Category: Recipes

Chicken soup for a cold

Chicken soup for a cold

I went to my doctor yesterday because I had a lingering nasty cold, and came away with a couple of helpful prescriptions and a recommendation from both the doctor and his PA that I be sure to have some chicken soup. Well there have been enough studies to know that chicken soup really does help cold symptoms, and that was all I needed to buy 4 chicken thighs (those ridiculous Franken-thighs where 4 weighed 1.7 lbs) and make some soup.

We had made some chicken pot pies a few weeks ago and had frozen the remaining stock and thus had some really good stock all ready to go.

  1. We pulled out 2 containers of it (about 2-3 quarts) and popped then out of their containers and into the pan of our Instant Pot. We set it on low pressure steam for 5 minutes to thaw the stock.
  2. Then we skinned the thighs and tossed them into the pot, and pressed the Poultry button for 15 minutes cooking.
  3. We pulled the chicken pieces out to cool and decanted the fat from the stock.
  4. When we made our frozen stock, we didn’t remove every bit of fat because it would be fine going into a gravy, but no one wants soup with a greasy mouth feel, so we removed the fat from the stock and from poaching the thighs using a gravy separator. It works by pouring from the bottom of the dish, since the fat floats to the top.

separator

  1. We poured the fat off three batches.
  2. Now to actually make the soup, we cut up
  • One medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 large stalk of celery
  1. We added the veggies to the now empty InstantPot bowl along with a Tb or two of butter, and let them sauté until softened.
  2. Then we returned the stock to the pot, along with the cut up chicken.
  3. Then we tossed in the remainder of an open bag of Medium Dutch Maid Egg Noodles (about 5 oz).
  4. We closed the pot and pressed Soup, setting the time down to 10 minutes.
  5. The resulting soup was so beautiful even in the pot we were amazed.

in potIt was even better in a bowl. We served it with a loaf of Wave Hill Bread.

This recipe serves about 4.

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Enchiladas, southwest style

Enchiladas, southwest style

Nowadays, you can get all kinds of things named enchiladas, some filled with beef, pork or chicken, or others with downright weird ingredients. We wanted to go back to the enchiladas we had in Arizona which are pretty straightforward, but with the twist that they add a fried egg on top to cut the spiciness.

Of course, spiciness is different for each person, but the idea is the same. You just add some sort of sauce and season it to taste. In our case, we bought soft, premade corn tortillas and two kinds of packaged taco sauce. Neither turned out to be very spicy, so we added some red pepper flakes and some slices of jalapeno.  You can go pretty far into spiciness by picking the right peppers, but since the ones in the supermarket were completely unlabeled, we stuck to jalapenos. However winter jalapenos shipped to Connecticut are pretty mild things.

cheeseHere’s our pretty easy recipe. We used cheddar cheese shredded in our food processor, rather than using a grater or buying the tasteless pre-shredded cheese which has had plenty of time to oxidize on all of its surfaces. You could also use the fairly similar Colby cheese.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
  • Taco sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Jalapeno or hotter peppers
  • 4 Corn tortillas
  • 1/3 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs

sauce

  1. Saute the ground beef in a little olive oil. Remove and keep warm.
  2. Saute the onions in the same oil, and add the garlic near the end of the cooking process to keep it from burning.
  3. Drain excess fat from the pan, and add the ground beef and about 1 cup of taco sauce. The bottled sauces have much more body than the powdered ones (like Old El Paso).
  4. Add the pepper flakes and slices of hot peppers to taste.
  5. Heat the tortillas in a pan or on a griddle.
  6. Spoon meat sauce into each tortilla and top with grated cheese.
  7. Add sliced hot peppers and if you like, sliced black olives.
  8. Roll each taco up and place them seam-side down in a baking dish.
  1. Top with more grated cheese and bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the filling heated.
  2. While they are baking, gentry fry the eggs in butter.
  3. Place two tacos on each plate, and top with a fried egg.
  4. Serve at once.

baked

Nancy’s Jumble Cookies

Nancy’s Jumble Cookies

Nancy Dolnier, the General Manager of Wilton’s Village Market, periodically publishes creative recipes as part of the store’s weekly flyer. This Jumble Cookie recipe, which she says has appeared before, is simply outstanding, and provides a batch of creative cookies for your family or to take to an event. Other than stirring up the ingredients, it is very little work.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (she suggests chocolate “chunks,” but we couldn’t find any)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • ½ cup white chocolate morsels

ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla
  4. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix until uniform.
  1. Mix in the oats.
  2. One by one, add the chocolate chips, raisins, pecans, coconut, and white morsels, mixing after each addition.
  3. Place a sheet of baking parchment on a cookie sheet, and using a large cookie scoop, drop about 8 cookie balls onto the parchment.
  1. Bake for 14-16 minutes and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
  2. Repeat until all the cookies are baked.
  3. Makes about 30 amazing cookies.

Depending on your mixer, you may be able to use it to do all the mixing. If the mixer gets overloaded, mix in the final ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon.

Chicken Adobo: Phillippine fried chicken

Chicken Adobo: Phillippine fried chicken

This is an adaptation of the recipe described by Julia Moskin in the New York Times. It amounts to a dipping sauce, a poaching broth and a quick deep frying of the final chicken. The advantage of a recipe like this is that the chicken is already cooked when you fry it, so you needn’t worry about cooking the chicken through, when the pieces vary in size, as they seem to do in supermarkets these days. Further, the poaching renders some of the fat out of the chicken skin, so you needn’t skin the chicken.

While this can be a highly spiced dish, all of the heat is in the dipping sauce and you can easily control the heat by choosing the kind of peppers  As written, it calls for two Thai bird chiles or habanero chilis which have Scoville ratings of 100,000 to 600,000. By contrast. Jalapeno peppers have a relatively mild Scoville rating of 3,000-10,000. For our first experiment, we chose the easily available Jalapeno pepper rather than searching down the super hot ones that may have lesser appeal here in Connecticut.

The Dipping Sauce

dipping-sauce

  • 3 Tb lemon juice
  • 2 Tb maple syrup
  • 2 Tb fish sauce
  • 1 Tb soy sauce
  • 2 hot peppers, thinly sliced (we used Jalapeno)
  • ¾ cup water

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chicken is ready.

The Broth

  • 2 ½ cups white vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups water

Place the broth in a large pot with a close-fitting lid, and simmer for 5 minutes. Then turn the heat down to the lowest possible simmer.

The Chicken

  • 2 lb dark meat: legs and thighs, wings if you must. Do not use white meat.
  • 2-3 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp semi-hot paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 4-8 cups canola or peanut oil

poaching

  1. Salt the chicken, and place the chicken pieces in the broth pan so that they are covered.
  2. Poach for 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces once.
  3. Turn off the heat, and let the chicken cool in the broth for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the pieces on a paper towel.
  5. Mix the flour and spices in a plastic storage bag.
  6. Heat the oil in a cast-iron pan to 365° F.
  7. Dip the chicken in butter milk and then shake in the flour.
  8. Shake off excess flour and fry the chicken a few pieces at a time. Cook the chicken 4-5 minutes, turning several times. You want the chicken evenly browned and heated through, but you do not need to cook it further.
  9. Drain the chicken pieces on paper towels and serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Commenters on Moskin’s recipe have suggested marinating the chicken overnight to enhance the flavor. We don’t think that is needed, as the flavor is quite pronounced, but you want to avoid overcooking the chicken in the broth, as it eventually will dry out the chicken.

plated

Flakey buttermilk biscuits

Flakey buttermilk biscuits

Buttermilk biscuits are great for breakfast (or dinner) and take very little time to make. In this recipe, we used unsalted butter, and devised a trick to make them even flakier. Just as in making croissants, we turn and fold the dough a couple of times to make more layers of butter. The result is biscuits made up of many layers, and with a terrific flavor. We use unsalted butter because it contains less water than salted butter, but you can use salted butter if that is all you have.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Unsalted butter, 1/3 cup or 2/3 stick or 76 g
  • About 1 cup of buttermilk
  1. Set out one stick of butter from the refrigerator for a few minutes, while you gather your ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into small slices and drop into the flour.
  5. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or two forks.
  6. Add 1 cup of buttermilk, and more if most of the flour isn’t moistened.
  7. Pat the dough together on a cutting board and roll it out.
  1. Fold the dough into thirds and roll out into a rectangle.
  2. Again, fold the dough into thirds and roll it out.
  1. Cut the dough into biscuits using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass, and place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  2. Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, and serve right away.

baked

Boulder’s gullible foodies praised by NY Times

Boulder’s gullible foodies praised by NY Times

In Saturday’s NY Times, Stephanie Strom, no stranger to pseudo-science, wrote an article praising how friendly Boulder, CO was to development of new food products “where new companies are challenging the old guard in the food business.”

The trouble is every single company she mentioned is peddling products based on scaring into buying them. That’s right, all of these companies are peddling bullsh*t.

Quinn Snacks

Starting with Quinn Snacks, whose goal was “cleaning up food,” we find that their plan is no GMOS (um, there is no such thing as GMO popcorn)  combined with English and science illiteracy:

“we’ll take  real butter over carbonyl group (=C=O) any day of the week.”

Grammatically, it’s either “a carbonyl group” or “carbonyl groups.” Chemically, you should write a carbonyl group as >C=O to show two different bonds coming off the C. But come on, ninnies, butter flavoring is usually diacetyl

CH3-(C=O)-(C=O)-CH3

which has TWO carbonyl groups, and occurs naturally as a major flavor component in butter. So real butter contains diacetyl and has two carbonyl groups. They also claim that all their ingredients are pronounceable, which, of course, is really reassuring if you are functionally as well as chemically illiterate.

And Quinn perpetuates the Big Lie, that “GMOs” are an ingredient rather than a process. GMO crops are the most heavily tested class of foods in the world and not a single problem has ever been found in over 20 years of use.

Of course Quinn’s foods are “organic,” which is the triumph of PR over science. There is simply no evidence that organic crops, using pre-scientific rules are any healthier or more nutritious than conventional crops. Organic crops have a yield that Is 50-80% of conventionally crops, deplete the soil, and have a greater carbon footprint. And yes, they spray pesticides on organic crops, too. Just different ones.

Purely Elizabeth

Purely Elizabeth  sells “ancient grain granolas,” at $6.99 for 12 oz (probably about two servings) which is fully buzz-word compliant: gluten free, non-GMO, vegan, organic and sweetened with “coconut sugar,” which they claim erroneously to be low glycemic, and baked with the ever popular foodie coconut oil, which has no discernible benefits except profitability. They also claim to provide support to organic, anti-GMO organizations like Slow Food USA and the Rodale Institute, whose entire reason for being is to promote organic farming.

Coconut sugar and palm sugar are the same thing, and are at least 70% sucrose, with the rest being glucose and fructose. While the Phillippine Department of Agriculture claims to have measured the  glycemic index for coconut sugar at 35, others have measured it at 58, close to that for sugar.  Chris Gunnars explains his skepticism of these measurements.

The glycemic index is a measure of glucose content, or more accurately how available the glucose is, but while this was formerly of interest to diabetics, current thinking according to the American Diabetes Association is that total calorie count is more important, and obviously, the calorie count for sugar is the same whether derived from cane, beets, or palms.

Madhava Sweeteners sells “organic sweeteners,” such as the ridiculous coconut sugar just mentioned, and organic honey, which is more or less a sweet illusion according to Scientific American. Incidentally, honey, too, is just sugar (sucrose) but the bees secrete invertase which breaks the sugar up into its two smaller sugar components: glucose and sucrose. It is not a special sweetener:  it’s sugar.

You can make similar criticisms of the bogosity of other mentioned companies like Made in Nature who make organic fruit and grain snacks, and Good Karma Foods, whose products but seem to be “flax milk” and yogurt made from flax seed, and of course are “non-GMO,” gluten free, non-dairy and allergen free.

Gluten free, of course, is only of concern to the approximately 1% of the population that suffers from celiac disease. Evidence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is minimal, and going “gluten-free” is a lifestyle choice, not treatment of a medical issue.

Birch Benders

Finally we come to Birch Benders, who makes a line of pancake mixes. We’ve never understood the appeal of pancake mixes, since pancakes recipes only contain about 6 ingredients you can stir together in less than a minute, but we had to try theirs, because they claim to be “just like grandma’s.” Well, we have our grandmother’s recipe for buttermilk pancakes and thought we’d compare ours against theirs. This recipe has been in the family for probably 100 years, and is just:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • buttermilk (about 2 cups)

You just stir the ingredients up (this really takes only a minute) and bake them on a griddle or frypan at medium heat, turn once and serve.

Birch Benders has a classic pancake mix as well as a gluten free version, both are, of course, organic. They also  make a buttermilk pancake mix, but only the traditional one is available in stores in our area.

My grandmother never heard of either “organic” or “gluten free,” of course. But there are only 2 ingredients in making their pancakes:  ¾ cup of pancake mix and 2/3 cup of water.  Um…really?

Well of course, with those proportions, the batter came out the thickness of milk, and cooked into something thin and ridiculous that stuck to the pan.

We mixed in about 3 more Tb of flour to make a decently thick batter and tried to make comparable pancakes. Well they were about the same size as ours, but not as puffy and they had no taste except sweet, and in fact they were too sweet. There was no buttermilk or wheat flavor at all. They were actually pretty awful.

 

Their pancake mix is made from “organic evaporated cane juice,” which is just a cryptonym for sugar, organic wheat flour, baking powder, non-GMO cornstarch, organic potato starch and organic cassava starch. We paid $4.99 for a 16 oz package at Caraluzzi’s in Georgetown, CT. But never again.

The point of this rant is that the New York Times really needs to point out that these expensive little startup companies that form a coven in Boulder offer nothing new but unscientific malarkey. Claims like “organic,” “gluten free” and “GMO free” attempt to scare you into buying into their nonsense. And some of them aren’t even very good.

 

Veal Zurich style: Zurig’schnetzlets

Veal Zurich style: Zurig’schnetzlets

Veal Zurich Style, or Veal Swiss Style is usually referred to on Zurich menus as Zurig’schnetzletts. It is spelled in dozens of ways and is one of the most popular dishes on Zurich menus. It’s a simple, creamy veal dish you can make in half an hour, while your rosti are cooking. Rosti are essentially Swiss hash browns, and are very easy to make. We’ll start them first.

Rosti

  • 2 or more medium potatoes
  • 2 Tb butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Shred the potatoes using a food processor shredding disk or the coarse side of a grater. If they are very moist, dry them a bit on a paper towel.
  2. Melt the butter in a cast iron frying pan and press the shredded potatoes down. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes on each side. You want them to be crispy on the outside and the interior of the potato cake cooked through.
  3. Keep the rosti warm in the pan until the veal is done. Then lift out the entire cake and serve it on a plate, cutting it into segments.

rosti-in-pan

Zurig’schnetzlets

  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 Tb butter
  • ½ lb veal cutlets
  • 2 green onions, white part only, chopped
  • 10-12 oz beef or chicken broth (low salt). We used our own homemade beef stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  1. Melt half the butter, and sauté the mushrooms until they give up their water and begin to brown. Remove to bowl.
  2. Pound the veal and cut into small pieces
  3. Saute the veal, a few pieces at a time in the butter. Add the chopped onions to the last batch.
  4. Remove the veal to a bowl and add the wine and stock. Since you are boiling it down, it is important to use low salt stock or the salt will concentrate and the dish will be too salty. Add any liquid from the meat and mushrooms.
  1. Boil down the wine and stock to about ¼ cup, being careful not to let I burn.
  2. Add the cream and the veal and heat through.
  3. Put the veal mixture in a serving bowl and top with the sour cream. Stir it in at the table as one last flourish before serving.

Serve with the rosti.

rosti

Beef stock in 2 hours with an Instant Pot

Beef stock in 2 hours with an Instant Pot

It is amazingly simple to make beef stock in a couple of hours in an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot.  Oh, and you can also call it “beef broth” or “bouillon” or even “bone broth” if you want. It’s a terrific stock base for making sauces and gravies and freezes very easily. We put ours in pint freezer containers.

So, all we did was take some left over beef ribs from our holiday roast. We froze them last month and got them out for this recipe. You can just as well use steak bones. Those used in long cooking pot roasts would be less useful because the stewing process leaches out the flavors your want to capture. Here are our ingredients.

  • 6 beef ribs or other steak or roast bones
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 10 stems of parsley (still growing in our garden)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Put all the ingredients in the pot liner, and fill with water to the Max fill line.
  2. Press the Soup button and set the time to 120 minutes.  In the Instant Pot, the Soup setting keeps the liquid just below a rolling boil, so the stock doesn’t become cloudy

    .

  3. When the 2 hours are done, let the stock cool naturally, which could take up to another hour, until the pressure has released.
  4. Using tongs, remove all of the large pieces of bones and veggies.
  5. Strain the stock through a colander to catch any other meat or veggie debris, and scoop the broth into freezer containers.  When they are mostly cool, pop them into the freezer. They are ready for your next cooking adventure.

It is important not to add more than a small amount of salt, because some recipes call for you to reduce the stock to a small amount, and that would over-concentrate the salt, making the dish too salty.

January Thaw beef stew

January Thaw beef stew

This simple stew recipe is just what need on a cold morning or during the sort of thaw we are having now. It will probably cool back down, and you’ll appreciate this tonight and any night soon! What makes it so special (and so easy) is that it uses crushed ginger snaps! It’s 5 minutes work and about 2 hours in the oven! Or, you can do it in an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot and have it done in half an hour!

You can crush ginger snaps quickly in a food processor, or in a bag using a rolling pin. They not only add flavor, they thicken the stew.

beef-in-casserole

  • 1 to 1 ¼ lb stew beef
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tb brandy
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup ginger snaps
  • 1 10-oz can beef or chicken stock (In a pressure cooker, reduce this to about half a cup)
  • ¾ cup dry red wine
  • 1-2 Tb chopped parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Place the sliced onion in the bottom of an oven-proof casserole.
  3. Mince the garlic and add over the onions.
  4. Add the beef, brandy, stock, red wine and crushed ginger snaps.
  5. Sprinkle on half the parsley.
  6. Cover and bring to a boil on the stove top.
  7. Then place in the preheated oven and bake for two hours.
  8. Check to make sure the beef is tender. It may take a bit longer, depending on your oven.
  9. Serve over noodles or rice.

Instant Pot

  1. If you do this recipe in an Instant Pot, brown the onions and beef in a skillet and  pour heated brandy over the pan and ignite it. This prevents alcohol fumes from coming out of the Instant Pot’s steam vent.
  1. Remember to use less liquid in the Instant Pot than in a casserole disk, The ¾ cup of wine plus about half a cup of stock is plenty, because little evaporates while cooking. Select the Stew setting for 25 minutes, and you’ll have a delicious meal.
  2. Serve over noodles or rice.

The original version of this recipe, published over 30 years ago in the Columbus Dispatch reminded you to give individual greetings to each of your fruit trees in January. Always a good ides.

Scrambled eggs in an Instant Pot

Scrambled eggs in an Instant Pot

There have been dozens of experiments on making hard cooked eggs in electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot. Our conclusion was that you want to use low pressure to keep the whites from getting tough and cook them for only 5 minutes, releasing the pressure right away to prevent overcooking.

Similarly, people have experimented with soft-boiled eggs in a pressure cooker. We decided it was a waste of time because cooking them is so quick anyway.

And, likewise, poached eggs seemed  more trouble than they were worth in the Instant Pot, and hard to get out of the little ramekin or egg cup, even when you used non-stick spray. We recommend using a saucepan for a few, or using a big kettle when cooking for a crowd.

But what about scrambled eggs? They present some special problems because they are so easy to over cook and they often stick the fry pan. And for a crowd, there might be some advantages to the pressure cooker.

A little experimentation suggested we were right. You can make any number of scrambled eggs in a bowl and steam them in the Instant Pot. And they come out well. There isn’t any huge time saving here, but there is some consistency. And, you don’t have to keep stirring and monitoring the pan every few seconds. You do still have to take them out pretty expeditiously to keep them from overcooking, though, but they probably won’t stick to the pan the way scrambled eggs often do.

We tried this recipe for one person (2 eggs) and for 2 people (5 eggs) and it was pretty easy once you arrive at the timing for your bowl configuration. We recommend 7 minutes.

Our recipe uses a bit of butter, since fat carries the flavor better. Don’t leave it out.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tb milk (about)
  • ½ Tb butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Spray a small, heat-proof bowl with non-stick spray.
  2. Break the 2 eggs into the bowl.
  3. Add the milk, salt and pepper, and beat with a fork until more or less uniform.
  4. Put 1 cup of water in the Instant pot and add the trivet.
  5. Set the bowl on the trivet, and close the pot and its steam vent.
  6. Set the pot to Steam at low pressure  for 7 minutes. The pot will start chugging away, heating the water, and then start counting down from 7 minutes.
  7. Release the pressure immediately after the timer is down and open the pot. The eggs should look mostly cooked.
  1. Stir them up with a fork to see if they are cooked through. Don’t worry if there are a littly liquidy, they will continue to cook in the bowl for another minute or so. If they really seem way too undercooked, just put the lid back on for a minute or so and they will cook some more. You want them to be sort of creamy, not really hard.
  2. Remove the bowl using a hot pad and fluff the eggs with a fork. Serve right away while still hot.