Friday, September 27, 2013

Chicken, Quinoa, and Kale Soup

Consider this my offering to the weather gods! If the air cools and I don't feel ridiculous, impractical, and feverish wearing boots and scarves, I will make this again and again.

Should my wish not be granted...oh, heck, I'll just set the A.C. to 68 and slurp up a bowl anyway.

The glory of brewing up a soup or stew exists in the ability to crane your neck over the pot, steam whispering at your earlobes, and inhale your crafted aromas.

I haven't cooked much with kale before, but I look forward to using it more! I hear a rumor it's good for you...

The combination of vegetables, plus a few choice spices (cumin, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, crushed red pepper), a parmesan cheese rind, and a garnishing squeeze of lime juice lent the broth a full, zesty flavor.

But let's move onto pictures and the recipe, so you can whip up your own possibly healthy soup!

Chicken, Quinoa, and Kale Soup (adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)
Serves 4.

1/2 lb. boneless chicken thighs
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced 
1/2 white onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups kale, torn
3 cloves minced garlic
1 zucchini, halved then thinly sliced
7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 bay leaf
2 cups chopped fingerling potatoes
2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
Parmesan cheese rind
1/4 grated parmigiano-reggiano (or parmesan)
One lime (to squeeze juice into each bowl)
Tortilla chips

1. In a large soup pot, heat up olive oil over medium-high. Add celery, carrots, and onions, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until tender (about ten minutes.)
2. Stir in kale and garlic. Season again with salt and pepper and sauté for two more minutes.
3. Now add 6 cups of chicken broth, zucchini, spices, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and add in chicken thighs. Cook for 10 minutes, until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken breasts and set aside.
4. Stir in quinoa, potatoes, and rind. Cover the pot and lower heat to medium. Cook for another ten to twelve minutes, until potatoes and quinoa are tender. Meanwhile, shred cooked chicken by tearing it apart with two forks.
5. Remove rind and bayleaf. Return shredded chicken to the pot. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
6. Take pot off heat and serve, topping each bowl with grated cheese, lime juice, and two tortilla chips.

Monday, September 16, 2013

You Can Have Bagels Any Time

I've been rather neglectful of my blog lately, but I have been cooking! Sometimes I just let a little too much time pass before I sit down to chronicle a new recipe/technique, and then I continue to put it off until it's just a vague memory.

But I have to talk about bagels.

This little culinary adventure was borne not out of a lack of breakfast foods at my house, but a very specific craving for bagels, and the realization that I could just make them myself.

And now you can too!

1. When you go to boil the unbaked bagels, the dough may become disconnected. No worries--it's still malleable enough to reconnect before you pop them in the oven. But for better footing, make sure to twist the dough at the connecting point to give it a stronger link.
2. It is possible to sprinkle the baking sheet with cornmeal before you cook, so the bagels are less likely to become stuck. Simply greasing the sheet should be fine, though.
3. Toppings are fun! I worked with what I had: sesame seeds, fenugreek (an Eastern-European spice that has a somewhat Christmasy aroma, in my opinion), oregano, and a seasoning mix called Big & Bold, with rosemary, onion powder, paprika, and garlic, among other things.
4. Next time I'd love to experiment with different flavors in the dough itself. Cinnamon raisin swirl, blueberry, mmmm.

Homemade Bagels (adapted from Food Network)
Makes 12.

2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Desired toppings (ex. sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried herbs.)

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, proof water, yeast, and 3 tablespoons of sugar for about five minutes, until properly foam. Gradually stir in (using dough hook) four cups of flour.
2. Once mixture has come together, add remaining cup or two (as needed), half a cup at a time, until a stiff dough is formed--use a wooden spoon or hands to bring dough together.
3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, kneading for five minutes. Add flour as needed, until heavy, smooth dough ball is formed.
4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until doubled. (I heated my oven to 200, then turned it off before placing dough inside.
5. Once doubled, remove dough from bowl and punch down. Separate dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then use hands to shape the balls into 4–6 in. logs. Connect the ends of logs to form theoretical bagels. Twist at connecting point to secure.
6. Place bagels on lightly floured surface. Cover loosely with clean towels and let rise for another twenty to thirty minutes.
7. In a large heavy pot, bring 12 cups of water and one tablespoon sugar to a boil. One at a time, use tongs to place bagels into the boiling water--thirty seconds to a minute on each side. Place desired toppings in shallow bowls. Dip one side of bagel into toppings, then place--topping side up--on a large greased baking sheet.
8. Preheat oven to 375. Once all bagels have been boiled and topped, place baking sheet in oven and let cook for 30 minutes, until tops are golden.
9. Cool bagels on a wire rack until room temperature. Slice, slather in cream cheese (or don't), and enjoy!