Sunday, January 10, 2010

Matzo Ball soup - not like mom's

A couple of weeks ago I made a batch of Matzo Ball soup, using a box of Manischewitz Matzo Ball & Soup Mix. I hadn't had it in a long while and it wasn't bad, but sure wasn't like mom's. Actually, the broth was pretty darn close, but the balls, well, they were light and fluffy. I don't like them light and fluffy. Mom always made them, um, differently, far "firmer" - we called them "cannon balls"! I love them that way, but I can't figure out how to make them so.
Anyone have any idea how to make hard matzo balls? Leave me a comment!


Cayenne peppers - finally made the grind.

Last spring I planted cayenne peppers in the garden.
After I picked them, I let them dry while hanging in a bag, a great bag that I got a loaf of bread in (from Giant Eagle) the year before. It's got holes in it that let the peppers dry out just right. It took a while, a couple of months at least, but the end result was worth the wait.
I used my old Braun coffee grinder for grinding all of the spices I need to grind, including the Indian spice blend I use for Kheema. It works great. After I'm done grinding, I clean it by grinding a tablespoon or two of kosher salt, then wiping it out with a wet paper towel. Again, it works great.

So I went from this:
to this (there's one of those bright red beauties on the left:
and into this bag:
and they finally became this:

Last week, I finally got around to grinding the peppers and the results were great, a full 2.5 oz bottle of nice finely ground cayenne, which should be enough to last 'til next harvest.
After pulling the stems off and grinding, I wound up with this:
I used a bit in the stuffing for the tilapia stuffed with crabmeat that I made the next night. Great heat, great flavor.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Got a cold? You need chicken soup, boobula ...
It's January, 2010, winter is here, and it came in with a vengance.

I hate winter, just ask anyone that knows me .

I hate winter. And just like everyone else, I always get at least a bad cold and nothing, but nothing helps a bad cold like a good bowl of Homemade Chicken Soup. A few years back, I discovered an easy way to make a very quick pot of soup, done and ready to eat in less than 15 minutes, an important thing when you or some one you love feels like crap. If I've got leftover chicken, I chop it up and add it in while the noodles boil. If not, I try to add some uncooked chicken (if I've got it) at the beginning.

This recipe uses one of my favorite fast/easy ingredients, Orrington Farms Chicken Base. I use it to make "broth" quickly for many of the dishes I make, including and especially this one!

One of the things I like about this soup is that it needs only a cutting board a knife and one pot to make:
6 cups water
5 teaspoons Orrington Farms Chicken Base
1 large carrot, sliced very thin
1 stalk of celery, sliced on the bias, very thin
1 small turnip, cut in a small dice
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Chicken, equivalent to 1 breast, diced or chopped up. Use leftover chicken or fresh/frozen.
chopped celery leaves for garnish
Fine Egg Noodles, like Manischewitz , as many as you like (I use about a 1/4 bag, 3 oz)

Add the water to a small stock pot, then add the chicken base. Turn the heat up to High and bring the pot to a boil.
Slice the carrot and the celery. Add them to the pot.
Dice the turnip and add it to the pot.
Add the seasonings (parsley, celery seed and pepper)
Chop the chicken and add it to the pot.
Add the noodles.
Cook until the noodles are done.
Server with a sprinkling of chopped celery leaves.

Enjoy, and feel better...