Thai Coconut Chicken Soup with Rice

thai-coconut-chicken-soup2

I’m always on the lookout for easy recipes that are full of flavor – especially if they can be made in under an hour. Much to my surprise, the basis for this soup came from the Parade Magazine supplement in my Sunday paper. Of course I had to play with it a bit to get it to suit my tastes and also to be a satisfying meal, but the genesis of this delicious and easy dinner came out of a single paragraph recipe from this otherwise throw-away supplement. Sometimes inspiration can come from unlikely places.

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup with Rice

Yield: 4 dinner portions

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Canola or coconut oil, divided

1 Tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

5 chicken thighs with skin removed (I used bone-in) or 3 chicken breasts

About 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thinly

5 cups of low sodium chicken stock

13.5 ounce can of light coconut milk

2 Tablespoons Asian fish sauce

1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce or paste

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Zest of one lime

Juice of 2 limes

1 cup white rice

2 jalapeno peppers or 1/2 of a Cubanelle pepper

3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

About 4 Tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a 3.5-4 quart heavy saucepan with a lid. Add the onion and minced ginger and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and the pieces of chicken.
  2. Pour the 5 cups of stock over the chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 2o minutes.
  3. Using tongs or a fork, remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate or cutting board. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken meat off of the bone. Add the shredded meat back to the pot.
  4. Add the mushrooms, fish sauce, sugar, chili-garlic paste/sauce and the coconut milk.
  5. Add the lime zest and the juice of 1.5 limes. Stir to mix everything through. The soup can be made earlier in the day up to this point.
  6. Sauté the jalapeno peppers and scallions in 1 Tablespoon of oil in a 2-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid for about 1 minute.
  7. Rinse the rice. Add the rinsed and drained rice to the peppers and scallions. Add the salt, 1 cup of stock and 1 cup of water to the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot tightly and cook for about 14 minutes. The water should be absorbed but the rice is still very moist. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and fluff through the rice.

When you are ready to serve, heat the soup through and cook for about 5 minutes. I served a bowl of soup, with chopped cilantro on top and the rice in a separate bowl. Each person can then decide if they want to add the rice to the bowl or if they want to eat the rice separately.

thai-coconut-chicken-soup

Vegan Apple Raisin Cake with Applejack Sauce

vegan-apple-cake6My niece and nephew hosted Friday night dinner and I agreed to help by making dessert. Because of dietary restrictions, the dessert needed to be vegan. I decided to use this as an opportunity to come up with a new apple cake recipe that would be good enough for Thanksgiving or anytime you wanted something special for a crowd. I am using the Smitten Kitchen Apple Cake and my own Vegan “Honey” Cake as the source for this inspiration. This cake will not only feed a crowd, but is actually better made ahead so the flavors can fully develop. I find when I am preparing for a big holiday dinner, I like things that I can make ahead so I am not exhausted on the day when everyone descends. This cake could even be frozen without the Applejack sauce which could then be made the morning of or the night before you are going to serve it. Just defrost the cake fully before serving. And if you don’t want the Applejack sauce, you could simply dust this with confectioner’s sugar when you get ready to serve it. After a day, the center of this cake takes on an almost bread pudding-like consistency, fragrant with apples, raisins and spice.

Vegan Apple Raisin Cake with Applejack Sauce

Yield: About 10 servings  vegan-apple-raisin-cake

Ingredients

For the cake

5-6 flavorful baking apples (There are so many varieties out there and they differ locally so choose something other than Granny Smith. It could be McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jazz, Jonagold, Braeburn, Ambrosia…) I used Jonagold and because they were on the biggish side, I used 5 apples.

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups plus 5 Tablespoons granulated or Demerara sugar

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

1 cup Canola or other vegetable oil

Zest of one lemon

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, preferably fresh

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

3/4 cup raisins soaked for at least 1 hour in 1/4 cup Applejack, Apple Brandy or Apple Cider

Aquafaba from one 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (This is the liquid from the can that has been strained. Use the chickpeas for a wonderful salad or in homemade hummus.)

For the Applejack Sauce

1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar

4 Tablespoons Applejack (Hard cider) or apple cider

2 to 3 Tablespoons apple juice or cider OR reserved liquid from apple-raisin mixture

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Either butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan with straight sides or use one of the cooking sprays with flour (Baker’s Joy or Pam – these have been a revelation for me and have made cake baking so much easier!)
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/2-inch dice. Toss them with the cinnamon, 5 Tablespoons of sugar and the lemon zest.
  3. Using a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, apple cider, vanilla and remaining 2 cups of sugar.
  4. Drain the chickpeas, placing the liquid in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the balloon whisk attachment, whip the aquafaba on high for 10 minutes. You should have soft white peaks.
  5. Stir the oil mixture into the dry ingredients. The result will be quite stiff. Drain the raisins and add them to the apples. Pour the remaining liquid into the batter. Now scrape all of the whipped aquafaba into the stiff batter and mix thoroughly with a heavy spoon until you have a smooth, workable batter. This takes a little elbow grease!
  6. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Using a spoon or your hands, take 1/2 of the apple-raisin mixture, straining any liquid that may be in the bowl and reserving it and place the apples-raisins over the batter in the pan. The reserved liquid can be added to your Applejack sauce. Cover the apples with the remaining batter and gently smooth it out so the batter is even. Now take the remaining apples-raisins and cover the top of the batter, gently pushing the mixture into the batter.
  7. Place the pan in the hot oven and bake for about 1.5 to 1.75 hours or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. The top will sink down some but don’t worry – it’s fine. When you are ready to serve, turn out the cake and carefully flip it over onto a serving platter so that the apples are now on top again. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve the sauce on the side, if you are using it.

For the Applejack Sauce

  1. Sift the sugar to get rid of any lumps.
  2. Whisk all of the other ingredients together. Taste and adjust the sweetness by adding more confectioner’s sugar, if desired. Just before serving, give it a good stir with a fork or whisk. You can zap it in the microwave briefly, if you like- just enough to warm it without killing off the alcohol.  vegan-apple-cake5

Herbed Lamb Burgers with Tahini Spread

img_2838Lamb patties are ubiquitous in Israel. Many are served grilled and some are fried. They are usually small and are plated with several for each serving. While I love eating them that way, at home, I wanted it simplified and since I hate frying foods and don’t own a grill, my version is made in the broiler. If you use a food processor to finely chop everything, this takes no time to make. This recipe is based off one by Janna Gur from her cookbook, Jewish Soul Food but with changes by me. They are Syrian and called Ijeh B’Lameh. I serve the burgers with Tahini Spread and my Eggplant Raita (see previous recipe.)

Herbed Lamb Burgers with Tahini Spread

Yield: 6-7 burgers

Ingredients

For Lamb Burgers

1.5 pounds ground lamb

2 large eggs

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled

4 Tablespoons dry bread crumbs

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

1 bunch fresh cilantro

2 bunch fresh mint

3-4 scallions (white and light green parts)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Kosher salt and either Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper to taste

3-4 Tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to broil with the broiler pan in the oven. (Turn off your smoke detectors!)  Place the eggs, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, mint, bread crumbs and scallions in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped and well mixed.
  2. In a large bowl, place the lamb, pine nuts and salt and pepper and mix well. Add the herb mixture and using your hand (forget the yuck factor!) mix everything together.
  3. Form 6 or 7 patties.
  4. Carefully spray the hot broiler pan with a cooking spray (or lightly oil the pan) and add the patties. You should hear a sizzle when the patties go on. Cook for 13-15 minutes, depending on how rare you like our lamb. Do not turn the patties or they will break.
  5. Serve one patty per person with Tahini Spread on top and the Eggplant Raita and a green salad and pita on the side.

For Tahini Spread

Ingredients

1/2 cup tahini (find a good brand like Soom)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Using a whisk or fork, stir through the tahini until the oil and spread are thoroughly mixed and the tahini is malleable.
  2. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper.
  3. Start adding ice-cold water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, whisking well with each addition until the tahini is creamy and the consistency you like. It should be thicker for a spread and thinner if using as part of a salad dressing. The color of the tahini will change from dark beige to ivory. Any extra can be stored in the fridge for later use. Some people also add minced garlic and a dash of ground cumin, but if the quality of the initial tahini is good, you really don’t need anything else.

Eggplant Raita Middle Eastern Style

img_2822I have often thought that it is possible to mix cuisines, especially with a bit of tweaking. I wanted something to go with my herbed lamb patties (see following post) in addition to the traditional tahini spread. I remembered that I had made a raita with roasted eggplant that I believed would do the trick. After reviewing the recipe, I decided to play with the seasonings a bit to take this Indian condiment and make it a bit more Middle Eastern. The original recipe came from The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two by Anna Thomas. It is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats or as a dip with pita or other flat bread.

Eggplant Raita Middle Eastern Style

Yield: About 3 cups

Ingredients

1 eggplant (about 1.5 pounds)

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters, if on the larger side

1/4 teaspoon of Aleppo or cayenne pepper

Juice of 1/2 a large lemon

1.25 teaspoons Kosher salt

2 cups Greek-style yogurt

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place it on heavy duty foil in a pan large enough to hold that has sides. Roast it in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 1 hour, turning once. The eggplant should be completely soft and somewhat collapsed. (This can also be done over an open flame, which tastes wonderful but can get very messy.) Allow the eggplant to cool slightly and then slice it in half. Scoop out all of the pulp, removing as many clusters of seeds as you can. Place it over a strainer and allow the juices to drain. Then coarsely chop the pulp.
  2. Heat the EVOO in a medium skillet and saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt and continue cooking until the tomatoes begin to soften. Add the eggplant pulp and stir through and remove from the heat. img_2821
  3. Stir the eggplant/onion mixture through the yogurt. Add the lemon juice and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust your seasonings if necessary. Add the chopped cilantro and mix thoroughly. Allow to chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Chickpea and Spinach Soup (Potaje de Garbanzos y Espinacas)

img_2820For my father’s 60th birthday back in 1973, I made this incredible Turkish Moussaka that was cooked in a Charlotte mold, with a lamb stew stuffing and served with a tomato coulis. It was unmolded for serving and was both stunning and delicious and I swore NEVER to make it again because it was soooooooo much work! For some reason I was thinking about that dish on a nasty day when I was stuck inside and decided to search for the recipe. I thought that I recalled it coming from one of the 12 years of bound Gourmet Magazines that I had inherited from my mother. I started looking through 1973 and did not find the recipe for Turkish Moussaka; however, I did find an article with recipes for soups from Spain. Several looked delicious and I plan on working my way through them, but this Chickpea and Spinach soup from Catalonia also sounded easy so I decided to start with this one. Catalonian cuisine borrows a little from the French across the Pyrenees, Valencia to the south, Aragon and the Mediterranean. I mostly followed the recipe but I did make a few tweaks of my own. I will garnish this with the traditional hard-boiled egg and parsley and will serve it with a good toasted farm bread and an aged Manchego cheese. There is so much spinach in this dish that you don’t even really need a salad, but having one never goes amiss. Of course, you should also serve this with one of the many hearty Spanish red wines that are both affordable and delicious.

Potaje de Garbanzos y Espinacas adapted slightly from Gourmet Magazine, February 1973, p.28-29

Yield: 8 to 12 servings, depending on if this is a first course or dinner

Ingredients

1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water to cover (Do not use canned beans here. There really is a difference in the final texture of the soup.) IMG_2813.JPG

1 quart of stock (chicken or vegetable)

2 quarts of water

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

2 small dried red peppers (I used Arbol. Choose a pepper according to your tolerance and preference for heat. Ours is minimal.) img_2815

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons EVOO

2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

28 ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)

1 pound of fresh spinach, well washed and coarsely chopped unless you are using Baby Spinach

For the Garnish

1 hard-boiled egg per person if serving as dinner, chopped or sliced

2 to 3 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

EVOO to drizzle

Directions

  1. Drain the chickpeas. In a large stockpot, bring the stock, water, hot peppers, thyme, salt and drained chickpeas to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  2. In a skillet, saute the chopped onion in the EVOO until it is soft. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon or by hand. Cook the mixture for 3 more minutes.
  3. Add the tomato mixture to the chickpea mixture and simmer the soup for 30 minutes more until the chickpeas are tender but not mushy.
  4. The soup can be made ahead up to this point. When you are ready to serve the soup, return the mixture to a boil and plunge in the spinach. Cook the soup, covered, for 6 to 8 minutes, just until the spinach is cooked. Adjust your salt. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and the hard-boiled egg. img_2819

 

Kale and Mushroom Quiche

img_2811When I was a little girl, we actually invited our teachers home. It was always very exciting to have a teacher join us for lunch and my mother would make Quiche Lorraine, which at the time was considered rather exotic. It was also delicious. Over the years quiche went out of fashion, especially after it had become these awful, super-sized things that didn’t resemble a real quiche in any way except by name.

I was at the grocery store yesterday and they happened to have these beautiful bunches of organic kale on sale and I simply couldn’t resist. I bought one bunch to saute with garlic as a side vegetable, one bunch was earmarked for my Sunshine Kale Salad and I still had one bunch with nothing particular in mind what I should do with it. After giving it some thought, I decided to make a kale and mushroom quiche. This dish could easily be a lovely vegetarian lunch or supper or you could add some crispy bacon as I have. This version is not my mother’s Quiche Lorraine, but I think she would have been proud to serve it. I will serve it with focaccia and a salad loaded with tomatoes and sweet peppers. You can, of course, purchase pastry, but I like to make my own.

Kale and Mushroom Quiche with Bacon

Yield: One 10-inch savory tart

Ingredients

Pastry for 10-inch tart

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup cold solid white shortening (Lard, if you like, or Crisco)

3 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter

3 to 4 Tablespoons ice water

Filling

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 Tablespoon EVOO (or bacon drippings)

1 medium onion or large shallot, thinly sliced (you should have a good cup)

1 large clove of garlic, minced – about 1 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar

1 large bunch of curly kale (green or purple), with the leaves torn off of the stems into smallish pieces

8 ounces of mushrooms, thinly sliced and chopped in half if the pieces are large

7 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy but with some chew

4 large eggs

3/4 cup milk (I am using non-fat)

1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup grated Parmesan, Gruyere, Asiago or Pecorino (I used Pecorino with truffles, because I had some on hand)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

NOTE: I think when I make this again, I may increase the amount of custard. I would do this by adding 1 additional egg, for a total of 5 eggs, as well as increasing the milk/cream mixture to a total of 2 cups total. Of course, you could also reduce your filling to 2 cups, but honestly, why would you?! While the photo doesn’t show it, the custard actually coats every piece of kale. The amount you use is purely personal.

Directions

For the pastry

  1. Put the flour and salt into the container of a food processor or a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the white shortening and butter and pulse while gradually adding the ice water.
  3. Add only enough water so that the dough comes clean from the sides of the container and can be handled. Shape into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill for at least one hour. This can be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated.

For the Quiche

  1. When you are ready to bake the quiche, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Roll out the pastry and line a 10-inch quiche pan or pie plate. (The pastry needs to be sufficiently malleable when you roll it out or like me, you will spend a lot of time patching. It’s fine to patch since it won’t show in the end product, but if it makes you anxious, allow the dough to warm up a little before attempting to roll it out.) Line the pastry with foil. Add dried beans, rice or pie weights to keep the bottom from puffing up. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and the weights. You can allow the beans or rice to cool and they can be stored for future use. You just can’t eat them!
  3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon, drain and coarsely chop it. Then heat the butter and EVOO in a large skillet (or use the bacon drippings) and add the onion and mushrooms. Sprinkle with brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until wilted. Add the garlic and stir through. Add the kale, with barely any of the water that sticks to the leaves after washing and cook, tossing gently until the kale begins to wilt. You can cover the pan for a few minutes to speed the process up. You want to uncover towards the end to reduce any liquid from the mushrooms. Since my kale was pretty dry when it went in, the liquid given off from the mushrooms was just enough to cook things so that the end product was moist but not liquidy. img_2799img_2801
  4. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl or large measuring cup and add some salt and pepper to taste. Beat well with a whisk, adding the milk and cream in a stream. (If there was a lot of liquid in the kale mixture, try to only add the solids, discarding the liquid.)
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  6. Distribute the kale mixture over the bottom of the pastry. You want to use about 3 cups of filling. (If you have any extra it can be cooked with scrambled eggs or in a tofu scramble.) Pour the custard mixture evenly over the kale and sprinkle with the cheese. Place the quiche pan on a baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 15 minutes. There should be just the slightest of jiggle in the center. Do not over bake. The custard will continue cooking after it comes out of the oven. Allow the quiche to cool to room temperature before serving. img_2807

Orange Currant Pound Cake

orange-currant-pound-cakeIf you read my previous post, you will know that I am into comfort food right now. Since I mentioned that the fruit compote would be wonderful with pound cake, I decided that I really should make a pound cake to go with it. This cake comes from Classic Home Desserts by the late Richard Sax. It is a wonderful cookbook by someone who died way too young. This cake would be delicious on its own, but serving it with the fruit compote kicks it up just a notch. The recipe makes two 8 x 4-inch loaves and freezes well. It’s perfect to have on hand for any last-minute guests.

Orange Currant Pound Cake

Yield: Two 8 x 4-inch loaves, each serving about 8

Ingredients

1 cup dried currants soaked in 1/2 cup orange liqueur (Cointreau, Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or even Sabra which is chocolate-orange)

2.25 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2.5 sticks (1.25 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

Grated zest of 1 large orange, preferably navel

1.33 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (NOT Greek-style)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Directions

  1. Soak the currants for at least 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously butter two loaf pans and then dust with flour, shaking out any excess. Alternatively, use a cooking spray that has flour in it like PAM or Baker’s Joy. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl sift together 2 cups of the flour, the salt and the baking powder.
  4. Using either a standing or hand mixer, beat the butter and orange zest at high speed until light. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very fluffy – about 6 minutes.
  5. Lower the speed to the first notch and gradually add the sifted flour mixture. Just beat until the flour is mostly incorporated. Do not over beat.
  6. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  7. Add the sour cream or yogurt, vanilla and any unabsorbed liquid from the currants after draining the currants well. Just mix until blended. Do not over mix.
  8. Quickly toss the well-drained currants with the remaining 1/4 cup flour. This prevents the currants from all sinking to the bottom of the pan. I do this with chocolate chips as well.  Fold into the batter by hand, using a spatula.
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, tapping each pan gently on the counter to settle the batter.
  10. Bake until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted int the center comes out clean. This should take about 1.25 hours, but ovens vary so be sure to check it starting at 50 minutes. Do not over-bake.
  11. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert onto the rack and turn them right side up. Sift the confectioner’s sugar over the tops while the cakes are still warm and then cool completely. Return the cakes to the pans, tightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours before serving. You can add more confectioners’ sugar when you are ready to serve. Alternatively, you could make a simple orange icing from orange juice, vanilla nd confectioners’ sugar and use that.