Saturday, August 21, 2010

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup

I am back with some cooking after all the fun vacation photos. I still have some more to share but wanted to get back into the cooking. This recipe is from Everyday with Rachael Ray, one of my favorite cooking magazines.

* One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken stock
* 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces or tenders
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 3/4 cup orzo pasta
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
* 1 small zucchini, finely chopped
* 1 carrot, finely chopped
* 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
* 2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* Salt and pepper
* 1 cup frozen peas
* 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1. In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock and chicken to a simmer. Lower the heat and poach the chicken for 12 minutes.
2. Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the orzo and cook, stirring, until deeply toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, to the dutch oven. Add the zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, shallots and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Return the orzo to the pot.
4. Remove the chicken from the stock. Skim and discard the fat from the stock; transfer the stock to the dutch oven. Chop, dice or shred the chicken and add to the soup with 2 cups water. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the orzo is just tender, 5 minutes. Add the peas during the last minute of cooking. Turn off the heat; stir in the parsley and lemon peel. Serve immediately.

I made the whole recipe because I knew I would love it and because I knew I could freeze it if I got sick of it.

So here are the ingredients. You need some chicken, peas, carrots, red pepper, lemon, orzo, garlic, zucchini, butter, shallot or onion, and some chicken stock. I actually used some turkey stock I had made.

Bring the stock and the chicken to a simmer. I am using this fabulous vintage Pyrex Flameware pot. When it starts to simmer lower the heat and cook the chicken for about 10-12 minutes.

While that cooks...

Measure out the orzo and the peas.

Zest the lemon and chop the parsley.

Chop up the veggies. Doesn't that look delicious! I used yellow carrots instead of the usual orange ones.

Once your chicken is done, get it out and shred it up. Save the stock!

Now it is time to really get this soup going.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a dutch oven or soup pot. Get the Orzo in there and toast it for 3-5 minutes stirring often to get it nice and evenly done.

Get it out of the pan after toasting.

Stir in the veggies and cook those for 8 minutes.

Get the orzo back in, add the chicken, stock and 2 cups of water. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the orzo is done to your liking.

Stir in the peas for the last minute, just to heat them through.

Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon and the parsley and you are ready to eat!

Yum-o as Rachael Ray would say. This recipe is great for any of you home gardeners out there who might be harvesting right about now. You could do this with any number of vegetable combinations.

Monday, August 16, 2010

More from the PA trip...

I had mentioned that I got some excellent beef jerky and my pal Vix asked if I have a dehydrator and make my own. I do not! I think I should try it at some point, I had a dehydrator and ended up donating it as I never used it. I have a serious beef jerky addiction so it would probably be a good idea to try making my own at some point.

Now back to the food from the trip!

I picked this popcorn up at the market also. If you read the blog a lot you will know that I LOVE savory and sweet together. This popcorn is absolutely delicious. I am going to have to try to make it last!

We had some wine made in the area where I grew up in Indiana, PA. It was surprisingly good.

We ate lunch at Michael Symon's B Spot restaurant in Woodmere Ohio.

It was a REALLY sunny day!

I want one of these umbrellas!

My nephew got a vanilla bean milkshake.

I got the Thin Lizzy burger. It had cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, mayo, and pickles. The beef is locally sourced and was so tasty. Definitely the best burger I have ever had.

My nephew got a bacon cheeseburger, he ate that whole thing!

My sister got the Tomato Blue Cheese soup and it was so good. The recipe is in Michael Symon's Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen

I would highly recommend B Spot if you are in Eastern Ohio anytime soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back from Vacation

This past week I have been in Western PA visiting my sister and her kids. It was a great trip and awesome to get out of the city for a while. I could have done without the humidity, but it was not unbearable.

We did a lot of food related stuff, as my sister loves food as much as I do. Her kids are pretty adventurous as well.

We went to the historic West Side Market in Cleveland. It was simply amazing.

Tons of food vendors offering, meats, cheeses, baked goods and tons of other goodies.

This pistachio cake looked amazing.

Lots of baked goods.

I also got some beef jerky that was featured on the Food Networks's show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Michael Symon chose it as his favorite salty treat. It is the best jerky I have ever had and I am a bit of jerky nut. This whole trip had a lot to do with Michael Symon as he is from Cleveland and it is just a short trip from my sister's house.

We went to his restaurant Lola in downtown Cleveland. I was so excited!!

The restaurant was gorgeous.

It was great to be able to sit next to the prep area and watch them plate the food and prepare it for serving.

I got Chef Symon's famous Beef Cheek Pierogies. Anthony Bourdain got these when he visited the restaurant on his show No Reservations. Beef Cheek is like the most tender and juicy pot roast you could ever imagine. The pierogies had a mushroom sauce and a horseradish sauce. I seriously could have ate 10 of these, but they were just my starter.

I also got the roasted asparagus and a wild mushroom salad with goat cheese and a pistachio vinaigrette. Holy cow I got STUFFED on a salad. The cheese and vinaigrette were so rich I could not even finish it. Needless to say it was one of the best meals of my life. Even better that I could share it with my sister, my niece and my 'Aunt In-law'.

I did not want to be totally obnoxious and use flash so here are some less than great pics of what everyone else got...

My sister got a club with a chili corn soup. In the foreground you can also see the bread they served, which was fresh and amazing.

My niece got mac and cheese with goat cheese and chicken confit. Holy cow was it good, and she liked it too.

My Aunt (actually Tom's aunt who lives very close to my sister, they hang out all the time which is quite awesome. She is the same aunt that rescued Tanner, our youngest boston. She drove him all the way to AZ after fostering him for a couple of months. She is one wonderful lady.) got the Chicken Puillard with Cous Cous and veggies.

Finally here is a picture of me and my niece being goofs in the bathroom at Lola...

I have a lot more food stuff to share from my trip, then back to the cooking!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chicken Au Gratin

This is a fun recipe that turned out being super tasty. It comes from an old cookbook I found at an antique store called Cooking with Love and Paprika. Paprika is one of my favorites things to cook with, so of course I snatched the book up! This recipe is for 2 servings.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lets gather some ingredients. You will need chicken breasts, onion, butter, marsala wine, potatoes, peas, eggs, cream and parmesan cheese.

Chop up the potatoes.

Get them in a pan with some water and boil them for about 20 minutes or until soft and mashable.

While the potatoes cook mince the onion with a box grater. This helps you to get the onion flavor without having to bite down on an onion. I have never thought to do this before.

Chop up the chicken.

Defrost the peas under warm water in a strainer.

Get the onion, chicken, butter and wine in a pan and cook for about 20 minutes.

Add in the peas and now it is time to assemble this dish.

Mash up the potatoes. I just used a spoon.

Whisk the egg and cream together.

Put the chicken and pea mixture in first.

Top with the potatoes.

Pour the yummy egg and cream mixture over the top of it all. I am getting hungry for this again as I type this entry! Put the cheese on the top, pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes and you will be ready for this great comfort food dish.

It looks so perfect!

This was so good and a great way to treat yourself after a long week.