Sunday, September 27, 2009


From Readers Digest: Six Extraordinary Uses for Apples.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Matzo Ball Chicken Noodle Soup

Making Matzo Ball Chicken Noodle Soup is a project best divided over two weekends. On the first weekend, make the chicken stock. Yes, yes, yes: You can buy stock. But why would you when making your own is easy and tastes better. If you don't make your own stock for this soup, don't tell me. I don't want to know. And if you are using canned stock, I really don't want to know.

Why not just humor me and make some chicken stock. The recipe for the remainder of the soup follows the directions for stock.

Chicken Stock
Adapted from Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food

1 1/2 gallon water
1 whole chicken, 3.5 - 4 lbs.

Place the chicken and water into a stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Skim off any foam.

Add to the pot:

1 peeled carrot.
1 onion, peeled, cut in half, with the cut sides blacked under the broiler.
1 head garlic cut in half, the loose paper removed but the head still holding together by the last layer of paper.
1 celery stalk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper corn
Sprig of parsley, sprig of thyme, 1 large bay leaf.

Simmer everything together for 4 - 5 hours. Carefully strain. Here is how I strain so that a hot mess of stock doesn't explode in the kitchen: First, line a colander with cheese cloth and place the colander over a bowl large enough to hold all of the finished stock. Using tongs, a slotted spoon or other kitchen tools, move the chicken from the pot to the colander to drain. Scoop out as much of the vegetables as you can and let that also drain in the colander. After the chicken and veg has finished draining, wrap it all up using the cheese cloth and remove from colander. Now, carefully pour the remainder of the stock through the colander and into the large bowl. Cover the bowl and put into the refrigerator over night.

The next day, carefully skim off any fat that accumulated on the top of the cold stock. Divide the stock into quart containers and freeze.

Matzo Ball Noodle Soup

Step I. Defrost 3 quarts of your homemade chicken stock and put it into a large stock / soup pot.

Step II. While the broth is defrosting, poach a chicken breast. When it is cool enough to touch, shred the meat and set aside. Peel one carrot and slice it finely. Set aside.

Step III. Make the matzo balls. You'll need:

1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. seltzer / club soda.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs. Whisk in the vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. Stir in the matzo meal. Stir in the 2 tbs. seltzer / club soda. Cover, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Bring 1 and 1/2 quarts of water, plus one teaspoon salt, to boil in a medium pot. Reduce the heat to simmer. Form the matzo balls: Spritz you hands with cooking spray. Scoop a tablespoon of batter from the bowl and roll it into a ball between your palms. Drop the balls into the hot water. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Think of this process as akin to poaching an egg: The water should be hot, simmering, but not boiling. You don't want the matzo ball to fall apart.

Heat the stock. Check the seasoning. I've added up to 2-1/2 tsp. of salt to the stock in small increments, checking the taste after each addition.

Fifteen minutes before the matzo balls are finished, add the chicken and carrot to the stock. About five minutes before the matzo balls are finished, add 6 ounces of fine egg noodles to the simmering stock. Do not cook the noodles more than 8 minutes.

Ladle soup, chicken and noodles into a bowl, and then add two matzo balls.


Friday, September 18, 2009

KitchenAid Stand Mixers on Sale at Amazon Today

I love to bake bread and always use my stand mixer to do the kneading. It makes the process much easier. There are some breads, such as my Old Milwaukee Rye Bread, that I simply would not make without the mixer to do the heavy work.

If you want to start baking yeast breads, or bake more bread during the forthcoming winter, consider taking advantage of today's sale at Amazon on KitchenAid stand mixers. The mixers come in a variety of colors. Today, the white and black colors are priced the lowest, $240, with free shipping. Other colors are more expensive, but still reduced from Amazon's list price. The cost is not insignificant, but these mixers last for years and make bread baking a breeze.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cuisinart's New "Elite" Collection

The New York Times reports that Cuisinart has a new line of food processors, the Elite Collection. Among the new features: Blades that lock in place so the bowl can be emptied without the blade falling out, which is a significant improvement in my opinion. Work bowls also have a pouring spout.

The new model sounds interesting, but these changes do little to assist in resolving the abiding question for home cooks with limited budgets and limited counter space: Food processor or stand mixer?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apple Turnover

This morning I saw in the freezer the box of puff pastry that I'd purchased weeks ago intending to make cheese straws. Cheese straws still seem like a good idea. However, it is mid-September and now apples are on my mind. Thus: Apple Turnovers.

I made a deliberate effort to keep the amount of sugar in this recipe low, and thus it is not overwhelmingly sweet. In the end, I concluded that next time I will use more sugar when making the filling; I may trying using 1/4 cup brown sugar and a 1/4 cup white sugar, and see how that works.

Apple Turnovers

3 apples (I used a combination of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith)
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 package frozen puff pastry (17.3 ounces, 2 sheets) defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. water
Sugar for sprinkling.


Preheat over to 400.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Remove puff pastry from packaging and allow to defrost, about 40 minutes. While the dough defrosts, prepare filling.

Make the egg wash: Combine an egg with 1 Tbs. water. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbs. sugar, 2 Tbs. brown sugar 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg and pinch of salt.

Peel, core and dice apples.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. butter. Add 1 Tbs. flour, and stir to make a paste. Add 1 Tbs. water, the sugar/spice mixture, and the apple dice. Cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes.

While the mixture cools, prepare dough. On a floured board, working with one sheet of dough at a time, lightly roll the dough into a 12" x 12" square. Cut the sheet into 4 smaller squares. Chill until ready to use. Proceed in the same way with the second sheet.

Working with one small square at a time, set about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square. Brush the edges with the egg white mixture. Fold the square diagonally over the apples and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. Set the triangle on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining squares.

Brush the top of each triangle with the remainder of the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut one or two small slits into each pastry.

Bake for 20 minutes until nicely browned and puffed. Serve warm or room temperature.

These turnovers cry out to be eaten with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce, but are good also first thing in the morning or during a coffee break.