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***Club Cucina 2

This is a continuation of the topic ***Club Cucina.

Club Read 2016

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1kidzdoc
Edited: Aug 25, 2016, 4:27am Top

The old thread was 235 messages long, and since no one had posted anything there in over two months I thought I would create a new thread, especially since I have a few more recipes to add to it. These first ones will be meat based dishes, although I'll try several vegetarian recipes over the next week, starting today.

The hyperlinks in my posts take you to the original recipe, for those of you who use Pinterest or similar online sites.

The first new recipe is a copycat version of the Chicken Gnocchi Soup that is served at Olive Garden (for those of you not in the US this is a popular Italian restaurant chain that is located in numerous suburbs here). I haven't dined at Olive Garden in roughly 25 years, but I found this as I was looking for recipes that contain gnocchi this weekend, as I have several packages of potato gnocchi in one of my kitchen cupboards. This recipe sounded good, and the end product didn't disappoint.



Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup carrots, shredded
3 Tbsp flour
1 quart Fat Free Half & Half
1 (14 oz) can low sodium chicken broth
1 cup fresh spinach, chiffonade (finely sliced)
¾ tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 (16 oz) package Gnocchi

Instructions:

In a large stock pot heat olive oil & saute chicken breasts. Season with a little salt & pepper. Cook until mostly done (very little pink showing.)

Add butter until melted & then add the onion, celery, garlic & shredded carrots. Cook until onion is translucent. Add flour to absorb the liquid from the butter which will form a roux. Stir well.

Add the half & half and chicken broth. Stir until it comes to a boil. Allow to simmer while you cook the gnocchi in another pot of boiling water until dumplings float (3 minutes.) Drain & set aside. (*You could possibly just add the gnocchi to the pot of soup, but it might thicken the soup too much & be slightly starchy.)

Add spinach, thyme & cooked gnocchi to the pot of soup. Taste & adjust seasoning with salt & pepper. Serve hot.

*If the soup is not thick enough, add 1-2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with just enough COLD water to stir it smooth. Add to the HOT soup & wait for it to boil to thicken up.
__________________________________________________​

I bought a package of three chicken breasts, so I used all of them in this soup. Otherwise I followed it exactly, using a 16 oz package of Gia Russa potato gnocchi. I did add red pepper flakes to the bowl of soup I had for lunch, to give it an extra kick. I was very pleased with this soup, and although I divided it into five Tupperware containers, not counting the bowl I had, I should probably have put less soup into at least two other containers, as it is a very rich and filling one course meal.

2kidzdoc
Aug 25, 2016, 4:26am Top

Cajun shrimp scampi with rice:



Ingredients:

For the rice:

2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup long grain rice
½ cup onion, minced
¼ cup celery, minced
¼ cup green bell pepper, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp butter
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
Salt & pepper to taste

For the shrimp:

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup white wine
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon zest
Salt & pepper to taste
Finely chopped parsley

Directions:

1. In a pot over medium heat, add butter, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute the vegetables for about 5 minutes, and then add the seasonings. Stir in the rice and toss well to coat.

2. Once the grains are lightly golden, stir in the chicken broth. Cover and let simmer to cook for about 15-20 minutes. Once cooked and all the liquid has absorbed, fluff with a fork.

3. Rub the shrimp with Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until seared but not fully cooked. Remove from pan and set aside.

4. Add garlic to the pan, sauté for a minute, and then stir in the butter. Pour the white wine and lemon juice and allow to slightly thicken.

5. Turn off the heat and toss the shrimp and parsley in the sauce. Serve over the rice.
__________________________________________________​

I thought I would like this recipe, but I absolutely loved it. The rice is full of flavor on its own, but the spicy and citrusy shrimp make it irresistible. I had a 24 oz bag of frozen shrimp from Publix in my refrigerator, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly. My only minor critiques of this otherwise outstanding recipe is that it calls for too much olive oil to cook the shrimp, which was obvious in the video that accompanies this recipe, so mine wasn't seared as well as it could have been, and it could do with less butter. This dish was easy to make, and I'll be making this on a regular basis from now on.

3kidzdoc
Aug 25, 2016, 4:30am Top

Asiago Chicken Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes



Ingredients:
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes with oil (2 tablespoons)
1 lb chicken breast, sliced in half, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt
paprika
1 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Asiago cheese, grated
8 oz penne pasta (use gluten free brown rice penne, for gluten free version)
2 cups fresh spinach

Directions:
1. Use sun-dried tomatoes in oil - if the sun-dried tomatoes are too big, chop them into smaller bites. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with sun-dried tomatoes and minced garlic on medium heat.

2. Heat sun-dried tomatoes (cut them) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and chopped garlic on medium heat. Add chopped chicken breast to the sun-dried tomatoes and oil - generously season the chicken in the skillet with salt and paprika. Cook chicken until it's cooked through completely.

3. To the same skillet with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes, add 1 cup of half and half and 1/4 teaspoon salt - bring to boil. Add grated Asiago cheese and stir for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese. Reduce the heat from boil to simmer and continue stirring to make sure all cheese melts. At this point, if the sauce is too thick, add another 1/3 cup of half and half and stir. Taste the sauce - if 1/4 teaspoon salt was not enough, add more.

4. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, rinse.

5. Add cooked and drained pasta to the sauce. Add spinach, mix everything - cover with the lid and let the pasta sit to allow spinach to wilt, on low simmer. After spinach has wilted, stir everything together to combine, taste and add more salt, if needed.
__________________________________________________​

I sprinkled red pepper flakes onto my bowl of pasta, and used baby spinach that I bought yesterday. The recipe indicates that it takes 40 minutes to make, and it produces four servings, which is exactly right (it took me closer to 45-50 minutes, but it always takes me longer the first time I try a recipe). This tasted fabulous, thanks in large part to the Asiago cheese, and it's now become one of my favorite quick recipes, one that can be made after coming home from work. This recipe is, I think, very flexible. Vegetarians could leave out the chicken, or substitute artichoke hearts, olives, etc. Gluten free pasta could take the place of penne, as Julia mentioned in the recipe. And other ingredients could be substituted or added to it, including roasted peppers, as Katie suggested, roasted tomatoes, and sausage.

4kidzdoc
Aug 25, 2016, 4:32am Top

Eggplant with Lamb, Tomato and Pine Nuts:



Ingredients:
2 large firm eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground lamb or beef (80 percent lean)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Black pepper
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup pine nuts
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce, or 31/2 cups homemade sauce (see recipe)
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

Preparation:

Heat broiler and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.

Brush both sides of eggplant slices with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Arrange slices on prepared baking sheet and broil in batches until they are deep mahogany brown, turning once halfway through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Adjust the oven to 375 degrees with rack positioned in the center.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, but not browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground lamb or beef, stirring frequently and breaking up meat into very small pieces with the side of a metal spoon. Season with remaining teaspoon salt, cinnamon and pepper. Sauté until meat is just cooked through. Taste and add more salt or pepper, or both, as needed.

In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add pine nuts and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir nuts to coat them with butter and continue stirring constantly until nuts are golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Keep a close watch over the nuts; they can burn quickly once they begin to brown. Transfer nuts to a bowl while still warm and salt them lightly.

Coat a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish. Lay 1/3 of the eggplant slices in a single layer over the sauce, covering as much surface area of the bottom of the dish as possible. Spoon half the meat evenly over eggplant. Pour 1/3 of the remaining tomato sauce evenly over meat. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the pine nuts. Layer again with eggplant, meat, tomato sauce and pine nuts. Finish with a layer of eggplant and cover with more tomato sauce, sprinkling top with pine nuts.

Pour 1 cup warm water around the perimeter of the baking dish. (Sauce will thicken as it bakes.) Cover pan with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Remove foil and top eggplant evenly with mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes longer, uncovered, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden. Serve eggplant warm, over rice.
__________________________________________________​

This recipe takes over three hours to make, but 1 hr 45 min of the time is spent baking it in the oven, unwatched. I was confused by the addition of the water, and I added it to the baking dish, and not around the perimeter of it! I didn't realize this until after I made it, after many people who made the recipe and commented on the NYT web site said that it was far too watery! Fortunately the water can be fairly easily removed, although the flavor of the dish is probably diluted slightly as a result. Despite that it tastes great, and makes eight full sized servings, especially if it's served over rice. I'll definitely make this again, especially now that I know where the water is supposed to go.

5kidzdoc
Edited: Aug 25, 2016, 3:39pm Top

West African chicken mafé (also known as groundnut stew):



Ingredients:

2-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp chopped garlic, divided
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (use lesser amount for a bit less heat)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
4 cups chicken broth, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup drained canned chopped tomato
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger root
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Directions:

Place the chicken pieces in a large mixing bowl, and add the salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic, and cayenne. Use your hands to mix everything together, making sure the spices are distributed all over the chicken.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and brown on all sides, then transfer to a platter or bowl.

To the oil remaining in the pan, add the onion, bell peppers, the remaining garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté the vegetables for 4-5 minutes until soft.

Pour in the chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the peanut butter, tomato paste, canned tomato, thyme, ginger and coconut milk, and simmer for two minutes, whisking to incorporate the ingredients. Return the browned chicken to the pan and cook uncovered over low heat 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the sauce thickens.

Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, and serve hot, over rice.
__________________________________________________​

This was a labor intensive recipe, as it involved lots of chopping of vegetables and chicken. However, the chicken is very tender, the stew is full of flavor, and the recipe makes 8-10 servings, as it uses 4 lb of meat. Highly recommended!

6.Monkey.
Aug 25, 2016, 6:02am Top

Gnocchi soup, that sounds like a great idea!

I've been lazy for a while, not making anything new. I should go find something to try out for the next meal I make (there's leftovers for 2 nights in the fridge now so it'll be a few days)! :D

7kidzdoc
Edited: Aug 25, 2016, 7:50am Top

>6 .Monkey.: The gnocchi soup was very tasty, more so than I expected, and it could be easily modified to make it vegetarian.

As I've probably mentioned I like to keep my freezer stocked with home cooked meals stored in individual Tupperware containers, so that I have a ready supply of food that I can heat for lunch at work (the cafeteria at the hospital I work in is awful) and dinner at home (as I'm almost always too tired or get home too late to think about cooking after work).

I printed out a shopping list earlier this morning, and I plan to try two new meatless recipes in the next two days, Zucchini Fritters and Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil. Claire (Sakerfalcon) from The Green Dragon group, who is vegetarian, gave me four of her favorite recipes last year: Zucchini Fritters, Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake, Chipotle Butternut Squash Alfredo, and Mexican Tortilla Casserole, which I've made twice so far.

8.Monkey.
Aug 25, 2016, 8:03am Top

Yeah, we're usually not so busy so I pretty much cook either every other day or every 3rd day, depending how much leftovers the meal makes (there's a few that last us 4 days even). But I never mind eating stuff I like, even if I've had it tons of times before, haha, so I get lazy about trying out new stuff. Most of the things in our "rotation" we can generally make on a whim, between the pantry & fridge staples, but making different things may mean having to pick up other not-on-hand ingredients, oh no! xP Forethought is required there, key factor, hahaha. But it is on my mind now, so I will pick out a thing or two for upcoming meals. :))

9kidzdoc
Edited: Aug 25, 2016, 7:15pm Top

I tried a new recipe for dinner today, Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil, which turned out better than expected.



Here's the recipe, courtesy of Melissa Clark of The New York Times:

INGREDIENTS

Fine sea salt
12 ounces dry orecchiette or farfalle (bow tie pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced (keep the whites and greens separate)
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (2 cups kernels)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
⅓ cup torn basil or mint, more for garnish
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Fresh lemon juice, as needed

PREPARATION:

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat; add scallion whites and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and all but 1/4 cup corn; simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, transfer to a blender, and purée mixture until smooth, adding a little extra water if needed to get a thick but pourable texture.

Heat the same skillet over high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. (It’s O.K. if the butter browns; that deepens the flavor.) Add the corn purée and cook for 30 seconds to heat and combine the flavors.

Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and half the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in 1/4 cup of the scallion greens, the Parmesan, the herbs, the red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper.
__________________________________

I was very surprised at how spicy and tasty it was just after it finished cooking, as I was planning to add more red pepper flakes or black pepper to it, to give it an extra kick. Not only is that not necessary, but those with delicate palates may wish to exclude the red pepper flakes. I realized after I finished a serving of it that I had forgotten to add Parmesan cheese (I was distracted by cutting the tip of my thumb with a knife while chopping the basil), so I tried a small amount with it added. It gave it more complexity, but I'd say that it isn't necessary. This didn't take long to make, and I should get three or four servings from this recipe. Melissa Clark (the source of the eggplant, lamb, tomato & pine nuts recipe and several others) has now become my favorite source of recipes, surpassing Beth of Budget Bytes, and this is another winner from her.

10ELiz_M
Aug 25, 2016, 8:39pm Top

For the love of watermelon:



Ingredients:
1 7-8 lb. seedless watermelon, chilled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 limes, juiced
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (goat or sheep milk feta is best)

Cut the watermelon into small cubes, remove seeds, as needed. Whisk lime juice, oil, salt and pepper to make dressing. Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Enjoy!

This salad is best when freshly made. I do take it in to work for lunches, but this requires many containers -- the dressing (lime, salt) and the feta (salt) cause the water to leech out of the melon. So, I take the watermelon in a large container, mix the mint and feta in a second smaller container, and lastly a tiny container of dressing.

Variations: Ricotta Salata instead of feta, basil instead of mint

11kidzdoc
Aug 25, 2016, 9:28pm Top

Yum! Thanks for posting that recipe, Liz.

12AlisonY
Edited: Aug 26, 2016, 6:44pm Top

>10 ELiz_M: Nigella Lawson does a watermelon, feta and black olive salad that has never failed to deliver for me at family get-togethers.



It's similar to your recipe but with a couple of extra twists. I love the addition of the lime - it really gives it a kick.

INGREDIENTS
Serves: 8

METRICCUPS
1 small red onion
4 limes
1½ kilograms watermelon (sweet and ripe)
250 grams feta cheese
1 bunch fresh flatleaf parsley
1 bunch fresh mint (chopped)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100 grams pitted black olives
black pepper

METHOD
Peel and halve the red onion and cut into very fine half-moons and put in a small bowl to steep with the lime juice, to bring out the transparent pinkness in the onions and diminish their rasp. Two limes' worth should do it, but you can find the fruits disappointingly dried up and barren when you cut them in half, in which case add more.
Remove the rind and pips from the watermelon, and cut into approximately 4cm / 1½ inch triangular chunks, if that makes sense (maths is not my strong point). Cut the feta into similar sized pieces and put them both into a large, wide shallow bowl. Tear off sprigs of parsley so that it is used like a salad leaf, rather than a garnish, and add to the bowl along with the chopped mint.
Tip the now glowingly puce onions, along with their pink juices over the salad in the bowl, add the oil and olives, then using your hands toss the salad very gently so that the feta and melon don't lose their shape. Add a good grinding of black pepper and taste to see whether the dressing needs more lime.

13kidzdoc
Edited: Aug 26, 2016, 7:07pm Top

Two watermelon salad recipes! Which one should I choose? ;-)

I just made Zucchini Fritters, using the recipe that Claire (Sakerfalcon) gave me last year:



Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (from about 4 medium)
Salt
3/4 cup self-rising flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, light and dark green parts only (about 4 scallions)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preparation:

1. Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven; preheat to 200°F. Place zucchini in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Using a clean kitchen towel, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from zucchini. Discard liquid from bowl and wipe out with a paper towel. Add flour and eggs to bowl. Whisk until combined. Gently but thoroughly stir in zucchini and scallions.

2. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, add heaping 1-Tbsp. mounds of batter to skillet, spacing fritters so they don't touch. Cook until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt and remove to baking sheet in oven.

3. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet if necessary between batches. Serve.
_______________________________________

I put a line through the first sentence of the instructions, as Claire said that this step wasn't necessary; I agree with her. My fritters were nearly twice as large than the size indicated in the recipe, so I only had 15 fritters instead of the 22 that is supposed to result (I had closer to 5 cups of shredded zucchini than 4-1/2 cups). I cooked mine in two batches, and my only suggestion would be to up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil for each batch, as the first batch of fritters absorbed most of the oil. The fritters have a richer taste than I expected, and they taste great. I'll definitely make this on a regular basis from now on!

14japaul22
Aug 26, 2016, 7:21pm Top

Both the watermelon and zucchini fritters recipes are timely for me as we've been getting tons in our CSA vegetable box!

15japaul22
Sep 3, 2016, 8:49pm Top

>12 AlisonY: made the watermelon salad to bring to a party tonight and it was excellent. I have to admit I was a little skeptical about watermelon, feta, and olives together but I loved it and so did everyone else!

16AlisonY
Sep 12, 2016, 5:06pm Top

>15 japaul22: Oh good Jennifer! I am definitely not any great cook, so this always works for me as an easy starter that most people like. Very refreshing in summer.

17.Monkey.
Sep 26, 2016, 4:44am Top

I didn't think to take a photo of it, but the other night I made a super simple but really nice dish! I:

Chunked up a bunch of small red potatoes, then tossed them in a large oven dish with olive oil and stirred them around to coat,
cut up a head of broccoli and tossed it in,
cubed up a bunch of mushrooms and added them,
then seasoned with salt, garlic powder, cumin, turmeric, a little paprika, and a little bouillon powder,
followed by drizzling lemon juice all over, along with some olive oil, and just a smidge of water,
sliced up a couple cloves of garlic and tossed them in,
sliced up an onion & shallot and spread them on top,
then covered the dish and stuck it in the oven for 30,
took it out, added a pkg of plain Quorn cubes, did another little sprinkle of lemon and small dash of seasonings and stirred it all up,
tossed it back in the oven for another 25 or so,
and sprinkled Grana Padano (Parmigiano-Reggiano would do the same) on top when plated.

If you're a big lemon fan, you'd want to use a fair bit; I don't mind it but I'm not super big on it, so I used it more as a "seasoning" than like, a sauce or marinade or such.
In the past I've made a dish a couple times that involved making a sort of broth to pour over & cook the broccoli etc in, with keffir leaves (they're a kind of lime), so if one were so inclined, that method could be done for this as well, but merely sprinkling then stirring halfway through worked well for me! :P
Also, you could remove the covering a bit before pulling it out, if you wanted to crisp things up a little at the end. I didn't bother, but that'd be nice also.

18kidzdoc
Oct 16, 2016, 9:51am Top

I was sick all of last week with a bad gastrointestinal infection that left me unable to eat anything more than clear liquids for five days. The first solid meal I was able to handle was freshly made matzo balls in chicken broth, which my mother made for my brother and I when we were sick as kids and couldn't eat anything. It hit the spot, and after I mentioned it on my 75 Books thread Jim (drneutron) told me about a recipe for a Mexican inspired version of matzo ball soup, based on a story on National Public Radio that he heard that week. I liked the way it looked and gave it a try last weekend.

  

Here's the original recipe for Matzo Balls with Mushrooms and Jalapeños in Broth (Bolas de Matza con hongos y chiles):

Ingredients:

1 cup matzo ball mix (or two 2-ounce packages)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher or sea salt
4 large eggs
8 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons sparkling water
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, finely chopped (seeded if desired) or to taste
8 ounces white and/or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and thin­ly sliced
8 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the matzo ball mix, parsley, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. In another small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with 6 tablespoons of the canola oil and the sesame oil. Fold the beaten eggs into the matzo ball mixture with a rubber spatula. Add the sparkling water and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chiles and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until they have softened a bit. Stir in the mushrooms and 3/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and steam the mushrooms for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the lid and cook uncovered until the liquid in the pot evaporates. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Meanwhile, when ready to cook the matzo balls, bring about 3 quarts salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and keep at a steady simmer. With wet hands, shape the matzo ball mix into 1- to 1 1/2-inch balls and gently drop them into the water. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the matzo balls are completely cooked and have puffed up. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the soup. Serve.
____________________________________

I prefer to have chunks of chicken in my matzo ball soup, so I bought two pounds of chicken thighs, removed the bone and most of the fat, chopped it into small pieces, added it to the broth and let it simmer for 25 minutes while the matzo balls were cooking. I used cremini mushrooms; I left out the sparkling water, as I forgot to buy some when I went to the supermarket that afternoon; I used ground nutmeg, as I didn't see any whole nutmeg in the supermarket, and half of a Vidalia sweet onion instead of a white onion; and I cooked the matzo balls, using Manischewitz matzo ball mix, for 25 minutes (the small box I had contained two 2 oz packets, which was perfect for this recipe). The photos didn't turn out great, but the soup tastes fabulous, The recipe, especially with the added chicken pieces, should provide eight servings, and from what I read online matzo ball soup can be frozen for two or three months, so I'll add this to my rotation of favorite soups and stews.

19kidzdoc
Oct 16, 2016, 9:56am Top

I saw an interesting recipe for Greek chicken stew from The New York Times on my Facebook timeline this week, and I made it for the first time yesterday:



Greek Chicken Stew With Cauliflower and Olives

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
6 to 8 chicken legs and/or thighs, skinned
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice, pulsed in a food processor
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 small or 1/2 large cauliflower, cored, broken into florets, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
12 kalamata olives (about 45 grams), rinsed, pitted and cut in half (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 to 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

PREPARATION:
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, heavy lidded skillet or casserole and brown the chicken, in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the pieces to a plate or bowl as they’re browned. Pour off the fat from the pan. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and let the onion cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is lightly browned and very soft.

Add the garlic and stir together for a minute or two more, until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes and their juice, the cinnamon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is reduced slightly and fragrant.

Return the chicken pieces to the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. If necessary, add enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and kalamata olives and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the chicken is just about falling off the bone. Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with grains, with the feta sprinkled on top if desired.
_____________________________________

I bought two packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs from Publix, which had a total of 11 thighs, so I added a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes to the stew. I read the comments section for this recipe before I made it, and decided to roast the cauliflower, using this basic recipe from The New York Times. I didn't add feta cheese to my stew; otherwise I followed the recipe as written. I loved the richness and complexity of this stew, and with the added chicken I should get 6-8 servings out of it. I enjoyed this stew as much as I thought I would, and I'll also add this to my rotation of favorite soups and stews.

20.Monkey.
Oct 16, 2016, 9:59am Top

>18 kidzdoc: Huh, I'd change some things a little but that's interesting!

21RidgewayGirl
Oct 16, 2016, 10:54am Top

I'll keep the chicken gnocchi soup in mind for when I need something the kids are guaranteed to like, although I am a little frightened of what might actually be in the fat-free half and half.

22mabith
Nov 19, 2016, 1:30am Top

>19 kidzdoc: I had that Greek chicken stew a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it.

I made a last minute cake for my nephew's birthday and tried out this recipe from Swedish Cakes and Cookies (one of my favorite dessert cookbooks). It turned out really well. Lovely flavor and very moist. I used a castle cake pan I have and it looked brilliant but I managed to forget to take a picture. I'll definitely be making it again. If you're using the larger/normal size bundt pan you'll need to double this recipe (or at least increase by 1/2).

Tyra's Ginger Cake

150 g (scant 2/3 cup) butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 medium apple (coarsely grated)
grated zest and juice of one lemon
2-3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Grease and flour a 1 1/2 liter (6 cup) loaf pan or ring pan. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, preferably with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Grate the apple and add along with the lemon zest and juice. Combine the remaining ingredients and fold into the egg mixture. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 on a low oven rack for around 45 minutes. Let cool for at least five minutes before removing from the pan. Let cool completely on a rack. (If you're using a ring pan I'd recommend checking on the cake after 30 minutes.)

23kidzdoc
Nov 25, 2016, 10:09am Top

>22 mabith: The ginger cake sounds good! I don't make desserts, but this recipe sounds tempting.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the Greek chicken stew, Meredith.

24janemarieprice
Jan 12, 2017, 10:59am Top

The watermelon salads sound great. I'll keep those in mind for summer.

>13 kidzdoc: I love veggie pancakes of all kinds. This one from smitten kitchen is great though I prefer this dipping sauce with it.

25lyzard
Jan 12, 2017, 5:03pm Top

>1 kidzdoc:

Very interested in the chicken gnocchi soup, but bemused by the concept of fat-free half-and-half, particularly since we don't have half-and-half here in the first place. :)

I thought the point of H&H was the fat content (around 10%)? What are you aiming for with fat-free?

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