tea & leftovers

home sick

Being sick all week, I haven’t really been motivated to cook. Or eat. I’ve been drinking a lot of hot weak tea.

frozen soup

Our Saturday night was pretty exciting. We took a container of frozen leftover soup out and heated it up, played Scrabble and went to bed early. Woo hoo! The soup was pretty good, though, a thoroughly unreproducable blend of chicken, leftover Indonesian braising liquid, chickpeas, rice noodles, lime leaf, galanga and god knows what. Plenty of sambal oelek to unplug the nasal passages. The rice noodles didn’t really benefit from the freeze/thaw action, but they were still tasty.

Hopefully more real food reporting to come in the near future.

broccoli cheddar soup

broccoli cheddar soup

Nothing fancy here, once again. Just a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup and a few pieces of really good bread. Broccoli cheddar is one of my all-time favorite soups, but I never get it anymore – it seems like the local pubs never have it on the menu these days. And when I decided to make some myself, I couldn’t find a single recipe for it anywhere in my vast cookbook collection – so I made one up. I think it worked quite well.

I sauteed a chopped onion in butter, then added flour, then chicken stock, water and broccoli stems. When the stems were soft, I used an immersion blender to puree it all up, then added the broccoli florets and let them simmer until just tender. I added a splash of half-and-half and a good handful of grated raw medium cheddar.


To go with, I bought a loaf of Samish River potato bread, which was the perfect mate: soft but crusty, with a full sourdough/potato flavor. A lovely dinner.

ugly soup

ugly soup

I’m fairly sure that this is the ugliest soup I have ever made or eaten. The good news is that looks aren’t everything; it was actually very tasty. It was a cunning use of leftovers: the fava bean puree from awhile back, mixed with plenty of garlicky chicken stock, some finely chopped ham and asparagus stems, and a fair quantity of frozen chopped spinach.

The final soup was savory and had a nice velvety mouthfeel. It also had a tendency to gel when chilled, which made for an unappetizing look straight out of the fridge, but a bit of whisking after reheating brought it right back. This would be a good soup to make with any sort of leftover bean puree, or with fresh split peas. It would also be splendid with sourdough croutons, I’m thinking.

the last of the turkey

turkey noodle soup

I am pleased to report that the last of the leftover turkey has been dealt with. Not that we really had much of a problem, since I only bought a 9 pound bird, but it had still managed to wear out its welcome. It was a Diestel organic free-range turkey, and it must have done Pilates or marathon training or something in its spare time, because there was hardly an ounce of fat on that bird. It was fine with stuffing and gravy and cranberries, but I wasn’t sure about its merits as a leftover.

Still, we got one lunch of well-mayoed turkey salad sandwiches out of it, then I simmered the carcass with water and chicken stock for a good long time to get some truly flavorful stock. Some of that is frozen for later use, but most of it I used for a simple soup of celery root, carrots, bay leaf, turkey meat and egg noodles, which lasted through a dinner and two lunches.  It was quite good, but now it’s finally gone.

lamb tagine soup

lamb tagine soup

This was another one of those dishes that, although it was delicious in its first incarnation, was even better as a gussied-up leftover. It makes sense, of course, since a tagine is a braised dish, which tends to be best on its second day. But this, I think, was particularly splendid.

preserved lemon

Usually when we’re in the mood for tagine we make our standby, lamb with dried apricots and chickpeas. This time, though, I decided I really wanted to try an old favorite, a tagine of lamb with preserved lemon, peas and olives, which we hadn’t made for ages. We had to drive all the way to Bellingham for the preserved lemon, because I keep forgetting to make some, but it was worth it. Besides, it meant that we got to eat falafel and schawarma at Mediterranean Specialties for lunch that day. Continue reading

a surprisingly good soup

white (actually green) chili

I think I tend to like the idea of soup a lot more than the soup itself. I especially like making soup – it’s so fun to toss things into the pot and see how the flavors meld – but I’m not always inspired by the result. I wasn’t very excited about this soup – a “white chili” with salsa verde, chicken and white beans – but much to my surprise, it turned out fabulously tasty.

The whole reason I made it in the first place was a container I found in the freezer: chopped grilled poblanos and jalapeños mixed with grilled corn taken off the cob. I had no memory of putting it in the freezer (we did a LOT of grilling last summer), but it seemed perfect for a soup.

I cut up some boneless chicken thigh meat and browned it with cumin seed and slivered garlic. I added chicken stock and simmered it until the meat was cooked through, then dumped in the frozen grilled vegetables, a can of Herdez salsa verde and a can of Progresso white beans (normally I do cook my own beans, but I was feeling seriously lazy). I brought it all up to a simmer, then put it away in the fridge until evening.

What a shock! It was delicious – the corn gave it a rich sweetness that contrasted with the sharp pepper and tomatillos flavors, and the beans were plump and sweet. I finished the leftovers the next day at lunch with cheese and crackers, but a quesadilla would have been nice, too. Another soup that probably can’t be replicated, but it’s always nice when thrown together things work out this well.

still on the "soft food" diet

tomato soup with macaroni and cheese

Ordinarily I’d think this was a nice lunch: homemade macaroni and cheese with cauliflower, and a bowl of Pacific brand roasted red pepper and tomato soup. I am so tired of it. I’m starting to be able to eat a bit easier, but nothing chewy or crispy any time soon – and I’m amazed at how bored I’m getting. I’m tired of ice cream (I know, shocking).

I have ideas for something more interesting for dinner tonight, but in the meantime – anyone out there have any good ideas for soft foods? I can chew on one side, but I’m supposed to avoid acidic or caustic foods, or anything too hot, cold or spicy. What are your favorite foods for après-dental work?

noodles for good luck

Good Luck noodles for New Year's Eve

My family has a few traditions that we keep up pretty well. Some are new and just between J and myself, like having macaroni and cheese on my birthday, or pumpkin soup and Yorkshire pudding on Halloween. But the oldest and most sacrosanct tradition is the Good Luck noodle bowl on New Year’s Eve. There may have been a year when I have not eaten these noodles, but I’m not sure…even when I’ve spent the holiday with friends I’ve insisted that this dish get eaten. I just feel funny without it.

According to my father, our family has been eating noodles on New Year’s Eve since about 1950, when my grandparents became good friends with a Japanese family. The Fujitas introduced them to the idea that eating noodles with chicken, eggs, broth and scallions at the beginning of a new year brought good luck and health. When I was a kid, we always ate the noodles directly after midnight, after setting off fireworks in the snow and attempting to play each others’ instruments, loudly. These days, we tend to eat earlier in the evening and save some champagne for the midnight toast. It hasn’t seemed to hurt anything (knock on wood). J and I have also started buying a package of Chinese barbecued pork from the local deli counter and slivering it into the noodles, as being a little more festive than shredded chicken. And we sometimes use Japanese udon instead of the traditional Rose brand Chinese egg noodles (gasp!). But fortunately, it’s good no matter what. Continue reading

Hungarian mushroom soup

baguette with mushroom soup

This soup is a relic from the days when I was cooking my way through the old Moosewood Cookbook. I lived in a vegan interest house in college, so I was pretty limited in what I could make – almost everything from Moosewood has cheese AND butter in it. So when I’d fly out to visit J, my then-fiancé, we’d spend much of our time furiously cooking up all the stuff we didn’t normally get (in my case, dairy – in his case, almost anything that wasn’t spaghetti). Some of those recipes we never made again (looking at you, Almond Soup) and others are still in our repertoire thirteen years later, if somewhat modified.

Like many Moosewood recipes, I find the basic concept of this soup to be the important part, so I usually open the cookbook to the correct page, glance at the ingredient list, and then make it how I want. Here’s my personal version of Hungarian Mushroom Soup, adjusted for a carnivorous household. Continue reading