Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cabbage Soup

A couple of weeks ago, I made pork dumplings with cabbage. I bought one of those bags of shredded cabbage with carrots that are great for making cole slaw. But I had cabbage leftover, so I decided to make this soup. Then my husband (who gets itchy if things hang around in the fridge for more than two days), made himself some cole slaw. Or the beginning of cole slaw. Because when I got home, he slid the bowl in my direction and asked me to add stuff to make it taste good. All of which was totally fine. But then I had to buy another bag of cabbage slaw because by then I was really looking forward to trying this soup. So now there's yet another half bag of cabbage staring up at me every time I open the vegetable drawer. We'll see who gets to it first.

Yield: 8 servings

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 quarts chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 head cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped or shredded (4-5 cups)
1 (14.5 oz.) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, drained and diced

1.      In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.
2.      Stir in stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then stir in cabbage. Simmer until cabbage wilts, about 10 minutes.
3.      Stir in tomatoes. Return to a boil, then simmer 15 to 30 minutes, stirring often and breaking up the tomatoes with your spoon against the side of the pot.

barely adapted from allrecipes.com by JGCASE
onion and garlic
stock added
stewed tomatoes
tomatoes mixed in
shredded cabbage and carrots
(as you know, I used a bag of cabbage slaw)
cabbage mixed in
soup ready and about to be enjoyed

I really like this soup. It's simple, easy to
make, big on flavor and good for you. Nice.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

This is an old school version of spaghetti carbonara (hence the classic in the title). I see a lot of carbonara recipes that use cream and peas...those aren't traditional, but good (what's not to like?). I know some people are nervous about adding the raw eggs (usually because they think they're going to accidentally scramble them, but sometimes because they think the eggs won't be cooked enough and won't be safe to eat). But rest assured, the eggs cook enough just from the residual heat of the hot pasta. And as long as you add your eggs off the heat and whisk them in quickly enough, you should be able to avoid making a spaghetti scramble. Which actually, might not be that bad. After all, there's already bacon in there. Okay, you're on notice Denny's...if I see the Sizzlin' Bacon-Spaghetti Grand Slam Skillet Scramble start popping up in your commercials, I'm calling my laywer. Actually, I'm calling some friends to see if anyone knows a good lawyer, and then I'm calling my lawyer.

Yield: 4 servings

1 lb. spaghetti
8 oz. bacon, chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1.      Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prep/assemble the remaining ingredients so they’ll be ready when the pasta is done. Cook pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. While the pasta cooks, start making the sauce.
2.      In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 6 minutes.
3.      While the bacon cooks, beat the eggs and cheese together in a bowl and season with salt; set aside.
4.      Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off all of the oil except for 3 tablespoons.
5.      Add the garlic to the pan. Season with black pepper. Saute for 30 seconds.
6.      Add the crispy bacon and the pasta. Saute for 1 minute.
7.      Remove the pasta pan from the heat and add the egg/cheese mixture, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble.
8.      Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound into serving bowls and garnish with parsley.

barely adapted from Emeril Lagasse
chopped bacon in the pan
bacon getting crispy
crispy bacon
adding parmigiano-reggiano to the eggs
cooking the garlic
cooked spaghetti and bacon added
adding the egg/cheese mixture (off the heat)
all mixed
on the plate, sprinkled with parsley
twirling onto a fork

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken Marbella

When I tossed a bag of prunes in our shopping cart this weekend, my husband stopped, looked at me and said nervously "what are you going to do with those?" "The same thing I'm doing with the Spanish olives" I replied. Which didn't seem to comfort him the least little bit. So I told him it was for a chicken recipe and assured him it was from a reputable cookbook. He still looked unsettled. Then I reminded him that prunes are just dried plums and pointed out that calling them dried plums is way sexier and really they've gotten a bad rap just because they help keep you regular. Nothing. Then a few days later, I made the chicken and he was much happier and way more relaxed (and he had seconds).

Yield: 6-8 servings

2 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered (or 5 lb. assorted chicken parts)
1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled and finely pureed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes (a.k.a dried plums)
1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley or cilantro

1.       Preheat oven to 350º F.
2.       In a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
3.       Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
4.       Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.
5.       With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

Note: To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.

This was the first main-course dish to be offered at The Silver Palate, and the distinctive colors and flavors of the prunes, olives and capers have kept it a favorite for years. It's good hot or at room temperature. When prepared with small drumsticks and wings, it makes a delicious hors d'oeuvre. The overnight marinating is essential to the moistness of the finished product: the chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare.

from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins, Epicurious.com
I put my chicken in a plastic bag to marinate. I doubled
the bag actually (I wasn't taking any chances after my bag broke
the day before Thanksgiving when I was brining our turkey).

adding red wine vinegar
adding olive oil
Spanish olives
all the ingredients in the bag
I smooshed everything around and then put it in the fridge.
Every once in a while I would smoosh it some more and flip it.
marinated chicken in the baking dish
topped with brown sugar and white wine
done (that was easy)

This was really tasty. It's a little sweet from the prunes
and brown sugar. But the wine, vinegar, olives, capers, and
garlic manage to keep it all in check. Just right.

I should mention that I scaled this recipe down (cut it in
half - it originally called for 10 lb. of chicken). My
modest family of three just wasn't up for that challenge.