Sardine and White Bean Stew over Couscous

I’m back. Well, I’ve been back since Thursday night.

I’m currently craving cheap espresso, fresh seafood, all things ham, and vermouth. I could absolutely go back to Portugal or Spain. I loved them both.

The recaps are in progress, I promise. In the meantime, I’ve been catching up on a lot of sleep and easing back into normal routines, whatever those are supposed to be. Between busy season at work and the vacation, I’m not sure I know anymore. Coming home to a three-day weekend was pretty awesome. I grilled because it’s Memorial weekend, and I’ve been dying to cook. The latest issue of Bon Appétit came in awhile I was gone, and it has a whole section about food and drink in Barcelona. Perfect timing. I was excited to see my favorite little bar of the whole trip was mentioned in it.

Since I’m clearly on a seafood kick, let’s eat some sardine and white bean stew. I’m always amazed by couscous whenever I actually decide to buy some. I eat it so infrequently, and you hardly ever see it in restaurants, that I forget how quickly it cooks. I don’t think I’ve ever screwed up a batch either. Is it possible to over/undercook it? I don’t think I have ever done it, not that I’ve tried.

Well, it’s a good base for pouring this sardine stew over the top of it. It’s not a heavy stew, and is totally brightened up by the fennel and white beans. The sardines are broken down within, so you only get hints of salty flesh here and there. It’s not overbearing in the slightest.

Inspiration: A Thought for Food

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 small fennel bulb, think sliced
  • 15oz can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 14oz can white beans, drained
  • 4oz sardines packed in oil, drained
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped parsley
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Cook the bread crumbs for a few minutes until it’s golden brown and smelling toasty. Set aside.

Add another two tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet, and lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic, carrots, fennel, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Add the tomatoes, beans, and sardines with a pinch or two of a red pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to breakdown the sardines into the vegetable mixture. It will thicken as it cooks. Taste for additional salt.

While the vegetables cook, bring a pot with the cup of water, oil, and salt to a boil. Add the couscous, turn off the heat, and cover. Allow it to cook for three minutes, absorbing the water. Fluff with a fork when it’s done.

Layer the stew over the couscous and top with the parsley and breadcrumbs before serving.

Spring Potato Salad with Horseradish Aioli

I leave tomorrow.

It wasn’t until I printed my boarding pass that I started to get excited. Portugal and Spain. Three weeks. Ahhh! I’ve been planning and catching up on life since the end of tax season. It hasn’t been a bummer. The weather is turning towards summer just in time for me to leave. It’s [partially] why I wanted to go in May. Summer in Portland is just so nice. It’s hard to leave. Some cities on the very loose agenda — Lisbon, Porto, Seville, Madrid, Barcelona. Everything else is a bonus. I expect day trips, lots of food and wine, football, and more food and wine. No grapes are safe!

I finally checked a culinary ‘to do’ off my list — aioli. I love it. I have a secret love affair with it. It’s a more mature version of my unhealthy love of jarred mayo as a kid. Once I had a taste of aioli, I would never go back. I was am also super intimidated by it. I mean, c’mon. You have to whisk everything super slowly or it breaks and you have to start over [or I hear you can "fix" it, but yeah that's not happening]. This springy potato salad called for it, and since the rest of the dish is pretty foolproof, I figured I could give it a whirl.

Six egg yolks, 2+ cups of oil, and Andrew’s help later, we had a cup or so of aioli for the salad. I was so pumped. Almost travel pumped. In my excitement, I poured all of it into the salad, not thinking. Thankfully the salad held up to it, but you should probably start with half to 3/4 of the batch before deciding you want to eat all the aioli. Damn it was good, too. This is one of those things that tastes better just because you made it. Blood, sweat, tears, and all that. Few foods do that for me. I always think your version tastes better than mine [critical, much]? This, though. This was perfection. I could have easily spooned it straight into my mouth.

Inspiration: A Thought for Food

Ingredients

  • 2lbs small potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 20 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise
  • 1 handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish [or more if you're into that]

Preparation

In a pot large enough for all the potatoes, cover them with cool water until they’re just covered. Heavily salt the water and bring it to a boil. Boil them until they’re about fork tender [15 minutes] and drain.

To make the aioli, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, and salt. Then, drop by drop [seriously, I'm not exaggerating], start whisking in the oil. You want it to be fully dispersed amongst the yolk before adding more. Eventually it’ll get thick and velvety. If it starts looking like egg yolk and oil, you’ve added too much oil too quickly. This video should help. Once all the oil is whisked in, stir in the horseradish.

Toss the vegetables together with the dill. Pour in half of the aioli and stir well to cover all of the vegetables. Add more aioli as you see fit. Season with salt and paper before serving.

Asparagus and Quinoa Salad with Crumbled Feta

Things that I’ve been eating that I haven’t made myself:

>Smoked salmon fish tacos from Salmon Fusion, a food cart downtown. The salmon itself was awesome, as was the spicy sauce on top, but the tortilla, cabbage slaw, and saffron rice left a little to be desired.

>Chef Rick’s Favorite Burger at Bistro Marquee, before going to a lecture by Hillary Clinton. The burger had pork belly, pimento cheese and fried onion straws. SO GOOD.

>Pad Khee Mao at My BoonKrong Thai, a food cart downtown. A different set of veggies than I’m used to in mao, some tender slices of chicken, and spice that wasn’t a joke. I love when my spice tolerance is taken seriously.

Otherwise it’s lots of Kure Juice Bar and catered food at the office. Sunday was another purposeful trip to the store to make dinner. I crave the grocery store. Is that weird? It’s been nice, and light out, so grilling is a given. I’m really liking making a nice salad with some grilled meats. This was a super comforting salad. Feta melts into that quinoa turning it creamy, but not too rich. It felt very Mediterranean with the currants, olive oil, balsamic and lemon zest. I served it along side some rosemary garlic lamb shoulders. Tender lamb is the best.

Inspiration: William Sonoma

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups + 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dried currants
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into half moons
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed and chopped into pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 4oz feta, crumbled

Preparation

Bring 2 cups of chicken broth and the quinoa to a boil in a saucepan. Add the currants and reduce the heat to a simmer before covering. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Leave the lid on, but remove from heat.

In a large pan, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with a heavy sprinkling of salt and pepper. When the onions start to brown, about 5-6 minutes, add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Cook for another 2-3 minutes before adding the asparagus. Pour in the rest of the chicken broth so it cooks the asparagus until its tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the quinoa, half of the feta, parsley, and lemon zest. Remove from the heat, and taste for seasoning. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and top with feta before serving.

Arugula and White Bean Salad with Avocado Dressing

I’ve been trying to focus most of my desk-sitting hours to during the weekdays so I can have some semblance of normalcy a weekend. Sundays have almost been free during crazy-season [two weeks left!], so I take advantage of resting up or catching up on the things I’ve been neglecting during the week like laundry or the dog.

Last Sunday I went to the gym for the first time in two months. I was waking up an extra 45 minutes early to workout at home, but it’s just not the same. Andrew’s soccer season started up again, so that’s been happening on Sundays. I also went to the refrigerator New Seasons for more than just smoothie ingredients. I made dinner! Well, if making a salad counts anyway. It was totally springy and the sun was out. I turned on the grill and ate outside. A miracle. It’s the little things.

This salad has been on my mind since Adrianna posted it. Fresh and spicy arugula toned down with white beans and brightened up with cubed feta. The star of the show is totally the dressing. It would have been better had I actually found a ripe avocado that wasn’t $2.50, but I still loved it. It’s my kind of simple, utilizing just a few ingredients and a blender. Taste testing is important, but you have to know that it needs to be intense. This isn’t a dressing you want to drink on its own. It needs to leap up above the white beans to actually touch your tastebuds. I thought it seemed crazy, but it’s not. The first bite of the beans and greens will make it all make sense. Grilling spicy jerk chicken skewers made it even better. We’ll just ignore the part where I sat outside in my coat while I ate.

Inspiration: A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 5oz fresh arugula
  • 15oz canned white beans [cannellini or great northern or navy], rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint
  • 1 handful Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1/2 of a medium avocado
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice from two lemons
  • salt and pepper
  • 2oz cubed feta

Preparation

In the bowl of a small food processor, add the mint, parsley, garlic cloves, and shallot. Process until finely minced. This can all be done by hand if you’re patient. I’m not. In a blender, scrape out the flesh of the avocado, the juice of a lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until chunky and start streaming in olive oil as it’s on the low setting. It’ll start to turn creamy. Add a little bit of water to get a nice smooth consistency. Taste for additional lemon, salt, and pepper. Remember, you want this to be overwhelmingly bright.

In a large bowl, add the greens, the beans, and the herb shallot mixture. Pour on 1/2-3/4 of the dressing, and use your hands [or tongs] to combine. Make sure everything is evenly coated in the dressing. Add more as necessary. Top with feta and a pinch of salt when serving.

A Few Favorite Things

Chicken Pesto Power Salad
A pesto chicken power salad with kale, quinoa, avocado, hard-boiled egg, and sunflower seeds — from Addy’s Sandwich Bar and a frequent lunch of mine

 

I’ve been living at Addy’s Sandwich Bar and Greenleaf Juicing Company during the work day. There’s something about sitting at a desk 12 hours a day that makes a girl crave some fresh air vegetables. I’m pretty content to sustain solely on power salads and steamed soups, but the occasional pâté sandwich and cup of soup isn’t a bummer either.

Since I haven’t been in the kitchen except to blend a smoothie in the morning [or lets be honest, the night before because I want every precious minute of sleep possible] or to feed Roma, here’s a few things I’ve been bookmarking for later:

+this arugula cannelloni and feta salad with creamy avocado dressing

+I want to eat all of the rosemary strawberry buttermilk muffins

+mmmm, vindaloo that just happens to be paleo 

+bring on the cauliflower and brown rice gratin

+there’s no such thing as too much (marmalade) cake

And some bonus travel stuff:

+I plan on eating my weight in Francesinhas in Porto

+the Portuguese are big into tripe, and I’m not usually, but I’m going to give it a whirl

 

 

Cheese Tortellini Stew with Sausage

I’m still here. Promise.

Tax season is in full swing, so I’ve been spending 60 hours a week at the office and eating a lot of catered meals. I purposely go out to eat for lunch because a break from the computer is welcome. In other words, I’m not cooking.

I’ve been missing it, though. A lot.

In my lack of free time, we booked our flight to Spain and Portugal. Nearly three weeks there. I couldn’t be happier. It’s coming up quick, too, which makes it even better. There isn’t much worse than booking something so far in advance that it doesn’t even feel like it’s happening. Couple the quick timeline with a super busy work schedule, and I’ll be on that flight soon enough. Any suggestions? We’ve got a loose schedule of Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Lisbon, and Porto. Anything else is extra. I’ve definitely learned that I can’t try to bake too much into the trip or I’ll be left exhausted and disappointed. The only things we’re trying to make happen is a ton of wine and a FC Barcelona match. I’m not a huge Barca fan, but I can’t go all that way to not see one of the best teams in the world. I’ve been working on my Español via Duolingo. I’m surprised at how much I remember. Seriously, though, suggestions. I need ‘em.

This stew was random and made weeks ago in a fit of lusting after carbs and cheese. That’s normal, right? It all resulted in a famous “let’s throw everything in the pot, and see what happens.” Tortellini are one of those things that I can’t ever see myself making. It seems like way too much effort when there is are perfectly good pre-made ones at the store. Spinach, canned tomatoes, and Italian sausage round out the rest of it. It’s hardly a bad combination. Oh, and garlic and chili flakes. Lots of them, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from me. Shaved pecorino came later. And during. And before. That goes for the wine, too.

Ingredients

  • 8oz frozen tortellini
  • 15oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 10oz frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1lb spicy Italian sausage, sliced [mine was precooked]
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste
  • pecorino cheese, for serving

Preparation

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the oil and wait until it starts to shimmer. Add the sliced sausage to the pan, browning it on a few sides. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Don’t let it burn. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, juice and all. Bring it to a boil and add the vinegar. Add the chopped spinach and tortellini. Bring to a simmer, and stir occasionally. Taste the tomato broth for salt and pepper. Add chili flakes to your heart’s content. The tortellini will be cooked through after about 10 minutes. Serve into bowls, and top with fresh shaved pecorino.

Mozzarella and Lentil Salad with Fresh Herb Dressing

I’m pretty sure I don’t appreciate fresh herbs as much as I should. I know they impart aromas and flavors that just can’t be matched from a jar of the dried stuff. Yet I find myself heading back to my spice rack more often than not. Granted, usually it’s going in something.

I made the journey to Tabor Bread, a local bakery, this weekend. It’s taken me forever to get here. As a glorified bread-lover, I’m kind of appalled it’s taken so long. Shame on me. It took all my willpower not to order everything. I know it’s never going to last, and it’s really not that far away. I just need to go more often. A small batard, walnut sticky bun, and mountain fougasse [white wheat dough filled with fire-roasted vegetables, herbs, and cheese] later, I was a happy girl. That fougasse was heated, cut into fours, and served with olive oil and pickles. There were all kinds of herbs, olives, and cheese in there. I hadn’t felt like I loved olives and herbs as much until that exact moment. My god, it was good. Herbs. Herbs make everything better [well, maybe not cereal...].

It made this salad totally worthwhile. The mozzarella didn’t hurt either. It’s the kind of salad that needs something simple with it, like roasted chicken or some toasted bread. It’s fresh and earthy in the only way herbs and lentils can be. That dressing, though. Delicious. Divine. The total process was easy. Perfect for cooking up while drinking a glass of wine, which seems to be the norm lately. I’m not sad about it. Or having to make more journeys to Tabor bread more often [that sweet potato and nutmeg boule!].

Inspiration: With Style and Grace

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • handful of assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped [chives, basil, and thyme for me]
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons toasted pine nuts
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

If you want to take the lazy route, throw the garlic, celery, and carrot to a food processor to cut down on your finely dicing time. I’m a huge fan.

In a medium saucepan, add the lentils, a pinch of salt, and just enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and allow to cook until tender, about 30-35 minutes.

Mix together the 4 tablespoons of oil, vinegar, fresh herbs, and mustard either in a blender or shake it together in a jar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You’re only going to take 6-8 minutes to finish this part, so make sure your lentils are done or are close to done at this point. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the carrot and celery mixture. Spread it out evenly on the pan so it can evaporate some of the water that was generated and really soak up some of the oil while it sautés. When they’re soft and fragrant remove them from the heat and add them to the lentils. Toss the mixture with the chunks of mozzarella and drizzle with the dressing. Stir well before serving. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings

Valentine’s Day wasn’t nearly as awesome/awkward as those gone by. A delicious burger and fries from Killer Burger and baked brie with fig jam for dessert at home washed down with one of the most complex and incredible Brunellos I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. AKA – dinner. We followed up the following night at Mextiza. I was a tiny bit skeptical. Fancy Mexican food. It was totally worth it in the end. The flavors here are incredible. Molotes [fried dumplings, stuffed with black beans and spicy chicken, topped with cream and avocado chile sauce], enchiladas blancas [wild boar and spinach stuffed enchiladas, simmered in a spicy almond cream sauce, fried garlic and pickled onions], and cabrito [slow roasted goat, roasted yellow potatoes, grilled onions, served over a chile vinegar sauce, and pinto beans]. Yum. I highly encourage washing it down with a house margarita.

Did I mention that I have a copy of Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller? It’s a killer Christmas present [thank you!], and was originally suggested to me by my lovely friends at Radar. They make some of my favorite food in the city, so if they start suggesting things, I listen. The book is a lot little intimidating. These are mostly time commitments and have multiple parts, but are totally worth it for the finished product. I really really really really want to make the braised beef short ribs for the stroganoff, but when do I really commit myself to something that I have to start the previous day? I’m lazy. Someday, though.

In the meantime, I did make the Chicken Soup with Dumplings. It’s stellar. There is seriously something magical about making your own dumplings for the soup. I’d never done it before [I usually cheat and just use gnocchi or something], and it does make all the difference. The other part about straining out your vegetables that sweat together for nearly a half hour and then bathe in the stock for another half hour from your stock is something that’s so “duh” but not done enough. You’ve literally cooked out all the flavor from those vegetables. They’re shells of their former selves, and are just mush. Get ‘em out of there and add fresh for the finish. Huge. Difference. The only thing I couldn’t really get right was the thickness of the soup. I don’t exactly know what I did wrong, but it wouldn’t stop me from eating it again, if only to try and perfect it. It’s not a bad problem to have. Oh, and prepare to use every single pot and pan in your kitchen. It’s one of those.

Inspiration: Ad Hoc at Home (pg. 122)

Ingredients

[this is list broken up into the order that you'll use things]

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup leeks, coarsely chopped
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 5 stalks celery
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup roux [4 tablespoons butter melted into 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour and cooked until nutty brown]
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • flat leaf parsley for garnish

 Preparation

Melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and leeks. Add a healthy pinch of salt, and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly with a little stirring for about 30 minutes. The vegetables will be super tender. Turn off the heat if you’re not done with the dumplings yet.

To make the dumplings, fill a wide, deep pot with salted water and bring it to a simmer. Set up a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Combine the water, butter and a teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. On medium high heat, bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat a little and add the 2/3 cup flour all at once. Stir quickly with  a stiff spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. The pan will be nice and clean when you’re done. It’ll be smooth but moist still. Now you’ll work your arm out. For another 5 minutes, continue stirring the combined dough around the hot pan so it can dry out. You don’t want the dough to brown, so keep stirring. Once it starts to stick to the bottom or sides of the pan again, you’re good. Transfer the dough to the bowl of the mixer, and add the mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix for a few seconds so the heat can disperse. Add the eggs one at a time while the mixer is on the lowest speed. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of chives and mix. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Shape the dumplings using two soupspoons to make a quenelle shape. It took a bit to get them actually into that shape, but I ultimately did. Drop the dumplings into the simmering water. Cook them in smaller batches, like five or six, to avoid crowding. Cook they rise to the surface, it takes about five minutes for them sot cook through. This takes a bit, but again, worth it.

To finish the soup, add the chicken stock to the vegetables you cooked earlier, and bring it all to a simmer. After 30 minutes, strain the vegetables out. Cut the remaining stalks of celery on the diagonal. You want about 1 1/2 cups of celery. Blanch the celery until tender, and submerge in an ice bath. Cut the carrots into small pieces until you get a cup and a half. Cook them in a small saucepan with the honey, bay leaf, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover with cold water and cook on a simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Drain the carrots. Bring the chicken stock back to a simmer, and stir in the roux a little at a time until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming often. I never thought that was a big deal, but it’s pretty gross. Add the dumplings, chicken, and vegetables to the soup so it can cook through. Sprinkle with the remaining chives.

Chili-Glazed Meatloaf Sandwiches

It somehow seems vaguely inappropriate to be posting about meat for Valentine’s Day.

[PS - if someone wants to buy me this, feel free]

While I’m not planning on celebrating the ol’ day-o-love, I am planning on going out to dinner. Why? Because I’ll be hungry. My hunger doesn’t stop just because it’s February 14th. I’m hoping to re-create equally hilarious Valentine’s Day dinners gone by that involve completely empty, fully decorated Thai restaurants where the owners thought Andrew dined and ditched me or Ethiopian restaurants that insist on a someone playing love ballads on a Casio keyboard. I cannot make this stuff up. These are the kinds of things that happen when you don’t try to make things happen, and I’m all the better for it. Memories, people, memories.

This meatloaf is my new favorite meatloaf [sorry, mom]. This meatloaf reached high honors from Andrew, especially when I pan fried a thick slab of the leftovers and threw it between fresh rosemary focaccia, sliced Manchego cheese, and sautéed mushrooms. Ah-mazing.

You use grated potato and crushed Ritz crackers as your binder. Genius, I say. I kind of thought the potato might be a little too wet, and I did have a lot more liquid than I was used to when it baked out, but it definitely wasn’t a problem. It didn’t make things soggy or affect the taste. It was dang delicious. The chili ketchup can be as spicy as you want it, since you’re mixing it yourself, but it really doesn’t bring much in the way of heat. If you’re thinking a two pound meatloaf is ridiculous for two people like I did, make it anyway. Meatloaf sandwiches are the best thing ever. EVER.

Inspiration: Things We Make

Ingredients

  • 2lbs ground beef
  • 1 potato, peeled and grated [about the size of a baseball -- how's that for accurate]
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 ounces melted butter
  • 2 ounces milk
  • 1/4 cup chili ketchup [mix hot sauce with ketchup]
  • 130g of Ritz crackers, crushed [if you don't have a scale, do some simple math based on the number of grams on the box]
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 9″x5″ bread pan with foil. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together except for a tablespoon or two of the ketchup. Only when it’s thoroughly combined, squish the contents into the pan and flatten it out with your hands. Place into the oven for 90 minutes. If you’re worried about leaking, place a baking sheet underneath it. I didn’t have any issues, though.

The internal temperature of a meatloaf should be about 160°. I’m convinced that checking for this more so than the timing contributed to the best texture. When you pull it out, brush the remainder of the ketchup while it’s still hot.

Chicken and Mushroom Soba Noodle Soup

Are you adept at eating with chopsticks? Do they intimidate you? I don’t know at what point I became okay with them. I never remember eating with them when I grew up. I’m pretty sure we didn’t. The hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant I grew up with [which remains my favorite to this day] doesn’t have them I’m pretty sure. They’re not a Chinese thing anyway, are they? Seriously, though, I have no idea when I started eating with them, and I sure as hell don’t have any idea how I learned how. I’m certainly not a pro. I don’t like to use them while eating soup with mixed company. There is always that irrational fear that I’m going to fling a piece of pork out of my bowl of pho into my neighbor. Maybe that’s what keeps my skills in check. I know better than to eat soup at work as it is. I always leave with equal parts of the soup on my top as I do in my mouth. I accept defeat immediately.

At home is fair game. I finally got a bunch [thanks, mom!] to use to my hearts content, and since I’m not making sushi anytime soon, I’ll make soup. At least then I can wear my pajamas apron to prevent any messes. Roma will wait patiently on the couch for the second we’re done so she can come slurp up whatever made it to the floor. There’s always something.

This soup is easily my favorite soup to date. I’m particularly proud of my poached egg skills [again, thanks mom] as they were the perfect texture. No complaints as I gulped down three bowls of the stuff. Sometimes that just has to happen. If you don’t mind throwing down, the more exotic the mushroom, the better. I couldn’t justify rehydrating a ton of porcini, so I picked up a bag of frozen mixed mushrooms and a bunch of fresh sliced crimini mushrooms. It’ll do. Between the mushrooms and the poached eggs, the chicken is a total after thought, but keeps the soup filling. Loved this stuff.

Inspiration: How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 10oz frozen mixed mushrooms
  • 32oz chicken stock
  • 8oz soba noodles
  • 6 green onions, green and white parts sliced
  • 4 eggs, poached
  • salt and pepper
  • chili flakes

Preparation

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Bring your soup pot to a medium high heat before adding the chicken in a spread out, even layer. Let it brown on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Reduce the heat to low and sliced shallot, mushrooms, and garlic. Stir to coat in remaining olive oil and chicken drippings. Cover with a lid and cook 5-6 minutes until the mushrooms are softened.

Add the chicken and stock the pot. Bring everything to a boil and add the soba noodles. Cook until the soba noodles are cooked through. Add all of the green onions. Taste the broth and add salt, pepper, and chili flakes accordingly. Ladle out soup into individual bowls and top with a poached egg and more chili flakes.