Friday, September 21, 2007

The Best Chicken Soup

I made this soup for grandpa's dinner last night and it was really good. I'm not really fond of chicken soup, but the addition of white wine in this recipe intrigued me. The ingredients are a perfect combination of vegetables, chicken, flavorings, liquids and cream. The morsels of dumplings created by the combination of flour and broth was a delicious surprise. The addition of cold ready-made broth is the key to creating these meltingly soft morsels. If you want a smooth soup base, then heat the broth and add it hot to the flour mixture using a whip.

Chicken Soup

adapted from the magazine Cuisine At Home

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup dry white wine
5-6 cups chicken broth
3 pieces chicken thighs (to make about 1 1/2 cooked shredded chicken)
1/2 cup frozen peas
8 pieces button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup baby carrots
2 tablespoons heavy cream
chopped parsely

Cover the chicken with water and boil for 15 minutes. Cool. Shred, don't worry if it's a little raw at the core, it will cook in the soup. Reserve the broth. I used 1 liter of ready-made chicken broth and added some of the broth from cooking my chicken to the soup.

In a Dutch oven sweat the onion, garlic, celery and herbs in olive oil, butter and about 1 teaspoon salt over medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.

Add the wine and stir to combine. Add some of the warm broth reserved from cooking the chicken and stir to combine. Add all of the ready-made broth and simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened. Season to taste. The bits of dough formed from adding the broth to the flour makes delicious mini dumplings.

Add chicken, carrots, peas and mushrooms. Finish with cream and parsley. Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sunday Lunch

Another Sunday lunch with gramps, J, T and E. It was a hectic Saturday and I had some studying to do on Sunday so my menu had to be a quick one. I decided on grilled steaks, roasted new potatoes and sauteed mixed green peppers. Dessert couldn't be simpler, Chocolate Wafer Icebox Cake with Raspberry Coulis. Someone should give me a medal.

First thing I did was clean and slice the new potatoes in half. Placed it in a shallow pan and toss with extra-virgin olive oil and fine sea salt. I then roasted it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.

I then seasoned the steaks with salt and grilled it on a cast iron grill placed on top of two burners, heated at medium high heat. While the steaks were grilling on one side I went on to the peppers. I had yellow, red and orange bell peppers sliced thick. This I sauteed in a cast iron pan with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt. Saute the peppers one color at a time and placed in a bowl when done, continue with the rest of the peppers.

The icebox cake was delicious. Make this the night before. I followed the simple recipe, except I used a non-stick 9-inch springform pan which made it easier to chill in the refrigerator and remove from the pan before serving. The next day, cook some some raspberries in butter and sprinkled with some sugar. The raspberries will melt partially. After about 4 minutes puree the raspberry sauce. Serve it with the wafer cake which I decorated with a few raspberries around its perimeter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Get-Together with Grandpa

My dear sweet grandfather is here in SF to visit his two grandchildren. This came as a pleasant surprise and I am thoroughly enjoying his company. My cousin J is married with a fifteen year old son and she and her family came for dinner on the second day grandpa was here (he's staying with me). It's funny how my nephew and I ended up doing our homework after dinner. Now that I'm back in school, with one year to go for my degree in Geography, I seem to have common ground with the younger generation. We even have the same sneakers. I may possibly be taking this school thing to far.

The dinner was simple and went well for everybody. I served a simple roast beef with new potatoes and pan roasted brussels sprouts. The roast beef I purchased, already marinated, from Trader Joe's. So I simply placed it in a roasting pan surrounded by red and white new potatoes, drizzled the whole thing with extra-virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and roasted in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes. Perfect.

For the brussels sprouts, I blanched the sprouts in boiling water, drained, sliced in half, then sauteed in a pan with lots of butter on medium high heat. The sprouts will caramelize slightly, careful not to burn it.

For dessert I served the most divine Banana, Cherry and White Chocolate Muffins from my book The Domestic Goddess. This is not really a proper dessert, but its ok to live a little don't you think?

Banana, Cherry & White Chocolate Muffin

125 grams (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
3 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped
50 grams white chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Melt the butter in saucepan, remove from heat and add the sugar, vanilla and bananas, mashing them with a fork. Stir in the sour cream and the eggs and continue to beat with the fork or a wooden spoon. Add the bicarb and the baking powder, stir well, then add the flour, cherries and chocolate.

When mixture is well blended, divide it into each of the 12 muffin cups lined with cases. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool muffins on a wire rack.