Wednesday, October 24, 2012

fall hard.

the end of the farmer's market is always depressing for me. i have to start relying on grocery stores for my produce again, and the options become more limited. the only thing that saves my mood is cooking with the root vegetables that i stock up on in the final weeks of the market. boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...whatever, i'm all about them. soups and gratins are my favorite applications for them, so here's a chowder that sort of combines the two.

Roots Of Autumn Chowder

3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 stalks celery, diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
1 Tbsp curry powder (i used Penzey's Vindaloo, but you can use whatever kind you're partial to)
1 Tbsp dill (dried or fresh)
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (homemade, either way. no excuses.)
1 cup heavy cream (or light cream if you prefer)
2 Tbsp butter
olive oil
salt and pepper

firstly, i'd like to mention that you can go ahead and use any combination of root vegetables you'd like for this. turnips, rutabegas, sweet potatoes, even golden beets would probably work just as well in this. in fact, you could even throw in some squash if you were so inclined.

start out with your trusty dutch oven over medium high heat and splash in enough olive oil to cover the bottom, melt the butter, then add your onions and celery. cook them til they're softened and translucent. add the curry powder and asafoetida (if you're using it) and stir just to work it into the oil. dump in the chopped parsnips and carrots (but NOT the potatoes yet) and cook until everything takes on a little bit of brown around the edges.

add the stock and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, raise the heat and boil until the potatoes are tender. remove from heat and stir in the cream and dill. oyster crackers or saltines will go nicely with this.

Monday, October 1, 2012

something to do with tomatillos.

this recipe began it's life as a soup. never one to leave well enough alone, i messed about with it, and the results were pretty awesome, if i do say so myself. the tomatillo base is essentially a salsa verde, and you can definitely use it as such.

Mexican Chicken and Rice

tomatillo base:
2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well and cut in half
1 habanero chili, stem removed OR 1-3 jalapenos, serranos or chili of your preference (this is how you're going to determine the heat level, so choose wisely. i went with the one whole habanero, seeds intact, and it was a good slow burn that builds rather nicely. if you're not really into spicy food, go with the 1 jalapeno, or remove the seeds before adding it to the base.)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tbsp lime (or lemon) juice
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed well, stems intact
Pinch of sugar

2 lbs frozen, boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white rice (i used jasmine, because it's what i had, but you can use whatever you want. brown rice would probably work just as well.)
1 teaspoon dry oregano (preferably Mexican) or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon dry epazote (you don't *need* this, but i like it. and obviously, use 1 tablespoon of fresh if you can find it.)

start with the tomatillo base. place chili and tomatillos, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until they just start to blacken in spots. set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, then add them to a blender or food processor with any juices that accumulated and the garlic, salt, lime/lemon juice, cilantro and sugar. blend until there are no large chunks remaining.

preheat oven to 400° and place chicken on a foil-lined sheet. spoon enough of the tomatillo sauce over the chicken to coat, then cover with more foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil, turn over, add a little more sauce and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until juices are clear and the internal temperature reads about 160. set aside to cool, then cut into 1 inch cubes.

heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. add onions and cook until just starting to brown. add cumin, coriander, and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

add tomatillo sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. add chicken stock, raise heat and bring to a boil. add rice, chicken, oregano, epazote and salt and pepper to taste and lower heat to medium-low. simmer, partially covered 25-30 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.