Friday, January 29, 2010

A very slight modification


Curry Soup

I seem to be making this A LOT lately, partly because my husband loves eating it, even meatless. My plan is to gradually tweak this soup to perfection, as I did with hot & sour soup. My version of hot and sour soup is unlike any restaurant version I've sampled and unlike any recipe I've seen. That soup, I've made my own completely. With lots of experimentation, using my sense of taste and smell, I refined the hot and sour soup to my liking. Well, I haven't made it in a long time, so I don't know whether it would still pass my muster.

Curry is something relatively new to me, experimentally. I've been using curry paste to make this soup, but my goal is to move away from that towards using the (powdered) spice instead. This time, instead of using a sweet onion, I used a red onion. Green peppers weren't on sale, so I used red bell peppers, which were on sale. This is also the first time I used green onions; thought adding the color would be a nice touch.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Scallops and Shrimp served over Lightly Seasoned Pasta

Scallops and Shrimp served over Lightly Seasoned Pasta

This is my own creation. Large sea scallops were on sale at Sunflower Farmer's Market, and I've been dying to try my hand at cooking some, especially after watching Hell's Kitchen. I have heard repeatedly that scallops can easily be overcooked, and I have tasted many of those overcooked scallops.

In a nutshell, this was not one of those super easy dishes (especially in this microwave or eat out era). The culinary snob in me wants to stretch my legs and play. Each main part of this dish - the shrimp, the scallops, the pasta, the sauce were all cooked separately - to avoid overcooking any singular item and to best accentuate the flavors of each.

  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 12 raw shrimp
  • 1 package of 16 oz brown rice spiral pasta (and a bit more of a second package)
  • green onions
  • diced tomatoes (I used canned tomatoes, since fresh ones aren't in season) - I think it was a 15 oz container
  • 2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • chicken broth
  • a few pinches of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Cook the pasta (15 minutes) wit a bit of sea salt. I drained it, rinsed the pasta with cool water, and drained the water again.
  • I used a pan to cook the shrimp. Start with some green onions cut finely with olive oil on medium heat. Once fragrant, dump the shrimp in. Season with sea salt and red pepper flakes while they're cooking. Just cook long enough for them to be done. Pull out the shrimp but leave whatever juice that accumulated from cooking.
  • With the left over juices and green onions, melt the butter in the pan. Then put the scallops into the pan. Mine were frozen, but I had thawed them out on the counter top for a few hours. BE REALLY CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCOOK THE SCALLOPS. I had thought about searing them, but given the amount of juice I was working with, that wasn't going to happen. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes to cook, depending on the size of the scallops and the intensity of heat being used. Should be a bit translucent in the middle. They should be tender and NOT at all rubbery. These are way to easy to overcook.
  • In a third cooking vessel, a pot, I cooked the sauce - my very own creation - diced tomatoes (with the juice), apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and whatever juice remained after cooking the scallops.

Ready to serve! In each bowl, put in the pasta, followed by some shrimp and scallops, finally with sauce on top.

These ingredients probably serve 8-12.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya

Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya

Made Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya today. It is incredibly tasty and delectable. Oh my goodness. Tweaked it a bit here and there from the first few times I made it. Here's the jumping off point.

I added the following ingredients to that recipe:
  • carrots
  • a red bell pepper and an orange bell pepper (instead of a green pepper)
  • red potatoes
  • canned diced tomatoes (instead of fresh tomatoes, since tomatoes are not in season now)
  • milk, water (in addition to chicken broth)
Amendment to directions:

The last time I made this soup, I was unhappy that the shrimp was 2/3 the size it was before cooking (I purchased them raw). To prevent that from happening, like the last time I made this soup, I cooked the chicken breast and the shrimp separately and individually, from the rest of the soup. Unlike the previous times, I set them aside until the soup's ready to serve and dumped them into the soup once I turned the stove off. Results: wunderbar and still juicy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chicken with Fresh Olives Soup

Chicken with Fresh Olives Soup

I got most of my inspiration for this soup from "Chicken and Tomato Soup with Olives and Capers" provided by James Peterson in his book, Splendid Soups: Recipes and master techniques for making the world's best soups.

  • chicken breast (roughly two)
  • peppercorn (ground on the spot)
  • 1 medium sized sweet onion, diced
  • celery (I used a whole bundle of stalks that I purchased at the store), cut into small pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons saffron threads
  • 1.5-2 cups chicken broth
  • 1.5-2 cups water
  • 2 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 teaspoons small non pareil capers
  • 2-3 cups fresh, pitted and chopped olives (I used black and purplish calamata olives)
NOTE: Do NOT substitute canned olives for fresh ones. Fresh olives totally make this soup.

  • In a large pot, dump the celery, tomatoes, chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.
  • In a frying pan, fry the diced onion in olive oil. Once it is done, add the onion exclusively (keeping any of the onion juice and olive oil behind) to the large pot.
  • With olive oil, onion juice, and perhaps a few pieces of diced onion, cook the cut chicken (I cut the chicken in to small pieces). Grind pepper over the chicken breast as it cooks. Set the chicken aside when the chicken's done done.
  • In the large pot, add all the spices (cumin, paprika, saffron). Once the pot's been simmering a little while with the spices in it, add the chicken, olives, and capers. It's ready to serve!
  • I served the soup over a bed of rice, but I'm a rice-aholic.
One final note, my husband likes this soup so much, he asked for it one year for his birthday meal, over eating out or any other meal (and he's a heavy comfort food sort of guy). This isn't a comfort food meal, but it is deliciously tasty.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The gingerbread cookies that they keep enjoying

The gingerbread cookies we made less than a week ago? They are still VERY popular with the girls. They can't get enough of them and find every excuse to ask for more, despite the spicyness.2010-1-15

A new batch of curry soup, served over a bed of rice

Lily's Curry Soup


Monday, January 11, 2010

Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Not so much healthy, but tasty and not too hard to make. In fact, my two children, along with my husband and my help made these yummy cookies. Took the recipe from here: gingerbread cookies. In looking at and responding to the reviews for this recipe, we didn't have a stickiness issue at all, almost the opposite, but I don't know whether that has to do with the fact that we live in the dry mile-high city or what. The girls, who are 3 yrs old and nearly 20 months old, love the cookies, spices and all!

Couldn't prevent the younger one from doing repeated taste tests, while the goods were still raw, to my horror (there was one raw egg in there and I was worried about possible salmonella).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Chicken noodle soup on a semi-cold, not feeling so well New Year's Day

I believe the high was in the lower 30's today. Not too shabby for the Denver area. Since returning from our trip to see family, I've been feeling a bit under the weather. Feeling nauseated, if you must know; appetite and ability to eat down as a result. So, I decided to make chicken noodle soup, to see if that would be edible for me in this state. I ended up overcooking the pasta by a country mile, doing too many things at once, including doing multiple things to take care of my two small children. Anyways, I added some spices to the soup, from the previous time I made it: basil, cumin, and saffron threads.