Saturday, October 24, 2009

Zucchini Soup w/ Pasta

Guys, I'm serious about soup. This is my 20th soup recipe on this blog. What can I say? I love comfort food. This one came out tasting a little bit like Campbell's, which is weird. But at least you're getting your veggies.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 cup tiny pasta
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp dried chervil (parsley will do, too)
  • salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, and saute till translucent. Stir in garlic and saute an additional minute or two.

Add the stock to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil.

Meanwhile, grate the zucchini and stir into the boiling stock with the pasta. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes until the pasta is tender.

Add chervil, lemon juice and season to taste with salt & pepper.

Variations - I read that you can also use cucumber but I can't really picture it. Also, consider stirring in a little sour cream.

Chicken w/ Garam Masala

Modified Indian recipe. I go heavy on the garam masala (it's mild) and extra light on the cumin (because it can easily overwhelm a dish. This cooks up in 5-10 minutes.

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 two-inch piece fresh gingerroot, grated
  • pinch (PINCH!) cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala (or more)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp hot water
  • salt & pepper

Rinse chicken, pat dry & slice thinly.

Heat oil in a large skillet, add onions and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring. Remove onions from pan & set aside.

Add chicken to pan & cook over high heat, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until browned all over.

Stir in garling, gingerroot, cumin, garam masala as well as salt & pepper to taste.

Cook 1 minute, then stir in cooked onions, lemon juice & water.

Cover & cook over low heat about 10 minutes or until chicken is tender.

Serve hot over jasmine rice.

*Garam Masala is a blend of common indian spices. It differs regionally but the basic combination usually includes: peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, anise & coriander.

(picture from Flickr)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Potato & Fennel Soup w/ Garlic

Made this up today based on what was in the fridge. I'm stoked because it comes out to about $1 a serving and money is tight these days. You could vary it any way you want to incorporate leftover produce (spinach, carrots, etc.). Here's what I did:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
  • 4 cups potatoes, peeled & cubed

Heat oil and 2 tbsp of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot.

Add onion and celery and saute until onion is translucent.

Add garlic & saute about 2 minutes longer.

Add fennel & leek and saute for another 4-5 minutes.

Add potatoes along with marjoram and enough water to cover potatoes (about 3 cups). Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until potatoes are fully cooked (took about 20-25 minutes). Stir occasionally.

Once potatoes are cooked, turn heat off, mash potatoes up a bit with a potato masher and stir in milk & remaining butter.

Salt & pepper to taste.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

This is a Hershey's recipe, but it's so good I wanted to share:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2.5 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 2/3 cups(10oz package) Hershey's Cinnamon Chips (yes they really do have these)

Heat oven to 350.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a bowl until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in oats and cinnamon chips (batter will be stiff).

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Fancy Gravy

This takes a little work but it's well worth it for special occasions. What's more, there are ways to change it up and make it your own. Read on and I will show you....

  • Olive oil
  • 1 Boneless leg of lamb (mine was 5lbs), butterflied
  • Kitchen twine
  • Now, when they debone the leg, it becomes less of a roast and can sometimes even be rolled out flat. You could roll it out flat and cook it that way if you want. Or you can do what I did and roll it out, fill it with some kind of goodness and then tie it back up. This is what I did. I used: 1 small jar of Classico pesto. You could fill it with anything your heart desires (fresh herbs & garlic, stuffing, veggie puree, etc.)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp demi glace (we'll come back to that)
  • 1 tbsp butter

Ready? Now some of this isn't as easy as it sounds so I'll tell you where I had trouble. The first thing you're going to do is preheat your oven to 350 (not too bad so far).

Next, prepare any filling you want to go inside the lamb (or in my case just open the jar of pesto and be done with it).

Grab your leg and unroll it. See all those creases? Fill the center and creases, spoonful by spoonful, with the pesto (or whatever you decide to use).

Fun part - I don't know how you would do this without help so if you have a friend or roommate around, recruit them. It will make things easier. Now that the lamb is ready for the oven, we have to put it back together. This may mean rolling it up or just closing it (depending on how it was butchered). Seriously, you'll figure it out. It has all these loose parts that we want to keep together so we're going to truss our lamb by tying it back together. Take the kitchen twine and wrap it around the far end of the lamb, and tie it tightly in place. Repeat this every 2 inches or so until the entire bad boy is done. Here is a lovely example of a trussed leg of lamb:

In a roasting pan over med-hi heat, warm enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (well that part was easy).

Add the lamb and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. This is simple enough, I know. But we're talking about a pan that has hot oil popping in the bottom of it and you're trying to flip a 5lb roast. So be careful, stand back, and be sure to use oven mitts.

Transfer the pan to the oven and roast covered for 45 minutes, and then uncovered for 30. Basically you're done when your thermometer reads 130 from the very center of the lamb. These temps are for medium-rare. Add more if you like your meat a little more on the done side.

Once you've taken the pan out of the oven, you still need to let it rest. So transfer the lamb to a carving board or something, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

Ok. Fancy gravy time. Before we get started, here's the deal. Demi Glace is awesome, but expensive. I use it for special occasions. It's just a super condensed rich sauce made from meat, wine, veggies, spices and good things like that. You could make your own demi glace. I'm going to try it soon. But in the meantime, you can pick it up at most gourmet stores. I use More Than Gourmet brand:

Demi Glace Gravy:

Skim the fat from the pan and set over medium heat. Add the demi-glace and water and cook, stirring to scrape up the brown bits from the pan bottom. (My mom's trick for getting the fat off the top: put a soda cracker gently on top of the gravy. It soaks up the fat but not the gravy itself.)

Strain the sauce into a saucepan, set over medium heat and let it cook for a minute or so. Whisk in butter and season with salt & pepper.

Snip the strings and thinly slice the lamb across the grain.

I served mine with mashed potatoes:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

PG County Pork Chops

I call it PG because it includes ketchup and canned soup in the ingredients and it's only 4 steps. All thats missing is cornflakes and it would be full on ghetto. Still, it's quick, cheap and really really good.
  • 4 pork chops
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
    3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Brown chops on medium-high heat with garlic, salt & pepper.

Put chops into roasting pan.

Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chops.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

**Serve with purple drink**