Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a from scratch soup.   Of course, you can speed things up by using commercially made chicken stock if you are pressed for time, but the soup is more satisfying when you make the stock yourself.

You can break this down into smaller steps by making the stock up to 3 days ahead.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, cover once completely cool.  Remove chicken from bones and chill separately. Reheat stock before proceeding with recipe.
Chipotle-spice purée can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

Actually, there are several short cuts you could take to make this soup, and each of you will figure out those that work best for you.  I have given you the long version, because, after all, this site is all about “fresh cooking”, using as few pre-made ingredients as possible.  The original recipe is from Gourmet magazine, December 2008.  I have made a few changes, but not many.  The recipe is great as written.

This will make 8 – 12 servings, depending on appetites.  Cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze the leftovers so you have a time saver when your schedule gets out of control.

Chipotle Tortilla Soup


For the stock

1 whole chicken (about 1/1/2 kilos)

3 carrots, roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly  chopped

1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise

3 1/2 litres of water

1 small bunch cilantro stems (25 – 30 stems)

1 bay leaf

5 peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 3 hours.  Occasionally skim off any foam that forms on top of the broth and discard.

Remove chicken from broth, set aside and allow to cool.  Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve into large bowl.  Discard solids and wash pot and return broth to pot.


Make the Soup

3 whole allspice berries

1 whole clove

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

8 black peppercorns

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 – 3 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo (depending on your preference for spicy heat)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown rice, not cooked

1 lb sweet potato or camote, cut into spoon size pieces

1  19 oz can canellni beans, drained and rinsed

15 fresh corn tortillas

5 Tablespoons canola oil

Toast the allspice, clove, cumin, peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking pan to prevent burning, .  About 2 minutes.

Transfer toasted spices to blender and add onion, carrots, garlic, chipotles, salt and 1 cup of the chicken stock.   Puree until smooth and spices are ground.  About 3 minutes.   If mixture seems too thick to properly puree, add a bit more chicken stock.  (Be careful if chicken stock is still hot).

Add puree to stock in pot, along with brown rice.  Bring to low boil over medium heat.  Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes and continue to simmer until sweet potatoes and rice are tender – about 15 minutes more.

While soup is simmering, remove meat from chicken and cut or shred into bite-size pieces.  Discard bones.

Add chicken and beans to simmering soup.  Remove from heat once chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F, stack tortillas and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Toss strips with oil, place on 2 baking sheets, season with salt and bake, stirring frequently until crisp and golden.  About 25 minutes.


2 ripe avocados, cubed

2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges

3 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice

sour cream

Spoon soup into bowls, top with avocados, tomatoes and tortilla strips.  Serve sour cream and lime wedges alongside.







Coconut Granola

Oh, I know, you can buy granola literally everywhere.  Unfortunately for my taste buds most I have tried taste almost as good as the box it came out of.

Do yourself a favour,  make your own.  I think you will be glad you did.


Coconut Granola

In a large mixing bowl, combine

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut.  Sweetened or not, your choice.

1/2 cup raw, sunflower seeds

1 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Set this aside and preheat your oven to 300F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In microwave safe measuring cup, stir together

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

dash nutmeg

1/2 cup honey

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 Tablespoons dried cranberries  (add in later)

Microwave mixture on medium until easily stir-able (about 10 – 20 seconds, depending on your microwave). Give it a stir to completely combine, then pour over the oat mixture and stir until all ingredients are evenly coated with the honey-spice mixture.

Spread on prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every 10 minutes  for 30 – 40 minutes, until oats are golden in colour.

Remove from oven,  sprinkle dried cranberries over top and stir to combine.  Let cool on baking sheet, then transfer to air-tight container.   Store at room temperature.  Keeps well for 2 – 3 weeks.



Spiced Rum

Yes, I know you can buy it in the store, but trust me, this is so much better!    Plus, you can customize the spice blend to suit your own tastes.

Be sure to use a  good rum.  It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, just one that you like.

Good anytime of year, but especially warming during the Christmas season, I think.



Spiced Rum

750 ml amber rum

4 allspice berries

2 cloves

1 cardamom pod

1 star anise

1 x 4” cinnamon stick

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

4″ strip orange peel, easy to get if you happen to have mandarin oranges in the house

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a clean jar, or pitcher large enough to hold everything and cover tightly.  Shake to combine.  Let sit in cool dark place for 2 days, shaking once.

Strain mixture into a clean bottle, discard spices.

Seal tightly and store in cool, dry, dark place.  Keeps indefinitely.

Beverages · How To...

How to Make Simple Syrup

Used in many cocktails, this is a versatile sweetener.  This keeps for several  weeks  in the fridge.  With the Christmas season fast approaching, this is a good thing to have in your fridge for when friends drop over.


Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Place in pot on stove top over medium heat.  Stir constantly until sugar dissolves.  Bring to boil.  Remove from heat, allow to cool completely.   Use in recipe as instructed.  Refrigerate any leftover syrup for later use.

Keeps almost indefinitely.


Aged Eggnog


When I was a child, my Mom would make eggnog for us when ever she had an excess of eggs.  Living on a farm did have its culinary advantages, tho’ I was far too young to realize just how fortunate we were!

In later years, we lived ‘in town’, and there was no need to make your own, because it had become a grocery store staple at this time of year.  While it doesn’t hold a candle to Moms’ home made version, one really can’t argue with the convenience of it.

My husband, Kevin,  who loves the stuff, would buy 2 litres as soon as it hit the shelves.   He would pour himself a huge glass, drink it down and declare the beginning of the Christmas season.  It is a very rich drink, and after the first glass , it would be several days before the second, and often we threw out more eggnog than we drank.

I was never a huge fan of the store bought version, but its arrival in stores, (and our refrigerator) was a sure sign of Christmas in Canada, and I missed  it  when we moved here.    Of course, I could have made my own, but the trouble with that was that it never seemed convenient to make it when the craving hit.  Too tired, too late, too many dishes… there was always a good reason NOT to make eggnog.

Which is why I was happy to find this recipe for Aged Eggnog.   I love this version for 2 reasons;

1. It ties in with my obsession for all things fermented, and

2.  It IMPROVES with age!   It is happy to wait in the fridge until one of us actually has a craving for it without going bad, making this the perfect addition to our holiday pantry.   They say an unopened bottle will age nicely in the fridge for up to a year.

We wont be aging ours for THAT long, as a matter of fact, you could actually drink this the same day you make it, but the alcohol will not have mellowed.  In that case, just add extra milk and enjoy!!   Next year, I intend to start this much earlier.

Here then, is my version of Alton Browns’ Aged Eggnog.


Aged Eggnog

6 egg yolks

1/2 lb sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2  cups heavy cream

1/2 cup amber rum

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup bourbon

1/8 tsp kosher or non-iodized sea salt

Separate eggs, freeze the whites for another purpose (merengue anyone?)

Beat the yolks, sugar and nutmeg in large mixing bowl until the mixture light in colour and the mixture falls from the beater in a solid ribbon.  Depending on your mixer, this  takes 5 – 7 minutes.

Combine milk, cream, alcohol and salt in a pitcher and slowly beat into egg mixture.

Transfer to 2 litre glass jar, cover and age in fridge for minimum of 2 weeks.  Alton Brown says a month or even 2 is better, and you can age this for up to a year.

To serve, pour into a glass, sprinkle a little nutmeg or cinnamon over top and enjoy.

Happy Holidays!!



Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine

There are several ways to char the tomatoes for this dish, or you can cheat and buy a 28 ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes from the supermarket!

Stove top – place whole tomatoes in a dry frying pan or on a comal over medium heat until skins blister and darken, turning to get as much char on each tomato as possible.

Oven – cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and place on sheet pan.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in 350 oven for about 40 minutes until charred and caramelized.

BBQ – rub whole tomatoes with oil and place directly on grill grates over medium heat, turning until charred on all sides and skin is starting to slip off.

This will serve 4 people.


Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine


7 Roma tomatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil (for charring in oven or on grill)

salt and pepper

1 lb bacon

500 grams fettuccine

1/2 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving

fresh basil – for serving

Char tomatoes, place in bowl and when cool enough to handle, roughly chop and put back into bowl.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, chop bacon into roughly 1/2 inch pieces and fry, in large frying pan or pot, stirring frequently, until crispy.  Using slotted spoon, remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel to drain.  Pour out (and reserve) all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat from pan.

When pasta is about 1 minute away from being fully cooked, drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to bacon fat in pan, and bring to simmer over medium heat.  Add fettuccine, using tongs to toss pasta and coat all strands with the bacon fat.  You can add some of the bacon fat you drained off or additional pasta water at this point if pasta looks dry.  Add the tomatoes and any juices in the bowl and continue cook, tossing lightly for 1 minute.

Remove from heat, sprinkle Parmesan and toss again to combine.

Divide mixture among 4 bowls, garnish with fresh basil leaves.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

Appetizers and Snacks · Breakfast · eggs

Tortilla Española with Chorizo and Caramelized Onions


Cut into small cubes and served at room temperature, this is a Spanish Tapa.   It is also makes a pretty good breakfast .

The time it takes to caramelize the onions is time well spent.  Caramelizing brings out the sweet side of the onion and takes the flavour to a whole new level.

Makes 36 appetizers or 4 breakfast servings.


Tortilla Española

with Chorizo and Caramelized Onions


3 yellow onions, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced crosswise

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 chorizo sausages, cut into 1/2″ dice

6 eggs

salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

In frying pan over medium-low heat, heat the oil and add the onions.  Cover and cook 10 minutes, until onion is translucent.  Reduce heat to very low, replace the cover and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is golden in colour and very soft, about 20 minutes more.   Transfer onions to bowl, set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Spray a 9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Add chorizo to same pan, increase heat to medium high and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often until caramelized and cooked through.  Transfer to bowl with onions to cool until cool enough to add to eggs without cooking them.

Beat the eggs until fluffy, season with salt and pepper.  Add the onions, chorizo and the chopped cilantro and mix well.

Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked in the centre.

Let sit 15 minutes before cutting.

If serving as a tapa or appetizer, cut into squares or triangles and serve at room temperature.

If serving as a breakfast item, cut into 4 pieces and serve warm.

COOKS NOTE:   For a tapas party, this can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight.  Let stand about 30 minutes to bring to room temperature before serving.

Original Source: Tapas Faciles – Tortilla de Chorizo y Cebolla Caramelizada.