Friday, April 26, 2013
The month is drawing to a close, and I wanted to check in and let you know what I've been up to, since that category does not include updating this blog, heh. The crocuses above have come and gone, and now we're firmly in daffodil season. I've even had my first iced coffee of the year!
I also made a truly spectacular meatloaf, which we ate for a week and weren't tired of. In fact, I kind of want to make it again right now.
I made this perfectly fine vegetable paella, though I cobbled it together from several recipes and I seem to have missed a step somewhere, because my soccarat was not very crispy. Will have to try again soon, I think. I want to get paella right, since it's so versatile. This time around I did learn that greens are not the best addition, the arugula I used burnt on the bottom before the rice did.
We went up to Maine last weekend to escape the madness in Boston, after having spent Friday locked in our house, frantically updating twitter and hoping for some resolution to the city's fear. My dad took us to Fishbones in Lewiston where we had a darn tasty appetizer of lobster and brie inside puff pastry, served with blueberry preserves.
Oh and last night I made this excellent salad using CSA radishes (even the leaves! I love that), plus some guilt-laden cherry tomatoes and mini cukes from the supermarket. I know I should try to hold out for summer veg, but it's starting to warm up here and I am totally over storage crops at this point.
This weekend we'll start planting in the garden - just potatoes and greens, saving the rest until we get back from our vacation in early May - and grill some hot dogs since the weather looks positively dreamy. We might hit 70 on Sunday! So, what have you been eating?
Monday, April 1, 2013
Sometimes I end up with leftover chicken. I bet you do, too. In fact, here's a little secret: whenever I roast a chicken for just the two of us, while we're eating... I'm already thinking about what I'm going to do with the leftovers. This time, I made soup, but I wasn't in the mood for classic chicken noodle. I know it doesn't look like much, but it's earthy from the mushrooms with a little bit of heat from the ginger and scallions, plus it's basically a bowl of kale, so hippies love it. Next time you've got a chicken carcass, don't trash it: make soup!
Chicken Soup with Shitakes and Kale
serves 4, generously
The broth takes an hour or two, so get that started before you prep the soup, ok? I usually carve the rest of the serving pieces off a carcass, then start the broth, then dice or shred the meat while the broth comes up to a boil. This makes more broth than you need for the soup, and if you don't have immediate chicken broth needs you can freeze the extra or keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
For the broth:
1 roasted chicken carcass
one small onion
one stalk of celery, cut into big chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
4-5 slices ginger
For the shitakes:
about 10 dried shitake mushrooms (approximately 1.5 ounces)
For the soup:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 scallions, white and light green parts finely chopped, dark greens sliced and reserved for garnish
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger (about a one inch piece)
1 bunch lacinato kale, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch (or thinner) strips*
about 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
soy sauce to taste
lime juice to taste
cooked white or brown rice
sliced scallion greens and sriracha for serving (optional, but tasty)
*Cutting the kale this way means you don't have to yank out the nice, nutritious stems - when you cut across the leaf the stems end up in small pieces that cook quickly and don't feel tough or fibrous in your mouth.
First, start the broth: carve or pick all the serving pieces and remaining meaty chunks off the chicken carcass, then stick it in a 6-8 quart pot. Cut the hairy end off the onion, then cut it in quarters (I cut it through the root for ease of fishing-it-out-later) and stick that in the pot. Add a couple of smashed garlic cloves and a few thick slices of ginger. Add water just to cover the carcass - it shouldn't float, but it shouldn't stick out - and bring it up to a boil, then back it down to a simmer and let it go for about an hour, or two if you have time.
While the broth simmers, put the shitakes in a heat proof bowl and add 2.5 cups of very hot water. Weigh the mushrooms down with a plate, if need be, to keep them submerged. They'll need at least 30 minutes to soften. When they're soft, lift them from the liquid (but don't dump it!). Use a sharp knife to trim off the stems, then thinly slice the caps. Add the stems to the simmering broth. Let the soaking liquid sit so any grit settles to the bottom, then carefully pour it into a clean measuring cup, leaving the sediment behind (or strain it through a fine mesh filter, if you prefer). You should have about 2 cups. NB: while the mushrooms soak is a good time to start cooking some white or brown rice - I use a cheap-o rice cooker that I got about 6 weeks ago and I reeeally like it. So nice to have the rice cooking over on the counter across the room instead of taking up space on the stove.
Just before you make the soup, strain the broth, or just ladle 4 cups of broth through a strainer into a bowl and deal with the rest of the broth after you eat.
To make the soup, heat the oil in a large pot (I use a 5 quart dutch oven... and I just realized it's basically the only pot I ever use for making soup. Huh.) over medium high heat. Add the scallions, garlic and ginger and saute for a minute or two, until the scallions soften up a bit and it starts to smell really good. Add a good pinch of salt, then add the 2-ish cups of mushroom soaking liquid. Add 4 cups of chicken broth, then add the kale and stir/poke the kale down under the liquid. Let the kale cook for a couple of minutes, then taste it to see if it's soft enough for you. Let it go a little longer if need be, then add the shitakes and chicken. Let them warm up, then season the soup with a splash of soy sauce (start with a teaspoon or two). Stir, then taste again. It might need a squeeze of lime juice or more soy. Once it's seasoned to your liking, serve it ladled over rice and sprinkled with the scallion tops. If you like spicy, feel free to add sriracha.
Monday, March 25, 2013
If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen these collages, so you already know I had quite a tasty weekend. We started Saturday morning, meeting some friends at Union Square Donuts, the hottest donut shop in town, with a chocolate chipotle (good chocolate flavor, medium chipotle burn), a dulce de leche cinnamon bun (could use a bit more gooey-ness) and a maple bacon (mapley frosting, crispy bacon...this is a perfect donut).
That afternoon I headed into Boston for a Boston Foodie Tour and I had an absolute blast. We started with lobster pizza at Scampo, and (along with a few other stops that I didn't get good photos of) worked our way through Georgetown Cupcakes, Bon Me's deviled tea egg, Turner Fisheries' surprisingly light clam chowder and ended at the Mandarin Oriental for this "strawberry shortcake" dessert that I am still thinking about (what are those little strawberry jello bead thingies?!)
Sunday Adam and I got on the green line (yes, that's how famous this sandwich has become) and went into Brookline Village for Cutty's Super Cluckin' Sunday - they're not usually open on Sundays but sometimes they open up to serve this one fried chicken sandwich (no other sandwiches, just this one, epic sandwich) - and they just stay open until they run out of chicken. It was really amazing - hot, juicy chicken, honey mustard with a serious dijon bite, cheddar cheese, mayo, iceberg on a sesame brioche bun. It was a fitting end to my weekend of outstanding food.
I did some cooking this weekend, too, and I'll be back in a day or two with soup. Did you guys have any noteworthy snacks this weekend?
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I made a batch of this bark a while back and it is long gone. However, given that it is SNOWING AGAIN (grrrrrrrr) I might have to go home tonight and replenish my supply... you know, so I can switch it up and eat my feelings in chocolate instead of popcorn.
Toast 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast 3 tablespoons sesame seeds in the same manner. Melt 8 ounces dark chocolate (30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring between), spread it on a parchment-lined sheet pan and sprinkle the seeds, plus 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (I like Maldon), evenly on top. Let it set (or shove it in the fridge to speed it up), then break it into pieces. So easy, so tasty, and it feels fairly virtuous since you're basically eating bird seed. Thanks for the idea, Bon Appetit!
Friday, March 15, 2013
Anybody else get a total kick out of the first robin they see every spring? Maybe it's because I grew up further north (they're only gone for a couple of months here), but I always enjoy it. This year I got a picture! Hi, bird. Welcome back.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
It takes kind of a lot for me to be amazed by something that happens in the kitchen. I mean, I've studied cooking, I've watched a lot of Good Eats, and I work at a culinary school, so I get that pitas puff in the heat of the oven, corn pops when it gets too hot and proteins caramelize to make many things tastier. This doesn't mean I'm hard to impress (really!) just that few things really feel magical to me anymore.
I've made fresh, no-rennet cheeses plenty of times - ricotta, paneer, things of that nature. But making mozzarella feels like magic. Milky, delicious magic. You start with a pot of milk, turn it into milky jello, and then after a couple of quick trips in the microwave, you can roll it into a ball. A ball of CHEESE!
I followed the directions from Animal Vegetable Miracle pretty much to the letter (except I cut the recipe in half, so I used shorter bursts in the microwave.) We ate this blob yesterday, under some of last summer's slow roasted tomatoes, a flurry of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of good olive oil and condimento balsamico. I wish I had added more salt while I was making the cheese. I also wish I had left it with a little more moisture (experienced cheesemakers: could I use a little less rennet for a more tender cheese?).
Apologies for crappy iPhone photos, but do know that I'll be making this again VERY soon. Roasted tomatoes, while delicious, are entirely different from fresh, and I'm happy to have time to perfect my mozzarella technique before tomato season rolls around again.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
We are big popcorn eaters in this house. Occasionally, on particularly lazy weekend days when breakfast isn't until 10 and lunch happens at 3 (ahem, yesterday...) popcorn is dinner. We pop it on the stove top in a special popcorn pot with a hand-crank handle that keeps the kernels moving (a lot like this one).
Usually we season it with melted butter, salt and pepper. Sometimes we toast jalapeno flakes and grind them up and use that, occasionally other herbs or spices (pro tip: smoked paprika makes popcorn taste a lot like bacon). Yesterday we used sriracha, which was surprisingly sweet and spicy. Two of my favorite things in one snack! I think it's going in the regular rotation.
serves 2, or 1 if you're really into popcorn
adapted from Food52, one of my recent favorite sites for inspiration
1/2 cup popcorn kernels, popped on the stovetop or in an air popper*
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds black pepper
To pop corn on the stovetop, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a pot with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn and put on the lid. When you hear it start popping, shake the whole pot every few seconds to redistribute. When the popping slows, check your corn. It's probably done.
Melt the butter and sriracha together in the microwave, sprinkle the salt and pepper over the popped corn, then pour the sriracha butter over. Put the lid back on and shake it like crazy to distribute the seasoning. We do the seasoning/shaking in a big plastic bowl with a lid, and then we just take off the lid and eat.
*I don't have an air popper, but if you've got one, just follow the directions, I guess?