Weekly Winner: A Sunny, Simple, Sublime Soup

I’m always surprised when simple, easy things turn out so wonderfully complex-tasting.  This soup is the perfect example.  I got it from my new favorite cookbook “America’s Test Kitchen‘s Six Ingredient Solution”.  I have been so impressed and happy with the food I’ve turned out from this book.  I shouldn’t be so surprised,  I trust America’s Test Kitchen implicitly and have always loved their show –  but for some reason, I was skeptical that six simple ingredients could deliver.  And boy did they!

Greek Egg Lemon soupThe soup is Greek Egg and Lemon Soup with Rice — heck, half the ingredients are listed in the title!  I think the one ingredient that actually made this soup incredible was the cardamom pods.  Amazing.  Subtle and surprising.  Make this soup.  Please.  Except for the possible exception of said cardamom pods, I guarantee you have everything you need in your kitchen.  I even had the cardamom pods, but then again, I’ve been accused of being a food geek.

Greek Egg and Lemon Soup with Rice

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 lemons

4 green cardamom pods

8 cups chicken broth

½ cup long-grain white rice

2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

1 scallion

Procedure:

Remove 12 strips zest from lemons using vegetable peeler, then squeeze lemons for ¼ cup juice.  Lightly crush cardamom pods.  Bring broth to boil in large saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add lemon zest, cardamom, rice and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.  Simmer until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, remove cardamom and zest strips, then return broth to boil.

Whisk eggs, yolks, and lemon juice in medium bowl until combined.  Reduce heat to low, and, whisking constantly; slowly pour 2 cups broth into egg mixture to temper.  Pour tempered egg-broth mixture back into saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until soup is slightly thickened and wisps of steam appear, 4 to 5 minutes (do not simmer).  Divide soup among individual serving bowls.  Slice scallion thinly and sprinkle over soup.  Serve immediately.

Weekly Winner: Beef + Broccoli + Buckwheat = Booyah!

Beef, Broccoli, SobaI’ve made this week’s winner before — I’m certain I have.  Thing is, I just don’t remember it being so good!  Usually you think of stir-fried beef and broccoli as being served over rice.  It would have been fine over rice — quite tasty actually.  But add one of my favorite things in the world — peanut sauce — and then put that on soba noodles…..Ding, ding, ding … we have a winner!

The other surprise about this dish is that I’ve always had peanut soba noodles cold.  Having them hot with the beef and the broccoli made it a yummy, comforting dish for a chilly, dreary evening.  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It just goes to show you should make recipes you like more than once … obviously you get better at it as you go!  Practice may not make perfect … but it makes it pretty dang good!

Peanut Soba with Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb. flank steak, cut across the grain into thin strips
  • 3 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 medium navel orange
  • One 1-1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 8 oz. soba noodles
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 3 Tbs. canola or peanut oil
  • 10 oz. broccoli crowns, cut into 1-inch florets (about 4-1/2 cups)

Procedure:

Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Toss the beef with 2 tsp. soy sauce and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Finely grate the orange zest and then juice the orange. Put the ginger and garlic in a food processor and pulse until minced. Transfer all but 1 tsp. of the mixture to a small ramekin. Add the peanut butter, zest, 2 Tbs. of the juice, and 2 Tbs. of the soy sauce to the food processor. Process until smooth, adding 1 to 2 Tbs. water so the mixture loosens a bit.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbs. of the remaining orange juice with the oyster sauce, the remaining 1 Tbs. soy sauce, and 2 Tbs. water.

Cook the soba noodles in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and toss with the peanut butter mixture and half of the mint.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil with the minced garlic and ginger over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until it just loses its raw color, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Reduce the heat to medium; add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil to the skillet, and then the broccoli. Cook, stirring, until browned in places, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce mixture, cover, and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Return the beef and its juices to the pan and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Portion the noodles among 4 plates and top with the beef and broccoli. Sprinkle with the remaining mint and serve.

Weekly Winner: More Wonderfully Beige Food

mustard chickenYou may remember a while back I wrote a post on the glories of beige food – “In Defense of Beige Food” https://donnasquickqi.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/weekly-winner-in-defense-of-beige-food/, well it’s time for an update.  Admittedly, last night’s dinner was not much to look at (as the photo proves) however what it lacked in appearance, it certainly made up for in taste.  It was cozy, satisfying, and had just a hint of Autumn to it with the fresh sage and slight mustard bite.  It definitely proves once again that delicious and soul-satisfying does not need to be fancy or complicated (or even pretty for that matter).

The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and the only change I made to it was to swap out the whole-wheat pasta with regular white pasta.  I am not a whole-wheat pasta kind of girl.  If you are (or guy for that matter) fine, go with it, I don’t judge (actually I do just a bit).

Creamy Mustard Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package whole-wheat angel hair pasta (7-8 ounces)
  • 4 thin-sliced chicken breasts or cutlets (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish

Procedure:

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow bowl and coat both sides of the chicken, shaking off any excess. Reserve 2 teaspoons flour; discard the rest.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Combine water with the reserved 2 teaspoons flour. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream, mustard, 2 tablespoons sage and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce.

Top the pasta with half the sauce, the chicken and then the remaining sauce. Garnish with more sage, if desired.

Weekly Winner: The Perfect Autumn Sunday Supper — on Saturday

IMG_0805This truly would have been the perfect Sunday Supper for a cool autumn night.  Instead, it was a Saturday college football feast on an unusually warm late-September evening.  Oh well, either way it was tasty.

What I like about this roast is that it does not have your “usual suspects” of vegetables that tend to accompany a roast.  Instead of carrots, white potatoes and onions, this one has sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and sweet peppers.

The recipe comes from Cuisine at Home magazine and is a very elegant, easy one-pot dinner – worthy of any Sunday Supper or College Football table.

Sage-Crusted Pork Roast with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 cup canned french-fried onions, crushed to 1/2 cup.
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 teaspoon rubbed sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons smoked-onion or Dijon mustard
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (2-1/4 lb)
  • 1 onion, cut into pieces (large)
  • 6 vine sweet mini peppers
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cauliflower, cut into large florets (large)
  • 6 broccoli spears, each 6 inches long
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a shallow roasting pan with nonstick spray.

Combine bread crumbs, crushed onions, Parmesan, sage, the 1/2 tsp. salt, and the 1/4 tsp. pepper in a bowl, then spread on a baking sheet.

Smear mustard all over pork. Roll pork in seasoned crumbs, then place in the prepared roasting pan.

Arrange onion, peppers, sweet potato, cauliflower, and broccoli around roast. Drizzle vegetables with oil; season with salt and pepper.

Roast meat and vegetables at 450 degrees until pork begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 275 degrees, but do not remove pan from the oven. Roast pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees fro medium, about 90 minutes.

Remove pan from oven; cover roast with foil and let meat rest for 10 minutes.