Orange and Purple Summer Salad

Summer happened overnight.  Which is really rude when you consider how unready I am for summer clothes.  All I’m saying is perhaps a milder spring could have cajoled me into running around Greenwich Park a few more times before it became so hot you just want to walk around with as little on as possible without getting arrested for indecent exposure.  No matter.  All this heat and humidity will make me sweat my way to my target weight in no time.

That said, Sunday lunch needed adjusting.  A traditional roast just ceased to be weather appropriate.  So after I finished my first run of the season, my family and I headed to our local Farmers’ Market and bought the makings of a proper summer lunch.  A dressed crab (we named him Jeff on the walk home), avocados, a German seeded loaf, and the ingredients for my favorite salad–red cabbage, carrots, ginger, and sesame seeds.  While I fixed the salad, Helena enjoyed a homemade blueberry banana popsicle and played with a bucket of water on our balcony, as children with no pool do.  Henry read with his feet up in the shade.

playing in water popsicle smile

Below is my salad recipe.  It’s so simple and incredibly fresh.  I especially like the palate cleansing ginger.  Really nice with something like crab.  It’s also a really pretty salad, provided you like purple and orange.

 

Ingredients:

3 carrots

1/2 head of a small red cabbage

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

3 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

Method:

In a large bowl, grate the carrots and cabbage together.  Next, toast your sesame seeds over a low flame just until their oils release.  Add those to your vegetables.  Finally, mix the last 4 ingredients together in a small bowl.  Flavor to your taste.  Pour over the salad, toss, and serve.

salad lunch

laughing jeff the crab horned snakey

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Beef and Vegetable Stew for Your Petit Chou

According to BBC Good Food, “Spring greens are the first cabbages of the year. They have fresh, loose heads without the hard heart of other cabbages.” I don’t know about you, but a soft heart is what I seek in all living things.  Especially cabbages.  Which is why I’m reveling in April’s offerings as this year’s cabbages are especially tender.  I’ve been putting them in everything–salads, sautés, slaws, and stews.  Below is the recipe for my new favorite.    

 

Ingredients:

1 pound stewing beef, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon celery leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 small head of spring greens, sliced

8 ounces  haricot vert, cut short enough to fit on a spoon

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 quarts beef stock

1 cup rinsed red & white quinoa bulgar mix

olive oil

salt & pepper

vegetbales

Method:

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Season the beef then add it to the pot.  Do not cook the meat all the way through.  Just brown it.

Next add the onions, carrots, garlic, celery leaves, thyme, and bay leaf.  Sauté until the onions start to caramelize.

Pour in the beef stock, tomatoes, cabbage, and beans.

before simmer

Half cover and simmer for two and a half hours.  Stir often.  Add a cup of water if you think the liquid has cooked away too much.

quinoa blend

At the two and a half hour mark, stir in the quinoa and simmer for a final half hour.  After this time, salt and pepper to taste then serve.  The meat should be tender and the stew thick.

close up of stew finished

 

 

Roast Chicken to Stock to Soup

I have a friend who judges restaurants solely on their roast chicken.  His reason being that it’s such a simple dish yet rarely is it served to perfection.  To quote my mama, “I’ll stop him when he’s wrong.”

Roast chicken is one of my favorite things to eat.  It is comfortingly simple and I make it at least once a week.  Not just for the crispy skin and tender meat but also for the magical golden stock it yields.  Whenever I’m sick or in need of something soothing, nothing makes me feel better than some chicken and stars or a bowl of matzo ball soup.  I suppose some recipes are classics for a reason.  Here are my versions of them for you.

Roast Chicken

Ingredients:

one medium sized chicken

1 large onion

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 carrots, washed, peeled, and halved lengthwise as well as across

1 lemon

a bunch of thyme

a bunch of parsley

dry white wine

dijon mustard

olive oil/butter/bacon fat if you have it

sea salt

pepper

Method:  Before you begin, make sure your chicken is at room temperature.  This will help it cook faster and more evenly.  It will also prevent the outside from going tough and dry while the inside is still raw.  I usually take mine out of the fridge an hour and a half to two hours before I start preparations.

Preheat your oven to 400°C/200°C/Gas6

Slice the onion into thin rounds and lay these at the bottom of your roasting dish.

Now put the lemon, thyme, and parsley into the cavity of the bird.

Divide the smashed garlic and put it under the skin of the breast meat.  Do the same with a tablespoon of butter.  This helps make the skin extra crispy.

Rub a little olive oil or bacon fat all over your bird.

Season with salt and pepper.

Lay the chicken on top of the onions and put the carrots all around.

prepped chicken

Roast for about 35 minutes then remove the chicken from the oven.  Use two wooden spoons to turn your chicken breast side down.  Also push the onions and carrots to one end of the roasting dish.  Stick the chicken back in the oven.  Continue roasting for another 30 minutes.  Remove again and flip the chicken right side up.  Add a half cup of white wine and a tablespoon of dijon mustard.  Stick it in the oven for a final 15-20 minutes or when the skin is crisp and juices run clear.  Let stand covered with foil on a carving board for at least ten minutes.  No need to make gravy as you already did by adding wine and mustard to the onions and drippings while the chicken roasted.

Stock

Ingredients:

1 chicken carcass

2 onions, halved

2 carrots, roughly cut

2 celery stalks with leaves, roughly cut

4 garlic cloves, smashed

stock

Method:  Pick all remaining meat from the chicken and set aside.  It’ll be nice to use later in a soup.  Remove the lemon and herbs from the cavity.  Now put the bird into a large pot with the vegetables and cover completely with cold water.  Bring to a boil then simmer for  an hour and half.  Put a lid on the pot and let the stock cool.  Then remove the vegetables and bones from the stock using a skimmer and sieve.  Add a cup or two of water if you like and even a tablespoon of vegetable bouillon.  It’ll only make the stock that much richer.  Reduce the broth that’s left for another hour.  Cool and store or use accordingly.  I always put a small tupperware’s worth in my freezer before moving on to make soup.

Chicken and Stars Soup

This really is food for kindergarteners or what my husband would call nursery food.  But that doesn’t make it any less comforting.

Ingredients:

1 pot of chicken stock

1 cup of pasta stars (I use De Cecco’s Stellete)

2 carrots, diced

2 small onions, peeled and cut into wedges

1 celery stalk with leaves, diced

chopped chicken meat preserved when stripping the carcass

whatever leftover gravy or drippings you might have from your chicken the night before

ingredients for chicken and stars

Method:  First things first.  Make sure you have an adorable kitchen helper.  Someone who will shake all your spices and spill vanilla on the floor while you’re cooking.  Maybe even break a mug or two if you’re lucky.

sous chef helper

Now bring the stock to a simmer.  Add the vegetables and cook for 15 minutes.  Then stir in the stars.  Stir them often as they tend to stick to the bottom of the pot.  After 10 minutes, stir in the chicken and gravy.  Remove from the heat.   Put a lid on the top and allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.

chicken and stars bowl of chicken and stars

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

Some people call this Jewish Penicillin.  I choose to believe it is.  It always cures whatever ails me.

Ingredients:

1 pot of stock

2 carrots, diced

2 small onions, peeled and cut into wedges

1 celery stalk with leaves, diced

chopped chicken meat preserved when stripping the carcass

1 cup matzo meal

4 eggs lightly beaten

4 tablespoons schmaltz or vegetable oil

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons chicken stock or seltzer water

Below in my unfortunate scrawl is the matzo ball recipe I’ve been using for years.  It’s never done me wrong.  Though I always double it when making soup.  I’m a greedy woman.  What more can I say?

matzo balls

Method: Mix the matzo balls according to recipe above.  After they’ve chilled and before dropping them into the broth, make sure you’ve added the vegetables and let them cook for at least ten minutes.  This will flavor give the broth a richer flavor to be soaked up by the matzo balls.  Just before serving, stir in the chicken.  Serve with fresh parsley.

bowl of matzo ball soup