Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Soup

I came up with this recipe last year in the middle of winter - it's a great meal-in-one, hearty and comforting soup. It's got chicken and rice in it so it's very filling too. I also make it in large batches and freeze it so it lasts quite a while (it's really convenient - I can just head some up for dinner when I get back from work).

So, I decided that it was time to make a batch this year, since it's been getting pretty chilly lately (and I'm also feeling lazy :) ). But, as I said in my welcome post, I tend to never make the same dish the same way twice.

Below is the original recipe I settled on last year. I'll mention here though the modifications I made this time around. Instead of 20 cups of water I put in something like 24. I also added some torn fresh sage leaves, and I used brown rice instead of white rice. I only happened to have 1 lb. of chicken on hand, which didn't turn out so well - it feels like there just isn't enough chicken for as many servings. I didn't have boullion cubes on hand, so I left those out and added a bit more chicken soup mix. Finally, I had the last of the sweet potatoes to use up, so I substituted a couple of them for the regular potatoes.

The only change of these I would keep is the sage - too much water and the wrong kind of rice made the soup too watery - it's supposed to be a nice thick, hearty soup (but not quite porridge). The lack of chicken and boullion cubes I think probably cut back on the chicken flavor of the soup, which was unfortunate. The sweet potatoes were not bad, but I still prefer the taste of regular potatoes in this soup. Also, note the addition of sugar to the soup - that was something I decided to do after deciding my soup was overpoweringly spicy (even though I like it that way).

This batch came out a little more watery than it's supposed to...oh well.

"Meal-in-one" Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Soup

2 red peppers, halved
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups of rice (brown or white; different cooking times for each)
4-5 potatoes, cubed
1 (28 oz.) can of crushed or diced tomatoes
2 lb. chicken cutlets, cubed
1 (16 oz.) can corn, drained
4-5 large carrots, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
18-20 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. canola oil
olive oil to drizzle

Note: These amounts are estimates. You are better off judging how much to put in by eye based on how much soup you are making.
1-2 tsp. dried thyme
1-2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1-2 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, torn (optional)
1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3-4 bay leaves
salt / pepper to taste
2-3 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. coriander
3 boullion cubes
~3 tbsp. chicken soup mix (such as Osem or Telma brand)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice peppers in half, clean out the seeds, and place on a baking sheet, along with garlic. Drizzle some olive oil on top of the peppers and garlic. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

2. Roast peppers and garlic in the oven for 15-20 minutes until peppers start to brown a little bit. Finish with 3-5 minutes under the broiler till the pepper skin begins to char and bubble. Set aside to cool.

3. Sauté onions in a skillet until they start to soften. Add chicken to skillet and lightly brown along with turmeric, coriander, salt and pepper.

4. Peel the skin off from the cooled roasted red peppers and cut them up – about a 1 inch dice. Dump the peppers & garlic in a large (I use a 10 quart) stockpot, along with chicken & onions. Add carrots and crushed tomatoes.

5. Add sugar, boullion cubes, soup mix, chicken broth, water, followed by herbs – thyme, basil, parsley, sage, crushed red pepper, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Remember, judge how much of herbs to add according to how much soup you are making. Mix well and bring to a boil. Once the soup boils, reduce to a simmer.

6. After 45 minutes, add potatoes and corn.

7. After another 45 minutes, add rice and let it continue simmering until the rice is fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes). Once the rice is cooked, turn off the flame and you are done!

Yields about 9 quarts of soup which will last for a nice while :)
3 WW points per serving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sweet Potato Succotash

So I had some leftover sweet potato from last week's farmer's market. I picked up some fresh apple cider this week too. I was debating what to make as a side dish this week and I was toying with doing my classic herb-apple mashed potatoes, sweet potato style. But then, Thursday night, I went to Supersol and picked up a container of their roasted corn salad and had that with dinner - it was roasted corn and peas, and it was delicious! This inspired me and made me think of trying out a dish I've only heard of - succotash.

Now, like many people, I am of course most familiar with succotash from Looney Tunes' Sylvester Cat saying "S-s-s-sufferin' succotash!" I never really knew what that meant till one day I saw a box of succotash in the freezer section of the supermarket - corn and lima beans.

Of course, lima beans were my arch enemy as a kid - I would always pick them out of vegetables or soup that my mom made. So why would I want to subject my friends (or myself) to the bland and mealy texture of lima beans? Certainly not. I decided take this old-fashioned classic and modernize it a bit - I chose to use edamame (soy beans) instead (they actually came in this amusing Dora the Explorer package). I combined that with my leftover sweet potatoes, since the meal I was going to was a Thanksgiving-themed meal, and I added some other veggies to give it a really bright color. I snuck in my fresh apple cider too which gave it a tinge of sweetness and fleshed out the flavors beautifully!

Bright fall colors, bold Thanksgiving flavor

Sweet Potato Succotash

3-4 ears of corn
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 large/2 medium sweet potato, diced
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
~1.5 tsp thyme
~1 tsp parsley
salt & pepper

1. Shuck ears of corn, cleaning off husk and silk. Soak corn in water while oven preheats to 450 degrees.

2. When oven is ready, wrap each ear of corn in aluminum foil and put on the middle rack. Let corn roast for 20-30 minutes.

3. After corn is sufficiently cooked and golden yellow, unwrap the corn, keeping it in the foil and put them under the broiler for 5 minutes or so until kernels become golden brown. You may need to turn the cobs around a few times.

4. Halfway through corn cooking, saute onion and bell pepper together in oil in a skillet over medium heat until onions are soft. Add frozen edamame and sweet potato. Cook for 5-10 minutes until edamame thaws and sweet potatoes start to soften a little.

5. When corn is done, shock them in ice water to stop the cooking and make them easier to handle. Slice off kernels and add to skillet, along with tomatoes, thyme, parsely, salt and pepper, and mix.

6. Add chicken stock and apple cider, and drizzle a little honey over everything. Raise heat to medium-high, mix well, and continue mixing periodically. Cook until liquid is nearly entirely evaporated, and serve!

Serves 10.
2 WW points per serving.

Glazed Autumn Casserole

Last week, I happened to go to the farmer's market around the corner, just looking to see what looked good. I found a stand with these enormous just-dug sweet potatoes, and decided I should buy a bunch - I was very in the mood for a fall-themed side dish. I was also in the apple stand and decided to try a fruit I'd heard a lot about but never tried - quince. It's kind of like a really tart apple.

I looked a bit on Recipezaar to see what I could do with sweet potatoes and apples, and I came up with a lot of different casseroles - so I decided to give my own shot at a fall-style casserole, with Thanksgiving coming up soon. I gathered a bunch of other fall-themed ingredients like pecans, pumpkin and craisins to give it a more authentic autumn theme. (The sweet potato roasting method is from the November/December 2008 issue of Cook's Illustrated). This casserole is what I came up with - it was bursting with autumn flavor!

These are just leftovers...forgot to take a picture of the original

Glazed Autumn Casserole

4 medium (or 2 extremely large) sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 peeled and diced quince
or apples (Granny Smith would probably be good)
3 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp. fat-free margarine
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/3 cup craisins
1 shot rum
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 large spanish onion, sliced
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup apple cider/juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 (15 oz.) cans pumpkin

salt & pepper

1. Line baking sheet (or two) with aluminum foil and cooking spray. Coat sweet potato rounds with a bit of canola oil, salt and pepper. Lay sweet potato rounds out in one layer on sheet. Cover tightly with foil and place in a cold oven, then turn it to 425. DO NOT PREHEAT. Let potatoes cook for 30 minutes.

2. After potatoes are cooked, remove foil and leave them for another 5-10 minutes; flip them and cook them for an additional 5-10 minutes, till their color is nice and browned (be very careful not to burn! Burning the potatoes will make the final casserole texture stiff)

3. Meanwhile, caramelize sliced onions in the oil over med-high heat.

4. Melt margarine in another pan, and combine apples, pecans, nutmeg and brown sugar. Caramelize together till apples are well coated.

5. Finally, in one more pot combine apple juice, lemon juice, maple syrup, rum, craisins, cinnamon sticks and allspice. Cook over medium heat until reduced by about half, or until the glaze reaches a moderately thick consistency.

6. Once everything is finished, spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Build the casserole in layers: first a layer of sweet potatoes, then a layer of onions, then a layer of apples & nuts, then spread one can of pumpkin evenly over everything. Salt the pumpkin layer to your taste. Repeat with one more set of layers, except instead of salting the top pumpkin layer, sprinkle cinnamon over it. Pour the glaze over the top of the casserole (you can keep the cinnamon sticks for garnishes), and serve!

7. Leftovers taste really, really good.

Serves 12.
2 Weight Watchers points per serving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome to The Kosher Chef!

Well, it's about time. I've gone and done it. I've finally created a blog. Yes, yes, I know, I'm a little late onto the scene. But after coming up with all these creative new recipes, I decided I should start sharing them and giving back to the wonderful world of cooks on the internet.

What to expect? Mostly new recipes as I try them out or invent them; maybe some commentary on kosher food in NYC. I'll also post links to interesting recipes I find or try out. My favorite source for recipes online is As I learn better presentation and photography skills, hopefully you'll see yummy-looking photos of my food too.

What's my cooking style? I love cooking exotic dishes, especially Moroccan food (though I try out lots of different nationalities). I also am a fan of taking everyday foods and making them taste great. I also have a sweet tooth, so I often put honey, sugar, syrup, etc. in my dishes. I also like a bit of kick to my food, so just be aware that the spicy ingredients can be removed or substituted.

That brings me to another point about my cooking style - I'm a big fan of removals/additions/substitutions to recipes. I see it as a way to take someone else's recipe and personalize it. If I see a good-looking non-kosher recipe, I'll just drop the bacon, or leave the cheese out of the chicken. A lot of people focus on following recipes exactly - to them I say, that's great if you're working in a restaurant (which I have sort of done...but more on that later :) ) because it promotes consistency - but when you're making food for your friends or for Shabbat - being exactly consistent isn't too critical (the exception is baking - I will actually measure stuff out if I'm baking!). In fact, I take pride in the fact that even if I write a recipe, I'll never make it exactly the same way twice.

That's also why you'll see me listing spices and maybe other ingredients in recipes with no amount - to me, I just eyeball it - whatever looks good is how much you put in! That's one good step to personalizing recipes and making them your own. This can be a hard concept to grasp for beginner chefs - I admit, I too insisted on amounts when I first started cooking. But eventually you get comfortable with your ingredients, with your kitchen, and you can loosen up a bit, play around and have fun!

So, once again, welcome to The Kosher Chef - home of personalized, delicious kosher cooking - I hope you enjoy!