Saturday, October 30, 2010

Arroz Caldo

Every nation and culture has its version of chicken soup. In the Philippines it is called "Arroz Caldo" and I got the base recipe from my friend Caroline Paras who made it one day earlier this week to help her get over a cold. (See every nation uses chicken soup to get over the common cold too...or its just great comfort food).

In her recipe it called for less liquid with the notation to add more liquid if it got too thick. Well it got too thick very quickly so I monitored how much extra stock I needed for the soup and it was substantial. The stock listed in my recipe is what I actually used and it probably could have used a bit more liquid at the end as that rice sure absorbs it all fast!

In the area of garnish I deviated and instead of using lemon as a "garnish" I added it too the soup direct to give it an extra zip of flavor. That little bit of acid and lemon really played well with the ginger in the soup and will continue to incorporate it in the base soup instead of using as just a garnish. Its that good with it.

In terms of garnish I used simple chopped green onion as was listed in the recipe from Caroline. I think the next time I make this soup, which will be very soon, I'll include chopped cilantro with the green onion. Probably straying a bit from what the Philippine version would call for as a garnish, but it would be quite tasty with the ginger and lemon.

Arroz Caldo
  • approx 1 ½ lbs chicken thigh, cut into 1"cubes
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 knobs of ginger peeled, chopped 1/4" inches (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped roughly)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cups of sweet or jasmine rice (uncooked)
  • 1 quart of chicken stock (fat free, sodium free)
  • 2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • optional:
  • green onions, chopped
  • roasted or fried garlic pieces
  • boiled eggs
  • calamansi juice

In a dutch oven, heat oil. Add chicken pieces. Brown on one side. When pieces are ready to flip, add garlic, onions and ginger and sauteed until chicken pieces are browned.

Add rice. Give a quick toss. Add chicken stock and patis. Bring to a boil, stirring the rice and chicken mixture. Lower heat to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover. Every so often, stir the pot so rice does not stick to the bottom and to check for the tenderness of rice. If the mixture becomes too thick, add more chicken stock or water.

When rice is very tender, serve. Garnish with green onions, roasted garlic pieces, boiled eggs. Add calamansi juice as an option to add more flavor.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Love, love, love me some butternut squash soup. Its such a versatile gourd you can't help but come up with a hundred iterations of the basic soup.

This time around I took a cue from Ina Garten and roasted the squash. I found that it concentrated the flavor nicely plus took on a nice roasted flavor as some of the flesh caramelized.

To continue with the smokey roasted theme I used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They brought on some nice heat as well as a hint of smoke that played nice nice with the butternut squash.

Finally, I have finally gotten it through my head to season at each step of the process as its so much easier to "get it right" when you do it that way rather than try to do an entire batch at the end. Funny how that works, but there is little left to do salt wise at the end if you do it as you go along and you don't have to worry about over salting either.

Spice Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
  • approx 4 lb butternut squash
  • 1 c chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped carrot
  • 1T chopped garlic
  • 2 chipotle peppers packed in adobo
  • 1 t adobo sauce
  • 3 14 oz cans chicken broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Split the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and add 1t salt to each half. Add 1/4 t fresh ground black pepper to each half. Place on baking sheet and bake in 325F oven for one hour and test for doneness. (It took 1hour 20 minutes to test done for me tonight). It will pierce with a fork with no resistance when done. Cool and scoop out flesh into a bowl.

Add 1T olive oil to sauce pot. Add carrots and onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Stirring occasionally to cook evenly. Add chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Add garlic and stir in cooking for 1 minute longer.

Put onion mixture in blender with 1 can broth. Run on puree until smooth and return to sauce pan. Add 1/2 of squash to blender with 1 can broth, puree and add to onion mixture in sauce pan. Repeat with remaining squash and can of broth. Over low heat bring to simmer.

Serve hot with a garnish of thinly sliced hot peppers and cilantro. (If you are one of those who can't deal with cilantro you can use flat leaf parsley).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Honey Mustard Salmon over couscous

Salmon. A go to food source rich in omega 3's and something 4/5 in my house will eat for dinner without a snivel or grumble. I keep bags of the Costco frozen fillets in my freezer for those last minute dinners where the day got away from me and I needed to get something on the table fast.

Couscous is one of those stupid easy food stuffs that makes a perfect side with no effort. If you can bring water to a boil you can make couscous. I use chicken stock for a bit more flavor, but you can use water if you don't have a can of stock handy. Add some herbage or other green matter to the couscous before you put the lid on to let it steep and you are set with an easy side.

The salmon does take a little bit of prep, not much and a few minutes to marinade in the dry rub. Even then you have it ready in no time as the fillets don't need that much time in the marinade, say 10-15 minutes at most.

Honey Mustard Salmon
4 Salmon fillets
onion salt
2 t dill weed
4 T honey mustard
olive oil

Pat salmon fillets dry. Add Onion salt and pepper to own taste preference. Use 1/4 teaspoon dill weed per salmon side. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinade for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. When butter sizzles add the salmon fillets. Cook on first side about 4-5 minutes. Turn over and spread 1 tablespoon honey mustard on each fillet. Cook another 4-5 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily.

Serve over bed of couscous or herbed rice.