Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicken, Rice, and Ginger Soup

I made this soup in the slow-cooker because it worked better with my schedule that day, but you could also make it in a big pot on your stove or in your oven. If you don't already have leftover cooked chicken handy, you can poach it or roast it (or whatever you want to do) while the soup is cooking.

Total Time: about 4 hours in slow-cooker; about an hour on stove top
Makes 6 servings

1/4 C roughly chopped onion (I used a Spanish onion because I like it's sweet flavor in soups)
1/2 C roughly chopped celery
1/2 C roughly chopped carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 hunk of ginger, peeled and minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 C sherry
1 C brown rice
4 C low-sodium chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
4 C water
4 C cooked, shredded chicken
3 scallions, white and pale green parts finely chopped
small bunch of basil, leaves cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
Sriracha, to taste (optional)

In a food processor, process the the onion, celery, and carrots until you get a thick paste (pestata). Heat a large skillet (not non-stick) to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the smashed garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to brown (do not let the garlic burn). Remove the garlic from the skillet and discard. Add the pestata to the skillet, season with a teaspoon of kosher salt and some black pepper, and cook until the water from the vegetables evaporates and the pestata begins to brown.

Clear a spot in the pan and add the ginger, cooking until fragrant. Stir the ginger into the vegetable mixture; deglaze the pan with the sherry, scraping up the yummy brown bits with a wooden spoon. Cook for another minute or so, until all of the liquid has evaporated again.

Add the vegetables to the slow-cooker, then add the rice, chicken broth, and water.  Stir together and cook on high for 2 hours, then low for up to two hours or so, until your rice is fully cooked.

When ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with the cooked shredded chicken, and garnish with basil and scallions.  Drizzle some Sriracha (if using) over each bowl of soup and stir it in right before eating.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate and Irish Coffee "Tiramisu"

The only ingredients this dessert has in common with real tiramisu are the espresso and booze.  It's prepared in the same way, however, and includes lots of chocolate, so what's not to love?  This recipe came about when I made a very poor attempt at chocolate whoopie pies (they spread too quickly and didn't puff as they're supposed to).  You can use any chocolate cake that's been made with flour--you'll want the cake to be able to absorb the coffee-whiskey mixture.

Chocolate cake, cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick--you will need enough pieces to fit side-by-side in two layers in an 8x8 pan
4 oz brewed espresso (cooled)
3 Tbsps Irish whiskey
1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream, chilled
2-3 Tbsps sugar
small piece of dark chocolate, for topping (optional)

Make the whipped cream: put your stainless steel mixing bowl into the freezer for about 10 minutes so it gets very cold. Pour in the cream, 2 tablespoons of whiskey, and 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (depending on how sweet you want the whipped cream).  Beat the cream mixture on high speed until it forms stiff peaks.

Line the bottom of an 8x8 cake pan with some slices of the chocolate cake, making sure the slices are touching and that the bottom of the pan is covered. Mix the remaining tablespoon of whiskey into the espresso and drizzle just enough over the cake to moisten it. Gently spread some whipped cream over the cake so there are no exposed spots. Repeat a layer of cake, espresso-whiskey drizzle, and whipped cream.  Shave the dark chocolate (if using) over the top of the whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for 2-8 hours before serving.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fried Apple Oatcakes Topped with Cheddar and Fried Egg

I'm sure these are great any time of the day, but I was really craving some oatcakes the other night so I made this as a breakfast-for-dinner meal (who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?).  I served this with a glass of chardonnay and a spinach salad.

Total Time: less than 30 minutes
Makes 2 servings (4 oatcakes)

1 C old-fashioned oats
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tbsps butter
1 small apple, peeled

1/4 C cream

1 Tbsp bacon fat, or butter
1/4 C grated cheddar cheese

2 eggs

In a large bowl combine the oats, flour, salt baking soda, and nutmeg. Cut the butter into small pieces and with your hands, rub it into the other dry ingredients. Grate the apple using a fine grater or Microplane and stir into the oat mixture. Add just enough cream to the mixture until it forms a very thick batter.

Plop the batter onto a sheet of parchment paper and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. With a rolling pin, roll out oatcake batter to about a 1/4-inch thickness. With a sharp knife, cut oatcakes into 4-inch circles or use a cookie cutter or ring mold.

Golden brown oatcakes.
Heat a griddle over medium heat and melt the bacon fat. Add the oatcakes and fry for about two minutes on each side, or until they're browned and delicious looking.

Plate the oatcakes, two per plate, and add some shredded cheddar on top to let melt.

Next fry the eggs the way you like them (I just cooked them with the leftover fat on the griddle).  When the eggs are done, top the oatcakes with the eggs, and sprinkle on some freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

My wonderful parents gave me a slow cooker for Christmas and this was the first recipe I tried in it. Smooth, creamy, and just a tad sweet, this is a perfect winter or rainy day soup.  If you don't have a slow-cooker, I'm sure this would be just fine simmering on the stove for a few hours.

Active Time: about 40 minutes
Total Time: 7-9 hours
Makes 6-8 servings

1 butternut squash, about 2.5 lbs
4 Tbsps olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
32 oz chicken broth, or vegetable broth, if you prefer
2 small apples, peeled, cored and cubed (I used a Granny Smith and an Arkansas Black apple)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C heavy cream

Special Equipment: 5 qt slow-cooker or larger; immersion blender or stand blender.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Brush or rub the inside of the squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place cavity-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. When cool enough to handle, peel the squash and chop into pieces and add to the slow-cooker.

While the squash is roasted, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the garlic form the pan and add the onions, celery, and all of the seasonings, cooking until the vegetables have softened. Deglaze the pan with the broth and stir to combine.

Add the vegetables in broth and apples to the slow-cooker.  Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours. When you're ready to eat, add the 1/4 cup cream and blend the soup with an immersion blender (or in small batches in a blender).  Enjoy with some good bread for dippin'.