Friday, January 24, 2014

There's no place like Mom

In the past two weeks I've sat and mourned with two friends who lost their mothers and it makes me cherish my own mother all the more.

This week was especially cold and on Tuesday as the snow storm began, I put on my sneakers and hot footed it down to Trader Joe's to make my Mother's and her mother's Chicken Soup recipe, inspired by a little inner competition against the 2nd Avenue Deli Chicken Soup which I had on Monday night.

I picked up a family pack of Chicken parts, some parsnips, fresh dill and a sack of Organic Yellow Onions. I already had carrots and celery at home and forgot the crucial sweet potatoes that my Nana used to put in and the parsley that my Mother reminded me about when it was already too late. Oh well, Thank God she's still here to remind me!

I began with a large pot of water and salted each piece of chicken liberally as I put it in the pot. I added chopped carrots, celery, parsnips and should have diced the sweet potato like Nana did and added it all to the pot. Each step reminded me of all the years I watched as my Mother made this soup...I quartered the onions and left the skin on like my Mama taught me and turned the gas up to let it all come to a boil, skimming the fat off the top as it boiled. (Another lesson from Mom.)

After the soup came to a boil, I let it simmer for about an hour or so, until the chicken was well cooked and falling off the bone and added the dill and would have added the parsley if I had it.

It was and is a simple and delicious soup to eat and share with someone you love.

To all you Mothers and Mother Lovers out there, this bowl's for you!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Breaking some eggs...

I work on a freelance basis on TV commercials and January is generally one of the slower months so the past two weeks I've been cooking up a storm at home to beat boredom and save money. 

Yesterday I came up with a great breakfast that was so good, I had to post about it and this morning I think I topped it with an even better one!

Yesterday’s breakfast was sautéed collard greens with red onions and oyster mushrooms served under slightly fried eggs, sliced avocado and a drizzle of Sriraracha chili sauce. It was pretty yummalicious…

Today I opened the fridge and saw some Kombocha squash I’d cubed and roasted and some quinoa and decided to sauté up some red onions and combine them with some garlic powder to fry up into patties. Next time I may add an egg white to bind it all together since they kind of fell apart,  but this time I combined about a cup of squash, a cup of cooked quinoa, ¼ cup of sautéed red onions and a dash of garlic powder and mushed them into patties and fried them in Safflower Oil until they were nice and crispy.
While the patties were frying up, I put some water and white vinegar in a sauce pan to simmer and cracked two eggs into the water and poached them until they were the right balance of cooked white and runny yolk.

I layered the eggs onto the patties and sliced up half an avocado and spread it out on top and added a healthy swirl of Sriraracha sauce and took a photo before it disappeared. It definitely topped the Yum Chart at a number 1!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Teaching a Hot Chick New Cooking Tricks

This week I headed out to Brooklyn to cook with my friend Amanda. She reached out to me a while ago to help her expand her culinary repertoire from macaroni and cheese dinners out of a box for her and her family and I was excited about sharing my experience and love of Good Food!

A Stunning view of the clouds from the cafe at Fairway Red Hook
First we cleaned out her refrigerator and cabinets and I moved some things around so that it made an easier flow for cooking and storing dishes (at least I hope I did!) and so that I could see what we were working with. Then we headed to Fairway in Red Hook and had a nice lunch before we went shopping so we didn't buy everything in the store out of hunger and got down to business. 

The first item in the basket was a crate of Clementines, which are in season from Spain right now and so easy and delicious to snack on. Next up, we added strawberries, fresh spinach to make salads and to cook with, broccoli to steam or roast and organic Rainbow Chard, some sweet potatoes, golden beets, parsnips, fennel and a Butternut squash, a Kombocha squash and then moved onto dry goods. 

Amanda's a vegetarian so I wanted to make sure she's getting enough protein, so we got a can of Cannellini beans, some quinoa and millet and a Chia seed cereal for her and she has an adorable three-year-old son that we picked up a package of chicken and apple sausage for. We also picked up some fruit and nut mix for her to snack on, some individual packs of vegetarian soup stock and a box
of roasted pepper and tomato soup to heat up in a hurry and some yogurt and a chia and blueberry yogurt combination that sounded divine. 

We headed back to her apartment and fired up the stove and started prepping. I taught her how to hold the knife and let her practice on peeling and cutting up the butter nut squash which we cubed and tossed with olive oil, a few cloves of fresh chopped garlic and some dried rosemary and salt and put on a sheet pan to roast at 350 in the oven. We cut up the Kombocha squash into 1” slices with the skin on and Amanda drizzled it with olive oil and a little salt and then put it in the oven to roast too. We discovered that the super thin slices of kombocha turned into delicious crispy chips, so next time we'll cut some really thin slices with a vegetable peeler and do this on purpose to snack on!

 While the squashes were in the oven we prepped the root vegetables and put them in a glass dish to roast, Amanda got some more knife practice in with the golden beets and parsnips and we cubed everything (beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and fennel) and put that in the oven with olive oil and a splash of balsamic and some rosemary, salt and pepper. 

roasted root veggies, quinoa and snack size tureen
Once the Butternut and Kombocha squashes were done (about 30-40 minutes, until they were soft enough to pierce with a fork) we let them cool and popped in the root veggies to roast and got out the Rainbow Chard. I showed her how to roll up the chard to cut it into ribbons and we sautéed it in a pan with chopped garlic and olive oil. I love the contrasting colors of the hot pink and brilliant yellow veins and the deep green of the leaves! I made her a little snack tureen with quinoa, white beans and the beautiful greens.
It was approaching dinnertime and we decided to make soup with the roasted Butternut squash. I chopped up an onion and some garlic and we sautéed that and let it cool and put it into a blender with the roasted Butternut squash, 2 cups of the vegetable stock and let her son help "cook" by turning on the blender, which he enjoyed immensely :-) Enough so that when Amanda and I dipped a finger into the blender to taste the soup (after we took it off the base), he almost forgot that he didn't like the look of it and stuck his finger in too, but quickly remembered he was supposed to not like it and tried to shake it off!

We used another container of the individual portions of veg stock to make some quinoa, cutting it with water to equal one cup of quinoa to one cup of stock and one cup of water so we'd have enough for the soup. I love quinoa for immediate hunger emergencies since it takes about 15 minutes to make and can be paired with pretty much anything to make a fast and filling meal.
For dinner, we put some cooked quinoa in a bowl with the drained cannellini beans and spooned on the butternut squash soup and added the ribbons of sautéed chard. It was visually gorgeous and so the combinations of flavors were incredible! In retrospect, I should have added a drizzle of the truffle olive oil that I found in the cabinet, but I’ll leave that to her to share with her husband when she impresses him with her newly learned cooking skills ;-)