Saturday, February 23, 2013

Comforting soups for cold weather and cold season

There are some pink dawn viburnums that have been blooming in the neighborhood since late January.  Some forsythias started to open up this week.  I have lots of bulbs popping up and that little narcissus you see there just opened today in a pot by my front door.  But other than that it is still wet and cold and looks like the dead of winter here in the northwest.  Any color has been put in by desperate people like me. 

Yeah, that little pop of pink I let the girls stick in there.  Bulb greens aren't enough for me right now.

I filled my front with nice bright primroses and crocuses.  Feeling a little better for the color.  ☺

So with the cold and the colds, our menu has been filled with soups lately.  It's true, soup is good food.  If you have homemade stock, it is especially good for your body and immune system.

Here are some of our favorite soups not only now but all year:

This is a great one because you can work on it in sections.  Be generous with the veggies.  It's great because it also makes its own stock.  Now it is possible to turn this into a 5-6 hour soup also.  I do it often when I want the soup that day.  Just sear the chicken for 5-7 minutes a side, then add the leeks and water.  Simmer for an hour, remove and cool the chicken a bit.  Pick the chicken and put the meat and biggest bones back in the pot.  Let it simmer, covered, on low while you prep the veggies and put them in as you go.  Season and let simmer on low until dinner time.  I recommend starting around noon, no later than 1:30ish to have it nicely done for dinner with some good nourishing stock to it.  It will not gel like it would with the full time recipe but will still be delicious.  (Take out the bones before serving.)

I love this soup because it is simple and relatively quick to prepare.  From putting the bacon in the pot to done is around 30-40 minutes.

This was inspired by one of my favorite salmon recipes and the first one that ever turned out perfectly cooked salmon for me.  I usually have leftover salmon in the freezer and this is a nice lighter change up from clam chowder.

Ribollita con Crostini Di Pane 

A recipe I've had for years, by Bertoli.  This has got to be one of our most favorite soups.  Use veggie broth to make it vegan for the in-laws even.  That soup was the first time my dear MIL ever demanded a recipe from me!

My oldest daughter's favorite soup.  I grew up with red chowder and I will always prefer it.  This is based on my mom's recipe and I don't make it nearly as often as R would like.  It's warming and comforting with just a hint of heat.

Try a pot of soup this week to ward off the cold until spring comes!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Classic waffles with Raspberry Curd

Ahhhh, the family is finally all healthy again!  (Had to go and say something, the little kiddo spiked a fever right after I posted.  :P)  Wow, this has been a nasty cold and flu season everywhere.  I hope everyone is staying healthy now.  We've been doing lots of our favorite soups this past month.  I might do a recap post of great soups soon.  I am trying to replenish my freezer with stock, since I used it all up and had to resort to store bought.  But it is mid winter break now and I have time for indulgent breakfasts.  Where I grew up there is a little chain of restaurants that makes the most delicious Swedish pancakes with lingonberry sauce.  They are fabulous and my mom likes to order them extra crispy.  I haven't looked for a recipe for swedes but I do love waffles because I rarely make them.  So with company visiting this week, I decided on waffles.  I also had leftover raspberry curd on hand from my hubby's birthday cake filling.  It is seriously awesome stuff and no corn starch required.  It's nice and thick but willing to drizzle if you give it a good stir first.  And the waffles are simple, light and crispy.  How crispy they turn out is your choice.  If you like them with a little chew, take them out when there is still a wisp of steam coming out of the waffle baker; for crispy, take them out when there is no steam any more.  These turned out to be a fabulous replacement for Swedish pancakes.

Classic Waffles
Serves 4

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt


2 beaten egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 stiffly beaten egg whites

Preheat waffle baker.  Stir together the dry ingredients.   Whisk together the milk and egg yolks.  Stir into dry mixture.  Mix in the oil.  Fold in the beaten whites with a whisk.  It's okay to leave a few white fluffs.  Don't overmix.  Bake according to manufacturer's directions.  I use about a scant half cup per waffle for my baker.  Amount will vary with your machine.  Serve with butter and maple syrup, or a bare drizzle of syrup and raspberry curd.  You can also serve with curd and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Extra waffles freeze well and reheat in the toaster.  Don't cook them completely crispy if you plan on freezing them, so that they will have some moisture left for the toaster to crisp up.

Raspberry Curd
makes about 2 cups

½ cup butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
12 oz. package frozen raspberries
5 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp lime juice

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the raspberries and lime juice and mash lightly with a fork until thawed.  Combine yolks and sugar in a bowl until creamy and thoroughly mixed.  Add to the raspberries and mix well.  Stir every minute or so for five minutes, then constantly until thickened to a pudding consistency.  Remove from heat.  Sieve out the seeds if desired and cool to room temperature.  Store in the refrigerator.

Suitable for cake filling, doughnut filling, coffeecake filling or topping, scone topping, biscuit topping, and any jam type use, etc.