Off the Books: Hello Fresh = Hella Good!

Well, hello there! Yes, it’s been a while but it’s because I’ve been busy cooking and eating… just not busy blogging ūüôā Anyway, let’s just get right into it, shall we?

About a month ago, my boss dropped off a Hello Fresh gift card on my desk. I’d heard about the meal/recipe delivery service but had not heard much feedback on how the food actually tasted. So, I decided to give it a try for a couple of weeks.

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Is it too early to tell you at this point in my blog post that Hello Fresh is pretty fantastic? (5 knives out of 5, guys!)

As I’m part of a two-person household, I went with the Pronto Plan which contains three meals for two people. (Additional plans include the Family Plan and the Veggie Plan.) Since we’re not picky, nor do we have allergies, I chose Chef’s Selection for our Meal Preference. (Other choices are No Pork, No Shellfish, No Fish, No Seafood and No Beef.)

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You can simply leave the recipe selection up to Hello Fresh if you like surprises, or you can login to your account online or via the app and select 3 out of 5 different recipes. You can change your mind as much as you like (or even skip a week of delivery) as long as you submit your changes by the deadline time.

I had my first box shipped to work and it arrived in an insulated box which I just kept on my desk for the bulk of my day. The recipes are sealed in separate paper bags, while the meat/protein is at the bottom of the box underneath ice packs.

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Each meal I made was quick (no more than 30 minutes), overall quite healthy and really delicious. Hello Fresh kitchen testers really do some unique things for sauces and toppings. Apart from one avocado that could have been a bit more ripe, the produce I received was excellent. (Also, I’m just starting to forgive them for providing dried Parmesan cheese for spaghetti. Inconceivable!)

Each recipe comes with an instruction card outlining what to do, step by step. I’m very comfortable in the kitchen, so I took their guidance with a grain of salt and basically did my own thing. While the instructions were easy to follow (with the odd spelling error!), I did find that most of the suggested stove settings were way too high. If you’re a newbie cook, I would recommend that you start with a medium setting for almost everything, unless you’re searing meat.

My favourite things about Hello Fresh? Just knowing what we were going to have for dinner over the course of the week was a game changer. I commute by foot and the bulk of my walks home would be spent trying to figure out what we’d have for dinner, or wandering around the Safeway across from our place.

The greatest thing though was not wasting food. They give you the exact amount of ingredients you need. One spring of green onion versus buying a bunch of green onions which would just wilt the next day anyway. Most of the meals made enough for one meal, while a couple of others allowed for leftovers for lunch for one person the following day.

I would definitely recommend Hello Fresh to anyone and everyone! While I won’t be subscribing weekly, I will definitely be using their service again.

Alas, treat yourself! Save $40 on your first box with my code CINLES at https://www.hellofresh.ca/?c=CINLES&utm_source=raf-share&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=twitter_share_wp !

Bon appétit!
Cindy

*This blog post is no way sponsored by Hello Fresh.

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Cooking off the Books: Genius Kitchen’s Gumbo Recipe (adapted)

Happy 2018 y’all!

Yes, I’ve gone a bit southern, but it’s in celebration of my upcoming trip to New Orleans!¬† I have made it my mission to try a few key, traditional New Orleans dishes before I head out….and this is one of them…and it is effing fantastic.¬† I have also made beignets and jambalaya…both were excellent and will soon be on the bloggy.

The recipe itself comes together quickly, once you have all the chopping together.¬† That is what takes the time….but it’s arguably therapeutic. Well, aside from making my creole spice mix…which is just a massive pain in the butt and quite messy.

IMG_6209[1]Making the roux was really easy…and a much nicer experience than other times I have made roux in the past.¬† One interesting aspect of this for me, was that it actually burnt the edge of my wooden spoon.¬† I used one of those flat edge ones and it is all crazy burnt now…so that was a surprise.¬† I may just keep that one for roux and get another for other things.

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just added the veg to the dark brown roux

The smells of all of these things as they cook is tremendous….and it gets better as leftovers…the flavours become fuller and makes for extra yummy leftovers.

I look forward to trying a proper gumbo in New Orleans, but I will say, this one tasted pretty darn fabulous to me.

Recipe rating: 5 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,

Lisa

*****

Genius Kitchen’s Gumbo

Serves 8

NOTE: you will need to prepare some white rice to go along with this.  Since it serves 8, I would suggest making rice to serve that many.

  • 1‚ĀĄ2¬†cup vegetable oil
  • 1‚ĀĄ2¬†cup¬†all-purpose flour
  • 1¬†large white onion, diced
  • 1‚ĀĄ2¬†cup chopped¬†fresh parsley
  • 1‚ĀĄ2¬†cup chopped¬†celery
  • 1‚ĀĄ2¬†cup chopped¬†green bell pepper
  • 1‚ĀĄ2¬†cup chopped¬†red bell pepper
  • 1‚ĀĄ2¬†cup sliced¬†scallion
  • 1 cup of sliced okra (optional)
  • 6¬†cloves minced¬†garlic
  • 4¬†cups¬†chicken broth
  • 1¬†teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1¬†teaspoon creole¬† seasoning (I made my own¬†because I couldn’t find it in the grocery store, but added like 1 tbsp…possibly more as I added to taste…but different blends may have different spice levels…also note this isn’t the same as Cajun seasoning).
  • 2¬†lbs any combo of andouille sausage, shrimp, chicken¬†or even crab claws if you can find it (i did not), cut into bite sized slices or pieces.

DIRECTIONS:

Get all of your veggies and herbs and meat all chopped up – mis en place style.

Make the roux. In a large stockpot combine oil and flour and cook over medium-high heat about 15 minutes or until it turns very dark brown, almost between brown and black. NOTE: You will have to stir almost constantly so don’t leave it unattended.

Add onions, parsley, celery, bell peppers, scallions and garlic and cook about 10 more minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring regularly.

Add broth, salt, and creole seasoning.

Cover pot and simmer 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add your chosen combination of meat at this point and simmer an additional 10 minutes.¬† ¬†Put in shrimp and fresh okra for your last five minutes of cooking as it doesn’t take long to cook. NOTE: If using whole pieces of crab like claws, or blue crab halves cook a little longer to ensure they’re cooked all the way.

Ladle over steamed white rice.

Gin Aperol ‘Buch Spritz

It’s no secret that I love kombucha. Yup, that funky sour fermented tea!

I actually started drinking the stuff a few years back, after a holistic nutritionist suggested I add more probiotic foods and supplements to my diet. (End result? No more painful stomach aches!) It took about a week for kombucha to please my palate. Upon first taste, I found it extremely bubbly and vinegary… but that sensation and taste became a little addictive! I drink the ‘buch regularly now, at least a few bottles per week.

An email from Bon Appetit’s Healthyish popped up in my inbox last week, with the title “Should you rethink your drink?” The first recipe link on it? 3 Perfect Kombucha Cocktails. With the August long weekend approaching, I knew I had to devise my own concoction!

Taking inspiration from this recipe, my Gin Aperol ‘Buch Spritz was born:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz cucumber vodka
  • 2 oz Aperol
  • Splash of club soda
  • Berry-flavoured kombucha (I used Brew Dr.’s Superberry)
  • Mint for garnish

Fill a glass with a few ice cubes. Add alcohol in order of above. Add a splash of club soda and top off your glass with kombucha. Stir very gently. Add a sprig of mint for garnish.

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Smoky Aperol, fresh flavours from the gin and cucumber vodka combined with the bubbly sourness of kombucha… this is a heck of a cocktail!

Bottom’s up!
Cindy

Cooking Off the Books: Best Homemade Pizza Crust and Sauce

So the original plan was that Cindy and I would re-blog cooking each other’s favourites from the blog over the past year, even making a twist on those favourites. ¬†Alas, I have not really done that. ¬†I cooked a few of her favourites (and mine), but did not document with pics aside from one day, when Cindy came over and helped me make her favourite biscuits¬†(ps, these are even more delish when you add bacon).

Part of that is due to new homeowner exhaustion. ¬†I forget to take pics until I plate and then it’s like…”oh yeah…pictures. Welp.”

Part of this is due to the fact that I have had a lot of dinner guests at my new house and so, I have opted to go for a tried and true meal that I know always satisfies vs something new…I mean, it’s kinda the same thing, right?

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Individual pizzas on the Egg for a fun dinner with friends!

My pizza crust and sauce recipe are simple and don’t require anything fancy and that is probably why they are so good. ¬†The toppings can be as fancy or as simple as you like. ¬†I do have some tips to make you pizza extra delish:

  1. Make sure your oven/grill is piping hot – like 500-525 F! ¬†Your pizza will cook in about 10 minutes if it’s fresh…15 minutes if you are cooking a frozen pizza (give or take based on your oven of course and add more time if you like your pizza extra well done).
  2. Put some cornmeal or semolina flour down on your pan or pizza peel before you put on your toppings.  Not only does it add a nice crunch/mouth feel to you pizza, but it keeps the pizza from sticking to the peel/pizza pan/pizza stone.
  3. Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the top of your crust before you put on any sauce or toppings – it helps ensure you get a lovely, golden brown crust.
  4. If you are grilling your pizza, don’t put on too many toppings – the weight will make it harder to get the pizza off the peel.
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    base level of cheese…proper toppings next!

  5. Consider adding toppings in the following way: sauce, 2/3 of ¬†the amount of cheese you plan to use (acts as a nice sticky, melty base) your toppings like pepperoni, veggies, etc, and then the 1/3 ¬†of the cheese…just to seal it all up. ¬†Putting that last little bit of cheese on top still allows for the toppings to cook, vs burying them in all the cheese or having them fall off by putting them on top of the cheese.
  6. If you are freezing your pizza, do it on a pizza pan to start, this ensures it freezes flat and your toppings don’t fall off. Also, it tightly in a few layers of cling wrap when it is finally frozen solid.
  7. This is a bonus tip – if you don’t have instant yeast, use regular yeast, but make sure you proof it first….a smidge of sugar and some warm water…let it sit and get all foamy and you will be good to go. ¬†And if you eff that up, and put in non instant yeast without activating, you can still save it – just put in in a warm spot (i use an oven I have turned on for about 3-5 minutes)…and you will see your dough start to rise.

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Seeing this makes me hungry!

Without further ado, here are my recipes….the dough is from the New York Times. ¬†The sauce is from a Kneading and Knives favourite The Kitchn.

Lisa’s Favourite Pizza Dough
Yield: Enough dough for 1 large, 2 medium, or more smaller pizzas (ps i love doing the small personal sized pizzas when friends come over!).

Ingredients: 
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast, such as SAF-Instant Yeast.
2 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil.

  1. If using a food processor, combine flour, yeast and salt in work bowl. Turn machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube. Process 30 seconds, adding up to 1/4 cup more water, a little at a time, until mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. (In unlikely event mixture is too sticky, add flour, a tablespoon at a time.) To make dough by hand, combine half the flour with the yeast and salt in a bowl and stir to blend. Add 1 cup water and the olive oil; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add remaining flour bit at a time; when mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading, adding as little remaining flour as possible, just enough to keep dough from being sticky mess. Knead 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. (You can cut rising time if you are in a hurry, or you can let dough rise more slowly in refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.) Dough can then be used immediately or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for a month. Defrost in covered bowl in refrigerator or at room temperature.
  3. Form risen dough into a ball and divide into two or more pieces; roll each into a ball. Place each on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with a little flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until slightly puffed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Oil one or more baking sheets, then press each dough ball into a flat round directly on sheet. Pat out dough as thin as you like, using oiled hands if necessary.
  5. Lift up your crust and throw down some of that semolina/cornmeal. Proceed with any toppings you like.  Pop it into a pre-heated 500 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

Lisa’s Favourite Pizza Sauce

Yield:  about 4 cups
Ingredients: 
1 32-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes
6 to 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
Salt
Fresh-cracked pepper
Olive oil
Equipment:

Blender or food processor
Muffin tin, if freezing
Freezer bag or container, if freezing

Instructions

  1. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, some black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil in a blender or food processor. Use both the tomatoes and their juices, or drain the tomatoes for a slightly thicker and more concentrated sauce.
  2. Puree the sauce:¬†Blend the ingredients until they’re completely pureed. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Give the sauce a taste: Taste your sauce, and add more salt, fresh-cracked pepper, or olive oil to taste. Blend a few more seconds to combine.
  4. Use the pizza sauce:¬†This sauce is ready to be used as is ‚ÄĒ no cooking required. Just spoon it onto a round of pizza dough and use the back of the spoon to smooth it out. This amount of sauce makes enough for eight medium pizzas, depending on how much sauce you like on your pizza.
  5. Refrigerate unused sauce for up to a week.
  6. Freeze any extra pizza sauce for up to 3 months: Spoon any unused sauce into muffin tins. Freeze until solid, then pop the frozen cubes out of the mold and transfer to a freezer container. Thaw overnight before using on pizza, or microwave the cubes in 30-second bursts until they melt into a sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

Off the Books: Veg Packed Chili (Meat Optional)

Since Cindy and I made this month about picking vegan/veggie recipes and making some healthier (ie eat more veggies) choices, I had to sneak off the books and share my chili recipe as I’m pretty sure¬†you, our bloggy friends,¬†will love it.¬† Especially because you can make this vegan, vegetarian, or with meat.¬† It can be soy free, grain/gluten free (there may be gluten in the chili seasoning packet, but if you make your own, you are good to go). It’s so darn flexible and delicious, no matter how you make it.

I packed this batch FULL of veggies and given my recent anemia diagnosis, I figured it would be best to add some ground beef to this chili to increase the dosage of iron. But trust me, it is NOT necessary to add the beef.  This recipe is plenty tasty without any meat whatsoever.

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This doesn’t even represent the rest of the veggies I added

 

This recipe could be doubled if you have another slow cooker or you felt like doing this on a stove top.¬† It is easily adaptable depending on how much spice you like or what vegetables you want in your chili…there are NO rules. And yes, this is me embracing the no rules thing…because well, I know that pretty much no matter what I do, I can do no wrong with this recipe.¬†¬†Once, as part of a work mandated training session, I had to be part of¬†a team building chili cook off…nobody on my team knew how to make chili but me.¬† I used basics from my recipe and adapted when needed (no brown sugar, use pineapple juice…because yes, they had pineapple, if you can believe it).¬† Needless to say we won.

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With this batch, I mis-read my recipe and added a tablespoon of cayenne pepper..it was spicy, but still ridiculously delicious…and I got the benefit of very clear sinuses. lol. I also ¬†included some mushrooms because I had some on hand and some frozen spinach at the ¬†last minute to give it some extra colour and to increase the iron. Outside of those few things, there was nothing out of the ordinary with this batch.¬† Served with a piece of avocado toast and a sprinkle of melted cheese on top of the chili and you have my perfect winter comfort food.

Needless to say, I give this recipe I crazy high rating as I make it multiple times every winter. The lack of crazy ingredients and the flexibility of it is what truly makes it sooo good. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Recipe rating: 5 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,

Lisa

*****

Lisa’s Veggie Packed (Meat Optional) Chili

Makes a lot…fills my 4.7L slow cooker nearly to the brim. lol.

Ingredients

1 medium white onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 carrots thinly sliced into medallions

2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced

3 bell peppers, diced

Other vegetables depending on your preferences and what is available (I have included peas, frozen spinach, mushrooms, sweated zucchini, eggplant, diced sweet potato in the past, but definitely feel free to try different vegetables)

1 can of corn, drained

1 can each of kidney beans, black beans and white kidney beans, rinsed and drained*

1 packet of Chili seasoning

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoon chili powder

Pinch of cinnamon

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

sprinkling of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, all to taste

1 big can of diced tomatoes‚Äďjust plain, no extra seasonings

1 can of tomato soup

Optional: 1 pkg (500g or nearly 1 lb) of Ground Round/cooked ground meat (turkey, chicken, bison, beef, pork all work).**

Turn on your slow cooker to high. Prepare all the veggies.  Start with the onions, carrots, garlic and celery.  Throwing them in the pot as you go as these veggies take the longest to cook.*** Throw the rest of your prepared ingredients into the slow cooker and give it a stir. Cook it on high for about four hours (or for about six hours on low), stirring occasionally.

Tips:

*you can also include lentils, chick peas, adzuki beans etc but the three listed above are my favourites

**If you are using meat, cook it in a bit of olive oil on high heat to get that nice sear/flavour) before hand and then throwing it into the slow cooker.

***If you plan on using sturdier veggies like sweet potato, be sure to add them early along with the onions, carrots and celery to maximize the amount of cooking time.

Kneading + Knives Does Christmas: Fried Pickerel

Since I was little, my family has always made a trip out to Gimli, MB in the days leading up to Christmas Eve to acquire a few pounds of fresh caught Lake Winnipeg pickerel.

Anyway, this is it. The pièce de résistance of our traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner Рfried pickerel. Fresh, hot and crispy!

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Instructions:

  1. Add a couple of tablespoons of canola oil to an electric skillet (preferably) and preheat on medium heat.
  2. Rinse pickerel fillets in cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Whisk a couple of eggs in a bowl.
  4. Mix some breadcrumbs (Pro tip: Make your own out of your favourite croutons!) and Montreal steak spice on a plate.
  5. Mince fresh garlic and spread a bit on each side of the pickerel fillet.
  6. Dip the fillet in egg and then breadcrumb mixture.
  7. Fry until cooked, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  8. Keep in a warm oven (200 degrees) until all fillets are fried and you’re ready to serve!

Smacznego!
Cindy

Kneading + Knives Does Christmas: Uszki (Dumplings with Mushroom Filling)

For me, the Christmas season is about customary Polish traditions, namely around food. Christmas Eve – called wigilia – is the “big” celebration, and consists of a meatless dinner.

After all of the guests share opŇāatek (Christmas wafer) and wish each other the best for the coming new year, we sit down to barszc¬†(borscht) with uszki.

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Uszki are dumplings (sometimes we call them “Pope Hats”) that we traditionally fill with mushrooms. Now I’ll admit, I used to HATE these things. But with my newfound mushroom love, I’m looking forward to munching them this Saturday!

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To put a spin on the traditional recipe, this year we’ve added caramelized onion and fresh dill to the mushroom mixture.

Dough

Use the same dough as my mom’s delicious perogies! Roll out to about 2-3 cm thin on floured surface. Use pizza cutter to cut into squares. Add spoonful of mushroom filling in the centre. Pinch to form a triangle. Dab one of the points with water. Overlap the other point over and pinch together to form a Pope Hat ūüôā

Drop dumplings into salted boiling water. They are ready when they float to the top.

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Mushroom Filling with Caramelized Onions & Dill

Again, while this is not a technical recipe, here’s a guideline for the filling:

Diced mushrooms
Butter
1 yellow onion, diced
Chopped fresh dill, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Caramelize onions in butter, low and slow in a separate pan. Sautée diced mushrooms in butter until soft. Add salt and pepper. Mix in caramelized onions. Remove from heat and add chopped fresh dill.

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Kneading + Knives Does Christmas: Krystyna’s Pierogi

I had a wonderfully scheduled day off last Friday with my mom, Krystyna. We were going to head out to St. Andrew’s, MB for a fresh Christmas tree and make pierogi. We were even going to make uszka (dumplings filled with mushrooms) for barszcz (borscht) if time allowed.

Alas, the stomach flu struck me down! My mom went ahead as planned and made the perogies, and was kind enough to take photos for me.

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Everyone who grew up in a Polish (or Ukrainian, etc.) family thinks their mother’s or their grandmother’s pierogi take the cake. And I’m no different: my mom’s pierogi are the best. Just the right amount of cheese and onion filling, and a flawlessly soft, perfect dough. Every single time. THE BEST.

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Pierogi have always been part of our family’s traditional Christmas Eve meal.While we’ve switched up the type of filling on other days (cottage cheese, blueberries, mushrooms), our go to for the 24th is the ever classic potato and cheese.

Since we make and freeze the pierogi (laid flat!) ahead of time, all we do to prepare them for Christmas Eve dinner is thaw, carefully toss in melted butter and sautéed onion, and keep in a warmed oven until the rest of dinner is ready. (Note: Tossing in melted butter is what prevents them from sticking together.)

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Now let’s get to that perfect dough recipe, shall we? (And I do mean perfect – this recipe has been around since the late 70’s!)

Krystyna’s Dough

6 cups unbleached flour (plus more in case dough get sticky when working it)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Canola oil
2 cups hot tap water

Mix dry ingredients together and then add egg and oil. Add water slowly, while mixing with your hands. Yes, HANDS! Get down, folks. Add more flour if necessary; make sure dough is not sticky. Keep kneading until soft. Roll out to about 2-3 cm thin on floured surface. To cut out, use a circular cookie cutter or glass.

Krystyna’s Traditional Potato & Cheese Filling

I inherited my off the cuff style of cooking from my mom. While I can’t type out an exact measurement for the potatoes, here is a general guideline for her tasty filling:

A large pot full of mashing potatoes*, peeled and boiled
1 cup (maybe a bit more) of shredded cheddar cheese
1 yellow onion, diced and sautéed until very soft
Salt and pepper, to taste

Add cheddar and onion to boiled, drained potatoes. Mash. Add a bit of butter if you wish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mash until smooth.

*Try to find mashing potatoes, if you can. (It will state this on the bag.) If you’re not able to, then grab Yukon gold potatoes. Veer away from red skinned potatoes, as they are not moist enough.

Smacznego!
Cindy

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Cooking off the Books: Mulligatawny Soup (or Stew)

Long, long time ago…there was a restaurant in Winnipeg called Soup Pierre.¬† They made all sorts of lovely soups…and one of them was Mulligatawny.¬† They made it about once a month, always on a Friday.¬† Soup Pierre closed down in Winnipeg about a decade ago and well, that was the last time I had eaten Mulligatawny. *sob*

I searched for recipes..and really couldn’t find anything that seemed to match the lovely things inside Soup Pierre’s recipe…until I saw this post on Spoon Fork Bacon.¬† I almost cried.¬† It had all the yummy things I remembered from Soup Pierre’s.

And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint.¬† This soup is AMAZING and it’s creamy and like a big bowl of stick to your ribs, warm comfort.¬† It’s essentially a soupy-stew hug.¬† And yes, I do realize what a weird mental picture that is providing you. But on a day like today, when there are blizzard conditions happening out my window, a soupy-stew hug is totes necessary.

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mis en place

I also ran this soup by my favourite taste tester – my dad.¬† To say he liked it was an understatement.¬† He ate five small bowls in 24 hours…and then he came back to try and take the little bit I rationed to take with me to work on Monday.

 

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YUUUUUUUUUUUUM!

 

I would recommend this recipe, full stop…and in fact, I think if you are a curry fan (or your family happens to like curries), you may wish to make a double recipe.¬† I think I am going to do that this weekend because holy crap…soooooo good.

Recipe rating: 5 knives out of 5

Om, nom, nom,

Lisa

*****

Mulligatawny
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 red jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 small apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon minced thyme
1/2 cup red or yellow lentils (uncooked)
3 cups chicken stock
2/3cup coconut milk
salt to and extra black pepper to taste
toppings and garnish:
cooked jasmine rice
roasted and shredded chicken breast (I roasted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for mine)
golden raisins
cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:
1. Place a large pot over medium-high heat and melt butter. Add onion, celery, carrot, and jalapeno and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, apples, and tomato and continue to sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add all the spices, thyme and lentils to the pot and sauté for 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, medium-low and simmer mixture for about 30 to 40 minutes or until lentils have cooked through.

3. Pour mixture into a blender or using and immersion blender, puree until smooth. (NOTE: I didn’t do this…I am not a¬†fan of super smooth soups – also, because of this, I didn’t add in the rice toppings)

4. Pour mixture back into the pot and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and adjust seasonings.

5. To serve: Place about 1/2 cup of rice at the bottom of each bowl and top with a ladle of soup. Top soup with shredded chicken, a sprinkle of raisins and finally the cilantro. Season with freshly cracked black pepper. Serve.