Archive | April, 2010

100th post! Chicken Tortilla Soup

27 Apr

Chicken tortilla soup is working it’s way up to the top of my list. It’s a spicy, flavorful soup that’s garnished with avocado, chicken, and tortilla strips. This soup made a great dinner tonight. It’s chilly out so soup seemed to be the right choice. This soup is a nice alternative to chili. It’s light and spicy and completely satisfying.

Traditionally, or at least familiarly chicken tortilla soup is a thick, starchy soup that will stick to your ribs. My version however, is brothy.  You will find that this soup has been evolving into this version on the culinary stage. With people looking toward healthier options, a soup like this one can really knock your socks off.

Since the stock is a flavorful the soup is garnished with what would normally be in the soup. Chicken, tortillas, avocado and lime are all served in the soup bowl and the stock is poured on top right before serving.

1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 jalapeño, whole
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water

In a hot stock pan add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add all the ingredients into the pot and sauté for 10 minutes. Add in the stock and the water. Cook at a simmer for 1 hour. Strain the liquid and set aside. Season and serve.

1 chicken breast, poached and shredded
24 corn chips
1 avocado, cut into 8 pieces
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Arrange the garnishes in the desired serving dishes and pour the broth on top.

This only gets better with a margarita or a Dos Equis… Enjoy 🙂

Always thinking of the next meal


This ain’t no rice-a-roni…Risotto Tonight

19 Apr

I know I’ve posted before about my love of risotto. I make it a lot when Ryan is out of town. This is because I prefer it with seafood and he’s not a huge seafood guy. In Venice, where risotto is famous, it is always flavored with seafood. Maybe that’s why I like seafood when I make this creamy rice dish. But I digress…

Risotto is a rich creamy dish that doesn’t have any cream in it. It is the starch in the Arborio rice that releases into the stock that creates the texture. When I make risotto I call it the zen of risotto. It’s a finicky thing to make this dish. You have to constantly stir the rice in order to get the right creaminess. If you don’t stir enough, the rice will not release the starch correctly and you’ll wind up with rice soup. Here’s the recipe:

Risotto with greens and shrimp

6 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
1/3 cup arborio rice
2 cups chicken or seafood stock
2 cups arugula, chopped
3/4 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
3 small cloves garlic
1/4 cup pecorino romano, grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add the oil to a hot pan and then add in the garlic. Let the garlic cook until you can smell it. Then add the rice and stir to coat each grain with the oil. Add in a 1/4 cup of the stock and stir. Continue to stir the rice, adding in the remaining stock in 2 oz intervals. Only add the next addition after the previous has been absorbed by the rice. When the rice is tender and there is no more stock remaining, add in the greens, lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine. Plate according to the picture and garnish with chopped parsley.

Always thinking of the next meal


Steak sauce, not A1

18 Apr

Red Onion Marmalade is something you might not be familiar with but it makes a darn good sauce for a steak. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a great sauce can save a mediocre steak. Tonight I made sirloin. It was a little under-seasoned, but the sauce brought up the flavor perfectly. I wanted to have a sauce that made the steak extra special. I decided to make the marmalade in leu of A1 to add a little sweet instead of salt. Here’s the recipe:

Red Onion Marmalade

1/2 large red onion, small dice
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 cup red wine
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon of the butter to melt. Add in the onions and garlic and cook until softened (about 10 minutes.) Add in the rosemary and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the wine, sugar and mustard and reduce to 1/4 cup. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in the butter one piece at a time. Be sure to wait until each piece is incorporated before adding the next piece.

This a great recipe to use if you have a little bit of wine left after a party or one that’s a day away from not drinkable. I’m not saying a day away from vinegar, but you know what I mean. This sauce will last up to a week in the fridge. If you don’t use it all in one night spread it on a roast beef sandwich with arugula or spread in a baked potato for something unexpected.

Always thinking of the next meal


Eulogy at a cheese party

13 Apr

So we had a wine a cheese party last Friday night and sadly there was cheese left over. And while we mourn the casualties, they will be used in a delightful indulgent mac and cheese. So the admission for this event was to bring a bottle of wine or a hunk of cheese. Well, most of the guest decided to bring both and with only 11 people in attendance we had plenty left over.

The truth is that all cheese makes make good mac and cheese. I know what you’re thinking, no way can all cheese make good mac and cheese. But it’s true! Ok so for example, the leftovers from the party were delice de bourgogne, piave, fontina, auricchio, and adams reserve cheddar. It’s an odd mix to say the least, but be assured that it is delicious.

The recipe is one of ratios and balancing flavor, salt and fattiness. As long as you have leftover cheese you can make this dish, and yes you can use blue cheese.

Last Rights Mac and Cheese

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2-4 cups leftover cheese, crumbled or shredded
1 pound penne pasta, cooked and drained
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter and oil together and add the flour. Wisk in the flour and slowly add the half and half. When the half and half thickens, wisk in the milk. Add the cheeses in slowly letting each addition melt into the sauce before adding in the next amount. When the cheese is completely incorporated taste it and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Pour over the pasta and toss to combine. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until it’s brown and bubbly on top.

Enjoy your leftovers…

Always thinking of the next meal,


Mushroom Paté, up the anti a bit

5 Apr

Mushroom paté isn’t any everyday thing. It can’t be. After all, mushrooms can be expensive. Think not? Well truffles are mushrooms aren’t they? So enough preaching already. Paté is typically a delicious combination of fat, meat, vegetables and seasoning that is cooked in a pot or a terrine. My mushroom paté is a little different… if you are a frequent reader of my blog, you might remember a post I did a few months ago about duxelles. The mushroom paté is similar to that but with distinct differences.

The key to good paté is fat and seasoning. My version is vegetarian so the fat I’m using is olive oil. I use a bright peppery olive oil from California. This is one of those recipes where the higher the quality of the ingredients, the better the paté will taste. If you prefer Italian olive oil use that just make sure it’s extra virgin olive oil.

Mushroom Paté

4 oz shitake mushrooms, rough chopped
6 oz cremini mushrooms, rough chopped
6 oz button mushrooms, rough chopped
2 large garlic cloves, rough chopped
1/4 cup yellow onions, rough chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon truffle salt
1/4 cup high quality olive oil
1/2 cup marsala wine
salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan add a tablespoon of the oil. Add in half the thyme, the garlic and onions. Let cook until translucent and add in the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes add in another tablespoon of oil and stir it in. Let the mushrooms cook for another 5 minutes and then add in the marsala. Let the marsala reduce and add the rest of the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature and add in the rest of the olive oil and truffle salt. Serve chilled on crostini.

I’m serving this at a wine tasting that I’m hosting this coming Friday. Mushrooms pair great with wine because they bring out the earthiness of reds and tone down the acidity of whites.

I’ll let you know the verdict

Always thinking of the next meal