January 14, 2019

Winter Soup-rise!

Well... it feels mighty good to write a post again! It's been almost six years since I've written or posted anything on here. Way too long. When I read back through my old posts I cannot even remember the person I was! Some of these posts were goooooood, too! I know I loved this though... and I've missed this.

The intention this time is use this as a diary for all the meals I cook day in and day out, more so than just getting it out to people or readers. I absolutely hope these recipes and ideas help people to cook or explore their kitchens, expertise and food stores more, but this is a way for me to document all the fun I have in my kitchen (a much different kitchen then when I started this blog, too, by the way! A much different kitchen, a few different boyfriends later- yes, still :) - a bit older (wiser?!? ehhhh...), hopefully happier though and with a few more kitchen trucs up my sleeve these days.

My current boyfriend, BB (or "the Big Eagle," undecided just yet as to how I will refer to him), has encouraged me for YEARS to write down the wonderful recipes I come up with each night. I just never do. (I always think I will remember. I never, ever remember). So, maybe its a new year, new start thing, or the fact that I feel extra organized and focused these days (thank you #mariekondo!) but I just felt like... it was darn time to do this again. So, here's to learning new photo and video tricks to keep up with the world and millennials and the future and 2019, and cheers to One Loud Lemon and this old/new adventure!

~~~~~~~~ First post of the new year...and in six years ~~~~~~~

Wintry days call for, what do you snow.... SOUP! And yes... it was a snow day here in Alexandria, VA yesterday and today. Pretty packable snow right now- great snow balls and snowmen!

With the extra time and in usual fashion (time or not) I pulled everything out of the fridge and looked it all over. I knew I had a soup in there somewhere. Funny though, no real mess (the usual) ensued from it all! I'm a believer in the creative process of cooking, and not so much in the cleaning up after every step and every spill. (BB/Big Eagle is a little different, FYI). Just feels like you're not into the experience of it all if you care to clean up every few minutes. I like the mess. Feels... extra creative :)

Anyway, I'd say the soup is a bit Tuscan (probably just given the cannellini beans), but with nods to other regions if you choose to use the variations I mention later. Its warm, satisfying and with or without variations, makes a great meal that uses a lot of pantry items (again, thank you #mariekondo! I have reached category #komono (misc) and feel incredibly successful as I- gently- tear through the house  moving into 2019 with ONLY the items that spark joy!).

Winter Chicken and Vegetable Soup

*2+ uncooked chicken breasts, no bones or skin
*1+ medium onion
*1 red pepper (I do not always use; I may use 1/2 tsp red pepper instead)
*3+ carrots, peeled, halved, cut crosswise
*1-2 potatoes, peeled, halved, quartered or coined (however you prefer)
*2 garlic cloves, chopped
*1 Tbsp butter
*Diced tomatoes, 10oz can (of salt, no salt added, more fun varieties- it doesn't matter)
*bouillon cubes (see notes below; I find bouillon tricky... maybe you can relate)
*heavy cream/creme fraiche
*Parmesan cheese
*parsley/cilantro (1/4 to 1/2 c., chopped)
*4+ cups water
*ditalini or rigatoni pasta
*cannellini beans (14.5 oz can, rinsed)

OK. So, first. I am not into rules or specifics (probably why I don't bake). Feel free to use this as a frame work for whatever you have in mind. That's the point. It's just groundwork for something more. Please use more chicken, veggies, garlic, water, anything you want, as you see fit. Way more fun that way. Cooking is how I decompress... if I have to overthink it, I am missing the entire point of the experience...

Saute the onion, pepper, carrot, potatoes and chicken breasts together for one to two minutes with 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. I like to let the veggies and chicken brown just a bit. I add the can of tomatoes at this point,  just as the veggies get to simmer together for a few minute or two.

Pour in about an inch of water, as well as the garlic and parsley or cilantro. Bring to boil. Add the bouillon if that's your thing (I have been adding this recently. If I realize a soup needs more liquid, I will add about two cups water and a cube. At this point, I will add more pepper, but never salt, as there's enough in the cube). Cover and bring down to a simmer for 1 hour.

In the meantime, make pasta and drain beans. I cook the pasta according to directions and set both the pasta and beans aside, for guests or myself to add to soup as desired, once done.

Check on soup. Chicken should be tender at this point and shreddable with two forks. Shred in the pot.

Add water as you see fit. I might add a few more cups and another cube- but that's up to you. Water is also just fine, with salt and pepper. If you taste as you go, you'll have a better idea of how its going, but also, if you plan on eating this the next day, you'll have a great idea then, as all the flavors and tastes will have then mingled quite well.

NOW~~ its at this point that you have a choice. You can add the cannellini beans and/or pasta as you wish. They will soak up the lovely, juicy, soupy liquids though. So, if you do add them, maybe add more water and/or cubes or salt and pepper and herbs.  I like stuff salty sometimes, I cant help it! But, again... this is a framework, as all recipes should be. NOT Bible... just gentle guidance. Use your gut instinct, hone your judgment, and do what feels right at the time.

My other tip is mixing heavy cream (2 Tbsp) and 1-2 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese over medium heat in a small sauce pan for up to a min or just over... this is the secret to just about everything... not only does it feel like you're making some magic secret sauce at the stove... but once you pour this delicate creaminess into your soup... my GOSH, it's just transformed into a beautiful bowl of wintry goodness. 1-2 Tbsp of sour cream or creme fraiche is also fine if you just happen to have a weak spot for luscious dairy :). These last two tips will basically make this into entirely separate soups. So... three soups... there ya go!!

Really just have fun though.... that's the whole point of all of this!!! :)

February 8, 2012

Creme of the Crop

Coeur a la Creme with a Raspberry Grand Marnier Sauce

I'm ahead of the game!

Typically, I'm barely on top of it all, or just about maintaining things, let alone ahead. But, finally, I'm about a week early, or at least a few days early for those that will celebrate Valentine's Day this coming weekend.

If you do plan on making something special, this grand, creamy heart-shaped dessert has become a favorite of mine, especially at this time of year. The appeal is in the lovely presentation, no doubt, along with the flecks of vanilla bean seeds and lemon zest throughout the milky white cream, but its luscious, refreshing qualities cannot be denied. Drizzled with a grand marnier raspberry sauce, this Coeur a la Creme is a beautiful addition to any table.

February 3, 2012

Souper Bowl

Adzuki Bean Soup

I realize this soup does not photograph well. I also realize nothing about the weather here on the east coast warrants a warm, hearty soup (I would probably be better off grilling something outside with these temperatures), but in all seriousness, this soup was awesome. If I owned an immersion blender I'd say it was totally awesome, but those transferring, processing and blending splatters are still on my window, some cloves of garlic and some books I had nearby. Regardless, I've waited too long to try this, because it is my new favorite soup.

January 31, 2012

Moooove Over Dairy

Whipped Blueberry Tahini Topping

Despite the title of this post, I love my dairy. Regardless of current controversary or scientific evidence that milk or dairy leads to increased _____ or will cause _____, I am still making my own yogurt regularly, making butter a few times a year, and drinking raw milk (when I remember to place my order for delivery). I can tone it down a bit, sure, but high-quality dairy is a satisfying, not to mention satiating, part of my diet. No matter how you feel about this issue, whether you think news against drinking milk is udder propaganda, or you do stay away from the moo juice altogether, this non-dairy topping is worth trying...

January 23, 2012

Oodles of Noodles

Kale Kugel "Cake" Topped with Lemon Butter Crumbs

During those quick grocery trips just before Christmas, when picking up a few exciting cans of tuna to tear into, I also picked up some egg noodles and a few odds and ends in the dairy section. I had these grandiose ideas of cooking, writing about and celebrating both Christmas and Hannukah with everyone. Then it just became a Christmas dish I hoped to cook and write about, and then I thought New Years would be fine, and then, well, I figured just a quick post that detailed my good friend Lauren's recipes for household cleaning supplies would have to do. Finally, after everything came and went, I just closed my eyes and told myself everyone was probably sick of eating, no one feels like cleaning anymore, and next year was a brand new start...

January 11, 2012

Egg-scuse the Interruption

Eggs Baked in Roasted Tomato Sauce

Oh, it's been a while, I know, I know. I have this long, running list of excuses and apologies in my head, just waiting to be typed out and posted, but the thought of doing that sort of exhausts me. The list alone, jumping and bouncing around in my head, is tiring enough! No need to document it. Basically, the month of December was crazy, one thing after another, and more cans of tuna were opened and breakfasty dinners consumed than I'd like to admit. No time, no balance, enough said.

Although January will now be filled with what I pushed to the side and avoided in December (procrastinate is my middle name, didn't I tell you?), it feels so good to let loose in the kitchen again. I also think it calms and grounds me. It's the one time all those thoughts settle down a bit and come together so well. Everything becomes a little bit quieter up there, and after a long, loud day, that's a wonderful thing.

December 6, 2011

Oh, Stuff It

Stuffed Pasta Shells with Meat Filling

Sadly, I have been so busy that I haven't cooked for myself in a while. I haven't even thought about cooking. I don't think I've even really been in the kitchen much. I usually procrastinate more actually, so it's pretty wild and even amusing to me that I really have been, you know, responsible.

Alas, old habits die hard. In doing what I do best, I'm going to ignore and avoid the many things I should be doing right now to get back in the groove...

November 16, 2011

Livin' on the Veg

Butternut Squash & Cheddar Pudding

Kale appears to be very popular lately. Everyone seems to be on some sort of kale-kick (a good thing) with some creative way of throwing it into their meals or even sneaking it in as a snack. This cruciferous veggie is truly a nutritional powerhouse, so anyway we can get it in, we should.

I am still trying to figure out what I'd like to make for Thanksgiving this year, so I tested this out not only in honor of the currently kale-obsessed or for those that prefer greens, but also for those that think turkey is for the birds. It's one of those dishes that could be a great side dish, but could also be a hearty vegetarian main dish. It also just makes a great, everyday dinner, holiday or no holiday, like the way I am enjoying it now…and enjoying it, I am.

November 10, 2011

This Spud's For You

Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes

Who doesn't love a warm, comforting dish of potatoes? Mashed or smashed, whipped or chunky, skin on or off, baked or fried, it really does not matter, people love them. They pair so nicely with meaty dishes, compliment most vegetables and make the perfect home for fatty drippings or creamy sauces to settle right in.

November 7, 2011

Oh My Gourd

Pumpkin Petits Pots

I realize I posted a pumpkin pie recipe about a month ago. It is a delicious variation on the classic, a recipe I get many requests for and one I do think everyone should try at some point. These adorable little pots of creamy pumpkin are quite tasty too though, and deserve an attempt as well.

November 2, 2011

Sip It. Sip it Good

The Côte d'Azur Cure-All Soup

Well, I finally made it through whatever allergy/cold I woke up with two weekends ago. It could have come about because I was a little run down.  Or, maybe because I'm in contact with more germs than usual these days. Or, maybe it really was the blooming ragweed in this part of the country.

Blooming ragweed.

October 25, 2011

Charlotte's Other Side

White Chocolate Spider Web

I still feel bad about jumping the gun and bypassing Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and anything else that is celebrated before New Year's Eve. Well, I did start early with some pumpkin pie, so that should count I guess.

Actually, I am a bit under the weather right now (allergies or something more) and although the soup I threw together in a stuffed up, fog tonight was delicious and hit the spot, I didn't have it in me to photograph or write about. I am deciding, instead, to post a "recipe" from my Tuesday afternoon "cooking" group.

October 21, 2011

Jam Session

Toasts with Chicken-Liver Mousse and Shallot Jam 

"Mommy, that lady just bought liver…chicken liver!"

Indeed I did, kiddo.

This recipe comes from one very folded, dog-eared page in an old Food & Wine magazine. I come across it now and then, usually on sleepless nights, when I am unable to find any of Curtis Stone's Take Home Chef reruns to numb my exhausted, yet restless mind. This recipe is one that intrigued me more for the shallot jam than the liver mousse, but figured I wanted the entire experience.

October 18, 2011

Bake My Day

Chocolate Layer Brownies

When I first became aware of her rags-to-riches story, her drive and ambition to feed her family and turn a love for baking and cooking into a career, I bought Paula Deen's The Lady & Son's Savannah Country Cookbook. The small, spiral-bound book is a collection of family recipes, as well as those also served in her Savannah restaurant of the same name, The Lady & Sons. I used it for a few recipes (I do love pictures though and there are none, so truthfully, I really did not flip through it that often), but it wasn't until my friend Tracy was looking over my cookbook collection one day and exclaimed that her favorite brownie recipe was by Paula Deen, I think from her Southern Cooking Bible. Not only her favorite recipe, she continued, but the easiest. I would now have to add the tastiest and most asked for, after making these brownies for more celebrations, potlucks, birthday parties and holidays than I could ever recall.

The recipe uses three large Symphony candy bars to create the milk chocolate layer in the middle. I still get a kick out of watching other grocery store customers looking over my healthy, pretty clean round-up of food items at the register... until they spy the brilliant, silver foil of these huge, king-size candy bars perched on top of, say, the quinoa or maybe a bag of lentils. Such big, questioning eyes, oh my. You know though, if this was my thing, my vice of sorts, I think it would be far better than a six-pack of Bud or a carton of cigarettes, no?

October 14, 2011

Pig Out

Cote de Porc à la Charcutière
(Pork Chops in a White Wine, Cornichon and Mustard Sauce)

I cannot believe I haven't posted anything on pork chops. I absolutely love them. When I do eat meat, which is probably twice a week, a chop is usually what I choose (unless what I need for this is on sale, or a little bit for that), so I have no idea what I was thinking. Maybe it's because I usually just throw a chop, with a bit pepper and paprika, into some onions on the stove, or cook one up and then reduce down some cream-based sauce with a little dijon mustard. Quick and dirty, really... although quite elegant despite how simple and fast these dishes are to come together.

This dish is a favorite as well. It's from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, a well-loved and often used reference of mine. This book is filled with amazing recipes and delicious photographs, but what makes it so much fun is that it genuinely convey's the vulgar, bawdy Tony we all know, and his dirty, foul-mouthed ways. It's so down to earth. I mean, I'm pretty sure you can call Tony down to earth. Who else (besides maybe Gordon Ramsay) is going to yell at you through the pages of a cookbook, screaming "Now pick up your spoon and scrape, you magnificent bastard!" or, ever so sweetly, "If you haven't made béarnaise from scratch before, you will surely @#*$ this sauce up. Don't worry. Just do it again". He definitely keeps it real.