Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's Cookin' In the Snake Pit?

Classy Cuisine: Spicy, Boozy, Wonderful

To start with let's look at soup.   Classic.  Hot.  Comforting.
Soup recipes are extremely customizable.  You can easily substitute turkey for chicken in this recipe if you happen to have an overflow of turkey from various holidays.  You can mix turkey meat with chicken stock or vice versa.  It also tastes good with vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian option!

Shaker Chicken Soup

Serves about 6

  • 6 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the stock with the vermouth and butter. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid to about 1/4 cup. The mixture will be syrupy. Stir in the cream, and set aside.
2) In a larger saucepan, bring the remaining stock to a boil. Add the noodles and cook till tender, about 7 to 8 minutes.
3) Mix the flour and water together until smooth, and stir into the noodle mixture.
4) Allow the soup to boil for 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in the cream mixture and chicken.
5) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: dry alcohol (like Vermouth) is a flavor carrier.  Because the soup is cooked the resulting flavor is richer but not alcoholic.  However you can substitute water or broth for the Vermouth.
You can also substitute dry white wine or in a pinch cooking wine.  Remember that cooking wine has salt in it, so taste carefully before you add salt.  Regular dry white wine usually tastes better than cooking wine. 

So you have your soup.  Maybe some crackers or bread with that.  But what else can you serve?

This next recipe is from CookKnitWine, it is both spicy AND vegetarian!  (And creatively named!)

Black Bean Tortilla Things

1 pkg large flour tortillas
375 ml / 1.5 cups grated cheddar
1 small red pepper
1 small orange pepper
1 avocado
1 bunch of spring/green onions
3 plum tomatoes
1 can black beans - rinsed and drained
250 ml/1 cup frozen corn, thawed
2.5ml / 1/2 tsp cumin
2.5 ml / 1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Turn the oven on to gas mark 4/ 180 C/ 350 F. Chop up all the veggies pretty small (small like the corn and black beans) and mix everything (except for the tortillas) together.
Get a pint glass and use it upside down like a cookie cutter to cut the tortillas into as many rounds as you can squeeze out of them.
Tuck the tortilla rounds down into muffin cups.
Fill each cup with a spoonful or two of the black bean stuff -
Then bake for about 12-15 minutes. You want the tortilla cups to start to brown and be quite crisp, and for the cheese to be melted.
Take them out of the pans right away and either serve right then while they’re warm, or let them cool to room temperature on a rack (so they stay crisp) and serve later.
Makes several dozen. I’ve experimented over the years, and I can tell you this. I like them with cilantro in them, but some people don’t - I also like them with extra spring onion and a handful of chopped fresh parsley, and remember to cut things up pretty small. You can put just about anything in them, just don’t make the mix of stuff too wet. I used a whack of salsa one year and things were a little gloopy and the tortilla tart part was damp instead of crispy. You don’t want that. Damp tarts are not good - and yes. There’s a terrible, terrible joke right there, I’m letting it go by. If you’re feeding a slightly more refined (or less diverse) crowd, you can get fancy and mince a hot pepper into them, and I’ve made a really good batch by subbing some blue cheese and broccoli and taking out the avocado and cheddar. It’s hard to go wrong really, and they’ll disappear off the table.
Good luck!

Now we have appetizers/sides AND soup.  Keeping with both the spicy and the boozy theme, this next recipe is from Fosterson!  To top off your meal, try some delectable spicy rum balls!  (also with an option for the innocent and underage)

Fireballs (Spicy Cocoa Rumballs)

12 ounces of iced, crisp gingersnaps, crushed to a cornmeal consistency
1 1/2 ounce finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup confectioner’s (or powdered) sugar
1/4 cup Mexican hot chocolate, crushed to a powder
1/2 cup dark rum (the darker the better)
3 tablespoons molasses (or dark corn syrup)
in addition, you need
1/4 cup Mexican hot chocolate powder
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine the crushed cookies, pecans, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and hot chocolate powder until thoroughly blended. Add the rum and molasses a little at a time until the mixture is thoroughly mixed. It will be a thick, sticky dough. If it doesn’t stick together easily, add a DROP of rum at a time until it does. Once it reaches a good consistency, refrigerate tightly covered for up to 2-3 days. In the meantime, combine the 1/4 cup hot chocolate powder, 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, turbinado sugar, and cayenne pepper. Scoop ball mixture into 2 teaspoon sized lumps and roll in the powder mixture. Can be stored up to 2 months in the fridge, if they are lightly misted with rum every 2-3 days to keep them moist.
As always, the nuts and cayenne are optional. You can substitute orange juice and one tablespoon grated orange peel (about the grated peel of one large orange) for the rum to make these kid friendly.

Remember students, don't drink and knit!

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