Archive for the Category ◊ Side Dishes ◊

02 Oct 2019 Fresh Corn Soup
Fresh Corn Soup with Roasted Poblano Chilies, Queso Fresco, and fried corn tortilla strips.

This is such a plain and simple recipe, it’s hard to believe such a good tasting soup comes out of it!

The ingredient list for this soup is so ordinary that it’s hard to imagine how exceptional the soup tastes.  Been there, thought that. I was wrong. This soup is beyond the sum of its parts. Fresh Corn Soup is divine, and creamy and rich, but it’s not a hearty soup so it needs something else to go with it to make a full meal. Soup-and-sandwich anyone or, even better, a soup-and-enchilada combo?

I like to have this Fresh Corn Soup when the seasons are just beginning to change , just when cooler temperatures heighten the desire for soup and when the end-of-the-season corn-on-the-cob is still available. The original recipe said this soup can be made with frozen corn, so score one for simplicity! I always make things hard on myself though. I strip the corn kernels off six ears of fresh corn and then proceed with the recipe.

The toppings make this soup exceptional. Top each bowl of Fresh Corn Soup with a few corn tortillas cut into strips and fried in a little oil until crisp, a few crumbles of Queso Fresco, and a tablespoon or so of charred, peeled and diced poblano chilis.

This soup can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth, or by not using broth at all and using milk as the liquid ingredient.

Fresh Corn Soup

4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 6 ears of corn) or 4 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted.

1 cup water

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or milk

2 cups of milk

½ teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  1. Mix corn with water and place in blender, process until the water and corn combine into a smooth paste.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add corn puree and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour chicken broth (or veggie broth) plus milk into pan with corn mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer soup for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and cool slightly.
  6. Don’t skip this step! I did once and it was not nice. Pour the soup into a fine mesh strainer. Retain the liquid and discard the solids.
  7. When ready to serve, gently reheat and serve with all three of the toppings below.

Makes about 6 cups of soup. Leftover soup freezes well.

Garnishes

2 Poblano Chilies

3 corn tortillas

Queso Fresco

  1. Char the poblano chilies over an open burner. When completely charred and black, place in a brown paper bag to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub the burned skin off with a paper towel, cut away the stem, seeds and membrane and then finely chop the remaining flesh.
  2. Cut the three corn tortillas into thin strips. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a small fraying pan. When hot add some of the strips and fry until light brown. Repeat with remaining tortilla strip.
  3. Open the package of Queso Fresco and crumble the cheese.
  4. Add ½-1 tablespoon of diced chilies into bottom of the bowl along with approx. 1 tablespoon crumbled Queso Fresco.
  5. Ladle hot soup over the chilies and cheese.
  6. Top with crispy fried corn tortillas
Fresh Corn Soup made with white corn, topped with fancy corn tortilla shapes and Queso Fresco. Made and photographed by my daughter, Abby.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.

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25 Aug 2019 Tropical Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Toasted Tortilla Chips

The biggest issue with this dish is: when to eat it! Dessert? Appetizer? Snack? All three work but I think the best is a quiet summer afternoon on the porch with a chilled beverage of choice.

Tropical Fruit Salsa

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh mango (1 large or 2 small)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped kiwi (2)
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of ½ fresh lime (2-3 teaspoonfuls)
  • Salt, optional, to taste (I never add salt)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt, if desired.
  2. Serve with Cinnamon Toasted Tortilla Chips.

Cinnamon Toasted Tortilla Chips

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 3 T. butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl combine sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Brush one side of tortillas with melted butter then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  4. Using a pizza wheel or knife cut tortilla into 8 triangles (cut into 16 triangles if using XL tortillas)
  5. Place on baking sheet and place in preheated oven.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp.
  7. Let cool.
  8. Serve and share!

NOTES: Salsa can be made the night before and stored covered in refrigerator. Tortilla chips can be made a few hours before serving.

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26 Jan 2018 Potatoes Baked in Cream (Potato Gratin)
potatoes-baked-in-cream-with-abby

Did the name of the recipe entice you click on this?! Well then, that makes us friends forever!

When my friends from Southern France were staying with us, they offered to make a side dish for dinner.  They didn’t use a recipe. They sliced up a few potatoes, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, poured a carton of cream over the top, and put the whole thing in the oven. Sixty minutes later my family’s love affair with Potatoes Baked in Cream began.

Last year I found an actual written down recipe, one that I can pass on, one with precise quantities and directions.  The recipe is from David Tanis’ cookbook, “Market Cooking”. I made one change to Chef Tanis’ recipe, I cut out an additional four tablespoons of butter! Chef Tanis calls his recipe “Classic Potato Gratin”, but to me and my family it will always be “Potatoes Baked in Cream”.

I think you will be surprised at how delicious this very simple dish is. I certainly was. Sublime. After you taste Potatoes Bake in Cream, that will be your word of the day. Sublime.

An important note:  Leftovers don’t reheat well, so make sure you eat all of the potatoes in one sitting (invite friends over, take the dish to a potluck, serve these potatoes for a holiday meal…). I haven’t tried reheating leftovers in the oven, so that might work (see David Tanis’ *note below). I have tried reheating leftovers in the microwave.  Don’t do it on 100% power!  I had so-so results reheating on 50% power. I wouldn’t serve them to anyone else, but I was able to eat them!  I have also had so-so results from throwing a handful of diced ham into a hot frying pan, dicing up a serving of leftover casserole, and reheating over medium heat. It made for a good breakfast, but nothing-nothing-like the original casserole served hot from the oven.

Another important note: The potatoes need to be sliced thinly and evenly. 1/8th inch or 3/16ths an inch is about right. You can do this with a very sharp knife and by working slowly and carefully, like my French friends did. I use a mandolin to slice the potatoes. If you don’t have one, I’d suggest getting one.  I bought mine on Amazon after looking at all the reviews and selecting the highest rated one. Later I started seeing mandolins at Savers/Goodwill for about $6.  I bought used mandolins for my daughters. Go to Savers.

Potatoes Baked in Cream (Potato Gratin)

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • butter to coat the baking dish (Chef Tanis uses 4 more tablespoons butter to dot top of casserole, I don’t)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2½ cups heavy whipping cream (don’t even think about substituting anything for the cream, such as half and half or whole milk, it just won’t work!)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Peel the potatoes and put them in cold water (to prevent them from turning brown while you finish the prep work. Slice only one layer of potatoes as a time. Keep the other potatoes in the cold water. The browning happens fast when the potatoes are so thinly cut).
  2. Smear a baking dish thickly with butter. (I use a 9×13 dish but I am looking for a dish that’s the same size and a bit shallower since the quantity of potatoes only come half way up the sides of the 9×13 pan. The waste of space bothers me a bit as I’d like to have a dedicated Potatoes Baked in Cream pan because, after all, this is a dish I will be making over and over! That being said, I’ve been using the same 9×13 pan for a few years now, so it’s really not a problem.)
  3. Drain and dry one peeled potato at a time. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice one potatoes at a time as thinly as possible. Quickly lay the potato slices in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them just slightly to make a “roof tile” style pattern. Sprinkle each layer of potatoes lightly with salt and pepper. Slice more potatoes and make another layer. Continue in this fashion, seasoning each layer, until all the potatoes are used. You should have at least 3, but no more than 4 layers.
  4. Pour the cream over the potatoes and tilt the pan to distribute well. With your hands, push down on the top layer to even out the pile (I don’t do this, but Chef Tanis says to). The cream should just barely cover the potatoes; add a little more if necessary.
  5. Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 375°.
  6. After 30 minutes remove the foil from the casserole, and return to the oven for another 30-35 minutes to finish cooking the potatoes and turn the top of the gratin to a crispy, deep golden brown.
  7. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving.

*Note from David Tanis: The gratin can also be cooled and left at room temperature for several hours, then reheated in a moderate oven. (I haven’t tested this)

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today, what is cooking for tomorrow, hmmmm…. Pork and Tomatillo Stew?

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24 Jul 2014 Curried Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Rice Pilaf
curriedmeatballs01

I have a love-hate relationship with America’s Test Kitchen (and their related publications, Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country).  I buy a LOT of their special interest publications. I like to read, and I enjoy reading recipes, and I like trying out new recipes. I like the pictures of each recipe and I like the all the notes that go along with each ATK recipe.  I have made some good things from ATK recipes, but I’ve made some not so good, too.  On the other hand, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate that I cannot access any of the ATK recipes online without paying for them.  The only way around this is to get the name of the recipe you are interested in and Google it, or look on foodgawker or TasteSpotting for a hit, then go to a food blog, similar to this one, to get the actual recipe.  Compare this to Bon Appetit and Epicurious.  I subscribe to Bon Appetit, but even if I didn’t I could access all of their recipes for free on the Epicurious website, most of which have some wonderfully helpful comments.  I love being able to search Epicurious‘ recipe archives for any recipe they have published over the past years. I often find terrific recipes that way, searching on words such as “soup”,  “blueberries” and “brownies” and then scrolling through all the recipes with that key word. I don’t know why America’s Test Kitchen cannot do the same 😛

Anyways…, enough of my rant and onto my latest America’s Test Kitchen find!

The original recipe (by the same name) was from one of America’s Test Kitchen 30-minute Meals cookbooks.  The meatballs, although very simple with a very plain list of ingredients, are quite tasty and virtually perfect! I wanted to up the curry powder just a bit, but my offspring vetoed that idea,  saying they were good just as they are, so I left the meatball recipe alone (but I did “heap” the 1 T. of curry powder!).  I always make these meatballs with ground chicken, but I see no reason why ground turkey, ground beef, or ground lamb couldn’t be used. The 1 lb. of ground meat makes about 30-36 small meatballs.

I did change the pilaf recipe a quite bit, as ATK’s was much too bland. (Pilaf, by definition, contains rice cooked in broth, ATK version was cooked in water, and only got worse after that.) I substituted butter for vegetable oil, broth for the water and added a bit  more variety, and taste,  with additional veggies, herbs, and garnishes.  I also added a bit of salt and spice…, and the magical touch, a bay leaf and a long piece of lemon peel (both of which are fished out before serving).

I didn’t think it was true, but it was! I was able to make this, from start to finish, in 30-minutes…, AND it was a mighty tasty, spur-of-the-moment dinner!   Serve with a side of veggies, if you want, steamed broccoli would be good… 🙂

Curried Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Rice Pilaf

For Pilaf

  • 1 T butter (approx)
  • ½ -1 cup finely chopped onion (your favorite variety)
  • ½ -1 cup finely chopped mixed vegetables (celery, carrots, bell peppers…)
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 ¾ cups hot chicken broth (or water). OK to sub abut ¼ cup of liquid for ¼ cup white wine (another option: add one long strip of lemon, lime or orange peel-with no white pith attached, to the rice mixture when adding the liquid)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ -1 teaspoon salt (if your broth is salted, you might not need to add too much additional salt)
  • ½ – 1 cup chopped dried apricots or mixture of apricots and other dried fruits (raisins, cherries, cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds or other nuts (pistachios, pine nuts, chopped pecans)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, parsley, basil, green onion, frozen peas, sautéed mushrooms or mint for last minute stir-in and garnish (choose one, maybe two…or three)

 For Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
  • ½ cup very finely minced raw onion (grated onion works well, too)
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (maybe a bit more…)
  • 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste

From start to finish: about 30 minutes

  1. In large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add chopped onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add rice and cook until mostly opaque, about 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in choice of mixed veggies
  5. Add broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from heat and let rice stand and steam until needed.
  6. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine chicken, onions, panko, cilantro, curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix with fork until well blended.  Don’t overwork the meat mixture.
  7. Using wet hands (or a small scoop), shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. (Depending on size, of course, makes about 30-36 meatballs)
  8. Heat a bit of oil in a large frying pan until hot.
  9. Add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, shaking pan as needed.
  10. Cover the pan and steam meatballs over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes.
  11. Now turn your attention back to the rice. Take lid off the pan and gently fluff rice with a fork. Pick out the bay leaves and the optional lemon or orange peel.
  12. Add apricots/dried fruit mixture, toasted almonds/nuts and choice of stir ins to rice (reserve about 1 tablespoon, each, of nuts and green stir-ins). Stir to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.
  13. Transfer pilaf to a serving platter, top pilaf with hot, browned meatballs, and then sprinkle the reserved 1 T. of  nuts and cilantro, parsley, mint or green onion over the top. Add a serving spoon and . . . .
  14. Dinner is ready! YUM!

curriedmeatballs02

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today 🙂  I hope that you make  and enjoy these and I hope they become a family favorite, as they have in my house!

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