Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rosemary White Bean Soup

The was the perfect use for some of the chicken stock I made the other week since the stock already had a subtle Rosemary flavor.

Source:  Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 pound dried white cannellini beans*
4 c. sliced yellow onions (3 onions)
1/4 c. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large branch fresh rosemary (6-7 inches)
2 quarts chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 t. sea salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1" and soak in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.  Drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with olive oil until onions are translucent, 10-15 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes.  Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf.  Cover, bring to a  boil, and simmer 30-40 minutes, until the beans are very soft.  Remove rosemary branch and bay leaf.  Pulse briefly in food processor or blender.  Return soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.

*Note:  substitute 4-16 oz. cans, rinsed and drained for the dried beans.

My note:  I added 2 chopped, roasted chicken breasts at the end, as well as some chopped, crispy chicken skin as a garnish - delicious!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Warm Spinach Salad with Fried Egg & Potatoes

I love breakfast salads - probably because it's often closer to lunch by the time I get around to eating breakfast on a weekend morning!  I have just a little bit of Swiss chard left in the garden - perfect for this recipe.  The soft-cooked egg yolk makes a yummy "sauce" for the salad.

Source:  Adapted from Everyday Food magazine

4 T. olive oil
2 baking potatoes (about 1 pound total), scrubbed and cut into 1/2" cubes
sea salt and pepper
2 T. red-wine vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
2 lbs. flat-leaf spinach, torn
2 oz. Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 large eggs

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 T. oil over medium heat.  Add potatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until potatoes are tender and browned, 12-14 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine remaining 2 T. oil with vinegar, mustard, and shallot; season with salt and pepper, and whisk to combine.  Add spinach and Parmesan (do not toss); set aside.

When potatoes are done cooking, immediately transfer to bowl with spinach and dressing (reserve skillet).  Toss salad until spinach is slightly wilted, and divide among four plates.

Heat skillet over medium heat, and gently crack eggs into skillet without breaking yolks; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until whites are almost set, about 1 minute.  Cover, turn off heat, and let stand until whites are just set but yolks are still soft, about 2 minutes more.  Top each salad with a fried egg, and serve immediately.

Update 12/11/10
This is excellent with sweet potatoes in place of the white potatoes!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Stock

What's "In Season" about chicken stock?  Well, if you eat local, in-season chicken, then the stock you make from it ends up being "In Season" too!  Over the summer I roasted a fresh chicken every three weeks, stuck the carcass in a zip-lock freezer bag and put it in the freezer for making stock at a later date.  Well, the date had come!  Here's how I did it:

First, I thawed the chicken carcasses overnight in the garage (since it was cool, it was the same thing as using the refrigerator) in preparation for the big event.  First thing in the morning I placed all the carcasses, as well as drippings I had been saving from roasting the chickens all summer, in two stock pots, covered them with water and brought it to a boil.  I skimmed off the brown scum, as well as any rosemary leaves that were floating on the top, then allowed the stock to simmer all day - about 12 hours; that way I could get as many nutrients as possible from the bones.  Part way through, I removed the lids so it could cook down a bit and allow the flavor to intensify. At the end of the day, I strained the broth through a mesh strainer into another stock pot, removing the bones, meat and skin, and added sea salt until I was satisfied with the flavor.  I chilled it overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning, I skimmed the fat off the top, then filled wide-mouth quart mason jars with 3 cups of stock each (any more than that, and you'll run the risk of cracking the jar if you plan to freeze it) and put them in the freezer.  Yum!!  It was so satisfying!  Of course, it's not possible to attempt something like this if you're not going to be home all day, but I was and thoroughly enjoyed the process.  After all the jars were safely stowed away, I even checked the freezer occasionally to make sure it was still running - I felt like I had gold in the bank and wanted to make sure it was safe!  :)  There's all kinds of good benefits to organic chicken broth, so I'm eager to take advantage of it these next months as I use it in various recipes.

Does the recipe sound too simple to be true?  Well, it isn't!  According to Maria Rodale on the website, anything more than an organic chicken, water and salt just messes up the flavor.  My stock included some onions left over from the chicken-roasting process and the meat had a subtle rosemary flavor, but that was it!

Update, 5/17/11

I bought a pressure canner two months ago and finally worked up the courage to try using it.  Why is everyone afraid of using a pressure canner (me included!)?  There definitely was a bit of a learning curve to it, but it was worth being able to can a bunch of chicken stock in glass jars and not worry about breakage in the freezer, or hogging up freezer space.  Also, it's much handier to open a jar of canned stock vs. remembering to plan ahead and defrost frozen stock.

For today's batch of stock, I had purchased frozen chicken backs from the farm where I buy my chickens.  It made even tastier broth than the what I made using the roasted chicken carcasses.  Yum!  And, what's even better, it's loaded with all kinds of healing properties!

Update, 11/2/15

As handy as it is to have canned stock on hand, I have reverted to simply freezing it.  Wide mouth pint jars work great and are freezer safe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spring Greens with Beets & Goat Cheese

I used fresh roasted beets in place of the canned beets in this salad - yum!!

Source:  adapted from Taste of Home magazine, April/May 2009

2/3 c. pecan halves
3 T. balsamic vinegar, divided
1 T. water
1 T. sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. maple syrup
1 t. whole grain mustard
1/8 t. salt
5 oz. spring mix salad greens
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) sliced beets, drained*
1 c. crumbled goat cheese

In a large heavy skillet, cook the pecans, 1 T. vinegar and water over medium heat until nuts are toasted, about 4 min.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Cook and stir for 2-4 min. or until sugar is melted.  Spread on foil to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, syrup, mustard, salt and remaining vinegar.  Refrigerate until serving.

In a large bowl, combine salad greens and dressing; toss to coat.  Divide among eight salad plates.  Top with beets, goat cheese and glazed pecans.

Yield:  8 servings

*Note:  To roast beets, preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a 9x13" baking dish, toss 1 bunch beets (about 1 1/2 lbs.), scrubbed, with 1 T. olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cover dish tightly with foil; roast until tender when pierced with a knife, 45-60 min., depending on size.  When cool enough to handle, rub with a paper towel to remove skins (if desired).