Tag Archives: entrees

Vegan Sweet Potato Bisque

12 Nov

The  cooler weather is settling in on the eastern seaboard. The leaves are turning vivid colors of yellow, orange and red and the nights are getting crisp. My brain is still fried from our super-hot summer, but I am finally open to the change of seasons. After all, it is mid-fall and it is the perfect season for my silky-smooth vegan Sweet Potato Bisque.

Bisque you say, Culinary Chick? I thought that bisque was traditionally made from seafood!

You are correct!  Traditionally a bisque is made from seafood, utilizing the trimmings  from shellfish.  The French didn’t waste anything, and came up with a technique which extracted every ounce of flavor by  sauteing the trimmings and mirepoix , simmering them in stock, adding various flavorings,  passing them through a fine sieve and finally adding a bit of cream to add a rich and silky finish to the soup. I utilized the same techniques here to achieve the desired texture: I wanted the soup to glide over the tongue and not be encumbered by bits of vegetables. It’s a bit of work, but well worth the effort!

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

4 tbl. olive oil

2 cups peeled and diced onion or leeks*

1 ½ cups peeled and diced Fuji, Gala, Jazz , Golden delicious or Honey Crisp apples

1 Tbl. fresh grated ginger

2-2½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced ( about 3 or 4 medium to large )

2- 2 ½ cups carrot juice ( available in produce isle; I used Bolthouse Farms)

3 ½ cups vegetable broth ( make your own or use Swanson Vegetarian Vegetable Broth)

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. curry powder

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed stockpot over meduim heat,  heat up the olive oil. Add the onions and apples and saute, stirring occasionally until onions are transparent and apples begin to soften, about seven to eight minutes. Do not brown; if starting to brown, turn down heat and add a bit of the broth.  Add ginger and saute until fragrant; about two minutes. Place the peeled and diced sweet potatoes in the pot and add the broth and  carrot juice. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low. Add cinnamon,  nutmeg, curry powder, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes uncovered or until potatoes are soft. Turn heat off and let stand for 20 minutes.

In small batches, process the vegetables and broth in either a blender or food processor until smooth. Place pureed soup through a fine-mesh strainer and force through with a ladle or spoon until all the liquid is extracted. Discard the pulp** and repeat until all the soup is strained. Return to pot and add almond milk and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm with crusty bread and salad as a lunch or a light dinner. Serves 6 to 8.

* If using leeks, cut off the green stalks and root end, saving the white part. Split the leek in half lengthwise,  dice and float the leeks in cold water. Allow the leeks to soak for 20 minutes, occasionally agitating to water to loosen the grit . Remove the leeks from the water with a slotted spoon and discard the water. Run the leeks  in cold water in a colander  for a minute and drain. Proceed with the recipe.

**I saved the pulp and gave it to my doggie in her meal. She loved it.

All Purpose BBQ Spice Rub

22 May

Well I worked on it, and worked, and worked, and then…Eureka! I finally came up with the proportions for my all-purpose BBQ spice rub. I have used it on ribs, turkey wings ( yes, people: a recipe will follow for this) and chicken breasts and thighs with a great deal of success. You can double or triple this recipe for large batches of ribs for a cookout or tailgating ( I wish someone would invite me to a tailgate party!).

You will need:

bowl for mixing spice

Ziploc bag, airtight container or shaker for storage

Ingredients

2 Tbl. brown sugar

1 Tbl. white sugar

1 Tbl. onion powder

1 Tbl. garlic powder

1 Tbl. smoked paprika

1 Tbl. seasoned salt

1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. Jamaican allspice

Mix together and store in a dark place until ready to use.

Tandoori-style marinade

20 May

Okay hipsters; I’ve worked on a marinade that will give you great results on the  Foreman-style grill, outdoor grill or oven  . I got the idea from my boss who wanted a recipe for tandoori chicken. I reminded her that although I love all things east Indian; I had no clue about how to make the famed dish. What I did know was this: Tandoori marinade involved yogurt, ginger and garlic and some spices. So I did some R&D over the last two weeks and came up with a recipe that was flavorful and easy.  It is a hybrid of a traditional tandoori marinade in that I added some ingredients that weren’t in any of the recipes I saw.

So, what is tandoori you may ask? Tandoori, like chowder is synonymous with  the cooking implement that its cooked in. Chowders and tandoori are named for the vessel they were traditionally cooked in. Traditional tandoori is cooked in a clay oven, or tandoor. Over time, the cooking implement and the dish became one. This is great for chicken, lamb, pork and beef.

Enough for 2 lbs. of meat

6 ounces of plain yogurt (fat-free is okay)

1 ½ Tbl. chopped fresh garlic

2 Tbl. grated fresh ginger

1 Tbl. fresh lime juice

2 Tbl. chopped cilantro

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. coarse grind pepper

2 Tbl.  mild red curry paste

1 Tbl. tandoori seasoning ( see note)

1 Tbl. seeded and chopped jalapeno (optional)

2 drops red food coloring (optional)

Chop and measure all ingredients before assembling. In a glass or other non-reactive bowl, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate before use.

For chicken (legs) and turkey: Remove skin from chicken and cut slashes on both sides. Rub marinade into meat, making sure the marinade enters the slashes. Marinate for at least four hours, no more than 12 hours. 

For lamb. pork and beef: Trim off excess fat around meat, leaving  1/4 inch of fat on the meat. cut deep slashes into meat and rub marinade in. Marinate for at least six hours, no more than 12 hours.

For  skinless chicken breasts: Follow directions for chicken legs and marinate no more than 3 or 4 hours maximum.

If using a Foreman-style grill: Preheat grill and place meat on grill, making sure not to crowd grill and cook according to the recommendations for your grill make and model.

Outdoor grill (gas ): Prepare grill to cook over indirect heat. Spray grill grates not over heat with cooking spray. Preheat grill with top closed. Drizzle meat with a bit of olive oil and cook  meat over indirect heat, turning only once or twice  until you’ve achieved desired doneness.

Charcoal grill: Prepare grill for indirect cooking method. When coals ash over, place grill grate over coals, spray grate surface not over heat with cooking spray. Cover grill until hot, then place meat on sprayed grill surface. and grill, turning once or twice until you’ve achieved desired doneness.

Oven: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place chicken on cookie sheet and drizzle  lightly with olive oil. Cook in oven for 30 minutes, then check for doneness. Cook longer if necessary.

Note: You can purchase Tandoori seasoning  in your grocer’s spice section or online.

In Search of Fresh Fish

30 Apr

Lately, I have had a strong craving for fresh fish. You know the type of craving I mean; the type of deep, down need for a particular taste or smell that not even a facsimile thereof can satisfy. In other words, canned tuna and salmon ain’t cutting it any more. I wanted something grilled or pan-seared that came from something that looked like it lived in water at some point. My problem is simple: I am so picky when it comes to fish that I just stopped buying it.

So, why did I stop buying fish?  Everywhere I went to go buy salmon, tuna, trout or flounder I would see these words: Previously Frozen.

Sigh.

My experience has shown me that some fish fare better frozen than others. Domestic IQF catfish is an example of how well fish can be frozen if handled and stored responsibly. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen fresh shrimp in the seafood case. Even tuna does well if frozen on the boat.  I have an issue with thawing fish to sell as fresh with the words “previously frozen” in small lettering on the advertisement.  Why is the availability of fresh fish so scarce these days?

So, my quest for fresh fish drove me to Whole Foods. Admittedly; it was my first time in the uber-organic haven, so I was a bit mystified and exited to see so many organic offerings in one setting.  Side note: There was two kids begging their mom for rice cakes. Yeah, times have changed.  It was a huge culture shock for me, but I digress.

I arrived at the fresh fish counter and it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I knew I was going to void my wallet of anything resembling money.  I bought trout fillets, two pieces of bright red tuna loin steaks, a pound of certified Atlantic Salmon and turbot. I was just giddy with excitement at all of the possibilities. I was going to have a fish orgy. Mmmmm!

When I arrived home and unpacked my goodies, I became aware that the certified Atlantic salmon and the turbot was previously frozen. There it was, as plain as day on the label. I was bamboozled and hornswoggled! I fell for the okey-doke. I was so enamored with the sights and smells of  a gourmand’s paradise that I completely forgot to scrutinize the labels before I bought my fish. I scolded myself and cooked a piece of the salmon. It was really good, and not rubbery like all of the frozen salmon I’d bought countless times before my self-imposed fish embargo.  When I tried the turbot however, I was disappointed because it was mushy after I cooked it. The turbot proved to be the perfect example of how fish can be corrupted by freezing: typically, the flesh of turbot is way too delicate to be frozen. The tuna and the trout were both great and I learned a lesson:

Trust, but verify.

Thanks to antiagingtreatments.blogspot.com for the grilled fish photo

Rigatoni with Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic

22 Feb

Last week, I ventured out and went to the store for the first time in weeks and bought some chard with the intention of posting it for the blog. Then this great lady beat me to the punch.  If you haven’t stopped by the blog Dianne’s Dishes, you should.  She puts up recipes for everything from soup to nuts five days a week, and does a great job of doing so.  I ribbed her about it, then I tried her recipe with one half of the chard ( which was quite dee-lish), and sat on the other half and pondered what I would do with the other half. This is what I came up with.

For those who aren’t familiar with chard, it is a leafy vegetable that comes in several varieties. When eaten young, ti can be used raw in salads.  Mature chard can be sauteed, roasted or used in sauces or soups. When cooked, its texture is a bit heartier than spinach, and is slightly more assertive in flavor.

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic (serves two to four)

1 bunch of fresh chard ( 1 to  1½ lbs)

2 tbl. olive oil

½ c. chopped onions

1 tbl. chopped garlic

1 ½ c. chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

8 oz. dried rigatoni or other similar pasta

2 tbl. Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

red pepper flakes (optional)

Prepare chard by cutting off the last inch or inch and a half off the ends of the stems.

Chop chard into bite-sized pieces and float in a tub of water to wash off any sand and grit.

Drain chard in colander until ready to saute.

Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender and fragrant, being careful not to brown. Add tomatoes and saute for three minutes, then add chard to pan. Toss chard with the tomato mixture and add stock.

Cook chard until wilted and leaves are tender, about seven or eight minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss rigatoni into chard mixture and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Thia makes a  quick and elegant light supper, and healthy to boot!

Potato and Bacon Soup

11 Feb

When it’s like this outside:

You should have this on the inside:

It has been snowing here now for two days; and five days before that, it snowed for two days. We have on the ground here in Baltimore a grand total of 65 inches, give or take a few inches.   So with that said, let’s make some soup.

Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup

3 slices bacon

2 tbl. olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

2 tbl. chopped fresh garlic

3 tbl. all-purpose flour

6 cups chicken stock or broth

4 medium russet potatoes peeled and diced ( 4 cups)

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 cup heavy cream ( optional)

2 tbl. chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat, heat up olive oil and add bacon to pan. In a seperate pot, warm up the chicken stock to simmer.  saute bacon in olive oil and allow bacon to get crispy.

Remove bacon from pan and add onions, celery and garlic and saute until soft, being careful not to brown.

Add flour to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly until flour mixture is tan ( blond) in color. Do not brown.

Add stock , potatoes,bay leaf, thyme to pot and simmer. Skim off any foam that appears on the surface.

While soup is simmering, chop the bacon. When the soup has finished  simmering and potatoes are tender ( 30-45 minutes), take a potato masher and mash the potatoes in soup pot to thicken soup and provide a rustic texture.

Remove thyme sprig and bay leaf,  add bacon, chopped parsley and cream. Stir into soup and serve immediately with a slice of crusty bread.

Enjoy!

Risotto 101

3 Feb

Hey Kids!

Ye olde Culinary Chick is having guests over this weekend, barring any shenanigans from the weather this weekend.

On the menu are braised lamb shanks with dried cherry and rosemary demi-glace,  saffron risotto and roasted broccoli.   One of my guests, a childhood friend, loves potatoes and I serve them every time she comes over. However, this time I wanted to make something a bit different and dust off some of the skills I acquired over the years. One of them was how to make risotto. And believe it or not, you can too. If you follow my directions, you will have a great side dish to dazzle your friends with.

Risotto is an Italian dish made with arborio rice, a short grain rice prized for its al dente  texture and creaminess when cooked.  The version we will cook is Risotto ala Milanese. C’mon, its easy!

You will need the following equipment:

heavy-bottomed pan ( cast iron or aluminum [plain or anodized])

a wooden spoon

a ladle

1 – 2 qt. saucepan

Risotto Milanese (serves one as a main dish or two as a side dish)

2 tbl.  olive oil

1/2 c. arborio rice

1/3 c. diced onions

2 c. chicken stock or broth

pinch of saffron*

2 tb. parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1-2 tbl. butter

1 tbl. chopped fresh parsley

In a 1 – 2 quart saucepan, bring chicken stock and saffron to a simmer. Keep warm.  Heat olive oil over medium heat in heavy-bottomed pan and add onions and saute until clear and soft ( do not brown)

Add rice and saute, making sure all rice grains are coated and center of rice is visible.

Add one ladle of  hot stock to the pan with the rice and onions and stir with wooden spoon until all of the liquid is absorbed.

After all of the liquid is absorbed from the first ladle of stock, add another ladle of stock and stir again with the wooden spoon until absorbed. Repeat these steps until you have used all of the stock and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

By this time your rice will have doubled in size and you should see a  small amount of thickened stock in bottom of pan.

Add butter and stir until incorporated. Add parmesan cheese and pepper. If needed add a scant amount of salt ( taste first).

Add parsley and serve with a side salad as a main dish or as a side dish with seafood or meat.

A note: Saffron can be found in specialty stores and can be pricey. If you do not have saffron, you can still enjoy this dish without it. The addition of some fresh chopped herbs  or seasonings that will compliment your main dish will suffice such as  lemon zest, chopped chives, tarragon or roasted garlic puree  as an example will add flavor and color to your risotto. And, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can make this using vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock and omitting the butter and cheese.

Yum.