Thursday, December 26, 2013

Celery root salad (celeri rémoulade)

Ok, if you are like me and just went through yet another gargantuan Holiday feast and need to rest your stomach, you should really try this refreshing dish!

Celery root, or celeriac, is a great winter root vegetable to mash or prepare scalloped au gratin, but also tastes amazing when prepared raw in salads. In France, we often prepare it grated in a lemony mayonnaise sauce, full of diced cornichons (French gherkins) and capers: Celeri Remoulade. Such a classic salad, it is served at least once a week in school cafeterias for kids.

Very easy to prepare, only a handful of ingredients and so fresh tasting. Try it and let me know what you think :)

INGREDIENTS (for 4 people):
- 1 medium-sized celery root
- 1/2 cup light mayonnaise (I personnaly like the chemical fat free store bought mayonnaise better, go figure... but you can -and should- absolutely make your own if you prefer to!)
- 1 tsp dijon mustard (Not necessary if you include a spoonful of mustard in your homemade mayonnaise when you make it, however if your own mayo recipe does not have mustard, the tangy taste of Dijon mustard really makes a difference in the salad)
- 1/2 cup of combined gherkins and capers (that may seem like a lot, but I like my Remoulade on the pickle-y side)
- a handful of flat leaf parsley
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste

- in a large bowl, add the juice of the lemon in about 3 cups of very cold water. Peel and grate the celery root and soak it in the cold lemony water while you prepare the sauce

- dice the gherkins very finely (about the size of the capers), and add to the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well and pour over the drained (and towel dried) grated celery root.

- Make sure that the celery is well coated and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- Enjoy!

PS: this salad is an amazing side to a nice grilled steak ;)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

White chicken chili

This is the absolute perfect recipe to cook on a snow day! How convenient is it that a snow storm is about to hit us in the North East??

Even if you're not in a snowy climate right now, try this easy chicken chili dish. Dead simple, few ingredients, very quick and absolutely delicious! Try it and let me know what you think :)

INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 2 onions, peeled, 1 quartered and 1 diced
- 3 celery branches, cut in 3 chunks lengthwise
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut in 3 chunks
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced finely
- 1 green pepper, diced finely
- 1 jalapeno pepper (or any hot pepper you like - I would have used a poblano if I'd found it instead)
- 2 15oz cans of white beans (I used cannellini and small white beans), rinsed and strained
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 5 chicken thighs, bone in skin on, or a whole chicken cut in pieces (I just prefer dark meat, so I used only thighs)
- water
- cilantro and grated cheddar for decoration
- salt, pepper to taste
- a splash of olive oil
- 4 cups of chicken broth
Note: If you do not have chicken broth on hand, no worries! You'll be making your own in this recipe anyway.
Note 2: even if you are by yourself or just think that this will be too much food, this freezes wonderfully and always tastes better when reheated anyway!

Note: for optimal taste, prepare this dish the day before you want to eat it as the flavors will develop and blend together overnight.
- start with cooking the chicken and making your own chicken stock: place the chicken thighs, celery, carrots and the quartered onion in a stockpot. Salt generously, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, and simmer over low heat for about 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken meat is cooked through.

- Take out the chicken, strain the liquid and RESERVE it on the side: this is your own delicious homemade chicken stock! How easy was that??

- when the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat with forks or using your hands and reserve on the side

- in a pot (I used the same I cooked the chicken in to avoid too many dishes), saute the diced onion, garlic and peppers in a splash of olive oil over medium high heat until soft. Then add the beans, the chicken meat, ground cumin and stock. Mix well and and reheat over low heat

Note: if you think 4 cups of stock is too little or too much, just adjust to the consistency you like. Just keep in mind that the chili will thicken over time, so I usually make it a little on the runny side the first day so that it doesn't congeal too much the next day.
- serve hot, sprinkled with a healthy dose of grated cheddar and chopped cilantro (a little dollop of sour cream doesn't hurt either!)
- Enjoy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Leftover Thanksgiving turkey and barley soup with stuffing dumplings

This is the ultimate leftover Thanksgiving turkey soup!

If you're like me, and cannot even THINK of having yet another reheated piece of turkey after the weekend, try this soup. It is so easy to make, and you probably have everything to make it in less than an hour.

You can pretty much make this soup with any leftovers you have. Here's what I did with mine.

INGREDIENTS (4 people):
for the dumplings (makes about 50 small pieces):
- 2 cups of cold stuffing
- 1/3 cup gravy
- 1 egg
- about 1 1/2 cups of panko breadcrumbs (you can use regular breadcrumbs, flour, semolina, cornbread, biscuits, etc... Just use something to regulate the moisture level of the dumpling batter)

for the soup:
- 8 cups chicken stock
- leftover turkey meat
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 2-3 carrots
- 1 bunch of parsley (I would have normally used 2 celery branches, but only had parsley)
- 1/2 cup barley (or rice, orzo, soup pasta, angel hair, potatoes, beans...)
- salt to taste

- first make the dumplings: mix the stuffing, gravy and egg until smooth, adjust the moisture level with breadcrumbs until thick (the texture of thick cookie dough is what you're after here) and let firm up in the fridge for about 20 minutes

- in the mean time chop the garlic, carrots, onion and parsley and saute in splash of olive oil over medium high heat

- add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and add the barley

- turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes, until the barley is almost cooked through
- about 20 minutes in start shaping the dumplings: wet your hands so the dough won't stick and roll a small amount of dough into a ball

- add the dumplings and diced turkey meat in the soup and cook for another 5 minutes (or until the turkey is heated through and the dumplings rise to the surface)

- enjoy!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Watercress soup

Watercress soup is one of my absolute favorite soups. Like, EVER!

It is extremely simple to make, and does not take a lot of time (the only limiting step is boiling the potatoes, and you can play with that by dicing them really small!), and even though the greens are cooked, they somehow retain their freshness and pungent flavor.

I love this soup, and make it regularly throughout the cold season (which, lucky for me, lasts forever here in the North East).

Try it and let me know what you think!

INGREDIENTS (for 2 people):
- 4 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
- 1 large potato (Yukon gold or Idaho are good for soups), peeled and diced
- 2 bunches of watercress, stemmed. Keep a few whole leaves for decoration.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 tbsp butter (or a good splash of olive oil for vegan option)
- salt, pepper to taste
- optional: a splash of heavy cream or a dollop of sour cream

- in a medium pot, melt the butter and saute the onion for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat (until translucent, not browned)

- add the potatoes, broth, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through

- add the watercress and cook for 1-2 minutes

- using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth

- serve piping hot, with a splash of cream
- enjoy!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coq-au-vin (French red wine chicken stew)

This is such a great recipe to have in your repertoire! Not only is the dish visually beautiful, it is also the perfect comfort food, Sunday family lunch, dinner party with friends or romantic dinner for two.

Traditionally, it is prepared with a rooster but nowadays it is very common to use chicken instead. It is a very economical recipe: chicken thighs are very often on sale, carrots and onions are super cheap. To be honest this whole thing barely cost me 30 dollars, including the wine and cognac and I'll be eating this for at least 4 meals. It freezes really well, so don't hesitate to make a large batch and freeze portions for future lazy days ;)

The meat falls off the bone and the sauce is buttery, smooth and so tasty!

Coq-au-vin never fails to impress. Try it, and see for yourself :)

INGREDIENTS (6-8 people, 4 people with seconds, 2 people with lots of leftovers)
- 8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
- 8 oz button mushrooms bucket
- 1 cup of frozen pearl onions
- 1/2 cup diced smoked uncured bacon (try to avoid strong flavored bacon like maple-glazed)
- 4 long carrots (or just as many as you want in your final dish, I like mine fairly carrotty!)
- 4 plump garlic cloves
- 3 small bay leaves (or 1 big)
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (dried works fine too)
- 1 medium onion, studded with 1 clove
- 3 tbsp butter (you can't see it behind the onion!)
- 1/3 cup AP flour
- 1 bottle red wine (if possible use a Burgundy wine, but any red should work fine: I used a Merlot)
- splash of cognac (I used 5cl, or a sample bottle of Hennessy)

- in a dutch oven, saute the bacon in the melted butter, add the thickly sliced mushrooms and the pearl onions and cook for 5 minutes over high heat until golden

- reserve in a bowl for later use and keep the butter and bacon fat in the pan
- in the same pan, brown the chicken pieces over medium-high heat, working in batches

- when the chicken pieces are golden, put them all back in the pan, sprinkle the flour and make sure they are well coated

- flambé the chicken with the cognac

Note: be VERY careful when you flambé! Make sure to tie your hair, tuck all fly-aways, clear any flammable items from your working area like dish rags, paper towels, etc... Do not lean over the pan and shut down the fume hoods. 
- when the flames go out, you can add the remaining ingredients: studded onion, carrots (cut in 1 inch segments), bay leaves, thyme, garlic and wine

- bring back to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 40 minutes over very low heat

- after 1h40, add the mushroom, pearl onions and bacon back into the pan, stir and cook for another 20 minutes covered over very low heat, until the sauce is thick, creamy, wonderfully flavored and the chicken falls off the bone

Note: in the traditionnal recipe, it is customary to thicken the sauce with the pureed liver and blood of the chicken (or rooster, really), but you can really do without. The fact that we make a roux (butter,  flour and liquid) at the beginning of the recipe makes the sauce silky smooth and thick.
- serve over a bed of fresh tagliatelle, slathered in butter and enjoy with a nice glass of red wine.

- Bon appétit!