Monthly Archives: January 2010

avgolemono with chicken and dill

a week or two back here in central texas, we had this crazy weather pattern happenin’. one day i was walking around in flip-flops, minding my own business, when i heard that it would be 20 degrees the next day. well, i scrambled home and harvested every scrap of green from my ‘winter’ garden: spinach, arugula, parsley, fennel, mint, and dill. the oregano i covered with a sheet and three days later, when the freakish weather ended, it said ‘meh’ and went right back to growing like a weed. even the scraps of mint i was unable to pull out in time are now back to their regular ol’ selves again.

whenever i comes across dill’s intoxicating aroma, i have an unending desire to make this soup. it has been a tried and true favorite of mine for many years,  just the thing when winter gloom sets in; warm and filling, but bright and sunny all wrapped up together. early that frigid morning, i managed to make it to the farmer’s market to visit a chilly friend who works at vital farms and sells eggs there on the weekend. i also found a farmer who sold me these beautiful green onions next to her booth. i already had a little piece of chicken (did you hear what he called you? a little piece of chicken! bonus points for naming that movie) at home in the fridge and some homemade chicken stock in the freezer from another adventure just waiting to fulfill it’s destiny in something as warm and soothing as this.

avgolemono means egg + lemon. makes sense, right? you’ve heard it before, but i’m sure there as many versions of this as there are cooks in greece, it’s country of origin. traditionally it is made with chicken stock only, not chopped chicken, and i think adding dill is also an americanization of this soup. but i’m ok with that. i have let go of many of my purist ways over the last several years, as long as the spirit of the dish remains the same, i can let it go. especially if it tastes good!  i do also feel some sentimentality as it was with this recipe that i learned the skill (and importance) of tempering an egg.

my ‘rescue’ dill:

avgolemono (serves 4-6)

2 tbsp olive oil

4-5  green onions, thinly sliced and divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4-1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

6 cups fresh chicken stock

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, small dice

2 eggs, separated

juice of 2 small lemons

1 cups white rice or orzo

kosher salt

lots of freshly ground black pepper

heat olive oil in medium stock pot. add all but 2 tbsp green onion and garlic and saute for i minute. add chicken stock, bring to a boil and toss in diced chicken. bring back up to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until chicken is tender. add 1 cup rice or orzo and cook until tender. this will add starch to the mixture-you want that. meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk egg whites by hand (or with a stand mixter) until soft peaks form. add egg yolks and lemon juice and whisk together. slowly add 1 cup hot soup stock to egg mixture, whisking continuously. this is a very important step (you are tempering!). you do not want to add the eggs to the pot before you do this or you will end up with some form of egg drop soup. add egg mixture back to soup pot, stirring as you add it so eggs do not scramble. remove from heat and add  dill and salt to taste. top with remaining green onion and lots of freshly ground pepper.

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Filed under main dish, soup

texas ruby red grapefruit marmalade and a different kind of jam altogether

back when i was about 15 years old, my big sister took me to cal jam II. this was a huge concert out in the middle of nowheresville in southern california in the late seventies. growing up, i never really understood it when people said ‘those were the days’. until now. but those were the days. back when you could wear a shiny bathrobe while you played guitar in a band in front of hundreds of thousands of people and no one thought anything of it. back when you could wear a bandana. as a shirt! and wear tons of maybelline mascara and blue eye shadow.

granted, we mostly wanted to see our favorite bands, heart (my sister was ann, i was nancy) and aerosmith (steven tyler, joe perry, joe perry, steven tyler…ahhh!), but there were many a band and cute boy on hand to keep us occupied. thank goodness for my big sister. without her, i would not have survived my teenage years. she took me with her everywhere, even though there was a 4 year gap between us. don’t get me wrong, it was not all sweetness and light. we had our fights and misunderstandings, mostly because i would steal her clothes to wear to school because they were so much cooler than mine.

what does this have to do with homemade marmalade? well, this is altogether a very different type of jam, but a great one nonetheless.

making jam ain’t all that hard. don’t be intimidated, like i was. and it always helps to have a good friend to help you. thanks, casey.

boil your jars for 10 minutes and keep ’em in the pot while you finish up the marmalade.

pot on the left is infused with tupelo honey. pot on the right with vanilla bean.

honestly, the color just kills me. i can’t stop looking at it.

texas ruby red grapefruit marmalade (2 variations-with honey or vanilla)

makes about 11-12 half pint jars

adapted from nigella lawson

honey version:

5 medium sized texas rio star grapefruit, cut in half horizontally

juice of 4 lemons

6 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup local honey (i used a north cackalacky tupelo ‘cos i was out of goodflow wildflower-a local honey)

vanilla version:

5 medium sized rio star grapefruit, cut in half horizontally

juice of 4 lemons

8 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean, split open lengthwise, seeds removed, pod reserved to add to pot

put grapefruit halves in a large soup pot and cover with water. bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered until very soft, about 2 hours, adding more water from a simmering kettle if needed. drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. place a cutting board inside a roasting pan and cut grapefruit into large chunks, removing seeds as you go. the seeds are very large and few. you are welcome to leave the tiny seeds in, they are so fine that they are indiscernible.

place chunks (rind, pith, flesh and all) in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and whirl, in batches, until pieces are finely chopped (see picture). you can really make them as small or large as you like. add back to large pot with remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. set pot to simmer and stir frequently until mixture reaches gel point, tasting as you go to see if needs more sugar. i like mine a little on the bitter side. allow mixture to sit off heat for about 5 minutes, then stir before filling jars.

process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

if you like to can or want to learn how, please go here. this is #1 in a series called tigress’ can jam, wherein bloggers and canners across the globe are on a 12 month canning challenge.

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Filed under condiment

brrrr…! hearty lentil stew with elgin hot smoked sausage

it seems that old man winter has stretched his long, cold and sinewy fingers out to touch just about every corner of the country right now. here in central texas, we are the first to tell you we are cold weather wimps. we was made for growing tomatoes, jumping in the lake, and dropping ice cubes in our wine. our thin skins are now finely tuned for 100 degree days, not this stuff. so we shut down schools and roads, kick back and enjoy the homefires once again. at least for a few days.

the winter makes us thank our lucky stars for bowls of texas red, cases of ruby red grapefruit, and elgin hot smoked sausage. but we’re (not so) secretly hoping the chill doesn’t last too long.

hearty lentil stew with elgin smoked sausage (4-6 generous servings)

2-3 slices bacon, chopped into a large dice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery (the center stalks with leaves are most flavorful), chopped

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp dried mexican oregano

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

red pepper flakes to taste

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (i used 3 fresh romas because it was what i had on hand)

2 smoked sausages, fully cooked and sliced (i used elgin hot smoked, dang it’s good!)

1 cup lentils (i used french green but feel free to knock yourself out with whatever)

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, make your own!

a few tbsp of cilantro or parsley, chopped to finish/brighten up the stew

put your stock pot over a medium-low flame and add bacon. slowly render the fat from the bacon-this means melting the fat from the meat so you have a nice base in which to sweat your vegetables. when bacon is crisp, remove from pan and set aside. pour off all but 1 tbsp bacon grease from pot and turn the heat up to about medium. and add olive oil, and onion through leek. stir frequently and sweat vegetables, trying your best not to brown them, for about 4-5 minutes. add garlic, saute for about 1 minute more. toss in tomato paste, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes, gently stir spices into vegetable mixture for about a minute. then add tomatoes, sausage, lentils, and stock to pot and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, stirring often for about an hour and fifteen minutes,  or until the lentils are softened. check frequently, don’t overcook them or the whole mess will become mushy. pour yourself a nice glass of super texan  or longhorn red and light the fireplace.

remove thyme stems, add chopped cilantro or parsley and reserved bacon and serve with freshly warmed, crusty french bread.

this is another in a series of let’s lunch posts. special shout-out to karen from geofooding. this stew’s for you–get well soon! check out what other have made for their ‘hearty stew’ lunches:

cowgirl chef

show food chef

a tiger in the kitchen

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