Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a traditional side dish at the holidays, and are very easy to transport. There are many different types of potatoes and ingredients you can incorporate, so try different variations. These are dairy free (no regular milk or butter), but feel free to add those. This recipe makes enough for about 10-12 people.
  • 12-14 yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 small bunches of scallions
  • garlic powder
  • about 3/4 cup rice milk (or regular milk)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Fill a large pot with water (leaving some room at the top) and bring to a boil. Rinse and scrub the potatoes, and cut out any bad spots. I like to leave the skins on, but you can peel them off if you prefer. Quarter the potatoes, making sure the pieces are all about the same size (so that they cook evenly). After the water is boiling, place the potatoes and sweet potatoes in the water. All the potatoes should be covered in water. Boil under they are tender. Roughly cut the scallions, and then place them in a food processor so that they are finely chopped. When the potatoes are done cooking, drain the water and mash (you can also use an electric beater if you want a creamier texture). Add the rice milk, garlic, salt pepper and scallions. Serve immediately, or refrigerate over night if you are taking them to a dinner.

Other add-ins:
bacon bits
parsley and thyme
sour creme instead of milk
roasted garlic

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Playing With Oil

Cooking with different oils can bring a wide variety of flavor to the recipes you use. Use oil that comes from natural ingredients (i.e. nuts, seeds, fruit, etc), that has been pressed as simply as possible. Buying from your local olive orchard is the best alternative; however, if you don't live near one, try to buy organic, unrefined oils as often as possible, and use them very soon after you buy them. If you are able, sample the oil before buying it.

What is the difference between virgin and extra virgin oil? Olive oils are named according to the amount of acidity they contain and if they've been processed with artificial ingredients or not. Extra virgin oil is the highest quality; the olives are cold pressed, and processed without any chemicals. It is the lowest in acid content, and has the most flavor. Heating oil may cause it to lose some of its flavor, so you may want to use a lower-quality oil when cooking. Virgin olive oil is also processed without artificial ingredients, but has a slightly higher acid content. Plain olive oil is usually a blend of virgin olive oil and oil that has been processed with chemicals.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chicken Vegetable Soup with a Twist

This recipe is a little time consuming, just because of all the chopping. The secret ingredient is the whole cloves, which are are placed in a tea strainer and hung on the side of the soup pot to flavor the broth. Soup is always nice to make, because you can vary the recipe. Use a variety of vegetables, just keep in mind that the more you add, the thicker your soup will be. The ingredients below fill a large soup pot, and make enough for dinner and plenty of leftovers.
  • Chicken, boiled and shredded (I used about 6-7 chicken breasts for a large pot of soup)
  • Two large zucchinis
  • One large yellow onion
  • Two large carrots
  • Four stalks of celery
  • Any other vegetables that you'd like to add: cabbage, garlic, chopped tomatoes, etc.
  • 1 cup of barley (you could also use rice)
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
Fill a large pot with enough water to boil the chicken. While you are waiting for the water to boil, chop the vegetables. When the water comes to a boil, add the chicken. Boil until cooked. Remove the chicken from the water and let cool, keeping most of the water. This will become the broth of the soup. Fill a tea strainer with the peppercorns and cloves. Bring the broth back up to a boil and add the barley (or rice). Hang the tea strainer on the side of the pot, submerging it in the broth. While the barley is cooking, shred the chicken. After the barley has been cooking for about 25-30 minutes, add the shredded chicken, lime juice, and chopped vegetables. Bring the soup back up to a boil and then reduce to medium. Let the mixture simmer until it reaches a the consistency of your liking. Remove the tea strainer, and serve.