Justice Is Served

An attorney writes about stuff she'd rather be doing: cooking, eating, wining, dining and traveling.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

60 Minute Chicken Stock

A rich, flavorful stock that tastes like roasted chicken in less than an hour? Thank you, The Best Recipe by Cook's Illustrated! This recipe uses small pieces of chicken and a method that causes them to release the flavor in minimal time.

60 Minute Chicken Stock (adapted from The Best Recipe and my momma)
1 large onion, chopped
4 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, hacked into 2 inch pieces (use a cleaver, sharp chef's knife, or kitchen shears)
2 quarts boiling water
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven
Saute the onion for about 3 minutes, remove from pan
Saute the chicken pieces (in 2 batches) until no longer pink, about 6 minutes
Return all chicken and onion to pot
Reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 20 minutes (this will cause the chicken to "sweat" out its juices)
Add water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer on very low for 20 minutes

Remove the chicken pieces and pull off meat for soup or other use*
Strain stock to remove solids

Important: chill stock overnight in the fridge. This will cause the fat to rise to the top and solidify. In the morning. you can skim the fat for a less greasy, healthier stock.

* The chicken will lose a lot of its flavor due to the sweating process, and The Best Recipe recommends discarding the meat. However, I cannot bring myself to throw out that much chicken meat, and I have found that the meat is just fine for use in a chicken noodle soup, a chicken chili, or in other highly seasoned dishes calling for shredded chicken. I wouldn't eat it plain on a salad, but as long as the dish has some flavor, it's totally fine. If I ate enchiladas, I would probably put it in an enchilada dish.

To make into soup, sinply heat with sliced carrots and diced celery. Add some of the shredded chicken. Cook some egg noodles and voila! I do not recommend storing the noodles in the soup, as they will absorb most of the liquid. Cook and store separately!

Cook Like A Crazy Person

As tends to be the case in the legal world, there are stretches of time that are just INSANE busy. For me, that has been the case since June. Throw in 8 or 9 weddings, several out of town trips (both business and pleasure), and that explains why Mr. Foodie and I have been subsisting off frozen pizzas, take-out, sandwiches, and truth be told (earmuffs, Mom), wine-only 9pm dinners for the last several months.

We just had 5 weddings in the last 30 days, and I've been working 12 hour days. This being my first free weekend in what seems like eternity, I cooked, slept, and sipped red wine while in comfy pants. It was glorious.

I return to legal craziness tomorrow. Fortunately, I managed to stock the Foodie freezer with the following to get us through the next stretch:

2 quart-sized bags of chicken soup made with homemade stock
2 quart-sized bags of taco soup
2 quart-sized bags of vegetable soup with ditalini pasta
1 gallon-sized bag of chicken chile verde
2 dinner portions of meatballs
1 big bag of mini-meatballs for pizza or soup
2 meatloaves
1 spinach and feta pie
2 pans of cheese manicotti
1 pan of spinach and cheese lasagna

And, courtesy of Mr. Foodie, 2 quart-sized bags of his famous smoky beer 'n bacon man chili. Don't worry girls, you'll like it too.

It is somewhat of a relief to know that we will have REAL food to eat and that Mr. Foodie can have ready when I get home. Back to the grind...

2 quarts of Mr. Foodie's smoky beer 'n bacon man chili

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Locavore Whore

I cannot say this enough: I big fat hot pink sparkly puffy heart the Green City Market.

I have not eaten a single piece of fruit or vegetable from a commercial grocery store in months. Nor do I plan to.

There is something very satisfying about creating a simple meal from the freshest ingredients, with very little fuss or flair and having it taste so amazingly fresh. Strawberries that are red all the way through. Lettuce so delicate, but crisp. Tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes. Teeny tiny potatoes in 30 varieties. Carrots in a whole rainbow of colors.

Pasta Puttana is one of my favorite vendors. At $10 for a bag of pasta, I thought I'd buy it once, say "that was nice" and never buy it again. Wrong. Pasta Puttana (aka Pasta Whore) is one of my first stops every time. It's a one-woman shop, and she turns out the best, lightest, most delicious pasta you will ever have. I'm hooked.

Tonight's dinner featured the Pasta Puttana Cremini Mushroom Tagliatelle, and I used only purchases from the Green City Market, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and a tiny bit of butter and a healthy dash of white wine (both in the pan and in my glass). Honestly, I didn't need anything else.

Mushroom Pasta
1 white onion, chopped
1 lb. mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, portabella, oyster, shitake, etc., chopped
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil, salt, pepper, white wine, butter
1 bag Pasta Puttana pasta (preferably cremini, but I've made this with other varieties)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic and cook for one minute
Add mushrooms and saute for about 2-3 minutes
When the mushrooms are slightly browned, add a big splash of white wine
Let the wine cook off and stir in 2 tbsp. or so of butter
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta per package directions, drain well and toss with mushrooms

Red and Gold Beet Salad
2 red beets
2 golden beets
Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper
Mixed greens

Heat oven to 400
Wash beets and wrap each beet individually in foil
Roast beets for about 45 minutes or until pierced easily with a knife
Allow beets to cool and then peel and dice
Toss beets with a bit of balsamic and olive oil and season with salt and pepper
Serve over mixed greens*

* Note: the greens I bought were very fresh and delicate and didn't need dressing. If you use commercially packaged greens, I would think you might want to make a bit more balsamic vinaigrette and toss the greens with the vinaigrette as well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Avocado Salad

Like the black beans side dish below, another very simple side that makes frequent appearances in the Foodie household. The avocado and a drizzle of olive oil provide a good dose of heart-healthy fats!

Avocado salad
1 Hass avocado, diced
1/2 tomato, diced
1/4 red onion, minced
A small amount of minced jalapeno, to taste
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Splash of red wine vinegar
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Combine avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro in a bowl
Add lime juice and red wine vinegar and toss
Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Black Beans

We have this particular side dish quite often. It's a great match for spicy foods, tacos, grilled meats or anything with Latin flavors.

Black Beans
1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 can chicken stock
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. adobo sauce (or more to taste)*
Juice of 1/2 lime
Olive oil, salt and pepper

* From a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, or the San Marcos brand sells large bottles of chipotle sauce near the salsas. I use the chipotle sauce in this recipe.

Saute onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil, about 2 minutes
Add black beans and about 1/2 cup of chicken stock
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, stirring well
Add cumin and bay leaf
Simmer, adding stock as needed, for about 30 minutes (you will use the whole can of stock)
Stir in chipotle sauce and lime juice
Add salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt)

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm back, bitches: Szechuan Pork

So June and July have been CRAZY. Besides three weddings and a funeral (literally), we've also had myriad bachelor/bachelorette parties, bridal showers, baby showers, etc. Oh, and I billed nearly 400 hours between the two months. Needless to say, "cooking" at home was relegated to slapping a couple burgers on the grill or calling for takeout.

But I'm BACK. Five of my cases have settled or successfully gone through arbitration, and my pro bono client's appellate brief (and his fate) is now out of my hands and in the hands of the Seventh Circuit. I left work before 7:30 without having worked a 12 hour day for the first time in what feels like forever. It's 8:30 and I've been home from work for what feels like an eternity. I have a fridge full of veggies straight from Green City Market. It's glorious. And I cooked, dammit, I cooked.

Szechuan Pork
2 boneless pork chops, sliced
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
6 purple carrots, peeled and cut into sticks (regular carrots work, but I had the fancy carrots from the farmer's market)
1 large handful combo wax and green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 large handful oyster mushrooms
1/2 c. hoisin sauce
3 tbsp. Szechuan sauce (more to taste)
White rice, for serving

Heat oil in skillet
Add pork and let brown.
When pork is halfway cooked, add the carrots, broccoli and beans
When pork is cooked through, add the mushrooms, hoisin and Szechuan sauce, mix well, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve over rice.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fruit Crostada

My mom turned me on to this very simple summer dessert that uses fresh fruit and not a whole lot else. It is fairly healthy, as far as desserts go, and you can use whatever you've got.

Fruit Crostada
1 refrigerated pie crust (the rolled kind, not in a pie plate)
2 cups of sliced or diced fruit - berries, peaches, plums, pears, apples or any combination
2 tbsp. of Minute tapioca (or cornstarch)
1 tbsp. + a sprinkling extra
1/2 tbsp. butter, cut into little pieces

Unroll the pie crust on a cookie sheet.
Toss fruit with the tapioca and a tablespoon of sugar
Spread fruit onto pie crust.
Fold edges up and over, leaving about a 3-4 inch opening in the middle.
Scatter the little pieces of butter over the top. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes.