Friday, March 30, 2012

Country Ham Story

So I love ham. For years I have bought hams from Dakin Farms. Here's the link. They have the best ham, corncob smoked, maple glazed that I've ever had.  My kids have endured eating it for years with my potato dish, called Potatoes Grande.... And I say "endured" because I find the plates have always been empty, ya know?

And since I'm a blogger, I constantly read things on the net about food.  And I came across this:     

And I loved it. And yes, bought a smoked country ham from:

I'll be having a post or two upcoming about my experience with this hunk of meat.

But please watch the video, I't's so down home Country I can't even explain it.

But now that you've watched it, don't you want a slow cured, slow smoked, Country Ham yourself?

Just sayin'

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lemony Curried Chicken and Rice soup with Mint and Dill Accents

I had to sit home for a few days recovering from Dental Surgery. When I was finally able to get up and around, I tried to catch up on my recipes and what I should probably make. Being in quite a bit of pain, soup sounded good, in fact, chicken and rice soup sounded divine, so I decided to make some. I have already posted one recipe for Chicken and Rice Soup but I wanted to try something a bit different. And lo and behold I came across a Food Network recipe for Curried Chicken and Rice Soup. I adapted it a good deal, using a Pressure Cooker and I made my own Chicken Broth.

As I read the recipe I became more and more intrigued by the ingredients. In addition to the curry powder, it called for dill, and also for fresh mint leaves and fresh lemon juice!  Are you kidding me?  I HAD to make it.

Now, the verdict is in. This is an absolutely delicious soup. Full of flavor, and yet pulls you one way and the other as you eat it. Ever had a soup that is "fun to eat"?    THIS soup is fun to eat.  Please try it and let me know what you think.

Ingredients and Method:

1 bone-in chicken breast (Unless you made Chicken Broth, then use the chicken from that)
2 tablespoons butter plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, finely diced
2 carrots, washed and sliced
2 celery stalks, washed and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup rice
3 tablespoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon, quartered
Additional salt and pepper to taste

I used a Pressure Cooker to make this soup, but if you don't have one, just use a heavy pot, or dutch oven on stove top and simmer for 90 minutes until vegetables are soft after the saute step. If using a chicken breast, cook with the soup in either method, and then cool and shred and return to soup.

Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat in Pressure Cooker (or pot of your choice). Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute for 10 - 15 minutes until onions are translucent. Add curry, salt, sugar, bay leaf, chicken broth and chicken of your choice and rice to vegetable mix. Stir well.

 Turn heat to medium high, cover and monitor until it becomes fully pressurized (approx. 15 psi). When it begins to steam constantly, turn down to medium low and let steam for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove and cool down by pouring cold water from faucet over Cooker. Remove cover, stir and add mint and dill and let steep in the soup for 20 minutes. (If you made it a conventional pot, do the same, turn off heat and let the spices steep). Note: We don't cook the spices in the soup because they will get "worn out". We want them bright and fragrant when we serve.

Slightly salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls, with the lemon wedge. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into soup, and, as usual, enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread

This is an easy delicious rustic bread that doesn't need rising or double kneading. Hot fresh bread in a jiffy.

Here's a bit of history on Irish Soda Bread:

In the early and mid 1800’s, rural Ireland did not have a strong tradition of yeast bread making. Baking was done in the home and, in addition to having limited supplies, time was often at a premium. The use of baking soda as a leavening agent was quick, effective and it produced a much more consistent result than yeast did. It caught on quickly and made a staple of the Irish diet until commercial bread production began in earnest, though it is still popular in Ireland and many other parts of the world.
The original soda breads contained nothing more than flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt. The buttermilk was leftover from the butter making process and the bread was almost always served with freshly churned butter. Today, the breads often contain additional ingredients, like sugar, butter, currants or caraway seeds to enhance the flavor of the bread. Soda bread is heartier than most yeast breads and pairs very well with soups, stews and meat dishes. It also makes outstanding toast.


4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
5 tablespoons of butter
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup currants

In a bowl blend together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.

Using a pastry cutter cut in the butter until it is incorporated into the dry mixture.

Add the egg (slightly beaten) and buttermilk and mix well until a sticky dough forms. Fold in currants.

Spoon out onto a lightly floured board, sprinkle a little flour over the top of it and knead it twice. Yes, I said ONLY twice.

Than, shape into a ball, cut an X across the top of the loaf and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. This bread will LOOK done way before it is. Bake even longer if necessary
if when tapping on the loaf it doesn't sound completely hollow.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Pressure Cooker Chicken Broth

I have never made homemade Chicken Broth but always wanted to. Yet it always seemed such a hassle
until I started cooking with a Pressure Cooker and realized how quick and easy it would be. And now that I've made it, I suspect I'll make it from now on. It freezes wonderfully and makes all the difference in the soups I'm making.

Again, if you don't have a pressure cooker, just follow the instructions but place all ingredients in a heavy pot, or Dutch Oven and simmer for two hours. (It'll foam, so you'll want to skim that off at the end)

The best way to go about this I think is to ask you something. Do you serve whole chicken?  Homemade or bought at Costco, or Sam's or Safeway?   Perfect!  Use up all the meat, and save the carcass in the refrigerator. When you're ready to whip up some chicken broth, just do the following.

Ingredients and Method:

1 large sweet onion, peeled and quartered
2 stalks celery, washed and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, washed and coarsely chopped
10 cloves garlic
10 whole peppercorns
4 quarts water (check your pressure cooker for it's fill line)
1 teaspoon salt
1 chicken carcass

Add all ingredients to Cooker.

You could use cheesecloth to tie up the vegetables and spices and make it easier to strain, but
you're gonna have to remove all the chicken bones anyway, so I don't mess with it.

Cover and bring up to pressure. When it begins to steam constantly, turn the heat down to medium low
and let cook for 30 minutes in the Pressure Cooker.

Remove from heat and let cool down slowly. Do not use the "cold-water" method to arrest the cooking.

When it's safe, remove cover, and strain ingredients from broth. Now here's a hint, there will be enough chicken left on the carcass to make soup with, and I wouldn't waste it. Throw out all the bones, and spices and vegetables, but save the chicken pieces for soup. It's cooked already, flavorful, and ready to go. Just refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Pour the broth into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill overnight. The following day, remove and skim off all the fat. Divide and freeze into two containers, unless you are using one right away.

A note: I say divide into two bowls, because although it may not be enough broth for a soup, you can add some water with no loss of quality, or even canned broth. This way, your homemade product will last twice as long.


And watch for my two upcoming soup recipes.