Chinese Bone Broth with Asian Pears

I’m really trying to get hyped up for Chinese New Year.  Aside from some flowers I brought into the home, CNY lacks its usual red & gold luster, feeling more like the dreary snowy Monday that is New York today.  BUT in an effort to stay true to CNY traditions of 除舊迎新 “out with the old (crap) and in with the good”, I’m going to refrain from talking about the absolute insanity of work in January, my forever cold, and my wistful thoughts of childhood past. Continue reading

Back to Basics: Homemade Chicken Stock

Hem… what’s the story this month? Travel, travel, & more travel!  Granted, it’s been mostly the good kind of travel that involves family & friends – the kind where you don’t mind cramming yourself for 3 hours in a $150 Spirit Airlines seat that doesn’t recline. I take that back, Spirit Airlines still sucks balls.  Good or bad travel aside my body just can’t take abuse like it used to (I believe the scientific term is “gettin’ old”).  Here is my current list of travel “must-do’s”: Continue reading

Just Stew It – Polish Edition (edited)

Winter gettin you down? No sweat (it’s too cold anyway), lift your spirits with some Polish Hunter Stew!

I still remember the first time I had this radiant stew years ago at an unassuming New Jersey catering spot.  With loads of vegetables, the slight tang of sauerkraut, smokiness of kielbasa, spiciness of cayenne pepper, this Polish national dish (Bigos) is anything but forgettable.

   
 Far from being a “quick” dish, this stew is a great alternative to your traditional stew and is worth the extra TLC.  What’s more? It freezes well, keeps well, AND it tastes even better by days 2 and 3! BOOYAH!
Bigos - Polish Hunter Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices hickory-smoked bacon
  • 1 pound kielbasa sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound cubed beef stew meat
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (green or napa,both ok)
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar sauerkraut
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon caraway seed, crushed
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms (ok to skip)
  • 1 dash bottled hot pepper sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons canned tomato paste
  • 1 28oz canned diced tomatoes

Directions

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and kielbasa; cook and stir until the bacon has rendered its fat and sausage is lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and transfer to a large casserole or Dutch oven.

2. Add the garlic and onion in the pot, sautee until golden (approximately 3 minutes), then add carrots, fresh mushrooms, cabbage and sauerkraut. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until the carrots are soft, about 10 minutes. Do not let the vegetables brown.

3. Remove vegetables with slotted spoon and sautée floured beef in pan until browned. 

4. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the red wine and stirring to loosen all of the bits of food and flour that are stuck to the bottom. Season with the bay leaf, basil, marjoram, paprika, salt, pepper, caraway seeds and cayenne pepper; cook for 1 minute.

5. If you have them, mix in the dried mushrooms, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, tomato paste and tomatoes. Heat through just until boiling. Pour the vegetables and all of the liquid into the casserole dish with the meat. Cover with a lid.

6. Cook on low to medium heat for at least 1 hour or until meat is very tender.

Give a gift of food!

From Poland, via NYC, gifted with Love!

Credit goes to All Recipes with my notes and modifications

Smokin’ Chipotle Corn Soup

Oh my cob!  I was at the farmer’s market this past weekend and was devastated by the dwindling supply of plump corn.  Folks, corn season is quickly coming to an end (and dare I say… so is summer?), gahhhhh! Naturally, we need to celebrate this quintessential summer treat and this summer’s bounty with another soup recipe (duh).

CHOW’s Chipotle Corn Soup recipe brings in just the right amount of spice and smokiness to highlight the sweetness of the star ingredient. I served this with a simple tomato, cucumber salad with sliced grilled chicken. UM UM UMMM!

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

I took out the scallions in this recipe so I can use leftover avocados to garnish the dish.  I regretted that decision.  The creaminess and taste of the avocado was lost in the soup.  So I’m posting the original recipes here with scallions, with notes and modifications. Lastly, straining the mixture made for a super silky soup, but hubby likes the grittiness of the corn puree, so we left his bowl unstrained and it was still tasty!

INGREDIENTS

– 8 ears white or yellow corn, shucked <I used 5 big ears of bi-color corn>

– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)

– 1 teaspoon minced chipotles in adobo sauce

– 2 teaspoons kosher salt

– Freshly ground black pepper

– 6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)

– 1 1/2 cups whole milk

– 1 1/2 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS:
– Remove the corn kernels from the cobs.
– Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the chipotles, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, a pinch of black pepper, and about two-thirds of the scallions. (Set aside the remaining scallions to use as a garnish.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 3 minutes.
– Add the corn kernels, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, milk, and water and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors have melded and the corn kernels are crisp yet tender (not mushy), about 15 minutes.
– <Skip this step if you like the grittiness of corn> Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.
– Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If serving chilled, refrigerate the soup until cold, at least 3 hours. Garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

Holy Crab! … and Avocado Soup

First of all, SO SORRY for my laziness over the past 9 months. Rest assured I have been cooking and feeding my now hubby, but wedding planning over the past few months really took a toll.  Hopefully, I will get to write about that journey one day, but now that the wedding is over… let’s get cookin again!

After 2 weeks of the summer’s delicious sweet corn and grilled chicken, the law of diminishing returns has set in.  To rescue us from the summer food doldrums, I browsed through the list of saved recipes I’d intended to try over the years but ended up collecting cyber dust.

The Crab & Avocado soup (easier than it sounds) is exactly what I needed to maintain my “good wife” status! This DELICIOUS cold summer soup packed with all the goodness from avocados and sweet crab meat served with some sourdough bread is the perfect light summer dinner.

Crab & Avocado Soup

Crab & Avocado Soup

I modified this Epicurious recipe to make it a bit soupier and doubled the amount of crab (hey, why not) so I can serve this as a main.  Also, if you don’t already have an immersion blender, get it, it’s da bomb!!

Yields 2 Main Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lump crab meat (I used back fin crab meat due to cost)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

– Mix crabmeat, celery, dried parsley, and lemon zest in a bowl.  Cover and chill crab salad.

– Cube and pit avocados; scoop flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add vegetable stock, crème fraîche, lime juice, kosher salt, and 1 1/4 cups water. Purée with immersion blender until smooth. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper; chill.

– Divide soup amongst 2 bowls.  Spoon crab salad into center of each bowl.