The other night, we had a dorm event centered around soup. That is my kind of event! I love soup passionately, and have shared many soups here across the years.
I started to ask my husband which soup he wanted me to bring, then amended my statement to, “Do you want me to make lasagna soup?”
He shook his head vigorously. This is probably his favorite soup that I make, and it’s a great crowd-pleaser for events. It’s hearty and satisfying and really much easier to make than a lasagna. With just a touch of cheese, you get the same lasagna feeling, too, without being weighed down with tons of carbs and dairy products.
Make some soup to survive these last weeks of winter. You won’t be sad to have a bowl of this on your table. And if you need more carbs, it’s a great dipping vessel for crusty bread.
It’s another beautiful month of the Secret Recipe Club, y’all! You know what? I have been participating in the club for over four years now, with only a couple months off here and there. And it’s truly still enjoyable for me. I love getting to peruse new-to-me foodie blogs.
I think people probably get confused when they’re assigned my blog, since I’m not a *real* food blog. But I am glad they allow me to participate, and it makes sure I cook something new at least once a month!
This month I was assigned to A Spoonful of Thyme. Kathy has been blogging since 2009 about good food, memories, her children, and more. I really enjoyed perusing her gigantic recipe index, and finally got so overwhelmed that I let my husband pick the recipe for this month. He really liked the look of the Southwestern Stuffed Peppers, but determined that our kids wouldn’t touch them, sadly. (Stinkers.) So instead he decided on Lemon Chicken, Asian-Style.
I would never order this in a Chinese restaurant, even though I’ve seen it on the menu, because it doesn’t seem authentically Chinese to me. I didn’t see much fried when I was in China in 2002. But maybe I’m wrong? Either way, whatever the inspiration is, the sauce is nice and tangy and I enjoyed this dish!
I modified to shallow-fry the chicken, although I think deep-frying like Kathy did gives it a better crust. I just don’t have a lot of deep frying skills and I try not to use the typical frying oils (like vegetable or canola). I shallow-fried the chicken in a combo of palm shortening and grapeseed oil, but you can do what you want!
We all thoroughly enjoyed this chicken and sauce over jasmine rice and accompanied by roasted broccoli, which I jazzed up by drizzling the florets with sesame oil as well as olive, adding to the Asian flair. Sesame seeds sprinkled on it all would be good, too!
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. It is ready to go when you put the end of a wooden spoon in it and bubbles form around the spoon. (Or 375-400 degrees.)
Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper. In a measuring cup, beat egg, then stir in club soda. Add enough club soda mixture that the batter is a little more runny than pancake batter. For me this took about 1 1/3 cups.
Dip chicken cutlets in the batter, letting extra drip off. Deep-fry, or shallow-fry about 5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. Place a cooling rack on a jelly-roll pan, and put cooked cutlets on the rack in a 300F oven to warm while you finish cooking the chicken and sauce.
For the sauce, bring all ingredients except cornstarch to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce by half (to about 1 cup of liquid). Add cornstarch slurry to boiling liquid and cook a few more minutes, until thickened.
To serve, drizzle sauce over chicken pieces. Sprinkle with chopped scallions if desired.
I’m a big fan of pork chops (especially the ones I can get from a local farm). They’re good slow-cooked, grilled, braised, baked, or fried, right? They suck up flavor easily, so they work well for marinating.
My husband’s favorite meal as of late is this Paula Deen Asian Pork Tenderloin, which we’ve done as pork chops as well. I made it for New Year’s Eve, and he’s mentioned it probably 10 times since then! I made it when our dorm boys came over for dinner and then gobbled it down, too.
But last night I pulled some pork chops straight from the freezer. I vaguely remembered this recipe for pork chops with brown gravy, but it appears the site I found it on originally is down now. So here’s how I remembered it. I’m usually not much of a gravy person, but this gravy has a deep flavor despite its few ingredients and is a great sauce for rice or potatoes (or couscous in this case … I was in a hurry).
4 pork chops (bone-in adds nice flavor to the gravy)
oil or bacon grease
2 cups chicken stock or broth
salt and pepper
2 T cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 c. cold water
Heat oil or bacon grease in a large skillet (preferaly not nonstick - this is a cast iron, which I love) over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
When oil is very hot, add chops to pan. Sear on both sides until brown.
Remove chops to a plate for a minute. Add chicken stock to skillet, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.
Turn heat to medium-low and add chops back to skillet. Cook for about 30 minutes, turning once, until chops are done and tender. Time may depend on the thickness of your chops.
When they are done, remove them to a plate or serving platter. Turn the heat up to high and let stock simmer for 5 minutes to reduce. Add cornstarch slurry and whisk rapidly. It should thicken immediately. Remove from heat and season to taste.
Spoon gravy over chops and serve with rice, potatoes, or couscous to mop up gravy.
As a woman in my child-bearing years, I try to be pretty alert to the nutrients I am taking in. Although I’m no nutritionist, from what I understand dark, leafy greens are some of the best foods for you to eat.
Swiss chard ranks number two in the “world’s healthiest foods,” right next to spinach. Only a handful of fruits and vegetables contain folate, the all-important nutrient that prevents spina bifida in growing babies, and chard is one of those. The risk for spina bifida is reduced by 75% if a woman takes in adequate amounts of folate or folic acid before she is pregnant. Even if I am not trying to get pregnant, I think it’s important to include folate in my diet just in case.
Some beautiful rainbow chard jumped into my cart at Earth Fare last week, and I found inspiration in (strangely) an episode of Chopped on the Food Network. The judges gave great accolade to one chef who used the stems of the Swiss chard in his basket as well as the leaves. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about … you need to watch an episode of Chopped. It’s wild.)
This chard recipe incorporates the stems, smoky and delicious bacon, and garlic. And you can’t go wrong with bacon and garlic, right? It’s necessary to boil the dish some to get out the bitterness of the chard and leave just the rich, tasty flavor.
I found one bunch of chard only made a side dish for two people. Like most greens, it cooks down quite a bit.
“Butcher” the chard: cut off long lengths of stem. If stems are very thick, you may want to cut them lengthwise in half. Discard woody end and then slice into 1-inch lengths. Cut the leaves away from the remainder of the stems. [This YouTube video shows what I mean when I say cut it away from the stem.]
Cut bacon into small pieces (I use kitchen shears for this) and saute on medium-high until crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel with a slotted spoon, leaving fat in pan.
Add the stem pieces and garlic cloves. Cook on medium heat about 8 minutes, until stems are soft. Add chard leaves and toss. Stir until wilted. Remove garlic cloves.
Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and let boil, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes. Taste to make sure chard is not too bitter.
Drain off any remaining chicken stock. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in bacon pieces and serve.