Thursday, February 9, 2012

Avgolemono Soup

I know it's not Monday, but man o man a good pot of soup is needed over here in the food crawl kitchen.
My husband is still recovering from his knee replacement surgery and today, my son, The Producer had 4 wisdom teeth pulled. Do you know how funny it is to get a text at 7 am wondering if there was any pastina in the house? Ahhh, Pastina, the ultimate "this will make you feel better soup" ,  sorry, but,  I'm not making that! lol
I haven't made Avgolemono Soup in awhile. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Avgolemono is a  delicious Greek Soup made like a chicken soup with lemon and eggs added to the broth. All you need is one spoonful of this soup and it warms your soul, and brings a smile to your heart.
Whenever we eat out in a Greek restaurant we always order a bowl of Avgolemono. It's always a good gage for us because if the soup is good and homemade we know that the rest of the meal is going to be really good!
This soup is a little tricky to make. If you don't do it right the broth will curdle. I think the secret is adding the hot liquid to the eggs very slowly while the blender is going, and once that is well blended adding that slowly back to the big pot.

The recipe that was given to me calls for 5 large eggs. I have scaled that back to 3 eggs.

1 whole chicken
1 small onion, peeled
2 carrots, whole
1 bay leaf
1 celery stalk, whole
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
1/2 cup of long grain rice or orzo pasta
5 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon flour

Make the chicken stock by cooking the whole chicken in the water with the onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook until the chicken is tender.
Remove the chicken from the pot
let cool and debone, shred or cut into pieces
Discard onion and bay leaf.
Place carrots and celery in a blender with a little broth.  Blend until smooth. Add back into the stock
Reserve one cup of broth for the next step!
Bring broth to a boil and add rice or orzo, cover the pan and simmer over low heat until your pasta or rice is tender.
Add chicken pieces back to the stock
Beat the eggs in a blender until frothy.
Pour in the lemon juice and flour and blend thoroughly.
With the blender running, slowly add 1 cup of the hot broth into the egg mixture. Gradually return the egg mixture to the stock, stirring constantly and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
Do not allow the soup to come to a boil or the soup will curdle.

Serve this soup with some fresh sliced lemon and some crusty bread.
You're going to enjoy serving this. Your family and guests are going to enjoy eating this. After their first spoon full they might even think you're Greek!

Buon Appetito
Καλή όρεξη
Να τρώτε καλά


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blueberry Buckle for the Big Blue

Giants Win! Let them eat CAKE!

Blueberry Buckle Cake

For Cake
2 cups sifted flour
1 stick unsalted butter at rooom temperature
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
5 cups of blueberries

for Strussel
1/2 cup flour
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time. Beat on medium speed until all is mixed well. Add the flour alternating with the sour cream, finishing with the flour and then add your salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Give your blueberries a light dusting of flour, and then gently fold them into your cake batter.

Prepare a 10 inch spring form pan using butter to coat the bottom and the sides and then sprinkle some flour on the buttered pan. shake off the excess flour.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Prepare your strussel and top the cake with the strussel mixture. Add some berries to the top of the cake and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 60 - 70 minutes.
Stick a toothpick in the center of the cake, and when it comes out clean, take cake out of the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 -15 minutes. Remove from pan and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some freshly whipped cream!

Buon Appetito

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Schweinshaxe, deutschen Stil (Pork Shanks, oh yeah!)

I believe the title of this post translates to something like Pork Shank, German Style. I know nothing about German food, except for the food that we eat at an Octoberfest once a year.  So if any of you are reading this and say, "What is she thinking, this is not German"! I have to say, I'm sorry. If you have a recipe that you would like me to try please forward it.    :)
It's just sometimes you get a hankering for something and you have to have it. That urge stays with you until you have it, and no amount of anything else you eat, will take away that craving until you satisfy the craving with the food that you are craving!
So here I am with a craving for something that I know absolutely nothing about,  Pork Shanks at Octoberfest. Do I really remember the flavors enough to try to make it for my family? While I may be a little perplexed for just a moment, it will all come together and, I have to tell you that I love when this happens.
 It means that I am about to embark on a culinary adventure. The first few stops are usually shopping for ingredients, perhaps a visit to a farm stand for some local and fresh produce, followed by a visit to the butcher for a different cut of meat.
Today's cut of meat is a pork shank.
I'm thinking apples, apple cider, beer and red cabbage are going to make this dish delicious!
I have to start with a trinity of something. I am using leeks, carrots and celery. I picked up some beautiful leeks at the farm stand and used them in place of an onion.
P.S. Do you like my new knives? My kids bought them for me for Christmas!
Here's my dish and how I made it.
Season the pork shanks with salt, pepper and rosemary and sage.
I started by browning the pork shanks in a little olive oil and butter. I probably used a tablespoon of each.
When the shanks get a nice color on them I removed them from the pan and added the trinity of leeks, carrots and celery and let them cook until they wilted a little.
Measure out 2 cups of apple cider and deglaze the pan with a little splash of apple cider.
Add the rest of the apple cider, along with 1 cup of cider vinegar, and 1 cup of ale.
Taste it and see if you need to add any more seasoning. I added a little more salt and vinegar.
Add the shanks back to the braising liquid.
Cover the pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for at least 2 hours.
When done the meat should be tender and come off with a fork.
While the pork was finishing in the oven I made sauteed red cabbage with apples. It was very easy to make and we all loved the taste.
I sliced one head of red cabbage and cooked it in a saute pan with a little olive oil and when it started to wilt I added 1 cup of cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of mustard and 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds. I sliced one crisp apple and mixed  it in with the wilted red cabbage.
I served the pork shanks right on top!

Buon Appetito
Guten Appetit