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Posts tagged “spiced

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup © Andor (1)

Soups have always been popular in the winter months. The trend may have started because people were trying to make use of the aging crops, harvested before the frigid weather arrived. Hardly anyone is a farmer anymore, yet the trend persists. Having grown a fair amount of carrots in the garden this year, I have been trying to use as much as possible before they go bad. I knew I wanted to make soup, but did not want it to be like the carrot soups I’ve had before. Half way through making dinner, it was still unclear what the finished bowl would be. Carrots? Yep. Bacon? No way can that be left out. Arugula? Well I bought it, better try to use it up. Noodles? Never have I made a soup with noodles and that’s not changing now… Let the carrots be the noodles? Yes, a good choice. The lima beans were an after thought. They were actually being prepared for another dish, which didn’t happen. But, they add a lot and I’m not sure this soup would be as good without that extra element. This can be made as a vegetarian soup pretty easily as well.

Serves 4 to 6.

Supplies Needed: An 8 quart soup pot, a strainer and a second pot(4+ quarts). Potato peeler. Knife and cutting board. Fry pan.

Ingredients:

For the Stock/Broth:

4-8 large carrots, ends removed and chopped in half.(Enough carrots to fill the soup pot a bit more than half way, after everything else is in it already.)
A chicken carcas(like the picked over remnants of a rotisserie chicken), or a large breast, or thigh without removing any meat.
1 large onion, halved
2-4 fresh garlic cloves
2 long sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

For the Finished Soup:

6 medium sized carrots(figure one per person), shredded with a potato peeler, so as to make thin, noodle-like strips
half a pound of bacon
1 cups worth of arugula
1.5 cups of lima beans
half tsp of chili powder blend, or cajun spice blend
salt and pepper to taste
thyme leaves for garnish

To Cook:

Put the halved carrots, chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaves and thyme sprigs into Your pot. Adding enough water to submerge everything, plus a bit more. If Your pot is half full of ingredients, You’ll want to fill it three quarters full of water. You don’t want anything sticking out above the water… Bring this to a simmer and let it gently bubble for 4 or 5 hours, stirring occasionally. You’re done with this step when You can make mashed carrots with nothing more than a gentle touch. Let it cool a bit and strain the solids from the liquid. A 4 quart pot should be about the perfect size for the amount of liquid You have. Now is a good time to start frying the bacon in another pan. As You do that, bring the soup to a light boil and begin reducing it. Add the spices, salt and pepper and continue to boil until a third of the liquid has boiled off. Then, add the lima beans and continue to boil until they are cooked. Place the arugula and shredded carrots into bowls. Ladle in the soup and lima beans, the hot soup should be just enough to soften the thinly shredded carrots. Add the bacon and garnish with some thyme leaves. Time to eat!

Notes:

This can easily be made as a vegetarian soup. Simply replace the chicken bones with another veggie, or add more carrots. Then, skip adding bacon at the end…

If You’re using baby lima beans, You’ll want to add them a bit later. Because they are more tender and cook in less than half the time.

When reducing soup stock, the general rule of thumb is that You want to end up with half the amount of liquid You had after straining.

Roasting the bones in the oven/broiler before starting Your soup will help bring out the oils and flavor. Making for a slightly more robust end product. If You make this with a chicken breast, or thigh, a quick searing, at high heat in a fry pan will help accomplish the same thing. You don’t want to cook the meat, the intent is to help mature the final flavor.

Those who don’t like a bit of fattiness to their soup will want to make the stock a day before serving. Place it in the fridge over night and the fat will all solidify on top. Simply remove the fat layer and then proceed to reduce and finish the soup…

If You don’t think You’ll use all of it right away, remove some to freeze for later, before adding the lima beans and spices. Obviously, if doing so, You won’t need as much of the ingredients for the ‘finished soup.’

I served this with Port Chicken(recipe can be found on this blog) and peppercorn rice, the recipe for which is on this blog under one of My ‘cooking in the twilight hours’ posts. The meal was quite lovely! Except that I neglected to salt the soup, which My guests didn’t appreciate. Adding salt to the soup made all the difference…

Carrot Soup © Andor (2)

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Pulled Pork Sandwich, Assemble!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Assemble! © Andor

This was just My second attempt to make pulled pork. As You can see, I went in to geek mode with My camera. Just a little bit anyways. The lighting in My kitchen is pretty poor, even by the windows, so I will likely try this animation again sometime with a better lighting arrangment. Using whole wheat hot dog buns, bak choi picked fresh from the garden, diced onions and barbeque sauce, these sandwiches came together quite well.

The hours I work have My schedule a bit off from most peoples. I go to bed around five in the morning and wake up around noon. So I started the pork in My Instapot when I went to bed and it was done when I woke up the next day. The first time, I started it before I went to work and it was ready and waiting for Me when I got home. I do love the set it and forget it style of cooking involved with making this tasty, meaty, dish.

Pulled Pork © Andor

To make the pulled pork, You will need a slow cooker, such as a crock pot, adjustable rice cooker, or sommething of that nature. A three to four pound pork shoulder, or butt. Sprinkle 2+ tbsp of lowry’s seasoned salt, 4 tbsp cajun spice blend and a third of a cup of tightly packed brown suger all over the out sides of the meat. Put an onion or two, peeled and halved into the bottom of You crock pot, along with a third of a cup of dry sherry, 2 long sprigs of thyme and two large cloves of garlic. Then place the pork on top, cover and slow cook for 6 to 8 hours. Once the meat is super tender and falling apart, remove it from the cooker and use a pair of forks to pull, or shred the pork, removing and fatty chunks and bones as You go. Serve it with Your favorite side dishes, or make sandwiches, wraps, or even eat it all by it’s self. There should be plenty of juices in the bottom of the pot, add some to the pulled meat to keep it moist and flavorful, especially if You are refridgerating some of it for later.


Almond Chicken Curry

I’ve seen many recipes similar to this. It’s very close to more Thai styled peanut-based curries, found in many restaraunts here in America. Since I usually make that asian style curry with potatoes and spinach, the aging bak choy in My fridge turned out to be the perfect candidate to accompany this simple almond curry, which is seasoned with more of an Indian style. I ended up making a first attempt on a 4am cooking excursion. Frying up some bacon, to grease the pan and to have something to nibble on as I cooked, I rounded off the meal with a pack of strained ramen noodles. Don’t ask Me why I used two habanero peppers, it was some pretty fiery stuff, but it was quite delicious! I’ll be having future goes at this one for sure.. Prep and cooking took Me 45 minutes, including frying the bacon and greens separately, the curry it’s self should take an average home cook half an hour or so. When paired with veggies and rice, noodles, or bread, this recipe serves about 4 people.

Supplies Needed:

A Wok, or high sided Fry Pan, Blender, or something(magic bullet, mincer, large hammer?) to turn the nuts to sand sized particles or smaller, Knife and Cuttung Board.

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of thinly sliced Chicken Thighs
1 Onion, chopped up as You like
30 Almonds, mashed, minced, or otherwise turned as close to a paste-like texture as possible
3 large Garlic Cloves, minced
Fresh Ginger, a piece about the diameter of a quarter, 2 to 3 inches long, minced
1-2 tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Mild Chili Powder
1 tsp or so, Garam Masala spice blend
1 Bay Leaf
a pinch of Dried Terragon bits
half, to 1 cup of Water
a bit of Cooking Oil

To Cook:

Over medium heat, saute the bay leaf and garlic in a bit of cooking oil. Once the leaf starts to brown, add the ginger and chili powder. Stir for a few seconds and pour in the water. Adjust the burner to medium high, to high heat. Once this begins to boil, add the meat, onion, soy sauce, almond mash and half the masala blend, stirring frequently. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the remaining masala and the terragon. Cook until the liquids have become a nice thick sauce, discard the bay leaf, remove from heat and enjoy.

Notes:

If You cut the chicken into pieces more than a quarter inch thick, You will want to cook the meat half way before starting the above process. Slicing semi-frozen, boneless thighs makes it pretty easy to get nice thin slices.

If You do not have access to some Garam Masala, try adding 4 or so cloves and a 1-2 inch chunk of a cinnamon stick at the same time as the bay leaf. Removing them as the sauce starts to thicken.

If You so desred, You can soak the almonds in warm water for half an hour or more and peel the skin off of them. I just leave it on and toss the nuts into the food processor.. Also, if You are using chunks of almonds, You may want to soak them for a while before cooking, or at least put them in at the same time as the water, to soften them up a little.

A carrot or two adds a lot to this dish! Spinach, greens and broccoli match up quite nicely as well. Turmeric is also a great addition. Try a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest, or some minced lemongrass in place of the ginger. I find that a nice spicy chili, such as Thai Dragon, or Habanero, rounds this out very nicely. When adding such heat though, I admit to adding about a teaspoon of sugar, or 2 teaspoons of honey as well.