Turkey Curry with Yummy Yammy Sweet Potato Salsa

YummyYammy_postcardSo my friend Lisa has this awesome company that sells sweet potato salsa- Yummy Yammy. Yeah- you read that right- sweet potato salsa. And it’s freaking delicious!!

In addition to running a boutique food company, Lisa- like me, has two amazing daughters, and divides her time between growing a company, her girls, and managing all the ins and outs of parenthood, homeownership, and spousehood. Plus she’s super cool, and she makes time to mentor other folks- like me. Ingredients for a super-hero as far as I’m concerned.

Yummy Yammy has been on my radar for well over a year. I LOVE salsa, but like many, I have to be careful about how much tomato I consume. These salsas have no tomato, but all the flavor you could want. They’re great on chips,  heated up over rice, with a fried egg (yeah we did that this morning!) or out of the container with just a spoon.

Added benefit? It’s good for you! They give you a huge dose of beta-carotene anti-oxidant love. Did I mention you won’t be able to stop eating it?

Yummy Yammy is in over 100 stores from Wisconsin to Florida- many of them Whole Foods! For those of you outside of that area, you can get them on Amazon.com though- and if you go to the Yummy Yammy Website and sign up to become a YAMBASSADOR (who doesn’t love that?!?) you can get a coupon for free shipping to try them. I recommend you try them all- they are that good! Also- any orders over $50 naturally come with free shipping. Guess what I’ll be doing for stocking stuffers this year?

YummyYammy Turkey Curry SauceNow about that Turkey…..

I’ve seen the facebook posts over the last few days- you all are sick of your turkey and ham. May I suggest an easy way to get rid of the rest of it that is so delicious you’ll stop eating long after your stomach screams it’s full?

I like curry, but I really like saying “turkey curry” because that reminds me of Bridget Jones- one of my favorite movies. One year I even had a turkey curry buffet birthday party (my birthday is close to Christmas). Of course, the curry was pork as I didn’t have turkey on hand, but who cares? And like the movie- I shamelessly orchestrated an introduction of two friends that culminated in their marriage last year 🙂 I wish all my matchmaking attempts turned out so well.

Onto the recipe! This is pretty fast to put together, and like many Adventuresome Kitchen recipes, there is plenty of room for creativity and modification. If you make some changes, let us know what you did in the comments below- we’d love to hear! And be sure to visit the Yummy Yammy website and check out all the fun things Lisa has going on over there!

Cheers & Happy Eating!

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Best Cream of Chicken Soup Ever- Gluten Free

Cream of Chicken Soup GFI am a convert. I’ve never been much of a fan of ‘cream of’ soups. But then I came up with this because I was working on a recipe that called for 2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup. (Yes, occasionally I do follow a recipe!)

Celiacs and other Gluten-Freers know that most creamy soups are thickened with flour. That means bye-bye clam chowder, lobster bisque, cream of mushroom (the key ingredient in Green Bean Casserole) cream of chicken soup, etc…

Well, after a bit of research I realized that this is not rocket science, and away we went. The result? A creamy, chickeny, rich and tasty soup that literally comes together in less than 20 minutes. The prep time took longer than the actual cooking! And, if you’re really in a hurry, purchase pre-cut veggies and use canned chicken. (You might be compromising on flavor if you use canned chicken, but it’s definitely fast!) This is also a great starter recipe for the Junior Chefs in your life.

The secret to thick and creamy soup? Sorghum flour. Sorghum is a staple flour in our kitchen, and my go-to for things like making a roux. It’s finer than rice flour which means it doesn’t leave a grainy texture like some gluten free flours can. It’s got a pretty neutral flavor which in my opinion makes it better than potato flour. And it’s not a starch. Starches like tapioca, potato and corn can thicken, but in my experience they are not good for making a roux. Roues, in addition to thickening soups, also add a key flavor component. The flour absorbs the fat of the butter (you don’t want to make a roux with oil) and as the roux is cooking the sugars in the flour and butter caramelize and add depth of flavor.

See the recipe below for additional variations we came up with (Like using leftover Thanksgiving Turkey) Seriously- this soup is so yummy it’s now part of our weekly winter soup rotation.

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How to Make Any Soup Taste Great- Essential Ingredients

Curry Sausage SoupIt is said that the shoemaker’s children never have shoes. So it could be said for the chef’s children- they only eat (gluten free) toast! Thank heavens the Kitchen Divas in Training are no strangers to meal creation! Over the last month we’ve been working round the clock to bring our gluten free baking mixes to market. Since time has been at a premium and the weather has cooled off, we’ve relied on soups, stews, and the occasional take-out to stay well nourished.

Most soups can be on the table in 30 minutes and clean-up is easy. We’ve frequently found ourselves dumping our leftovers into the stock pot and coming up with a quick meal- preventing food waste and saving money. But- in order to do that and have the finished product taste delicious, we’ve learned there are a few essential ingredients that are needed to make any soup taste great. These are the basics- if you have these and nothing else, you’ll still have a great soup, but add these to any premade box soup, pile of fresh/frozen vegetables, or leftovers-  you’ll be smiling all the way through dinner!

 

How to make any soup taste great- essential ingredients:

Vegetable Soup with Green Chile SauceOnions- Onions are a staple base flavor- throw them in raw to a box of tomato soup, add a little kale and you’ve got a zesty, nutritious addition that will liven your ‘cuppa’ soup. Carmelize them first for a sweet addition, or use them as part of a classic “mirepoix”  (pronounced Meer-Ah-Pwah)which is the traditional french base for most soups and stews. Onions are also rich in quercetin- those same great immune boosters found in apples.

Carrots- reference the above for classic mirepoix. Carrots add a level of sweetness to any soup, and they’re rich in beta-carotene – an important anti-oxidant!

Leafy Green KaleCelery- the 3rd necessary ingredient for a mirepoix.

Kale- Most of us don’t get enough fresh green vegetables in the winter. Our secret? Chop up kale and put it in the bottom of each soup bowl. Pour the steaming liquid over it. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale perfectly, preserving its nutrients.

Sausage- most of the time a pound of sausage (link or bulk) is the perfect protein addition to any soup. We use this on the days when our vegetable soup needs to be heartier, or when we want a bolder flavor. Go for the strongly flavored sausages like hot italian sausage, chorizo (not exactly a sausage, but you get the idea). We also like sausages that have plenty of fennel. (You could also use any leftover meat in the fridge- we’ve made soup with chicken, pork, potroast, hamburger…whatever’s on hand)

White Bean, Kale, Sausage & Butternut SoupCelery Root- We don’t often have this on hand, but when this ugly root is peeled and diced it adds a depth and fullness to soups we really enjoy.

Starches- Could be a lonely forgotten potato, rice or quinoa, or even a handful of pasta. We use this when we need to fill out a thin soup.

Sea Salt or Chicken Stock- sometimes you want one- sometimes the other. If we’re adding sausage to a pot, the flavors might compete with chicken stock. If we’re using just vegetables, sometimes the chicken stock adds a richness.

Cream of Carrot and Leek SoupCanned Beans- we always have a variety of canned beans on hand- our favorites for soups (When we’re not making chile) are the white beans. Red Kidneys come in a close second. High in fiber and protein, beans are an excellent addition- especially if you want to avoid meat.

What else is on hand? Really, that answer is up to you and your imagination. We just finished reading “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder..As a child, I thought it was the most boring book of the series. As an adult- the most captivating. We’ve been inspired by the Ingalls’ resourcefulness to not waste so much food in our fridge.

Need some recipe inspiration? Try one of these delicious soups on the Adventuresome Kitchen Soup Page

Gluten Free Seafood Chowder- 30 Minute Meal

Gluten Free Seafood ChowderWell the Kitchen Divas in Training loved their first week of school. We’re all in the process of adjusting to earlier bedtimes, rising times, and an increasingly busy after school schedule. We- I- no longer have the luxury of hanging out on the back steps socializing with Mr. Kitchen Diva after he arrives home from work, and then deciding to think about dinner, oh at 7:30…

Nope. The thought process is more like this: “Crap. It’s 3pm.. A has to be here at 3:30, K has to be someplace else at 4:15. We’ll be home at 5:15. A can practice while K takes a shower…What’s in the fridge? Oh yeah- I didn’t plan meals this week…ok- well we’ve got some basics…and dinner has to be ready by 6pm…and I didn’t thaw any meat, and it’s too late to cook the spaghetti squash….and Oh CRAP- I left the frozen seafood sitting in the grocery bag all afternoon!!”

Enter Gluten Free Seafood Chowder.

I *love* chowders. However, unless I make them myself, I usually have to go without because most chowders in restaurants and in cans are thickened with flour.  Fortunately, they’re pretty easy to whip up and thanks to the fast cooking time of seafood they don’t take long to prepare. Chowders are also great for using up leftover veggies.

This is a super easy, *super fast*, wholesome, hearty meal that can be easily thrown together and varied depending on what’s in your fridge, freezer, & pantry. So have at it- let your imagination take over. Your tastebuds will thank you!

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White Bean and Kale Soup w/ Chorizo

Gluten Free Soup with KaleHappy Friday! Did you know that Italian Wedding Soup has nothing to do with weddings? It has to do with the ‘marriage’ of flavors. And while I would love to eat this white bean and kale soup w/ chorizo at a winter wedding, I think that you’ll find the ‘marriage’ of these flavors perfect for a winter day.

Dinnertime has become synonymous with ‘quick and easy‘ around here. The Kitchen Divas in Training have finally reached the age where they are often running in opposite directions. And anyone who thinks homeschooling will simplify your schedule?

Ha! Think again! While our lives are simpler in some ways- for instance there is not mad chaos from 7-8am every morning- our schedule seems to become increasingly complicated.

It’s one pot cooking these days. Less mess, less clean-up, less headache. That leaves more time for mastering how to make macarons, or anything else we decide to cram into our busy schedule.

While I made this soup on the stove, it could easily be made in a crock pot. If you’re using dried beans, you could even start the chorizo and beans the night before, and add the additional ingredients in the morning.

Remember, the trick to super-bright green kale (and super nutritious) is to cut up the kale and place it raw in the bottom of each bowl. The heat from the soup is more than enough to wilt the kale. What are your quick and easy dinner tricks these days?

It’s not too late to challenge yourself with Gluten-Free Baking. Join us this month as The Kitchen Divas and I learn  How to make Macarons! Feel free to post your comments and stories below, or email me pictures of what’s happening in your kitchen!

White Bean and Kale Soup w/ chorizo-serves 6-8 with leftovers

Ingredients Gluten Free soup with Kale and Chorizo

1 lb chorizo (links or ground)

2 cups white beans, dried and soaked (about 2 cans)

2 cups chopped potatoes (about 3 medium sized red potatoes)

1 small-medium onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

3 carrots, diced

3 quarts water

There is no salt in this recipe because there is enough salt from the chorizo. However, you are welcome to season with additional salt at the table.

Directions

Gluten Free Soup In a large soup or stock pot, saute the chorizo. When the chorizo has browned, pour off the fat, and if they are in link form, take your kitchen scissors and cut them into small bite-sized pieces.

Add the onion, carrots and celery, and sauté for 2-3 minutes- until the onion has softened. Add the potatoes and beans. Cover with water and place the lid on the pot. Allow to come to a boil and simmer gently until the potatoes and beans have softened- about 30 minutes.

If you are using dried beans, you will need to allow the soup to remain at a nice bubbly boil for 30-45 minutes, so that they will fully soften.

When you are ready to serve. Cut up the kale and place it in the bottom of each bowl. Pour the hot soup over the kale and enjoy!

Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup w/ Ginger & Turmeric

 In France, Rentrée signals the resumption of the regular life- the beginning of the school year, the resumption of Parliament, etc. For me, this signals the return to the things in my life that keep me grounded: cooking, eating with loved ones, chopping vegetables with my favorite knife. For the last 4 1/2 months, I’ve been directing a political campaign for a good friend of mine. To say this was all-consuming is a modest understatement. I was left with no time to sleep, eat, breathe, see my family, do laundry, clean, or read, let alone even think about cooking and writing for pleasure.

In spite of the strain, there were many discoveries we made along this journey-  for instance the oldest Kitchen Diva in Training is becoming more proficient and creative in the kitchen. She is growing up too quickly, and rapidly making the transition from little girl to young lady. And, Mr. Kitchen Diva has discovered that he’s not the schlump in the kitchen he always thought he was. In fact, he is downright impressive!

Our kitchen is changing. Cooking is no longer a solo event where I am Queen of all I survey. It has become a collaboration and a time of connection. The simplest meals take on new dimension with a dash of inspiration here, a suggestion there, a sprinkle of this and that. We have re-entered our lives transformed by the experiences of the last several months; deeply appreciative of our connection to each other and the meals that bind us together.

Our soup- an East meets West version of gluten free chicken noodle soup- is wholly comforting, and very easy to throw together. The best part? Getting reacquainted with my favorite knife while chopping the onions. Our secret for bright greens that don’t lose their color? Place them in the bottom of the bowl and pour the hot soup over them. They’ll cook perfectly without going too far- no need to lose those nutrients to overcooking.

Wherever you find yourself this fall, whether in the kitchen, on the road, or climbing mountains (physical or metaphorical); share the journey. And remember, too many cooks in the kitchen is sometimes a good thing!

Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup w/ Ginger & Turmeric

Serves 4 with a little leftover

Ingredients

2 small onions (1 large)

3-4 celery stalks

3 carrots

2 cups of diced potatoes

2-3 cups of diced leftover chicken

2 cups of uncooked, gluten-free pasta

3 quarts chicken stock

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ginger powder or 2 tsp minced fresh

1 tb crushed thyme

1 tsp garlic powder or 2 tsp minced fresh

ground pepper to taste

salt to taste (likely not necessary unless using low-sodium stock)

4-5 cups uncooked spinach or other greens

1 cup chopped basil

2-3 tbs olive oil

Directions

Chop onions, carrots and celery into a small dice. Heat a large stock pot and drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the veggies (not the potatoes). When the onions and celery have softened, add the potatoes. Next, add the herbs/spices. This should have the effect of making  a paste. As soon as the paste begins to stick to the pan, begin to add the stock. Add a little at first in order to deglaze the pan, and then add the rest. Add the chicken and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, add the pasta and cook 6-8 more minutes- until the pasta is just undercooked- it will soften the rest of the way as the soup cools down.

While the noodles are cooking,  place the uncooked greens in the bottom of each bowl. Just before serving, chop the basil and use it as a garnish. Ladle the soup over the greens and garnish with the chopped basil.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Strawberry Salsa

Happy 4th of July to my U.S. readers! Normally the 4th of July is cause for lots of grilling at our annual gathering. However, it’s still Hotter than Blazes here, with no end in sight to the oppressive heat or the drought. And this year, we’ll be huddling near the air-conditioning vents trying to stay cool. It’s still too hot to do much more than eat watermelon and cold soups. The watermelons are especially good right now, so I decided to merge the two in the form of a cold soup. The cool, sweet watermelon combined with the spicy-sweet tang of chiles, strawberries and cilantro offer a satisfying respite from the heat. Enjoy!!

 

Watermelon Gazpacho with Strawberry Salsa

Ingredients 

Soup: Scoop the contents of 1/2 a medium sized watermelon into a bowl or pitcher. Blend with an immersion blender.  Or, scoop the contents into a blender and mix in batches. I do NOT recommend using a food processor. The watermelon liquifies pretty quickly and oozes out everywhere.

Salsa

1 cucumber (abt 1 cup diced)

1/2 large green pepper (about 3/4 cups diced)

1/2 red onion (about 1 cup finely diced)

1 Serrano pepper or jalapeno- minced

1 lb of strawberries (rough dice)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro (finely diced)you could also use mint 

Balsamic Vinegar

Croutons

Cut 4 pieces of GF bread into large cubes. Toss in olive oil until the pieces are evenly coated. Place on a cookie sheet (When it’s this hot, I use my toaster oven) and bake at 350 until the pieces are deep golden brown. Stir occasionally. When the bread is done, toss with salt and pepper.

Plating:

Dice all salsa ingredients and gently mix. Pour watermelon into a bowl and mound a handful of croutons in the center. Spoon a generous amount of salsa over the croutons and drizzle soup with balsamic vinegar if you desire.

Best Vegan Chili *Ever*

“Best Vegan Chili Ever” might seem like an oxymoron. I confess I’ve never been a huge fan of vegan fare- I tend to associate it with tasteless fake products created from soy. So many thanks to one of the Kitchen Divas’ surrogate Aunties who brought this recipe for Christmas this past year. I kid you not- it is FREAKING DELICIOUS!

Did I mention that it’s also super-easy? Dinner can be on the table in less than an hour. It is so flavorful that everyone has requested it for dinner over and over again- often 2 or 3 times a week this winter.  And, as a result, by simply adding more vegetables into our diet my husband and I have trimmed up a bit- a small miracle in a house with 4 foodies. Over the last 5 months I’ve adapted the recipe to suit our tastes- a bit more of this, none of that, a lot more of something else. This recipe screams to be adapted so as you read it and hopefully recreate it, add your own twists and flavors. You will not be disappointed. And you get the added benefit of knowing you’re being good to your body.

What makes this recipe so fast is that the beans and tomatoes are canned. I tend to avoid cans, mostly because of the BPA, and because I believe local and seasonal is better. This recipe is one of the rare exceptions. I have made it with beans that I’ve soaked and cooked, but it does make the end result a 2-day affair, and Mama just doesn’t have time for that anymore.

I have found BPA-free cans at the healthfood store, and of course, everything I purchase is organic and fair-trade/fair work practices where I can get it.  This is especially important if  you’re following the plight of the Tomato Pickers in Florida. I refuse to let my dollars go to support business practices that exploit others. If you’re buying canned food of any kind- do your homework.

One of the big changes we made to this recipe was the addition of fresh lime, fresh cilantro, avocado and LOTS of New Mexico Red Chile sauce… do you see a recurring theme in some of my recipes?!?

We also go vegan-ish by using real cheese and not vegan-cheese. If you like, this recipe would taste great with the addition of meat, however, before you add it, I encourage you to try it like this- you might find as we did that this recipe is so flavorful and satisfying, you don’t need or want the meat! As always, substitute, add, or leave out ingredients as it pleases you. Never pass up the opportunity to play with a recipe!

For those of you who are curious, I will be happy to email you the recipe as it was given to me- just drop me an email. Otherwise, enjoy what has become a family favorite around here!

Gluten-Free Vegan Chile

2 cans organic pinto beans 

2 cans organic red kidney beans

1 28oz can organic chopped tomatoes

1 16 oz bag frozen corn

2 small cans chopped green chiles (optional)

2 red peppers, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 heaping tablespoons oregano

2 heaping tablespoons garlic powder (we like Herbed Garlic)

2 heaping tablespoons cumin

2 bay leaves

12 twists of pepper from a pepper grinder (abt 1/2 tsp)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp red chile powder (or more if you want more heat)

3 tbs apple cider vinegar

2 tbs molasses

Garnish Ingredients

2 cups crushed almonds

2 cups shredded cheese (vegan or regular, flavor of your choice)

2 bunches of cilantro, chopped finely

1 avocado chopped into pieces

New Mexico Spicy Goodness, or other hot sauce of your choice

2 limes, quartered

Directions

Place all ingredients except the garnish ingredients in the largest pot you have (5-8qt stockpot). Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes or longer. You can also make this ahead of time in a crock-pot. Place everything in a large crockpot and cook on low for at least 4 hours.

While the chile is simmering crush (if you bought whole almonds) the almonds into tiny pieces. Place them in a 375 oven or toaster oven and cook until they are toasted, fragrant, and a rich golden brown. This only takes about 5 minutes, so watch closely. The difference between delicious and burned is often only 30 seconds!

When you’re ready to serve, ladle the chile into a bowl, sprinkle the cheese on first, then top with the almonds and cilantro. Lately we’ve been adding avocado pieces as well. Squeeze a lime over the bowl and add any chile sauce – remember, it doesn’t have to be blazing hot to be delicious!

Strawberry Gazpacho

It’s 5 Star Makeover time again, and this month’s subject was Gourmet Picnic food. This subject is near and dear to my heart, as I love nothing more than dining al fresco. My inspiration? The movie Anne of Avonlea (renamed Anne of Green Gables, the Sequel)- a sweet, albeit somewhat cheesy and not very accurate adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars….but my favorite scene involves a picnic that is simply inspiring. Not only do the blankets and picnic baskets come out, but so does the porcelain, the silver, and of course, delicious food. I have enjoyed some pretty epic picnics in my time, and had high hopes that this evening would be another one for the annals of picnic lore……… of course the weather had other ideas.

Today was a day that I hope not to repeat for years to come, if ever. Tornadoes and Spring go hand in hand in this part of the country. If you’ve been following the news at all over the past few days, you know what I mean. In some ways, the frequency of the sirens creates an attitude of nonchalance. Of course, as we have witnessed in the tragedy of Joplin, Missouri- a few hours to my south- some who chose to ignore the sirens and go about their business did not survive. This has weighed heavily on my mind this week, as the other night I had to wake my children up at 11:30 pm and get them down to the basement. As usual, at least until today, the area of concern- while still in our county- was miles away. Nothing to worry about. And so we let the girls fall asleep in the basement in front of our favorite weatherman, and went about our business.

Today was supposed to be a day for celebration- and indeed, it turned out to be- but not in the way we intended. The big girl lost another tooth today- her last that the tooth fairy will visit for- and we were to have a beautiful picnic outside to celebrate a dear friend who is moving across the country this week (complete with pictures of a resplendent table for this post!). While we were out and about this morning, we heard the radio mention more tornado warnings for the area. But, as we didn’t hear any sirens in the vicinity, we decided to make a last stop at our local Lowe’s to grab rabbit repellent for the veggie garden.  The bunnies and squirrels have been having entirely too much fun with my beets and strawberries, and need to be redirected to the other plants in my garden set aside for them. Not long after we arrived- about 45 seconds actually- the sirens blew. My first reaction was to get home as we were less than 5 minutes away, but the big girl was very anxious due to all the tornado activities over the past few days, and so we decided to stay. Honestly, I didn’t think much about it because every time the sirens have blown in the last 8 years the storms have been in a far corner of our county.

As the training room began to fill up with customers and shortly after, employees, it became clear to everyone present that this was the real deal. The sirens really were for us this time. Tables were broken down and moved to the far wall, chairs were pushed to the corner, head counts were taken, and we sat down on the floor against a wall to wait and hope we’d be missed. I thought about the Home Depot in Joplin that had been flattened, and tried to reach Mr. Kitchen Diva to let him know where I was and that we were safe. But apparently everyone in the metro area had the same idea and the phone lines were completely jammed. There would be no contact with my husband until this event was over. The radar showed circulation over my neighborhood and I realized that if I was at home, the girls would be in the bathtub in the basement wearing their bicycle helmets. This was a day we had practiced for. This is why, even in our homeschool, we go over our tornado protocols once a month. Thirty minutes slowly ticked by as the sirens cycled off and on. We could hear the rain pick up, then the wind, and then calm. The girls were scared, and I was scared for them. The last thing you want to see as a parent is your children terrified, knowing you’ve done everything you can to protect them, and realizing that against the forces of nature, it’s not very much.

We were lucky today. I am grateful for my 85 year old house, and the 100+ year old houses a block away. They stand as a reminder to me that the chances of my house getting flattened by a tornado are astronomically small- even in an area like Kansas City. I’m grateful for Spring- even with the threat of tornadoes lurking in the back of my mind- for fresh strawberries, mint, and arugula, and for picnics with porcelain, delicious food, and dear friends- today the indoor kind because of the ongoing rain. You can’t tell from the pictures, but it’s actually raining quite steadily in them!

 

This month’s inspiration came from one of the best meals I’ve had in my life. I honeymooned on Prince Edward Island, and enjoyed a stellar meal at the Inn at Bay Fortune, a beautiful estate once owned by Colleen Dewhurst who played Marilla in the aforementioned Anne of Green Gable Movies. The inn specializes in producing incredible meals using as much locally sourced food as possible, and a different version of this strawberry gazpacho (in one of my favorite cookbooks), using balsamic vinegar and strawberry salsa, was one of the most memorable components of our meal there. I changed the recipe and used champagne instead of vinegar, and paired it with an arugula salad and a champagne-mint vinaigrette. I love the contrast of the slightly bitter arugula against the sweet acid of the strawberry. The mint brings a freshness and brightness to both. For transportation purposes, place the gazpacho in a mason jar, and pour into bowls, or even glasses. I often picnic with glass and porcelain- unless I have to hike a distance- then I use acrylic. Good food deserves good dishes. These recipes are simple and easy to prepare, and their flavor will leave you asking for seconds. You can use the salad as a garnish to the soup, or serve it on its own. If you are uncomfortable using alcohol that’s not going to be cooked out, you are welcome to substitute champagne vinegar. You will get a similar brightness and delicacy from the vinegar. Enjoy, and may your picnics be sunny and warm!

Be sure to stop by Lazaro Cooks and Five Star Foodie this Friday, for a complete round-up. You’ll be sure to discover some fabulous picnic food!

Strawberry Gazpacho

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 lb strawberries, cleaned with the stems removed

1/2 cup champagne, or champagne vinegar

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

Directions

Puree ingredients in a food processor for 3-4 minutes; until soup is glossy and smooth. Remove to a pitcher or jar and refrigerate until serving.

Arugula Salad with Champagne-Mint Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 cups arugula, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

2 tbs  grapeseed oil

1/4 cup champagne, or champagne vinaigrette

juice from 1 lemon

2 tsp sugar

Directions

Place arugula in a bowl. Place remaining ingredients in a small jar. Cover and shake vigorously. Just prior to serving coat arugula with dressing and toss. Serve as a garnish to the gazpacho, or on its own.

Buffalo Pot Pie with Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits

This week’s crock pot recipe is hearty and flavorful- Buffalo Pot Pie w/ Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits. Don’t let the length of the recipe intimidate you.

I went and got involved with another fun group of recipe swappers, this one hosted by the illustrious Christianna who blogs at Burwell General Store. She found an awesome old vintage cookbook, and for the past few months folks have been recreating and revamping one recipe a month. If you’ve stumbled across this in your blog wanderings, you’ll agree that the recipes have been fun and inventive!

(And special thanks to Toni from Boulder Locavore who was kind enough to help me get involved with this recipe group!)

This month’s recipe was Chicken Stew with Drop Biscuits.  Our challenge was to change 3 things about the recipe to make it our own and then post about it. I’ve had a sneak preview of some of my colleagues’ recipes, and they are mouthwatering and creative. I’m only sorry I can’t sample them right now! Once you’ve read my take on the recipe, pop on over to the Recipe Swap page at Burwell General Store, where you’ll see everything from crostata to curry. There are even a few additional gluten-free recipes! How cool is that?

I’ve been on a buffalo kick for the last month or so. There is a buffalo farm less than 20 miles from my house, and the owner sells her meat at many local grocers as well as the River Market. I had a great conversation with her a few weeks ago about stew meats,  cooking ‘low and slow’, and thought since the cold weather is refusing to give way to spring- at least for the time being- that a buffalo pie would be a nice twist on the chicken pie theme.  And, to save time and energy, I did it all in my crock pot! I have an older crock pot with a removable ceramic interior, which means it can go from crock to oven very nicely. I slow cooked the buffalo with some red wine and a few other ‘stewy’ ingredients, before adding my biscuits to the top and popping the whole thing in the oven!

If you don’t have a crock pot and a toaster oven in your kitchen, I highly recommend their addition. Both items are great in the summer when you don’t want to heat your kitchen any more than necessary. And, if you’re only cooking a little- it takes way less time and kilowats to run the smaller appliances. My toaster oven can even accommodate my small Le Creuset Gratin baker. Perfect for all sorts of side dishes! But I digress….

The crock pot gets a workout in this house because I’m very fond of throwing in a bunch of ingredients, walking away, and coming back to enjoy them several hours later. The key is to use the lowest setting and to allow cooking for a minimum of 6 hours. Anything beyond that just makes the meat even more tender. Normally, when I do a roast or a stew, I serve it with clear broth made from the cooking juices, but this time, I went out on a limb and added a little roux and cream. It was totally worth it, and I will absolutely consider doing it again. Hopefully not until next fall! The creaminess of the sauce worked nicely with the texture of the drop biscuits, and the green chiles added the tiniest bit of punch to the flavor. I could have used a little more myself, but wanting to make this accessible to a variety of people- including the Kitchen-Divas-In-Training… I went a little light on the chiles. Certainly add more if you like the heat- the dish is rich enough that it can stand up to a somewhat spicier biscuit! This is a recipe that can easily accommodate whatever changes and twists you’d like to add when you serve it up at your house. Remember always to have fun in your kitchen, and be sure to stop by the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap page for some outstanding recipes and a dose of inspiration! Who knows what might end up on your table?

Buffalo Stew

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 lbs of buffalo stew meat, cubed

1/2 cup red wine

4 shallots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups potatoes, chopped (about 3 small)

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 tsp salt

2 tbs wheat-free tamari (soy sauce)

6 twists of fresh pepper

1 1/2 cups water

Roux:

2 tbs butter

3 tbs sorghum

1 cup milk, half n half, or heavy cream

Directions

Place all ingredients except the roux in a crock pot and simmer on low for 6-12 hours. A word- please use red wine you would drink. If it’s not fit to drink, it’s not fit to use in food you will eat… just sayin’…… See! I told you it was easy!

45 minutes before you are ready to eat, turn off the crock pot and remove the ceramic container. It will be hot, so be sure to use potholders and place it on a heat safe coaster. Turn your oven to 425, and begin preparing the green chile cheddar biscuits below. Just before putting the biscuits in the stew, make the roux. Melt the butter in a small saute pan. When the butter is foamy, add the sorghum and whisk briskly. When you start to smell the flour, but before it has darkened in color, slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk. Once the ingredients are fully incorporated, add to the stew and stir. Then add the drop biscuits and proceed as directed.

Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Makes about 20 small biscuits

Ingredients         

1 cup millet flour

1 1/4 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

1 tbs baking powder

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 oz (one stick) butter

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped green chiles

3 tbs honey

1/2 cup buttermilk

Glaze:

3 tbs butter

3 tbs honey

Directions

Place dry ingredients in a food processor and mix by pulsing about 6 times. Chop the butter into 8-10 segments and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse an additional 6-8 times, until the butter has been cut up to pea-sized bits. Add the cheddar cheese and pulse 2-3 more times.

In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine the honey, green chile, and buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and pulse several more times until mixture comes together in a ball-like form. Scoop into the stew (or onto a parchment lined cookie sheet) with a large melon-baller. To make the glaze, melt the remaining butter and honey in a microwave safe dish- it should take about 30 seconds. Brush the glaze onto the biscuits and then place the whole crock into the oven. Immediately turn down the oven heat to 375, and cook for 20 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are golden brown. The biscuits expand during the cooking process and make a lovely thick crust over the stew. Don’t be shy about cutting into this and serving the biscuits on top of, or next to the stew. Enjoy!!

 

Borscht

January in these parts tends to bring its fair share of snow days. And with the temperatures in the basement, we’ve been craving all sorts of hot food to keep our insides warm and toasty. There’s really nothing better than coming in from shoveling the driveway and enjoying a nice hot meal! But as cold as it is here, I really can’t complain. It’s waaaay colder in other places- especially, say……. Russia?

Natasha over at 5 Star Foodie has been inspiring me lately with all of her Russian dishes (incredible Beef Stroganoff and Herring under the Blanket, and it’s really been making me miss my friends on the other side of the world. Several years ago, my husband and I had the very good fortune to spend a week in the Russian Far East. The friendships we made there are the kind that last a lifetime- even over such a great distance! (Thank God for email and cheap international phone cards!!) I also have to say that the food was an incredible experience. Someday I’ll have to recreate the mushroom dish our friend made- with a bucket of wild mushrooms purchased on the side of the road for about 2 dollars. The mushrooms were delicious, and like none I’ve ever seen- or likely will until I return to Russia someday- their name literally translated is “Mushroom that grows under birch trees”- go figure.

But on this particular snow-day, I decided to recreate something a little more accessible than “mushrooms that grow under birch trees”. The year following our big adventure in Russia, our dear friend Olga paid us a visit. One night we hosted a Russian dinner for several friends, and she made the best borscht I’ve ever tasted. Borscht tends to get a bad rap in many circles. Many people are likely to turn up their noses when they hear ‘borscht’. They think of watery, weakly seasoned cabbage soup. However, borscht is anything but that! Properly created, borscht is a richly flavored, deeply colored, vibrant and delicious (like you can’t stop eating it delicious) soup. And it’s even better on the second day!

This soup isn’t exactly traditional- I did add a few extra ingredients, but it’s definitely borscht-ish, and a mostly faithful recreation of the delicious borscht that Olga made. I added a little red wine, some dehydrated tomatoes, and some dried chanterelles to my soup. I can’t bring myself to buy fresh tomatoes out of season- they’re just awful. So in the winter months I tend to reach for dehydrated, sundried, or stewed/strained tomatoes- the kind in the glass jar- they taste more like summer to me. This particular recipe makes a lot of soup- you can freeze half and still have enough for dinner and a few leftover lunches. Regardless of what the weather brings you in your area, may this soup help connect you to those you love! Enjoy!

Borscht 

Makes 5 quarts

Ingredients

3 tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 small potatoes, diced

1 large carrots, shredded

1/2 head cabbage, cut into thin ribbons

2 beets, shredded

16 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup red wine

2 tbs salt

freshly ground pepper (about 10 twists from the pepper mill)

1/2 cup dried chanterelles

1/3 cup dehydrated tomatoes

1 tsp celery salt

Directions

Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic. When the onion starts to turn translucent, add the potatoes. Stir briefly, adding a little water if the potatoes begin to stick. Add the carrots and continue to stir. Add the red wine, cabbage and beets, followed by the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, and turn the heat to low. Allow soup to simmer for 30-40 minutes. 10 minutes prior to serving, rinse the chanterelles to remove the grit and add to the pot, along with the tomatoes. Season by adding salt, pepper and celery salt. Allow flavors to mingle for a few more minutes and serve. If you choose, you may garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt.

 

 

 

 

Cream of Zucchini Soup & Haricorts Verts with Shallot Mustard Viniagrette

Joyeux Noel!!

In this household we celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas, and although we’ll have to leave our mini-tree here in the beaucoup petite Paris apartment, the Spirit of Christmas we’ve encountered here will follow us all the way home to Kansas City! It is remarkable that The Adventuresome Kitchen’s first-ever roadtrip is beginning to wind down- just as my french is beginning to show signs of improvement! Today nobody asked me if I prefer to speak in English! Of course, I am far from being able to converse about topics other than food, but I am happy with small improvements!

One of the things that has really impressed me about cuisine here is the availability of high-quality fresh produce in every neighborhood. I think it is one of the reasons that as a culture the Parisians tend to be far healthier than their city-dwelling American counterparts. For example, in Kansas City, there are vast stretches of the city that have no grocers- so no fresh fruits and vegetables, no quality meat or dairy.. How can you be healthy if the only option close to you is a QT or a DQ?? Here, the produce is so fresh, and so beautifully and artfully displayed you can’t help but fall in love with an attractive looking clementine, or a beautiful leek. I think we’ve actually eaten more produce here than at home- and that’s saying something! When you have access to quality ingredients, often they demand a simple preparation. Fresh greens with a simple vinaigrette, or even just a squeeze of lemon. Or a few veggies brought together in a simple soup. Being here for two weeks, and living with a dorm fridge has radically altered how I approach meals- and I have to admit, I like it. There’s a local grocer I go by every day on the way home from picking up the girls from school, and when I get home I plan to try to shop like I have here. We’ll see if it works stateside. But I digress…

For our family, Christmas Eve has always been the pinnacle of Christmas Preparations. As a former full-time Church Musician, the entire focus of my fall, starting in about October, was Christmas Eve. In years past, Christmas Eve began with a festive family luncheon of seafood and champagne before heading off to several hours of services, culminating in a late-night drive home through the Christmas lit streets. Now, even though there is no marathon of Christmas Eve services to oversee, the tradition of seafood, champagne and Christmas lights still continues. Here in Paris, among other things, it’s oyster season (it’s also Truffle season, but that’s a future post!) So what better way to spend Christmas Eve than visiting my local market street in search for stellar ingredients including freshly harvested (as in that morning!) seafood? We enjoyed a lunch of fresh oysters and lentil salad (also a new favorite!) right on the street, then bought a dozen to bring home. Champagne is always a stellar accompaniment to oysters, but we’ve also learned that Muscadet, a white wine from France’s Atlantic coast, is an often suggested pairing with oysters here. If you love oysters, it’s certainly worth checking with your local wine vendor to see if you can purchase a muscadet- it’s a briney, mineraly compliment to a fresh oyster!

Christmas Eve in Paris wouldn’t be complete without Foie Gras!  I confess, that I absolutely Love foie gras. Can’t get enough of it, and I’m also proud to say that my girls seem to be following in my footsteps. How lucky were we to learn that the local butcher we’ve befriended makes it in house? Maybe it was knowing the maker, maybe it was the excitement of being in Paris for Christmas, but it was the most heavenly foie gras I’ve tasted- like silk, with a perfectly seasoned flavor that just melted in your mouth! We paired it with fresh greens and a simple mustard vinaigrette (recipe below!). You can see from the picture, that a little goes a long way- and that really is the key with any rich food- be it foie gras, caviar, oysters, chocolate or macaron- indulge moderately.

Our evening ended by celebrating Christmas Eve with our temporary neighbors at the parish church- for us, St. Eustache. Although this church was built during the 1500’s, there’s been a parish present there since the 1200’s… talk about history. The soaring gothic cathedral houses an enormous pipe organ, and every window and side chapel was lit with candles. It was quite an  experience to sing ancient carols in such a place.

Christmas Day dawned, and the first sunny day of our whole visit shined gloriously down on us. We enjoyed a second round of feasting, including the pinnacle- a Bresse Chicken! The bird is every bit as delicious as it’s rumored to be, and deserving of its own post. But as a teaser, here are the preludes- a creamy zucchini soup recipe given to me by a dear friend of my grandfather’s here in Paris, and simple haricorts verts (that’s green beans for the rest of us!) A delicious and necessary contrast to the preparation of the Bresse Chicken. It’s only the third day of Christmas, so keep feasting, wherever you are!

Mustard Vinaigrette

use for salads or over vegetables

Ingredients

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs good quality mustard

2 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar

Directions

Mix ingredients together vigorously until an emulsion has formed. Adjust mustard/vinegar to taste and drizzle over fresh salad greens.

Cream of Zucchini Soup

This recipe came to me from a dear friend of my grandfather’s. The original recipe calls for zucchini, bouillon, and Vache qui rit (laughing cow) the small triangle processed cheeses that you see in the grocer. I couldn’t find at my local grocer, and opted for creme fraiche, as well as adding a few extra ingredients. Whatever incarnation you choose to use with this recipe, the end result is a simple and tasty soup.

serves 4

Ingredients

2 small-medium zucchini, peeled and diced

2 shallots, finely diced

2 tbs butter

2 cups water

1 bouillon cube (I used chicken, but vegetable is okay too)

1/2 cup creme fraiche, or 2 triangles of vache qui rit

1/4 cup fresh tarragon, finely minced

Directions

Place butter in a 4-quart sauce pan. Heat on medium until butter foams. Add shallots and gently stir. When the shallots have begun to turn translucent, add the zucchini. Stir to incorporate, and cover. Allow to cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Zucchini is a high-water content vegetable, so the water in the zucchini should be enough to prevent them from sticking. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them, and add a little butter or water if necessary.

When zucchini has softened, add 2 cups water and one bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low. Using a heavy fork, or an immersion blender, puree to your desired degree of thickness. Add creme fraiche or the cheese and stir gently to incorporate. Add tarragon, stir for another minute, and serve immediately.

Haricorts Verts (Green Beans) with Shallot Mustard Vinaigrette

serves 4 as a side dish, double for more substantial portions

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups green beans, stems removed

3 tbs butter

3 shallots, diced

1 tbs sherry or red wine vinegar

1 tbs good quality mustard

Directions

Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. While you are waiting for the pot to boil, place a bowl in the sink, fill it halfway with water, then fill the remaining part with ice.

When the pot is boiling, add the beans. Cook for 3 minutes, until the color has turned bright green. Pour off the boiling water and add the hot beans to the ice-bath. This stops the cooking, and preserves the brilliant green color of the beans. When you are ready to serve the beans, place a saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter, and when the butter is foaming, add the beans. Sautee for 1-2 minutes and add remaining ingredients. Cook until beans are warmed through and still bright green. Serve immediately.

Cream of Carrot Leek Soup

The snow has started to fly again in Paris, but tonight we were warmly tucked inside before it started sticking to the streets. And while we were damp upon returning to le petite apartment we were not drowned rats- a welcome change from some of the past days. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we’ll have been here a week. I haven’t seen one museum, nor done half the things I set out to do, but we have had an amazing visit so far, with more to come. Today, a few more pictures from the last few days, and a recipe for a simple and very warming soup- Cream of Carrot Leek Soup- something nice for a cold snowy evening!

This picture here is representative of the way we’ve been eating most days- a little cheese, a little sausage, a little fruit, and then after, a little salad. Very simple and satisfying fare-the kind that gives you the energy to walk four miles or more taking it all in amidst the drizzle and cold.

In many ways, today was a very special day- we met a longtime friend of my grandfather’s who welcomed us with open arms, and we spent an afternoon speaking in French and English. Of course, I left with a handful of recipes that I can’t wait to attempt!

And before that, I met a fellow food blogger and made a new friend. I have only been blogging about gluten-free food for nine months. In that time, I have encountered a world of amazing new people. People who are as generous with their time and encouragement as they are with sharing their recipes on their own blogs. As a result,  I regularly have conversations with people around the world about food and cooking, and have felt my horizons expanding exponentially. But it is extra special when you get to meet- even for a brief time- someone with whom you have an instant rapport and mutual appreciation. Cristina who writes the blog From Buenos Aires to Paris, met me and my family today for a delightful walk along the Champs Elysées. If you’ve never visited her blog, I suggest you hop over and prepare yourself for some great recipes and exquisite photos- all delivered with great enthusiasm and a marvelous sense of humor! We traded stories while the girls enjoyed some hot pomme frites from the Village du Noel and ended our time together with a visit to a fancy store at the top of the Champs to purchase some Pierre Hermé macarons. Thank you Cristina for a lovely visit, and for making us feel so welcome here!

Macarons are naturally gluten-free, and we have made a point of sampling as many different ones as possible during the last six days. Pierre Hermé macarons are far from traditional- try adventurous flavors like Rose, White Truffle with Chestnut, and Chocolate with Green Tea for starters. I’d post a picture, but they didn’t fare well during our walkabout today, and so sadly, I will have to return to purchase more so that I can post a nice photo!

After such a lovely day, imagine returning to our ‘home street’ to enjoy a little conversation with the shopkeepers while we purchased ingredients for dinner! C’est tres jolie!

In keeping with the late hour, the impending snow, and the need to prepare something quick, a simple soup seemed to be in order. Carrots and leeks looked good, so we decided to add some creme fraiche and voilá! Le bonne soup!

Enjoy the photo montage below, and if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere tonight, may you be as warm of heart and body as we have been today. Bon Appétit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Roasted Carrot Soup

Just a quick pictoral of our Thanksgiving meal, and a few links to some fun blogs. As many of you who are food bloggers know, if you’re working all the time developing your own recipes, it’s hard to find time to play in the kitchen with other people’s creations. And, if you’re like me, your in-box is filled with some pretty tempting recipes! So for Thanksgiving this year, my friend and I picked out a few tempting recipes to add to our own and came up with a pretty fun tasting meal with paired wines… We started off with a pan-roasted carrot soup. If you have the time to pan roast your vegetables prior to turning them to soup, it’s so worth it, as the flavors deepen and marry. This was paired with champagne, and the contrast between the smooth rich soup, and the sharp bubbly champagne was a real treat!  Whatever you ate for Thanksgiving, I hope it was delicious,  that your tastebuds were in heaven, and that your tummy was full!

Thanksgiving Morning started off with warm strawberry scones compliments of Jacob’s Kitchen. I converted to gluten-free of course, and the result was pretty tasty.. The kitchen divas in training were licking their fingers and asking for more.

 

Then it was on to the main event- an afternoon of cooking, wine, laughter and much food. My friend and I decided on a multi-course tasting meal so that we wouldn’t get too stuffed. It was a leisurely and fun way to spend the afternoon.

First up: pan roasted carrot soup with creme fraiche. Recipe below.

 

 

Next up: Scallops Two Ways. We chose a fun recipe with peas and cilantro from Michael Toa via a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers Chef Dennis at More than A Mountful and a very unusual, yet very delicious preparation of scallops poached in herb infused rioja from another of my favorite bloggers, Lazaro from Lazaro Cooks. This pairing really stumped the sommeliers, who looked at me like I had eight heads when I said that I was poaching scallops in rioja- but don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it- it was delicious, and worked well with the riesling we poured with it.

Next came an earthy chestnut tagliatelli with mushrooms sauteed in a brown butter sage sauce. This was adapted from a guest post that Pattie from Bramasole provided to More than a Mountfull. I’m particularly happy with this, as it was my first attempt in 12 years at gluten-free pasta. This was a much more successful endeavor than my last attempt. So much so, that I’m inspired to try making other kinds of pasta.. The dark brown color in this dish comes from the rice bran I added to my gluten free flour mix.

To cleanse our palates before the main course, we created mini goat cheese souffles and served them on a bed of arugula with a simple lemon juice vinaigrette and pomegranate pips. Served with Sauvignon Blanc, this was indeed the perfect palate cleanser! Recipe will be forthcoming!

 

And for the main event: Roasted turkey breast with pancetta and sour cherry glaze, my gluten-free stuffing from my guest post at Lindsey Evenson’s blog Fresh Air+Fresh Food, and pan roasted butternut squash, also with a sour cherry glaze. The glaze was simple and one I’ll use again on other meats:

 

 

 

1 quart tart cherry juice

3 tbs sugar

1/4 cup Honey Wild Turkey (this is delicious, almost like cognac!)

1 sprig rosemary

leaves from 3 sprigs sage

1 teaspoons white peppercorns.

Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let reduce by half.

After all that food, dessert was simple- homemade ginger ice cream with crumble topping……

And now- for the carrot soup recipe! Enjoy, and may this kick-off to the Holiday Season be the first of many delicious meals you share at your table!

Pan Roasted Carrot Soup

8 Servings

Ingredients

2 lbs carrots

1 large red onion

2 medium shallots

2 cups chopped apples

5 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup champagne

1 cup milk

Spice Mix

1 tbs poultry seasoning

1  1/2 tbs cumin

1/2 tbs salt

1/2 tbs pepper

1 tsp oregano

olive oil

creme fraiche

parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Scrub the carrots, chop the onion into large segments, peel the shallots, and place all three ingredients onto a large cookie sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle entire spice mix over the cookie sheet. Cook until carrots are fork tender, about 1 hour.

Remove to a large stock pot, and add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. In a smaller pan, place chopped apples and champagne. Simmer until apples are softened, and add to the soup mixture. Add the milk, and puree with an immersion blender. For a super smooth texture, place a portion of the soup in a food processor and run for 2-3 minutes. Keep doing this until the soup is as smooth as you’d like.

For presentation, garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkle with a little fresh parsley.

Crab Bisque

Snow crab was on sale the other week, so of course I had to bring some home. I have fond memories of snow crab. Years ago, back in my undergraduate days in the Pacific Northwest, I had my first taste of snow crab at a backyard crab boil/bake on a starry fall night. Thankfully, flash freezing brings the fresh taste of crab to the midwest. And while I love cracking legs and dipping the meat in lemon and butter, sometimes I just want something, well, a little more refined. This soup undoubtedly fits that definition. But,  you shouldn’t prepare this for just anyone. Any way you slice it- or crack it in this case- peeling boiled crab is a time consuming, labor intensive process, and this meal should be reserved for those you love most- those who will appreciate the labor of your love! This is creamy, crabby goodness, and if you like sharing kitchen duties, invite your dearest to join you in the kitchen. The peeling will go faster with a little help- so why not have a crab boil of your own, and end it with a beautiful crab bisque?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, a little proud mama moment. Quite unexpectedly, my oldest suggested the dinner menu tonight at the grocery store, and I flippantly replied that she was making it- which she enthusiastically agreed to do!  She made dinner entirely on her own- complete with a hand printed menu- although dad did drain the hot pasta water. She had good fundamentals to work with, but put it all in the pan, turned on the heat, thawed the sauce, and shredded the cheese. It was beautifully presented, and tasted delicious! It was positively endearing to see a little foodie taking her love of food to the next level. After dinner she announced she wanted to start cooking a meal a week! Not bad for a 9 year old! Like I said…. proud mama!! Now onto Bisque!!

Creamy Crab Bisque

Serves 6-8 (or four people who love crab!!)

Ingredients 

4 lbs crab (4 sets of frozen legs)

2 medium potatoes, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1/2 large onion, diced (or 1 small onion)

1/2 cup celery, diced (about 2 stalks)

3 cups milk

1/2 cup white wine

1/2-3/4 cups water

dulse flakes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

In a large stockpot, place water, white wine and crab legs. Bring to a boil and steam for 10 minutes. Remove crab and run under cool water. Reserve cooking liquid. Shell crabs and reserve about 2 cups for garnish.

In a clean pot- or your stock pot minus the crab cooking water-, melt the butter, and when foamy, add the onion, celery, carrot, and potato. Stir until onions are translucent. Add the crab (minus the 2 cups), crab cooking water, and milk. Bring to a gentle simmer. Fill a food processor or blender 1/2 full with soup and process for 2 minutes or longer so that the soup is very, very smooth. Continue to process until all the soup has been brought to a smooth consistency. Of course, the texture is entirely up to you- if you like the flavor, but prefer a chowder consistency, only process a little of the soup.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with crabmeat, dulse and parsley. I chose to garnish with traditional flavors this time, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try sprinkling a little paprika or chipotle instead of the dulse and parsley. Whatever you choose, this soup is sure to put a smile on the face of those you love most!!


Butternut Apple Soup w/ Chicken Feet Stock

Happy Halloween!!! There’s nothing like stirring a bubbling cauldron of chicken feet a la Macbeth to put you in the mood for Halloween!  A month ago two friends and I got together to make chicken feet stock, and since then I’ve been anxiously waiting to post this. While the stock yielded from chicken feet is rich in collagen, velvety, and full of flavor, the process of making it is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bit creepy actually, and should really be undertaken in the company of friends. We thoroughly enjoyed creeping ourselves out, and the flavor and texture the stock added to the soup was well worth the effort.  Enjoy the pictures, and may you have a tasty Halloween!! Mwua ha ha ha!!!!!!

 

 

Chicken Feet Stock

Yields about 1 quart of stock for every pound of chicken feet  (just say chicken feet….. it will make you laugh)

Ingredients

chicken feet

water

Optional: onion, herbs, garlic (we did not use these, but you could use traditional stock ingredients)

Directions

Chicken feet usually come frozen, you can check with your local butcher, or local farmer to get some. Thaw the chicken feet and place in a large stockpot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Ladle the feet out, and place in a bowl of cold water (we kept this second bowl in the sink) Look below- they look astonishingly like old lady fingers….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, place a few chicken feet back in a pot of simmering (not a rolling boil) water. Just put in a few at a time- you don’t want to cook them- you’re scalding them so that the outer layer of skin will peel off. Let the feet simmer about 30 seconds to a minute and remove with tongs. Place on an old kitchen towel.  Take a pair of kitchen scissors and snip off the tip of the ‘finger’ to remove the nail bed. (This really does start to feel like a reenactment of the third act of Macbeth!) You can see in the picture below right that the fingernail part has been removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, you can begin peeling away the outer layer of skin. In the same picture you can see the tender skin being exposed. While one of my friends was bold enough to just peel, I actually found it easier to peel with a kitchen towel. The feet can get a little sticky, and if you try this, you may find it easier to use a towel. Place the peels onto a separate towel, or a piece of parchment that you can then throw out…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place the peeled chicken feet into your crock-pot or whatever receptacle you’re using to make stock. When all the feet have been peeled, cover completely with water and simmer gently (a boil will make cloudy stock) for a minimum of 48 hours. Replenish water as needed. The longer cook time is because the collagen takes a very long time to break down. When the stock has finished, ladle out the bones and cartilage. Then, slowly pour through a strainer into glass jars. As this is a thick stock, you may want to strain through a finer sieve or muslin cloth a second time. Refrigerate, or pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Enjoy in your favorite soup, sauce, polenta, or risotto.

Butternut Apple Soup

Serves 4-6 people with leftovers

Ingredients

2 medium sized butternut squash- or 2 lbs of diced butternut if you’re not roasting it yourself

1 small onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, diced

2 cups diced apple (about 3 apples)to avoid browning, squeeze a little lemon over the apple slices

4 cups chicken stock (use chicken feet stock for extra velvety texture)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions 

Slice butternuts in half lengthwise, remove seeds, prick with a fork, and brush lightly with olive oil. Place in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until meat is soft. Scoop out into a bowl. (If you don’t have fresh butternut, feel free to use to packages of frozen butternut squash- about 20 oz total) This should yield around 3-4 cups total.

While the squash is cooking. Dice the onions, garlic and apples. If you’re cooking with little helpers, invite your little ones to chop the apples. My youngest is getting quite proficient with her little knife- she uses a wide, rounded cheese spreader with a serrated edge- it works perfectly for chopping cheese and fruit!

In your soup pot, warm 2-3 tbs of olive oil, and add the onion and garlic. Stir gently until onion is translucent.

Add the apples, butternut and chicken stock. Allow to come to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until the apple slices can be mashed with a fork. Ladle part of the soup into a food processor (fill only about halfway) and puree for 2-3 minutes. The longer the puree time, the smoother the soup. Repeat until all soup has been pureed. This is really about esthetics- if you prefer a chunkier soup, then skip this step and enjoy the soup as is!

Garnish with apple slices, and baby arugula.

For a different yet equally delicious butternut squash soup- check out this Coconut Curry Chowder from a previous post!

Happy Halloween, may your treats be delicious!!

 


Chicken Green Chile Soup

I have to publicly thank Karen at Tasty Trials for a mouthwatering tortilla soup recipe that had me fantasizing about crunchy, spicy soup all weekend. So last night, I jumped in with both feet and for the first time ever, fried my own tortillas!!! Who knew it was so easy? 3 sticks of vegetable shortening, a bunch of leftover (as in stale) corn tortillas, cut into mini triangles, and I was in business. The chips didn’t last through the meal.

Next, I need to apologize to my children for going overboard on the green chile. This soup is not for the faint of heart…. or, apparently, for the delicate of taste-bud.

If you live outside of New Mexico, there are two things you may not know about green chile. The later the harvest, the hotter the chile. In other words, the lovely mild flavor that I appreciate from the chile harvest in mid-August, is replaced by intense flavor and heat at the end of the harvest. So hot in fact, that when I lived in Albuquerque, I’d have to stop ordering fresh green chile about Labor Day- I’d maxed out on my personal heat index. The second thing you may not know is that the longer the chile sits in your freezer, the hotter it gets. I have no idea why- maybe some of you food scientists who read this blog can shed some light on this. So in a zealous effort to create a flavorful meal, and to empty out the last of the frozen chile in my freezer (have to make room for this year’s Hatch)I might possibly have alienated a few juvenile taste-buds.

I confess I used 3 cups (!!!) of green chile. Delicious! Lip Burning! Hiccup Inducing! Did I say delicious? The garnish of plain yogurt, avocado, crunchy chips, cilantro and lime, not only brightens the flavor, but helps mitigate the heat. I enjoyed leftovers for lunch today. This is a simple recipe, the green chile is really the star- supported by a nice base flavor and fresh garnishes. And seriously- if you’re not into lip-burning- the flavor would be just as good with half the green chile. But if you’re feeling adventurous….. I dare you!

Chicken Green Chile Soup 

makes 12-14 bowls

Ingredients

2 lbs chicken, cut up into small pieces

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces

2 medium tomatoes (about 2 cups), diced

3 cups chopped green chile (use the amount you like)

8 cups chicken stock

3 tbs olive oil

For Garnish

fresh fried tortilla chips (see directions below)

1 lime chopped into wedges

1 avocado, sliced thinly

3-4 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

Directions

Using a large stock-pot or dutch oven, warm up the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and chicken. When chicken has been evenly browned, though not cooked through, add zucchini, tomatoes, green chile, and chicken stock. Cover and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

To Serve:

Ladle soup into a bowl. In the center, make a tall mound of fresh tortilla chips. On top, add a small scoop (about 2 tbs) plain yogurt. Stand 2 slices of avocado on end and rest the top of the slices on the yogurt. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and add a wedge of lime. The person served can squeeze the lime onto the soup. If you’re feeling super-fancy, add another tortilla chip to the very top.

Fresh Tortilla Chips 

1 package of fresh or leftover soft corn tortillas

3 sticks of vegetable shortening (I used Earth’s Best)

With a pair of scissors, cut tortillas into strips or triangles. In a heavy duty stainless steel or cast iron pan, melt the shortening over medium heat. When you hear the oil popping, add a handful of the tortillas. Stir gently until they are golden brown. Remove to a cookie sheet covered with a paper towel and lightly salt.

 

New Mexican Green Chile Stew

“The Hatch” is in!!! If you’ve ever spent time in New Mexico, you understand this to mean that the world’s best green chile is now available for consumption. In New Mexico this time of year, drive by any grocery store parking lot, vacant lot, or roadside stand and stop to inhale. That warm, smokey, somewhat pungent fragrance is the smell of Hatch green chiles roasting away. In my opinion, it’s the only way to get them. And, I know people who used to live in New Mexico who now pay handsomely for a 5 lb bag of them to be shipped cross country on dry ice. One year my friend filled her carry on with with multiple 5lb bags of green chile on her trip home. While I thanked her profusely, I’m not sure the other passengers did. It really is an addiction- green chile. Once you’ve had it as a condiment- on burgers, in eggs, with potatoes, in burritos, there’s no going back. Green chile becomes a seasonal way of life.  And like most food snobs will agree- only the real deal will do- no garden variety pepper for this girl. You can take your Reggiano, your Serrano ham and your Kobe beef- give my my Hatch green chile. In stew form please….

While it may seem strange to serve this on a still-warm summer day, give it a try. Although this is a staple in my household during the cold months, the best green chile stew I ever had was many years ago on a hot summer day while attending the Jemez Pueblo Corn Dances with my husband and my grandfather, a gregarious food scientist who seems to know everyone. Pueblo dances are a religious ceremony, and to be invited to observe is a real treat. After the dances we were invited to his friend’s house for a traditional meal of green chile stew, posole, fresh corn tortillas and a host of other delicious foods that are now only a dim memory. But the green chile stew, Oh the green chile stew. The broth deeply flavored by the pork, onion & tomato, the potatoes softened to the point of crumbling and thickening the stew, and the roasted green chiles- as blistering hot as the sun baking down on the dancers. I usually don’t make mine quite as hot, but the flavor I experienced that day is the mark by which I measure my own stew every single time I taste it.

As far as recipes go, it’s very simple- 6 ingredients, and it takes little time to pull it all together- but the longer you let it simmer gently on the stove, the better the flavor is. So in honor of another favorite vegetable gracing us with its smokey roasted presence-  I give you traditional New Mexican green chile stew.

New Mexican Green Chile Stew

serves 4 green chile lovers with perhaps a bowl left over for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

2 lbs pork, cut into small cubes (loin, shoulder, chops- the cut doesn’t matter)

2 cups diced onion (about 1 large onion)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 cups white potatoes, cubed (any will do in a pinch, use whatever you have on hand)

2 cups tomato, chopped

2 cups freshly roasted Hatch green chile ( I have used canned green chiles in a pinch when I’ve been desperate and I have no fresh frozen in the freezer. Try and find canned Hatch if you go that way- they really do taste better)

4 cups water

Directions

In a large stainless steel soup pan (I use our pasta water pan) sear the pork over medium heat- about 2 minutes. This diverges from the traditional boiling from the get-go way, but I think the flavor’s a little better. It’s up to you…

When the pork has been lightly seared, add the remaining ingredients, including the water, and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the meat is done. You may eat immediately, or allow to simmer gently until you are ready to consume.

Serve with gluten free tortillas or gluten free cornbread, and honey.

Traditional Gazpacho (gluten free)

Twenty years ago this summer I lived in Madrid, Spain. While the actual event in and of itself is fairly significant, what’s even more so, for me, is that Spain was where I learned to cook and truly fell in love with cuisine. I was nineteen, and had come to Madrid from a small suburban Colorado town, where everyone knew each other. The kids in the apartment I was staying in were slightly younger than me and still in school. So for the first few weeks of my stay I was largely on my own during the day.

You can only imagine the shock and horror I experienced  my first day exploring the city when I was propositioned by someone my grandfather’s age! After a few episodes like this, and in an effort to avoid the constant cat calls that young women walking alone can receive in Latin countries, I did what any self-respecting teenaged girl did- I hid!

Enter Marisol the housekeeper. To this day I can still see Marisol’s short, wiry, frizzy, curly hair, cigarette tinged fingers, large round glasses and the light blue striped housecoat she wore when working at our apartment. Milagros, my mother for the duration of my stay, was a single parent, and Marisol helped keep the house working smoothly. She’d clean, hang the wash, prepare dinner, and while I was hiding out, sitting on a stool in the tiny galley kitchen, make me practice my spanish by recounting my previous day’s adventures and memorizing the dinner recipes. By the end of my stay I could make many of the traditional spanish dishes, all without measuring. I learned to taste and add seasonings along the way, I learned what spices worked together, and I learned that I loved to cook! Not bad for a girl who’d set the grilled-cheese sandwiches on fire a few months previously!

So Milagros, Marisol and all my dear friends from Madrid who I remember with love and fondness, this recipe’s for you: Gazpacho y Tortilla de Patata.

For ease of direction I have included measures for 4 people. Usually when I make this I make a lot more, and I confess I still don’t measure, I taste. But this will be a good starting off point for you, and then you can add or subtract flavors to your heart’s content. I have also included a chipotle mayonnaise recipe. I didn’t learn to make this in Spain, but it’s really tasty with the tortilla, so I included it. Lastly, and my apologies to Marisol who would probably be horrified that I do this, I did not call for peeling the tomatoes. When I learned to make this, I had to peel the tomatoes (no food processor). If you have a food processor, then there’s no need to peel the tomatoes. If you only have a wand mixer, then you’ll want to peel the tomatoes. It’s time consuming, but worth it. Also, if you can find them, try and use an acidic tomato, like a good beefsteak variety. The more acid types tend to impart better flavor to this dish. I always peel the cucumber, because the skin imparts a bitterness that I don’t care for. The amount of garlic you use is purely up to your taste. I toned the garlic down slightly for this recipe, usually I add more. The pique from the garlic is one of the key parts of this recipe. It’s not tomato soup- the garlic is very important. However, recognizing that raw garlic doesn’t sit well with many, I did tone it down slightly. So if you’re like me, bring on the extra cloves! Enjoy and feel free to post your own favorite food memories!

Gazpacho – Gluten Free

serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

4 very ripe, medium sized tomatoes (about 2 cups)

1 medium cucumber (about 1 cup)

3 large garlic cloves (for this proportion I would use 4 or 5- it’s up to you)

1 small onion or 1/2 a medium onion (about 1/3-1/2 cup)

1 slice of bread (I prefer Udi’s Gluten Free) soaked in ice water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs red wine vinegar

salt to taste

Directions.

Peel the cucumber, garlic (smashing it with the side of your knife then peeling skin away is easiest) and onion. Divide cucumber and onion into large chunks and place in the food processor. Add the peeled garlic and the tomatoes. Process for about 2 minutes. Gently squeeze the water from the bread and add to the food processor, along with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Process another 2 minutes or until soup is smooth and a little shiny. Depending on your taste you can add a little more olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt, and process for another 30 seconds.

Pour into a pitcher or mason jar and refrigerate, or serve immediately. Soup will keep a few days in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, give it a shake or a stir and pour into bowls.

* for a sea-food flare, add a large spoonful of lump crab that has been squirted with lemon to the center of your bowl.

Tortilla de Patata with chipotle mayonnaise  

Makes 8 2-inch slices

Ingredients

1 3/4-2 lbs potatos (wax or starch- whatever you have on hand)

1 large or 2 medium onions

2 tbs + 1/4 cup olive oil (if using stainless steel, you may need more)

2 tsp salt- more to taste

6-8 eggs

For Mayonnaise

1/3 cup mayonnaise

chipotle seasoning or powder to taste. (you will use less powder than seasoning- mix & serve)

Directions

A note about your cooking pan: The cooking pan you use is very important to the success of the tortilla. I learned how to make this using a large non-stick pan- about 10-12 inches wide. This is best because keeping the potatoes from sticking to the bottom is very important. Since I don’t use teflon, and I haven’t yet purchased a fancy enameled non-stick pan, I tend to use my cast-iron fryer. It’s not ideal- the sides are really to high- but I’ve managed to compensate. If you have stainless that you like, use it, but you will end up using more oil. I will include directions for the non-stick pans, as well as the short-cut I use with my cast-iron fryer.

 

Slice the potatoes and set aside. On medium, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of your pan. Add the potatoes, onion, and salt. Allow everything to cook down until the potatoes are thoroughly softened and can be broken with the edge of the spatula, about 20 minutes. Keep adding oil as you go so that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. (The potatoes will absorb oil as they cook, so you will need to add more as you go- it helps soften and flavor them) Taste for seasoning. The salt should enhance the flavor of the potatoes and onion, and depending on the variety of potatoes, you may want to use a little more salt. It’s entirely up to you. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl and set aside. The first time you do this use 6 eggs. It makes for a dryer tortilla and is slightly easier to flip. This is really a potato dish, not an egg dish. When the potatoes have softened, pour the egg mixture on top and smash the potatoes down with the back of your spatula. As the eggs cook, run your spatula along the side of the pan, loosening the mixture and allowing for more of the liquid to run off to the sides. Do this several times until the mixture begins to dry out, and the sides are looking cooked. The center will still be wet. At this point run the spatula along the sides and if possible, the bottom of the pan to help loosen the tortilla.

For non-stick pans: If you’re using a non-stick pan, give the pan a brisk shake to help disengage the tortilla from the sides and bottom. Grab a large plate and set it next to the stove. Very carefully, tip the pan up and encourage the tortilla to slide off the pan and onto the plate. Do Not move the tortilla if the bottom hasn’t set up- it will break. Next, put the palm of your hand underneath the plate, and with your other hand, turn the skillet upside down over the plate. Make sure the skillet is fully touching the plate. Very quickly, flip the whole thing over so that the plate is now on top and upside down. The tortilla should have flipped back into the pan. Give the pan a few more brisk shakes to help the tortilla settle, and cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the egg is cooked all the way through. You can check this by placing a knife in the center of the tortilla and taking a peek. Once it’s cooked. Gently slide it back onto the plate and allow to cool. This dish is meant to be served chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with a little chipotle mayonnaise.

For cast-iron skillets or fryers: Once the bottom and sides of the tortilla have been cooked and loosened, turn the oven on to broil. Keep the oven rack at the second highest level- if it’s too high the dish will burn. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the top of the tortilla is nice and golden brown. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the tortilla- eggs should be thoroughly cooked. Allow the pan to cool- the dish will shrink slightly, and this will help you remove the tortilla in once piece. With a flexible spatula loosen completely around the sides and bottom, and gently slide onto a plate. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with chipotle mayonnaise.

When I lived in Spain, we would make bocadillos de tortilla (tortillas de patata on poorboy buns) and take them with us for lunch on our day trips. (yes, this was prior to the gf days) No mayonnaise needed. They keep very well in the heat and are very filling as a sandwich. We would use the spanish equivalent of bbq sauce with them this way. Delicious!


Crock Pot Chicken Soup

 Crock Pot Chicken Soup, made with a hearty bone broth is perfect for those going gluten free, suffering from diabetes, eating paleo, or healing their gut.

I tend to be a seasonal soup eater. While I may cook soup during the summer vegetable harvest, it gets frozen to be pulled out on those cold, windy, sometimes rainy winter nights- a little ray of sunshine in the dark of winter. If I eat soup during the spring or summer, it’s either gazpacho or some other springy cool soup. Certainly not Chicken Soup. So while my flowers tell me it’s May, it’s behaving like February or March. And the other day as the rain was pounding once again on the window, I found myself ready to freeze the chicken stock I’d simmered all night. I looked at what I had on hand and instead ended up with Chicken Soup. Lovely, toe-warming, comforting Chicken Soup. Perfect for a rainy, cold, March day…..In late May.

I used to enjoy the rain. Really, I did. I used to live in Seattle, where it rains constantly. But after nearly 2 decades (yikes!) away, my skin has grown thin. I’ve always been a daughter of the sun. Growing up in Colorado, where the sun shines more than 300 days a year, I relished brilliant blue sky, wind, and fresh air. Adjusting to the drizzle and grey of the northwest took a season, and a few sessions with a tanning bed. But then something happened. I began to appreciate the grey and soft rain. I felt like I was in a cocoon, all snuggly and enveloped by softness. I wore flannel and wool. And of course, when the sun did shine there, it was heaven on earth. A sparkling array of diamonds and rainbows reflected in every dewdrop.

Fast forward to the midwest, where when it rains, it pours. Actually, that’s an understatement. When it rains, the heavens open up and it comes in sheets. Like Noah’s Ark, or the second coming. The rain is so heavy here, that I can’t even use rain barrels. It’s rained nearly 8 inches in the last two weeks. I feel like the girl from The Cat in the Hat. At least when I lived in Seattle I could do things in the rain, like garden or hike. The other day I had to go fishing for my wool and flannel. I’d already packed it away in anticipation of the hot, humid summer that will invariably beat down upon us.

Note: I made this out of chicken that I’d simmered for stock all night. I will include those instructions, but this can be easily modified by using bouillon or premade stock, and chicken pieces of your choosing. You could get some breasts and thighs and cut them up into small pieces to cook in the stock, or you could use meat from a cooked bird. Either way it will turn out beautifully. Remember, use the ingredients you have on hand and that you enjoy. If you’re feeling adventurous, throw in a new ingredient. Remember less is more. Start with one new ingredient so you can really experience the flavor it’s adding.

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