Archive for November, 2011


Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

I believe I mentioned it before, but I love soup.  The combination of flavors and textures resonates with me on a visceral level.

I found the recipe for this one a couple of years ago (originally pheasant & wild rice), and I churned out a batch tout suite.

The guinea pigs loved it.  They loved it so much, I had several threats made against my life if I didn’t make more for them.

Granted, I didn’t feel particularly threatened, since none of them are as badass as Sumo, but I did appreciate the sentiment.

So…………………..here you are:

2 cups cooked wild rice (1 cup uncooked rice makes 2 cups)
½ cup butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled & diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 tbsp all purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced (or ½ tsp dried rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare rice according to directions on package and reserve.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté onion, carrot and celery; stir frequently until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stirring constantly, gradually add stock, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Add milk, cream, chicken, wine, rosemary and rice, reduce heat to low and gently cook for 30 minutes; be careful not to boil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Tarragon Chicken

So lately I’ve been obsessed with watching the Food Network channel.  I’ve been a fan of the website for some time, but I never paid much attention to the TV version.  What a mistake that was!

One of my (new) favorite celebrity chefs is Laura Calder.  If anyone is unfamiliar with her, she’s a Canadian chef who specializes in French cooking.  Since French is an area I’m not all that great with, I find her ideas to be fascinating.

The fact that she’s a total hottie doesn’t hurt, either.

This is a recipe of Ms. Calder’s that I just made last week.  And, as is my usual process, I took some in to work to get some feedback from my guinea pigs.  The guinea pigs were in total agreement – this one is a keeper!

I made a few modifications to the original recipe, as I tend to cook with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs exclusively.  Ms. Calder suggested using a whole chicken, but Sumo don’t play that.

I also substituted sour cream for the creme fraiche that was called for, as I just didn’t have the time to make creme fraiche myself.  I will, however, use the creme fraiche the next time I make this, just to see how it differs from my version.  I also used more chicken stock than Ms. Calder recommended, as there did not appear to be enough sauce while I was cooking.  All that meant was it took a little longer to reduce.  Turned out juuuuuuust fine.;)

Enjoy!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, minced
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Lemon juice to taste

Melt the butter with the oil in a large skillet over quite high heat. Season the chicken pieces and fry in batches until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Put all the chicken back in the pan, add chicken stock and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm and reduce any leftover juices until sticky. Add the shallot and wine and reduce to a thickish sauce, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and half the tarragon. Boil down again to sauce consistency, 3 to 5 minutes.

Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Put back the chicken pieces, turning to coat, then transfer to a platter. Pour the sauce over, scatter over the remaining tarragon, and serve.

Tip #2

Every chef needs good knives.  That’s a well known fact.

To give y’all a little background on yours truly, I started studying martial arts when I was 13.  Over the years, I’ve accumulated a fairly large collection of weapons related to that pursuit, with the majority of the arsenal being knives.  As such, I actually know what I’m talking about (for once).

Now, you could take a trip to your local grocery store and pick up whatever cheap-ass blade they happen to be selling, and it would probably work out okay.  For a while, anyway, but eventually you’ll have to buy another.

I prefer to buy to buy quality pieces that will perform superbly, and last.  To that end, I use these:

In addition to being sharp as hell, the knives have a beautiful Damascus pattern.  Go forth and purchase some.  You’ll thank me later.

http://store.calphalon.com/productline/katana-series-cutlery/4294959912-1982-1957

Tip #1

Okay, no recipe this time.  Instead, I’m going to share with you one of the most loved and well used gadgets in Sumo’s Kitchen:

http://www.garlictwist.com/

I was given one of these as a stocking stuffer last Christmas, and I FRIGGIN’ LOVE IT!!!!!  I use a lot of garlic in my experimentation, and I’ve always been on the lookout for a better way to prepare it.  Garlic presses waste too much of the clove, in my opinion.  Smashing the clove with the blade of a knife is okay, I guess, but I always had disturbing visions of either snapping my knife when smacking it, or accidentally hitting the edge with my hand and spurting blood everywhere.

Not an issue with the Garlic Twist.  Sure, you still have to peel the garlic, but after that, you pop it in the Twist,  give it a few turns, and BAM!  Instant minced garlic.

Go forth and find one.  You’ll thank me later.