Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Chicken Tortellini Serendipity

I concocted this out of nowhere and it was so damned tasty that Esteban had a hard time believing that I made it. I am completely baffled, because my soups never ever turn out that good. This recipe will fill your 8 quart Le Creuset French Oven pot and will seem like way too much soup, but we lived on it for four days and were fighting over the last of it. I'm writing it down while I still remember how I did it.

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 stalks celery, grated and then minced fine
4 carrots, grated and then minced fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced white onion
a handful of Italian parsley, chopped
Fresh tarragon, thyme, rosemary, and sage, tied with string
3 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
6 quarts chicken stock (I used Trader Joe's in the carton)
1 lb dried cheese tortellini
A handful of leftover frozen corn and green beans
A little bit of olive oil
1 tbsp pure tomato powder
Sea Salt to taste

I started the pot with a swirl of olive oil and sweated the celery, onion, garlic and carrots until the onion had pretty much done its thing. Then I threw in the whole chicken breasts, four quarts of stock, the poultry seasoning, bay leaf, peppercorns, white pepper, parsley and the herb bouquet. Simmer for at least an hour, but if you forget about it because you're playing Zuma, that's what happened to me. Then I fished out the herbal bouquet* and tossed it, then fished out the chicken, let it cool enough so that I could dice it, then returned it to the soup. I wasn't sure how big the tortellini would get, so I threw in half the package and let it simmer for another half hour. When I went back, I decided that there weren't enough tortellini, so I tossed in the rest of the package, along with the corn and green beans and tomato powder, and then threw in another two quarts of stock because the tortellini were really soaking up the broth (because I was sort of making it all up as I went along... you could just start with six quarts). I then let it simmer, covered, for another half an hour and then served with buttermilk cheese biscuits (a bastardization of the recipe on the side of the Bisquick box).

*If you're smart, you'll also find those peppercorns, because all three attacked us unexpectedly.

Because half of the tortellini had been in the soup for over an hour, they sort of exploded and became generic noodles, with their parmesan filling dissolved into and flavoring the broth. It was totally a happy accident and I think that was the secret because it was the best of both worlds... some of the tortellinis still had filling and others had sacrificed their cheese for the good of the stock. You could probably just use any old noodle and dump in some parmesan on its own rather than rely upon the tortellini deployment method.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The HashHouse's buttermilk flapjacks

Two years ago, while in San Diego for a Journalcon, Mo's friend Tim suggested that we have dinner at the Hash House A Go Go, which claims to be Farm Food on Acid. It is to this day one of the truly exceptional meals of my life and I wish I had been feeling better to enjoy it. Mo and I shared a plate of butternut squash risotto, while Tim and Jake each got a plate of sage-fried chicken and waffles with bacon inside of them, topped with fried leeks. Luckily, there was so much food that we were eating off of their plates as well and it was absolutely delicious. Searching for that recipe, I found this one and made it one morning. You'll never look at a box of Aunt Jemima mix again because seriously, this right here is the shit.

4 ¾ cups flour
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups milk
½ cup melted unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t salt
2 t vanilla

Separate egg yolks from egg whites, set whites aside and beat yolks, then mix in remaining wet ingredients (except the egg whites). In a separate bowl, blend together dry ingredients. Pour liquidy mix into dry ingredients stirring together until only slightly lumpy. Beat egg whites until soft peak stage, then fold into the batter. Laddle onto hot sizzling griddle, cook for 25 - 40 seconds. When bubbles form on top, give them a flip and finish cooking.

If you put anything but real maple syrup on these, you should be shot.