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Chicken Soup with Kluski

12 Apr

Chicken soup mise en place.

The weather is crazy. One day it is spring, the next it is summer, then we are bounced back into the winter. So with the fluctuating temperatures Mr. Big got sick. He has the flu or something. He is all meepy and needs attention. The best way for me to address his needs is by cooking him dinner.  I decided to prepare chicken noodle soup.  That warms anyone’s soul. I make mine a little bit different; I use the culinary skills my babcia gave me.

Chicken soup is chicken soup, but what makes it Polish to me is the use of parsley root and my noodle of choice; kluski. We grew up with rosół and variations of it. Rosół is Polish chicken broth soup.  Delicious!  It is easy to make like any chicken soup.  The difficult part for my family was making the kluski.  I spent a lot of time with my babcia cooking.  I know her secret to making these little white pillows that are boiled in the chicken broth.  If there is no time to make them the default kluski are just plain noodles either precooked or cooked in the soup.

Kluski or kluska (singular) is a polish term for a non-filled dumpling or noodle.  They can take on many shapes, textures, and flavors and can be made in different ways.  Some kluski are made of wheat flour, mashed potatoes, potato flour, water, eggs, milk, or cream.  There are many variations based on the region of Poland you are in.  Kluski are all around awesome!  The ones my babcia used for the rosół is a simple recipe consisting of flour, cream, salt, and egg yolks.  All mixed by sight and consistency of the batter.

Making this soup is just plain easy, gather cut, dump in pot, cover with water, wait, make kluski, and then enjoy.  Easy.

Finished soup. Wish you could see the kluski.

Rosół AKA Chicken Soup

  • 1 whole chicken, broken down and back split
  • 2 medium onions, medium dice
  • 4 celery stalks, medium dice
  • 5 carrots, peeled, medium dice
  • 3 parsley roots, peeled, medium dice
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  1. Have everything cut and ready to go.  Be sure your chicken is butchered, you can remove the skin if you wish, but i like the fat it adds to the soup.  Also use the chicken carcass in the soup; because it adds flavor and texture to the broth.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized stockpot and then cover with cold water.  Place on the range under medium high heat and then cover with a lid.
  3. Cook the soup for 30-40 minutes.  
  4. Remove the chicken bones when you are ready to make the kluski.

These kluski appear larger then they really are, but they are delicious.

Quick Kluski

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • Pinch salt
  1. In a small bowl combine the flour, salt, eggs, and cream.
  2. Mix with a fork until not lumpy.
  3. If the batter appears to thin then add more flour, if it is too thick add more cream.
  4. The batter should be able to hold its shape on a spoon.
  5. With a dining room tablespoon, scoop out teaspoon size quenelles and dip immediacy into the simmering soup.  The kluska should fall right off the spoon and cook in the broth.  Repeat until all the batter is used.
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Quick, Step, Step

3 Apr

Mr. C. Pinchy by DTR.

Getting back into the groove of things here at home.  Odd to know that my season has changed.  Glad to know that cooking and food has fully re-entered my life.  I am in a big list mood, it seems that is all i do is make lists.  So here is another one to add to my posts.  The food list of 2012.

Food/Summer Goals I Want to Reach

  1. Write the class outline
  2. Take a photography class
  3. Plant my garden
  4. Bake 6 new cookies
  5. Bagatelle time
  6. Outline 2 other singles
  7. Write a short story
  8. Take a foraging class
  9. Eat more local meat
  10. Join a CSA
  11. Eat a lot more veggies
  12. Have a seafood party
  13. Have a party at the house
  14. Go to the cleve
  15. Be happy everyday

Tajin- What is this?

9 Sep

I needed to find some inspiration for some food writing and it was under my nose the entire time.  Well not the entire time, this product came to mind as I was slicing up a humongous watermelon.  I mean a big sucker.  So, today we are going to learn more about Tajin, a “classic seasoning”.  I never heard of this until some of my Mexican friend put it on cucumbers.  This magic red dust made items chili like, limey, and salty all at once.

Tajin as described on its webpage as “A delicious mix of 100% highest quality Mexican chilies with lime and salt; the perfect balance of spice and flavor.”  Indeed it is.   Many use it to enhance the flavor of fruit and it does this well, it adds as you see salt, spice, and some acid leaving the fruit you dust it on to be super sweet.  At the curling club the bar keeps spilt oranges with me and dust them with Tajin.  I also like to use this on mangos and melons.  It is delicious.

The company also makes Habanero Seasoning, Clásico Mild Snack Sauce, Chamoy Mild Sauce (has apricot), and Clásico Seasoning 25 Year Special Edition.  All these different dusts or sauces come in different sizes, so they are easy to travel with.  It is quite impressive.

Besides putting this seasoning on fruit you can also use it to season fresh salsa, line a margarita glass with it, season a michelada, season meats or seafood with it, heck use it on a ceviche, I bet it would taste great.  Maybe even some chocolate, popcorn, fresh chips, dips, etc…. The possibilities are endless.

Keep in mind once you purchase Tajin classico you should really try to use it as quickly as possible.  Once the humidity gets to it then it becomes rock solid.  This is a great seasoning really try to push yourself to give this product a try, if you can find it.  Once you taste it, you will fall in love with it.  I did!

Shishito Peppers Poppers

26 Aug

Somehow I have been on another planet, probably Mercury, and I had no idea that these little tasty green peppers were around.  Nor did I known that many restaurants have been serving them up too.  Luckily I got to have these little green guys when I was in Cleveland at the Greenhouse Tavern several months back.

The Kitazawa seed company,  shishito peppers are “mini, sweet-hot, thin-walled green pepper is popular in Japan.”  These peppers grow in the summer season and are perfect appetizers to pop. They are dangerously addictive, very tasty, and easy to prepare at home.  These peppers are high in vitamin C and A.  I am telling you if you have not had these peppers you need to go out and find them.  They are amazing.  I plan on growing them next year, I dried out a few pods and i will save their seeds for planting next season.

These little green treats are great sautéed, roasted, grilled, or put in tempura.  I want to roast my next batch.

Food Librarian has a cool post on these peppers.

Shishito Pepper Poppers

  • 10-12 fresh shishito peppers
  • 1-2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
  • Couple of pinches sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
Method:
  1. Get out a medium to large sauté pan.  Place over medium high heat with some the olive oil.
  2. Keep in mind that you will be cooking the peppers whole, so do not remove the stem.
  3. You can tell the pan is hot enough to use when the oil begins to shimmer.  When you see this turn the flame to high and add the peppers to the pan. Be sure not to crowd them; cook in more than one batch if needed.  If there are too many peppers in the pan they steam not brown.  Be careful for small pops of hot oil.
  4. Let the peppers sit in the oil in the pan for 2-2.5 minutes, do not flip them; this allows them to brown and blister. Once they get some brown on one side toss the peppers and then let them sit again for another 2 minutes.
  5. Once there is substantial browning the peppers should be lightly charred (they should be brown rather than black) on the outside and very tender. Spread them out on a plate or a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt flakes and black pepper. Serve immediately.
  6. Use the stems to hold onto the peppers, suck the meat off the ends, then discard stems.
  7. These are so good.  I bet you can’t just have 5!

I Scream for Ice Cream

3 Aug

Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman. 🙂

There are two things I love making in the kitchen.  One, is cookies.  Just love them, the whole process.  I love looking at the recipes, meezing out the ingredients, creaming, shaping, and baking.  Not to forget sharing them with friends and eating them myself.  The other kitchen project that I utterly adore is making ice cream.  I don’t get to make it all the time.  Sometimes I think I should, but chances are I would consume all of it.

Ice cream.  What is it about ice cream?  Looking back on my childhood I can recall going to dairy queens or baskin robbins.  High end or premium ice cream really did not exist when I was growing up.  Local ice cream did exist such as Strohs or Ray’s.  every kid loves ice cream growing up.  Nobody really dislikes it or hates it, unless you are lactose intolerant.  Even those who are have a difficult time giving up such a creamy luxury.  As a kid you think ice cream is kinda like magic.  It is creamy like milk, but cold, frozen cold.  It is like a yogurt, but not, it has a special texture.  And chances are your parents did not make it at home, so one can not really see how this dessert is made, unless you have the coolest day care in town.

Yes, I learned how ice cream was made in my Montessori day care.  The experiences I had in the day care between the ages of 6-10 were the best.  So much time for one to use their imagination, lots of time outdoors, and always fun.  Totally centered around fun.  Unlike the catholic day care I was sent to when I left Montessori that kept my sister and I locked up inside in a cafeteria. Boooooooering.  Anyways back to the ice cream.

One day one of the day care supervisors decided it would  be a good idea for us to make ice cream.  Not the kinda that you plug and wait.  A good old-fashioned hand crank machine so all the kids could crank on it to make the magic of ice cream happen.  The teacher showed us the cream base, the ice that surrounded the vessel, the salt that was added to the ice to help make it cold, and then what the cranking did.  Amazing!  This was how ice cream was made.  Nothing is cooler then this when you are 8.  All I wanted to do was make ice cream.  At that time those types of machines were expensive.  All I had was my Snoopy Snow Cone Machine, and yes I loved it too.

From that one experience in day care I kept up my love for making ice cream.  I got my own hand crank ice cream maker from Kmart when I was 11.  The base froze so there was no hassle with ice or salt.  In 8th grade I think my parents got an actual ice cream maker.  It still works today and it is a beast that makes 1 quart of ice cream.  When I was in college I bought my own ice cream maker that I plug in and the base freezes.  This is the same one I use today.  I have a few ice cream cookbooks Ben & Jerry’s (which was my bible), CIA Frozen Desserts Cookbook (awesome), and a few odd ones here and there.  The newest addition is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Cookbook from Columbus, Ohio.  Wow!

So, not only do I like making ice cream.  I love eating it.  Some of my favorite ice cream places have been JP Licks in Boston, Penn State University College Creamery, Ray’s, Black Dog Gelato (new as well) and now Jeni’s.  Ruhlman wrote about Jeni briefly in a Columbus food tour and I had to learn more.  I ended up buying ice cream from her shop for my sister’s birthday.  What I managed to consume was the pear Riesling, lavender ????????, and buckeye state (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate).  I could not stop eating it and I kept craving it.  When I knew Jeni was writing a book I had to pre-order it.  I needed to make her ice cream.

It has been so hot here in the Midwest.  Everyday is an ice cream day.  The Jeni’s Ice Cream Book was sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to make a recipe.  Yes, I read my cookbooks in the bedroom, they are great reading material.  I wanted to attempt something more daring, but Mr Big wanted plain jane vanilla.  That is what I made and what I will share with all of you.  Two interesting addition here in the recipe.  A) the use of cornstarch, which is a thickening agent for the base. B) cream cheese.  Yes, cream cheese.  This is what gives her ice creams a distinctive taste a naughty hook to lure you back in.

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Jeni’s Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes 1 quart (aka: 2-pints or 4 cups, it’s all the same yield)

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out, seeds & bean reserved

Method

  1. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and about 2 tablespoons of whole milk.  Be sure this slurry is smooth.  In a medium sized bowl whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth.
  2. In a sauce pot  combine the milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla seeds and bean.  Bring this to boil over medium high heat.  Once this cream mixture reaches a boil maintain it for 4 minutes then remove from the heat.  Gradually whisk in the slurry, return the pot to the burner and bring back to a boil.  Stir this mixture constantly with a heat proof spatula until slightly thickened.  About 1-2 minutes.  Remove this mixture from the heat again.
  3. Whisk this hot cream mixture into the bowl that has the cream cheese.  Mix until the base is smooth, you should see no chunks of the cream cheese.
  4. Either pour this mixture into a ziplock bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  PLace on ice or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until the base is cool to the touch.
  5. Get your ice cream maker ready.  Be sure to follow the directions of your specific ice cream maker!  Some bases like mine need to be frozen before the ice cream base is made.
  6. Remove the vanilla bean from the base.  Slowly pour in the vanilla bean ice cream base into the ice cream machine.  Spin the ice cream until thick and creamy.  Once the desired consistency is reached, place the ice cream into containers and freeze or fold in any yummy ingredients like fruit, candy, nuts, etc….  Be sure the ice cream freezes for 4 hours.
  7. Scoop and enjoy.  BTW this ice cream is super creamy and goes well with cajeta.
BTW: EAT MORE SUPERMAN ICE CREAM!!

Easter Cooking Fest

27 Apr

With the work I have lined up for the guys, chores around the house, the doggers, family drama, and way too much cooking to do; somehow I have found time to share my exploits.  Actually, I wanted to do some free writing and spill some thoughts out of my head, that will have to wait for another day.  So….

Easter.

Fluffy bunnies, eggs, peeps, candy, Jesus, more candy, chicks, peanut butter eggs, ham, lamb, and _____ fill in what else evokes the image of easter.  For me and my Polish heritage it is a large lunch, blessing of the basket and some sort of edible food shaped as a lamb.  Normally there would be a cold kabanosy and a hot keilbasa, potatoes, borscht, ham, new potatoes, two crazy chopped  salads (i don’t eat them), horseradish, and bread.  Oh, how can I forget the butter lamb and then for dessert the lamb shaped babka.  Now that I am in the city with Mr. Big and the doggers I am not headed home for the holiday.  I will fend for myself.

My cooking-fest started a week back with the infamous house smoked ham.  So delicious!  Besides the ham I will set up the table for 2 to include spring peas, new potatoes, miseria (cucumber and sour cream salad), deviled eggs, potato/onion/cheese pierogi, horseradish, maybe some duck, and my cannoli cheesecake.  That is the feast including a glass of wine.

The highlights i’d like to share of the feast are the deviled eggs.  I did not get into deviled eggs until I got into culinary school and Chef Loving taught us how to prepare them in breakfast class.  The recipe he had us use was great.  It was a combination of cream cheese, butter, vinegar, s&p, cayenne, the pressed yolks, and dried mustard.  Wow.  I was surprised  by the eggs.  Why?  Well, I am an egg white girl always have been.  Not saying I dislike yolks, but I did not enjoy their yolky flavor.  Ordering eggs over hard was and still is the norm for breakfast, but now I eat the yolk.  If they come out underdone I would have to create a dam or try not to puncture the yolk.  Just was not my thing.

My yolk complex is not quite over, but I do enjoy a poached egg with, yes a hollandaise sauce. Hah.  Or on a perfect lardon salad.  There is something about the egg and it’s richness that I love and despise at the same time.  I will figure it out one day.  Back to the deviled eggs.  What I discovered in culinary school was my love of acid and how fat is really good friends with it.  The first batch of deviled eggs I made I put too much vinegar in and I loved it.  The acid lifted the rich fatty-ness of the yolk and matched my love of the white.  The butter and cream cheese assisted in my appreciation of this dish.

The other day when I was making the eggs I did not want to buy cream cheese.  I rarely use it.  I had to think on my toes and I selected my double cream brie cheese.  Why?  One has to think about the functionality of the ingredient you do not have or want to omit.  You need to identify what ingredient does in the dish.  What is it’s role or function, especially if it is a base ingredient.  This sounds like idea of substitutions is going to lead to more egg adventures in the kitchen.  A deviled cobb egg, BLT egg, blue cheese, sweet yolk, and more…. Who knows some more ideas will come up.  Plus, curlers seem to really like deviled and pickled eggs and Mr Big likes the deviled eggs I make because they are not runny.  Oh well, easter has come and gone.  Now we need to eat all the leftover food.  Enjoy.

Fall Back Deviled Eggs

Yield 8 halves

4 eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons brie, room temperature, no rind

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Hard boil the eggs.  The quickest way for me is place the eggs in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Once a boil is reached turn off the heat and place a lid on the pot.  It should take about 8-10 minutes for the eggs to reach the hard boiled state.  If you have another technique that works use it.  There are many.
  2. Once cooked, peel the eggs, and slice lengthwise.  Pop out the yolks into a small bowl.  Clean out the whites with a damp towel.
  3. With a fine mesh colander press the yolks though it.  Now you will have fluffy yolk particles.
  4. In a small bowl mash together the brie and the butter, until well incorparated and creamy.  Add the yolk, mustard, vinegar, and mix.  You should have a paste like filling.  Taste and season it as you wish with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
  5. Arrange the egg whites in a line on the cutting board.  Using a small pastry bag and with a star tip, fill the pastry bag with the yolk filling.
  6. Begin to pipe the yolk filling into the egg whites where the yolk used to be.  Fill all the eggs with the yolk, you may have extra yolk filling.
  7. Garnish as desired, with a caper, some dill, roe, or other plush of herb.

What is this? Labna

15 Apr

Ever have one of those days when you grab the wrong item at the market?  I kinda did.  I went to reach for a smaller middle eastern yogurt, instead I got a middle eastern spread called labna AKA labanah, labne, labneh, or cheka.  It is a soft and tangy cows milk yogurt cheese, similar, yet different to a combo of buttermilk and cream cheese.  Rather delicious.  I used it to add some tang to my indian inspired carrot soup (onions, cumin, fresh curry leaves, cardamom pods, carrots, water (no stock), salt, black pepper, and that is it.  Oh I pureed it too)

I can recall eating labna in high school when I used to trade lunch bites with my muslim friends who brought in biryani.  If you don’t know what biryani it is a rice based dish, that either vegetables or some type of meat, and is very aromatic.  Many Indians, Iranians, and Pakistanis consume and make this dish.  What I learned is that labna is put into this hot rice dish because the fat content is high enough so it does not curdle.  Labna is used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Suggestions on what I should do with the rest of it

  • Combine with olive oil and fresh herbs like parsley or  dill to make a dip for vegetables and breads.
  • Make the traditional indian dessert kunafa
  • Maybe a spinach quiche with tahini and labna
  • A salad dressing (rocked it out with some olive oil, garlic, sparkling water, and black pepper)
  • Cheesecake

Here is how to make your own Labna (from the Nourished Kitchen)

Labna Ingredients

  • 1 Quart to ½ Gallon of Fresh Yogurt (see sources)
  • ½ Teaspoon Unrefined Salt per quart of yogurt
  • Extra Virgin Unrefined Olive Oil (see sources, optional ingredient)
  • Herbs (optional ingredient)

Labna Instructions

  1. Set your sieve above your bowl.
  2. Fold the cheesecloth into quarters and set it inside the sieve.
  3. Mix yogurt with unrefined sea salt.
  4. Pour the yogurt and salt mixture into the sieve lined with cheesecloth.
  5. The initial straining will happen quickly as the bulk of the liquid and some of the yogurt itself will strain through the cloth and sieve into the bowl.
  6. After the initial straining (5 – 10 minutes or so), gradually and carefully fold the ends of the cheesecloth in toward the center and twist them gently into a nice, tight package of yogurt that can easily hang from a hook.
  7. Tie the package together with a rubberband and hang it from a hook, placing your bowl beneath to catch any dripping whey.
  8. If you do not have a hook set up, you can tie off the package and leave it in your strainer provided you watch the level of the whey, ensuring it never reaches the strainer. Hanging from a hook speeds up the straining process.
  9. Hang your yogurt for at least 12 hours and preferably 18 – 24. The longer you hang the yogurt, the thicker your labneh will be.
  10. After your yogurt has hung for a sufficient period of time, remove it from the hook and gently take off the cheesecloth. You’ll find that the yogurt is smooth and thick like cream cheese.
  11. You can store the yogurt in small mason jars in the refrigerator or store them in olive oil with herbs.
  12. To store labneh with olive oil, roll the labneh into small walnut-sized balls and gently place them into a mason jar with fresh herbs. I like to use violetta basil, but you can use any herbs that suit your preference. Cover them with oil. I have read that labneh can be stored this way at room temperature, but I store labneh in the refrigerator.
  13. Store your whey for later use.

Remember: Preparing labneh at home leaves you with ample whey which is strained away from the semi-solid cheese. This whey is similarly rich in beneficial bacteria and as such is slightly acidic. Don’t throw it away, the thin faintly green-looking liquid is quite valuable. You can use it to soak grains to render them more digestible, in bread baking, as a starter for fermented foods and in smoothies for extra protein and probiotics. Whey should keep, refrigerated, for up to six months. We usually use ours within two weeks.

Next post……………….. PORKY and a Poem.