Simple Noodle, Sausage, and Veggie Soup

soup potNeed a quick and tasty meal that is healthy, too?  Bring a few cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, add thinly chopped or sliced veggies and a cooked hot sausage cut in thin rounds, and a handful of soba noodles broken in half, or any type of noodle – whole grain if possible.

Simmer for 5-6 minutes until the veggies are tender to taste, sprinkle in some dried parsley – or add chopped fresh greens, and season to taste. The soup pictured has soba noodles, carrots, soup closeupcauliflower, hot sausage, and dried parsley – and it hit the spot!

 

NOTE: This version got its seasoning from the cooked hot sausage. If you use tofu, tempeh, or beans, etc, you may want to add tamari and/or other seasonings to jazz it up.

And Then There Was Stock. Turkey Stock :)

turkey stockOnce you have gotten a few meals from your Herb Roasted Butterflied Turkey after first enjoying the bird during your Low Stress Turkey Dinner feast, the next step is to make a lovely stock from the bones and scraps, being sure to get as much meat off the bones as you can to hold in reserve for the soup you will, of course, be making.

I had already used the neck, “butt,” heart and gizzard, and backbone for the gravy stock, but there were still plenty of bones to flavor the 10 cups of water I used to cover the bones and veggies in my pressure cooker.  No pressure cooker? Get one!  🙂  Well, you won’t regret it if you do.  Get a Presto. That way you will always be able to find replacement gaskets. But, ANYWAY, you can also make stock via the stovetop simmer method, but it will be much quicker using a pressure cooker, and the pressure infuses the flavor so you don’t have to cook the stock down (lose volume) to get a hearty stock.

Along with the bones and scraps of meat and skin from my 14.5 pound turkey, I used 10 cups of water, a stalk of celery, two carrots, the 1/4 onion I had in the fridge, 10 or so peppercorns, a bay leave, and two corn cobs.  Instead of throwing out corn cobs or full ears that doesn’t get eaten soon enough when it is in season, I freeze them and  use one or two cobs in every poultry or veggie stock that I make. Doing so adds a great flavor.

Using this bird and proportions, I got 2 quarts of very tasty stock, half of which I will use for soup, and the rest I poured into two ice cube trays. Once frozen, I’ll remove the cubes of stock from the trays and put in a plastic bag to be used as needed for soups, gravies, or to flavor grains. Next step? The soup, of course, but I think I will use all my leftover mashed potatoes as a top “crust” on a few turkey pot pies…  Oh, on more thing.  If you can do it, be sure to use a pasture-raised turkey from a local farmer.  The flavor and texture is so beyond that of a standard turkey of any type.  Do it.  You and your family are worth the splurge.

Give Thanks, Laugh Often, and Cook with your Heart, Mind, and Soul.

 

Low Stress Method : Turkey Dinner for 12 with All the Fixings

trukey dinnerDo you love to host Thanksgiving for your family and/or friends but find it stressful juggling all the prep work with your already busy life? Are you tired of staying up late the night before, getting up at the crack of dawn on the big day, and never having a chance to just relax with your guests? Here are some recipes and ideas to reduce the stress and increase the enjoyment of the day.

NOTE: This is the “quick and dirty” vers

ion of this post.  At some point I’ll add more pictures and fix any typos, but this version should do the trick.
This plan is contingent on spatchcocking/butterflying your turkey. Doing so will ensure that:

  1. the breast meat won’t get overdone because it will take as long or longer than the thigh meat to cook to safe temperature,
  2. the turkey will cook WAY more quickly than a bird left whole, and
  3. it will be easy to carve.

Here is a great link describing how to spatchcock a turkey:
http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/holidays-recipes/article/how-you-roast-turkey

Here are some kitchen shears that enabled me, arthritic thumb joints and all, to cut the backbone out of a 14.5 pound turkey with relative ease:
Kershaw Taskmaster Shears

Okay, here is the plan. (the checklist is at the end of this post)

Do all your major house, bath, and kitchen cleaning the weekend before your gathering.  This is crucial to ensuring less stress!  🙂

Use a locally raised turkey if you can, and in any case, with no brine or other processing. Purchase fresh or give your turkey plenty of time to defrost in the fridge (5 days for a 15 pounder is ample) so that it is ready to prepare two days before your meal date. e.g. Tuesday day or evening for a Thursday  meal.

Two days before the meal, use this recipe:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/herb-crusted-roast-butterflied-turkey/9646/ and be sure to reserve the backbone, along with the neck, heart, and gizzard, for gravy. 

On the same day or evening, cut two to three butternut squash in half or quarters and roast at 400 degrees until tender and let cool. That night or the next day, peel/scrap/scoop the squash from the peel and mash a bit.  Store in fridge to be reheated with desired seasoning on the feast day. (I find squash to be tasty as is, especially if locally grown, but salt, pepper, butter, nutmeg, brown sugar, etc can all be used to jazz it up.)

If you are making your own cranberry sauce, make it while your squash is cooking.

One day before the feast:

Use this recipe for the gravy. Since you’ll have the neck, too, add an additional cup of water than is called for. No pressure cooker? No worries!  Stove top instructions are included
http://dadcooksdinner.com/2011/11/pressure-cooker-giblet-gravy.html/

Use this recipe for potatoes:
 http://www.cooks.com/recipe/sa67i0r5/mashed-baked-potatoes.html

Tear/cut up 1.5 to 2 pounds of nice, hearty bread for stuffing and leave it out overnight so it dries a bit.

Prep whatever  other veggies (romanesco, green beans, brussels sprouts) so ready to pop on the stove or in the oven the next day. Also, prep any raw veggies for appetizers, make any dips or desserts (or get your guests to bring those sorts of menu items.  🙂

Feast day morning: Make the stuffing!  This is the BEST stuffing:
http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/vegetable/polish-cabbage-stuffing-for-turkey.html

Don’t panic at the proportions.  Use these numbers for a 14-15 pound bird:

1.5 pounds shredded cabbage, green and/or red
6-7 oz diced onion
small stalk of celery, diced
12 oz diced apple
1/2 cup butter
1.5 tsp EACH ground sage and poultry season
1/2 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
1.5-2 pounds bread – torn/cubed and dried overnight

Once all veggies are sauteed, put in the roasting pan, mix in seasoning, add the bread cubes, and moisten with about 2 cups broth or water,  but add gradually to make sure you don’t overdo it.

Be sure to start  making the stuffing an hour or so before you plan to put your turkey in the oven. (You could prep the cabbage the night before, if you want.)

1/2 an hour before cooking start time, take the turkey out of the refrigerator and follow turkey recipe instructions, placing the bird over the stuffing right before putting in the oven. Tuck all the stuffing under the bird. Don’t forget to baste with 1/2 the melted butter before putting the turkey in the oven!

[If you have a convection oven with a bake option (versus roast) preheat to 425. Once the bird goes in, turn off then reset the oven to convection bake at 425. Once the oven is back up to temperature, start timing 30 minutes. Then, baste turkey with butter, lower temperature to 375, and start checking the temperature after another 1.5 hours or so. ]

Once the turkey is done and resting, bake the potatoes as directed, heat up the squash in the microwave or oven, and steam, roast, or whatever you are doing with other sides.

Finally get the gravy from the fridge and reheat as directed in recipe.

  • Weekend before – CLEAN, SHOP, pick cooking and serving containers and utensils, etc.
  • 5 days before: take turkey out of freezer if applicable.
  • 3 days before – make your lists, plan any table arrangements, check supplies of dinnerware, serving dishes, etc .
  • 2 days before: prep turkey as per recipe and roast squash
  • 1 day before: make potatoes and gravy as per recipes, prep at least the bread for stuffing and any side veggies, make any dips or desserts, if applicable.
  • THE DAY:
    1st thing: Finish any prepping, and make and cook stuffing and turkey as per recipes.
    While turkey is in oven, take a break, take a shower, or finish any other last minute things.
    Final: While turkey rests, bake potatoes per recipe, reheat squash, cook any other veggies sides, carve turkey, and reheat gravy.
  • SERVE AND EAT.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miso Soup with Soba Noodles, Nettles, and Daikon Radish

done 1 One of the many paths I’ve traveled is that of the vegan/macrobiotic herbalist, apparently for long enough that this soup is one of my comfort foods. Basically, all you have to do to make it is boil some water, add some soba or other noodles of your choice, along with whatever greens, veggies, and seasonings that you like. Once all is cooked, put a few teaspoons or more of your favorite type of miso paste in a soup bowl, add some of the hot broth to dissolve, and then ladle in a cup or two of the soup.  So easy!

ingredients

the ingredients

Here is how I made it this time:

8 cups water
1 cup or more chopped daikon radish
3/4 cup or so chopped carrot
3/4 cup chopped zucchini
A handful or two of greens, chopped as needed (I used stinging nettles, parsley, and lambsquarters)
3 oz (when dry) soba noodles
1/2 cup cooked aduki beans*
1 cup chopped tofu
2 tsp miso

*The aduki beans were an after thought – I remembered I has some left over in the fridge. The zucchini was, too, now that I think of it. I had a 3 inch piece in the fridge that needed using.

soba noodle soup ready to cook

Ready to cook

To make: Bring water to a boil. Add everything except the miso and cook at least until the noodles are done, which would be about 6 minutes, and cook longer if desired.

With aduki beans added

After adding the aduki beans

To serve: dissolve the miso in a bowl in some hot broth, then add soup and season to taste or enjoy as is.

Suggestions: fresh garlic, tamari, rice vinegar, or even just some salt would be good, or really, anything that you like!. It’s a perfect venue for leftovers and experimental seasoning.

done

It was delicious!

 

 

Shrimp and Scallop in White Wine Sauce: Quick and Tasty

2015-06-21 12.22.26I have no idea how I avoided making a white wine sauce all these years. So tasty! So quick and easy! And, the best news is that it goes with all sorts of ingredients, from the the shrimp and scallops used in this recipe, to any seafood, as well as chicken, tofu, veggies, and more.

Here is the link to the original recipe that I found when looking for a new (to me) quick and easy way to prepare the seafood.

Easy Shrimp and Scallop in White Wine Sauce

Below is the recipe with the very few adjustments I made due to not having any chicken base on hand (I added depth with marjoram and extra grated cheese), having fresh parsley available, as well as needing to use up some cherry tomatoes.  I also totally forgot to add salt and pepper, so, while I will most likely add them next time, I did not list them here to keep it true to the experience.  🙂

Here is what I used:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces shrimp (regular, not small)
  • 8 ounces scallops (regular, not small)
  • 1cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1lemon, juice of
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4  tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oil over medium/high heat, add garlic and onion and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add shrimp and scallops and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add wine, basil, red pepper, and marjoramAllow to simmer 1-2 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted, then add chopped parsley, tomatoes, give a quick stir, then add grated cheese and stir until well blended. Toss with pasta, rice, or serve over a simple salad. 

For dinner, I tossed with organic brown rice ramen noodles, which worked splendidly, but any rice or pasta will work just fine.

I had the leftovers for lunch the next day. We had eaten all the noodles the night before, so I served the remaining seafood mix and sauce over the leftover salad of new lettuce, onion, and more cherry tomatoes that I had served with the original meal the night before.  (We have lots of cherry tomatoes right now, can you tell?)

Oh – don’t forget some good bread for both renditions to soak up the sauce. It is way too good to leave on the plate.

Enjoy!  And  be sure to experiment with ingredients and flavors.

Q Tip:  http://winefolly.com/tutorial/chefs-techniques-for-perfect-white-wine-sauce/

 

 

 

Miso for a “Souper” Flavor Boost

There is nothing like a simple chicken soup made by simmering the carcass of a roasted or grilled chicken for an hour or so along with a few veggies to round out the flavor.  Along with pulling out the last bit of flavor and nutrition, the simmering process makes it a lot easier to pull off those last bits of meat from the bones.

And that’s just what I did today. I had saved all the bones from 3.5 or so pound chicken (in this case, freshly slaughtered pasture-raised chicken from Copicut Farms of Dartmouth MA) and, after picking the last bite-size pieces off for chicken salad, tossed them in a saucepan along with 1/2 ear of leftover corn and some green onion stems, and covered with water before setting on the stove to simmer.

m

Chicken soup with miso accompanied by a slice of Farmers Whole Wheat bread from Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery.

After an hour or so, I strained the stock, let things cool a bit, picked the final bits of meat off the bones, and put the meat in the fridge to stay at a safe temperature while I finished off the soup. The possibilities are endless, but I chose to slice two small carrots and tear up a few leaves and stems of arugula to add to the stock after bringing it back to a simmer. Oh, I also cut the kernels off that 1/2 ear of corn. Waste not, want not, and corn adds fiber.  🙂 All the veggies were from Farmer Dave’s of Dracut MA.

I had tried a sip of the stock when it was first done and it was just fine – simple, clean, but with a bit of depth to the flavor that differentiates a stock from cooked bones and a broth from raw chicken.  But suddenly, as I was adding the chicken back to the soup, I remembered the miso soup I had enjoyed when eating out a few weeks before. At that time, I had said to myself “I need to remember to make miso soup.” I do always have at least one type of miso paste in my fridge and am thankful that, being a live fermented food, miso paste keeps well since I remember to use it less often than I would like.

Mellow White Miso is what I had in the fridge and it turns out that it is a great match for chicken. I put about a teaspoon in a small bowl, added some of the hot stock to dissolve, added more soup, and stirred it up. Voila!  The miso paste added a subtle complexity that brought this simple soup to a new level, perfect for a special occasion as well as for an everyday meal.

Do note that you should never add miso paste during the cooking or reheating process or the probiotics/ “good bacteria” will be killed.  The best approach is to add it to each individual bowl as served. And, I highly recommend pairing this and any soup with a slice of bread from Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery of Winchester MA.  Sometimes the simplest ingredients make for the most splendid of meals.

Perfect Pesto Proportions

I am just dashing this post off to make sure I remember what turned out to be perfect proportions as to amounts of greens to olive oil, nuts, garlic, and Parmesan  cheese in a pesto. However, it also serves as a reminder that pesto is not just for basil. Many other greens or combination of greens also work well, especially if you are looking for a lighter but just as tasty pesto as when made with basil only.

pesto and greens

Never too much green

I made pesto today because I had way more pea tendrils and arugula than I was going to use in the next several days.  I had made a quick batch of pesto last week using a 1/3 basil to  2/3 the amount of pea tendrils, and loved it, so I figured I would continue along that line.

When making that quick batch last week, I had to use tahini for the nut part because I discovered I had no walnuts on hand.  You know what? Tahini worked just fine.  But for this batch, I went back to walnuts.

Here’s the recipe for 6 ounces of greens.  FYI, I doubled and used 12 ounces and the whole double batch fit in the food processor. I forgot how much the processing reduces the volume!

Anyway, here is the recipe:

  • 6 oz fresh greens (one or more of basil, arugula pea tendrils, etc. – the garden is the limit!)
  • 2 oz walnuts
  • 1.5 oz fresh peeled garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 oz grated Parmesan cheese, freshly grated if possible

Just for the record, for the 12 oz of greens, I used 3 oz basil, 4 oz pea tendrils, and 5 oz arugula in this particular batch.

When processing, I starting with 3 oz of the greens and 1/8 of the olive oil and process for a bit, then add another 3 oz (the rest if you are doing the 6 oz amount) and 2 ounces of walnuts,  1.5 oz garlic and the another 1/8 cup olive oil and process until well mixed, then, if doing a double batch, repeat the process. Once all is very well processed, add the Parmesan cheese and process as desired or stir the cheese in after removing from the processor.

NOTE: Especially if using finely powered store bought Parmasan cheese, you can stir it in after removing the pesto from the processor.  I hand-grated mine so I figured it could use a bit more breaking down.

The good news about using other greens with or instead of the basil is that the other greens don’t oxidize in the same way as basil, so the pesto stays bright green.

Although there is nothing so wonderfully rich yet healthily decadent as basil pesto, I often find that I prefer a pesto with other greens, and I am now totally hooked on using pea tendrils!  Just a lovely fresh flavor.

A note about the pea tendrils: I remove the very skinny strings are the ends of the tendrils.  They can end up introducing an unpleasant “stringy” component to recipes.  The stalks at the bottom, unless VERY tough, are fine to use in this any recipe or salad.

When making pesto, try experimenting with other greens and see what works for you.  It’s an easy way to get your greens, that’s for sure.

 

Not Your Ordinary Breakfast Sausage Sandwich

sausagesandwichTHIS is a sausage sandwich to die for.

Start with pasture-raised and/or artisan quality pork, eggs, bread, and cheese.  Use the recipe below (or create your own seasoning mix) to make the sausage patties.  Then make a few batches of patties to pop in the freezer and  you will have all the convenience of those coffee shop affairs, but oh, such better flavor.

For the record, this sandwich was made with bread from Mamadou’s Artisan
Bakery, eggs from Copicut Farms, ground pork from Lilac Hedge Farm, and cheese from West River Creamery, all vendors at the Wakefield Farmers Market in Wakefield MA, USA.

Making the sandwich itself is, of course, easy enough. Cook up a sausage patty, melt some cheese on some bread, scramble up an egg, and put it all together.  For the sausage patty, you can buy pre-made patties, preferably from a local pasture-raising farm, or purchase ground pork and season it yourself.  Here is how I do it:

Breakfast Sausage Patties

To make enough for 3 lbs ground pork:

1 Tbsp powered sage
1 scant Tbsp freshly ground black pepper (or pre-ground)
2 tsp powered garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or powdered nutmeg)
1/8 tsp powdered cloves
1/8 tsp fennel pollen (or powdered fennel seed)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
A few dashes of maple syrup (optional)

Mix all the spices, then mix in the brown sugar.  Use 2 Tbsp per pound of ground pork and mix in by hand thoroughly, along with the maple syrup, if using. Store any remaining seasoning mix in an airtight jar.

Form 2 ounce patties (8 per pound) and flatten on a foil-lined baking sheet to about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/4-1/3″  thick.  Bake at 400 degrees (350 convection) for about 20 minutes, turning at least once. Broil at end for extra browning, if desired.

To freeze: Line a baking sheet or pan with wax paper, foil, or the like,  flatten the patties onto the sheet, and freeze.  Once frozen, peel the patties off the liner and place them in a freezer bag.  Take out as needed and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes – maybe a bit more if cooking directly from the freezer. Note: For thicker rounder patties, don’t flatten as much before cooking.  But flatten as directed for the perfect fit for a sausage and egg sandwich.

Enjoy!

Simply the Best Roast Chicken!

Sometimes simple does it just fine.  Take chicken, for example.You can dress it up, cut it up, marinade it, grill it, and use it in innumerable recipes for soups, stir fry dishes, casseroles, pasta dishes, wraps, and more.  One of the most versatile of foods, it is a staple in most, if not every major cuisine and culture.

But  just tossing a whole chicken in a high temperature oven with a little butter and some vegetables can result in the most delectable meal you could ask for. And that’s what I did last night.

Before

Before – everything right in the pan with no rack.

I usually butterfly chicken, or turkey, for that matter, when roasting in the oven because it results in more even cooking and browning.  If you have never tried it, get yourself a pair of very sharp cooking shears and click How to Butterfly a Chicken for excellent instructions.

In fact, it was the recipe presented in the post linked above by Deliciously Organic blog author Carrie Vitt that inspired my version of roast chicken, sans squash but with potatoes. But, bottom line, you can do this using any number of vegetables and combinations thereof. Just be sure the quicker cooking veggies are cut in bigger chunks so they don’t get overdone during the roasting process.

All I did was put four small potatoes, a few carrots in big chunks and two medium onions quartered in with my 4.5 lb chicken, brushed everything with melted unsalted butter, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and put it in the oven at 450 degrees for about an hour or so. I used my convection option, but a preheated hot oven will also do the trick. Just be sure to  cook until it reaches to 165 degrees in the deepest part of the breast.

AFTER

After

Cook’s note: if the chicken seems to be getting too browned before it comes to temperature, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes or so.

As you can see, this came out beautifully.  If you click the photo, you will be able to see the resulting juices in the pan – plenty to make a cup or more of delicious gravy to go along with the tender and juicy chicken and the roasted veggies. And that’s what I did.

Like I said, sometime simple does it fine.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Another note: Using amazingly fresh ingredients helped make this dish even better.  The chicken was pasture-raised by Copicut Farms, butchered just a few days before and purchased at the Winchester Farmers Market, and the potatoes and carrots were purchased on the last day of the Wakefield Farmers Market from Farmer Dave’s.  There is NOTHING like freshly butchered pasture-raised chicken and locally grown and dug potatoes and carrots… The onions were from Market Basket – but at least were organically grown. 🙂

Caldo Verde: A Classic Fall or Winter Soup from Cook’s Illustrated

I admit it. I am totally in love with my magazine and online subscriptions to Cook’s Illustrated, even though I do find some of the recipes a bit fussy for my taste. But this Caldo Verde recipe is quick and easy to prepare, uses inexpensive  and healthy ingredients, and tastes sublime. In this version, I did not change anything in the recipe other than to use leek instead of onion and reducing the amounts proportionately because I only had 7 oz of chorizo sausage on hand instead of the 12 oz called for in the recipe, although I did use the full pound of collard greens.

First, brown the chorizo

First, brown the chorizo

Here is the recipe verbatim from Cook’s Illustrated:

Caldo Verde

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine ( I chopped up some leek, instead)
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 pound collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Leeks and garlic

Leeks and garlic

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion (or leek), garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and pepper flakes and season with pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

cooking the potatoes

cooking the potatoes

Transfer 3/4 cup solids and 3/4 cup broth to blender jar. Add collard greens to pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Gorgeous collard greens from Flats Mentor Farm

Gorgeous collard greens from Flats Mentor Farm

adding the greens

adding the greens

Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to soup in blender and process until very smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir pureed soup mixture and vinegar into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Before adding the processed liquid and potatoes

Before adding the processed liquid and potatoes

Hey, I just realized I forgot the vinegar…Oh well, next time.  🙂

Anyway, there really isn’t much more to say because I pretty much followed the instructions as is, with the only other minor difference being that I used my immersion blender with the handy blending jar it comes with for such purposes to do the pureeing part.

This recipe is a total winner in my book, and Steve loved it, too.  Plus, I can see using it as a jumping off point for a number of variations depending on what I have on hand on a given day.  In any case, it’s a keeper!

DONE!

DONE!