Saturday, September 30, 2006

The weather's cooling down... Time for Potato Soup

I saw Jeff Smith prepare this recipe on his wonderful PBS show many years ago and thought it would be fun to try. The 'ribals', he explained, were little tiny dumplings and the entire recipe was a snap to make. Over the years I've updated it a bit, adding my own touches that I think make it the perfect potato soup. We have it often when the weather gets cold. The first pot is a sure sign that winter is on it's way! This is also one of those dishes that tastes even better after it's been in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days, if it lasts that long!

My additions to this recipe include the use of Yukon gold potatoes with the skin left on, boiled first in chiken broth. I added the garlic and onion to the recipe also. Adding a few strips of cooked chopped bacon is tasty, too.

My only warning is to watch the anount of salt you add. Sometimes the base the potatoes boil in and the stock the soup is made from can add enough for the entire dish.


Potato Soup with Ribals
From the "The Frugal Gourmet on our Immigrant Ancestors"
By Jeff Smith, With modifications by Lorence Sing

Ingredients: The Soup
1 quart of chicken stock
chicken base
6-8 cubed yukon gold potatoes, each about the size of billiard ball
3 1/2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
chopped celery leaves
salt & pepper
1 queart of milk

Ingredients: The Ribals
1 egg
1 cup flour

Boil the cubed potatoes in enough water to cover. Add chicken base to the boiling water so the potatoes are boiling in chicken broth. Boil until the potaoes are just fork tender.
Drain the potaoes in a colander.
Over medium heat in a stock pot, combine the 1 quart of chicken stock with the potaotes,onion, and butter.
As the mixture bigins to boil, slowly add the milk, stirring gently.
Make the ribals in a large bowl by combining egg and flour, initially with a fork then mixing with your hands until there is no "dry" flour left. You should have very tiny dumpling or flour balls.
As the soups heats back up to a slight boil, add the ribals, a handful at a time while stirring gently.
Add the chopped celery leaves, reserving a few for garnish.
Add a generoud amount of fresh cracked pepper and add a bit of salt if necessary - taste it first, though to be sure that the stock didn't add anough salt already.
If the soup gets too thick, thin it out a some with a bit more milk.

Serve with some nice fresh bread or rolls.

Other information on The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith can be found at:
The Unofficial Frugal Gourmet page
Blog of Death
Teri's Kitchen
To me, The Frugal Gourmet was an inspiration to love and enjoy cooking. Watching him taught me to appreciate good food and good cooking. He made me realize that a recipe was more than just the ingredients and directions, but was also about the history and passion behind it. This is one of the reasons I love cooking and sharing my kitchen with all of you. I learned much from watching "The Frug", things I remember years later. I learned to appreciate and try making my own recipes. And above all I learned not to be afraid in the kitchen. Sure, there were some unsavory allegations about him that brought about his public demise, but those were far removed from his public persona and my impressions. I will always remember Jeff Smith as the Frugal Gourmet, a kitchen inspiration.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Sweet, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Last Tuesday, there was a post on my favorite blog The J-WalkBlog about the North Carolina Sweet Potato Recipe Club where they say theY are "THE SOURCE for Promotion, Information, Education and Service from North Carolina’s Sweet Potato Growers." They also have almost 150 recipes featuring the wonderful Sweet Potato. This recipe is one more...It was perfect timing seeing this post on J-walk, as I had just made the following recipe the night before. I posted this recipe on J-walk right away and now i'm posting it here, too.

Maple Roasted Chicken Thighs w/Sweet Potatoes
A recipe from Good Housekeeping Magazine, 9/06
Preheat oven to 450F.
4 large skinless chicken thighs,
1 lb sweet potato (cut into 1" chunks),
1 onion (cut into 1" pieces),
8 oz baby carrots,
1 teaspoon salt,
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
in a baking dish (about 9"x13" or larger)) & toss to coat ( I line mine w/foil for easy cleanup).

Roast the chicken for 40-45 minutes (juices will run clear when thick part of thigh is pierced w/knife tip) & liquid in pan thickens slightly. Be sure to stir the veggies and turn the chicken over halfway through the roasting.

This was the second time I've made this dish and it was quite tasty. A Turkey breast would probably work well in this recipe, too.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Herb Chicken with Warm Vinaigrette

Balsmic Vinegar - I always like finding new recipes that make prominent use of balsmaic vinegar. This recipe is a new all-time favorite. We've made this dish several times in the past few months and enjoy it completely. I've served it with steamed fresh green beans or broccoli, buttered egg noodles, basmati rice...doesn't matter, the dish is yummy every time. Since the chicken breasts are so large these days, I usually cut them in thirds lengthewise or in half horizontally and adjust the cooking time accordingly, making sure to get a nice golden color on each side. This makes for a normal healthy sized portion. Below is the original recipe as published in Family Circle Magazine
The fist time I made this recipe, My son, who usually helps me prepare dinner, quickly left the kitchen and declined to offer any further help. telling me that it smelled way too bad. Of course, he devoured his portion when it was ready!

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 pound total)
4 Tablespoons white or dark balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian-style plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
Mixed greens (optional)

1. Brush chicken with 1 tablespoon vinegar. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding skillet, add chicken to hot oil; saute about 6 to 7 minutes per side or until browned (170 degrees F). Remove chicken to platter; keep warm.
3. Add remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar to skillet over medium heat, stirring with wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to skillet. Stir in tomatoes; heat through. Pour warm vinaigrette over chicken. Serve with mixed greens, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
(Nutritional information can be found on the Family Circle Magazine web site)


Monday, September 11, 2006

An unusual seafood case dinner...

OK, so my son and I are at Kroger and he loves the seafood case. He spots something different this time, though... Frog Legs. Yeah, sure we can try them, I say as he insists we should have them for dinner. But wait, first we have to get crawfish, too. So dinner was interesting. We had crushed oyster cracker crumb and parsley coated frog legs pan fried with shallots, cajun spiced crawfish, quick pan seared scallops and steamed broccoli...
I thought the legs were pretty good, decent flavor, and yes, yes, they did taste a bit lke chicken. The first one I had was a bit tough and a little stringy, but the second one (and the third) was just right. My wife wasn't all that interest after a few bites and ate some scallops, crawfish and broccoli. Boogie was a different story, though. While he was very enthusiastic during the purchase and preparation, he was somewhat hesitant when it actually came time to put the amphibian's leg in his mouth. I asked him to just try it - he will try eating almost anything once - and he did!

Yes, he is indeed wearing a hat to dinner, but not just ANY hat, that's his "Steak and Shake" hat. He got that last week when we went for Sippable Sundaes and Side-By-Side Shakes.

After a bite or two, though, he decided it didn't taste quite enough like chicken for his taste, so he finished up the crawfish, had some broccoli, and asked for a "Little Debbie" Cosmic Brownie for dessert.

As a family dinner, lsat night's dinner was a bust. I thought everything was tasty and cooking it all up so it was all ready at the same time was a great challenge. Of course, I'm the only one here that thought that and enjoyed it. bummer. tonight was much different. I'll post that next. 'Til then,

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Family Stroganoff

When we first got married, my wife cooked Beef Stroganoff for me one night. I came home late (I worked second shift then) and didn't even eat any. She was kind of insulted and rightly so - she still reminds me of that night almost 20 years later...
She used a recipe from the label of a jar of Heinz Homestyle Gravy and saved the label so she could make it again. When I finally tasted her Stroganoff, I was glad she saved that label, it was quite tasty! Over the next nearly 2 decades, we've made this dish many times, and have added our own little twists to it, adding fresh mushrooms, more red wine, a touch of sherry...We even went through our "low-fat" period with this recipe, modifying it to fot that crazy diet fad, and it still turned out pretty good.
This recipe has real history for me, too. It was the first dish my wife cooked for me (even though I didn't eat it that night) and it's one of our favorites still, even my for my son. Of course he'll eat almost anything with noodles!

The Sing Family Beef Stroganoff
1 1/2 pounds boneless sirlon or round steak, sliced into thin strips

2 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion (about 1 cup), coarsly chopped

8 ounces fresh mushrooms,sliced (I like them that way) or diced
12 ounce jar of mushroom or brown gravy (we always use Heinz Homestyle gravy, either Mushroom, Savory, or something like that)
1/4 cup (or a bit more) dry red wine
a few table spoons of sherry (use decent sherry, not that nasty cooking sherry)
1 to 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
about 1/3 cup real dairy sour cream
Hot cooked wide egg noodles
Chopped fresh parsley

In a large skillet, brown the slice steak in the butter.
Add the onions and cook 'til limp.

Stir in the mushrooms.
Stir in the gravy, wime and tomato paste.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the sherry.
Stir in the sour cream until smooth and a nice tan color - I always check with my wife to confirm that I've addd enough sour cream. She know what color the sauce should be (I've included the picture below for your reference).

Serve over hot noodles (buttered if you like), and sprinkled with parsley.

The picture below is the original recipe from that first jar of gravy. It's prett special to us and I'm glad to show it off here. Click the image to see a larger view (It's more readable).


I'm Back!

I've been away for a while, vacation, some medical stuff, work (that work stuff keeps getting in the way of all my fun!), but I should have some new posts very soon.