Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Braised Chicken with Vegetables

It's raining outside. The wind is banging against the front windows. I just made matzo ball soup, but that's not enough to get rid of the chill and feed my hunger-caused-by-the-cold. I need a rich soup, with meat falling off the bone and enough carbos to boost my internal temperature a couple of degrees.

Braised chicken legs and thighs with parsley, potatoes, and carrots hits the spot.

2 chicken legs, washed
2 chicken thighs, washed
4 shallots
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, julienned
2 cups Italian parsley, washed, chopped
2 medium sized, Yukon potatoes, washed, peeled, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, washed, peeled, cut into thick rounds
10 shiitake mushrooms, dried or fresh, sliced
6 cups water
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

If you are using dried shiitake's, submerge them in hot water for 30 minutes or until soft, then cut off and discard the stems. Squeeze the excess water out of the mushrooms, then slice. Reserve the soaking water. If you're using fresh shiitakes, wash and trim any dirt off the stems, but use them as well as the caps.

Sauté the chicken in the olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper, until lightly browned on all sides. Remove the chicken and sauté the shallots, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and parsley. Put back the chicken and add 6 cups of water. If you used dried shiitakes, use 5 cups of water and 1 cup of soaking water.

Lightly cover the pot with a piece of tin foil and simmer on a medium flame for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for another 20 minutes. Add the carrot rounds and simmer for a final 10 minutes.

Serve in a soup bowl so each person gets a generous portion of the thick soup. If the potatoes aren't enough carbos, top each serving with homemade croutons.

Serves 2. Preparation Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 75 minutes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Little Bit of Honey is a Dangerous Thing

If T.S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock didn't dare to eat a peach, he would never have eaten anything as dangerous as honey. Dense, viscous honey seems to have a mind of its own. No matter how carefully I handle it, invariably there's a sticky dribble on the counter to clean up. But given its deep, primal flavor and sweetness, it's worth the risks.

I recently spent a long weekend at the Sundance Film Festival, where I saw 8 films in 2 1/2 days. The always difficult part of the festival is finding time to eat. the films are scheduled so close to one another. Usually all you can do is grab some fast food or an appetizer at a reception. The trick is to eat something that's nourishing and not too unhealthy. I decided I needed to make something to eat I could stuff into a shoulder bag or the inside pocket of a ski jacket.

Tired of trail mix and power bars, I tried cut up fruit and carrot sticks, but they weren't satisfying. After several failed experiments, I discovered a simple and surprisingly flavorful snack that, in any cold climate, will satisfy your hunger and help preserve body heat.

Honey and cheese compliment each other perfectly. Organic honey tastes best. To subtly affect the flavor, try the different honeys: orange blossom, avocado, clover, lemon...the list is endless.

Honey and Cheese Sandwich
1 croissant, sliced in half the long way or 2 slices of bread
1 tablespoon honey
1 slice of cheese (cheddar, muenster, or jack)

Lightly toast the croissant halves or the slices of bread and spread on the honey. Put on the cheese and the other half of the croissant or 2nd piece of bread. Cut the sandwich in half. If you're carrying the sandwich around with you, use plastic wrap to prevent the honey from making a sticky mess. Seal the wrapped halves in a sandwich bag.

Serves 1. Preparation Time: 5 minutes.

Pickle Me Up! It's Thanksgiving!

Pickles are delicious anytime of the year. For Thanksgiving they are especially good. Their crunch and acidity counterbalances the delicious...