Mulligatawny

We'll pretend that this was the photo I always planned to use, not was forced to use because we ate the whole pot of mulligatawny last night. Oops.
We’ll pretend that this was the photo I always planned to use, not was forced to use because we ate the whole pot of mulligatawny last night. Oops.

When Josh and I were dating, he took me to Shanghai so I could meet his dad and his dad’s wife before we got engaged. Besides being an incredible trip full of amazing food (and Josh secretly telling them the first day that he had bought a ring and was going to propose soon. NO PRESSURE), one of the best thing’s to come out of the trip was his Malaysian stepmother sending us home with two bags of her favorite curry powder, Baba’s Meat Curry.

One of the first things I used it for for was a heavily altered version of the Pioneer Woman’s Easy Mulligatawny, which is I’m sure itself a very bastardized version of the original. I am in no way claiming that this is an authentic recipe, but only stating that for 6 years now, this has been one of Josh’s favorite meals on earth.

My main advice would be to make sure you love the curry powder you use, because it really is the star player.

Mulligatawny

  • 2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 heaping Tbsp curry powder
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice (basmati or jasmine both work great)

Season diced chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (don’t worry about it cooking through, since it will go back in later in the cooking process). Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

In the same pot, add the remaining butter and reduce heat to medium. Add diced onion and garlic and stir to cook until the onions soften and start to brown.

Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to coat. Add the curry powder and cook the mixture over medium heat for one minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in the chicken broth and cook for five minutes. Add the coconut milk, some salt and pepper, and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the rice and stir well. Cook for about five minutes, stirring often to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom.

Add the chicken and diced apple and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until rice is done. Turn off the heat and allow to stand 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

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French Onion Soup

IMG_0113 Last week, the kitchn kept posting about french onion soup, which is really all kinds of cruel. I mean… it’s not a quick, easy dish, it’s delicious beyond belief, and it’s pretty much the epitome of a perfect winter soup. Rich, savory soup topped by a salty, crunchy piece of bread, with browned and bubbly gruyere cheese on top? Uh, sign me up. They used the Julia Child version, and it really doesn’t get any more classic than Julia, right (she’s my hero)? You can go here and get the full directions with step by step photos, including a good visual of just how dark the caramelized onions will need to be. I did make a few modifications (DUH) and have listed them below:

  • When a recipe is this simple, each ingredient really matters, so I made a batch of beef broth. Our Whole Foods has packs of marrow bones, and I grabbed a 1.5 lb pack, browned the bones at 450 for about an hour, flipping once, and then put them in a crock pot with a skin on quartered onion, 2 carrots broken in thirds, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, a good splash of apple cider vinegar, and a sprig of thyme. I filled the crockpot with filtered water and let it cook on low for about 24+ hours. I got roughly 12 cups of delicious broth from this, more than enough to make this recipe and save some for later. This wound up saving me money in the end, and the broth is delicious and flavored exactly the way I want it to be. DO IT.
  • Thyme was my herb of choice, because I just think it pairs so beautifully with the flavors of the soup. I put some in the broth while making it, and put couple of stems in the soup when simmering.
  • The onions took a full hour of babysitting to get to the right color. It will seem at times that the color hasn’t changed for far too long, but resist the urge to turn up the heat. Low and slow.
  • Instead of white wine or brandy, we chose to use a delicious local beer. Rhinegeist has quickly become our favorite Cincinnati brewery, and we went with 1/2 c. of their Cougar beer. It’s a blonde ale, and light enough to enhance the soup without overwhelming it. Plus, then we had another 5.5 cans to drink. Yay!
  • We don’t have any special bowls for a soup like this. Our normal bowls are technically oven safe, but I always get nervous when it comes to putting them close to the broiler, so we just skipped that step. Instead, I pan fried stale slices of baguette in olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, and place them on the soup. Then I topped the bowls/mugs with shredded aged gruyere cheese, let them sit for a few moments to soften, and then… pulled out our brûlée torch and went to town. It’s always more fun with an open flame. Fact: when Josh and I got together, we each brought a brûlée torch into the relationship. We were meant to be.

My only regret is that it’s taken me so long to make this soup the right way.

Vampire Slayer Ramen

IMG_2071This ramen… this ramen might be one of my proudest culinary moments. That’s how amazing it is. It took a good amount of time, it used 44 cloves of garlic, it required buying special ingredients online, and it was more than worth every second spent on it. This is the best ramen we’ve had outside of New York, and the fact that I made it makes me feel like a rockstar.

Forget the groupies. Just give me more noodles.

I followed the directions perfectly (I topped it with a six minute egg), and there are a lot of them, so I’ll simply send you to the glorious Lady and Pups post, a blog that might be my new obsession, and tell you to set aside an afternoon and MAKE THIS RAMEN.

Your life will be infinitely better because you did.

I promise.

 

Chicken Noodle “We Won’t Be Sick For Christmas” Soup

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When Josh woke up with a cold Sunday morning, my holiday awareness alarm started to go off. Sunday? Just a few days before Christmas?

NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Even though it wasn’t even 9 am, my brain immediately went to chicken broth, chicken soup, something to help this not elevate into a full-blown holiday illness attack.

Oh, and I wanted him to feel better too. Obviously.

I remembered seeing a recipe for a crockpot poached chicken with an interesting flavor profile, and when Josh said he wanted that and requested the addition of some egg noodles, I knew things were going to get good.

This bears little to no resemblance to Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, which I consider to be nothing but a blessing. While it does take a lot more time than opening a can and heating, it’s still extremely easy, with the added bonus of being insanely delicious and super good for you.

Icing on the cake: once everything was finished, I placed the chicken skin and carcass back into my crockpot (along with a couple of chicken feet, which I always keep in the freezer. Totally normal), covered it with water, and have a huge batch of simple chicken broth on hand now.

I feel like my pioneer ancestors would be so proud. If I have any of those, that is.

Chicken Noodle Soup (based on this poached chicken recipe)

  • bunches scallions
  • bunch cilantro, stems and leaves
  • whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 16 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • 10 thin slices of ginger
  • star anise
  • tsp peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • c. water
  • 1 lb noodles of choice (we prefer egg noodles)

In the bottom of a medium sized slow cooker (5-6 quarts), add 2 bunches of scallions and half of the cilantro (all clean, naturally). Add your chicken, breast side up. Scatter the mushrooms, ginger, star anise, peppercorns, and salt over the chicken (I tried to make sure that the ginger and star anise were spread out relatively evenly to disperse the flavors well). Add water until the chicken is mostly/completely submerged. This will probably fill your crockpot pretty much to the top. Place the lid on and turn the heat to high and walk away.

Now, this is the trickiest part of the recipe: the amount of time it takes to get your chicken to 165 degrees aka done can really vary greatly depending on your crockpot. The original recipe said 2-3 hours, but it took my crockpot at least 4 hours to get there. So your first time, maybe make sure you have some flexibility when it comes to meal time. Luckily, I assembled it as soon as we got home from the store, and it was a perfect late lunch (and reheated for dinner).

Once the chicken has reached 165 degrees, start the water for your noodles. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and let cool slightly so you don’t burn your fingers off, then shred.

Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.

Strain the broth, making sure to save the mushrooms.

To serve, place the noodles and chicken in a bowl and ladle broth and mushrooms over them. Top with chopped scallions and cilantro.

Feel much better.

 

 

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)

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So…. yesterday I tried the chicken pho recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and good lord IT’S SO GOOD.

Like, worth every minute (and it took a lot of minutes), made us eat until we thought we’d explode, thought about it as soon as I woke up good.

Add it to the rotation of my favorite recipes ever good.

Good.

For the full recipe, go here. I thought I’d share my notes on it though.

  • First of all, be prepared for how much time this will take. I’d say plan for about 4 hours. The good thing is that you can easily cook the broth longer if your dinner plans are pushed late (which ours were). If the broth reduces too much, just add more water. Easy.
  • Instead of the wings and quartered whole chicken she called for, I used 3 lbs of chicken thighs, plus some extra legs and thighs. This resulted in a ton of delicately flavored shredded chicken that I’ll be freezing for future uses. As long as I’m doing all the work, I think it’s great to get so much in return.
  • For the spices, I took 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 8 cloves, 2 green cardamom pods, 8 black peppercorns, and 4 coriander seeds, toasted them in a dry skillet until very fragrant, and then tied them up in a teabag. This made the broth so fragrant, and I think I’ll do those same spices again next time.
  • My largest pot was pretty much completely full after adding all of the onions, ginger, spices, and chicken and covered them with water, so once I shredded all of the cooked chicken and added the skin and bones back into the pot, I filled the pot back up with water to get as much broth out of the process as possible.
  • I’d advise you start with 1/8 c. fish sauce, taste, and then go from there. I didn’t add the full 1/4 c. because I was afraid it would overwhelm the broth.
  • We kept the toppings very simple this time. Lime, sriracha, basil, and cilantro.

Glory.

Curry Coconut Corn Soup

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So… I think it’s official that we have a food crush on Shutterbean, because we keep coming back to her recipes over and over. One of the biggest reasons for that is just how flavorful all of her recipes are, even if I don’t add lots of extra seasoning (which is not normal for me). We’ve come to realize over the years that one of the best ways for us to eat a pretty healthy diet is by adding a lot of herbs and spices. I’ve never understand why “light (or worse, lite. Ugh) recipes are so often soooo bland. Squeeze some lemon and add some cayenne or SOMETHING, gah.

I obviously have strong feelings about this.

Tracy from Shutterbean obviously understands this, since she loves to use curry paste and sriracha and all sorts of goodness on a regular basis.

This soup is so easy, with a pretty limited ingredient list, and it definitely hit the spot when I made a batch a few days ago. I very selflessly left some for Josh to eat at a later day. I’m so generous.

Curry Coconut Corn Soup (recipe from Shutterbean)

  • 1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp (heaping) red curry paste
  • 3 ears corn, sliced off the cob
  • 2 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make this vegan)
  • 1  15oz. can coconut milk
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Small handful of fresh cilantro for serving
  • Fish sauce, for serving (omit for vegan) (we love Red Boat)
  • Sriracha, for serving

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, stirring often. Add the curry paste and stir until it’s well incorporated with the onions and cook for about 1 minute.

Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, and corn kernels, stir to combine. Bring this to a boil, then lower to a simmer for about 15 minutes. At that point, removed about a cup of the corn/onion mixture, set aside, and continue cooking the soup for another 15 minutes, until the corn is pretty soft. Remove from heat. Either let cool slightly and put in the blender in batches, or just use an immersion blender, which is what we always do.

Fun fact: when Josh and I married, we each brought an immersion blender into our new home. Priorities. Also, two butane torches.

 

Once the soup is silky and smooth, add the removed corn and onions back to the pot and stir to combine.

Serve with a dash of fish sauce, a nice drizzle of sriracha, and cilantro.

Pea and Mint Soup

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Sometimes, I really like to be able to pull the majority of the ingredients for a meal straight out of the freezer. There’s no worrying about whether something didn’t get cooked in time, because while we do try our best to stick to our meal plan, some weeks just get away from us. Obviously certain ingredients are better from the freezer than others, and I would suggest that the green pea might be one of the best.

This soup, an ode to frozen peas, is made mostly from the contents of my freezer and the random vegetables left in my kitchen, with the addition of some fresh mint. As we all know, that mint was probably purchased anyway for lots of cocktails, so it should be easy to grab a handful. A few slices of bacon, just to get the party going, give the soup a little more depth, with the added bonus of making your home smell like bacon. It’s win/win.

Homemade chicken broth is a constant in my freezer, so that gets thrown into the pot. Since I make it from the  bones I save whenever we eat a roasted chicken, this becomes a virtually free ingredient, and it tastes so much better than store bought. You should stock your freezer with some, preferably frozen into both 1 cup and 1 quart quantities.

2 bags of frozen peas, an ingredient that I try to keep around to throw into fried rice or pasta dishes. Vastly superior to canned peas, they’re one of the ingredients I can add to a dish to pretend like it’s a balanced meal. There’s a green vegetable in there, total victory!

Added bonus? While digging through the freezer, you’ll hopefully stumble across some frozen pieces of homemade rosemary focaccia bread, which you will reheat to a crunchy dipping tool.

It’s pure, made from frozen perfection.

 Pea and Mint Soup (From Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver, p. 132)

(Simply leave out the bacon, cook the vegetables in olive oil, and use vegetable broth to make this soup vegan. It will still be delicious!)

  • 3 slices of bacon (optional)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 6-ish cups frozen peas (2 bags)
  • Small bunch of mint
  • Salt and pepper

Thinly slice the bacon and set aside. Chop the onions and carrots, and mince the garlic.

Bring your chicken broth to a low boil in a small pot.

In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until it’s lightly golden and the fat has rendered. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic, and stir well to coat the vegetables in the bacon fat. Cook until the carrots soften and the onions become translucent, about 10 minutes, Add broth and the peas. Bring the pot to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from heat. and add the mint. Using an immersion blender, blend until very smooth. Add lots of salt and pepper (I always wind up adding salt and tasting 3 or 4 times before it’s salty enough).

Serve with crusty bread.