Saturday, April 24, 2021

ChezCindy: Carrot & Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Soup


I recently made my recipe for Asian salmon cakes using coconut milk. Such a delicious dish.  From that, I had left-over coconut milk and was looking for a way to use it.  The thought came to me that carrot soup might be a good match to use coconut milk, and I was right.  Very different than a straight-up carrot soup as I have previously posted  here.  This soup has a bright flavor, some sweetness from the sweet potato, and just a back note of the coconut milk, not very pronounced.  I finished the dish with a sprinkle of curry powder for the perfect accent.  

Carrot & Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Soup
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots
1/2 pound sweet potato
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 - 3/4 cup coconut milk
curry powder to garnish

Working with a soup pot placed over medium-high heat, add in the tablespoon of oil, chopped onions, and the 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Stir to combine, cooking for 3-4 minutes to soften the onions, but not adding any color.  

Peel and slice the carrots and sweet potato into 1/2-inch pieces.  Add these to the onions, stirring to combine.  Pour in the 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, just so the carrots and sweet potatoes are a bit tender.  Add in the finely grated fresh ginger and the chicken stock.  Partially cover the soup pot with the lid, simmer for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are fully tender.  

Turn off the heat, allow the mixture to cool about 5-10 minutes, necessary before you blend it together.  Once cool, add the contents to a blender, or using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.  Pour the blended soup back into the soup pot.  Add in the 1/2 cup coconut milk, stirring to combine.  If the soup seems a bit too thick, add in the full amount of coconut milk, or add in additional chicken stock.  Taste for your preference, adding more coconut milk and/or salt if needed.  Gently heat through to serve, adding a sprinkle of curry powder for garnish.  Serve hot with your favorite crackers.  

Saturday, April 17, 2021

ChezCindy: Chicken Meatball Sliders


I have had so much fun with this recipe working with young chefs.  I've learned when teaching kids how to cook, getting their hands messy is great fun.  Part of the joy of cooking for them is forming the meatballs with their hands.  If getting your hands messy is not your thing, I use a spring-loaded scoop to form the meatballs.  

My recipe calls for using Italian chicken sausage for convenience because it is already seasoned.  It makes a delicious meatball with just a few additional ingredients.  You could use this recipe with a pasta, but I usually serve these as meatball sliders.  Fun, and delicious.  

Chicken Meatball Sliders
1 lb. Italian Chicken Sausage Links*
1 large egg
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons cream or half & half

3 tablespoons olive oil, for the baking dish

Marinara Sauce
Slider buns
Shredded Cheese

How to make it:
Make the Meatballs:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Swirl to coat evenly.  Set aside.

1. Remove the sausage from the casing links.  Place the ground chicken sausage into a large bowl, discard the casings.  Add in the egg, chopped parsley, minced garlic, breadcrumbs and cream.  Using a wooden spoon or a fork, gently mix all ingredients together until well combined.  

2. Using a spring-loaded scoop, or just your hands, portion out the meat mixture forming into medium size meatballs, slightly larger than a golf ball.  Place the meatballs into the prepared baking dish, lining them evenly in the pan, snugging them together.  Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the meatballs.  You should have 12-14 meatballs.  

3. Roast in the preheated oven for 22 minutes until golden brown.  The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.  Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.  

4.     Warm the marina sauce in a saucepan on the stove.  Add the cooked meatballs to the warmed sauce.  Gently stir to coat the meatballs.   

For the Sliders:  Lightly toast each slider bun.  Place one meatball onto the slider bun with a bit of extra sauce.  Top with shredded cheese.  Serve while hot.  

* If using plain ground chicken, adjust the recipe for seasoning by adding 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon ground fennel.  

Saturday, April 10, 2021

ChezCindy: Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust


The mention of chicken pot pie conjures up thoughts of old-style comfort.  It can be a complicated process, or as this one is, super easy to put together for a weeknight meal.  

I've created this recipe using store-bought rotisserie chicken, store-bought chicken broth (I use unsalted Kitchen Basics brand-comes in a yellow box), and store-bought puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm).   Then you can add in standard vegetables such as carrots, peas, and potatoes.  Or, use what you have in the fridge that you might find interesting - sliced mushrooms, roasted butternut squash, and diced parsnips.  

Serve the pot pie straight from the pan.  Easy to make and easy to share with family and friends.  

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, finely diced, about 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons finely diced celery
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup of potatoes cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farms
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Shred the meat from a rotisserie chicken to yield 2 cups.  Set aside.

Crack an egg into a small bowl, adding 1 teaspoon of water.  Using a fork, mix the water and the egg together to make an "egg-wash".  Set aside.

Working with an 11-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, add the canola oil to the pan.  Add the finely diced onion and celery to the pan, sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt.  Stir these in the oil, cooking for about 5 minutes to soften but not adding any color to the vegetables.  Add in the sliced carrots and the cubed potatoes, and the 1/4 cup of water, stirring all together, cooking for another 5 minutes.  Add in the 2 cups of shredded chicken, the dried thyme and fresh parsley, stirring to combine.  Once these are combined, add in the butter, stirring to melt and combine.  Stir in the flour to form a bit of a paste, cooking the flour for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly pour in the chicken stock, stirring to combine.  Add in the frozen peas, stirring to incorporate.  Taste the broth to determine if more salt is needed.  If so, add in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Simmer all for 2-3 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  

Roll out the cold sheet of puff pastry to remove the folds.  Carefully place the pastry over the contents of the pan, pressing any excess dough onto the edges of the pan.  Gently brush the egg-wash over the top of the pastry dough.  (You will have extra egg-wash.)  Cut three 2-inch slashes across the center of the pastry to allow steam to escape.  

Place the skillet into the hot oven on the center rack, backing for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and puffed.  Remove the skillet from the oven, setting on the stove to cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving.  

Friday, April 2, 2021

ChezCindy: Fresh Strawberry Pie


This lovely free-form pie, also known as a galette, is a bite of strawberry delight.  The recipe uses fresh strawberries cut into thick slices mixed with store-bought strawberry preserves for a double strawberry impact.  The baked pie is quite delicious for how little effort required to put it together.  I served it slightly warm topped with fresh whipped cream, and rosé sparkling wine.  

Any left-over pie makes a great breakfast treat, somewhat reminiscent of toaster Pop-tarts.  

If you are new to pie making, try making a galette.  It doesn't require a special pan, just a flat surface such as a sheet tray for baking.  You will have great success.  

Fresh Strawberry Galette
1 single 9-inch pie crust, homemade or store-bought
All-purpose flour, about 1 tablespoon

1-pound fresh strawberries
1/3 cup strawberry preserves
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.  

Prepare the pie crust by rolling it out to a 12-inch round:  working on a lightly floured surface using a small amount of flour so the crust doesn't stick to the counter.  Transfer the crust to the parchment lined sheet tray.  Set aside.  

Remove the green stems from the fresh strawberries. cutting into thick slices.  Place the cut berries into a medium size bowl.  Add in the strawberry preserves, 2 tablespoons of sugar, cornstarch and fresh lemon juice, gently stirring to combine.  Transfer the strawberry mixture to the center of the pie crust.  Spread out the berries, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge of the pie crust.  Fold the edges of the dough up and over the strawberries in a free-form style, pleating the dough as necessary.  

Make an egg-wash using the lightly beaten egg and 1 teaspoon of water, mixing to combine.  Using a pastry brush, brush the pleated dough with a small amount of egg-wash.  You will have extra egg-wash.  

Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the pleated border.  

Place the sheet tray with the galette into the preheated oven, baking the pie for 25 minutes.  The crust will be golden brown, and the filling is tender and bubbling.  Remove the pie from the oven.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.