Thursday, February 25, 2016

S = Stock Talk

In a search of posts on this blog, I discovered I've blogged about chicken stock at least three times.  I've mentioned it several times beyond that.

It seems...important, then?

I'm usually a big fan of doing a whole chicken in the crockpot with my aromatics and a lot of water and making my stock that way.  It's certainly much easier.

But, upon finding a ziploc bag of turkey bones and such in the freezer (saved since Christmas), I opted for the old-school top-of-the-stove method.

1. Find pot. A big one.
2. Empty baggie of picked-over turkey bits into pot.
3. Cut up three or four carrots, throw them in (leave the skins on, people!)
4. Repeat #3 with celery (which I'm ashamed to admit I did not have at the time).
5. Quarter a couple of small onions and get them to the party.
6. Add a few bay leaves and peppercorns.
7. Cover the whole lot with water.

Here's the excellent thing about stock.  You definitely have to do steps 1, 2, and 7.  Everything else, honestly?  Optional.  The heat and water is going to get a lot of delicious goodness from that carcass.

On the stove top, I keep the heat low.  I mean, I barely want a simmer.  And then, I walk away.  For a few hours.  Just let that pot of turkey water sit on low heat, doing it's thing.

And it WILL do its thing.  Later on, six or eight hours later, pour the broth through a strainer, cool it and store it properly for future use.  It's. So. Good.

Right at the start

It's reducing and getting more delicious by the minute
And finally, you get a stock for all seasons

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Getting On With the Alphabet...R!

 R-r-r-r-r-r-apini!

Whenever I come across some unusual piece of produce not often seen in these parts, I don't hesitate to snatch it up.  Buy first, recipe later...is what I say.

I've bought enough kale, spinach, parsley, etc., to know that this bunch of greens was none of those things.  And so without further ado, I snatched these up.

At home, research informed me that rapini is actually marketed more frequently as broccoli rabe...and that, I'd heard of.  But, I'd never fixed it.

Until now.

As it turns out, broccoli rabe is much less like broccoli, and more like kale.  I originally thought I'd sauté it with garlic and olive oil and throw it in with some farro for a nice side dish.
 
Alas.  I've been laid rather low with a cold the past 
couple of days.  The farro thing never quite came to
fruition...just didn't have the energy.  But - soup.  Yeah.  Just the thing for a cold, right?

Modifications on a farro-white bean-swiss chard soup turned up on our table for dinner tonight.

Farro.
Chickpeas.
Rapini.

I personally love soups like these.  Along with a cup or two of diced tomatoes, some julienned onions, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and bay leaf...these three ingredients formed a bowlful of goodness.  Everything delicious and nutritious was present: vegetables (lots!) and protein (chickpeas).

What I did:

1. Lightly sauté the onions first over medium-high heat  Add in the chopped rapini greens after onions have softened.  Toss around until greens have wilted.

2. Pour six to eight cups of chicken broth or water over the cooked vegetables.  Add tomatoes and drained chickpeas.

***At this point I removed from the heat and stored in the refrigerator, so that my family could reheat and finish later since I wouldn't be home from work until after six.

3. Bring the soup to a simmer and add in a cup of farro.  Let simmer for 20-25 minutes until farro is chewy.

4. Serve with parmesan.

5. Take a picture.  I always forget to do that because I'm too busy eating it.

This pretty little soup has a date with dinner destiny.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Amazing Cure for Malaria...But Only Before 2006, and...Oh...

Have you ever heard that old adage that Ignorance is Bliss?  Better off not knowing?  If you knew then what you know now? Etc?

Tonight is an instance where knowledge is NOT power, it is a burden...and the Internet is a curse.

Q = Quinine.

Quinine is a herbal substance and it's what imparts its bitterness to tonic water...tonic water being a popular mixer for spirits.  The classic gin & tonic, vodka tonic, and about a million other combinations that would be amazing.

However, did you know quinine used to be a treatment for malaria?  And babesiosis...that weird disease the nurses ask about when you give blood (fyi, a disease transmitted by parasites like ticks - gross!)  These days, we've got such amazing advances in modern medicine, quinine is no longer Top of the List...only as a last resort, says the World Health Organization.

Because, as it turns out, quinine is one of those medicines that have a myriad of side-effects that seem a whole lot worse than just suffering through the damn malaria.  So, yay, WHO?

However, the quinine in tonic water is in such small amounts, it's hardly toxic to a healthy human being.  Unless...you drink MASSIVE amounts of tonic water...in which case, weirdosauce.

So...for those of us who enjoy a good gin & tonic...we may keep buying the tonic water that contains quinine. 

I cannot recall, exactly, when I had my first gin and tonic.  I can't remember if I loved it or was indifferent.  I just know at some point in my life, probably after 30, I began to love these cocktails.  I enjoy the piney/sometimes juniper-y flavor, combined with the fizzy bitterness of tonic, with an added splash of fresh lime juice.  Yes.  It is my favorite.  But...I've just recently become gin-aware.  And I do realize that gin matters.  Tanqueray is always a good middle-of-road choice.  Bombay is supremely special, and Magellan is very very nice as well.  If I had to make a choice between Seagram's and New Amsterdam, I'll choose Seagram's (crazy, isn't it?)

Always a lime.  And if I had my druthers, I'd want the barkeep to muddle a lime and include a wedge - both.  'Cause I'm fussy like that.

Q = Quinine.  Perfect for those pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail.  Would have saved them from malaria, and hadn't been outlawed by the World Health Organization yet.