Tuesday, April 15, 2014

{14/52 & 15/52}: mulligatawny

{14/52}: bike trailer season!

{15/52}: sisterly love

The weather lately is wicked crazy. It can't decide whether it wants to be warm, cold, windy (correction: it is always windy), or raining. I feel for the poor weather experts who have to try to predict these doozies. Luckily we have had a few days of sunshine--enough for us to burn even while wearing sunscreen--so my need for vitamin D has finally be satiated.

It rained and was hella-windy today, so it seemed like a good day for soup. I like to tinker in the kitchen, and recently I discovered I love curry in soup. First I tried this curried sweet potato soup, which was completely delicious, even to the person in our household who lists sweet potatoes as the only food he won't eat. Next I decided to try mulligatawny, which was equally delicious.

It would be impossible for me to talk about mulligatawny and not mention Seinfeld. It's a great word and a great episode and a great soup. All great! My first introduction to mulligatawny was in a little middle eastern restaurant called Lulu's in Madison, Wisconsin (it's closed now, sadly). That restaurant offered not just my first introduction to the soup but also my first introduction to Middle Eastern food of any kind.

I learned when deciding to write about mulligatawny that it's actually a product of Anglo-Indian cuisine rather than authentically Indian. Also I learned that most recipes (including the one in my 1950's Betty Crocker cookbook) call for chicken and apples, which is such a strange combination to me. Because, you know, there aren't apples in India.

But perhaps the best part about mulligatawny is that you can make it whatever way you like, with whatever ingredients you have on hand. And it's so much more fun to say mulligatawny than "curried pea soup."

The reason I tried mulligatawny now is that I happened to discover "vegi soup mix" by Bob's Red Mill, and somehow the split peas, barley, lentils, and veggie pasta seemed to cry out for curry flavoring. I happened also to have a coconut curry chicken broth on hand, so I used it, but regular chicken stock or veggie broth would be fine too.

Pic quality isn't great, but yk, does lentil soup ever look good?


mulligatawny
serves 8

Ingredients:
few Tbs. of butter & oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 good-sized potatoes, diced (or whatever other veggies you like)
2 c. Bob's Red Mill vegi soup mix (or a combo of the beans above)
8 c. chicken stock or veggie broth
1 Tbs. curry powder (a mix of coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, red pepper, and onion)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
salt and pepper (if you have citrus salt on hand, this is a good time to use it)
parsley
lemon

Directions:
1. Saute onion and carrots in butter & oil in Dutch oven over medium heat for 10 minutes, until onions are translucent.
2. Add potatoes, soup mix, broth, and spices (everything except parsley and lemon), and cook covered over medium-low heat for approximately an hour or until the peas have all but disappeared and the lentils are soft. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and lemon juice to brighten it up.



Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Uncle Ronnie's chicken bog {& a list of freezable meals!}

I sat down here to write an update on the Ranger household. But rather than jot those deets, I veered off the path to share another recipe for comforting chicken stew (that makes two in a row).

Because sometimes your pal Jenny--a wonderful friend and beautiful person inside and out--asks you for easy, freezable meal ideas in anticipation of her first bundle of joy, and you must answer the call. Once a boat mate, always a boat mate. So I hope you'll forgive me for sharing this recipe instead of an update today, and I believe you will once you've learned how easy and delicious it is.

Only picture of me (2nd from left) and Jenny that I can find right now. She's the badass on the right.


My uncle that I was telling you about the other day--Uncle Ronnie of the sorghum syrup--is a wealth of information about recipes from the old south. He usually gets the tips from his Dad, who is an even greater wealth of information on the topic. So you can see, I've tapped into a great wellspring of recipes for you folks.

My latest discovery via Uncle Ronnie is chicken bog, a stew from the eastern Carolinas. Perhaps it would sound more tasty if I called it chicken and rice stew, but I prefer to let the title lie as is in all its odd, humble glory. Although the name is quirky and less than delicious-sounding, chicken bog is neither of those things.

A recipe as simple as this one deserves to be left without the decoration of superfluous adjectives, so I'll just tell you it is GOOD. And if you're a soon-to-be mom, you should also know that it is easy and definitely freezable. All you need is time, but if you're anything like I was during the nesting phase, you're spending lots of time rewashing the layette anyhow and can spare a few minutes for waiting and stirring.

Uncle Ronnie's dad dictated few instructions. Mainly he said to cover the chicken with water, simmer until it is falling apart, strain the stock into a container, top the chicken with 2 c. white Carolina rice, pour in 2-3 c. of the saved liquid, and simmer 15 more minutes. You can certainly do it as simply as that, but I added a few fussier ingredients thanks to this recipe by Vivian Howard of A Chef's Life.


Uncle Ronnie's chicken bog
serves 8

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, skin-on and cut into parts
1 onion, quartered
bay leaf
fresh thyme
salt & pepper
2 c. white rice (I can get Carolina brand at the regular grocery)
butter

Directions:

  1. Place chicken pieces in a Dutch oven. Cover with water and throw in the onion, bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, and 1 Tbs. salt and a few teaspoons of fresh cracked pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer the chicken over low heat for about an hour and a half or until chicken is falling apart. You will have rendered the fat off the skin, and even the breast meat should come right apart if poked with a fork.
  2. Turn the heat off and let it sit covered in its liquid for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board to cool. Strain the stock into a container. Shred the chicken, leaving some big pieces of breast meat, and discard the skin bones. [Note: If you are freezing the recipe, stop here. Put the shredded chicken into the stock, label it with the name and date, and put it in the chest freezer. When you're ready to use it, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, and move on to step #3.]
  3. Return chicken to the Dutch oven. Top with 2 c. white rice if you're serving 8 people (if you're serving 4, save half for later in the week at step #2, then cook fresh rice at that time). Don't rinse your rice before putting it in, since the extra starch is helpful for thickening. Follow rice directions for how much liquid to add (usually 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice). Simmer for approximately 15 minutes until rice is tender. Careful not to simmer too long, for though you want the chicken soft, you want the rice to maintain a bite. Drop in a pat of butter and maybe some lemon juice or parsley if you like it fussy. Just do me a favor and don't tell Uncle Ronnie's dad.

For Jenny & the other moms-to-be out there, here's a list of freezable recipes from the blog:

My one and only piece of advice when it comes to post-baby food is this: invest in a chest freezer! I promise you won't regret the investment even if you don't cook that often. Last I checked, they sell a reasonably large model for around $100 at Home Depot.

Good luck, Jenny! And snuggle that baby. They grow all too fast.
xoxo,
~J

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