What’s Cooking

I’m back with another soup recipe – yes another soup recipe. It’s the deep of winter, in some strange places I might add, and soup is warming and comforting when the north-east, south-west and all around the house winds are blowing.

Apparently one of the top 10 most popular items on Chinese Takeaway menus in Europe is Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup. It’s exotic without being all that foreign – nothing too challenging in the way of ingredients: shredded cooked chicken, sweet corn, stock, cornstarch, egg, green onion, and a few spices and aromatics. And should you wish to forgo the call to the local takeaway it takes almost no time to make at home.

Asian Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup
Basic recipe from Mr Paul at Mr Paul’s Pantry with additions from various sources.
Serves 2-3 people
Prep time: 25 minutes if cooking chicken or 10 minutes if using cooked chicken
Cooking time: 10 minutes

2 spring onion – garnish
200g Chicken Breast (you can use left over cooked chicken)*
500 mls chicken stock (fresh, carton or stock cube)
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1 small can Creamed Sweetcorn**
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons cold water
1 egg beaten until well combined

Cut spring onions on the bias and set aside for garnish.
Cut chicken into large chunks.
Heat chicken stock seasoned with ginger and pepper in a deep sauce pan until simmering then add chicken.
Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken from broth and set aside. When it is cool enough shred it into strands and return to pot.
Add sweet corn, soy sauce and sesame oil and stir. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.
Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water and slowly add to pot stirring. The amount of the slurry used will depend on how thick you like your soup.
Allow to simmer for several minutes.
Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady thin stream stirring as it forms threads or “flowers”.
Serve garnished with spring onion.

*I have used chicken thighs but they don’t shred as easily.
**If all you have to hand is a can of whole corn it can be turned into what we know as creamed corn with a stick or regular blender.

The word for March 1st is:
Takeaway tāk′ə-wā″: [1. noun 2. adjective]
1.1 The act or an instance of taking away the ball or puck from the team on the offensive, as by recovery of a fumbled football or by interception of a passed puck.
1.2 The lesson or principle that one learns from a story or event. Used with the.
1.3 A concession made by a labor union during contract negotiations; a giveback.
1.4 Chiefly British: A restaurant that sells food to be eaten elsewhere.
2.1 Chiefly British: A meal bought to be eaten elsewhere.
Take (v) + away (adj): 1964 in reference to food-shops, from 1970 as a noun.

What’s Cooking

Rachel Roddy contributes from A Kitchen in Rome to The Guardian Lifestyles section regularly. Often the recipes reflect the size and equipment of her typical Italian apartment kitchen: limited storage space, a half-size refrigerator, a small oven and four elements on a stove top. They also reflect the seasonality and availability of fresh produce and the proximity of a butcher. This recipe was the result of chicken thighs she found at the butcher’s downstairs from her apartment.

It’s one pan, it’s tasty and all the ingredients should be readily available.

Baked Chicken and Potatoes with Lemon and Rosemary
From Rachel Roddy at A Kitchen in Rome
Serves: 4 as a main course or 8 at a buffet
Prep Time: 50 minutes (including 45 minutes marinating)
Cooking Time: 55 minutes

1.2 kgs chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
5 potatoes peeled and quartered
1 large lemon or two small ones
150 ml olive oil
4 cloves of garlic sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tsp oregano
salt to taste
Splash of white wine

Put the chicken and potatoes in a large bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice and add the olive oil, garlic, the needles from one sprig of rosemary and other whole sprig, salt and oregano, and toss really well. Cut the empty lemon skins into wedges, add to the bowl, toss again and leave to sit for 45 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 425ºF
Put the potatoes and chicken skin side down in a *baking tray that accommodates them in more or less a single layer, making sure to scrape in all the marinade, then roast for 45 minutes, turning the chicken midway, so it is now skin side up. Lift the chicken on to a platter, return potatoes and lemon bits to the oven, and turn it up for about 10 minutes, so the potatoes turn golden.
Transfer the potatoes and lemon to the chicken platter, put the tray on a medium flame and add a little white wine to the juices. Scrape the bottom of the tray with a wooden spoon to dislodge any bits, let the juices bubble away for a minute or so, then pour over the chicken and potatoes and serve.

*A heavy duty baking tray with high sides always works best with these one-pan recipes. I recently bought a Nordicware half tray and it works beautifully with this, and other, recipes

The word for January 22nd is:
Thigh thī: [noun]
1.1 The portion of the human leg between the hip and the knee.
1.2 The corresponding part of the hind leg of a quadruped or other vertebrate animal.
1.3 The second segment of a bird’s leg, containing the tibia and fibula.
Old English þeoh, þeh, from Proto-Germanic *theuham literally “the thick or fat part of the leg.”

What’s Cooking

Enough of the sweet stuff it’s time to get serious about vegetables. The vegetable in question being spaghetti squash and the recipe being another quick and easy one. Laurent tells me this is good warmed over for lunch the next day.

Spaghetti Squash with garlic
From Chef Buck
Serves 4
Baking time: 35-40 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

1 spaghetti squash
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves chopped fine – or more if you like garlic
1-2 tbsp butter
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 lemon zested and juiced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350ºf.
Cut squash in half cross wise and scoop out seeds.
Place halves cut side down in shallow water in a roasting pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. You want it with a bit of crunch not mushy.
Remove squash from the oven and carefully turn halves over to check for doneness. The water will be hot and steam will be trapped under the squash, so be cautious.
Allow squash to sit 5-10 minutes to cool slightly for easier handling.
Insert a fork and twist out strands of “spaghetti”. Once the fork has done its job, use a spoon to scrape out the remaining squash.
Heat a skillet with olive oil on medium heat.
Add finely chopped garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until it begins to colour up. If you like a bit of heat with your dish, add some red pepper flakes.
Add butter and spaghetti squash and saute until heated through.
Add lemon juice, zest and salt and pepper.
Turn off the heat and add a dash of olive oil.
A sprinkling of Parmesan is also an option at this point.

Some toasted pine nuts could also add a bit of crunch but I’m told you have to mortgage your first born to buy them so …….

The word for October 27th is:
Spaghetti \spə-gĕt′ē\: [noun]
1.1 Pasta in long, often thick strands.
1.2 A slender tube of insulating material that covers bare wire.
1.3 A kind of Italian macaroni made in the form of cords smaller than ordinary macaroni, but several times larger than the threads of vermicelli.
Italian, pl. diminutive of spago, cord, from Late Latin spācum, of unknown origin.]

What’s Cooking

“So let’s give the soups a rest” says my faithful reader. Well how about a simple cake to have with coffee or tea? One thing I’m looking forward to almost as much as eating is cooking. This one is on the list.

Almond Olive Cake
From: Unknown
Serves 6/8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 40 minutes

5 whole eggs
7 oz white sugar
3 1/2 oz extra virgin olive oil
7 oz Ground almonds
1 oz All purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325F
Grease a 9″ pan and line with parchment paper
Beat eggs and sugar until mixture is a pale lemon colour.
Leave mixer running
Add the olive oil in a slow stream
Add ground almonds in small batches
Add flour in three portions
Pour into a prepared pan
Place in rack position 4 and bake for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

If you want to go all piss-elegant, the cake can be studded with almond slivers on top prior to baking and dusted with icing sugar before serving.

The word for today is:
1.1 A deciduous tree (Prunus dulcis) in the rose family, native to Asia and northern Africa and having alternate, simple leaves, pink flowers, and leathery fruits.
1.2 The ellipsoidal kernel of this tree, either eaten as a nut or used for extraction of an oil for flavouring.
1.3 Any of several other plants, such as the Indian almond, especially those with fruits or seeds suggestive of the almond.
Middle English almande, from Old French, from Late Latin amandula, alteration of Latin amygdala, from Greek amugdalē.

What’s Cooking

I seem to be doing a lot of soups but then fall is the time for something warming and this is another quick and easy one. I make a batch of the basic corn chowder and freeze it in two person servings to use when the weather gets even colder.

Cream of Spicy Corn and Shrimp Chowder
From – unknown
Serves 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 minced jalapeno or crumbled dry chili
1 medium onion minced
2 tbsp flour
6 cups chicken broth
2 10oz cans of corn niblets or 3 large ears of cooked corn scrapped
1 zucchini diced
1 red pepper diced
1/2 cup whipping cream (optional)
12 cooked peeled diced shrimp
cayenne pepper
finely minced herbs
1/2 cup fried bacon bits (optional)

Heat butter and oil in a heavy saucepan. Add jalapeno and onion and saute over medium heat until the onion is soft and starts to brown.
Add flour and blend to make a roux. Add six cups of chicken broth and corn and whisk until soup start to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool.
Puree soup in a blender/processor/immersion blender until smooth.

*The recipe can be prepared to this point and then refrigerated or frozen until ready to prepare.

Return soup to saucepan and reheat. Add zucchini, pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add broth if soup is too thick. Cream could also be added for more richness.
Add the diced shrimp to reheat.
Garnish with herbs and bacon.

Additional vegetables can be added: diced green pepper, minced leek, minced green beans, diced carrots, diced potatoes etc.

If your taste doesn’t run to shrimp then shredded cooked chicken or diced ham could be added and warmed through.

For a vegetarian version use vegetable broth and pile on the vegetables..

The word for October 13th is:
Chowder \chou′dər\: [noun]
1.1 A thick soup containing fish or shellfish, especially clams, and vegetables, such as potatoes and onions, in a milk or tomato base.
1.2 A soup similar to this seafood dish.
1.3 A dish of fish or clams boiled with biscuits or crackers, pork, potatoes, onions, etc., and variously seasoned. It is common among the fishermen on the banks of Newfoundland Northern Atlantic coast.
1.4 A fish seller – Provincal English
Probably from French chaudière (“pot”), from chaud (“hot”) (also related to the Latin caldaria and English cauldron). Possibly from Old English jowter (“fish monger”).

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