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by Heather Harris Brady
We have a new Asian market in town and I went a bit crazy, so in order to use up all the ingredients you’ll be seeing quite a few Asian-theme posts leading up to Chinese New Year next week! This soup is sunshine in a bowl, and if you like Thai curries you’ll like this one. You can adjust the amount of heat to your liking by changing the amount of chili paste. Either way there’s lots of layers of flavors with lemon, lime, coconut milk and chicken.
This recipe is a compilation of several I found online. The only special-special ingredient is the fresh tumeric, which I found at my local mega-grocery. And if I can find it here in the wilds of the northern Michigan woods I bet you have it somewhere nearby too! It’s a strange looking ingredient:
When you peel it you see the bright orange inside, which makes the bright yellow.
Tumeric is rumored to be very good for you, but if you have a sensitivity to it then of course you’ll want to leave it out.
Burmese Chicken Soup, Makes about six generous servings
- One pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 t. ground tumeric
- 2 T. garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. onion, chopped
- 2 t. garlic, minced
- 1 t. chili paste, or to taste
- One can of coconut milk
- 2-1/2 c. chicken stock
- One stalk lemongrass, chopped
- One fresh tumeric root, grated
- 2 t. fresh ground gingerroot
- 2 T. fish sauce
- 2 T. cornstarch or chickpea flour
- One package of udon noodles
- Deep-fried onion
- Boiled egg
- Fresh cilantro
- Wedges of fresh lime
- Chili paste
- Strips of roasted red pepper
The day before you want to make the soup marinate the chicken. Combine the first three ingredients in a plastic bag, knead them together well and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the chicken from the marinade and lay it in a greased baking dish. Bake the chicken at 325 for about 35 minutes, or until firm and no longer pink in the center. Chop the cooked chicken and set aside.
To make the soup, add two teaspoons of peanut oil (if you have it, if not use any lightly flavored oil) in a large saucepan. Saute the onion, chili paste, ginger and garlic until fragrant.
Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, tumeric and the chopped chicken. Simmer 10 minutes.
Add the chicken stock. Stir the cornstarch into the fish sauce and whisk it into the soup.
I used ready-to-eat udon noodles, like so. Add them to the pan and taste the soup.
I decided to pump up the chicken flavor a little bit so I stirred in a tablespoon of this chicken stock base.
Simmer for another five minutes and serve.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
by Heather Harris Brady
These are desperate times people. The snow has reached depths on my person that should obligate it to buy me dinner. The term “polar vortex” is now bandied about in everyday conversation in place of “partly sunny” or even, “partly cloudy”. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and desperate measures call for one thing – cassoulet.
I fell in love with cassoulet in a little restaurant in Saugatuck and all the versions I’ve had since (my own or others) pale in comparison – but I finally came oh-so-close with this one. It is the best savory thing I’ve cooked all year. It’s rich, complex and it will warm you from the inside out. It takes an effort, I’m not going to sugarcoat that part, but if you make the journey at the end you’ll be able to lean back and say “yes – this, this is one of the things that make life worth living” – polar vortex be damned.
I’ve named it after Leelanau because I’ve adapted the traditional ingredients and methods to suit my readily available sources. There are quite a few steps but you can do most of them while you’re doing other things, and a lot of the time is just simmering. If you have time it’s easier and more economical to buy a whole duck.
Cassoulet, Leelanau Style Makes 8-10 servings
1 lb. dried cannellini or flageolet beans
4 c. chicken or duck broth
Three carrots, diced
One medium onion, chopped
2 t. minced garlic
One head garlic
2 T. tomato paste
½ c. red wine
1 T. herbs de provence
Two smoked garlic kielbasa or fresh French garlic sausage, diced
Three diced pork loin chops
½ lb. salt pork or smoked bacon (I used both. . .)
Two duck legs/thighs
2 c. bread crumbs
Remove the legs and thighs from the duck, season heavily with salt and pepper. Cover them and put them in the refrigerator. You can roast the rest of the duck for your dinner. Reserve all the fat and make duck broth from the remaining carcass. Soak the dried beans in water overnight.
These are flageolet beans I bought from my friend Karen at Suttons Bay Trading.
Put the duck legs/thighs in a loaf pan and preheat the oven to 300. Melt the duck fat and pour it over the duck legs/thighs, adding olive oil if necessary so they are completely submerged. Put the head of garlic on top and drizzle it with olive oil. Bake for two hours. Spoon 2 T. of the duck fat into a frying pan and then slide the pan into the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
Brown the kielbasa and the pork cubes in the pan with the duck fat. Set it aside.
Dice the salt pork. In a large stockpot or other saucepot, fry the salt pork until it is crisp. Without washing the pan, brown the onions. Add the minced garlic, then the carrots.
Stir in the tomato paste, wine and then the stock. Drain the soaked beans and add them to the pot. Add the entire head of roasted garlic. Simmer for one hour or until the beans are just tender.
Add the herbs and the browned kielbasa/diced pork chops. Simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or up to two days.
Full disclosure – I quick-cooled mine (i.e., I put it outside in the snowbank with the cover on) and only let it rest for three hours, it was still good.
Remove the head of roasted garlic from the pan and extract the cloves. Smash them with a spoon and stir the paste into the ragout. Preheat the oven to 400. Remove the meat from the duck legs/thighs. Lightly grease a large baking dish. If you have a lovely large Le Creuset now is the time to use it. I sadly do not so I just used a 10″ baking pan.
Spoon half of the cassoulet into the baking dish. Put the duck meat on top and cover with the remaining cassoulet.
Bake for an hour, turning the heat down to 300 after the first 30 minutes. Stir any crust that has formed on the top down into the dish. Repeat.
Cover the top with the bread crumbs and bake until the crumbs are golden brown.
Serve. Refrigerate any leftovers. This would be a great apres-ski meal, or but I wouldn’t blame you for just hoarding the leftovers for yourself.
One year ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Bread Pudding
by Heather Harris-Brady
This is a perfect soup for summer, spicy and bursting with vegetables. You could easily adapt it for vegetarians, but smoked ham is traditional.
You’ll notice I don’t have a step-by-step for you today because I literally threw this together all at once. It’s quick, easy and delicious.
Quick Cuban Black Bean Soup, Serves 8
Two 15-oz cans of black beans
One 16-oz jar of salsa
Two cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 t. cumin
3 c. assorted roasted vegetables, chopped (I used butternut squash, sweet potatoes and sweet corn)
1 c. smoked ham, diced
2 avocados, peeled, sliced and tossed with the juice of two limes
Rinse the black beans.
Combine everything but the avocados in a large saucepan and heat to boiling. Divide into bowls and top with the avocado.
I am rather ashamed to even give a “recipe” for this because it’s one of the flat-out easiest things you can make. BUT, you can throw it together in five minutes, everyone always likes it and the leftovers are great for lunch. I always keep the salsa and beans on hand and even if I am driving home thinking I have nothing for dinner – voila. Even if your perfect roast chicken has been attacked by sandwich-making wolverines like mine, you probably still have enough left for this recipe. Roti chicken from the grocery store works great too.
White Chicken Chili Recipe
1 large jar (12 oz.) salsa, I use medium
1 large jar (48 oz.) precooked white beans (I use Randall‘s, they are a Michigan product and fantastic – plus there’s a coupon on the website.)
2 c. chopped cooked chicken (if you want)
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Pour the beans and salsa into a large pot and heat through. Stir in the chicken, simmer for five minutes, then stir in the cheese.
Serve when the cheese is melted and stirred throughout.
This is a great anytime chili, with or without a side of cornbread. I hope you will take this recipe and make it your own. You can add other types of meats – or leave it out, add sage or other things to spice things up.
Next post: My farmhouse cornbread!
One of the things that stinks when you’re an adult is that chances are if you’re the family cook there’s no one waiting to comfort you with a hot meal when you come home after a hard day. So we all need to have a little supply of easy and comforting foods for these lean times, bonus points if they are amenable to a glass of wine (or two). For me, bean soup is one of these things. It is comfort in a bowl, and it will also give you a few days of delicious lunches – thereby making your life easier to boot.
Last year I tried some heirloom beans from the local farm market and they changed my life. Yes, it was that dramatic. I have always liked all kinds of bean soup, but with heirloom beans it became positively ambrosial. So far my favorites are the Steuben Yellow Eyes, pictured here.
If you do not have easy access to heirloom beans they are available online from several sources, including Rancho Gordo. But whenever you’re anything by the pound it’s expensive to ship, so if you’re in the midwest the best prices I’ve found are at Barry Farm (unpaid endorsements). With little more than water, onion and carrot these beans will give you a wonderful soup.
Heirloom Bean Soup Recipe (Four servings)
1 c. heirloom beans, rinsed and picked over
3 c. water
1 t. baking soda
3 c. water (can also be a mixture of water and chicken stock)
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
Spices to taste: Cracked pepper, salt, Old Bay Seasoning, a bay leaf, red pepper
1 c. smoked ham, diced (optional)
Add the beans to a large cooking pot and cover with the first 3 c. water. Heat to boiling, add the baking soda. It will fizz up like crazy and then settle down. My grandma always did this, she said it makes them easier to digest. I don’t know if it works, but I follow her directions faithfully anyway.
Let cook for 15 minutes. The beans will start to get wrinkly and float to the top.
Drain the beans and rinse. At this point you could put them in your slow cooker if that works better for you. Recover with the second 3 c. water. If I have some on hand, I like to use a mixture of water and chicken stock. Add the onion, carrot and bay leaf. If you have a ham bone, add it too.
Cook for two-three hours (7 hours in a slow cooker on low) until the beans are soft and tender. Add the spices and the ham, simmer for another 10 minutes. Ladle it into bowls and serve. I like to top each serving with some grated hard cheese.