lemony chicken and orzo soup

November 25, 2013 § 79 Comments

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I am here to tell you this is the best chicken “noodle” soup I have ever had the pleasure of eating.  I actually made this soup twice last week.  Twice because after we finished the leftovers for lunch I could not stop thinking about it.  Three days later I set out to make a second batch.  And why not make it with your leftover turkey?

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This recipe came from Bon Appétit Magazine.  In my usual fashion I slightly modified the recipe.  Honestly, I never set out to change what appears to be an already perfected recipe.  It just so happens I am usually without a particular ingredient and it is easier to use an alternative rather than run out to the market.  In this case, the recipe called for a medium leek.  I had plenty of yellow onions on hand and knowing the end flavor would be different it was not enough to convince me to run out for leeks.    This soup is Mediterranean in flavor and as you would expect from this blog, very simple to prepare.  Remarkably delicious.

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For round two of the lemony chicken soup I decided to add carrots to the pot.  The carrots were wholesome, however, I preferred the soup to be somewhat sour from the lemon without the sweetness of the carrots.  Nevertheless, the flavor and comfort level was heavenly.  You cannot go wrong with either version.  And perhaps even top it with a little shaved Manchego cheese.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil + a little for drizzling on top
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound boneless & skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 cups stock
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 3/4 cup orzo
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Lemon halves (for serving)

M e t h o d

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5-8 minutes. Add chicken and stock.   Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is fully cooked, 15-20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.  Allow it cool enough to handle.   Shred chicken into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, return soup to a boil.  Add orzo and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Ladle into serving bowls.  Top with fresh dill, a drizzle of olive oil and a few squeezes of lemon.

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asparagus and potato frittata

November 19, 2013 § 57 Comments

With only two breakfast posts on this blog (dutch baby! and finnish strawberry pancake) I decided to post some of our favorite weekend morning meals.  I had asparagus in the refrigerator, however,  as you can imagine just about any vegetable may be used.  Keep in mind this recipe is for a very large frittata, enough to serve six people.   Good choice if you are expecting guests for breakfast during the holidays…

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  • 3 russet potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups stock of your choice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 bundle of asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1 inch length
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the potatoes and broth in a large ovenproof skillet. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until almost all of the stock has evaporated and the potatoes are tender.

Add olive oil, asparagus and onion to the potatoes and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, turning to to coat well with oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan, cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, or until the asparagus has become tender.

Turn on your broiler…

Beat eggs with half the parmesan, a little salt and pepper and pour it over the vegetables. Cover and cook over medium until the eggs stiffen on the bottom.  Sprinkle remaining parmesan over frittata and place under the broiler.  Keep an eye on it and remove when the top is golden and the eggs are set throughout, approximately 5 minutes.

Let cool slightly before slicing.

chicken cutlets with tomatoes and capers

November 11, 2013 § 53 Comments

I am sharing another Tessa Kiros recipe with you today.  Yes, I want to be Tessa when I grow up!  I absolutely adore her cooking and she has been a source of inspiration for years.  I love the simplicity of the recipe and it is pleasing enough to serve when you have guests.

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Try to purchase chicken cutlets from your butcher.  If not available you may buy two chicken breasts and thinly slice them horizontally into two or three slices.

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (I used diced roma’s here)
  • salt
  • 4 chicken cutlets
  • all purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons white wine or water
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers or caper berries in vinegar, rinsed
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat half the oil with the garlic in a large nonstick skillet.  Add the tomatoes with a little salt, and cook over high heat until they are just starting to pucker.  Lift them out onto a plate.  Set aside.

Add remaining oil to the pan.  Lightly dust the chicken with flour on both sides.  Place the chicken into the pan, add the sage and cook over medium high heat until the underside is golden.  Turn over and season with salt.  Put the garlic cloves on top of the chicken if they look like they are going to burn.  Cook until the new underside is golden brown.  Turn the chicken again and season with salt.  Add the wine, put the tomatoes on top of the chicken and toss in the capers and parsley.  Let it bubble up and evaporate a little, then cover and leave for a couple of minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

fettuccine ai funghi

November 4, 2013 § 56 Comments

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The sauce for this recipe is silky smooth and deliciously creamy.   It is surprisingly light because only 1/2 cup of half & half is used. This is when using the stock from the pasta plays a huge role in keeping your pasta moist.  Along with a little butter and grana padano cheese (or Parmesan) the stock helps to create a creaminess without using too much cream (or in this recipe, half & half).  Keeping it light…

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Simple cooking, minimal ingredients and vibrant flavor.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 12 ounces good quality fettuccine (not quite a pound)
  • large pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, any color, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated (or Parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to desired taste

M e t h o d

Fill a large pot with cold water and bring to a roaring boil over high heat, toss in a large pinch of coarse salt and add the spaghetti.  Cook for 9 minutes stirring occasionally until al dente.  Prior to draining pasta reserve at least two cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil and butter, swirl to coat the skillet.  Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper;  sauté 20 minutes until mushrooms are browned and have released their liquid.  Add wine and thyme and cook for a few minutes until liquid has evaporated.  Remove pan from heat.  Add hot cooked pasta another sprinkling of salt, half & half and Grana Padano to the skillet, tossing to combine.  Add cooking pasta cooking liquid until desired moistness and continue to toss.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve right away.

Serves 4, generously…

sweet and sour red cabbage

October 28, 2013 § 46 Comments

I have been preparing this German-style cabbage recipe for years.  The combination of vinegars helps the cabbage keep its bright color.  Baking melds the flavors of the cabbage, onions and apples.   Wonderful served with small crispy roasted potatoes.

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Red cabbage, yellow sweet onion, two sweet apples and a splash or two of vinegar…exquisite combination.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head red cabbage (6 cups finely shredded)
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet apples, peeled, cored and slivered
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • parsley, chopped, for garnish

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large ovenproof skillet over medium high,  heat the olive oil and sauté the cabbage and onion until cabbage has wilted and onions are soft, 15-20 minutes.  Add the apples and sauté 5 minutes, add the vinegars and allow to evaporate.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.  Garnish with parsley and serve.

risotto with butternut squash and basil

October 21, 2013 § 52 Comments

Autumn is here and what a perfect evening for a steamy bowl of butternut squash risotto and a glass (or two) of Sauvignon Blanc.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 medium large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large purple onion
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 quarts of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 3/4 cup of Grana Padano cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped

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M e t h o d

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add squash and sauté until beginning to soften and brown around edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer squash to medium bowl and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium and add remaining tablespoon of oil, purple onion and thyme.  Stir until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.   Add risotto and stir to coat for one minute.   Add 1 large ladle of  broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes.  Continue adding remaining broth by ladle, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next, stirring often, about 15 minutes.  Return butternut squash to the pot.  Continue to cook until rice is just tender but still very creamy, stirring gently and often, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in basil and 3/4 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl and serve with additional Grana Padano cheese.

Serves 4.

homemade tomato soup

October 14, 2013 § 53 Comments

For this particular recipe a medley of tomatoes straight from the vine went into this garden tomato soup.  A very sweet and firm fleshed tomato called “Plum Lemon”, which is a russian yellow tomato that looks like a lemon!  An heirloom striped tomato which looks like a bell pepper and also harvested were several plum tomatoes to add to the mix.  Straight from the vine and into the soup pot.

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The yellow ones are not lemons…they are yellow plum tomatoes!

This soup had a slight tanginess to it as well as an herbal infused flavor which came from sprigs of fresh cut greek basil and thyme.  I chose to keep the sprigs whole and remove at the end in order to keep the soup texture silky smooth.   Both the thyme and greek basil seem to have a toughness about the leaves and I was looking for a nice smooth finish.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • a few fresh thyme sprigs
  • a few basil sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkling of pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • a pinch of sugar (optional)

M e t h o d

Place the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot and heat until butter melts.  Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, basil, salt and pepper and stir to mix.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have collapsed, 6 – 8 minutes.

While the tomatoes cook, heat the stock until beginning to boil.  Using 1/2 cup stock in a cup, whisk the flour to make a smooth paste.  Add the flour paste and the remaining broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for several minutes on very low heat, stirring frequently.  Turn off heat and cool enough to handle.

Using a hand blender (or blender) purée the soup until well mixed.   On several occasions I have read by adding a pinch of sugar to tomatoes rather it be a sauce or soup, helps to soften the acidity of the fruit and boost the tomato flavor.  I did add a pinch of sugar and I can not say if this had an effect on the soup or not.  It was so delicious and it seems using fresh tomatoes right off the vine you can not go wrong.

At this point I passed the soup through a sieve to catch the skins and bits to achieve a silky smooth texture.  I think this step is optional, it was wonderful even left a bit rustic and chunky.

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Topped with oven toasted croutons, fresh grated pecorino cheese and a few greek basil leaves.

Serves 4.

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