables, kielbasa, bacon, and the crowning touch - a medium-cooked egg on top.

Stunning and delicious!

Also doing a bit of research after the fact, I found that there are variations in different regions of the country - and from home to home. Kinda like pasta sauce in Italy or tacos in Mexico. The constants are the Zakwas Żytni, sausage, and the boiled egg.

The fermented rye needs at least five days to develop, so plan accordingly!

Żurek - a Polish Rye Soup

adapted from The Polish Housewife

For the Zakwas:

  • 5 tablespoons rye flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves

For the Soup:

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 pound Polish sausage
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large parsnip, sliced
  • 1/2 celery root, peeled and diced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 4 large potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoon horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • hard-boiled eggs

To make the Zakwas:

Add the flour to a qt mason jar.

Add the water, garlic, and bay leaves.

Mix thoroughly, as it sits, it will separate with the flour sinking to the bottom

Cover the jar with a paper towel or kitchen towel and secure with a ring or rubber band.

Let sit for five days, giving it a stir daily to mix.

To make the soup:

Brown the bacon and sausage in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrot, parsnip and celery root.

Add broth and bay leaf and garlic, simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the potatoes and marjoram, cook until the potatoes are tender.

Add 2 cups of the zakwas (strained or flour mixed in, your choice) - add all of it if you want a more sour soup.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add horseradish and cream.

Return to a boil and remove from heat.

Serve by garnishing with hard-boiled egg half.

 

Recipes in our family are suggestions - or concepts, or a base idea to get the creative juices flowing and use up things that are already in the house. Rarely is something followed word-for word. Phoebe took the recipe and switched it around a bit to suit her needs. The above is a mere approximation.

Same hold true for the bread, below.

I saw a recipe for a Guinness Rye Bread and went to the site. The person making the bread more or less winged it - her oven doesn't work right, she left part of the dough out too long... more comedy routine than recipe. I went to the recipe site she was using. It had more structure, but I liked the first approach, better. Besides, the original site was using an Italian bread pan to make long rounded loaves - definitely not what I was looking for. I blended the two, added my own spin, and ended up with a hybrid. The recipe did not specify type of white flour, so I used bread flour. I had to play with the dough a lot in the making...

Guinness Rye Bread

adapted from Wild Yeast and One Perfect Bite (neither blog has been updated in years...)

Sponge Ingredients:

  • 195 g flour
  • 140 g coarsely-ground whole rye flour
  • 4.7 g (1.5 t.) instant yeast
  • 45 g water
  • 1 bottle Guinness Stout

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 195 g flour
  • 11 g salt
  • All of the sponge

Make the starter:

1) Combine beer and water in a large bowl. Add yeast and stir until completely dissolved.

2) Add flours and mix until a thick batter forms. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about two hours. Refrigerate over night. (Since I used bread flour and my starter was rather thick.)

The Bread:

3) Add remaining flour and salt. Mix with machine for about 10 minutes. This is the tricky part - the recipe stated it as a sticky dough. Mine wasn't. I added a bit too much water and then had to add a bit more flour. After a good 10 minutes of mixing at medium speed, I had a dough that cleaned the sides of the bowl and was juuuuust attached to the bottom.

4) Place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rest for an hour.

5) Turn dough onto work surface shape into a ball and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

6) Reshape ball and place on flour-dusted parchment paper on peel or rimless cookie sheet. Let rise until double in size, about 1 to 2 hours.

7) Preheat oven lined with baking stones to 450°F. Place empty pan/container on rack below baking stones for water when ready to bake.

8) Slash loaves with a razor blade.

9) Slide loaves or pans into oven. Add water to bottom pan.

10) Reduce heat to 425° after 5 minutes. Bake for another 30 minutes or until bottom of loaves sound hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I wasn't expecting to blog about this, so I didn't take any pictures of the whole loaf or the process. But I did get a couple of the part we brought home...

 

 

It came out pretty good and was a great accompaniment to a really great soup!

 

 

It had a nice, chewy crust and a really delicate crumb. I'll probably never be able to replicate it, but... I'm used to that.


Homemade Soup and a Loaf of Bread

We finally made it to the grocery store, yesterday. First time in almost 2 weeks. We've had a bit of weather that just wasn't conducive to being out and about.

It's definitely age-related... Back in my youth, I'd be on the roads in a snowstorm half-lit with bald tires heading to the store because we had the munchies or were almost out of beer. Now, common sense coupled with a profound fear of meeting a 2024 version of my youthful self in the middle of an intersection keeps me put.

Fortunately, a well-stocked freezer and pantry kept us well-fed.

The nice thing about not shopping for 2 weeks is we can now actually see into the freezer and cupboards! There's nothing languishing in a far corner, dying of freezer burn. No packaged goods with a Use By date of July 2019. It's all ready to be packed out, again!

Another fun thing about not shopping for a while is getting creative with the things you have - like last night's soup. We had every ingredient but one in the house - and the one ingredient we didn't have was being delivered by Imperfect Foods.

I rarely follow a recipe for soup - it's soup, after all - but once in a while I see something that sounds interesting. I really like the flavor combinations of Moroccan food and this one hit all the buttons.

The original recipe called for a can of chickpeas and no chicken, but... we have several pounds of dried chickpeas from Palouse, so I used them. Also, since the recipe said to use chicken broth, I added some chicken. Leave the chicken out and switch the broth to vegetable broth and you have a lovely Vegan soup...

Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup

adapted from America's test Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz chicken breast or thigh, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Saffron
  • 3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 4 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and starting to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and brown lightly. Stir in 1/2 cup cup parsley and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in broth, water, and chickpeas. Cook until chickpeas are almost cooked through. Add tomatoes and lentils; increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in pasta and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chard and continue to cook, partially covered, until pasta is tender, about 5 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I did make a vat of this - lunch for several days!!

And since we were having soup, I decided we needed some fresh-baked bread.

 

The recipe for the bread was actually a sun-dried tomato and olive bread. I didn't have any decent black olives in the house, so I just made it without the olives and tomatoes.

This is a really easy go-to recipe that is excellent plain, or made with any number of add-ins. Light crumb, chewy crust... Gotta love it!

And I really do like weighing ingredients - it is just so much easier.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Bread

adapted from the BBC

  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
  • 15g/½oz salt
  • 55ml/2fl oz olive oil
  • 20g/¾oz fresh yeast
  • 275ml/9fl oz water
  • 170g/6oz black Greek olives, pitted and chopped
  • 55g/2oz sun-dried tomatoes

Mix all ingredients, apart from the olives and tomatoes, in a large bowl. Take care not to put the yeast in direct contact with the salt when they are first added to the bowl.

Knead well with your hands and knuckles until the dough is elastic, smooth and shiny. Cover with a piece of cling film and leave to rise for one hour.

Divide the dough into two and add half of the olives and sun-dried tomatoes into each.

Mould both the doughs into rough round shapes and press firmly down. Sprinkle white flour lightly over the top and mark them with a cross.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper (silicone paper) and prove for one hour in a warm place.

Bake at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for 30 minutes until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

 

Two loaves of bread - one in the fairly empty freezer.

Bring it on, Mother Nature. We're set!


Sardinian Minestrone

I get a daily email from La Cucina Italiana - in Italian - with a score of recipes. To my utter dismay, Conde Nast discontinued the English version of the magazine several years ago. (They have recently started up an online English version, but I think the Italian site is better. I have my browser auto-set to translate into English.)

But I digress...

A few days ago, the email had a soup they labelled Il minestrone sardo della longevità, la ricetta di famiglia. The Sardinian minestrone of longevity, the family recipe.

How could I resist?!?

The article goes on to explain the Sardinian diet is mostly vegetarian, and almost all locally produced. Not a lot of White Chocolate Mocha Creme Frappuccino's or Double Quarter Pounder's with Cheese being consumed.

The recipe concept sounded great - and we just happened to have dried fava beans, dried chickpeas, dried white beans, and Fregola. Fregola is a Sardinian toasted pasta about twice the size of pastina. [Our pantry ingredients can be a bit esoteric, at times...)

Knowing that my suburban-Portland-in-January ingredients wouldn't pack the same punch as local Sardinian, I punched up the flavors with a couple of ingredients - I swapped out the original water for chicken broth and added a small package of diced pancetta and some of our home-grown oregano. To keep it vegetarian, a good vegetable broth could be used and omit the pancetta, and to make it vegan, just omit the added pecorino at the end.

As it was, it really came out good!

 

Sardinian Minestrone

adapted from La Cucina Italiana

  • 1/2 cup dried fava beans
  • 1/2 cup dried white beans
  • 1/3 cup dried chickpeas
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
  • 2/3 cup Sardinian fregola
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow or white onion
  • 2 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 stalks of medium-sized celery
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoess
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • chopped parsley
  • fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino cheese

Leave the legumes to soak for about 8 hours, in a large basin full of water, then drain and rinse them well.

Prepare the sauté in a pot, first heating three teaspoons of oil. Add the pancetta and cook a bit and then adding chopped onion, celery and carrot.

Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, and then add the chopped garlic (stirring for 20 seconds) and then diced tomatoes, potatoes and fennel, chopped parsley and basil and drained legumes.

Add enough broth to cover everything with about a finger, turn up the heat to the maximum and bring to a boil.

At this point reduce the heat and cook for about an hour and a half, until the legumes are soft, adding broth from time to time if necessary. Then pour the Sardinian fregola into the soup and cook for about ten minutes.

Once ready, the minestrone should be served in bowls with the addition of a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese.

Suggestion: Depending on the season, other vegetables from the garden can be added, such as zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans. The variety of legumes can also be changed to taste.

The soup is really hearty, flavorful, and filling. It was perfect for a chilly January evening - and will be great for lunch the next few days. And, as the recipe suggests, it will be a perfect seasonal dish, swapping out various seasonal vegetables.

I see more of this in our future.


The Battle of the Bulge

I think this is Week 18. I've kinda lost track. What I haven't lost is very much weight since my last missive.

Fortunately, I've now stayed below 230 for a couple of days, so I may be in that new decade. I have been bouncing from 235 to 229 for several weeks, now. And, to be totally honest, I have not been trying very hard.

It's winter. It's cold. I need to walk but I'm lazy. Even the gym was too far away in my lazy state of mind.

A few days ago, I started looking into a gym closer to home - there's one that is a half-mile from our front door. Yesterday, we signed up. It doesn't cost anything with our Medicare Advantage Plan, so Monday, I start on the treadmill. And as soon as I build up a bit of stamina - and the weather gets a bit warmer - I'll be walking to the gym.

Baby Steps.

We've both been eating reasonably well - just too much of a good thing. It's definitely time to get the portions back under control - and to start moving, again.

Victor made a pot of soup for dinner, tonight. And there will be plenty of leftovers for a couple of lunches. There are no quantities listed - it's soup. Make it as thick or thin as you like.

Sweet Potato Soup

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • White Beans
  • Onion
  • Garlic Powder
  • Aleppo Pepper
  • Chicken Broth
  • S&P

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into cubes. Cut carrots into bite-sized pieces.

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil. Add sweet potatoes and carrots. Add chicken broth and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add beans.

Remove a few cups of vegetables and set aside. Blend soup with an immersion blender. Add reserved vegetables back into the pot.

Check for seasoning and add additional S&P, if desired.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of Aleppo Oil, if desired.

***Aleppo Oil - mix Aleppo pepper and olive oil and heat over low heat until fragrant.

And out of the freezer came Schiacciata - a bread from Tuscany I baked a while back.

 

I used a recipe from Bianco Lievito.

Italian Schiacciata

from Bianco Lievito

INGREDIENTS

For the Biga

  • 1 kg Bread Flour (W280 - 320)
  • 440 gr Water at 16°C (60°F)
  • 10 gr Fresh Yeast (or 2gr if you use dry yeast)

For the Dough

  • 1000 gr Biga
  • 250 gr Bread Flour (i like stone milled flour)
  • 400 gr Water
  • 40 gr Salt
  • 40 gr Olive Oil
  • 5 gr Malt Powder
  • 1 gr Fresh Yeast

DIRECTIONS

For the Biga

To prepare a good biga that have the right final temperature (around 20°C or 68°F).

Form a rough dough and let it ferment for 18h at 19°C-20°C (66°F - 68°F).

For the Dough

Mix the flour, biga, malt, yeast, and a first part of the water into the stand mixer bowl.

Halfway through the process, add the salt dissolved in the remaining water, working the dough until it is well-kneaded and elastic. Finally, finish with the olive oil, adding in many times.

Move the dough onto the table, form a loaf, and grease the surface with olive oil.

Let the dough ferment at 26°C - 28°C (79°F - 82°F) for 2 hours (approximately), until it will double its volume.

Move the dough onto the work surface and divide it into desired portions. Let each portion rise on a floured table, placing them cut side up for 45min.

After this time, arrange the dough in a well-greased iron baking pan and stretch it with your fingers until covering the whole pan surface.

Wet the surface with an emulsion of salt, oil, and water and add to taste some rosemary leaves all over the surface.

Let rise for about 30min and bake.

Bake at 220-230°C (428°F - 446°F) for about 30 minutes, slightly opening the oven door during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

 

The recipe is a bit convoluted and definitely takes some time - but it's really good!


It's Week 11

I think I missed Week 10. No matter - there's a net loss from Week 9 - I'm at 223.3 lbs.

Slow and steady wins the race, so I'm taking it slow and steady.

It's great that it's soup season! I can pack nutrition-dense ingredients into a lower-calorie - and satisfying - meal quite easily.

I don't often make soups from recipes, but tonight's soup was one I found on Eating Well. Naturally, I played with the recipe, but here's their version. Play as you will.

Smoky Chicken-Chile Soup with Tamale Dumplings

adapted from Eating Well

Dumplings

  • 1 cup masa harina
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin or chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Soup

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin or chili powder
  • 3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup quartered and sliced zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Chopped cilantro & lime wedges for garnish

To prepare dumplings: Combine masa harina, 1/2 cup broth, cheese, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon cumin (or chili powder) and salt in a medium bowl. Roll the dough into 18 round dumplings, using a scant 1 tablespoon for each.

To prepare soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cumin (or chili powder) and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes with their juices, chicken, corn and chipotle to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Add the dumplings and zucchini. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until the dumplings and zucchini are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add lime juice. Serve the soup topped with cilantro, with lime wedges on the side, if desired.

The dumplings were good, but I think a stronger cheese might have been better - or, maybe a bit more cumin to jazz them up a bit... The soup, itself, was really rich and flavorful.

A keeper!


Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

It's probably no surprise that we have more than a few cooking magazines delivered to our mailbox every month.

I do have an unwritten rule that I actually need to make things from the magazines now and again, otherwise the subscription doesn't get renewed... The last subscription to go was America's Test Kitchen. I liked the concept, but I really disliked them constantly taking a perfectly good recipe and "improving" it until it didn't even remotely resemble the original. Just too convoluted.

I mean... it's one thing to swap out ingredients that aren't readily available - provided you maintain the integrity of the dish. I do things like that all of the time. What I don't do is try and pass it off as a better version of something. Usually, it's just me using up things in the pantry.

Another thing I don't often do is follow a recipe exactly. And... there are always exceptions... Case in point:

Victor was reading the latest edition of Milk Street and came across a recipe for a Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings. Sounded intriguing...

And sounded really good.

Don't let the ingredient list scare you off. It's easy.

Chicken Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

adapted from Milk Street Magazine

Ingredients:

Dumplings:

  • 3 slices (5 ounces) hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
  • 1 1/2 ounces (without rind) pecorino Romano cheese, cut into rough ½-inch chunks, plus finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, to serve
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Soup Stock:

  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thirds or fourths
  • 2 medium celery stalks, cut into thirds or fourths

 

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Instructions:

01 In a food processor, combine the bread and pecorino chunks; process until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the ricotta, egg yolks, nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper; process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

02 In a large Dutch oven, combine the broth, chicken thighs, onion, carrots and celery. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low, cover and simmer until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, about 45 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

03 Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a medium bowl; set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the vegetables from the broth. Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper; set aside. Using 2 forks or your hands, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces; discard the skin and bones. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

04 Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. Have ready the flour in a pie plate or other shallow dish. Scoop the chilled ricotta mixture into 16 portions, each about a generous tablespoon, onto the prepared baking sheet. Using your hands, form the portions into balls, drop them into the flour and toss to coat. Shake off the excess and return the dumplings to the baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

05 Return the broth to a simmer over medium. Gently add the dumplings and return the broth to a simmer. Cover and cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a simmer (do not allow the broth to boil), for 10 minutes; the dumplings will rise to the surface and expand.

06 Using a slotted spoon, divide the dumplings among individual bowls. Let rest for about 5 minutes to allow the dumplings to firm up; they will slump slightly as they cool. Divide the shredded chicken among the bowls and sprinkle each portion with parsley. Ladle in the hot broth and sprinkle with grated pecorino.

This one was worth the price of the magazine!

The dumplings were melt-in-your-mouth tender. The broth was rich and flavorful. It was perfect for a rainy Spring dinner.

I can see this happening again...


Butternut Squash Soup

Cooling fall weather calls for hot and filling soup!

I just got a new computer - the old monster was O.L.D. - and while I was busy reinstalling programs and moving files, Victor headed to the kitchen.

Soups are generally throw-together recipes, so there really aren't exact amounts of anything... And our new Ninja blender really made quick work with the pureeing - silky smooth in seconds!

Victor also made Aleppo pepper oil to drizzle on top - Aleppo pepper and olive oil gently heated together.

Butternut Squash Soup

  • butternut squash, peeled and seeded
  • celery
  • carrot
  • onion
  • garlic
  • chicken broth
  • canned beans, rinsed
  • S&P

Start by sauteing the celery, carrot, onion, and garlic in a bit of butter. Cube the squash, and add 3/4ths to the pot with broth.

Simmer until squash is fall-apart tender.

Puree with blender or immersion blender until creamy smooth.

Add remaining squash and canned beans. Simmer until squash is tender.

Top with sour cream and Aleppo oil.

Totally simple and totally delish!

 

 


Five Joint Soup

  • 1/4 cup mung peas
  • 1/4 cup azuki peas
  • 1/4 cup lentils and/or split peas
  • cranberry beans – enough to cover the bottom of
  • ettle
  • 1 1/2 bunches celery
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 4 large yellow onions
  • 1 bunch bok choy
  • 1/2 cup chard
  • 1 medium potato
  • any vegetable to taste – solid ones first, leafy ones last
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/4 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cubes beef or chicken bouillon
  • 1-2 cups red wine (any cheap, dry red goofy)
  • grated parmesan cheese

Use a large pot (can be picked up for about a quarter at most thrift shops) of 1 gallon or more capacity. Put enough water in the kettle to come up 2-3 inches up the sides. Pour in cranberry beans and other beans and peas, 1 sliced onion, and 3 stalks chopped celery, including leafy part.

Season with liberal/radical amounts of salt, black pepper, celery salt, thyme, oregano.

Season conservatively with bay leaves, allspice.

Season fascistically with cayenne or curry powder

Season piggishly with chili powder

  1. Let this first part cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. As it comes to a boil, stir occasionally.
  2. Now during the first hour of cooking, get away from the stove, sit down, roll one, have some tea, look out the window – relax.
  3. After one hour begin adding vegetables – hard ones first – celery, carrots, potato, etc.
  4.  Put in leafy vegetables after the second hour.
  5. Add mushrooms and tomato in the last 20 minutes, wine in the last 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before serving.


Zupfe Loaf with Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano

It's a gorgeous day in the neighborhood... Sunshine and blue skies - and about 45°F. A perfect day to make a pot of soup and a loaf of bread.

We received our first Imperfect Foods delivery, yesterday, so a Carrot Soup was a definite. I started off with a Jacques Pépin recipe for a Cream of Carrot Soup, but ended up winging it. It's soup. It's pretty difficult to screw up. Immersion blender and regular blender are still with Bekins, but we brought the food processor and KitchenAid mixer with us - shipped in the trunk of the car. Every now and again there's a streak of brilliance...

Carrot Soup

  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Potato
  • Garlic
  • Bell Pepper
  • Chicken Broth
  • Aleppo Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Roasted Carrots
  • Sour Cream

Sauté the leeks in a bit of olive oil. Add the garlic and peppers and wilt. Add the carrots and potato, and then the broth. bring to a boil and add the herbs and spices. Cover and simmer until carrots and potato are completely falling apart. Puree.

Meanwhile, roast a few carrots until desired doneness. Add to pureed soup.

Top with sour cream, if desired.

Carrot Soup

The bread recipe comes from The Great British Bake Off. Their version had a six-way braid. I did six strands but did a traditional 3-strand braid by doubling the strands. Mama didn't raise no fool!

Their bread also called for Gruyère, but we had the other cheeses in the house so I used them. Variations on a theme...

Zupfe Loaf with Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano

Ingredients

  • 500ml/18fl oz whole milk
  • 1 heaped tsp fast action dried yeast
  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 50g/1¾oz butter, softened
  • 55g/2oz Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses, grated
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

Method

Warm 150ml/5fl oz of the milk in a small pan to blood temperature then mix in the yeast and set it aside until the mixture becomes frothy.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, the butter, cheese blend, and the remaining milk and knead the mixture for about 10 minutes, adding a little more flour if needed.

Place the dough in a large, clean bowl, cover with a dry tea towel and set aside in a warm place until it has doubled in size – about one and a half hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide it into six equal portions and roll each into a long strand. Pinch the strands together at the top, plait together loosely and place on a greased baking tray.

Brush the loaf with the beaten egg and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and bake the loaf for 45-50 minutes or until the loaf is golden-brown and the bottom sounds hollow when its tapped.

Bread

The bread is rich and a bit Challah-like - but with tons of flavor from the cheese.

We're getting settled in, but I really miss not having my kitchen set up! I want to stop camping and get down to business!!

8 more days... and then a 3-day reprieve and the carpet is being installed.

Oy...


Roast Beef

The Evolution of a Roast

An eye of the round roast is not, necessarily, the most tender of cuts - they're too lean. On the other hand, they're relatively inexpensive and you can do a lot with them.

Day One

I took a 2 1/2 pound roast and did a simple roast - rubbed with oil, dusted with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, quickly seared on the stove, and then into a 350°F oven. I wanted to pull it out at an internal temperature of 135°F, but didn't hear the thermometer beep - so I overcooked it to 145°F and after resting, it made it up to 155°F. Oh well... Medium-well, that is... In theory, I prefer my beef really rare - but I am not opposed to the end cut of a prime rib or a char-grilled steak.

And we planned on sandwiches, so it was all okay.

Roast Beef

Thin slices of roast beef on a homemade whole wheat roll that was spread with a garlic and caper mayonnaise, and topped with a homemade caponata that Victor whipped up.

Caponata

  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb,, chopped
  • 12 oz. fresh tomatoes
  •  1 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté fennel and onion in a large skillet until onion and fennel begin to wilt. Add garlic and quickly sauté. Add eggplant and cook until it begins to break down. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down.

Add capers, olives, sugar, and vinegar, and cook until thick.

Stir in pine nuts and check for salt and pepper.

Cool and serve at room temperature.

It was a knife and fork sandwich that could adorn the menu of any restaurant. Unique and full of flavor. The mayo was excellent - just mayonnaise, garlic powder, and capers mixed together - and the entire dish really blended together well.

Day Two

With two-thirds of a roast left, it was time to channel my mother. She was queen of a roast on Sunday and hash on Friday. It was time to get creative.

Even though I was making sandwiches with caponata, I had made gravy from the pan drippings - no way was that goodness going to waste.

I made a basic beef stew.

I cubed the beef and added carrots, celery, leeks, and potatoes. In went the gravy and some beef broth, and then it all simmered until the vegetables cooked and the meat was tender.

When it was cooled, half of it went into a pot pie and the other half went into the 'fridge.

Roast Beef

I had a leftover crust from the apple crostata I had made a few days ago, so I rolled it out, placed it in the pan, added the stew, wrapped it up like a crostata, and baked it at 425°F for about 45 minutes. It was slightly more than the two of us should have eaten - but we did it, anyway.

There are two things I can consistently make without fail - pie crust and gravy. And when the two come together, it's difficult to stop.

We'll be back to the gym one of these days...

Day Three

The reality is... Days One and Two were merely so I could get to Day Three - and some homemade beef soup!

Roast Beef

We eat soup most days for lunch, and, lately, they've been more chicken, lentil, split pea, bean... Most of the beef in the house has been ground - and while you can make some really good soups with ground beef, it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

Time to channel mom, again...

I sautéed a small onion with a couple of celery chopped stalks in a bit of olive oil. When they were nicely wilted, I added the leftover stew, and about 6 cups of beef broth. When it started getting hot, I added a can of diced tomatoes and a can of kidney beans and brought it to a boil.

Next went in another potato, cubed, and about a half bag of frozen mixed vegetables. I brought it back to a boil, covered it, and then let it simmer for an hour - until the potatoes were cooked through.

Tastes and smells can really evoke a memory, and this one brought back the soups my mom made when we were kids.

I think she would have been proud of this one.