Friday, December 16, 2016

Cock-a-Leekie Soup...okay, it's just fancy chicken soup

Cock-a-Leekie Soup



I made Cock-a-Leekie this week, a very old, very simple chicken soup recipe from Scotland (could you tell from the name?) that lets me get the most out of a single chicken–with fresh hot roast chicken and chicken salad as stops along the way, of course. (Cock-a-leekie was mentioned being served at a knight’s table in 1598–THAT is an old recipe!) It’s a great use for some of that wonderful ever-changing soup stock.

(Full disclosure...the original of this entry was from my old Live Journal, katequicksilver, but I've brought it up to date.

Here's Wikipedia's take on the old classic!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cock-a-leekie_soup 
So, off to the kitchen!  As I believe Jeff Smith, A.K.A. the Frugal Gourmet (R.I.P. and sorely missed!) used to say, “first you take a leek.”

Ummm...maybe it wasn’t Jeff–correct me on that?

Anyway, actually, first you take a chicken, but I couldn’t resist the old saw.

Some recipes call for potatoes, but we don’t eat many spuds for a variety of reasons; since the Joy of Cooking* didn't include potatoes in their version either, we felt fine about skipping them. (That is still my favorite cookbook, old and tattered though it is! It's been my "kitchen bible" for more years than I care to admit!)

Besides, who needs the starch, carbs, empty calories, and an overabundance of nightshade family members, which my arthritis rather dislikes. (During fried green tomato season, however, I just hurt and to heck with it!) If you do use potatoes, I imagine you already know that most of the nutrients are in and just below the skin...which of course you don’t want to eat if it’s been sunburned. (The skin will be green, if that’s the case. Not good.)

(Whole 30 and the Paleo/Primal crowd used to suggest NO potatoes, but that stand has been softened a bit, so we do eat them on occasion...)

Other variations call for rice or barley, but my simple version is delightful, delicate, traditional, and easy, and we generally do without grains these days and feel much better for it.

We get whole roast chickens at our grocer’s*–they use what they call “Smart Chickens” by which they mean hormone-free, antibiotic-free birds fed on grain–no animal by-products. You can read more about them here: http://www.smartchicken.com/ch.php

Sounds good to me! If you buy a whole bird to roast yourself, it costs about as much, and takes time and fuel. We save a step, and so our first meal is always fresh, hot, juicy roast chicken, as soon as we get home from the store!

If you’ve got a good source of free-range chickens, though, GO for it! Delicious...

(We eat what we want, and pull the largest of the meat off the bones, then simmer the bones in the soup stock, above–5-7 cups of stock. If it’s not strong enough for you, you may give it a boost with one of the commercial stock options, forgive the pun. I like "Better than Bouillon" Chicken Base* , which got the best reviews in the gourmet mag I picked up to read while we were having the truck’s brakes fixed last month. (Please don’t ask the name of the magazine, I don’t remember! Next time the brakes give out, I’ll look...)


I let the bones bubble an hour or so in the stock, then strain them out, let them cool, and pick off the small bits of meat, usually gleaning another cup or so. Return the meat to the pot, along with however much of the larger meat you set aside. Cut to your preferred size–my late husband liked large chunks so he didn’t feel deprived–he grew up just after the Depression; J. likes smaller bits, and so do I. (We saved enough back for chicken salad!)
Leeks are not as cheap as bulk bags of onions (here, about $2.50 for 3 good-sized ones), but oh my they are GOOD. You could substitute scallions or regular onions, of course, but the taste would be a bit stronger.

Cut off the large, tough green end and the roots of 3-6 leeks, then slice the stalk lengthwise. Open the “leaves” and rinse well–they may be sandy. Then cut into short half-moon lengths–like less than 1" long–and add to the pot.



This time I also added celery root and carrots, which made it hearty...

Simmer till tender, then add ½ cup heavy cream (the original recipe), sour cream, or even fat free plain yogurt, if you like (you can make your own–it’s not hard. But we’ll talk about that another time!) I added a bit of fresh ground pepper and sea salt (but skipped the dairy, this time.)
Try it with herbs if you like–they’re not in most recipes I could find and the soup is so wondrously rich and savory it doesn’t need them. I doubt it would have been quite that good without the homemade soup stock.

Historical Note: The traditional recipe calls for the addition of prunes, which I’m going to have to try next time! I love savory fruit-and-meat-and-onion combinations...but by the late 18th C. French gastronome Talleyrand suggested cooking the prunes in the broth but removing them before serving. Whatever!

Some of the green part of the leeks will be just too tough for soup...but you can simmer them with the chicken bones (yes, again!) to add to your stock pot. What’s left–except the bones–can go onto the compost heap along with the really tough part of the leek tops and the roots.

This is lovely in the crock pot, too...this time, I put it in about 1:00 p.m., set on high, and dinner was ready when we got home at 4:30.  Delish!



*For speed and convenience, last night I used organic chicken breasts from Costco, which tasted just fine!

Friday, December 9, 2016

One-Pan Tandoori Chicken

I was in the mood to cook, tonight, and had picked up some artichokes at Sprouts the other day...so wild experimentation transpired!


Onions, peppers, artichokes, fire roasted tomatoes and chicken...yum!

2 chicken breasts...organic if you can find them.  (We get them at Costco)
1/2 onion (more if you like), sliced
1/4 green pepper, cut in strips
1 C. artichokes (a jar or from the deli)--pickled, anyway
1/2 can of organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper or Pepperman
Tandoori spice--we have Penzey's blend

Cut up vegetables and saute' in olive oil until tender and onions are transparent--tomatoes and artichokes can be added later.

In a separate pan, saute' cubed chicken breast in olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle GENEROUSLY with Tandoori spice--taste as you go, if you like, but I like kind of a lot.

Serve over rice or cauliflower rice, or just pile in a bowl, as we did!

Yep, not much left!
Traditionally, Tandoori Chicken is whole pieces...Seva; a Taste of India (one of our favorite restaurants) serves drumsticks that are gorgeous, tender and juicy...but I wanted vegetables, too...


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Delicious, Delightful, Traditional Lemon Posset!


A posset is about the simplest custard you can make, with only 3 ingredients...easier than creme brule or flan or even grandma's custard pudding, and OH so good.  It's creamier and lighter than lemon curd or lemon meringue pie...but definitely my favorite.

Easy--but so tempting we only allow ourselves to have it about once a month, it IS rich! 

But try not to worry about the fat content...recent nutritional research has calmed that bugaboo a LOT, realizing the good fats are GOOD for us. Your body--and your brain--appreciates good fats. Not margarine or poly-unsaturated over processed vegetable oils, of course, but butter, cream, olive oil and others, preferably organic, rock!  Google "good fats" if you need convincing...

Posset is an ancient recipe, going back hundreds of years, in a variety of forms.

OUR favorite is scientific magic.  Cream, sugar, and lemon juice, that's it.  Give it a try!


INGREDIENTS

2 C. heavy cream (we buy organic whipping cream, but if you have a source fresh from the farm, go for it!)
1/2 to 2/3 C. sugar (we get organic sugar, too...and yep, sugar's only an occasional treat, hence the attempt at self-control...)
5 T. lemon juice


HOW-TO

Put cream and sugar in a deep, heavy saucepan and heat to boiling, but don't let it boil over!  Keep stirring constantly.  (If it appears to want to boil over, blow on the surface!)  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Most recipes call for 2/3 C. sugar, but I used 1/3 C. this time and it was still perfect, just not quite as madly sweet.

Remove from heat, then stir in lemon juice.  I usually use fresh-squeezed, but once when I discovered my lemon had gone bad I used a commercial lemon juice I picked up at Green Acres.  Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Thrive, Sprouts or similar probably has something comparable.  It still worked, but the bottled stuff made for a stronger lemon flavor and a little more bite.



Allow to cool 15 minutes, then pour into 4 little ramekins or small glass bowls (or old fashioned coffee cups, or pretty tea cups) and then chill in the refrigerator for several hours...it will set up perfectly, the magic interaction of the boiled cream and lemon juice.

You can get fancy and add lemon or orange zest or other flavorings, or top with unsweetened whipped cream or fresh berries, but so far I haven't been tempted--it's wonderful just exactly as it is.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Most Delicious Baked Apple Dessert!

With a big nod to my friend Julie Fenn, who brought these to a potluck recently!

Really super simple, too...tart apples are best, I think.  I'd love to have found Jonathans, but Braeburns were good too.



Core your apples and enlarge the holes somewhat so you have room for stuffing them...

Mix raisins with cinnamon (and any other spice that suits your fancy) and stuff the holes in the apples.

Add a drizzle of maple syrup or honey or a tsp. of brown or raw sugar--you can substitute Xylitol or Splenda if you MUST, but it won't be quite the same...

Top with a spoonful of butter--the real thing.  We use Kerrygold unsalted butter from Ireland, it's delicious and they treat their cows much better, without hormones, etc.

I used a pinch of Joseph's pumpkin pie spice on top of the butter, then baked at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, more or less.  (Test for doneness by poking with a knife or fork, they should be soft.)


Let cool a bit and top with cream if you wish...spoon any juices from the pan over the apples, it's luscious.  I don't miss crust or pastry in the least!



And these are wonderful warm or cold...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mexican Meatloaf!


So there's a story to this one...but for now, I'll just share the recipe which is DELICIOUS....obviously, I couldn't wait to take the photo of the uncut loaf!

1 1/2 lb. ground turkey or burger (we always use turkey for this...it originally came from a diet group  I belonged to, and I don't mind something besides red meat...honestly, you can't tell the difference.)

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (I just used fire roasted diced tomatoes, since that's what we had...)

1/2 to 1 C. crushed tortilla chips (unless you're doing REALLY Primal/Paleo, which I did...so I used chia flour instead, about 1/4 cup.  Corn doesn't have actual gluten, and in chip form, it reduces some of the ill effects while increasing available B vitamins, who knew??  Next time I may opt for the tortilla chips but aim for the healthiest I can find...*)

1 small can diced green chilis

1 egg

1 T. good chili powder (Joseph makes his own)
1/2 t. cumin (optional, I like cumin)
1/2 t. taco spice (also optional)
1 t. salt

Mix 1/2 the tomato sauce or tomatoes and other ingredients until well blended, then pack into a loaf pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the loaf and bake 5 more minutes, then let stand 10 minutes before slicing.  I used a bit of salsa verde on mine...YUM.

-----------

So.  The funny story?  My first husband, God rest him, LOVED this stuff, and used to request it perhaps once a week.  LOVED it.

...until I told him it was ground turkey.  Then he refused to ever eat it again!

The other story attached is that I enjoyed it as well, and shared the recipe with my sis, in Nevada.  She really loved it, as did my brother in law.

Years later I was hungry for it and couldn't find my copy of the recipe, so she sent it to me again.  In our big kitchen cleanout recently, I went through all my loose recipes, and there it was, in her handwriting...so I felt like we just had a really great dinner with the whole family.

By the way, Joseph loved it too.  And he knows it's turkey.
------------

* Note, via Mark Sisson's Mark's Daily Apple blog on tortilla chips--NOT that they're primal, or a great food source, or even a GOOD food source, but as an occasional indulgence:

"Corn tortillas are probably the best way to consume corn. By their very definition, corn tortillas are subjected to nixtamalization, an ancient form of corn processing that reduces antinutrients like phytic acid, unlocks B-vitamins like niacin, and fights back against mycotoxins. It also increases the available protein content of the corn while increasing the bioavailability of the calcium. In other words, it makes a fairly nutritionally-poor food a bit more nutritious – not all that important for those reading those, who likely have access to a wide range of nutrient-dense foods, but vital for populations who relied on corn for a large portion of their food intake. For us, it makes corn tortillas less problematic."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Definitely not Paleo, and with this much cheese it's barely Primal, but hey, it's pizza without a grain-based crust! OK, it's not all that easy to pick up and eat with your fingers when it's still hot, but under the circumstances, eating pizza with a knife and fork can be forgiven. And if you have leftovers, it IS easy to eat with the fingers as God intended pizza to be eaten.


Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Ingredients:

CRUST
2 c cooked, riced cauliflower
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp garlic salt
olive oil

TOPPINGS
2 c pizza sauce (I use some form of organic pasta sauce, usually roasted garlic.)
2 c shredded cheese
Your choice of toppings
(Note: toppings need to be precooked since you are only broiling for a few minutes.)

Directions:

Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove leaves, and chop the florets and stems into chunks. Add to food processor and rice it -  pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. (Note: one large head should produce approximately 4 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week for other uses.)

Steam the riced cauliflower until soft, then drain it for at least an hour. (Note: you can microwave it for about 8 minutes without adding any water, in which case there’s no need to drain it.)

First, make the crust:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil.

In a medium bowl, stir together cauliflower, eggs and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, and mix well. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 12" round, then use the back of a spatula to level it.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.            
   
Finally, turn it into pizza!

Remove from oven and add sauce, cheese, and toppings. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted - approximately 3-4 minutes.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cincinnati Chili, Starving Artists in the Kitchen Style



Yummy!

Traditionally,  Cincinnati Chili is served over spaghetti, but since we're wheat-free we act like barbarians and skip that layer.  There are any number of recipes and approaches, some juicier, some thicker, some using different ingredients, but cinnamon and chocolate are constants.


My friend Ann Emmert Abbott says in Cincinnati you pick which restaurant to go to depending on which variant you're hungry for!

So here's my version, put together to taste and from several different recipes...let me know if there's anything YOU consider absolutely essential.

Ingredients

            3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or high quality light)
            2 finely chopped onions
            4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
            3 pounds ground beef (or lamb, bison, or venison–we had grass fed beef)
            1 T. Sea salt, more or less, to taste
            2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
            2 tablespoons chili powder (Joseph makes his own, the recipe is in this post.)
            1 ½ teaspoons cumin (more or less to taste.  I probably put 1 ½ tablespoons instead)
            1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
            1 ½  teaspoons ground cinnamon
            1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (more or less, to taste)
            1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (couldn’t find mine so J. ground fresh...)
            2 tablespoons cocoa powder or finely chopped, unsweetened baker's chocolate
            1 teaspoon paprika  (I used smoked...)
            1 tablespoon dried oregano (we had organic Mexican)
            1 tablespoon organic sugar (or brown sugar)    (optional)   
            1 can organic cup tomato sauce
            1 can organic diced tomatoes (or your own, if you have them)   
            2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
            1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce       

Top with grated cheese of your choice–cheddar, Parmesan, 4-cheese, goat cheese, whatever...and raw chopped onions if you like.
      
Many recipes call for beans, but I skip them because of the lectins.  I gave up wheat 4 years ago and never looked back–just felt so much better!–but lots of people DO consider it blasphemy if you don't serve this over spaghetti.



Directions

I decided to finish this in the crock pot, but if you prefer it can be a one-pot dinner.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and the garlic and cook until soft, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook the mixture, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink, breaking up the large chunks.

I moved the cooked onions to the crock pot...


Break up the ground beef and cook till it's all brown...
 
We go for organic if we buy in the store...IF it's available!  Sometimes we have our own garden-grown stuff...
 

Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant. about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt.


Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bay leaf and 1 1/2 cups water–you can rinse out the tomato can and use that. simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thicker. Add the chocolate, vinegar and Worcestershire and cook until the mixture is thickened but still soupy, about 15 more minutes.

Hershey's was fine, but I would use the fancier organic stuff if I had it...


At this point I transferred everything to the crock pot, covered it and put it on low heat for a few hours.

To serve, discard the bay leaf and season the chili with the freshly ground pepper. Top with cheese and chopped onion.

We don't eat wheat, so J. made zucchini noodles to put under the chili.  Darn good, and no, it is NOT blasphemy!  Besides we keep trying to eat more vegetables...

Topped with a 4-cheese blend and plain yogurt instead of sour cream...absolutely delicious.
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