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Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

2011-10 lemon poppy loaf 2

We were at a friend’s house this weekend to celebrate Mike’s birthday.  Friend of friend Sam made Avgolemono for everyone.  She graciously allowed me to share her recipe for this lemon egg soup, which was amazingly tangy and silky. A flavorful soup is one that takes time, love and affection. Like raising a child, you have to watch it carefully, give enough to keep it going, and know when it’s time to let go. A poignant analogy as many parents I know have let their chicks out of the nest to join the collective (a.k.a. college). My aunt is probably freaking out right about now as my youngest cousin begins his college career. Boy, do I feel old saying that!

Anyways, on to the soup!

Sam described creating the foundation of the soup with a homemade chicken stock. You can find posts here and here which discuss stock. For this soup, a simple mirepoix and a roasted chicken will suffice. Over a period of 8 hours, the stock should be watched, more water added as needed to extract every bit of chicken flavor from the carcass of a lemon-rosemary roasted bird. Keep the breast meat aside, but everything else can be used for stock. If you don’t have all day to make soup, you’re forgiven, go ahead and use the box or cubes instead. You’ll need 10-12 cups of stock. This will make 8-10 servings, depending how hungry y’all are.

Add shredded breast meat to the stock. Simmer while you work on the next step.

Get 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 10 lemons), less if you’re making less soup.

Separate 6 eggs. Set aside the whites (make a lemon meringue pie or something!). Whisk the yolks then add small amounts of stock from the soup to temper the eggs.

Add the lemon juice to the tempered yolks while whisking.

Turn the temperature down to a bare simmer. Slowly incorporate the yolks into the soup. Adjust the salt if needed.

OPTION: For people who can eat gluten, some cooked orzo may be added to this soup. Sam left it separate from the soup so everyone could choose to add some (or not) to their respective bowls. You can cook the pasta in the stock for 10 minutes before adding the chicken meat as well.

Thanks Sam for sharing your soup!

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chop drop soup

This is not so much a recipe as it is a map or method to creating soul satisfying soup in five easy steps.  Let your imagination go wild, with the blessing of your taste buds of course.  Soups are a perfect way to use seasonal veggies that you may find at your local farmers market.  Say there is an unusual squash on the table, ask the grower if it is hard, bitter, sweet, or soft?  Bitter squash is not the best candidate for soups, at least in my view, so I avoid those.  Zucchini is about as bitter as I will go.  Give chop and drop a try!

Step 1

Empty the veggie drawer into the (clean) kitchen sink or counter.  Wash all skin-stay-on veggies.

Step 2

Peel and trim veggies.  Chop into manageable pieces.  Hint: the smaller the dice the hastier it cooks!

Step 3

Drop into a soup pot with a swirl of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Step 4

Add liquids.  Choose your favorite stock, broth, bouillon, OXO, Knorr, or even tomato puree, or can of cream of whatever plus milk.

Step 5

Wait.  Poke the veggies to see if they are tender. Heck, you could even taste one or two.

You are ready to eat!

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When I opened the latest fluorescent green tote box full of local organic vegetables and fruit I was immediately drawn to a bundle of dark green leaves.  Tatsoi.  What the hell is tatsoi?  Thank goodness my adventure into tatsoi territory was guided by the clever recipe suggestions that come with the veggies.

This was a salad with the tatsoi, lettuce, orange, avocado, green onion and English cucumber.  For the dressing, I eyeballed EVOO, rice wine vinegar, gluten-free soy sauce, tahini and a bit of the juice from the orange into a glass container.  Easier than whisking and any leftover dressing is already in a sealable container!  I saw the layers in the narrow jar and took a picture of it, I thought it was neat.

The tatsoi (from Gundermann Acres) reminded me of bok choy, like a miniature version of it.  I always wondered what was in some of those stir-fry dishes, I think this was it.  Yum!

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Now that you have a freezer full of home-made pierogies, I’ll tell you about eating them.

plated-perogies

Bring a pot of water, about 6 cups, to a rolling boil.  Slice half of a yellow or red onion and fry in a skillet.  Drop in four to six frozen pierogies at a time into the boiling water.  Once the pierogies float to the surface of the water they are cooked.  Remove with a slotted spoon and fry a little on both sides with the onion, add a smidge of butter and salt to the pan.

Serve with a side of sour cream or ranch dressing.  Bacon pieces are optional but highly recommended.  These are also a great companion to ham or sauerkraut.

The last batch I made about a year ago was shared with a friend, being Texan they ate the pierogies with salsa.  Huh?  Salsa?!?  I’m not going to do such a sacrilegious thing, but they raved about it afterwards and wanted more.  I never made more for them.  Not out of spite for them ruining perfectly good perogies with salsa, no that’s not it.  Pierogies are seasonal to me.  They are heavy and warm, like someone’s arm wrapped around you when they fall asleep, they’re hard to get off.  Only the pierogies stick to your ribs and thighs instead of your shoulders.

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I love Christmas.

The Austin Food Blogger Alliance recently organized a gift swap with fellow foodies in Boston.  I was so excited to share a taste of Austin that I decided to put together a box for a lucky reader!

I found Rhythm Superfoods kale and sweet potato chips at my regular grocery store, my favorite flavor is the Mango Habanero because it’s naturally sweet with a background heat that keeps you snacking.  Nuts are not my friend but I’ll gladly share with you.  Honey Toasted Pecans from Austin Nuts and three types of Thunderbird Energetica Bars, go nuts!  Beanitos Chips are gluten-free, corn-free chipotle flavored bean chips, great with dips.  Last of all is a precious addition that I’m having a hard time leaving in the box, Confituras Apple Hatch Chile Chutney.  Austinites love go crazy during hatch chile season and I never buy enough of them to last until I want some.  Next year I’ll have to can some.  For now I’ll offer up this locally made, small batch confection, sigh… 

This time you will have to enter the contest via form, the last giveaway gave me heartburn trying to track down the first two commenters who “won” by random number.  Please enter your mailing address so that there is no delay in getting the prize sent in time for Christmas!  Scouts’ Honor I never share your information, EVER.

Contest closes Nov 30th at midnite.  Open to USA and Canada.  One entry per reader, bonus entry for a Tweet or Pin about this giveaway, leave a comment for each bonus entry.  Good Luck!

Click here to Enter to WIN!

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This recipe has been under development for a couple years, this one was pretty close to what I want.  The cream cheese was what I had in the fridge, this should be a mozzarella blend of some kind.  This was already an experiment so the cream cheese went in.

  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 15 oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 15 oz can cream of Poblano soup
  • 1 (28 oz) can green beans
  • 1 (30 oz) jar cactus strips
  • french fried onions

350ºF for 45 – 55 minutes until bubbly and onions are browned on top.  Kinda like this:

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I hear Italy has the best tomatoes in the world.

As far as fresh tomatoes, nothing can beat one you pick off your own vine that has been nurtured for weeks.  The taste of sweet success, in nightshade form.

Those Italians have San Marzano tomatoes, they grow and can them.  I bought a large can of those imported tomatoes out of curiosity.  Are these really any better?  Well for a true scientific endeavour, I would have to prepare the exact same recipe using two types of tomatoes, forgein and domestic.  Did I have time for this experiment?  No.  I did prepare the San Marzano tomatoes in a lamb stew inspired by my late great aunt Viola.  My aunt sent me three of Granny’s old cookbooks aftering locating the shoe box housing them.  She sent me the books because you’re the family’s most passionate cook, she wrote in her card accompanying the books.  I cried.  I was elated and touched all at once.  In one of the books, a church group cook book, my Granny’s sister authored a few recipes.  One recipe was a tomato and meat stew, I had just picked up some lamb on a whim so that would be the meat, the tomatoes would be the handsome San Marzano.

Since this type of tomato is so prized and therefore more expensive, be careful to read the label on the can and check for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) logo, there are immitations out there.  True San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the San Marzano (Campania) region of Italy.  You can buy the seeds and try growing your own, but I doubt they will be the same unless you live near a volcano.  If I find the seeds, I’ll give it a go.  Italy is on the must-see/visit/taste list.

San Marzano Lamb Stew

  • about 1lb of lamb
  • 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 head garlic, roasted in foil until soft and fragrant
  • herb de Provence
  • 2 white or gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • handful green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • parsley (garnish)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the tomatoes in their sauce over medium-low heat.  In corporate the roasted garlic, salt and pepper.  Break the whole pieces of tomatoes apart as they cook.

Season the lamb with salt, pepper, and herb de Provence.  Brown in a Dutch oven on the stove.  Remove and sauté the onion in the fat.  Return the meat to the pan and fill in the gaps with the potatoes and green beans.  Add the tomatoes and cover.  Transfer to a 350ºF oven for 30 – 45 minutes.

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Taco Salad

Want to skip the crunchy carbs of taco night?  Make a salad instead!

Chop up your favorite lettuce.  Make a fresh “salsa” out of diced tomato, onion (red or white, or green yum) and peppers.  Cook ground meat with taco seasoning or combine chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt.  To make it vegetarian, you could use beans instead of the meat or diced Portobello mushroom caps.  Hey that actually sounds pretty tasty!  Top with shredded cheese.

Funny tidbit for you:  the most popular search on my blog remains at Claire Robinson, she has many fans including yours truly!

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Pumpkin pie is a reminder of fall. It’s a delicious, traditional treat, and it would be hard to imagine Thanksgiving festivities without one or two pumpkin pies to finish off the meal. No matter how stuffed people are from a large holiday dinner, they always will find room for at least one slice. Pumpkin pie is a good choice for reasons other than its tradition and popularity. It’s a lower-cost dessert to bake, and uses healthy ingredients, making it one of the better dessert choices. Replace sugar with agave nectar for an even lower sugar dessert! Check out the following three reasons why making pumpkin pie is a healthier, low-cost option.

Making pumpkin pie from scratch is a frugal choice

Around the holidays there are always pre-made pies available in your grocery store’s bakery section. At other times of the year you can often find them amongst the frozen foods and desserts. This may make you wonder why you should bother making your own. The answer is that making your own allows you to control what goes into the pie. This is always beneficial to the healthfulness of the recipe and the frugality of the dessert. Purchasing your own ingredients means you can opt for the cheapest choices, and take advantage of deals at the grocery store. An added bonus is that once you have the basic ingredients on hand, you can continue making more pies without additional cost. In the long run, you’ll be amazed by the amount you can save if you avoid the pre-made pie. Next time you’re craving pumpkin pie, skip the bakery section and instead try this low-calorie pumpkin pie recipe, it only costs around one dollar to make!

Using less ingredients means spending less money, and saving on empty calories

There are many different types of pumpkin pies. These days you can find recipes that include layers of cream cheese, or caramel and pecan toppings. These will certainly add variety to your table; however, the traditional pumpkin pie uses fewer ingredients. BetterBudgeting.com suggests that the less-traditional recipes are much sweeter than the original. You’ll save some money, and some calories, if you stick to the tried-and-true version of the recipe.

Starting with fresh pumpkin is a healthy choice

Store-bought pumpkin pie filling usually has added sugar, and other things, like preservatives. If you start with the whole pumpkin, you’ll know that everything going into your pie is high-quality and fresh. When picking out your pumpkins you should choose smaller ones, as they pack a lot more flavor then the larger pumpkins.  Bonus points if you are growing your own pumpkins!

When it gets closer to the holiday season, you may find yourself thinking of pumpkin pie. And why not? It’s an excellent dessert option. Remember, to be frugal and healthy, stick to fresh and fewer ingredients, and make your own from scratch.

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Toss the following:

  • steak, cooked how you like and sliced (leave off for vegetarian option)
  • spinach
  • tomato
  • red bell pepper
  • cheddar cheese, cubed
  • croutons
  • jicama shards (those are the white pieces)
  • italian dressing

A view of a half-eaten salad that I decided was tasty and wanted to share it with you.  Too bad your screen isn’t scratch’n’nibble!

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