Well we had a nice few days of weather in the 50’s and 60’s (the snow all melted as well) and now we are at a point where its going back down into the 20’s and it seems like it will be quite cold for a while. It seems appropriate to go with some soup.
This first soup is a nice homemade chicken soup. The stock started off with a few quarts of water, lots of chicken bones with meat (used around 6 lbs.) and brought that duo to a nice simmer. Added in various vegetables later on in the process (carrots, celery, onion, garlic) and let it go for another 2 hours after that. With about an hour left I put in a satchet of various spices. Throughout the process I used a skimmer to remove the fat layer on top which in the end makes a nice clear stock. Overall, this amounted to about 5 quarts total, which has been used for this soup, another soup (later on in the post), other various dishes, and some is frozen for future usage. The nice thing is versus stocks/broths that you buy, for all the flavor in this there is no added salt- all the flavors of the chicken, vegetables, and aromatic spices.
To continue the soup, I started off with the stock, added some water and heated up. I tossed in some onion and garlic early on, had sauteed the chicken separately, cut into small pieces and tossed in. Around this time I added the vegetables (all cut and tossed in raw except the potatoes which I roasted first) and let the mix go for about 2 hours. With about an hour left I threw in pasta I cooked and drained separately and in the end a nice chicken noodle soup.
If you have eaten at The Olive Garden and have tried their Zupppa Toscana soup, this is reminiscent of that with some tweaks for personal tastes/preference. Starting off with stock and water, I diced up and tossed in both red and white potatoes. I let it simmer until they got soft and proceeded to mash them but only to the point where they were more or less small pieces not like a creamy mashed. I separately cooked sausage in a pan with some garlic and pepper and tossed into the stock pot. I proceeded to saute chanterelles, spinach leaves and collard greens in some olive oil and spices and tossed them into the mix. I then proceeded to boil some wild rice and tossed into the mix. With about an hour or so left, I added in some aromatic spices, shredded in some parmesan and skimmed the top before serving to make a nice clear broth.
With the storm in full force (think we are at the part of lots of sleet/rain falling) and everything shutdown (including work) it allows me some time to share a nice dinner.
The cod on it’s own was a simple enough task as it just needed some oil in a pan and was cooked on both sides for a few minutes. The part that took time was making the flavor pairings for the fish.
The spinach foam is a combination of sauteed spinach along with some cream which gets thickened and then gets filtered through a fine strainer. I then utilize my culinary whipper with a gas cartridge to charge which creates a “foam.”
The other accompanying sauce is a blood orange gastrique which is a combination of fresh squeezed blood orange, sugar, sherry wine vinegar, and stock. This then gets reduced to a thickened state.
For the fries, I cut strips out of the sweet potatoes (about an inch thick) and a few inches long. You can do it with or without but I left the skin on the fries. I then tossed them in olive oil which I added some seasoning too and baked them in the oven.
Well since I am set to move in a few weeks, I am at the point of trying to empty out the refrigerator and freezer to the bare minimum so new ideas and recipes are somewhat based on what meats/fishes I may already have versus just going to the store and grabbing some stuff. This lunch is inspired by both my experiences as well as reading about various bistros and my own wackiness to create a little piece of that at home.
Yes I know, I am missing the typical carafe of water that many bistros leave on the table. Will have to change that one soon 🙂 I went with an in between not too fancy, not too drab set-up and since I already had the chalkboard for kid’s photo-shoots it provided the proper touch as numerous European bistros utilize them as menu tablets in part due to the fact of an often changing menu based upon local food/produce available at the time.
And now, on to the part you all want to hear about…the food.
The main entree was a Ribeye steak which I had rubbed with salt, pepper and coated with very small diced up pieces of squash (a nice fall take). I then put the oven on broil at 250 and put in to my liking (I don’t know about you but I am a medium-rare kind of guy). Towards the end, I then put on some pieces of shaved Grana Padano to further enhance the flavors of the crust.
On to the side dishes. In the bowl I had created a simple blend of fresh spinach leaves sauteed in butter with some pine nuts and fresh squeezed lemon. For the second side dish, I created a mashed yam concept done with the addition of pumpkin seed oil and a honey based glaze on top.
For tonight’s dinner I decided to go with flounder with a little bit of a twist to the plain-old fried batter. The batter I made up consisted of almonds I ground up in the mortel and pestle as well as dicing and grinding in some red Fresno Chili pepper for a little added heat. The flounder got a thin layer of flour followed by an egg wash and then battered and fried in some grape-seed oil.
For the sauce, I went fruity. I used a combination of red plum, a nice hearty Spanish Tempranillo wine, some rice vinegar and some coriander seeds and brought to a simmer in a saucepan and let cook until it thickened almost like a glaze.
The first side dish I used some spinach, some oyster mushrooms, butter, and garlic and sauteed in a pan. Simple yet full of flavor.
For the orzo, once it had finished boiling i drained out the water. I then added a little truffle-infused oil, some fresh basil (from my plant), some rosemary, and some sweet paprika and put on low heat for an extra minute or two.