Thursday, January 17, 2013

recipe hoarder

one of my favorite things to do is collect recipes. it's near-obsessive really. i have a pile of pages torn from magazines (martha stewart living, everyday food, real simple, whole living…); i thought by tearing them out i'd at least be de-cluttering my apartment of old magazines. well, this half-worked--now i just have random folders filled with magazine pages cluttering my apartment… don’t even get me started on the cookbooks. i started to put little post-it tabs on all the recipes i wanted to try and ended up basically flagging the whole book. it would have been easier to just mark the ones i didn't want to try. -sigh- at least the cookbooks look nice in my bookcase. the online recipe collection is way worse, as you can imagine, since it's pretty easy to bookmark a page (ctrl+d is my friend and enabler). i love having all these different recipes saved, but what good is a recipe if you never try it? so this weekend, i decided I'd start tackling some of them. here we go: oatmeal fig chocolate chip cookies and sam's (eggy) coleslaw.

the cookies were simple with a hint of fancy from the figs. (yes, i think figs are fancy.) i halved the recipe (actually yielded closer to two-thirds--never a bad thing when it comes to cookies) and shared them with kim when we hung out on sunday. actual text message: Yay eating cookies now so good! i think that's a pretty good endorsement :) the cookies were soft and chewy, not too sweet, and the amounts of chocolate and figs were just right. i totally gobbled up the leftovers over the next couple days. the fruit and oats have to count for some nutritional value, right??

i've been meaning to try the coleslaw recipe for a while now, which might seem strange since when do you ever eat coleslaw besides at bbqs…and maybe not even then? but when i read the recipe intro it made this coleslaw sound pretty appealing as a simple side salad. the addition of egg and poppy seeds was a nice twist. i already had some savoy cabbage and radicchio leftover from a chopped salad so just needed to pick up some chives and parsely. other than boiling the eggs and waiting for them to cool, the coleslaw came together really quickly. after mixing everything together i realized that i probably needed more cabbage since the slaw was fairly eggy and there was a bit more dressing than i prefer. added some arugula to the mix and it was all better! it still veered more towards a light egg salad to me, but i like egg salad so not really a problem. if i make it again, i'd definitely use more cabbage and maybe less egg. all in all, a nice salad.
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:: oatmeal fig chocolate chip cookies ::
(recipe from edible living)
makes 2-3 dozen.

1 cup thinly sliced dried figs 
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole wheat white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped chocolate chips

preheat the oven to 375 degrees. pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the figs, cover and set aside to plump, 15 minutes. drain. 

meanwhile, beat together the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium high until light and fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time, applesauce, and vanilla. beat.

in a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. stir in the oats, plumped figs, and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.

scoop the dough in one heaping tablespoon-sized portions. arrange onto cookie sheets leaving plenty of space between cookies.

bake until just cooked through and golden brown on the outside, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. serve warm, or cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to three days.

:: sam's (eggy) coleslaw ::
(recipe from a sweet spoonful)
serves 6.

1 head cabbage (green or purple), finely chopped
2-3 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1-2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and chopped
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise, plus more if you like
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons (or more) poppy seeds

in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, green onion, parsley, celery, and eggs. toss to combine. add the mustard and mayonnaise and stir together. taste to see where it stands; add more mustard or mayonnaise if you wish. season with salt and pepper. finish with a generous dusting of poppy seeds and mix the whole thing together.

store covered and refrigerated for up to three days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

le creuset and chicken soup

it's only the beginning of winter, and it seems like everyone is getting sick so i thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make some comforting chicken soup. and why not make it in my le creuset!
i'm embarrassed to say it's been over a year since i received the flame orange dutch oven (christmas gift from sean <3), and this is the first time using it. in my head i was saving it for a special recipe and/or occasion. this of course turned into a year of culling recipes and never settling on one that i thought memorable enough. i couldn't let another year go by without using my le creuset, so i decided to just go for it--christen it with chicken soup.

i saw this recipe on smittenkitchen a while back, and what appealed to me was how simple and quick it is. i always thought chicken soup took a super long time to make, but with this recipe once you start cooking, the whole thing comes together fairly quickly. what i did not anticipate was the time it would take butchering the chicken. apparently i have no idea how to do that... i managed to break it down eventually but boy did that take a while. must read up on how to do that properly... after that minor obstacle the rest of the cooking was pretty easy, and i had a flavorful chicken soup in under an hour.

:: chicken soup ::
(recipe from smittenkitchen)
serves 4.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 lbs chicken, in parts, or 3 lbs chicken pieces of your choice
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons table salt (i used 1 teaspoon kosher salt)
freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot, diced (1/3-inch)
1 medium parsnip,* diced (1/3-inch) (optional)
1 large celery stalk, diced (1/3-inch)
3 oz dried egg noodles*
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley*

prepare broth: in a large (5-quart) heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. add the onion and saute it for 3 to 4 minutes, until beginning to take on color at edges. add the chicken pieces (if too crowded, can do this in two batches), making little wells in the onions so that the parts can touch the bottom of the pan directly. cook chicken parts until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

add water, bay leaf, table salt and some freshly ground black pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. reduce the heat to a simmer and skim any 'scum' that appears at the surface of the pot. simmer pot gently, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

transfer chicken parts to a plate to cool a bit before handling. set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (ideally, with a spout) and pour soup through it.

if your pot looks grimy and you're fanatical about having a clear soup, you can give it a quick wash before returning the broth to the pot. you can remove a bit of fat at this point, if it looks necessary. bring the broth back to a simmer.

to finish and serve: add diced vegetables and simmer them until they're firm tender, about 5 minutes. add dried noodles and cook them according to package directions, usually 6 to 9 minutes. while these simmer, remove the skin and chop the flesh from a couple pieces of chicken, only what you're going to use. you won't need all of it in the soup. the remaining parts can be slipped into an airtight bag in the fridge and used over the next few days.

once noodles have cooked, add chicken pieces just until they have rewarmed through (30 seconds) and ladle into serving bowls. garnish with dill or parsley.

do ahead: if planning ahead, the point where you strain your chicken broth is a great place to pause. refrigerate the chicken broth until the next day. before heating it and finishing the recipe, you can easily remove any solidified fat from the surface for a virtually fat-free soup. then, you can cook the vegetables and noodles to order, adding the chicken only that it can rewarm (and not overcook!). if making the broth more than a day in advance, you might as well freeze it.

* i left out the noodles because i didn't have any; same with the parsnips and parsley.