Cooking Notes – November 2013

My standard cure for falling into a cooking rut is finding a few interesting cookbooks at the library. A favorite from recent weeks is The New Portuguese Table by David Leite. We’ve enjoyed everything we’ve tried so far. After a few dull weeks in October it’s turning into a pretty good food month around here.

Azorean Kale, Sausage, and Bean Soup: From The New Portuguese Table – a really fantastic soup. We loved it! Have you looked at the Azores on a map lately? They are a very long way from anything, out in the middle of the Atlantic (take a look on Google images, too – what a gorgeous place). However, it turns out they’re home to awesome Portuguese food. I could not find Portuguese dry-smoked chouriço and only found linguiça a week later, so I used regular raw soft Mexican chorizo instead, draining off most of the fat. It was awesome – I might just stick with the Mexican kind because it made a perfect soup. I love that this soup is fresh and healthy yet filling. Pureeing a third of the beans is a nice touch. Served with bread or Whole Wheat Cream Biscuits from The Joy of Cooking.

Dried Cherry Cream Scones: A standard favorite from The Joy of Cooking, prepared for a ladies’ tea hosted by a friend.

Jamie Oliver’s Perfect Roast Chicken. Yes, again. Served with crisp-roasted brussels sprouts.

Chicken Soup: No recipe – just the carcass from the roast chicken plus scraps from the fridge like carrots, celery, onions, garlic, etc.

Black Olive Risotto: From The New Portuguese Table. This is a great risotto, cream and flavorful and filling. We both really liked it. Served with Broiled Tomatoes with Parmesan. Could switch the chicken broth to vegetable broth to make this a completely vegetarian meal.

Pork Shoulder with Sauerkraut and Apples: Very very tasty – pork, onion, apples, thyme, wine, sauerkraut, brown sugar and caraway seeds cook together into the perfect tender and savory fall meal. This recipe came from another library book I really love, Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Slow Cooking. I used pork butt with the fat trimmed because that’s what I had in the freezer – we tend to shop meat sales and stock up when we find them. I also added an extra apple and used whatever varieties we had on hand. I love that this cookbook offers both a crock pot and an oven variation for each slow cooking recipe since I usually prefer the texture of oven-cooked meats. I prepped this up during the kids’ nap and left it in the oven to slow cook all afternoon. I’m not big on sweet with my savory so next time I might cut the brown sugar. Served with hot rolls. Funnily enough, our girl, who has lately been refusing some of her favorite foods like tomatoes and oranges, gobbled down serving after serving of sauerkraut like it was cake. Odd child.

Spicy Korean Chicken with Fresh Cabbage: From, you guessed it, another library book: The Korean Table. A nice mix for warm, cold, spicy, fresh, soft and crunchy. Big hit in our house. Half a head of cabbage makes a lot of cabbage paired with just a pound of chicken. Might want to reduce it a bit and save the rest for something else.

My Mother’s Carrot-Cabbage-Cheddar Soup: A fall classic my mother’s been making for as long as I can remember – a bit of bacon, onions, shredded cabbage and carrots, broth and cheddar cooked together into more than the sum of its parts. Fair warning it does look like puke when finished…pretty sure my siblings and I were each dismissed from the table at least once for asking my mother why she’d served us vomit, so brace yourself if you have any 8-12 year old boys in your house.

Chorizo and Potato Tacos: Very easy and delicious with a little salsa verde and sour cream. Usually I add egg to potato and chorizo tacos but they were very nice without it. I also liked the addition of the chile. Used the leftover chorizo from the Azorean soup above.

Almond Chicken Soup: Fantastic! I roasted butternut squash and a few chicken thighs in advance, and used kale instead of collards. Flavorful and filling.

Sausage and Egg Tortilla:This is a tortilla in the Spanish sense, meaning more of a baked egg dish like a frittata. The recipe came (again) from The New Portuguese Table. Delicious, though a bit salty. Also, I’d never cooked linguica sausage before – beware that it dries out easily. Best eaten with something light and fresh like salad greens.

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