Category Archives: Food

Linda’s Roasted Chicken Carcass and Vegetable Soup

Carcass.  Such an evocative word.  Perhaps not one that is usually used when christening a recipe, but it is appropriate sometimes to acknowledge that in order for us to enjoy an omnivorous diet, lives must be lost.

Every now and then I buy one of those roasted chickens from the supermarket.  It makes for an easy dinner; cook up some rice, steam some broccoli, throw a few apple slices on the plate, and you have a healthy dinner the kids will eat.  You also have a carcass left over.  I used to just throw it away, but an image from my childhood kept coming back to me, riddling me with guilt as I discarded what was left of the chicken victim.  I am about to share something about my mother with you, and since she doesn’t own a computer and will never hear about this unless one of my siblings or their children rat me out, I am doing this with what I hope is complete impunity.  My mother is a bone gnawer.

She was born in the 1930’s, and I think this is a remnant of being raised in a very large family during what were some very lean years.  When we were kids and would eat meat that had bones, she would gnaw on her bones until every single scrap of protein had been separated from them.  Not only that.  She would chastise us when we did not follow suit.

“Are you really going to throw that out???  Look at all the meat left on that.  I can’t believe you are throwing all that out.”

To give her credit, she did not try to gnaw on our bones, though there were times that her indignation reached high enough levels at all the “good meat” being consigned to the trash can, that I am sure the thought crossed her mind.  So in honor of my mother Linda, I have named my chicken carcass soup after her, because every last bit of meat from a former chicken is utilized in this recipe.  Not quite as glamorous as a star on the sidewalk in Hollywood, not quite as fulfilling as a Nobel prize, not quite as enriching as a winning Powerball ticket, but something none the less.  Just no one tell her.

Before we get to the cooking bit, I have to share something I discovered while writing this post.  Being the challenged speller that I am (those darn double letters always get me), I had to look up how to spell carcass.  Not only did I find out how to spell carcass, I discovered an extreme metal band from Liverpool called Carcass.  According to Wikipedia, “Although widely regarded as pioneers of the grindcore genre, their early work was also tagged as splatter death metal, hardgore and goregrind, on account of their morbid lyrics and gruesome album covers.”  A few particularly piquant song titles from their debut album, “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment” (no, I am not making this up), are Necro-cannibal Bloodfeast, Regurgitation of Gibblets, Malignant Defecation (I should forward them my post about my Rush Limbaugh colon cleanse; see Rambling Writings), and my personal favorite, possibly because of its understated elegance, Festerday.  Reminds me of a song by another band from Liverpool.  Please, please, please look them up on Wikipedia, because their album and song titles were all so poetic, it was physically painful for me to chose only these few examples to share.

Ingredients:

1 roasted chicken carcass

1 onion (I prefer purple)

3 large carrots

3 – 4 potatoes

1 – 2  peppers (orange, yellow, or red)

3 -4  kale leaves

3 garlic gloves (or the frozen cubes from Trader Joe’s)

salt and pepper

2 bay leaves

tarragon

marjoram

cumin

powdered ginger

lemon grass

sweet curry mix (from Penzey’s)

Fill a large cooking pot a bit more than half way full with water.  Take the carcass out of the fridge where it was stashed the night before and break it up into pieces, pulling the larger pieces of meat from the bones.  Toss everything into the pot of water.  Everything.  The skin, tendons, bones, meat, fat, and congealed liquid that has turned into some kind of meat jelly on the bottom of the plastic dish the chicken came in.  Throw it all in the pot and turn on the heat to high to get things boiling.  Keep it at a rolling boil for a good 20 minutes.

Toss in the garlic, salt, pepper, and all those other spices I listed up above.  Or use your favorite spices and ignore mine.  I start with some, and then taste as I cook, adding more of this and that until I think it tastes good.  So I don’t have any measurements for the spices.  After boiling the chicken in all those spices for a good 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.

Next, grab tongs, fork, and a bowl, and pull out all the stuff you would not want to find on your spoon as you are trying to eat.  Bones, skin, the stringy fatty bits.  It takes a good 10 minutes to get that stuff out, but you want to do it before you add the veg.  First I fish out all the floaters, then I pull out tongfuls of stuff and put it on a plate to separate out the bits I don’t want.  You could also strain everything and sort in the colander, if that works better for you.

After you are pretty sure you have gotten out most of the inedible stuff (invariably you miss a few bits, so warn anyone that you feed it to that there might be a small bone or two), turn the heat back on to simmer.  Cut up the onions,  peppers, carrots and potatoes into bite size pieces.  Throw them into a bowl with about an inch of water on the bottom, and then cover and cook them in the microwave for about 5 minutes.  Then toss them into the soup.  This cuts down on the simmer time, and makes sure that the carrots and potatoes, in particular, are cooked through.  Finally, tear up the kale leaves into small pieces and add them.

Simmer the soup for about another 20 minutes.  Now is the time to sample and season, adding spices as you feel the soup needs it.  You will probably also need to add some more water.  Sometimes instead of water I add vegetable or chicken stock, or bouillon if I don’t have stock.  Depends on how much flavor I managed to cook out of the chicken.

In about an hour you will have a big pot of chicken and vegetable soup.  You can freeze some, or take some to the neighbors.  So make my soup, and stop wasting all that good meat!

My family in 1968.  I am the one who is staring off to the right, while everyone else is looking to the left.  And I wonder why my kids can't follow directions.

My family in 1968. I am the one who is staring off to the right, while everyone else is looking to the left. And I wonder why my kids can’t follow directions.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Food

Squash and Roots Soup

Time for another adventure in cooking with Mo.  If you have seen the other recipe on my blog (Baked Salmon with Veggies), you will know that I don’t really measure stuff.  I just cook, add, taste, throw in some more of whatever, taste again, and at some point it is done.  I also often just take what I have in the house that is about to go bad, so substitutions are encouraged and expected.  This recipe is called Squash and Roots Soup, since you can use any squash (don’t forget that pumpkins are squash!) or any roots that you have hanging around.  I made it all veggie, since I am planning to give some to my meditating, Buddhist, vegetarian, and baseball mad friend Ed.  He is the husband of Sue, she of Swedish exchange student loving fame (see my post, David the Swedish Exchange Student, Please Give Me Back My Friend, for all the gory details…).  If you aren’t afraid of meat products, you can use chicken broth instead of veggie broth.  The spices I use all come from Penzey’s, who have the best spices in the world.  Look them up on the web, they are great.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash

1 sweet potato

3 yukon gold potatoes

1 shallot

3 carrots

1 purple onion

1 carton (32 oz.) of Trader Joes’ Veggie Broth

2 garlic cloves

herbs (salt, pepper, sweet curry, tarragon, marjoram, ginger powder, nutmeg)

sweetener (sugar, brown sugar, or agave)

olive oil

butter

1 cup or so of water

1/2 cup or so of milk

1/2 cup or so of vanilla greek yogurt

An oven that is preheated to 350 degrees

To begin, find some squash and some roots.  I originally had two acorn squashes, but one went bad.  So I supplemented with the potatoes.  Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place it cut side up on a cookie sheet.   Cut the potatoes in half also, and lay them on the sheet.  Prepare two garlic cloves.  You can either crush fresh, or do what I do and use the frozen Dorot garlic squares from Trader Joes.  I pop out two little garlic ice cubes, microwave them in a cup for 10 seconds, and they are ready to go.  No mess, no fuss.  Add olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper to your garlic in a cup, and brush it over your potatoes and the inside of your acorn squash.  Peel a shallot and throw a piece into each acorn squash bowl.

The acorn squash, potatoes, and shallot after baking.

The acorn squash, potatoes, and shallot after baking.

Bake all of this in your 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or so.  If you end up using pumpkin or a bigger squash, cut it open, scoop out the seeds, and then cut the squash into pieces.  Brush them with oil like the potato pieces.  When they are done take them out and let them cool for 5 or 10 minutes.

Baked stuff ready to go into the soup.

Baked stuff ready to go into the soup.

While the S+R are baking, take a large soup pot and put in some butter (3 or 4 pats) and some olive oil.  Add the herbs, along with a diced purple onion and the carrots.  Cook the veg for 10 minutes or so, until soft (carrot) and translucent (onion).   Set aside if the S+R aren’t done baking.  When they are done and cooled, slice the skin off of the sweet potato and cube it.  Just cube the potatoes skin on.  Scoop the insides of the squash out with an ice cream scoop.  Take all of this baked goodness and add it the soup pot on top of the stove.  Pour in the veggie (or chicken) stock.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer with the lid on for about 20 or 30 minutes.  I poked and smushed the veg with my wooden spoon while I stirred.

Simmering.soup

All the ingredients in one pot together, just getting along.

While it is simmering, taste the soup broth.  I added more of all of the spices.  I also added in sweetener at this point.   I have used brown sugar in the past, this time around I used blue agave nectar.  Mostly just to say I used blue agave nectar.  Be careful with the nutmeg, it is easy to add a little too much of that.  Less is more with that spice.  I noticed my soup was getting a little thick while it was simmering, so I added a cup or so of water.  After is is done simmering, puree the soup.  I just use my hand blender in the pot.  If you are really a nut about smooth consistency, you will have to take the soup out of the pot and put it into a blender or Cuisinart.  I don’t really care about that, so I just blended it in the pot as best I could.  After it is blended, set it aside to cool a bit.

The cooling is important because now we need to add some dairy, for that smooth, creamy feeling on your tongue.  It is also good for strong bones and teeth!  I added in milk and greek yogurt, which I mixed in a cup together first to get out the yogurt clumps.  Cream would also work, as would regular plain yogurt.  Whatever you add, the soup needs to be cooled a bit so the dairy doesn’t clot.  After you blend in the creamy goodness, your soup is done.  I hope to get some to Ed and Sue and the gang.  What I really hope is that David the Swedish Exchange Student thinks that is it as good as his “moder” makes…

What cute soup!

What cute soup!

1 Comment

Filed under Food

Baked salmon with vegetables – a recipe for people who aren’t cooks

I am not a cook.  Meaning; I do not obsess about food, I don’t LOVE cooking, I don’t collect cook books, I am more familiar with Dan Akroyd’s impersonation of Julia Child than I am with Julia Child .

Somewhere from deep in the recesses of my XX brain, somewhere between the switch that turns my ovaries on and off and my need to know what is really happening between Rob and Kristen, this recipe was born.

Super duper simple and delicious baked salmon and veggies.

First, you buy some salmon fillets.  However much you need.  Wash it, pat it dry, and put it into a big oven safe baking dish.  Melt about 3/4 of a stick of butter in the microwave.  Spread some of it over the salmon, enough to cover it generously.  Then spread dill (fresh or dried) over the salmon fillet, from head to toe, bow to stern, nose to tail.  After the dill, pile on the tarragon (my favorite spice EVER), basil, salt, and pepper.

Now for the veggies.  I love Yukon gold potatoes.  Microwave them (wrapped in a paper towel in a bowl with water, covered if you can) for 4 to 5 minutes, enough to partially cook them.  Cut up red/orange/yellow peppers, shallots (onions also work) and Brussels sprouts.  Add in carrots if you like (a good idea to microwave them for a few minutes also).  Put all the partially cook and raw veggies in a bowl, add in the remaining melted butter, and add in more basil, tarragon, salt, and pepper (no dill!).  Mix all the veg up in the bowl with the butter and the spices.

Pile the veggies around and on top of the salmon.  Don’t be shy, doesn’t matter if the salmon is completely covered with the veg.  Whatever you have prepared, stuff it in the dish.  The oven should be preheated to 400 degrees.  Toss the dish into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

I think that the Brussels sprouts are absolutely amazing in this dish (see the I Know What Mo Likes page on my blog), and when I was making this dish tonight I forgot them.  Something to do with a few glasses of wine and kids running around. Fortunately, my friend Tony was there (see the 12 Tony’s page on my blog), and he made a great suggestion.  Even though there were only about 8 minutes cooking time left, I quickly quartered the Brussels sprouts, microwaved them with some water for 3 minutes, and tossed them into the dish (I stirred them in a bit to coat them with butter).  They were as delicious as ever.  Don’t let their stodgy/icky reputation put you off, you are missing one of the great pleasures in life if you don’t partake of them.

Here it is, hot out of the oven.  Serve with fresh bread, or if you have an old baguette (like I did), cut it into rounds and toast them on a cookie sheet for the last few minutes of cooking.  Serve while hot, and you will be hailed as a culinary champion.  With a chilled white wine in summer, or a pinot noir in the winter, this is a super easy, super yummy meal.  If you are going to a pot luck, prepare before hand and bring it over, throw it in your host’s oven for 30 minutes, and BANG, you are the star of the party, everyone is throwing Ben Franklins your way, you are walking on sunshine (Whoa-oh!).

2 Comments

Filed under Food