my golden mushroom soup

Mushroom soup is definitely a Chester County thing. And I have tried tons of different recipes and read about different recipes and nothing quite was what I wanted.

Above is the soup I came up with. It has shredded chicken in it and I only use baby Bella mushrooms. And I use a chicken broth base. Specifically I make bone broth.

No real recipe exists BUT what I do is I make bone broth in my small instant pot (3 qt or 2.8 liters.)

I have boneless skinless chicken breast in my freezer in individual serving sizes. I used 5 portions this time that I just poach simply and then the broth comes from poaching them eventually also goes into the big pot when I get to that point. When the chicken has cooled I shred it to be added back into the soup later.

But before I do any adding back, I sauté three large onions (red and white), two shallots, two packages of baby Bella mushrooms (2 10 oz packages), Herbes de Provence and salt in butter. Just a few tablespoons of butter (maybe 5?). When the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are tender I’ll use a couple shakes of the Wondra gravy making flour (very fine flour for those not familiar) and stir around until it cooks in the pot.

Then I add in the shredded chicken. Then I add the bone broth (strained). I will also note that I cut up the carrots I used in the making of the bone broth into little pieces and add that as well.Then I cook down on low for a few hours and add a few tablespoons of ricotta and 2 tablespoons of cream cheese. I stir that in let it cook some more and serve. Before I serve it I add a little fresh ground cracked pepper and stir that in as well.

The soup is not clear but it’s not heavy creamy.

Note that people act like bone broth is so complicated. And it’s not. When you roast a chicken save the carcass and freeze it. When you buy a chicken to roast save the gizzards, liver, and neck and wing tips and freeze them. To that you add water, celery, carrots, onion, white wine, and spices and salt of your choice and set the pot on soup/broth. It’s that simple.

I like this soup. And I like it because it’s not quite clear and it’s not super dense creamy. Super dense creamy soups look wonderful but they are hard on the digestion. And I think with this soup you also get the great flavor of the baby Bella mushrooms.

Anyway that’s kind of how I make it and I hope it works for you.

new year, new quiche

So we had a ham for Christmas. I decided to use some of the leftovers on a quiche.

I was tired after all of the cooking and baking I have done this holiday season, so I used a refrigerated Pillsbury Pie Crust – the kind that come rolled two to a package so I could use my own pie plate.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Here are your ingredients:

1 pie crust

1 cup chopped ham

1 cup shredded (or grated) Swiss cheese

1/3 cup shredded (or grated) extra sharp Cheddar cheese

1 grated (yes grated) small onion (I prefer a red onion)

5-6 eggs beaten

1 1/2 cups half and half

5 tablespoons whole milk Ricotta (drained)

Salt and pepper (not a lot truthfully – maybe 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

A couple of dashes of hot sauce (a light hand, not heavy)

Chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill.

Sauté ham and onion in a tablespoon of butter do not let stick to pan keep stirring. Onion should become translucent and then remove from heat.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs with half and half and Ricotta. Add dill, hot sauce, salt & pepper.

Line pie plate (I use a deeper dish pie plate) with crust. Rub bottom of crust lined in pan with just a smidge of very soft butter.

Place ham in crust as first layer. Second layer is shredded (grated) Swiss and cheddar. Slowly pour in egg mixture.

Cover crust with a pie shield or foil to keep edges of crust from burning. I use a silicone one – it’s adjustable.

Place quiche on a cookie sheet and put in oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425° F.

Then lower heat to 325° F and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes depending upon your oven. You will have to occasionally check it once it hits the 30 minute mark and keep checking it to see when a knife edge comes out clean.

Quiche should sit a good 20 minutes before slicing.

New year, new quiche and the secret to how fluffy it will seem is the ricotta.

Enjoy!

a spin on chicken sauce piquant

A friend from Baton Rouge, Louisiana phoned the other day and some how we got on the topic of Cajun/ Cajun inspired food. He gave me his Chicken Sauce Piquant recipe. I have modified it to suit what I was doing so here it is (my version):

1 cut up whole chicken
2 onions – one red. One white
4 red hatch chiles sliced
2 Italian green sweet long peppers sliced
3 stalks of celery diced (like 2/3 cup)
Salt & Pepper
Garlic
Cajun seasoning
2 Tuscanini Italian Tomato Sauce, Premium Italian Passata, 17 oz (amazing and I hate prepared sauce)
1 small package of andouille sausage sliced into thin rounds (about 8 oz is the package I used)
Wine to deglaze pan after removing chicken to start vegetables

Rice on the side.

Now here are my friend’s recipe notes that I based this off of:

Ingredients

1 chicken cut in pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
tomato sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch
Salt
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
4 tablespoons cooking oil

Directions:

Heavily season chicken with salt, peppers, and garlic powder.

Brown chicken using oil in Dutch oven pot on medium high heat, then remove chicken from pot.

Sauté onions until clear on medium to medium low heat, then add tomato sauce.

On medium low heat, stir onion-tomato sauce gravy for 5 minutes or until sauce turns darker.

Add chicken back to pot stirring gravy and chicken to blend and cover the chicken.
With heat on medium low, cover pot and cook for 40 minutes stirring occasionally.

Mix corn starch with 2 tablespoons of water, then pour into chicken sauce stirring well. Let sauce simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve over rice

I dredged my chicken in flour with Cajun spices and garlic powder before browning, so I omitted corn starch and deglazed the pan before sautéing vegetables. I omitted the Cayenne pepper because I used my own home grown peppers. I will note I caused the smoke detector to go off when I deglazed the pan.

Everything simmered on the stove a good couple of hours (I didn’t time it, sorry). Really good. Spicy but not burn the inside of your mouth out spicy…just good spicy. And the tomato sauce/gravy was a wonderful not too thick but thick enough consistency.

Mmmmmm

the envelope full of old recipes

A friend is working on a local treasures booth for an upcoming fall fair. In the middle of a box of things being priced, was this ratty envelope full of recipes. Mostly cut out of The Washington Post. A few were handwritten.

The fair ladies didn’t know what to do with the envelope, so she gave them to me. I scanned them mostly into a PDF which I will upload at the end of this post, for all to enjoy.

The personal collections of recipes are often a fun culinary history of trends years ago, combined with what people hung onto. I did not keep all of the recipes because well…the endless gelatin molds of all sorts of combinations of foods is not my jam.

There are some great recipes in the pile and quirky things like how to make mint julips.

Enjoy!

mrs. stull’s tomato jam

A few years ago I went to a Smithfield Barn on-site estate sale in Coatesville. It was out of the center of town, and it was in neighborhoods which I guess started to go up post World War II.

It was this cute little two-story house with a really big garden out back. I remember that the man who lived there must have worked for Lukens Steel, because there was memorabilia from there. This house also had these cases in a library-type room full of Dicken’s Village houses.

Anyway, in this estate sale there was some great kitchen stuff, including vintage cookbooks which I love. Vintage cookbooks are simply more helpful a lot of the time. At this sale I bought a vintage canning book. I have been experimenting more and more with canning since I moved to Chester County. And a lot of it is to use produce that I grow in my own garden.

Inside this cookbook were two recipes for tomato jam. Well one is for tomato marmalade and I’m not sure if the recipe is complete or not but I am going to transcribe both recipes for all of you today.

Mrs. Stull’s Tomato Jam

1 tablespoons pickling spices

1 teaspoons ginger root

4 cups sugar

2 thin sliced lemons

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 quarts / 2 pounds firm ripe tomatoes

Tie spices in a cheese cloth bag. Add to sugar, lemon, and water in a big pot. Simmer 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook gently ‘til tomatoes clear.

Stir, cover, and let stand 12/18 hours in a cool place.

Next heat up water in a canner pot.

Ladle tomatoes into jars leaving 1/4” head space. Add extra syrup from jam pot over tomatoes. Can with a 20 minute hot water bath.

6 1/2 pints.

Mrs. Stull’s Tomato Marmalade

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut in pieces

1 orange seeded and sliced thin

1/2 lemon seeded and sliced thin

1 1/2 pounds white granulated sugar (or around 3 1/2 cups)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook slowly – three hours – stir frequently until thick. Pour in hot sterilized jars and seal in a water bath.

Now I have transcribed the recipes for you verbatim. And I made a batch of tomato jam yesterday. I used both recipes to put it into one. I use the tomato jam recipe as the base, and then the tomato marmalade recipe was used for inspiration.

The extra ingredients I added were as follows: a small thinly sliced lime, a teaspoon or so of ground cumin, one Vidalia onion chopped fine, and one red hatch chili pepper minced.The extra ingredients I added were as follows: a small Finley sliced lime, a teaspoon or so of ground cumin, one Vidalia onion chopped fine, and one red hatch chili pepper minced. I used half a cup of water and a quarter cup of cider vinegar, instead of 3/4 cup of water.

Before I put everything into the jam pot I blanched and peeled all my tomatoes. While not difficult to do, it is labor-intensive. But I blanched the tomatoes and then I let them cool off for an hour or so. I kept some of the “tomato water“ back to use in the jam.

I will note I cooked the jam down for a few hours. Over a low heat like when I make apple butter. I really am pleased with the flavor profile of the jam and I just sort of had to fiddle with the cooking of it because it really wasn’t clear on the handwritten recipes. But handwritten recipes hidden away in vintage cookbooks are like kitchen gold.

After cooking the jam down I jarred and tidied everything up and did a hot water bath for about 20 minutes. I let everything sit out on the counter on wooden cutting boards overnight and cool, tightened the lids this morning and labeled.

Thanks for stopping by!

roasted squash soup

There are a lot of things I just make. There is no recipe, there’s nothing I look to, it’s just in my head. But today friends asked me to write down how I make my roasted squash soup.

So how did squash soup happen? Two weeks in a row I have gotten squash in my vegetable box. So squash soup popped into my head since it was a comparatively cool day (finally) to be in the kitchen. I decided small fresh sweet potatoes would be added to thicken it up and bone broth made in the InstantPot. Lots of fresh herbs from garden for the broth. When broth is ready and vegetables are cooled from roasting, into another pot it all goes to cook and purée with hand (immersion) blender.

So basically I lined a half sheet pan (18” x 13”) with foil, cut up all my hard sided squashes, baby sweet potatoes, and a couple of chili peppers from the garden, and sprinkled a little olive oil , some tikka masala powder, hawayij spice blend, and salt. I roast everything in a 425° oven for about 40 minutes. Then I turned the oven off and just left the vegetables in there with the door closed until everything cooled down.

Now for the broth part. I keep a Ziploc bag in my freezer where I put the gizzards and necks from whole chickens I buy to roast. I keep those in a bag in the freezer when I want to make broth. Sometimes I even save a chicken carcass after cooking (and freeze it) but that’s not what I used this time. This time I had a bag full of liver, gizzards and chicken necks. Literally like six sets. I used my small InstantPot which makes 3 quarts of broth.

How do I make the broth besides the chicken parts? One onion cut in 4, a couple of carrots cleaned and chunked, salt, rosemary/thyme/sage from the garden. I add water, leaving approximately 2 inches clearance from the top of the InstantPot liner pot. I hit the broth button and let it cook.

After both the vegetables are roasted and the broth is cooked I let everything cool down so I can proceed to the next step. The next step is easy: I take all the squash and scoop out everything from the skin of each piece and put it into a soup pot with the roasted baby sweet potatoes, the carrots used to make the broth, and 6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. I give everything a mash with a hand potato masher, and add the strained broth and cook on low for a couple of hours. Then I use the immersion blender and purée everything together. At that point I put it on simmer and let it cook down a little more.

Oh and this soup does not require a dairy component. It’s good just the way it is!

That’s it! Enjoy!

different slaw

My vegetable box today had a couple things I was not sure would go together, but actually have quite nicely!

I had some beautiful young fresh red cabbage, and a couple of heads of fresh fennel. So I thought what could I do with them? Then I thought why not a kind of coleslaw? I’m out of carrots so I could use the fennel in place of the carrots.

Well it worked! I also added half of a red onion and a couple of apples.

Here’s what I did:

1. Grate a small to medium size head of red cabbage.

2. Clean a large fennel bulb and grate. Or two smaller bulbs. Save some of the frilly green frond tops for the dressing .

3. Grate 1/2 of a red onion,

4. Grate 2 medium apples with skin ON.

Toss everything together that you have grated into a bowl. Add a little salt to taste. I like Crazy Jane’s Mixed Up Salt.

In a separate little bowl whisk together a little handful of the fennel fronds minced, a quarter cup of mayonnaise, 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, three or 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the dressing to the grated everything bowl and mix together. Put it into the refrigerator to chill up and then taste again before serving to see if you need to adjust the salt or pepper.

Enjoy!

bolognese in the summer

Well I hope my happy hater from the other day isn’t too distressed by Bolognese sauce. Hope she doesn’t find a red sauce too angry….but I digress. (I do that sometimes )

A true Bolognese sauce does take time to create. But it is one of the most delicious sauces you can put over pasta… ever. I shared Bolognese sauce before, but I am sharing this again because I change my recipe slightly sometimes.

I started my sauce first thing this morning. And that’s something that creates a memory smell for me for lack of a better description. When my father’s mother (Grandmom) used to babysit us when we were younger, and even when we were in high school she used to make her sauce first thing in the morning. (And no, this sauce is not her recipe it’s my recipe I never recall her making a true Bolognese.)

First you would smell the smell of a fresh pot of coffee (she would make it in one of those stovetop blue cornflower Corningware coffee pots). Then wafting up behind the fresh perked coffee aroma, was the smell of sautéing garlic and onion in her big sauce pot. She gave my mother that saucepot eventually, and I think my mother still uses it. It was hammered aluminum so it wasn’t like Farberware. To me those are the smells of home.

We are trying to empty out a chest freezer in the basement and I came across three 1 pound packages of ground meat. I usually use about three pounds of ground meat when I make a Bolognese.

Here are the ingredients:

THREE 1 pound packages of pork, veal, lamb, or beef. I’ll use whatever I happen to have handy.

TWO Onions. Chopped. 1 big sweet onion, 1 red onion.

SIX cloves garlic, minced. We like to keep the vampires away in my house.

DASH nutmeg or cinnamon- My late father always did it , so I do it.

Kosher salt to taste, ground pepper after you add the tomatoes.

TWO Bay leaves.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

ONE cup whole milk

ONE cup red wine or 2/3 cup red wine vinegar.

TWO cans crushed tomatoes – 28 ounce.

ONE 6 ounce can tomato paste

BIG bunch fresh basil and oregano from garden.

GOOD pasta and grated cheese.

I will start with I chopped up two onions and threw into my pan (I use one of my larger vintage Dansk touch ovens) with extra-virgin olive oil and some kosher salt.

After the onions started to get that translucent look, I added the three one pound packages of ground meat. Today I am cooking with ground pork and ground lamb which is one of my favorite combinations for a truly flavorful sauce. I added a little more salt and a couple of dashes of nutmeg.

After allowing that to cook for about 20 minutes I added 2/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar. I let that cook off and cook down for another 25 minutes approximately, and then I added one cup of whole milk. I then allowed the milk solids and everything to cook off slightly which was almost half an hour.

As I am doing the meat and the onion I do stir occasionally so nothing has the chance to stick to the bottom.

Next I add my tomato paste and stir it into the meat mixture.

Then I add the cans of crushed tomatoes one at a time. I stir thoroughly after each time. Now I add some fresh ground pepper and a big bunch of just roughly torn up basil and oregano from my garden.

My kitchen smells amazing. I don’t care if it’s July a good Bolognese sauce is perfect all year round. And I like making it in the summer because I can use all my fresh herbs.

Now the pot is on simmer and I will just let it go on simmer for a good couple of hours. Then I will turn it off. It will take a few hours for the sauce to completely cool down. At that point I will skim off any fat that rises to the top from the meat.

Then around dinner time I will slowly bring this sauce up to temperature again and serve with a good pasta, grated cheese, and a big green salad.

Good pasta does make a difference even with dry pasta. Today I am going Delco. Springfield Pasta and Mangia Famiglia grated cheese. (Mangia Famiglia is also one of my favorite sources for Italian sausage.)

A true Bolognese sauce is some thing that is truly amazing. and even in the summer it’s a great family meal option. And don’t be afraid to load up the fresh herbs. I forgot to mention I will finish this with some fresh flat leaf Italian parsley on top.

Buon appetito!

tastes of summer

I had a grandmother who was Pennsylvania German. We called her Mumma. When I think of summer salads I often think of her.

I made homemade coleslaw because my vegetable box this week had a lovely fresh head of cabbage. I minced up the cabbage, grated a couple of carrots, added 1/3 cup minced sweet onion.

Next I made the dressing:

2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sweet relish
2 tablespoons pickle brine
2 tablespoons distilled cider vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared white horseradish
1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

You whisk the dressing together and add the cabbage, carrots, and onion to it and mix it all together. Chill.

The second summer salad I made was a three bean salad. I use whatever cans of 3 different beans I have at the time. This time it was one can cannellini beans, one can pink beans, one can great northern beans.

To the beans I add a diced red onion (or yellow onion depending on what’s in the fridge) and a simple vinaigrette with extra garlic. Salt and pepper to taste, a few tablespoons of minced up fresh dill. Chill.

And that’s it! Enjoy!

beef mac and cheese…my way

Beef Macaroni and Cheese

1 stick of butter

A few tablespoons of Wondra gravy flour

Dash of nutmeg

A couple of dashes of Tabasco

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounce bag of shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese

8 ounce bag of shredded mixed cheddar cheese

6 ounces chopped Velveeta cheese (the kind that comes in a block)

14 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes

12 ounce can of vitamin D evaporated milk

1 – 1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1 lb ground beef

1 small red onion, chopped small

1 pound bag of Gemelli pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

I have never written this down, so bear with me.

First I sauté the pound of ground beef in a nonstick pan with the red onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Because I am using a nonstick pan I don’t grease it. Remove from heat.

In another pan I make my cheese sauce. It starts with a roux which is butter and flour. I just eyeball the flower and I use Wondra which is a great flower to use for things like this and gravies because it’s very fine. So I say a few tablespoons, it’s either that or a few dashes.

After the flour and butter have kind of cooked together, I had a dash of nutmeg and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. Then I add the buttermilk.

I incorporate everything together whisking constantly and then I add the can of milk. Next I add the Swiss and Gruyere mix, whisking constantly until it’s incorporated. After that I add the cheddar and then I stir in the Velveeta chunks. As everything comes together you may have to add a little more milk. It just depends.

After it’s creamy and smooth I add the can of tomatoes which I do not drain. I then let the cheese sauce kind of meld together and I keep on stirring it. When I think it’s the proper consistency I turn it off and put a lid on it.

In a big Dutch oven I cook the pasta as per the package instructions and then drain. First I put the pasta back into the Dutch oven. Then I stir in the ground beef mixture. Then I slowly incorporate the cheese sauce until everything‘s together.

I always make a little more sauce than I am expecting but you just let your pasta sit for a few minutes with the lid on in the Dutch oven and the heat off on the stove and a lot of the moisture from the cheese sauce will be absorbed.

Serve with a salad and it’s magically delicious.

Thanks for stopping by.