Archive | March, 2019

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

27 Mar

Chicken SoupI’m not one of those rabid Instant Pot fans, but I have been pleased with the results the few times I’ve used it.

A few months ago, when I couldn’t find a satisfactory recipe, I decided to invent my own way to make chicken soup in the Instant Pot. I found it was even easier and even tastier than my standby “Cheater’s Chicken Soup.”

Please note that this is not a recipe as much as a method. The exact ingredients may vary.

I had a package of frozen “chicken bits” in my freezer — wing tips, backs, tails, necks and other stuff cut from fresh chicken that no one eats.

To add to that, I went to the local kosher supermarket hoping for some chicken feet. When we lived in England when we were first married, the butchers threw the feet in with the chickens, and they really fortified a soup. But they’re very hard to find nowadays. The local kosher mart had them — but they cost more than actual fresh chicken! I decided to skip the feet but found a package of chicken bones neatly tied up in a cheesecloth bag — also exorbitantly priced considering they were bones, but a lot cheaper than the feet. If you can find reasonably priced chicken feet, I highly recommend them.

I tied my defrosted “chicken bitsInstant Pot chicken soup 1” up in a cheesecloth package as well, and did the same with some chunked veggies: onion, carrot, celery, dill and parsley. You could also include a parsnip or turnip.

I put all three cheesecloth packages into the Instant Pot and mooshed them down a bit so everything was below the “fill” line. This time I added a cupful of leftover chicken soup and another cup or so of “chicken juice” from the last roast chicken we made — but don’t worry if you don’t have these on hand, they are totally optional. The “chicken bits” and bones are more important.

I added water up to the Instant Pot fill line, closed the lid, hit the “Soup/Broth” button, and an hour later had a potful of delicious soup — about three quarts. That hour included the time needed to get the pressure up, the cooking time, and the time to release the pressure. And the kitchen smelled great!

After cooling the contents of the pot, I removed and discarded the cheesecloth bags. Depending on what your “chicken bits” consist of, you may find some chunks of meat you can pull off and add to the soup. The veggies will be too mushy to save; if you want to serve carrots, celery, turnip or the like with your soup, cook them when you reheat the soup before serving.

The first time I made soup this way, when I didn’t add any leftover soup or “chicken juice,” I needed to add just a teaspoon or so of chicken stock powder to make it sufficiently strong. (Alternatively, I could have boiled it for awhile to concentrate the flavor.) The second time it was fine as it was.

Instant Pot chicken soup 2You may want to strain the soup into a Dutch oven or soup pot but if you use cheesecloth bags for your ingredients, there’s really no need. It is a good idea to let the soup sit in the fridge overnight so that any excess fat can rise to the top to be skimmed off.

Add salt and pepper to taste (if you use kosher chicken bits, juice, etc. you probably won’t need salt, but a little ground black pepper is nice.) You can also add dill and parsley at this point if you didn’t put them in your vegetable cheesecloth package.

Serve with cooked noodles, matzoh balls, kreplach, gyoza or any other kind of dumpling.

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Hamentaschen

13 Mar

(It’s that time of year again! I thought it might be a good idea to reprise my blog about hamentaschen.)

Hamentaschen 4

These fruit, nut or poppy-filled cookies are popular on the Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the events told in the Book of Esther. This year, Purim falls on March 21

The cookie’s three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish, and in Hebrew, they’re called “oznei Haman” — Haman’s ears!

My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she baked these hamentaschen every year. She got the recipe from our neighbor in Northeast Philadelphia, Ida Silver.

In 2007, I read a Hadassah magazine article by Judy Davis called “My Mother’s Hamentaschen” and I realized Judy Davis was the married name of Ida Silver’s oldest child, a few years older than me. But the recipe in the magazine was not my mother’s recipe!

I hadn’t seen Judy in at least 40 years but I tracked her down – she worked at the University of Massachusetts – and emailed her. In her response she admitted the recipe was not her mother’s, which she either never had or lost. “I must have had a copy at some time, though I have no memory of it,” she wrote. “I love the idea of your mother having used her recipe (it means my mother must have shared some of them with her), and I love that it is being handed down to the next generation.”

Indeed it is! My children always enjoyed my hamentaschen – at some point, each of them served as my baking assistant. Now they are making the same recipe. And in all humility, I say that I know only one friend who has a recipe for hamentaschen as good as these. The cookie is tender, and the honey and lemon give it a nice flavor.

I usually double the recipe, though now that the children are out of the house and we are retired (with no office colleagues to share goodies with), I am going back to making a single batch. I don’t use a board to roll out the dough. I do what my mother did: cover the kitchen table with an old sheet and work some flour into it and use that as my workspace.

Use Solo brand pie filling or similar; regular pie filling is too runny and will make the hamentaschen soggy.

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit, nut or poppy pastry filling

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not sticky

Hamentaschen 3

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour to prevent sticking). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

 

 

Oven “fried” zucchini

5 Mar

zucchini oven friedHere’s a nice way to make zucchini that even vegetable haters will love! You’ll want to slice the zucchini about a quarter-inch thick. That sounds really specific, but it doesn’t have to be. I was trying to figure out how to say “not too thin, not too thick” so I looked on a ruler and a quarter-inch seems about right. The point is, you want the slices to not fall apart when they’re baked, but you don’t want them to be so thick that they won’t cook all the way through quickly.

For the breadcrumbs, a mixture of panko and regular breadcrumbs is good. If you don’t have seasoned breadcrumbs, just add some parsley, a grind of black pepper, a sprinkle of garlic powder, a pinch of paprika, and a pinch of any other herbs you like.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally
1 egg, beaten
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
non-stick cooking spray or olive oil in a spritzer

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick spray or oil. Place the breadcrumbs on a plate.

Dip each zucchini slice in the egg, drain off excess, and then roll the slice in the breadcrumbs and place it on the baking sheet.

When all the slices are on the sheet, spray the tops lightly with oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Baking times may vary, depending on your oven. Both sides should be golden brown.