When we found a package of mixed new potatoes in the market, I couldn't pass up the chance to play with the lively colors for the Potato Fe(a)st Event at DK's Culinary Bazaar.
Although my first instinct with new potatoes is always to roast them, I knew from past experience that roasting, while intensifying the flavor, dulled the vibrant colors.
(Raw and steamed Okinawan purple sweet and Peruvian purple new potatoes)
Steaming would preserve the color and keep them firm, but they would require some strong flavors to punch through that waxy texture. Since T has never been a fan of mayonnaise-based salads, I'm always keen to try any potato salad without mayo. The sharp mix of lemon and feta in this recipe seemed the perfect foil for the bland potatoes, but the original called for kalamata olives, which we didn't have. I've substituted capers for the olives, and so hesitate to call this Moldavian Potato Salad, which is what it was titled in the library book I borrowed. At any rate, I was happy with the rich colors and sassy flavor that comes through in the end.
This salad joins "Purple & Squeak," made with the Okinawan sweets, in going out to DK for her event celebrating the International Year of the Potato.
CONFETTI POTATO SALAD
(heavily adapted from The Potato Cookbook)
For the potatoes:
2.2 lb. (1kg) total of mixed red, Yukon gold, and Peruvian purple potatoes
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2-4 TBL. olive oil
ground black pepper
Wash potatoes well, including a soak in a solution of 1 TBL. white vinegar for every 2 qt./liter clean water. Scrub, rinse and place whole, unpeeled potatoes in large steamer that can hold potatoes in single layer. Cook over medium high steam until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife blade. You might have to remove smaller potatoes earlier so they do not become water-logged.
Combine minced garlic and oil. While potatoes are hot, cube them into 1/2-inch (1.5-2cm) cubes, place in large bowl, and dress with garlic oil. Season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature.
To finish salad:
4 scallions (green onions), white and light green parts only (save the dark green for garnish), sliced thin
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1 sprig of fresh dill (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon
When potatoes have cooled, add scallions, feta, capers, dill and lemon juice, and toss gently to combine. Taste and correct seasoning — it should be lemony and salty-tart from the cheese and capers. Serve at room temperature. Can be chilled if made ahead, but allow to come to room temperature before serving. Garnish with reserved scallion greens, if desired.
Plate alongside your favorite finger sandwiches or quiche for an elegant tea or brunch, or fried chicken for a picnic in the park. Also makes a terrific sandwich filling stuffed in a pita with tomatoes and cucumbers, or rolled in a tortilla wrap with a smear of hummus to bind (I didn't have hummus for the wrap seen here, but was wishing I did).
By keeping the skins on the potatoes, this salad seems to fit the criteria for dad's gout management diet, so it will be included in the Gout Diet Challenge round-up for him.
When I received DK's invitation to participate in her first sponsored event at DK's Culinary Bazaar celebrating the year of the potato, I thought this might be the time to try something that's been lurking in the back of my mind for some time. I've always loved the combination of potatoes and cabbage, whether it's as Haluschka (potatoes, cabbage, onion and caraway) or the delightfully named Bubble & Squeak (mashed potatoes and cooked cabbage). And it's the latter that has been tickling my imagination for as long as we've had access to the gorgeous dark purple Okinawan sweet potatoes here in Hawaii — what if you combined purple potatoes with purple (i.e., red) cabbage and red onions? You would have, of course, Purple & Squeak (you can see in the photo that even the mustard seeds took on a red tinge after they popped, so as to blend with today's color scheme).
Hawaii has a wondrous bounty of sweet potato varieties. At left, basketfuls of taro (upper left), russets, and two varieties of Okinawan sweet potatoes crowd a display at Kekaulike Mall in Chinatown. At right, 3 varieties of sweet potato (US, top left; Okinawan white, bottom right; and Okinawan purple) and 1 yam (bottom left). The Okinawan varieties have a firmer flesh than the US regular sweet potato.
In Britain, Bubble & Squeak is a dish designed to make-over mashed potatoes and cabbage left from the previous day's Sunday roast; in this case we had leftover Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Awamori (but without the evaporated milk called for in that recipe) and I cooked the red cabbage to make this dish. Given the natural sweetness of the Okinawan purple sweet potato, and the added sweetness of cooked cabbage, I wanted to balance those with a little heat and spice in the form of popped mustard seeds, cumin, chaat masala and a chopped jalapeno (seeded). We enjoyed this dish very much, and will make it again. We had it first with grilled fish and couscous, but loved it even more simply wrapped in a warm whole wheat tortilla with cilantro sprigs tucked in the middle.
DK's Potato Fe(a)st is open until Feb. 29th. If you enjoy potatoes, both savory and sweet, as much as I do, check out her site to enter or to see the Round-up soon.
PURPLE & SQUEAK
1 quantity of Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Awamori (2 lbs. of sweet potatoes)
2 TBL. olive oil
1 TBL. brown mustard seeds
1 medium red onion, diced
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 medium red cabbage (about 2 lbs/1kg), sliced lengthwise into 1-inch (2.5cm) wide slices
1 tsp. chaat masala
cilantro for garnish
Heat oil over medium high heat in large saute pan or wok. When hot, add mustard seeds and stir until they begin popping, then immediately add onion. Stir to coat onion, then cover pan and turn heat to low. Allow onions to cook until translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Remove cover and return heat to medium high. Move onions aside, creating a space in the middle of the pan, and add cumin powder to the center, stirring well to cook through for 1 minute. Add peppers, and saute for another 5 minutes. Add cabbage and 1 tsp. sea salt, mix well. Cover and cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in prepared Mashed Sweet Potatoes and mix well to combine. Cover and heat through completely. Sprinkle with chaat masala and garnish with minced cilantro. Serve with any grilled fish or meat. Or eat either rolled in or atop (like a pizza) your favorite homemade or purchased flatbread. You can also shape into patties and pan fry with olive oil — the stickier texture of the sweet potato means no egg is required for binding — for entree-type cutlets.
Skinless potatoes should be eaten less frequently by those with gout conditions, although potatoes with skin are considered good for those on a gout management diet. I wouldn't imagine eating the purple sweet variety with its skin, since it tends to be a bit tough after cooking; although the Okinawan white-flesh sweet variety could be mashed with the skin.
Cabbage is also high on the list of good foods for gout management. I would include this in dad's low-purine regimen by using a larger percentage of the cabbage mixture to sweet potato, and ensuring the other elements of the meal were especially low-purine, such as quinoa and lemon roasted chicken.
One of our favorite stand-bys for the grill is this lovely Persian style yogurt-marinated chicken. A friend shared her Iranian mother-in-law's recipe with us in broad strokes, giving general proportions of each ingredient for the marinade. After 8 years of tossing this marinade together every few months, and borrowing a basting technique from well-known Persian chef Najmieh K. Batmanglij in her book, "A Taste of Persia," I finally had to develop an actual recipe to share with other friends.
The yogurt serves to tenderize as well as flavor the chicken, leaving it moist and juicy even after high grilling. This marinade gets better the longer it has to marry with the chicken, up to 2 days in the coolest part of your refrigerator. Served with lavosh or other flat bread, grilled zucchini and tomatoes, and a yogurt salad, this is an exotic way to break out of the seeming confines of a low-purine diet (see the Gout Diet Challenge) that my dad faces for the next 9 months or so. Basmati rice is another traditional accompaniment.
As is sumac, a coarse dark burgundy colored powder made from the berries of a bush that grows wild in the Middle East and parts of Italy (related to, but not the same as, the poison sumac found in North America). It is an essential flavoring and souring agent in many Middle Eastern cuisines, including Persian. Here it is used as a condiment for the cooked chicken and rice. To be honest, I think I sometimes make this dish because I'm really craving the combination of yogurt, rice and sumac that are essential components of this meal. On Oahu, I finally located a local source for sumac — India Market on South Beretania, near University Ave. (right where King St. becomes a one-way road), has many Middle Eastern pickles and spices, as well as Indian foods, clothing, music and movies.
PERSIAN-STYLE GRILLED CHICKEN
1/4 cup (30g) plain full-fat yogurt
1/2 cup olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup, 60ml)
2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, soaked in 2 TBL. water (optiional)
ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, backbone removed, quartered, and wing tips removed
1 lime, quartered
Combine marinade ingredients in glass bowl or zipper bag. Add chicken, and combine well, massaging marinade under skin and into joints. Cover or zip up, and let marinate at least 8 hours, and up to 3 days.
To prepare to grill, remove chicken from refrigerator about 30 minutes before it is set to go on the grill (i.e., while the grill is pre-heatting or the charcoal coming up to cooking temperature). Make basting sauce.
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tsp.)
3 TBL.. unsalted butter, melted
ground black pepper
Combine ingredients and blend well to dissolve salt.
Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Place chicken on grill, skin-side down first. Turn over and baste liberally. Grill until each piece runs clear when cut near the joint, basting each time the chicken is turned. Remove fully cooked chicken from grill, and immediately squeeze lime juice over.
Serve with lavosh, basmati rice, grilled vegetables, yogurt salad, and liberally sprinkled with sumac.
Note on cutting chicken for serving: In the U.S., we generally cut a half-breast at the joint between breast and wing, leaving a tasty but tiny wing piece and a rather over-sized breast portion. Here's a more equitable cut — cut through the lower third of the breast so some white meat goest with the wing, and further divide the remaining part in two. This will allow more diners to get a share of white meat, if they like, and it encourages portion control as well.
. . . better know what you're eating, yeah?!
One of the trickiest issues I've come across while researching the management of a gout-friendly kitchen is the lack of resources when it comes to the nutritional values of less common Asian vegetables and fruits, and prepared ethnic foods. While some, like konnyaku and kelp (kombu) have made in-roads into the US and other Western markets as health foods, many others remain on the fringe. One resource I've found is not related to gout in particular, but is enlightening nonetheless about the nutrition content of foods common in Hawaii.
The "Hawai'i Foods: Nutrition with Aloha" website, sponsored by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaii, provides a breakdown of the total calories, protein, carbohydrate, fat, cholesterol, and vitamin & mineral content of popular fruits, vegetables, and cooked foods in the Islands. One recipe that was featured earlier here on ThreeTastes, Chicken and Green Papaya Soup (Chicken Tinola), is one of the cooked dishes listed on the site: a 1-cup serving of Chicken Tinola has 97 calories, 7g of protein, 4g of carbohydrates, 1g of fiber, 6g of total fat (only 1g is saturated), 23mg cholesterol, as well as Vitamins A & C, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and phosphorus; and 363mg sodium. Pretty healthy, all things considered, and the sodium content can be controlled by the amount of fish sauce (patis) you add while cooking.
Other dishes include ahi poke, kim chee, spam musubi, macaroni salad (included with almost every plate lunch in the Islands), char siu pork, chicken katsu, guinataan, pinakbet, mochi, laulau, kalua pork, poi, teriyaki beef, and chap chae. If you're familiar with these dishes, it's kind of fun — and sometimes scary — to see the actual nutritional breakdown of these foods. (I have to seriously re-think how much poke we eat . . . too sad)
Also on the site are less common fruits and vegetables, such as apple banana, watercress, taro, string beans, Okinawan sweet potato, tamarind, soursop, mustard cabbage, mountain apple, papaya, marunggay leaves, lychee, jackfruit, guava, wing beans (listed as"goa bean"), bok choy, choi sum, and bittermelon.
Another great asset is the Recipe page which features more modern recipes using local ingredients: Watercress & Pork (saute), Pineapple Chicken, Apple Banana Bread, Daikon & Potato Soup, Chicken Noodle Choi Sum, and Okinawan Sweet Potato Hash, among many others. The nutrition breakdown for each recipe is also provided. Go there, or click "Discover" on the main page. I'd like to sample some of these recipes for this site, so stay tuned.
Also on the site is a tool called "My Diet, or PacTrac (short for Pacific Tracker)" which is supposed to allow the user to gauge the nutrition content of their actual diet. It allows you to enter the foods you've eaten in the last 24 hours and receive back a report on how healthy that one-day diet was. The first problem I encountered was that when I entered "oatmeal" as the first item, I was given a list of 6 dry or instant oatmeal cereals to choose from, but no cooked oatmeals, so I could not proceed. It's a great idea, but it may need a little more work on that score. To see PacTrac for yourself, go there now, or click "Learn" on the "Hawai'i Foods" main page.
Finally, you can access and download (as PDF files) quite a few different UH publications that look at the history and nutrition of local foods, as well as guides on how to choose a more healthy diet among foods available locally (Go there). One guide in particular seemed very practical and helpful: Hawaiian Food Choices for Healthful Living. This 39-page booklet breaks down the US government's recommended foods pyramid (Starch, Calcium/Milk, Fruit, Vegetable, Meat, and Fat), and includes local foods in each food group, including saloon crackers, arare (listed as mochi crunch), coconut, soba noodles, ramen, breadfruit, lotus root, pigeon peas, lychee, poha berries, ume, parrotfish (ulu), milkfish (bangus), skipjack tuna (aku), fish sauce, and Tabasco.
However, my favorite sections begin at page 28 (to page 33) of the booklet: these sections detail how some local favorites make up the total servings from each of the food groups the USDA recommends (2 servings of Calcium/Milk, 3 Vegetables, 4 Fruit, 8 Starch, 5 Meat, 4 Fat). For example, 1 cup of Portuguese Bean Soup (see photo) provides 1/2 of one Vegetable serving, and 2 Meat; 1/2 cup of Halo-Halo (Filipino mixed fruit and ice dessert) has 1/2 Fruit serving, 1 Starch, and 1 fat; and 1 cup of Bibimbap (Korean rice topped with vegetables and beef) has 1 Starch, 1-1/2 Vegetable, 1/2 Meat, 1/2 Fat. But ask yourself, do you really have only 1 cup of Portuguese Bean Soup or Bibimbap? Portion sizes in the Islands are very generous so calculate that in as well. I know my soup bowl probably holds about 2 cups of soup — and don't forget about the cornbread you might have on the side, too!
The CTAHR at the University launched this site last year, and I've enjoyed using these tools and have learned a lot about the foods we eat here in Hawaii. I can't say we've banished anything from our table because of something we've learned on this site — moderation is saner than total denial (especially when there are so many ono foods). But if knowledge is power, then the CTAHR has certainly empowered us to make intelligent choices about what we can enjoy in the Islands.
So "Mahalo nui loa" to all the researchers and staff at CTAHR who made this site possible!
For information on how to choose seafood and fish in Hawaii and around the world that are safe for both you and the environment, read more here.
We're still in the market for gout-friendly recipes that tickle the palate. This is one I actually dug up from my recipe files after dad reminisced about a Chinese-style chicken he remembered that was flavored with star-anise. I copied the original recipe from a newspaper article probably 20 years ago (yes, when I was a mere child in grade school . . .) onto a 4x6 index card. It's quite westernized, but still answers to its original Asian influences. I've adapted the old recipe so it is friendlier to the gout sufferer and can be cooked wholly in a slow-cooker for 6 hours, though the sauce must be finished in a pan. It's a recipe designed to leaves the chef free for a day to pursue other interests. Note how the chicken browned nicely even without the pre-browning step.
Even if you don't have gout, this is an easy and delicious way to add a little something different to your weekday menu. Follow the suggestions for non-restricted diets in parentheses.
FIVE SPICES CHICKEN
2 TBL. tomato paste (or ketchup, as in the original recipe!)
1/4 cup raw honey (better for gout diet), OR 3 TBL. brown sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (or regular if you have no restrictions for gout)
1/4 cup natural apple juice (sake, sherry, or Chinese rice wine if you have no restrictions for gout)
1/4 cup broth or water (if using only whole breasts, I recommend using broth, as the breast pieces don't have enough bones to substantially flavor the sauce) + more to cover the chicken pieces in the pot
Combine ketchup, honey, soy sauce, juice/wine, and 1/4 cup broth/water and stir well to dissolve honey or sugar.
1 onion, sliced
3-6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 4-in. (20cm) slices of fresh ginger
1 stick of cinnamon, halved
3-4 pieces of whole star anise
6-10 whole black peppercorns
1 whole frying chicken, or whole legs or breasts (3-4lbs, 1.5-2kg)
2 heaping TBL. of cornstarch
3 TBL. water
Stir together to dissolve cornstarch.
Lay onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and peppercorns on bottom of slow-cooker. Cut chicken into serving size pieces, and lay on top of spices. Add prepared Sauce, and enough additional broth/water to cover the chicken. Set slow-cooker on LOW setting and leave to enjoy the rest of your morning.
After 6-7 hours, remove chicken to serving dish and cover to keep warm. Strain remaining sauce into a skillet and boil over high heat to reduce to about 1.5 cups. Taste and if the flavor is not too concentrated, further reduce to 1 cup. If flavors are already strong, proceed to thickening.
Taste and correct seasoning. To thicken, reduce heat to medium and add cornstarch mixture, stirring well as you pour in cornstarch. Stir well to combine and cook until sauce is slightly thickened and takes on a shine. Pour over chicken and serve immediately with Mestizo Rice, and steamed or braised vegetables (see GDC Round-up for other gout-friendly recipes)
This recipe is going out to Sunita at Sunita's World . . . life and food for her wonderful "Think Spice . . . think star anise" event this month. I love the distinctive flavor of star anise, it is the signature spice in Five Spices Chicken, and I'm looking forward to Sunita's round-up at the beginning of March to discover new recipes featuring this pretty spice.
I grew up eating curry on a regular basis. In truth, it was “Curry Rice” — a Japanese adaptation of a Western (I’m guessing British) version of Indian-style curries. I don’t think you could get more attenuated from the original source than this. If you’ve never had Japanese curry rice, it’s kind of hard to describe because it bears little resemblance to the august culinary heritage from which it was adopted. There is something distinctly Japanese about it, which I can’t quite put my finger on. You make curry rice by cooking together meat (if using) and vegetables in a broth or water, then adding this block of pre-mixed paste to season and create a thick gravy. But for the first 20-some odd years of my life, when I heard the word “curry,” this is what I saw in my head:
It never occurred to me that curry rice was something one could make from scratch because the secret blend of spices in the commercial mix seemed too perfect and too obtuse to mess with. I’ve looked at websites with Japanese-style curry rice recipes, but none have quite fit the bill. I’m still looking.
On a trip back from college one year, the Guam Hilton sponsored a curry festival in one of their restaurants and brought in an Indian chef from Singapore to create a dozen different types of curries. The most revelatory aspect of this event was that each curry (lamb, fish, chicken, duck, vegetable) had a different sauce! I know that sounds absurd now, but at the time the only difference in curries I had known was mild, medium or hot spiciness in curry rice (you could add different ingredients, but the sauce itself was the same)! I can’t stress how much this first visit (we went back 3-4 more times while the event was going on) opened my eyes to the vast and varied world of Indian cuisine and started a continuing love-affair with all its many forms.
So I could not pass up the chance to share in zorra’s enthusiasm for spice and curries in her Curry Event at 1x umrühren bitte (click here or in the banner), by bringing one of our favorite curries, Vindaloo, out from the recipe pages into a post.
Vindaloo is itself a blend of cultures, the influence of Portuguese settlers on India’s west coast region of Goa. Vindaloo’s Portuguese heritage is betrayed in its inclusion of vinegar and its copious use of garlic in the sauce. This sauce is best with red meats and fowl (such as duck); we make it most often with lamb.
If 1lb. of meat seems like a small amount, that’s because a meat curry is usually only one of several dishes in a typical Indian dinner (the others are usually legume stews (dals), vegetables, pickles and salads). A very healthy way to dine!
(But I still love curry rice! And it's a favored stand-by and comfort food in our home, gracing our table at least once a month. With the block-o-paste seasoning it’s a great weekday shortcut to a delicious hot meal in 30 minutes or less.)
VINDALOO CURRY SAUCE
(serving for 4 persons as part of a full Indian dinner)
1 lb. of boneless meat (pork, lamb, beef duck, or chicken) cut into large cubes
1 piece of tamarind pulp, about the size of a walnut soaked in 2 cups (500ml) warm water for 30 minutes
ghee or unsalted butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
4-10 dried red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp black peppercorns 1½ tsp whole cloves 1 cinnamon stick 1 TBL. brown sugar ¼ cup (175ml) apple cider vinegar
Gently fry onions in a medium saute pan about 5 minutes over low heat. Turn heat up to medium, and add ginger, garlic, cumin seeds and peppers and continue cooking until onions are translucent, about another 5 minutes. Add cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, brown sugar and cinnamon stick. Cook another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, press tamarind mixture through sieve and extract as much liquid as possible. Add tamarind juice to sauce, and cook another 10 minutes. Taste — it should be tart and lightly sweet and hot (peppery). Can be cooled and stored in fridge until needed.
When ready to add meat, remove cinnamon stick and puree sauce in blender or with hand/stick blender.
Season meat with salt and pepper, and brown well in separate pan. Add ½ cup (125 ml) water to deglaze pan used to brown meat. Return meat and curry to pan, and cook 20-35 minutes uncovered, or until meat is tender.
Serve with basmati rice, dal and Indian vegetables. (See recipes for Tarka Dal, Brussel Sprouts or Cabbage with Coconut, Chaat Potatoes, Aloo Gobi)
Today I wanted to make a special dinner for two people who aren't actually here in Hawaii, but who live in our hearts and thoughts everyday. We've begged, pleaded and cajoled them to visit here from cold and snowy (especially right now!!) Maine, but alas, to no avail. I'm sure they find the usual recipes on these pages a bit odd, and maybe even downright strange, and that's okay because they love me anyway. But today I wanted to send them a Valentine's wish for a very special anniversary.
I looked for a Maine version of this recipe, certain that it would be a staple there. But of the 6 Maine cookbooks I consulted, not one had a recipe for Fish Pie. I found that a bit astonishing, to be honest, because this dish has so many things for New Englanders to love: sweet white-meat fish, mashed potatoes, and a light cream sauce. T describes it as a Maine-style fish stew with mashed potatoes on top. For those of you familiar with Shepherd's Pie, or Cumberland Pie, you can think of this as a marine version of that, too.
I’ve had to rely instead on the recipe we used, and on which we were tested on so often, at the Leith’s School. I’ve adapted the methods a bit (sorry, Claire, I haven’t mashed potatoes through a sieve since 2000!), but the recipe is tried and true. One thing I like about this recipe is its method of poaching the fish in seasoned milk. The onion and bay leaf help to cut down any fishy smell, and in turn the poaching adds flavor to the milk, which is then used to make the bechamel sauce that will bathe the fish in creamy goodness. This was made with Wahoo, a popuar local fish also known as Ono (and it IS ono, too), and corn. It’s one of T’s favorites, too, so he gets a second early Valentine’s dinner — he’ll eat some for you both, Mom and Dad!
For Steve and Gladys, this one's for you! Thank you for all your love and support, and for sharing yourselves and one of the most wonderful of guys in the world with me. Happy Anniversary, late but with all our love!
*** This recipe is joining the heart-shaped savory pies we made earlier for zorra’s “Heart for your Valentine” event at 1x umrühren bitte. The event closes on Friday, the 15th, but zorra is updating the round-up as entries come in, so if you want ideas to tickle your Valentine’s fancy, there are already dozens of entries on-line. Check out the round-up here or by clicking the banner in the sidebar. ***
WAHOO (FISH) PIE
(adapted from The Leith's Cookery Bible)
Mis en place:
1. Mashed Potatoes (for topping) (or use your favorite recipe)
1.5 lb (675g) floury potato (e.g., Russett)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup + 2 TBL. (100 ml) milk, room temperature
4 TBL. (55g) butter, room temperature
pinch fresh nutmeg (about 3 passes on a grater)
Peel potatoes, cut in quarters, and place in steamer. Steam over medium-high steam for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Place milk, butter, salt and pepper in large bowl. Transfer hot potatoes to bowl, season with salt and peper, and immediately mash or whip to fulffy consistency. Add nutmeg, if using, and stir to mix through.
(Actually, when I make mashed potatoes for fish pie, I usually just mash the potatoes with a bit of sea salt and ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil because there is so much butter, milk and cream in the sauce, it is too rich for my blood. But for company or a special occasion, I'll splurge on the butter and milk in the potatoes too.)
2. Poach Fish:
1.5-2lb. (675-900g) haddock, cod, wahoo, mahimahi, or other firm white fish, with skin
1-3/4 cup (425ml) whole or low-fat milk (don't recommend using non-fat)
½ onion, sliced
3-4 small bay leaves
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.
In small oven-proof pan with deep sides, lay onion slices, peppercorns and bay leaves in pan. Place fish, skin side up (this is supposed to further protect your fish from drying out) on top of onions. Pour milk over fish, season with salt, and cover with parchment or wax paper. Cook in pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until fish is opaque (cooked through). Cooking time will depend on thickness of fish.
Remove fish from pan, and keep covered to retain heat. Strain milk to remove solids, but KEEP MILK to make Bechamel Sauce.
3. Make Bechamel Sauce:
2 TBL. (30g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (30g) flour
Reserved Milk from Poached Fish
2 TBL. heavy cream (or double cream)
Melt butter in saucepan, and immediately add flour. Stirring constantly, cook together for one minute. Add 2 TBL. of Reserved Milk, and whisk until milk is completely absorbed. Add 2 more TBL. of Reserved Milk, and stir to incorporate. Continue to add increasing amounts of milk to slurry in pan, and whisk well. Bring sauce slowly to a boil over medium heat, then add cream and remove from heat. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Assemble and Bake:
5 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled; OR 1 cup ( g) peas, green beans or veggie of your choice
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, minced (about 2 TBL.)
Place 6-cup oven-proof casserole on baking sheet. Flake fish in large chunks into casserole. Add eggs, if using, or vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley. Pour hot sauce over all. (Can be cooled and refrigerated overnight up to this point, to top with potatoes and bake later. Lay wax or parchment paper directly on surface of sauce to prevent "skin" from forming.)
Spread a layer of mashed potates over fish and, using a fork, make a traditional criss-cross pattern over the top (photo on left). Alternatively, pipe mashed potatoes in attractive pattern over fish (heart-shaped pan).
Drizzle with olive oil, and and place casserole on baking sheet into middle shelf in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until filling is hot throughout. Test filling with metal needle or skewer to make certain it is hot. If potatoes start to brown before filling is properly heated, cover lightly with foil/aluminium.
If you're baking a pie that was begun 24 hours earlier and refriegerated: Cover with foil/aluminium and bake for 30 minutes. Test filling as outlined above. Remove foil and continue baking another 10 minutes or until potatoes lightly brown.
Serve with salad, and a dry (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris) or mildly sweet (Riesling or White Zinfandel) white wine.
(This recipe also complies with the GDC, so it shouldn't trouble my dad's gout. More gout-friendly recipes)
While looking for interesting ways to cope with dad's diet limitations (our Gout Diet Challenge, GDC) as he works to reduce the visible uric crystal deposits (called tophi) on his hands and knees, the flavors of the Mediterranean still resound most strongly. We took a cruise through the Greek Islands many years ago with my parents, stopping in ports only long enough for T and I to make a mad dash through any groceries and bakeries we could find while my parents and aunt took the ship-sponsored tours or hung out in harbor-side cafes. The cruise only emphasized how fruitless it was for us to take a big-ship cruise through these wondrous islands, since you spend no quality time on any island.
It was long enough, however, to introduce us to new flavors. One that has remained a staple in our house since that cruise is Fassoulakia me Domates, Green Beans with Tomatoes. We found a small cafe at the harbor in Hydra and ordered some food to take back with us to the ship, and once on board, skipped the formal ship dinner to feast on our local finds. To be honest, I don't remember much about the other foods we ordered, there were stuffed vegetables, fish, lamb, etc., but the lovely stewed beans in tangy tomato sauce was something I had to duplicate when we returned home.
At that time, I had one Greek cookbook, "Greek Cooking for the Gods," by Eva Zane. It had come highly recommended by a friend who regularly cooked from it for her Greek boyfriend, and it was my stand-by for moussaka, spanakopita, and the Easter bread that I loved. The recipe for Fassoulakia me Domates in this book looked promising, but it did not include currants, which had been in the beans we tried from Hydra. I included currants in our first try, and it was a pretty close match. Since then, I've also used raisins, sultanas, even diced apricots, and loved the results; and even omitting dried fruit altogether is delicious.
To adapt this recipe for the GDC, I used dried tart cherries (black tart cherries are recommended for gout management) instead of currants. And I added cooked chicken (chicken is better than turkey for gout-sufferers) meatballs to make it a one-dish meal. Without meat, it is an easy side dish for roasted or grilled meats, or a very filling vegetarian entree served with couscous or to stuff a baked potato. Or as a flatbread pizza topping (that's for bee and Jai)!
(See the new GDC Round-up for more gout-friendly recipes)
CHICKEN WITH GREEN BEANS & CHERRIES IN TOMATO SAUCE
(Inspired by the gorgeous island of Hydra and heavily adapted from "Greek Cooking for the Gods")
1 lb. (450g) ground chicken
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic
1 large egg
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients and shape into golf-ball sized rounds. Saute in pan lined with 1/2-inch oil until browned on all sides, or place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake in tabletop oven for 20 minutes. Add hot to sauce, or cool completely and freeze to make ahead (add to sauce frozen after beans have simmered for 20 minutes, then cook for another 40 minutes).
**To use fresh chicken, use 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh meat cut into 1-inch cubes. Combine paprika, cumin, peppers and salt (omit oregano) listed in Meatball recipe above, and coat diced chicken in dry mixture. Set aside 30 minutes, then add to Tomato Sauce below after beans have simmered for 20 minutes, then continue cooking for the remaining 40 minutes in the original recipe.
4 TBL. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried cherries (or currants, raisins, sultanas)
1 TBL. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried dill (optional)
6 ripe tomatoes, or 1 28oz. (780g) canned tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine, or chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley (flat-leaf), about 1 cup chopped
1 bay leaf
1 lb. green beans
In large saute pan set over low heat, sweat onions in olive oil until transparent (take your time, this will take 8-10 minutes at least). Add garlic and dried cherries, and cook until both are just softened. Add oregano, thyme and dill (if using), and mix through onion mixture and leave to cook about 2 minutes, or until herbs become fragrant.
Turn heat up to medium high and immediately add tomatoes, wine/broth, parsley and bay leaf. (If you omit the dried fruit completely, add 1/2 tsp. brown sugar to sauce.) Partially cover, and leave to simmer 20 minutes while you prepare beans.
Wash and tip green beans to remove stringy spine. Leave whole or cut into 2-inch lengths, it's up to your own aesthetics and who you are cooking for. Add to tomato sauce, cover completely and let simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes. Add cooked meatballs, cover and simmer another 30 minutes.
Serve with couscous, quinoa or amaranth (the latter two are very beneficial for the management of gout), fresh pita or other flatbread, or Mestizo Rice. In the photo, it is plated with cinnamon couscous.
While my dad is still here recuperating comfortably from his cataract surgery, I'm challenged with cooking with the limitations of his chronic gout condition, which includes bans on red meats, turkey, cured meats, black tea, preserved meats, shellfish, yeast breads, cauliflower, coffee, chocolate, refined sugars, refined salts, certain legumes, small fatty fish (anchovies, sardines, herring), carbonated drinks, white vinegar, fish sauce, and fried foods; as well as limiting amounts of asparagus, and mushrooms. (Thankfully the pre-op restriction on garlic is no longer in place.) Dad was a bit depressed on learning about all these dietary restrictions because he's an inveterate improviser in the kitchen and he loves all kinds of foods. (Guess who inherited these traits?) I want to show him that these limits don't condemn him to a life of bland meals. On the contrary, it's often helpful to look to other cultures and cuisine to discover delicious new ways to incorporate the foods that support his management of gout. (See a complete list of foods to avoid and foods to help eliminate uric acid at GoutCure.com)
Just a brief word about gout (the condensed version of what I've learned in the last week). Gout is a form of arthritis distinguished by extremely high levels of uric acid in the blood that may cause sudden painful attacks in the joints. Uric acid is the metabloic by-product of purines, a naturally occurring substance in our body tissue and in some foods we eat. Normally uric acid is safely secreted out of the body by the kidneys, but if one's metabolism is impaired (by medications, age, or disease) or if one consumes a consistently high purine diet with little exercise and insufficient water intake, gout can take hold. Unfortunately, dad's condition has been poorly managed and has resulted in the formation of tophi, or deposits of uric acid crystals in the joints, which are particularly painful. Since he has been found to be allergic to the more aggressive pharmaceuticals to treat gout, proper diet management is his best resort now.
So what foods assist in the management of this condition? Well, one of the best foods is Watercress — always a favorite around here anyway (see Flash-cooked Watercress post) — and another is Amaranth. We sometimes see fresh amaranth at our favorite greengrocer, and we were in luck this week. At right is red amaranth, both raw and flash-cooked for the recipe below. Along with some watercress, and low-sodium cheeses (dairy also aids gout management) , the amaranth went in to a "pie" that is a variation one of our favorite stand-bys, Spanakopita. But I've recently learned that there is also a wild greens and cheese pie called Hortopita, which this will more closely resemble. With all due apologies to the real Greek chefs out there, this version will use a regular pie crust instead of filo, and cottage cheese instead of ricotta so it is something that can be duplicated when dad returns to Guam.
Because this pie is for the two most important men in my life, I decided to make it my early Valentines for them as well. This will be my entry to zorra's "Heart for your Valentine" event at 1x umrühren bitte. If you're looking for sweet or savory Valentine's Day treats, check out zorra's event for some wonderful ideas from all over the world (the round-up is updated as new entries come in, so check back often until the 16th).
I (heart) you, Dad and T!!!
GREENS AND CHEESE PIE
(Inspired by Tastes LIke Home cookbook)
2 pie crusts or pate brisees (use your favorite recipe or commercial brand)
1 small tub (12oz, 340g) low-fat cottage cheese
Set a strainer over a bowl and drain cheese for at least 8 hours, or overnight, in refrigerator.
1 lb. fresh amaranth, cleaned
1 lb. fresh watercress, cleaned and trimmed
(or use 2 lb. of your favorite greens: kale, endive, dandelions, nettles, wild garlic (Baerlauch), mustard greens, etc.)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBL. olive oil
Cut greens into 2-in. (3cm) lengths. Heat wok over medium-high heat, swirl oil around edges and add garlic. Cook until just fragrant, do not brown. Remove garlic and add greens to pan. Season with salt, and continue to saute over medium heat. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until vegetables are bright green and just tender. Add garlic back and remove from heat. When cool enough to handle, squeeze gently to remove excess water. Set aside. This can be done up to 2 days in advance.
PRE-HEAT OVEN to 400F (200C).
4-8 oz. of feta cheese
2 large eggs
2 tsp. dillweed
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. chervil (optional)
1 cup fresh minced parsley
1 bunch green onions, chopped (about 1 cup, 150g)
sea salt and ground black pepper
Combine drained cottage and feta cheeses, eggs, herbs and green onions. Add drained, cooked greens, and sea salt and ground black pepper to taste (it will depend on the saltiness of the cheeses you use).
Roll out one pie crust and mound filling onto crust to within 1-inch (5cm) of the edge of the crust. Place second crust over filling and crimp bottom crust over the top. Brush with olive oil.
(For Heart-shaped pies, divide each pie crust into fourths (you will have 8 quarter-circles). Fold each quarter-circle down its center, and using scissors, cut out a heart shape. Repeat with other quarter-circles. Fill with about 1 cup filling for each heart, leaving about 1/2-inch edge. Cover with top heart crust, bring bottom crust over, and crimp. Brush with olive oil.)
Bake on middle shelf of pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350F/180C. Bake another 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. (Heart-shaped pies, bake another 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.) Cool before slicing. Makes a wonderful meat-less meal with a crusty bread and crisp white wine, or a vegetable accompaniment to a simple roast chicken or fish.
The Japanese white radish, Daikon, is used in traditional meals in raw, cooked and pickled forms. Shredded raw daikon is a common garnish and side dish with sashimi — its peppery bite complementing the mild cool flavor of the raw fish. When we had poke for the Superbowl game last Sunday (go there), I shredded a large mound of daikon as garnish for the platter, but that still left us with 3/4 of the root. I will cook with daikon if a particular dish requires it, such as Oden or Okinawan Kombu, but to be honest it's not my favorite cooked vegetable. So instead of cooking with it, I decided to pickle the remaining daikon two ways.
Daikon is a large (1-5 lb) root vegetable that can come in many shapes and varieties. I had only ever seen the long, white variety (seen here) until we came to Hawaii. Since then we've also seen short, thicker, bulbous looking variety labelled in the supermarkets as "Korean radish" and another stocky root tinged dark green at the top that is also labelled as daikon. When choosing one at the market, the radish should feel heavy for its size -- a sign of freshness, since daikon begins drying out and losing its water weight the longer it sits after harvesting. I also look for small roots — one, because larger roots can sometimes be woody and unpalatable; and two, because I don't usually cook a lot of daikon at one time.
To prepare, simply wash well with a vegetable scrubber and clean water, and peel. To shred, you can use the large holes of a regular grater. But I discovered this great tool while I was watching one of the workers at our favorite Thai restaurant make long beautiful strips of perfectly julienned papaya for a green papaya salad. I walked over to ask her if I could take a look at the tool she was using, and she told me I could find it at any Filipino (I did not find any at Pacific Supermarket, or any other Filipino grocery I know) or Thai grocery. After a few weeks search, I did find it at a Thai market in Chinatown (go there). With the same easy motion you use to peel a potato or carrot, you can make long julienne strips from any suitable vegetable: carrots, daikon, potatoes (make shoe-string fries), green papaya, sweet potatoes, etc. It takes up much less storage space than a mandoline, Benriner or other type of box grater, and cleans up faster and easier too. So here we used the julienne-peeler to make a garnish for our poke platter.
With the remaining daikon, the smaller tapered end was also shredded and pickled with carrots, sugar and vinegar in the Vietnamese style. This pickle can accompany most Vietnamese stye meals, like the BBQ pork with rice noodles (go there for recipe). It's also a great sandwich pickle, as in Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches — but even a regular tuna, ham-and-cheese, or deli turkey sandwich will benefit from this vinegary condiment.
Finally, the larger end was thinly sliced and combined with carrots, wakame (wa-KAH-may) seaweed, sugar, salt, rice vinegar, lemon and dashi-no-moto to make a Japanese pickle called Namasu (NAH-mah-s'). Like its Southeast Asian cousin above, namasu is a quick fresh pickle, and can accompany any Japanese rice meal.
1 lb. (450g) daikon, scrubbed, peeled
1 small carrot (100-120g), scrubbed and peeled
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 TBL. dried wakame seaweed, placed in a bowl and covered with 4 cups cool water for 20-30 minutes (not longer)
Slice daikon lengthwise, then into thin half-moon slices. Place in colander and sprinkle with sugar, then mix well and leave 30-40 minutes to drain. Sugar will pull water from the radish and leave it pliable but crunchy. Do not rinse.
Using your peeler, slice thin ribbons of carrot from the root. Cut the ribbons into fourths across their width. Place in colander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20-40 minutes to drain. Do not rinse.
Place wakame in small bowl and cover with 3 cups cool water for 20-30 minutes. Rinse in 2-3 changes of water. Squeeze dry.
Combine daikon, carrot, and wakame in medium bowl.
1/2 packet dashi-no-moto (dried bonito broth)
1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar (or 1/4 cup white vinegar + 1/2 tsp. sugar)
1 TBL. mirin
1 TBL. fresh lemon juice
Combine dressing ingredients in small bowl in the order listed above. Whisk or stir well to dissolve sugar and dashi-no-moto. Taste and correct seasoning — it should taste lemony and ever-so-slightly sweet.
Pour over vegetables and leave in refrigerator at least 30 minutes. Keeps in refrigerator up to 5 days.
Tomorrow officially begins the new lunar year, 4706 — The Year of the Rat. Here on Oahu the festivities began early in January, and culminated publicly over the weekend with three days of partying in Honolulu's Chinatown. We caught the tail-end of the parade and the beginning of the street party on Saturday. We must have have missed the firecrackers, or perhaps there was a rain delay because it was quite wet in town all weekend. Despite the weather, hundreds of brave folks lined Hotel Street to watch the parade and stroll along the fest tents on Nu'uanu Street to sample fresh-cooked meat skewers, noodles, jai (also called monk's food, a vegetarian rice meal filled with good luck symbolism), fried rice, plate lunches, dim sum, and the hot fried-food-of-the-night — "jin doi," crispy, hollow sesame-covered rice balls with a smear of sweet bean paste inside (far right photo below). Dad was looking for a remembered treat from Manila that he called "tikoy" — turned out to be Gau (photo above), the super sticky brown-sugar and rice-flour "cake" that is available all over Chinatown and much of Oahu this time of year. For such simple ingredients, it's quite an addictive treat.
We only caught the last 2 entries in the parade, including this gaily decorated, if slightly water-logged, lion and his stalwart handlers.
After the parade, the lions go their separate ways to visit shops and other businesses in the area. People vie to "feed" the lions since doing so will bring good luck for the coming year. Many folks try to entice their youngsters to bring their "food" to the lions, but with their energetic dancing, and flashing bright eyes, the lions could be a bit intimidating for the little ones, too. First-timers are often carried by their parents. After receiving their monetary meal, the lions often bow in front of the donor and sometimes wag their tails!
Dad made his offerings to one of the lions — one for Nikko, one for Kenji, and one Masato. I couldn't catch them both still, one was always in motion (Dad moves fast for a senior citizen!).
More about Honolulu's Chinatown:
Part I: Come see what you've been missing
Part II: Best buys
In the last week, both T and my dad — visiting Oahu and now scheduled for out-patient surgery tomorrow — have had dietary restrictions imposed for health reasons. For T these include limiting ginger, dairy products, soy products (including miso and tofu), cruciferous vegetables (all our favorites: cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower), pine nuts, hot peppers, peanuts, and millet. For dad, no red meats (beef, pork, lamb, etc.), foods containing yeast (breads, alcohol), red kidney beans, shellfish, fatty fish (herring, sardines), grapefruit, fish sauce or anything containing anchovies, fried foods, and garlic; and limiting amounts of asparagus, mushrooms.
I began with what we CAN we use: chicken, firm and white-flesh fish (no skin), whole grain flat breads and quick breads, whole grain pastas and rice, onions, peas, green beans, potatoes, carrots, hard and summer squashes, almost all fruits, seaweeds, tree nuts, sweet peppers, artichokes, eggplant, tomatoes, corn, soft lettuces, celery, and spinach.
The beef and kidney beans restriction pretty much put the kabosh on dad making his famous chili for the Superbowl football game last Sunday. Instead, we opted to go the local route and make an Hawaiian poke (POH-kay) platter, served with fresh (carrot sticks, cucumber, daikon radish, and cherry tomatoes), steamed (sugar snap peas) and pickled (kimchee and seaweed salad) vegetables. Poke, a combination of raw fish or cooked octopus, sea salt and other seasonings, is available ready-made in just about every supermarket on Oahu, and makes a great quick meal with a salad and rice. Gotta have rice. Having grown up, and now living again, in a rice-focused culture, I’ve found it hard to completely switch to plain brown rice. The chewy texture is pleasant in small doses, and with certain types of foods, but for more traditional meals (as with sashimi or poke), the softness and stickiness of white rice is essential even if only in part. I’ve seen a brown-and-white rice blend in some supermarkets, but I’m leery of the additional processing the brown rice is put through which would allow it to cook with the same amount of water as the white variety requires.
Instead, I’ve devised a method that allows us to cook the rices together in a rice cooker, and produce a nutritional yet fluffy (very important criterion) brown-and-white rice. I call the blend “mestizo rice” (mestizo is a Filipino term meaning, “of mixed ancestry”). All you need is a good long soak.
150g (3/4 cup) regular brown rice
150g (1/2 cup) white medium grain rice
Rinse brown rice well, and drain. Cover rice with water to 1-inch (4cm) over the top of the rice. Allow to soak for at least 8 hours. (Do this in the morning before you go to work.)
When ready to cook, rinse white rice well, and drain. Repeat, until rinse water runs clear.
Drain brown rice. Combine white and brown rices together, and add to rice cooker. Add 1-1/4 cup (320ml) water. Turn on rice cooker and allow to cook/steam. After rice cooker turns itself off, allow rice to finish steaming and do not open lid for at least 15 minutes, but no longer than 30.
Open lid, and with a clean towel, wipe condensation from sides and lid of rice cooker. With a rice paddle or spatula, gently turn rice over, bringing the rice on the bottom to the top in a folding motion (as you would fold in egg whites to a cake batter). Rice is ready to serve.
Leftover mestizo rice makes a great fried rice, especially with pineapple and spices. Read more about making Fried Rice.
Happy National Homemade Soup Day! Truth to tell, I didn't know such a day existed until my sis-in-law, Tra, sent us an e-card to commemorate this happy day! (Thanks for the head's-up, Tra!) We can't let an occasion like this pass, especially when there is a soup-in-waiting in the fridge as we speak.
We've touched on the healing properties of soup, especially chicken soup, earlier, and how centuries of folk wisdom is now backed by clinical study (see Chicken Tinola post). Chicken soup is the first thing I think to make for anyone in crisis, whether it's illness, death in the family, or other emotional stress. When someone has no appetite, simply sipping some chicken soup broth can be reviving and sustaining.
Even when travelling last month, I had a chance to make chicken and vegetable soup with another sister-in-law, Angie, in Seattle on my way back to Hawaii. With the rain and damp that typifies the great Northwest of the US, and after 5 days of travelling and eating unwell, it was a luxurious comfort to sit down to a bowl of homemade soup. Angie started the soup off in the crockpot with a whole chicken, a couple of fingers of ginger, and a couple of carrots. After a night of bubbling and simmering, the chicken and vegetables were removed and the broth decanted to a shallow container to cool; then refrigerated at least 4 hours to allow the rich fat layer to congeal for easy removal. Since we used a whole chicken this time (as opposed to just chicken backs, as in the Chicken Tinola recipe), we kept the de-boned breast and thigh meat to return to the soup pot (store separate from broth).
An hour prior to dinner, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, corn, celery, green beans, kale and fun pasta shapes (we used "Shrek" pasta from a box of macaroni-and-cheese) were added to a boiling broth, along with the diced meat. With some Tafelbrotchen (water rolls) and Brezeln from the authentic Deutscher Baeckerei, Hess' Bakery, in nearby Lakewood, everyone enjoyed the hearty soup, even restaurant-critic-in-training, 5-year-old, Masato.
When my dad arrived on Oahu a couple of days after my return, we had chicken and veggie soup again to stave off any airline-borne "cooties." This time, zucchini, watercress, carrots, potatoes, corn, and whole wheat penne complemented the broth (from stewing hens) and chicken meat. Generous slabs of skillet-baked cornbread rounded out the meal. Chicken vegetable soup is as versatile as it is nutritious — you can use just about any vegetable or combination of vegetables to create a soup you will love.
Enjoy your soup today!
THE WAY TO COOK: CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE SOUP
2 stewing/soup hens (about 3 lbs/1.5 kg, total weight)
OR 5-6 lbs (2.5-3kg) assorted fresh chicken bones from your butcher
OR 1 whole chicken fryer (3-3.5 lb/1.5-2kg)
1 hand of ginger, scrubbed well and sliced lengthwise (peeling is optional)
1 lb. carrots, scrubbed well and trimmed at the top and bottom (peeling is optional)
1 medium onion, scrubbed well and dark brown layers removed, halved lengthwise
The critical factor in broth-making is, of course, the bones for flavor, the skin for flavor and unctuousness, and the joints/tendons for body. You can make soup with fresh chicken carcasses alone, but not with just meat alone. Place chicken/bones, ginger, carrots and onion in 6-7quart slow-cooker, and cover with water. Set on HIGH for at least 3 hours or until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove any "scum" that rises to the surface. Turn slow-cooker setting to LOW, and leave for at least 8 hours. Turn off slow-cooker and carefully remove the chicken and all solids to a colander placed in a large soup pot. or wide cake pan. When cool, debone chicken and keep meat in separate container in fridge. Strain broth through a sieve into the same pot or pan into which the broth solids earlier drained. When broth reaches room temperature, place in a tightly covered container to store in fridge overnight.
Remove most (85%) of fat layer from the chilled broth, then return to soup pot or Dutch oven. Add diced chicken meat, 2 cups water and bring to rolling boil for at least 10 minutes before adding other ingredients.
To Finish Soup:
Add 3-4 lbs (1.5-2kg) of diced vegetables and/or shredded leaf greens as you like or according to what is in season. I try to get as many colors of the rainbow as possible into the pot, each
providing important nutrients and vitamins:
1. First choice is always to use fresh vegetables, of course. Eating what is in season and local, and preferably organic, will keep your body in tune with your environment. The good news is that many frozen vegetables, including peas, corn, squashes and leafy greens are just as nutritious frozen as they are fresh, and in many cases — especially with the corn and peas — taste better flash-frozen than trucked "fresh" miles away from where they were born. So don't be shy about using frozen vegetables to supplement scarce fresh veggies out of season, but do try to get some fresh vegetables in as well.
2. Add root and other longer-cooking vegetables early on. Save leafy greens and vegetables that turn to mush (e.g., potatoes, cooked beans like red kidney or black beans, and hard squashes like kabocha) for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
3. Choose from:
Root vegetables: carrots, parsnips, turnips/rutabaga, potatoes, etc.
Green vegetables: green beans, peas, edamame, chayote, broccoli, etc.
Gold veggies/Squashes: kabocha, butternut, upo/loofah, wintermelon, corn, etc.
Cooked Beans: kidney, lima, black, navy, etc.
Leaf vegetables: spinach, kale, watercress, mustard greens, etc.
Mushrooms: button, crimini, oyster, shiitake, chanterelles, etc.
4. Add 2 cups of fully cooked small pasta shapes (optional).
5. Add seasoning to taste: sea salt, ground black pepper, and up to 1-1/2 tsp. of chervil, or herb of your choice: fresh oregano, marjoram, savory (especially nice if soup includes beans), thyme, basil.
Simmer on medium-low until vegetables are tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on what vegetables you add. Taste again to correct seasoning. Serve hot, with bread
- and salad.
Soup with sweet potatoes (pre-cooked leftover), watercress, peas, zucchini, carrots, beans, corn and whole wheat penne (leftover).