Archive | June, 2013

Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup

25 Jun

Hungarian Sour Cherry SoupIn the first house we ever owned, there was a 30-foot-tall sour cherry tree in the back yard. It was magnificent. Every summer we would easily pick enough to make a couple of pies and other desserts, without even having to climb too high.

We moved to our current house 30 years ago, and I missed that cherry tree! A few years after we moved in, my husband bought me a cherry tree for my birthday and planted it in the backyard. It was barely more than a tall twig then. But it has grown, and is now about 12 feet high. For the last several years it’s been producing beautiful jewel-like cherries.

A couple of years ago I picked a big bowl of cherries, planning to make this soup. The cherries are small and fairly soft, so instead of using a cherry pitter, I just squirted the pits out by hand and put the pit-less cherries in a bowl. But after I measured the water into a pot and turned to get the bowl of cherries, I noticed that the contents of the bowl were moving! The cherries were full of tiny white worms – ugh! I had to throw the whole bowlful away.

Last year, I checked the cherries carefully before using them, and had to throw away most of them, even the ones that looked perfect, because of the worms. (The worms are not easy to see, because they’re tiny, there’s only one in each cherry, and they look almost like the  membrane in the inside of the fruit.) I’m not even sure if I had enough to make a soup or pie.

This year we sprayed the tree before it blossomed and before the fruit was set. That must have done the trick. I picked a big bowlful of cherries last Sunday and set out to make the soup. At first I was worried, because three out of the first four cherries I pitted had worms. But I kept plugging away, and in the end, I had to discard only about a quarter of the batch; I had just enough left for this soup.

If you don’t have a cherry tree, you may be able to find sour cherries in a specialty fruit store. Or you can use bing cherries, but you’d probably want to cut the sugar by about half.

Don’t be put off by its Pepto-Bismol color. This soup is light and very refreshing on a hot summer day!

Ingredients:

6 cups water
1 pound fresh sour cherries, pitted
¾ cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

In a large saucepan, cook cherries with water and sugar until cherries are soft, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix sour cream with flour, salt and confectioners’sugar until smooth. Add about a half-cup of the hot cherry liquid to the sour cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Slowly add to the  saucepan with the cherries and stir or whisk until the liquid is smooth. Simmer for 5 minutes but don’t boil.

Cool to room temperature. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the soup so that a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate at least one hour. Serve cold as a first course or as a dessert. You may want to add a dollop of sour cream or whipped cream.

Serves 6

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Chicken with Apples and Caramelized Onions

18 Jun Chicken with Apples and Caramelized Onions

Chicken with Apples and Caramelized OnionsHere’s another one of those many recipes I promised you for skinless, boneless chicken breasts! The chicken is simply grilled or broiled, but then it’s topped with a nice sauce made with apple and onion flavored with balsamic vinegar and ginger. It’s easy and tasty. This is adapted from a recipe in the Detroit Free Press, which says it was “from and tested by the Chicago Tribune.”

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1 medium tart apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. minced ginger
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the broiler or a grill pan. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the apple, balsamic vinegar, honey and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apple slices soften and the onions caramelize, about 10 minutes. While the onions and apples are cooking, season the chicken and broil, turning halfway through cooking, until cooked through, about 12 minutes total. Cut the chicken lengthwise into slices and transfer to plates. Top with the onion-apple mixture.

Serves 2

Quinoa Salad with Beans and Corn

11 Jun Quinoa Salad with Beans and Corn

Quinoa Salad with Beans and Corn I was a little late jumping on the quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) bandwagon because…well, it was new and peculiar! It’s one thing to try something in a veggie-friendly restaurant, quite another to cook  it — and there were all those dire warnings about rinsing it first so it isn’t bitter. It turns out that quinoa is almost as easy to cook as rice (though you do have to take the added step of rinsing it). In taste and texture it’s somewhere between rice and bulgur, mild but with a little firmness to the bite. I adapted this recipe from epicurious.com. I was looking for something that contained neither gluten nor onion/scallion because we were hosting a guest with allergies. The recipe calls for “chopped fresh coriander,” which I think means cilantro. I didn’t have any, and we don’t particularly care for cilantro anyway, so I added  about a teaspoon of ground coriander to the dressing. I added a little parsley to the salad for the color that fresh cilantro would have provided. But I’m printing the original ingredients. You can make it up to a day ahead of time.

Ingredients:

1½ cups quinoa 1½ cooked black beans (rinse if you use canned) 1½ red wine vinegar 1½ cups cooked fresh or frozen corn ¾ cup chopped bell pepper (any color) 2 pickled jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced (I used bottled sliced jalapenos and chopped them)| ¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander Tbs. lime juice (or more to taste) 1 tsp. salt 1¼ tsp. ground cumin (or to taste) ⅓ cup olive oil

Directions:

In a large bowl, wash the quinoa in at least 5 changes of cold water, rubbing the grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of the water, until the water runs clear; drain in a large, fine sieve. (I just used the sieve each time I drained the quinoa.) In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the quinoa for 10 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Set the sieve over a saucepan of boiling water; make sure the quinoa does not touch the water. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and the saucepan lid and steam until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (add water to pan if necessary). While quinoa is cooking, toss the black beans with the vinegar. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add the beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapenos and coriander and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, salt and cumin and add the oil slowly in a stream, whisking constantly. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix well. The salad may be made a day ahead of time and chilled, covered. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8

Chicken Piccante with Artichokes

4 Jun

Chicken Piccante With ArtichokesYou’ll be seeing a lot of recipes from me using boneless, skinless chicken breast this summer. There are three reasons for this. First of all, chicken breasts are the basis for many quick, easy summer meals. Many of them call for grilling or broiling the chicken breasts, which is a nice way to cook when it’s hot. (Today’s recipe uses poached chicken which is finished in the oven — but for only 15 minutes.)

Secondly, those who have been following my blog since the beginning know that a big reason I started it was to get my humongous collection of recipe clippings in order, and I’m discovering a lot of chicken breast recipes that I clipped but never made. I’ll be trying them out over the summer and sharing the results.

Finally, and I blush to admit this, every time I go to Costco I seem unable to leave without a package of Empire frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Consequently, I have three such packages in my freezer — and need to use them up!

This recipe came from a newspaper, and I’m guessing it was the Detroit Free Press because there’s a little heart next to the title and they used to print recipes from Henry Ford Hospital’s Heart Smart program. It has only 236 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving, so it’s a great  recipe for weight watchers as well as cholesterol watchers – yet it’s tasty and elegant enough to serve for company.

Ingredients:

2 cups chicken broth
6 skinless boneless chicken breasts (approx. 4 oz. each), washed and patted dry
1 whole lemon,  cut into 8 wedges and seeded
¼ cup scallions, chopped
30 baby mushroom caps, cleaned (if you have larger mushrooms, halve or quarter them)
6 canned artichoke hearts in water, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch white pepper
3 Tbs. cornstarch
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups rice or noodles, cooked

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large skillet. Add the chicken breasts, reduce heat to a simmer and cover; poach the chicken breasts for 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Squeeze the lemon juice into the broth and place the wedges in the broth. Add the scallions, mushrooms, artichokes, garlic and white pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch and the wine in a small bowl, stirring until it is smooth. Add to the broth a little at a time, stirring until thick and smooth. Remove lemon and discard. Pour the sauce and vegetable mixture over the chicken breasts and heat in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.

Serves 6