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.

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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.

Garnish 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To... · Main Courses · Pork

Brined Pork Chops

A nice juicy pork chop is such a treat, but getting it done to that juicy stage of perfection can be difficult.   Left on the heat even a moment too long results in a dry tasteless piece of meat.  Not the dinner you were looking forward to.

Marinating your chops overnight in a light brine can fix that.  the basic brine is water, salt and sugar.  You can use just that, or start experimenting with the flavours by adding spices.  Bay leaves, mustard seeds, black pepper, chili peppers, junior berries, herbs, garlic, onions… or just leave it plain.  Whatever strikes your fancy.

This marinade will work for all cuts of pork, and chicken as well.

You can marinate for as little as 4 hours if you are pressed for time, but I prefer a full 24 hours.  Remove from the brine, pat dry and grill or pan fry as usual.   You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference a little time in brine can make.

This brine is for 2 – 4 chops, but you can easily double it.

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Brined Pork Chops

3 cups water

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

 

Optional add-ins such as those listed below, but limited only by your imagination

1 clove garlic 

1 sprig fresh rosemary or thyme

black peppercorns

juniper berries

allspice berries

mustard seeds

Stir everything together until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Place pork chops in re-sealable plastic bag large enough to comfortably hold all the chops.  Toss in any herbs or spices you choose to use.

Carefully pour brine into bag.  Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag and seal closed.  Massage a little to be sure the liquid has reached all parts of the pork.

Put the bag in a bowl large enough to hold any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

Remove chops from the brine, pat dry and grill or pan fry as usual.

Enjoy!!

Breakfast · eggs

Poblano – Cheese Breakfast Casserole

I seriously debated about posting this recipe.  Not because it doesn’t taste good – it does – but because of the extra steps needed to roast and peel the poblano.   (Poblanos can be roasted an peeled the day before, so you can have everything ready when you are ready to assemble the dish, )

Some of you want to get the cooking out of the way as quickly as possible.  Others of you don’t mind a few extra steps as long as it results in a superior dish.

So, here is the compromise:  those of you who don’t have the time to be roasting and peeling the peppers, just dice them. The dish will still be good,  but with a very forward chili flavour.   Those who do have the extra time, will be rewarded with a deeper, milder poblano flavour and a silky textured casserole that is a company-worthy brunch dish.

Serves 4, easily doubled

Poblano – Cheese Breakfast Casserole

 

5 medium Poblano Chilis roasted, peeled, stems and seeds removed

3/4  cup whole milk

1 Tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

5 eggs

1 cup grated Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese

non stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk together milk, eggs, flour, salt and pepper until well blended and foamy.

Tear poblanos into 2″ wide strips.

Spray a 9 x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray and place half the poblano strips on the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle half the cheese over top.  Top with remaining poblanos, then sprinkle remaining cheese over the poblanos.

Gently pour egg mixture in.

Place the dish in 350F oven and bake about 45 minutes, until eggs are beginning to set.  Increase temperature to 400F for about 10 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked and top is beginning to brown.

Remove from oven, let rest 15 minutes before slicing.  Serves 4.

 

COOKS NOTES:

-If doubling, use a 9×13″ pan.

-Poblanos can be roasted an peeled the day before,

 

Chicken · Main Courses · Pasta

One-Pot Chicken Penne in Tequila Tomato Sauce

The alcohol in the tequila cooks off, but the flavour remains, adding a nice depth to this simple sauce.

You might be interested to know this is my own creation.  Because of that, I did some research as to what a serving of pasta actually is.  Answers were all over the map from as little as 60 grams all the way up to 113 grams of dried pasta.   I guess the correct answer to what is a serving is “how hungry are you?”

Because of package sizing, I allow 125 grams per person.  If it is just the two of us for dinner, I know there will be enough leftovers for tomorrows lunch.  If I am cooking for a crowd, this guarantees I will not run short of the main course.  My grandmother was not Italian, but she would have died of embarrassment if guests were ever able to reach the bottom of a serving bowl.   I learned from the best.

So, this will serve 2 people, with enough left over for someones lunch the next day.

Ready in 45 minutes or less.

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One-Pot Chicken Penne

in Tequila Tomato Sauce

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1   6 oz chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes

salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons tequila reposada (the gold stuff)

250 grams penne

3 cups water

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon butter

chopped parsley, for garnish

Parmesan cheese for serving

Lightly season the cubes of chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in large deep sided pan and add onion, and cook until onion becomes translucent and begins to brown.  Add garlic and cut chicken breast.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink.  About 3 minutes.  Chicken may not be completely cooked thru at this point.  Transfer contents of pan into bowl and set aside.

Add tequila to pan and stir to pick up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Tequila will reduce by about half after about 30 seconds.

Add 3 cups of water to tequila in the pan, then add your pasta.  Stir.  Increase heat to high, cover and bring to boil.  Watch carefully.  You don’t want this to boil over.

Once boiling remove the lid and stir frequently to be sure pasta cooks evenly and to prevent sticking.

At the 8 minute mark, when the pasta is about halfway cooked thru, add the diced tomatoes and their juices along with the chicken breast & onions.  Continue to cook, stirring often until pasta is cooked thru.

Stir in the butter, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Sprinkle parsley over top and serve with parmesean cheese on the side.

 

 

 

Beef · Main Courses · Pork

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

Oh, just try them.  You will like them.  Even though we are using Chipotle, the level of heat is very low.  For those not familiar with Mexican flavours, this is a good introduction.

I’ve taken these to pot lucks and returned home with an empty dish every time.

If you cant find dried chipotle, you can sub canned chipotle in adobo and skip the soaking step.

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Albondigas, White Rice and Corn with Poblanos

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

For the meatballs

8oz ground pork

8 oz lean ground beef

1 onion, minced

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

Oil for frying

For the sauce

1 chipotle chili, seeds and stem removed

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup beef stock

14 oz can chopped tomatoes

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

Make the Meatballs

Combine the first 10 ingredients (everything but the oil). Mix together well then roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Place in single layer on baking sheet and chill while you prepare the sauce.

Make the Sauce

If using dried Chipotle Chili:  Soak the dried chilli in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil in saucepan over medium heat, and fry the the onion and garlic 5 – 6 minutes until onion is soft.  Remove chili from soaking liquid, reserving the soaking liquid.

Chop the chili and add to onions and garlic.  If using chipotles in adobo, fish at least one or maybe 2 chilis out of the adobo sauce, roughly chop them and add to the onion/garlic mixture.

Cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Increase heat to high, Add beef stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and soaking liquid.   Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer partially covered, while you cook the meatballs.

Cook the Meatballs

Heat oil in frying pan and fry meatballs in batches, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.  They will not necessarily be cooked thru and this is okay.  You just want to get a sear and some colour on them right now.

As you remove the meatballs from the frying pan, transfer directly to the sauce in the pot.  Once all meatballs have been fried, continue to simmer in sauce, stirring every once in a while, for about 10 minutes to cook meatballs thru.  Be gentle!  Stir too roughly and you will break up all those meatballs you just worked so hard to make!

Serve with plain white rice on the side.