Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Easy way to use that chicken stock

Chipotle Shrimp

This one is from Rick Bayless. Serve with white rice and some fresh avocado, and you have a wonderful meal in minutes

1 Can (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted), drained
3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo
1 Tbs chipotle canning sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
3 Garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped OR crushed through a garlic press
1½ Cups Fish OR chicken broth OR water
1 tsp Salt
1 lbs medium-large shrimp (21 to 25 shrimp per pound), peeled and deveined, tail left on if desired
¼ cup loosely packed,roughly chopped cilantro, for garnish

1 Pour drained tomatoes into a blender or food processor. Add chipotle chiles and chipotle canning sauce. Process until smooth.
2 In a very large (12-inch) skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and stir until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Pour in tomato mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld and reduce to the consistnecy of tomato paste. Add enough broth or water to achieve a light tomato sauce consistency. Taste and season highly with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Add shrimp to pan. Cook, stirring nearly constantly, until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in a little more broth or water if sauce has thickened too much. Scoop onto dinner plates and sprinkle with cilantro.

Servings: 3

Monday, December 11, 2006

Back to the Basics

As my cooking skills have improved, my desire to have quality ingredients has increased and I find myself on the weekend not cooking gourmet items, but making the basics that make cooking easier and tastier for the rest of the week. I decided to share some of my favored recipes and the first one is about as basic as you can get, chicken stock. As I said before, the better the ingredients the better the final dish. Since most recipes require chicken stock, I thought I should tackle this one first. This version of chicken stock comes from Cook's Illustrated and their public TV show America's Test Kitchen. This makes a full flavor gelatinous stock that improves the flavor of every dish where it is used.

Chicken Stock


4 lbs Chicken legs each hacked into two pieces
1 onion roughly chopped into big pieces (so they don't fall through a strainer)
2 bay leaves
2 quarts of boiling water


Put a large stock pot over medium heat with one to two tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and cook for about five minutes until soft and beginning to brown and remove onions to a bowl.

Add 1/2 of the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Keep the heat high and turn after five minutes. The pieces will smoke and stick, just pry up and rotate or stir. Remove batch to the bowl with the onion and brown the second batch of legs. Once browned, add onion and first batch back to the pot, turn the flame to low, cover and sweat for 20 minutes.

Raise the heat to high, add boiling water, bay leaves and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot for all those chicken pieces that stuck to the pot during the browning. Bring to boil, then cover, lower the heat back to low and simmer for twenty more minutes. After 20 minutes, turn flame off, and let cool. Discard the big pieces and strain ( I use a mesh strainer then a finer mesh strainer) and then pour into plastic containers. I use some 2 cup and 1 cup sizes and freeze. The two cup is about the size of the can of stock, and the one cup is the size of those juice box stock boxes.

You can de-fat before you freeze or after you thaw, or just use the fat, its up to you. You can also add some salt when you add the water, but I would rather salt my final dish rather than the stock.

I will add some recipes later that I love that use this stock as an ingredient.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Sweet it Is!

Over the summer we hosted several European water polo players who generally ate everything in sight, but I did notice that their tastes ran toward the savory side and they generally stayed away from sweet items, especially at breakfast. I didn't think much of it until this last weekend when I went to the local grocery store for our weekly provisions rather than Whole Foods, as I didn't need a lot of produce or pantry items. Not only was the produce bad, but everything seemed to have added sugar. I couldn't find a staples like a loaf of bread that didn't have high fructose corn syrup (this includes items from their bakery). I even found canned tomatoes with sugar.

So it got me thinking. Am I eating too much sugar? I don't use many (if any) process foods as ingredients in my cooking. I don't add sugar to my coffee or tea. I gave up sodas a year ago. But I do eat Kashi Go Lean Crunch for breakfast most every morning. This cereal is a high fiber, high protein mixture but does have some added cane sugar (but no where near Captain Crunch). But during their summer long stay, none of the water polo players ever touched any of the breakfast cereals in our pantry. The problem is I didn't notice what they had for breakfast. While we were in Italy, the hotel breakfast, although americanized, offered cheese, salami, and other savory items. So I am on a quest to find a natural savory or balanced breakfast that I will eat and like. My hope is to wean myself off the general American desire to eat a sugary breakfast and in turn tune my taste buds to taste the natural sweetness of most produce. Stay Tuned....