Odd Cod Chowder
It started with a pound of defrosted cod in the refrigerator which nearly ended up in the trash. I found a recipe from another packet of cod which I'd kept, and this was born. It was one of those simple things that may never happen again, but it was so good I'd hate to forget. Even my kids loved it!
My son is getting over a cold and still has some lung congestion, so I tried to keep the dairy to a minimum and boost it with ingredients that help a cold. Garlic would have been nice, but there was none in the house. We had leftover basmati rice which had been cooked with a little salt, pork broth, and the fat in the pork broth. A curiously delicious combination.
1/2 stick Kerrygold butter
1 red onion or a few shallots, diced
1/2 Tablespoon chopped ginger
1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh turmeric
1 sprig of thyme
2 Tablespoons flour
2-4 cups of sautéed mushrooms... or anything else
7 cups (approximately) chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half
1 pound defrosted cod in pieces
salt and pepper
Korean pepper flakes
(Optional) warm cooked rice or a chopped potato or two
Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the onion. Let it all simmer and bubble, adding a pinch of salt. When the onion is soft, add in the ginger, turmeric, and thyme. (If you are using potato, add it now and give it a few minutes to soften.) Stir in the flour. After a minute or so, add the cooked vegetables, the chicken stock, and the half and half. Bring it up to a boil, add the fish pieces, and then turn it down to gently cook the fish (and potatoes). Once the fish is cooked, add the salt and pepper.
Serve the soup over warm rice if you like it that way and add a sprinkle of Korean pepper flakes. SO GOOD!!!
I started off the new year fully prepared to swear off cooking forever. I don't have the time or the energy,and no one here wants to eat what I want to cook. But then after a trip to Costco where I invested in a ridiculously generous supply of every staple I could think of, I realized I had everything I needed to try nearly every single recipe in my collection of Afghani recipes. Surely the stars don't align this way more than once in a lifetime! It was a sign. At first I thought I'd just try a few simple selections, but with each sip of coffee my dreams and delusions grew.
This is how I ended up slaving over a meticulous, labor-intensive dish of stuffed chicken cooked in rice the very first week of the year. It was dry and disappointing. A "bitter" meal for me. I had been sure something that complicated had to result in greatness. It was SO bloody dry, and all the fried almonds and raisins and orange peel in the world couldn't fix that.
However, there was a cauliflower stew I made as well which was quick, simple, and though never destined for greatness, I intend to make it all winter long. I tried it with beef stew meat and ground lamb. Both times it was really good. I served it with basmati rice because we eat everything with rice, but I suppose it could go with anything you like. There is nothing in the stew which screams "Afghani!", so it would be equally at home with naan or mashed potatoes.
Happy New Year!
1-2 chopped onions
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound of stew meat, either lamb or beef
2 teaspoons ground coriander OR 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves chopped garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons split peas
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1 large head of cauliflower cut into florets
In a large pot heat the oil and sauté the onions until they are golden brown. Add the meat, a little bit of salt, and allow the meat to brown a little. Stir in the coriander or tomato paste, the garlic, the split peas, the turmeric, and some salt and pepper. Add just enough water to barely cover the meat. Bring it up to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the meat is tender. Add the cauliflower, and when that is tender too season to taste with salt and pepper.
Jute Leaf Stew (Green Goo Soup)
How badly I wanted to love this. Made with molokhia, a vegetable consumed in ancient Egypt, referred to in the book of Job, and eaten throughout the Middle East and North Africa, I was sure I would love this and come out feeling like the cultured and sophisticated woman I would like to be. It's ridiculously good for you: loaded with minerals and antioxidants. Unfortunately, I did not like Jute Leaf Stew (Mulukhiyah). I've tried lots of Palestinian recipes and felt ready for something adventurous, but I couldn't make myself want to eat this. No one else could either. It's also referred to as Egyptian spinach, but don't let that fool you. It is called Jew's mallow, jute leaf, Molokhia, mulukhiyah, and moloha. There are even more variations, but it would take too long to list them all.
I don't want to imply that this is bad food, but it was mucilaginous beyond my imagination, coated with a layer of oil at the top, slightly sweet and looked like it was poured directly from a swamp. It was also supposed to be extremely spicy, but I had to leave out all the chillies or my children would never have tried it- not that they did. I guess the spice would have offset the sweetness. It was a lose-lose for us.
The broth was interesting. I believe the mastic gave it a very sweet flavor.
The broth was seasoned with bay leaves, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, rosemary, cardamom and mastic pebbles pulverized with salt. It reminded me of my first taste of Vietnamese food- I couldn't tell for a while whether I loved it or hated it. I think this might have been a huge win if it hadn't been paired with a vegetable so reminiscent of aloe vera.
What was very good, however, was the tiqla: 10 cloves of garlic mashed with salt, fried, and doused in coriander. The smell was amazing, and at some point in the future I plan on dousing something I like in it.
If after all this you feel that you MUST try molokhia (maybe you are a fan of Egyptian food or the book of Job), try Pinterest. There were lots of recipes there. I won't bother giving you this recipe since, obviously, I didn't like it and I won't use it again. It was taken from The Gaza Kitchen. Let's hope for better luck next time.
Maybe I'll give it a year and try again.
Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow?
I made a horrible, lean, watery cabbage soup that I had to feed to the chickens because it was so bad. I had trusted the cookbook author and followed the recipe exactly. Big mistake, but here is the antidote. Chicken, beef, AND pork! It's rich and satisfying. It won't leave you wondering if times are really so desperate after all, and it serves 12. So make it for a big group, or make it once and freeze the rest for future dinners when you need something instant. You need an ENORMOUS pot.
This recipe calls for yuca, or cassava. You can usually find it in a Latin grocery store, and sometimes already peeled in the frozen section. It has a nice gummy texture; I believe tapioca is made from yuca. The preparation is simple. Peel it, cut it into manageable 2" sections, and remove the tough cord that grows down the center since it's impossible to chew. It wasn't until later that I read somewhere that it's poisonous before you cook it. It would have been nice to know earlier, but I was never tempted to pop the woody tuber in my mouth anyway. Here is a complete step-by-step tutorial on how to prepare yuca for cooking if you feel like you need it.
The tomato sauce that seasons the whole dish is so good I will at least double it next time. It would be so good over eggs or spooned onto just about anything. This recipe is from Saveur, and they based it on a recipe from Secrets of Colombian Cooking by Patricia McCausland-Gallo.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tomato
3/4 cup chopped scallions
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 whole chicken
1-1/2 pounds pork spareribs, separated
1 pound beef brisket or stew meat
a few springs of cilantro
1 tablespoon salt
4 cloves garlic
2 pounds cassava, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
3 avocados sliced for serving
white rice to serve along with the soup
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
My daughter loves to cut mushrooms with an egg slicer, and she loves to eat them almost as much. It's a win-win.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 pounds sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons dried dill (or fresh dill to taste)
4 cups homemade broth
2 cups milk
1-1/2 pound potatoes, peeled (or not) and diced
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the onions, mushrooms, and some salt. After a few minutes the vegetables will release a lot of liquid. Keep stirring. When most of the moisture has evaporated (10-15 minutes), add the flour, paprika, and dill and stir for a minute. Next add the broth, the milk, and the potatoes. Bring the whole thing to a bubble and let it simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. When the potatoes are tender, take the pot off the heat, stir in the sour cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Guajillo Chile Chicken Soup
The good news is that no one's dying, and the bad news is that the annual November cold has finally hit my kids. So it's chicken soup for us. I spent years making a Korean chicken soup, then a Vietnamese version, but this has been my favorite for the last few years. My husband, who hates the flavored water known as soup, genuinely likes this and is genuinely surprised every time that he does.
This was a happy accident. I tried a recipe which turned out to be really awful, and this is what happened when we fixed it. The addition of feta to chicken soup seems a little strange, but it's so good! It adds a nice salty note. If you hate feta you could use goat cheese or queso fresco. I would use 4 peppers, and I have in the past, but I'm afraid that it might make the soup spicy and I want my kids to eat this. I have a sneaking suspicion that these peppers aren't spicy at all, but it's been so long since I've used the full amount that I can't remember anymore and end up playing it safe every time. The rice will continue to swell over time, so one cup will make a really thick soup, but not until the next day. If you want a lighter soup, use only 1/2-3/4 cup of rice.
1. Wash out the chicken and remove the liver, neck, heart, and gizzards. (I put the liver in one freezer bag and save it until I have enough to make liver pate, the rest I put in a freezer bag with other odds and ends until I'm ready to make stock.)
2. Put the chicken in a stock pot and add barely enough water to cover the chicken. Less is better. Bring the pot to a boil and skim the scum off with a slotted spoon. Add the onion and garlic and turn it down to a simmer. Let it simmer for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
3. In the meantime, place the 4 guajillo chiles in boiling water and boil away for 10 minutes until they are soft. Drain them, remove the stems and seeds, and blend them in a processor with the tomatoes. If the skins haven't softened or really broken down, you can press the whole mess through a sieve. Add it to the chicken when you're done.
4. When the chicken has cooked through take the chicken out and allow it to cool before removing the meat and chopping or shredding it. Stir in the rice and cabbage and simmer until it's cooked through, then add the chicken back in. Season it with salt and pepper and serve it with a sprinkling of feta and cilantro if you have it.
This is the perfect fall soup. A lot of butternut squash soups are disturbingly sweet, but this one manages to stay firmly entrenched in the savory world where it belongs. I tried this originally as part of a collection of Palestinian recipes from Saveur Magazine last year and I've made it many times since then. The original recipe used carrots and celery, but the bell pepper and tomato tasted just as good and I honestly couldn't taste a big difference. So use whatever you have.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic
2-3 cups of mixed vegetables like carrot, celery, bell pepper, tomato, or zucchini cut into dice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 butternut squash peeled and cubed
1 cup red lentils
6 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
paprika and parsley to garnish
In a soup pot over a medium high flame, heat a few tablespoons of oil and use it to sauté the onion and garlic. When the onion looks soft, add in the other mixed vegetables and a little bit of salt. Continue to fry until the vegetables look soft. Add in the cumin and red pepper flakes and stir. Now pour in the lentils and the chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and then simmer until the squash and lentils are completely soft, maybe 20 minutes or so. Season it to taste with salt and pepper, and when the soup has cooled off blend it either in a processor or with an immersion blender. Garnish it if you like with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and some chopped parsley. Serve it with the lemon wedges on the side.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!