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Steve was feeling under the weather, so I thought I would make him some chicken soup. Homemade soup was a part of the Tsoi dinner table every night – my mother perpetually had a stock boiling away on the rear burner. She would boil bones, vegetables and aromatics for hours until the stock was fortified with all the vitamins, minerals and flavor she could squeeze out. The stock would then be used as the base to a variety of soups: vegetable, lotus root, and congee. Even now, when I feel sick, a bowl of Mama Tsoi’s congee and its magical restorative properties, is what I crave.

I picked this recipe mostly because I had leftover rotisserie chicken from Costco (love their chicken – at $5, it is the best deal in town). Don’t tell Mama Tsoi, but the recipe cheats with the stock – you start with a container of low sodium broth and you simmer the carcass of the chicken with onion, celery and herb for an hour. The broth gets strained and the liquid is the base of your soup. I chopped up carrots and more celery, simmered till tender and added the chicken meat I had taken off the carcass, as well as cooked rice. You can use pasta, if you prefer. I thought the soup was satisfying and hearty, although it was not up to Mama Tsoi’s caliber. We will see if it heals Steve.

I took a shortcut with the soup, but I decided it would be fun to make oyster crackers from scratch. Steve loves oyster crackers and has been known to snack on them straight from the box sans soup. This recipe was surprisingly easy (especially if you use a food processor) and the crackers were addictive; we finished the whole bowl. It is important to roll the dough out evenly. The crackers from the edges of the dough were not as crispy or crunchy. I also sprinkled them with salt before baking, not after. I will definitely make them again and play with the flavors; I think rosemary and asiago crackers would be delicious.

Crackers

Makes 6 to 8 servings (2 quarts)

Chicken Soup with Rice
Gourmet | September 2005


This soup is made with store-bought broth and rotisserie chicken, which shortens the preparation time considerably. (If you usually make your soup from scratch, you may be surprised at how appealing this shortcut can be when you're rushed.)
ingredients

1 (2-lb) rotisserie chicken
3 celery ribs
1 medium onion, quartered and left unpeeled
6 fresh parsley sprigs plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
10 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (80 fl oz)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup long-grain rice, rinsed

preparation

Remove meat from chicken, reserving skin and bones. Coarsely chop 1 celery rib and put in a 6- to 8-quart pot along with chicken bones and skin, onion, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Simmer, partially covered, 1 hour.
While broth is simmering, shred about half of chicken meat into 1-inch-long pieces (about 1/4 inch thick) to yield 1 1/2 cups meat, reserving remaining meat for another use. Cut remaining 2 celery ribs into 1/4-inch dice.
Pour chicken broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing hard on solids with back of a ladle and then discarding them. Skim fat from surface of broth.
Return strained broth to pot, then add carrots, diced celery, and rice and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and rice is very soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and chopped parsley.

DIY oyster crackers from seriouseats.com

Ingredients

5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup cold water, plus additional as needed

Procedures
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Measure flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add butter and using a pastry cutter or fingertips, work into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Add water and lightly knead dough until it comes together into a ball.

2. Set dough on a lightly floured surface and cover with an overturned mixing bowl. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.

3. Roll dough out on a well floured surface to a thickness of 1/8th inch. Cut dough into 1/2-inch squares, rectangles, or diamonds. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and space the shapes out as much as possible.

4. Bake until crackers are showing color around the bottom edges, about 15 minutes. Turn oven off and crack the door open about eight inches. Leave crackers inside to cool and continue to crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, season with salt, and allow to cool completely. Crackers can be stored in a sealed container for up to a week

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