I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chili's Chicken Enchilada Soup

We recently ate at Chili's. I've only eaten there twice, but the chicken enchilada soup is really tasty. Here is a version you can make at home.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

The secret here is the addition of masa harina -- a corn flour that you will find in your supermarket near the other flours, or in the Mexican food section.

Makes approx. 12 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb. of chicken breast fillets (approx. 3 fillets)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
7 cups chicken broth
1 cup masa harina
1 cups water
1 cup enchilada sauce (Old El Paso makes an excellent one)
16 ounces Velveeta
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

shredded cheddar cheese
crumbled corn tortilla chips

1. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken breasts to pot and brown for 4-5 minutes per side. Set chicken aside.
2. Add onions and garlic to pot and sauté over medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until onions begin to become translucent. Add chicken broth.
3. Combine masa harina with 1 cups of water in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Add masa mixture to pot with onions, garlic and broth.
4. Add remaining water, enchilada sauce, cheese and spices to pot and bring mixture to a boil.
5. Shred the chicken into small, bite-size pieces and add it to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 30-40 minutes or until thick.
6. Serve soup in cups or bowls, and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled corn tortilla chips.


Asparagus Tips Braised in Butter

Asparagus Tips Braised in Butter

From Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Start by selecting 1 bunch of relatively thin spears of asparagus. Wash thoroughly in cold water. Drain. Remove the tough butt ends by gently bending each spear until it snaps into two pieces. Discard the tough end. Remove the scales starting just below the tip portion of the spear using a sharp paring knife or a vegetable peeler with a serrated blade. Line up spears, tips together. Cut tip ends in equal lengths of 1 ½ to 2 inches and tie into 2 inch diameter bundles. Leave a few of the tips loose so you can test the doneness of the asparagus as it is cooking by sampling a piece. Dice the remaining portions into ½ inch pieces.

Prepare a large pot of rapidly boiling generously salted water. The more water the better because it will more rapidly return to a boil once the vegetables have been added. The French method of preparing green vegetables starts with blanching. This will produce a cooked vegetable that retains it’s color, texture and firmness or crunch. Rapidly boil the diced asparagus pieces for about 4-5 minutes. Add the bundled tips and continue to boil 5-8 minutes more. Immediately drain and place into a large bowl of very cold water. This will stop the cooking process.

At this point the asparagus can be patted dry and placed in a covered bowl in the refrigerator to be completed later OR proceed to the next step.

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.

Butter a casserole dish and arrange the diced asparagus in the bottom. Place the bundles of tips on top and cut the strings. Fan them out so that they are visually appealing. Melt a few tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cover with a piece of waxed paper cut to the shape of the dish.

Place the casserole on the stovetop and heat it briefly, then cover and place in the oven on the middle rack for about 10-15 minutes or until the asparagus is heated through. Serve immediately.


Green Beans

I bought my wife Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for her birthday. It was a great investment. Everything she has made from there has been absolutely splendid.

Haricots Verts à la Maître d’ Hôtel – Buttered Green Beans with lemon juice and parsley

Recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Serves 6-8

3 lbs. hot, blanched green beans

A wide, heavy bottomed, enameled sauce pan or skillet

Salt and Pepper

6-8 T softened butter cut into 4 pieces

2-3 tsp. lemon juice

3 T minced parsley

Snap the tip ends of the beans and remove the strings. Wash in very hot water immediately before cooking. Blanch in a large kettle of rapidly boiling, salted water (1 ½ tsp. per quart of water.) Boil them until almost tender and drain immediately. Turn them into the skillet or pan and heat them 2-3 minutes over medium hot heat to evaporate their moisture. Do not stir them, flip the pan. Toss briefly again with the salt, pepper and a piece of the butter. Add the rest of the butter, alternating with a few drops of lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. Turn into the vegetable dish, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

* If you wish to blanche the beans ahead of time, run cold water over the beans for 3-4 minutes after draining.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Huevos A La Cubana

I was listening to NPR the other day and the Splendid Table came on. It is usually a pretty good show. This time they had a guy from Spain who recently released a cookbook on Spanish food in an American Kitchen. I haven't seen the book myself so I won't link to it. Anyway, he was saying that one of the all time favorite Spanish home cooking foods is Huevos A La Cubana, or eggs, Cuban Style. Cuba was a colony of Spain and the dish originated there and was brought back to Spain. He described it as eggs fried in olive oil until the edges just start to turn crispy. These are served with white rice and a tomato sauce. He also said that fried bananas are often included.

I looked all over the internet for a good recipe but I couldn't find one that tripped my trigger. I decided to make my own, based on his description.

Tomato Sauce

4 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Drop in garlic and saute until just softening. Add in the tomatoes. Use a potato masher to mash them up a bit. Cover the pan, reduce heat and cook until tomatoes are nice and soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.


1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups water
2 T butter
3 t chicken bouillon granules

Dump everything into a rice steamer and go.

All you have to do now is fry the slices of banana in a little peanut oil and fry your eggs in olive oil.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Soup Nazi Mulligatawny (Indian) Soup

I've been making this soup for a while. The recipe is all over the internet and I think it originated at topsecretrecipes.com. The guy describes making a pilgrimage to Soup Kitchen International in NYC. I myself have made a couple trips there. The soup nazi has since opened a chain of restaurants called the Original Soup Man. Looking at the nutritional information on most of his soups, I believe I have discovered an error in the original topsecretrecipes.com recipe. Most of his soups call for parsnips. If you look at the original recipe, he calls for 2 potatoes and 3 tablespoons of sugar. I suspect that the recipe should have 1 potato, 1 parsnip and no sugar. The parsnips will look identical to potatoes in the soup and will add the sweetness to replace the sugar. Anyway here is my version for a pot of soup.

Soup Nazi Mulligatawny (Indian) Soup

1 quart chicken broth with enough water added to add a little volume to the pot
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/3 cup corn
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
1/3 eggplant, peeled and cubed
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 roasted red pepper, chopped up (roast under the broiler for a bit)
1 t curry powder and more to taste
1/2 t marjoram
pinch nutmeg
1/2 t thyme
1 bay leaf
a little fresh parsley added at the end before serving

Combine all ingredients in a pot except parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered for 3 1/2 hours. You may need to add water occasionally, but at the end of cooking you want the soup to be as thick as thick chili. Add the parsley just at the end before serving. You likely will not need to add any salt to the soup.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Crab Cakes, Glorious Crab Cakes!

Hy Vee had snow crab legs on sale the other day. I couldn't resist. Unfortunately it is very difficult to get good crab cakes in the Midwest so you need to make your own. Seriously they aren't hard at all. You can use canned crab or if you can find it fresh crab.

Crab Cakes, Glorious Crab Cakes!

A dollop of mayonnaise
a thin squirt of mustard
a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
some finely chopped green onions
1 beaten egg
a little lemon juice
a few cloves of garlic, pressed
a little salt and pepper
a little celery salt
some bread crumbs (the bread crumbs in the can work best)
a little bit of paprika to sprinkle the finished patties

Don't make them too watery. These need to be fried in peanut oil over medium heat and then blotted to degrease before serving.

I found this video very helpful.

Here they are in all their glory!

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Cabbage Rolls

I made up some tasty cabbage rolls the other day. I found a video particularly useful in how to prepare these little devils.

Actually, that guy's food blog is pretty incredible.
I changed his recipe a little. I used pork instead of veal and I used tomato soup instead of broth.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1 large green cabbage
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
3/4 cup raw minute rice
1 stick butter
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 yellow onion
1 egg
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 family sized can of Campbell's tomato soup
1 cup water
1 can crushed tomatoes (28oz)

For directions, watch the video.
*Should cook for 2 hours at 350 degrees F., but check after an hour and add more water if they seem to dry)