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Chicken Taco Soup

January 19, 2014 2 comments

This is another in my endless effort to make something interesting out of Shabbat leftovers. This time, I had bone-in, skin-on chicken breast flavored with chili powder, so I thought Chicken Taco Soup would be nice. I found this recipe:. It looked delicious but it would need modifications. It would, however, serve as an excellent jumping off point.

First, of course, I didn’t need to cook boneless chicken breasts since I was using leftovers. I also don’t have soft corn tortillas available to me – I have been unable to find them with kosher supervision. I have never seen Rotel in the stores where I shop, and I didn’t even try to look for cans of green chilis. However, I could get FRESH jalapenos, and cans of diced tomatoes with green pepper and onions, and that would do fine.

I stopped by the grocery store and got what wasn’t already in my pantry – frozen corn, fresh produce, corn chips and the canned tomato products.

I chopped up onion and green pepper and minced jalapeno (did the last with gloves on), and cooked them in a little oil. I took the skin off the chicken and sliced the meat off the bones, and slivered it. Tossed that in the pot, and added the tomato products, the beans and the chicken broth, plus some taco seasoning and a handful or so of frozen corn. I let it simmer for an hour or so.

I served it with diced avocado, thin slices of lime and tortilla chips.

Chicken Taco Soup

2 bone-in, skin-on cooked chicken breasts
One green pepper (can use any color)
One onion
One jalapeno (optional)
One can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onions
One small can tomato paste
1 box low sodium chicken broth
One can black beans
1/2 cup frozen corn niblets
Tablespoon taco seasoning (or chili powder or what you like)

Garnish: avocado and lime slices

Chop the pepper and onions and minced jalapeno, and saute in a little neutral oil until soft. Add the shredded chicken and the rest of the ingredients and let simmer.

It should look like this:

pot of soup

Pot of soup

Served it with diced avocado and sliced lime.

20140119_201451

It added just the right touch of acid.

If you want to make this vegetarian, use seitan and vegetarian broth. In which case, those who keep kosher, like me, can use sour cream or greek yogurt as part of the garnish.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Food Writing: A Rant

June 26, 2011 2 comments

I love food writing. I like doing it, but I also like reading it. I’m always good for a nice meta discussion, and food writing combines so many things I enjoy.

So every year, one of the things I always pick up is Holly Hughe’s “Best Food Writing [year].” And every year I, well, devour it. As I did yesterday.

It has the elements I like – discussions of food and of food history. There’s an essay on milk toast with a bonus one for BREAD AND MILK, which is ubiquitous throughout the Louisa May Alcott books, as well as other American domestic/girls’ novels of the time period, but which they NEVER describe because it would be like us describing french toast. For the record, bread and milk is chunks of break soaked in warm milk, sometimes sugared. Like breakfast cereal but much, much soggier. And warmer. And less appetizing.

They also discuss cooks and restaurants and food trends and home cooking vs. restaurant cooking, and there are often recipes. It’s all fascinating to me.

It’s also incredibly marginalizing and frustrating to me. Essay after essay about pork and ham and seafood and meat/milk combinations – and half of them written by or ABOUT Jews, too. Jews PROUD of tossing away their heritage, or so it seems. Or proud of never having had it in the first place. That’s their right and they can believe as they will, but it makes it no less frustrating to me. (Even when I didn’t keep kosher, even when I cooked, ate, enjoyed all those things, I still kinda felt it was wrong. But no one else needs to feel that way.)

Essay after essay about this culture and that culture – Southern,. Indian, California – written by people who were part of those cultures, and the only one vaguely Jewish was about a non-kosher, open-on-Shabbos appetizing store (and not one hint that maybe that might be a problem, mostly because this article was NOT written by anyone Jewish (at least if one can go by last names) and so she wouldn’t realize it. Because, again, the Jewish writers? Running as far from Judaism/kashrut as possible. As if it were something to hide, to be ashamed of.

I’m actually wrong. Jonathan Safran Foer has an essay – about how he’s raising his sons to be vegetarian, and how he was influenced by his grandmother, who wouldn’t eat pork even though she was starving, because if you don’t believe in something, what’s the point? Yay.

That’s the marginalization. And I do understand – I’m a minority of a minority. Why should there be essays about our cuisine, which only consists, really, of taking local cuisines and adapting it to our needs and rules? That there are French and Italian and Mexican and Chinese and Indian and fast food and bar food restaurants that manage to serve delicious (and once in a while, authentic) food despite having to leave out or change vital ingredients? That kosher supermarkets are as stocked with nori and shoyu and exotic spice blends as any other?

Mostly, I suppose, because the assumption is that people AREN’T interested. Also, I suspect, because until recently, there hasn’t been a lot of kosher food writing. Still isn’t, compared to the mainstream, which makes sense. But right now, in newstands in my neighborhood, four or five magazines dedicated to that subject – magazines written for Jewish home cooks that revolve around OUR holidays and needs, but are attempting to break free from kugels and gefilte fish, with glossy photos and step by step recipes. Not many essays, though, except about keeping kosher in Buenos Aires. Nothing that would attract Ms. Hughes’ attention.

So I get that.

The other part, the frustration? Is no one’s fault, but it’s still there. The recipes. I don’t use a lot of recipes when I cook. I don’t like measuring, I don’t like cooking the same thing all the time. I like improvising, tossing things in, seeing what happens. This is not true, because while I don’t use measuring cups or spoons when I do most of my cooking, I still have a reasonable idea the proportions of stuff to use and one pot of meatball soup tastes pretty much like the next.

Anyway, I like READING recipes, because I get ideas from them and because they’re pornography for me. I can taste the food as I go down the list of ingredients and techniques. At least, most of the time. Reading The French Laundry Cookbook, for example, failed. I could not taste any of that food (and I knew I never would, either.)

But I have a decent palate and I ate a fair amount of foods I won’t eat anymore before I started keeping kosher. So I can taste the recipes. And sometimes I think about making them.

And that’s when it gets frustrating. Two quarts of chicken stock and one cup of heavy cream. A ham bone. Six slices of bacon, fried crisp. Dried shrimp. Half a cup of Parmigianno cheese. Sometimes it’s the ingredients when they can’t be left out or substituted for. Sometimes it’s the sheer amount, so a subsitute would make an obvious difference. Sometimes it’s that there would be too many substitutions so I’d end up making an entirely different dish. Whatever – I think the only recipe I can actually make in the latest book is a trout with cilantro-mint chutney. Which sounds entirely delicious, btw. Oh, and I can make the bread and milk AND the milk toast, but that would be a waste of both bread and milk.

It’s seeing them all at once that makes it overwhelming, I think.

Anyway, this has been a rant and thank you for reading.

Categories: Uncategorized

Working Cook – June 8 and June 10, 2010

June 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Yes, there’s a day off in the middle there. In fact, I won’t be back at work until next Wednesday.

Tuesday, I got to work and, ascertaining that Mendy was doing well, made macaroni with tomato sauce and cheese. And about a quarter to one, my mother-in-law called me. My father-in-law, after a series of strokes and pneumonia, was gone, peacefully in his home.

I went there as soon as I could – I was going to go there anyway to cook dinner for them and my husband – and when I arrived, they’d already made the funeral arrangements, and my sister-in-law and her daughter were boarding the plane from Israel. The funeral was on Wednesday – out of respect, we bury as soon as possible. Also, mourning doesn’t begin formally until afterward.

I had to go into work on Thursday. I’m not a mourner, and Mendy needs his soup, so I had to go in. That meant a 90 minute ride on two trains, instead of a fifteen minute walk. Since Mendy only uses 6 cups of soup, I finished the soup – I cut the vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, parsnip, turnip) very small and as soon as I portioned off for Mendy and drained the soup to the other pot, I added them. I also made matzo balls and put in a bag of noodles. Mendy also got his salads (egg, corn, tuna) and a couple of hard-boiled eggs.

I fixed up an extra portion of tuna salad with paprika and garlic for Misha. And then I went back to Manhattan.

Categories: Uncategorized

Working Cook April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010 6 comments

Today, I baked a lovely chocolate cake – using the finest cake flour – which I covered in white chocolate and decorated with icing flowers.  You all know how very much I love all things baked and all things sugar, and how much I love tiny little details – nothing but perfect flowers and vines for me!

Unfortunately, dinner must be made.  I made a beef tenderloin with a cream sauce, green beans with bacon and noodles in butter.  I followed the recipes very carefully.  Otherwise, how would I know how they’d come out? 

But then I relaxed by baking a pie – I so love pie crust, and all the boys adore it, especially my Mendy.

Categories: Uncategorized

Working Cook Update

March 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Took a nap this afternoon, and never caught up.  Try to do an entry before Shabbos.  My apologies, lovely readers.

Categories: Uncategorized

Working Cook February 19, 2010

February 21, 2010 2 comments

Oh, Friday was a bit of work, I’ll say that.

I had to finish the chicken soup, which was made more difficult because, while the soup had been properly refrigerated, it had also been used.  That is, the level was lower in the morning than it had been the afternoon before.  To make it worse, one of the individuals in Keshet has strep and they wanted soup for him.  So, his counselor leaves with a pot, a quart and a half of stock, a potato, a carrot, an onion and some celery, plus some dried parsley.  Fortunately, it’s a very strong broth, so I could add water to make up for it.  I also had to put in, well, carrots, onions, celery, turnip and parsnip. 

Later, the nurse was hungry, so she took some leftover noodles (flavored with oil, salt, pepper and onion powder) and poured soup over them and treifed the dairy bowl and spoon she was using.  Once we got rid of that, and set the spoon aside, she got a fleishig bowl and started over. That was two cups more gone.

There was also turkey roast, and baked chicken fillet and four logs of gefilte fish.  And I made a potato kugel for the folks downstairs, which meant I had to buy an onion, plus the tomatoes, cucumber and parsley for the Israeli salad.  And I had to make the Israeli salad, too.  And cook some steamed green beans as well. I also put a bag of noodles directly in the soup.

But it did mean I left the house smelling good and full of nice food, even if it was a half hour later than I wanted to.

Categories: Uncategorized

Working Cook February 11, 2010

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Ilya was home today.  Papa does not LIKE being home. He wanted to go to skoda (school), not stuck with two women who did not really understand Russian, which is his primary language.

I still have a mostly stocked house, so there wasn’t much to do. In fact, I didn’t make dinner at all.  Everyone had so much available there wasn’t a point.  Instead, I made Mendy’s soup, and a pot of tilapia (some of which I gave to Ilya’s counselor) and the apple kugel.

Of course, the guys all wanted potato kugel instead….

Tomorrow – shabbat cooking.

Categories: Uncategorized