Friday, March 29, 2013

1 chicken 3 ways: the final chapter

Tonight, last week's chicken finished its journey in a pot of spring vegetable soup.

I made the stock for this soup earlier in the week. I'm enjoying this newly developed habit of making slow-cooker stock after finishing a chicken meal. Once we cleaned the chicken off all of the bones, I threw them into the crock pot with vegetables and water and let it go overnight. Then I chilled the stock, drained off the fat, and made a quick vegetable soup with it. My only issue with the soup was that the herbs I added were somewhat harsh. If I had better planned ahead, I would have thrown herb stems in while the stock was cooking. Always use herb stems only as the leaves get weird and gross.

All of these things are optional and can be adjusted to fit the recipe you'll be making with the stock. I always use onion, carrot, garlic, and peppercorns, then add some aromatics. For Asian cooking, I used pieces of ginger. For Mexican cooking, I put in cilantro stems. I like the suggestion from Nourishing Days to keep carrot, onion, and celery scraps in a bag in your refrigerator or freezer until it's time to make stock. I'm sure this could be vegetable broth if you wanted to leave out the chicken, though I've never tried it.

Chicken Stock
adapted from Nourishing Days

leftover chicken carcass (plus uncooked wings if you have them from a cut-up chicken)
1 large carrot or 2-3 small ones, peeled and trimmed
1-2 celery stalks or leftover tops, roughly chopped
1 small or 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
stems from herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, or marjoram (or whatever you have!)
1-2 tbsp of any vinegar (I used apple cider for this one, rice wine and plain white for others)
1-2 tsp kosher salt (optional, depending on what you'll make with the stock--don't salt if you'll be making risotto)

Dump everything in a small crock pot. Fill to the top with filtered water. It is suggested that you let it sit for an hour to allow the vinegar to extract minerals from the bones--I've been too impatient to wait quite that long. Then put the slow cooker on low. I've let mine go for 20-24 hours, which makes a pretty dark and strong stock. I've read that others only go for 8-12. I think you can do whatever's convenient for you. Let cool, strain out the solids, and refrigerate. When the fat has congealed on top, strain again to separate the fat and either use or freeze for later use.

Spring Vegetable Soup
adapted from Spring Chicken Soup in Real Simple, April 2007

homemade chicken broth (above)
1 large turnip or 4-6 baby turnips, scrubbed and cubed
4 carrots and 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced into coins
8 oz asparagus, sliced into 1-in pieces (I didn't have this)
10 oz frozen or fresh green beans
1 beefsteak tomato, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat chicken broth in soup pot until simmering. Add vegetables and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper as needed and serve with crusty bread.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

corn chowder

smoky chipotle-chicken corn chowder

In the search for recipes that will use up the piles of corn that we get every week (not that I'm complaining!), I rediscovered this easy recipe for a really tasty, thick corn chowder. I like to use fresh corn in this while it's so tender, but the frozen kernels work fine too. This would also be a hearty vegetarian option if you used vegetable broth and omitted the chicken. It's a great soup for these days when fall is not quite here, but I am wanting something warm and hearty.

5 tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves
1 chipotle chili in adobo, chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped (I always leave this out!)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and black pepper
20 white or yellow tortilla chips
1 quart chicken stock
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 10-oz boxes frozen corn kernels (or kernels cut from 3-4 ears)
limes, sour cream (we use plain yogurt), and cilantro for serving

Preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp of the oil. Add the onions, garlic, chipotle, celery (if using), coriander, cumin, and a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until onions are slightly tender, stirring frequently.

While the onions are cooking, put the chips in a resealable plastic bag and smash them up using a rolling pin. You can use a food processor too, but I rarely want to go to the work of getting that out and cleaning it up. In the end, you need about 1 cup of ground chips, so vary the amount of chips you grind accordingly.

Add the ground chips to the onions, stir to combine, then add chicken stock, bring it up to a bubble, and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add the chicken and corn and continue to cook it for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (it seems weird, but the chicken will actually cook this way).

If the soup becomes too thick, adjust it by adding a little more stock, and if it is too thin, let it continue to cook and reduce it until it is to your liking. Taste and check for seasing, adjust with a little salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro, and serve with plain yogurt (sour cream) to cut the heat and lime wedges to squeeze in.

adapted from Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

i'm ready!

Alright. It's my first blog post. My plans for Supper Seed are pretty flexible, but will probably include recipes/photos of meals I've made, restaurant photos/reviews, music I like, thrifting finds, and random musings.

I'll start with my birthday, which was on Saturday. I had a lovely day, starting with a gift from Matt, a beautiful box chain with a neat vintage whistle pendant. I guess more is coming in the mail. I have no idea what it could be, but I'm excited.

That evening, we braved thick snow to travel to Madison for dinner. We went to True Food at La Brioche bakery. The food was a bit underwhelming, but that's another post.

me with whistle necklace and Popeye arms??

Matt being antsy and therefore blurry/arty

Tomorrow we head to my parents' in Hudson for Christmas. Happy holidays!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

gorgonzola tortellini


Awhile back I picked up a package of gorgonzola tortellini from a great Madison pasta maker, RP's.  Our local grocery store just started carrying it again to my delight.  Anytime I can buy a local product I'm happy, but especially so when the product is high quality and not prohibitively expensive.  I figured I'd find something to do with it and went searching for a recipe.

 gorgonzola tortellini with walnut cream sauce
on my favorite Charley Harper book!

What do you know, but RP's has suggested recipes at their site for their pastas!  I gladly accepted the suggestion, but added some sauteed mushrooms and peas.  The vegetables brought some much-needed freshness to the otherwise heavy dish.  I also swapped the sour cream out for non-fat Greek yogurt, which may have been the reason my sauce was less than smooth.  I'll take any pointers anyone has for keeping a cream sauce from breaking!  In any case, the texture was not ultimately affected since the final addition of ground walnuts makes the sauce lumpy anyway.

Oh, and this is the prequel to the mascarpone post from the other day.

Gorgonzola Tortelloni with Walnut Cream Sauce
adapted from RP's Fresh Pasta
serves 2

I used less pasta then the recipe called for, but kept the sauce ingredients the same, since I like a saucy pasta.  If you like things a bit drier, cut back the sauce ingredients or up the pasta to 1 lb.

1/2 c walnuts
9 oz  RP's Fresh or Frozen Gorgonzola Tortellini
3 tbsp butter
5 crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic crushed
1/3 c milk
1/2 c sour cream or plain yogurt
1/3 c mascarpone cheese
1 c fresh or frozen peas
1/4 tsp salt

 Heat an empty pan over medium heat and cook walnuts until browned.  Grind toasted walnuts in a food processor or spice grinder.  Wipe out the pan carefully with a paper towel. 

Return pan to heat and melt 1-2 tbsp butter.  Cook mushroom slices in butter until browned and cooked down, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes.  Add milk, sour cream or yogurt, and mascarpone.  Add peas and bring to a light simmer and reduce slightly.

Add ground walnuts and salt.  Boil gorgonzola tortellini until tender and top with sauce. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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Monday, March 11, 2013

1 chicken 4 ways: summer edition

At the very end of last winter I used one chicken to make three different meals, oven roasting the various parts and then making stock with the carcass. Unfortunately, just as I was getting the hang of the process, it was getting warm and I didn't want the oven on in the house. That's when we made a grilled beer-can chicken.

grilled beer-can chicken

The chicken in the picture is actually one we made back in June or July, but I forgot to get a shot of the one this week and they turned out essentially the same anyway. It doesn't look that exciting, but the skin gets nice and crispy and it has an appealing barbecued flavor. The beer (or soda, whatever you like) keeps the chicken very tender. Each time I've used a Penzey's seasoning mix, first Northwoods seasoning and then Bangkok mix. Like on an oven-roasted chicken, most of the flavor stays on the skin, so the meat does benefit from a gravy, mustard, barbecue or other sauce. There is a good set of directions for grilling a whole chicken here. The only adjustment I have made is to place a crushed garlic clove and some additional seasoning inside the can of beer.

We had a lovely dinner of about half the chicken, plus corn on the cob, grilled cherry tomatoes, and grilled brussels sprouts. Next time I'll show you the lunch, dinner, and soup I made from the rest of the chicken.

Friday, March 8, 2013

holiday entertaining, exhibit a

Matt's parents and grandpa came over last night for a little post-Christmas dinner, the first dinner they've had at our place. I was thrilled to have occasion to use all of my serving pieces (which Matt thinks are just unnecessary).

Peppercorn Beer Cheese Dip, Homemade Sweet & Sour Pickles, and Pretzel Turtles
lazy susan, my mother's

bowls and snack trays, thrifted

The dip in the center there is a delicious recipe I got from my mom. It's a peppercorn beer cheese dip. You'll need:

12 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, cubed
1/2 - 1 cup beer (to your taste)
1 cup mayo (I used light with olive oil)
1/2 - 1 tsp. green peppercorns or freshly ground pepper to taste

Throw it all in a food processor or blender. Refrigerate 4 hours, then let sit 1/2 hour. Now you've got yourself a dip. I like it with pretzels. (originally from Gourmet Magazine)

I made the easiest "baked goods" ever. I put baked in quotes because they bake for only 5 minutes and I didn't have to measure or mix anything.

ring or small twist pretzels
Rolos and pecan halves OR mini peanut butter cups and cocktail peanuts

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place pretzels on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment. Set Rolo or p.b. cup in the center of the pretzel (it doesn't matter if it doesn't fit perfectly). Bake for 5 minutes. Press in nuts. Let sit overnight or until chocolate has fully hardened.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

japanese food: izakaya

One of the greatest opportunities we were given in Japan was to attend an enkai (office party) of our host's fellow teachers, unwinding on a Friday evening. Not only did we get to try many new foods, we had a blast at the noisy festivities. We met up with them in progress at an izakaya, which is basically a Japanese pub. There was already food on the table and much more to come.

We started with yakitori, a common type of Japanese bar food involving chicken or some other meat and veggies grilled on skewers, and sashimi, or raw seafood.

yakitori (clockwise from left): fish cake, chicken tendon, chicken & green onion, tiny green peppers, chicken hearts, chicken wings

sashimi: hamachi, scallop, squid, shrimp, tuna

Drinking is also a huge part of the enkai, so an overflowing glass of sake was a necessity.


The sake was followed by what seemed like an unending barrage of delicious foods.

"Have you ever tried (insert food name here)?"


"Let's get some."

korokke: breaded & fried potato pancake

nigiri sushi (from left): tuna, hamachi, salmon, squid, tamago (egg)

breaded & fried baby octopus


Shabu-shabu was a revelation. Very thinly sliced & perfectly marbled beef, cabbage, and mushrooms are quickly dipped in hot broth until gently cooked. Grab some beef, swish for 3-5 seconds, then remove and drag through ponzu (we think) for the most tender and flavorful piece of meat.
dunking the shabu-shabu

Perhaps the most surprising offering at the izakaya was horse-meat sashimi, a specialty of Yamanashi. Matt partook in the chewy raw horse-meat and was glad he tried it, though he says he would not go out of his way to eat it again. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not try it at all.
horse-meat sashimi with wasabi, ginger, & green onion

We felt fortunate to be a part of the enkai, to commiserate with other teachers, and to experience an important event in Japanese work culture. That evening left us with some lovely memories.

the aftermath