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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mexican Inspired Chicken, Corn, Black Bean Soup

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When most people look at a leftover roast chicken carcass they think yuck, when is garbage day? I look at leftover chicken and can’t wait to turn it into another meal!
Enter the carcass, overbought corn, and a bevy of Hispanic ingredients and voila! (or the Spanish equivalent) a hearty soup.

I’m going to try a different way of writing a recipe. It is more the way I cook than a straight forward ingredient/procedure recipe. See if you like it and have comments.

Roast Chicken Carcass
2 Ribs Celery
¼ Yellow Onion
1 QT Chicken Broth

Break the chicken into pieces and put in a pot large enough to hold it. Cut the celery and onion in medium dice add to the chicken, pour in the broth and cover. Cook at a medium boil for about 15-20 minutes.

½ Red, Yellow, Green Pepper
1 Pasilla Pepper

Seed the red, yellow, & green pepper. If you have a gas stove turn it on high and very patiently hold the different peppers over the flame to char them. If you have an electric stove put the peppers in a non-nonstick pan and dry sauté. The more blistered the peppers, the easier it is to remove the skin. Rub the skin off under cold water and pat dry. Cut into strips and then dice the size of the corn. Put in a medium size mixing bowl.

2 Ears of Corn

Cut the kernels off the corn. Put half of the corn in the pepper bowl. Put the other half in a food processor or using an immersion blender or regular blender grind until medium grind. Let it hang.

Turn the chicken stock off and strain into a bowl. Chill the bones and meat. Save the stock.

1 Large Carrot

Peel and cut into corn sized dice add to bowl. (I cut the tip end off, leave the leafy end and cut the carrot horizontally. I give it a quarter turn and do it again if the carrot is very thick I keep making incisions to make smaller dice. When done I chop it up. The dice won’t be cooking school perfect but it works.)

1 Medium Zucchini

Cut both ends off and cut 4 horizontal pieces leaving the seeds. Cut into smaller strips and dice corn size. Add to bowl.

½ White Onion

Cut onion into corn dice, add to bowl.

3 Cloves Garlic

Peeled, mashed and finely chopped. Off to the bowl!

Remove the cooled chicken from the fridge and painstakingly remove all meat. Put in a separate bowl. Throw bones and cooking vegetables away.

4 Tomatillos

Remove skin, rinse and cut into corn dice. To the bowl.

1T Olive Oil

Put a large soup pot on medium heat and add oil and pepper bowl. Cook and stir about 5 minutes. Add and turn on low.

1t Dried Oregano
1t Dried Marjoram
1 Bay Leaf
1t Ground Cumin


2 Large Tomatoes

Fill a pot, large enough to hold the tomatoes, with water. Core the tomatoes and put an X on the bottom. When the water comes to a boil lower the tomatoes into the water and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove and shock in a bowl with ice water. Remove and peel. Cut in ½ and squeeze out the seeds. You don’t have to get rid of all of the seeds. I squeeze into a strainer over the soup and pick out the chunks letting the juice go in the soup.

Pureed Corn
1/2C White Wine
1 Can Black Beans

Rinse the black bean very well and put in soup pot. Add the chicken broth, white wine, chicken and pureed corn.

1 piece Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce (or to taste)

Finely chop add to soup

Sprinkle once around the top:

Onion Powder
Garlic Powder

Taste, add salt and simmer.

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To Garnish:

½ Juice of Lime
3T Sour Cream
1/4t Salt

Chop a bit of

Cut some fresh corn tortillas into strips and pan fry in ¼” oil until lightly brown and dust with Kosher Salt.
To serve-

Soup + Sour Cream + Cilantro + Tortilla Strips = Full and Happy Tummy!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Corn Pudding/ Souffle or Souffl/Pud

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When I bought corn a week ago I was planning on NSSP working his grill magic a few more days. The weather changed all of my meal plans. Ground beef turned into meatballs for spaghetti instead of hamburgers. Halibut was sautéed and served with a beurre blanc instead of grilled with a shallot and mustard glaze. The corn lurked.

Yesterday NSSP was going stir crazy and grabbing his jock bag ran off to a spin class. I opened the refrigerator for a glass of wine and there they were, 4 ears of end of the season corn waiting for my creativity.

My mind flipped through its mental index cards of recipes. Corn chowder? Don’t want such a heavy dish. Grandma’s Corn fritters? Made some potato rosti recently. Soufflé? Too much, Corn Pudding? To heavy. I needed some expert guidance so I trundled down to my library and dug up my go-to vegetable author, Marian Morash.

The Victory Garden Cookbook, by Marian Morash, is a marvelous book that follows on the heels of The Victory Garden a popular PBS show in the 1970’s-1980’s. Both Marian and her husband Russell were integral parts of the early Julia Child shows. Judith Jones came on board to edit and guide. It is well worth seeking out and adding to your library.

The book is laid out alphabetically from Asparagus to Turnips and Rutabagas. Each vegetable is introduced in Marian’s voice with a section on Special Information containing yields, storage & preserving and hints. The best part? The recipes!

I turned to the Corn chapter and found my answer. Corn Pudding, Light Corn Custard, and Corn and Chive Soufflé there was a little bit of each recipe that I wanted to incorporate in my own recipe. I was looking for an entrée not as fluffy and big as a soufflé, not as heavy as a pudding, but just right.

I give you my Souffl-Pud.
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A hybrid mixture easy to make and delicious! To complete the meal we had end of the season chopped Tomatoes and first of the season Honey Crisp Apples.

Preheat Oven 375°
Place a 4 Cup baking dish in the oven to heat.
2 Ears (or 2Cups) Scraped Corn
1/2C Egg Substitute (or 2 large Eggs well beaten)
1/4C Heavy Cream
1/4C Grated Cheese (sharp Cheddar is great)
1/4C Snipped Chives
2T All-Purpose Flour
1t Dijon Mustard
1t Granulated Sugar
1t Baking Powder
1/2t Kosher Salt
Tabasco Sauce (to taste)
Freshly Grated Black Pepper
Freshly Grated Nutmeg
2 Egg Whites
Pinch Kosher Salt
2 Slices Bacon chopped into little bits
1t Olive Oil
1T Grated Parmesan Cheese

Put the ingredients from corn to nutmeg in a medium bowl and stir until well blended.
In another medium bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks. To test, take a washed egg and set it on top of a mound of whipped egg whites. If it settles down 1/4-1/2 inch it is good. If it sinks keep beating a little more and test again.

Add a spoonful of whipped egg whites to the corn mixture. Stir in to lighten the base. Add the rest of the egg whites on top and gently fold in.

In a small sauté pan put the olive oil and the chopped bacon. Cook on a low heat to render as much of the bacon fat as possible. Remove the bacon bits and pour the fat (there should be about 2t) into the baking dish that is warming in the oven. Swirl around to coat the bottom and sides.

Quickly pour the corn batter into the dish, scatter the bacon and parmesan cheese and bake about 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out hot and clean from the middle of the dish.

Serves 2 as an entrée or 4 as a first course.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Food Industry Let Us Down

I’ve been pondering our relationship with the Food Industry lately. All the scares, junk food hype, obesity, basically the whole ball of wax.

I thought back to my carefree ‘50’s childhood when food was the good guy. We trusted that our parents would fill our bellies. There were times when we hated what was put in front of us. There was no choice but to suck it up. Eat the lima bean hot with the family or cold by yourself. Don’t forget to clean your plate, your father worked hard to put the food on the table.

Restaurants, because they fell under the food satisfying umbrella, were never challenged for being unhealthy. If it tasted good it was good for you. Chances were you could count on one hand how many fancy restaurant meals you ate in a year. These were events punctuated by Shirley Temples and everyone eating something different at the same time.

Drive-thrus emerged as a fun cheap family outing. Eating in the car was a challenging experience. There were no cup holders or pull out trays. But chomp we did in communal bliss. It was a treat not a weekly occurrence.

We had the Colonel selling chicken, little Wendy and her burgers, Big Boy showing us how happy we would be eating in his restaurants. No one thought that any of the food served was bad. Even the frozen dinners eaten when our parents went out were considered healthy. Mom was ecstatic that she could run away from the kitchen one night and our bellies would be full.

Science entered the equation figuring out that cholesterol was bad and pointing at all of the food that contained it. Salt became the bad ingredient. Quantities were analyzed by age and sex. We all knew we needed food to live but the unconditional joy was being removed.

Restaurants had to work harder to bring the joy back with bigger portions, richer ingredients, and more reasons not to eat at home.

Grocery stores were also vying for the satisfying buck. The frozen food aisle bulged with dishes to entice easy replaced economical. Quick replaced from scratch.

Food slowly fell into 2 categories. Healthy, which we discovered annually in January, and the rest that we ate the other eleven months. Cooking magazines reminded us of when to change gears cutting time and variety of ingredients.

The food industry tripped over itself inventing new dishes always seeking the elusive comfort factor. They pushed the flavor profile to the absurd.

Agribusiness quietly imploded with dire consequences to our country’s health and psyche.

The Food Industry has become bloated with bad products and the consumer is left with indigestion.

I’m mad at the callous lack of respect for the public. Healthy, good food should be a priority not an unattainable dream.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Roquette Anyone?

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We’re very simple cocktail drinkers, a gin and tonic here a Cointreau on ice there. I leave the vodka infused smoothies to more adventuresome friends. So it surprised me when my eyes lit on “The Roquette” in Bon Appetit’s September issue.

“NSSP! I found a cocktail we must try-we have all the ingredients!” Slipping on his reading glasses he read the simple recipe. “We have the limes.”

“Details! We haven’t had Hendrick’s gin in awhile and I’ll pick up the other items in time for Labor Day weekend and The Princess’s arrival.” Thoughts of swigging a tony drink on the back deck were fueling me into frenzy.

The next few days I gathered the rest of the ingredients. I could hardly wait for The Princess to unpack. “Guess what! I have a cocktail for us to try!”She looked at the recipe and said, “Let’s wait for NSSP to come home, and he can make it for us.” I wasn’t deterred and agreed. Since he was the Bloody Mary King we should let him have another notch in his drinks belt. I cooled my jets.

Days slipped by, until NSSP and I was alone on the deck on Labor Day. “What about a gin and tonic? It’s a holiday, we’re not going anywhere.” NSSP was getting ready for a little buzz in the afternoon.

“How about The Roquette? I’ll get everything ready for you.”

I sat outside listening to the muddle action, the shaking, and then a drink was put in front of me. It had a pale green tinge and was garnished with arugula. Served in a martini glass filled with ice it was a decadent concoction. The taste? Wow! My palate was punched with so many herbal essences from the distinctive Hendricks gin to the unique and aromatic arugula slightly sweetened by dark blue agave it was great.

We toasted, slurped and settled in to jazz and reading. It was perfect. Maybe next time we’ll let The Princess have one.

The Recipe-
Bon Appétit attributes the recipe to Matthew Biancaniello from Roosevelt’s Library Bar in Hollywood.
1C Baby Arugula (taste first for strength)
4 1/2t Dark Agave Nectar
4 1/2t Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2C Hendrick’s Gin
Ice Cubes
In a cocktail shaker combine arugula, agave nectar, lime juice and a few ice cubes. Using a muddler or thick handled rolling pin or wooden spoon mash until the arugula is wilted. Add gin and fill the shaker with more ice. Cover, shake to chill and strain into glasses with ice. Garnish with a leaf of arugula.
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